7 Major Companies With Pet-Friendly Offices

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 1:55pm by Sandy Jones

When American Pet Products Association conducted its 2008 survey, it found that 17 percent of U.S. businesses were pet-friendly. Having man’s best friend in the office can do wonders for mood, keeping employees in good spirits, and helps employees bringing their dogs to remember to get up and walk around every once in a while. Likewise, an employee with a pet that would otherwise have to rush home at five PM to let the dog out could stay late working with Fido in tow, increasing productivity. Whether you agree to letting your pup into your cubicle or not, the following seven companies have outrageously lax pet policies, enabling co-workers to sport their furry friends during their nine to fives.

 

  1. Amazon

    Amazon is touted as one of the best dog-friendly companies to work for, thanks to a corgi named Rufus. Rufus was the former editor-in-chief and principal engineer’s dog, and was lovingly brought to work every day in Amazon’s early stages. Rufus pretty much had free reign, playing fetch in the halls, sitting in on meetings, and accepting treats from Amazon’s employees. And while Rufus passed away in 2009, Amazon corporate will forever have a dog-friendly work culture which employees and their four-legged friends can enjoy.

  2. Google

    Google is known for all kinds of work perks, from in-office haircuts to having your oil changed while your car sits in the parking lot during the day, but its dog-friendly policies are among the best benefits of working at Google. The lengthy description that once existed on Google’s policy page has now been reduced to a stub, but with a little digging, you can find the old pet policy in its entirety on Celebrity Dog Watcher. In essence, the policy notes that dogs enhance people’s lives, so they should also serve to enhance people’s work life. The policy is hinged on a few rules, such as only bringing in unaggressive dogs, respecting those with allergies, and gaining permission from your supervisor beforehand, but Google is generally pretty relaxed about bringing canine companions to work. Why Google removed the extensive pet policy from its website is a mystery, but it may be due to the fact that each Google office around the country has slightly varying policies concerning pets.

  3. Zynga

    When Zynga found that its dog-friendly work culture resulted in an overabundance of dogs running around the offices, they didn’t remove the perk from company policy. Instead, they moved to a larger building where they could build a dog run on the roof, thus allowing the pups to better exert their energy. Zynga, the company that brought you "Words with Friends" and "Castleville," was named after founder Mark Pincus’s bulldog. The logo for Zynga also takes the shape of a bulldog, standing attentively. Zynga has taken the initiative to help out the SPCA as well. On their game "YoVille", players can virtually adopt a dog wearing the SPCA vest, resulting in a $2 donation to the organization. As of spring 2009, players have raised upwards of $90,000, helping cover the costs of caring for hundreds of homeless cats and dogs.

  4. Ben & Jerry’s

    Ben & Jerry’s makes some of America’s tastiest and most unusual ice cream flavors. It is also a dog-friendly company. If you navigate to the workplace report on Ben & Jerry’s website, you’ll spot a little gem among the workplace benefits. "Employees at the Central Support office in South Burlington also have an onsite workout facility and a dog-friendly workplace," it reads. According to TheBark.Com, Ben & Jerry’s corporate dog policy began with its graphic designer Sarah Lee Terrat, who began bringing her dog in when she worked late. Over time, other employees brought their dogs while working at night, and that evolved into employees bringing their dogs during the regular work day. The company’s corporate headquarters in South Burlington currently houses 15 to 20 dogs, forcing hard workers like Terrat to take occasional and much-needed breaks throughout the day to let her pooch relieve himself outside.

  5. Sweet Leaf Tea Co.

    The quirky Texas-based tea company with a granny as its logo is remarkably dog-friendly, with two to three dogs parading the office every day. On their blog, an employee writes that "We used to have more [dogs], but they played too hard and caused a ruckus. Now we have a doggie schedule for each week." With a rotating schedule, each employee dog gets its game time at the offices, boosting employee morale and acting as excellent cuddle buddies for snuggle breaks throughout the day. All of the office dogs are profiled on Sweet Leaf’s blog, so the company gives them a substantial amount of love.

  6. QSI Corporation

    QSI Corporation, a subsector of Beijer Electronics, creates industrial and vehicle terminals in Salt Lake City, Utah. With 50 years of hardware and software design and manufacturing experience, QSI tests its products to be able to withstand temperature extremes, humidity, thermal shock, and wind-blown rain tests, among other tests to determine how hardy the equipment is. This company also has a love for dogs. Over 15 different dogs can be seen in and out of the offices each day, keeping the QSI staff company. The late Bushka’s picture remains on the website with the description "The first QSI dog. She’s the one who started it all."

