Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Google Webfonts – Another great (and free) product from Google.  Over 600 ready to use fonts for your website, just paste some html code to your website and your done.  You can also download the fonts to your computer for using them offline.

Symbaloo – A visual bookmarking site that let's you organize all of your bookmarks in one easy start page.  I've been using this for 2 years now as my browser start page and it's saved me countless hours of typing/finding the sites I need.  I wrote a post about it last year, you can red about Symbaloo here.

A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.  ~Mark Twain

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Hiring rules with under new Obama careWith the impending ObamaCare rule that employers with 50 or more full time employees must offer employee health care as a part of their employee benefit package, employers are considering their options.

According to Federal guidelines, 27 hours per week is considered a full time employee. States will have different specifications; be certain to check for your specific state requirements.

With these options in mind, it may influence whether or not you fall into the 50 full-time employee category.

Employees, sub-contractors or independent contractors

When I owned Mountain Castles property management company in Steamboat, over fifty housekeeping and maintenance personnel were needed for a ski season.

Employees

Positives – It was easier to control the specific duties and specific time for those duties to be performed. For instance, if a reservation suddenly changed or a tourist appeared without a reservation, employees can be immediately reassigned to cover the need. In a property management company this was extremely important.

Compensation could be set with a “per unit” price or an hourly basis. This allowed employees to have personalized payroll preferences. Some housekeepers who were not only fast but extremely thorough preferred “per unit” pricing.

Maintenance personnel who had to drive from property to property generally preferred hourly.

The employer has more control of exactly who is hired. This becomes important when dealing with very affluent owners and guests.

Negatives – Payroll taxes, unemployment taxes, workmen's compensation costs, and employee benefit packages (vacation benefits, sick days and personal days, employee reviews with anticipates raises, and now including mandatory health care.)

Employers need to be cautious not only of adding up all of these costs but also the supervisory time involved in managing and administering the paperwork.

Sub-Contractors

Positives – The most significant benefit is eliminating all of the taxes and employment costs involved with employees.

Negatives – Employing sub-contractors naturally means paying a higher hourly or “per unit” price because the sub-contractors are covering the employee costs you just transferred to them.

Employers lose the flexibility of last second reassignment of duties. Schedules are set in advance and they may not have extra personnel available or the willingness to do an “on the fly” reassignment.

The precise individual assigned to a task is regulated by the sub-contractor, not the employer.

Independent Contractors

Positives – Independent contractors have similarities to both sub-contractors and employees. The positives for sub-contractors and independent contractors are the same – payroll taxes and employment costs are the responsibility of the contractor, not the employer.

Caution: There are very specific rules and regulations for independent contractors.

Behavior – Does the employer controls what work is to be done and how it is to be done?

 

Financial – Does the employer control the compensation method, who furnishes supplies, and expense reimbursement?

Relationship – Are written contracts involved specifying benefits? Is the work a key function of the company?

 

In addition, some states require that the independent contractor work for more than one employer, have personal business cards holding themselves out as being in business for themselves, business licenses, and in some states even demonstrating proof of advertising themselves as a business. Check with your particular state for their precise requirements.

There can be very stiff fines for listing an individual as an independent contractor when the government considers them an employee.

 Independent contractors must pay self-employment tax.

Even though it may take six months to get a determination about whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor, the employer may find it advisable to file a Form SS-8.

An additional positive for independent contractors is that the employer has far more control over the specific duties and the timing of those duties than the employer does over a sub-contractor.

Negatives – Unless the contract is written carefully and the rules and regulations are followed precisely by the independent contractor, the penalty repercussions can roll back up to the employer. More supervision will be required than that of a sub-contractor but still less than required for an employee.

Summary

As the owner of Mountain Castles, all three options were exercised at various times. What worked most effectively for Mountain Castles was to make the decision based on the frequency of need and the expertise required.

Roof maintenance was sub-contracted to a specialist in that area. This specialty was rarely needed and required specific skills not generally required by the individuals who checked the chemicals in hot tubs, shoveled snow and performed minor maintenance. Hiring the skill level of a roofer and paying the extremely high workmen's compensation rate for a roofer when 95 percent of the time would be non-roof related did not make economic sense.

