Tips & free stuff

48 Hour Start-up: Can You Really Launch a Business in Just 2 days?

48 Hour Start-up: Can You Really Launch a Business in Just 2 days?As the business world encounters technology, the barriers keeping many entrepreneurs out are slowly disappearing. Previously, you needed a huge investment of cash, good connections, a 50-page business plan, and a prayer. Now you just need a laptop and seven days. Actually, with 48 Hour Start-up: From Idea to Launch in 1 Weekend you might only need two.

What is 48 Hour Start-Up About?

The book 48 Hour Start-up is actually what it sounds like. Serial entrepreneur Fraser Doherty MBE wants to help prospective entrepreneurs discover and refine a launchable idea in just two days. Doherty’s reasoning behind his 48-hour deadline is simple. He argues that prospective entrepreneurs (aka wantrepreneurs) spend too much time and energy obsessing over the “perfect idea”. The time they waste waiting for the “perfect idea” is time that could be used refining and adapting that business idea for the customers who will actually use it.

48 Hour Start-up was designed to be a hacked version of the business-creating method developed since the start of Doherty’s first business. As Doherty readily admits, he had no idea what he was doing.He just knew that he liked money, liked selling things and liked connecting with people. That business is still running to this day, in part, because of the principles Doherty learned through either a mentor, experience (one of his first positions was “bacon boy” in Scotland), or by stumbling across it. In 48 Hour Start-up, he shares advice on how to find and shape a viable business idea that is ready to launch in two days.

Doherty is an entrepreneur, business owner and author from Scotland. Doherty’s first business as a teenager, SuperJam, featured an all-fruit jam that was inspired by his grandmother’s recipes. The incredible success of SuperJam earned Doherty the honor of becoming the youngest ever supplier to work with a retail chain and a spot in the National Museum of Scotland. Doherty is also the co-founder of Beer 52, a craft beer subscription service. In 2014, he became a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

What Was Best About 48 Hour Start-Up?

There are two key aspects of 48 Hour Start-up, the author’s transparency and his approach. In many startup advice books, authors are afraid to share their mistakes. In his book Doherty is very transparent about the trials he faced as an entrepreneur. These anecdotes are brief. They show his thinking process at the time, which is a theme throughout the entire book. Following its own philosophy that entrepreneurs need to leverage speed, the book doesn’t get stalled with fancy charts (there aren’t any) or financial projections, For those readers wanting a down-to-Earth business advice book, 48 Hour Start-up might be a welcome read.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

48 Hour Start-up is extremely helpful when it comes to the initial decisions for entrepreneurs to consider when starting a business. The book continually reinforces the theme that entrepreneurship doesn’t have to involve complicated financial projections, elaborate presentations or extraordinary innovation. It is just a simple idea executed well. One area that could use more attention, though, concerns strategy and market research. The book doesn’t provide a lot of focus or direction on what strategies to consider after the 48-hour experiment is over or how to conduct more detailed research to maintain a business in the future.

Why Read 48 Hour Start-Up?

48 Hour Start-up is designed for entrepreneurs who have gone through a couple of business ideas but haven’t made that initial step to get started. It is also for serial entrepreneurs seeking to improve their thinking process in preparation for a new venture. For beginners, the book is a chance to brainstorm a business idea within the book’s deadline of two days. For serial entrepreneurs, the book is a jargon-free guide to refining the principles of business idea creation. If a serial entrepreneur can’t think of a good business idea, 48 Hour Start-up will provide practical advice with the inspirational real-life story of a businessman who started an empire right from his grandmother’s kitchen.

This article, “48 Hour Start-up: Can You Really Launch a Business in Just 2 days?” was first published on Small Business Trends

Money on the Table Shows Why We Need Gender-Balanced Business Leadership Now

Money on the Table: Why We Need Gender-Balanced Leadership in Biz NowThe need for a gender-balanced form of leadership in the modern workplace has been documented for years. While some progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to be done before the world makes even a dent in the so-called “glass ceiling”. Author Melissa Greenwell wants to know why it’s taking so long. Her book, Money on the Table: How to Increase Profits through Gender-Balanced Leadership explores the delays in creating a more gender-balanced form of leadership and what these delays are doing to a company’s potential bottom line.

What is Money on the Table About?

While Greenwell has the moral high ground arguing for gender-balanced leadership, in Money on the Table she wants to draw her reader’s attention to the financial and strategic reasons for more gender-inclusive leadership. Greenwell argues strongly that businesses with more gender balance earn more money, hire better talent, and make better decisions over male-dominated ones. In her view, businesses that offer more opportunities for women (especially in leadership) will have a decisive competitive advantage in the future.

