Before today’s digital ecosystem, local small businesses had a hard time growing their brand. Word of mouth and traditional advertising was the only way to go. And the high cost of advertising meant they did very little of it.
However, a small business can now let everyone (including a global audience) know who and where they are with digital technology. And one of the tools which makes this possible is Google My Business (GMB).
So how effective is GMB in allowing small local businesses to increase their presence? According to a new report from BrightLocal, a typical business receives 59 actions from their GMB listing each month. Google identifies an action as a website click, call or direction request from users.
The goal of the research is to help businesses who use GMB understand how their results stack up through Google My Business Insights. And use the outcome of the study to find areas of improvement to get better results from their marketing efforts. This is necessary because as BrightLocal puts it, there is “…little out there to guide local marketers on what Google My Business success looks like.”
Additionally, making sense of the data from Google My Business Insights is also a challenge. Ben Fisher, Google My Business Gold Product Expert and co-founder of Steady Demand, says in the report it is far from perfect.
Fisher adds, “As with any tool, these are merely a benchmark that points you in a direction. GMB Insights, in particular, are not very accurate, and can sometimes suffer from data outages. However, they can give you an indication as to how you are doing.”
In order to find out how effective GMB is, BRightLocal explored the listing of 45,264 local businesses in 36 industries. It reviewed data from randomly chosen samples of GMB insights between September 2017 and December 2018.
The businesses are located in cities across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK with the following breakdown: 32,843 businesses in the U.S.; 2,913 in Canada; 3,857 in Australia; and 5,651 in the U.K.
The average business is found in 1,009 searches per month, with 84% of these coming from discovery searches. This comes out to 157 direct searches each month, and 852 discovery searches.
Direct and discovery search is how customers search for your business. A direct search is a query by a customer who looks up the name and address of your business. A discovery search, on the other hand, is from a category, product, or service you offer, and your listing appears.
When it comes to views 49% of businesses receive more than 1,000 views on search per month. Overall direct searches grew by 38% and website clicks from GMB listing grew 29% between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018.
The overall goal of using GMB is for users to take action. The action will hopefully lead to the user being a customer at your place of business and grow your company.
As mentioned earlier a typical business gets 59 actions from their GMB listing every month. And this translates to 5% of GMB listing views resulting in some sort of action. This comes out to 56% visiting websites, 24% making calls and 20% requesting directions.
The BrighLocal report provides some great insight into how Google My Business helps local businesses. As Fisher says it has its challenges, but it is essential to optimize the digital presence of your local business.
Fisher also adds, “Google My Business continues to grow as a transactional layer of the internet for local businesses.” So, you have to include it in your digital toolbox.
You will be doing yourself a service by reading the full report from BrightLocal. You can find it here.
This article, "The Average Business Gets 59 Actions from Their Google My Business Listing" was first published on Small Business Trends
If you’re interested in starting an agricultural business, you need to choose a crop or crops to focus on. There’s a seemingly endless list of choices out there, from small herbs and spices to large trees and landscaping products.
According to the USDA, there are plenty of specialty crops that can be sold at a significant profit. But there are also some basic crops that can be profitable crops for small farms. Recently, we shared 20 of the most profitable crops. Here are 12 more profitable crops for small farms to consider adding to the mix.
In most cases, you need a fair amount of space to grow vegetables. And they’re not especially profitable. But microgreens are smaller vegetable plants that have just started to sprout. So you can sell them quicker and they require much less space.
Witch hazel is popular in skin care and medicinal products. It’s grown on a flowering shrub that is very hardy and easy to care for.
Eucalyptus is a species of flowering trees and shrubs that produces an oil popular in health and body care. You can sell the actual flowering stems with cut flowers or decor. Or you can offer them to producers of essential oils and related products.
Almonds are gaining popularity as a healthy snack, as well as an ingredient in things like almond milk and almond butter. They grow on trees. So it may take some time to get up and running. But then you’ll have consistent production to look forward to.
Coconuts only grow in tropical areas with high humidity. But if you happen to be in a spot like Florida or Hawaii, you can grow palms that produce coconuts, which can be used in a wide array of products that are highly in demand right now.
Sweet potatoes are gaining popularity as a healthy starch. They prefer to grow in warm to hot weather. But they don’t necessarily require a huge space.
Onions are fairly simple to grow and don’t require a ton of space. You can also sell them as little seedlings to those who want to continue growing their own but just want some help getting started.
Wasabi takes some patience, skill and very specific conditions to grow successfully. But if you’re up for a challenge (and have a solid greenhouse), you can sell it for decent prices and continuously replenish your supplies through seeding.
