3 Counterintuitive Ways to Reach a New Audience Through Partnerships

business partnerships

Traditional wisdom teaches small businesses to partner with people whose services complement their own. If you’re a wedding planner, partner with a caterer. If you’re a landscaper, partner with a house painter, etc.

But to truly stay ahead of the competition, small-business owners need to think outside the box by initiating partnerships that dramatically increase the value that they offer their current and prospective clients.

Below is a guide to implementing three counterintuitive strategies that will expand your business reach and let you tap into new market segments through business partnerships.

Reach a New Audience Through Business Partnerships

Strategy #1: Go Where Future Clients Are Already Fans

In 2009, Chicago-based insurance company Aon signed on as the new sponsor of England’s celebrated Manchester United soccer team. Commentators questioned the connection.  Aon is strictly a business-to-business company, and the most visible part of a Manchester United sponsorship would be the addition of the company’s name to team jerseys.

But Aon stood by its decision. After all, millions of soccer fans wear those jerseys and the sponsorship would effectively turn them into what the company’s chief executive called “walking billboards.” Even better, Manchester United boasted a large fan base in Asia, one area where Aon was looking to grow at the time it secured sponsorship rights. This partnership allowed Aon to flood its future target market with its name, thus building brand recognition.

How to Make This Strategy Work For Your Small Business

Looking to expand into a new market? Join forces with a business that’s already serving that market, and you’ve got a friendly introduction to the people you want to serve.

One effective way to do this is to sponsor an event (such as a trade show, lecture series, workshop or conference) where a lot of your potential clients will be in attendance. These potential clients will be open to engaging with you because, in that context, you are not trying to sell to them. You can have an honest conversation and learn where their pain points are, which is information you can use to tailor your services to them down the road.

Strategy #2: Find a Partner Who Embodies Your Company Values

Last month, Insureon, the online business insurance agency of which I’m CEO, launched a partnership with Women’s MMA Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. As with Aon, some people questioned the connection between a professional fighter and a company that sells small business insurance.

But to us, it’s clear. Like the small business owners we serve, Ronda Rousey works hard every day, often by herself, to be the best that she can. Though Ronda has only recently gained major media attention for her success in the ring, she has been toiling at her sport for years.  She often faced significant setbacks, including injuries and naysaying from league insiders who claim women have no place in professional MMA.

As a product of sheer determination, commitment and talent, Ronda has overcome these setbacks and is changing the face of her sport in the same way that America’s small business owners are transforming the face of the U.S. economy.

The partnership with Ronda has helped reinforce our commitment to supporting hard-working business owners in their grueling and often lonely journeys.

How to Make This Strategy Work For Your Small Business

Find a values-based partner to boost brand recognition by sponsoring a local little league team, charity event or community group. Associating your business name with people and events that reflect your values helps you build your image among potential customers and establish yourself as a valuable part of the community.

Strategy #3 Share Your Rewards Program

In 2012, Chase Bank and Southwest Airlines announced a partnership that let Chase cardholders transfer their points into Rapid Rewards airline miles with Southwest. The partnership came on the heels of a similarly structured Chase-United partnership the year before.

Why did this joint venture make sense for both companies? Because Chase and Southwest saw that their respective products (credit cards and flights) have massive target audiences and that their products and services are, in some ways, indistinguishable from what their competitors offer. In that context, increasing the value of a product or service is essential to maintaining customer loyalty and winning new customers.

Chase and Southwest did exactly that, and by doing so made it that much more appealing for potential customers to use their products.

How to Make This Strategy Work For Your Small Business

Just because you’re not a major corporate player doesn’t mean you can’t offer a major rewards program. Make this strategy work for you by setting up a system where clients can work toward a discount or freebie (you’ve seen this dozens of times as punch cards at ice cream shops), then increase its effectiveness by letting clients get credit for purchases made with your partner.

You’ll both benefit from increased loyalty and customer satisfaction.

How do you reach new audiences? Have you ever launched business partnerships to reach a new target audience or customer base?

Manchester United Photo via Blackberry

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5 Money Lessons From Big Sean’s ‘Higher’

As it concerns a new album from hip-hop Money Lessons favorite Big Sean, well, we’re waiting, too. Big Sean will release his sophomore album Hall of Fame “soon.” But as much as a perfectionist as he is, and his regret that he didn’t take more time with his debut project, we all understand why he might be hesitant. We’ll take today to cull financial lessons and ideas from his hit ‘Higher” which is produced by hip-hop wunderkind Key Wane.

