Cashflow is defined as “The total amount of money being transferred into and out of a business”, it is much more about the amount of cash your business has at that moment in time than metrics like profit. Cashflow can cause big problems for small businesses, particularly for seasonal businesses. That painful time between invoicing and payment is felt by most small businesses but if you pay attention to your business’ cashflow this pain can be minimized.

The first step in good cashflow management is to set cashflow targets. By preparing and maintaining a cashflow forecast that you update regularly (cashflow is an ever-changing situation) you are able to get an idea of the financial outlook of your business for the next six months or so. This cashflow forecast will demonstrate to your credit controllers that you are giving this area attention and create the opportunity to assign cashflow responsibilities out to appropriate people within your team.

Once you have your cashflow forecast in the bag, the next thing to think about is establishing agreed payment terms. Once you know payment terms it will be so much easier to know when payments are going to be overdue and manage your cashflow situation.

Your business will have control over certain factors which affect cashflow. One such factor is invoicing. Your business will have the power to control when invoices get sent out. It is best practice that you send out client invoices as soon as possible after the work is finished. If you wait a week or so until after the work is finished the money will probably not be in your bank account until about three weeks after it has been completed. If you issue the invoice by email this process will take much less time and there will be an easily accessible record of the invoice.

Another factor which your business may have some control over is customer payments. The customer payment process should be made as easy as possible. Offering your customers ways of paying that are more timely and suitable to your business like paying online and deterring customers from paying by check is a good way to ensure a good cashflow.

In some instances you may be able to make direct debits the norm for your business. Establishing direct debits will allow your business to scale without an increase in the cost of collection.

If your business can afford to do so, than it is really time and energy saving to be able to use technology to manage your cashflow. There are almost endless ways that your business could use technology to help manage your cashflow. Something like cloud accounting software can save people working within your business time and help you keep track of your finances. Budgeting software is another great way for small businesses to stay on top of cashflow.

Regardless whether you’re selling software, shoes or a business, marketing your products to your target market is crucial to your business. And though TVC and billboards are still very much common, advertising is significantly shifting toward digital.

According to experts, small business owners should ride the trend if they want to survive much longer. But given their limited budget, SME owners should be wary in picking which digital medium to use in order to maximize their ad budget. Here are some of the digital channels that we recommend to small businesses.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn are some of the most popular Social Media platforms. Creating a business page account on these is fast and easy. Posting and interacting with your audience is simple, too. However, it takes time to grow your audience, but once you get a knack of it, it will be very rewarding. You can also use their paid ads services to acquire fans in less time. In Facebook, for example, you can choose between Sponsored Stories, Page Post Ads, Like Ads, Promoted Posts and Facebook Offers to gain engagement and likes on your Facebook Page.

Email

Email is among the first tools that marketers use to promote their products and services. But up to now it is still among the marketers’ most considerable tools online. Why? Because email basically works. According to 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, 60% of marketers say email marketing is producing ROI for them. Moreover, it has a longer lifespan compared to Facebook post where almost 74% of the messages you post are being ignored by the users.

So if you’re one of the business owners who think email is dying, think again. Email is still alive and building out your email list is important for your business.

Text Blast

Did you know that the open rate for text messages is higher than 90 percent? Indeed that’s a whopping number, making text blast a very effective and cost-friendly digital campaign tool. There are mobile servicing companies which you can hire to help you conduct a text blast campaign. You can choose your target market and the type of campaign you want which you think that would be most appealing to your target audience.

Website

Almost every business has a website nowadays. That in itself is reason enough to build a website for your business, but that’s not all. We all know that appearing on the top of the search engine results page can do your business good as users click through the sites that they can find on the first page. Hence, you shouldn’t stop on building your website. You should also ensure that your site is being found on the top of the search engine, especially on Google where most of the search activities happen.

The business world has recently been inundated with the buzz about Twitter, a web-based social networking application assisting those who wish to keep in touch with customers, clients and friends. Remarkably, it’s already allowed some entrepreneurs to double their clientele while efficiently enhancing their word of mouth marketing. The following will provide a thumb-nail sketch of the most important steps and tips for effectively using Twitter.

Getting Started
I highly suggest making your username, your business name. This will add a branding element in addition to Google ranking your Twitter account for your company searches, thus increases your prospects’ chances of finding you online. For your profile image, use a picture of yourself so that followers can associate your image with the company name. This is especially true if you as the owner are doing the tweeting. When designing your profile background, use one of the templates provided by sites like Twitterbacks or FreeTwitterDesign. Customize your account as much as possible by creating relevant a username, image and background to convey your brand.

