File Sharing for Small Business

Do you need a business domain name, world-class WordPress hosting or other Web services for your business? We provide affordable digital marketing strategy help along with our technical support. Check it out at https://web.w3cinc.com/.
Source On this e…

Do you need a business domain name, world-class WordPress hosting or other Web services for your business? We provide affordable digital marketing strategy help along with our technical support. Check it out at https://web.w3cinc.com/.

Source On this episode of Switched on IT, the small business technology show, Doug Endersbee, CEO of Oz Hosting, and Ray Sidney-Smith, Managing Director of W3C Web Services, tackle how to manage file sharing for small business, both inside your

Digital Signs Increase Sales! – Volunteer for a Free Trial

Digital Signage Trial

Curated Content Design, Management, Delivery: There is no shortage of TV’s, monitors, and digital media presentation devices both available and already installed in public spaces. Curated Content for these, on the other hand, is less successful and often non existent. Independent retailers, service providers and non profit organizations are especially susceptible. Landlords, Developers, and Real Estate Agents could use some help too. We already design for this client, representing both visual brands and the spaces in which the are displayed. Curating the digital sign content is a natural conclusions of our efforts in this direction.

We are testing a new content management service and are inviting participants. If you are an online and/or “bricks n mortar” retailer, service provider, nonprofit, landlord, developer, real estate agent, in fact most any small business, and interested in installing and/or pushing content to a media kiosk at a physical location of your choice, we invite your participation. The trial is no cost, no HDMI or special wiring is required, and significant advantages are offered. For details, examples projects and to sign up please follow the link.

Why Digital Signage

Real Benefit = Sales: Digital signs, when installed in public places, increases sales. It is a fact! Examples are everywhere as are those who write about them. Irfan Khan, writing a guest post for Sixteen:Nine summed it up better than I ever could.

We designed this display to introduce and explain a new product/service being offered by this “free trial” participant. The composition of the display and the content of the digital presentation has been curated to feature and support the new practice. This is a small display used in a small retail area. Content may be displayed on any size screen so the size of the TV and configuration of the display is a choice not a limitation.
  • In public venues digital signs reach more customers than websites or social media.
  • Customers engage with them.
  • They spend longer looking at digital images than traditional signage.
  • They also remember the message.
  • Digital signs standout.
  • They may drive impulse buying.
  • They stay relevant.
  • They inspire action.
  • They promote featured products and services.
  • They showcase a brand.
  • They drive sales.
  • They shorten wait times.
  • They fit into unexpected environments.
  • They induce a customer to stay around.
  • The results justify the advertising $ spent.
  • Businesses give them positive reviews.

Trial and Error is Valuable

Successes: Successful digital signs are physical displays created by the integrations of hardware, electronics, software solutions, and graphic/media content. Without outside help, many small businesses have neither the time nor the resources required to implement a successful digital signage program. Whether small with a single display or large with multiple screens, the implementation process is the same. Finally, presuming all else is perfect, if the content misses the mark then the program is apt to fail. There is no substitute for actual trial and error. In their 2018 Content Management Report Adobe tells us how Alex Honnold tried 50 times before successfully scaling El Capitan. They go on to list these top digital signage challenges:

  • Personalization
  • Keeping up with current technology
  • Difficult-to-use content management systems
  • Over-reliance on IT teams for simple functions
  • Inadequate access to customer data and insights
  • Integrating third-party apps
  • Managing and optimizing content

We do not see the need to try 50 times, nor do we claim to have all the answers. We have, though, been practicing and studying the issue for almost two years. We are ready to try out what we have learned and invite you to try with us. Follow the link to learn more.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Finding Your Passion

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on August 1, 2019. Relatively few adults approach their career choices methodically. Too often we pursue job titles, mimic a friend’s or relative’s career path, or in the current job market, just grab an available job…. Read more »

The post Finding Your Passion appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on August 1, 2019.

Relatively few adults approach their career choices methodically. Too often we pursue job titles, mimic a friend’s or relative’s career path, or in the current job market, just grab an available job. The average adult changes jobs 11 times and may change careers as many as seven times.

It’s rare when someone’s college major leads directly to a career path and they remain on that path for their entire professional life. Sadly, the few who do too often feel unfulfilled. Others frequently change jobs to try to find a better fit, but repeatedly burn out.