Housekeeping was too critical and flexible to hire sub-contractors or independent contractors exclusively. Employees were best for the majority of this function with emergency high season overflow duties being handled by independent contractors on an “as needed” basis.

Know the Federal and State rules and regulations for employees, sub-contractors and independent contractors. Make your selection based on the critical function of the job to your business and the skill level and frequency of the need.

As a small business entrepreneur, you have options. Wise use of those options can skyrocket your efficiency and profit.

Elaine Love’s credentials include Masters Degrees in Applied Communication and Alternative Dispute Resolution, 30 years of entrepreneurial awards including “International Innovator of the Year,” the designation of World Class Certified Speaking Coach, the author of Emotional Ice Water and author for PrintPlace.com.  

photo: andjohan

 

 

 

 

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Square – Online merchant services for small business.  Kind of like PayPal, except you can have a physical credit card reader that attaches to your smart phone or tablet.  Currently supports iPhone and Android devices.  Great for farmer's markets, trade shows or any business where you do are outside of your own location.  Now available in Canada.  Flat 2.75% charge with no setup fees or monthly fees.

OnWebinar – Free webinar and conferencing service that let's you host and deliver your own webinars, conference calls, slide show presentations and more.  Easy to use and gives many premium features that other platforms charge for.

“Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more….”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
 Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

 

Setting goals for yourself and your businessThis is a guest post by Alan Chatfield from Lifestoogood.net

Have you ever heard of a coach that doesn't like goals?

I know, bear with me.

That would be like a chef who doesn't like olive oil, a spider who doesn't like to catch flies, a monkey who won't eat nuts or a sandwich-maker who doesn't like chutney…

Well I am.

… a coach, that is.

And I don't.

… like goals that is.

At least not the way they are usually thought about.

The GROW Model

Heard of it?

If you haven't here's an added bonus for you because I'm going to tell you a little about it now.

It's the most fundamental part of most coaching.

In fact, if you're a coach and you haven't heard of GROW then you need to grow up (ha ha) or get out of coaching and try something new. Unless you're just getting started, in which case I'll let you off. Just read this and then punch GROW coaching model or something similar into Google.

Here's what GROW is:

Goals

Review

Options

Way Forward

 

I'm not going to go into too much more detail here because this article isn't a fundamentals of coaching course – (just punch GROW coaching model into Google if you want to know more about it than that) but to make my point I need you to just trust me that this is pretty fundamental stuff, OK?

Still with me?

Good.

Now, did you see what the first one was?

Goals.

So if that is the most fundamental (I may even go so far as to use the word essential) model in coaching, why would I not like Goals?

Well, I don't.

At least not the way they are usually thought about.

So how are they usually thought about?

Let's take a look…

How Goals Are Usually Thought About: SMART Goals

Somebody really smart came up with the SMART acronym.

… and it's a pretty good one.

you've probably heard of it already.

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely/Time-bound) makes your average, every day, run-of-the-mill goal into something much more. It super-charges it, puts some boundaries around it – allows you to measure it even.

It turns a bland statement into a goal you can really be proud of.

So, not bad.

You can have great fun taking your goals and making them SMART goals.

You can even write them down and have someone review them. They might get you to tweak the wording here and there to make them even more SMART… as a lot of companies do this in their appraisal process.

For me though, this really is not enough.

It may be good for the companies to be able to measure performance of their employees, but it's not good enough for the employees themselves.

… and whether you are an employee, self-employed or unemployed, SMART on its own is not the best way to look at goals and goal setting.

Sorry, but it just isn't.

I have seen too many people craft really good SMART goals and then for one reason or other miss them. Or even worse than that, completely forget about them.

I've also seen people create SMART Goals when SMART Goals really wasn't what they needed (yes, there are other aspects to coaching than goals believe it or not).

But let's not ditch Goals completely.

I'll do you a deal.

I'll let you have your Goals on one condition – we do it my way.

