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TONL Offers Diverse Stock Photos to Promote Inclusion

Sponsored Post Representation matters. That’s more than just a hypothesis; it’s the value proposition on which Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi based their new business. Karen and Joshua met through a friend, connecting easily as entrepreneurs and first-generation African immigrants. At the time, Karen ran a blog — among other things — and often lamented about how stock photography was stale and homogenous. Joshua, on the other hand, was a photographer and Creative Director. Wouldn’t it be great, they surmised, to create a stock photography site that offers more diverse images and changes the status quo? They both loved the idea but were at capacity, so they tabled it as a “coulda-woulda-shoulda.” The tragic stories of two black men – Alton Sterling and Philando Castile – became an “aha” moment for Karen and Joshua: the only way to combat the devastating effects of systemic racism and racial profiling is to change the narrative around ethnic representation. And, thus, TONL was born. We spoke to Karen and Joshua about how they’re revolutionizing the stock photography market with added color and perspective. Here’s what they had to say: Q: How did you go about bringing this vision to life? Karen Okonkwo (KO): We started by surveying as many people as we could — industry people, friends, whomever — to see if the idea was even viable. The general consensus was that the current stock photography wasn’t relatable. So once we had some real data to back this up, we went full throttle and gave ourselves a year to launch. We worked and planned like crazy, but it was hard since we lived on different coasts. Everything went down to the wire, but we pulled it off in the end. Q: What’s been the response to TONL? KO: It’s been received really well. We’re still in our infancy, of course, but we have a growing client list that includes Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller mom-and-pop operations. Above all else, we have a passionate community. We love seeing people get so excited about our work. TONL Founders, Joshua Kissi and Karen Okonkwo Q: What are your goals for TONL? Joshua Kissi (JK): We want to…

Receive Exciting Tips for Building a Better eCommerce Site in This Free eBook

Sponsored Post Are you making as much from your ecommerce website as you should? A new FREE ebook, “How to Build a Better Ecommerce Website” from the internet advertising platform Criteo could help to answer that question. The ebook walks you through four important steps to maximize your ecommerce site’s impact. Can you really afford NOT to check out information that could bring you more customers online and improve your bottom line? Get your free copy of the ebook “How to Build a Better Ecommerce Website” today: Download It! Whether your ecommerce website is a stand alone business or part of a larger operation, it represents a significant investment. You may have paid a web designer to build the site or a developer to modify an existing ecommerce platform. There are domain name and hosting fees, of course. You may have also paid for pay per click or other online advertising to get the initial traffic trickling in. Then there’s the hours of time — spent by you or your team — creating social media campaigns  and content marketing pieces to engage and convert your audience into paying customers. So if, after everything else, your sales remain anemic and your shopping carts are empty — or being abandoned before checkout — all this effort and expense is in vain. Fortunately, creating an effective ecommerce business is very doable with the right knowledge. In this new ebook you’ll learn: How to audit an ecommerce site to find opportunities for improvement How to SEO an ecommerce website to improve search engine ranking How to review your ecommerce site’s responsive template Best practices to optimize your site for better conversions Of course, you may already be doing great in sales on your ecommerce site. But could you be doing better? The world of ecommerce is becoming a very competitive place. Not only are there many other smaller merchants like you. But there are the big guys as well: Amazon, Ebay and more. So how can you stand out in this crowd and attract more customers and a growing revenue stream? By downloading this…

