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Friday, April 17, 2015
Update by John Beagle,
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Familiarize Your SMB with Online Forms

By: Chad Reid is Director of Communications at JotForm

Running a SMB doesn’t have to be tricky business. If you’re running your own company, every tool at your disposal counts; especially the ones that save you time and hassle. Crafty small- and medium-sized SMBs utilize web forms to drive revenue and reveal key insights.

Let online forms do the heavy lifting for gathering customer insights, generating leads, collecting payments, finding new talent and keeping your employees happy. Here are the types of forms that can help your company thrive.

The Feedback Form

Master this style of form, and use it often. Knowing how your customers, former customers, employees and prospects feel about your organization is crucial to staying afloat. Include scales and radio buttons to see trends in response data, and keep questions with written responses open ended (“How do you feel about ….?” for example). The more you know about how your SMB is perceived, the better decisions you can make your about company’s future.

The Survey Form

A great use for surveys is for your employees. Build a survey so your employees can vote for employee of the months, where and when a company party should take place, and even to collect sandwich orders for a company lunch. There’s no easier way to gather data.

The Application Form

Are you asking applicants to send résumés to your email address? Creating an application form lets you manage all of your applications in a central login, and allows you to consistently collect all the pertinent information from each applicant. It’s easy enough to set up, and ensures an applicant's’ initial point of contact with your company is a professional one.

The Lead Generation Form

A great lead generation form can turn your small SMB into a money-making machine. Customize your call-to-action button, and make your form visually appealing to get even higher conversions.

The Contact Form

If your website doesn’t feature a contact form, it’s time to give 2015 a try. A clean, clear, and functional contact form is the professional way to gather customer information, and to receive comments and concerns. Posting your email address is a dangerous gamble, and it can even be off putting to site visitors.

The Payment Form

Did you know you can collect payments for service using a simple form and a PayPal account? If you don’t need anything fancy - or your own full online store - then using a form for collecting payments for services, donations or subscriptions is a great way to go. Other than a processing transaction fee, setting the form doesn’t usually cost you any money.

The great thing is that anyone can create awesome, custom forms. Using an easy-to-use form builder, you can knock out a fantastic form in just a couple minutes. Form builders are tools that any SMB can use, and it’s something that will save you loads of time and money down the road if used effectively.

Author’s Bio:

Chad Reid is Director of Communications at JotForm, a popular online form building tool. He’s written for a myriad of publications, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, recruiter.com, and multiple Patch sites. 


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Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Update by John Beagle,
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SMB HR: LinkedIn isn't the best way to Recruit Employees

by John Reed

7% of candidates that come through referrals account for 40% of total hires

As a source of new, competent staff, employee referrals have no equal. There is no other source for candidates that generate the same ROI; in fact the 7% of candidates that come through referrals account for 40% of total hires.

New data show that employee referrals provide better candidates, higher retention rates and help companies hire faster.

Referrals are the number one source of high performing employees.

Applicants hired from a referral begin their position quicker than applicants found via job boards and career sites (after 29 days compared with 39 days via job boards and 55 via career sites).

Referral hires have higher retention rates – 46% of employee referrals stay for three years or more, compared to only 14% of those hired from job boards.

Challenges to employee referral programs

Recruiters and hiring managers realize how important and effective employee referrals are, and every large enterprise today has referral programs to stimulate their existing workforce to help identify quality candidates within their network. Companies use monetary incentives, in some cases several thousands of dollars, to get employees to refer candidates for critical open positions.

The HR question is: why do only 7% of all applications come through referrals? What is stopping employees from referring more candidates?

Recruiters declare that especially for senior roles, the peers that could make an introduction to the right candidates are usually senior managers or directors with a very busy schedule and little or no time for browsing through a company’s open positions and then identifying great candidates within their network.

The other problem is that sometimes even though a first attempt is made, employees forget to follow up, and the referral doesn’t go further.

Make referrals easy for your employees

The best way for recruiters to quickly identify great candidates through referrals would be to source talent within an employees’ network and identify candidates upfront. Once the passive candidate has been identified, the employee’s job is to simply make the introduction and let HR follow up with the talent. In order to implement and manage this process, recruiters have to:
1. Access employee’s network upfront
2. Leverage automated notification and customized messages
3. Track in real-time the status of referrals

Stalking passive candidates on LinkedIn is a least favorite activity for recruiters

If you are a recruiter you certainly know the pain of receiving hundreds of email requests from job seekers, and definitely don’t enjoy doing the same to candidates.