Then I'll give you two choices – you can have even SMARTER goals, or you can have the SMARTEST goals ever.

Sound good?

OK then.

 

Even SMARTER Goals

I've seen in a few places recently people mentioning SMARTER goals.

Some smarter guy than the first one must have come up with it.

Personally I like it. This is enough for me, we are now on the right track.

Why?

Because, as I said earlier, what I really believe in and think is powerful is VISUALIZATION.

Goals without any visualization at all are such a wasted opportunity. They are like a Ferrari in a housing estate.

I've always advocated Goals with visualization long before coming across this extension of the SMART acronym, but it fits just perfectly and makes the idea a little clearer.

I've seen it written a few different ways but always along the same idea: The E stands for Emotional or Enthusiasm and the last R stands for Reward.

 So now we have:

 Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Timely

Emotional

Reward

The idea is simple, by adding emotion into the mix (i.e. why do you want it? how do you feel about this goal?) you are adding motivation and some aspects of visualization which hopefully will create a compelling future and help drive you toward the goal.

Then, by adding reward to the goal (i.e. what will you reward yourself with when you achieve this goal?) you are adding an incentive which will drive you even more towards that goal and perhaps further help to crystallise the visualization of that goal.

I can't over-emphasize enough how much more powerful your goals become when you add visualization to the goal setting process.

 

Adding Accountability?

By adding visualization into the goal setting process, you're setting up a driver to keep you motivated toward that goal, this is a pull mechanism that comes from inside of you and if done well, you don't really need to give much thought to. Your ‘Why' if you like. Another way you could construct a driver is by asking an accountability partner to keep you honest, but as Gary mentions in this article: ‘Why Announcing Your Personal Goals May Be Bad Idea‘, that's just not going to be the most powerful motivator because in that case, the motivation is artificial and external, it's not your ‘Why', it's just a reminder.

For your goals to work really well and to have the best chance of achieving them, you have to want the result and visualization is the way to go to get there. That being said, you need to do it right.

How To Do Visualization The Right Way

OK, so you know I'm a big fan of Visualization.

So let's get it right.

There are two parts to it, or, rather two ways to do visualization.

The wrong way and the right way.

Briefly, the wrong way to do visualization is to picture yourself achieving something (or doing something). You can see it happening but you may still be seeing it as a future event. The image may be hazy, but you can see it happening. you can imagine it, and you are imagining it.

This works. It is still a lot better to have goals and visualize them in this way than not to visualize them at all.

But you may as well do it right.

It takes very little extra effort and has really powerful consequences.

The right way to do visualization is to not only picture yourself, but use all your senses and project yourself into that moment. See the goal from the time you have achieved it, not as the future, but as the present tense. Look at it as if you are there, feel the feelings you would feel, see what you would see, hear what you would hear, smell what you would smell and taste what you would taste. make it real in every sense and put a specific date and time on it.

Articulate it in specific terms:

“… it's December 15th and I'm on the beach. The weather is beautiful and I feel awesome. I have made it. Yesterday I signed the contract on the new beach house and I have now officially moved to Bali. I can taste the red wine I'm drinking from the glass in my hand as I look out over the ocean. I can hear the sound of the waves, birds calling to one another and some voices of children playing in the distance…”

or whatever your particular goal is.

the point is make it real from that moment.

It could be a really simple goal, but visualize it using all of your senses and in the present tense.

Why I Prefer: ‘SMARTEST' GOALS

So ‘Emotional' or ‘Enthusiasm' is great, but it's still not quite enough. We need to really hammer home the point about getting the visualization right and then we're in really good shape.

So we're adding ‘Sensed' into the mix.

Specifically – Sense it with all your being as if you are in that moment, expressed in the present tense.

Oh and the ‘R' (Reward) became a ‘T' (Treasure) – but same thing really.

So now we have:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Timely

Emotional – Why do you want it?

Sensed – Sense how you will feel (as if in the present tense) when you get there?

Treasured – How will you reward yourself when you have achieved the goal?

 

basically:

Emotional = added motivation

Sensed = added visualization

Treasured = added incentive

 

All of which will help you achieve your goals.

