What is a nameserver?

Nameservers can be described as special computers that can be accessed on the Internet and that inform the location of a website. Nameservers basically undergo the resolving process wherein a domain name that matches your website is retrieved and a physical address thereof is attained. This process commences soon after a visitors enters your website and when he enters your domain name in the Internet browser. Then the browser looks for the Nameservers for the location of the server to find out where exactly is your website located.

It then connects to the server to open your web page. While this entire process is not your baby to take care of, you must certainly keep yourself abreast with the relevant information.

Soon after you buy your domain name and set it up, you have to provide the names of the nameservers. After you enrol into the hosting service with your web host, they will assign your nameservers. Only this much is what is required on your part and the rest will be taken care of by the nameserver. Just get your web page designed properly and you can relax!

A Nameserver is said to possess details regarding the naming scheme to the IP addresses for a website. After you register your domain name, a Nameserver configures a ‘Zone’ for your domain connecting it to an IP address, also known as a “Record’. There is an ‘MX Record’ too that exemplifies a zone again on a Name Server which is used for identifying the mail server. For instance, when anyone emails you, their mail server sends a request to the Nameserver for your domain to obtain its IP address, before the email is sent to the mail server.

At the same time, a Domain Nameserver can only store domain names and the IP addresses associated with them, for a specified period of time in a cache. If a request is made for an IP address and the DNS server is not having the same address in its cache, the latter will make a request to a set of special servers holding the addresses for all nameservers. Then the DNS requests the IP address for the domain name from the nameserver. The DNS is completed with the original request once the information is attained.

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How to utilise link popularity

The major factor for success on the Internet is link popularity. If you have good link popularity it can increase traffic to your web site by bringing high ranking on search engines. It is quite difficult task for a new site to build link popularity which has just born here we will discuss what strategy a new site should adopt to boost link popularity. First of all let’s understand the meaning of link, link popularity and link exchange.

The link (hyperlink, or Web link) is a connection from one web resource to another. Internet begins with the hyperlink and a person goes from one page to another page by clicking the link. Links are the buttons and underlined text on web pages that take you to other pages on click.

What is Link Popularity?

Link Popularity means how much you are known on the internet which can be measured how many sites or web pages linked to you. Link popularity is a measure of both the quantity and quality of sites that link to your site. Link Popularity is the number of quality hyperlinks pointed to your website.

What is Link Exchange?

In Link Exchange basically, we exchange links – you add my link to your website and I will add your link to mine. It is a barter system give link and in return gets link .By exchanging links, with theme based sites or authority sites you can increase your websites link popularity and which will result into an increase of your website search engine rankings.

What are new site link exchange problems?

For new sites it is quite difficult to get linked with other sites. Even the Google takes the site for indexing if it has got few inbound links from other websites. Google says “The best way to ensure Google finds your site is for your page to be linked from lots of pages on other sites…”

This is one of the reasons for a site not being listed on Google: “If we have not picked up your site and it has been several months, then it is likely that our spiders are not able to find your site. If you increase the links pointing to the page, Google will likely find your site in the future. ”

It is clear that your site will not be listed on Google quickly. Search Engines usually takes news sites very fast if you are linked by other popular related web sites. New site will also not get reciprocal link from other sites because of non-popularity or 0 PR (Google Page Rank).

Link building strategy for new site owners

Now what strategy should new sites adopt to get started on the Web? Here are the few ones which will work.

1. Get Listed on Free Top Web directory Try to get listed on open directory project DMOZ and also submit your site to Yahoo! Be sure to follow their guidelines for listing

2. Get Links for Your Associates

Try to get link from your associated or friends’ web sites. If you are in business you can get link from your dealers or business associates. It will also help you in getting theme bases links. In initial stage you can take link from your friends and relative web pages or site although they may not be theme based but at least search engine like Google will find your link and index you.

3 Free Site Submission Tools There are lot free site submit tool are available on the Internet. Use them to get listing as for the new site owner it is difficult to find the important search engines. Be careful and do not submit much time to same search engines as they may consider repetive submission as spam. Furthermore try to keep away from FFA pages as they are treated as ‘link farms” by search engines and listing is penalized.