  7. The Honest Kitchen

    The Honest Kitchen is a pet food company based in San Diego, California. Naturally, the company needs four-legged friends to test its product on, so it is a decidedly pet-friendly office. It was also named one of America’s Best Places to Work in 2011′s issue of Outside Magazine. As an organic, holistic pet food company, Honest Kitchen also offers its employees a corporate membership to a nearby fitness center with access to group yoga, pilates and cardio classes, encouraging healthy living even in its staff. There are also in-office showering facilities and kitchens. Honest Kitchen offers excellent pet benefits, including free annual pet checkups, free Honest Kitchen pet food and treats, and the ability to take daily group walking breaks around San Diego with your office pet. They often make company-wide trips to Fiesta Island and OB Dog Beach, two local, dog-friendly beaches.

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The Dow Jones Pendulum Swings Again

Monday, June 11, 2012 at 2:49pm by Sandy Jones

If you have been following the stock market lately, you have probably noticed that it can be very hard to keep up. Our economy is ever-changing and the stock market is greatly affected. The Dow Jones is probably one of the most popular industrial averages that people use. The question remains, who actually understands what it means? With a little bit of background information it is easier to understand the changes that have been occurring lately with businesses and the Dow.

 

 

What Has Been Happening?

The Dow was created by Charles Dow and was officially launched in 1896 comprised of 12 companies. The method that was originally used to calculate the prices is a little more complicated these days. Now the Dow will also look at stock splits, and other actions like mergers and acquisitions. The Dow has also expanded its portfolio to include more than 30 companies. Lately, stock markets around the world have been suffering as different countries are struggling financially. Due to the fluctuations and foreign concerns, the fluctuations have been very visible in the stocks.

Recently, reports have shown some light at the end of the tunnel for the European debt crisis and there was talk that officials could soon reach a solution for many of the countries. Ever since May there has been a drop in the stock market because of the growing concerns. The main focus has been on if Spain would need a bailout or not. Additionally, since Greece is still struggling and now possibly withdrawing from the euro currency union, it is hard to have faith in financial markets. Though there are still things to work out, there is hope. Even the Federal Reserve has talked recently about the possibility of buying more bonds in an effort to boost the American economy. These positive affirmations led to the Dow closing at its highest day of 2012 on June 6. Now that the Dow is rising, can these be a sign of more growth to come?

 

Signs of a Turn Around?

Since the dramatic rise, people are wondering if they can expect to see the stock market continue to rise. Economists believe that in order for this new trend to continue, there will still need to be additional work done in the foreign market. It is imperative that Europe learns a lesson or two from China. With news that the Chinese economy could soon see a slowing of growth, the People’s Bank of China lowered its interest rates. This is the first time since 2008 that it has lowered rates. China’s quick thinking and pressure from the U.S. to make sure that it’s not affected by China’s crisis could possibly give Europe the push it needs to help its troubled countries.

 

Can it Continue?

There is no way to know for sure if these current gains can continue. There are real economic problems that are occurring globally that will need to be handled properly in order for this streak to continue. As with most solutions, there is no easy fix. These global problems will have to be handled in small, precise increments to insure that they are handling the problem effectively. If they can be corrected then there might be continual stock gains. Until then, it is safe to say that though things look great now, we can expect more fluctuations in the future.

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Oiling the Gears For Market Recovery

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 2:48pm by Sandy Jones

If it seems like the numbers at the pump are getting lower every day, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. They really are declining overnight. In fact, gas prices have dropped a penny every day for the last 19 consecutive days. Although drivers are excited about the cheaper fuel, the decline indicates several factors that are not necessarily positive. There are five facets that give us a better picture of exactly what lower prices mean.

 

Gas Prices Dropping Nationwide

First of all, it is important to recognize that the drop in oil prices has occurred nationwide. This is not a region or area-specific instance. USA Today reports that in South Carolina, the cost per gallon is down to below $3. In California, the other side of the nation, prices are as low as $4.31 a gallon. Overall the reported average for regular gasoline fell to $3.61.

Furthermore, experts predict that by Labor Day, these numbers could get even lower — possibly reaching $3.40. In comparison, Bloomberg notes that this is nearly 40 cents lower than what the national average was almost exactly four years ago prior to the elections, when the national average topped $4 a gallon.

 

Sign of Weaker Economy

According to the Fortune column of CNN, the decline in price-per-gallon comes attached to a weaker economy both here in the United States as well as around the globe. The drama in Greece over its economy as well as China’s slowing manufacturing activity reduced the demand for oil around the world. The hope concerning the impact of cheaper fuel is that economic activity is encouraged among consumers who save on filling up the tank. However, this stimulation is hampered somewhat by two major factors.