Using Tweetdeck
After creating your account and customizing your profile, it’s vital to supplement your account with a management tool or application. Tweetdeck is probably the most used site for this which allows you to update and use Twitter more efficiently. Having thousands of followers necessitates the ability to filter the multitude of conversations. For example, it can allow you to just see a handful of your friends’ tweets even though you may be following 5,000 people. It also lets your search for a group of people based on keywords specific to a given business. The possibilities are virtually endless with this capability when you consider a local business seeking to track a certain town or zip code.

Personality
So many businesses fail because their customers do not know, like, and trust them. Today in 2009 it has never been easier for small business owners to integrate their personal touch with their product by using the internet and social media sites like Twitter. The less personable you seem, the less likely consumers will believe you. Consequently, you should also feel free to tweet non-business updates that allow your customers to acclimate themselves with your true character and interests.

Building Value
Don’t expect to have thousands of followers from week one. Rather, focus on building true customer loyalty and satisfaction by what they take away from your updates. Your goal is to garner a core group of fans who end up telling their friends about who you are and what you have to offer. One example of this is by you giving free advice, tutorials or samples to consumers that need your product or service. It strengthens your reputations and integrity if done with sincere honesty. In the long run these customers will remember you when their need arises, thus equating to more sales and greater revenue.

Summary
Twitter offers businesses a new way to connect with consumers and build customer loyalty. It’s important to take the right steps to make your profile and workflow receptive to new customers. Properly fill out your profile, use a Twitter application like Tweetdeck, and create a strategy for your business to make the best use of this new social platform.

Has your small business outgrown the garden, the front room or the garage? Do you find that the cramped space you are working in is closing in on you and that it cannot accommodate your growing needs?

As small businesses grow at amazing speeds, many small business owners are grappling with the dilemma of finding affordable business centers to operate from. A virtual office and a one-room space can provide a start-up, but they cannot help the business establish a professional business address. Only a commercial office in an up market location can do that.

This is where the current trend of leasing executive offices can help.

What is a leased commercial office?

Normally, business owners would rent a building or an office. They would then have to deal with a number of endless details like utilities, telephony, furniture, facilities and so on. On top of that, there would be a time gap between looking for the perfect office premises and finding a place that can be a good business address for your company. Then, there is the designing work and the décor to be taken care of.

By leasing an executive office, your business acquires an established commercial office in a good location in town. The office contains all the facilities you would normally require for running a business including office furniture, secretarial rooms, conference halls, telephony, facilities for high speed internet access and state of the art business equipment.

Some of the advantages of leasing a business address include:

1. Flexibility: Ready to use business centers offer you a lot of flexibility. Business owners are under no obligation to sign a long lease as is traditionally done while renting an office building. That means, small business owners can easily upgrade to better facilities as their needs evolve, without having to cut down on staff or skimp on space.

2. Speed: When you lease a ready-to-use business center, you have the freedom to move in, set up shop and start working in less than 24 hours! You will get fully furnished executive offices, with additional services thrown in, without wasting your time or energy on arranging these.

3. Impressive facilities: Fully furnished business centers generally come with: – Office furniture – Office equipment, which will be charged according to usage – Telephone services, which will be charged according to usage – Answering and fax machines – Postal services, which will be charged according to usage – Meeting room rentals – Conference halls – Refreshment areas

4. Inexpensive: Since the office equipment is maintained by the service provider, running costs are low. For a new business that leases a serviced business center, start up costs are low while they still enjoy the use of tastefully decorated business environments. State of the art equipment is available at a fraction of the cost it would normally require to purchase, install and maintain these.

Check whether your website has been indexed by Google. Use the following command – “site:yourwebsite.com.au” – on Google. If it shows results, it means your site has been indexed by Google. The results it lists are the pages of your website included in Google’s index. Getting your site indexed is the first step to top rankings.

If your site has not been indexed by Google, you can submit your site to Google as well as reputed free directories like hotfrog.com.au.