Money on the Table starts off the “gender equality in the workplace” conversation by pointing out the discrepancy between nice-sounding policies and real action. To understand that a gap still exists, Greenwell cites interviews from both male and female executives. These interviews revealed key differences in how male and female leaders implemented gender equality. Both male and female leaders, however, still hold to the social convention of women taking care of the house in addition to work. This social convention seems held even in businesses more open about gender inclusion. To make things a little clearer, the workplace (especially leadership) is slanted socially, psychologically and financially to maintain the “glass ceiling” despite attempts to change it.

Despite this dismal picture, Greenwell is confident we can break the “glass ceiling”. With a willingness to proactively change how we educate, hire and promote women in the workplace, businesses can tap into the positive and profitable cycle that will give them a unique competitive advantage. As other businesses take note, our society will move closer to the critical mass it takes to make a more permanent change in workplace practices. At that point, every business will wonder why they took so long to embrace gender equality in the workplace.

In addition to being an author, Greenwell is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Finish Line, an athletic apparel retail business. In her 30-year corporate history, Greenwell has spent over two decades working at the C-suite level. She is also a certified executive coach and speaker on the topic of gender-balanced leadership. In addition, Greenwell is the director of the Special Olympics Indiana Board and Finish Line Youth Foundation.

What Was Best About Money on the Table?

In Money on the Table, Greenwell offers probably one of the most authentic voices you will ever hear on gender balance in the workplace. In the book, she is not afraid to confront leaders, male and female, about their roles in advancing gender equality in the business world. She wants real change and provides the research to support her belief that gender balance needs to be addressed aggressively. In summary, Money on the Table is not a dry, academic book that talks about gender balancing policies. It’s a practical guide for policies that Greenwell believes we need immediately.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

For all its urgency, Money on the Table pushes leaders to act quickly in regards to gender equality without providing a clear overall look at what a comprehensive gender-balanced policy should look. The second part of the book does contain some general recommendations and principles but no checklist or directions are given for leaders who want to start from scratch. In other words, Money on the Table helps explain why workplace equality is important but doesn’t give a comprehensive look at how to get there.

Why Read Money on the Table?

In Money on the Table, Greenwell places specific emphasis on leaders at the top of the organizational chart  because she contends that leaders set the tone for workplace culture. As she describes in the book, the behavior and beliefs of executive leaders have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the business. Organizational culture is not static like furniture. It’s dynamic, something that is reinforced daily through the words and actions of the people in the workplace. Money on the Table offers a more proactive and ambitious guide to the reality of gender equality in business. The book offers a way for leaders to make a financial and strategic case for becoming more active about hiring and retaining more women at all levels of business.

This article, “Money on the Table Shows Why We Need Gender-Balanced Business Leadership Now” was first published on Small Business Trends

How Do You Fire a Family Member?

How Do You Fire a Family Member?

Ninety percent of businesses in the United States are family owned. Some of the biggest brands in America were family founded and are controlled by a family.

Walmart and Berkshire Hathaway are two of the largest examples.

While family-run businesses can be close-knit, friendly, successful and inspiring, they are not without their challenges. One challenge of family leadership is becoming stuck in the same old ways of doing things (because of family pressure) even when the company is growing.

Another challenge is breaking bad news to employees of the company who also happen to be family members. For example, how do you attempt to demote a family member to a lower rung on the company ladder? Or, worse yet, how do you tell Mom and Dad it might be time to retire?

How Do You Fire a Family Member?

In order to shed some light on the unique challenges facing family-run businesses, Small Business Trends spoke with Kathy Kolbe, a global leader in discovering and accessing the power of human instincts, and her daughter Amy Bruske, President of Kolbe Corp. Kathy and Amy have been working in their own family business for more than 20 years. Both are award-winning consultants and advisors to more than 3,000 owners of family businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

As mother and daughter, working together for more than two decades, Kolbe and Bruske have personally experienced every situation discussed in their new book Business is Business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies, which provides research-based insight on the most effective ways to run a business and manage relationships.

Neither Kolbe nor Bruske recall a time when they wished they were working anywhere else.

Here’s some advice they share with Small Business Trends on how to tell a family member they’re no longer needed in the business.

Don’t Become Known as the Family Member Who Fires People

First Kolbe and Bruske insist family members can avoid being criticized for firing another member of the family by praising the individual’s level of effort, if appropriate, and by confirming and discussing what they naturally do well and careers suited to those abilities. Family members should analyze why continued efforts would not be fruitful and examples and references for where and with whom they might succeed should be given. Criticisms of being the one doing the firing could also be avoided by sharing a vision for the future and, as Kolbe and Bruske explain:

“Agreeing on how you will share the information with others, including all company employees and non-employee family members.”