 

Job Market vs. Housing Market

Unemployment rose to 8.2% according to USA Today as only 69,000 jobs were added in May, marking the fewest in a year. The percentage point spike caused the Dow Jones to lose 100 points just minutes after the released report. This doesn’t even take underemployment rate into consideration. That number includes job-seekers who gave up the hunt from discouragement in addition to those who are working part-time and want to be employed full time; that rate went up three-tenths of a percent from 14.5% to 14.8%.

At least the housing market seems to be starting down the road of recovery. Despite the lack of jobs, the overabundance of homes is slowly being filled as people resume renting and buying. Sellers are getting smarter and investing in repairs and practical improvements to their houses and many owners are refinancing to lower mortgage rates so they can afford to keep their house and prevent foreclosure. If the job market doesn’t recover soon though, the housing market may be headed for another downhill slide.

 

Political Implications

With all the changes in the economy and the reduction of oil cost, you would think that the presidential elections would be at least partially impacted. But surprisingly, Bloomberg disproves this theory by pointing out that the approval ratings for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have seen little adjustment.

Hovering around 46 and 47%, Obama’s approval rating has hardly budged over the last few months. It did drop a percentage point to 45% following the latest report on the job market though. It would seem that Americans are less wooed by cheaper gas than they are disappointed in the lack of jobs.

 

Economic Activity Generated

When considering the impact of gas prices on consumer spending, the hope is that the lower cost of fuel will boost economic activity. However, despite the decline so far, money is not nearly as readily handed around as we expected.

Fox News recently highlighted the effect cheaper gas had on Memorial Day travels; an estimated 30.7 million Americans hit the road, driving more than 50 miles per person on average for the holiday weekend. That number is up 400,000 from last year and is solely attributed to lower gas prices and good weather. Despite the increase in traveling, drivers still cut back on the distance they traveled. Half of the survey respondents said they would travel less than 400 miles.

Although travel is the primary area of the economy that is impacted by lower fuel costs, retail stores and smaller businesses hope to be positively affected over the summer by consumer savings being redirected their way. In a best case scenario, the activity boost will spur additional trust and investments by consumers to help the recovery get back on track.

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The Evolution of American Currency in 20 Pictures

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 8:42pm by Sandy Jones

You probably come into contact or use money almost every day of your life, but have you ever wondered how American currency came to be what it is today? Our money has gone through centuries of evolution in order to get to where it is now. Whether it’s the size, shape, color, or value, numerous changes have occurred throughout the years and the government still continues to make changes even today. Let’s take a look back at the evolution of American currency and how it got to what we now carry in our wallets.

 

 

Comments (0) | Filed under: Cash Flow, Fun

8 Most Catastrophic Business Collapses in American History

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 7:24pm by Sandy Jones

Business collapses are typically marked by one of two things — either the business was unable to keep up with advancements in consumerism or technology, or the business broke the law in a big way. When big businesses fail, countless people lose their jobs. There can be a lot of finger-pointing. At the end of the day, quite a few of these major businesses wind up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in hopes that they can eventually revive their dying conglomerate. Unfortunately, when the media takes hold of these businesses, they are often unable to dispel their unfortunate reputations.

  1. Enron Corporation

    Enron was an energy company based in Houston, Texas, originally founded in 1985 in Omaha, Nebraska. In simple terms, Enron’s downfall stemmed from failure to report their losses and debt from small investment partnerships. Arthur Anderson, a global accounting firm, signed financial statements that misrepresented Enron’s gains and losses and shredded documents that would provide evidence of this crime. Enron committed security fraud when it gave botched copies of their 10K report to potential investors and shareholders. They were also charged with insider trading, as Enron executives sold their stock for $1 billion before declaring bankruptcy. Lastly, they were charged with tax fraud. Kenneth Lay, Enron’s founder, died of a heart attack in 2006, not surprising considering his impending prison sentence.

  2. Napster

    Napster was created by Shawn Fanning as a peer-to-peer music sharing software in 1999. With its sleek, user-friendly interface, users could easily share music with one another from their own personal mp3 libraries for free. However, within months of its conception Napster found itself in massive violation of copyright infringement, and the Recording Industry Association of America filed a major lawsuit that would eventually lead to its downfall. Bands such as Metallica and Dr. Dre were angered by the free sharing of their music, some of which hadn’t even been publicly released. Amidst the drawn-out lawsuit, Napster experienced a surge in publicity that attracted millions of new users, but the fame was short-lived. In July 2001, Napster had to shut down its service, and filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter in 2002.