3. Join Discussion Forum The Discussion form is another media to get inbound links. Join the Message Board which is related to the theme of your site and if you are expert in your field you can reply the many threads. Be sure to include your URL in your signature and also anchor text to be linked with URL should be your site Keyword. If the message board allows it, you can even include a short promotional blurb about your site at the end of your posts. Even if you do not post try to add your url in profile and it is also an inbound link and is important if from your theme based Forum. Try to add your details i.e. city, country name, interest and occupation in the profile as it will make your theme based pages where all contents are related to you.

4. Email based discussion

Email based discussion lists, which are archived on the web in static HTML pages can also be used to boost the link popularity of your site in a similar manner. In this case, the signature file that you use with your email program should contain the URL for your web site.

4. Reciprocal links request low page rank sites The New site faces difficulty in exchanging link with high Page Rank Sites. It is better to start exchanging link with sites which are related to your topic or theme of your site even they may have low Page Rank. You will see that there page rank will increase with the time and you will gain.

5. Link Popularity through Awards Try to join the award sites. There are many sites which open contest or award of good site design or good content site you can apply for it. If you get a chance to which your brief site content will be published on Award site, which will increase your link popularity.

6. Major Industry Associations There are many industrial association sites which publish free listing of their sites. Just find the association site relating to your products or theme of site and get listed.

7. Signing of Testimonial Lots of websites ask to write testimonial and also add your URL. Just study the site and write brief genuine testimonials about the website. If you will be able to write good, genuine testimonial you are sure to get listed there with your comment. Do not sign guest books with vague comment just to get link.

8. Discount Offer.You can offer a discount or concession on your good, products and services to anyone who put a small banner or text link back to your site.

9. Affiliate program: Set up an affiliate program, which is an excellent way to boost link popularity. Your affiliate members will put there affiliate code on their sites which will contain your URL and your will get theme based inbound link.

10. Free Net card Try to make free netcard available on the Internet and your complete detail to make your full information page and inbound link is also important as it is your business card on net.

If a new site adopts the above method to increase link popularity they are sure to build good page rank in the beginning and latter on all higher page rank web sites will be ready to exchange link with you and will result into building of solid link popularity for your site. You should not expect results (Increase in search engine ranking) so fast. Wait for at least 3 month till search engines index you all full site pages.

How to create an app

How to create an app:

Step 1: Develop A Monetization And Marketing Plan

Before moving into any kind of design or development is to figure out how your idea will generate a profit!

80% are NOT generating enough revenue with their app to support a standalone business.

It’s fair to assume that a great portion of that 80% also didn’t develop a monetization or marketing plan prior to developing their app.

Action item: Develop a monetization plan.

 Step 2: Sign Up For A Developer Account

You will need to establish your business within the App Store. To do this, visit the iOS Development Center, and sign up for an account. It’s $99 for a year and requires that you provide the tax and bank account information of your business or yourself. Have this information handy before signing up.

The only reason not to sign up for a developer account would be if you’re OK with having your app published under another person or company’s account and brand. If that is the case, then know that Apple would pay all revenue to the account holder’s bank account. That account holder would then be responsible for paying you.

Action item: Open an iOS developer account.

Step 3: Sketch Your Application

If you have an idea already, then you likely have some visuals in mind for how the app would look and work and the information it would present. You don’t have to be an artist to sketch a rough interface, so start putting your ideas down on paper. Before you begin, ask yourself:

  • What primary action will users take within the app?
  • What information will each screen need to present?
  • What is the flow? How will users get from start to finish?
  • How big should the elements on screen be relative to each other?

Sketching your layout can be simplified with the right tools. (Image: Cultured Code)

You may find during this process that some fresh ideas come to mind that simplify the flow or that add a creative twist to the interaction design. Try to keep your original concept in mind without blocking the flow of new ideas!

Create at least one thumbnail sketch for each screen in your application. Experiment with various navigational schemes, the copy on buttons and the flow between screens. If you want to transfer your sketches into digital format, iPlotz is a good tool to check out.

The purpose of sketching your application’s screens is to build a foundation for the next phase of the project. Action item: Sketch out all screens of your app.

 Step 4: Identify The Work To Be Outsourced

Based on the following list of required skills, define the areas where you would be comfortable taking the lead and where you would need to hire help:

  • Design,
  • Programming,
  • Promotion and marketing.

Action item: Identify your role and the roles of those you hire. 

