Improve Your Skills and Network at One of These Events

Welcome to our latest curated list of events, contests and awards for small businesses, solo entrepreneurs and growing companies. To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Manta #SmallBizLove Photo ContestManta #SmallBizLove Photo Contest
August 31, 2013, Online

This contest highlights small businesses and helps them to show off their amazing products, services and happy customers all with a chance to win $10K. The contest is open this year to small business owners and their consumers.

At the end of the contest, one photo will be chosen as the $10K Grand Prize winner.

Hashtag: #SmallBizLove


Small Business Influencer Awards 2013
September 9, 2013, Online
Small Business Influencer Awards 2013

The 2013 Small Business Influencer Awards recognize the apps, organizations and people who have a strong impact on small businesses in North America. Now its 3rd year, the Awards are a coveted recognition for those who serve small businesses.  Check to see who’s already been nominated, and nominate yourself, or someone or some organization or app you admire.   No fee to enter.

Twitter hashtag: #SMBinfluencer.

NOMINATE


WomanCon 2013WomanCon 2013
September 25, 2013, New York, NY

This conference brings together amazing women entrepreneurs, both on and off the stage. Hear real behind-the-scenes stories of success including JJ Ramberg, Sarah Endline, Janine Popick, and Pamela O’Hara. Expert keynotes and panel discussions include: Getting Funding for Growth with Kay Koplovitz & Peggy Wallace, Turning Ideas into Companies with Yao Huang, 5 Strategies for a Stronger Brand with Julie Cottineau, and a journalist panel on Pitching the Media. SEATING IS LIMITED.
Discount Code
SBTRENDS ($50 off)


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

The post Improve Your Skills and Network at One of These Events appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Sports Biz: 5 Thoughts to Consider From Serena vs. Sloane 3.0

Williams and Stephens will square off Sunday in one of the most anticipations of the matches of the US Open.

A curious thing has happened at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center: 20-year-old Sloane Stephens has become the darling of the 2013 playing of the US Open. In the midst of all of her obligations in New York as the next great American star, she has handled the pressure with aplomb, fighting to a three-set, first-round over Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella — and barely breaking a sweat since.

But there’s a glitch. Miss Darling beat Serena Williams, the four-time winner of this tournament, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open this year. It set off a wave of questions: How long before Serena could not longer beat her consistently? Was Serena, into her thirties, too … old? Are they friends?

A lot of those questions have been answered. On Sunday, Sloane vs. Serena 3.0 will take off at Arthur Ashe. Here are a few considerations. You know, because this is only kind of huge.

1. The ratings bonzanza: Don’t think for a second the suits at ESPN didn’t circle this possible fourth round match. They did. Ever since Stephens criticized Williams in the media for unfollowing her on Twitter – and not speaking to her after the quarterfinals of this year’s Australian Open – this match has become something of a flashpoint for American tennis, which believes it has found its next big star. Stephens’ youth, smile, ambition and talent is more than enough for ESPN to market to post one of its biggest tennis ratings of the year.

2. #IWILL: Under Armour’s campaign is getting a big boost from its biggest tennis star here at the US Open. The genius of the #IWILL hashtag, of Under Armour’s entire advertising oeuvre, is in its unwavering dedication to the underdog. Stephens is the No. 15 in the world and she is going up against the world’s No. 1. Could it get any better for a brand – a campaign – bent on getting the most of its Davids, of toppling its Goliaths?

3. A-TEAM: ESPN’s team of John McEnroe will help anchor Sunday’s match. Aside from Evert’s statement that Stephens had eschewed “monkey business” following her first round struggles, it’s proved a minor blip; ESPN has been a worthy partner of the US Open since it paid $825 million over 11 years for the tournament’s rights, which it will take complete control of in 2015. Critics were up in arms over ESPN’s strong-arming of the USA Network’s long-beloved coverage of the Open; many were similarly attached to NBC’s rights to broadcast Wimbledon, which ESPN also obtained two years ago for a half-billion.

If Serena vs. Sloane 3.0 lives up to the hype, it will prove as yet another one of the networks more savvy moves as it relates to the marketability, intelligence and timeliness of its own brand.

