How to Create PowerPoint Handouts

by Kaschimer 26. August 2010 04:01

This article was originally posted on Online Tech Tips (Copyright 2007, Assem Kishore)

Although PowerPoint is electronic slide creation software, printable handouts serve an important role both for the presenter and an audience. In this article, we’ll discuss your options for creating great PowerPoint handouts and purpose behind doing so in the first place.

Why Create PowerPoint Handouts?

Since PowerPoint is a software program designed to create electronic slide presentations, it may appear counter-intuitive to create printable handouts from your finished presentation. However, there are three main reasons you should consider creating handouts.

First, if your presentation’s content is particularly complex, offering printed handouts to your audience can help your audience members keep track of where you are in the presentation to keep them informed and up to speed.

Second, every audience member can walk away from your presentation with the handouts for inspection later. This way, you don’t have to rely on your audience members’ memories to ensure they understood the message of your presentation.

Finally, if your presentation has any call to action items in it, printed handouts can remind your audience not only about the fact there is a call to action but also what they action was. This can help ensure that your presentation has a bigger impact on your audience again without having to rely on the audience’s memory.

How to Create PowerPoint Handouts

Open any PowerPoint presentation you have created and click on the View tab on the Ribbon. With the View tab active, click on the button labeled Handout Masterin the section titled Presentation Views.

Click on the Handout Master Button in PowerPoint

You’ll notice that there is a new tab on the Ribbon labeled Handout Master. This is the tab that contains all of the handout options available to you in PowerPoint. Notice that by default, PowerPoint places six slides per page. Although this is usually a good choice, you need to decide whether this is the best layout for your handouts.

If your slides contain very basic information in large fonts, you may opt to change the number of slides per page to nine. If your slides contain detailed information such as charts or small type, you should choose a lower number of slides per page such as four or two.

Rarely should you choose one slide per page unless your slides contain very detailed information that is vital to the presentation. To change the number of slides per page, click on the button labeled Slides Per Page and make your choice.

Click the Slides Per Page Button in PowerPoint

Another important choice to make when it comes to PowerPoint handouts is the orientation of the page. By default, PowerPoint offers you a portrait page orientation.

However, since PowerPoint slides are almost always wider than they are tall, landscape orientation makes more sense. To change the orientation of your slides from portrait to landscape, click the button labeled Handout Orientation and choose Landscape from the menu.

Click the Handout Orientation Button in PowerPoint

To the far right of the Ribbon, you will notice a button labeled Page Setup. Much like a Word document, this is where you can change the margins and dimensions of the page.

How you change these variables for your handouts should be determined by how your slides are laid out and what information each slide contains. Make sure your slides are readable based on how small of a font you used and the complexity of the content on the slides.

Page Setup Options for PowerPoint Handouts

On the Placeholders section of the Ribbon, you can choose to add several options to your PowerPoint handouts including a HeaderFooterDate, and Page Number. A header or footer is a great place to put the title of your presentation and your name so people will know who created the handouts and who delivered the presentation.

Page numbers are a matter of preference but make a great way to help the audience find specific slides since you have a way to refer to which page a slide resides. Adding a date to your handouts is a good idea so people remember when they saw you give your presentation.

Placeholders Options for PowerPoint Handouts

The Edit Theme section of the Ribbon offers you an opportunity to setup the basic theme of your handouts. Keep in mind, however, that this will not change the theme of your electronic version of your presentation.

It turns out that themes that look great on a screen do not always print well. Using the Edit Theme section of the Ribbon, you can change the theme to a more printer-friendly version.

When choosing a theme for your handouts, remember that color slides do not look the same on paper when printed in black and white. Test your handout theme on a monochrome printer before making your final decision.

Choosing a Theme for PowerPoint Handouts

The Background section of the Ribbon lets you change the background printed on the handouts. Keep in mind that choosing a background for your handouts does not change the electronic version of your presentation; these backgrounds are applied to your handouts only.

Generally, few people choose a background for PowerPoint handouts because it creates an unprofessional appearance, detracts from the content of your printed slides, and wastes toner/ink when printed.

For these reasons, choose wisely if you decide to add a background to your PowerPoint handouts. Notice that there is also a button to Hide BackgroundGraphics while working on your handouts.

Choose a Background Style for PowerPoint Handouts

When you are done choosing the handout options for your PowerPoint presentation, click the Close Master View button and you are done. If you take the advice offered above seriously about creating readable and functional handouts, you should now have a nice set of PowerPoint handouts to offer your audience members.

 

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Home Office | Productivity | Tools

Latest Contests and Awards For Small Businesses

by Kaschimer 25. August 2010 13:16

Originally posted on Small Business Trends on August 7, 2010:

Contests and awards are a great way to get the word out about your business. Even if you don’t win, many offer an opportunity for recognition and publicity – so it’s not just about the big prize.

This list of contests, competitions and awards for small businesses, brought to you every other week as a community service by Small Business Trends and Smallbiztechnology.com.

