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Startup Makes Websites Easy For Small Business

Startup Makes Websites Easy For Small Business

December 16, 2011

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It’s more than a decade into the new millennium, and there are still countless small businesses that don’t have an adequate presence on the Internet. And with an increasing number of potential consumers turning to the Web (fueled by review sites, like Yelp) to gain information about their surroundings, the lack of a Web page can corner the nondigital businesses of Main Street into relative obscurity. How are you supposed to be able to find the best Chinese restaurant in your neighborhood when there’s a good chance it’s not even searchable on Google?

Enter OnePager, a New York City-based startup that provides a simple drag-and-drop program to create a website that looks professionally developed. OnePager co-founder and designer Matthew Moore explains that the main goal of the team, whose members largely came from small-business families, was to provide a tool for businesses that otherwise didn’t have the resources to create and maintain a full-blown website.

“We got a lot of requests from small business owners and people who didn’t really have the budget to work with us,” Moore explains. “They wanted to have a nice website created for themselves, so we got to thinking about doing a product.”

The objective of the website can be found in its name: It provides easy, one-page websites for small businesses to fill out their hours, provide information for social media, and even invite fans to sign up for a newsletter. All of this construction is done through the company’s modular content blocks, which can be organized into single- or double-column layouts. The result is a straightforward yet customizable page-builder that offers the brass tacks of the company’s business.

“We originally chose this direction to not focus on a particular vertical, like photographers or restaurants,” Moore says. “We wanted to have the biggest market possible.”

Moore says that the company has been relatively successful since its formal launch in August of this year, with 20,000 websites created by a variety of businesses. While the site offers full customization, users are naturally drawn to the OnePager templates, which are designed by Moore and other members of the design team. Still, he says, it’s difficult to entice businesses who have been surviving without the draw of a digital footprint.

“It’s such a fragmented part of the economy, and you can do anything from Google AdWords to local advertising, so that’s a challenge to get out there and get in front of people,” Moore explains. “Small business owners are so busy and so preoccupied.”

Moore says that because the tool caters to nearly every kind of small business out there, the next phase of OnePager brings some challenges. There have been talks of expansion into menu offerings and e-commerce, but the open-ended nature of the company means that there are plenty of tailored features on the table.

“We’re trying to bridge the gap between small businesses and technology that can help them better achieve their business goals and make it affordable and easy to understand,” Moore says. “We’re just trying to keep learning what people want.”

Do you know of a business interested in helping small business? Let us know in the comments below.

Your work may be serious, but your business doesn’t have to be – CBS News

December 12, 2011 7:50 AM

Your work may be serious, but your business doesn’t have to be

By
Michael Hess

 (iStockphoto)

(MoneyWatch) 

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” – John Maxwell

The work you do may be very important (if nothing else, it puts food on the table) but that doesn’t mean you have to take yourself, or your business, too seriously. For most companies — whether they’re coding software or making heart valves — a healthy (and of course, appropriate) dose of levity, humor and fun is good for business. Here are four ways that a good LOL can help your ROI:

1. Humor and fun feed culture: There isn’t much that’s more important to a company than its culture. And while there are certainly successful businesses with “no nonsense” cultures, the buttoned-down, serious-as-a-heart-attack corporate environment is increasingly anachronistic. It’s less likely to attract, motivate and retain the best and brightest in many industries, it can create unnecessary, unyielding stress (a recipe for diminished productivity and burnout), and, well, it’s just no fun.

Shining example: Zappos.com. I refer to Zappos often, because among other things, I think the billion-dollar retailer is the current standard-bearer of effective corporate culture. One of the ten deeply-held core values around which that culture is built is “create fun and a little weirdness” (disclosure: my company does business with Zappos, but I was a fan long before we ever met).

2. Humor and fun nurture creativity: Creativity, in one form or another, is important in almost every business. And I can’t think of too many genuinely creative companies that don’t have a good amount of fun and humor in their DNA. In fact, I can’t think of any off the top of my head. To my mind, real, transcendent creativity can’t be born — much less thrive — in a fun vacuum.

Shining example: John St. Advertising. This small agency created the “Catvertising” parody video that has been viewed by about 1.2 million people in just the past few weeks. By having what was clearly an enormous amount of fun, John St. both showed off its creative chops and grabbed colossal, overnight exposure for its business in one funny, fell swoop.

3. Humor cuts through the corporate B.S.: Humorless, uptight companies are often paralyzed by politics, stifling hierarchies, defensiveness, fear of failure/consequences, and other dysfunction. A collective sense of humor and the cohesive culture it engenders tends to minimize such toxicity.