4. Double your money: By reaching the fourth round, both Stephens and Williams secured themselves guaranteed prize payouts of $165,000. The player who advances to the quarterfinals will take home no less than $325,000. This is frankly of more monetary concern to Stephens, who is just 20. You’ll remember, after Stephens struggled in her first round match against someone yelled something to the effect of, “This girl is going to take your second-round prize money if you don’t get it together.” Stephens later said the fan’s shouting helped her get her game into gear. It’s the type of communication that simply wouldn’t have the same impact with the older, wealthier Williams. Serena is playing to shape her legacy — not for a check from the USTA.

That’s not Stephens’ story. Not yet.

5. Thanking their lucky stars: Believe us: The WTA can’t believe its good fortune. Not only does it have the delicious irony of its best American and player in the prime and twilight of her career, it has hungry, talented and marketable stars ready to take her place. The WTA and USTA lamented the possibility we’d have no American stars to help carry the torch for American tennis. Now? Well, it seems the entire country might have a choice in the matter.

Catch Up With Our Latest Small Business News Recap

Mobile woman staying up to day

We understand running your business may take 40, 50 or 60 hours a week — and then some. To save your valuable time, the Small Business Trends editorial team has gathered this recap of key stories not to miss this week.

Acquisitions & Startups That Help Small Business

DocStoc acquires BestVendor. Docstoc’s acquisition of BestVendor this week for an undisclosed sum adds software recommendations to the other online business resources the company already offers. Check out the full range of services now available.

Tawki can change your approach to video. A startup plans to take a one-click approach to production. Tawki will create simple video from a single keyword. You can even customize with added clips, photos, music and voice-overs.

Cyberwars Continue

The New York Times was hacked. Or rather, the domain name was hacked and pointed to a hacker’s servers.  One of the world’s most famous brands was brought down with a crafty phishing ploy.  To safeguard your business website, read these 2 tips to make sure your employees avoid similar mistakes.

Taxes & Revenue

Uncle Sam thinks you’re holding out. The IRS has been sending notices to small businesses. The concern is over those reporting higher than average credit card sales.  But wait!  They’re reporting HIGHER sales — what’s wrong with that?  You’d think the IRS would be ecstatic. Well, the government suspects small businesses of under-reporting cash. But we point out an alternate explanation.

Number of businesses up – but revenue is down. Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University Scott Shane shares numbers suggesting the profitability of American businesses is down. We’ve got the details.

Patch website closures raise questions about online business model. Whether you’re creating a hyperlocal news site or a niche community, the issue is the same. Bringing in revenue is what will keep your business going. The question is whether online advertising or some other means is best.

Tools & Services

iWork is working in beta. At least for some people. Some are panning this as “too little too late” from Apple and a pale imitation of Google Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive storage services. But Apple is reported to be limiting the beta use due to overwhelming response.

Gather data for your business – there’s an app for thatWhether it’s information on a competitor or on how stores are displaying your product, there’s a now an app for gathering all this stuff. Field Agent lets you pay ordinary people to gather your business intelligence at a very low price.

Shutterstock and Facebook team up. The new arrangement allows advertisers on Facebook to use professional licensed photos from Shutterstock in their ads at no extra charge. Even better, you can source them from directly in the Facebook ad panel. Best of all for small business owners who want to see other entrepreneurs treated fairly, Shutterstock points out that the individual photographers will get paid a royalty when their images are used.  Yep, even if you get the image for “free,” you are supporting the photographer.

Have you ever considered a TV in your business?  Or maybe you already have television(s) in your workplace.  Television is not just an expense.  In many businesses (restaurants, bars, fitness centers) it can actually drive sales up, by attracting customers, and keeping them longer and buying more.  Oh, and as long as it’s strictly for business purposes, the monthly cable service likely qualifies as a tax deduction, says tax expert Barbara Weltman.  You may be able to expense or depreciate the cost of the hardware, too. We’ve got the low-down.

Management & Strategy

Wanted: workers with skills. A recent survey says one problem still dwarfs all others for small business owners when it comes to hiring and managing employees. And it isn’t how much time they’re spending on Facebook. Rieva Lesonsky explains what may be a surprising statistic.

Indian etailer focuses on a niche. To see success in India’s burgeoning eCommerce market, startup Kobster took a simple approach. Pick one niche market with definite growth potential, in this case office supplies. Sramana Mitra, founder of One Million by One Million, has more.

Mobile & Social Media

Budget friendly iPhone coming. Apple is planning a September 10 announcement. And industry sources indicate it could include news of a new cheaper model of the iconic smartphone. Photos that may show the new device are now online.

