• Home
  • About
  • Archives
  • Authors
  • Contact
  • Polls
  • Small Biz Interviews
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

A Down Under SmallBiz Story & Tips with One on the Way’s Kelly Tredwell

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Today we have the honor of sitting down with one of our new KikScore customers that signed up through our partnership with ShopifyOne on the Way’s owner, Kelly Tredwell, has a really cool and interesting business that is focused on serving the maternity wear segment.  Kelly’s entrepreneurial story takes us to Australia where her business is based, but she has customers all over the world! Beyond Kelly’s story about launching One on the Way in October 2010, she has some very good tips for small businesses and online store owners.

1. Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

One on the Way is an online maternity clothing store, specialising on providing pregnant women with fashionable maternity clothes.

2. How did you get started selling online?

I bought the business in October 2010, however, it has been trading since 2007.  By the way you can find us on here on Twitter and Facebook.

3. What inspires you to grow your business?

Being a Mum myself and knowing how hard it was to find comfortable and affordable maternity clothes in the department stores, I am excited when I have been able to provide a customer with a dress or a top or something that she loves and will comfortably wear throughout pregnancy and beyond.  I also have a passion for fashion and have plans to release my own maternity clothing label at some stage down the track.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

Maintain excellent customer service – always address orders or customer inquiries within a 24 hour turnaround time.  Be sure to research your advertising opportunities fully before committing financially.

5. Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

For me personally it’s been about learning the industry, which was all new to me once I took over the store.  A new website has been on the cards since then too so I had been focused on what I wanted to achieve from this project and with it just going “live” on 1st January 2012 I am very pleased with the results of my hard work!

6. What do you see as a new trend for small businesses and in your business?

For small business I think a trend will be focused towards excellent quality products and in my business, I think enabling customers to have a more interactive approach to shopping for clothes online would be fantastic.  We’re working on it!

7. If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Audrey Hepburn – Graceful, Elegant, Chic and Sophisticated – like our clothing!

8. What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

Competition – both here and abroad.  It’s everywhere, always a new online store opening up but that’s retail I suppose and I’m learning to not focus too much on what other stores/companies are doing.

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

For readers I think I would say that you don’t necessarily have to shop at the big, well known stores to get excellent products, quality service and fast turnaround times for purchases – small businesses are much more focused on achieving customer satisfaction so give us a go! For the small business community I would say keep going, keep putting in the hours and you’ll get there! Keep searching for the “difference that makes the difference” with your store.

Thanks to Kelly for sharing her story with the KikScore small business community.  Let us know if you have any questions for Kelly in our comment section below.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

Some Small Business Resources and Tools for 2012

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

It’s only the 3rd week of the new year (can we still call it that?), but it’s time to start thinking of tools you can use for your small business in 2012. There are plenty of tools out there, but we’re only going to talk about a few. (These may be considered resources more than tools.)  These will be useful as a good starting point and then you can find more tips, tools and resources through them.