  3. Atkins Nutritionals Inc.

    Formed in 1989, Atkins Nutritionals was the backbone of Dr. Robert C. Atkin’s ever-popular Atkins Diet, which dictated that dieters swap out carbohydrates for proteins like steak and cheese. The company sold products such as nutritional packets and packaged foods for consumption while on the diet, also making it easier to find low-carb versions of staples such as muffins, pasta, and cereal. Ultimately, followers of the Atkins diet preferred their own solutions or eating at restaurants to the foods sold by Atkins Nutritionals. Likewise, a number of other companies also began offering low-carb, pre-packaged foods, which caused the company to drop dramatically in sales. It was further weakened when Dr. Atkins himself died in April of 2003. Finally, in 2004, many dieters began abandoning the Atkins diet in favor of other diets that allowed the necessary indulgence of carbs. Those who had lost significant weight on the Atkins diet found that they rapidly gained it back the minute they could no longer eliminate carbohydrates from their diet, outing it as a fad diet. In 2005, Atkins Nutritionals filed for bankruptcy.

  4. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

    Lehman Brothers was a financial services firm founded in 1850 by Henry, Emmanuel, and Mayer Lehman. What began as a general merchandising business blossomed into the fourth largest investment bank in the United States. However, in the midst of the economic crisis, Lehman Brothers began to make some faulty decisions when it came to the subprime mortgage market. As money was lent to people and businesses for homes when they did not have enough collateral, the economy worsened. Those that had simply put small down payments on their homes began to default on their loans. Stockholders began to get nervous and sold off their shares. As a result, Lehman Brothers was never able to get their investor’s confidence back. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and was the biggest bankruptcy case in American history at the time.

  5. Borders

    Borders opened its first bookstore in 1971 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded by two brothers, Louis and Tom Borders, it was right alongside Barnes and Noble as a book store mecca which was often multi-storied and carried a diverse collection of books both fiction and non. Borders once had a technological advantage when it created a software for its stores that predicted sales and helped keep inventory. However, Borders took a crucial misstep in the mid-1990s when the market was changing to primarily digital media. While competitors such as Barnes and Noble created the Nook tablet to satisfy digital needs, Borders outsourced its online market to Amazon. Borders also swapped out much of its inventory for CDs and DVDs, while Barnes and Noble pulled back on such items. Many customers were finding that it was easier to simply order books online or read them on their tablets. In February of 2011, Borders filed for bankruptcy, and then announced its pending liquidation in July. Over 10,000 people lost their jobs as a result.

  6. AOL Time Warner

    AOL, or America Online, saw its heyday in the early 90′s when the internet was becoming a staple for the average American. Complete with an extremely recognizable dial-up tone, AOL served as a place where content could be published and accessed, with its own email service. You paid for internet access by the hour and used keyword searches to score information on the web. This internet service provider had, at its prime, 30 million subscribers. Yet, as internet innovation grew with things like broadband, AOL was unable to keep up. In 2001, AOL merged with Time Warner, which turned out to be a giant error. The merger caused AOL’s customer base to shrink to under 19 million users, and Time Warner sought to spin off AOL into a separate publicly traded company. It did so in 2009, after the eight-year merger. AOL has never recovered.

  7. WorldCom

    WorldCom is a telecommunications company that underwent a major scandal in 2000. Founded by Bernard Ebbers, WorldCom inflated its profits by $4 billion via shady accounting methods, such as reporting expenses as company investments. At its peak, the company employed upwards of 80,000 people and was worth $180 billion. In 2002, WorldCom filed for bankruptcy. It claimed $107 billion in assets, topping Enron as the biggest bankruptcy in American history. The company was in debt by $41 billion.

  8. Kodak

    In 1888, Kodak’s founder George Eastman realized that producing a film camera that the average person could use would be an extremely lucrative business model. However, when digital photography began to take the forefront, Kodak failed to embrace the new technology. They projected that they had at least ten years before digital photography would become mainstream, what with the cost of equipment, the discrepancies in quality between the two mediums, and the difficulties in compatibility with printers and other extraneous equipment. Yet, in their ten-year window, they failed to adapt. Even when they did embrace digital imaging, they ran out of money and could no longer catch up to rapidly growing technology. Finally, Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012.