Check the permission to the search engine spiders to different folders on your site by typing “yourwebsite.com.au/robots.txt.” If you are among the 76% of the small business websites that don’t have robot definitions then visit Google Webmaster Forum and insert the code into your website

When your site has been indexed by Google, start to review the on page elements on your website. These include title tags meta-descriptions. Make sure that the words which people most frequently use to find your products or services are used in these tags in a meaningful way

If you are not sure, which keywords work best for you, check what keywords your competition are using. Also ask your prospects/customers what they would type in Google to find your products/services. To verify the actual search volumes for these keywords, use the following Keyword research tool. Make sure you select the target country to get the correct search volume

Customise your website content to naturally include these keywords in the top few lines and the last few lines of your text. Keep keyword density to 3-5%. Keyword density is number of keywords divided by number of words.

Keep your page names in line with the keywords you are targeting e.g, a page targeting the word ‘luxury resorts’ should have the word in the subdomain (e.g yourwebsite.com/luxury-resorts). Another page targeting Bali Luxury Villas should have the name yourwebsite.com/Bali-luxury-villas.

When changing page names, use a 301 redirect to give the information to the search engine.

Create inner links from pages within your site with the relevant keywords as anchor text. Anchor text is the visible, clickable part of a hyperlink

Put alt tags in images (alt tags are text describing what the image is about). Here you can include keywords where applicable and remember not to be spammy.

Provide useful content and resources on your website so that webmasters link to your site. It could be a compilation of resources which people look for, a blog providing industry insights or white papers. Tools, Calculators etc can be useful.

Install Google Analytics to monitor how much traffic your website is getting, what sources this traffic comes from, how much time do visitors spend on each page of your website and what action they perform. This information can help you make ongoing improvements to your site and improve the usage metrics

For the small business, the internet is one of the greatest advantages you have. It creates a more level playing field with the larger companies who have a big fat advertising and marketing budget. For a much smaller cost in time and money, an entrepreneur can practically get the same results online as a much larger business.

In this article, we’ll discuss a simple four-step process that anyone can use to create a money-making system on the web. This will work for big business, small business, or even a single entrepreneur looking to sell his or her skills or products.

This is not one of those get rich quick schemes. When we say system, we’re not talking about something you have to buy. This is a system or a tactic with four associated strategies to create a website that makes you money. This will give you the foundation to succeed online. After reading this, you will either want to do more research to get more detailed information and / or you will want to consult with an internet marketing professional to plan your specific campaign.

Step 1 – Prepare your Website

Before you can begin turning your company website into a money maker, you have to have one. If you have one, you have to prepare it for your campaign. Keep in mind that when we speak here about your website making you money, this does not necessarily mean an online store. Your website may not, in and of itself, be a point of sale. But it can be the key that unlocks a sale, or anything in between.

There are several main things you will want your website to do or to have in order to be prepared. The first of these is that your site must actually be well-planned and well-constructed. It should be fast-loading, easy to navigate and clear in its intentions and what it has to say. When people arrive, they should be able to figure out almost instantly who you are, what you’re about and what value they’ll get out of being there.

The second thing you need to do is optimize your site for the search engines. You’ve probably heard the term SEO, well this is what it means. The site’s key elements must be set up for maximum search ability. Your content must also be keyword rich while at the same time being reader friendly. This is very important. After all, there is no point in driving traffic to your website if when they get there it’s filled with gibberish. SEO is a critical component in your online marketing efforts and should not be overlooked. We’re fond of saying that it’s not the whole picture, but SEO is certainly an important piece of the puzzle.

The third part of this step is to make sure that your website offers something of value. This goes beyond the obvious offering of your product or service. The site should also contain relevant information, video or articles on the product or service. You can also add interactive features that allow the visitor to connect with you whether they are ready to buy or not. You might have a newsletter, free opt-in offer, links to resources and so on. Give them multiple ways to connect with you and for you to get them into an email list.

Step 2 – Set up Off-site Accounts

This is where you will branch out into the cyber jungle. In today’s market, it’s not enough to just put up a website. The days of thinking that if you build it, they will come are long gone. You must spread yourself out a little.

There is a dizzying array of options here, so let’s keep it simple. For beginners, pick four main off-site locations to set yourself up. This can vary depending on what you do, but a good start might be a Facebook page, A LinkedIn account, a YouTube channel and a blog. Just these four will give you a pretty good start, and certainly give you or your internet marketer plenty to manage.

There are a few things to keep in mind when setting these accounts up. First, make sure that they contain both personal as well as business information. People connect more with individuals than faceless companies. Set yourself up as the face of ABC industries. Ensure that each of these accounts has a working link back to your website, and to each other. This is critical. Make sure that all information is up to date and accurate as well.