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iNGie Award from Cabinet NG
Enter by August 15, 2010

Cabinet NG will recognize customers who have best used CNG-SAFE software products to improve their bottom line and at the same time operate their businesses in a more environmentally friendly manner. “iNGie” awards will be presented at the 2010 Collaborate Conference in Huntsville (dates and location to be announced soon).

* The first 20 companies to apply receive 2 free passes to 2010 Conference in Huntsville (approximately $500 value).
* Winners get a $1,000 credit which can be applied toward annual maintenance or CNG products.
* Winners will also receive an Amazon Kindle.

Award categories and online applications can be found here.

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Opportunity Green OG25 Business Award
Enter by August 17, 2010

The OG25 Business Award is an open business competition that recognizes the most promising start-ups committed to building a new green economy and that highlights initiatives in clean technology, product design, mobility, social innovation, water and resource conservation, food systems, community development and more. All OG25 finalists are showcased and win complimentary registration to the Opportunity Green 2010 Business Conference. All finalists will compete on stage for a chance to be named Opportunity Green’s Top Start-up of 2010.

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Small Business Road to Success Challenge by Fairfield Inn & Suites
Enter by August 20, 2010

This program will provide ten finalists with 15 free nights at Fairfield Inn & Suites across the U.S. and Canada and exposure to help them grow their businesses. Finalists will publicly share their journey by blogging, tweeting, and posting photos. One winner, judged to be most successful in achieving its business goals, will be selected to receive the $20,000 cash grand prize. Applicants will also have the chance to win a Marriott GiftCard if they choose to participate in a short survey.

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Second Chance
Enter by August 23, 2010

Second Chance is a 7-part web series on BusinessonMain.com that will feature 4 entrepreneurs, whose first attempts at having their own business failed. They will compete against each other in challenges for a second chance to start a new business. During each episode, the entrepreneurs will be given a fake business concept that will test the skills that contributed to the failure of their previous companies.

Along with the $150,000, the Second Chance winner will have the opportunity to present their business concept to a team of Angel Investors who may invest even more money and their expert knowledge in the business.

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The Stevie Awards for Women in Business
Enter by August 31, 2010

Women entrepreneurs, executives and organizations are eligible to enter in 54 different categories. Request an entry kit via this online form.

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2010 Leading Moms in Business
Enter by August 31, 2010

The 2010 StartupNation Leading Moms in Business competition will rank the top 200 mom-run businesses across America as determined by popular vote over the next few months.

The list of the 200 winners will be published next May and ranked according to votes accumulated.

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Vistaprint Make an Impression Contest
Enter by September 4, 2010

How do you impress your customers? Tell Vistaprint and enter to win a customized marketing campaign crafted by their in-house creative experts to promote your business and a $600 gift certificate to HP for a total prize package of $10,000!

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The Franchise Council Contest
Enter by September 6, 2010

A nationwide contest for business owners interested in an initial launch of franchising his/her business. The winner will receive $87,000 in business services . The Franchise Council (TFC) in partnership with Franchise Brokers Association (FBA), an industry association, will manage the contest that runs from June 1 – September 6, 2010.

The contest winner will be announced October 20 at the FBA national meeting in Orlando. Online application and rules located at http://www.franchiseba.com/development. Or contact Randy Hove, FranNet – St. Louis, at 314.614.8940 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              314.614.8940      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or rhove@frannet.com.

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New Ideas Contest
Enter by September 20, 2010

Winners will be announced at the Small Business Innovation Summit and Expo in Charleston on Nov. 3. The grand prize winner will receive $5,000 of seed money for his or her business idea, a scholarship to a FastTrac entrepreneurial training program, tickets to the Small Business Innovation Summit and Expo and a Dream Team of Mentors to help cultivate the idea.

Five first place prizes of $2,500 will be awarded in the categories of Bio-Science, Software/Information Technology, Engineering, Environmental Sustainability and Wild Card. Each winner will receive a scholarship to FastTrac and tickets to the Small Business Innovation Summit and Expo. There will be five $1,000 honorable mention prizes distributed as well as in each category.

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Startup Nation Homebased 100

Enter by October 1, 2010

The 2010 StartupNation Home-Based 100 will once again rank the best performing home-based businesses across America in ten distinct categories. To enter you must be home-based, must also have a website for your business, and some aspect of your business should fit at least one of the themes of the Top Ten categories.

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ACCO Brands Everyday Heroes Contest
Enter by October 31, 2010

What is an Everyday Hero? It’s a person who knows how to use his/her office tools to make things run smoothly; a person to whom everyone turns to pull it all together in a pinch; an individual who quietly gets the job done — often without being recognized. Everyday Heroes can enter the contest now at accoheroes.com. ACCO Brands will award a grand prize of $1,000 redeemable at office product dealers to one winner in each of three categories — business, home/home office and school.

