Archive for the ‘Small Business Advice’ Category


Good Vibes for Good Staff: On Workplace Positivity

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

By Manpreet Singh


“Positive work environment” is a common phrase with a lot of wordy business definitions. In short, it describes a workplace where employees feel motivated and appreciated. Having this kind of culture is an essential part of any healthy business, so here are a few points on why workplace positivity matters and how you can  create it.

Why to be positive

Workplace positivity boosts your bottom line. It’s correlated with higher productivity, easier recruitment, and much lower employee turnover.  Workplace negativity, on the other hand, has bad consequences of its own, being linked to depression, insomnia, and anxiety in employees, all of which hurt performance as well as the lives of your employees.

Employees in a positive environment also rebound from setbacks faster. In 2005, researchers Isen and Reeve wrote that positivity  gives employees the motivation needed to complete a task. In other words, happy workers get stuff done, even when things are tough.

How to be positive

Another benefit of workplace positivity is that it’s easy. One of its biggest components is your relationship with your employees. Demonstrate trust in them by taking  what they say seriously, and by strategically delegating important tasks to them. To do this, all you need to do is have meaningful conversations with your workers. This will make them feel more engaged and important.

The way you communicate also matters. In a positive workplace, a boss isn’t just an overseer; they ask for (and use) ideas and feedback from the whole team. You’re their leader, but everyone wins when you give your employees a say every now and then.

Positivity also means fun, a staple of any healthy business. Enjoyable rituals in the workplace get employees excited to come in. At TalkLocal, we reward hard work with great break-time options, including a video game corner and a snack bar that overflows with junk food on staff birthdays.

To run the best company you can, you need positivity; research repeatedly shows that having the right environment is almost as important as having the right equipment. Fortunately, creating the good vibes that will propel your company forward is pretty simple. Just respect your employees and make sure they’re happy to work for you, and you will find them going above and beyond your expectations.

How to make your business’s website “mobile friendly”

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015


It’s official: starting April 21st, Google will begin ranking websites in their search engine based on mobile friendliness. According to Google Trends analyst Zineb Ait Bahajji, this change in the search algorithm will affect search results more than the previous Penguin and Panda updates. With this in mind, small businesses need to start updating their web pages to make sure they’ll rank well with mobile friendliness in mind. If the website for your small business does not pass Google’s mobile friendly test, you could lose a lot of web traffic and, in the long run, business. At TalkLocal, we were ahead of the game and considered mobile friendliness an important thing for our website since day 1. Here are some tips that can help make your small business’ website mobile friendly.

Make sure your content is not wider than your screen

This is a common issue which makes many websites unfriendly for mobile devices. If the content on your website is bigger than a phone screen, this requires users to scroll left and right in order to see the whole image. To fix this, minimize your use of big text, space your images out, and make sure said images are small enough for smartphone screens.

Space out the links on your page

Links are a very important aspect of a well-designed website. The issue with links on mobile websites is when they’re too close to each other. It can be hard to click the right link with your fingers on a smartphone if they’re spaced too close to each other. Many smartphone users click links with the thumb of the same hand they are holding the phone with; keep this in mind when laying out links on your website.

Make sure the mobile viewport for your website is set

This technical issue is the main problem for 9 out of 10 mobile-unfriendly websites. The mobile viewport sets how you wish your website to appear on smartphones and, when not set, can cause your website to appear on people’s screens as big as it would on a computer monitor. If your website displays in landscape format on smartphones, that means your mobile viewport is not set. By using Responsive Design, you can eliminate this issue, and peoples phones will display your website based on their screen sizes.

Constantly keeping track of whether or not your website is optimized for Google’s continuous analytics updates can be tough. Still, increasing consumer appeal is at the heart of Google ranks so, like all of Google’s suggestions, having a mobile friendly website has its own value and is worth the effort. Of course, if you’re interested in a way to reach mobile and online consumers without relying on Google rankings, check out TalkLocal. TalkLocal ranks businesses based on their schedule, location, and job preferences, not their digital marketing budget. If you have a business and a phone, you can hear from actively searching consumers only minutes after they’ve submitted an online service request that matches your job preferences. Click here to learn more.

Warm Leads and the Three T’s

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

By Manpreet Singh


Just about 100% of the world’s salespeople prefer following warm leads to cold calling, and it’s easy to see why. Warm calling is less stressful and has a higher conversion rate but, like everything in sales, it has its nuances. The essentials of following up with warm leads can be distilled down to three principles: responding promptly to an expression of interest, cultivating a personal relationship, and giving a trustworthy impression. There’s a catchier name for these principles: Time, Talk & Tone.


