Artificial intelligence is starting to make a major impact on business tools. This week, Google announced the availability of new AI tools for Google Sheets to help business users with automation and decision making.
Another popular business tool, Slack, also announced a new feature this week, albeit a more seasonal one. The platform’s new package of holiday apps includes on that can help your team organize a Secret Santa draw.These headlines and more are included below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.
Small Business Operations
Google Bringing AI to G Suite Sheets
Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) just announced the availability of new tools for Sheets , the company’s online spreadsheet application, to help businesses use insights from their data for better decision making. Google is going to be using its artificial intelligence and machine learning for this toolset to automate different functions.
New Slack App Will Transform Secret Santa in Your Workplace
The days of switching names and rigging the office Secret Santa draw are coming to an end thanks to a new app on Slack. The Secret Santa app is the highlight of a new holiday package of apps integrated on Slack . The collaboration platform used by thousands of small businesses today just launched the new section in its app shop last week.
Small Independent Trucking Businesses Especially Worry About New Government ELD Mandate
A new mandate is set to take effect for trucking companies this month, requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in every vehicle. And some truckers and business owners aren’t happy about the change, some even organizing ELD protests across the country . The concern seems especially of concern to small trucking firms because of the cost of compliance.
Xero +C Automates Expense Reporting for the Self Employed
With the introduction of Xero +C, Xero (NZE: XRO) is going to make it possible for self-employed clients to automate their Schedule C report . If there ever was a timely product, Xero +C is it, because freelancers now make up more than 33 percent of the entire U.S. workforce.
#MetLifeSmallBiz Twitter Chat Breaks the Internet with Discussion on Business Culture
From shared values to the flexibility your employees crave and a rockin’ benefits package — there are many aspects to attracting great talent. But keeping that talent is also a challenge, what with bigger enterprises often swooping in to recruit your best and brightest. Maybe that’s why our latest MetLife Twitter Chat  “Build Culture, Win Talent: Driving Small Business Success” Nov.
12 Guests Who Seem to Show Up At Every Holiday Office Party (INFOGRAPHIC)
‘Tis the season to be jolly — or not so jolly as the case may be if you’re stuck next to the notorious office joker at the Holiday staff party ! If you’ve worked in an office, you’ll almost certainly be able to relate to the different personalities mapped out on GetVoip’s infographic, the colleagues who can make for uncomfortable moments at any office party.
First Data Acquires BluePay to Bolster Integrated Payment Solutions for Businesses
Global payment technology solutions company First Data Corporation (NYSE: FDC) recently announced it had completed the acquisition of BluePay Holdings, Inc. , a provider of technology-enabled payment processing for merchants in the U.S. and Canada.
4 in 5 Microbusinesses Use the Owner’s Personal Funding to Grow
Securing a business loan  is often a challenge for many businesses. But, for small businesses, it is even tougher than for larger firms finding loans.
Small Business in the South Lead the Nation in Job Growth, Index Says
Small businesses in the South led the nation in job growth  lats month. But that may be one of the only pieces of good news from a recent employment index. Job growth overall among America’s small businesses is continuing a downward trend.
7 Common Traits of the Best Small Businesses to Work For
Glassdoor just released its annual list of the Best Places to Work for 2018 . The report includes 50 small business workplaces ranging from tech startups to automotive companies. But while the companies on the list are diverse, there are a few qualities that many of them have in common.
SyncStream Benefits Analysis Toolkit Gives Glimpse Into Your Business’s Future
SyncStream has a new tool designed to forecast the cost of employee benefits . The Benefits Analysis Toolkit automates a variety of benefits calculations to free up HR department time and eliminate human error.
Google Assistant Now Connects Local Service Businesses with Voice Searches
Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) just announced it is making its Assistant more helpful by recommending nearby service professionals , such as electricians, plumbers, housecleaners and others. The addition of Assistant in this segment is part of Google’s drive to make local services readily available for consumers.
Apply These 5 Simple Strategies to Improve Holiday Sales Promotions
The December holidays are on the horizon, and as usual, Christmas shoppers are gearing up for another buying frenzy this Yuletide season. It’s time to think of creative ways to take advantage of the high demand around the holidays to boost your brand’s visibility . How should you go about it, you might ask? For starters, you can launch a holiday sales campaign.