The proverbial “mid-life crisis” is sometimes the jolt that starts us evaluating whether we want to continue on the current path. Perhaps most telling is when we’re asked to describe exactly what we want to do, and we struggle because we’ve never taken the time to ponder it carefully.

There are assessment tools and resources available to help us understand more about ourselves, our inclinations and abilities. At first glance, some of these evaluations seem strange – with peculiar questions and exercises. Interestingly, though, almost everyone who has taken one or a battery of such tests confirms – sometimes reluctantly – that the results seem on target, even if sometimes a bit unexpected.

Each of these evaluations is different. Some focus on aptitude, while others highlight skills, interests, or personality gauges. Some tests even suggest the professions that closely match with your answers. The best part is that there are no wrong answers or bad scores.

People can use this information in a variety of ways. In the hands of professional career advisors, diagnostics can point toward one or several career directions that might not have been otherwise obvious. If you would prefer to undertake this kind of assessment on your own, it might be advisable to take several different types of tests and overlay them to inform your analysis.

So, now that you have this information, what next? If you’re interested in a different field or pursuing a new career, find a mentor in that area to speak with you about that industry. Set up informational interviews to learn more about that area. Volunteer with an organization to learn or hone skills and to make connections with others professionals.

You may also determine that you need to pursue educational courses or training. Several local universities have graduate certificates in a variety of fields. There are also excellent online resources and classes available from a several different sources. Professional certifications may be another way to demonstrate skills and abilities.

While the Alexandria Small Business Development Center does not offer professional or career assessments, we recognize that, many times, this type of self-evaluation can lead one to open their own small business. Once you have a clear vision of your goals, the center can help with your business planning.

Most importantly, we are all creatures that thrive on passion and excitement. If you’re not getting that and a sense of accomplishment from your work, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate.

The post Finding Your Passion appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Digital Signs & Real Products: A Winning Combination?

Inserting a lake, a gym and a hoarse into a display – If marketing guru’s are to be believed, bricks n mortar retailers would be wise to think about how their store designs and related merchandise displays might create an emotional connection between a shopper and the product being sold. It has been suggested that one way to accomplish this is by summoning the context where the product might be used. Does this mean that a diamond ring is better displayed when presented by candle light, flowers, a gourmet dinner? What about a canoe, a pair of sneakers, a cowboy hat, …” Do we need a lake, a gym, and a hoarse to suggest the desired context? So it would appear, especially if we go by design strategies that we see being employed by businesses and retailers who seem to be surviving the effects of online sales.

An obvious way of inserting the lake, the gym and the hoarse into the scenario above is by the use of a digital sign. Since these are clearly showing up everywhere in the public arena, we thought it worth examining how they are being used. To that end we went happily to the epicenter of everyday electronics, Best Buy.Before proceeding, a word about the images used here. These are phone photos taken while I was in the store shopping for a TV which I purchased and will be used on a digital sign. The comments which follow are intended to be instructive on a general topic and reflect on neither the practices and policies of Best Buy, nor the suppliers of the products on display.

Measuring Success – I evaluated each display below for: a) Notice-aibility of the display – 5 pts, b) Brand identity – 4 pts., c) Shopper connection with the context in which the product is presented – 3 pts., d) Shopper engagement with the product – 2 pts., e) Shop-abiltiy of the display – 1 pt. I made a score card, success being assigned according to the order of importance on the list. The highest possible score was 15 points. Click through the images to see who won.

What is the point? – So why go through this exercise? Many of us have been writing about the marketing importance of creating an emotional connection between a shopper and the product being sold. This is certainly important, yet there is another more practical conclusion to be had and it is most evident in the last and final slide in the sequence. It has to do with our preconceived notions about costs, namely the best and most effective display in the sequence was also inexpensive to implement. No customized light boxes, electronic displays, large TV’s or digital display screens are required. Nor are customize informational graphics, merchandise mounting systems, or complicated apps necessary for access to streamed information.

The winner is – The content of the Whirlpool display is no less curated because only a wall, a decal, a logo sign, a small smart TV, a power outlet and merchandise are required. A message is delivered that clearly says, “this washer and dryer is able to provide clean safe clothes for your kids to wear when they are playing outside.” If you are a retailer thinking about introducing technology into a store design, my first recommendation would be not to over complicate what must be done.

