10 Ways to Cut Business Travel Costs (Video)

Even in our hyper-connected video conferencing world, there’s still a lot of value in meeting face-to face.

Unfortunately, face-to-face meetings often require business travel. What’s the problem? The cost of flights, hotels and everything else you need on the road is rising and it’s often small businesses that bear the brunt of that burden.

So, what’s a small business to do? Why, look for ways to save money on business travel of course!

How to Cut Business Travel Costs

If you Google “cut business travel costs,” you’ll find tons of advice (the count’s at 8,710,000 results at the time of this writing). But some tricks pay off better than others and those are the tips that are gathered for you in the video above.

These aren’t your parent’s cost cutting tips (though one does involve coupons). These tricks require savvy — maybe even a little chutzpah. But don’t let that frighten you off. Each tip is straightforward and can be used by anyone to lower the costs of business travel.

The tips here are broken down into sections:

Saving Money on Your Flight

The key points here are to do some research ahead of time, travel light and expand your airline options. A little planning and flexibility can go a long way towards saving you money.

Saving Money on Your Hotel

This section focuses on cutting your travel costs without having to resort to sub-par lodging. Coupons lead the way followed by the most daring, yet potentially fruitful, trick for saving you money.

Saving Money on Transportation and Food

Finally, you can take aim at the costs of ground transportation and dining, two necessities when you’re on the road.

These Tips Only Work if You Use Them

While it’s important to watch the video, it’s even more important to use the tips! And if you do, be sure to share how it went in the comments section below.

Good luck and, safe travels!

Make sure to also check out the full list of 25 Ways to Save Money on Business Travel.

Airport, Thumb DownHail TaxiJudgesSteakFriendsBuffetFlight AttendantBusTravel SiteUsing Phone Photos via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Ways to Cut Business Travel Costs (Video)” was first published on Small Business Trends

Samsung Notebook 7 Spin Seems Pricey for Business But May Be Good for Road Warriors

Samsung Notebook 7 Spin Pricey for Business But Maybe Good for Road Warriors

Samsung’s new laptop/tablet hybrid may be the best option for full time digital nomads and entrepreneurs living out of their suitcase. Or you may just be a techie that wants the option of a standard laptop combined with the convenience of a tablet.

If you fall in these specific categories, you will appreciate the Notebook 7 Spin’s ability to house all of your work/play desires in one device.

Samsung Notebook 7 Spin Details

Design

Samsung Notebook 7 Spin - Design

At first glance, it looks like a standard 15-inch laptop. But, as its name implies, the hinge system allows it to spin backwards, 360 degrees, into a touchscreen tablet. This feature lets you stop at any point while you are using the computer for viewing and operating options.

While the single hinge is intended to make it easy to transform it back and forth from laptop to tablet as needed, the silver chassis with rounded edges makes it an attractive looking device too.

Power and Storage

Power comes from an Intel Core i7 with options of 12GB and 16GB. The 1 Terabyte hard drive and 128GB solid state drive places the Spin amongst the upper tier of hybrid devices.

Ports
Samsung Notebook 7 Spin - Ports

The Notebook 7 comes with just about every port you will need, including: Ethernet, HDMI, SD card and three USB ports — one of which is 3.0.

What Makes it Unique?

Currently the market has many 360 degree hinged transformers, but Samsung (KRX:005930) understands that in order to disrupt the market new features are king.

An HDR filter is one of the tech tools that sets the Spin apart from its competition. The “High Dynamic Range” mode lets you view content with greater clarity and contrast format, and the addition of the Nvidia 940MX graphics chip enhances those HD capabilities giving your presentation — or the latest video game — new life.

Faster charging is another touted feature. In only 20 minutes, you can get up to two hours of power, and if you want 100 percent, you can achieve that in 90 minutes, the company claims.

Price

Power users are likely to think the convenience, power and functionality of this new device are well worth the $1,099.99 price tag. The Notebook 7 Spin can literally let you replace your tablet and desktop, which is what many of these users are looking for in their computing device.

