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Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

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It’s not from a financial statement. For a small-business owner, financial statements are generally useless. They’re prepared months after the fact. They show a snapshot from a historical period that is usually long past. And they’ve been jiggered and reconfigured by accountants to reflect accounting standards that usually don’t have much connection to the real world for most of us. Banks and investors may look to financial statements as part of their documentation to approve financing. But smart business owners don’t. Instead they rely on another report. A daily report called The Flash.

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Anthony (Tony) R. Jimenez is the award-winning Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of MicroTech, one of the largest Hispanic-owned IT Integrators in the nation. Under Tony’s leadership MicroTech is focused on Technology Services, Cloud Computing, Product Solutions, Network Systems Integration, Cyber Security, Telecommunications, Mobility and Big Data Solutions.  Read More

As the market changes, so do worker expectations. Startups, perhaps more than any business today, are fighting to attract and keep talent by providing employees the support they seek — especially when it comes to compensation.

Nearly half of all employees expect a pay raise in the next 12 months to offset cost-of-living increases, Glassdoor’s July 2015 report shows.

Compensation is an important piece of how startups offer employees value, but it’s certainly not the entire package. There are stock options, of course, but there’s more to keep in mind when ensuring employees’ jobs are truly valuable to them. After all, employees can’t live on stock options alone.

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There’s a sucker born every day — or so they say. But the way startup fever has been spreading across the land, it almost feels more like there’s a Zuckerberg being born every day. And that feeling is real. According to data from the Kauffman Foundation, 2015 has marked the first year startup activity has been on the rise since the Great Recession. In fact, it’s soaring — the numbers show we’re living through the biggest upswing in new companies, products, business deals, and jobs in the past twenty years.

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If precision and focus are the name of the marketing game for startup companies, what is the best strategy for marketing your startup? I asked the members of the Young Entrepreneur Council for their advice on how to market startup companies most effectively.

All these entrepreneurs advocated for employing focus, consistency, and using a variety of unexpected sources, many of which are low cost—always a plus for a new startup.

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One of the most crucial roles you’ll play as an entrepreneur is the role of “decider.” Hopefully, one day you’ll rely on a team of advisors from individual departments within your organization to give you information and advise you of your options, but even in that context, the final decision will come down to you. You’ll be responsible for setting every major directive and making every significant call when charting the course of your business. While it can be an intimidating position, you can grow to become more skilled at it.

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Marcelo Claure is President & CEO of Sprint. After one year of his leadership, Sprint is demonstrating progress in many areas and gaining momentum while executing on a clear plan to transform the company.

Sprint is competing aggressively with bold, decisive action and pioneering industry innovation. In the second quarter of 2015, Sprint had 675,000 total net additions, an improvement of nearly 900,000 from losses of 220,000 a year ago. The company also made similarly dramatic strides in keeping existing customers during the quarter, recording its lowest turnover, or churn rate, in company history. The Sprint network’s speed, clarity and reliability all have drastically improved, garnering high marks in third-party studies.

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