Take this Survey and Get New Ideas for Saving Energy in Your Business

Sponsored Post Now is your chance to be a part of something important. Energy is typically the single greatest cost in a small business, but most small business owners don’t have the time or the resources to spend on figuring out all the different ways they can become more energy efficient so that their business is more profitable. This is where the Small Business Energy Report Comes in. Constellation Energy, in partnership with Small Business Trends, is interested in what a broad base of small business owners are doing to cut energy costs, save energy and run a sustainable business. And the results could give you ideas about how to save energy in your own business. Together, they’ve launched the Small Business Energy Survey, a quick 3 minute online survey where you can click through what matters most to you regarding energy, what energy and cost-saving strategies you’re trying and how your employees and customers feel about sustainability. Click below to begin: Start Here Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card Here’s another reason to take part in the survey. You also have the option to register to win a $100 Amazon gift card! How is this different from other small business energy reports? Here’s something you may not have thought about.  Most surveys are conducted with customers or members of organizations.  That means that the results only represent that membership.  The partnership between Small Business Trends and Constellation Energy aims to reach a broader base of small business owners across industries, across the country and across energy providers so that small business owners, like you, can get access to benchmarking data and ideas about how other business owners are saving on energy. 2018 Small Business Energy Report As a participant in this first-of-its-kind survey, you’ll get access to data from hundreds of businesses, just like yours and see what energy-saving strategies have been most effective. The results of this new small business energy survey will be released in a new 2018 Small Business Energy Report in December 2018. At that time, you’ll be able to see how your business compares to other…

How Cloud Based Machine Learning Can Transform Your Automotive Business

Sponsored Post The cars we drive today have become as digital as they are mechanical. The integration of this digital technology makes it possible to collect large volumes of data from the many different monitoring and connected devices within the vehicle. By 2020 IHS Automotive is predicting 152 million connected cars will be on the road generating 30 terabytes of data every single day. Small businesses in the automotive industry can use this information to deliver better services for the repair and maintenance of their customer’s vehicles. With cloud-based machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), auto parts stores and repair shops, as well as other related automotive businesses, have become more efficient than ever. Everything from their backend to customer-facing operations is being optimized to provide the best service possible. This is driving the market for automotive AI and ML hardware, software, and services segments to grow to $14 billion by 2025, according to Tractica. In the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) segment, McKinsey is projecting it will grow to $215 billion annually by the same forecast period. So how can small businesses start using cloud-based ML and AI solutions now and be future ready as the technologies become more integrated into the automotive industry, consumer devices and society as a whole? How Machine Learning Can Transform Your Automotive Business Here are five ways they can be deployed. Predictive Maintenance The purpose of predictive maintenance systems is to predict failures and even take corrective actions to fix problems  — BEFORE they happen! This can include everything from preparing the necessary safeguards for even a planned failure to replacing a potentially defective part ahead of schedule. This higher predictability means the customer will know when they need to bring the vehicle in for repairs. They will not be caught off guard and they can make plans ahead of time so they won’t be inconvenienced by missing work or by a break down in the middle of the highway with additional costs. Predictive maintenance will completely avoid or minimize downtimes as well as greatly improve customer service, save costs, and possibly save…

The App Approach – How Zoho Creator Can Help Your Business #BreakUpWithExcel

Sponsored Post What’s the one thing that can set a business back years? Outdated software. What worked for your business at the start won’t at its prime. So if Excel was your workhorse in the “good ol’ days,” using them after you’ve grown can result in stagnation. Excel spreadsheets, being static and predominantly single-user tools, aren’t amenable to scaling. When your business inevitably grows, and people and processes get more numerous, spreadsheets find themselves in hostile territory. They’re overwhelmed by data overload, choosing to slow down and crash instead of processing it. Errors come with the package. Collaboration outside of email attachments or SharePoint is unheard-of. So what happens when you choose to ignore these problems and hope they go away? You guessed right—disaster. Where Excel fails, databases come to the rescue—but while most are advanced, and capable, they’re also unnecessarily complicated. They get the job done, but only if you invest a fortune in setting them up and hiring a professional to manage them. Disheartened? Don’t be. Because we have something that’s simple, fuss-free, and effective. Zoho Creator—your ticket to a spreadsheet-free world Zoho Creator is online database software that intuitively shapes itself to your business. Its repertoire includes drag-and-drop builders for everything from forms to workflows, native mobile apps with exclusive customization, extensive automation capabilities, real-time reports, and comprehensive dashboards, just to name a few of its many features. With our exclusive role-based access controls, you can share and collaborate without putting the security of your data at stake. And the best part? You don’t have to hire a developer to get your system up and running. You can build and customize on the go, without going through the hassle of coding. From communicating with customers to managing inventory, you can do it all on Zoho Creator. To sweeten the deal, we’re even offering a free migration of your Excel sheets to a Zoho Creator application—and it’ll take less than 30 minutes. All you have to do is sign up, upload your sheets, and a brand-new database app is created for you! Ready to leave your cells for…