Take your hotspot with you. Staying connected with your business when traveling can be a trick. But no more with mobile hotspot Globalgig. TJ McCue has a review of the device for everyone.

Your Facebook post has a 5 hour shelf-life. Wisemetrics research says Facebook posts receive the majority of comments, shares, and likes within that first five hours. But there’s lots more data about timing — and how to post your updates at the optimal time, to get the most engagement.

Mobile woman photo, Shutterstock

The post Catch Up With Our Latest Small Business News Recap appeared first on Small Business Trends.

10 Most Useful Travel Apps





r-TRAVEL-APPS-large570[1]

Travelling is hardly ever a breeze, but with the advent of smartphones we don’t have to be helpless any longer. We’ve compiled the best of an entire category of apps that were developed to make your travel experience easier and safer, so give them a whirl for your next trip and feel the weight being lifted.

Kayak

The #1 (free!) mobile travel app has all-inclusive booking for flights, hotels and cars with a price alert option. But this app goes beyond the booking by providing the user with useful features for use in transit and throughout your trip. There’s a flight tracker feature that updates you on any and all changes to your flight, an airline directory, an airline fee directory, and while you’re waiting the airport information feature (powered by the GateGuru app) tells you where everything is inside the airport. Kayak is considerate enough to include a packing list helper,  and even a pseudo personal assistant in the app; just forward your booking confirmations from your email to trips@kayak.com and they create an itinerary that can be seen in “My Trips”.

iTranslate Voice

This app is worth way more than its price tag of $1.99. It allows you to bypass all the costs of needing to learn a language. All you do is talk into your phone in one language and set it to translate to the language of your choice out of the app’s 36 choices and bam! You hear what you just said in the language you selected. If you simply want to look up words and phrases you can do that, too, by using your voice. And if you happen to be having a interlingual conversation, you can use iTranslate’s AirTranslate feature to  connect two devices together to easily converse. But in order to use this supremely accurate voice translating app, you need an Internet connection, which might not be an option for all those on vacation. Sorry, but you might have to stick to good ol’ Google Translate!

Clear Day Free

The most aesthetically appealing and accurate, free weather app out there, Clear Day Free is the app that was formerly known as Weather HD. Clear Day Free gets its data from NOAA radars and presents forecast details like  humidity, precipitation, visibility, pressure details, wind chill, heat index and more, while showing you a real-time crisply gorgeous depiction of the weather right now! This is the weather app of choice for travel considering it has a QuickView that allows you to view the weather in more than one location at a time (with over 2.5 million locations covered around the world), an automatic current location detector, and a severe weather warning system to keep you updated no matter where you are.

XE Currency

XE Currency has every currency and precious metal conversion rate in its database, giving you the ability to observe the trends of up to 10 currencies at once. With the rates of exchange rates refreshing every minute, the usefulness of this app for the traveler barely needs to be explained. Besides currency conversion, XE Currency provides its user with thousands of historic currency charts in case they’re curious about past rates.  XE Currency goes the extra mile to help the user by giving an offline use option, the app stores the last updated rates so you can convert prices without internet access.

TripAdvisor Offline City Guides

If you’re visiting one of the over 30 major cities listed on the app, you’ll definitely want to download TripAdvisor’s city guide. This app is amazing for a few reasons, besides its obvious lack of a price tag, it operates offline so all you need is the initial update to have access to your trip guide throughout your whole trip – which means no expensive data roaming! The app includes a map and all places (with all the reviews) listed on TripAdvisor.com for the selected city are included in the city guide. Once you have selected a restaurant or attraction, the app will guide you there using the super useful “Point Me There” feature. If you want to record your adventures once you reach your destination,  simply Check-In (which can be done offline), take a photo and add a note for each location to automatically create your journal and travel album.

Onavo Extend

Once installed (at no cost to you!), this app drastically reduces the amount of data required to perform all your favorite smartphone tasks like checking your email or posting on Twitter or Facebook. This app is perfect for those who are not turning off their data while on vacation and need to stay updated, you can do all the work you need without a ridiculously inflated bill.  Onavo operates by compressing all downloaded data over 3G/4G/EDGE/LTE and wi-fi, including images and texts. There is one shortcoming of this app, it does not currently compress streaming media or VoIP apps, like YouTube or Skype.

