Webinar: Google Chrome: The Little Browser That Can

Most people don’t realize the importance of vital resources until it’s missing suddenly from their lives. Case in point: you likely don’t contemplate the air you breathe at any given moment, unless you’re deprived of it. Not to be too

Most people don’t realize the importance of vital resources until it’s missing suddenly from their lives. Case in point: you likely don’t contemplate the air you breathe at any given moment, unless you’re deprived of it. Not to be too melodramatic, but that’s kind of what the Web is to most businesses today. It’s a commodity that’s taken for granted and only until you cannot access it do you realize it as sine qua non for running your business in this modern era.

And, of course, we access the Web through Web browsers. You may not think about how different Web browsers really are, again, until they inhibit your ability to get things done. Google had been thinking about this for years and in 2008 released their own little browser that can, Google Chrome. I say “little” because it’s code is compact and therefore very fast, and I said “that can” because it has some many abilities, you just need to ask and it can likely do it. That’s what this Webinar is all about: Google Chrome and using it in your business.

In this Web-based presentation, we cover:

  • why Small Business should be using Google Chrome;
  • the best features and extensions for Chrome for Small business; and,
  • how to implement Google Chrome on your computers/laptops and smartphones.

Resources

The Chromium Projects
What are extensions? – Google Chrome
Google Chrome Terms of Service
Chrome for Work: Chrome for Work
100 Chrome Extensions That You Should Install
20 Best Chrome Browser Extensions You Need To Have
The 13 best Google Chrome hacks – Business Insider
11 Google Chrome Extensions That Will Boost Your Productivity


These Webinars are hosted by the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network – http://virginiasbdc.org – and presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Managing Director of W3C Web Services, providing affordable Web, WordPress, email, domain and other related services for Small Business – http://web.w3cinc.com. With the transfer of your business’ domain, Web *and* email hosting services, get a complimentary 1-hour Web, Mobile & Social Media strategy session. Email [email protected] to get started!

Never Lower Your Price

It seems like you’re new here, so welcome! You may want to subscribe to our RSS feed. That page also allows you to subscribe via email to receive blog posts to your inbox directly. If you’re interested in staying in

In a nutshell: If you want to make money, you must value your services or products. And, that means you should never lower your price; merely offer less for less. When your customer wants something at a lesser price, reduce your offering to match the price, and don’t lower the price for a greater-valued service or product. In doing so, your value stays consistent, you will attract the right customers (and conversely, repel the wrong customers) for you, and you will make more profit over the long-term. Never Lower Your Price - Web and Beyond Blog

“Create different levels of service. Some people only buy the most expensive item. Avoid losing sales: offer a stripped down version of your product or service.” ~Beth Silver (in “107 Ways to Leverage Your Small Business Through Marketing & Public Relations”)

Small Business owners early on in their business’ lives find themselves with a particular dilemma. When you are starting your business you consider that any new customer is good for business! So, when they negotiate you down a third of your billable rate or 40% off your retail pricing, you accept with gleeful resignation. You have hopes that business will be different once you have a steady stream of customers. Why? After you have all these customers, you’ll have the bargaining power to raise your rates and really start to turn a profit, right? Sadly, this logic doesn’t hold muster for several reasons: you eat away at your passion by not valuing your most important asset (i.e., you), you attract the wrong customers which develops bigger problems down the road, and you create more financial problems than you solve by operating unprofitably early on in the business.

Consistent Value Is Getting Paid What You’re Worth; Ergo, Never Lower Your Price

Starting a Small Business is no joke, eh? It’s long hours, stressful, energy-consuming, and it can also be genuinely rewarding when you focus on your passion and skills, or your desire to overcome a challenge. You started your business to provide for your family, build a product or service that you can sell with the business and turn a profit, give back to your community, to fill in a gap for your retirement needs, or whatever other reason you had. In order to get up every day and do this, you need to be providing value to your customers but your motivation won’t stay very high if you’re not getting paid what you’re worth. I always tell my clients to price themselves so they are motivated to do the work. Who wants to get subpar work from you because you don’t feel like doing the work for the pay you’re receiving? This does a disservice to your new customers and to you.