You will use these accounts to promote yourself, post updates, new information, third-party information and communicate with your networks. Also make sure that once set up, your website has clear links back to these accounts as well.

Step 3 – Content marketing

Here is where you or your marketer will begin to publish content on the web that will be linked back to you. This is a huge benefit because it provides quality back links, which helps your search rankings and drives traffic. Publishing content is also another area where SEO must be used. Remember, if something can be searched, it can be optimized.

Here is a brief list of some effective content marketing strategies:

Articles: write and publish informative articles that are related to what you do. Create at least three or four variations of each so that you can publish them on different article directories. This increases the amount of content out there to be searched while keeping it unique.

Blog: write frequent posts in your blog. Remember to promptly respond to comments and other posts.

Videos: use your YouTube channel. Create a series of how to or educational videos about you and your business that give real value to the viewer and that drive traffic back to you.

Post free ads: There are dozens of free advertising sites. Make use of them and put up ads to your website, blogs, articles and more.

Guest blog: Go out there and write posts or comments on others’ blogs. This is a great way to increase your exposure and create more relevant links.

PPC’s: Don’t’ be afraid to do a little pay per click advertising. Even for a small amount of money, you can drive some good quality traffic to your sites, your blogs or wherever you want.

Step 4 – interact and Cross-promote

There is something important to keep in mind here. When you are promoting yourself, be careful to keep a balance between direct self-promotion and independent information that is relevant. You’re not just going for a hard sell. You want to build a reputation of authority.

It is in this step where you will actively participate online to promote yourself and your information. This is where you will post on your Facebook, interact with the community on YouTube, create connections on LinkedIn and write for your blog. But as stated, go about this carefully. Use the 80/20 rule. This means that the majority of the time, your posts and information is not directly related to pushing your products and services. Save that for the twenty percent.

One good way to interact is to join one or two discussion forums that relate to what you do. After a short time, they will allow you to post links and even create a profile with a link back to your websites. This is a great opportunity to network and build a community because you can easily become a source of answers to others’ questions.

Use everything you’ve created including your website, your social media, your YouTube, your blogs, your forums and link each of these to each other as well as your website. This is how you build a huge spider web of relevant sites around yours, and vastly improve your search rankings, website traffic and conversion rates.

Yes, we did blow through this pretty fast. In each of these steps, there is certainly a lot of detail that needs to be understood. But with this simple step by step framework, you can create a system of success for yourself, your website and your company. It’s going to be some work and certainly will require an investment of time and possibly money. In the long run, however, the amount of success you will generate will be worth it. Remember that most of the things mentioned here build upon themselves and increase all on their own. After a time, your systems will pump a steady stream of visitors and income into your business.

Good luck!

Introduction

It is widely recognised that Email and the Internet is here to stay! Both mediums have become a vital part of business and personal communication in a world that increasingly relies on technology. We understand its benefits and sometimes berate its downsides; too much email, lack of personal communication, spam, the risk of employees accessing inappropriate material and using employer resources for personal gain.

This gain in technology has not come without cost as increasingly employers and employees are being bought to task over breaches of copyright, confidentiality, privacy, discrimination and harassment and in some instances criminal offences (pornography, obscene and threatening material).

This fact sheet examines ways of measures you can take to greatly reduce and protect your business from legal and other risks.

Recently Monash University reported that email abuse had significantly increased as employees seek to avoid personal confrontation by sending abusive e-mails to those they had targeted or are angry with instead of speaking to them face to face.

This type of behaviour places employers at risk of claims of workplace harassment and discrimination and it is important that you take measures to ensure that this type of activity is clearly communicated as unacceptable to your employees.

By way of example, Biz Momentum undertook a sexual harassment investigation for an employer after an employee complained of sexual harassment by a work colleague. Biz Momentum found that the work colleague had unlawfully accessed 500 different pornographic web-sites over a period of 6 months and at the expense of the employer. The employer took appropriate action.

What should I include in my electronic mail & Internet policy

Biz Momentum recommends that you implement E-mail and Internet policies that includes the following key elements

1. Computer Policies and Procedures

2. E-mail and Internet for Business & Private Use

3. Audit

1. Policies and Procedures

Ensure that you have comprehensive computer policies and procedures relating to defined boundaries that protect you from legal risk for using your E-mail and Internet facilities.

