Insert the url of the feed you want to read here (e.g. http://news.google.com/?output=rss):
Or try one of the following: Afterdawn, Ajaxian, BBC News, BBC China, BBC Russia, Brent Simmons, CNN, Digg, Diggnation, Digital Point Forums, Flickr, Forex Events, Google News, Harvard Law, iTunes, Killer Startups, Movie Trailers, Newspond, OS News, Poker Blog, Swimming, Technorati, Yahoo! News, You Tube, Zeldman
4 Common Financial Mistakes Every Small Business Owner Should Avoid 25 Mar 2017, 10:00 am
Every entrepreneur and business owner will make a few financial mistakes during their journey. Those who aren’t savvy in accounting often overlook the need to brush up on their financial IQ. Truth is, these little financial errors can lead to some serious cash flow problems if you aren’t careful. Here are four financial mistakes you can easily avoid so you can protect your bottom line.
Nobody is fond of paying bills. We tend to put them off until the last minute for short-lived peace of mind. This applies to all business owners when it comes to both your account payables and receivables.
When billing your clients, it’s common to give them an extended window of time to make payments so you can foster more sales. While your clients may appreciate the flexibility this can seriously cripple your cash flow. I generally suggest giving your clients no longer than 14 days to pay an invoice. If you’re providing quality goods and services they should have no problem paying you within this time window.
When it comes to paying your own bills, it’s important to follow the same principles above. This is especially the case if you’re operating off borrowed money. Paying an invoice late may result in a few unhappy emails, but when it comes to paying off your debts you need to always be on time. Even one missed payment can severely harm your credit score.
The best way to stay on top of these is to use an online payments solution that offers online invoicing and accounting features. This way all of your bills are organized and can be accessed anywhere at anytime.
Forgetting to Have an Emergency Fund
Every successful entrepreneur will probably tell you that hindsight is 20/20 and foresight is…well you just never know what’s going to happen. Every business will have to pivot and there will always be unexpected hurdles. That being said, it’s absolutely imperative that you have your contingency plan, especially when it comes to finances. I recommend that every business owner has a three-month emergency fund at least.
You should start putting money away into your emergency fund as soon as the cash comes in. No matter the size of your business you should learn the art of bootstrapping and staying lean. The more money you put away, the more you’ll force yourself to get by with what you have. The majority of startups fail due to the lack of or misuse of capital. Having an emergency fund gives you a bit more runway when disaster strikes.
Failing to Separate Business Funds with Personal Funds
This is one of the most common and dangerous pitfalls in small businesses. Small business owners often put their lives on the line for their business, literally. This is a big no-no. When starting a business it’s important to immediately separate your personal finances from your business finances. If you’re like any other entrepreneur it’s going to take more than one go to be successful. That being said, you definitely don’t want a failed business to tarnish your financial reputation.
Start by opening up a business bank account and apply for a business credit card to keep track of expenses. Make sure you’re only using your business credit card for business expenses and vice a versa. Failing to separate the two can also lead to complications around balancing accounts, filing taxes, measuring profits, and even setting clear financial goals. Do yourself a favor and avoid mixing these expenses.
Spending Too Much Time on Non-Cash-Generating Activities
It’s a given that you most likely won’t see an ROI on every activity you do when running a business. That being said, it’s important to distinguish which ones have the highest chance of eventually generating some cash flow. When it comes to time tracking and time management, it’s important to pay close attention to your productivity levels.
Everyone has 24 hours in a day, some decide to work smarter than others and that’s why they become successful. Know that time is your most valuable asset and treat it as such. Remember, it’s okay to say no or to turn down meetings that you know provide little to no value for your business. There’s no need to take or be present on every phone call either. Being able to identify what brings true and tangible value to your business is a key to success.
Try your best to follow the 80/20 rule. There are likely three to four activities in your business that generate the most cash. Once you identify these activities, create a habit of spending 80% of your time doing these tasks and save the rest of your time for other miscellaneous jobs. If you’re able to get really disciplined around this strategy, it will surely pay off.
It takes years of practice to improve your financial literacy. Although most lessons in finance are learned the hard way, it’s important to learn them nonetheless. Take note of these four common financial mistakes and do your best to avoid them.
4 Common Financial Mistakes Every Small Business Owner Should Avoid was originally published on Due by Renzo Costarella.
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HostingBNB Delivers The Goods For Airbnb Hosts Who Want To Provide The Best Experiences 24 Mar 2017, 1:30 pm
Shampoo, soap, and towels. Simple stuff. Basic. But just think of how it might transform your Airbnb experience if you were assured these items each time you made a booking.
HostingBNB is on a mission to turn Airbnb and short-term rental hosts into rockstars that provide their guests with the essentials that will motivate them to leave five-star ratings.
The small details always make such a huge difference. One of the best rules of hospitality I learned when I was in the restaurant trade was to anticipate your guests needs. If you have what they want before they have to ask, you allow them to enjoy themselves more freely.
Plenty of us travelers turn to Airbnb because were happy to exchange lavish hotel amenities for more affordable rates. Plus, we like dealing with ordinary people and the taste of authentic living that comes with staying in people’s private spaces. But we still appreciate consideration. Some items are required for us to feel comfortable.
HostingBNB makes it easy on hosts to deliver these goods and to score big points with guests. The service supplies stylish soap, shampoo and other comfort items for a flat rate per guest, in the form of monthly packs of toiletries.
Cheaper than a drug store and ultra-convenient, HostingBNB helps hosts to attend to their guests and make a good show of cleanliness and hygiene. The startup enables hosts to function with hotel-like efficiency – ensuring that they are adequately stocked for every guest – with little effort.
It’s a win for both sides. Guests feel pampered and have more reason to leaving glowing reviews. Hosts have an easier time managing their listings and are more likely to receive the great reviews that lead to optimal bookings.
HostBNB sends two kinds of packs, the “Host with the Most” and “Super Host.” Both come with the following items for each guest:
- Grapefruit Shampoo
- Grapefruit Conditioner
- Grapefruit Body Wash
- Grapefruit Handsoap
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Grooming Kit
- Sewing Kit
The Super Host packs also include a Grapefruit Massage Bar, Sleeping Mask & Ear Plugs, Slippers, and 2 Towel Packs per Bathroom every 3 Months. Plans begin at $7.50 per guest.
High-quality goods, automatic delivery. The most requested items already on hand. Ready to give your guests a five-star experience? As a frequent guest, I know I’m looking forward to finding these essentials at my next destination and not having to worry about traveling with them any longer.
If you’re keen on making hosting less stressful and thoroughly impressing your guests, request a private beta invitation at hostingbnb.com.
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The Lean App Toolkit – Your Key To Building An App People Want 22 Mar 2017, 1:30 pm
If you’re a startup Founder or thinking of becoming one, you’ve no doubt heard the expression “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Don’t adopt this mantra or strategy. Yes, there is value in learning as you go. Yes, confidence is important. But there’s also something to be said for having a concrete vision and plan in place before setting out and eventually squandering a whole lot of time and money.
Few fakers ever make it.
The Lean App Toolkit equips entrepreneurs with the information that they need to set forth on projects with a much better chance of finding success. The Lean App Toolkit “uses Lean Startup methodologies to provide a step-by-step plan for validating an app idea and defining an MVP.”
This plan includes over 50 pages of instructions on how to develop your app, validate your business plan, and to progress while minimizing your effort and expenses. This may not sound like the flashiest of solutions. It offers no guarantees as do so many other tools. Which speaks well for its trustworthiness and good intentions.
