Sunday, February 2, 2014

Work ON Your Business Not Just IN It

Posted: 01 Feb 2014 03:30 PM PST

You've surely heard of the old saying:too busy working IN your business to work ON your business.Don't let that be you or your team.Set aside some time to work ON your business, by attending a conference, webinar or other event.

Skills can atrophy if you don't exercise them.Be sure to keep your business skills sharp, and stay up to date on the latest developments in your industry.

And while you're at it, check out the contests and awards listed below.All are hand chosen to appeal to your needs as a small business owner, manager or entrepreneur.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the .FEATURED EVENTS, CONTESTS AND AWARDS

March 19, 2014, San Francisco, CA

AM Days is the must attend event for affiliate managers who are responsible for their company's affiliate marketing strategy, management and operations. Whether you have an existing affiliate program or you are creating a new initiative, AMDays offers you valuable insight into how other online retailers are successfully implementing and managing their affiliate programs. Topics include: Affiliate program set up; Affiliate recruitment techniques; Affiliate marketing fraud; M-commerce; and much more.

Hashtag: #AMDays

April 23, 2014, Phoenix, AZ

#ICON14 is the eighth annual conference for small business, hosted by Infusionsoft (previously called Infusioncon). Over 3,000 attendees expected. Confirmed speakers include Seth Godin, JJ Ramberg and Peter Shankman.

Hashtag: #ICON14


SMALLBIZTRENDS (Get an extra $100 off)


February 05, 2014, Online

February 05, 2014, Chicago, IL

February 05, 2014, Online

February 06, 2014, Englewood, NJ

February 06, 2014, Chicago, IL

February 07, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA

February 09, 2014, New York City, NY

February 10, 2014, Las Vegas, NV

February 11, 2014, Online

February 11, 2014, Chicago, IL

February 11, 2014, New York City, NY

February 11, 2014, Online

February 12, 2014, Online

February 12, 2014, Coraopolis, PA

February 12, 2014, Online

February 13, 2014, Online

February 15, 2014, Chicago, IL

February 18, 2014, Online

February 19, 2014, Atlanta, Georgia

February 19, 2014, Online


February 03, 2014, Online

February 09, 2014, Online

August 24, 2014, Online

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

The post appeared first on .

Posted: 01 Feb 2014 12:30 PM PST

Listen to what the small business community is talking about online. It includes tips on how small business owners must stay engaged. Here's our community news and information roundup for the week.

(Rhona's Virtual Office)

The theory is that by outsourcing some of your tasks in business, you will save yourself time and money. This is especially true if your business is small. But here are some things virtual assistant Rhonda Holscher suggests you might not want to hand off completely to someone else.

(Super Office)

If you're like 89 percent of small businesses out there, you're probably making a very simple but costly mistake in your email marketing. Steven MacDonald has more on this problem and a simple way for you to start improving things immediately.


Here Crawford, a freelancer himself, lays out some of the big mistakes freelancers make. The post also led to . See what you think.

(Image Smith Creative)

If you do your own marketing, there are probably tons of ways you may need to work with images. They range from working with photos you take or upload to your blog to graphics created for brochures or other print material. Remember, says designer Lisa Smith Youngdahl, these images must all be handled differently.

(The Straight North Blog)

Everybody is talking about content marketing these days. But the quality of that content seems more important than ever before too. So how do you go about evaluating the quality of the content you create?

(BizLaunch Blog)

Of course, different channels may be better for different businesses. But here, from Stephanie Neyland, is another reminder of why Google Plus shouldn't be overlooked in your consideration. Look over the benefits and see whether Google Plus could be a good fit for your brand.


Here's some data shared by consultant Marc Camras and his team. The information is based on research from the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation. It could mean this will be the year for significant industry growth.

(The Franchise King)

But before you get too excited about the prospects, be sure to check out Joel Libava's list. See if you're ready to do what it takes to become a success in the franchise world.

(Uber Stories)

Creating the product or service itself may be hard. There may be complicated technology and linguistics involved. But ultimately, successful businesses often come from solving simple problems. Beyond the sophisticated technology that makes it work, Capitalhop seeks to realize a simple goal: making metro commutes easier.

(Simple Relevance)

Consumers are fascinated by the ads scheduled to air during the big game long before the event ever happens, explains Challin Meink. The question is whether you can create that kind of excitement over your product or service.

Now it's your turn to help. If you have a suggestion for content to include in these roundups, please let us know. Email us at Or consider sharing it on the community. It's where we ourselves look for the latest and most unique small business content and voices.

photo via Shutterstock

The post appeared first on .

Posted: 01 Feb 2014 09:00 AM PST

When Abrianna Peto first decided to start a business about two years ago, she didn't expect to actually make a full-time living from it. As many online entrepreneurs now do, Peto used Facebook to launch her business.

Recently fired from her job at Subway after working in fast food for six years, she had trouble finding another. So it was out of necessity that she started, an online shop where she sold painted guns used for her favorite game, Airsoft. The game is similar to paintball but uses spherical non-metallic pellets instead of paint balls.

Peto said in an email to Small Business Trends:

"I did not think I'd earn a living with the business. I just needed to do something until I found a job."

