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The New York Times Make Your Pitch Contest

7 May

If you are an entrepreneur with a new business or a breakthrough business idea,the New York Times wants to meet you.

Send your pitch on video. Introduce your product or service, your marketing plans, your customer base. Explain what makes your business different — why it is one to watch? Do you need capital? If so, how much and what for? Most important, how are you going to make money? For more suggestions on how to draft your pitch, please watch the video below.

New York Times video

All video pitches that meet the submission guidelines will be featured on The New York Times small-business Facebook page.

Once your video is ready, you can upload it to YouTube and send a link to MakeYourPitch@nytimes.com. And for full rules and instructions, please click here.

Contest ends August 29, 2012

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6 Top Free Business Name Generators!!!

26 Dec

Are you having trouble coming up with a business name?. There are many free online tools to help people just like you.

Here are 6 of the top Business Name Generators.

WORDLAB
Wordlab’s uniqueness is that it provides industry based business name generators. It has more than half a dozen different generators like Team Name Generator, Restaurant Name Generator, Band Name Generator, etc. It also provides a separate domain name availability checker.

NAMESTATION
NameStation is a great tool if you are looking for a business name along with a domain. NameStation return business name ideas along with the domain availability status. It uses keyword lists, brainstorming, dictionaries, etc. to create random names based on your input.It has features like adding prefixes and suffixes, setting minimum and maximum length and combining keywords with many preset categorized wordlists like random adjectives, random nouns, medicine, music, technical, etc. It also has features to include synonyms and custom wordlists.

DOTOMATOR
Use Dot-o-Mator to generate business and domain name suggestions. Enter one or more words, and then choose some prefixes or suffixes (you can also add your own). Click COMBINE to get the results. You can save all the creative business names you like to a scratch board and check availability of related domain names.

COMPANY NAME GENERATOR
Company Name Generator is one of the most advanced free online business name generators. You can customize the generator by selecting patterns of vowels and consonants you wish to have. You can also select a wordlist for prefixes and suffixes. Although this service does not provide domain name availability checker it can provide valuable new business name suggestions.

BUST A NAME
Bust a Name is a complete domain name researcher and generator. You enter a few keywords, set options like domain extensions, prefixes, suffixes, hyphen, etc. and hit ADD. You can then sort, search, save and review related domains names. This is one of the top name generators if you are looking for a business name for an online venture.

WRITE EXPRESS
Write Express helps name businesses, products and websites. You start by entering a word or syllable that is associated to your business. You then choose a wordlist, number of desired syllables and a few more options and hit FIND NAMES. This is an easy to use tool and can help you find a business name from dozens of potential names in quick time.

12 Hot Consumer Trends for 2012

19 Dec

In 2012, much as in previous years, some brands may be staring into the abyss, while others will do exuberantly well. And while we can’t offer any help to defaulting nations or bankrupt companies, we do believe that there are more opportunities than ever for creative brands and entrepreneurs to deliver on changing consumer needs. From Canada to Korea. Hence this overview of 12 must-know consumer trends (in random order) for you to run with in the next 12 months. Onwards and upwards:

1.

In 2012, department stores, airlines, hotels, theme parks, museums, if not entire cities and nations around the world will roll out the red carpet for the new emperors, showering Chinese visitors and customers with tailored services and perks, and in general, lavish attention and respect.

Read RED CARPET in full (including examples from Hilton, Starwood and Harrods)

2. DIY HEALTH

Expect to see consumers take advantage of new technologies and apps to discreetly and continuously track, manage and be alerted to, any changes in their personal health.

Read DIY HEALTH in full (including examples from Jawbone, Ford and Lifelens)

3. DEALER-CHIC

In 2012, not only will consumers continue to hunt for deals and discounts, but they will do so with relish if not pride. Deals are now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived smartness, and thus a source of status too.

Read DEALER-CHIC in full (including examples from American Express, Nokitum and Daitan)

4. ECO-CYCOLOGY

Brands will increasingly take back all of their products for recycling (sometimes forced by new legislation), and recycle them responsibly and innovatively.