  1. Twitter chat! To me Twitter almost seems like a chatroom, only with a word limit and hashtags. If you want that chat feel, then you can attend #smallbizchat on Wednesdays at 8pm on Twitter. This is hosted by Tai Goodwin and Melinda Emerson. These one hour long chats are great for getting great guidance from experts about your business.  The hour usually keys on one area that relates to owning, operating or growing a small business and features a fabulous expert that dishes out gems while an audience of participants interacts with the expert and also each other.  Its a fun hour to get a lot of good guidance.
  2. Women Grow Business -yes even if you’re male. Why? This blog offers a different and unique perspective that applies not only to women, but to men as well about being an entrepreneur and dealing with the issues that small business owners face.  Several good contributors and editors on this great blog including the always fabulous Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Shonali Burke and Jill Foster.  And there are so so many more.  They also host tweetchats too (once a month) that are also very valuable to participate in.
  3. Inc. Magazine- this is a great resource and Raj has written a superb post about it. This magazine is geared specifically for Small Businesses and has excellent articles with very practical advice.  This is a must have and should be a mandatory monthly read!  The articles will get you excited and motivated to do great things!
  4. SBA. gov- this site is run by the government and looks a lot cleaner than most government websites. It’s very through and has both general and local resources across a range of issues such as financing, tax, incorporation issues, selling and buying online etc.
  5. Small Business Trends- This site has tons of great resources and information for small businesses. It has guides, sections devoted to Management, Marketing, Funding and even one devoted to Research. Plus, the founder is the amazing Anita Campbell. :)
  6. SME Toolkit- This is a website made by both the IFC and IBM. It’s “designed for Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American and Women-owned businesses” , but it has useful information for everyone.
  7. Small Business CEO-  This is more of a guide to management for small business. If you’re just starting out, then it probably won’t be of much use to you, but if you’re looking to add employees and grow your business, it’s worth a look through.
  8. Small Business Technology- this is a blog that talks about news and technology that’s related to small business. It explains how and why the latest pieces of tech or news can matter to small business. Plus, my father apparently likes it on Google plus so it has to be a good resource!
  9. Constant Contact- Unfortunately, unlike the other links, this one is a paid tool. There is a 60 day trial though. This tool helps you keep in touch with your clients via email marketing and social media marketing.
  10. Business. com- Whatever field you decide to start a small business in, they’ll have resources for you.  There are literally guides on almost anything you can imagine related to a business.  Instead of doing a bunch of Google searches on a subject related to small business, check out this great site first and you likely will save yourself some valuable time.

These are some great resources to start you off with now. From these, you can then branch off using the links that they provide to find even more resources that would fit your needs. There are plenty of resources out there and these are some of the best I have seen lately.

Are there any others you can think of and want to share with us?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

Learning from the Past: KikScore’s Top Twelve Blog Posts of 2011 for Small Businesses and Startups

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

It’s been a great year for KikScore! We’ve gained partners, garnered press, interviewed tons of great startups, and released our first white paper. Sounds like a winning year to me. That’s why we put together a list of our top blog posts for 2011. By highlighting some of our beloved posts, we can reflect on what KikScore has accomplished through the year as well as go over some information that we believe is important enough to bear repeating for small business. We hope you enjoy!

#12: 5 Ways to Develop a Killer Brand for Your Small Business and Startup

If you are looking to establish a good brand name for your business, then this post is for you. Although it’s daunting to see big businesses with huge budgets for marketing and advertising, there are cheaper and more effective ways to build your brand. This post goes over the different ways in which you can deal with your customers and make their experiences so great that your brand will practically build itself.

#11: 7 Questions A Small Business or Startup Should Ask Themselves Every Day

It’s critical to ask yourself important questions. Even if it is just to make sure that you know the answer instead of just thinking you know the answer. This post discusses several questions that you need to ask to make sure that your business is headed in the right direction.

#10: The Day in Pictures & Tweets at the 2011 SmallBizSummit

Just as the title says, this post is a compilation of pictures and tweets from the 2011 SmallBizSummit. Here you can find great quotes and images that focus around how all small businesses should act and what they should do. Take a look and feel like you were there yourself.

#9: 5 Reasons that Startups & SmallBiz Must Engage Their Customers

If you think that this list is already beating up the idea of paying attention to customers, then you aren’t thinking like a business should. This next post builds upon the ways to really engage customers and see results. Give it a read and try the advice for yourself. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

#8: Web Design Contracts – Protect Yourself & Your New Business

This guest post, written by Gregg Hand, is of vital importance when preparing to set up a website. We’ve all heard the speech about why we have to read the fine print before signing a contract. However, now that you’re helping to make a contract with a web designer, you must be twice as cautious. If you’ve never had to make this type of contract, this post can help you with a set of helpful advice on what to look out for.

#7: Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail Series

(Procrastination; Competition; Marketing; Clients; Employees; Versatility; Location; Cash Flow (Followup); Closed Mind; Planning)

Here is a series of posts that we’ve worked on throughout the year in an effort to help small businesses understand what they must avoid. Some say that learning from the past is one of the best ways to prevent certain future events. There’s at least some truth to this saying, so we hope that this series will help your business avoid the easily avoidable.

