Addictive Tools Series – 15Five

Still going a thousand miles a minute? At least that’s a little slower than yesterday, right? We found this huge time saver – check it out and see if it could help you too!

Here’s the info…

Production Boosting Category: Employee Engagement

Website: http://www.15five.com/

What’s the deal?

15Five is all about making communication between employees and managers as seamless as possible. Team members take 15 minutes a week to respond to simple questions like “What workplace challenges are you being faced with right now?”. Managers and supervisors spend 5 minutes each week responding to the employees’ answers and engaging in a virtual conversation. Not only does this open the lines of communication, it could lead to lower turnover, higher employee productivity, and saves tons of time because managers now have a pulse on what is really going on in the workplace.

The mobile story

As of now, there is no mobile app just yet, but you can access your account from any mobile device. So, there’s no excuse to do your 15 or 5 minutes a week!

How much?

$49/month for 10 users then $5 per additional user per month. But, they offer 14 day free trials!

What’s the word on the street?

5 stars – and counting. Read more here about how 15Five is taking communication to the next level.

Tap into the power of employee feedback with 15Five. Comment on this blog after you try it out – we’d love to hear about your experience with 15Five.

Addictive Tools Series – MileIQ

A lot of times we forget that many of the miles we drive for client meetings or other special business trips are tax deductible. And at 57.5 cents a mile it can add up quickly for some tax free funds in our pocket!  However isn’t tracking it such a pain?

So we started researching all the mobile apps out there and found this one to be the winner.  If tracking mileage is a big part of your day-to-day work, then we have  found just what you need.

Here’s the scoop…

Production Boosting Category: Expense Tracking

Website: www.mileiq.com

What’s the deal?

MileIQ is an automatic mileage tracker that tracks the miles you drive for business. It uses smart drive-detection technology, to automatically log your drives. Plus it instantly calculates the value of each drive and creates a mileage log that is in accordance with the IRS’ guidelines. Who needs paper mileage logs? It’s really easy, just swipe right after a drive to classify it for business. Even better, MileIQ can:

  • Auto-sync all of your drive data to the cloud securely
  • Add parking fees, toll amounts, and vehicle information to each drive record
  • Record business drives in kilometers or miles – you pick!
  • Store your complete drive history and send you regular drive reports each week

The mobile story

Yes, check out GooglePlay or iTunes to snag the latest version. Oh, and it’s free to download.

Integrations

It works nicely with Freshbooks, Concur, and can export data into CSV files or PDF formats.

How much?

Free for your first 40 drives every month – indefinitely. Unlimited drives are available for $5.99/month or $59.99/year.

Have you tried out MileIQ? If so, we’d love to hear how it went and if it is saving you tons of time and money. If you haven’t tried it, take it for a spin, and let us know how it goes.

Addictive Tools Series – Hello Bond

What do handwriting and robots have in common?

Yeah, who knows? But, we found this addictive tool that is bringing handwriting and robots together to make customer communication personal and affordable.

Ready, here ya go…

Production Boosting Category: Customer Relationship Management

Website: www.hellobond.com

What’s the deal?

Don’t have time to send a personal, hand-written note to customers? Now you don’t have to! Bond offers completely custom solutions from branded notes and inserts to your personal handwriting. With over 16 different handwriting styles, your company postcards, thank you notes, and just saying “hey” letters will touch your customers – and may lead to more sales. Hello Bond is revolutionizing how companies are connecting on a personal level with their most loyal customers, to keep them coming back for more!

The mobile story

No, sorry…but you can check out their trendy website. They like handwriting and robots…

Integrations

You bet! Bond can seamless integrate with any CRM such as Salesforce, Zoho, Sugar, Workbook, and Microsoft Dynamics – just to name a few.

How much?

It all depends on what you need. Each written piece runs between $2.99-$5.00 – they have some cool customization options too.

What’s the word on the street?

Not much buzz, just yet. But I’m sure it’s coming! Try it out and let me know what you think. Looks like they are gaining traction with over 3,000 likes on Facebook and check out their feature on Good Morning America here.

When you try out these handwriting robots, let us know – we’d love to hear how your notes turned out!

Blow ‘Em Up For Boobies

What started as just a small gathering each fall for a skeet shooting event for friends and family has grown into an annual bash during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise funds for The Breast Cancer Survivors’ Network and enjoying a fine southern day of skeet shooting, bbq, brews, tunes and bonfires. Blow Em Up For Boobies has been around for 5 years of southern entertainment and giving back to the community. The Breast Cancer Survivor’s Network is an amazing local nonprofit organization that aims to provide positive support services, programs, education, and supplies before, during, and after diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of Breast Cancer.