Ready to roll up your sleeves and work? Great. The Lean App Toolkit hopes to serve as your guide along the way, preventing you from making avoidable mistakes and miscalculations.
Only fools don’t seek expert advise. Here, instead paying a fortune for help or banging your head against the wall trying to figure out where to turn for assistance, you have experts literally in your hand via this useful manual. And it’s free!
The Lean App Toolkit’s author, Paul Keck (Co-Founder at BOUNDLESS) leverages 35 years of software building experience – helping startups to clarify their ideas, find solutions, and build their apps – to help entrepreneurs build an app that people will actually want to use.
The toolkit is meant to supply a foundation for mobile and web app businesses, businesses that generate revenue from day one. Yeah. Leave the pipe dreaming to the fakers. Start out thinking about making money, which will pressure you to build something people value and position you to control the fate of your startup.
Having a tough time finding actionable advice? Not into courses or trying to gauge the worth of so many tools available online? The Lean App Toolkit is a compact guide and bridge to resources that can set you on the right path to building a successful app.
Learn more or get the toolkit here.
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KiasuPromos – The Promo And Deals King Of Singapore And Beyond 20 Mar 2017, 1:30 pm
Looking for the best prices in Asia?
You can save yourself plenty of time by looking no further than KiasuPromos.
KiasuPromos is the “fastest growing online promo codes and deals website in Singapore, offering extra savings and discounts from all popular online stores in Singapore, Asia and beyond.”
For bargain hunters and those who may otherwise be overwhelmed by trying to figure out where to by things in Asia, KiasuPromos serves as a convenient destination for shopping goods and services – and scoring maximum savings on purchases.
KiasuPromos collects deals, promotions, and discounts from across the web – websites, social media platforms, newsletters, etc. – and makes them easy to find and browse. The platform aims to provide the freshest deals around every day.
Coupon codes found on KiasuPromos apply to online retail giants, online flower shops, and everything in between. The site places the latest promotional codes front and center, so viewers can quickly nab new deals.
KiasuPromos features all the top online stores (e.g. Lazada, Zalora, asos, Reebonz) and major brands (e.g. crocs, YOOX, Microsoft, HP). At a glance, flash sales advertise as much as 50% original prices.
The range of deals available on the site is wide enough to make Amazon jealous. KiasuPromos supplies Groupon discounts; exclusive offers; promotional discounts on fashion goods, travel, dining; daily deals across industries and more.
Ordinarily, if you’re planning travel, you might have to search for your flights using one tool, book a hotel using another, buy clothing or luggage and other necessities each from a different source. With KiasuPromos, consumers can find the best deals under all of these categories on just one site.
Bargains from Asia aren’t just for giant corporations anymore. In our globalized world, KiasuPromos lets consumers anywhere on the planet buy goods and services using coupon codes in Singapore. In the company’s own words, “Gone are the days where you had to wait for a local store to import products. Now you can shop online yourself using coupon codes in Singapore. Then import the goods you want, when you want.”
KiasuPromos also provides a wealth of information on how to find additional savings in Singapore and to find the best of anything in the local market.
Tired of scouring the web to find deals and coming up empty handed? Want great deals on all of your purchases, with transparent coupon terms? Visit kiasupromos.com to start taking advantage of savings opportunities or to learn more details.
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The Big Myth: Payroll Is Confidential. And How To Avoid It Damaging Your Company 16 Mar 2017, 1:30 pm
Payroll information is arguably the most sensitive data handled by your company, but have you ever wondered how safe your information actually is? It is true that when data is processed within encrypted environments like ADP, Paychex, or other payroll providers, it’s protected by a myriad of global and local privacy firewalls – as well as explicit statements and policies covering personal information and data collection. Using a legitimate third-party payroll company is a safe choice. So, what’s there to worry about?
The Human Factor
The issue to consider is the human factor inside your company. I’m referring to people who have access to your personal information and your compensation details. We are all human, and human error is inevitable. Who hasn’t accidentally sent an email meant for a colleague to their boss or, worse yet, to mass distribution?
Embarrassing enough. But what if the accidental email you sent was a payroll report? The thought alone is enough to send chills down the spine. The good news is that this type of error is preventable with solid policies. For example, as a rule, avoid emailing payroll reports and let employees find them on your payroll processing company’s servers instead.
Unfortunately, sometimes information leaks through the very people who are supposed to keep it safe – employees who process payroll or have access to employee files (your social security number, compensation details and even family information). It’s not unheard of to have payroll employees Google your home address and discuss where you live and the cost of your house, at your workplace. Information about bonuses and raises often becomes common knowledge, salaries of new hires and current managers sometimes turn into anecdotal benchmarks.
Larger companies with clear salary levels, seniority, and hierarchal structures aren’t subject to such mishaps as much as the smaller companies without matrixed org charts and subjectively defined salary ranges. However, the structure is not the only differentiator that contributes to this disparity. It’s lack of professionalism that can sometimes prevail in a small business environment.
Lack of Power
Employees in back-office positions often feel that they are not in power. They feel invisible. They are isolated from main business operations and client-facing interactions. They are not the praised heroes at sales meetings. They can sometimes feel that the only way for them to gain attention and popularity is to use their access to information. After all, information is power.
Employees may be upset about the job, about the boss. They do not want to cross the line and do something illegal, like embezzle funds, but they will do something seemingly not as damaging, like sharing someone’s data.
Sharing information seems like a harmless enough act. They’ll confidentially spill some interesting details at lunch with a work friend like “Guess how much this guy makes” or at bonus and raise time, “Guess how much their bonus was this year, yet I couldn’t even get a raise…” The effects of such leaks are incredibly damaging. Everyone loves gossip and hearing juicy details. Everyone. Remember, we are all human and curiosity is in our nature. It spreads like wildfire and quickly becomes the vortex of a rumor mill. This scenario is not something found in a book of fiction, it’s truly inherent in a lot of business environments.
What’s the root of the issue?
When you deal with senior people who have sat through hours and days of conduct training, they understand the meaning of the word “professional.” It’s assumed and expected. Larger companies invest a lot of resources into training their employees and repeat the cycle on a yearly basis. This produces a level of professionalism that is often lacking in small and medium-sized businesses, especially in back-office operations. More often than not, smaller companies lack funding to properly train staff on issues related to compliance and policies. These are considered “soft skills” and will take a back seat to the training of sales reps, for example. In turn, support staff’s training comes from doing the job itself, where they learn to create their own standards and rules of engagement.
How can you prevent this issue from impacting your company?
Make sure that your company has the appropriate policies in place. If you’re on a tight budget, you can find standardized policy manuals through various sources online. Of course, it is always recommended that an employment attorney review your documentation and make suggestions specific to your business. These will include policies on breach of confidentiality in handling personal and confidential information, and will also define grounds for termination.
Training is at the core of combating confidentiality issues. It’s dangerous to assume that your employees know how to handle information they have access to. Common sense means different things to different people, and if they haven’t been trained to know your standards, you can’t assume what they know or how they will conduct themselves. You can look for outside courses or create them internally. Either way, the focus should be on practical implementation. Present real-life scenarios, use role-playing, identify clear definitions of responsibilities, and remind employees that mishandling of confidential information is a serious offense.
In addition, make sure you create an environment that encourages an open door policy. Have conversations with your staff about their concerns, and be available to your employees so they can discuss grievances with you in private, not in a lunch room. Remember, back-office employees are not just support people. The information they handle every day has a great impact on your company’s performance and even profitability. Empower your employees to take pride in the role they play in your organization, acknowledge the impact of their positions, and always remember to give them credit and respect.