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The Business Card Project
Open entry deadline

MOO.com is giving away more than $250,000 worth of design services and MOO products to 500 small businesses. Each winner will receive a one-time business card redesign by a professional design team and 50 free Business Cards from MOO. Check out a great “before and after” on the site.

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The Cleantech Open Ideas Competition
Enter by October 2010 (see site for entry details)

The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest clean technology business competition and is looking for the best clean technology ideas from around the world. Just for telling your idea, you could win a prize package of services worth $100,000 to help you start a business to grow your idea! Winners of each individual National Competition, get to represent your country as a Global IDEAS finalist at the annual Cleantech Open Awards Gala on November 16, 2010 in San Francisco.

There, your idea will be presented in a five-minute pitch in front of a crowd of 3,000 investors, entrepreneurs, sponsoring companies, corporations, members of academia, press, and others interested in hearing your ideas and getting involved.

The crowd will vote via text message for the “People’s Choice” and you could win $100,000 in marketing support, legal advising, conferencing services and more to help launch your business.
Sign up to receive the newsletter to get updates.

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Dream Big Small Business Award
Enter by January 7, 2011

The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club, is designed to honor U.S. job creators and recognize their significant contributions as drivers of economic growth. The 2011 application will become available starting Tuesday, September 21, 2010. View the eligibility and criteria to learn more and check out the Application Process FAQs for tips on filling out the application.

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General

Moving from Google to Microsoft BPOS

by Kaschimer 25. August 2010 00:15

TechRepublic Webcast

Moving from Google Apps to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite

Serena Software, a leading software company in the application development and governance market, made headlines in 2008 when it decided to migrate all of their 600 employees from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. After months of user dissatisfaction, content loss and poor support, the company decided to make a full migration off of Google Apps to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.

Join this live TechRepublic Webcast to hear from Ron Brister, Director of IT, Serena Software, as he shares his insights and his experiences on "Going Google" and how the company made the decision to embrace the cloud and ultimately choose Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.

(Sponsored by Microsoft)


Moving from Google Apps to
Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite 

Date: Wednesday September 22nd, 2010
Time: 1:30 PM ET | 10:30 AM PT | 16:30 GMT
Sponsored by: Microsoft

 

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General | Productivity

Free Business Events In or Near Detroit This Month

by Kaschimer 23. August 2010 07:35

 

August 26

August 26, 2010 

06:00PM to 01:00PM

  My Girlfriend's Business & Women Healing Women presents "Beyond My Business Card" Weekend Thursday - Saturday ... Read more...
Listed in Networking and Business
 
August 27
15 Tickets Left!

August 27, 2010 

08:30AM to 10:00AM

Hosted by Pure Visibility

Donuts and Search Marketing Come to our free introduction to internet marketing! Overwhelmed by the vast world of Internet marketing? Pure Visibility can help with its Donuts and Search Engine Marketing seminar. This no-... Read more...
Listed in Classes and Business


 

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General | Tech Business | Tools

SMB Conferences, Webinars and Events

by Kaschimer 23. August 2010 03:19

This post originally appeared on Small Business Trends on 8/14/2010

Our list this week has some really good opportunities to learn and network, whether you get our there to one of the big conferences or log in from your desktop.

This list of small business webinars, events and conferences is brought to you every two weeks as a community service by Small Business Trends andSmallbiztechnology.com.

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Western Regional Business Matchmaking
August 17, 2010, San Jose, CA

Presented by HP, American Express OPEN and American Airlines in cooperation with the California Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the California Small Business Development Centers, the Business Matchmaking Western Regional Face-to-Face Event will be hosted at the Doubletree Hotel San Jose located in San Jose, CA on Tuesday, August 17, 2010. Participating firms will receive advance education and tools to prepare for face-to-face meetings with buyers from federal, state and local government agencies and major corporations.

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Maximizing the Inbox: Starting your Business off on the Right Foot with Email Marketing 
August 17, 2010 3PM EST, Webinar

E-mail remains the number-one online activity of Americans and can deliver a higher return on investment than methods such as direct mail and advertising. By adopting the right strategies and practices now, you can maximize the inbox to capitalize on acquiring new customers and retaining current ones.  They invite you to spend a valuable and interactive hour with BizCentral USA and learn step-by-step effective strategies for implementing successful email marketing campaigns.

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LinkedIn for Business
August 17, 2010, 8:00pm EDT, Webinar

Are you aware of all the new LinkedIn changes? In this class, The Technology Therapy Group will cover: how to create a profile, properly introduce yourself, promote your business using questions and answers and effectively create, join and network in groups.

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Customers for Life: Developing Loyalty Through Email Marketing
August 18, 2010, 2:00 PM EDT, webinar

As a small business, how do you develop customer loyalty using email marketing? In this webinar, Wendy Lowe, Director of Product Marketing for Campaigner, and Ramon Ray of Smallbiztechnology.com will discuss the importance of loyalty to your business, understanding your customers to personalize and segment your messages, basic trigger marketing, how social media can complement email marketing to enhance loyalty, the importance of testimonials, how to use your loyal customers to help grow your grow your email contact list, and more.