Step 5: Hiring Your Team

If you are a designer, download my “iPhone App Template,” a big collection of iPhone UI elements. These Photoshop files will save you a lot of time getting started on the design. To learn more about mobile design in general, these websites provide a lot of great resources:

If you’re not a designer, then you should know that design breaks down into three roles:

  • Information architecture
    In case you’re familiar with the Web design process, “information architecture” as it relates to mobile is very similar. If you’re not familiar with the term, it simply means organizing the content in your app.”
  • Interaction design
    Have you ever used an app that you didn’t need any instruction to operate? One in which the flow was so intuitive that you barely noticed the interface? It wasn’t by accident. This is the job of the interaction designer, someone who sorts out how the user will move from screen to screen to accomplish their task. Be sure to hire a designer who has skill in this area.
  • Visual design
    Visual design is the final step in the design process. It is the “skin” that overlays the controls for the app. The visual design can be as simple or as complex as you want; the key is to focus on the usability and primary task of the app.

Try to find a designer who has experience designing for mobile devices. They will have some good feedback and suggestions to improve your sketches. A few places to look for designers:

If you are not a developer, then get your developer on board as you’re lining up the designer. Speaking with a developer sooner than later will help you scope a project that is technically feasible and within your budget.

Submitting your app to the App Store
Your developer can also help you submit your application to the App Store. Clearly communicate the launch date of your app to the developer. Nothing is more detrimental to an app’s success than an unexpected or poorly planned launch.

 

MARKETING AND PROMOTION

Be ready with a plan to market your app. Be ready to experiment because some ideas will work, and others won’t.

Strategies for marketing and promotion:

  • Incorporate social media.
    set up fan pages for your app on Facebook and Twitter, and use them as platforms to communicate with users and get feedback.
  • Pre-launch promotion
    Start building buzz about your app before it launches. Email journalists and bloggers who write about things related to your app. The more relevant your app is to their niche, the better your chances of getting written about. Some outlets to consider:

  • Plan for multiple releases.
    Don’t pack your first release with every feature you want to offer. Create a dream list, and design the app so that it can accommodate all of these features in the future. Then periodically release new versions of the app to boost sales.
  • Other sources of app marketing ideas:

Action item: Find freelance or agency contractors to fill the roles for design, development and marketing.

Conclusion

The most important takeaway for anyone looking to create their first iPhone app is to focus on hiring the right team to help maintain the app over time.

Why you should hire an SEO expert!

Gone are the days when companies used to reach out to their customers through television advertisements, hoardings, newspaper, radio and other advertising mediums. The present market scenario is largely dominated by internet. World Wide Web has the capability of delivering the required information in few seconds to the users. This medium is rapidly getting the status of most powerful advertising and marketing weapon that are used by companies to establish their clientele and keep them hooked to their brand.

Any client who wishes to have a big deal with any company or firm would want to see that company at higher ranking in the search engine results. This would definitely become deciding factor in any deal or business investment. So it is always better to hire an experienced SEO company that can meet up with all the search engine optimization needs of the clients and win over the competition in the e-world. They should have a team of experienced and knowledgeable team of experts who can handle any situation related to SEO. Every website now requires search engine optimization in order to achieve the intended goals.

For improving the online ranking a SEO company may offer a variety of services like SEO, copy writing, social media optimization, search engine submission, etc. These services have the ability to leave a positive impression on the users and bring in more amount of website traffic. Investors before investing money in your business would surely conduct background research and calculate the success ratio through your present portfolio. They also go through your online reputation to calculate the risk factors involved in investing in your company.   A good SEO company hires well-qualified professionals who can handle their job effectively in way that their work speak for itself, giving fame to the SEO company. Today’s business world is highly competitive, tech-savvy and dynamic, therefore in order to win over the online competition a site has to give in the best.

From SEO point of view while designing your website, you should have clear idea about your goals and the target market. If you have clear understanding about what your target visitors would be searching for, this would make the work of content creation much easier to do.

Many business owners think that research stage wastes time and delays their project completion. But in reality it does only good for a business, as it leads to proper growth and progress in future.

Mid-Market Company Marketing Communications – Five Tips To Improve ROI

Charleville Chamber of Commerce

For the moment, the economy is chugging along, financial markets are recovering, summer holidays are about to start and, hopefully, your B2C, B2B or brand is growing. What could be better? Perhaps, your outlook for the future.