For the first year, Peto didn't make a profit with her business, but she kept going because she enjoyed working for herself and being involved with a hobby she enjoyed.

But she was still in college and still learning the ins and outs of running a business. So she changed her business model a few times. Peto changed the name of her website from to . She completely changed her product line to focus on custom vinyl patches, t-shirts and gun decals.

All of those changes and lessons learned eventually started leading to some increased sales and profits:

"In January 2013, I changed our website so people could purchase patches instantly online, by uploading an image. Before then they had to email us first. In that month our sales tripled."

Along with changing her business model, Peto also had to learn how to successfully promote her evolving company. She started a Facebook page on the day she started her online business, and has used it as one of her main promotional methods.

As a result, Peto has become one of many new e-commerce site operators who used Facebook to launch her business. But if she started over today, she wouldn't necessarily go the same route unless she had enough time to promote the page properly:

"Facebook wasn't an aha moment, it was just a given. It's almost a requirement for starting an e-commerce business."

At first, Peto didn't have a lot of followers. She found that not spending the time and effort gaining a following hurt her business's reputation and made it seem like a brand that wasn't reputable. She also learned to really value the customers she did have and use the site as more than just a place to push products and links:

"Promoting products constantly is not the way to go. We get a lot more traffic from Facebook when we focus on fan interaction and input. Customers let us know what products they would like to see from us or what they would like changed in our new products."

Aside from Facebook, Peto said she's had some success using other online forums targeting people who play Airsoft, along with police and military personnel. But the main thing she's learned about running a business is to really focus on customer service.

Peto said:

"Small Internet businesses rely on word of mouth to grow. When you only have a few reviews on the Internet, a happy customer can make you and an unhappy one can break you. Actually you need 100 happy reviews to 1 bad one."

With all the lessons learned over the past few years in business, Peto has finally started realizing the success she wanted. She's now begun filling large orders for police and military groups, and is making enough of a profit to hire two employees.

Overall, she said it's a much better situation than if she would have been able to quickly find a new job two years ago:

"I so badly wanted to be apart of something that mattered. I worked in fast food for 6 years, where I could have been replaced by anyone with an hour's worth of training. My life has changed dramatically in the past two years. I value myself entirely differently."

Images: Mutiny Shop/Abrianna Peto

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Posted: 01 Feb 2014 06:00 AM PST

We've come a long way in the world of social media and marketing.I can remember the days where people just didn't know what to do with social media.Was it marketing?Was it PR?Was it something completely different?

In this year's batch of best social media books, you're going to see the evolution of this marketing tool from something unknown, new and exciting into a staple marketing strategy.


If you missed it the first and second times, this is your third chance.The new edition of the new rules of marketing has become a classic for marketers who strive to run a complete marketing program that incorporates good social media practices along with traditional marketing methods.

If you're still confused about social media.This will help.If you're marketing efforts have been somewhat fruitless, chances are you might be breaking some of these new rules.This is an easy to read, easy to implement book about how to use social media to drive attention to your brand and conversions to customers.

An introduction by Chris Brogan tells you that this book has good stuff.

You'll also love the practical how-to strategies you can swipefrom the book and deploy in your marketing to get results.Slowly but surely, Instagram is starting to gain momentum.

Use this book to get the ins-and-outs of how to leverage this popular platform to build your brand story and reputation, attract customers and develop a community around your company, product or service.


If you understand the power of social media, have social media accounts, but still haven't experienced the benefit of social media in your marketing, you may be missing out on the "engagement" piece of the social media puzzle.

This book will help you see social media from a different perspective and teach you how to leverage each tool to attract more customers.


Pinterest went from housewives creating interesting boards of crafts to a major traffic driver and brand builder.

But is it a good platform for your small business?

This book will help you answer those questions.You'll be surprised at how different businesses have used Pinterest in their marketing.


Klout has cracked the code on figuring out who's who in any area of life.

This book will give you a complete understanding of what Klout is, why it should matter to you and your business and how to raise your Klout score on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other networks.


It's not secret the word of mouth marketing and recommendations from people who are like us or who we know and trust can make a massive impact on the sale of any product or service.

This book is all about identifying marketing opportunities for your business and finding the tools to help you take advantage of them.


There aren't a lot of books out there about SlideShare.This is what makes Present Yourself an interesting read.

SlideShare is a social platform where you can share your presentation and prove build your reputation as a subject matter expert.

This book will show you how to create presentations that are shareable and how to use SlideShare as part of your marketing strategy.


One of the hidden and forgotten powers of social media is the accessibility you get to people who used to hide behind gatekeepers.

The author reveals ways that you can gain access to influencers using the doors that he calls "hidden in plain sight".


If you're a small business owner who doesn't have time to translate big brand social media strategies to your small business, this is your answer.

This is a handbook that will walk you through every step of the process of targeting customers, choosing social media channels and implementing a simple strategy for your small business.It's so hard to choose just ten social media marketing books.The list I've presented here contains books I'd recommend for reading, learning and implementing social media in your small business.

What social media marketing books have been your favorite and why?

Photo via Shutterstock

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