business

Why Do I Need To Claim My Venue On Foursquare

I’ve been reading ‘The Happiness Project’ for the past couple weeks and one of the small keys to happiness in it is ‘tackle a nagging task’. I added a bunch of these to my project management system and knocked them off the other day.

Hey I just checked in, and this is crazy, your venue has no address, so claim it maybe.One of my ‘finally done’ items was claiming Breaking Even Communications on Foursquare. Why else pay for this lovely office space, right?

Back in the day when you claimed your Foursquare venue (that’s what they call a business on Foursquare) you had two verification options:

1) Instantaneous (they called you with a code). Cost: $10
2) Wait for a postcard in the mail (the postcard has a code on it) which could take up to three weeks Cost: Free

So yesterday I was on Foursquare and now the instant verification costs $1. Works for me! So if you haven’t done this yet, go do it! :^)

Why You Should Claim Your Venue (Business On Foursquare)

Here are some of the benefits of claiming your venue:

  • Make sure your info is right including your business address, description, category, website URL, etc.
  • Leave tips or make specials for people who check in.
  • Leave tips on other business pages.
  • Post photos related to your business.
  • See data related to check-ins from individuals who visit your business (who came in, when, etc.)
  • Create events on Foursquare (individuals can do this too). Think of letting people check into the ‘Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner’ happening at your restaurant or ‘James McMurtry Concert’ at your theater.

How To Claim Your Venue (Business)

1) Find your business on Foursquare. Click on it to get to the most detailed info. (If you do not have a personal Foursquare account, you will be prompted to create one. Don’t worry, you don’t need to ever use it personally, you just need it to claim.)
2) Find the ‘claim’ link (see below).
3) Follow instructions.

Go to your business on Foursquare and look all the way down and right for the claim link.

Go to your business on Foursquare and look all the way down and right for the claim link.

Et puis voila, you are claimed!

Who Uses Foursquare Anyway?

In other words, for five minutes and $1, it really can be quite worth doing this small task. Foursquare users are a highly influential group of people:

  • Foursquare has 1.9 million users with 12,900 new users/day
  • 31% of mobile social media users use Foursquare
  • 2/3 of active Foursquare users post tips (mini reviews)
  • 80% of active Foursquare users have acted on another user’s tip

In other words, it’s a growing network where people are talking about businesses they visit. Sounds like a good place for any of us business owners!

Still hungry for more Foursquare? Here’s a great blog (unofficial but informative) all about it: http://aboutfoursquare.com/

Want To Start Your Own Business? A Few Places To Start

A few friends who have been thinking about the self employed life have asked me how I learned what I know about running a business.

On the surface, I am a weird person to ask. I’m a geology major with a teaching certification. What do I know about running a business? Apparently enough!

Here are a few of my favorite resources to consider in terms of business development:

1) Earn 1K
So if you aren’t sure what you want to do in terms of work, this is the best place to start. Ramit Seti has a free idea generator to help you come up with business ideas. His online class costs $1000 but the idea is you earn that money (and then some) back over time. Among the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

2) Local Resources
If you are looking for long term support and your timing is right, WHCA here in Downeast Maine has a program called Incubator Without Walls.  Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development has a ‘Top Gun’ program running in the Portland area. These are both longer term programs (months to a year) that you do with a group of other people like yourself and people I know who have been through them really enjoyed them and got a lot of useful info out of them.

If you want something that’s a shorter time frame or just some one-on-one consulting to help you finish up your plan, you can try something like Women Work and Community whose ‘New Ventures’ class I took four years ago. 

Whether you live near me in Maine or not, you no doubt have some local business consulting resources supported by a local university, the government, or a business-related non-profit. Leave a comment with this blog post and let us know what you find in your corner of the world… you can help someone else out! 

3) Books
I joke around with my friends that if I ever wrote a business book it’d be really short:

1) Do good work.
2) Be nice to people.
3) Don’t spend more money than you make.

That said, there are lots of great books about starting a business out there. Personally I enjoy reading the biography type books. Like I got way more at of Poppy King’s “Confessions of a Lipstick Queen” (she starting a lipstick company out of high school) than I was expecting to when I paid $1.99 for it at Mardens.

I don’t believe you have to learn from people in your field necessarily, just sometimes hearing a concept put a different way can help. Right now, I’m working on “$100 Startup “.

4) Other People

There’s a fine line between listening to other people and letting them run the show. My initial instinct when people ask me about changing how I do something is “No!” But instead of saying that out loud, I take a breath and say “Why do you say that?”

Guess what? While I didn’t screw up anything in my business entirely (yet), I didn’t necessarily set it up to be the most well oiled machine possible. So when other people look at something and have an idea, it might be a good to listen to it. Alice coming on board has brought some great new ideas for example.

That said, if I know the rationale and something still doesn’t feel right in my gut, I won’t do it. I once heard somewhere that your brain takes in a lot more information than you realize you are processing so that ‘gut feeling’ you get is actually your brain taking it all into account and spitting out a valid answer. But understand what you are saying no to before you actually say it.

So with a combination of courses, self reflection, books, and other people’s opinions who you trust, you’ll get a lot of good information about running a business that’ll help in other aspects of your life. And while a business degree is helpful, don’t let not having one stop you from going after what you want. I didn’t. :^)

The Pros And Cons Of Google Apps

I’ve been accused of being a bit of a Google enthusiast. The first stock I ever bought was Google. I use Google Calendar to manage my personal schedule and Gmail to filter my email.

