A top affiliate marketer is sentenced to prison and the SBA trains returning veterans to be entrepreneurs. There’s plenty of news to follow and the Small Business Trends team is here with your regular ropundup.
Top Affiliate Marketer Sentenced to 5 Months in Prison . Affiliate marketer Shawn Hogan will spend five months in federal prison and another three years on probation after reaching a settlement and plea deal with eBay and the Federal government. This concludes a case that started with a civil suit and FBI probe going back seven years.
Veterans: Are You Aware of the SBA’s “Boots to Business” Program?  The U.S. Small Business Administration has expanded its pilot “Boots to Business” Program. The program is designed to help active duty veterans and retiring military members pursue entrepreneurship as they transfer to civilian life. The program is seen as one way to combat the high unemployment rate seen among returning veterans as compared to the rest of the population.
U.S. Postal Service Killed Startup Outbox, Report Says . Entrepreneurs Evan Baehr and Will Davis initially set out to change the way millions of Americans got their postal mail. For now, at least, the startup has buckled under the pressure of a skeptical and likely threatened U.S. Postal Service and federal government. Their startup, Outbox, was a service that offered to digitize your snail mail.
36 Percent of Small Business Owners Feel Optimistic – Do You?  Given the way people and politicians talk about us, you might think all small business owners are exactly alike, with the same motivations, goals and challenges.
Loans & Transactions
Small Business Loans Hit 19.4 Percent, a Record High at Big Banks . In March, it seemed like smaller banks were the place to go for small business loans. But, oh, what a difference a month makes! Numbers for April collected in the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index show trends heading in almost the opposite direction. The index is a monthly analysis of 1000 loan applications on Biz2Credit.com. After dropping to 18.
Merchant Warehouse: An Alternative to Square for Online, Offline Payment Processing . There are a few dominant names in the payment processing industry. There’s PayPal, of course. There’s also Intuit, Square, and a few newcomers like Stripe. But rumors that Square may be looking for a buyer after years of losses — $100 million in 2013 alone — may limit the payment options open to small business merchants even further.
Spotlight on Blue Soda Promo: Promotional Products, Customer Service . This week we shine the spotlight on Blue Soda Promo of Vernon Hills, Illinois. In business for 10 years, Blue Soda Promo now employs 75 people. This promotional products company offers more than 800,000 different items. Blue Soda Promo serves businesses of all sizes, from small and medium sized companies to Fortune 500 organizations like Coca-Cola and Sprint.
10 Things You Need To Do After Forming An LLC . If you recently formed a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or incorporated, you have taken an important step toward setting the legal foundation for your business and protecting your personal assets. While you may have had several questions leading up to the decision to form an LLC, you probably have even more on what to do after.
10 New Devices From Acer Focus on Cloud Users . 10 new devices from Acer will appeal to entrepreneurs and others who place a high value on mobility and favor cloud services over pre-loaded software. The new devices were introduced recently at an international press event in New York City. Small Business Trends was on hand for the unveiling. The event included a sneak peak at the company’s newest Chromebook.
Top All-in-One Printers for Small Businesses . If you haven’t shopped for a printer recently, the models currently available for small offices might surprise you. Prices have decreased substantially over the past 5 to 10 years, yet devices have gotten better and the print quality much higher. You can find a good quality printer that does color printing for under $200.
10 Digital Assistant Alternatives To Apple’s Siri . Ten years ago it might have seemed impossible that someday you might have a digital assistant that lived in your phone. And that assistant would search for the answers you need when you need them and speak to you just like a flesh and blood office assistant. When Apple introduced Siri on the iPhone all that changed.
Any.Do Makes Managing Tasks Simple . Most productive people will tell you that they stay productive, getting stuff done, because they maintain some sort of system. Usually, at its core, it is a list. Any.Do is a task management app for iOS or Android smartphones that is designed to make you more productive. The company did some research to understand how people achieve the greatest productivity.
After Its Chief’s Departure, What is the Future of Google Plus? . The recent departure of Google Plus chief Vic Gundotra from the company has many wondering what will become of Google’s social network.
Pinterest Introduces New Guided Search, Could be Useful To Marketers . Pinterest has introduced a new feature which could make it easier for customers to find you on the site. But it could also make it easier to discover related topics that belong on your Pinterest board and could attract more of your ideal customers too.
Snapchat Is Adding Video Chat and a Messaging Tool . Video chat and messaging have become popular with both casual and business users. From messaging apps like WhatsApp to video chat platforms like Viber, the influence of these technologies as communications tools is clear. Developers of photo messaging app SnapChat seem to think so too.
Bye-bye, Hootsuite? Is Social Studio by Salesforce an Enterprise Platform to Win Them All? . Watch out, Hootsuite: Salesforce launched a new enterprise solution for social media management, and it looks like it’s going to be huge.
How Semantic Search is Changing Insurance Industry Digital Marketing . Insurance industry digital marketing is changing. Gone are the days of paying an “SEO” to buy a bunch of links and stuff your website full of local keywords. These tactics are not only less effective, but in some cases, websites are being directly penalized by Google for “Black hat” SEO.
13 Things You Can Do With a CRM System to Increase Sales Numbers . Customer relationship management software makes it easier to handle your whole sales process. This goes for any business, whether you have a sales force of one or 100. But if you think of CRM systems only as a way to add efficiency or improve customer service, you’re missing a big part of the point.
The Number One Thing Small Retailers Want For Their Security . Did you guess deadbolts? What about door chimes? More than anything else, video surveillance was the most desired security precaution by small retailers in a recent survey.
Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot: 60% of Ecommerce Marketers Aren’t Measuring the Fundamentals . With Google’s recent acquisition of shopping analytics firm Rangespan and the announcement of ecommerce juggernaut Alibaba’s IPO plans – alongside Amazon.com’s seemingly daily announcement of big news – the world of ecommerce is changing rapidly.
Crowd Advisor Harnesses The Power Of Many for Business Challenges . What if you could talk directly to your prospective customers from anywhere in the world, and ask them what they are looking for? Suppose you could use the same approach to ask for advice about issues facing your business? That is the concept behind Crowd Advisor, a site which draws upon the power of crowd wisdom to suggest ideas and offer opinions.
No Such Thing As Bad Publicity? Apparently There Is . Think all that matters is how much people are talking about your brand online? Think again. A recent study finds sentiment is more important than volume of online conversations when it comes to driving sales.
Keep Kitty Out of Your Workspace with CATable . If you have a home-based office, you likely have to deal with a lot of distractions. One of those distractions may very well be your cat. From demanding belly rubs to planting themselves squarely in the middle of your keyboard, it can be awfully difficult to get any work done with a restless kitty around. That’s why Ruan Hao of Hong Kong’s LYCS Architecture created the CATable.
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