#6: KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs (Part I and Part II)

These posts use quotes from businesses that KikScore has interviewed in the past regarding lessons they’ve learned and challenges they’ve faced. Each quote has years of experience in ingrained in it, so they’re worth the reading.

#5: Championship Sports Teams…What Do They Teach Us for the Small Business & Startup Arena

Bringing together two seemingly different dynamics, this post talks about how the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Boston Bruins’ respective teamwork reflect how teams in small businesses must act. Just as in sports teams, the members of your business must be willing to work together and take risks. Take a look and see for yourself just how true this is.

#4: 3 Tools for Boosting Your Business’ Image

This post goes over some tools that all businesses can use, so we think it is worth making the cut. Each tool is free and KikScore utilizes all of them. What are they, you ask? Well there would be no point in referring back to the article if we just said it here, so you’ll just have to look at the post for yourself.

#3: Nonprofit or Going for Broke: Ways to Demonstrate Your Business is Legitimate & Trustworthy

Rather than discussing all small businesses, this post gives advice to nonprofits. Whether for profit or not, all businesses suffer from trust issues. If you are having issues with your nonprofit or even just looking for a way to make it better, this post can help.

#2: #SmallBizChat Highlights – Tips on How to Make Your SmallBiz Website Look Trustworthy and Credible

Here we recap our great experience of being the guest of honor for #SmallBizChat on Twitter. It was a great way for us to take and answer different questions about how small businesses deal with online trust. A slideshow is included in the post, so feel free to check it out.

#1: Shoppers Trust Businesses Who Share More Information – KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds

Another important hallmark of KikScore’s year is the recent issuing of our first white paper, which is discussed in this post. It took a lot of time and a lot of research, but it came out great. If you are interested in online trust and how it impacts small business, take a look at this post and KikScore’s white paper.

We’ve had a great year all-in-all and we anticipate that 2012 will be even better! We appreciate everyone who has worked with us and taken the time to help us this year and we hope you all have a great 2012!

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

Shoppers Trust Businesses Who Share More Information – KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

We are excited to announce our first KikScore Online Trust Survey.  Since we are a business that serves the small business community we wanted to learn first hand what shoppers and website visitors are saying about their browsing experience, especially how it relates to small business websites. The KikScore Online Trust Survey provides an overview for small businesses, shoppers and the greater community about trust and reliability trends. It especially focuses on how consumers approach the trust and credibility issue as they perform local searches for small businesses in various search engines.

The Context and Background for the KikScore Online Trust Survey

Really since the inception of the internet, small businesses have faced the constant challenge of proving that they are trustworthy and reliable online businesses and website visitors should trust them.  Lacking the large marketing budgets and brand names, small businesses face the battle of demonstrating to website visitors that they are legitimate and trustworthy businesses.  This online trust challenge has resulted in billions of dollars in losses for small businesses.

Recently, to add to this challenge that small businesses face is the rise of local search.  As more consumers perform local searches on Google and Bing, search results are returning more and more small local businesses.  Website visitors have the increasing opportunity to visit small business websites of plumbers, realtors, contractors, lawyers and local stores such as dry cleaners and transact on many online small business websites.

We set out to study what are the trends for shoppers as well as small businesses for demonstrating trust through both local search and online shopping.

The KikScore Online Trust Survey & Report Findings

Here are some of the key findings from our report:

  1. The fear of being defrauded or a victim of an online scam has led more than 90% of consumers that shop online not to complete a transaction;
  2. 87% of website visitors feel safer buying from websites that feature information about the business and the track record of the business;
  3. 85% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to hire a small business service provider that has a trust seal on their website;
  4. Over 60% of website visitors are more likely to buy from a website that posts information and details about the management of an online business; and
  5. More than 90% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to trust a service business that posts information on their website about their business history and track record.


