One way to communicate a large sum of data and information is to create an infographic -- a visual representation of a group of data points. Because they're composed of images, you can see the information at a glance. In business, they're commonly used to share information collected in a survey but they have many other uses.
Business owners can use an infographic to compare products, map sales or simply entertain your customers. You can use them to show work-flow, financial data or explain employee bonuses -- it's limited only by your imagination.
Over the last several years, Google has offered military veterans and their families several tools, such as the Veterans Job Bank, for finding jobs and transitioning to civilian life. The search giant is taking the initiative a step further, offering a new resource for veterans who are interested in starting their own businesses.
Over its social network Google+, Google has created VetNet, a central hub of information and resources organized into three main sections. One, the Entrepreneur Track, will feature workshops and college-level business courses provided by Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). The goal is to "help more veterans and family members open the door to economic opportunity by creating and sustaining an entrepreneurial venture," IVMF spokesperson Jaime Winne Alvarez says.
In a tough economy, growing your business doesn't have to involve costly new hires or expensive acquisitions. Instead, teaming up with another small business might be your best solution.
Successful teaming relationships can help you gain experience, offer a more comprehensive service, or take on bigger contracts.
Earlie Butler, founder and CEO of Document Integration Technologies, a West Orange, N.J.-based technology solution business, teams with other companies to reach a broader client base.
Over time, he's learned how to choose the right partners and communicate effectively. "Just like anything else, some relationships are going to very good and productive, some not so, and others just fall apart completely," he says.
For many it's hard to believe he's gone. Legendary motivational speaker and business consultant Zig Ziglar died yesterday, after a 40-year speaking career that saw him travel more than five million miles, consult for Fortune 500 companies and consort with American presidents and other world leaders.
What he has left behind -- books and recorded speeches, audio and video lecture series and hundreds of can-do maxims as well as children committed to upholding the principles by which he lived his life -- all but ensures that people will be following the "Ziglar Way" for a long time to come.
Some highlights from Zigler's singular life and career follow.
1926: Ziglar, named Hilary Hinton Ziglar, is born prematurely on November 6th in Coffee County, Alabama, his parents' tenth child. Nine days later, he dies, according to the doctor, but revives in his grandmother's arms.
1931: The five-year-old Ziglar moves with his family to Yazoo City, Miss., where he is raised as one of 12 children by a single mother, after his father dies in 1932. In his autobiography, he praises his mother as "a remarkable woman" who thrived on adversity, and credits her with instilling in him values that would last the rest of his life.
1947: Ziglar drops out of college and moves to Lancaster, S.C. to work full-time as a cookware salesman for the WearEver Aluminum Company.
1949: P. C. Merrell, the WearEver divisional supervisor from Tennessee fires up the struggling Ziglar by telling him that he could be a great salesman and giving him advice for how to succeed. "Mr. Merrell changed the way I saw myself -- a little guy with an inferiority complex from a small Mississippi town," Ziglar later wrote. "The change was dramatic."
1950: As an improving salesman, Ziglar moves up to the larger sales territory of Florence, S.C. He excels and is soon promoted to field manager and then to divisional supervisor.
1970: Ziglar leaves his sales career and devotes himself full-time to speaking. Initially he is introduced at speaking events as H. H. Ziglar, but soon after, he gains the nickname "Zig."
1975: Pelican, a small publishing house, publishes Ziglar's first book, See You at the Top after it had been rejected by 30 other publishers. The book goes on to sell more than 250,000 copies and remains in print to this day.
2001: The National Speakers Association gives Ziglar its prestigious Cavett Award, presented annually to the member whose achievements have brought honor to the profession and who has shown commitment to mentoring other members.
July 2002: Zig: The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar, is published, a detailed recounting of the author's life and career.
December 2010: The Zig Ziglar Corporation's founder and namesake retires, three years after a fall down a flight of stairs leaves his short-term memory impaired, and moves to Plano, Texas with his wife, Jean. The corporation has grown from a business of one to a company with 60 employees.
November 2012: Ziglar passes away after what his website describes as a short bout with pneumonia. His death comes two days after his 66th wedding anniversary with Jean. "Though his time on earth has ended, he is speaking with Jesus now in his heavenly home," reads a status on his Facebook page. "The angels in heaven are rejoicing and his family is celebrating a life well lived."
In this special feature of 'Ask Entrepreneur,' Facebook fan Bashue Allard asks: What is the best way to encourage a customer to buy from me again after making a sale?
The best way to make a customer buy again, after the first purchase, is to understand that farming -- not hunting -- is the world we live in now. Farming is focused on nurturing your customer through a caring relationship. Hunting is trying to close another deal too soon and this approach erodes customer loyalty.
Instead of focusing on the next sale, focus on deepening the customer relationship first by curating conversations on the social networks they use -- whether it's Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
There's a growing army of unhappy, sometimes bitter and angry customers who take to social media to vent their frustrations about a brand's products or services. Sometimes they can get so mean that their feedback is more an attack than a request for customer service.
No matter the size of your company, angry customer tirades can damage your reputation online. In my experience, you can encounter at least two types of unsatisfied customers communicating with you over social media:
For time-strapped entrepreneurs, managing an ever-growing calendar full of deadlines, appointments and tasks can be a headache. It might not take much to fall behind schedule or miss an important meeting. Luckily, apps that help remind us of events and engagements can come in handy, and help keep us productive.
