WATCH: Creating Awesome in LIFT Clips for 05/30/15 and more...

WATCH: Creating Awesome in LIFT Clips for 05/30/15

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We are always looking for ways to give small business owners a boost using the LIFT acronym. Here are a few videos that might help you in building a better business presence and a smoother work flow.

LEARN – How to Create an Awesome Slide Presentation


IMPROVE – What Your Social Media Picture Says About You


FIND FLOW – Curiosity is a Super Power


THINK – Can Suffering Inspire You?


As a youth, Saturdays were filled with visual candy of cartoons in the morning and movie matinees in the afternoon. Now, we practice sharing Saturday videos from TED, subscriptions from YouTube, LIFT clips, and other videos shared via feeds.

Note: Every Sunday afternoon, our Whistle Stops Weekly newsletter is sent with at least one resource or link to L.I.F.T. your presence or practice. Subscribe today.

WATCH: Creating Awesome in LIFT Clips for 05/30/15 is a post from: ConverStations


GUEST: No Time to Write? 8 Must Have Tools for Business Owners

writing time

Written by Haley Osborne

Millions dream of running the company but few realize that being in charge means always being at work. For business owners, the idea of a 9 to 5 workday is laughable.

Business strategy and management takes more time than anyone can expect, no matter what the industry or size of a business.  Add to that the growing list of things to help grow and support business and it’s easy to see why some action items take a permanent back seat.

Promoting your company online through blogs, articles and social media is more than just one of those “when I find the time” entries on your To Do list – it’s fast becoming an absolute necessity if you want to survive and prosper in today’s economy. Fortunately, there are several tools that can save you both – time and money, if you use them right.

Are you a business owner with no time to write? Here are eight must have tools to help get the deed done:

Get Content Ideas

Knowing where to start is perhaps the biggest challenge when you’re first setting out to create website content. These tools will help you find out not only which topics suityour industry best but also which issues are currently trending.


A free service is not only meant for asking questions and finding answers. Follow Quora and you will know what questions are interesting for people – that’s how you will make your content ideas usefull and audience oriented.

LinkedIn Pulse 

This is a great app to find out which topics are trending within professional circles before they hit mainstream media.

HubSpot’s Topic Generator 

Give this generator three words and it will return a handful of blog titles – some of which can be a bit random. While some of the titles won’t be a good fit, using them as a jumping off point can help boost brainstorming sessions with your creative team or over your morning cup of coffee.

Get Organized

As with any responsibility related to your business, writing is a whole lot easier if you’re organized.  These tools will help you organize sources, ideas, projects and priorities.

Word Press and the Editorial Calendar

WordPress is pretty much the go to blogging interface these days and for good reason.  It’s clean, easy to work with and customizable to almost any business needs.  It also features an editorial calendar plug-in to schedule blog posts.


Being entrepreneur means dealing with multiple tasks and plenty of information every day, still keeping the big picture in mind. Pocket is perhaps the best app geared towards of such overwhelmed business owners since it gives you an easy way to store interesting articles, posts and other sources quickly without getting too distracted from what you’re doing.

Start Writing

You’ve got some ideas and you’re organized so now it’s time to get writing!  These tools will help you make writing process more productive and avoid that intimidating blank sheet of paper.

Write or Die

This app helps you write non stop and keep your ideas flowing. Set the timer and keep writing no matter what – then go back and correct the mistakes. This style of free writing is endorsed by authors like Natalie Goldberg and Stephen King as the perfect way to get creative juices flowing and to avoid keyboard paralysis.

Essay Tigers

Initially planned as an academic writing assistance, Essay Tigers now offers wide range of writing services, including business writing. You can ask for expert writing advice, use the proofreading service or even order a text from scratch. Any of these options will save you time and guarantee better writing quality.

Pro Writing Aid 

When you have already finished with writing but are not quite sure about the quality this app comes in handy. Paste your text and get recommendations on  spelling, grammar and readability.


At the end of the day, making time to create high quality content is about reworking your schedule and making the promotion and growth of your business an active and flexible priority.  Getting started can be hard but once it becomes a part of your regular work routine you’ll see the payoffs.

About the Author: Haley Osborne is a professional copywriter for startup projects. She usually covers business, marketing issues and searches the ways to increase writing productivity. Haley can be contacted via Facebook or Google+.

Note: Occasionally, this site will publish a post by a guest author if the content, links, and purpose is to assist small businesses in building a better presence online or offline. If you are interested in participating with your own guest post, here are the ConverStations Guest Post Guidelines.

Photo on Pixabay by Unsplash

GUEST: No Time to Write? 8 Must Have Tools for Business Owners is a post from: ConverStations


THOUGHTography: MicroContent Matters

taste on a toothpick

Microcontent. Important, but not lengthy.  Short messages often leading to deep content.

The next step after publication is to promote your posts and that’s when you turn to microcontent to spark curiosity and drive traffic. – Denise Wakeman on Microcontent

Like Taste-on-a-Toothpick, you get a taste of what’s to come of you go for the full meal. Microcontent should always be true to what’s ahead. You wouldn’t want to taste bacon on a toothpick, dive in for the full meal, and it ends up to be completely different.

The nature of content consumption is quick-attention to signal by eliminating noise. Microcontent can be quick to produce and easy to share. Done properly, serving microcontent can lead to improved readership, deeper relationships, and increased transactions.

Microcontent matters.

NoteThoughtography is the concept of an image invoking a thought worth sharing, all in one piece (both the image and the thought). Thoughtography posts are followed up each week in the free Whistle Stops Weekly newsletter.