So I'll take SMARTER because we have some visualization with our goals, but I prefer SMARTEST because then we're making double sure that we do the visualization the right way.

What Happens When We Visualize Things (The Right Way)?

If you can see, hear and feel the outcome (Goal) then that makes that outcome (Goal) far more compelling, and you are far more likely to achieve it.

In other words, it is a goal worth having.

Worth the paper it's written on…

… and then some.

A soccer player likes to score goals – and these are a good example of well formed outcomes (goals) because they have been well and truly visualized. The soccer player can see the goal (the net is right there in front of him all of the time for the duration of the game), he can hear it (he can imagine the crowd cheering), feel it (he probably thought of this before the game). So even if the soccer player isn't consciously thinking about the goal, he is sub-consciously driven towards it with all of his being.

When we are very familiar with something to the extent that we no longer have to think about it, our sub-conscious, semi-conscious or unconscious (call it what you like – it's whatever you call that part of our being that is not the short term, conscious mind) does it for us – like we're on auto-pilot (think of how you shift gears when driving a car).

Visualization works in a very similar way.

When something has been very well visualized, then even when we are not focusing on it consciously (which in the long term is unrealistic anyway as it would take too much energy) then the rest of our being hasn't forgotten about it and is finding ways to work towards it in the background.

 

Conclusion: Why You Need Your Goals To Be The SMARTEST

With good visualization therefore we are significantly more likely to achieve our goals.

Of course we still may have deviations, hurdles and obstacles along the way, but like any good Sat Nav system, we have programmed in the destination and despite those deviations we have a much better chance of getting there eventually.

Husband, Father, Business Coach, Writer, Investor (in roughly that order  ). You can find Alan at Life’s Too Good, where he shares both his professional expertise and his personal journey to financial freedom, since retiring from corporate life in 2010.

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Clarify – A product from the makers of Screen Steps, my favorite tool for creating documentation for my business.  Clarify is a lower cost version that lets you create manuals and guides for you business, allowing you to easily grab screenshots and incorporate them seamlessly into your documents.

Freemake – Free video file converter that lets you pretty much convert any form of video file.  Over 200 different formats supported.

We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. ~Jim Rohn

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Whether you're just starting out on social media or you're an old pro, maintaining an engaging social media presence across multiple platforms can be quite the challenge. After all, how many times can you really Tweet about your company's same five products, or think of a creative new way to show off your well-honed industry expertise?

Don't worry; we all come down with a case of social media writer's block from time to time, and there's no need to struggle on your own. First, take advantage of a good social media guide for an in-depth look at a wide range of strategies you might not yet be aware of. Then take a look at the following five super-creative social media campaigns, and just try not be inspired.

1. Uniqlo Turns Pinterest Into a Flipbook

 


Image source

When the social media site Pinterest first stormed onto the scene, it was both lauded and derided for its image-centric design, which focuses user attention on beautiful photos rather than on the written word. And, to be sure, a good look through Pinterest can at once provide instantaneous visual gratification, and complete visual overload, often leading users to scroll past photos without absorbing them just as readers skim dense texts. For advertisers, this presents something of a puzzle: What could possibly force Pinterest users to focus for long enough to absorb the product imagery before them?

 

Not stopping them. Or at least, that's the strategy that Uniqlo took when they produced unconventionally lengthy product images and employed a massive team of people and over 100 shell accounts to pin simultaneously. The result? A product flipbook effect that almost instantly went viral, and just more proof that creativity often comes from understanding a platform's limitations and pushing them to their very max.

The Lesson: Use platform constraints as your guiding creative force.

2. Bully Fights for Its Cause

Image source

For the most part, companies that produce campaigns with the express intention of going viral will miss the mark, as they're often glaringly “needy” (i.e. attention seeking). Rather, virality is more often bestowed upon campaigns with an excess of authenticity and emotional resonance. And that's just what the dual (but not joint) campaigns for the R-rated bullying documentary, Bully, on Twitter and Change.org brought to the table by combining strategic tweets and hashtag searches with a spontaneous petition from a seventeen-year-old bullying victim. The result? Over 500,000 signatures, a flood of celebrity Twitter endorsements, and a new PG-13 rating that ensured the very audience that would benefit most from a viewing of the film would be admitted theaters.