Free digital signage trial – Retailers, service providers, and non profits are operating in a new marketing environment requiring that their online and “bricks n mortar” presence be seamlessly integrated. Business are now beginning to understand what museums have known forever; without curation there is only a warehouse. To this end Gaddis Architect will soon be testing a new service designed to provide, manage and deliver curated content for use on digital signs. To be notified about details of our free digital signage trial please join our contact list at the link

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Time Wasters

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on July 5, 2019. Our lives are congested under the best of circumstances. We’re constantly stressed to accomplish what’s on our plates. The last things we need are intrusions that waste our precious time or require… Read more »

The post Time Wasters appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on July 5, 2019.

Our lives are congested under the best of circumstances. We’re constantly stressed to accomplish what’s on our plates. The last things we need are intrusions that waste our precious time or require us to take extra steps.

In our business lives, we too often encounter unintentional but thoughtless time wasters. It’s frustrating to be on the receiving end of this behavior, and all of us have a responsibility to respect the time of others. Hopefully, describing some of these might deter more of us from inadvertently burdening others. Talk to your employees and colleagues about setting norms that thwart time thieves and become productivity proponents.

Websites: Websites should always consider what people are searching for. Too many sites don’t have key information on their home page and require many clicks to find the basics. Many sites are not mobile friendly, so the functionality is limited for many users. Test your site with someone who knows nothing about your business and pay attention to their feedback.

Email: There are many ways for emails to be time sponges. Some are pointless or do not provide an easy way to respond succinctly. Re-reading your draft before hitting send will make sure you’ve provided clear and easy action steps. That improves chances the recipient will respond. If you’re referencing something in the email, make sure there’s an attachment or link. Always include your title and contact information in an email signature so recipients know exactly who you are and have an alternate way to reach you.

Telephone and Voicemail: Too often, callers launch into details without confirming they’ve reached the appropriate contact. State your purpose up front, then follow up with relevant details. How often have you had to repeatedly re-listen to voicemails to catch the name and number? It’s frustrating and inclines us to ignore the call. Speak clearly and pronounce your name and organization slowly. When leaving a phone number, say it slowly, and then repeat it. Then repeat your name and company.

Referrals: When you refer someone to another individual, it behooves you to make sure you’re doing both of them a favor. Too often people are just trying to get rid of a situation, but blind referrals can waste everyone’s time. Check first to clarify whether the matter is in their wheelhouse before you burden someone else with something that you cannot solve.

Events: We’ve all gotten stuck in an endless conversation without an escape. Don’t monopolize one person’s time at an event. Remember that event planning requires solid headcounts. Not RSVPing is rude and is an imposition when the planner must chase you down. With electronic RSVPs, there is no excuse for not responding.

Avoiding becoming a time waster requires us to be thoughtful and to take a little extra effort. Yes, we might have to invest a little of our own precious time, but making things flow smoothly is not only courteous, it improves communications and responses. It also enhances our standing among colleagues and potential customers.

The post Time Wasters appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Erroneous Zones

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on June 6, 2019. Who among us hasn’t spent sleepless nights or agitated days stewing over something someone said, or something you inferred, that you realize later you had completely misunderstood? Likewise, we might stumble or… Read more »

The post Erroneous Zones appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on June 6, 2019.

Who among us hasn’t spent sleepless nights or agitated days stewing over something someone said, or something you inferred, that you realize later you had completely misunderstood? Likewise, we might stumble or make a momentary mistake that prompts us to doubt our own capabilities and whether we really have what it takes, only to bounce back the next day full speed ahead.

This column periodically explores variations on this topic, because misperceptions are a pervasive weak link in our productivity and affect everybody from time to time. The solution is to seize the opportunity to gather informed assessments and objective feedback. That applies to every aspect of our lives.

Small business owners are particularly susceptible because they’re isolated. They might not have people around them to check their beliefs and don’t realize that they’re not the only ones making common mistakes. On the other extreme, they might feel smug and think things are rosy until they are dumfounded by unforeseen circumstances.

The Alexandria Small Business Development Center is a resource that can provide objective feedback in its confidential one-on-one consultations. Those might be a discussion of comparative performance measures and best practices, financial assessments or tips on handling thorny business issues.

The center has access to a large network of resources to help business owners make critical connections with experts or other businesses, or perhaps get feedback from peers. These include peer groups, co-work spaces, industry gatherings and targeted networking opportunities.

Business owners might feel more comfortable approaching someone one-on-one. Good advice doesn’t have to come from someone in the same industry or area of expertise. Identify someone whose success you admire, and invite them to coffee to get their viewpoint. These informal sessions might help you to see your business from a fresh perspective.

