Congrats to Florida Fence!

Congratulations to Kevin and Theresa Dermody and the entire team at Florida Fence on joining the Grow The Dream family! We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to serve such a fantastic company.

Earlier today, the first piece of content our team produced for Kevin & Theresa went live on their website. It’s a piece that explains what an easement is and how it might affect the new fence you want to install.

I know our entire team is excited to be working with them and we’re looking to great results in the days ahead!

FTC Guidelines for Bloggers and Social Media Influencers

The Federal Trade Commission has put together a fantastic set of FAQs for Endorsement Disclosures to satisfy its criteria.

If you are a blogger, influencer or other paid endorser (including someone who receives free products, incentives or “in kind” compensation), you’ll definitely want to review them.

If your company sends products or other compensation to bloggers, social media influencers, or other paid endorsers, it’ll also be worth reviewing—you may have responsibilities where educating or monitoring your influencers are concerned.

New Small Business Podcast

I’m really excited about a new project I’m working on with Rod Thomson and Josh Muccio: The Growth Show is a podcast focused on helping small businesses grow.

Each of us comes with a little different perspective: Rod is 30-year veteran journalist who specializes in helping businesses understand and work with media, Josh is a young entrepreneur who has already flipped his first company after building a fantastic presence online with local SEO tactics. We published our first episode on Friday, and it promises to be a lot of fun!

Sarasota Named 2014 Google “eCity” for Florida

Screenshot: Google Recognizes Sarasota as its 2014 eCity for Florida
Screenshot: Google Recognizes Sarasota as its 2014 eCity for Florida
Screenshot: Google Recognizes Sarasota as its 2014 eCity for Florida

This “big little city” that we call home and affectionately refer to as “Paradise” has been recognized by Google for having the, “strongest online business community,” in the State of Florida.

The award represents Google’s belief that businesses in Sarasota are embracing new technology to find and connect with customers.

Google uses its own data, including Search, ad revenue (both fees paid to Google by advertisers and fees paid by Google to publishers), and Ad Grants (provided by Google to non-profits) to estimate the economic impact of Google on each area. This forms the basis of its determination that local businesses are embracing technology.

ABC 7 reported on the reactions from some local businesses following a ceremony yesterday with the Mayor and City Manager.

The Herald-Tribune apparently also reported on the award, but their absurd paywall prevents us from accessing the article, so we won’t bother to link to it.

Congratulations to all of our local businesses who have endeavored to build out a presence online, use social media and other tools, and effectively generate a return on investment with digital advertising tools.

This is one more reason we love this city!

Join Michael and Bruce

My friends at Ortiz | Kleinberg, LLC are launching a nifty campaign this week to connect past clients up to their new community. A direct mail sequence will ask those interested to visit JoinMichaelAndBruce.com and enter their email addresses.

The firm is offering Publix gift cards to everyone who signs up. Alternatively, their clients can choose to donate, and the firm will give the gift cards to Habitat for Humanity of Sarasota in their honor.

The offer is only open to past clients, so if the names and email addresses don’t match up to their client database, then the gift card offer isn’t valid. (Sorry! If you haven’t worked with them in the past, this isn’t for you.)

Neat idea! We’ll be watching with interest!

Florida’s Economic Recovery Ranked #6 In Nation

Business Insider ranked the 50 states based upon various—arguably arbitrary—factors and placed Florida in the number 6 position.

Notably, the report cited an 8.9% increase in statewide housing prices (measured from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014), a 3.1% bump in payroll jobs (June 2014 vs. June 2013) and a higher-than average growth in the state’s working-age population.

Ahead of Florida in Business Insider’s rankings: Colorado, California, Texas, Arizona, and Utah.

The team responsible for the report, which was published August 4, 2014, posted separately about their methodologies.

SOPA and Your Right to Free Speech

Note: This post was originally published on the Nourish The Dream blog.

SOPA: Are You Prepared To Be Silenced?
SOPA: Are You Prepared To Be Silenced?

Here at Nourish The Dream, we are incredibly passionate about the success of small businesses and entrepreneurs. We work tirelessly to produce events and resources that will help “nourish the dream” of business ownership and success in the lives of people. And that’s why we feel it’s important to bring SOPA (and its evil twin: PIPA) to your attention.

Depending upon when you read this, the links above may not be working. That’s because Wikipedia is “going dark” for the very first time (at least for its English version) in its history in order to protest this outrageous piece of legislation.

Why Sound the Alarm?

On the surface, the idea behind these bills is honorable and even noble: to stop the illegal downloading & sharing of content protected by copyright. The biggest beneficiaries of this action are relatively obvious: record labels, movie studios and others who create content which is ordinarily sold but which is being pirated (something which, I would like to note, is already illegal).

The egregious nature of the legislation comes not from its ostensible purpose but from its far-reaching, dangerous implications. Specifically, as the legislation is currently drafted, it gives incredible powers of internet censorship to the US courts. Further, it places ridiculous demands upon search engines to no longer provide links to sites which are accused of violating copyrights.

Picture a world where Google is required to police its search results at any given moment for links to websites which have not been proven to be guilty of violating copyrights. Picture a world where your small business website can be shut down at will by anyone willing to throw out a complaint.

In short: the legislation as drafted violates the free speech rights of US citizens via censorship without due process of law.

What About Piracy?

First let me say that we make our living creating content and enjoying the wonderful protection of copyright law. Without copyrights, it would be very difficult for our parent organization to recognize revenue from the training products it creates. Similarly, here at Nourish The Dream, we value very highly the ability for us to create and distribute CDs, MP3s and (soon) DVDs of materials to empower, train & equip the business owners and entrepreneurs we exist to serve… and to, in turn, achieve revenue from those sales to fuel our mission and to give us the ability to create new & better products as we go.

It is therefore of no small significance to us that there be appropriate tools in the hands of legislators and law enforcement agencies to go after piracy and shut it down where possible. We fully understand that no retailer would leave their shop doors unlocked at night with no one watching. There are evil people in the world, and the “honor system” doesn’t always pan out well in the end. Hence the need for proper protections for those who create items of value.

All of that said, SOPA & PIPA do not place appropriate powers in the hands of the right parties to solve the issues they purport to address. Rather, they place undue power in the hands of a few while effectively crippling the business model of many valuable companies who contribute to an open, free (as in speech) internet.

Looking for something to do about it? Visit AmericanCensorship.org or sign this petition on WhiteHouse.gov.

Happy Birthday, Google!

Google 13th Birthday Doodle
Google celebrates its 13th birthday with a special Google Doodle!

It’s hard to believe, but the website most of us use everyday to start just about anything we do online didn’t exist until 13 years ago.

Their rise to dominance didn’t take place until later, but the company was incorporated in September, 1998. By 2000, they were processing 100 million searches per day… and of course, today they own the US search market. (Market share varies depending who measures it and what they measure… but for all intents & purposes, they’re the search engine that matters.)

In addition to the 28,000 people they employ directly, Google and its products have an impact on the businesses, careers and income on an incredibly high number of people. I’m sure someone has tried to do it, but it would truly be impossible to measure the economic impact of this behemoth. This could be why Google officials were recently testifying before Congress regarding the competitiveness of their operations… but that’s something for another day.

For today… on behalf of small businesses and marketers everywhere… Happy Birthday, Google! We’re celebrating right along with you today!