Shining example: Despair.com. One of my all-time favorite sources of great humor, Despair makes posters and other tsotchkes that take stabs at ubiquitous, and usually ridiculous, motivational products. The company’s original “demotivators” are, ironically, far more effective than the famous posters they parody; making someone laugh will have a more positive impact on her work day than telling her to be motivated. You might say that Despair.com has survived and grown over more than a decade by having fun making fun of companies that don’t have fun.

4. Humor and fun encourage better service: More times than not, behind every grumpy, customer-scorning employee is a grumpy, soulless company. But employees who aren’t demoralized, uninspired or otherwise “oppressed” by a humorless corporate ecosystem are free to be happy, and are likely to make others happy in turn.

Shining example: Southwest Airlines. The airline that tops many customer satisfaction lists is approaching an extraordinary 40th consecutive year of profitability, despite being a low-cost player in perhaps the most financially challenging of enterprises. Southwest’s fun, irreverent reputation and playful approach to an otherwise serious business makes customers smile, and smiling customers tend to go hand-in-hand with good results. This viral video of a Southwest flight attendant actually making passengers enjoy the pre-flight safety briefing says it all. Compare that to the typical air travel experience, and the value of the fun factor is clear.

Business isn’t all fun and games, of course. There is serious work to be done, there are endless challenges to overcome, and we certainly don’t always feel like smiling or laughing. That’s why they call it work. But if you take every opportunity to lighten up — to not take yourself or your business too seriously — you might just find yourself laughing all the way to the bank.

Click here to read some more great thoughts on humor and fun. And please share your own in the comments below.

© 2011 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

  • Michael Hess

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    Michael Hess is founder and CEO of Skooba Design, and also serves as an advisor to other entrepreneurs. He is “obsessed to the point of insanity” with customer service. Read the philosophies that make Michael and Skooba Design tick here.

8 Ways To A Healthier Workday

8 Ways To A Healthier Workday

December 16, 2011

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Work can consume the better part of your day, no matter if you work in an office or at home. With so many pressures and responsibilities related to our jobs or businesses, it is easy to forget that work can be challenging to our mental and physical health. But, it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple steps, you can be healthier while you work, and healthier overall.

1. Take breaks

Taking a break is essential during the work day. Find time to step away from the computer or desk once or twice during the day. Working continually can actually hinder your overall ability to stay on task and complete tasks well. Taking a break can help refresh the mind and body and help you pull through the rest of the day.

2. Eat well

Gone are the days of break room junk food. We know better these days—at least we should! Packing a lunch or snacks of questionable nutrition is a poor choice for getting through the work day. Replace foods high in fat, sugar and sodium with better choices that do more to fuel your body. Choose whole grains, like whole wheat bread, and fresh cheese (not processed!) and lunch meats. Fruits, vegetables and dairy products, like low-fat milk and yogurt, provide nutrition that your body and brain need to keep going during the day. And, it’s better for your waistline, too!

3. Get outside

When you do take a break, consider stepping outside your home or workplace office. Getting out from under the roof is freeing and can rejuvenate your mind and spirit. Even if it is cold, cloudy, wet or snowy, a few moments outside can be the refreshment you need to get back to work. Take a brisk walk around the block, or find a quiet place by a tree or bench to just breathe deeply, before heading back inside.

4. Drink well

Java in the morning is a good thing (necessary, actually, for many working Americans). Caffeine does wonders to wake the mind and jump-start your day. Too much caffeine; however, can actually work against you.

The Mayo Clinic advises that 500-700 milligrams of caffeine a day, about 5-7 cups of coffee or other caffeinated drinks, can actually cause dehydration. If you’re a java junkie or replace the morning coffee with cups of tea, hot chocolate or caffeinated soda, you could be pushing the upper limits of daily caffeine intake. Water is your friend. It keeps you hydrated and helps maintain balance inside your busy system. Have your morning coffee, and then keep a water bottle handy for the rest of the day.

5. Unplug

If you find stress invading your workday, you may need more than just a break from your desk. You may benefit from unplugging completely. Meditation is a quick way to help settle anxiety and mental stress. Find a quiet spot to sit in a chair or on the floor. Keep your spine straight and close your eyes. Then, focus on breathing in deeply, holding your breath for two seconds, and letting the breath out slowly. Repeat this deep breathing for five minutes. Deep breathing can help refocus and regroup the mind while squashing stresses of the day.

6. Stand up

A 2010 study published by the American Cancer Society showed some frightening results: sitting too long increases your risk of obesity and heart disease, even if you diligently exercise every day. Considering so many of us work at a computer desk, this study is a slap in the face. So, let’s work healthier by standing up!