Communicate these policies and procedures to your employees and new starts – ensure that they sign off on these policies. This cannot be understated in the event of a dispute and is best practice management in protecting your business interests.

2. Email for Business & Private Use

a. Be upfront – use of E-mail and the Internet is primarily for business use. If you allow reasonable private use, specify when (lunchbreak) and the type of mail employees may compose (electronic banking, child-care arrangements etc)

b. Be specific on what an employee may not access or use E-mail or the Internet for (breach of copyright, spam, masquerading, personal business gain, acts that incite hatred, discrimination to name a few).

3. Audit

Your policies and procedures should inform employees that you conduct regular computer audits in line with the law. This is not an invasive procedure but is designed to protect your business.

No matter what the size of your business, wether you have stand-alone computers or you are networked ensure that your computer logs are audited on a frequent basis.

However a word of caution! Be careful! There are various laws (Privacy Act) that define what you may or may not do when viewing computer logs and this can include not opening and reading employee E-mail or Internet sites. However by viewing the computer logs you can gain a reasonable understanding from where the traffic is directed. In most cases it is obvious if a breach of your policies and procedures has occurred.

You may find other useful small business guides at Biz Momentum (www.biz-momentum.com). You need to treat this information sensitively and take further advice from your practitioner before taking further action.

Ensure you business is protected.

Philip Lye is Managing Director of Biz Momentum providing professional services in employee relations (HR / IR Matters), training your people to work with you and not against you’, ‘coaching you’ to be a better executive and review of commercial documentation, leases and agreements.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are now more than 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States generating approximately $222 billion in revenue for the economy. Despite the numbers, and the fact that this segment is growing exponentially, few resources and information are readily available today to help Latino entrepreneurs start, run and grow their businesses.

Because more and more Hispanic SMBs are now online with some type of Internet presence, there is a need to provide best practices and sound advice on how to monetize and build successful online businesses. This document address that need in five easy steps. It provides insights into:

o Monetizing your online presence

o Leveraging Blogs and Wikipedia for marketing purposes

o Free content sources for your site and

o Cost-effective, proven web site traffic-building tactics

Rather than a “deep dive” into each of these topics (each of which could be the subject of its own White Paper), this document is intended to provide a uniquely Hispanic angle to the opportunities that the Internet offers today to the Latino entrepreneur.

I. Turning your content into Dinero with Search & Affiliate Marketing

One of the hardest things for U.S. companies of all sizes is to produce content that is relevant to Hispanic online audiences. I cannot tell you how many times in the last few years I ran into Marketing executives of Fortune 500 companies that asked me things like: “Do you know anybody that can produce good copy in English for the Hispanic market?” Or “Do you know if Spanglish is appropriate for X segment of the Latino demographic?”

Meanwhile more and more Hispanic entrepreneurs are publishing sites that, unbeknownst to them, could generate new revenue flows for their businesses. You see, it turns out that there are thousand of advertisers out there that are willing to pay money to reach your site’s visitors and the way this is done today is through Paid Search and Affiliate Marketing. Let’s look at each of these so that we can begin to understand how you could to turn your content into Dinero:

Paid Search

The model is actually quite simple. The way search engines such as Google generate a good part of their revenues is by charging advertisers for clicks from their search results to the advertisers’ site. This is what is commonly known as “paid search”. Yahoo! and Microsoft’s MSN are also players in this space.

Search engines evolved this concept to the embedding these key words on third party sites and to share some of the revenues with the site’s owner. So how does this work exactly? Let’s say that an airline is interested in reaching consumers that are interested in flying to Mexico. Meanwhile you run a site with content about Mexico. You can open a Google AdSense account and by simply adding a line of code to your web site, Google will add a text link to the airline’s site. Any time a visitor to your site clicks on the text link, both Google and you make money. How much? On a single click probably not much more than a few cents. The game however gets interesting as you build traffic to your site. A couple of things you should know:

o With Google in particular, you have to accumulate at least $100 in AdSense commissions before they pay you. If your site has very low traffic, this could take months.

o If you click on the words yourself, Google will close your account pronto! They know when you do it and so resist the temptation por favor.

o Not every click through pays the same. I have seen Google pay $1.00 plus on a single click. It’s all function of how much their advertisers are willing to pay for those clicks. It is demand and supply and you as a publisher do not always know how they come up with your commission. Don’t worry about it; just be happy that you get paid.

o Lastly, Google is not the only player in the space (just the biggest one). Yahoo! is also an option for you.