HostelWorld

This app can help you find the cheapest place to stay in tonight that may not be available on all the other room-booking sites. The reason is because this app includes hostels, hotels, apartments, B&B’s and campsites when searching for a place to stay so the results can often be much less expensive than your average hotel booking app. You can view all your search results in a map view with pins for each place, and read reviews and ratings from previous guests to make sure your stay is pleasant and vermin-free.

HopStop

Travelling often involves more travelling once you’ve reached your destination. Whether you’re travelling by mass transit, taxi, foot or bike HopStop has you covered in over 600 cities. Besides getting door-to-door directions like other directional apps, you can estimate the time and cost of a taxi (based on real-time traffic), and get schedules for buses and subways. Beyond those features is the Live! feature, where other HopStop users post live updates about commuting on certain train or bus lines, check any line to see what people are saying about it right now — who knows, maybe you’ll even change your route!

ATM Locator

The usefulness of this app also goes without needing much explanation, when you’re travelling you’ll probably need cash and where do you get cash but at the beloved ATM. This app will provide you with a list of the most convenient ATM locations and their addresses. With one more tap of your finger, you can access driving directions to the ATM of your choice.

Word Lens

In foreign places, you can often tell the tourists from the locals by who is staring endlessly at signs and posters trying to gain a shred of understanding from the unintelligible information. If you download Word Lens, you do not have to be one of those tourists. Just snap a picture of the text in question and see the words written in a language you can understand. The app does not recognize handwriting or stylized fonts but for most signs and menus this app is extremely useful. Its best feature is that it works offline, so you’ll be in the loop no matter what.





The post 10 Most Useful Travel Apps appeared first on Under30CEO.

Work vs. Life: How to Achieve a Better Balance





Work Life Balance

Work. Life. It’s the war of the worlds. At least, it seems like it. You work all day, and it never seems like you get a break – even when you kick your feet up on the coffee table at home. You’re stressed out, and you’re not getting good sleep. You seem to get sick more often than usual. You don’t like where your life is going and you haven’t even hit 30 yet. Here’s how to realistically achieve that often-elusive work-life balance.

Set Priorities

Define what you actually want to do, not what you think you should want to do. When you start thinking in terms of “should,” you start feeling guilty that your actual wants don’t match up with what you should want. This is about your life and your values. Follow what you actually value.

Sometimes that means not going out on Friday night. Sometimes, it means taking a vacation when the boss wants you to put in overtime. You have to decide just how serious your career is to you, what you want from your work, and how long you need to recharge your batteries.

Keep a journal of day’s events, especially your feelings, looking for patterns, highlighting what made you happiest or best results. Evernote is a great online tool, that helps, as the tagline says, remember everything.

Work at Work

Keep work at work and don’t bring it home with you. The easiest way to blur the lines between work and home is to start giving yourself homework. You didn’t like it in school and you’ll like it less now that you’re an adult. It’s a common mistake people make. They think they’ll get more done by doing a little bit at home.

The truth is that you never seem to get much work done at home and, when you do, it’s stressful. Why? Because you’re burning yourself out. You can’t work for 8 hours straight and then continue at home without some type of relaxation. Your brain can’t take it.

Consider leveraging the Pomodoro technique, segmenting your time and charting your intended tasks.  The time-management tool ensures breaks and seeks stress avoidance.

Stop Multi-Tasking

There really is no such thing as multi-tasking, so don’t even try. When you divide your attention between several things at work you only accomplish one thing: nothing. You can’t focus on any one thing, so all of the work you end up doing is sub-par.

That makes it enticing to take work home with you since it never got the attention it deserved at home. Shut off the Internet at work, stop taking breaks during times when you’re supposed to be working, and try to wall yourself off from other people so you can focus on what you’re doing.

Evernote, suggested above, helps alleviate multi-tasking anxieties, but one Android application also seeks to help those with smart devices visually address multi-tasking when needed.

Set Defined Times For Relaxation

An important part of work-life balance is relaxation. Our bodies aren’t made for uninterrupted work. We can handle bouts of intense concentration only when they’re followed by periods of relaxation and rest. Schedule regular downtime on the weekends, vacations, and trips to movies, musicals, sporting events, or anything else that helps you unwind.