1. Maximize your time. There are only so many hours in the day. What can you do in the down time that you have to gain an edge? Can you review your budget? Can you work on your sales pitch? What about that lingering addition you haven’t made with your special freelance project? When he raps, “Today if I don’t earn, best believe I’m gon’ learn,” it’s a lesson that whatever time you have needs to be used to the max. It’s something entrepreneurs understand, and the quicker you get it, the better off you’ll be.

2. Treat yo’ self. “Man, I made myself a boss and then I gave me a promotion,” is the line out of the song where we see Sean’s self-determination to create opportunities for himself and then for others. Depending on what you value, by creating opportunities for others you formulate a wealth of participation that can’t be taken away, wealth that is often tangible and intangible. Again, it depends on what you value. But if you’re the boss, it’s your obligation to make a way for people who come behind you.

3. When you get money, your tastes change. As much as he talks about Benihana, you’d think Big Sean has some kind of endorsement deal with the chain of hibachi restaurants. “Benihana [is] my McDonald’s” is his clever (some would say) way of illustrating how selective he is about what he eats. It’s natural that you tastes change. What’s not natural is the idea that you live beyond your means at any cost — or that you live without the discipline of a budget.

4. “There’s more to the world than trying to make a living.” That’s verbatim. And, you know, you’d think that this should go without saying, but it really doesn’t — especially amid the hustle of trying to maximize every minute of every day, staying disciplined to budgets and charts and stocks and investments, and being obsessed with not making enough. Sometimes you should really sit back, and evaluate what’s meaningful to you and spend some of your energy following through on it. And then get back to the grind.

5. Follow always the principles of partnership. What’s better: one or two? Actually, don’t answer that. But folks who are successful know something about how collaboration can have a positive effect on building wealth, a business, or profitable side hustle. In the case of this song, it’s the relationship between producer Key Wane (born Dwayne Weir) and Big Sean, which goes back to their days at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School. The pair recently entered into a co-publishing deal, which ensures they’ll make plenty of music — and money — down the road. Find out who you work best with, and how you complement each other. The rest will take care of itself.

13 Million Facebook Users Have Never Touched Their Privacy Settings

While Facebook is a great platform to stay connected to family, friends and, in some instances, co-workers, you may not want each person to have equal access to your photos, status updates and information. Its one reason Facebook users should stay up to date with their privacy settings; however, 13 million Facebook users haven’t even touched their privacy settings.

With Facebook Graph Search to be released soon, some are concerned about the privacy issues the new feature raises. For helpful tips on customizing your privacy settings, and to see how Graph Search will affect you, take a look at the infographic (courtesy of Marketo) below:

 

Success Secrets Exposed: 5 Steps to Upgrading the Game after Graduation

(Image: Thinkstock )

As an expert career coach, my goal is to empower young professionals to reach their full potential. And one thing I’ve learned is that young careerists fail to attain optimal success because they don’t know how to stay on top of their game after college. Consequently, they often fall into the trap of becoming “stuck” in their careers shortly after graduation.

To help ensure that you don’t fall into this trap, I turned to Clark Atlanta University business professor Dennis Kimbro, Ph.D. for success secrets. Kimbro has dedicated a large part of his life studying and surveying the success principles of Black millionaires. He co-authored, with The Napoleon Hill Foundation, bestselling book Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice and recently published The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires. The dynamic speaker has also been featured in major media outlets such as Essence, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

When I talked to Kimbro, he was on fire and excited to share his secrets with BlackEnterprise.com readers. From his survey encounters of the wealthiest African-Americans, he shares the following success secrets that you must internalize to stay on top of your game well beyond your college years:

Success Secret 1:

  • When developing your skills: You must realize that corporate America and all other companies are not “hiring.” Instead, they are seeking to add value to their companies by filling positions with top talent. You must figure out what it takes for you to become recognized as one of the top professionals in your field; and then work hard to achieve this status. You have to continuously work on upgrading your talent to become a game changer!