Show Some Tact When You Fire a Family Member

Family members firing co-workers with a family attachment should show tact about the uncomfortable situation at all times. According to Kolbe and Bruske, employers firing family workers should avoid bringing up any other family members’ performances in the company. They should also refrain from discussing the situation with other family members who are uninvolved in the management of the business.

During social situations and at family gatherings, the family business members should avoid referencing the situation to avoid awkwardness and conflict.

Equally, families should not, according to Kolbe and Bruske:

“Incriminate or assign blame if they in fact tried hard and did nothing unethical or against policies.”

They should also avoid itemizing errors or omissions and assigning guilt to anybody.

Forcing the founder out of a family business is an even more complex task than firing family employees.

Attempt to Build Trust

To help assuage this difficult and complex situation, Kolbe and Bruske say family businesses should aim to involve a non-family adviser who is trusted by the founder. They should also openly ask the founder about his or her plans for the future and, if possible, have the founder set a transition date and communicate decisions to others. Company time should also be invested into assisting the founder in moving on to a desired adventure.

“Create a special celebration event or document (e.g. book, painting, photos) that the founder can look forward to and that can be used for closure,” Kolbe and Bruske recommend.

Avoid Bullying or Patronizing

In such situations, it is important that the founder is not bullied or patronized. The true entitlements of the founder should also be honored. The family business members should also not be afraid to ask for the founder’s advice or, as Kolbe and Bruske explain:

“Change everything that the founder did that made the business successful.”

Running and working for a family business can be rewarding and fulfilling but is not without its trials and tribulations. As explained above, tact, patience and diplomacy should be applied when it comes to the difficult situation of firing a family member.

Fired Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How Do You Fire a Family Member?” was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Steps to Becoming the Best Entrepreneur You Can Be

Whether you run a local business or one that’s completely online, your success probably hinges less on the products or services you sell than about the entrepreneur you are. So how do you upgrade your skills, creativity and instincts — for the benefit of your business, of course. Members of our small business community have experience in many of those areas. Check out some of their top tips in the list below.

Learn Local SEO Strategies

If you run a local business, you might think that you don’t need to worry about online marketing. But SEO can be a major factor for helping potential customers find you. Here, you can see some local SEO strategies shared by Bill Hartzer of Search Engine Journal.

Find Creative Ways to Hire Summer Employees

Summer is a popular time for businesses to boost productivity by hiring some extra employees. But hiring temporary employees sometimes requires a little creativity. Check out some strategies in this When I Work post by William Harris.

Learn How to Find Your Gross Profit

Understanding your profits is essential for tracking your business’s goals and progress. To learn a simple way of finding your business’s gross profit, check out this Fundera Ledger post by Billie Anne Grigg. Then see what BizSugar members are saying about the post.

Know the Importance of Supervisor Training and Development

If you want your employees to be successful, then you need good leaders and supervisors. In this SMB CEO post, Ivan Widjaya details why it’s so important for small businesses to understand the importance of supervisor training and development.

Make Your Brand Stand Out on Social Media

Whether you run an online business or a local business, social media can be an extremely helpful tool. But you need to be able to make your business stand out on social media if you want to have any success. Mary Blackiston shares some tips for doing so in this SUCCESS Agency blog post.

Understand The Facts About Snapchat and Instagram

Snapchat and Instagram specifically are growing in popularity with consumers and marketers alike. But since these platforms are constantly changing, it’s important that you understand the basics, as outlined in this Resonance Content Marketing post by Rachel Parker. BizSugar members also share thoughts on the post.

Create Effective Standard Operating Procedures

To get the most out of your team and your business, you need to have some clearly outlined processes and procedures. For more on how to actually create those procedures, take a look at the Process Street post by Adam Henshall.

Check Out The Latest Domain Extensions

When creating your small business website, you no longer have to settle for a simple .com extension. In this Smallbiztechnology.com post by Helen Cartwright, you can check out some of the new domain extensions that are available for businesses to use.

Listen to a Few Great Entrepreneurial Podcasts

If you want to expand your entrepreneurial knowledge, podcasts can be a great resource. This crowdSPRING post by Amanda Bowman features nine podcasts that all entrepreneurs should listen to. And the BizSugar community also comments on the post here.

Consider Your Audience’s “Where” and “When”

When thinking about your audience, you might stop with simply considering who they are. But thinking about where and when your audience might come across your message is also an important consideration. Kevin Lee elaborates further in this Marketing Land post.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Entrepreneur photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Steps to Becoming the Best Entrepreneur You Can Be” was first published on Small Business Trends

Join This Twitter Chat During National #SmallBusinessWeek

How to Start Advertising on Twitter for Only $50

National Small Business Week is just around the corner. That means there are plenty of different events and opportunities for small businesses to network and grow.