The Ones Who Matter Won’t Mind and Those Who Mind Aren’t Worth the Worry

There’s a trick I learned in my teens. You take your 10 closest friends and add up their salaries, then divide by 10; this usually works out to be your salary. It’s remarkable how this works within a small margin of error for most people who earnestly do it. You are similar to the company you keep. And, that means that when you bring in customers who are all discount seekers and not best-value-seeking customers, you build up referrals to other discount seekers. Over the months and years, your business’ value gets eroded as you accumulate customers willing to keep driving down your price, not valuing you, and telling their friends and colleagues that they too can get low prices out of you. This hardly sounds like the best value for your time and effort.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems…Uhm, No. Less Problems, Mo’ Money

For many years, I ran a commodity business. I was constantly pressured to lower prices and deliver the same great service. There were market and regulatory forces in play here that were beyond our control and so I grinned and beared it. Learn from my early mistakes in the business. Don’t lower your price unreasonably to save your business as it won’t actually save your business. I see this often now in coaching and consulting Small Business owners in this downward spiral, before I set them straight. Here’s what happens:
  1. You lose your passion and start cutting corners.
  2. You start to lose your best-paying customers who start to see the lower quality of your work.
  3. The decrease in good business makes you desperate to (a) bring in more underpaying and delinquent paying customers, and (b) not paying yourself and your own bills.
This cycle of lowering prices leads to lost passion, lost productivity, and lost good customers. The gains unfortunately are in greater customer service complaints, attracting worse customers, and more pressure on you to take on anything that comes your way. You’re worth every dollar you’re reasonably charging, so don’t let others tell you otherwise. You should get paid well to do your best work, and nothing less. And, you should work with good people who will refer you to good people, especially those that will pay their bills on time. Anything short of this and your business fundamentals are lacking. So, if you’re currently thinking of starting a business, or if you’re currently struggling, I hope this compels you to never lower your price.

Google Keep, Voice Search, and Voice Typing in Google Docs – What’s New at Google

Periodically, I will be writing a What’s New at Google post here to update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner. These can be warnings as well as the many frequent enhancements

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Periodically, I will be writing a What’s New at Google post here to update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner. These can be warnings as well as the many frequent enhancements

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Is Facebook Really Implementing a Dislike Button?

Since the early days of social networking services becoming a place for businesses to engage in marketing to past, current and potential customers, there has been a debate over how to respond appropriately to users’ content and comments. That conversation

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Since the early days of social networking services becoming a place for businesses to engage in marketing to past, current and potential customers, there has been a debate over how to respond appropriately to users’ content and comments. That conversation

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Getting Ready for Business in the New Year

Start wherever you are and start small. -Rita Baily With each past year behind us with hopefully more good memories than not, business owners around the country usually spend this time of year looking forward to how to make the best

Start wherever you are and start small. -Rita Baily

Getting Ready for Business in the New YearWith each past year behind us with hopefully more good memories than not, business owners around the country usually spend this time of year looking forward to how to make the best of the upcoming year. Like with New Year’s resolutions, most plans never come to fruition. It reminds me sadly about how many business plans are started and not finished, nor ever looked at again even if they are. Considering the renewal of the calendar year, I think it’s an appropriate time to “kick the tires” and look at some often-overlooked areas of your business as we kick off this January. So, even if you haven’t looked at that business plan sitting in your desk drawer (which I also recommend that you do!), reviewing and acting on any of these business areas will improve your 2015 outlook. This is a natural time for getting ready for business in the new year.

Leadership & Professional Development

It never hurts to think about one’s own success to start. This is especially as important when you are the leader of your organization. When I started my first administrative position in a boutique law firm, I would never have thought one day I would running companies. However, I realized early on that my skills were depended upon by everyone in the firm. I was a leader as much of myself, as of the people who followed me when I was chosen to take the lead on a case. I learned quickly that I needed leadership and other professional skills that I wasn’t taught in school, and I needed them quickly!

There are so many more resources today at your fingertips thanks to the proliferation of edtech (i.e., educational technology, primarily here on the Web and Mobile). Here are a few resources you can use to build up your leadership skills:

Corporate Philanthropy & Community Service

The next phase of any great company new or veteran is learning to invest in their values as well as making a profit. It turns out that you get when you give; it’s a natural part of community building. There’s something almost mystical about how this works, but I assure you are wired to get more when you give than when you receive and this also works on the greater, business scale. Here are three ideas on how you can build some giving and volunteer opportunities for your business:

  1. Join Google One Today, a program that has you donate just one dollar a day, every day, to a charity doing something great for the world. Encourage your entire company’s staff (perhaps you can match or pay for the donations) to join Google One Today and share your giving experiences via your business Social Media networks.
  2. Think about creating a Corporate Philanthropy program, which is easier than you would think. A small community grant can mean the difference between a local organization making a great impact in your community (of course, tied to your business’ brand), or not being able to do it at all. In-kind volunteer support programs can even build up some organizations to a point where they can then become paying clients. There are many ideas and opportunities; click on the link above and get creative.
  3. You can additionally start a Community Volunteer program at your office, and require every staffer to give a certain percentage of his working month (say, 1.5 hours per calendar month, which is about 1% of 35-hour workweek). You can find many volunteer opportunities at Volunteer Match. It’s a marketplace for finding volunteers, and as its website says, “We bring good people & good causes together. Find a cause that lights you up. Get in touch with a nonprofit that needs you.” Why not bring this volunteering under one umbrella and coordinate the efforts with your company’s name at the forefront of benefiting your community. It’s the epitome of “doing well by doing good.”

