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The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and consumers -- including business owners -- are increasingly reaching for their smartphones and tablets to satisfy their retail itch. One in three people in the U.S. will use their mobile devices to make a purchase this holiday season, according to a recent study by Chicago-based ecommerce consulting firm the e-tailing group. 

Problem is, cyber criminals have taken notice, and they're targeting mobile shoppers. "As financial transactions migrate to mobile devices, so do cybercriminals," says Chiranjeev Bordoloi, co-founder and CEO of TopPatch, a New York City cybersecurity company.

Consumers often feel an urgency to make quicker purchasing decisions due to the rapid growth of daily deals and other online offers, Bordoloi says. That means savvy cybercriminals can target consumers in a particular location and capture information such as names, addresses and credit card numbers. They can also trick consumers into divulging this information through malware and phishing scams.

To safeguard against these threats and help ensure a nightmare-free holiday season, Bordoloi recommends these three security tips when shopping with a mobile device:

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A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.

Brainstorming is great, but after the meeting the ideas often languish on someone's hard drive or notepad and no one ever acts on them. From now on, assign a point person to every good idea -- someone who will see it through from the idea phase to implementation.

It's best to divvy up the ideas based on job description; for instance, suggestions for creative social media campaigns might go to your marketing director or community manager. "This is probably the most important aspect of a well-functioning innovation program -- a motivated and empowered person or small team who will see ideas through to a decision," says Tim Meaney, CEO of Kindling, an idea-management app. More: 4 Ways to Organize New Ideas and Drive Innovation

Beat procrastination by being publicly accountable.
It's easy to cut yourself slack when it comes to achieving your goals. Fix this issue by alerting others to your to-do list through social media, holding morning "check-in" meetings with your team or using an online task management tool such as Trello. Or why not do all three? More: 4 Cures for Chronic Procrastination

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This week's need-to-know social-media news.

Instagram's stylishly filtered photos haven't been appearing correctly on Twitter lately, showing up either in awkward sizes or oddly cropped. It's a problem, especially for users who have their Instagram account directly connected to Twitter.

More bad news: It doesn't look like there will be a solution to the problem any time soon. It appears the distancing between the two platforms was a conscious decision. "We wanted to make sure we direct users to where the content lives originally, so they get the full Instagram experience," Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said in a recent report. Back in July, Twitter blocked Instagram users from using Twitter to find friends. 

Etsy has become known as a popular online marketplace for hand-crafted goods. So what is it doing opening a pop-up shop in New York City’s SoHo, a trendy neighborhood known for high-end luxury stores?

The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company is joining a growing number of ecommerce businesses experimenting in immersive brand experiences for customers.

“Our primary motivation isn’t to sell,” says Etsy’s creative director Randy Hunt. The Etsy Holiday Shop is the first attempt at a brick-and-mortar retail store for the company, whose site is home to over 800,000 independent sellers from nearly 200 countries. The holiday shop is open for 10 days from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8.

Here's how Etsy is translating its online brand experience to the offline world.

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Job growth fared better than expected in November, underscoring the idea that the economy’s fundamentals are improving—albeit at a moderate pace.

Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 146,000 in November, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in retail trade, professional and business services, and health care, the Labor Department said.

Since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the average monthly job gain of 153,000 in 2011.

The latest data continues to bode well for the idea that the U.S. economy is making a persistent and moderate recovery. "The fundamentals are improving," says Mekael Teshome, an economist at PNC Bank. "The wrongs that got us into the recession are being corrected."

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At a startup or small business, every hour counts. You need to get things done and stay on task if you want to grow your business. As a leader, learning to beat procrastination will make you and your team more productive, more often.

We all procrastinate occasionally, but chronic procrastinators put off almost everything they have to do. According to Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, and author of Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done (Wiley, 2010), about 20 percent of the global population can be classified as chronic procrastinators. They let the gas tank run to empty, miss concerts because they waited to buy tickets, or put off projects until hours before they’re due.

Many others have what psychologists call "decisional procrastination," meaning they put off making decisions until their back is against the wall or someone else does it for them. "They’re actively, consciously, strategically postponing," says Ferrari. 

Related: The Truth About Multitasking: How Your Brain Processes Information

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If you still haven't optimized your business website and other products for mobile viewing and purchasing, your business may be falling behind fast by not catering to a quickly-expanding customer base.

In less than two years, mobile's share of internet traffic has more than tripled, up from 4 percent to 13 percent of global traffic, according to a new trend report from Mary Meeker, a partner at Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

In India, for instance, mobile internet use surpassed desktop use for the first time in May, and is now above 60 percent in that country. Four years ago, it was almost nonexistent. Meeker and co-author Liang Wu expect other countries to follow suit. This trend points to a considerable shift in consumer habits, especially since more than 29 percent of U.S. adults now own a tablet or e-reader, the report says, and shopping increasingly happens online.

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The holiday season is packed with social events, but if you're an introvert, surrounding yourself with a group of strangers, or even acquaintances, is likely a nerve-racking experience. Devora Zack, author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking (Berrett-Koehler, 2010) says introverts can still enjoy holiday parties by understanding and working with, rather than against, their natural temperament.

"Introverts think to talk and extroverts talk to think," Zack says. This difference in temperament can explain why extroverts thrive at holiday parties while introverts try to ignore them. While introverts energize alone and prefer fewer people and minimal stimuli, extroverts feed off the energy of a crowd and thrive off a bustle of activity. Holiday parties are typically set up to play against introverts' natural character, but Zack says understanding your strengths can help introverts survive and thrive at holiday get togethers.