One such opportunity is an upcoming Twitter chat hosted by SCORE. The #SmallBusinessWeek Twitter chat takes place on May 2 and will feature a small business-focused discussion encompassing a variety of relevant topics.

And that’s not the only upcoming event that might be of interest to your small business. You can check out the Featured Events section for more information on the National #SmallBusinessWeek Twitter chat and more.

Then check out the list below for even more upcoming small business events.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

National #SmallBusinessWeek Twitter Chat, Hosted by SCORENational #SmallBusinessWeek Twitter Chat, Hosted by SCORE
May 02, 2017, Online, Twitter

Join SCORE as they host a National Small Business Week Twitter Chat on Tuesday, May 2 from 12:30-1:30 pm EST. Please follow SCORE’s Twitter @SCOREMentors ?and use the chat hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek to participate in the discussion. See you there!


TECHSPO Toronto 2017TECHSPO Toronto 2017
May 18, 2017, Toronto, Ontario

TECHSPO Toronto 2017 is a 2-day technology expo which takes place at the Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel in Toronto, Ontario. TECHSPO Toronto brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and evangelists looking to set the pace in our advanced world of technology. TECHSPO Toronto 2017 promises to be better than ever and we’re excited to see all the amazing tech companies and talent that will be joining.


Secret KnockSecret Knock
May 22, 2017, Los Angeles, Calif.

Secret Knock is going to be the single greatest event for the top entrepreneurs and action-takers in the world to connect, share ideas, and help take each other to the next level. Each of the attendees have believed in themselves enough to get to where they are, and they are not stopping now. Secure your application for one of the few spots left at the Secret Knock.


Sales World 2017Sales World 2017
November 08, 2017, Online

Sales World 2017 takes place November 8th to 9th, 2017, Online; Live and On Demand. It is the largest Sales Industry Event in the World and will be attended by over 10,000 Sales Professionals. It’s the one sales event you can’t afford to miss!


DIGIMARCON WORLD 2017 - Digital Marketing ConferenceDIGIMARCON WORLD 2017 – Digital Marketing Conference
November 14, 2017, Online

DIGIMARCON WORLD 2017 Digital Marketing Conference takes place November 14th to 16th, 2017. Whether your goal is to reinforce customer loyalty, improve lead generation, increase sales, or drive stronger consumer engagement, DIGIMARCON WORLD 2017’s agenda will help attendees enhance their marketing efforts. Sessions will focus on building traffic, expanding brand awareness, improving customer service and gaining insight into today’s latest digital tools.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Twitter chat photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Join This Twitter Chat During National #SmallBusinessWeek” was first published on Small Business Trends

Google Says Websites Shouldn’t Mark Republished Content for Index

Google Noindex Advice

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) recently suggested more steps toward eliminating duplicate content across the web. And website owners, including small business owners, may want to pay attention considering the search engine has a history of eventually penalizing sites for not taking heed.

Google Noindex Advice

Specifically, websites currently republishing content sourced from original authors are now encouraged to “noindex” that content. This Google noindex advice is something most content creators are unlikely to follow.

In a fight to rank on the top page of Google, specifically the top five search results, websites —  including major news outlets — often republish popular articles. Applying noindex to all of these syndicated articles would solve one of Google’s biggest headaches — duplicate content. But so far, the reward for doing so seems too high.

Overload of Duplicate Content

Currently just about every major news source including: NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, MSNBC, Fox News and others are simply re-posting content without applying noindex. The content generally comes from syndicated news sources like the Associated Press or Reuters.

Search any headline in Google and you will undoubtedly get thousands of sources with identical content, writes SEO expert Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable. Ironically enough, the top search results are often not the original source. Nevertheless, the majority of websites will continue this practice in search of the reward of high-traffic to their web address.

In a recent Twitter exchange on a related topic, Google webmaster trends analyst John Mueller suggested sites should not be marking such context for index by the search engine:

Marking Content Noindex Means No Traffic from Google

Noindexing is pretty much the opposite of what most websites want  to do.

The noindexing tag is an HTML value applied to content for the purpose of keeping search engines from ranking it. It’s applied on the backend of web administration and is normally used for private data or files linked to large databases.

This of course is bad news for websites that make their living —  at least in part — from republishing content. And small business website owners who try to make up for a lack of original content on their sites with republished articles from other sources should be concerned too.