Bob Shoyhet is a Chief Financial Officer who’s been helping build businesses from startup to multi-million, multi-national operations for over 25 years. He’s navigated companies through growing pains, and turned them around from the brink of bankruptcy. His expertise places him in a unique position of understanding what businesses should do to get off the ground, how to position themselves to achieve next-level growth, and how to effectively leverage finance to achieve maximum impact on profitability in every organizational department.
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Veeplay – Meet the Future of Video Technology 14 Mar 2017, 3:00 pm
According to a recent report by Mobile Statistics, the average person spends 90 minutes per day on their mobile phone – which adds up to 23 days a year! No doubt about it, our personal and business lives are increasingly moving to our mobile devices.
It should surprise no one then that mobile advertising represents a gigantic market. As in about to surpass $100 billion huge. Businesses want to reach customers on mobile, and in-app videos are both an effective way to reach consumers and a great way to monetize apps.
But while the opportunity might sound incredible, not everyone is prepared to deliver a great video experience on mobile devices. Which is where Veeplay comes in.
Veeplay “provides video publishers and broadcasters with a next generation native mobile video player that makes in-app video playback and monetization simple and straightforward.”
Veeplay is a unique company that is concentrated on supplying an enterprise-grade mobile video player, built natively for all mobile platforms. Secure, fast, stable – this is the video and ad playback you get with Veeplay, which makes it easier to distribute videos and to engage users.
Veeplay reaches the crowd with SDKs for iOS, Android and Windows. It affords lots of customization options, and has the most sophisticated ad-monetization capabilities.
Pre-integrated with the leading DRM providers, Veeplay equips publishers with full ad support and personal controls. Veeplay allows industry players to keep pace in a fast moving space while protecting their content.
Founded in Munich Germany (2014) by Sebi Vaduva, Gabi Dobocan, Ion Marinescu and Lukas Schoengut, Veeplay has already been adopted by leading media giants such as Pro7Sat1, Sport1 and MarkizaTV. The company currently delivers 40M ad impressions per month. And the company works with publishers of all sizes.
To highlight just a few product features, Veeplay includes robust analytics for understanding how video content is consumed; video and ad playback on Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Google Cast, Amazon Fire TV & Nexus Player; closed captioning and multi-track audio; and on-screen controls and skins to align with branding.
Eager to use your ad-server’s VAST tags to deliver video ads into your video content? Veeplay works out of the box with any VAST-compliant ad server or exchange. Take advantage of a free trial edition or learn more at veeplay.com.
Finally, Quibus Makes Deals Easy And Great For Everyone 14 Mar 2017, 1:30 pm
Anyone else ready to say goodbye to coupons? Savings are great, but coupons are a pain for everyone involved. Customers need to first hold on to them, understand the terms, perhaps use them at inconvenient times. Businesses receive surges of interest that may or may not lead to sales, from customers not guaranteed to come back, while having resources taken away from running the business itself. Such a system is a stinker for everyone involved.
Quibus, by INSTADEAL, proposes a new approach to deals that is superior in every way.
Focusing on appointments rather than offers, consumers use the Quibus app to post a need, say a haircut. They then enter details like how far and when they are willing to travel, what they are looking to pay, etc. Quibus then connects shoppers with live deals that match the criteria, and they can select the “best” deal available.
Instead of searching for services, Quibus brings them to you. Ask, and ye shall receive. Forget about expiration dates or squirreling away opportunities that you may or may not use. With Quibus, you can find deals on exactly what you’re looking for, when and where it makes the most sense.
Notifications about inquiries also give both merchants and shoppers the chance to make good on last minute real-time deals. Consumers can wait for the absolute best bargains to present themselves, and merchants can fill dead time or cancellations by extending additional savings. Consumers can also keep a list of favorite merchants and learn about discounted schedule openings with them as they arise.
The app itself is reminiscent of Hotel Tonight in terms of function and appearance, only the deals here apply to goods and services instead of the hotel industry. At the moment, Quibus addresses the beauty and spa, fitness, and medical industry, with several other industries on the docket. It’s easy to see how the platform might handle bookings for a wide variety of businesses.
For merchants, Quibus works like a personal assistant, helping to create a schedule, update rates on a weekly basis, and to promote both deals and open time slots. Analytics help business owners to assess the performance of deals and to better understand their customers, so that they can easily provide custom offers and present deals at optimal times to win more business.
Perfectly timed deals – and positive reviews on both sides of the coin – strengthen relationships, which leading to satisfied customers becoming repeat business and other merchants offering deals to great customers. Everybody wins.
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How to Avoid Annoying Customers on Your Email List 14 Mar 2017, 12:00 pm
Email marketing is a core facet of online marketing. No matter how a customer or potential customer landed on your email list, it is important to use the opportunity to build a deeper relationship while avoiding falling into the “annoying” or “spam” categories.
If you want to retain email followers and turn them into customers, follow these basic guidelines to ensure they remain a happy subscriber for years to come.
Don’t Start with a Hard Sell
People sign up for your email list for a variety of reasons. The most popular methods to build lists today revolve around giveaways and freebies. If someone signs up for your list to get a free eBook, the first thing you do shouldn’t be asking for money.
It is okay to sell to your email list. In fact, that is the biggest reason to have an email list for most brands, but it takes time to build the trust for someone to want to spend money on your product or service. Instead of starting with a sale, start by thanking them for being a part of your list and giving them the free giveaway they asked for.
Focus on Being Helpful
If you are helpful, users will start to trust and enjoy hearing from you. Always try to be as helpful as possible each time you send a message to a subscriber. Either include something useful for your target audience in the email text or point readers to another resource on the web, maybe something new on your blog, that will help them succeed.
If you help your subscribers regularly, they are sure to come back for more. The more helpful you are, the more loyal they will be. If you really change the game for someone, they might even become an online evangelist helping spread the word about your business.
Mix Up Your Emails to Stay Interesting
If you use the same template again and again and again and again and again and again and again, you will see more and more readers clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails. Don’t be repetitive and boring, be useful and fun.
In my email series for new subscribers at Personal Profitability, I have some short emails and some long emails. Some focus on a specific tool that can help people save time and money, while others focus on “homework” readers can participate in to level up their finances. By mixing things up and keeping it interesting, I have seen my email open rates increase and my list size grow.
Be Genuine and Honest
My email subscribers trust me because I am honest, transparent, and genuine. In fact, I go so far as to publish how much money I earn each month on my website. While that may seem crazy in a world where money talk is still a faux pas, by sharing my successes and failures, I am showing readers my true colors, further building trust.
Sharing my online income reports each month also gives subscribers a reason to come back to my site each month. I give a unique, personal update via email and share the details on the blog.
Make Your Emails Something People Look Forward To
I have unsubscribed from hundreds of newsletters, but there are a few that I have stuck with over time. One example is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income email list. Pat is an online entrepreneurship rock star, and his emails and blog posts give amazing, free information that helps me and thousands of others improve their online business.
I always look forward to Pat’s emails because he is genuine, friendly, and incredibly helpful. His free guides are packed with actionable steps and tips that anyone with a business can use to improve online performance. While I know an email from Pat will likely lead to me doing more work, I look forward to it because his advice almost always comes with a great payoff.