The rest and relaxation is, in a way, almost more important than the work itself. It helps you to emotionally prepare for the work you’ll end up doing. You have to feel motivated, rested, and refreshed to do anything resembling a good job. Working non-stop is like trying to run a car on no gas – it just doesn’t work.

You look exhausted from reading this post.  Perhaps it’s time for a planned vacation.  Where are some of the most-suggested locales in the world?

Louise Hudson works as a human resources officer for a multinational. Her articles mainly appear on employment related blogs. For more employment ideas, visit the Dubizzle Egypt website.

Image Credit: apps.clayton.edu 





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What is Glogging? Well, You May Soon Be Doing It

google glasses

Google Glass is Google’s computer that looks vaguely like eyeglasses.  Although there are no lenses in Google Glass, they remind you of an eyeglass frame (see above). Glass is currently experimental. Plans are being made to launch Glass to the public in 2014 — but some say it could happen in late 2013.

While Google Glass puts the Internet and many computer and smartphone features right in front of your face, it also can help you enhance certain business and marketing practices. That’s where the practice of Glogging comes in.

What is Glogging?

Glogging is the act of blogging or vlogging (video blogging) using Google Glass as a camera.  Think Glass + blogging = glogging.

With traditional vlogging, bloggers might carrying around a video camera to document their experiences, speaking into it all the while. Viewers of vlogs can feel like they are in the room with the blogger. It’s like a documentary.

With glogging, you get an even more personalized perspective.  Viewers literally can see what the blogger sees.   They see it as if through the blogger’s eyes. After all, the camera lens in Google Glass is right next to the blogger’s eye, perched on his or her head like eyeglasses.

Glogging puts viewers not just into the room, but into the blogger’s shoes, as this perspective shows:

google glass taking video

Google Glasses Recording

How Does Glogging Work?

When someone has Google Glass on, using either a button or voice command, the user can take photos or shoot video.  A tiny screen image appears above the eye, showing what the camera lens sees.

Glass users can look at what is in front of them. Or they can glance up and to the right slightly, to see what is on the little screen (see below).

google glass video

Google Glass Video Screen Photo via Google

One useful feature of Google Glass is its integration with Google+, Google’s social network.

Images or video footage taken using Glass is automatically added to the user’s private Google+ photo section. You can then choose to share the media or post to other sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Or you can embed the images or video into a longer blog post.

Glogging can even be live. Instead of completing a video, uploading it to Google+, and then sharing it, you could launch an instant Google+ Hangout right from Glass. Then you can share what you’re seeing live, as and when you’re seeing it.

How Can You Use Glogging For Business?

Glogging could be used for product reviews and demos.  Rather than a traditional overview or demo, with glogging you can deliver something that feels more spontaneous and puts the viewer “right there” like Andy Ihnatko did with this demo of Nokia’s new Lumia 1020 camera. In his video, you can clearly see the screen and how the demonstrator is working each of the camera’s functions.

If your company is releasing a new mobile app, for example, you could use glogging to easily show off all of the features without ever taking the camera off the phone screen. If you were filming a more traditional vlog with the camera pointed at you, you might have to turn the phone screen toward you to press buttons within the app.  And then you might have to turn the phone back toward the camera to show off the next screen.  It would not seem nearly as “in the moment” as with glogging.

Glogging can also be used for things like tours, such as this one of Disneyland.  Imagine doing a walk-through of your manufacturing facility, for prospective clients.  Or you could hold conversations with industry experts at a trade show or event.  You could even use glogging to give interactive presentations.

You can add text captions to a video, also.  For instance, you can add screen notes, or add a message to convert those viewing it into social followers.

google glass video add text

Google Glass “Add Text” Feature Video Still

Using Glass instead of a traditional camera gives you the ability to use both hands at all times rather than using one or both holding a camera. Viewers can see directly from the point of view of the glogger.  

That way the person filming can easily point things out and narrate. Best of all, it can make users feel more like a part of the experience rather than just a bystander, as this kind of shot shows:

google glasss voice command

Google Glass Voice Command Screen Photo via Google

Google Glass is currently experimental, but could be publicly available as early as the end of this year (2013) or in 2014.  It is slated to cost $1,500.  However, some experts suggest that based on the price of components and other factors, the price will be much lower by the time Google Glass becomes widely available.

google glasses

Google Glass Photo via Google

So while Glass is not available today for everyday consumers, that will change.  And when Google Glass does become widely available — which could be  within a few months — it could be worth a look for small businesses.