Exit Strategy Planning

In the end, you cannot lead forever. While the science of rejuvenation is likely to see monumental progress in our lifetimes, endeavoring to possibly doubling some young generations’ lifespans, you will not live indefinitely. And, so you won’t be running your company that long either. Whether it’s by death, dissolution or deal, you will leave your company’s helm someday; why not decide how?

If you haven’t lately (or ever), now is a good time while you’re healthy and in positive spirits to call your trusts, estates and tax lawyer to work out details about how you want the disposition of your assets (including intellectual property) to be handled if you were to leave this life untimely. If you don’t have a legal adviser in an estate and tax advisory capacity, it’s best to find a specialist here at The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; these are specifically-trained individuals to help you.

Of course, some of you hope that someday you will be able to sell your business for a billion dollars like Instagram or WhatsApp. Okay, perhaps something a bit more modest, say, a million dollars so that you can retire (if a million dollars is really enough to retire on nowadays). In this case, you might want to grab a copy of William Bumstead’s E4: Evaluating, Entering, Enhancing, & Exiting Privately Owned Businesses. A recommendation from my go-to exit strategy advisor and business broker, Lou Kastelic of Jordan-Crandus, E4 provides some valuable information on preparing your business for sale at any time during the phase of the company life cycle. Before or when you are ready to sell, I highly recommend touching base with Lou and seeing what your business’ value is and how to best position yourself in the marketplace.

 

Once you’ve made the first, small step in the direction of progress in any of these areas of business, you will feel like 2015 was already worth its weight in gold. What areas of business are most often not talked about and that you would like to make progress on in 2015? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Making Time for and Managing Social Media in Small Business

It’s tough to think about a world that existed before Social Media, because it seems so pervasive in most people’s’ lives today. However, there was a time when Social Media was a handshake and smile, and not a Web or

Social Media Time Management MatrixIt’s tough to think about a world that existed before Social Media, because it seems so pervasive in most people’s’ lives today. However, there was a time when Social Media was a handshake and smile, and not a Web or digital tool was involved in connecting two or more people. Since those days are long gone, we have to cope with the new digital deluge and find ways to practice safe and sane Social Media time management. Since this is one of the most oft-asked questions from my audiences at seminars and workshops, I thought I’d round-up a strategy and the best tools I’ve found for making time and managing Social Media in Small Business.

Keep Ahead of Social Media Trends

If you’re a child of the 80’s then Social Media is the fashion equivalent of wigwam socks for the modern-day business marketer. (If you’re a child of the 70’s, we’re talking about Daisy Dukes. And, for the 60’s, well, that’d be a tie for platform shoes and bell-bottoms. But, I digress.) For every generation there are many trends and in the Digital Age, trendsetting is hyperactive with new websites, Web tools and online services launching daily. To keep track, you have two options that readily come to mind.

One strategy is to set up a blog/RSS feed reader. This is a tool that lets you curate the blogs that are publishing the most pertinent content about Social Media (or any other kind of marketing on the Web and beyond) and capturing them all in one tool. This is really saves time so that you only have to check your RSS reader daily, or weekly, instead of going to 50+ websites to see if they’ve published anything new. So, you can stay abreast of all the important social trends all in one place. While there are many options of readers, I really like the combination of Feedly and Pocket. You subscribe to blogs you want to follow in Feedly and save them to Pocket, say, every Friday afternoon, then you on Monday morning you can review all the articles you saved to Pocket. Some you will want to share with others, some you’ll want to tag with keywords and save for reference and easy retrieval later; Pocket is the best person for the job here.

Also, we will be re-launching our email newsletter, soon which will be a “best in class” update on all things marketing and operations via your website, email, Social Media and blogging, online/social advertising, mobile and more. We’re really excited about the email newsletter re-launch, so if you’re not already a subscriber join now and await the first email coming in the next week or so. Basically, we will be doing all the work of reading all the blogs, email newsletters, resources and eBooks galore and condensing it down to the most important few (with our insights) to share with you on a weekly basis. Not bad, eh?