Try spending several hours of your work day standing. Use a countertop or adjustable computer stand to work in a comfortable, upright, position. The study found that people who sit six hours or more in a workday were at the greatest risk. If possible, alternate sitting and standing as much as possible (and still keep that daily workout, too!)

7. Embrace the water cooler

If you work in an office, the stereotypical water cooler may indeed be the place to mingle with your co-workers. Embrace the opportunity to have a quick, non-business chat with someone you enjoy at the office. Connecting with others can help boost your mood and energy levels. If you work from home, don’t be ashamed to take a quick break to chat around the virtual water cooler, like Facebook or Twitter.

8. Get ergo

Ergonomics can have a big impact on your physical health in the workplace. This applies to how well the equipment you use, like your computer, office chair, desk and other equipment, fits you.

For instance, if your chair is too low and you must reach up to use your keyboard, you risk straining muscles in your arms or wrists. Be sure your most frequently used equipment fits your physical profile so you can sit, stand, bend and move comfortably. When your environment fits you comfortably, you reduce the risk of muscle strain and other injuries.

Justine Grey is a web entrepreneur who writes Work Life Joy for frazzled business builders who long to work vibrantly and live beautifully. You can find her on Twitter at @JustineGrey chatting about life, work and her pop culture obsession.

How to restore leadership through trust | SmartBlog on Leadership

Guest Blogger

How to restore leadership through trust

By Maggie Walsh on December 16, 2011 | Comments (1)

Maggie Walsh, Ph.D., leads Forum Corporation’s leadership development practice.

In January, the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer — an annual global survey of trust in institutions — showed that the percentage of Americans who trust U.S. businesses dropped from 54% to 46%. While it may not be a sharp decline, it’s alarming because citizens are raising concerns and doubts about their nation’s leadership and the direction in which the country is heading. As anyone who has been following the Occupy Wall Street movement should suspect, that’s not the worst of it.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that the number of Americans who have unfavorable views of Wall Street (70%) is actually greater than those with negative views toward the government (68%). Wall Street seems to be pulling the entire business community down with it.

Why? For the past few years, the U.S. economy has been torpid, producing numerous financial woes such as Bank of America’s layoffs amid the global economic crisis. People have been out of jobs and worried about their finances. What we haven’t seen during these times is effective leadership.

There are lots of characteristics — such as creating strong visions and fostering positive mentorship — that characterize strong leaders, but Americans haven’t been seeing those traits personified. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, the U.S. has watched itself become even more stagnant.

America has been dormant because our leaders’ actions haven’t changed, and their choices haven’t been for a better society. Because Wall Street produces profits instead of products, it’s easier for citizens to become dissatisfied and question authority.

So what can be done?

A few years ago, Forum completed a study of 313 executives from companies in North America, Europe and Asia to examine leadership competencies. We found that leaders who implement effective growth strategies were able to relay clear strategies and excel in communicating compelling visions, while creating a well-functioning leadership team and building trust.

Wall Street leaders no doubt excel in these competencies (as evidenced by the stratospheric rise in profits prior to the Great Recession and in some cases since). But that’s not enough — we’ve also found that the following things are critically important (and, from the perspective of the Occupy Wall Street folks, may well be missing).

  1. Take ownership. Leaders must stand up and acknowledge the mistakes they make. They should simply say what went wrong, why it was incorrect and lessons learned. For example, when a 2007 JetBlue Airways flight sat on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for 10 hours because of weather delays, passengers became irate. The delay resurrected interest in a passenger’s bill of rights, but most effective was JetBlue’s CEO owning the mistake and apologizing to customers. Being authentic and honest is one of the best routes leaders can take.
  2. Make and keep promises. Start with small promises and keep them. Small promises are important because if you can’t keep them, you won’t have the opportunity to keep the big ones. Most of all, people won’t believe you.
  3. Engage employees. According to published reports, 74% of employees report that they are now less productive at work. This relates to anxiety and uncertainty in the workplace. A critical driver of employee productivity is climate, how it feels to work in a place and that determines how engaged you are in your work and in your organization. Employee engagement links to customer engagement and loyalty, and that’s why climate alone accounts for about one-third of business results, according to Daniel Goleman’s Harvard Business Review article “Leadership That Gets Results.” Here’s the key: Leaders mediate climate. Yes, they control the thermostat, and the heat (or cold) they produce radiates outside.

I’m not here to point fingers at Wall Street. It would be giving them far too much credit if we fail to recognize that what has and continues to happen with the global economy is the result of a much bigger, multi-faceted problem.