Be Clear About Your Goals
Passive aggressiveness is horribly annoying in real life, subtle hints online are not even tolerable to most people. When you are trying to be helpful, be clear that your goal with that email is being helpful. If you are trying to get affiliate signups, be clear and present your readers with one thing to do in that email, signing up for the affiliate.
When it comes to product sales, you shouldn’t sell with every single email, but it is okay to make a direct sale every once in a while. In my old website development business, emails one to four were solely designed to be helpful. Number five was a soft sell. Six through eight were also freebies packed with useful information. The final email in the signup series, email nine, was a hard sell. In the selling emails, I made it very clear that my goals were to sell a service.
Put Yourself in the Subscriber’s Position
How do you feel when you signup for email lists? Why do you choose to signup and what keeps you on the list with so many demands for your attention? Learn from your favorite email lists and mimic, without directly copying, what your favorite email lists provide.
If you can synthesize what you enjoy and put your own original twist on it, you are sure to retain subscribers for the long-term. And long-term subscribers are the most likely to become fans and customers. If you can avoid being annoying and always focus on providing great value, you will be on track for great success with your list.
How to Avoid Annoying Customers on Your Email List was originally published on Due by Eric Rosenberg.
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The Secret to Setting Your Small Business Rates Perfectly 11 Mar 2017, 7:00 pm
Setting your rates is one of the trickiest parts of being a Small Business Owner. When it comes to freelance rates, there is no standard. Part of the perk of being your own boss is charging what works specifically for you.
How do you determine what your rates should be? It’s a different answer for each Small Business Owner. You need to include the costs of what it takes you to produce your work, as well as a large enough margin for you to profit off of your work. This is your livelihood; charging appropriately for it allows you to live your life and continue your work.
Here are some things to think about as you set your small business rates.
Include Travel Time
If you have to spend your time getting to and from clients or projects, include that in your freelance rates. You wouldn’t be traveling if it weren’t for work, so it’s appropriate to charge for that. If you’re driving, you’re also putting wear and tear on your personal vehicle. It’s also ok to charge for that.
When you’re a small business owner, time is literally money. If you’re not working, you’re not earning. Charging for travel time means you are being compensated for the time that you are stuck behind the wheel, or on the bus.
Be Upfront About Edit Rates
If your work is eligible for edits, (like writers or graphic designers are), be very clear about how many rounds of edits are included in your price. If a client wants more than they originally paid for, be clear that more edits will cost more money.
When you make a deal with a client, include the number of edits that you’ll make on the original project. Include language that indicates how much further revisions will cost after that original number.
Not only does this protect your income, but it will lead to clarity and a strong relationship with your clients. Treat your clients with respect and they’ll do the same for you. Being up front also allows a client to know whether or not you are in their price range.
If you are responsible for paying state sales tax, make sure to include that in your price. No client should balk since they pay sales tax on things like clothes or restaurant meals. It’s simply a part of the cost of doing business, and shouldn’t come from your profit margin.
The same also goes for fees from sites like Eventbrite. You can pass along the fees to ticket buyers, which you might choose to do. If your profit margins are slim, feel free to pass along the fees.
Know Your Monthly Income Needs
Knowing how much you need to live off of is critical. You need to know how much your life costs before you set your rates. If you need to make $5,000 a month in profit, that will help you determine your rates and the number of projects that you take on each month.
Set up a personal budget and a business budget. If you run a bakery, you need to charge enough to pay your rent and to buy ingredients. Having concrete numbers in front of you will help you determine the rate that you need to charge your customers.
Like I mentioned before, time is money for freelancers. How you charge your clients can be just as important as how much you charge. As a freelancer, you have a few different options.
You can charge clients an hourly rate for your work. This works well for people like social media managers or lawyers. You can set your rate depending on how much you can get done in an hour, and the level experience and expertise you bring to the table.
Flat Rate Fee
You can charge a flat rate fee for your work. For example, a freelance writer can say ‘I charge $100 per each 500-word piece.’ Setting a price associated with the levels of work you offer is a simple way to charge.
If you are working with a client long term or doing a variety of tasks for them, you might want to consider charging a monthly stipend. Similar to a flat rate fee, this is a flat rate that you collect once a month. This type of charging works well if you are both creating and managing content for a client.
The secret to setting your freelance rates lies in assessing your financial needs and work abilities. What one freelancer charges is not necessarily the right rate for you. Figuring out your needs allows you to figure out your own rates. Charging for the complete package that you offer allows you to keep working as a freelancer.
The Secret to Setting Your Small Business Rates Perfectly was originally published on Due by Kara Perez.
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7 Ways to Use Your Breaks at Work More Effectively 7 Mar 2017, 1:00 pm
By now, you probably know that it’s important to take breaks from work.
Work breaks can help you re-focus your efforts and improve your efficiency and productivity. Breaks help your mind avoid becoming too fatigued. It’s good for your mental health and your physical health to use your breaks in the best possible way.
However, not all breaks are created equal. What you do with your breaks, and how you take them, matters. Before you decide that you need to take a ton of breaks throughout the day, you need to know how to use them more effectively.
1. Figure Out How Many Breaks is Ideal for You
We’re all different and have different needs. In order to use your breaks more effectively, you need to have an idea of what works best for you.
Do a little experimentation to see what works for you.
I do pretty well with the Pomodoro technique. I go for 20 to 25 minutes, and then take a five-minute break. After doing four or five of those work-and-break sessions, I take a longer break.
This setup is great for me.
You might have different needs. You might be able to work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. Pay attention to how long your attention can be focused on one activity before you become fatigued.
The idea is to know yourself and understand when your attention starts wandering and you can no longer concentrate on your work. Once you get to that point, it’s time to take a short break.
You’ll use your breaks better when you have an idea of how many and how often is the right balance for you.
2. Find a Way to Be Active
Once of the best ways to use your breaks more effectively is to find a way to be somewhat active. Physical activity gets the blood flowing and can help you think clearer. Just changing your posture can help your
Just changing your posture can help your mood and clear your mind.
When you have a break, find a way to be at least a little bit active. You can stretch, stand up, or even do something else. My employer likes to use Desk Yogi for stretches and other wellness actions at work.
If you are taking a longer break, it can be effective to walk outside. Even just walking around the office (or in my case, the house) can be a way to get things moving. I find that just walking to the kitchen for another cup of tea can be a great way to spend part of a five or 10-minute break.
3. Enjoy a Healthy Snack
Another good way to use your breaks more effectively is to enjoy a healthy snack. Healthy living is good for you and for your business. This includes nutrition.
When you eat well, you can give your brain a boost. Plus, you’re more likely to remain focused.
Prepare healthy snacks in advance so that when you get a break at work, you can enjoy something balanced. I like eating Balanced Breaks, because I don’t actually like preparing my own meals. With these pre-packaged snacks, you get dried fruit, nuts, and cheese. It’s a good combination for me.
You might prefer another combination. Perhaps you like yogurt and granola. Maybe you just want a handful of cashews. However you decide to do it, eating a healthy snack can be a good way to break from work.
This goes for your lunch break as well. Just because your lunch break is longer, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore the idea of exercise and healthy eating. Bring a healthy lunch, and take a little time to do something active during lunch.
4. Do Something for Your Mind
I used to take breaks and then check Facebook. It wasn’t actually the best way to use my breaks. I’d either get sucked in, or I’d end up unable to properly focus afterward.
Now, when I’m ready to take a break, I try to find something to do for my mind. Some of the things you can easily do with a five to 10-minute break that can help you boost your brainpower include:
- Watch a short TED talk.
- Read an interesting article on an intellectual subject.