You’ve worked very hard to sustain your brand through the recent economic challenges, so perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate your situation, and focus on improving your marketing communications for the road ahead.

While competitors may be taking a breather, now may be the time for you to be aggressive and take a fresh look at your plans for the future, both short and long term. Here are five tips to keep in mind as you do so.

Knowledge Of Your Target Audience Trumps Opinion
Often, middle market brands believe they fully understand the wants and needs of their customers or constituents. However, consider employing market research to uncover their awareness of your brand, and how they really feel about you and your competition on various key attributes.

Doesn’t investing in research make sense before you spend your limited marketing communications budget? The good news is that research might confirm what you already know; the better news is that you might learn something new about how your audience really feels, and then be able to employ communications to correct what’s bothering them or highlight what’s important.

Understanding – rather than guessing – the wants and needs of your customers and prospects (as well as, perhaps, your own employees) can go a long way toward improving your marketing ROI.

Marketing Communications Audits Provide Real Value
If you haven’t recently (or ever) conducted a marketing communications audit, now is the ideal time to consider this tactic. Done properly, it will help you determine when, where and how to invest your time and money. At its core, you’ll be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your existing program as a whole, as well as how effective each tactic is in communicating your objectives.

The results of this type of audit will provide you with an actionable and coordinated road map of message delivery and spending allocation, across traditional and new media, events, content marketing, promotion and employee knowledge – and, like a financial audit, a tool for improving your profitability.

Promote Your Brand’s Anniversary
If your brand has an anniversary milestone coming up in the next two years, start planning for it now. It presents a unique opportunity to create a significant, fully integrated 12 to 18 month program, allowing you to focus on and energize your various constituents in a way that can’t be matched by your competitors. But recognize that, to be successful, you can’t just develop a new anniversary logo or throw a celebratory party. Like any other marketing tool, it must be grounded in meaningful and consistent messages.

Your corporate past is often the best criterion for your customers, prospects, employees and other audiences to judge your future performance. And, your 10th or 35th anniversary can be used to tell your story as effectively as a traditional 50th or 75th milestone.

Be Neutral When Evaluating Traditional And New Media
Don’t get caught up in all the excitement about the latest new media tactic you read about. New media does offer exciting potential and will continue to grow in importance. But don’t forget to consider traditional media. You might be surprised to know that, despite the advertising windfall generated by the Olympics and political advertising in 2012, total western world advertising increased by only 0.9 percent in 2013. And, according to Kantar Media:

  • While network television and local newspapers decreased by only 3.4 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2013;
  • Cable/satellite television increased by 7.3 percent; consumer magazines increased by 2.6 percent; outdoor increased by 4.4 percent; free standing inserts increased by 3.4 percent; and, Spanish television increased by 2.9 percent.

Without question, digital media and content marketing increased dramatically during this time. However, you must remember that there are many options to consider. While efficiency is important, more important is maintaining your neutrality to understand and evaluate the relative effectiveness of each alternative in achieving your strategic goals.

Marketing Communications Consultants Add Value
Whether you’re a B2B, B2C or nonprofit marketer, your own resources are probably already stretched to the limit. Unfortunately, you may not be able to allocate the physical or intellectual capital to the short or long term tasks at hand.

So don’t go it alone. Consider partnering with established, senior level consultants to help you and your team develop, refine and implement your plans.

Look for consultants who aren’t selling one particular discipline or a boilerplate “one size fits all” solution. Importantly, any consultant you consider should have extensive experience across industries and brands, both large and small. And be sure they’re willing to “tell it like it is”, so you will flourish. Apolitical, fresh eyes can be an efficient use of your resources, and can provide objectivity to the decisions you need to make.

Improving marketing communications ROI is a constant challenge. It may seem like a daunting task but, as Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

Chamber of Commerce, Charleville.

Do you have what it takes to be an event planner?

Charleville Chamber of Commerce

If you love to organize events for any occasion, you are creative and you seek to build your name in this field, it is easy. You can make an exciting entry into the industry and very soon become a leading product promotion & exhibition company. All you need to do is to have an eye for detail and potential for encouraging a service or product’s sale by promoting it by way of events.

