Ride-Sharing, House-Sharing and Now…Storage-Sharing

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

The one thing that people in America have is space. And – let’s admit it – the other thing that people in America have is lots of stuff. We like our stuff. We don’t want to get rid of it. But unfortunately, there’s an imbalance between the people with a lot of stuff and the people with extra space that could be storing that stuff. Ka-ching.

Which is how the peer-to-peer storage rental company Neiybor got started.

The idea came from one of the company’s three co-founders, Preston Alder. Who is a genius. But like most geniuses, he didn’t know he was a genius at the time. All he knew was that he had a problem. “My wife and I had recently gotten married, and were headed to an internship out of the country. We had to store all of our things – hers and mine – and we needed a place to put it all,” Alder told Provo’s Daily Herald. “To fit our needs, we couldn’t find anything under $100 a month.” After a frustrating search for affordable rental space, Alder eventually found a friend who was willing to take in their stuff.

But then it occurred to Alder that there’s probably lots of empty garages near Provo, Utah where his alma-mater Brigham Young is located. “With all the students here in my same circumstances, those garages could be making money,” he said. And so we now know the birth of storage-sharing. Read More…

This is what happens in Wichita when a business owner is shot during a robbery attempt

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

“There’s a difference between being a business owner and being a business leader,” Lance Minor, a business owner in Wichita, Kansas said to KSN, a local television station. “Business owners are interested in making a profit and business leaders are interested in making a difference.”

Minor and other business owners in the Wichita, Kansas area proved themselves to be leaders this week – along with many others in the community. They all rallied around the wife and family of 58-year-old Ruben Acosta, the owner of Ruben’s Mexican Grill. Acosta was shot during an armed robbery attempt two weeks ago and remains hospitalized. But that didn’t stop his family from re-opening the popular restaurant Monday. Read More…

You have to be over 55-years-old to work for this tech start-up

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

South Korea’s EverYoung, a technology services firm based in downtown Seoul, is always looking for good employees. But sorry, millennials, you need not apply. You’re not wanted.

Only people older than 55 are considered for employment.

“If seniors are working even after retirement, and being globally competitive, then it will be a good solution to our future social problems,” the company’s founder, Chung Eunsung, said in this Telegraph report. Eunsung started his company specifically to take on South Korea’s business culture that favors the young. And I know what you’re wondering: He’s 56, OK? Read More…

How Did This Bookkeeper Steal a Ton of Money from an Indiana Small Business?

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

An Indiana bookkeeper was charged recently with stealing $1.8 million from her employer. That’s a lot of money.

Over the course of four and a half years, according to this press release from the Department of Justice, Julie Ann Ashman allegedly was able to siphon money from the accounts of a small business that repaired and refurbished X-ray medical equipment to her own personal bank account. She did this by cutting checks to herself and then understating the company’s revenues to cover up the missing cash. What’s really disturbing is the frequency. According to the DOJ, Ashman was “reimbursing” herself for anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 up to 15 times a month! In total, it was found that she wrote 436 company checks to herself for a total of $1,805,015.12.

Read More…

McDonalds is using Snapchat to recruit employees

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

I’m a big fan of Snapchat. I use it all the time, mostly with my family, to exchange pictures, videos and texts. I love it because it gives me an immediate visual image of what’s going on with my kids – exactly at that moment – before disappearing forever (which, given their college-age, is a very good thing).

Unfortunately, after a much ballyhooed initial public offering in March, Snapchat’s stock has dropped, user growth has subsided, and revenue growth has fallen short of expectations.

The good news is that not everyone’s so bearish on the communication service. Many publishers use the platform to advertise and distribute their content. Big companies are also wading in with their content. Now another big company, McDonald’s, is doing something very unique. The fast food giant is leaning on the service to try to fill 250,000 summer jobs. Read More…

Why This Coffee Shop’s ‘Clever’ Sign Isn’t So Clever At All

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

A coffee shop in Roanoke, Va., put a “clever” sign outside that said:

“Small coffee” – $5
“Small coffee, please” – $3
“Hello, one small coffee please” – $1.75

The sign went viral. News stations reported on it. Redditors rejoiced. Bloggers and tweeters gushed.

“It might be a small gesture, but is it really that hard to remember your manners and the fact that there are actual people behind the counter?” one writer admonished her readers. “You’ll always be rewarded for good behavior, and now in some places, you might even save a little bit of cash.”

An employee wrote the sign because he felt he needed “to solve all the injustices of the world (and) to start charging more for people who didn’t take the time to say hello and connect and realize we’re all people behind the counter.”

Oh, brother.