Read ECO-CYCOLOGY in full (including examples from Dell, Nike and Garnier)

5. CASH-LESS

Will coins and notes completely disappear in 2012? No. But a cashless future is (finally) upon us, as major players such as MasterCard and Google work to build a whole new eco-system of payments, rewards and offers around new mobile technologies.

Read CASH-LESS in full (including examples from Google, PayPal and Square)

6. BOTTOM OF THE URBAN PYRAMID

The majority of consumers live in cities, yet in much of the world city life is chaotic, cramped and often none too pleasant. However at the same time, the creativity and vibrancy of these aspiring consumers, means that the global opportunities for brands which cater to the hundreds of millions of lower-income CITYSUMERS are unprecedented.

Read BOUP in full (including examples from PepsiCo, NCR and Aakash)

7. IDLE SOURCING

Anything that makes it downright simple- if not completely effortless- for consumers to contribute to something will be more popular than ever in 2012. Unlocked by the spread of ever smarter sensors in mobile phones, people will not only be able but increasingly willing, to broadcast information about where and what they are doing, to help improve products and services.

Read IDLE SOURCING in full (including examples from Street Bump and Waze)

8. FLAWSOME

Why to consumers, brands that behave more humanly, including exposing their flaws, will be awesome.

Read FLAWSOME in fullhere.

9. SCREEN CULTURE

Thanks to the continued explosion of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and the ‘cloud’, 2012 will see a SCREEN CULTURE that is not only more pervasive, but more personal, more immersive and more interactive than ever.

Read SCREEN CULTURE in full (including examples from Sky, 8ta and Huawei)

10. RECOMMERCE

It’s never been easier for savvy consumers to resell or trade in past purchases, and unlock the value in their current possessions. In 2012, ‘trading in’ is the new buying.

Read RECOMMERCE in full (including examples from Decathlon, Amazon and Levi’s)

11. EMERGING MATURIALISM

While cultural differences will continue to shape consumer desires, middle-class and/or younger consumers in almost everymarket will embrace brands that push the boundaries. Expect frank, risqué or non-corporate products, services and campaigns from emerging markets to be on the rise in 2012.

Read EMERGING MATURIALISM in full(including examples from Diesel, Johnson & Johnson and Sanitol)

12. POINT & KNOW

Consumers are used to being able to find out just about anything that’s online or text-based, but 2012 will see instant visualinformation gratification brought into the real and visual world with objects and even people.

Read POINT & KNOW in full (including examples from Starbucks, eBay and Amazon)

 

Source: www.trendwatching.com. One of the world’s leading trend firms, trendwatching.com sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.

 

5 Hot Industries to Start a Business in 2012

18 Dec
English: A business centre in Plovdiv

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
Today’s business environment is hyper-competitive and constantly in flux. To increase response time, companies have turned to temporary employees, in an effort to stay productive while managing overhead. This trend is projected to continue through 2012, pushing up the employment rate in this sector by 54%. Interestingly, employment services will be a major player in the home healthcare industry, the sixth best industry to start and grow a business, according to our survey. Hospitals and other medical facilities will rely heavily on temporary workers to meet the needs of the aging baby boomers. All told, between now and 2012, the sector should see a healthy output rate of 5.1% each year.

CONSULTING
As the economy expands and the nature of business becomes more complex, the demand for consultants increases, which helps explain the huge 55% job growth expectation for this industry, as well as a healthy 4.1% per year rate of output through 2012.Business consultants are projected to do well, based on the increasing number of businesses that will need help drafting business plans, budgets, and international strategies. Businesses also will continue to need consultants specializing in government compliance to help navigate the federal government’s sea of regulations.

HOME HEALTHCARE
While employment in the health service industry is projected to grow 28% by 2012, employment in the specialized home health care industry is expected to be nearly twice that, or 54.5%. Each year, over 7.6 million people are provided with home health care services. There are two reasons for this growth: demographics and medical advancements. In demographic terms, the number of people in older age groups is growing faster than the total population because of the post-war baby boom followed by a drop in the birthrate of American woman. Secondly, advancements in medical technologies have extended the lives of the very ill and the very old. The combination of these two factors means that the need for home healthcare and nursing and residential care will grow.