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Business Across Borders

August 18, 2010, Houston
August 19, 2010, Los Angeles

At the Business Across Borders event series, brought to you by Inc. and DHL, you will have the opportunity to meet leaders from America’s fastest-growing international companies.  These Inc. 5000 self-starters are running some of the most exciting and diverse organizations in the world.  They will distill their expertise and equip you with the tools to grow your company and increase your profitability. The evening will include interactive events, a panel discussion, extended question and answer session, and a generous timeframe for you to network with like-minded entrepreneurs in your city.

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Maximize Your Success – SCORE, HP & Intel: Small Business Workshops
Multiple cities & dates

SCORE, HP, and Intel provide real insights and simple solutions to help you increase efficiencies, boost your productivity and grow your business.

You will get essential advice on technology-based solutions and marketing strategies that can help your small business, including how to better understand and target your customers more effectively, rethink your marketing in the digital age, and manage your own marketing can reduce costs and increase sales.

8/18: Nashville
9/14: Chicago
10/14: San Antonio
10/20: Minneapolis
10/27: Washington, DC Area
11/16: Tampa

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The Science of Presentations With Dan Zarrella 
August 19, 2010, 1:00pm EDT, Webinar

Want to master the skill of presenting? Reserve your spot today for this free, live webinar to learn how a scientific approach toward presentations can turn you into a marketing star, and you’ll also receive the complimentary eBook with original survey data.

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Leveraging Free or Low-Cost Business & Collaboration Solutions
August 19, 2010, 3:00pm EDT, Webinar

All organizations need a way to effectively and efficiently organize their content (documents and email), regardless of size. In this course you will learn how you can get some of the same benefits as larger competitors to maintain competitiveness, and uncover new opportunities. The discussion will include Phone, Instant Messaging, Email, Document Management, Collaboration, Workflow, and Financial / Accounting.

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Corporate Social Responsibility: No Business is too Small to Become a Good Corporate Citizen 
August 24, 2010 3PM EST, Webinar

Companies that have created corporate foundations have discovered that partnerships between private enterprise and public interest can produce profitable outcomes for all. The numbers indicate clearly: companies large and small do well by doing good.  You are invited to spend a valuable and interactive hour with BizCentral USA and learn how to create a foundation for your small business!

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Women Accessing Capital Training: How to Build Your Presentation for the Bank/Investors
August 24, 2010, 3:00pm EDT, Webinar

Ready to talk to a bank or investor? Create a strong presentation and compelling pitch to close the deal. This webinar will step through exactly what you need to know in order to get the investment your business needs.

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Marketing Tools for Small Businesses 
August 26, 2010 1:00 pm CDT, Webinar

Looking for better ways to reach your customers, without spending a fortune on marketing? Join Wasp Barcode and entrepreneur, author, and small business marketing expert David Siteman Garland, for a webinar on simple, affordable small business marketing tools. We’ll focus on topics including social media, effective strategies for competing with industry “Goliaths”, and becoming a trusted resource for your customers.

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Advanced Facebook for Business
August 31, 2010, 8:00pm EDT, Webinar

Delve deeper into the world of Facebook for business with the Technology Therapy Group: how to create lists to organize your friends, change and customize your news feed, install applications to your page and profile, and create ads for your business.

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Top Reasons Small Businesses Fail: How to Avoid These Dire Mistakes September 7, 2010 3PM EST, Webinar

Starting a business is an American dream that can be fulfilling and profitable, but it is not something that should be entered into lightly. For many of the businesses that have failed to pass the “5 year marker”, there are most likely mistakes that they all have in common. Being familiar with and learning how to avoid these abominable mistakes could be the difference between success and failure for your small business.  Spend a valuable and interactive hour with BizCentral USA and take a look at the top 5 reasons many small businesses don’t survive the first five years and ways to avoid these dire mistakes.

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Entrepreneurship and Small Business Series
Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship Research
Multiple Dates, Hudson, OH

Workplace Behavior Explained: are entrepreneurs born or made?
September 7, 2010

Scott Shane discusses his latest book, Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life. Find out if you are a born leader, risk-taker, communicator and entrepreneur and how you can capitalize on these inherent attributes.

Idea Selling
October 5, 2010

Greg Graham of the Kent State University School of Business talks about “Idea Selling” and how to put it to work for your business.

Akron Archangels Investment Network: small business funding options.
October 18, 2010

John Myers of the Akron Archangels Investment Network will explain how “Angels” and venture capitalists work as small business funding options.

Entrepreneurship and the Green Economy
November 8, 2010

Dr. Robert J. Hannemann, director of the Tufts Gordon Institute at Tufts University School of Engineering in Massachusetts, discusses “Entrepreneurship and the Green Economy.”