This is not the first time that Google has pushed to remove excessive duplicate content from the web. It also seems likely that the search engine will eventually respond with an algorithm change that downgrades sites with too much of this content.  In the meantime, however, the noindex step seems something Google is simply requesting of webmasters.

Google Wants a World Without Duplicate Content

Whether it’s practical at the moment or not, it’s clear that Google’s ideal is web where only one copy of each piece of content is indexed for ranking on the search engine.

Although, it may take some time for that to happen, websites and content creators would be wise to evolve their business models.

In the future of the web, those with original content will not only rule — they’ll likely be the only ones left.

Copy Machine Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Google Says Websites Shouldn’t Mark Republished Content for Index” was first published on Small Business Trends

10-Second Looks at Marketing Through Snapchat Spectacles

10-Second Looks at Marketing Through Snapchat Spectacles

Snapchat spectacles were introduced last year as a means to take very short videos to post to Snapchat. Reactions to the glasses were pretty strong; the spectacles were in demand, but not easy to come by. But what about now? Are these devices something that businesses should pursue, or are they a technological oddity? To find out how important these wearable cameras will be in the future, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council:

“Do you see Snapchat Spectacles being a game-changer for small business marketing? If so, how?”

Marketing Through Snapchat Spectacles

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Spectacles Can Keep Customers Entertained and Informed

“Snap’s Spectacles allow small businesses to easily give their consumers an inside look at day-to-day operations, special events or behind the scenes. Every business can find at least one very unique angle to leverage to draw attention. Small- and medium-sized businesses can use Spectacles as a way to keep their current customer base entertained and informed, as well as attract a new audience. The key is creativity.” ~ Jonathan LongSexy Smile Kit

2. The Devices Are Fun for a While, but Not Game Changing

“Spectacles are not a must-have for small business marketing. For businesses with a younger audience demographic, Spectacles are a fun addition to social campaigns that make a business seem more innovative and accessible. However, the regular Snapchat app works just as well for most marketing purposes.” ~ Adelyn ZhouTOPBOTS

3. Not Until Snapchat Figures Out Their Advertising Platform

“To this point, Snapchat does not seem too concerned with appealing to small businesses when it comes to advertising. Spectacles may provide a slightly easier way for businesses to film, although there are plenty of cool devices you can already use such as 360 cameras. It will not be a game changer unless they change the way you can advertise the content that you create.” ~ Scott Kacmarski, Reps Direct

4. Spectacles Give Followers a First-Person Look

“Snapchat Spectacles allow followers to truly immerse themselves in the users’ perspective. No matter how big or small your business is, whether you’re making deliveries or showing followers a day at the office, with Spectacles you’re making the ordinary look much more extraordinary with a first-person point of view. For 0, you can’t beat that!” ~ Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

5. They Might Work for Some Niches

“I don’t see Snapchat Spectacles having a huge impact on small business marketing. It’s a cool device, but I don’t think it does anything for video marketing that a GoPro or any other small camera can’t do — there is no shortage of convenient cameras of much higher quality. But I’m not Snapchat’s target demographic, so I’m prepared to be surprised here.” ~ Vik PatelFuture Hosting

6. This Too Will Phase Out

“Much like Google Glasses, it was a “cool trend” but never really hit mainstream. Snapchat has a great following, but most people aren’t going to want to wear the glasses or bring another outside component into their lives. As for business use, this will also be decided on by how well Spectacles are adopted by the general public.” ~ Zac Johnson, Blogger

7. Wearables Are Something to Watch

“Snapchat Spectacles won’t be game-changing unless you’re invested in Snapchat as a marketing platform, but they are an important indicator of a trend small businesses should pay attention to. Wearables, coupled with augmented reality, are going to have a huge impact in the coming years, creating marketing and business opportunities that are worth exploring now.” ~ Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

8. Snapchat Platform Works Better for Big Businesses

“Unfortunately, Snapchat Spectacles won’t make an impact for small businesses. Already, Snapchat has proven to be a platform that works best for big business, while small businesses thrive using Instagram stories. The addition of Snapchat Spectacles to the photo sharing marketplace is definitely an interesting step forward, but we feel its impact will be seen more in personal use than for business.” ~ Kevin YamazakiSidebench

9. This System Will Lead to Innovation

“I don’t think it will change business, but I do think it will impact how competitors innovate. Instagram has already moved in on Snapchat territory, and messaging apps are now a dime a dozen. We’re going to see companies learn from the mistakes Snapchat makes and come up with better ideas.” ~ Ismael WrixenFE International

10. Snapchat Spectacles Are Convenient, but They’re Not Special

“As they currently exist, Snapchat Spectacles are simply making it more convenient to produce content for Snapchat. While the excitement might attract more people to the platform, the Spectacles do not add any additional value. How much of an impact they have on individual businesses will really depend on who your market is and whether or not they already use Snapchat. Overall, not a game changer.” ~ Kyle GoguenPawstruck

Snapchat Button Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10-Second Looks at Marketing Through Snapchat Spectacles” was first published on Small Business Trends

Is it Okay to Bring Your Spouse on a Business Trip?