The Lesson: Stay authentic, fight for a cause, and know what will resonate with your audience.

3. Starbucks Rewards Its Mayors

 

Image source

Anyway you slice it, Foursquare is manna for businesses big and small. For the uninitiated, Foursquare is a mobile app that allows users to “check-in” whenever they visit their favorite establishments, thereby notifying other Foursquare users of their location. The true source of this app's popularity is its use of gamification, bestowing the title of mayor upon the user with the most check-ins…and engendering avid participation and competition along the way.

 

While many businesses profit from Foursquare without doing much, Starbucks really made the most of the app by offering $1 discounts to mayors — a move that not only encouraged mayors to stop by, but also prompted other Foursquare Starbucks fans to snatch away the coveted mayoral title with frequent visits of their own.

The Lesson: If you're going to do a blatant promotion, gamify it, understand the medium and let custom Facebook audiences do the work for you.

4. Old Spice Smells Like a Man

 

Image source

Of course, no top five ranking of creative social media campaigns would be complete without the Old Spice's “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign. Already a popular TV commercial, this campaign took the idea of viral success to another level when the Old Spice Man began popping up in one creative YouTube video after another, often in answer to suggestions and questions posed on Twitter. This was the ultimate in fan engagement, as followers delighted in the prospect that they could receive a personal response. Videos were widely shared almost instantaneously.

The Lesson: Develop a distinctive voice, fully commit to a creative idea, and let avid fans be your content creators.

5. Carlsberg Intimidates Moviegoers

Image source

By most traditional marketing standards, employing a scowling gang of tattooed bikers to be your brand ambassadors wouldn't exactly be the safest path to creating a successful campaign. But that's just what Carlsberg did when they filmed this video in a movie theater. The concept: innocent couples just looking to enjoy their evening wander into a movie theater, only to find what appears to be members of a motorcycle gang filling just about every seat. The tape rolls as some couples mutter and skitter out of the theater, while others make their way past the bulging biceps and into their seats, where they're promptly rewarded with cheers and a pint of Carlsberg. The micro-story and moral of not judging a book by its cover so resonated with viewers, the video quickly went viral across all major social media platforms, was written about in at least 900 blogs and on 150 news sites, and received a fair share of TV coverage, too.

The Lesson: Combine an offline marketing strategy with a penchant for prank pulling to tell a meaningful story that taps into universal emotions.

Final Thoughts

As it turns out, there are as many ways to be creative with social media as there are to be with any art form. And that's just what social media can and should be, whether you're truly an artist running a small business, or you represent a multinational corporation, with millions of dollars in marketing funds to support your efforts. If social media is the great equalizer, use its many tools to your creative benefit, and watch the shares roll in.

 

This is a guest post by Luke Clum, you find him on Twitter @lukeclum

Leadership lessons from The Walking DeadI don't watch much TV, but I love The Walking Dead.

Most boys love to shoot things.  From rubber bands, to water hoses, to our own urine streams, we can't get enough of the satisfaction of being able to aim at a target and hit it.  That's why any show where people get to shoot slow moving zombies in the head is an instant hit with us boys.

Luckily The Walking Dead has a lot more depth than just mindless shooting.  It's really a great show all around, even when it sometimes gets sidetracked (The Shane and Lori drama was quite painful to watch).

After spending 13 years as a fireman, I can appreciate Rick's role in the show.  He's burdened with the responsibility of a group of people who've come to depend on him.  He also has to make very fast decisions, often with little information.  Whether It's a right or wrong decision, you have to live with it and move on because you'll have to make another one very soon.  That's a lot of pressure, especially when lives are at stake.

Below are 5 leadership qualities I've seen from Rick, and others during the series, that I think any leader should embody.  I'm sure there are a lot more, maybe I'll create a part two to this post at the end of the season.