If you want a different configuration, you can get a $999 version that comes with 12 GB of RAM and no SSD, with everything else being the same.

A 13″ screen version is also available for $799 with a 1080p display, Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD.

Do You Really Need All The Features of the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin?

The Samsung Notebook 7 Spin may be overkill for the average business user who isn’t interested in all the bells and whistles — many connected with leisure use. And the price range is certainly much higher than other options that offer everyday needs in a single device.

If you don’t need to have one device to act as both a laptop and a tablet you are better off going with a single-use product that is more suited to your lifestyle. The market currently offers other alternatives with more streamlined options: allowing you to pay only for what you need.

Samsung Range

You can find an array of choices within the Samsung family alone — from notebooks and tablets to full-scale laptops.

When it comes to notebooks you can expect price points from $399 for the 11.6” Notebook M to $849 for the 15.6” Notebook 5.

If you are considering the portability and functionality of a tablet, the Galaxy series offers its mid-range Android-based versions.

The Galaxy Tab, a 9.6” 16GB model with standard features, is sold for an average price of $169 depending where you get it. It is an entry-level tablet so you will be limited as to what you can do with it. The largest tablet, size wise, is the Galaxy View at a whopping 18.4 inches and comes with an accompanying curved stand and a modest mid $300 price range.

At the high-end of the Galaxy tablet range is the TabPro S, which is considered one of the best tablets in the industry. And at $749, you get a 12″ display and 128GB of storage along with other specs.

Conclusion

The Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is not for everyone, but there is a market for these type of powerful 2-in-1 computers, the Microsoft Surface is proof of that.

The question is will Samsung make any headway in a segment that is getting more crowed by the day?

Images: Samsung

This article, “Samsung Notebook 7 Spin Seems Pricey for Business But May Be Good for Road Warriors” was first published on Small Business Trends

Capital One Announces Spark 401k, a Low-Cost, Digitally-Managed Option for Small Businesses

spark 401k capital one

Capital One recently announced the launch of a new retirement savings product designed expressly for small business.

The product, Spark 401k, provides low-cost, digitally-managed 401(k)s targeted specifically to companies with one to 100 employees, the company says. It utilizes exchange-traded funds (ETFs), a type of index fund, as the investment instrument.

According to an official release, Spark 401k offers the same benefits available to larger companies, including the ability to build a retirement nest egg with tax-deferred dollars, reduce business taxes and recruit and incentivize employees.

The new product is also designed with digital technology in mind and for small business owners presents a “streamlined, digital experience to easily determine which plan best suits their needs,” the release says.

Even though small business owners can benefit from establishing a 401(k) plan, the latest Spark Business Barometer, a survey that measures small business sentiment and related trends, found that only 13 percent of companies currently have such plans in place. That represents a drop of 50 percent from Q4 2014, the survey says.

The reason? Most consider the option too “expensive, burdensome or complicated,” said Stuart Robertson, president of Capital One Advisors 401k services, the group that manages the plans, in a prepared statement. He added that Capital One created Spark 401k to address the problem and “make retirement planning easier and more accessible for small businesses.”

Breaking Down the Spark 401k Plans

Spark 401k provides three types of 401(k) plan:

  • Safe Harbor — allowing business owners and key employees to contribute the maximum amount to their accounts;
  • Owner-only Business — used mainly for Sole Proprietors, S Corp, LLC, C Corp or other owner-only businesses seeking to maximize their personal contributions;
  • Businesses with Employees — allowing eligible employees to contribute to their 401(k) tax-deferred and set the amount they want to defer. Spark 401k deducts the amount each month from their paycheck automatically.

Spark 401k oversees each plan’s investment fiduciary responsibilities for no additional cost, says the announcement.

Capital One is discounting Spark 401k Safe Harbor plans for a limited time, to encourage small business owners to begin reaping the benefits of offering a 401(k) plan to their employees. Those who purchase a plan by August 29 will save $200 on set-up costs. Plans purchased between August 30 and September 14 will see a $100 reduction in those costs.