CHILD CARE
When women started pouring into the workforce 30 years ago, a new industry was created: childcare. The child day care service industry has become one of the fastest-growing businesses in the U.S. It takes in more than $11 billion annually, and it’s projected to get bigger, thanks to an expected increase in the number of woman between the ages of 15 and 44 entering the workforce. With the 40-hour work creeping upwards, parents will need more childcare services, particularly later into the evening and on weekends. For these reasons, the number of persons working in childcare is expected to grow 43% by 2012.

ENTERTAINMENT
The baby boomers are going to be the richest retirees in our nation’s history. So what are they going to do with their cash? Spend it, of course. With plenty of time and a penchant for enjoying life, the baby boomers are expected to drive the arts and entertainment sector, which is projected to increase in employment by 31.3% over the next decade.The arts, entertainment and recreation sector, which includes anything from golf courses to casinos, will also benefit from a younger clientele. Over the last decade, the saving rate among Americans has fallen, partly because of an increase in the cost of living, but also because of increase spending on discretionary items. This trend, coupled with the demand from baby boomers, provides entrepreneurs with many business opportunities.

For more information visit Inc.com





Small Business of the Year Contest 2012 – DREAM BIG & Win $10K

24 Oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter by January 6, 2012

Nominate an outstanding business from your community or submit your own application for the 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club.

All award winners will be honored during America’s Small Business Summit on May 22 in Washington, D.C. Blue Ribbon Award® winners will receive one complimentary registration to attend the Summit, courtesy of Sam’s Club.

Nominations are due January 6 and applications are due January 13. The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Awards program is designed to honor our nation’s job creators and recognize their significant contributions as drivers of economic growth.

The winner of the DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Award criteria, eligibility requirements, and the timeline can be found here. See all levels of recognition.

www.uschambersummit.com

9 Crowdfunding Websites for Entrepreneurs and Artists

16 Aug

Here are 9 alternative sources of funding for entrepreneurs and artists who are trying to raise capital for their startup or project.

MicroVentures

Also described as peer-to-peer lending, MicroVentures works with investors as well as with those who need money to get a certain project off the ground. According to their website, MicroVentures works with small companies and businesses in variety of areas:
Biotechnology
Business Products and Services
Computers and Peripherals
Consumer Products and Services
Education

Environment
Electronics
Financial Services
Healthcare Services
Internet Technology
IT Services
Media and Entertainment
Medical Devices and Equipment
Other
Retail/Distribution
Semiconductors
Software
Telecommunications
These companies pay $100 to MicroVentures and then send their business plan to the site for approval. Once approved, this idea will be posted on the website for serious investors to consider.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site that is getting a lot of attention these days. With creative people posting new projects that need funding every day, this site is a place where the bohemian idea can turn into a viable possibility. The process is simple and a person can setup their Kickstarter project in just a few hours. A person posts their project details and creates a funding goal. During a certain period of time, investors and individuals are able to contribute so that the project meets or exceeds that goal. The project will only get the funding if the goal is met.
When the project creator reaches their goal, Kickstarter takes 5% of the monies for their service.

Quirky

If you’re a designer who needs to have financial support, Quirky is a crowdfunding site that supports your creative and inventive needs. The most valuable part of Quirky is the feedback you can receive for your project idea. For a $10 fee, you can post your idea and then see what others think about it. This allows you to create a product or service that is going to meet your market needs, increasing your chances of success. Once you have received feedback, then Quirky will decide whether or not they want to make the product. If they do, then you get paid. With the community vibe, Quirky is more of a progressive site than a straightforward investment site.

RocketHub

At RocketHub, you will find there are two audiences this crowdfunding site helps: Fuelers and Creatives. Fuelers are the ones who invest in the projects that the Creatives post. Unlike Kickstarter, there is more interaction on the RocketHub site, with plenty of resources for those who want to refine their idea before or after they post it on the site. Users can earn rewards or badges on the site in order to promote each other.
On RocketHub, there is a flat rate of 8% for Creatives who receive investments from Fuelers.

Pozible

When you look at Pozible, you will notice this is another crowdfunding site that offers many of the same tools as other sites already listed. What users will want to keep in mind is that local projects that are not based in Australia may not be as well received on this Australian website. Like other sites, companies and individuals will post their projects on the site and then investors will decide whether to invest in the projects or not.