If you believe you have the knack to recognize what is important for a particular event’s success and you can catch good compromises, then you can make an excellent leader of the leading event planners. If you have the valour to accept different challenges, face varied conditions, and still beautifully manage a complicated event, thereby meeting the expectations of different stakeholders, you are all set to enter into this field of organizing events and promoting the products of different businesses.

Trust me! Events are required in all types of businesses and thus, these hold an exciting and prosperous career opportunity for anyone with an insight to bring out innovative solutions. You know marketing, so you know product promotion! And so, you can easily help a business meet its marketing requirements while creating a large clientele-base for it. You are even ready to encourage the sales staff of that business and build their morale, all of which makes your company a product promotion & exhibition company worth getting admired.

Marketing is almost incomplete until and unless a business opts for event marketing, and event marketing can be best carried out by an expert event planner. While the event manager himself should be capable enough to analyse the risks and profits as well as the event’s success, it can be a cherry on the cake if he keeps himself prepared to customize the event as per his client’s specifications. The major benefit he can enjoy by organizing striking business promotion events is long-term relationships with his clients and customers.

Events should ensure high profitability and increased number of customers to a brand along with the retention of its existing customers. Besides, these must shorten the time consumed otherwise by the overall sales process. An event organizer should further take care of the below-mentioned:

  • Presenting the whole information to the client’s customers.
  • Increasing demand for the brand’s products.
  • Differentiating a product.

The ability of an event organizer to communicate the entire features of a product in a clear and concise manner can make him a leader in the domain. He only, particularly, needs to keep in mind that he organizes and produces an event only after thoroughly identifying the target audience and finding out the best possible way to reach them. This is what holds the potential to help him stand apart from his competitors in the market and further grow his firm or agency as an eminent product promotion & exhibition company.

Chamber of Commerce, Charleville.

How to work smarter not harder

Charleville Chamber of Commerce

There are an astonishing number of people that would rather work all the hours God sends than working smarter. If you feel your business is struggling then it is only natural that you would want to personally oversee all of the ongoing activities in your firm.

One key way to working smarter is delegation. Without it, personal relationships and other dreams will be hindered and unfulfilled. Delegate the tasks that are not essential to the long term stability and development of the business but rather the ones that need to be carried out on a day to day basis e.g. If stock needs to be put on shelves, delegate this task but if an insurance policy needs to be chosen then make sure that you oversee this task yourself.

It is often the more menial/day to day tasks that take up the most time so that is why you need to utilise your employees efficiently. Make sure that you invest in training so that you need not worry about their ability to fulfil their duties.

Employees however, is not the only are that needs to be smarter. What about prices, outside suppliers, special offers, new products, plans for expansion etc….the list goes on so much it could make you scream, but don’t.

No matter how good you are at your job or how much you know about the area you work in, there is always going to be something that you are missing out on. Getting an outside view is key to not only the development of your firm but also to how hard you work. Business coaching is a relatively modern phenomenon that has proved extremely effective in a large percentage of cases. That outside view enables you to see not only what you are doing right or wrong, but also what you must start doing. It could be something you would never have thought of that means your time off increases as well as your profits.

Chamber of Commerce, Chareville

How to use promotions to spread your brand name

Charleville Chamber of Commerce

People love free things, even from companies that they are not familiar with. Many companies hand out free promotional gifts and offers to help bring customers into their stores or to help the customers to become more familiar with the companies’ brands. Each time a customer uses his or her free gift, he or she will see the brand name and logo. Some of the best promotional gifts to raise brand awareness are listed right here:

Reusable shopping bags are always useful. People appreciate a company’s efforts to help reduce waste by creating reusable items. These reusable items will be used again and again, and this puts the brand out front and center more often. Reusable shopping bags are carried out of the home and into the public. It is a great way to freely advertise a brand name and to help the environment at the same time.

Any clothing item will advertise for a company over and over again. People love free clothing, whether it is hats, shirts, or an accessory. The items will be worn over and over again, and more people will be exposed to the brand name when the items are worn. A company should carry a size that fits everyone or different sizes to choose from.

Stationary and office products are always welcome gifts. Most people can always use pens, erasers, and other products typically found in the office. These gifts may also be taken into the workplace, schools, or other places outside of the home for use. The brand logo would be seen by many other people this way.