Leadership lessons from The Walking DeadSometimes You Have To Make Difficult Decisions

At the end of episode 7 in season 2 of the Walking Dead, Sophia (now a walker) emerges from the barn on Hershel's farm, to the disbelief of everyone.  The group had given up trying to find her and were in utter shock when she stumbled out of the barn, after the group had just went on a walker shooting frenzy.  Shane started the incident when he broke open the barn lock, an act of open defiance to Rick's leadership abilities.  As the group stands there frozen, Rick slowly walks up to Sophia, shooting her in the head and ending her suffering.  A powerful moment in the series that showed why Rick is the leader despite the second guessing by others in the group.

As a leader, sometimes you have to make difficult choices.  Some of these choices not only affect you and the company, but everyone that works there.  It's a lot of responsibility.  Sometimes as a leader you'd love to pass the responsibilities onto someone else, but real leaders know that they have the ultimate responsibility (or burden) of making the difficult decisions.

You Don't Have To Be At The Top To Be A Leader

Darryl, one of the show's favorite characters, is a true 360 degree leader.  In the early episodes of the series, he was shown as an authority hating red-neck, who cared little for anyone else in the group.  Oh how we were wrong!  Darryl has grown to become Rick's trusted right hand man.  He works with Rick, unlike Shane, who was always trying to undermine him.  The rest of the group, especially Carol, have grown quite fond of him because he's proven through his actions that he cares for them and will risk his life in a heartbeat for any one of them.

Leadership lessons from The Walking Dead

Many people feel like they can't be a leader unless they are in charge.  Wrong.  You can be a leader from any position and in any company.  Leadership is something you earn, regardless of your position or authority.  Darryl is a great example of someone who isn't trying to be in the limelight, doesn't want to be seen as a leader, but is seen in that light because of his actions.  In his begrudgingly way, people know he cares, not because of what he says, but by what he does.

Great Leaders Don't Abuse Their Position

During season 2, when the group happens on the Green family farm, it seems like the safe haven they've been searching for.  Hershel is uneasy with some members of the group and wants them to leave.  Rick pleads with Hershel and begins the process of trying to win him over.  Rick and his group could have easily taken the farm by force if they wanted to, but Rick chose diplomacy and in the end, gained valuable and loyal members to the group.

Leadership lessons from The Walking Dead

As Ben Parker stated to a his nephew Peter Parker (before he became SpiderMan), “With great power comes great responsibility”.  Just because you have the power to do something, doesn't mean you use it to get your way.  Great leaders understand the power and responsibility they wield and do not take it lightly.  They only show their full power when they absolutely have to.

Always Stand By Your People

When Glenn and Maggie are taken hostage by the Governor, Glenn tells his captors that his group is coming to get him as they speak.  He meant it.  He knows his man Rick doesn't leave his people behind, ever.  Despite differences of opinion between the group members and sometimes questioning Rick's decision making, It's crystal clear to everyone that Rick has their back no matter what.  Countless times throughout the series he's risked his life for the members of the group.

Leadership lessons from The Walking Dead

Employees who know that their boss will never throw them under the bus and will have their back when the chips are down will always have their respect and loyalty.  When I was with the fire department, we used to have a captain who didn't always get along with some of the firemen.  Many had differences in opinion on how he should run the firehouse.  But we were fiercely loyal to him.  Why?  He always had our back.  On numerous occasions  when one of us messed up (sometimes in a big way), the deputy chief would come down looking to take his wrath out on the wrongdoer.  What would happen?  Every single time, no matter what, our captain would take full responsibility and all of the blame (and yelling) for us.  We would get an earful from him later on, but he always protected his guys from the higher ups, even when we deserved to it.  You'll do anything for a leader like that.

Great Leaders Lead By Example

Throughout the series, whenever a difficult mission came up, Rick was always the first one in.  He never asks anyone to take a risk that he isn't prepared to take first.  From the rescue mission to get the handcuffed Merle off the roof in season one to leading a group of convicts to clean out the prison cell blocks in season three, he's always taking on the bulk of the risks.

