New Business Trends to Watch

New Business Trends to Watch

Small Business Expert

Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.

Technology usually makes its way to our workplaces long before it comes home. That’s because so much tech is engineered with the idea of getting things done more quickly, more efficiently, and with less stress to the user. Neither every idea nor every new gadget that comes to the workplace or any place of business sticks around forever, but when we look at 2012’s big trends, we can get a rough idea of what’s going to be big through 2013. 

Here are 5 predictions about 2013’s business trends. 

More competition between mobile phones – The mobile market is crowded, and it’s only going to get more packed as the year goes on. The iPhone will remain a household name, but it’s already being pushed around in a big way by phones that run Android, including the Samsung Galaxy S III. We can expect more competitive pricing as a result. 

Lots more competition between tablet computers – While smartphone competition looks to be hot through 2013, the tablet market will get outright fierce, particularly between 7” models. The iPad Mini should be a popular choice, though the Google Nexus 7’s attractive price certainly won’t go unnoticed by people looking to perform a little portable computing. 

More use of the cloud – Hard drives and other physical storage mediums will continue to give way in favor of the convenience of cloud storage. The rise of tablets combined with usage of the cloud will see more employees working on the go as opposed to being chained to a desk and a PC. 

More businesses implementing Wi-Fi Hotspots – More and more businesses, particularly retail and dining establishments, will offer free Wi-Fi to keep customers inside their walls. McDonalds and Starbucks have already done so with great success. 

Long-term switch to HTML 5 and web apps – Over 2013, the popularity and usage of native apps will fade in favor of web-based apps running HTML 5. Apps certainly won’t disappear tomorrow, but consumers and users will find themselves directed to the web more and more often.

For more 2013 business trends, take a look at Gartner Inc’s 2013 trends

Top 10 Tablets for 2013

Top 10 Tablets for 2013

Small Business Expert

Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.

Are you looking to upgrade your tablet over the coming year? Or maybe 2013 will be the year that marks the purchase of your first tablet. Either way, the bustling tablet market has you covered: There are more models to select from than ever before, and they’re all available in a multitude of colors, sizes, and price brackets. And between iOS, Windows, and Android, you even have your choice of operating systems. 

Stumped on what you ought to buy? Here are the top ten tablets for 2013. 

iPad (Fourth Generation) – The iPad is still the go-to brand for tablet computers. The highly popular device is now into its fourth iteration and boasts powerful hardware, a familiar interface, and tons of game and app support courtesy of the App Store. 

iPad Mini – Apple’s trimmed-down answer to the 7” tablet craze is approximately as powerful as the iPad 2, and for the most part it supports the same apps and games as its larger cousins. 

Nexus 7 – Looking for an Android-based tablet that’s affordable and versatile? This little fellow from Google and Asus might be your answer. It’s perfect for reading eBooks and watching television programs, and it’ll only set you back $299 USD. 

Microsoft Surface – This laptop/tablet hybrid is the perfect buy for anyone who wants the portability of a tablet, but the accuracy of a keyboard. Its detachable keyboard doubles as a protective cover, and there are two versions to choose from: A model that comes with Windows RT, and a model that includes Windows 8 Pro. 

Motorola Droid Xyboard / Xoom 2 – The Xyboard is smaller, sleeker, and faster than its predecessor, Xoom. The “media edition” of the tablet can stream content from your PC, and the whole package has been made water-resistant. Perfect for bad weather, though we don’t recommend taking it for a dunk in the pool. 

Sony Xperia Tablet S – The Xperia Tablet S is the successor to the Sony Tablet S. It has a thinner, lighter design than its ancestor, and an improved camera. It’s even equipped with an infrared blaster, which lets you use the device as a universal remote. 

Asus eee Pad Transformer Prime – Arguably  the coolest-named tablet in the world, the Asus eee Transformer Prime actually does transform from a tablet to a more complete laptop. All you need to do is pick up the Prime’s optional docking keyboard for a little QWERTY power. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 – Samsung’s popular tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Delicious, but what does it mean for you? It means tons of processing power that blasts through work during the day, and deliver gentle stories at night. Between books, pictures, movies, and video, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a perfect family media hub.   

Kindle Fire HD – The Kindle Fire HD is the color-screen follow-up to Amazon’s enormously popular Kindle line of book readers. It runs on a modified version of Ice Cream Sandwich, and is capable of playing video, movies, and games. Needless to say, you can also read ebooks off it. All yours for a still-affordable $199 USD. 

Blackberry Playbook – The Blackberry Playbook may not have set the world on fire upon its initial release, but price cuts have made it more attractive. You can use the Playbook to make and record videos, play games, and much more. Interestingly, the Playbook is pre-loaded with an app that grants access to over 1,500 films from the National Film Board of Canada, which makes the device worth the price of admission for nostalgic Canadians. 

Market Your Business with QR Codes

Market Your Business with QR Codes

Small Business Expert

Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.

The use of Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) continues to increase, as free apps are making it easier than ever for folks to focus on these images and see where it will take them.  Last year, more than 14 million users scanned a QR code, and that number continues to rise.  And interestingly enough, according to comScore, more than a quarter of folks actually scan QR codes directly from web pages. What can a small business owner or marketing professional do to make sure their efforts get noticed?  Here are a few tips on how to use QR codes to market your business and engage customers.

Discounts: Companies are finding that consumers want deals, so link your code to a coupon or other incentive to reward customers for checking it out.  Don’t be afraid to tie it to something like a short promotional video, at the end of which is the deal.  As long as consumers get something out of it, they don’t mind a small investment of time and effort to get it.

Social Networks: It’s a no-brainer to take folks to a landing page where then quickly or easily like or follow you your brand page, but set clear expectations as to what that entails.  And again, consider offering special benefits via your social media presence for those that do take the time to follow.

Tinker With The Design: Work with your art department to see if you can place images or words within the center of the QR code to help folks know what it is they’re scanning, and also to catch their attention.  Get creative to encourage action.

Be Specific:  When you use a QR code, make it really clear what the customer call-to-action is.  If you want them to watch a video or consider a specific product, take them to a page that makes that really easy.  Don’t just do a generic code that goes to your business’ home page.  No one is that interested in showing up and not knowing what to do.

Use Them For Networking: Encourage an extra bit of activity for those you meet while networking by including a QR code on your business card.  Or if you’re going to a trade show or another place where you’ll be meeting lots of folks, put one on your laptop bag and encourage others to scan it.  It can go to a specific company page or some other link that’s personalized for you, like your LinkedIn profile.  It can help make a great and lasting impression on any that scan it.

Gamification: Consider peppering codes throughout your store, website or different ad campaigns, and reward users who are able to find them all.  By making QR codes a part of a larger campaign, you prolong user engagement, and hopefully provide positive associations for your brand.

Get Creative: Consider having t-shirts or even bumper stickers made with QR codes, and include cryptic clues as to their destination.  The content on the other end is just as important as you’d hate to pique customer interest only to disappoint them with the destination.