Groundcover is a type of plant that grows over a significant portion of the ground, providing shade and protection to the soil. These plants tend to be fairly hardy and popular with landscaping businesses.
Pine trees, like those sold at Christmas tree farms, do require a significant space to grow. But they are fairly foolproof and you can sell them for decent prices at the end of the year.
Juniper is a specific type of coniferous plant that produces an oil used in medicines and pain relief. You can sell them as full shrubs or use them to produce those smaller products.
Hemp is a species of cannabis that is used in products ranging from clothing fibers to health care products.
Finding solutions to the possible problems your company can encounter is a constant challenge for any business. For many small and medium-sized enterprises, one sure-fire way to gain strength in the business is to minimise costs and consolidate resources. A virtual office offers several advantages for companies from all sectors, especially those who do business mostly online and/or via phone. Check out https://www.servcorp.com/en/virtual-offices/ for more information about the facilities virtual offices can provide.
Professionals from all walks of life can benefit from the use of a virtual office for a variety of reasons. Examples of those who could find a virtual office space advantageous to their organisation or projects include freelancers who do not have a permanent base but often visit client offices or work from home, small businesses that do not have the means to rent a space of their own and companies who are expanding to other markets but do not yet need a physical office in the area.
If you fall into one of these categories, let’s look at some of the ways in which a virtual office can help to bolster your business.
As a business solution, virtual offices allow company employees and executives to have more flexibility. When necessary, they can access the office and desk space allotted to them in order to carry out tasks which need their physical presence and, on other occasions, they can work remotely from home or wherever suits them best, allowing them to also take care of other areas of life if required. For example, being able to not take holiday days to be at home with a child or change their timetable in order to make an appointment for medical or administrative purposes, means that people are able to work around their schedule.
Working remotely with a virtual office or often several in different parts of the world allows
companies or freelancers to contact and engage with talented individuals from all over, thus not limiting them to one marketplace. For self-employed individuals, freelancers and companies, being able to collaborate with highly skilled people in different places is often very important for completing projects for different clients. Additionally, having access to virtual offices around the world, as is available as part of communities like the one offered by premium virtual office providers, means professionals can also make contact with clients from different countries and access a wider market.
In addition to having a virtual office available when necessary, most users often work remotely which means they save on commuting time. Less commuting time frequently results in better productivity because people are more focused on their job.
Instead of monitoring whether employees are present from a specific time in the morning until a specific time in the afternoon, warming seats in an office, companies who choose to work remotely or via virtual offices usually set productivity goals and are able to keep track of progress through completion of these goals. Numerous studies demonstrate an increase in productivity when employees are not being micro-managed or closely supervised for the time spent at their desks.
Another method to build a stronger business using virtual offices is the ability to better manage resources due to the savings made when not having to pay rent or a mortgage for a physical office space.
Working virtually means that a company has to spend less, not only on the work environment but also on hardware usually necessary in an office. This economic saving can then go towards other requirements for the business, such as seeking clients, new talent or technological improvements.
Finally, there are also fantastic health benefits to be discovered when people are not forced to spend their day tied to a desk in an office. People are much more likely to get up and move around more when not in an office environment with their colleagues, they tend to feel less stress and also take more breaks necessary for good cognitive and visual repair, after being concentrated on a computer screen for a long period of time.
No-one knows what the future holds but often with business, we can predict at least an idea of what is to come following current trends. At present, there is an ever-growing number of digital businesses working from virtual offices while coworking spaces are also on the rise. This, along with the many advantages offered, indicates that there is a bright future for virtual offices in the business world.
The post Virtual Vitality – 5 Ways A Virtual Office Can Strengthen Your Business appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.
Every business, small or large, needs forms to collect customer data. JotForm makes creating online forms easier than ever before. This online form builder allows you to create forms and surveys, and collect data even when you’re offline.
This online form builder has made editing and creating mobile forms easy. JotForm has more than 5,000 free form templates to choose from, and even if you want to create your form from scratch, you don’t need any coding skills.
JotForm offers widgets and integrations, including Dropbox, Google Docs, e-signatures, and payment processors, to help automate your tasks, reduce paperwork, and increase your efficiency.
JotForm’s analytics help you understand how your forms are performing so that you can improve them if need be.
JotForm allows you to keep track of your submissions and stay connected with your team. With the JotForm Mobile Forms app, you can access your forms and submissions when you’re away from your computer. There’s even offline functionality, so you can access data when you don’t have internet access.
JotForm for business
With more than 5 million users around the globe, JotForm is useful for businesses of all sizes. From trade show exhibitors to pollsters and oil and gas field workers, anybody can use JotForm to collect data. And if your organization is a nonprofit, you can get a discount.