Leadership lessons from The Walking Dead

As Benjamin Franklin stated, “Well done is better than well said”.  People will follow leaders who lead from the front of the pack, who are willing to take the same risks as the the ones they ask their people to take. 

We hear stories everyday of the corporate CEO who slashes thousands of jobs to save the company money, while still receiving a generous bonus for himself.  Giving yourself a paycut may not make a dent in the bottom line, but it'll tell your people that you're ready to make the same sacrifices you're asking them to take.

What leadership lessons have you learned from The Walking Dead?

In a world full of flesh eating dead people, leaders have to make hard and fast decisions….and live with the consequences of their decisions.  Fortunately for most of us, poor leadership rarely leads to anyone getting eaten alive, though we may feel like that sometimes.  I see Rick as a great leader who didn't ask for the position or the responsibility, but does the best with what he has.

What leadership tips have you gleaned from watching The Walking Dead?  Leave them in the comments below!

 images courtesy of AMC 

 

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Sumo Paint – One of the best free online image editors around.  People call it the easy version of Photoshop.  Lots of features but easy enough for a beginner.  Free online version and very inexpensive desktop version available.

Sendicate – Email marketing service that makes it easy to create and send beautiful looking emails.  Easy to use interface makes it easy to create and manage your email campaigns.  Free version for up to 500 email addresses and typical pricing for lists above that amount.

“Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better.” ~ Jim Rohn

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

 

 

This post is courtesy of Cameron Madill, CEO of Synotac. Located in Portland, Oregon, Synotac is a website marketing and design firm.

 

Digital Marketing Agencies Encourage the Use of Google Authorship

 

Can your readers instantly put a face to your name? With Google Authorship, they can. This new tool is a dream solution for any digital marketing agency – it connects what you write (on your own blog or on other sites) to your Google Plus profile. Now your readers can access content you've created as well as your profile after doing a Google search, with one simple click.

 

The Importance of Google Authorship

 

SEO: In addition to getting your face highlighted within Google search results, Google Authorship can help your increase your SEO clout. While Authorship doesn't carry the same power as strong domain authority and good linking practices, you can develop an “Author Ranking” that can help boost your visibility. To get a good ranking, you have to create quality content that generates high traffic and a social buzz.

 

Awareness: Before Google Authorship, you had to be recognized by trend-setters or thought-leaders to make your name known in your industry. With the help of a digital marketing agency and quality content, Google Authorship can help you build name awareness before a reader even clicks on your search result link.

 

Reader Engagement: In addition to having great content, you have to make a connection with your readers to be successful. Google Authorship helps increase engagement and the connections between you and your audience by giving each piece of content a human element. When a person can see your face in a search result, he or she is more likely to add a comment or share your work.

Google authorship program

Benefits of Google Authorship

 

The “+1” button: When you have a Google Plus profile and Google Authorship setup, your content will rank higher in internet searches, especially if the person doing the searching has you in their Google Plus “circle.” By adding Google's +1 button to your site and individual posts, you make it simple for readers to tell their social media followers they like your work. Plus, the original poster can easily find similar pieces of interest, which could trigger more hits to your site.

 

Pleasing the Panda: Any digital marketing agency will tell you that the Panda algorithm Google uses will punish you for not posting original content because the search engine gives preference to original pieces. When you have Google Authorship, you gain the ability to claim your work. The Panda algorithm notices this, makes your site more visible and helps shut down copycats by pushing them to the bottom of the rankings.

 

Ripple effect: After you establish yourself as a certified author through Google Authorship, your readers can help you increase the number of people who read your articles. The idea is that readers will share your work with their own circles. Then those people will share the article with those in their respective circles. The more your content gets shared, the more visibility you'll have online. Then, when an individual who likes your content searches the web using the keywords you use, you'll rank higher in their search engine results.

 

Adding Google Authorship to your site is relatively simple if you know how to do basic HTML coding. Otherwise, contact a digital marketing agency to help you get started.

google plus for businessIf you're a small business owner and still without a Google Plus (G+) business page, you may be falling behind the competition. The Google+ business page is not another ‘fancy' entity to add to an already expansive list of social media platforms, It's a tool that's become an important part of online marketing for local businesses.