Fees for using Pozible include 2.4% for PayPal transactions, 5% for invitees, and 7.5% for everyday users.

IndieGogo

With IndieGogo, you’ll find a creative crowdfunding site that’s interested in everything from performing arts to gaming ideas. Since one of the partnerships with IndieGogo is MTV, this is a valuable resource for those who want to break into the music and entertainment industry, but need the funding to get started with their unique idea. Like Kickstarter and others, you will need to meet your funding request before you can receive the funds. What sets IndieGogo apart is its use of pre-sales and rewards, which can create buzz for a project, even before it is funded and ready for the public eye.

CoFundos

If you’re interested in creating an open source software project, then CoFundos is the right crowdfunding site for you. Here, developers can post their open source software ideas, get feedback, and then request funds to continue to develop the project. You can post an idea and developers can agree to make your idea into a real program. While funding is not the only source of assistance on this site, donations are expected from those who decide to bid on a project idea.

Fans Next Door

Fans Next Door is a crowdfunding site that accepts all types of creative projects:
Visual arts
Performances
Fashion
Video games
Design
Music
Crafts

Here, posters will post their ideas and then investors will come along and help fund the idea. Since there is a reward system in place, investors are compelled to invest more as they will get more for their investment when they do. And the biggest plus of this European (beta) site is that there are no additional fees outside of the PayPal processing fees.

Crowdfunding is a new way to make sure that smaller companies and artists get the funding they need. By spreading out the investors, funding isn’t as difficult to achieve, but success is.

ProFounder

Profounder operates on the basis that inside everyone’s social circle both online and offline – there are people who are willing to support your dream. Each of those people potentially becomes an investor in your company, and equity is split amongst them. Profounder gives you the tools to raise the capital that you need, and the tools to manage all of the associated book-keeping, legals and compliance fillings. Right now, the site is still very much in alpha status, with registrations due to open in the Autumn. Still you can sign up for status as an ‘alpha entreupreneur’ if you want to start earlier than that, and are serious about using the system.

Start your own e-commerce business in minutes with Shopify!

10 Jun
Shopify

Image via Wikipedia

Want to own your own online store?

Etsy is cool and so is Ebay but have you heard of Shopify?

Shopify is the most elegant, customizable and affordable hosted e-commerce platform available. It allows you to set up an incredible  online store in minutes, and you can sell just about anything. You can easily organize your products, customize your storefront, use your own domain, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders, and they host it all for you. Even if you already have a physical storefront, your online shop is open 24/7, open for business to the entire world. Imagine the increased opportunities and revenue you can earn by broadening your business, and do it with just a few clicks.

Shopify is extremely easy to use. You don’t need a web designer, developer, or technical expertise to get your site up and running, and managing it is a breeze. Simply select a Shopify theme that suits your style, and add your products. It’s that simple. If you happen to get stuck, every Shopify store comes with helpful, friendly and fun support team to help you along the way. In addition to technical support, Shopify e-commerce gurus are at your disposal; ready to help you make the most out of your online store and maximize your business potential. This group of highly trained e-commerce experts provides hints, tips, and incentives for effectively reaching your business goals.

Shopify is full of great features:
Fully customizable- easily reflect your brand the way you want to
Content Management- made easy with our slick user interface
Store Analytics- track and view your customer activity
Promotions- Coupon codes, A/B testing, and sales
Security- Hosted on the world’s safest and most reliable servers, with free unlimited bandwidth
Support- technical and ecommerce; we’re here to help in every way
App store- take your store to the next level with integrated applications

From the stay at home mom selling handmade knitwear, to companies like Angry Birds, Tesla Motors, Foo Fighters, and even not-for-profits like Amnesty International, over 12,000 stores use Shopify.

Shopify offers a completely risk free 30 day trial for everyone who signs up. So go ahead and test out that online business idea you’ve always wondered about- it could change your life.

HOT TIP

Shopify currently has a contest going on that could win you a lot of money.
There are some serious prizes here – grand prize $100,000, and $20,000 prizes for product-specific winners. There are also small prizes for the first 2,500 to sign up, like business books and ad credits.

Enter the contest here  http://www.shopify.com/contest 

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