Develop a Social Media Strategy

The next logical step in managing your time on Social Media is developing a strategy that works for your business. As this topic could be dozens of blog posts by itself, I’m going to go over the fundamentals using my simple and effective Social Media Strategy Framework (pictured below).

Social Media Strategy Framework

 

For your Social Media strategy to work, it requires four elements to creating an online community: giving (Listen), taking (Speak), a sense of belonging (Connect), and tracking engagement (Measure). To begin the Listen phase of any Social Media strategy means that you are looking for conversations that your target audience is having already. Go to their places and talk to them; you’re giving content , advice and time to those blogs, social networks and people (through posting comments and interacting in their conversations). Note, that once you follow the diagram above back to Listen, now you’re reading the comments on your own blog and engaging with your audience there as well.

Next, you Speak by publishing great content on your blog and disseminating that to social networks, your email audience and more. We will talk about how to do that efficiently in the next section. But, this Speak phase is really about setting the tone for your brand, tell your story, and communicating your core value through competent, helpful and positive advice for your readers, or listeners (podcasts) or watchers (video blogs, or vlogs).

Following Speak, we have the Connect phase of the framework and this encompasses strengthening the bonds that you have established. This could take the form of introducing members of disparate groups to one another; perhaps you know the owner of a nail salon and the proprietor of a hair salon and spa, that you can connect so that they can refer their customers to one another. Do this proudly via Twitter or another publicly appropriate social network, then take it offline and make the “real” connection. The stronger the bonds, the stronger the web that supports your community.

Finally, you have the Measure phase, which is there because it’s all online and almost everything can be tracked. For most Small Business owners, start and grow with Google Analytics; it’s free, it helps you track all the largest pieces of the Web marketing (Web, Mobile, Email, Advertising and Social Media) in a centralized dashboard. There are many other tools that you will come across along the way that help you learn more about the effect you’re having on your target audience engagement through your Social Media work. This information will guide you well, but remember that the true guiding force for your Social Media strategy is sales. If your website is getting traffic, your blogging effectively and disseminating it outward to your audience, you should be seeing sales increasing. If not, blame not Social Media. You likely have a hole in your sales process–website navigation, poor Web copy, not enough blog deep links, or engaging in the wrong social networks. Patch those holes and let the sales flow!

Editorial Calendar for Greater Content Production

No Social Media time management article is complete without talk of an Editorial Calendar. In journalism, writers, editors and publishers live and die by the deadline. And, so should your blog and Social Media publishing! Review several of your industry competitors’ blogs and see how often they post: daily, weekly, monthly or less often? Now, once you’ve surmised what an average number of posts you’ll need to produce annually, you can start with a paper calendar and block out the general periods of your professional calendar. Is there a “busy season” in your year? When are your sales highest (check with your accountant/bookkeeper if you don’t know)? Break your year down into smaller units (“themes”) however it makes sense for your business. Thereafter, send those themes around to your staff and ask them to assemble a list of blog, ebook, white paper or other resource topics for each of the themes; this is individual brainstorming is best (and not in a group setting). If everyone gave their all, you will have an overflowing bucket of topics for your editorial calendar. Finally, you will need to assign who will be writing the content, editing, publishing and disseminating those blog links to social networks.

Thankfully, there are several tools out there to really help with managing an editorial calendar:

  1. Google Calendar – this amazingly elegant and no-cost, and has the ability for you to make an editorial calendar so you can track themes, topics, deadlines and responsible parties all within Google Calendar. It offers color-coding, multiple calendar sharing, notes, powerful search, and access on desktop/Web as well as via mobile.
  2. EditFlow – if you’re using WordPress as your website/blog hosting platform, EditFlow is a handy, no-cost plugin that helps manage the content-side management of your blog. This tool also really helps with the people involved in putting the content together from the initial topic ideas to drafts to the redacted versions scheduled to be published.
  3. Buffer – This handy app helps you curate (by drafting the who tweet-sized messages for you!) and schedule posts to your major social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook). It learns from your posts when the best times are to post and adjusts to post them when more of your audience is clicking on things. Very smart tool!
  4. HootSuite – As the granddaddy of social sharing tools, HootSuite has the greatest number of social networks that it can manage. Also, if you have a larger team, HootSuite is definitely the way to go since it manages a distributed workforce very well.