You can learn more about the options available by visiting the Spark 401k website.

This article, “Capital One Announces Spark 401k, a Low-Cost, Digitally-Managed Option for Small Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

Instead of Surviving Business Disruption, Consider Reinvention

reinvention bookAs a small business owner, you’ve probably heard the call for all businesses to innovate in order to survive. You might have been inspired by innovative startups that were able to successfully challenge centuries-old businesses. Likewise, you might have read about centuries-old businesses who redefined their approach to business to thrive.

Then you wondered, “How do I innovate like that with my current budget and resources?”

Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption provides that answer for you by focusing on the essential ingredients that are needed to begin innovating and continue it through your entire business.

What is Reinvention About?

Like other books on business innovation, Reinvention makes the case for continuous innovation and flexible business strategy to survive in today’s business world. Unlike those books, however, Reinvention focuses on the essential qualities (not specific tools) that are part of innovation. In other words, the book doesn’t tell you what to innovate. The book provides the mindset of an innovative company at its most basic user-friendly level.

To be even more specific, Reinvention provides a specific tools (Reinvention Formula and Reinvention Agility Matrix) for diagnosing the type and ability to do successful innovation. This formula is given as a set of factors to consider before your business tries out that new innovation. All you have to do is plug in the factors surrounding innovation into the formula and you can get a relatively good feeling about where you might go next. Readers can continue to check their results against the results of the Reinvention Formula to see how they are progressing.

Reinvention, however, doesn’t just focus on business innovation. It also uniquely focuses on individual career innovation. The book argues that the workers of the future need to focus on adaptability, reinvention and continuous learning in a method similar to business. Like businesses, job seekers will face an uncertain future filled with competition and change. Building the habit now of learning and adapting is the key to evolving with the future, rather than passively becoming a victim.

Co-authors of Reinvention Kate Sweetman and Shane Cragun are also principals of Sweetman Cragun, a global advisory firm specializing in business innovation. Both also have extensive experience completing projects on every continent (except Antarctica) and working with clients from a variety of fields (NASA, governments, etc.)

What Was Best About Reinvention?

The best part of Reinvention is its unique approach to the topic of innovation. Most business advice focuses predominantly on the technical aspects of innovation at the expense of the mindset behind that innovation. This approach expands the conversation from questions like “What new app are you creating?” to “How can we transform the resources we have to successfully amaze our customers?” What’s more, the book examines achievements ranging from Thomas Edison’s light bulb to one of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s most well-known speeches, demonstrating the applicability of the book’s perspective across different industries.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

Reinvention does an incredible job of expanding the perspective of innovation beyond the way it is traditionally discussed, but it could be improved by showing a business using each of its tools from beginning to end. Reinvention provides many case studies, but these case studies highlight only parts of its overall philosophy.

Why Read Reinvention?

If you are interested in innovation but don’t know where to start, Reinvention will provide the conceptual tools and case studies to radically expand your perspective. Using a simple formula, the book helps business owners of all types figure out their readiness for innovation and how to use that assessment to make competitive and strategic innovation.

Job seekers will also find this book extremely helpful because it reinforces the interdependence of jobs in the future. On one side, the book presents a chaotic future with industries being replaced and re-engineered rapidly. On the other hand, the book offers proactive solutions for dealing with that future. Those solutions involve creating workers who are ready to work in businesses that are able to deal with an uncertain future. To summarize, job seekers can learn skills to prepare for the future. And businesses can learn how to make those future skills work for them.

This article, “Instead of Surviving Business Disruption, Consider Reinvention” was first published on Small Business Trends

Detroit Engineer: Turn Buses Into Rolling Tech Teaching Labs

Detroit

An Amazon engineer hailing from Detroit has a novel idea for that city’s unused school buses: turn them into mobile tech labs.