JotForm allows you to customize a form based on your business requirements. For example, if you work for an educational institution, you can create online forms that students, faculty, and parents can answer from any device. You can collect information from students, such as documents, application fees, quiz responses, class registrations, and more.
JotForm Mobile Forms
You can easily manage JotForm Mobile Forms from your tablet or phone. Its powerful forms allow you to collect all kinds of data.
Offline data collection
With JotForm, you can view your forms and get information, even when you’re offline. Your information is saved to your device, and when you’re back online, all your data automatically syncs to your JotForm account.
Advanced form features
You can enhance your forms by adding special fields for voice recording, QR or Barcode scanning, geolocation, e-signature capture, and more. Sometimes your customers need to upload photos or draw on an image as part of their form submission. JotForm’s advanced form fields and widgets make this possible.
Assign forms and kiosk mode
You can assign forms to your team so that they can fill them out, or have others fill them out, and manage the responses from anywhere. You can also track your team’s activity and share your feedback.
Kiosk mode secures your data-collection process by protecting all of your data while others use your device. It automatically refreshes your form so that you can collect multiple responses on your device.
Easy form sharing and customizable notifications
You can share your forms with a single tap via email, text, or mobile app on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp.
JotForm allows you to set instant push notifications so that you’re alerted every time you receive a new response. You can customize your notifications to filter the submissions and reduce the clutter.
Download the JotForm app
Creating forms and collecting data on your desktop is great, but what about those times when you’re away from your computer? You can take your forms and data with you.
With JotForm Mobile Forms, you’re able to create and edit forms on your tablet or phone with the mobile-friendly Form Builder, and you can access form submissions.
To get started, follow the instructions below:
2. After the app has been installed on your device, open it. The first screen you’ll see is the login or signup screen. You can log into your JotForm account with your JotForm username and password or your Facebook or Google account information.
3. If you’re an Enterprise user, click on the Switch to JotForm Enterprise link at the bottom of the screen.
4. Once you’ve logged in, your forms will automatically start syncing, and you’ll get a popup alert to enable push notifications. If you want to get notifications whenever you receive a response, click Allow. If you don’t want to receive notifications, click on Don’t allow.
5. Once all your submission data and forms are synced, you’ll see a card listing with all your forms.
The JotForm starter plan is free and includes 100 submissions per month. The bronze plan is $15.83/month billed annually with 1,000 submissions per month. The silver plan comes with 10,000 submissions per month and costs $32.50/month when billed annually. The gold plan is $82.50/month billed annually and includes 100,000 submissions per month. If you’re looking for enterprise-level features, you can sign up for JotForm Enterprise.
All paid plans are recurring subscriptions. You can cancel, upgrade, or downgrade at any time. If you cancel your subscription within 30 days of payment, the full amount will be refunded. JotForm customer service is available 24-7 to assist you.
The post JotForm Mobile Forms helps your business collect data and stay connected on the go appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.
Finding the right office for your business can be a lengthy and stressful process, but it can also be quick and easy if you know how to go about it properly. Here are some top tips that you can use to find your perfect office in no time.
The first thing that you have to do is decide upon the right location for your office. This is the biggest decision because once you know the location, it will make the whole process of finding the right office much easier.
There are many factors to consider when you are deciding on a location. You should think about how easy it will be for your employees and clients to travel to the office, so consider the public transport links as well as parking spaces.
Once you know the rough location for your office, go online and start your search. Use the free Click Offices search to find suitable offices in London or anywhere else you are looking, and this will save you having to visit each office only to find out that it is not suitable. By using an online search tool, you can start creating a shortlist of office spaces to visit.
Your budget is a big factor whenever you are searching for a new office space, so make sure you have a good idea in mind early on.
There is no point visiting offices and finding somewhere you like only to realise later on that there is no way you can afford it. So think carefully about your budget and use this when you start looking at offices.
You want to ensure that your employees are happy and productive in the new office. If you come across an office that needs a lot of work on the interior design, this might be worth giving a miss because it can take time and money to get it into shape.
Try to look for an office that ticks all the right boxes, such as good decoration, lots of natural light and a good ventilation system.
While you may come across what you think is the perfect office space, is it really large enough to accommodate future growth? Ideally, you don’t want to have to move again too soon.
So if you are expecting your business to grow and you are planning to hire new employees, make sure your new office provides you with enough room to grow.
While moving offices can often be stressful and tiring, try to have fun while searching for your new office. If you follow the steps above, you should realise that finding your new office is not as difficult as you thought it would be, and you’ll also have a better chance of finding the perfect office for your needs.
