Technology

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

Many years ago, you might have looked like the savviest techie ever when you pulled out a new laptop computer during a business meeting. But now that laptop might look excessively clunky compared to the latest tablets. And in today’s mobile world, American businesspeople are only as flexible or connected as their tablets allow them to be.

Sure, plenty of people pass their leisure hours gaming or watching videos on their tablets. CMO’s senior and strategic editor Giselle Abramovich describes tablets as a lean-back device, and says that by next year, the “68 percent of U.S. tablet owners who use their devices while watching TV use them to surf the Web.”

Even though tablets are largely used as personal devices, they also provide access to plenty of business applications for fast-moving entrepreneurs in a variety of fields.

Tablet Presentations

With tablets, you never have to worry about forgetting your thumb drive at home. Jonathan Blum of Entrepreneur says that tablets “can be handy for one-on-one demos, but try using a projector for larger groups.” Projectors might cost an extra couple hundred dollars, but, depending on what type of meetings you need it for, the tablet still will be far easier to tote around than a laptop.

Blum also recommends web-based slideshow apps like Prezi and  SlideRocket to go beyond the staunch presentations  in Powerpoint. And, those apps provide HTML5 presentation capabilities built for the tablet screen.

Mobile Portfolio

Traditional painters and sketch artists can use their tablets like an easel. For instance, the Tayasui Sketches app is the top art app available for tablets, and is “one of the most delightfully simple drawing and painting iPad apps,” according to Creative Bloq. The app comes equipped with several virtual brushes that range from pencils to charcoal tools to classic brushes.

For artists or creative-visual thinkers, there’s a serious benefit to drawing digitally via the tablet. Everything is located in a central location, and you can take everything with you. Because tablets are so mobile, you can take your entire portfolio to present to colleagues or business associates, or you can work on the go. Saving a new piece of art is as simple as creating a JPG file and sharing it electronically.

In addition, the  Samsung Galaxy Note has an S pen , which allows users to be more precise than a finger on the touch-screen. This is not only great for artists, but is useful for startup businesspeople who need to jot down quick notes, draw out diagrams or blueprints or even doodle during meetings.

Portable Whiteboard

You never know when ideas will come to mind, and carrying a laptop, notepads and other gear can be cumbersome. Consider using your tablet as your de facto brainstorming device. Apps like Air Sketch and Power Presenter allow you to put sticky notes on everything from documents to websites so you know exactly what you wanted from them.

Furthermore, the app  Zamurai works like a virtual whiteboard . Instead of taking a photo of the whiteboard after a meeting that can’t be changed or adjusted, this app enables entrepreneurs to build and capture discussions in real time. Now, it makes that whiteboard interactive and accessible. It’s also a great way to consolidate media from PDFs, slideshows and other materials into a place where you can dissect them as a team.

Kevin Norvell,
Web Project Manager

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

Ever wish you had a user manual for maintaining your business page on Facebook? Well, now you do, thanks to the folks at ShortStack.

The Facebook Maintenance Manual includes:

• How (and Why) to Convert a Facebook Profile to a Page
• Facebook Admin View
• How to Change a Page’s Name
• Why It’s Important to Assign Admin Roles and Establish Rules
• How to Choose Whether You Post as the Page or as Yourself
• How to Customize Status Updates
• Tips for Better Timeline Posts
• How to Choose the App Provider that will Give Your Facebook Page Super Powers
• How to Manage Your Timeline Apps
• How to Make the most of Your Facebook Page’s Cover Photo
• Facebook Maintenance Schedule

Head over to ShortStack.com today to get your copy of   The Facebook Maintenance Manual .

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

Decades ago, the “ring ring!” of the cash register signaled robust sales and a happy shopkeeper. Small business owners still love a busy cash register, but   our increased reliance on technology   may bring more headaches than joy. Sales go unrecorded, recorded inventory doesn’t match what’s actually in stock, and it’s tricky to accurately record cash flow. Switching to a point of sale system saves time, reduces accounting errors and permits sophisticated analyses of sales data.

What Is a Point of Sale System?

Technically, the “point of sale” is the location and moment at which a sale takes place. In today’s business parlance, a point of sale system includes a digital replacement for traditional cash registers. Rather than reconciling cash register sales figures with inventory using a manual system, point of sales technology allows real-time tracking and analysis of sales. At the moment a sale is made, the system records the sale and deducts the item from existing inventory. Point of sales systems are highly flexible and work in numerous business environments, from   Web-based businesses   to small brick-and-mortar outfits and restaurants.

Benefits of a Point of Sale System

As a small business owner, your time is too valuable to waste taking inventory or correcting errors made by your sales staff. Investing in a point of sale system can help you streamline workflow and grow your business.