Numbers Demystified
November 17, 2010 

Jim Griggy, Certified Business Advisor at the Ohio Small Business Development Center (OSBDC) at Summit Medina Business Alliance, Inc., will explain how to read financial statements using meaningful comparisons and financial ratios.

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Brooklyn Trade Show
September 14, 2010, Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn Trade Show is creating countless opportunities by bringing together premier businesses from Brooklyn, NYC, Long Island and the greater metropolitan area with national corporations, entrepreneurs, non-profits, government agencies, business advocacy groups and the media.

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The Way I Work: A Network and Learn Business Series
Multiple Dates and Cities

Sep 14: Chicago
Sep 23: New York

The evening will include an interactive discussion based on the Inc. Magazine column ‘The Way I Work’, followed by a moderated question and answer period. You will have the opportunity to network with like-minded entrepreneurs in your city over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

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BizTechDay
September 18, 2010 – Seattle, WA
September 24, 2010 – New York City
October 23, 2010 – San Francisco, CA

BizTechDay is one of the fastest growing business and technology conferences where inspiring entrepreneurs share practical business and technology strategies. Their goal is to inspire, educate & connect entrepreneur through the power of real-time interaction. Their purpose is to bring innovative and practical ideas and help grow a new generation of entrepreneurs. If you’re in one of these cities, or nearby, this is a must-attend event.

Get 30% off through August 31st, or 20% starting September 1st, with discount code:  SmallBizTrendsEarly.

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High-Growth Startups Featuring the Founder of Gilt Groupe
September 20, 2010, New York City

Hear Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (HBS ’04), Founder of Gilt Groupe, discuss her experience as an entrepreneur in the exciting world of fashion.

Alexandra Wilkis Wilson is a Founder of Gilt Groupe and its Chief Merchandising Officer. She has twelve years of international experience in the luxury goods, retail and finance sectors. Most recently she oversaw retail operations at BVLGARI overseeing 15 North American stores. Prior to that Alexandra managed Leather Goods Sales Planning for Louis Vuitton North America.

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New Marketing Experience – Chicago
September 21, 2010

Imagine a world where you can take your One Big Idea and tap over 100 other participating conference attendee and experts and each of their One Big Ideas. All in a structured, fast-paced and highly interactive one-day program under the direction of Chris Brogan and the team from New Marketing Labs.

Bring your One Big Idea – and submit it to them on the exclusive New Marketing Labs’ My Big Idea website. The ideas will be packaged and turned into six dynamic sessions where many of the limited audience will get to present their idea. Participants get the full set of ideas in e-book format.

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Inc. 500 | 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony
September 30-October 2, 2010, Washington, DC

The 2010 Inc. 500|5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony celebrates Inc. magazine’s revered ranking of America’s fastest-growing privately held companies. The momentous event brings together current Inc. 5000 honorees and alumni of the list to recognize the remarkable achievements of these companies and the great contributions they have made to the global economy.

The event offers educational sessions, rousing keynotes, important networking, and unforgettable special events. The conference culminates in a black-tie gala dinner and awards ceremony in which all current year honorees are recognized. The Inc. 500 | 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony is open to honorees, alumni, and other growth-minded entrepreneurs.

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Winning Strategies for Business Conference
October 5, 2010, Long Beach, CA

Create infinite possibilities for your business. Go further and achieve more. This full-day conference event will show you how with proven tactics to impact virtually every aspect of your business. From start to finish, discover insightful ideas, straightforward solutions and fresh perspectives with over half-a-dozen business strategists and experts leading the way.

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BlogWorld BadgeBlogWorld & New Media Expo
October 14 – 16, 2010, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV

This is the world’s largest New Media event where you can learn about content creation, distribution and monetization strategies, step-by-step techniques and bleeding-edge tools.

Monetization Superpanel- while there, be sure to check out this extended 2-hour session. Moderated by Jim Kukral, this panel features Jeremy “Shoemoney” Schoemaker; John Chow; Darren Rowse; and Anita Campbell (of Small Business Trends) — who will be sharing their secrets for monetizing a blog. Come with your questions and apply to get your blog and monetization ideas critiqued.

Use discount code SBTVIP for 20% off any pass.

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Inc. and Winning Workplaces present Competitive Cultures Conference:Leadership Strategies for Building Great Companies
October 27-29, 2010

Together, Inc. and Winning Workplaces will identify and honor those benchmark small and mid-sized businesses that offer truly innovative, supportive environments, thus achieving significant, sustainable business results. In the June issue of Inc., Winning Workplaces will name the top private companies that foster a productive work environment and satisfied employees. Join Inc. and Winning Workplaces for three days of exchanging new leadership strategies at the Denver Marriott City Center from October 27 through 29, 2010.

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3rd Annual Women’s Empowerment Series Conference
November 6, 2010, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Join some of most successful entrepreneurs and professionals, who deliver their business, sales, marketing and leadership expertise and story to assure the continued growth and success of businesswomen. Smallbiztrends.com’s ‘ Anita Campbell will be speaking about “5 Ways to Conquer Fear and Spark New Profits in Your Small Business.”
Register here.