Success Secret 2:

  • When looking for a job: Think outside of the box and show a high level of determination to standout. For example, identify a Fortune 500 company and take a trip to their parking lot. When you get there, discover where the power players park their vehicles by spotting the “reserved” signs. Be bold and place your polished resume on their windshields inside of a folder and then follow-up later. Making such strategic boss moves will help you standout!

Success Secret 3:

  • When interviewing: Be confident and speak like a champion. During the interview you have to do two very important things. 1) When it’s your turn to ask questions, ask “what are the top skills that you are looking for in individuals that you bring on board?” 2) After you hear the answers, your response should be: “when I consider the requirements for this position I know I’m a good fit for this company because my knowledge, skills, and abilities would allow me to immediately add value to the company’s core mission.” Lastly, make sure that you specifically highlight how your talents align with the company’s preferred skills!

Success Secret 4:

  • When networking: Stay connected by regularly congratulating the success of key business professionals. Navigate LinkedIn and daily newspapers to find out who attained a new position or is being recognized for success. Find their contact information and send them a note of praise. This will get you far in the networking game because the best type of praise is unexpected praise—so give praise!

Success Secret 5:

  • When doubting: It’s simple—don’t doubt. Get the tough economy mindset out of your head because expectation leads to manifestation. Take control of your career and become a go-getter!

To get more success secrets, connect with Kimbro on Twitter (@DrDennisKimbro) or watch his motivational talks on Youtube.

Antoine Moss, Ph.D., (@2PositiveTweets) is a nationally recognized resource on internships, early career achievement, leadership and motivation. CEO and founder of CEO Style Consulting L.L.C., Moss empowers professionals and organizations to reach their full potential, and serves as speaker, workshop instructor and consultant. The author of Learn to Intern CEO Style, Moss has been a featured expert on outlets including Fox 8 TV News and George Fraser’s 2011 Power Networking Conference.

Best Places to Launch: 5 Factors to Consider

Where is the best place to launch a start-up? Depends on who you ask. Experts explain the pros and cons of straying from the beaten path.

When it comes to start-up friendly cities, San Francisco’s got nothing on… Tulsa, Oklahoma?

On Monday, the personal finance website NerdWallet published a list of its highest-ranked cities for young entrepreneurs. According to the site, the best places for cash-strapped founders are located well off the traditional start-up path–Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley were conspicuously absent from the list.

According to vice president of NerdWallet Stephanie Wei, this is because young entrepreneurs have a different set of criteria when evaluating a good launch pad. But before packing your bags for Tampa, Florida or Omaha, Nebraska, here are a few things to consider about what makes a city great for first-time founders.

Cost of living.

Young is often code for broke. And cost of living is where some of the big cities fall short, Wei explains.

“Young people need to make their dollars stretch. [They] need a rent that isn’t taking up half [their] paycheck,” she says.

Sure enough, the median rent in New York City reached an all-time high this year of $3,418 a month–no small chunk of change for a bootstrapping founder. But what young entrepreneurs sacrifice in rent money, they may make up for in cultural benefits at an established hub, says Elana Fine, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.

She advises prioritizing hubs where you can find experienced entrepreneurs in a similar industry above a desire for cheap rent.

Availability of capital.

Angel investors are hard to find, and pursuing venture capital can be both tempting and impractical, according to Wei. Young entrepreneurs may hope to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey, but in the process they may overlook some of the easier, more traditional ways to get funds in the process. She explains that the NerdWallet rankings were based on an availability of “boring capital” like small business loans, and the underlying economy of a city including its historical record of sustaining growth.

Fine acknowledges that angel funding and venture capital can create a glamour trap for some young entrepreneurs, but she also recognizes that acquiring business loans as an inexperienced entrepreneur can be tough. Instead, she urges aspiring founders to do what they do best: Think outside the box.

“People often overlook grants because they feel so governmental and bureaucratic, but there are a number of government incentives for starting a business… [Entrepreneurs] just have to spend the time and do their research,” she says.

Education, education, education.

Another important resource for aspiring founders is the accessibility of educational tools. In Fine’s opinion, that means looking to cities like Boston, Massachusetts or Washington, D.C. which have strong existing academic communities for entrepreneurs to draw from.

Wei looks at the term “education” more liberally. NerdWallet ranked its cities based not only on their proximity to established universities–but on the overall education and income levels of their residents. Nearly 50 percent of the population in Raleigh, North Carolina, for example–No. 3 on NerdWallet’s list–hold a bachelor degree. Wei explains that by examining the educational standards in a community, entrepreneurs can gain a sense of each location’s value system.