Improve Pricing Accuracy and Promotions

With a point of sale system, you can easily run a promotion on specific items and identify goods that qualify for an advertised discount. It ensures your sales staff gets the promotion correct every time. You can also include additional pricing information, such as percentage of cost, margin percentage or custom values. This more sophisticated pricing information enables you to run new promotions and monitor the relationship between pricing and sales. This markdown management is one of the most valuable functions of a point of sale system, according to Entrepreneur.

No More Inventory Crises

With a point of sale system, inventory lists are automatically changed as items are sold or returned. This allows your sales staff to know exactly how many of an item are in stock. For many systems, you can set up automated alerts to let you know if inventory runs low.

Integrate Sales with Payroll and Accounting

Between your accounting software, sales information and payroll management, you’re swarming with programs that don’t play well together. Investing in a point of sales system brings your most important business information together. Many systems can track expenses, monitor customer preferences, and analyze sales data. For example, integrating your system with   Intuit payroll   allows you to track employee hours, calculate payroll taxes and factor in bonuses based on sales commission.

Check in Anytime

Perhaps you’re taking a much-needed vacation or hopping a plane to meet with a potential investor, but you still want to stay up-to-date about what’s happening on the home front. A point of sale system enables you to maintain control by monitoring sales figures and promotions when you’re gone. Plus, because your employees know you’re watching, they’re less likely to behave badly while you’re away.

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

The costs experienced by U.S. businesses from cyberattacks each year has reached $140 billion, Forbes reports. Every business needs to protect their digital assets, but the small business owner may not have the budget or human power for   sophisticated cybersecurity . These tips will help any business, including the smallest, prevent computer attacks.

Implement Better Passwords

One of the favorite, and easiest ways, cyber criminals break into companies is by guessing passwords. People still use “weak” passwords for their logins. These passwords are easiest to break and are often made up of pieces of personal information, such as:

  • Your name
  • Your spouse and kid’s names
  • Your pets’ names
  • Birthdays
  • Social security numbers

Passwords derived from this information are not only easy to remember, but they’re also easier for cyber thieves to crack. To slow down or prevent break-ins, implement mandatory strong passwords. These consists of a random mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. The password “d1#F0&x4″ is much harder for a thief to guess than “Janice12.”

Educate Your Staff

Training your staff is a key way to prevent cyberattacks, because your employees are one way unwanted viruses, malware and spyware get into your system. People receive unfamiliar emails from outside of the company and open them. They save email attachments to the system and run them. The   P2P file sharing threat   is there, as people connect with other systems and exchange files. The more your staff knows about these dangers, the more careful they can be.

Accessing unfamiliar websites also puts the company at risk with the various ways hackers can use them to break into your system. Teach your staff about the latest hacking, phishing and malware techniques, so they can be on the lookout for suspicious sites. For example, sites with expired security certificates should never be accessed, unless an IT person first checks the site for authenticity. These can be pirate sites that will try to load malware onto your computer if you access it.

A Little Protection Is Better Than None

Make sure each computer has a virus protection program running on it with regularly scheduled scans. These programs need to check websites accessed, files downloaded from websites, incoming email and any attachments to the emails. These programs can be free or cost hundreds of dollars. Any protection is better than none, so even the most frugal small business can implement something on its computers.

Encrypt Your Data

Protecting your company’s information as it moves across the Internet is just as important as protecting it within your system. The use of   data encryption   keeps your data unreadable as it goes out of the company. Cyber thieves who use packet-sniffing techniques may be able to collect your data, but they can’t read it. You can encrypt the data on your hard disks, or in the cloud, as well. Software encryption programs are available to encrypt almost any type of data in your business.

The Personal Device Dilemma

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model opens businesses up to more risk from cyber attacks. People enjoy using their own laptops, smartphones and tablets to do their jobs, but you will need to impose some controls to keep your company safe. A mobile device management (MDM) solution allows different devices to access your computer system. But it also monitors their activity, controls their access to company information and restricts the types of applications used.

 

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

Getting ready for the holidays can take several months, depending on how much preparation your digital business requires. Yet most Internet professionals don’t have that type of time on their hands, leaving many worried as November approaches and their holiday strategy is still incomplete.

 

Luckily, there is time for Web professionals to wrap up the loose ends of their holiday digital strategies – from sprucing up their websites to creating engaging social campaigns. Finish your holiday prep with this checklist:

• Test website performance to make sure your site’s load time is up to speed. Get started by checking out these five tools  to measure website response times.

• Incorporate customer service features into your site in order to increase conversions. This can include live chat or virtual assistants. In fact, a BoldChat study found that 21 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. prefer live chat. Look at companies like Moxie Software  or BoldChat  for live chat solutions, or CodeBaby  and Nuance  for virtual assistants.