- Complete a language lesson using Duolingo (this is my go-to).
- Play brain games using an app like Luminosity.
- Work on a Rubik’s cube (my son loves doing this).
- Work on a puzzle.
- Enjoy some artwork.
Depending on where you are, you might be able to do any number of things that invigorate your mind, without focusing on work.
5. Do Something with Someone Else
Sometimes, when I need a longer break and can’t seem to get into the swing of things, I find that meeting a friend for coffee or lunch can help. Sometimes all I need is a five-minute conversation with a friend on Skype.
You can use your breaks more effectively by doing something with others. You might play a quick card game. Maybe you invite a coworker to go on a walk with you. Perhaps you have lunch with everyone outside (if the weather is nice).
Not only can doing something with others help you take your mind off your task for a little while, but it can also build the social ties you need to be more effective as a team member at work.
As you get to know your coworkers, and as you spend quality break time together, you can be more effective at work.
6. Get in a Little Relaxation
Sometimes what you really need to use your breaks more effectively is some true relaxation.
I learned how to give myself a hand massage a few years ago. If you have a longer break, you can schedule a massage with someone else. But if you just have five minutes, a hand massage can do the trick.
Some workplaces bring in massage therapists with chairs. A 15-minute chair massage can be a relaxing way to take a break.
Another way to get in the relaxation you might need is to read a book chapter. I like to keep my favorite books on Kindle. When I have 10 to 15 minutes for a break, I can read a chapter. It engages my mind while at the same time letting me relax.
When you have shorter breaks, consider using breathing exercises to help you relax. I like to use breathing as a good start to my day, and a few deep breaths at work can help me shake off the cobwebs and re-focus.
One of my favorite things to do is to breath and stretch at the same time. This combines movement with breathing and is a very effective way to spend a five-minute break.
7. Get Organized
Finally, you can use your breaks more effectively by getting organized. Clean up your desk area.
Clean up your desk area. Get prepared for the next phase of a project.
I find that if I take a break from the nitty-gritty of a project and prepare for what’s next, I’m more effective in the long run. I find it especially helpful to clean up my messes and organize my work area.
When things are too cluttered, it’s hard to concentrate. It’s easy to get distracted. If I take 10 minutes to clean up a little bit, I am better able to focus once I get back to work.
I also find it helps me to set things up for my next project. So, organizing my research or pulling up notes from an interview can help me feel like I’m getting ready for the next step. Once I’ve done that, a little stretching and some deep breaths can help me clear my head and get ready to focus.
We all need to take breaks. The key is using them in a way that helps us feel energized so that we are ready to tackle the next item on the to-do list.
7 Ways to Use Your Breaks at Work More Effectively was originally posted on Due by Miranda Marquit.
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Designhill – Growing The World’s Largest Graphic Design Marketplace 6 Mar 2017, 2:30 pm
Branding materials, logo designs, websites, business cards, custom packaging, company swag – modern business owners have plenty of design needs. And these needs must be addressed and filled fast. So where should business owners turn for help?
Design firms can be pricey, or they might have prior commitments that slow their ability to deliver. It goes without saying that not every business has the same needs or the resources and talent to design on their own. Professional freelancers offer a fine alternative, but, knowing where to find them, knowing whom to trust, and figuring out what services should cost quickly becomes a complicated, time-consuming process. At least, that’s how things often worked before the arrival of Designhill.
Designhill is a one-stop shop for business owners to source high-quality designs for all of their design needs, at affordable prices. It is also a platform where graphic designers can showcase their work, collaborate with other designers, and find work that pays well.
“Designhill aims to provide a complete suite of small business services to its customers, starting from logo design to branded merchandise,” said Designhill Co-Founder Rahul Aggarwal. He added, “It’s been less than three years since we’ve started, but we’re getting recognized the world over for the quality of our services. We expect to own the graphic design space globally in the next three years.”
The Designhill platform easily connects business owners to logo designers from all over the world. Clients post jobs, and – in crowdsourcing contest fashion – can select the design that they like best from dozens of design submissions by different designers. Clients also have the option of working one-to-one with individual designers.
The company began with just a team of four developers and two designers, and has already grown to more than 35 employees. 38,000+ designers have already joined the platform and thousands of clients have contracted work through Designhill.
In addition to providing a large pool of talent and supporting a wide variety of working arrangements, the crowdsourcing platform is also proving to be an aggressively innovative space. A readymade logo store with a 24-hr turnaround is just one example of how Designhill is striving to become THE source for design work.
The company plans to soon launch its Custom Services and Pro Designer Services for designers. Custom Services will grant graphic designers more control over determining what jobs they will do, pricing, and establishing timeframes. The Pro Designer Service will entail making high-value design jobs available only to the most talented designers who are awarded the “Pro Designer” badge of recognition.
To learn more about Designhill’s plans and services, or to get started using the platform, visit here.
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5 Tips for Strengthening Your Personal Brand 28 Feb 2017, 1:00 pm
You probably already know it’s important to have a personal brand.
Creating a personal brand that others recognize and trust is essential to success as a freelancer or as any other business owner.
Now, you’ve probably already built something of a personal brand. You probably have a branded website and all the requisite social media accounts.
So what next?
Here are five things you can do to take your brand to the next level.
1. Review Your Strengths
One of the best things you can do to keep working on your personal brand is to review your strengths. Periodically look at what you bring to the table.
Have you developed new strengths? What are your best qualities? Understanding your strengths will help you figure out how to make the most of your brand. Plus, you can highlight those strengths and play them up.
2. Understand Your Value
Now that you know your strengths, you can put them to good use. Understand your value.
How do you fit into your industry? Do your strengths lend you the ability to provide value that others can’t? You need to be clear about that.
As you strengthen your personal brand, make sure you illustrate the value you bring to the table. You want others to know what you offer. Whether it’s through a business proposition, or whether it’s freelancing, you want to make sure that you offer solid value and that you communicate that value.
3. Post Meaningfully on Social Media
You might have social media profiles, but are you doing anything meaningful with them?
As you work to strengthen your personal brand, you need to make sure that what you post online adds something to the conversation. Do you provide meaningful insights in your industry? Do you offer value? Do you share information others find useful?
These are important things to consider. If you take the time to craft thought-out online posts, you will have a better chance of creating a brand that others value and want to follow.
4. Show Authenticity
Whether you are managing a business or offering great freelance content, you need to be authentic. Your personal brand should reflect who you really are. Someone who meets you in person should feel as though the face you show online is compatible.
After a while, it becomes clear when you are fake, and that can show through. People like to feel like they know you, and you can create a brand that people identify with to increase your success.
5. Tweak as Needed
Just because you want to be authentic, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change ever. The key to a strong personal brand is the ability to adapt and tweak as needed.
Keep improving yourself. As you do so, your brand will improve as well. As you learn new skills and information, update your brand, and update your value proposition. It’s a good way to stay up to date with the latest developments. You’ll remain relevant, and continue to offer customers and clients best value.
Have Fun While Learning Spanish Online With TeamSpanish 27 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm
Spanish, you beautiful and romantic language. You tormentor. Little did I know when I stepped into a classroom to tango with you for the first time in the fifth grade that I would spend the rest of my life struggling to master your rolling sounds and confounding conjugations.
Classes, cassette tapes, more classes, private classes and even more classes, and still I find myself misusing estar and ser. Sigh. Of course, each person’s journey when learning a new language is different, however, if I might be so bold as to make a blanket recommendation for anyone trying to learn Spanish, it would be this: have fun.
