Thursday, February 27, 2014

LinkedIn Blogging Platform Release

Over the past few days, you may have heard some chatter about the LinkedIn Blogging Platform. Not surprising.

According to the LinkedIn Official Blog, they will be opening their publishing platform to all members over the next few weeks and months. Now members will have the ability to follow other members who are not in their network and build their own group of followers.

Like all new services, marketers and entrepreneurs alike are wondering, “Will these changes benefit me?”

The short answer? Absolutely.

What is the LinkedIn Blogging Platform, and How Does it Work?

Up until now LinkedIn has only allowed a select group of individuals like Richard Branson, Barack Obama and Bill Gates to post their ideas and thoughts in blog format. Through the newly released platform now everyone will have this opportunity. Typically these “well known” individuals can see their content reaching upwards of 20,000 views and receive active engagement.

You can think of it as a typical blogging platform, you will be able to share text accompanied by images, links and graphics. For the members that choose to take advantage of this new feature, they will have the opportunity to display their expertise and ideas in their chosen industries. Once a topic is posted it appears on your personal profile and becomes part of your professional identity.

This newly released service will not automatically turn you into a great blogger. You will still need to do plenty of research and formatting while creating desirable content, even more so with this service than your personal blog.

“Posts will be removed if they are not deemed beneficial to the community.”

So over the next few months keep an eye out for when the platform becomes available to you. And in the mean time prepare some great content to display on your profile.

Friday, February 21, 2014

How to Convince Customers to Review Your Business

Please raise your hand if you've ever struggled getting your customers to provide business reviews.

You constantly hear praises of the best quality work, or the most compassionate service around. While these compliments make you beam with joy, it would be nice to share these stories of satisfaction with potential customers.

With the majority of your efforts dedicated to the business, current customers and your desire to not be perceived as a nuisance, getting these reviews published seems a daunting task.

Well, there’s good news: Asking for consumers to publish reviews doesn't have to be overwhelming. With the right attitude and avenues at your disposal, you can easily make the most of your customer’s great experiences – all without coming across as pushy or dedicating more time than required.

When we’re done you’ll know exactly how to approach your customers and multiple ways to suggest they review your business. Ready? Let’s get started.

Key Steps in the Customer Review Process


Before you jump right into your pursuit of customer reviews, you need to identify happy and unhappy clients.  While your goal might only be to highlight your achievements in business, it is necessary to understand what some of your customers perceive as your short comings.

Keep in mind that you cannot satisfy all customers, but understanding both sides of the coin gives you an edge in satisfying future customers.

See, nothing fancy going on here. By identifying both types of your customers, you can focus on those who will provide you with the best chance for a business review.


After you've identified your different customers, the next step might seem simple and straight forward. Ask for one.

Often the thought of providing a business review never crosses a customer’s mind, even if they had a great experience. By asking that they provide you with a quick review or rating, it creates a connection that they would not otherwise achieve. If they agree to provide your business with a review politely thank them, and show how much it means to your business.

Not everyone who agrees will necessarily run right home and submit your review. Do not get frustrated. Wait a few weeks before pleasantly reminding them about their experience, and if you are able to jog their memory with examples of your work or their exclamations of satisfaction. It can make the whole process much smoother. 

Provide Support

Next up, is your ability to provide support during the review process. You must be knowledgeable of the popular websites and their review processes. Often times even the most minimal hiccup can cause a potential review to be abandoned.

By anticipating the steps of each review process that could potentially hinder a review and proactively giving advice, your customers will be more likely to compete the process.


Last, but certainly not least, you want to provide the proper links and documents for the reviews you desire.

Having a quick pamphlet handy or an email ready listing the correct pages and steps to follow makes the chance of them getting off track during the process very slim.

Now you’re ready to approach customers about potential business reviews. And you know what the best part is? Next time, it won’t feel quite as daunting. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hiring an Accountant

When dealing with your business’s money it’s crucial to find a reliable accountant you’re comfortable with.  Use these tips when searching for a trustworthy accountant and accounting firm.
Tips for Hiring an Accountant:

Get Recommendations.  Ask business colleagues, your banker, or other business professionals to refer a reputable accountant. You can also find trustworthy Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) through your state’s Society of Certified Public Accountants website. Always remember to check out every candidate at to read reviews or complaints from previous clients.

Check Credentials.  Find out if the accountant is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). To work as a CPA, the accountant must obtain an undergraduate degree, pass an exam, and meet the experience requirements. A CPA must also participate in continuing education classes to remain licensed and certified, as well as, abide by certain ethical accounting standards.

Determine Size.  The size of the accounting firm you choose will depend on the size of your business and what types of services are needed. Large accounting firms have more resources, while small firms will be able to provide more one-on-one personal contact. Whomever you choose, be sure you feel comfortable with them because you will need to trust them with sensitive financial information.

Interview Candidates.  When interviewing candidates, it’s important to look for an accountant that has a vast amount of experience specifically in the area you need. Be sure to ask about the types of services they provide and which areas they specialize in. Some firms will be able to provide more in depth services, like financial planning advice, retirement planning, and employee benefit planning, while other firms may specialize in preparing tax returns and end of the year financial statements. Be sure to get to know the people who will be working with your account.

Request References.  Ask the accountant or accounting firm to provide references you may contact. Ask the references how often they are in contact with the accountant throughout the year. Ask what type of services the accountant provides for their business and if they are satisfied.

Discuss Fees.  Be sure to ask about service fees upfront. Find out if the accountant charges by the hour with an additional fixed cost or if they charge monthly. Get an estimate of the annual cost for the services you are purchasing and compare the bid with other accounting firms. Keep in mind you will usually get what you pay for, meaning an experienced accountant will charge more for their services, but will usually be worth the money.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

FTC Privacy Rules - What You Need to Know

Small businesses need to know what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is recommending in their 72-page report on consumer privacy about how customer personal information should be handled online and offline. Here are five points small businesses need to know about the FTC recommendations as U.S. data-privacy regulations evolve.

The report doesn’t actually establish any rules. It does make recommendations to Congress for developing new consumer-privacy rules and offer best practices for businesses.

Some small businesses don’t need to worry. If you only collect “non-sensitive” consumer data and don’t share it with third parties, your business is exempt from the FTC guidelines. However, if you are collecting Social Security numbers and financial, health, children’s, and geo-location information, then take notice. Furthermore, if you collect any data from more than 5,000 customers each year, or if you share with third parties, following FTC best practices is recommended.

Common sense goes a long way. If you are practicing transparency and simplicity, you are doing well. Be upfront with customers about what information you collect and why. Keep privacy policies simple and easy to understand. Give customers a chance to opt out when applicable.

“Do Not Track” is coming. Web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox already have privacy tools that allow consumers the feature to limit data that is collected about them. The Digital Advertising Alliance has a tool for members, too.

Pay particular attention to mobile data. The FTC report says, “The unique features of the mobile phone which is highly personal, almost always on, and travels with the consumer have facilitated unprecedented levels of data collection.” As a result, expect more guidelines or regulatory requirements.

Be aware of what information is collected, what happens to it, and how the privacy policy is stated whether you are the business or consumer.