Category Archives: Tip of the Week

Lisa Hephner

Small Business Lessons from Shakespeare

Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Tip of the Week

shakespeare
Last Saturday, April 23, marked 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare the man. The words of William Shakespeare The Bard live on; and those words, written hundreds of years ago, are still amazingly relevant to the lives we live today. That may be a testament to Shakespeare’s gift; it may also simply be proof that however much society transforms and evolves, people remain fundamentally the same.

As a proud English Major, I couldn’t let the anniversary go unmarked in this Tip column, especially because Shakespeare’s words have so much to offer small business owners—and I’m not just talking about Merchant of Venice, though that’s a good place to start.

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Lisa Hephner

Great Customer Service Can Be Hard to Find

Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Tip of the Week

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Some e-commerce giants like Amazon hide links to online chat and customer support phone numbers, while others like Netflix put contact numbers and Chat buttons front and center. This informal review of the Alexa top 10 shopping sites finds that when live help is easy to find, it is very easy to find; and when it is buried it is well-buried.

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Lisa Hephner

Small Business Lessons Gleaned from the Strangest Things

Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Tip of the Week

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Small business owners have a tendency to be passionate about what they do. As part of this passion, they also have a tendency to relate everyday life experiences to that business; sometimes in quite unusual (and in some cases rather tenuous) ways.

I’m not talking about the typical tales of how a mother/father/child/grandparent/mentor/{insert other influential person here} taught them valuable business lessons. I’m not talking about the endless posts on small business lessons learned from cats, dogs, and other pets. And, I’m also not talking about the many pithy posts bloggers seem never to tire of publishing about “Small Business Lessons Learned from {fill in the blank}.”

I’m talking about personal stories from your fellow entrepreneurs explaining how they leveraged seemingly unrelated life experiences to help their small businesses succeed. While you might not have thought to analyze the situation as the authors do, the small business lessons they reveal can be useful to overcoming the day-to-day challenges you face in running your small business.

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Lisa Hephner

ACH Security Requirements for Merchants

Posted by on March 29, 2016 in Tip of the Week

ach
As a merchant, you’ve probably heard about the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), to which all companies that process credit card transactions must not only adhere, but with which they also need to annually certify compliance. However, you have likely not heard as much talk about NACHA (National Automated Clearinghouse Association) ACH security requirements because there is no official certification process for merchants associated with them.

In fact, there are a number of security requirements included in the NACHA rules for ACH processing that apply to for all businesses initiating ACH transactions (Originators in ACH parlance). These rules apply to any business that processes ACH transactions

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Lisa Hephner

Easter Eggs for Small Business Marketing

Posted by on March 22, 2016 in Tip of the Week

eggs
With Easter fast approaching this Sunday, this week seemed a perfect opportunity to discuss the value of Easter Eggs for small business marketing efforts. While this may bring to mind hidden colored hard-boiled specimens that go unnoticed under your couch until the smell becomes unmistakable sometime around Memorial Day, that’s not what this Tip is about. Nor is it about the many varieties of chocolate eggs that are laid in abundance this time of year (though one can’t argue with the marketing value of gifting these luscious confections to customers).

Today, we’re discussing the media related Easter Egg—a hidden gem in a video game, DVD, software program, website, or even published article or piece of computer hardware—designed to surprise and delight the people who find it.

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Lisa Hephner

Free Time Tracking Tool for Small Business

Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Tip of the Week

time
Effective time management is a common concern of businesses of all sizes, and there are a myriad of applications available that purport to help you manage yours. If your small business bills clients by the hour, you have the added challenge of accurately tracking just how much time you spend on each one so that you can charge accordingly.

The Toggle App does just that…

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Lisa Hephner

How To Implement Sponsored Social Campaigns for Your Small Business

Posted by on March 8, 2016 in Tip of the Week

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According to a recent study, YouTube reaches 99% of all social media users (age 18-70) each year, and reaches 83% of them weekly and 54% daily. And, while it is true that it has marginally greater penetration in the younger 18-24 demographic (98%), it reaches 95% of 51-39 year olds, 90% of 40-49 year olds, and even 85% of 50-70 year olds.

An increasingly popular way to leverage the high engagement levels with YouTube and the trust customers place in reviews from trusted sources is with Sponsored Social Marketing, or Influencer Marketing. Not limited to just YouTube, Sponsored Social campaigns span the entire social media spectrum to include Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, and any other place where your potential customers connect with and follow people whose opinions they trust.

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Lisa Hephner

5 Critical Customer Service Don’ts

Posted by on March 1, 2016 in Tip of the Week

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Customers clearly value good service. In fact, a recent study from NewVoiceMedia found that US Companies collectively lose about $41 billion per year as a result of poor customer service experiences. Thus, the frequency with which this vital service is so poorly performed truly amazes me. So for this post, I’d like to highlight some important things that make for an absolutely abysmal customer experience so that you can be sure to avoid them in your small business. This advice is based on a recent encounter I had with the customer service department for the company that provides my home alarm system monitoring. I won’t name the company to protect the innocent (or the ridiculously incompetent), but my encounter went something like this

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Lisa Hephner

12 Small Business Video Laughs

Posted by on February 23, 2016 in Tip of the Week

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Sometimes entrepreneurs focus so intently on making their small business a success that they lose the perspective required to objectively assess their operations and to accurately gauge their progress towards strategic goals. That’s where a good parody and a good laugh come in handy. If you can recognize the absurdity of your actions and laugh at yourself, then you have the tools you need to make sure that anything that goes awry will soon get back on track.

The following video clips highlight the humor in some of the day-to-day office activities familiar to many small business owners (and their employees), as well as some experiences and problems common to businesses of all sizes. Some will spur a belly laugh at their preposterousness, while others will likely spark a chuckle of recognition.

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