• Test your site’s navigation to make sure that customers can find what they are looking for. While implementing a live chat or virtual assistant on your site can help consumers find what they need, some visitors may not use customer service features and will instead move on to the competition’s website. In addition, consider updating your product categories for the holidays. For example, adding categories like “Gifts Under $25” or “Gifts for Her” might help visitors find something that they weren’t even looking for in the first place.

• Optimize your mobile site so shoppers can browse and purchase items while on the go this busy holiday season. Start by testing the performance  of your current mobile site with tools like Plunk  or MobiReady .

• Address your customers’ needs. Holiday shopping isn’t just a Western phenomenon thanks to global digital sales platforms. If you’re selling to a worldwide customer base, Scott Heimes, CMO of Digital River , suggests preparing for an uptick in sales across all regions. In addition, Heimes recommends that merchants understand and accommodate local preferences, including preferred regional payment methods. Customer age groups also matter. For example, younger shoppers are more likely to use PayPal, whereas older customers typically use credit cards.

– See the rest of this checklist at http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/pages/2013-holiday-prep-checklist-for-smbs.aspx

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By Robbi Meisel 21 Mar, 2017
WASHINGTON – Kentucky businesses and residents affected by severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, winds and hail from Feb. 28 through March 1, 2017 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA Administrator Linda E. McMahon announced today.

McMahon made the loans available in response to a letter on March 16 from Michael E. Dossett, Authorized Representative of Gov. Matthew Bevin, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA. The declaration covers Estill County and the adjacent counties of Clark, Jackson, Lee, Madison and Powell in Kentucky.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Kentucky with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said McMahon. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

SBA’s customer service representatives will be available at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications.

The Center is located in the following community and is open as indicated:
Estill County
Estill Development Alliance
177 Broadway Street
Irvine, Kentucky 40336

Opening: Thursday, March 23
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Days: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Closed: Sunday, March 26
Closing: Thursday, March 30, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may now include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 3.15 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela .

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster . Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is May 19, 2017 . The deadline for economic injury applications is Dec. 20, 2017.

For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit their website at www.sba.gov/disaster .
By Robbi Meisel 27 Feb, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Feb. 14, 2017) – Kentucky Small Business Development Center is seeking nominations for the 2017 Pacesetter Awards. The recognition program was created to honor high performing, second-stage businesses that are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15.

KSBDC encourages small businesses that meet the following minimum qualifications to apply:

         ·  Privately held

         · In business for three or more years

         · Employ six or more full-time employees, including the owner

         ·  Annual sales meet or exceed $500,000

         · Located and headquartered in Kentucky

         ·Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow evidenced by the judging criteria.

Pacesetters will be selected based on two or more of the following criteria:

         · Growth in the number of employees

         ·Increase in sales and/or unit volume

         · Innovativeness of the product or service

         ·Response to adversity

         ·Employee engagement and commitment

         ·Contributions by the nominee to aid community-oriented projects

Pacesetters will be recognized at the Kentucky Celebrates Small Business event held at the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort during the first week of May. Each honoree will receive an award inscribed with the business’s name and a promotional video for their own use that highlights the business. In addition, KSBDC will send a customized press release announcing the award to local media and trade associations. Honorees are given the rights to use the Kentucky Pacesetter logo and event photographs in promoting their business.

Anyone may submit nominations, including third parties associated with an eligible second-stage business. A business may self-nominate by completing the required form. Winners will be notified by March 27. Full nomination requirements and the application are online at https://www.ksbdc.org/kentucky-pacesetters1 .

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

 

Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104

 

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

 

 

 

By Robbi Meisel 20 Feb, 2017
MURRAY, Ky., (Feb. 2017) — Chris Wooldridge, Kentucky Small Business Development Center district director for the Murray State University SBDC and Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, has joined the board of directors of the Foundation for Kentucky Industry.

FKI is a statewide, not-for-profit, with the goal of strengthening manufacturing in Kentucky, a very important economic driver in the commonwealth. FKI’s Board of Directors is comprised of manufacturing, education, economic development and public policy leaders.
Project and program partners currently include LIFT (Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow), JPMorgan Chase, KY FAME (Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education), business and public partners.

“We are pleased to announce Chris Wooldridge, District Director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center at the Murray State University Bauernfeind College of Business, will be joining the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Kentucky Industry. Mr. Wooldridge’s experience and expertise regarding business and economic development will be a great asset to the Foundation’s work of maximizing career opportunities for both Kentuckians and industry in 21st century manufacturing,” according to Mary C. Breeding, President and CEO, Foundation for Kentucky Industry (FKI).

About Murray State University SBDC: Murray State University hosts the West Kentucky Region of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center program.  KSBDC is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state that helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. The KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .
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