Microsoft Is Cracking Down on Office Licensing…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Microsoft’s strategy: force enterprises to buy every traditional Office upgrade.

In a new round of support policy changes, Microsoft can now stop enterprises who use work-arounds to cut costs when they license MS Office Suite. The company changed the end-of-support for Office 2016’s right to connect to cloud-based services as it rolled out Office 2019. According to Microsoft’s latest announcement, organizations that want to run the traditional version of Office with Office 365 will need to license every version without skipping, ensuring the company a continuous revenue stream for Office. (Source: Computer World)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…

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I’m a champion of small business – but I hate Small Business Saturday

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

On 24 November, the day after Black Friday and two days before Cyber Monday, Americans will “celebrate” our eighth annual Small Business Saturday.

The holiday, which started in 2010, has grown into something of a national phenomenon. What began as just a promotional campaign thought up by American Express has now spawned more than 7,200 “neighborhood champions” who “rally their communities with events and activities” according to the company. Since then a number of business associations, non-profit trade groups and municipalities have formed the Small Business Saturday Coalition, which aims to encourage “everyone to shop small”.

American Express claims that more than $85bn has been spent at small restaurants and merchants since the campaign started and that “90% of consumers surveyed said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community”.

I hate Small Business Saturday. Read More…

The 3 Costliest Mistakes I’ve Made Launching A New Website (So Far)

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

Last month my company launched an entirely new website. Hooray! Well, not so fast…

The site — please excuse my self-promotion — is called Marks Group Live. It’s targeted at users of Zoho, one of the business applications my company sells. It’s a new type of offering, which is part of the problem.

Mostly small companies buy Zoho. The only ways for them to get help is support from Zoho, watch free videos on YouTube or hire partners like me ar rather high hourly fees. My site is aimed at financially conscious users. Sounds good, right?

Well, it’s been a slog. Growth has been slower than I expected. I realize now that users need more time to understand this relatively new way of getting services for a business application. I’ve made other mistakes. Stupid mistakes. Here are my biggest (so far). Read More…

Got access for people with disabilities covered? Don’t forget your website

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

During the first six months of 2018, according to a mid-year reportfrom law firm Seyfarth Shaw, more than 5,000 lawsuits were filed in federal court alleging businesses were in violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That number is expected to reach 10,000 by the end of the year, a 30% increase over the prior year. Is it because these businesses are not making their facilities accessible to people with disabilities? Actually, no. In most cases it’s about their websites.

“We have been dealing with website issues for a long time,” Jeff Thom, past president and government affairs director for the California Council of the Blind told the Los Angeles Times. “We want compliance. It is a serious problem, no question about it.”

The problem isn’t limited to California. In New York state, a local television station reports that 26 wineries are among the more than 1,000 businesses hit with ADA-related lawsuits this year. The city of Bradenton Beach, Florida, had to recently shut down its website because of its non-compliance. A blind man sued a subsidiary of the tire manufacture Bridgestone Corporate alleging that its website was not accessible enough for people with visual impairments. Personal care products company Bert’s Bees is also facing similar claims. Read More…

Why is Walmart Catching Up To Amazon?

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Big business, small business, whatever. If you’re in retail, you should be paying very close attention to Walmart.

The retailing giant, which will be releasing results for its fiscal third quarter Thursday, is doing well. Very well.  Earnings per share are expected to be ahead of forecasts. Revenue for the quarter should be about $2 billion higher than the same period last year. Its stock price has rallied about 15 percent in the last three months and is up about 4 percent year to date and many analysts believe it will go higher this week.

That’s not to say that the company doesn’t have its challenges. Big investments are needed for store refurbishments and technology upgrades (which I’ll get to that in a moment). Finding, keeping and competitively compensating people is a headache and an increasing cost. Rising inflation will have an impact on margins. Most importantly, there is China. Although the Trump tariff dispute with China isn’t expected to affect holiday sales or margins (most of Walmart’s purchases were made before the tariffs took effect) many are concerned what impact will be seen in 2019.

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Why small businesses need websites and how to build one

(This post originally appeared on Philly.com)

You would think that in 2018 it would be common that every business — big and small — would at least have a website that provides basic information for prospective and current customers. Unfortunately, that’s not the case — and it’s hurting those that don’t.

According to a recent study from SurveyMonkey, 31 percent of millennials don’t trust companies without a website and 24 percent of non-millennials feel the same way. And yet, according to another study by the same company a year ago, nearly half (45 percent) of small businesses still don’t have a website at all.

What gives? Read More…

Your Old Apple Devices May Qualify For Repair…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Find out if your old Apple devices qualify for repair.

Apple has announced it will soon launch a Repair Vintage Apple Products Pilot program that could extend a product’s eligibility for repairs from five years to seven years (see the current vintage and obsolete products page on its website). Included now are the iPhone 5 and mid-2012 MacBook Air models, and additional models such as the iPhone 4S and MacBook Pro will be added to the eligible vintage repair list on November 30, followed by MacBook Pro models from 2012 and 2013 on December 30. (Source: CNET)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…