This Solopreneur CRM Powers Scott Wilson’s Business to Success

Sponsored Post Scott Wilson is the Founder and CEO of thatsoftwareguy.com, an independent ecommerce software company that uses Salesforce Essentials, Salesforce’s CRM built for small business. A lot of things in life “just happen.” Some call it a coincidence. To me, it’s meant to be. My journey as an entrepreneur  — along with my journey discovering Salesforce — were exactly that. One Simple Request Started My Business Owning a business wasn’t a part of my life plan. In the mid 2000s, however, someone I had worked with during the tech recession got laid off. His next plan was to start a small business. He asked if I could help build an online shopping cart on his business’s website. I agreed to take on the job to develop his ecommerce business. At the time, not many shopping carts were available. Zen Cart was one of the best open-source options available — and I didn’t waste any time helping him set it up. In fact, I became really good at it — thanks in part to my computer science degree and 15 years of professional experience as a software developer. Remember that 15 years ago, many people who called themselves “web developers” had no real experience at all; they just knew how to put simple HTML tables together. It didn’t take long before I realized that many Zen Cart users didn’t have the professional training and background I did. So, I jumped in and helped with what was missing. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time fixing bugs and answering questions on the public forum. I even started developing my own extensions. Then one day, out of the blue, a guy sent me $100 via Paypal with a note saying , “I built my entire business around your Quantity Discounts plugin.” Positive feedback, support, and encouragement like this is what led me to turn my hobby into a business in late 2006. My Biggest Challenge as an Entrepreneur Early on, the biggest struggle I had was figuring out how to balance running a small business while having a full-time job. I thought of this…

Retargeting for Small Business: The Basics

Sponsored Post When a business is just starting out, the early, personal relationships result in the first customers, partners, and employees. The most successful companies in the world never lose sight of relationships as the foundation of their business. You might not think of digital marketing for your business in relationship-building terms, but it’s an effective way to gain clarity on what your strategy should be. Digital marketing can be intimidating for small business owners, rife with uncertainty over which platforms and tactics will deliver the best value. Coming up with a clear strategy seems like a never-ending puzzle. If you think of your marketing budget as a way to build relationships with shoppers, then how you engage them becomes more clear. Today’s connected shopper expects relevant, useful, and complementary experiences from every interaction with your business. It’s a fine line to walk, capturing shoppers’ attention while respecting their experience, and even making them happy they saw your ad. Approaching it thoughtfully is the difference between short-term sales and loyal customers who drive repeat business and help advocate your business to their friends. Consider that 96% of your website visitors won’t buy from you initially. An effective, efficient digital marketing plan should include ways to get back in touch with them so they keep you in mind and learn more about what you have to offer. One of the best ways to do so is retargeting. A Brief Primer on Retargeting If you’ve ever visited a website and then noticed ads from that business popping up in your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, or other sites, you’ve seen retargeting ads. These ads can help resurface abandoned shopping carts or offer personalized discounts and deals on items you viewed before. Many retargeting partners help create highly relevant ads with sophisticated data analytics and creative optimization. And with retargeting, relevance is key. Think about the difference between a random ad and one that’s been tailored for you: the less intrusive and more relevant the ad, the more interested you’re likely to be. Relevance is all about where, when, and why you might be…

