Websites more critical to small businesses as JOBS Act passes Congress

With the recent Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act passing through Congress and landing on President Barack Obama's desk, it may become easier for small businesses to procure new capital as the bill allows many crowdfunding limitations to be lifted.

That being said, since most crowdfunding is done through the internet, a website is a major resource for small businesses and an investment that should not be taken lightly. The way in which companies markets themselves through their website can determine the rise and fall of startups and other small businesses. Forbes' March 27 article, "Top 7 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make" outlines the red flags that these small businesses need to watch out for.

Most of Forbes' advice is based on the website's layout – which, as previously reported, is extremely important, especially within the first seconds that a potential customer is on the website. Forbes states that if a website has been rushed and doesn't visually adhere to the demographic than the site may fall flat. It also recommends that companies keep sites simple – not too flashy or busy – that websites have a clear call to action, fresh and relevant content and the site only tries to target the main demographic rather than trying to please everyone.

Forbes also suggests that small business owners don't go it alone when it comes to the complexities of designing a website, asking the question, "If you don't have design experience, do you really think you can do it justice?"

By consulting software developing companies to assist in the creation of dynamic websites and even some custom application development, small businesses stand a much better chance at creating a visually appealing and highly functional website than by themselves. This could be a great investment for the potential capital the JOBS Act may help create. 

How to stop costly meetings and increase effective communication

Communication is crucial when it comes to operating a small to medium sized business. Whether it be about how many products are in the warehouse compared to what's on the floor, or when a budget report is due to a senior analyst, knowing the when, where and what of daily tasks is essential for all employees.

Often times, businesses will cover this information gap by holding multiple meetings a day. Although most meetings are productive when it comes to assessing progress on certain projects and assigning workloads for others, some meetings can not only be pointless but also expensive and inefficient. Forbes' March 26 article, "We've Got to Stop Meeting Like This: 7 Reasons to Cancel Your Next Meeting" outlines why companies should cut down on meetings and increase effective communications through other lines.

Forbes' greatest reasoning for limiting the amount of meetings a company conducts in a day is how expensive one can be. When hourly wages, transportation costs and catering are all taken into account, oftentimes the meeting isn't nearly worth how much it's costing the company. Further exacerbating this is that most meetings don't have a specific point and direction, they often end up with workers searching for something to meet about rather than solving a particular issue which means they are also unproductive – another reason cited as not to meet.

Rather than quickly slimming down on meetings per day, a company can increase the effectiveness and productivity of its employees and cut down on meetings through more fluid intra-company communications by seeking a custom software developer or a Filemaker consultant to develop a customized database software that will allow employees to store and access vital information. This will allow workers to increase productivity and also cut down on costly meetings by encouraging better communication throughout the organization. 

JOBS Act intended to create small business growth passes Senate

On March 22, the United States Senate passed a bill known as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) that allows small business to acquire capital and go public with more ease than before.

As the economy starts to climb out of the recession and the technology industry experiences an unprecedented red shift in growth and innovation, this new legislation comes in support of that, hoping to generate more job growth for small businesses as it demystifies the processes of gaining private funding.

The JOBS Act, essentially, does three things.

First, through a relatively new concept called "crowdfunding", it increases the opportunity for equity investment. The small internet investments of crowdfunding used to be very limited, according to Reuters, but the JOBS Act removes those limitations – mostly involving the ability to crowdfund equity investments.

The Act also eases up on public disclosures. Before the JOBS Act – which still needs to go through the House of Representatives and get signed by President Obama – the SEC stated that companies with over 500 shareholders and $10 million in assets are required to follow public disclosure rules. Under the JOBS Act those numbers are increased to 2,000 shareholders.

Furthermore, the JOBS Act states that "emerging growth companies" – companies with less than $1 billion in revenue that wish to go public – are exempt from some of the Dodd-Frank rules and are required to file fewer financial reporting statements to acquire an IPO.

Across the board, the JOBS Act is being considered an excellent way for small to medium sized businesses to save money while also expanding and growing. The revenue saved by companies through the JOBS Act can be used to consult software developing companies to create a stellar website to enhance online presence for crowdfunding, or to create customized database software for better business practices. 

Homepages determinant of online profitability

E-commerce is a major facet of modern markets. If a business – especially a small one – wishes to be competitive in their respective industry, it's absolutely critical that they maintain an excellent online presence through the use of a well-designed homepage.