Start thinking now about how you could use Google Glass videos in your business.

First Google Glass image above via Shutterstock. Others via Google.

The post What is Glogging? Well, You May Soon Be Doing It appeared first on Small Business Trends.

5 Reasons Your Business Is Begging You For a Freelancer





Freelance

“Welcome to the world of small business owners! We’re so happy you’re here! Come, let us show you the ropes.”

Not quite the reception you got when you dropped anchor and officially launched your small business? No one laid out the red carpet for you? The truth is, the beginning can be quite rocky for a small business owner, with a lot of twists, turns and unexpected bumps on the road.

One of the most notable and notorious bumps is the seemingly never-ending costs and financial surprises that will keep hitting your wallet in a most unpleasant way. It takes a lot of cold, hard cash to launch your business and in some cases, there’s nothing you can do about it, such as product quality, quantity, research or education costs, etc., etc. In other cases, however, there is something you can do and that is where…The Great and Awesome Freelancer comes in.

Freelancers come in many shapes and sizes, with many different specialties, but they all have one thing in common: amazing potential to downsize the “expenditures” column on your budgeting spreadsheet.

Here are 5 reasons you should consider the freelancer market today:

1)      The Cost.

Like any established writing firm, graphic design corporation or other service provider, freelancers run the gamut of what they charge, but in general, they are much, much cheaper than their big box counterparts. Freelancers often work from home, which translates into little to no overhead costs, and work for themselves, which means the money goes straight into their pockets. Without all those nasty little detours your money must take in a big corporation, you will probably find that you need only part with much less.

2)      The Service.

Assuming you hired a nice, pleasant freelancer with whom you get along (and why would you not?), the service provided by a freelancer is often much more personal than that of a big corporation. Rather than calling a 1-800 number or reaching an impersonal desk service with every question, you will have direct access to the person who is writing your article/designing your website/whatever. This equals more clarity, less frustration and less time spent getting the same job done.

3)      The Talent.

Forget the hidden gem of the Caribbean, the hidden gem of the SEO or programming world might be in your own backyard. While at times a freelancer may be working solo for its convenient, flexible hours and rules, in some cases, they are on their own because they have built up a big enough reputation to do so. There are many freelancers whose expertise and excellence in their respective fields have allowed them to branch out on their own while retaining a huge client base. Take advantage!

4)      The Expertise.

Along those same lines, oftentimes in a large corporation, the newbies are given the grunt work – i.e. the actual writing of your project or designing of your website, a.k.a. your lifeblood and the purpose to your existence – while the experts in the fields are doing the supervision. Don’t you want to know who you’ve just entrusted with the care of your baby?

5)      The Flexibility.

Depending on the specific freelancer that you hire, you might find the flexible schedule and lack of home/work boundaries advantageous to getting your project done fast. Because freelancers often set their own work hours and are not bound to the 9-5 office grind, they might be able to crunch in a project between the unseemly hours of 12-2 a.m. or fit you in after an early breakfast.

When looking for the right freelancer for your business, make sure you do your homework like you would with any employee. Obviously, not every breathing organism with a computer and a desire to make money will be the right fit for your company, but some will. Look for credentials such as degrees, past experience in their field, (happy) references and competent communication skills. Check out their work for yourself to make sure that it works for you, even if others were satisfied, because everyone’s personal taste is different.

Many websites that are happy to profit from you can help you get started on your search, such as guru.com, freelancer.com, fivver.com and 99designs.com, but don’t forget your local market either. Friends that you went to college with, business contacts, relatives and neighbors might all know someone excellent in the field that you’re looking for, so don’t overlook them.

And when you find someone good, do the world a favor and pass them along to the next small business owner. Because there may not be a red carpet out yet, but a money-saving, fast-working, phone-answering, skilled and flexible freelancer is definitely the next best thing.

After  graduating college, Donny Zanger began his first business All Week Walls, that erects temporary pressurized walls in the NY metro area. His company has been featured in numerous publications including the NY Times. He is also active in the development of mobile software technology.

Image Credit: http://i.somethingawful.com





The post 5 Reasons Your Business Is Begging You For a Freelancer appeared first on Under30CEO.

5 Reasons Your Business Is Begging You For a Freelancer





Freelance

“Welcome to the world of small business owners! We’re so happy you’re here! Come, let us show you the ropes.”