Here are five tips to help you make it through the season.

Take a look at your profile on LinkedIn. If you've used the word "creative" to describe yourself and all your many talents, you might want to go with another adjective. The popular professional networking site has released its list of the most overused buzzwords of 2012. For the second year in a row the word "creative" tops the list.

To create the list, LinkedIn says it analyzed more than 187 million profiles of members from around the world. In the U.S., LinkedIn determined that the most overused buzzwords and phrases on the site were:

image credit: Shutterstock

November was a rough month for job growth at small businesses, according to results from two recent reports.

Employment in private small business (companies with one to 49 employees) payrolls rose by 19,000 in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the ADP Small Business Report released today. In October, private small business payrolls rose by an adjusted 52,000.

Related: Small Business Job Growth Continues

"The effect of Superstorm Sandy was hardest on small companies," says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, which collaborated on the ADP report. The storm, which barreled through portions of the United States during late October, caused significant damage and business interruption.

Had Sandy not occurred small business payrolls would have been roughly in line with the October figure, according to Zandi. Retailers and restaurants are heavily represented among small businesses and these companies are less likely to pay workers when they are not at work than are larger companies. Smaller businesses likely have more hourly workers while larger businesses would have more salaried workers who would be paid regardless of disruptions to their business. Some small businesses were even forced to shut down permanently.

Another report, SurePayroll’s Small Business Scorecard, released late last week, shows a similar trend in hiring. SurePayroll's compiles data from more than 40,000 small businesses, including trends affecting businesses with an average of eight employees. Data from that report shows that month over-month-hiring for small businesses was down 0.1 percent in November and the average paycheck was flat.

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When you’re in the throes of running and growing your business, it’s generally not a priority to think about who’s going to take over the reins when you can’t or don’t want to be at the helm anymore. After all, this is your business, who can take care of it better than you?

But New York City consultant John Beeson, founder of Beeson Consulting, Inc., which helps privately owned firms with succession planning and management issues, says you’d better put that succession plan in place now to ensure the long-term viability of all that hard work.

Unexpected things happen, and you may experience extenuating circumstances such as an illness or family emergency that leave you unable to run your businesses for various periods of time. Here’s how to prepare.

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Independent workers and their advocates may be coming into their own.

Sara Horowitz, the founder and lead executive of Freelancers Union and Freelancers Insurance Co., will join the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the bank recently announced. She will serve a three-year term starting Jan. 1.

"This is a major milestone for the freelancer movement, as it is proof positive that our efforts are being recognized," says Horowitz. "A new economy is afoot -- and freelancers are at its core."

Horowitz, a former labor lawyer, founded the nonprofit Working Today, the parent company of Freelancers Union, in 1995 to provide a unified voice for freelance professionals. She received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" fellowship in 1999.

"Maybe we could start thinking about freelancing not as where you're being pushed out of a traditional job, but something different," Horowitz told an audience at a recent Economist-sponsored event. "What we're starting to see in my era is that people are starting to choose to freelance."

Horowitz will join Emily Rafferty, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City, as a Class C director of the New York Fed. Class C directors are elected by the Board of Governors to represent the public, in contrast to Class A and B directors, who are elected by member banks. "It's an important opportunity to make sure that the solutions we're all building and the movement we're leading together will have a seat at the table," Horowitz says.

You can have a great idea in a booming industry, but if you can't drive sales, your startup will not make it far beyond the launch. In other words, without sales you're sunk. And in a still-challenging economy, the bar is even higher. The most-successful entrepreneurs are always on the hunt for new ways to get more customers to buy -- and encourage their loyal customers to buy more.

If you're looking for sales strategies for your business, join us for a special live Google Hangout today at 2 p.m. ET, where sales expert Grant Cardone takes your questions.
Cardone has provided sales-training programs to large global companies and authored several books on sales strategies, from closing more deals to dominating your market.

Ask your question for Cardone in the comments section below before the chat, and we may choose it to present to him during the event. You can also tweet your questions using the hashtag #EntLive.
 

No one ever said starting a business was easy, especially these days. If you're starting a business or just starting to plan one, it can pay to know what you're in for.

Slow sales and unpredictable business conditions are two of the biggest challenges you'll face. Have a look at what's in store for entrepreneurs in this new infographic from Clarity, an online community of entrepreneurs. 

image credit: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Sometimes selling your business can make sense in theory, but the process can fall apart if all the pieces aren't in place ahead of time. Take for example the situation at Hewlett-Packard. In 2011, the tech giant acquired U.K.-based enterprise software company Autonomy Corporation for $11 billion. But just last month, HP said it was "writing down" Autonomy's market value by $8.8 billion, attributing as much as $5 billion to "accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures [intended] to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company."

Autonomy co-founder Mike Lynch has since launched a website called AutonomyAccounts.org to "utterly reject" all allegations of impropriety. "It's clear that the buyer wound up with something not quite what it thought it was buying," says Kip Witter, a vice president at The Brenner Group, Inc., a Cupertino, Calif.- based financial management and advisory firm that works with Silicon Valley tech companies.

While transactions of this magnitude and with this kind of fall-out might not be common, entrepreneurs who want to sell their business should have several factors worked out ahead of time. 

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