The Week in Small Business

By Lauren Simonds | Posted August 01, 2014

Building a business is a constant exercise in education. There's always more to learn, fresh ideas to consider, new technologies to adapt. Our Small Business Pulse weekly resource showcases some of the best business advice swirling around the Internet.

Whether you're curious about the cloud, searching for entrepreneurial inspiration, interested in mobile technology, or looking for marketing ideas, we've done the legwork (OK, the Google searches) for you.

The Cloud

  • You can’t turn around these days without someone (us included) urging you to move your business to the cloud. If you've been resisting (and you really should know by now that resistance is futile), research confirms the main benefit that cloud computing offers small business. Bottom line: it's your bottom line.
  • Cloud-based technology can help small businesses appear larger than they really are, which helps them compete on a more level playing field. Consider, for example, the competitive advange of a VoIP phone system.

Ecommerce

  • Do you want to start an online business or expand your brick-and-mortar business onto the Web? There's no lack of pre-existing marketplaces where you could hang your shingle: eBay, Amazon, and Etsy, for example. Why go through the hassle of starting your own ecommerce business from scratch? Here's why.
  • If you build it, they will come. That worked in Field of Dreams, and maybe it even worked for you when you built your own ecommerce business. Thing is, just because people show up on your site, doesn't mean they'll, you know, buy anything. If you're generating traffic, but not generating sales to match, then it's time to look at what’s killing your conversions.

Entrepreneurship

  • In the good news department, the Commerce Department reports that the U.S. economy grew 4 percent in Q2 2014. No complaints on those numbers. But there are four reasons why it's great news for your startup, too.
  • And in what McDonalds would call the not-so-good news department, the franchisor/franchisee game is in for a big change.
  • Every business owner has strengths and weaknesses. Those are just two of the elements you need to consider when you create a pricing strategy.
  • You don’t have to limit your strategy to pricing your products and services. It pays to have a plan to avoid costly mistakes in the event someone offers to buy your business.
  • What inspires you to get up every day and keep the wheels from flying off your small-business bus? Sometimes it's just something as simple as a good quote.

Marketing

  • Social media's an affordable and effective way to reach or acquire customers, but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever need local, or even national, press coverage. There's an art to snaring journalistic attention, and you'll need to warm up your pitching arm.
  • AirBnB took a huge public hit recently after releasing its new—and seemingly reviled— logo. The resulting social media beat-down wasn't pretty. How to take the high road.
  • It's one thing to provide great service to a customers standing right in front of you or talking on the other end of the phone. It's another thing entirely to make customers feel valued and welcome through the anonymous veil that is the Internet. That requires special tools and planning.
  • Can you place a quantifiable value on providing a great customer experience? Yes. Yes you can.

Mobile

  • If you're not ready to accept mobile payments, you're falling behind your small business peers. More people are paying for their purchases with their smartphones. It's a fast-growing trend that shows no sign of slowing down. How big exactly? Smartphones accounted for 15 percent of Starbucks' revenue in Q3.
  • Smartphones continue to effect change in every industry. Check in to your hotel, and say good bye to room keys—as long as you don’t forget your smartphone.

Technology

  • You don’t have to let your shoestring budget and lack of graphics skills translate into an ugly website. If you can cut-and-paste and drag-and-drop, Canva has you covered.

Fun Friday

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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