Tools are useful and serve as unique gifts. Everyone loves something that can help them out in a bad situation. Flashlights, screwdrivers, or small emergency kits that can be kept in the office or in a car are promotional items that not every company hands out to its customers. Customers will be thrilled and appreciate the thoughtfulness of the company for such a needed and useful item.

Product-related gifts will give the consumer a brand to think about the next time they need a related item. For example, if a pool chemical distributor gives out beach balls with its logo on them, customers will be inclined to think of them when they use their pools and play with the beach balls. Another example might be for a computer store to give out memory sticks or mouse pads.

Backpacks and handbags are popular items that keep the company logo on display when carried around. These items are a hit for families, students, and anyone that has something to carry around. These items may be used during travel, potentially spreading the brand logo farther than a local area.

Coupons are popular promotional items and are easy to hand out. They can be placed in customers’ shopping bags or sent through emails or in the mail. People are more inclined to shop somewhere that they can save money. These promotional items are likely to bring money back into the store when a customer returns to use it.

Household items like drinking glasses often last for many years. Household items will be used over and over again. Customers love household items because they are useful and typically something that they will need.

The items on this list all have one particular thing in common: they are all very useful. A customer will not care to have something that is not useful to them. The best promotional items will be used over and over again, or they will help the customer to save money but bring business to the company.

 

Why are apprenticeships in decline when they are so important?

Ask CEOs and corporate recruiters whether they’re finding the workers they need, and they’ll lament about a skills gap that threatens productivity and growth—not just in their companies but in the economy at large.

Yet employers and state legislators have been decidedly lukewarm about a proven solution to the problem: apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships can offer a precise match between the skills employers want and the training workers receive, says Robert Lerman, an economics professor at American University.

“It’s a great model for transferring skills from one generation to the next,” says John Ladd, director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.

Nevertheless, according to the Labor Department, formal programs that combine on-the-job learning with mentorships and classroom education fell 40% in the U.S. between 2003 and 2013.

All of which leads to the question: If apprenticeships are the solution to a pressing problem, why is there so much resistance?

Blue-Collar Image

Perhaps the biggest obstacle is that two-thirds of apprenticeship programs in the U.S. are in the construction industry, furthering a blue-collar image that stifles interest among young people and the employers who could create jobs for them. Construction unions, which dominate many of the state agencies devoted to apprenticeships, haven’t done much outreach to other industries, Mr. Lerman says.

At the same time, business owners and managers sometimes shy away from apprenticeships because of their association with unions. “There’s an underlying fear among employers” that unions want to come in and organize workers, or that any apprenticeship program would be run by a union, says J. Ronald DeJuliis, head of labor and industry at Maryland’s Department of Labor.

Yet, he and others say, it doesn’t have to be that way. Apprenticeships today involve lots more industries than the handful of trades that embraced the earn-and-learn model beginning in 1937 when the National Apprenticeship Act was passed. Nursing assistants, wastewater technicians and computer-system administrators are among the positions for which apprentices can now train.

Earlier this month, President Obama set aside $100 million to go toward apprenticeships in high-growth industries, and recognized new programs in health care, information technology and supply-chain management.

Another damper is a widely held view that young people should stay in school and then get a job. Advocates of apprenticeships say this thinking is misguided.

College degrees and internships don’t produce the same quality of worker as intensive, on-the-job apprenticeships, says Brad Neese, director of Apprenticeship Carolina, a program of the South Carolina Technical College System. Employers are seeing “a real lack of applicability in terms of skill level” from college graduates, Mr. Neese says. “Interns do grunt work, generally.” In contrast, he says, “an apprenticeship is a real job.”

Some companies also fear that employees will leave for better-paying jobs almost as soon as they’ve learned their required skills. For them, an apprenticeship amounts to training workers for other companies.

But in many cases, employers are finding that apprenticeships actually help with retention, as workers who come up through apprenticeships see the investment their employers are making in their career and reciprocate with a greater sense of loyalty.

“The apprenticeship model helps us show people there’s a career path within this company,” says Robby Hill, owner of HillSouth, a Florence, S.C., technology consulting firm taking advantage of South Carolina’s on-the-job training program. New employees see the opportunities ahead, along with a clearly delineated ladder of skill acquisition and salary increases, says Mr. Hill, whose 22-person firm offers apprenticeships for IT and administrative-support employees. The company also asks employees to sign noncompete agreements as they get accredited for new skills.