Key Implication from the Online Trust Survey for Small Businesses – More Information Means More Sales

The main takeaway from the Survey is that website visitors want to know who is “behind the online business” and information about the business itself.  Further, the data indicates that one way to combat the online trust challenge for small businesses is to address the information asymmetry that exists between website visitors and small businesses.  The recurring theme through the data from the report is that local searchers and shoppers want transparency through reputational information when they reach a small business website. This finding tends to makes sense from a layperson’s psychological approach to approaching something unknown.  From a human relations perspective, once a person finds out more information about a previously unknown subject/person, that person then can make a much better assessment about the credibility and trustworthiness of that subject/person.  The same approach generally holds true for a website visitor to an unfamiliar online business.

From this key finding, the KikScore Report provided these following recommendations for small business to act on to start addressing the information asymmetry:

  1. Start providing key information about your small business on your website;
  2. Important information to provide can include, details about the management team, financial history, location information, website history and security information, customer service and privacy policies, certification and awards and introductory videos;
  3. Display real customer feedback and testimonials about a shopping experience or your customer’s experience hiring your small business to provide a service; and
  4. Using and displaying a trust seal(s) that help you show website visitors that your business has been validated and provides information about the reputation of your small business.

The important point for small businesses from this report is to use these four steps outlined immediately above as a way to use information about your own business, your management team, your own track record and make that transparent to website visitors.  These steps will help small businesses address the online trust challenge and directly help balance the information asymmetry between website visitors and small online businesses.

Case Study: PaybaQ Proves the Importance of Displaying Reputational Information

As a part of the Report, KikScore included a case study from a small business that had already implemented the recommendations above to provide an illustration of how one small business owner successfully tackled the online trust challenge.  The case study is of Brian J. Esposito the CEO and founder of PaybaQ.

Shortly after launching PaybaQ, a peer-to-peer lending site, Mr. Esposito faced low signups, abandoned shopping carts and abandoned registrations.  Mr. Esposito, being a prior Inc5000 listed business owner, sought to use his own reputation as a way to show website visitors his website was trustworthy and reliable.  After Mr. Esposito signed up for KikScore and started using the KikScore Confidence Badge to provide more information about his track record as a business owner and also offer a way to provide feedback, PaybaQ experienced a 20% increase in conversions.

As seen from the increase in PaybaQ’s conversions after using the KikScore Confidence Badge to display reputational information about the business owner, management team, website and policies, information transparency is the fundamental method for small businesses to demonstrate trustworthiness and achieve success online.  Mr. Esposito noted: “Immediate access to information and transparency into any company is crucial, especially startup small businesses.  Implementing a seamless solutions on PaybaQ.com gives my potential users exactly what they need, a quick snapshot of my company, team members, and even myself.  This tool helps show browsers who find our site through Google and Bing that they are on a safe credible site that they can trust.”

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

Reach Your Best Insights! A SmallBiz Interview with Pierre DeBois

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Today’s KikScore interview features Pierre DeBois, founder of Zimana, a web analytics service. In this rapidly changing e-commerce environment, Pierre is instrumental in helping other small business reach success through his analysis of their web analytics and his assistance and advice for marketing and social media strategies. I had a pleasure talking with Pierre and learned a lot, so I hope you all share similar benefits from reading what he had to say.

Tell us about Zimana and who you focus on serving?

Zimana is a web analytics consultancy service for small businesses that are at a unique stage of operations, having launched their businesses that rely on analytics data. These businesses require marketing optimization but do not have enough time determining their marketing effectiveness and aren’t ready to reach a larger analytics firm. I analyze their analytics data, ranging from basic keyword analysis to website traffic exploration, and then I help them develop an optimizing marketing strategy with projections. My clients encompass a wide array of small businesses, from mom and pop companies to businesses that built their firm around a particular platform with numerous employees.

What prompted you to start Zimana?