Is it Okay to Bring Your Spouse on a Business Trip?

Business travel can be hard on a relationship when you’re frequently gone for days or weeks a time. But have you ever considered bringing your spouse along on one of your trips? It could be a nice break from the loneliness of solo travel — however, there are some things you should think about first.

Check With Your Boss Before You Bring Your Spouse on a Business Trip

Secretly taking your spouse along with you without mentioning it to the folks paying for your trip is a terrible idea. With that being said, the very first thing you should take into account is the approval of your boss.

You should have a pretty good idea as to whether your boss will allow your spouse to travel with you or not. They obviously won’t pay for your spouse’s travel expenses and any extra accommodations (if they do, you’ve found a pretty fantastic company), but asking your boss if they can tag along isn’t a preposterous request for someone who has built up some credibility and trust.

Explain to your boss that you simply want some company and that your spouse won’t be a distraction. If anything, their presence will allow you to feel more relaxed and at home.

6 Tips for Making it Work

If you get the go-ahead, you don’t want to squander the opportunity by abusing your situation. The following tips should help you make the most of this chance to let your spouse tag along.

1. Set Expectations

It’s absolutely imperative that you set expectations for your spouse before you leave. Otherwise, they may feel left out and neglected, which can hinder your ability to be productive.

“It’s a work trip for one of you and your time will reflect that,” experienced business traveler Jesse Ghiorzi says. “You can do your best to spend time with your partner, but prepare yourselves to be apart and view the time together as a bonus.”

In other words, make sure your spouse knows that business trips do in fact involve work. You aren’t just traveling to grab lunch with a client and then enjoy two or three days of sightseeing. You’re most likely there to do two or three days of work and then grab an occasional meal with your spouse. As long as they know this ahead of time, everything should be fine.

2. Plan for Fun on the Bookends

One popular technique savvy business travelers use is booking leisure time on the front or back end of a trip. They either go a couple of days early or stay a couple of days late — using vacation time to compensate for these days. In fact, one study says 72 percent of travelers have extended a business trip with a leisure component.

You’ll obviously have to coordinate this with your company, but most won’t object to letting you schedule an earlier or later flight (so long as the price is comparable).

3. Give Your Spouse Something to Do

While we’ve discussed the importance of setting expectations, that doesn’t mean you should just leave your spouse in the hotel room all week waiting for you to finish work. It’s a good idea to give them something to do. This will help them have a good time and see the city while you’re taking care of your responsibilities.

Since your spouse is probably limited by a lack of transportation — especially if there’s no rental car, or the car is in your name — you can help them find things to do within the vicinity of the hotel. If you’re in a big city, a local walking tour of the city is one great option. (Hint: You can generally find free tours in most major cities.) Other good ideas include taking a jog through a local park, visiting museums, and checking out coffee shops.

4. Be Careful With Expenses

You can obviously spend as much of your own money as you want on a business trip, but be very careful when it comes to bringing your spouse along. Your company will pay for most of your obligatory expenses — food, transportation, etc. — but they probably aren’t going to cover your spouse’s spending.

In order to avoid slipping up, make sure you both pay for your own things throughout the week. Even if you both go enjoy a nice dinner, pay for your meal and let your spouse pay for their meal. It’s much easier this way and you won’t run the risk of mixing things up.

5. Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard

When you travel by yourself, you probably have a pretty normal routine. You get up early, grab breakfast in the hotel lobby, go to whatever meetings or work-related responsibilities you have, enjoy a relaxing dinner, and head back to the hotel room for some sleep. But when you have a spouse along, you often feel the pressure to do something after you get off work. And while there’s nothing wrong with taking in the sights and enjoying your time together, don’t push yourself too hard. Rest is important and you have to prioritize work over everything else.

6. Don’t Go Together All the Time

For most couples, going on business trips together isn’t something that should happen all the time. It’s best when you do it occasionally as a way of breaking up the monotony of travel. Do it too much and you risk getting overly comfortable and forgetting the major focus of the trip.

Finding Work-Life Balance

One of the keys to a healthy career is finding some work-life balance. While this often requires compromise, there are some unique situations in which you can blend things and have surprisingly positive results — business travel included.

By bringing your spouse along with you on a business trip, you get the opportunity to enjoy special experiences together. It won’t work for every couple, but it’s definitely worth a try.