Objective feedback can come from many sources. Professional coaches offer consistent and insightful observations. Many Fortune 500 companies support their executives engaging coaches to add balance and perspective to their personal and professional lives. Professional coaches are not cheap, but they are are often worthy investments.

Many of us invest time, money and energy into our personal health and well-being. Whether we’re pursuing diets or fitness regimens, it’s very possible we’re following routines we’ve seen in magazines or picked up through casual observation.

Too often those routines are not suited to our particular circumstances or condition. We might not be getting the best effect – and might even be doing harm. For personal health and fitness, as in other matters, it is absolutely essential to get the guidance of a qualified professional.

There are many aspects of our lives where we’re wasting time, emotion and effort. One of my favorite maxims is that none of us is as bad as we think we are on our worst days; but neither are we as good as we think we are on our best days.

Objective, informed feedback can be one of the most important investments in individual and business productivity and is worth careful consideration.

The post Erroneous Zones appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Celebrating Small Businesses

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on May 3rd, 2019. The week of May 6th is being celebrated across the country as Small Business Week, highlighting the importance of small businesses to the US economy. In Alexandria we are particularly beholden to… Read more »

The post Celebrating Small Businesses appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on May 3rd, 2019.

The
week of May 6th is being celebrated across the country as Small
Business Week, highlighting the importance of small businesses to the US
economy. In Alexandria we are particularly beholden to small businesses because
they are such an integral part of our character and economy.

They
comprise almost 90% of Alexandria’s total businesses and they are ideally
suited to our scale. Retail spaces on King Street and Mount Vernon Avenue are
perfect for small boutiques, intimate restaurants, and specialty shops. In
fact, 78% of retail stores on King Street are small, local, independent
businesses.

Our
commercial office market also includes attractive offerings for small
businesses. Smaller office buildings and historic spaces appeal to businesses
like commercial creatives and small professional service providers.

Alexandria
relies on our small businesses in many ways. First, we know that our citizens
love the variety of small independent shops and restaurants that give
Alexandria its authentic and unique flavor. 
In addition, these owners and their employees often sponsor events,
serve on volunteer boards, contribute time and money to local causes, and have
often provided community leadership through changing times and circumstances.
Alexandria is a stronger and more adaptable city when our businesses are
engaged, because they truly have their finger on the pulse of the community.

Since
our economy and quality of life are so dependent on the success of small
businesses, the question worth asking is whether we are doing our very best to
be inviting and to help them start and grow. City government has worked very
hard in recent years to streamline processes and minimize delays. While there
are still frustrations, city leadership, economic development and business
organizations constantly collaborate on solving challenges.

The
city has a wide array of interconnected resources that encourage and promote
small business. They focus on the infrastructure and business climate that preserves
and enhances Alexandria’s ideal setting for small businesses. After all, the
attributes that made our city and region so appealing to Amazon and Virginia
Tech are also things that help small businesses thrive.

From the Alexandria city government, to the Chamber of Commerce, to Visit Alexandria, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, and neighborhood business associations, many organizations work together on behalf of small businesses across the city. The Alexandria Small Business Development Center is at the core of these efforts. It helps interconnect the initiatives of support organizations and expedites the communications flow to and from small businesses. It also helps small businesses solve problems, overcome obstacles and make worthwhile connections throughout the community and region.

Robust
small businesses help to broaden the tax base and improve the mix of business
products and services offered in the city. They contribute to a positive
resident experience and enhance our quality of life. The reciprocal role for Alexandrians
is to support small businesses through shopping local.

As
we commemorate small businesses this week, our charge is to make sure
Alexandria continues to be such an attractive and nurturing home for their
success.

The post Celebrating Small Businesses appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Instagram Ads 101 for Small Business

Do you need a business domain name, world-class WordPress hosting or other Web services for your business? We provide affordable digital marketing strategy help along with our technical support. Check it out at https://web.w3cinc.com/.Find the original…

Do you need a business domain name, world-class WordPress hosting or other Web services for your business? We provide affordable digital marketing strategy help along with our technical support. Check it out at https://web.w3cinc.com/.

Find the original archive of the video here: Instagram Ads 101 for Small Business. Instagram Ads 101 How to Create Effective Ad Campaigns on Instagram Instagram has over one billion users on the photo social networking platform. (Facebook, which owns