The post Top Tips for Finding the Perfect Office for Your Business appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.
There have been so many Asian Americans through the years who have helped to shape the business landscape. This type of representation is important for aspiring entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in starting your own business, here are some famous Asian American entrepreneurs who can serve as role models.
Jerry Yang is the co-founder of internet giant Yahoo. He stepped down from the company in 2012. But he helped to build one of the largest and most influential online directories.
This famous fashion designer worked her way up in the industry by working for other designers like Ralph Lauren. Then she discovered her love for producing wedding dresses when she designed her own.
Amar Bose started out simply by tinkering with electronics in his family’s home. Then he went on to create the popular brand Bose.
This husband and wife team founded their company just because they wanted to connect multiple computers to a single printer. Then they eventually turned it into the global brand Linksys.
Wang was a computer engineer who experienced unrest in China during his early years, but eventually went onto find success in the U.S. He founded computer startup Wang Laboratories and invented magnetic core storage.
Andrea Jung is the President and CEO of microfinance company Grameen America. She is recognized as a trailblazer for women in the business world, working her way up the ladder in a number of high profile companies.
Tony Hsieh got his start as an entrepreneur in the dot com boom. But he’s mainly known as the head of Zappos, an online shoe company that is known for placing a high value on company culture.
This husband and wife team founded the popular fashion chain Forever 21. They started it with a single store and just $11,000 and grew it to include about 800 stores around the world.
Wang co-founded Computer Associates, which became one of the most successful software companies of the 1990’s. He then went onto become a majority owner of the New York Islanders hockey team.
Kim worked multiple jobs to support his family in the early part of his career. And he went onto found multiple successful companies, including Fibermux and Xylan.
Oki was one of the top executives in the early years of Microsoft. Though he didn’t found the company, he was integral in helping it grow in markets around the world.
These two entrepreneurs might not be household names. But together, they invented some of the technology you probably use on a daily basis, including USB drives and flash cards.
Chung worked his way up in the tech industry with big names like GE and Comcast. He eventually went onto found multiple companies, including Artspace, The Fridge, and Giphy.
Kim immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager and spoke very little English. He eventually joined the Navy and worked several jobs before starting his own ventures. He’s best known as the President of Bell Labs.
Nooyi was one of the first women to lead a Fortune 500 company. She served as the CEO of PepsiCo until 2018. And she currently serves on Amazon’s board of directors.
Sutardja co-founded Marvell Technology Group back in 1995. But he started out by repairing radios and other tech components.
Krishnan started her career as a financial analyst. But she then went onto found Smart Modular, a company that made memory chips, along with her husband.
This article, "20 Famous Asian Americans Who have Changed the World of Business" was first published on Small Business Trends
The more you have going on and trying to do all at once at work, the more frustrated you may become with yourself. You’ll likely feel distracted and out of sorts most days if you don’t approach your business with a specific plan and approach.
Luckily, there are a few tips that will help to make you a stronger and wiser business owner going forward. This way, you can build a company that has a promising future and will bring you much success down the road. As your company grows and you have to hire more people, you’re going to have others looking to you for answers on how to proceed, so you want to be prepared for these challenges.
One tip that will help to make you a stronger business owner is to work on improving your skills and abilities. For instance, there are accredited MBA online programs you should check out and consider taking in your free time. This way, you’ll have the proper knowledge, background, and education for your role as a business owner. You’ll be able to make the right decisions that will be best for your company and your situation. Brushing up on your skills is also a chance for you to build trust with others.
Without objectives in place, you risk taking on too much or too little at once or heading in the wrong direction with your business. Instead, be diligent about setting goals for what you want to accomplish both in the short-term and in the future. Not only write down specific goals and how you’re going to achieve each one but also track your progress along the way. Doing so will help you to realize what you’re doing right and what’s working and allow you to notice and address any problem areas.
You never know who you’ll meet that’s going to be able to help you out throughout your journey as an entrepreneur. It’s in your best interest to build a reliable support network of individuals who you can turn to for advice or to simply sit and talk business with casually. Also, consider finding a mentor who will be available to help guide you as a business owner so you can feel confident your business is on the right track.
Another tip to help make you a stronger business owner is to get in the habit of practicing work-life balance. You’ll notice your company performs a lot better when you’re taking good care of yourself first and foremost. For instance:
Your professional life will be a lot more rewarding when you commit to implementing these tips at your workplace. You’re going to be a stronger business owner for it and find a lot more success with your career. Remember change takes time, so go easy on yourself as you strive to alter the way you work and function.