Couple Traveling Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Is it Okay to Bring Your Spouse on a Business Trip?” was first published on Small Business Trends

Bob Jenkins of Leadpages: Most Small Businesses Still Don’t Believe They Need Landing Pages

Why Landing Pages Are Important

It’s 2017 and there are multiple surveys out there saying more than half of small businesses out there still don’t have a website. And, according to an upcoming survey from Leadpages, even many of those with websites don’t understand why landing pages are important – why they need pages optimized for converting site visitors into contacts and leads.

While on the exhibition floor at Infusionsoft’s ICON 17 event this week I had a chance to speak with Bob “The Teacher” Jenkins, Manager of Education Content for Leadpages. Bob shares why landing pages are important and why it’s more important than ever to have those landing pages optimized for conversation. He also discusses why Google’s emphasis on speedy page load times will impact your landing page conversion rates.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the whole conversation watch the video, or click the embedded SoundCloud player.

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Why Landing Pages Are ImportantSmall Business Trends: So give us a little background on Leadpages.

Bob Jenkins: We pre-launched Leadpages in 2012 before the software existed. Our co-founder and CEO Clay Collins had an idea of turning templates that could be uploaded into a template machine where people wouldn’t even have to upload them, they just need to change what the text was on the page. And so, in November of 2012, we had a pre-launch. January it was launched as an actual product with a couple hundred users right out of the gate. Four and a half years later, we have 47,000 customers. We are number 148 on the Inc. 500. We’ve been profitable since day one but have also raised $38,000,000 dollars in that time frame from venture capital money. So we do very well with our customer base. We love helping small businesses make it easier to market what they’re doing and turn more people into customers.

Small Business Trends: So what are a couple of the biggest challenges small businesses face in creating pages that actually convert?

Bob Jenkins: First of all, it’s knowing that they should have a landing page. A lot of people think they need a website that has all the bells and whistles; has fifteen pages or forty-five pages, and then low and behold, none of their pages actually have a way to capture a lead. They might have a phone number or they might have contact us or something like that, but the difference between a regular website and the landing page is that idea of focusing on conversion. So, first of all, small businesses have to realize that they have to have those types of pages. We have a small business report that is being released here this spring that’s finds most small businesses don’t even think they need a landing page. All you need is a website…that’s just not cutting it.

Now, once they have a landing page, what they need to remember is that people don’t care about your product, they care about their problem being solved. So, in your landing pages, make sure you’re communicating what’s the number one problem you’re solving, and describe enough of the solution to make them want to say yes to knowing more. Whether that’s giving their email address or that’s buying a product, don’t overwhelm them with all the details and information until they’ve said at least one yes along the way.

Small Business Trends: Are there any other important aspects of landing pages that customers overlook?

Bob Jenkins: One is to make sure that your ability to convert is easy to find. We call these call to action buttons. They need to be of high contrasting color. They need to be above the fold, which means as soon as you land on a page, that button is visible. You don’t have to scroll for it, you don’t have to hunt for it. And there’s another one lower down so if you have a landing page that has a couple of scrolls worth of page content, have at least one other button on the page. A lot of people overlook that.

We also overlook the idea of design. With our software we give you a lot of templates which are already pre-designed for conversion. They’re not just designed to look good, they’re designed to convert. Having that is a real good advantage if you’re using something else or doing it on your own, just make sure you take into consideration the aesthetic, have it look good but make sure that all things are pointing toward those call to action buttons. So the people take the action.

Small Business Trends: What are some of the things that they have to do from a mobile perspective with modern landing pages?

Bob Jenkins: Just to emphasize your question, Facebook has about 1.8 billion users. 1.2 billion access it monthly on the phone. That gives you 60 to 70 percent of people are accessing landing pages on the phone because they’re going from social media or they’re clicking on an ad and they’re going to that mobile site. So everybody has to have mobile responsive pages. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

Building a website in a traditional website platform or an old school design, that’s just not mobile responsive. So you want to make sure that it’s responsive and even more than that, optimized. One of the things we love that we introduced to our builder a few months ago was the ability to hide or show sections based on what kind of device people are using. Not only are they responsive and look okay, you can read them, it’s not like you have to scroll left and right on the page and zoom in and zoom out, but you also have that ability to see the content as it should exist. So having mobile optimized pages is also an advantage.

One thing to note about that is the call to action button, again. Think about holding a phone. There’s only so much scrolling before somebody starts to give up. So a traditional landing page, even something that might be made from one of our pages initially, might not have the button above the fold on that first screen on a mobile device. It’s mobile responsive, it’ll still look good, but you might have to scroll a little bit to get to it. So thinking about how does the experience for mobile user differ from the desktop and have the button right away on the front where your thumbs going to be. You know, most people are right handed so have it very accessible to that right handed thumb, hopefully even across to the left as well for the left handers too.