Hubspot – a Boston-based online marketing company – published an infographic on the 12 critical elements every homepage needs. Hubspot also stated that one company saw a 105.9 percent increase in online conversions from moving just a few key elements higher up on their homepage. According to Hubspot, to increase the potential for considerable profit gains, companies homepages should have:

1. A headline that informs the viewer exactly what the website is offering
2. A sub headline to offer a brief, colloquial description of the service or product
3. Benefits of using the company's product should be prominently displayed
4. A primary call-to action that will convert traffic into leads
5. Some key features of the product or service along with the benefits of using it
6. A couple short quotes from customers to prove the quality of the product
7. Success indicators like awards and recognitions
8. A clear navigation display so viewers can easily click their way through the site
9. A supporting image or video that clearly displays what the site is offering
10. Some kind of content – like a white paper or a News or Blog page
11. A link to a resource where customers can learn more before making a decision, since 96 percent of visitors are normally not ready to buy
12. A secondary call to action placed at the bottom of a page to remind a viewer what the company has to offer.

By seeking improved database software and consulting software developing companies to assist with the remodeling of their website, a business stands an excellent chance at capitalizing on the same profit increases. 

Survey says Americans maintain rich mobile life

A recent survey by online publication Light Reading took responses from 550 telecom professionals that included 120 service providers and found that the "average person has a rich mobile life made up of mobile device ownership and daily use of technologies like mobile video, mobile apps and Wi-Fi," as reported by Sarah Reedy, senior reporter and the study's author.

According to the survey, 34 percent of respondents say they use more than 1 gigabyte (GB) of mobile data per month while 12 percent used over 3GB. As far as social network status updates, 63 percent stated they update theirs at least once a day while 41 percent use up to six different apps on a regular basis.

Furthermore, with the advent of the new iPad, 15 percent of those surveyed plan on buying an LTE-capable tablet this year.

The results of Light Reading's survey are very indicative of the importance of maintaining a mobile and online presence into today's marketplace. With more Americans spending more time online than before, small businesses need to take increased measures in securing a prominent place in the minds of the mobile inclined.

For example, PayPal's new mobile payment system – PayPal Here – was recently released to compete with rival, Square – a mobile payment startup founded by Twitter, Inc. The two services allow small businesses to accept credit card payments while conducting business off-site at festivals or the now popular, pop-up flea market.

Although using apps like PayPal Here and Square while maintaining a social media presence is important for small businesses, it shouldn't take away from their overall managerial practices. By using a database software or investing in custom application development, business owners may see a drastic increase in their overall efficiency and performance to support their excellent online presence.  

Study shows how online first impressions are made

It's widely considered that first impressions are very important when meeting new people and – for small business owners – potential customers. But, research done by the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) shows that these first impressions extend to websites as well.

According to MST's study, it takes internet browsers less than two-tenths of a second to make a first impression of a website. It takes about 2.6 seconds for a user's eyes to reach an area of a website that creates the greatest influence on the user. The university mapped the eye movements of 20 students as they perused the main websites of 25 different law schools.

The study found that internet users spent 6.48 seconds on the website's logo, 6.44 seconds on the navigation bar, a little over six seconds on the search box, and then between 5.95 and 5.35 seconds on social networking links, the site's main image, written content and then the bottom of the site respectively.

Entrepreneur recently posted their recommended ways for small businesses to revamp their website, and most of these changes play on the areas that MST's subjects focused on while visiting websites.

Entrepreneur states that in order for businesses to get the best out of their websites they should focus on simplification, attention to details, having modern designs and creating dynamic content. Of those aspects of web design, all but one have to do with the cosmetic characteristics that create first impressions.

Entrepreneur says that companies should simplify their websites to just a simple call to action. Small businesses should also focus on making sure there aren't any functional problems each time the website gets updated, which often come out in the details. Entrepreneur also states that seeking a modern design for a website is a great way to express a dynamic and evolving company that "reflects your company's current direction and attitude."

Regardless of the company, seeking a software developer to create a custom site can help maximize its first impressions. 

Food trucks on rise, may benefit from custom database software

According to an August 2011 Google trends search conducted by Harvard Business Review (HBR) blogger and author, Grant McCracken, food trucks have increased dramatically in both news reference and search volume index while coffee houses have seen a slow but steady decline since 2009.

McCracken dissects the new culinary trend in his HBR blog, coming to the conclusions that food trucks are great for cultural influence and infusion – combining neighborhoods, ethnic cuisines and generating long lines of locals supporting local businesses in what are – often times – cash-only operations.

At the same time, Entrepreneur Magazine has also caught on to the food truck trend by publishing articles that outline five tips for starting a food truck. The tips and advice focus almost primarily on better business practices. Snip-its of MBA wisdom like "develop a strong brand," "budget for bad weather," and "pick a prime location" are some key examples, as well as acknowledging that "your food truck is a restaurant, not a hobby."