How can recruiters access employees’ networks and avoid LinkedIn stalking?

One option is 1-Page. 1-Page takes LinkedIn search out of the recruiting equation. The company creates customized company clouds with profiles of professionals connected to their employees. Leveraging the a large employee referral network (820+ million profiles) 1-Page allows recruiters to search candidates by job title, companies and location and see instantly those who match the criteria. The platform also identifies the employees that can make an introduction and enable HR to automate the referral process and follow up with candidates directly.

 

About 1-Page

1-Page provides a one-of-a-kind cloud-based human resources Software-as-a-Service platform, currently employed by leading global and US companies. The Enterprise Challenge-based Assessment and Engagement Platform is a patented, HR tool which enables companies to individually rank and prioritize candidates for employment positions based on their ability to solve real-time business challenges and achieve strategic objectives.

Ranked as one of the top 3 HR technologies in the US, 1-Page changes the dynamics of hiring: leveraging candidate’s solutions, sent in the format of one page job proposals, the platform applies new predictive data to rank the most suitable candidates for the interview.  By streamlining the recruiting process and identifying candidates while displaying the greatest desire and capability for the role, 1-Page greatly reduces talent acquisition costs and significantly increases employment retention rates for enterprises, especially those with large staffing requirements. More information about the company is available at: www.1-page.com.


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Friday, March 13, 2015
Update by Zack Duncan,
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Atlanta SMB Named To Top 40 Tech

 

The 2015 Georgia Technology Summit (GTS) is coming up soon, set for March 25, and will be held at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta and the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) will be on hand to present its list of the Top 40 Innovative Technology Companies in Georgia. The Technology Association of Georgia is the state's leading association dedicated to the promotion and economic advancement of the technology industry in Georgia. 

The Top 40 Awards from TAG are given to tech companies based in Georgia for their innovation, financial impact and their efforts in spreading tech initiatives from Georgia throught the globe. One of the recipients of this award is HiLumz USA. HiLumz USA is a multinational lighting company and prides itself on offering customers LED and other lighting products that have longer life cycles, lower costs and smaller sized fixtures and components. 

According to President and CEO of TAG Tino Mantella, "The 2015 Top 40 finalists are an elite group of innovators who represent the very best of Georgia's Technology community. The 2015 Top 40 finalists are shining examples of what makes our state such a hotbed for technology and and we applaud them for standing out as leaders in Georgia's technology community."

The Top 40 companies for this year's award were selected from over 100 applications submitted by companies from all over the state of Georgia. The elite companies selected for the Top 40 will be showcased in an exhibition at GTS 2015. "Our eleventh year of the Top 40 was an overwhelming success, based on the number of truly innovative companies that aprticipated in the competition," according to Dennis Zakas, founder and partner of Zakas & Leonard, LLP, Chair of Group Office Buys, LLC, and chairperson of the Top 40 Selection Committee. "The Top 40 winners demonstrate the depth and breadth of Georgia's technology community," Zakas added.

The 2015 Georgia Technology Summit itself is expected to draw in over 1,300 C-level executives, entrepreneurs, technology professionals and academia. The summit will recognize and celebrate Georgia's technology community and will include presentations from some of the best technology influences in the country along with the induction of the newest members of the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia.

 

Content originally published here


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Update by John Beagle,
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How SMBs Can Punch Above Their Weight

 

by Kieran Flanagan & Dan Gregory

One of the opportunities we have as we travel around the world working with organizations of different sizes and from virtually every business sector is that we get to observe the macro-trends that are redefining the way we do business. One of the macro-trends we’ve identified is the rise of entrepreneurship and intra-preneurialism.

In other words, pieces of large corporations are peeling off and becoming start-ups as employees become business owners, and internally, corporate culture is scrambling to develop this kind of free-thinking enterprise in a world where playing safe is the new risky.

This requires a big shift in the way we think about work and just as importantly what we consider is necessary to have an impact at scale.

Much of this is being driven by the digital revolution that is quite literally making the “two people in a garage” scenario a credible and ever-present threat to the big end of town. Whatever the reasons behind this shift: what’s immediately obvious is that these are indeed interesting times for small business owners with big ambitions.