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Take a Chance Gambling With Entrepreneurship

Monday, June 4, 2012 at 6:21pm by Sandy Jones

Have you ever spent hours imagining a design for a sports car or wanted to invent something that would change the way people communicate? Perhaps you have a tendency to always “work smarter, not harder” and make things more efficient. These are strong signs that you might have what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

 

Elements of Entrepreneurship

  • The first element of entrepreneurship is the motivation or desire to be one. As mentioned above, entrepreneurs tend to have a desire to make everything they do better, faster, or more efficient. This is what innovation is all about — the desire for improvement. Identifying this trait is the first key to unlocking the potential for great contributions to our world.
  • After you’ve decided to act on your entrepreneurial nature, draw up a business plan. This process is very similar to writing a good essay. Research, brainstorming, organization; all of those elements are used to create a solid business plan that outlines exactly what you intend to do with your ideas. From this statement, you will have a solid foundation to begin your business.
  • After determining what area of business you want to affect, the next step is to come up with your marketing strategy. What good is an innovated product if nobody knows it exists or why it would be beneficial for them? A marketing strategy answers the question of who you intend to market to and why. Evaluate your audience and compare it to the demand. Knowing where to plug into the market of consumers is the most important part of a successful entrepreneurial endeavor.

 

Types of Business Plans

When evaluating a business plan, you have a few options for where to launch your business from.

  • Home: Many a computer software developer started out working from the comfort of his own home. If your business model is small enough, such as remote management, writing a book, or researching something, your product can be used, marketed, and sold straight from home, reducing overhead costs dramatically.
  • Online: For projects strictly related to computers — software, applications, social networks, website development, etc. — you can utilize the benefits of online management. Supposing multiple entrepreneurs are working with you in the "company," you can share the project data and resources via cloud computing or more basic file sharing. This allows more flexibility to include people from different areas while still keeping overhead costs to a minimum.
  • Small businesses: In some cases, your entrepreneurial pursuit may include a small building. Perhaps you want to start a unique coffee shop or a specialty repair shop. You would need to find a space to rent or buy and strategize about location and appeal. This definitely increases the overhead, but marketing will be somewhat simpler.

 

Successful Entrepreneurs

Several successful entrepreneurs have paved the way for millions more to follow in their footsteps. These individuals have proven how a little innovation and planning can go a long way in making your destiny brighter.

  • Burton M. Goldfield
  • Goldfield was recently selected as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2012 program on June 2, 2012 according to a Market Watch press release from The Wall Street Journal. As CEO of TriNet, Goldfield has created a company that focuses on human resources assistance for other businesses and entrepreneurs. His contributions have allowed others to pursue their own dreams of innovation.

  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • The face of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is one of the youngest, most successful entrepreneurs of this time. The 24-year-old dropped out of Harvard, and according to an article by entrepreneur.com, the social network monger has only held one job: CEO of Facebook. The social network was launched in February 2004 and has since exploded in popularity, putting his net worth at more than $17 billion.

  • SpaceX
  • SpaceX is proof that Americans will take over where the government leaves off if deemed necessary. PayPal inventor Elon Musk has the only way to get to the space station now. His company is the first private company to make the roundtrip flight. It seemed our space explorations were temporarily put on hold with the retirement of NASA, but Musk has brought those dreams back to life. The internet and space entrepreneur intends to further his reaches in space and encourages more people in the private sector to dream just as big.

 

Overseas Business Sailing Away

Friday, June 1, 2012 at 8:44pm by Sandy Jones

The battle over limited jobs right now is already intense, but one factor that has remained largely overlooked is that of outsourcing. Not only are Americans competing against each other for the handful of jobs available, but in addition, jobs are being sent overseas to other countries. Although this sounds like an obvious problem with an obvious solution, you might be surprised to find out that studies have proven conclusively that outsourcing can actually benefit everyone in the long run.

 

What is Outsourcing?

When a company in the United States hires employees overseas to do a portion of their work for them as opposed to giving the jobs to Americans, the process is called “outsourcing”. In 2011, a total of 2,273,392 jobs were outsourced to other countries and nearly half of those were to reduce or control costs, according to recent numbers from Sourcing Line Computer Economics. India currently ranks highest as the top-rated outsourcing country.

Although there are many myths about the disadvantages of outsourcing, looking at the actual facts will help give you an idea of exactly what there is to gain from the situation.

 

Why Outsource?

There are many reasons large companies choose to send their work overseas to foreign workforces, but here are the most common ones:

  • More for less: To put it simply, there is an abundance of foreigners overseas willing to work for substantially less money than Americans. Because companies can pay lower wages and cut the cost of benefits, it serves as a huge incentive for them to export their work to other countries. Saving money is the primary reason companies outsource.
  • Increased productivity: When basic data entry or IT support is sent overseas, it frees up internet usage, manpower, and other resources that allows a company to devote more energy and focus to more specific, technical areas. Furthermore, it allows them to get a mass amount of work done in a short amount of time if they hire temporary employees to focus on one specific area at a time.
  • Boosts economic activity: The IHS released a study in 2005 outlining exactly what benefits arise from outsourcing. Contrary to popular opinion, outsourcing does not have an overall negative effect on jobs in America. Rather, it actually adds jobs because of the economic activity it generates. At the time the report was released, worldwide sourcing of IT-related software and services added 257,042 jobs in one year.

