Sales diversification as a shield against sequester | Creating an eye-catching, effective business card | Harness your advocates to market your business
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March 5, 2013
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Sales diversification as a shield against sequester
Small businesses that contract with the government are attempting to mitigate the potential effects of the sequester by finding other sources of revenue. For example, Geocent, a software and high-tech consulting business based in Louisiana, has stepped up its efforts to diversify, landing contracts with health care, insurance and financial companies. Some small contractors, however, say selling to the private sector is less lucrative. Houston Chronicle (tiered subscription model)/The Associated Press (2/27)
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5 positive ways to respond to negative comments.
Social media is a great way to connect with your customers, but what do you do when the conversation takes a negative turn? With 5 tips, you can learn how to positively respond and help direct the conversation. Read the article and learn the 5 ways to respond positively.

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Creating an eye-catching, effective business card
Sort through the business cards you've collected and pick out the elements you like, but be sure to design your business card based on the nature of your business. For example, a financial services company might want to keep its cards simple, but a company that sells children's toys could get a bit more creative by using bright colors to attract attention. Choosing special shapes or paper for your cards can make them stand out. Entrepreneur online (3/4)
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Harness your advocates to market your business
To magnify your word-of-mouth marketing, find your strongest advocates and encourage them to rate and review your business online, writes Rob Fuggetta, founder and CEO of Zuberance. Give advocates special deals to share with their networks of acquaintances, and offer social sharing widgets that allow advocates to talk up your company on social media. BusinessNewsDaily.com (3/1)
The ROI of Privacy with TRUSTe Solutions
Investment in a Data Privacy Management Platform can deliver significant, positive financial returns for corporate bottom lines. The "Total Economic Impact (TEI) of TRUSTe" Study explains how Forrester Analysts calculated a 151% ROI for TRUSTe customers. Download the study now.

Management
Helping employees develop their skills
Make it a priority to help your employees learn and advance their skills, even if your budget is tight, writes Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. Create a culture of opportunity and find creative, affordable ways to enhance their technical skills. "If your best people aren't growing in their careers as your business gains traction and expands, they will quickly lose enthusiasm for their work," he writes. "And before you know it, you'll be dealing with unsatisfied customers as well as unsatisfied employees." Entrepreneur online (3/5)
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Key challenges that affect small businesses
No matter the size of the company, business leaders must act with integrity, skillfully manage cash flow and stand out among the competition, says Neal Jenson, managing director of Qazztek. Other major challenges facing business owners include recruiting talented employees and coping with government regulations. Qazztek offers strategies for addressing these issues. Forbes (3/4)
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Money
What not to do when looking for a business loan
Don't expect to land a loan for your small business if you approach lenders without a strategy, use credit cards unwisely or can't show revenue growth, writes Tom Gazaway, president of Hawkeye Management. "It's true that your financing options will increase and get better as your business gets older," he writes. "However, this is mainly true if you're growing your company revenue." Small Business Trends (3/4)
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Other News
Tips & Tools
Finding the right Web developer
Web developers shouldn't be judged by their skills but instead by their ability to learn, Nelly Yusupova writes. Every technology grows obsolete, so it's important to find developers who can adjust to new programming standards. Ask open-ended questions when interviewing candidates, start a new developer with a small project and be quick to fire a developer who turns out to be ineffective. Entrepreneur online (3/4)
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Just for Fun
King Richard was a real sweetheart, researchers say
Scientists have studied the pickled heart of Richard I of England, the legendary 12th-century monarch known as "Lionheart," which was found lying around in a French cathedral. Upon opening the small casket, researchers found the heart's dusty remains mingled with a sweet-smelling blend of mercury and herbs -- likely the result of embalmers' efforts to preserve the King's organ for posterity. Nature (free content) (2/28), The Daily Beast (3/3), Reuters (3/1)
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Editor's Note
Help SmartBrief cover SXSW Interactive!
SmartBrief will cover the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, from March 8 to 12, and we need your help! SXSW has way too many must-see events for our staff to cover, so we're turning to our readers to help document the best panels as blog contributors. If you're headed to Austin and want to contribute to SmartBrief's blogs on Social Media, Leadership, Finance, Food and Beverage or Education, check out our guest-post guidelines and send a note to Jesse Stanchak.
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SmartQuote
There is always something new to learn. The day you stop learning is the day you stop living."
-- Richard Branson, writing at Entrepreneur online.
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