In this environment, those who do well, those who stand out from the competitive chaos and establish a strong hold in their industry are those who demonstrate a new set of critical skills.

So what are these new skills that SMBs require?

1. Love someone better than anyone else does

We all like to feel like we’re important, like we matter, that we’re special and respected for our individuality. But this is scarcely the experience most of us enjoy from the commercial entities we interact on a daily basis. When we do have this kind of experience, it is not only noteworthy, it seems extraordinary.

The café that has the regular’s names printed on cups and hung on the wall so they feel a sense of “membership”, the photography school that specializes in teaching new and expecting parents how to take amazing photographs of their newborns, the florist whose database keeps a log of your important dates and prompts little acts of thoughtfulness with a text so you never miss a birthday, anniversary or special occasion. These are the businesses that develop loyalty beyond reason (to draw on the language of Kevin Roberts).

2. Understand the business you’re in, not just the job you do

This is a problem businesses of all sizes often find themselves in. It’s easy to be so distracted by the day to day activity of our “job” that we forget the business we’re really in.

Hairdressers, for instance, may cut your hair, but if they hope to justify a premium pricing, they had better be in more than the business of shorter hair!

It’s useful to think not in terms of the service or product you provide, but rather in terms of the value your customers or clients gain from this experience.

Sometimes, this is as simple as being clear about where the money trail leads. At the risk of sounding like Cuba Gooding Jr in the movie Jerry MacGuire, show me the money can often be sage advice. For instance, those optometrists who make considerably more money in selling frames than from their medical consults are in fact in the retail fashion business, not medical services. This distinction should inform the way their store in designed, how they communicate with customers and also the language their staff use in store.

3. Design “nowhere else” experiences

In many ways, these experiences are the very things that justify the existence of your business in the first place. This should be more than a superficial point of difference and should define the way you would like to see your industry change.

It’s the restaurant with the “arrogant” chef who tells you what you’ll have and kicks you out if they see you perusing a menu (in doing so a “weakness” becomes uniqueness), the jeweler who shows the little girl choosing a charm for her bracelet the same attention of an engagement ring shopper and the airline that makes those monotonous safety warnings at the beginning of a flight more tolerable. These are the experiences we remember and importantly, want to share.

4. Create stories worth sharing

As word of mouth has become word of mouse, the stories, experiences and opinions our customers share about us have become increasingly important and either an incredible asset or else a pressing liability.

Social media has largely been a distracting annoyance for a lot of small to medium businesses, where perhaps the thing we should be focusing on, is not the channel, but in generating stories that a worth sharing, then making them easy to share.

5. Focus on the boring bits

Too often we become distracted by the “big” things in our business. This makes logical sense, but these are often areas that small to medium businesses struggle to find a competitive foothold. We fight to compete on range, or pricing or distribution, simply because scale makes this factors an easy win for the big end of town.

However, it is the small things, the areas in which SMBs can perform, that are often overlooked by big corporates. More importantly, they are often the friction, or “breakage-points” that drive customer dissatisfaction where SMBs can stand out by paying more attention.

6. Understand who you help them to be

All human behavior is ultimately driven by our sense of identity – this affects us at a far deeper level than simple logic or emotion. In fact, human beings can be compelled to commit incredible acts of heroism or cruelty, things that defy logic and can even cause emotional pain, simply by aligning these actions with our underlying definition of identity.

However, this is rarely the level at which businesses seek to engage their staff or customers. Key in this process is asking the question, “Who do we help them to be?” By engaging with our business, using our services or buying our products, what do they project to the rest of the world about who they are?

This is critical, not just to inform our sales and marketing strategies, but also how we attract, inspire and lead members of our team.

The point is, SMBs can punch above their weight and stand toe to toe with the big guys, so glove up and start punching!

 

Kieran Flanagan & Dan Gregory are behavioral researchers and strategists, specializing in behaviors and belief systems–what drives, motivates and influences us. They have won business awards around the world for Innovation, Creativity and ROI working with such organizations as Coca-Cola, Unilever, News Corp and the United Nations in Singapore. They are passionate advocates for the commercial power of creativity and a return to more human engagement, cultures and leadership. Published by WILEY, Kieran and Dan’s new book Selfish, Scared & Stupid is available in paperback RRP $22.95 from www.selfishscaredandstupid.com.


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