Pay Attention After Publishing

One area that can really take up a great deal of time is paying attention to all the conversations about your company, brand, products, services and your blog articles. When the conversation is happening on your website/blog, I really recommend that you sign up for Disqus (pronounced dy-skuhs, as in the word “discuss”), a social commentary profile, system and dashboard. There’s also an amazing WordPress plugin, Disqus Comment System, that helps you integrate Disqus into your blog so it manages the commenting on your blog seamlessly. Now, when you make a comment on someone else’s blog that also uses Disqus, it captures that comment also in your Disqus ecosystem and helps you track when replies happen to the comments and so forth. Very handy! If you like more email, there’s a spiffy competitor to Disqus called Livefyre and their WordPress plugin equivalent is Livefyre Comments 3. It notifies you via email when new comments happen and lets you respond to those comments via email, which it then posts as a blog comment reply. (This can be handy if you’re not at your office often and need to manage on the road.)

So, that’s for when the blogs are neatly happening on your blog/website. What about the conversations happening everywhere else on the Web? That’s where good, old-fashioned Google Alerts comes in handy. This no-cost solution built by Google notifies you of search criteria that you set up and emails you when the search criteria is met. (You can also try Google Alerts’s competitor, TalkWalker Alerts.) So, for example, I have a search set up something like this…

w3consulting AND “W3 Consulting” AND “W3 Consulting” AND “Web and Beyond” -site:w3cinc.com -site:w3.org

This Advanced Search string in Google Alerts tells Google to send me an email (or I can subscribe to an RSS feed in my Feedly account from above) to anything on the Web that matches conversations talking about my company, tagline and brand. Now, set up these same kinds of searches for your products, services and combinations that include your name and company name to catch any of those conversations happening about you and your products/services. What would take hours is now automagically gathered together for you!

Synthesize the Analytics

After all this blogging and commenting, you’re going to have a plethora of data from Google Analytics, your website/blog, Buffer, HootSuite, Disqus or Livefyre, Google Alerts and more! One way to streamline this is to use a URL shortener (which I’ll be covering in-depth in an upcoming post) so that you can have all the various tools I’ve just mentioned capture all that data into Google Analytics where appropriate. This takes some know-how that searching the Help articles on all the tools listed will explain, and taking an afternoon to set it all up. Thereafter, though, you will save in compound dividends of time! Once all your Social Media traffic clicks and engagement metrics are run through Google Analytics, you need only look there to start to understand what is working, and what isn’t. And, what I love most about Google Analytics, is that you can customize a master report that is emailed to you every week or month (to whoever in your company needs to see it). Once you’ve done the setup, all the synthesizing work is done for you and delivered to your inbox. Business decisions become faster and sounder.

There’s no question that Social Media takes time, and time is your most important commodity in Small Business. But, the world has changed and Social Media is one of the best ways to reach your target audience, understand your business and grow your sales. So, if you keep track of the Social Media trends, develop a strong, consistent strategy, master your Editorial Calendar for producing great content, and then pay attention to the conversations and the measurements, you will not only minimize time spent on Social Media but increase your business’ sales too!

Mindmapping on the Web [Archived Webinar]

Mindmapping on the Web As early as the 3rd century CE, there is evidence of the existence and use of the mind map–visual representations of connected thoughts. Mind maps utilize multiple parts of your brain and that means you’re building

Mindmapping on the Web

As early as the 3rd century CE, there is evidence of the existence and use of the mind map–visual representations of connected thoughts. Mind maps utilize multiple parts of your brain and that means you’re building mental muscles that will help in every part of your business. Mind maps can be used for brainstorming, memorizing, teaching, and problem-solving. And, in this archived Web presentation, we focus on the benefits of mindmapping on the Web for Small Business brainstorming and problem-solving purposes. We discuss mind map techniques, the business benefits, and tools you can use.

[Note: for purposes of this Webinar, we use “mind map” as a noun and “mindmap” as verb.]

Also, check out this list of mind mapping software on Wikipedia.

This Webinar, as part of the Beyond Google: Marketing and Managing on the Web series from Virginia SBDC, will be presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist, author of SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Web Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained (available in paperback and ebook versions), and President of W3 Consulting, a digital business strategy and training firm helping business owners learn why and how to use Web, mobile and digital technologies for greater marketing and management impact.

Who should watch?

  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, and solopreneurs
  • Office/sales/customer service managers, marketing directors, executives and professionals
  • Administrative/executive assistants and sales/account representatives
  • nonprofit executive directors and board members

If you do decide to start mindmapping on the Web, let us know and we can offer suggestions and recommendations on your technique. Just comment here or tweet @w3consulting on Twitter. Happy mindmapping on the Web!