Important Cyber Security Questions to Ask Your Cloud Service Provider

Sponsored Post If you are migrating to the cloud, you have to thoroughly scrutinize the security protocols of the provider you choose. No matter how much of your digital presence is in the cloud, you have to ensure your service provider has the best security measures in place to protect its infrastructure from the current cyber threat landscape. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cloud computing is, “A model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” While this ubiquitous connectivity to resources is what makes cloud computing so convenient, it is also what makes such systems potentially vulnerable to attacks. Therefore, the cloud provider has to take the issue of security as one of the most critical components of its overall operations. Cyber Security Questions to Ask Your Cloud Service Provider Assuming the service provider has checked all the other boxes for your cloud computing needs, here are some important security questions you should ask to complete your vetting process. What Types of Data Centers do you Use – and How Many? The type of data center, (Tier 1, 2, 3, 4) will determine the service level agreement (SLA) it can provide. Tier 4 data centers are the most secure, requiring fault tolerant equipment including servers, storage, uplinks, heating, chillers and more. The availability guarantee for Tier 4 is 99.995 percent uptime, followed by 99.982 percent uptime for Tier 3, 99.749 percent uptime for Tier 2, and 99.671 percent uptime for Tier 1. In addition to the types, find out how many data centers the company uses. The more redundancies it has, the better your chances for ensuring the safety of your data and rapid recovery. What Certifications do you Currently Hold for your Data Centers? Your business might have to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA,) Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) or other regulations. Make…

Tips on Growing Small Businesses Like Big Ones From Ex-Googler Laszlo Bock

Sponsored Post Laszlo Bock is the co-founder and CEO of Humu. Previously, he was the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google from 2006 to 2016. Laszlo is credited with creating the field of People Analytics, the application of academic-quality rigor and Google-paced innovation to people management. Prior to joining Google, Bock served in executive roles at General Electric and as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, WORK RULES!, a practical guide to help people find meaning in work and improve the way they live and lead. Laszlo will be speaking at the Small Business Keynote on Thursday, September 27 at Dreamforce ‘18, which is free to attend for all-conference and Expo+ pass holders. Q: You led a huge organization at Google and built an award-winning culture there — what motivated you to take the leap into building your own startup? A: I believe that you can have a disproportionate impact on the world around you through HR. We spend more time working than we do anything else. In my old job, Google’s leadership supported open sourcing and the sharing of a lot of what we did on the people side. But I really wanted to keep making more and more of a difference — and not just at Google. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could combine the lessons learned at Google with what I’d seen at other companies I was privileged enough to interact with, and combining them all in a way that could actually make all companies work better for everyone, everywhere. I realized the only way to do this was to build a team and develop it ourselves. Q: What were some learnings from your experience working at large organizations that were helpful in your entrepreneurial journey? Were there any surprises that didn’t translate to the startup environment? A: My past roles have been both fantastic and terrible preparation for startup life in a number of ways. Terrible in that there’s a skill-set a founder and CEO needs that’s hard to build inside of consulting or HR. In…

7 AI Cloud Services to Benefit Your Small Restaurant

Sponsored Post Technology has given small restaurants tools to become more efficient and productive thus better able to compete against larger businesses — including chains and franchises. These same big chains have been early adopters of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions to improve and streamline their operations. And now, AI delivered through the cloud is also available to small restaurant owners so they can reap the same benefits. If you own a small restaurant, you might be asking why you need AI. And the answer is because you now operate in an environment where the competition is constantly targeting your customers. If you don’t do the same, your customer attrition rate will continue to increase as they get bombarded with more offers, incentives, loyalty programs and other promotions from the competition. Artificial Intelligence solutions will eventually be part of all restaurant operations. As an early adopter, you can take advantage of what the technology offers to increase your customer base. AI Cloud Services to Benefit Your Small Restaurant Here are 7 AI enabled solutions you can deploy now to give you that head start. Location Intelligence Whether you are looking to open a restaurant or you are up and running, location intelligence solutions will bring to bear all available data related to your location. Using AI and complex analytic tools, location intelligence can predict how the presence of other businesses affect your bottom line. And as the AI system continues to learn and improve, it will “learn” who your customers are and where they are. This data can then be used to deliver targeted marketing campaigns using social media and other platforms for better return on investment. Waitlist Management No-shows cost restaurants a lot of money, but with waitlist management systems, you can alert guests using text when their table is ready. The  AI-enabled management system gives you real-time view of your floor to get accurate wait times so you can deliver VIP services to your customers. You can also view the history of your customers to see their preferences so you can make informed recommendations for more personalized service. Kiosks…

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