The Google+ personal and business page does have its incentives.

Reasons to Have a Google+ Page

If you are thinking, ‘why should I need Google+ when I already have Facebook and Twitter?' read these advantages of a Google Plus Business Page:

(1) Less Competition = High Potential –

Yes, Google+ does not YET enjoy the popularity of Facebook, ‘yet' being the operative word here; however, Google+ does have a lot of potential in terms of business. What are they?

  • If not many businesses (your competitors) are not on Google+ yet, it means you have the advantage over them to establish your hold on the market.  Google is not going anywhere and they are tying in their products like Google+ and Google Authorship directly into the search results.
  • If your business is typically ‘local', you have more than one reason to be on Google+ ASAP because Google favors local businesses and as soon as your local business is registered and indexed the Google+ and Google Places, you have a higher chance of getting more eyeballs in search results.
    famous bloggers on google plus

(2) ‘Hangout' with Customers –

It's not without reason that big corporations spend alot of money on customer engagement and here, with Google+, you are getting that advantage by just spending few dollars on a webcam and headset.

The ‘hangout' is the best feature in Google+. You can use this feature to communicate with customers, potential customers, solve buyer queries, give live demos, and hold training sessions and many more.

Once the Google+ is live, click on ‘hangout' and get used to its features. You can ‘hangout' with 10 people at one time. For instance, if you are giving live training sessions, you can record the whole interaction and upload on, let's say, YouTube and get more visitors. Isn't that interesting?

(3) Share Targeted Content –

If any small business has an active blog, it becomes more important to be on Google+ and use it as a means to share targeted content. You can do this with the help of ‘Circles'. A circle is a way of dividing the contacts in various groups. For instance, you can have circles devoted to old clients, new clients, social engagement, family, staff and others.

Hence, while sharing important business updates, product launches or another blog post, you get to decide which circle it should be shared with; hence, the sharing is targeted.

Gplus for small business

(4) The +1 SEO Factor –

Have you noticed the tiny ‘+1' button in Google search results? Look closely next time.

The presence of your business on Google+ will positively impact your SEO efforts. Dennis Troper, Google's Director of Product Management has said that every +1 that the business / brand pages receive in search results and websites will be used to analyze its importance and will impact its relevancy in search engine results.

In simple words, the ‘+1' will act like a ‘vote' so make it count!

(5) Its ‘Google' after All –

If you want your online business to survive, you have to be on GOOGLE. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

It's all about visibility. If a business is not indexed in Google results, it doesn't exist! Therefore, being on Google+ gives you a direct entry into the search visibility metric. There is a lot of debate whether presence of Google+ impacts search engine results or not, it is a fact nonetheless that being on Google+ ‘improves' your chances.

Further, who knows what Google has in store for us? Like the Author Rank factor which is used to validate the authorship of content, Google might decide to use Google+ to validate businesses and integrate with other products, who knows?

Is the Google+ Initiative Successful?

It's true that Google+ is nowhere near the millions of profiles Facebook boast of but it is not a failure either. The success metric differs with every product. In a 2011 Google Big Tent event, the Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt said:

“Google+ is doing better that I expected given the competitors in the market and the success [of Facebook]. Do I think it's a success? Absolutely. Absolutely. If Google is as successful with Google+ in less than the 12 years Facebook has been around we'll be very happy with that. The fact of the matter is that maybe Google is one of those companies where we can't really grow [things] any more – we have to start huge. The reality is that our Google+ efforts started in the last 6-12 months. I think we've announced our numbers – more than 150 million users.”

How to Set up Google+ Page?

Much has been written about how to set up a Google+ page so I am referring you to the best resource to follow.

Follow this write-up by Kristi Hines & implement it closely.

About the Author:

Chitraparna is a professional blogger at HandCellPhone.com, an up-to-date resource of anything related to mobiles and computers; and runs her own content development agency at SocialVani.com where she specializes in creating responsive content for small business owners.