“Highly educated people… and a good median income… are a good sign,” she says.

A diverse network of peers.

On one thing, the experts agree: You really are as good as the company you keep. So surrounding yourself–and your growing company–with peers and mentors in your field is a must. The No. 1 thing for young entrepreneurs to look for when picking a city for their new venture is a strong sector focus, Fine explains.

She says young founders need to ask themselves: “Does [the city] have critical mass in one or multiple sectors? Does it have both young and seasoned entrepreneurs?” Having a diverse community of peers doesn’t just mean surrounding yourself with other 20-somethings or founders of similar socioeconomic status, Fine says. You should be looking for a strong community from which to draw mentorship, as well.

“Look for people who have succeeded and who have failed,” she advises. “People who have learned from messing up–and are willing to talk honestly about that–are great to talk to.”

Take it all with a grain of salt.

In reality, the most important factor in choosing a location is the overall ecosystem, says Fine. And that can be very hard to measure. She explains that while rankings are helpful, they should also be looked at with a critical eye as they are frequently based on relatively few factors.

“I’m not sure if I’d pick up and move somewhere based on what a magazine told me,” she says. Instead, she’d go about it the old-fashioned way: by putting her feet on the ground and talking to the investors and entrepreneurs who actually make up the community.

    

How to Get Google Now On iPhone and iPad

(Image: Google)

Google’s product empire continues to grow with its latest invention slated to give Siri a run for her money.

The tech giant released its Google Now service for the iPhone and iPad on Monday. Available through Google’s Search app in the Apple App store, the personal assistant service will provide information customized to your life. Similar to the Android version, Google Now for iOS studies your habits and your routines so you don’t have to go digging through calendar appointments or driving directions on your phone.

With Google Now placing a virtual assistant at your fingertips, here’s a quick how-to guide to get the service for iPad and iPhone, as well as several pointers for setting it up:

Get Google Now for iOS
Since Google Now is not its own app, but a feature/service inside an app, you already have to have the Google Search app installed on your iOS device. If you already do, just update it. New users should have their Google account handy because they’ll need it to sign in.

You’ll see a welcome video detailing the basics of Google Now when you launch the app for the first time or after installing the latest update.

Read more at PCMag.com…

Verizon Wireless Rolls Out Online Storage for Files

Verizon online file storage

Verizon recently rolled out 500 MB of free online storage for its customers that use certain smartphones and tablets. It allows them to sync stored data between some Android and Apple devices.

Called Verizon Cloud, Verizon customers get the first 500 MB for free.  After that, customers of Verizon pay for more storage through either of two plans: $2.99 per month gets you 25 gigabytes of storage and $9.99 for 125 gigabytes.  TheVerge.com points out that Verizon’s 125 GB offer compares favorably with Dropbox which offers 100 GB for the same price.  But Google Drive and Microsoft’s Sky Drive are offered at about half that price.

One thing that sets the Verizon offering apart is that it can store call logs and text messages — along with music, video, and other files.

According to Verizon’s David Samberg, “Additionally, as customers use multiple devices, sometimes running on different operating systems, Verizon Cloud will allow for the transferring of some content between Android and iOS devices, making it accessible across smartphones, tablets and computers.”

PhoneDog.com reports that the Verizon Cloud service will only be available on a limited selection of devices initially, all devices manufactured by either Motorola, HTC, or Samsung.

A Consumer Product – But Some Business Implications

Keep in mind that this offering  is positioned as a consumer product, and not intended for businesses.  No word was given about whether the storage can be used with Verizon small business plans.

However, many solo entrepreneurs and home-based business owners use consumer plans for their wireless devices.

Also, sometimes employees use their own wireless devices in work situations, due to the BYOD trend.  Keep that in mind when it comes to record retention and other policies.  Employees may be saving files in the cloud, from their personal devices that they also use for work – one more thing for your IT Department to consider.

The post Verizon Wireless Rolls Out Online Storage for Files appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Verizon Wireless Rolls Out Online Storage for Files

Verizon online file storage

Verizon recently rolled out 500 MB of free online storage for its customers that use certain smartphones and tablets. It allows them to sync stored data between some Android and Apple devices.