For more information about supporting the Blow Em Up for Boobies fundraiser, click here

Pull ‘Em for Pink

The vision for Pull ‘Em for Pink was born out of its sister event held each fall, Blow ‘Em Up for Boobies (BUFB).

Blow ‘Em Up started as an annual skeet shoot for friends and family that grew into a charity event supporting the Breast Cancer Survivors’ Network (BCSN). BUFB has raised over $10,000 over the years to help support the mission of the BCSN: to provide assistance, education and positive support services before, during, and after diagnosis, treatment and recovery of Breast Cancer.

In 2014, Brooke Stevens Perez, David Perez, Jamie Traynor, and Chad Knudsen took the good work a step further. After a successful inaugural event, we are looking forward to engaging the Atlanta business community and shooting enthusiasts alike – all with one goal in mind: supporting our local communities impacted by breast cancer each year.

For more information about supporting the Pull Em for Pink fundraiser click here 

New Story Homes for Haiti

We were fortunate to help contribute to the New Story Campaign to help build homes for Earthquake victims living in tent villages for the past five years.  Eddy pictured here, and his family now have a home, and 100% of the donations made to New Story are given to the local partner in Leveque, Haiti to local contractors who take only 2 to 3 months to build each home.  Follow the journey of your donation with updates along the way from New Story when you donate here.

$500 Marketing Budget: 3 Ways to Make it go Farther

The Small Business Administration says you should spend about seven percent of your gross revenue on marketing and advertising. For most small businesses, that number should easily be in the $500 price range.

That said, how can your small business use $500 each month to market your business with the goal of having that money give you some good returns in the short and long run?

  1. Use Paid Media Outlets

Google AdWords, Facebook advertising or even LinkedIn advertising for B2B marketing are all paid media opportunities you can put in place today and get sales from tomorrow. These shorter-term pay-per-click or pay-per-impression options can be crafted to go after a broad or narrow audience and will direct them back to your website, product page, or other lead capture tool to help you get more sales now.

$500 on these outlets can go a long way if you set a goal – leads, sales, traffic, etc. – and dedicate some time to interpreting the data to constantly improve your conversion ratio.

  1. Invest in Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most widely-used buzzwords in marketing right now because of the massive amount of content that consumers go through on a daily basis. A content marketing budget can be used to help fuel visits and engagement on social media, website content, eNewsletters, blogs and even in-person events, five of the most popular content marketing tactics according to a Content Marketing Institute survey.

Use your $500 budget to create some of the above-mentioned content but be sure to allot a portion to outreach so that you can get as many eyeballs on your content as possible.

  1. Use it Towards Your SEO Budget

SEO is one of the most long-term marketing items on this in that it takes a while for it to kick in. Decide whether you need local SEO or a national SEO campaign and focus in on the types of searchers you want finding your website. Many SEO companies will help you with the above-mentioned content marketing strategy as well as social media so be sure to try to get as much bang for your buck as possible with your $500 budget.

Can You do SEO on Your Own?

It is likely that you have heard of or tried search engine optimization (SEO), the process of getting your website to rank well in the search engines for queries related to your products/services. What you may not know is whether you can actually do SEO yourself.

Some people, mostly SEOs themselves, describe the service as the equivalent to hiring an accountant or attorney. In fact, most SEOs charge $76-$200/hour and charge between $1,000-$7,500 per project or as much as $5,000 for a monthly retainer.

SEO is a highly specialized skilled but is a skill that can be learned. Here’s some considerations for those entrepreneurs wondering whether they can save money on outsourcing this vital cost.

Your Chances of being Able to Do SEO on Your Own Increase if:

You have 8-10 hours a week

SEO is very time-consuming because much of it involves getting the search engines to trust your website. As Google, the most popular search engine, uses about 200 algorithms to determine how you rank for various searches, you’ll spend a great deal of time reverse-engineering these algorithms to determine the best approach to gain some traffic share.

You are a good writer

Google and other search engines index all the webpages on the internet sort of like a library indexes all the books in its system. The search engine “robots” crawl through your site and “read” your content, using it as a major factor in your ability to rank. Because real people will also be reading your content, you’ll need to learn how to appeal to both search engines and people.

It’s good to know that a substantial correlation study revealed that the average content length of the top 10 search engine results was over 2,000 words per page.

Average Content Length of Top 10 Results

You are familiar with social media and outreach

Once you create good articles, blogs or visuals, you’ll want to actually get some eyeballs on them. If you spend time reaching out to other people in your industry – and especially those influential people with large social media following – you’ll have a great chance of getting more traffic to your website. The idea is to have a big social network yourself and have people with a large social network share links to your content on their networks.