Within the business, we use Google Docs to manage projects, Google Chat to talk to virtual collaborators, and Google Analytics to analyze the website data for our clients.

Google is, however, not infalable. Google can go offline on occasion like it did earlier this summer making tools unavailable. Your Google account could get hacked,wiping out your data. This is why it’s important to back information up (yes even cloud stored stuff needs backup!) and use very strong passwords on your accounts. (Here’s how to backup your Google stuff with a combination of Google Takeout and Thunderbird: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/download-gmail-google-data/)



All Google products, whether it’s a Google Form or a Google Map, allow two ways to share the information:
1) A link to it you can share with other people
2) An embed code where you can stick it on a website.

If you click the link or share button when you are somewhere on Google, it'll let you have a link to share the item on Google or the embed code where you can put the item on a website. Whatever you do, make sure your item is set to 'Public' if you want people to be able to see it!

If you click the link or share button when you are somewhere on Google, it’ll let you have a link to share the item on Google or the embed code where you can put the item on a website. Whatever you do, make sure your item is set to ‘Public’ if you want people to be able to see it!

Linking to the information makes it easy to share but the formatting is out of your control since you are linking to where it lives in the Google cloud.

If you take the embed code and put it on your site, you can sort of customize what it looks like.

You can embed a form, calendar, spreadsheet, Youtube video and more from Google into your website. The material still 'lives' on Google and is just displaying on your site.

You can embed a form, calendar, spreadsheet, Youtube video and more from Google into your website. The material still ‘lives’ on Google and is just displaying on your site.

Pros of Google Apps:

  • If you have not so tech savy people updating your site (but can find their way around Google) this is a nice alternative. Basically anyone with a Google account that you give permission to can update your Google item.
  • Some custom formatting possible (column colors, font sizes) make it possible to match the form more closely to your site than you’d expect
  • Indexed by Google (we can also say this happens on your website too but come on, if you were Google, wouldn’t you give stuff on your own server higher ranking?)
  • Shareable to other Google users. If I want to save your Google Calendar and put it with mine, I just have to click that I want to.

Cons of Google Apps:

  • You need to have a Google account and now, Google will press you a bit for more personal details (Google+) so it can collect demographic info and your online behavior information.
  • Not entirely customizable; still will look like a Google Doc for example.
  • Since the info lives on Google’s server and not on your site, any information in an iFrame is not able to be indexed in site search.



So when would I recommend you use a Google Apps versus a program that works with your site (like a Wordpress Calendar plugin):

1) When multiple people are updating a certain piece of info and you don’t want to give them access to your site. If you have volunteers/staff who have lots of other jobs besides maintaining x part of the website, sometimes not making them learn software can take some of the pressure off.
Ex: Booster Club member updates sports scores and only needs access to that spreadsheet.
You want to create a simple form questionnaire for your organization that your board needs to collaborate on.

2) When the organization is using Google already. It’s easier to use tools if you are already familiar with them.
Ex: Google Apps for Education already installed on the server of the school and used by teachers in the school for curriculum sharing.
Google Apps for Business is installed on the domain and the business is already using online calendars to merge schedules.

3) When you don’t care that it doesn’t exactly ‘match’ your site design or that people can’t search for fields of information with the site search. If you are aware of the limitations and don’t care, that’s ok.
Ex: You are going to put a description of the results as a paragraph on the website anyway in addition to the spreadsheet so people can find it via site search.
You don’t care that the chart menu doesn’t have the exact shade of blue in your logo. Close enough!

In other words, sometimes Google Apps are the right tool to use for the job and sometimes they are not. This is why in developing a site, you (or your developer) will want to know as much information about it as possible, including what kinds of information you want to display and who will be updating what parts of the website.

Google Apps, like many tools online, are a great option for collaborating and sharing information. If the features work for you, you can extend the functionality to your website and if they don’t you have other options!

Meme Week: Email Maybe

The last post of Meme Week. Could it be? This one is about email marketing and is possibly the nerdiest one yet. Pass it on if you like it! Next week, back to normal website/marketing stuff, but it’s been a fun week so thanks to everyone who has participated in our first ever meme participation. We may have to do it again!



Hey I just read you, and this is crazy, your email's not CAN-SPAM compliant so fix that maybe.

Meme Week: Twitter Maybe

Our week of useful tips via popular meme continues. If you like, pass it along!

Hey I just followed you, and this is crazy, your links are too long, use bit.ly maybe.

Meme Week: Foursquare Maybe

So American pop culture and the internet has embraced the Call Me Maybe song. And whenever I’m having a crappy kind of day, I totally watch this video parody of it with Corgis (because why wouldn’t it be?):

Googling ‘Call Me Maybe’ and checking out image results, you’ll find some fun stuff. Here’s a collection/some info about the meme: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/call-me-maybe

We’ve jumped on this meme at Breaking Even and with Nicole copy/ideas and Alice artwork/ideas, we have a series of ‘Call Me Maybe’ inspired statements with accompanying cheesy pictures about internet marketing. All week. Yes you may have just died and gone to heaven. Or you more accurately you may chuckle for a few seconds.

First up, Foursquare. Let us know what you think! And if you like it, pin it, Facebook share it, tweet it, whatever! :^) Happy Monday!

Hey I just checked in, and this is crazy, your venue has no address, so claim it maybe.

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