Called Verizon Cloud, Verizon customers get the first 500 MB for free.  After that, customers of Verizon pay for more storage through either of two plans: $2.99 per month gets you 25 gigabytes of storage and $9.99 for 125 gigabytes.  TheVerge.com points out that Verizon’s 125 GB offer compares favorably with Dropbox which offers 100 GB for the same price.  But Google Drive and Microsoft’s Sky Drive are offered at about half that price.

One thing that sets the Verizon offering apart is that it can store call logs and text messages — along with music, video, and other files.

According to Verizon’s David Samberg, “Additionally, as customers use multiple devices, sometimes running on different operating systems, Verizon Cloud will allow for the transferring of some content between Android and iOS devices, making it accessible across smartphones, tablets and computers.”

PhoneDog.com reports that the Verizon Cloud service will only be available on a limited selection of devices initially, all devices manufactured by either Motorola, HTC, or Samsung.

A Consumer Product – But Some Business Implications

Keep in mind that this offering  is positioned as a consumer product, and not intended for businesses.  No word was given about whether the storage can be used with Verizon small business plans.

However, many solo entrepreneurs and home-based business owners use consumer plans for their wireless devices.

Also, sometimes employees use their own wireless devices in work situations, due to the BYOD trend.  Keep that in mind when it comes to record retention and other policies.  Employees may be saving files in the cloud, from their personal devices that they also use for work – one more thing for your IT Department to consider.

The post Verizon Wireless Rolls Out Online Storage for Files appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Jermaine Jackson Headed to Jail for Missing $30K in Child Support Payments

jermaine jacksonThe Jackson Family is no stranger to public familial disputes, so it should come as no surprise that Jermaine Jackson, the third eldest of the famed Jackson clan, is back in court for failing to pay more than $30,000 in court-order child support payments to his ex-wife, Alejandra.

According to newsone.com, “the Los Angeles Child Support Services Department (CSSD) filed court documents petitioning a judge to hold the 58-year-old Jackson in contempt for failing to pay the monthly child support payment of $3,000 for his sons Jermajesty and Jaafar over the course of a year.” And while records show that Jermaine has paid $5,621 thus far, he still owes a reported $30,378.

The CSSD says “Jackson is guilty of 12 months of contempt, and is scheduled for a child support hearing in August, by which time, the owed monies are required to be paid. If Jackson fails to meet his court-mandated financial obligations, he could be slapped with a 60-day jail term.”

Just two years ago, in 2011, Jermaine was in court facing the same problem with his former spouse, except he owed her and his children three times his current amount. The two settled on a reduced payment of $80,000 instead of the court-ordered $90,000, which was said to be paid in full.

Homie, Coworker, Friend: Pros and Cons of Working with Loved Ones

(Image: Thinkstock)

If you are looking for a new position, chances are you know someone who has begun a new venture. They could be family or a friend, and if you’re qualified, you may have a job prospect. Although it may be tempting to take the job, there are a few things to consider before working with them. The Daily Muse, weighs the pros and con and what you should be keeping in mind:

Pro #1: She’ll Already Know Your Strengths and Abilities
When a friend offers you a job, you can be relatively certain that she’s well aware of your career aspirations, your professional goals, the things you do well, and the tasks you dread. And if she doesn’t know those things, having that pre-employment conversation as friends will be a lot easier than having it in an interviewer-interviewee situation (“Um, you how know I’m not so great with cold calls?”).

So, as long as you have that discussion (and you’re confident that your friend is looking out for your best interests), you can accept the job with the knowledge that you’re entering into an enjoyable and rewarding career; one that will provide the challenges to help you grow professionally and put you on a path to your dream position.

But:

You can’t expect to be treated differently because you’re friends with the boss. While the majority of your job should be spent doing the things you anticipated, you’ll probably still be asked to assume some duties outside of your area of expertise—especially if the company is a start-up with a small pool of employees. Don’t be surprised (or resistant) if you’re the lucky one chosen to wheel the monstrous cart around Sam’s Club, stocking up on 180-packs of toilet paper for the office restroom (not that I know from experience).

Yes, your friend wants you to grow professionally and achieve your career goals—but she also has a business to run, and as an employee, you have to help make that happen, just like everyone else on the team.

Read more at Forbes