 

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General | Tech Business

4 Things to Consider When Creating a Business Logo

by Kaschimer 23. August 2010 02:55

This post originally appeared on Mashable on 8/23/2010

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

With all the noise on the web today, good branding is more important than ever. Even if your business is not a cutting edge tech startup, the overall identity of your face on the web, social media, and your storefront should be unified, clean, and compelling.

There’s a lot about doing business on the web that is inexpensive and turn-key: All you need to fire up a basic website, blog, or social media presence is an e-mail address. But no web app can substitute for real design vision, and your logo is the linchpin that ties all of your business’s aesthetics together.

Whether you’re going to hire a pro or put those college art electives to good use, take a moment to heed some advice from the experts about what makes a biz logo “sticky” in the minds of web-savvy consumers.


1. Identity in a World of Infinite Choice


A logo is a first impression. Before a customer knows anything about what you do or sell, they’ll view your identity with two choices: Keep reading, or click away. On the web, that choice is made in milliseconds.

Like the clothes you’d wear to a business meeting, your logo has to say, “I’m smart, I’m savvy, and I can compete,” at first glance.

“[The] first thing any small business owner should do is realize their business exists in a marketplace driven by multi-national brands,” said Von Glitschka, an illustrative designer who works extensively on identity and branding. “Their identity needs to be able to compete visually on the same level to be a success.”

The reason the web has been such a boon for small businesses is that they have reach comparable to big corporations like never before. So come to the table prepared, design-wise.

“A small business can maneuver and adapt to an ever-changing culture far easier than a multi-national brand can,” Glitschka added. “But if they don’t lay a good foundation for their marketing via a well-designed and appropriate logo and identity, they are handicapping themselves right out of the gate.”

So where do you start?

“Research,” said Sneh Roy, a graphic, web and logo designer based in Sydney, Australia. “There is nothing worse than bringing to life your vision … if it has all been done before. A small business owner is fighting for a small [piece of] real estate in a highly overcrowded market. Doing thorough research on who his competition is and how they project their brand image is the first and most important thing for a small business owner.”


2. What Makes a Company Logo “Sticky?”


If you’ve done your homework, it’s time to think about what kind of visual identities make a strong impression.

“The average consumer is fickle even in his loyalties, purely because of the sheer number of choices available to him,” said Roy. “Because a logo must be non-changing and timeless, making it ’sticky’ can be a bit ‘tricky.’ The perfect amalgamation of minimalism, well-thought-of concept, and strength in bold colors and typography — in my opinion — is what eventually makes a logo memorable and sticky for the consumer.”

“Avoid the predictable trends, forget about what others are doing, and create something that uniquely represents your business,” said Glitschka, and remember that “your actual business will be the ultimate draw, not the logo.”

“A logo that doesn’t preach; a logo that leads and adapts to the changing times; a logo that has heart and the ability to connect with the viewer can and always will cut through all the ‘noise.’” Roy added.

To achieve all this, you’ve got to hire a pro.


3. How to Find a Great Logo Designer


 

 

 

 

The best way to find anyone in a service industry is through personal recommendation. If a colleague has had success with a talented designer, make that connection.

For those starting from scratch, the web makes it easy to browse the portfolios of artists whom you can connect and work with from anywhere in the world. There are a few approaches that may yield results:

  • Browse or search portfolios on quality websites like BehanceCarbonmade, and LogoPond. Portfolio networks make it easy to cross-reference design styles and get in touch with artists that pique your interest.
  • Subscribe to design blogs like Smashing MagazineDesignm.ag, and Six Revisions (Disclosure: Six Revisions Founder and Chief Editor Jacob Gube is a contributing author for Mashable). The writers and contributors at these publications are usually designers themselves. If their discussions of branding and identity align with your business vision, look for portfolio and contact links in their bios.
  • Social media is often a great way to discover design experts with serious skill and clout. If you can’t get a referral from one of your Twitter or Facebook pals, use social media search tools like TweepSearch andGoogle Blog Search to find profiles with “logo design” and “branding.” Check out their feeds and websites. Do they appear to be well-respected and write authoritatively about their design expertise? If so, shoot over an e-mail and get a quote.

“Look for a designer who has a good grasp on marketing. Understands brand culture, has a proven methodology with other small business clients and a portfolio to back it up,” said Glitschka.

“One of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a pro logo/graphic designer is the style,” said Roy. “Each logo is different and the brand it represents may have very specific requirements. Look around to find a designer whose design style fits your needs.”


4. Translating Your Logo into a Social Web Presence


You’ve found a talented designer, and she’s produced the perfect logo for your business. What’s the best way to (re)introduce it into the social marketplace? A logo alone doesn’t make a brand, and the process of building a presence around that identity is no small feat.