Nothing kills interest like being kept waiting. Once a prospect has expressed interest, your aim is to quickly provide them with additional information that validates that interest, so have it ready. People are forgetful and easily distracted – more than a couple days’ wait and your warm lead may go cold again.


A warm lead is warm because the prospect wants to communicate with you; they want to get a sense of what you’re about and then possibly do business with you. While business calls and emails can serve as the means of communication, you can get more mileage from a more personal context. Try meeting with a warm lead in a casual setting, like a party or a coffee shop. If you can learn something about the prospect’s lifestyle and establish a personal connection with them, it will be harder for them to break off their interest in working with you.


One of the reasons sales can be difficult is because very few people enjoy being sold to; unfortunately, this applies to both warm and cold leads. However, warm calling gives you the unique opportunity to portray yourself differently. If you can show genuine concern for the issues faced by your prospect, you can give the impression of an advisor, not a salesperson, and earn the trust that comes with it.

Warm leads are a precious thing, especially if you’re used to the trial-and-error of cold calling. It’s important that you get the most out of your interested prospects, and remembering these three easy words can help you do just that. However, if your business needs a faster way to find and capitalize on warm leads, try TalkLocal to get real-time service requests from nearby consumers sent directly to your phone.

The Languages of Sales: Our Employees on Multilingual Business

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

By Manpreet Singh


You’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse office than ours. Like the country in which we’ve built our business, TalkLocal is a melting pot of different cultures, races and languages, which we have occasionally leveraged. A sales staff that isn’t constrained to English has great potential to widen your customer base, but multilingual business has its own nuances. I asked some of our team  members what makes it special.

Silvia D’Archivio (Italian): Having shared business etiquette and no language barrier helps. However, my culture tends to distrust salespeople, so you must be especially able to convince customers that your product is of high quality and is practical for them.

Amandeep Bakshi (Punjabi): Conversations with native speakers can be friendlier and require a less aggressive sales approach. Explain in the layman’s terms of your language how your product works and its benefits to the customer.

Julio Jimenez (Spanish): Speaking native Spanish in the U.S. has an intimacy to it. This can make building rapport with a customer easier, but makes it more important not to seem like a salesman or they may feel manipulated.

The common theme is clear: a multilingual sales staff can be much more familiar with customers who speak their language, and this can accelerate closings. However, staff should be careful not to abuse their common-language trustworthiness.

TalkLocal wouldn’t be what it is today without a confluence of people from different backgrounds bringing new ideas. This is the nature of the globalized society we live in – your business would do well to speak its languages.

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Identifying Good Ideas

Sunday, April 5th, 2015


Written By TalkLocal Co-founder, Manpreet Singh

If you run a small business, you clearly know something about identifying good ideas and implementing them. However, you can always improve this skill, as you will definitely have to use it again in your entrepreneurial career. We’ve done some research on three kinds of good ideas that business owners are constantly looking for, and written you a short guide on identifying the most innovative concepts.

Product Ideas

It’s basic economics — a good product is something that is in high demand. Luckily, estimating demand is a simple process. Do as much market research as possible, combine this information with your own experience, and then create a list of customer needs that are relevant to the idea. Are these needs important to people? Would this product satisfy them? If the answer is yes, you have a good, in-demand product idea.

Crowdsourced/Contest-Driven Ideas

Some of the most valuable business ideas come from ordinary non-business-people. Opening up your business’s creative process to the masses is risky but has potential advantages — it hinges on your ability to create a contest or forum that encourages healthy competition and/or collaboration.

Netflix set a great example of how this works to the business’s advantage when they crowd-sourced their now-famous movie recommendation algorithm. Late in the $1 million contest, rival front-runners joined forces to create the winning solution that Netflix uses to this day.

Ideas from Employees

In 2009, Professor Michael Gibbs at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business did an extensive study on the culture of innovation in business. His findings highlight the importance of two factors in identifying good employee ideas — experience and incentives. Professor Gibbs’ work suggests that you will get the best ideas from your workers if you reward innovators and prioritize suggestions from your most senior staff.

Your business exists today because you capitalized on a good idea at some point in the past. However, what distinguishes successful business people from the rookies is their ability to keep identifying good ideas moving forward. By thinking practically and encouraging a culture of innovation in and around your business, you’ll find that identifying the next big thing is easier than it looks.

Organization: The Key to More Productive Meetings

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

By Manpreet Singh


The weekly meeting can be one of the most important parts of a small business’ operation. The meeting has the power to set the mood for the rest of the week and skyrocket productivity around the entire office, if done correctly. The problem arises when the leader doesn’t know how to properly conduct the meeting, causing it to drag on and key points to be lost in trivial discussions. At TalkLocal, we found the key to conducting more productive meetings lies in organization. Here are a few tips to keep your meetings organized and allow you to get important points across.