    Because of the amount of jobs sourced-out, inflation was maintained at a lower rate while still keeping productivity high. This in turn increased the actual hourly wages for U.S. workers. More importantly, the activity overseas generates products and services that other countries purchase from us, which boosts the economy as a whole significantly.

 

Types of Outsourced Work

At this point, you’re probably wondering what kind of work is actually sent outsourced. In general, most of the work that is outsourced relates to Information Technology (IT) and call center support. However, a recent article by the New York Times highlights the growing trend of using outsourcing for a variety of specialized work.

Drew Smith, a musician trying to make a living, needed a music video for one of his songs but was short on cash. Taking ingenuity to the next level, Smith decided to outsource the project to Bangalore, India to give it traditional Bollywood-style movie magic. The video for his song “Smoke and Mirrors” was not only cheap to make ($2,000) but it was actually quite popular. In 14 days, the video was viewed more than 180,000 times.

Other unique areas of work that have received attention in the world of outsourcing were on a larger scale. IBM Computers, the leading U.S. computer manufacturer, contracted an order for a microchip design from an Indian company that required significant expertise.

The important lesson to take away from these examples is that Americans are learning to experiment and test the abilities of overseas workers. Overall, it becomes clear that the benefits of outsourcing definitely outweigh the costs and being afraid of the myths is an unwise evaluation of the facts.

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8 Ways to Use Pinterest for Small Business Promotion

Friday, June 1, 2012 at 6:39pm by Sandy Jones

Browsing through a virtual pinboard, you’ll find anything from step by step DIY projects to wedding ideas to this summer’s hottest fashions. Pinterest is an online platform which facilitates discovering new things and organizing your interests into simple categories. Most importantly, it connects millions of users (11 million as of April 2012) and offers a platform for feedback and commentary. There are many ways small businesses can benefit from Pinterest, and free exposure is one of them. Here are 8 other ways Pinterest can be used for promoting your business.

  1. Use original photos and content to drive traffic

    The popular section on Pinterest will show you that original pictures and content are the most popular. As these original and unique pins get repinned and favorited by users, it drives traffic to your Pinterest and/or website. Remember, your content represents your brand, so choose content that reinforces your brand’s philosophy.

  2. Use boards as a virtual inventory catalog

    Use your boards to display your products according to categories so that viewers can easily pin items they see onto their own boards. Pinterest by nature is visually engaging, so use it to your advantage to reach out to customers. Whenever possible, include the cost of the item, which will automatically show up as a banner across the corner of your photograph. This attracts people to your website who are actually interested in buying the pinned product. If you’re promoting a service instead of a product, always link back to your website and post a relevant photograph.

  3. Build a wider following by pinning related content

    Traffic referral is a result of what content you post. With that in mind, if you follow other major brands that are relevant to your business and get a follow back, you gain a bigger network and audience. This is the whole purpose of social networking – sharing other’s ideas and building relationships. Make sure your boards are not just focused on your product, but also incorporate related topics and ideas.

  4. Promote brand and philosophy

    Even though Pinterest is purely visual, it’s important to connect the virtual branding to your business’ physical brand. This means making sure your account displays address, physical location, links to other websites (company website, twitter, facebook), and information. Be sure to incorporate more than just your products, but also highlight tips, tidbits, "behind the scenes" snapshots of your company, and other related content. If you want to display a large amount of content, an interesting way to make it more user-friendly is to create an infographic, which have been very popular on Pinterest.

  5. Introduce members of your company

    To make a business-oriented Pinterest page more dynamic, try introducing members of your company or brand. This way, you can create a more personal interaction with users, encouraging feedback and traffic. If customers can see the inner workings of your company, they may feel more connected and loyal to your brand. Look for ways to pin photos of company events and actual production of your products. Feature interviews of users who liked your product or go with a monthly theme.

  6. Display coupon graphics or create competitions

    Promotional discounts are common on Pinterest. Using a coupon graphic for certain products or services is a great way to drive attention to your product or site. You can also include hashtags in the description to help users easily find your content in searches. Ask your followers to contribute with their own pins, including a unique hashtag (mentioning your brand) in return for discounts or a chance to win a prize. A company that recently ran a competition was Land’s End. The company encouraged participants to create pinboards with their favorite Lands’ End products to win a collection of Lands’ End products. The company linked this competition on their website and ended up being very successful.