“Any logo design should take into consideration from the very start the potential context it will live in,” said Glitschka. “If the business is geared for an online existence, then the design should be appropriate for that format. A tall vertical logo for a web-based business would be inappropriate for the context.”

And when it comes to the social web, try not to spread your identity too thin.

“Translating a logo design into a larger web/social media presence should be purely decided on need,” Roy added. “If your business doesn’t need it, don’t cheapen it by jumping on all kinds of media online and off the web. Have a good focus of where you want your brand to go and set your logo only along that focused path.”

In the end, Glitschka notes, it’s still your core business model that will determine “whether the logo will play a part in transforming a business into a larger web presence.”

If you’ve recently gone through the process of redesigning your small business’s logo, let us know which tips you’d add to the list in the comments below.

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Design | General | Website

Entrepreneurs Trying To Revive A City

by Kaschimer 25. June 2010 00:20

According to The New York Times, Bizdom U is an intense boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs who aim to start high-growth businesses in Detroit. It is the brainchild of Dan Gilbert, a Motor City native who is founder and chairman of the online mortgage lender Quicken Loans.

Bizdom U, however, is unique in its focus on a single city. “Detroit is completely missing an entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Bo Fishback, who is vice president for entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which gave Bizdom U a $500,000 grant in 2008.

Founded in 2006, Bizdom U operates on the principle that entrepreneurs are born, not made. Its program leaders do not necessarily believe entrepreneurship can be taught. Instead, an essential part of Bizdom U’s job is to unearth candidates with a distinct combination of vision, ambition, drive and risk tolerance, and then mold them into business owners.

“We dig deep by reviewing their past activities and behaviors to see if they were often drawn toward entrepreneurial pursuits,” Gilbert wrote in an e-mail message. “Was this the 6-year-old kid who had the most successful lemonade stand on the block?”

In exchange for focused work — often at night and on weekends — they receive laptops, BlackBerrys, a $1,500 a month living stipend and hands-on training from Bizdom U’s five dedicated staff members.

Bizdom U has been likened to NBC’s hit show “The Apprentice” because students are expected to prove themselves in real-world situations. To teach sales and marketing, Bizdom U entrepreneurs must sell memberships to the Detroit Zoo. They engage in “painstorming” exercises, identifying daily hardships that might be alleviated by a new product or service.

“We wanted people to be living and breathing their businesses,” said Ross Sanders, executive director of Bizdom U. “They learn by doing.”

Photo by The New York Times.


View article...

Posted via email from Dash Technical Solutions

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General | Michigan

5 Simple Tools for a Paperless Office

by Kaschimer 2. May 2010 22:39
This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Despite living in the age of e-mail, wireless networks, smartphones, and tablets, many small businesses are still beholden to paper. There are a variety of reasons for this. Often, it's the other businesses or government agencies that you interface with that demand paper forms or faxes. Sometimes, it's just that old habits die hard.

However, there are software solutions to some old paper problems that don't require the network infrastructure of a large corporation. And making a small technology investment now could save your business a bundle long-term not to mention reducing its wasteful reliance on paper products.

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  1. NitroPDF 
---------------
 
We mostly see PDF (Adobe's Portable Document Format) files as immutable documents the opposite of an editable MS Word file. But PDFs are actually extremely versatile, and can be edited, graphically manipulated, and used as fillable forms if you have the right software.

The standard in PDF editing software, Adobe Acrobat, will run you $299 for an individual license, but there are alternatives. One of them is NitroPDF, an extremely powerful editor that starts at $99 for a single license. With it, you can easily create PDF forms that clients can view and complete with standard software, like Adobe reader and most web browsers. You can also edit existing PDF documents without resorting to printing and white-out.

Another great paper-saving feature is the built-in and extremely stable PDF printer driver. Instead of sending that important e-mail or website to your laserjet, select Nitro's printer option and generate a full-color PDF that you can archive digitally on your hard drive and in the cloud (more on that below).

---------------
---------------

On the topic of PDF printing, if you don't need the full editing suite that comes with NitroPDF, but you're looking for a way to render important documents as PDFs, check out PDF995. It's a PDF printer driver, plain and simple no user interface or controls. Simply install it and it will add a PDF option to the print menu of all your applications.

A PDF printer driver is an excellent way to digitally render invoices, graphic mock-ups, and long text documents that you'd like clients to read, but not change all without ever touching a piece of paper or a scanner.

PDF995 is free, but it is ad supported. Whenever you generate a PDF, a small pop-up window will appear in your default browser, which you can simply close when the file is done rendering. It may take a few seconds of your time for each one, but it's a small drawback for an excellent free product.

---------------
  3. Fax to E-mail Services 
---------------

In the words of Michael Scott from NBC's comedy The Office, "Fax? Why don't you just send it over on a dinosaur?"

Indeed, there is little excuse for using a fax machine in 2010, but many businesses do so because other businesses they correspond with, including the U.S. government especially, still rely on the technology. Your business can break this vicious cycle (and save piles of paper in the process) by switching your fax number over to an e-mail conversion service.

