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Microsoft Frees Up the Cloud, Photoshop Makes History

MicrosoftEDIT
Cloud storage has become a pretty essential tool for businesses. So it shouldn’t be surprising that so many cloud storage providers are offering incentives to try and draw in as many new customers as possible. But you’ll never believe the deal Microsoft is offering just to get more people to try its search engine, Bing. There’s also a report on a big milestone for Photoshop in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Technology Trends

Microsoft Offers 100 GB of Free Storage for Using Bing

The cloud storage wars aren’t over yet. Microsoft is the latest to offer up an almost too-good-to-be-true deal for space on its OneDrive cloud storage service. The company is now offering 100 GB of free space [1] to anyone. And there’s only one catch. To get the space, you’ll need to sign up for Bing Rewards.

Believe it or Not, the PhotoShop 25th Anniversary is Upon Us!

Adobe Photoshop is celebrating its 25th birthday. The popular photo editing [2] software was first launched on Feb. 19, 1990. Once you get over how old that makes you feel, a lot of small business owners, independent photographers and designers will likely realize how much this program has helped their businesses advance. Photoshop is for more than just retouching and manipulating photos.

Moment.me Hypertargets Social Media Relevant to Your Business

Imagine the perfect sales pitch; one that offers each and every potential client and customer what they want, when and where they want it. Called “hypertargeting [3]“, the ability to offer the perfect sales pitch has long been the holy grail of marketers.

Economy

Small Businesses Get Their Groove Back, Says Experian Index

The Experian/Moody’s Analytics Small Business Credit Index has positive news for small businesses. The Credit Index for the fourth quarter of 2014 was released this morning. And for the third consecutive quarter, the Index has gone up, reaching a post-recession high [4].

Small Business Lending is Up Again, Depending Upon the Lender

Small business lending set another record in January 2015. But that record is being set mostly by big banks and certain other kinds of lenders. In January, lending approval rates for small businesses at big banks hit a post-recession high. New data from the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index reveals that loans [5] from big banks to small businesses in January were approved 21.

Robust Employment Growth, Just not for the Self-Employed

The January jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided good news. Non-farm employment increased by 257,000 jobs, exceeding the consensus expectation of economists. And the November-to-January numbers showed the largest three-month rise in employment [6] in seven years.

Green Business

Chef Thinks the Future of Sugar Lies in Miracle Fruit

For years, people have been trying to come up with healthier alternatives to sugar. However, most of these alternatives come with drawbacks. They don’t taste as good, aren’t as healthy as they seem, come with hefty price tags, or have other issues. But now, a Chicago based chef and entrepreneur believes he’s onto a breakthrough. Homaro Cantu owns the Berrista [7] coffee shop in Chicago.

Local Marketing

Philadelphia Pizza Shop Lets Customers Pay it Forward with Pizza

When you first walk into Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, you’ll see a variety of colorful Post-It notes lining the walls. It might not be the most stylish décor choice, but there’s a pretty powerful story behind the sticky notes. Each note includes a message from a customer who took part in the pay it forward with pizza [8] program.

Tailor Web Content to Users with GeoIP for WordPress

Some small businesses are truly global companies. So it stands to reason that visitors to those companies’ websites may want a different experience, one that’s specific to their location. A new product — a Web plugin called GeoIP [9] for WordPress — allows site owners exactly that ability. It’s the first consumer-ready product from WP Engine, a service as a software (SaaS) company.

Barbershop Makes Kids Look Like Senior Citizens for Free

If you’re a parent with a misbehaving kid [10], you’ve likely had to come up with different forms of discipline. Now, parents in the Atlanta area have a new option, thanks to a local barber. Russell Fredrick of A-1 Kutz in the Atlanta suburb of Snellville came up with a creative solution for parents who have reached their wit’s end — the Benjamin Button Special.



Management

Be.Lead.Do Provides Online Resource for Business Managers

There’s a great business leadership seminar coming up but the thought of losing one or two of your team members for a day or two just doesn’t seem feasible. Not sending out yourself or your team members to gain valuable new leadership [11] skill could stagnate your business.

Marketing Tips

Are You Ready for the Facebook Call To Action Button?

In December 2014, Facebook announced it would be adding a new Facebook Call to Action [12] button on Business Pages. Now the new feature is being rolled out and early adopters are sharing their experiences with the Facebook community.

Is Gemini Yahoo’s Answer to Google Ads?

The Yahoo Gemini interface has slowly but surely been gaining speed over the last year. Although Gemini [13] is still small scale in comparison to Google or Bing Ads, it puts a focus on mobile and on native advertising and is continuing to be innovative and creative.

How Google Upgraded URLs Will Change Your AdWords Experience

Big news: Google has announced a new AdWords Upgraded URLs format to give advertisers more features/options and save them time. Google Upgraded URLs [14] will mean less time spent managing URL tracking updates, reduced crawl and load times, new tracking parameters and, finally, an end to the sending back of ads for editorial review when tracking criteria are changed (in most cases).



Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Aspiring Country Singer Launches Cupcake Business

The cupcake business has been booming for years. Gigi’s Cupcakes [15] is one of the bakeries that ushered in the cupcake craze. CEO and founder Gigi Butler went from aspiring country music star to house cleaner to bakery owner in a matter of years. And now her business has about 100 locations worldwide.

Startup

ZipGripGo is the Zip Tie That Could Save Your Commute

The morning commute can be a killer. Add snow into the mix and you may feel like you will never make it to the office. Chains are great in an emergency but they can be difficult to install and can cost a pretty penny. The team behind ZipGripGo have their own solution to the driving in snow conundrum. Zip ties [16]! It’s a simple solution that could turn out to be very clever.

Penn State Giving $10,000 Grants to Student Entrepreneurs

Matt Brezina spent one of his summers as a student at Penn State University [17] washing cars for a national car rental company. And he remembers what it was like for others. Today, Brezina is the founder and CEO of Sincerely, a startup that lets friends buy thoughtful gits for each other on their mobile devices.

Displio is a Tiny Box that Tracks What’s Important to You

Chances are you receive a lot of notifications. As the Internet grows, there seems to be more and more information for you to track. Email, social media, stocks, and who knows what else. You can use your smartphone or your computer to check all these notifications. But Displio is a desktop gadget looking to make checking notifications [18] hands free and at a glance.



Finance

Beware of These 20 Top Tax Scams of All Time

During tax season, it’s important for people to be aware of potential tax scams that may target them. Each year, the Internal Revenue Service warns taxpayers about the various scams that they’re likely to encounter. Below, we’ve compiled the top worst tax scams [19] to target U.S. taxpayers in recent years, according to the IRS.

Snap a Pic to Deposit That Check, Small Businesses!

Depositing a check into your business bank account could soon be as easy as snapping a photo with your smartphone. That’s exactly how Mitek Systems’ new Commercial Mobile Deposit Capture system will allow businesses to deposit checks [20]. The ability to deposit a check using your smartphone has been available for consumer bank accounts for several years.

Microsoft [21] photo via Shutterstock