Thomas Phillips presented his idea at last month’s Hack the Central District Cultural Innovation Conference (Hack the CD) in Seattle, according to The Detroit Metro Times. The Aspire Tech Bus would be a school bus modified into a mobile tech lab. In this lab, students will work on coding projects as an actual software development team.

The students will learn basic and advanced topics in full stack Web development: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for front-end development, and NodeJS and ExpressJS for back-end development. Students will also be taught to build a website and a server from scratch. Furthermore, Phillips’ vision extends to teaching career skills as well, such as project management skills, how to create LinkedIn profiles, and how to establish professional email addresses.

The planned curriculum includes two 16-week courses, in total. The mobile lab students will receive a Raspberry Pi computer. By the end of the program, they will have a portfolio of coding projects to present to potential employers.

“I envision this project as a ‘high-tech, voc-tech,’” he says, as giving students high-tech skills before college will better position them for success. “Some of them will choose to pursue their education further at the college/ university level, others will venture into the entrepreneurial sector. Both of these have far reaching implications that reverberate across the world,” said Phillips at the event.

Phillips’s project has already attracted attention, and he will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign for more support. “I want to drive around to different locations in the city and teach web development or other advanced STEM programming concepts to kids in Detroit,” he said in an interview. His goal is to eventually roll out his program to other underserved communities and school districts.

Mo’ Growth Mo’ Problems: What They Don’t Tell You About Leading a Fast-Growing Company

As an entrepreneur leading a fast-growing company, I’ve learned a few things that I know other entrepreneurs will relate to — whether they admit to the struggles or not — and that aspiring entrepreneurs should take as a warning.

Using Snapchat For Less Than $20 To Attract Customers And Generate Business

snapchat

By now, you are familiar with Snapchat, the photo-taking and photo-sharing app. It permits people to take and share photos that expire. Of all the digital social networks that we all know and love, Snapchat is the country’s second favorite as of this year, despite it being around since September 2011. Reportedly, 57 million Americans use Snapchat and 60% of Americans between 13 and 38 years old are Snapchat users. It is no longer ‘just’ for millennials, more people in general are using it every day.

The Magic of Snapchat Filters

Alan Belniak of Alignable Main Street Insights, encourages small business owners take advantage of Snapchat filters. When a Snapchat user takes a photo—and before sending, sharing, and posting it—they have an option to add a filter. These filters are sometimes just color corrections, silly faces, or graphical overlays to the image.

But Belniak points to the popular geofilter. Snapchat’s website describes geofilters as special overlays that communicate the “where and when” of a Snap in a fun way. Companies or individuals can purchase on demand geofilters for an event, business, or location.

This gives you an opportunity to brand a filter in a certain geographic region and to engage with consumers in the moment from an event. For example, “you can pair the mention of a Snapchat filter for an in-store or on-site discount if a user mentions the filter,” suggests Belniak.

You can’t use hashtags or URLs in your filter but you can use your brand or company name. Snapchat  sells these filters at $5 per 20,000 square feet, per hour—say for example, about $20 for a live filter for 12 hours covering around 6,500 sq. ft. You can’t go over 5 million square feet, and the max amount of time a filter can run for is 30 days. Once the geofilter concludes its run, you’re given access to data and analytics, including the number of views of the filter.

Expanding Your Social Footprint

One viable marketing strategy is to go behind the scenes, suggests Black Enterprise Social Media Manager Sirita Wright. “Share some of the personal or intricate details of your brand or business, and let your audience be a part of the story. If you’re hosting an event, be sure to take your followers on the journey,” she explains. “Say you’re a makeup artist working a wedding; share your expertise with your followers using some before-and-after shots. Do you use a special method to clean your makeup brushes? It might be worth snapping.”

Also, cross-promote your snaps on other social media platforms to extend their life, adds Wright. “For example, edit your snaps and add them to your YouTube channel, or download them and create a blog series. The possibilities are endless.”

[Related: 5 Women On Snapchat Promoting Healthy Living]