Photo on Pixabay by Hans

THOUGHTography: MicroContent Matters is a post from: ConverStations


Why Curation Works: 10 Reasons to Cultivate Good Content

friends sharing content on mobile device

Sharing good content, being the resource for your customers, continues to be a great way to build value into your business relationships. Some of the most popular platforms and practices reward good content curation. Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are examples of today’s “water-cooler” conversation and how friends connect around content. Likes, Shares, Re-pins and ReTweets play a big role in keeping streams of content flowing.

Finding and filtering valuable content is a key in building a dedicated, returning community of people around your efforts. Here are 10 reasons why  curation and cultivation of beneficial resources is a good practice for your business.

Why Curation Works: 10 Reasons to Cultivate and Share Good Content

  1. Be the Resource: This has become a mantra among those I work with – Be The Resource, as in become the go-to person for valuable insight and information around certain topics valuable to your customer and around your business.
  2. Increase Awareness: As your sharing of valuable content increases, so to will awareness in your brand. Perhaps because your name will consistently be within eye’s reach or due to others sharing what you’ve already shared.
  3. Signal vs. Noise: By filtering items on the topics your decide on curating, you’ll be building up muscles that will allow you to more quickly separate signal from noise. This muscle will continue to come in handy because, let’s face it, content flow isn’t slowing down.
  4. Build Relationships: Anytime you give, give, give, good stuff out, it’s likely you’ll get good stuff back. You’ll be building up relationships with readers and customers.
  5. Sharing is Contagious: Sharing can become contagious. By sharing quality content – and giving proper attribution – you’ll be leading by example.
  6. Brand Findability: From an SEO perspective, properly formatted content, whether created or curated, is going to enhance your findability. So will page depth and inventory.
  7. Voice of Authority: Continuous sharing of certain topics related to your brand will position you as a voice of authority in certain subject matter. It stands to reason, especially as you become better at the Signal vs. Noise factor.
  8. Generate Content Ideas: By cultivating good content for purposes of sharing, you’ll glean plenty of ideas for creating your own content. Additionally, curating several pieces of shared content into a larger resource is a good practice.
  9. Test the Market: Try out new topics or themes to see if your intended audience embraces such things. You’ll get ideas on whether new products or practices will serve your market.
  10. Build Up Social Inventory: Every post and status update, tweet and image become part of your social inventory. Each item gets its own unique URL. Each item is branded with your name.

Think about this: How much of Oprah Winfrey’s content is her own?  Or Larry King? They bring people in front of their intended audience and ask great questions. They extract content for the purpose of sharing it with their audience. Even Reader’s Digest is well-practiced in curating more content than it creates. Content that others enjoy. Just Remember Your Who.

Photo on Pixabay by HND

Why Curation Works: 10 Reasons to Cultivate Good Content is a post from: ConverStations


GUEST: Common Business Startup Pains & How to Remedy Them

startup office

Written by Roy Rasmussen

One out of five business startups fail within the first year, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. These trends have held steadily over the past two decades, illustrating the challenges that startups constantly face. Fortunately, these trends have also helped experts identify the common causes of business failure and develop solutions that can help your company avoid these pains.

There’s No Substitute for Experience

Business textbook author Michael Ames lists lack of experience as the top cause of small business failure. Entrepreneurs often get inspired by an idea without having the technical or management expertise to implement it.

Ames recommends finding competent help to assist with running and leading your company. Areas where delegation to others is often prudent include administrative assistance, accounting, tax preparation, legal support, and IT.

Cover Your Capital Needs

Hiring help takes capital. A Small Business Association survey found that between 2008 and 2012, 43 percent of small businesses that needed to borrow funds were unable to do so. This trend translated into an inability to hire and a tendency towards layoffs, a reduction of employee benefits, and an inability to meet customer demand. This trend is related to “bootstrapping,” in which a business owner tries to start up with minimal capital, relying primarily on personal funds without outside investors. The Wall Street Journal reported that between 2009 and 2014 the number of firms receiving no outside funding rose from about one in six to one in four, a trend that often results in inability to pay bills.

The best way to avoid these headaches is to start with a solid business plan that includes a financing strategy. The SBA offers great guidance on this. It’s also a best practice to keep your personal and business finances separate so that potential startup problems don’t spill over into the rest of your life.

Manage Your Credit Wisely

Securing business financing is easier when you have good business credit, which highlights another common startup problem: poor credit management. For instance, problems can arise when a poor collection policy results in clients’ late payments. This may leave a company unable to cover its bills for the next payment cycle, despite still generating sales.

Accountant Simon Speirs outlines 10 billing best practices to avoid this problem, including making sure your invoices highlight payment amounts and due dates, itemizing invoiced items, and offering multiple payment options. Another step you can take is to get business credit insurance, which protects you in the event of late client payments or bankruptcy. Get quotes on business credit insurance at

Monitor Your Inventory

Another mistake that can hurt your cash flow and credit is failing to manage your inventory. Fishbowl inventory specialist Dusty Miller says having too little inventory can cost you sales, but having too much can tie up your cash. Both situations hurt your cash flow. To avoid this, be sure to set reorder points that define what your minimum and maximum inventory levels should be at any given time. If you do get stuck with overstock, NAEIR President Gary C. Smith notes that C corporations can use IRC Section 170(e)(3) to donate excess inventory for federal tax deductions.

About the Author: Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.

Note: Occasionally, this site will publish a post by a guest author if the content, links, and purpose is to assist small businesses in building a better presence online or offline. If you are interested in participating with your own guest post, here are the ConverStations Guest Post Guidelines.

Photo on Pixabay by StartupStockPhotos

GUEST: Common Business Startup Pains & How to Remedy Them is a post from: ConverStations