You learn how to build or earn links

Correlation studies of top ranking sites reveal that backlinks are amongst the most important ranking factor for SEO. The sheer number of backlinks, the quality and relevancy of the pages they come from, and the words used in the hyperlink text to link to your site are all important factors that will contribute to increased ranking.

Then there is the fact that Google became the world’s most popular search engine because it greatly bases its ranking criteria off of following links from site-to-site.

You actually have a product or service people want

At the end of the day no amount of SEO can help save a bad product, service or business model. SEO helps people who are looking for your products or services – through searches – find you. If they don’t like what you’re selling them it might not be an SEO issue but a business issue!

3 Online Marketing Resources for Entrepreneurs on a Budget

Entrepreneurs, and especially those on a budget, tend to wear a lot of hats. More often than not, a small business entrepreneur will be the one responsible for branding, marketing and promotion. Because the hiring of outside professionals is usually not within the budget, many small business owners are tasked with handling these things on their own.

Fortunately there are a lot of online marketing resources that you can use to help you look like a pro and hold onto some of the cash that is so important until you start landing those big clients.

Branding on a Budget

One of the newest and most cost-effective branding tools entrepreneurs can use is Canva, simplified graphic design software with lots of pre-made templates that allow you to easily cut and paste your content. Canva is free to use and you can easily design social media graphics, marketing materials or ads in minutes. If you want to use some of Canva’s stock images, simply pay the $1 for what you need and you’ll save yourself $100s, maybe even thousands, on graphic design costs that go towards creating a professional brand.

Marketing on a Budget

A really useful online marketing resource for entrepreneurs is Fiverr, the marketplace for creative and professional services where most things cost just $5. Here you will find cheap content writers, graphic designers, voice over and media production specialists, developers and more.

One of our favorite things we recommend to B2B businesses is to use Fiverr to help you find, and connect, with other professionals on LinkedIn. Using a simple search for “LinkedIn connections” you’ll find a wealth of professionals who can help you build your professional network to 500 or more industry-relevant professionals in a short time.

Promotion on a Budget

Now that you have successfully used Canva to create professionally branded materials, Fiverr to outsource your content or web project, and have a strong foundation in which to compete in your industry, now it’s time for promotion.

Some of our favorite online promotional tools are those available from SumoMe. Some of SumoMe’s must-have free tools include their list builder, share and heat mapping tools. The list builder is an email newsletter collection tool, the share tool is a unique social sharing tool designed to get you more traffic, and the heat map tool is a tool that allows you to see where people are clicking, or not clicking, on your website.

Important Lessons Learned from Building a Team

Whether you are a one-man band or have a business partner, there may come that point in your business’s life where you’ll consider bringing on additional part or full-time team members. Then there are the sorts of team members that are purely outsourced but still play a vital role in the success of your business.

In today’s post we take a look at some of the lessons we’ve learned from building teams – internal and external – and how you can avoid some of the mistakes many business owners make when building their team.

When to Hire a New Full or Part-timer

Many small business owners begin to consider hiring a new employee when they get so busy they don’t have enough time in their day to do the things they need. Just because you are really busy – most entrepreneurs are – doesn’t mean this merits the hiring and training of a new employee.

However, if you are turning down work because you can’t handle it or you know you could get more clients if your new employee helped with some of the smaller stuff then you probably have some indication that a new hire is a good idea. This does of course imply that you want to grow your business.  You’ll also have to weigh the potential income you’ll make with the new hire versus how much you’ll need to pay your new employee.

Lessons Learned from Outsourcing

Two of the most common issues entrepreneurs have when building an external team are reliability and communication. It’s funny how cost is one of the least common issues as sometimes the case with outsourcing, and especially through websites like www.elance.com, www.odesk.com or www.fiverr.com, is you get what you pay for.

The expectation of a $5 piece of content, the $300 website or instant response to your email for that logo design you needed three days ago should be on par with where you are finding your outsource team. One of the primary reasons small business owners outsource is to save money but if delays or incomplete projects hinder business growth they can sometimes outweigh the cost savings.

When outsourcing here in the US or overseas, do your due diligence and vet your external team before trusting them for solid work. Take a look at their portfolio, ask them about their turn-around times, view their reviews or talk to their previous clients if possible to get a better understanding of what you can expect from them. Manage your outsourced team as you would an internal team in your office by touching base with them every day, monitoring their progress and clearly communicating expectations from day one.

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