Not quite the reception you got when you dropped anchor and officially launched your small business? No one laid out the red carpet for you? The truth is, the beginning can be quite rocky for a small business owner, with a lot of twists, turns and unexpected bumps on the road.

One of the most notable and notorious bumps is the seemingly never-ending costs and financial surprises that will keep hitting your wallet in a most unpleasant way. It takes a lot of cold, hard cash to launch your business and in some cases, there’s nothing you can do about it, such as product quality, quantity, research or education costs, etc., etc. In other cases, however, there is something you can do and that is where…The Great and Awesome Freelancer comes in.

Freelancers come in many shapes and sizes, with many different specialties, but they all have one thing in common: amazing potential to downsize the “expenditures” column on your budgeting spreadsheet.

Here are 5 reasons you should consider the freelancer market today:

1)      The Cost.

Like any established writing firm, graphic design corporation or other service provider, freelancers run the gamut of what they charge, but in general, they are much, much cheaper than their big box counterparts. Freelancers often work from home, which translates into little to no overhead costs, and work for themselves, which means the money goes straight into their pockets. Without all those nasty little detours your money must take in a big corporation, you will probably find that you need only part with much less.

2)      The Service.

Assuming you hired a nice, pleasant freelancer with whom you get along (and why would you not?), the service provided by a freelancer is often much more personal than that of a big corporation. Rather than calling a 1-800 number or reaching an impersonal desk service with every question, you will have direct access to the person who is writing your article/designing your website/whatever. This equals more clarity, less frustration and less time spent getting the same job done.

3)      The Talent.

Forget the hidden gem of the Caribbean, the hidden gem of the SEO or programming world might be in your own backyard. While at times a freelancer may be working solo for its convenient, flexible hours and rules, in some cases, they are on their own because they have built up a big enough reputation to do so. There are many freelancers whose expertise and excellence in their respective fields have allowed them to branch out on their own while retaining a huge client base. Take advantage!

4)      The Expertise.

Along those same lines, oftentimes in a large corporation, the newbies are given the grunt work – i.e. the actual writing of your project or designing of your website, a.k.a. your lifeblood and the purpose to your existence – while the experts in the fields are doing the supervision. Don’t you want to know who you’ve just entrusted with the care of your baby?

5)      The Flexibility.

Depending on the specific freelancer that you hire, you might find the flexible schedule and lack of home/work boundaries advantageous to getting your project done fast. Because freelancers often set their own work hours and are not bound to the 9-5 office grind, they might be able to crunch in a project between the unseemly hours of 12-2 a.m. or fit you in after an early breakfast.

When looking for the right freelancer for your business, make sure you do your homework like you would with any employee. Obviously, not every breathing organism with a computer and a desire to make money will be the right fit for your company, but some will. Look for credentials such as degrees, past experience in their field, (happy) references and competent communication skills. Check out their work for yourself to make sure that it works for you, even if others were satisfied, because everyone’s personal taste is different.

Many websites that are happy to profit from you can help you get started on your search, such as guru.com, freelancer.com, fivver.com and 99designs.com, but don’t forget your local market either. Friends that you went to college with, business contacts, relatives and neighbors might all know someone excellent in the field that you’re looking for, so don’t overlook them.

And when you find someone good, do the world a favor and pass them along to the next small business owner. Because there may not be a red carpet out yet, but a money-saving, fast-working, phone-answering, skilled and flexible freelancer is definitely the next best thing.

After  graduating college, Donny Zanger began his first business All Week Walls, that erects temporary pressurized walls in the NY metro area. His company has been featured in numerous publications including the NY Times. He is also active in the development of mobile software technology.

Image Credit: http://i.somethingawful.com





The post 5 Reasons Your Business Is Begging You For a Freelancer appeared first on Under30CEO.

“Promote Yourself” Holds Valuable Advice for Gen Y Job Seekers

gen y job seekersHas there ever been a time where a new generation was accepted into the world of work with open arms?

I’m not sure.  As I write this, I’m reflecting on Dan Schawbel’s latest book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success and channeling Archie Bunker’s rants to his “Meathead” son-in-law about how useless the new generation is.

It seems that nothing much has changed from the 1970′s until today.