Affiliate Marketing

Online Affiliate Marketing, like paid key words, is also a pay-per-performance revenue model. Basically, advertisers pay large affiliate networks (such as Commission Junction and LinkShare) for conversions generated by sites that belong to the network. Que? It works like this: the affiliate network provides your site with banners and text links to sites of merchants that offer products of interest to your visitors. Whenever one of your visitors clicks on the banner or text and actually ends up ‘converting’ (i.e. buying a product, registering et cetera), the affiliate network pays you a commission.

Example: you have a site for home based entrepreneurs. You set up an account with an affiliate network and they provide you with banners for a PC manufacturer. Clearly a PC is a product that could interest the owner of a home-based business. And so if one of your visitors clicks on the banner and ends up buying a PC from the advertiser, the affiliate network will pay you a commission.

Now, this model is great for the advertiser because they are only paying out if a conversion takes place. If there are no sales, they are still getting millions of free impressions from the publishers in the network. So the question is: why is this so great for me? One reason is because if you have unused real estate in your site and decent traffic, you may earn some revenue which was not there before.

Naturally, it is a lot easier to make money from a program like Google’s AdSense than it is from affiliate marketing and that explains in part why the former is so much more popular than the latter.

One consideration in either case is the possible impact to the aesthetics of your site if you add key words or banners to it. This is not for you if your company has with a fancy Flash site.

II. Blogging Yourself to Fama

So what’s all the ruido about Blogs? It is simple: Blogs have made it possible for every day people like you and me to become publishers and content providers. This, coupled with the ease with which you can set one up, is why they have become so popular. So why are they important for a Hispanic business owner? Well, it just so happens that you may know more about a specific subject than just about anyone else and someone out there is interested in that knowledge and your opinion.

Blogs then are a great tool for you to become a recognized, visible subject matter expert. Even if your blog does not establish a huge following, it can give the credibility that often times is so important in getting new customers. Now, I will be honest, if your business is a landscaping business chances are that running a Blog will not help you much in getting new customers. You may still want to maintain a Blog for your own benefit, but it will not be a lead generator for you.

On the other hand, if you are in one of many services professions – specially one that is marketing to large corporations or other audiences that you know are online – then a Blog is a great tool for establishing yourself as an authority in your field.

As an added benefit, a Blog can help you drive traffic to your site since you would normally point a link to your site from your blog. This is particularly effective if over time your Blog begins developing a following. You will find that over time other bloggers will begin linking to your Blog, which means increased awareness and traffic for your business. By the way, you can also monetize your Blog like you would any other site by adding Google AdWords to your Blog,

Ready to start your Blog? Set one up quickly and easily with free services like Blogger.com.

III. Content? It’s Gratis !

You’ve heard it before: “Content is King.” And it is true: nothing keeps customers glued to your site like good, relevant, up to date content. Your site may be good for a visit or two but if you really want customers to build a relationship with your company and your brand, you need that fresh content.

Problem is that most of us are not exactly content production machines. Many of us seem to us struggle with producing even the copy for the company’s brochure. If we were in the business of producing great content every day, we would be running Univision or Telemundo.

Here’s the good news: online content syndication has changed all that and today your site can benefit from frequently updated, relevant news and content pushed to your site without you moving a finger.

So how does that work? Simple: you can add news and content to your site by simply adding some html code from news “syndicators” like Yahoo! and Google. Take the home page of HispanicSMB.com for example. The news on the home page are updated several times a day but the content is “pushed” by Yahoo! News without any work on my part. The best thing is that you pick the subject – any subject – and whenever the wires and PR distribution services release a news item related to your preferred subject, your page is updated “automagically”!.

Let’s say your site is all about tortillas and you want the greatest and latest news about tortillas on your site. Simply visit news.yahoo.com, do a search on “tortillas” and on the results page look for the XML icon. Copy and paste the code behind this icon onto your site and listo!! Google News also offers this feature.

Want more? Now major news and media giants like Reuters are getting into the game and have started to offer free video feeds for 3rd party sites.

Of course nowadays everybody is getting into the content game (as we discussed above) and so you are not limited to big news sources to enrich your site with great content. You can also add Blog feeds to your site and use great content from others in your site. Por que no?

