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Archive for the ‘Business Know-How’ Category

Tablet use increasing and not expected to slow down

According to the most recent Tablet Technology and Markets report from Futuresource Consulting, global sales of tablets surpassed 64 million units in 2011 and are projected to increase to 232 million units in 2016. This implies a 200 percent growth in sales. Not only are sales rising, but the Adobe Digital Index report predicts that tablets will produce more web traffic than smartphones by early 2013.

Most people identify tablets with the Apple iPad, but these days it’s so much more than that. To name a few, there’s also the Amazon Kindle, Google Nexus, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy, BlackBerry Playbook, and Sony Tablet.

Although most consumers are unwilling replace their computer entirely with a tablet, many see the device as an important addition. In 2011, tablets accounted for 10 percent of total mobile app downloads and it is projected that by 2016 they will account for nearly 20 percent. The Futuresource report also mentions that tablet owners tend to be media savvy.

So what does this mean for your business?

In short, the era of creating websites exclusively for desktops or laptops is over. Business websites must be revamped for both smartphone and tablets. Tablets and smartphones present a unique opportunity for business owners to develop mobile compatible websites in addition to their existing desktop versions. Mobile users want do the same things that desktop users do, but the content needs to be presented in a compatible way. Businesses must make sure as many people as possible can access their content.

Although some tablets and smartphones have sophisticated browsers that allow them to view full websites in miniature versions, most mobile viewports are too narrow to accommodate a desktop-based layout. Not only could viewing capabilities be affected, but if the page weight of a standard website is too large it may lead longer loading times. Longer loading times will lead to more people pressing the ‘back’ button before seeing your content. In addition, there are many features that smartphones and tablet devices cannot support.

In summary, mobile browsing is not a passing trend. Tablet use is increasing at an exponential rate and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. If a business decides against creating a mobile alternative for their website, they can be assured to expect user frustration and the possibility to lose potential consumers.

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Study says web sites and social media boost small businesses growth

social-media-toolsA recent survey shows small business owners have more customers today than they did at the beginning of the year and they credit the growth to their online presence. Vistaprint, an online marketing service, announced the survey findings in its second “Small Business Happiness Index” for 2012.

“It is clear that micro business owners recognize the importance of having a web presence and how it can positively impact their business,” said Don LeBlanc, chief marketing executive at Vistaprint. “Being online extends the potential reach of small businesses and introduces them to new audiences and customers. Interestingly, the survey shows that 75 percent of respondents are generating revenue from their businesses, but only 46 are actually selling products on their websites. That indicates that websites are also driving brand awareness through search results.”

Data from the survey concerning the usage of websites and social media platforms supports LeBlanc’s statements:

  • 69 percent of micro businesses surveyed currently have a website
  • 90 percent of respondents feel that it is important to have a website
  • Of those micro business owners who have a website, 75 percent are generating revenue either directly or indirectly through a website
  • A little less than half (46 percent) sell physical products on their website
  • 56 percent of micro business owners have a Facebook page for their small business

The index gauges micro business owner sentiment and provides information on topics that include their overall happiness, customer growth and revenue. Additionally, this survey focused on small businesses and their presence online, including owning a website and leveraging social media.
Survey findings show the economy is slowly rebounding and business is going generally well for small business owners: 27 percent are on track to make the same amount of money as last year, while 46 percent are on track to make more money this year. Additionally, 55 percent of small business owners have more customers now than they did at the beginning of the year.

The quarterly survey generated nearly 1,500 responses from U.S. based micro businesses (businesses with between 1-10 employees) and showed that the vast majority are optimistic about running their own businesses, with 77 percent reporting that they are very happy. Respondents also said that running a small business is ideal for them, as over 85 percent somewhat prefer or strongly prefer working for themselves.

Vistaprint conducts regular surveys with its U.S. micro business customer base, defined as small businesses with between 1-10 employees that primarily work out of their homes and generate less than $100,000 annually in revenues. This online survey was conducted from June 10 to June 17, 2012 with nearly 1,500 total respondents and a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Business Know-How: Running an Effective Meeting

Organizing effective staff meetings is key to business success.  Properly conducted meetings help your team stay informed and on-task, allow you to resolve issues within the company quickly, and encourage teamwork by bringing everyone together to solve problems.

Many managers and meeting leaders are running unproductive meetings without even realizing it.  Poorly-run meetings waste company time, frustrate managers and employees, and may not even accomplish the leader’s intended goal.  No Effective Meetingmatter how carefully you plan, you (as meeting leader) need to consider four particular points:

  1. The meeting’s objective.
  2. The issues you must touch on to accomplish this objective.
  3. Proper preparation.
  4. Your team’s time.

1. Objective.
Set a particular goal for what you would like each meeting to accomplish.  Think about what you want to have changed by the end of the meeting in order to help you form a clear objective – and think about whether you want to reach a final decision on each issue or discuss new ideas and resolve in the future.  This will also help you decide who should attend the meeting.

2. Important issues.
If an issue isn’t important to your meeting’s objective, save it for another meeting.  Talking about irrelevant topics distracts your team from the meeting’s goal and could sidetrack everyone mentally.

3. The necessary preparations.
For your team, attending a meeting where the leader isn’t properly prepared is like watching a high-school science fair presentation where the kid clearly forgot to do his homework.  Be sure that you have all the necessary charts, spreadsheets, images, and documents in an easy-to-find place before the meeting starts.  Test your PowerPoint presentations beforehand.

4. Good time management.
Remember that your team has plenty of other tasks to do – don’t draw the meeting out excessively or crowd it with irrelevant issues (see point 2).  If your meetings have a history of going overtime, consider trying the following next time:

  • Declare a set amount of time that will be spent on each topic.  You could go even further and divide your sub-topics into time segments as well.
  • Decide in advance what you will do if you run out of time for a particular topic and have not accomplished its objective (e.g. if you come to the end of your ten minutes to discuss budgeting for office supplies in 2012 and have not reached a definitive solution, will you extend the time by five minutes?  Come back to it at the end of the meeting?  Discuss it again at the end of the week?)
  • Don’t invite people who don’t need to be there.  Their time is better spent doing something else.
  • Don’t start the meeting late for anyone who has not arrived.  Latecomers can catch up later – it’s important to respect the time of those who showed up.