The less work it feels like, the better. No matter if Spanish comes to you second nature or if you’ll go on to fight endlessly with your tongue and brain as I have done, a light and conversational approach is the way to.
TeamSpanish is a new program for helping people to learn Spanish online. It’s built by “a family comprised of native Spanish speakers, teachers, and those who have learned it as a second language.” Lessons centered on entertaining as well as informing, and the easygoing tone you’ll find throughout the platform, show that the program’s creators understand the value of keeping the learning process fun and engaging.
Here, you’ll find an introduction to Spanish that more closely mirrors how children naturally pick up language rather than formal study. The goal is “to help people grow and connect by learning conversational Spanish in a simple way.” A very encouraging start.
Interactive video lessons are the foundation of the learning journey that users embark on with TeamSpanish. Each lesson has five to eight videos, as well as multiple-choice challenges. The program is geared for beginning learners, with lessons covering the building blocks for advancing (e.g. the alphabet, key phrases, grammar, greeting people).
For comfort and convenience, learners have access to TeamSpanish on PCs, tablet and mobile devices. The website has live chat support and a blog with extra tips to lend further assistance. A monthly plan runs just $15, which is an extremely reasonable price compared to other programs or private lessons.
TeamSpanish offers a free trial to get started, so there’s no risk in exploring if the program is right for you. Learn more details at teamspanish.com. Simple, fast and fun lessons. This is a great way to begin learning Spanish. Buena Suerte!
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State of the Credit Card Processing Industry for 2017 25 Feb 2017, 12:00 pm
Despite the rapidly evolving payment options that consumers have today, credit cards still remain the leading payment method. In fact, according to the 2016 U.S. Consumer Payment Study, this was the first time that “credit took over the top spot as the overall preferred way to pay, replacing debt as the number-one choice in years past.”
However, that may not last much longer. Between technological advances and the preferences of Millennials, the credit card processing industry is changing on an almost daily basis. With that in mind, here is the current state of the credit card processing industry for 2017.
Millennials are completely disrupting the entire credit card industry. And, that deserves your attention as a merchant or financial institution.
For starters, they’re the largest customer base, are hyper-connected, and educated. They also don’t want debt. According to a Bankrate survey, just 33 percent of Millennials between the ages of 18-29 own a credit card. That’s the lowest among any demographic.
“I’ve never owned nor have ever wanted to own a credit card,” says Kristian Rivera, 25, a digital marketing specialist in New York City. “It wasn’t really a decision that I made, but growing up, I was warned of the risks of having a credit card and advised to put off getting one as long as possible.”
Instead of plastic, Millennials are turning to companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, PayPal, or Square that provide them with digital services, personalization, and availability to real-time data.
To appeal to this demographic, Scott Blum, who leads Marketing, Business Development, and Integrated Payments for Total Merchant Services believes that “payment providers will find new ways to differentiate and offer value to their customers beyond low rates.” This includes using innovative technologies to create loyalty programs, manage mobile wallets, provide real-time offers and discounts, and push notifications.
Out With The Old, In With the New
Instead of swiping credit cards or manually entering a customer’s card information, merchants should be looking at the new and exciting ways to process payments, which includes:
Near Field Communication/Bluetooth Low Energy
Popular mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, rely on near field communication (NFC) technology. This technology simply allows customers make a purchase simply by holding their phone to a credit card terminal. This isn’t only convenient, it speeds up the time that customers spend in the checkout line.
Since many mobile wallets require two-factor verification, processing payments this way is secure. For merchants, receiving mobile wallets payments is fast and affordable. Due, for example, charges a low, flat 2.8 percent transaction fee no matter where the payment is coming from in the world.
Similar to NFC is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). As Due founder John Rampton explains, BLE “takes place on either the consumer or merchant’s device where data is stored in a mobile payment account. Examples include PayPal’s beacon and iBeacon. ”
“Merchants are using BLE and NFC that connect mobile devices with either beacons or NFC tags,” says Rampton. “With BLE, the transmission is continuous and can be used in large areas so that customers can receive notifications and coupons. NFC must be activated by the customer and is better suited for one-on-one interactions.”
Business Insider expects the mobile payments volume to rise to $503 billion by 2020 with 56 percent of the consumer population using mobile payments for in-store purchases.
Besides NFC and BLE technology can also use payment apps to process a credit card payment. For example, LevelUp allows customers to place a food order and make a payment via their smartphone so that they can completely skip the line. There’s also an uptick in peer-to-peer payment apps, such as Venmo, Square Cash, PayPal, Circle, and ClearXChange, that give customers the power to transfer money from their credit or debit card to another party.
Even social media networks like Facebook and Snapcash offer p2p transfers with Facebook’s Messenger and Snapcash.
All-in-One Cloud-Based Payment Processing Systems
Companies like Due, Square, and ChargePass realized that in order for merchants to remain competitive, they needed to offer multiple processing options. That’s why these companies have created all-in-one processing services that allow merchants to process credit cards online through a web portal and in-person with mobile card readers and credit card terminals.
Additionally, these systems are also expected to track sales, inventory, and employee performance. Since all of this information is on the cloud, it’s accessible from anywhere and at any time.
Scanning and Selfie Payments
Companies, such as Flint, are revolutionizing the credit card processing industry by scanning a customer’s credit card. All a merchant does is a snap a picture of the credit card and the information is encrypted. Also, the card information is never stored on the device, so security shouldn’t be a concern.
Furthermore, MasterCard has begun rolling out Identify Check Mobile which lets customers verify a payment by taking a selfie.
These are just two examples of companies using technology to create frictionless and secure processing methods.
Continued EMV Adoption
EMV didn’t have the smoothest first year of adoption. Despite the fact that 70 percent of U.S. credit card holders possess EMV chip cards, only between 22 percent and 37 percent of retailers have adopted the technology. “Consumers have the chip-enabled cards and are looking to use them,” said Rob Cameron, chief product and marketing officer at Moneris, one of the largest debit and credit card processors in North America. “We’ve certainly seen an increase in interest from our merchants in moving toward EMV-enabled terminals.”
There isn’t one exact reason why this is the case. Some of the causes are because smaller businesses don’t want to replace their current card terminals and there have been wait times in certifying their systems.
“Actually it’s time for the banks and the card industry to step up,” said J. Craig Shearman of trade group the National Retail Federation. “Some of [our members] have had to wait months to get anybody to certify their systems. Even if this were 100 percent installed, the new cards don’t do nearly as much as they could. Without a pin, a thief could still scribble any illegible scrawl and walk away with merchandise.”
For other businesses, switching to EMV means making major upgrades. For example, Visa and MasterCard extended “the deadline for installing chip-card readers in U.S. gasoline pumps after station owners complained they didn’t have enough time to complete the multibillion-dollar upgrades.”
Despite these setbacks, EMV is here to stay and we can anticipate more retailers making the switch over the next couple of years. Besides improving security for customers, EMV terminals are often equipped with NFC technology so that merchants can process cards through contactless methods. Because of this, expect to see the emergence of contactless payments.
“Security is related to what you are trying to protect. If you are in an environment where you are buying high ticket items, like a flat screen television, you don’t want to do that with a contactless transaction,” says Sherif Samy, managing director, Transaction Security Operations, at UL. “If you are in an environment where you are buying a coffee, who is going to steal a coffee? So you can afford to go with a Starbucks model of having QR codes or contactless transactions. It depends on your risk appetite and what you are trying to protect.”