IV. Wikipedia: More than Colaboración

Many people think of Wikipedia simply as an online encyclopedia; a place for the kids to do their homework. Turns out it is much more than that: it could be one of your best online marketing tools. Why? because Wikipedia is not “owned” by any one individual editor and this means that provided you have somewhat of a brand or story behind your company or its owners, there is an opportunity to let this great tool tell the world about it.

Let’s take for example the now famous Homies figurines. Now, I love the Homies, but I would say that they are hardly in the same category as Cesar Chavez or Einstein (both extensively written up in Wikipedia). But sure enough there is a complete entry in Wikipedia about the Homies, complete with a hyperlink to the product’s official web site.

Now, I am not sure who actually added the entry. All I can I say is that searches for Jarritos, Goya Foods and Fernando Espuelas all returned comprehensive write ups. Now, a word of caution, “vanity” Wikipedia entries are not allowed and so this tactic may not be appropriate for every company and entrepreneur out there. But provided that your company has an up and coming brand or you are an up and coming entrepreneur, then this may be the right thing for you.

To get started, simply create a Wikipedia account (it is free) and start familiarizing yourself with this fascinating collaboration tool and all it has to offer.

V. Build Traffic the Cheapo Way

Ah … the million dollar question: so, how do I build great, sustainable traffic to my site .. without spending tons of money? Well, by now you probably know that it is not easy, unless you happen to be sitting on the next mega-viral, social networking site. The good news is that it is possible. However much like building your business, it will take some work and some time. Also keep in mind that that the most effective tactics will do no good unless your product and or content are any good. But assuming that there’s a market / audience for your goods, here are some tactics that could bring you incremental traffic and business to your site:

o Search. We all want to be on that top search results spot in Google and Yahoo!. But the truth is that it is not that easy and in fact an entire industry has blossomed around helping companies get a top search engine ranking. However there are a couple of things you can do to help your search position. First, be sure to re-submit your site at least 2-3 times a year. Search engines are constantly changing the algorithms that assign a site its ranking and so it is a good practice to re-submit your site every now and then.

Another good practice is to reach out to those few that have the top rankings in the search results page and request a link from their site to yours. Here’s a great example: as of November 2006 a Google search for “hispanic small businesses” yielded the smallbusinessnotes.com site as the top result. This is the position I have always wanted for my site but in lieu of getting this spot we managed to get a hyperlink from that site to ours thus getting some nice “flow through” traffic.

Curious about paid search? Assuming that you have a budget, I will say that it works and that its performance based model is better than conventional banner advertising. If you want to try it out, both Yahoo! and Google offer trial promotions that will reward you up to $75 in clicks in exchange for a one time $5 set up-fee. This is a super bargain and a great way to “test drive” paid search. I sometimes post the addresses to these offers in the HispanicSMB.com Blog.

o Foros. Consumers love forums. They love posting, replying and generating controversy. Forums are where a good part of the Word of Mouth takes place in the Internet. They are also a great, free way to drive highly targeted traffic to your site. Simply sign up for one of the major portals, select the most appropriate forum dealing with your product or service and simply post a short friendly comment about your offering with a hyperlink to your site. Please keep in mind two things: a) some forums have restrictions on inclusion of hyperlinks to 3rd party sites and b) if you post on a high traffic site your posting will rapidly disappear under newer topics and so you must do this periodically and consistently in order for the clicks to sustain.

o Links Exchange. This is a highly effective, yet time consuming, tactic for increasing traffic to your site. In addition to delivering incremental traffic to your site, incoming links are important because they improve your search engine ranking. Search Engine Marketing experts will tell you that one of the key variables in search engines’ algorithms is “popularity” as measured by the number and importance of the sites that link to your site. And so getting others (sites and Blogs alike) to link to your site is well worth it. Please remember that whenever requesting a link to your site, the other party will invariably ask that you do in kind and so if you do not have one already, be sure to set up a ‘links’ page on your site (provided it does not ruin its aesthetics). Lastly, please stay away from link exchange networks: they rarely ever deliver quality traffic.

o PR. Used to be that in order to get your name out there in front of the world you had hire a top notch PR agency. And while this is still true if you want to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or La Opinión, there are some tactics that work very well for the business owner on a budget. First, pick a subject for your press release. It could be a new product, geographic expansion or maybe even a new star hire. Next, write the press release. Here you may need some help, but if you go online and read a few of them you may just be able to hack it yourself. Next, is the key part: distribution. One of the best options is PRweb.com which for well under $100 will distribute your press release around the country, regionally or locally (your choice) through Google News and Yahoo! News amongst others. Because so many sites syndicate Google and Yahoo! news you will find that coverage can be quite good. PRWeb.com will naturally also include your press release in their site and so you can use the unique address (URL) of your press release and forward it to local or regional media who may pick up the story.