Small Business Trends: Talk a little about speed. What’s the speed, the efficiency you really have to have before somebody just walks away?

Bob Jenkins: This is a very important question because Google is going to penalize search results if you’re not actually strong in the speed department. So if your page is not loading in two seconds, you’re going to be hurting. We want to get ours under one second and that’s the kind of thing we strive for. New users to around 760 to 800 milliseconds is what we’re seeing. Sometimes it’s a little longer or shorter depending on image sizes and things like that but it’s definitely a concern so not just on your mobile device through the high speed internet but how does it look on 3G, how does it look on internationally when you’re in places that might not have high speed internet. So that one second might be a little longer. But you want to make sure it’s under three or four seconds as much as possible.


This article, “Bob Jenkins of Leadpages: Most Small Businesses Still Don’t Believe They Need Landing Pages” was first published on Small Business Trends

Technology Disruption Has Lead to the Rise Of The Craft Brand

Technology Disruption Has Lead to the Rise Of The Craft BrandBrands aren’t what they used to be. In the past, brands were a physical symbol that represented value. When you bought a Coca-Cola, the red logo assured that you were getting a good soda. Nowadays, brands have become more complicated. They still represent a physical product, but they can mean a lot more than that. In The Rise Of The Craft Brand: Why Small is Going to Be Huge, author Ben Zifkin explains how this changing definition of branding can be leveraged to help a small business compete with a large-sized competitor.

What is The Rise of the Craft Brand About?

The central message of The Rise Of The Craft Brand is about technology’s disruption of the relationship between branding, distribution and commerce. Just a few years ago, the only way to get a Ralph Lauren shirt was to find a retailer, like Macy’s or Sears, that sold that product. With the rise of technology like the internet, you don’t even need to leave your chair to purchase that Ralph Lauren shirt from Amazon, the Ralph Lauren site, or any number of online stores and auctions.

This disruption between branding, distribution and commerce has resulted in the emergence of craft branding. Craft branding, unlike other types of branding, doesn’t depend on going big. The goal isn’t to reach every customer in the world. The goal of craft branding is to produce specialty. Craft branding is the strategic marriage of a small business brand and technology. When these two get together, big-name retailers are in trouble.

Why should big-name retailers be frightened by craft branding? There are a couple of reasons. First, many big-name retailers (although this is slightly changing) rely on mass-produced brands that don’t have the flexibility of a craft brand. The old-school brand of the past was a physical symbol focused on getting a transaction from mass-produced items (like a Coca-Cola bottle). Craft brands are different. They can afford to charge higher prices and produce on a smaller scale because they can leverage technology and a deeper relationship with an audience that wants a distinctive experience.

The Rise of the Craft Brand explores how small brands, like Under Armour were able to leverage their resources to become disruptive competitors to established businesses like Nike.

Zifkin is a former software engineer and consultant, founder and CEO of Hubba, a B2B network that connects retailers and brands. An avid supporter of technology is on the board of directors for Ladies Learning to Code and Hacker You.

What Was Best About The Rise of the Craft Brand?

Rise of the Craft Brand approaches the topic of a branding from a different (and much-needed) perspective. The trend in business books has been to discuss branding as a concrete “thing” that a person or business does. Rise of the Craft Brand expands that concept of branding and demonstrates how commerce will be affected by it. The brands profiled in this book provide a glimpse of how current businesses are adapting now for that upcoming future.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

Rise of the Craft Brand celebrates the empowering potential of small businesses to make a big impact but it could use more detail to flesh out the concept of a “craft brand”. First, the book identifies a few characteristics of craft brands” but fails to show how craft brands differ from other types of brand. Second, the book fails to outline a specific strategy for craft brands. The author shares his own personal experience with Hubba along with other businesses but there isn’t enough detail for a full-fledged strategy. Having this kind of strategy might help struggling small business owners.

Why Read The Rise of the Craft Brand?

“For any business leader interested in the future of commerce, Rise of the Craft Brand offers a glimpse into the technology that is disrupting big-name retailers. This disruption is changing the ways that brands are created and developed, leaving room for small businesses to make a big marketing impact without a large-scale budget. For those who want a sneak peek of what this disruption looks like in the present, Rise of the Craft Brand profiles small businesses that were able to benefit from this disruption and launch into a powerful brand while following their own path to success.

This article, “Technology Disruption Has Lead to the Rise Of The Craft Brand” was first published on Small Business Trends