“While the consumer adoption of various contactless pays, such as Apple Pay and others, has yet to set the world on fire, perhaps they will end up giving another reason for merchants to invest into chip terminals,” adds Zilvinas Bareisis, senior analyst at Celent.
Keeping Up With PCI Compliance
In April 2016, PCI DSS 3.2 was released, with version 3.1 being retired on October 31, 2016. These new requirements included:
- Additional multi-factor authentication, which organizations have until February 2018 to comply.
- Incorporation of “Designated Entities Supplemental Validation”
- Extended migration dates for SSL/early TLS
Additionally, in order to mitigate small merchant breaches, Visa created new data security program requirements for U.S. and Canadian acquirers, which includes;
- Effective 31 March 2016, acquirers must communicate to all Level 4 merchants that beginning 31 January 2017, they must use only Payment Card Industry (PCI)-certified Qualified Integrators and Reseller (QIR) professionals for point-of-sale (POS) application and terminal installation and integration.
- Effective 31 January 2017, acquirers must ensure that Level 4 merchants using third parties for POS application and terminal installation and integration engage only PCI QIR professionals.
- Effective 31 January 2017, acquirers must ensure Level 4 merchants annually validate PCI DSS compliance or participate in the Technology Innovation Program (TIP).
Like EMV, PCI compliance isn’t going away. In fact, it’s required for anyone that accepts credit cards. Failure to comply could result in fines and revocation of your credit card acceptance privileges.
Make sure that you comply to the recent changes. It’s never too early to start preparing for the next batch of changes that will surely come in 2018.
The Future of Credit Card Processing
Both customers and merchants expect payments to be processed quickly and conveniently. In fact, 25 percent of organizations have already stopped accepting cash in 2015. As more and more people continue to manage their funds electronically and syncing their cards to their mobile devices, the credit card processing industry is swiftly moving towards contactless payments methods that aren’t just convenient, but also secure thanks to techniques like encryption, tokenization, and biometrics.
State of the Credit Card Processing Industry for 2017 was originally published on Due by John Rampton.
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Contentmart Emerges As A Leading Marketplace 23 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm
Web content, business writing, blogs, press releases, whitepapers… the list of current content needs goes on and on, and the volume of writing needed to match those needs continues to increase. How can businesses keep pace on their own? They can’t.
Contentmart is a platform that connects freelance copywriters and editors with content buyers from around the world.
“We’re seeing an explosion in demand for online content worldwide, yet many companies find it difficult to recruit and retain highly-skilled content producers,” said Contentmart Founder Anton Rublevskyy. “Our mission is to provide writers and businesses with a one-stop solution to earn from and access quality written content on a global scale. It’s complete end-to-end solutions combined with an intuitive, user-friendly experience.”
Having one source to turn to for all your content needs saves considerable time looking for the right services. Having vetted content producers who pass exams to verify their qualifications is another way that Contentmart saves buyers time and energy, since they have a trusted pool of talent that they can confidently approach with new projects.
Automated checks for content originality and a built-in chat messenger for clients and writers to communicate easily are two more standout features of Contentmart that assure high-quality, expedient results.
Launched in 2015, over 50,000 writers and more than 63,000 clients have already registered on Contentmart. The platform has facilitated the completion of over 20,000 projects thus far.
One reason writers are drawn to Contentmart is the low commission fee – registration is free of charge. Contentmart retains 10% of the writer’s total order as opposed to the 40% commission common among other competitors. Direct payment, inclusion in a community of recognized professionals, and the opportunity to work with premier clients such as H&R Block, Unicef, Aviva, and The Economic Times also make Contentmart an attractive marketplace in which to contract work.
Contentmart caters to businesses of all sizes and provides access to comprehensive writing services, including business writing, web page content, articles, blogs, press releases, travelogues, case studies, whitepapers, and academic writing across print, electronic, and digital media platforms.
Also worth noting is the platform’s attentiveness to global content needs. For businesses looking to expand into new markets, Contentmart is actively adding multilingual content writing services and translation services.
“With the constant evolution of technology, maintaining a digital presence is an absolute must for twenty-first century businesses,” said Rublevskyy. “And it’s also directly contributed to major growth in the freelance space. With Contentmart, we’re entering the right market, at the right time, and with a platform that makes bridging the gap between businesses and the freelancing community much simpler and much more value-driven.”
To learn more about Contentmart and how it works for both freelancers and businesses, visit contentmart.com.
Truly Stay On Top Of Things With Truthing 22 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm
I love the thought of my house adjusting the temperature inside when it senses my approach, having access to my music and movies no matter where I travel, perhaps being able to open the car door with a tap of my watch when I can’t find the keys… As for the idea of trying to make all that happen on my own? Not so fond.
I’m genuinely excited by most of the changes that technology is introducing into our lives. But I can also hope for those changes to reduce complications rather than impose burdensome transitions.
Truthing is an ‘Intelligence Engine’ that allows people to control and manage their connected devices and services. It learns your lifestyle and teaches your tech how to better fit your needs. So, it helps you make the most of the tech at your disposal and does the hard work of establishing smart links for you.
With Truthing, people have ‘a single, secure gateway to their entire digital life – right at their fingertips.’
Our increasingly connected world is truly marvelous. (Writing a grocery list directly onto the refrigerator; never losing the list, but having it always on hand at the store. Brilliant.) However, as connected devices grow more sophisticated and the number of online services multiples – not to mention robots – it’s easy to feel a bit… overwhelmed, even frightened or out of control.
Truthing promises a powerful tool that allows us to optimize connected living instead of being steamrolled by technology. It’s potent ally? Data.
By analyzing the data from all of our digital touch points, and applying Machine Learning algorithms to them, Truthing provides intelligent solutions. The company describes its mission as follows: ‘to help households and communities stay safe, save energy, and run smoothly 24/7 using integrated data that’s already available from our phones.’
Shut the windows in the house for me when my weather app detects a storm fast approaching? Thank you very much… It’s fun to imagine the possibilities that we’re just beginning to make feasible, and even more exciting to know that there’s a company determined to enable us to effectively turn so much potential into reality.
Eager to stay ahead of the curve and better control your home, your office, your personal and business worlds? Sign up for beta access to Truthing or learn more about the company at truthing.com.
Wiztr – A Smarter, Easier Way To Book Lessons 21 Feb 2017, 4:00 pm
What does it take to be a successful coach (other than special knowledge and the talent to share it with students)? The right mobile app.
Wiztr is a simple, free mobile app that makes it easy to book sessions with students and to communicate with parents and students.
With Wiztr, sessions can be scheduled with just a few taps. Choose a calendar slot, then enter a phone number or an existing contact to reserve that time. It’s that simple. A full schedule is always within easy view, either in calendar or agenda format.
Straightforward notifications let coaches know when they have new bookings or cancellations, so they can stay on top of appointments. Alerts to inquiries also allow them to respond faster – a healthy, proactive tactic for increasing bookings.
Even more so than better organization, it’s the added layers of engagement that Wiztr supports that create tremendous value for coaches. In-app chatting gives parents, students, and coaches improved access to one another. This makes it easy to remind students to bring things to sessions or to practice in between sessions, to inform parents of progress, etc.
Coaches can also take advantage of Wiztr to follow up on lessons immediately, proposing more bookings or extending special offers – without paying for a service to handle such matters or cutting into session time with scheduling concerns.
“Each year, kids are growing more digital savvy, so coaches have to engage in more digital and mobile-friendly ways to increase both earning opportunities for themselves and learning opportunities for their students,” said Wiztr Founder Bala Gopalan. “With a mobile product like Wiztr, my vision is to extend a trusted coaching engagement to beyond just the scheduled lessons.”