This is not clever. It’s stupid. It’s insulting. And, regardless of all the viral attention, it’s bad for business. Are you one of those foolish businesses that think it’s funny to criticize, make fun of, lecture or patronize your customers? Do you hang signs like…

“Don’t worry. Our staff is accustomed to dumb questions.”

“Notice: Prices subject to change according to customer’s attitude.”

“The customer is sometimes right.”

“Sarcasm is just one more service we offer!”

“Yesterday was the deadline for all complaints”

“Complaints will be heard on the second Tuesday of next week.”

These signs drive me nuts. Whenever I walk into a small business and see one of these silly things hanging on the wall behind the cash register my first inclination is to walk out. I say “small” business because you would never see this nonsense at a professional organization. Can you imagine management’s reaction at Starbucks or Marriott or Target if one of these signs were hanging there? Big, experienced, customer-focused, service-oriented companies would never put up with this bunk. It’s just bad for business. It’s very, very “small” business.

But, hey, go ahead and hang that sign if it makes you feel better. But just be forewarned that if you do then you deserve what you get. Customers don’t want to hear this tripe. We have our own problems in our little lives. Every day we’re castigated by our bosses, chided by our significant others and treated with disrespect by complete strangers, rude customer service agents and the government. I get yelled at by homeless people just because I’m walking by them. I’m disparaged by my friends just because I’m a fan of the Kardashians and I’m made to feel guilty just because I like a Big Mac once in a while.

So now I have to be treated like an 8-year-old and told to be “polite” just because I want to buy a cup of coffee? You’re kidding me.

Sure, I realize serving coffee can sometimes be tough. I bet that sometimes a customer or two can be rude. Hello, welcome to life in human society! I’ll bet that 98 percent of the people that a barista serves every day are polite. So 2 percent are jerks? Deal with it. That’s the same percentage of customers who stiff me on bills, vendors who don’t deliver on time and employees who don’t show up when promised. That’s life. Those are your customers — the ones who pay your bills.

The stupidest thing any business owner can do is to treat their customers with disrespect. Hanging stupid signs making fun of them is basically saying you hate your customers. “No I don’t,” you say? That’s the perception I’m getting.

By the way — the owner of the Virginia coffee shop quickly told one news station that the higher pricing was “a joke” and that “no one has paid $5 for a cup of coffee.” Ha ha. Is there a Starbucks nearby?

McDonald’s Is Recruiting On Snapchat 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 — McDonald’s has a new way to find potential workers: on Snapchat.

The fast-food giant has announced that it will be filling 250,000 job openings in America by teaming up with the popular social media platform Snapchat. Those interested in applying to McDonald’s can send a “Snaplication” that includes a 10-second video of the user “wearing” a standard Golden Arches uniform via a Snapchat filter. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your business:

The majority of Snapchat’s 300 million monthly users are Millennials. Perhaps you should be recruiting there too? 

2 — Soon you will be conducting job interviews through text messages.

A new startup called Canvas has recently developed a “text-based interviewing platform” that specifically appeals to Millennials who typically dislike standard phone interviews with recruiters. (Source: Quartz)

Why this is important for your business:

Again – this is another interesting way to reach potential Millennial employees.  Canvas allows interviewers to “reach out to applicants, who receive those pings as text messages and reply accordingly.” The platform also gives recruiters the option to “store custom screening questions and resources (like branding materials or benefits information)” and keeps a transcript of the text conversation that can be easily shared.

3 — Your startup can now use cryptocurrencies to raise money.

Bancor, a smart-token startup, recently raised nearly $150 million dollars in only three hours by receiving funds from anonymous investors on Ethereum. The startup had an ICO, or Initial Coin Offering, a new way of funding that involves the company issuing “tokens – a sort of mini-cryptocurrency.” (Source: Mashable)

Why this is important for your business:

Now companies are raising serious money with cryptocurrencies without government oversight and regulations. Could this be a source of financing for your business?

4 — Twitter’s Direct Message chatbots now have more button options.

The social media network recently unveiled three new buttons for companies to use when interacting with customers. (Source: VentureBeat)

Why this is important for your business:

These buttons can be used to “help people make purchases, link to websites, and trigger additional calls-to-action or conversational cues.” A Twitter spokesperson said, “Anyone can create an experience within Direct Messages, whether it’s a business or an organization, as long as you use our APIs or use a tool which is built on our APIs.” The new features for Direct Messages are available to developers now.

5 — A new app makes donating your business’s extra food easier than ever.

The nationwide network of food banks called Feeding America has officially launched a platform that provides a way for companies and restaurants to donate their excess food. (Source: Fast Company)

Why this is important for your business:

The app is called MealConnect, and it already has 2,500 users and has “facilitated 737,000 pickups and moved over 333 million pounds of food.” If you’re in the food and restaurant industry and looking to do something socially conscious, this seems like a great idea.