But let’s face it, no one on Wall Street took ownership for their contributions to this. We haven’t seen much in the arena of keeping small promises (remember the bonus scandal of 2009?), and yes, the Wall Street climate could be better (see Nina Godiwalla’s new book, “Suits,” for an insider’s look at the climate on Wall Street). Wall Street needs to own up, make and keep a few promises and create a work climate that cares. The best (and easiest) place to start is with employees because it will radiate.

Image credit: andipantz, via iStockPhoto.com

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Prince Alwaleed Invests $300M in Twitter – Bloomberg

Enlarge image Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was ranked the richest Arab businessman this year by Arabian Business magazine with assets valued at $21.3 billion.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was ranked the richest Arab businessman this year by Arabian Business magazine with assets valued at $21.3 billion. Photographer: Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) — Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi investor with stakes in Apple Inc. and Citigroup Inc., agreed to buy a $300 million stake in Twitter Inc., the microblogging service with about 100 million users. Lara Setrakian and Maryam Nemazee report on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Twitter Inc., the microblogging service with more than 100 million users, received a $300 million investment from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal as it pushes through a redesign of its site to attract advertisers.

Alwaleed, who leads the 2011 Arab Rich List, and his investment company agreed to buy a “strategic stake” in Twitter, Kingdom Holding said today. A strategic holding means more than 3 percent, Ahmed Halawani, a Kingdom Holding director, said in an interview. That would give the San Francisco-based company a valuation exceeding $10 billion.

The investment by Alwaleed, the largest individual investor in Citigroup Inc. (C) and owner of a stake in News Corp. (NWSA), may give Twitter more time to pursue growth before selling shares an initial public offering, a path that’s likely to be pursued by rival Facebook Inc. Twitter, which lets its users send 140- character messages, is revamping the site to make it faster and simpler to navigate.

“They are looking to give themselves some more running space,” said Jeff Mann, an analyst at Gartner in Amsterdam. “Their strategy has always been first get big. They’re still holding reasonably close to that. Having a big audience is more important than a short-term revenue stream.”

Twitter confirmed the investment in an e-mail, declining to give additional comments.

Groupon, Zynga

Demand for technology IPOs reignited in November after a summer lull, setting the stage for Zynga Inc., the largest maker of games for Facebook, Groupon Inc. and Angie’s List Inc. to go public. Facebook may file for an IPO before the end of the year, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month. The sale may value the company at more than $100 billion, twice as high as it was in January, when the company announced a $1.5 billion investment from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other backers.

DST Global, the technology fund managed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and an investor in Facebook, led an $800 million financing round in Twitter in August. That investment valued the short-messaging service at $8 billion, people with knowledge of the plan said at the time.

“Twitter is seen as a strategic asset within the social media space, given its large user base,” said Jack Neele, a fund manager at Robeco Groep NV, which had about $194 billion under management at the end of June. “But the business model in its current form isn’t ready for the public market.”

Shares Jump

The investment followed “several months of negotiations,” Kingdom Holding said in a statement. The Riyadh-based company, controlled by Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, jumped as much as 8.9 percent and closed 5.1 percent higher at 8.25 riyals in Riyadh.

“The company believes that social networking will change the fundamentals of the media industry,” Halawani said in a telephone interview, adding that Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding bought the shares from founding shareholders. “I expect Twitter does not need further funding before going public.”

In a separate interview with Al Arabiya, Halawani said Twitter will probably hold an IPO in two years.

Twitter is seeking to speed up the rollout of advertising features, its main source of revenue. The microblogging service’s revamp includes tabs at the top of the screen that let users more easily access their home pages, connect with others and discover new content. EMarketer cut its estimate for 2011 ad revenue to $139.5 million from $150 million in September because Twitter has been slow to roll out some services.

Apple, General Motors

Twitter may boost ad revenue by 86 percent next year as it attracts more international advertisers, according to EMarketer.

Evan Williams and Biz Stone, two of Twitter’s co-founders, have lessened their involvement under Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo, who took the reins in October 2010. Mike Abbott, a vice president in charge of engineering, also has stepped down.

Alwaleed, whose other investments include holdings in Apple Inc. and General Motors Co., was ranked the richest Arab businessman this year by Arabian Business magazine with assets valued at $21.3 billion. Kingdom Holding, 95 percent owned by the prince, is building the tallest tower in the world in Jeddah at a cost of 4.6 billion riyals ($1.2 billion).

Alwaleed “is a savvy investor and the hot thing in the IT world is social networking,” said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi-based Al Fajer Securities.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mourad Haroutunian in Riyadh at mharoutunian@bloomberg.net; Jonathan Browning in London jbrowning9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net; Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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