  7. Use other social sites to feed Pinterest

    Your business may have many other networking sites, not just Pinterest. A way to gain greater visibility is to add a Pinterest logo with a link to your Pinterest in order to gain more followers. Sometimes a simple link through Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, or company site can generate hundreds of new followers a day.

  8. Engage with followers & get feedback

    Create moments of engagement with your followers. You can do this effectively by participating in conversation: comment on a photo you like on another board, reply to feedback, and answer any questions. An option Pinterest encourages is allowing other contributors to pin on your pinboard. You can create a board just for your fan’s contributions to help spread the word about your products. In addition, fan involvement helps promote your brand across a wider audience.

Comments (0) | Filed under: Marketing

Hungry for Business Take-out

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 5:52pm by Sandy Jones

With the growing industry for technology and the ever-present need for innovation in the business world to increase productivity and adapt to the changes taking place in the economy, it comes as no surprise that business is being taken everywhere. Whether you’re in a car, plane, boat, bus, train, or at a hotel, restaurant, bookstore, coffee shop, or home, business is being conducted all around you on portable devices.

Mobile Phones

Most major phone companies advertise customized options for businesses that purchase multiple lines for their employees.

  • International minutes: Since many companies transact business overseas or internationally, it can be a huge benefit to invest in a plan that provides unlimited international minutes at a price comparable to usage.
  • Discounted rates on multiple lines and devices for businesses: If a company decides to purchase cell phones for all their employees, they may be eligible for discounts on the rate as well as the cost of devices per employee.
  • Shared data and minutes: Some cell phone companies allow businesses to share data and minutes between their employees. This way, neither resource is wasted and the usage overall is more balanced.
  • Consolidated billing: Rather than paying for individual phone lines from various providers, having a group cell phone plan consolidates the billing process and simplifies such matters substantially.
  • Shared access to online data: Most shared business plans allow each employee to access important information online simultaneously, even from different places or at different times. The shared account information makes it easier for people to send and receive information, upload and download documents, and process things all in one place.

In addition to the customized features of business plans, mobile phones have improved in technology to allow for improved video chat and conference calls. Furthermore, smartphones offer a plethora of apps for business use including programs that help with money and time management, stock and business monitoring, as well as a way to deposit checks and other information via picture.

 

Tablets

Although it seems like the natural place for a tablet would be in the home environment far away from work, a survey done by ChangeWave revealed a surprising strategy among corporations relating to tablets. Nearly 78% of the respondents said their companies intended to purchase Apple iPads for their employees.

The six primary uses of a tablet for work purposes include internet access, checking email, working outside the office, sales support, customer presentations, and laptop replacement. As employees have become better accustomed to using the tools available on the tablets, each area of usage has increased over time.

Popular applications and software have swept through the business world like wildfire, particularly for iPads. A few of the most popular apps resemble regular software, such as iWork (similar to Apple’s office suite), Filemaker Go (database), and Power.ME (task and workflow management).

 

Other Devices

  • External Drives: For those who want to transport tons of storage space without lugging around a 50lb PC, a portable external hard drive is just the right piece of equipment to do the job. With a storage capacity up to two terabytes, you would have a hard time running out of room in the suitcase for packing your work.
  • Credit Card Reader: If your business involves a lot of financial transactions (traveling sales persons for example), consider investing in a smartphone credit reader. This nifty device plugs into the earphone jack of your phone and costs about $35 to $50. Financial transactions can be completed on the go so you don’t end up with a stack of checks and a boatload of cash on your person at any given point in time.
  • Portable Scanner: Portable scanners come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but a popular version currently available on the market is a dock for the iPad that saves scanned documents directly to the tablet in high-definition. Although this device (and similar full-page scanners) runs between $150 and $200, a cheaper solution is also available. Hand-held wands are smaller and cheaper, about $50 to $100. However, the image quality is much lower than that of the full-sized document scanners. Still, for basic purposes, wands are very handy for taking business outside the office.
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7 Ways the Job Market Differs for New Grads Versus Baby Boomers

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 5:31pm by Sandy Jones

As millennials graduate from college and traverse out into the bleak job market, tension can build between millennials and their baby boomer counterparts. With both generations working alongside one another, their differences become apparent and may be a source of hostility and resentment. However, with the economic crisis, neither party necessarily gets the better end of the stick. Millennials and boomers may have to close the generational gap and resign to working together in spite of their varying business strategies.