It was very accidental; my original idea was that I wanted to work with small businesses that needed help with their financial data.  I found out that a lot of the time these businesses tend to seek financial help, but it’s often too late to implement the advice. Therefore, that doesn’t strike me emotionally as a way to be helpful. So back in 2007, I was working for a government contractor firm in Huntsville, Alabama. The firm was determining if potential clients were reviewing products and services at the company website. I researched and discovered the measurement solution Google Analytics. I used my own resources and vacation schedule to undertake the training on my own. I then worked with the web developer to implement site content changes. The end result was successful and identified traffic flow through the site. It helped the firm place a value on their marketing budget. That was my first taste of web analytics though it wasn’t until 2.5 years ago when I launched Zimana. It’s been great and fun, though still very challenging especially due to the economic environment we are in. But the responses have been positive.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome it?

Living in New York is a catch-22; though it is the best place to meet and network with people and find good resources, it is economically straining to live here starting out.  It is also tough to follow up with customers in the actual city, as opposed to other locations. When living and working here, you learn how resilient you have to be and it forces you to be efficient. While the fast-paced, business environment makes it hard to initially make a living, it forces you to remain focused and more diligently.

As a hub for business, being centered in New York also allows me to track clients outside of New York; one of my best clients is SmallBizTrends.  Though based in Ohio, I conduct a lot of their monthly analysis. Moreover, being in NYC has helped me to create many business book reviews for the book segment and provide up-to-date analytics ideas that will be beneficial for their future.

How do you advertise yourself to get more clients?  Do you make use of tools like social media?

Yes. Social media has helped me tremendously, especially through Twitter as I have attracted some of my followers through my tweets. In addition, though accidental, my writing has had a huge influence on gaining more clients. What started as being just for fun doing book reviews evolved into writing analytics articles.   I’ve written articles for many different business sites, including AllBusiness.com, Pitney Bowes Smart Connections series, Business Agility, and AllAnalytics.com.  The posts have helped me a lot, expanding my online exposure and clientele base. A great challenge has been balancing my time for writing and managing other business functions. I had not expected the writing to take the direction it has.  In general, client referrals and social media marketing have been the most beneficial for me, with carefully placed and timed ads as bonus exposure. I am a big believer of using analytics to figure out which marketing outlets actually work, so that has helped me tremendously of where to focus most of my attention.

Have you had any trouble proving your business’ credibility and legitimacy to potential customers and website visitors?

Yes, there have been times and I think it’s in a very weird catch-22. In my business, the accountability issue is in the beginning; there are certifications that analytics practitioners must take and my qualifications definitely help. Though at the same time, there is a level of education that is required on part of the customer. The main customers believe that analytics is only for SEO and that’s not the entire case. So the challenge becomes that an analyst can be used for both online and offline marketing functions, though it depends on the organization, and therefore I must educate the customer enough and provide them with enough information that they will be comfortable doing business. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but most times people are appreciative of what you try to share with even if they don’t quite have the budget.

In terms of being legitimate, what’s helped me is dealing with the right customers and not trying to deal with those that are uninterested. Only once or twice have I had to deal with a relationship that wasn’t right, but as a business owner, you have to hold out and fight for the ideal customer. Once you find the right one, then credibility will come into play. The use of social media can be utilized to reinforce that credibility; in order to effectively use social networks, you have to focus on keeping in touch with specific people and make the most of the contacts that you have made.

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

First, there needs to be more of a coordinated effort between digital properties (websites, paid searches, social media) and how you market your business offline. There are now studies that are proving that when you gain a customer, that customer has researched your business online and then decided whether they will do business with you. Lots of small businesses do not coordinate their online and offline efforts well, but they need to think holistically about how they market themselves and then track that, which is where the analytics comes into play.

Second, based on my expertise, businesses need to begin thinking about more than search engine optimization. With the emergence of social media, there is more of a need for a combination between social media and search, plus some level of digital marketing, whether it is paid ads on Google or banner ads on Facebook. There needs to be an increased effort beyond search to touch upon the customers and engage them. Businesses are aware of Twitter and Facebook and other networking communities, though they often do not make a dedicated effort to effectively use them. Going beyond SEO, some type of paid search or ad, coupled with social media, will help businesses convert customers on the sidelines as an ongoing customer.

