Will restaurants soon hire ‘Milk Sommeliers?’

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

When entrepreneurs are given start-up advice, they’re almost always told to do something they love. Bas de Groot is one such entrepreneur. He loves milk.  And his business is being an international “Milk Sommelier.”

In this Great Big Story video, de Groot – a trained organic grower who admits to sometimes drinking four liters of milk a day – shares his love of milk and why it’s a “liquid of serious complexity akin to a fine wine.” De Groot travels the world advising farmers, particular organic farmers like John Bucher, who owns the 60-year-old Bucher Farms, a Sonoma County, California family ranch that consists of 700 milk cows, 700 replacement heifers, and 40 acres of Pinot Noir wine grapes. The farm is currently transitioning most of its herd to organic milk production.

Enter de Groot, the Milk Sommelier. This is a serious business, and when you think about it, the practice of knowing all about milk isn’t so unrelated to knowing all about wine. Read More…

This Company’s Recruitment Strategy Includes Bikinis, Stripper Poles And Wild Parties

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Today’s executives and managers are taught not to discriminate on the basis of an employee’s culture, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We understand that inappropriate behavior – from sexual harassment to discrimination – cannot be tolerated in today’s workplace and so we are careful to avoid such actions. Some companies, like Uber, have learned the consequences of such behaviors.

Then there’s Badoo. Read More…

Would Your Employees Open This Fake, Malware-Filled Email?

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

By now, you’re familiar with the giant ransomware attacks that have been hammering companies around the world and caused countless interruptions in business and services, including a shutdown of the U.K.’s national health system.

If not, a quick ransomware recap: it’s a malware program. When just one computer or device — Apple and Microsoft operating systems included — in your company is infected, the malware spreads and locks up all files across your network. To unlock the files, you need a special “key.” The key can only be obtained by paying the perpetrators a “ransom” — usually in bitcoin or some other untraceable digital currency. If you don’t pay within a few days, your files disappear. It’s become a billion-dollar industry for the hacking community, with some even setting up customer service lines to assist victims with paying the ransom and unlocking their files. I kid you not.

Read More…

You Know Who’s Not Working This Summer? Teenagers.

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(This post originally appeared on PhillyMag)

Teenagers are not working like they used to.

New data shows that the number of teens with a job while in still in school has dropped to an all-time low, according to this report in the Washington Post. Back in 1991, almost 40 percent of high-schoolers worked during the school year or summer. It’s now down to 20 percent.

No, it’s not what you think. Today’s teens are no more lazy than we were. There are other things going on. Some blame increased requirements from colleges that encourage taking additional courses or programs to enhance an application. Others say that it’s tough for teens to get to and from work, particularly for late shifts in areas that discourage after-hours driving. Some blame the lack of low-wage jobs available for teens and employers who are unwilling to be flexible. Technology replacing jobs could be a factor. And then of course there are the increasingly extended calendars for things like sports and other activities that may help kids land scholarships to pay for today’s outrageous college tuitions.

But these are all just excuses. If your kid’s in high school, he or she should have a job. If they’re not, you’re mostly to blame. Read More…

China’s ‘rent-a-Caucasian’ industry is alive and well

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

There are lots of ways for entrepreneurs to make money in China. But Caucasians have a special advantage: the color of their skin.

For example, there’s 25-year-old “Katie” (it’s not her real name), an American with her own little small business. Her client is a Chinese firm that contracts with her to accompany the firm’s director to dinner with clients every week. Why? She’s Caucasian.

“There’s no harm in it,” says “Katie” to the New Straits Times. “I’ve never felt uncomfortable or nervous or unsafe in attending any of these dinners. It’s always worked out for me.” Read More…

Apple’s New Customer Service Tools…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 — Apple has a new way for you to better serve your customers.

It’s called “Business Chat,” and it will be a part of the company’s popular iMessage app. Business Chat will help Apple compete against similar enterprise-related tools found on Facebook Messenger and Twitter. (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…

Four Ways That Staples Has Become My One-Stop-Shop Marketing Partner

My ten-person company sells and implements business software – we have about 600 active clients. I’m the owner and I’m responsible for it all. But really, my job is primarily sales and marketing. I’m tasked with finding opportunities, qualifying leads and nurturing prospects towards becoming clients so I can hand them off to my team for implementation.

Being a small business, I can’t do all of this sales and marketing work on my own. I also can’t afford to hire more people. So I lean heavily on Staples as my one-stop shop for my sales and marketing needs. Yes, Staples is sponsoring this blog. But the facts are the facts. Here’s how.

I use Staples for my design work.

Over the years, I’ve changed our logo and our brand a few times – nothing major but enough to keep up with the times. In the past I’ve had to hire expensive consultants to do this. Recently, I’ve used Staples. With their logo design services, I was able to meet one-on-one with a design consultant to choose the right solution for my business. Based on our discussions, the Staples designer created examples for me and within three days I was presented with great concepts. The process was simple, fast and affordable.

Staples does my company’s business cards.

Even in this day of smartphones and digital communications, I still find myself handing out business cards at meetings and events, don’t you? I’m not sure if this old school manner of introduction will ever go away – or if I want it to. There’s something cool about it. Staples helps me keep it cool. I turn to them for my business cards, and have used their templates to create or update my existing cards, which has allowed me to maintain control of the process. The templates are modern and appealing- they also give me options for print, color and finishing. Staples also offers many types of card stock thicknesses and finishes too, and I’ve sprung in the past for the better ones to impress my audience. The best part is the turnaround – I usually get them within the same day of ordering or within a three day delivery period. Best yet- they’re priced right: 500 cards start at just $14.99.

I do postcard campaigns through Staples.

Email is popular, but people still read things they get in the mail. I’ve found that my client base in particular responds to printed marketing materials. I don’t want to spend too much money so I’ve worked with Staples on postcard campaigns. They helped me choose and design a personalized postcard from hundreds of templates to remind both clients and prospects of the services we provide as well as help us promote our in-person trainings and meetups. I’ve sent both standard and oversized postcards – some with a matte or glossy finish (depending on how rich I’m feeling that month). A few times I’ve mailed them myself but recently I’ve relied on Staples do that for me with their direct mail services, which includes either using my own list or a personalized solution to build a new list based on advanced demographic, geographic and behavioral data.

 

Staples gives me trade show support.

Every year my company does a few trade shows. I find them not only helpful for lead generation but also to provide an opportunity to see others in my industry, share ideas and get education. Unfortunately, trade shows aren’t cheap. My booth or table needs to look professional and attractive. To help I’ve turned to Staples. I’ve purchased and customized banners from them which has helped me increase my brand recognition and value, and promote new services we’re offering. Staples offers hundreds of banner templates in many sizes, along with banner stands and accessories. Anyone who attends trade shows knows that promotional products – those silly toys, pens, charging cables and earbuds – are a fun way to attract attention for your company. I buy those products at Staples, too. They offer hundreds of choices and I can put my company’s logo on any of them.

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Running a small business is challenging. The good news is that there are good companies that help me keep my costs down. Staples is one of them. I rely heavily on them and consider them a one-stop-shop marketing partner.