  1. Boomers Are Jobless for Longer

    NPR broadcast a Weekend Edition news story entitled, "For Baby Boomers, The Job Market’s Even Worse," which hones in on how the difficult job market reflects on the baby boomer generation. The unemployment rate for people 55 and older hit 7.2%, which is the highest level ever recorded in the post-World War II era. While that percentage may be lower than it is for young people, baby boomers also seem to be jobless for much longer. Often their unemployment can last upwards of 35 weeks, while jobless workers between 25 to 54 years old are only unemployed for 30 weeks on average. The Pew Economic Policy Group conducted a study which showed that one out of every three unemployed baby boomer workers has gone without a paycheck for more than a year. This may be because, after struggling to find a job, boomers simply retire when the going gets tough, whereas new grads and young professionals can’t afford to give up on their search.

  2. Millennials are Nomads

    According to the online lifestyle magazine, The Next Great Generation, while baby boomers held fast onto careers switching only when absolutely necessary, millennials expect to move from job to job. Baby boomers were welcomed into the job search with quite a bit more security than millennials, requiring fair wages, benefits, and a pension plan before accepting any job. Millennials can’t afford to be that picky. The recession leaves few jobs available, a lot of jobs are freelance or on a contract basis, and new grads oscillate between jobs simply to pay the bills. While a shocking 66% of millennials are prepared for a career shift at some point during the course of their working lives, 84% of baby boomers are satisfied with staying in the same career for the rest of their lives, as stated by a study conducted by Pew Research Center.

  3. Social Media is Used Differently

    While baby boomers are getting a hang of social media and its use in the work place, millennials grew up with social media. This creates a widely varying extent to which social media is used between the two generations. AccountingWEB’s article, "Social Media Influences on Generational Behavior and Vice Versa," argues that while baby boomers are reluctant to use social media websites for personal information, millennials blur the personal and professional via their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. Boomers are wary of privacy infringement, while millennials have been posting status updates and photos from their rowdy vacations for years and well into their time on the workforce. Likewise, millennials are simply more wired into social media in general, using it for everything from party invitations to marketing. When baby boomers do use social media platforms, they keep their personal and professional lives completely separate.

  4. Millennials Feel Grandiose

    David Mielach of CNBC’s article "Gen Y Seeks Work-Life Balance Above All Else" describes how millennials view their workforce contribution. According to MTV’s "No Collar Workers" study, 92% of millennials feel their company is lucky to have them as an employee, feeling that the company directly benefits from their skills. They do not merely see themselves as a cog in the machine, but a contributing factor to the company at large. They believe that their baby boomer bosses could learn a thing or two from them, that their finesse with social media and technology makes them faster and more astute, and that they have worked hard enough that they are entitled to their dream jobs. To some extent, millennials feel self-entitled because their baby boomer parents raised them as such. Millennials grew up receiving trophies and being told they were special; if they were coddled, only their baby boomer parents are to blame.

  5. Millennials And Flexible Working Conditions

    When baby boomers had their reign in the job market of the 60′s and 70′s, the work day was eight hours or longer, with a relatively strict emphasis on working from nine to five. Yet, according to Time Magazine’s Moneyland, millennials are working much more flexible hours, often not even in the office. The traditional workday is no longer, with millennials working odd hours, telecommuting, and delegating moments for personal time while at work. More than a third of the millennials reported that they would rather have a pay cut if it meant more flexible working conditions, so the working environment is more important to them than the money they make. Likewise, since millennials are constantly accessible through technology, work doesn’t necessarily stop when they get home. They may still be wired into Facebook or email, where they will continue to work away off the clock. This varies considerably from baby boomers who were able to maintain a separate working life and personal life.

  6. Millennials Barely Get By

    Baby boomers have widened the chasm between themselves and millennials by creating an enormous, global debt that has a nasty impact on millennials’ ability to make ends meet. That combined with their student loans and increasingly steep gas prices leaves millennials, even ones with decent jobs, essentially high and dry. According to Boston.com, millennials compose the highest percentage of Americans who can’t afford their basic needs. This thrifty generation has inspired companies like Groupon and Living Social to help aid the quest in seeking deals on everyday products and experiences. A 2010 Pew Research Center study states that 60% of millennials in the workforce don’t make enough money to truly support themselves, with 36% requiring their parents to subsidize their lifestyle. Many even live with their parents out of necessity.

  7. Boomers Aren’t Retiring

    As baby boomers hold onto their jobs far past their "expiration date," millennials and Generation X’ers tap their toes waiting for jobs to free up. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the overall labor force participation rate for baby boomers is at its highest since the studies began in 1975. Boomers are working past the traditional retirement date because the economic crisis has made it necessary for some who did not efficiently save up for retirement. Others work because they need access to affordable healthcare. Meanwhile, a number of well-off baby boomers continue to work because they simply enjoy working and are living longer than previous generations.

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