There are real estate offices all over the country. So it might seem like there isn’t really a way that a company can put a new spin on things. But HomeGate Real Estate thinks differently.
Based in Charleston, South Carolina, the company sets itself apart not by how it offers real estate solutions to consumers, but by how it treats its brokers. If you’re interested in breaking into the real estate industry, this business model may be of interest. Read on for more in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
Provides residential real estate services.
On the consumer side, HomeGate functions much like any normal real estate office. They help residents buy, sell and market their homes.
Providing residual income opportunities for brokers.
Founder and CEO Paul Tippets told Small Business Trends, “Agents and brokers normally only create income when they make a sale. With HomeGate, agents and brokers can recruit other agents and brokers to the company. When they sponsor and recruit other agents and brokers, they make 4% on every transaction from whom they sponsor into the company. This is unlimited and is uncapped as long as both agents keep their real estate license active.”
To create a company that supports brokers.
Tippets explains, “With over 23 years in business, the owners have created a structure that they would want as an agent or broker opening their own brokerage.”
Achieving nationwide growth.
HomeGate is based in Charleston. But it’s growing fast. And the team hopes to keep that expansion going.
Tippets says, “Currently we have 6 offices in 4 states. With growth comes more exposure and market share.”
Changing the structure of the business.
Tippets says, “If the current brokers were not on board with the change, it could have hindered our growth, and possibly would have had to start over from scratch.”
Hire experienced agents right away.
At first, the company hired a lot of new brokers just breaking into the industry. But if he could do it all over again, Tippets says he’d take another route.
He explains, “Experienced agents attract other experienced producing agents.” That makes it easier to provide residual income for real estate agents as we go.
Leveraging new technology and growth opportunities.
Tippets explains, “$100,000 could help scale our business nationwide faster and allow us to enhance our technology. Currently we are growing by word of mouth only. No loans have been taken out, and we are growing organically.”
A community service element.
Tippets says, “We strive to give back to the community by donating to several charities, and volunteering to help out when needed. In June we will be volunteering to join a local business in the area to clean up our beaches.”
The answer is always no, unless you ask.
Tippets explains, “Not sure who said it, but I say it all the time.”
* * * * *
Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program
Images: HomeGate Real Estate business lounge, 2019 awards banquet
This article, "In the Spotlight: HomeGate Real Estate Has the Properties to Help Its Brokers Succeed" was first published on Small Business Trends
Improving the security of a business requires an interconnected, organisational approach. This often means a sit-down meeting in which would-be sources of vulnerability are identified, and solutions posited.
Often, the best approach at such meetings is not to think ‘how secure are we’? Questions like this tend to invite overconfidence and bias. A better approach might be to imagine that an attack has already taken place, and then ask everyone to independently come up with a plausible story about how it happened. Conducting this same review every year will allow you to constantly search for new ways of improving things.
Once we have an idea of the scale and shape of the problem, we can begin to see how it might be fixed.
The programs which are commonly called ‘viruses’ actually come in a wide variety of shapes. Thankfully, there are antivirus programs which deal with all of these under the same umbrella. An antivirus package comes bundled with a long list of code fragments which have been identified as malicious. These are called ‘definitions’. Given that viruses are constantly being developed and discovered, it’s vital that this list is kept constantly updated.
The first step we can take is a free one. No piece of software is perfectly secure, and for this reason developers are constantly releasing patches which address new vulnerabilities. These patches are often released automatically, and so updating might be a simple matter of clicking ‘yes’. This is especially important where operating systems are concerned.
When we think of a cyber attack, we might think of a remote one. An attacker might well be sitting on the other side of the world; they might, on the other hand, walk directly into your office. Therefore, it’s critical that sensitive IT equipment is kept physically secure, too. Restrict staff access to computer resources, and limit the use of physical storage media like CDs and USB drives. If such a thing is unwittingly left where a third party can pick it up, then a security breach is possible.
There is little point in implementing expensive technological protections if they’re going to be undermined by the people using them. For this reason, it’s essential that employers instil a culture of vigilance throughout their organisation. This might mean providing the right education and leading by example. Passwords should be changed frequently, and guidelines should be issued so that staff can come up with appropriately robust ones. Security systems should be tested every so often by staging an attack.
A modern, interconnected business faces an ever-changing host of security threats. While the threat posed by spam is on the decline, other threats like DDoS attacks and unsecured devices are rushing to take their place. To give your business the best chance of staying abreast of developments, and being pro-actively protected, it makes sense to entrust your business’s security to an outside, specialist organisation like Redcentric Solutions.
The post How to Protect Your Business Against Cyber Attacks appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.