Have an itinerary for your meeting

Know what you want to discuss going into the meeting. Distribute an outline when the meeting begins and go over each of the points with your team. This will help employees in the meeting to prepare their own ideas and suggestions around the general frame you want to conduct the meeting in. On top of this, the meeting is less likely to go off track if people know what needs to be discussed going into it.

Send out information ahead of time

If you know that there’s something you want to specifically discuss in a meeting – whether it’s a new business model, a new type of system you want to introduce, etc. – send out as much information ahead of time as possible. Suggest ways to discuss a given issue in this pre-meeting outline as well; make sure people are well-informed on the content you intend to discuss and the way you intend to conduct the meeting.

Keep meetings brief

Meetings without a set end time have the potential to drag on for hours and accomplish little. To fix this problem before it happens, send out an email brief before the meeting establishing a start and end time. If everyone knows beforehand how long a meeting will last, they will keep their points concise and only speak when they feel they have something important to share.

Delegate “problem issues” to committees

A common occurrence in business meetings is having a particular issue ignite a heavy debate among those present. These arguments, while they might be warranted, have the potential to drag a meeting on longer than it needs to be and derail it from the original agenda. If one of these issues comes up, delegate finding a solution to a committee of members who seem most passionate about it at the meeting. This will allow the meeting to move on and for the problem to eventually be solved by a competent and driven team.

Assess how productive the meeting was at the end

After the meeting is completed, take note of how successful it was. Compare the start and end time you wished to achieve and the tasks you wished to accomplish with the actual runtime of the meeting and how many tasks you were able to complete. Experiment with how you run your meeting until you find a model that works best for you!

April Fools Tricks: Lead Generation Scams

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015


It’s almost April 1st, so be prepared for a barrage of pranks. In the spirit of the tricks we know our friends and coworkers are bound to pull on us, we reached out to small businesses we work for and asked them if they’ve experienced any dirty business tricks lately while trying to generate leads. Here are a couple of the dirtiest lead generation scams our customers have experienced while working with other companies.

The “Google Representative” 

Austin-based HVAC repair company Climate Control experienced a seriously dirty telephone solicitation trick when trying to get advertising space on Google. Owner David Bustamite claims, “A sales rep, supposedly from Google, will call and say for a few hundred dollars they will put you at the top of the list when people go online to seek an a/c company.”

David explains, “You give them your credit card number and then it takes several months before it even happens, and then you go online and find out it was a scam.” To protect yourself from this classic trick with serious consequences, don’t always believe the guy on the phone without doing research on where he’s calling from.

Pay Now, Get Traffic Later Never

NJF Electrical Services experienced a dirty trick of the web traffic optimization trade when he commissioned a revamp of his website to get more views on the internet. Owner Nicholas Ferraro explains, “I had purchased a new website and service with a promise of an increase in traffic by using their service and web design at a premium cost, only to get my account charged monthly and under delivered services.”

The ROI for Nicholas and his company clearly did not match what the website traffic consultant had promised, thus revealing the service as a scam.

With dirty tricks plaguing the lead generation industry, it’s always nice to have a breath of fresh, non-scammy air. If your small business needs free leads in real-time, without any of the dishonesty the businesses above experienced, check out TalkLocal.

4 Tax Season Tips for Entrepreneurs

Sunday, March 29th, 2015


Once again, the season is changing and so is your small business’ bank balance. Tax time is here, and you’re probably fretting over your quarterly payment. If this is a struggle for you every three months, you may want to look into ways to make filing your business’s taxes easier. Here are four of the most popular tips.

Get In Touch with a CPA

You wouldn’t try to give yourself a dental checkup or a legal consultation; what’s so different about filing your taxes? Unless you have accounting skills or an unusually simple tax situation, hiring a professional could save you time and money. Find a CPA whose prices and services fit your business; they deal with these issues for a living. TalkLocal may help you find an available CPA in your area.

Find Software that Works for You

Quickbooks is a lifesaver for many small business owners, but fear not if it isn’t your style – their monopoly on tax software is no more. Shop around for an electronic organizer that works for you; some of the biggest newcomers to the market include Xero and FreshBooks.

Keep Expenses Organized

Nobody’s perfect; chances are you’ve probably forgotten to use the company card or get a receipt for some purchase. Unfortunately, every time this happens your future taxes get a little more annoying. Keep track of your expenditures and double-check them with your bank account(s) occasionally. If you’re drowning in receipts and invoices, scan and file them electronically so that retrieval is a click away.

Stash Tax Money Ahead of Time

Too many entrepreneurs get themselves in a bind by putting off their tax planning until it’s time to pay. There are two main ways to prepare for taxes in advance: budget for your business’ total taxes over a given period of time or immediately set aside the government’s cut every time you receive a payment. One or both of these methods could save you a lot of stress on April 15.