Wiztr is also great for students and parents. Tennis, guitar lessons, swimming instruction… Instead of juggling a variety of lessons separately, it’s simpler to manage different activities all on Wiztr. When content and conversations are transparent, and kept in one convenient place, it’s easier for everyone to stay involved.
Students and parents appreciate uncomplicated scheduling and session tracking as much as coaches do, if not more.
Parents can mange the entire family’s activities on Wiztr. Perhaps more importantly, because Wiztr gives parents a larger window into their child’s pursuits and greater access to instructors, they get feel more directly involved in their child’s development, not merely the chauffeur.
Eager to boost your private coaching services to the next level? Looking to better connect with coaches? Wiztr is currently available for download in the App Store. To learn more about the app or receive notice when the Android version is released, visit the website wiztr.com.
KPI Agency – It Pays To Concentrate On People And Performance 21 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm
What does a full-service marketing agency look like when it’s been structured to fit the world in 2017 and the future?
Take note, budding leaders, of how KPI Agency treats its people. This is how the best employees deserve and will expect to be treated. And this is how teams will outperform the competition.
“We believe that happy people do great work,” says KPI Agency President Brandon Dawson. “Creating an environment that truly prioritizes the happiness of our people has allowed us to get to where we are, and continuing to invest in our people is a major focal point of our expansion.”
KPI Agency recently converted from an LLC to a corporation, in part so that more equity shares and more robust benefit packages could be extended to team members. This move comes on top of other incentives such as unlimited personal time off, bonuses for taking time off, maternity/paternity benefits, and company investment into individual team members’ personal growth goals.
What might sound to many like generous compensation reflects the company ethos of empowering employees. KPI Agency operates within a Holacracy system that focuses on self-organizing teams, as opposed to a more traditional top-down management hierarchy. In addition, the company consists entirely of a remote workforce. Its people come from around the globe and have flexible hours.
Why would KPI Agency arrange itself like this? Well, amazing things happen when the aims of a company and the welfare of its people align. People have the autonomy and flexibility to solve problems, adapt to the needs of different projects. People take accountability as decision makers, allowing the entire organization to run with less bureaucracy – which is to say with more efficiency and transparency.
The proof is in KPI Agency’s expansion into markets around the world. First launched in Southern California in 2014, they’ve added team members working in Kentucky, Washington, Ohio, and Serbia. They’ve just begun building out into South Africa and the southern hemisphere, and have Europe in their sights for Q2 of this year.
A physical presence across timezones ensures speedy responses to their clients and keeps the costs down that trip up big agencies – they also forego the practices of billable hours and retainers in favor pay-per-performance campaigns.
“Many agencies take a once size fits all approach and don’t actually do anything that’s truly tailored to the client’s particular needs,” says Nico Coetzee, CEO and Co-Founder of KPI Agency. “Our clients generally have, at their heart, two or three very simple business objectives around which everything else rotates. We believe we can help brands clarify what’s really important for them and then remove the obstacles for achieving it. It might sound overly simple, but we believe it actually is that simple.”
KPI Agency provides a full suite of marketing and advertising services, with a primary emphasis on healthcare marketing. To learn more about the unique company or enlist their services, visit their new website at thekpiagency.com.
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Ready To Get Creative? You’ll Want The Gif Out Loud Keyboard 20 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm
I’m inexperienced when it comes to creating and sharing GIFs, but I’m so glad to have coworkers and friends that regularly treat me to theirs. It’s almost as if they have the power to speak in a different language, but one that’s incredibly easy to understand and adds immense joy throughout the online day.
Gif Out Loud is a mobile app that wants to extend those magical GIF skills to everyone. Also a messaging app, Gif Out Loud is a GIF and video keyboard that lets you quickly and easily take your messages to another level.
All with a personal touch. Gif Out Loud allows you to record your voice or use your music of choice to season your messages with “your voice, your way.”
Gif Out Loud streamlines the process of generating GIFs. Instead of searching for GIFs, you have a collection of them at your fingertips. Straightforward buttons allow you to add text, hashtags, sounds and stickers. Sharing is a simple as sending a text message. Basically, you can assemble a GIF and send it off in a flash.
You can also save your favorite GIFs and videos on Gif Out Loud and share them on your favorite social networks.
Gif Out Loud aims to unleash your creativity and true emotions, letting you be your “loud, witty, creative, hilarious, spontaneous, crazy” self in all of your messages.
Once you’ve started seeing and sharing GIFs, the Internet feels depressing without them. They arrive like presents, giving us tiny packages of surprise and delight. Setting our static screens into motion. Capturing and communicating our feelings effectively in small capsules that are ideal for disrupting the long, inhuman hours so many of us spend in front of a glowing screen.
And with GIF Out Loud, we can turn up the volume, adding our marvelous voices to the mix. Look at that! Just writing about GIFs can free a wave of sentiment, in ways that it’s hard to imagine covering, say, CRM ever could. Let’s keep livening things up, shall we?
Photo and GIF Credits
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5 Common Excuses People Use When Business is Bad 18 Feb 2017, 6:22 pm
Sometimes business can be slow, and there is often a reason behind it. Unfortunately, some business owners choose to blame other people or situations instead of figuring out why their business is failing. Below are some common excuses people use when business is bad and how to avoid them.
“The Economy is Bad.”
Sure, the economy does have an effect on local and small businesses, but it isn’t as bad as people may think. If anything, support for small businesses has grown in recent years. The key to making sure your business does well in the economy is to over prepare and fight for it to survive. This might mean cutting staff, working extra hours, or finding ways to use free marketing tools like social media.
“I Don’t Have Time To Improve”
Have you ever heard the “no time” excuse? A business owner who says they don’t have a chance to improve might as well say they aren’t concerned with their customers’ needs. Running a business is always about evolving, changing, and doing what works best for your customers or clients.
It’s common to have little time as a business owner. However, instead of trying to do everything at once, try a few other methods. For example, the best business owners and entrepreneurs find time to improve or outsource certain improvements or tasks to those who are well qualified to get it done.
“I Have Too Much Competition”
In today’s digital world, there is an infinite amount of customers and clients you can reach. Offering a valuable service may have some competition, but it shouldn’t be enough to put you out of business.
Keeping current clients and customers happy will mean more business and referrals for you, so worrying about competition shouldn’t even be a concern if you do your job well. If there does seem to be a few businesses in your niche who offer similar services or products as you do, show what sets you apart. Competition shouldn’t mean you can’t improve and keep people happy. In fact, if anything, it should keep you motivated.
“I Don’t Have Money To Improve”
While doing a complete overhaul of your business might be expensive, there are plenty of things you can do that won’t break the bank. For example, maybe your customers have wanted you to stay open a little later. If so, perhaps you can stay late yourself instead of hiring your staff to do it. After all, offering extended hours could bring in more revenue and keep them happy.
“The Internet Took My Customers”
The Internet has changed the way businesses are run, but that doesn’t mean that the Internet replaces the connection and family like a feeling of a small business.
Instead of blaming the Internet for causing revenue loss, embrace it instead. Put your business online, start a few social media profiles to connect with your audience, and have a rating system so you can learn about ways to improve your business! The Internet should never be used as an excuse; it should always be an asset.
Of course, these are the five most common excuses that people use when business is bad, but there are more. Either way, when you’re a business owner, it’s best to avoid excuses and take action especially when things are a little slower than you’d like.