Innovative Thinking

Proponents of apprenticeships argue that blending on-the-job training, related education and benchmarks can be done in any occupation. They point to programs in places like South Carolina and Wisconsin as producing encouraging results.

Apprenticeships now exist for computer professionals and for certified nursing assistants in South Carolina, where the number of businesses offering apprenticeships has grown to 647 from 90 in 2007. Some 4,700 people who trained in South Carolina’s apprentice program are now fully employed.

KEEPING TALENT | Robby Hill (center) says the training his tech consulting firm gives apprentices like Matthew Kirkland (right) helps them see there is a career path within this company.’ Mario deCarvalho

To get employers involved, the state offers a $1,000 annual tax credit for each apprentice on the payroll. “That helps open the door,” says Mr. Neese. “For a small business, the credit can wipe out the education costs for an apprentice program.

“We’ve tried to make the tax credit as user-friendly as possible,” he adds. “We have a very simple one-page form that literally says, ‘How many apprentices do you have?’ and then you multiple that number by $1,000.”

Wisconsin, which has about 8,000 apprentices currently, is pushing to add training positions for skills from truck driving to high-tech manufacturing.

“We’re projecting worker shortages in health care and advanced manufacturing,” says Karen Morgan, director of Wisconsin’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards. The Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment is looking at what it can do, she says. The state has several programs to add robotics and high-level welding to its regular apprenticeship training.

“We’re making our programs more nimble,” Ms. Morgan says, to show manufacturers the relevance apprenticeships can have for a sector undergoing rapid innovation.

 

How to incorporate charity work into your business

Charleville Chamber of Commerce.

As we hurtle toward the year-end, it is easy to become preoccupied by balance sheets, profits and losses, and budget approvals for next year. As business owners and marketers, we often get consumed by our own enterprise goals and forget that there are others out there who are struggling with issues greater than our own. Incorporating charity into your business is an excellent way to revive a flagging staff spirit and inject some perspective into your daily work life.

Here are five ways to incorporate charity into your business. Not all of them require money, but they all provide the satisfaction and joy that comes from making a difference for others.

Give time off to employees who volunteer.

Once a week, allow employees to come in a little later, leave a little earlier, or take an extended lunch break so they can volunteer their time to a worthy cause. Compensate them as if they were at work during that period. The extra hour or so per week that employees spend in service outside of the office can boost productivity by providing something new and stimulating to think about and by breaking up the weekly work schedule. Encourage your staff to share their experiences with their co-workers, either through organized meetings or in informal settings like the lunchroom at the water cooler.

Participate in a charity event as a business.

Teambuilding exercises can be helpful for your staff and can have an even greater impact when employees are spending time together for a good cause. Marathons, walk-a-thons, bicycle rides, and colour runs are a fun way to rally your employees and unite them in the spirit of helping others.

Hire someone in need.

Many people find themselves in difficult circumstances because of a job loss in the family. Consult with employment groups that work with returning veterans, battered women, or individuals trying to break out of homelessness to find enthusiastic employees who need a hand up. Hire new employees to support departments with high workloads like accounting, marketing, or data entry.

Donate your business services.

Whatever you call “business as usual” just might be the thing a charitable organization or needy person seeks. Even B2B services can be extraordinarily helpful for struggling non-profit groups looking for basic legal services, accounting, marketing, web design, or transportation. Ask around for someone who might benefit from your offerings. If you have a hard time finding takers, post an ad on the Internet or place fliers that advertise your donation in areas that might be frequented by someone who could benefit from your services.

Give a monetary donation to a worthy cause instead of distributing client holiday gifts.

Many businesses are restricting the ability of their staff to receive gifts from vendors, for tax and ethical reasons. Do some good in the world and remind your clients of your stand-up organization by making a cash donation to a charity of your choice. Mail holiday cards to your clients that contain an insert with information about the charity so they can learn more regarding the cause about which you’re passionate, and can also contribute personally if they feel moved. Pick charities that are unaffiliated with political or other hot-button groups to ensure that you are not inadvertently offending your clients’ sensibilities while trying to do a good deed.

Remember, these charitable tendencies need not be isolated to just the holiday season. Incorporating charity into your business year-round can inject a newfound upbeat spirit into your workplace and can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

Chamber of Commerce, Charleville.