If you're tired of being late or veering off task, try one of these apps to help you stay on-task and on-time:
Unto every business, there is a season -- or few. With the December holidays looming, some businesses are in full ramp-up mode, hiring additional staff, managing more inventory, and taking in more money, says Jeff Liebel, a partner at Counterpoint Consulting, a management consulting firm in Williamsville, NY.
Whether your company’s busiest season arrives in the fourth quarter, during the summer, or at some other time of year, there are some best practices to managing the dramatic demand changes that seasonal businesses endure. Here are a few tactics to survive a seasonal rush.
1. Prep employees. Most successful seasonal businesses have training programs to prepare employees for the coming busy season, teaching them how to most efficiently and effectively serve customers and support other necessary areas of the business that are under greater demand.
"Let’s say your busy season is at the end of the year. You basically have six to eight weeks to ‘make’ the year. If your staff isn’t up to par, you’re going to have significant problems," Liebel says.
When a startup is just getting off the ground, there are only a few employees, and they know everything about the business. They have to. As the company grows, that dynamic tends to shift until only those at the top are fully informed.
Recently, more leaders are resisting that shift. They're adopting policies of radical transparency, meaning that typically private information -- such as salaries, email content, or performance metrics -- is available to everyone at the company.
Transparency may be especially helpful in today's uncertain environment. We experience uncertainty as a threat, which inhibits perception, cognition, creativity, and collaboration -- all the skills we need to do our jobs well. Working at a transparent office creates a sense of certainty, allowing employees to flourish.
Earlier this year, Alison Johnston, 25, her brother, Dan, 22, and a friend, 25-year-old Joey Shurtleff, founded InstaEDU with the goal of making one-on-one education affordable and accessible to students everywhere. Previously, while Alison was working in marketing at Google and Dan was studying at Stanford, the siblings had started a private tutoring business, but quickly realized two big problems: the high cost of tutoring and its dependence on the physical presence of tutors for instruction.
Their latest startup, based in San Francisco, attempts to solve both. Through InstaEDU's platform, students can receive live instruction at any time from online tutors using options like video chat, text chat and document editing. And because tutors don't have to travel, the fees are lower. High school and college students can connect with tutors themselves, or their parents can schedule sessions through a parent account. The platform, the siblings say, replicates the personal interaction that distance learning has long been missing.
InstaEDU has signed up 1,200 tutors, many of them from top universities, and secured $1.1 million in seed funding from the Social+Capital Partnership. We spoke with Alison to find out how InstaEDU is taking part in a cultural shift toward online learning. An edited version of our conversation follows.
Many small businesses have a reason to be jolly this holiday season. Despite lingering economic concerns, Small Business Saturday sales data are slightly better than expected.
U.S. consumers surveyed about the event reported spending an estimated $5.5 billion at small businesses on Saturday Nov. 24, according to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey from National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.
Pre-holiday surveys estimated that shoppers would spend $5.3 billion. Since this is the first year NFIB and Amex have tracked consumer spending on Small Business Saturday, here is no comparable sales data for previous years.
Nonetheless, momentum for Small Business Saturday seems to be growing. Indeed, consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday jumped to 67 percent from 34 percent just two weeks ago, according to NFIB and Amex.
Got a few thousand dollars lying around? If your office is similar to the average U.S. household, you just might. A survey by eBay and Nielsen Customized Research found most of us have 50 unused items around their home that, if sold, could bring in $3,100.
The printer you replaced, the cell phone you upgraded and the book you never read -- it’s time to convert that clutter into cash.
Here are several items just waiting to be turned in for money, and how to cash in.
Cell Phones and Electronic Gadgets
According to the latest e-waste study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 141 million cell phones and mobile devices are replaced each year and only 8% are recycled.
How do you keep your employees motivated? How do you show them that their work is valued? Many small business owners use bonuses or raises, and while everyone loves a little extra cash, motivating your team with money may not be as effective as you think. When used poorly, monetary rewards can feel like coercion, an effect you see in the classic carrot-and-stick approach to motivation.
"Unless you're extremely careful with how you use rewards, you get people who are just working for the money," says Edward Deci, a human motivation psychologist at University of Rochester.
Some experts, like Deci, discourage using money to motivate employees at all, especially when employees anticipate that reward before they finish the task. "We need to compensate people fairly, but when we try to use money to motivate them to do tasks, it can very likely backfire on us," he says.
In this special feature of 'Ask Entrepreneur,' Facebook fan James Schulman asks: For a consulting service, how do you make the sale without giving away expert advice for free?
Customers will not appreciate you, your company or for that matter, your advice until they pay for it. The greatest challenge for the expert is not giving away free information but that most have not taken the time to become great at closing the deal. Here are some tips that will ensure you begin making the sale.
The popular reality television show Shark Tank showcases entrepreneurs seeking to persuade the investor "sharks" to give them money in exchange for a piece of their business.
The contestants, which airs Friday nights on ABC, come from a range of diverse industries and backgrounds. When choosing contestants, the show looks for everything from stay-at-home mom entrepreneurs to seasoned business owners generating millions of dollars, according to Clay Newbill, a show producer.
"My goal is to find the best people with the best ideas," said Newbill in an email. "Whether it be for a business or a product, I look first for something that makes me and my team say, 'Wow!' We actually call them 'wow' ideas."
Consider these facts and figures about the show.