Setting up an account will assign a new fax number, ideally in your business's area code, and use a web or e-mail interface to send and receive faxes as PDF files. New faxes will come directly to your inbox instead of that paper-spewing fail machine in the break room.

Some of the leading fax to e-mail services include:

Rates and features vary between services, so investigating how much faxing you plan to do each month is worthwhile. Additionally, if you already host your website and/or business e-mail with GoDaddy.com, they offer an integrated fax to e-mail feature for an added monthly fee.

---------------
---------------

Nearly every type of business, from a law firm, to a construction company, to a lone freelance designer, should be using contract agreements to legally protect itself from issues with clients and other businesses. Typically, this means generating paper and gathering a signature in ink, either by mail (even more paper) or in person.

But for over 10 years, e-signatures have been equally binding under the law, and a few companies have made the process of creating and sending secure electronic agreements very efficient.

One of them is EchoSign, a feature-rich and user friendly service for generating and archiving digital contracts. If you're already working with a paper version of your business agreement, simply upload it to EchoSign and enter the recipient's e-mail address. They will receive a copy of the document with a link where they can e-sign. The executed contract is stored in your EchoSign account for reference. The software is completely web-based, so there's nothing to install, and you can access your documents from any Internet connection.

EchoSign has a scalable pricing model, starting with a free account that lets one user gather up to five signatures per month, through unlimited signature accounts with multiple users, starting at $40 per month.

Besides saving paper, the speed at which your business can execute binding agreements via e-mail should be enough to make you part ways with the old mail and ink system.

---------------
  5. Online Backup and Record Keeping 
---------------

Even if your company has gone digital in a number of paper-centric areas, perhaps the over-arching challenge, especially for small businesses, is archiving your records and files.

Often this data is disparate, spread between e-mails, computer files, and paper records. But if you're diligent about maintaining a searchable, web-based archive of the items listed above, the dividends paid in time and money saved will be enormous in the long-run.

 Depending on the volume of your existing paper records, it may not be cost effective to digitize older files. But if you start fresh by printing to PDF instead of paper going forward, you can create your web-accessible archive with a number of services, including these highly recommended ones:

Additionally, if you're using Google Apps for business, the existing infrastructure of document sharing, collaboration, and large storage capacity makes the system ideal for generating a cloud-based business archive that all of your team members can actively use and update.

---------------
For more business coverage, follow Mashable Business on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook
http://mashable.com/2010/05/01/small-business-paperless/

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General | Tools

Microsoft Big Easy Offer 4.0

by Kaschimer 27. January 2010 01:25

Microsoft Big Easy 4.0 OfferThe Big Easy Offer gives you choices on Microsoft products and solutions that fit your needs. For every qualifying product you purchase, Microsoft pays you partner subsidy funds that can be used with a Microsoft Partner of your choice to help with the implementation of your Microsoft solution including software, hardware and services.

About the Offer
The Big Easy Offer gives you choices on Microsoft products and solutions that fit your needs. For every qualifying product you purchase, Microsoft pays you partner subsidy funds that can be used with a Microsoft Partner of your choice to help with the implementation of your Microsoft solution including software, hardware and services.

What is a Subsidy?
A subsidy is a check made payable to the Microsoft partner of your choice. This subsidy can be used to enrich and implement your Microsoft solution. The subsidy allows you to purchase additional products or services from the Microsoft partner of your choice thus lowering your Total Cost of Ownership.

Want More?
You can increase your subsidy by choosing:

  • Products from more than one product group.
  • Licenses with Software Assurance.
  • Advanced or Enterprise Editions.

How do I take advantage of the Big Easy Offer 4.0?

  • Make a qualifying purchase between January 3, 2010 and March 31, 2010.
  • Redeem your purchase within 30 days of purchase date at http://www.microsoftincentives.com/BigEasy4/redeem.aspx.
  • Receive your partner subsidy check from Microsoft.
  • Spend your subsidy funds with your Microsoft partner upon receipt. Please note that subsidy funds expire after 90 days of the check issue date.

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General | Tech Business

Start Your Business The Right Way

by Kaschimer 22. January 2010 15:02

image[1]

Great tips from Microsoft at Work. Actually it’s more like a list of links to Microsoft sites to help you get your business idea off the ground. Resources include:

Business sites:

  • Small Business Center

  • Startup Business Center

  • Midsize Business Center

  • Enterprise Business Center

  • Industry & Public Sector

  • Business & Industry

Business software and resources you can use:

  • Microsoft Dynamics

  • People-Ready Business

  • Volume Licensing

  • Business Intelligence

  • Microsoft Advertising

  • Microsoft Retail

  • Microsoft Services

Hop on over to the site for the links and all the goodness.

http://www.microsoft.com/atwork/businesscentral.aspx

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General | Tech Business | Tools

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