A Case of Unrequited Love

Check out these stats about the relationships between Gen Y workers and their managers that I pulled out of my review copy:

  • 59% of Gen Y workers view their managers positively and believe they can offer experience.  49% feel their managers can offer wisdom and 33% feel that they have a willingness to mentor.
  • These managers, however, have an overall negative view of their Gen Y employees. 51% say they have unrealistic compensation expectations.  47% feel they have a poor work ethic and 46% say they are easily distracted.

Overall, not what I’d call a workplace environment of mutual regard.  But you already knew that.  What you may not have known is that despite our 7% unemployment rate, there are over 3 million jobs that go unfilled due to a lack of unqualified workers.

This is a big issue and not one that Schawbel solves in Promote Yourself.  What he does, however, is offer the reader the unique skills and strategies  they’ll need to get ahead (and get a job) today and for the rest of their careers.

I think he says it best here, on page two of the book:

So here’s the situation. The economy sucks, which leaves a lot of people afraid to quit their jobs because they won’t be able to find a new one. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy and a traditional college education isn’t the guarantee of future success that it once was.  The good news is that there are a lot of other ways to take control of your career without quitting your job, striking out on your own or burning your diploma.

Promote Yourself is a Manifesto of the Modern Workplace

I’ve known Dan Schawbel for a few years and one of the things I love about him is that he truly embodies an ideal persona of the Gen Y workforce. (Hey Dan, if you’re reading this, don’t let it go to your head).  In all of his books, he’s taken on the task of being the bridge to the generation gap.  What I’m trying to say is that Dan is especially skilled in speaking to both the young and the experienced audience in a way that helps them understand each other and work together.

Promote Yourself is a great example of exactly this.  Schawbel’s Gen Y Workplace Expectation Study is the foundation of this book.  It’s a result of Schawbel’s interviews with 79 employees from 69 global companies across a variety of industries that included Mariott, NBC, Universal, Dreamworks, GE, Cisco and many more.

Based on the results, he’s summarized the following 14 rules of today’s work environment and how to promote yourself by following them:

  1. Your job description is just the beginning.
  2. Your job is temporary.
  3. You’re going to need a lot of skills you probably don’t have right now.
  4. Your reputation is the single greatest asset you have.
  5. Your personal life is now public.
  6. You need to build a positive presence in new media.
  7. You’ll need to work with people from different generations.
  8. Your boss’s career comes first.
  9. The one with the most connections wins.
  10. Remember the rule of one.
  11. You are the future.
  12. Entrepreneurship is for everyone not just business owners.
  13. Hours are out, accomplishments are in.
  14. Your career is in your hands, not your employer’s.

This gives you the foundation for the entire book.  There are eleven chapters in the book and while they don’t share the names of the fourteen points, you’ll see the each chapter addresses these new rules and gives readers a lot of specific advice on how to navigate the workplace economy.

How Did Dan Get So Smart?

I met Dan when he was writing the Personal Branding Blog, a Forbes Magazine “Top Web Site for Your Career.”  He also published Personal Branding Magazine, for which I was a contributor.  So I’ve been watching him a long time.

Since then, he’s become the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He’s the author of Me 2.0 and has been featured in every business media property you can think of: Forbes, NBC, Time Warner and the rest of them.  Dan was also named to the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list in 2010 and several other awards for young influencers too numerous to mention here.

The bottom line is that Dan has become the spokesperson for the Gen Y cohort and has built quite the career out of knowing, understanding and advising our next generation of leaders.

It’s Not Just for Gen Y

You might think this book is written for the Gen Y job seeker, and you would be right.  But I see this book as a valuable read for any small business owner.  Whether you are hiring full time employees or even freelancers or contractors, Promote Yourself will give you valuable insight into Gen Y workers.

The post “Promote Yourself” Holds Valuable Advice for Gen Y Job Seekers appeared first on Small Business Trends.

How Happy Are Small-Business Owners? (Infographic)

Running your own business is a demanding job, but it offers a sense of autonomy that you just can’t get working for someone else. Still, how happy are small-business owners? A recent survey from online marketing company Yodle polled over 300 U.S. small-business owners across a variety of industries and found that most are pretty happy (55 percent).

So much for the idea that you have to work long hours to keep your business afloat — most owners work 40 hours or less a week, and 27 percent take a month or more of vacation every year. For more on small-business owners’ sentiment, including their biggest personal and professional concerns, take a look at the infographic below.

Click to Enlarge+

How Happy Are Small-Business Owners? (Infographic)