Treating a food truck like a restaurant rather than a hobby is a crucial aspect in ensuring a successful food truck. Staying up to date on health codes and regulations, keeping track of inventory and knowing when merchants need what ingredients by when are all crucial techniques. With the recent upswing in business productivity software on mobile phones as well as devices like tablets and laptops, it's becoming easier – and essential – for food truck owners and operators to invest in business management databases and software.

By consulting companies like FileMaker and their developers, merchants can get custom built database software tailored specifically to their business – whether it be a new food truck or otherwise – to help them create better business practices and convenience by using database software to keep track of key details. 

Business apps rise as new iPad becomes reality

Apple released its new iPad on March 16. The highly coveted tablet has already sold out factory inventory weeks ago and analysts predict the machine to sell in the millions. Studies also show that most corporations are now starting to utilize the technology more than ever as a means to increase productivity and efficiency.

With these increased opportunities for corporate technology, business and productivity apps are becoming increasingly popular and important for professionals and executives to keep up with the changing times as markets start to demand better service and faster., an independent marketplace for SaaS and cloud-based business applications, recently released their most popular apps for February of 2012. In the past month business, task and project management apps made up three out of the top five apps with customer support taking the other two spots.

Although customer support is the main liaison between a business and its customers, it,s clear that most companies and professionals are seeking management and efficiency apps to engage in better business practices. Business Insider has also published two articles on the importance of using apps and new technology to help manage business. The publication listed the best travel apps for entrepreneurs as well as five reasons why companies should develop their own apps.

Of the five reasons merchants should create their own apps, Business Insider cited convenience and efficiency for both customers and owners as their top reasons with cases for added revenue streams and cost efficient marketing filling in the top five.

FileMaker Go is annually regarded as one of the best mobile apps for business as their importance is starting to solidify the advent of the new iPad. Consulting a FileMaker developer to build their own app can help businesses that want to expand their presence into these prominent and emerging online markets.

Berklee admissions staff sings praises about FileMaker Go

The Berklee College of Music admissions staff recruits musicians from all over the globe, but with more than 300 auditions everyday, they needed an efficient and reliable way to take notes and record information about each performance in order to give all prospective students a fair shot at attending the Boston school. According to Campus Technology, the college has 120 staff members that meet with, interview and audition approximately 7,000 musicians every year.

While they traditionally carried this task out with laptops, Berklee dean of admissions Damien Bracken explained to the source that they were cumbersome, slow and inefficient.

Like most organizations that store large amounts of data, the school required this information to be stored in a single database, which they could do with laptops, but it was less than ideal. As soon as FileMaker Go for the iPad was released in July 2010, the admissions team jumped on the opportunity to take advantage of the customizable applications many benefits, the media outlet reports.

The school bought 20 iPads for its recruiters, and as Bracken explained, the process became significantly simpler. He told Campus Technology that the admissions staffers are able to type out information about each meeting with aspiring students and send the notes through the cloud to a main database that can be accessed remotely by anyone with the application.

"We get a lot of comments from students and parents when we pull out our iPads during auditions or check-in," Bracken told the source. "Using this type of technology is good for our image and consistent with our long-time reputation for being ahead of the curve."

Other organizations that want to improve their processes' efficiency and reliability can talk with a FileMaker developer that will build a custom mobile application that can be used for countless solutions.

FileMaker DevCon heads to South Beach in 2012

FileMaker developers from all over will be taking their talents to South Beach this summer for the FileMaker Developer Conference 2012. This year's DevCon will be held this summer from July 16 to July 19 at Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Florida.

One of the greatest things about FileMaker is its enormous network of developers that work together to find new ways to take advantage of the versatile customization capabilities of the leading database software platform. The annual DevCon draws in over 1,100 FileMaker developers from more than 35 countries, according to a press release.

The convention is a four-day series of events where developers can bounce ideas off each other based on their own experiences, collaborate with other industry leaders, hone their developing skills and learn about new advancements in FileMaker programming.

This year, there will be more than 70 different sessions and workshops for attendees to check out. Because of the increased popularity of FileMaker Go, there will be an increased number of sessions related to custom application development.

In the meantime, Tri-State and New England-based FileMaker developers can check out the the Connecticut FileMaker Developer's Group that meets monthly to discuss industry news and learn about new techniques and uses for the software. The next two meetings will be held in the Student Center at Central Connecticut State College in New Britain, Connecticut from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on March 28 and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 18.

Businesses turn to FileMaker not only because of the program's versatility, but also because of the close-knit group of developers who work together to drive innovation and find new ways to take advantage of the leading database software program.