What trends do you see in the business world that you think are important for small businesses to take note of?

A rising trend in the small business world is the use of cloud services. I support these services whole heartedly because it makes it easier to manage a team, whether you’re an army of one or 20. They create value for the services you have and permit more efficient management. I’m finding that the businesses that struggle have not thought in terms of simplicity; For example, one business never thought of instituting PayPal on their site because they didn’t use credit in their operations.  That doesn’t mean that your customers don’t. Most businesses are too focused on their main product or service and therefore they do not think about all the underlying activities that would be essential. You don’t need to have a desktop to quickly search for information, so the challenge for small businesses is not only having access to up-to-date technology, but deploying it in the best and easiest manner for conducting your business.

Speaking from personal experience, the people who helped me the most were freelancers. One lady designed my website and also developed my hand-drawn logo into something very unique. Another was a photographer whose photos of me grabbed the right attention. I learned many different tips from many sources, ranging from billing ideas to learning to focus on the big picture as opposed to the little details. The biggest thing is to learn from others how to conduct business efficiently, so you are working to grow your business and “on” your business, not just “in” it.

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

For me, I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory; I love it and think Sheldon is hilarious and the best television character in years. I watch a little Big Bang Theory and football, and I’m good! I still love automobiles like I did growing up so I read up on cars quite a bit. Pretty much besides that, I just try to keep up with my close friends and family. I haven’t had as much time to relax as I’d like to and for the most part, my business is my time. In addition, I talk a lot with other small business owners, which is both informative and also energizing.

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

Stay driven and keep your faith. If you are in any struggles, keep your faith and make sure every day spent on your business is actually productive; business owners spend too much time talking about their business, as opposed to working on it and helping it grow. Using your time efficiently is necessary, as well as networking and making sure that you are learning what needs to be learned to stay current with your business and surrounding technologies. At the end of the day, you need to be driven to put all of the pieces together and keep your business moving into the future. 

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

Merry Thanksoween!: Eight Helpful Tips for Your Small Business and the Approaching Holiday Season

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

It’s almost November, and if you’re not already running around like a headless chicken preparing for the holiday season, you will be soon! Here’s some tips that’ll help get your small business get prepared.

  1. Create an attack plan: Have you started on that sales strategy yet for the holidays? Don’t wait too long! Your competition will start capturing your customers soon if you do not have a good plan!  According to this article from the fantastic Inc Magazine, your approach to the holidays should be planned for all year long.  So, if you haven’t started….what are you waiting for?
  2. Localize for your target audience: If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a small business owner. If you’re a small business owner, chances are that you have a presence within your own community.  So, are there any local traditions, events and meetings that you can take into account when making your attack plan?  For example, say your community has a tradition of caroling every year or a large holiday event. Then, you might try to create a branding plan around those events or offer services/products that cater to those events to help you get your name out.
  3. Build a base: Be involved in your community. If you’re good with tip 2, you can probably skip this one. If  you don’t have a presence, start building one… now.  Also ramp up the social interactions in Twitter and Facebook.  Now is the time to connect with customers and potential customers using these social tools.
  4. Consider sponsorships: Do something for the community. Perhaps sponsor a festival or some type of talk. Or if there’s a university nearby, get involved in some of their events.  This is a great way to give back to the community and also get your business name out there so you are top of mind when people are shopping.
  5. Stock up on “bestsellers”: Stock up on products your customer wants. Once the holiday season gets rolling, it’s all about the items.  Try and order extra too. That way, you might not run out if an item turns out to be more popular than expected.
  6. Be the best: This is the time when you get to interact with a lot of potential customers either on your website, through social media or in person in your store. Remember at all times make sure you, your business and your employees present a good image that way you give a reason for those customers to come back.
  7. Try new marketing tricks: This is a good time to experiment with offers, advertising and even some fun videos about your business and product/service. Who knows, one of the things you try may help you in the future and create some buzz around your small business.
  8. Be accommodating: This is a busy time for everyone. Try and be flexible about requests, questions and issues that arise with your customers. If they ordered something and there was a problem, try to be as accommodating as possible. You want these customers to come back.  The customer is always right….especially around the holidays!