Why Ivanka Trump Took A Selfie with Ramon Ray, Plus His 8 Power Networking Tips
Last week, Ivanka Trump joined 1,500 entrepreneurs in Hyderabad, India, for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Just about everyone wanted to get close to this global celebrity  and now Special Advisor to President Donald Trump, her father.
How to Create the Perfect Personal Brand for Your Business (INFOGRAPHIC)
Personal branding  is one of the most important and crucial parts of doing business, both offline and online. An infographic published by the Best Marketing Degrees puts all this into perspective.
Cyber Monday Transactions Rise 50 Percent Over 2016, Data Shows
People started to wonder if Cyber Monday was worth all the fuss this year. Dead, even. If holiday sales start before Thanksgiving and extend almost a week after Cyber Monday, what’s the point in even having a Cyber Monday? The point is people can’t wait for Cyber Monday , according to fresh figures from First Data (NYSE: FDC).
Amazon Handmade and Prime Now Trying to Promote Small Business with Same Day Delivery
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announces plans to offer a boost for local artisans in its Amazon Handmade community by offering them faster delivery of their products  through its Prime Now service. A specially-curated list of products from Amazon Handmade artisans is available through Prime Now in time for the holiday season.
Small Biz Spotlight
Spotlight: Vous Vitamin Offers Personalized Multivitamins
Taking vitamins can help you supplement your diet and lead a healthier life. But navigating all of the options out there can be overwhelming for anyone without a medical degree. That’s why Drs. Romy Block and Arielle Levitan founded Vous Vitamin — to help people make sense of the multivitamin market  with simple solutions.
How TrueMan McGee Turned his Fitness Odyssey Into a Funky Fresh Spring Roll Empire
Sometimes you have to get tired before you can get successful — physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired — basically, just ready to make a major change. That was the case for TrueMan McGee, founder of Funky Fresh Spring Rolls. In his case, the change initially came in his personal life. But it eventually led to a business as well .
HP and ASUS “Always On” 4G PCs Give Small Businesses Greater Flexibility
If someone said there is a device that is always on  and always connected with battery life for days, guessing it is a smartphone wouldn’t be a bad answer. However, these are features of the new ASUS NovaGo and HP ENVY x2 laptops with built-in LTE connectivity.
Quriobot Provides Customized Bots for Your Business Website
Quriobot was just launched to give website owners a new way to ask for feedback  while helping visitors easily find what they are looking for. The application turns static web forms into an opportunity for having engaging conversations with your customers. Chatbots are taking over many of the conversations with site visitors.
Android Oreo vs. Android Nougat: Which is Better for Your Business?
So Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) has already rolled out its latest Android update  in the form of a developer’s preview (or more specifically, I should say the “beta state”). This latest Android update is known as Android Oreo, and it has indeed come with a host of changes for the better.
Target Adds Wallet to Mobile App, Should Your Small Business Do the Same?
Target (NYSE: TGT) just announced the integration of Wallet to its Target App . This new capability will further extend the digital experience while customers are shopping in its stores. With this app, Android and iOS users can use their mobile device to just scan at checkout.
Graphic Design Platform Canva Now Has an Android App
Canva is finally available on Android. And for 10 million plus Canva users around the world, the move is a welcomed addition to this popular design application. Making Canva available on Android  now means more than 2 billion monthly active mobile users will have access to the DIY design platform on devices running the popular operating system.
Google’s New Datally App Tells Business Owners How to Save on Data Usage
Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) just built an app called Datally so you can better manage and track the data on your mobile device . Datally is designed to address three important facets of mobile data usage. It lets you understand, control and save on the data you use as part of your plan. Google is making the app available globally after testing it for the past few months in the Philippines.
Planned Verizon 5G Wireless Broadband Could Benefit Entrepreneurs and Home Based Businesses
Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has announced it will launch fifth-generation — 5G — wireless residential services in three to five U.S. markets in 2018. Using radio signals instead of fiber or copper cables, Verizon’s 5G wireless broadband will give customers access to unprecedented wireless internet speeds .
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