An accountant is a necessity for any business. Huge corporations may have lesser problems finding one but small businesses might need more effort to hire this professional. How do you choose and hire the suitable accountant for the accounting needs of your small business? Here are some guidelines that you might find helpful for this task.

• Ask for references from your lawyer, banker, or business colleagues. It’s either you will be hiring a person or an agency. Check how much work will your company do and the accountant will do.

• Interview the referrals. Here are the things you need to know during the interview:

-Services to render. What will be the scope of the accounting service? The common inclusions are tax and auditing services. Know if bookkeeping, management consulting, business planning, and other specialized financial and accounting services are also part of the offer. Ensure also that they have experience in working with small businesses and if they are suited to your company’s needs.

-Personality. Being compatible with the accountant can enhance the working relationship and make the output a lot better. Ensure that the people you meet at the accounting firm would be the same people doing the services for you. Clarify this matter from the start when you contract the agency’s services. To assess the competency and compatibility of the accountant, you may ask how he or she will handle a situation relevant to what is happening or might happen in your business.

-Fees. This aspect should be accomplished upfront. Make this as clear as possible. Some accountants charge by the hour while others work on a monthly basis. Costs, however, should not be your sole reason in choosing. Some charges more because they are more experienced and skilled while others charge littler because they are not as experienced. Make sure that you base your judgments by considering all relevant things.

• After choosing, draft the agreement. All details should be clearly seen at the agreement letter. State properly the statements included returns, fees to be charged, and others. A well-written agreement will prevent any misunderstandings in the future. This also ensures that expectations of both parties are met.

• Make your own assignment. Ensure that you’d not just hand the accountant records and loose receipts. Have a record of your income and expenses and the details that goes with the transactions. This helps your accountant work faster which means lower fees on your part.

• Regularly meet with your accountant. Review the financial statements and assess problems if there are any. You should know where your money is going. A good accountant should not only be concerned with preparing financial statements but should also be able to suggest ways to cut expenses and provide ideas and answers to questions you may have.

A good accountant may save you more than you can think of when done effectively and systematically. Working for a Nashville accounting firm, I believe an accountant is a lifetime partner for any entrepreneur to keep a great business going.

As a small business owner, knowing what to look for when choosing an online foreign exchange provider can be tricky, not to mention time consuming and likely scoring pretty low on your to-do list. However, taking an interest in your business’ foreign exchange (FX) requirements is important.

FX may be a by-product of your actual business, but if managed poorly it can put a dent in your bottom line. So what should you consider when choosing your online provider?

1. What rate are you getting? 
Never be afraid to question your provider about the FX rates they quote you. Booking exchange rates online is a low cost business and this should be reflected in the exchange rates you receive.

All providers keep a “margin”. This is the difference between what they buy the currency, and where they sell it onto you. Ask what margin you’re receiving.

2. Fees
Most FX providers will charge a fee to transfer your money. Take the time to shop around though – as new players enter the provider marketplace, free transfers are becoming more commonplace.

It’s important to remember though, that a free transfer does not offset a bad exchange rate. Take the time to compare fees AND exchange rates.

3. Look for simplicity
Foreign exchange does not have to be complicated. Buying or selling foreign currency online should be a simple and fast process. A lot of websites have unnecessary bells and whistles to make them look good.

When researching an online provider, look for a site that allows you to complete your transaction quickly and easily with a minimum of fuss. A good site will make you feel as if you’re being guided through the payment process, with clear, simple steps.

4. How safe is your money?
Always check who is backing your transaction. It’s great to get a good rate and no fees, but you need to know that your provider can offer online security and full traceability on your money.

Passwords and security tokens can seem tedious, but they serve a purpose to protect you and your money against such activities as money laundering and terrorism financing. Always take into consideration how seriously your provider protects your security.

5. Customer support
Make sure you have a point of contact. If you have any problems with booking a rate or organising a transfer, you need to feel secure that you can contact a customer care representative via phone, email or fax.

6. Risk Management
Choose a provider that can help you protect your business against adverse foreign exchange movements. Actively managing your FX requirements could save your business money, especially during times of financial uncertainty.