Nobody looks forward to tax season (except maybe the aforementioned CPA’s). However, many small business owners make it harder than it needs to be by not using all the tools and strategies at their disposal. Follow our tips and you might actually be able to enjoy the beginning of spring, instead of spending it hunched over IRS forms with a calculator.

The 3 Benefits Real-time Technology Can Have for Your Business

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

real time pic

Real-time technology can set your business apart from the competition in all the right ways. Automating the delivery of information as soon as it becomes available makes your service or product much more useful; here’s a brief look at why and how.

Real-time technology can make the service you provide easier to access. This can be seen in how real-time updates are affecting public transportation in many cities. Apps which incorporate real-time transit data have allowed riders to know where buses are at that given moment compared to a commuter’s stop. Experts say these apps make public transportation more accessible and, in theory, should increase ridership. If a person knows that information about a given product or service is a click away, the service becomes more accessible and more marketable to them. We’ve seen this at TalkLocal; there was a a boost in our customer base after we began providing real-time information on the leads we provide contractors.

Here are three types of apps that can incorporate real-time responsiveness into your business:

Tasks Management Apps Like Asana

You may already know that Asana is great for organization. But it’s also a useful, free way to send project updates to your customers for those big projects. Simply create an Asana project for each booked service or repair, and detail the different steps in the project as subtasks. Then, invite the customer to follow that project. As you’re working, go to the Asana app and check off each step of the process as it’s completed. Your customer will receive a real-time notification on your progress, even if they’re at work or on the go. You can even add details so that they have a written record of those really hard to understand processes.

Keep your Customers Updated on Your Arrival Time With Waze

From pizza joints to UPS deliveries to service booking websites, corporations are using GPS technology to track deliveries and arrival times. In fact, lots of local consumers are booking services through expensive third-party apps for the privilege of tools like tracking business arrival times. Rather than paying subscription fees to access customers who require those amenities, use free navigation and traffic app Waze. With Waze, you can tell customers you’re on your way with the click of a button. If you’re a tow company, you can even see where there might be cars parked on the side of the road in your area in real time. Just invite your customers to download the app just like they do those booking websites. That is, if they haven’t already.

TalkLocal – Real Leads in Real Time

If a person knows that information about a given product or service is a click away, the service becomes more accessible and marketable to them. At TalkLocal we saw a boost in our customer base after we began providing real-time information on the leads we give contractors making our service more accessible and convenient.

Here at Talklocal we see the opportunity we provide business owners, the ability to know about potential customers who need a service immediately after they request it, as a unique service we offer to our clients and vwe would not have been able to provide without real-time technology.

Some people view the use of “real-time” in a service description redundant. This negative perception could not be further from the truth. The implementation of real-time technology, delivering information as it becomes available, in a company’s service or product can set your business apart from the competition in all the right ways.

Here at TalkLocal, we incorporated real-time data into our lead generation service and it produced amazing results. Here are the top three benefits of incorporating real-time technology into how you run your business:


Timely communication is important to any business and as such, real-time technology can assist you in the relevancy of any conversations you have. In business, the relevancy of the information you communicate to your customers can make all the difference in your success. If the information you send isn’t delivered in a timely manner, you lose your context and relevance with your customers and your business will plummet. Real-time technology allows you to deliver data or information instantly and therefore, you maintain the attention of your customer base. At TalkLocal, we deliver our leads using this real-time technology as they come in, making the potential jobs we connect our customers with relevant to how they run their small businesses.


Real-time technology can make the service you provide easier to access. An example of this can be seen with how real-time updates effected public transportation in many cities. Apps which incorporate real-time transit data have allowed riders to know where buses are at that given moment compared to their stop. This real-time information allows users to plan their trips based on the location of their bus in regards to them. Experts say these apps make public transportation more accessible and, in theory, should increase ridership. If a person knows that information about a given product or service is a click away, the service becomes more accessible and more marketable to them. We’ve seen this at TalkLocal as we saw a boost in our customer base after we began providing real-time information on the leads we provide contractors making our service more accessible and convenient.


The speed of your information thanks to real-time technology can provide you, the service provider, and your customers with a sense of opportunity. Knowing about data and information as it becomes available opens doors to all kinds of possibilities for users. This opportunity can provide many potential customers for the service provider that uses real-time tech. At Talklocal, we see the opportunity we provide business owners – knowing about potential customers who need a service immediately after the customer requests it – as providing us with many customers we would not have been able to acquire without real-time technology.

Real-time technology is can be a great asset to any business and we hope that you give these ideas a chance to increase your own business’ success.