Hopefully, these tips will help you. Good luck and have a great holiday season!

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

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?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

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.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

“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.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

Small Business Lessons from Tamara Gozan of Designer Purse Depot

Monday, August 29th, 2011

This week I had the pleasure of talking with Tamara Gozan, the founder of http://www.designerpursedepot.com/, an online store that sells a variety of designer handbags and apparel. However, due to customer demand, Tamara shared that she will be expanding her business and focusing more on designer clothing, shoes, and accessories. We had a great conversation during our interview, touching on topics such as small business, social media outlets, and The Devil Wears Prada (of course!).

Tell us a little about Designer Purse Depot and who you focus on serving?

Designer Purse Depot services a lot of people who like designer items, mostly handbags and clothing but also including shoes and other accessories. Because my customers love designer goods and they are really expensive, I spend a lot of time trying to find companies where I can find these items on sale or at a discounted price. I then resell them to my customers, who often use these items themselves or turnaround and sell them on eBay.

How did you get your started selling online?

I started over a decade ago when I had an eBay account and sold a few things online there. Then recently, I saw the success of many people that were making their money online and heard a lot of people who considered themselves experts, explain the importance of having an online store. I started looking around to find a format or platform where I could open an online store and found Shopster. I decided to open a free account using their free trial offered at the time and put some items on the account, just to see what they would look like on the website, and within 8 days I had my first sale. After recognizing the potential, I decided to get more serious and built a complete website. In my first month on Shopster, I had 20 sales!

Where has Designer Purse Depot focused most of its energy on in the past year?

My main focus has been on designer handbags, though I’m planning to focus more on designer clothing, shoes, and accessories in this upcoming year. I have received many requests from my frequent customers that are asking for those items, so I plan to focus on expanding my collection.

If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

For one, having detailed photos of the items that you are selling is essential because people can’t touch or feel the product like they normally could. Instead, they would like to get a really good look at the items. Also important is having an accurate and detailed description of the items. Both of these are extremely valuable factors to focus on, and the third item is the pricing of your products. You have to know what is currently going on in the market because if you price an item too high, you won’t get enough customers, and if you price an item too low, the customers won’t recognize the value.

What do you see as 2 new trends in your industry this year?

Surprisingly, some of the most expensive handbags are the hottest items right now. Although everyone is talking about how bad the economy is, some of the most expensive handbags are selling very well. Another trend is the emerging popularity of fashion forward attire. Lots of women are looking for really nice office wear and bright colors.

From your experience, what are the best ways to advertise yourself?  Do you make use of tools like social media?

Yes, I definitely think that you should be on Facebook and Twitter, as well as have an eBay outlet and possibly an Amazon account also. You can introduce new items there and send customers back to your store. I really think you should have a strong presence in the market and definitely a blog.

If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

It would probably be the intern from The Devil Wears Prada, played by Anne Hathaway. I don’t necessarily wear a lot of high fashion items and I’m more of an admirer, so I’ve had to really become acclimated with women who wear these high value, designer products. Similarly, the intern went into an industry that she wasn’t familiar with and had to adapt to the environment and learn the market.

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

I just read an article about the woman who wrote the novel, The Help, and learned that she was rejected 60 different times by 60 different literary agents and the 61st agent was the first to give her a chance. Now, her novel has become a major motion picture. You may not get it right the first time, or even the second or third times, but if you are passionate about what you want to do and keep trying to tweak it and make it right, you will find success. Even though it started out almost effortless with Shopster, having an online store isn’t always easy; it has been challenging to grow and I’m still seeking to go to the next level. I have to keep myself focused and motivated every day, though that’s how you will eventually find success.

We at KikScore would like to thank Tamara for giving the community his thoughts on the small business experience.  If you have questions for Tamara, please leave them in the comments below.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark