In order to be successful, every business should have a robust support system in place. Without these services, businesses can quickly fall behind the competition and stunt their growth. Whether you have a small, medium or large business you can outsource your support team to compliment your existing support or utilize back-office support as your primary support.
Here are three top back-office support services that we recommend for small business sustainability and growth:
- Bookkeeping: Keeping accurate financial records is critical for any business. This data can be used to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources and make strategic investments. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have the internal staff or expertise to handle their bookkeeping needs. This is where hiring a professional bookkeeping service can help. A good bookkeeping service will keep your financial records organized and up-to-date, freeing up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.
- Managed Web Hosting: In today’s digital world, having a website is essential for any business. However, setting up and maintaining a website can be a time-consuming and a costly endeavor. This is where managed web hosting comes in. With managed web hosting, you can outsource the set-up, maintenance, and security of your website to a professional team. This will free up your internal staff to focus on other tasks and give you peace of mind knowing that your website is up-to-date and functioning correctly.
- Technical Support: Technology is constantly changing, and it can be difficult for businesses to keep up with the latest trends and innovations. This is where having a reliable technical support team can be extremely beneficial. A good technical support team will be able to troubleshoot any issues you may be having with your hardware or software as well as provide expert advice on how to best use new technologies to improve your business operations.
These are just three of the many back-office support services that help your business grow. Topnoch offers Bookkeeping, Website Support, Consulting, Technical Support and Marketing services. We help businesses maximize their earning potential by using the Internet to their best advantage.
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Clean.tech leads Sedo’s end user chart for last week.
Last week’s end user sales at Sedo were led by a new TLD sale at $30,000. A solar power company bought clean.tech.
Here’s a look at some of the domains end users bought. See prior end user lists here.
Clean.Tech $30,000 – Electrious is a solar power company. It says it applies artificial intelligence to solar power.
CSelect.com $10,500 – Seliant ApS offers online tests to assess potential employees. This might be a name for one of its assessments.
HomeStatus.com $7,775 – Simple Commands is a home automation/smart home provider. For now, the domain forwards the domain to SimpleCommands.com.
Prodin.com $7,000 – Prodin is a Guatamalan company that makes car waxes, shoe polish, kids art products and more. It appears to have used the domain ProdinCA.com before buying this domain.
Plomero.com $5,980 – Plomero means plumber in Spanish. A Miami plumber bought the domain. This was a great buy.
Dedicated-Servers.com $5,000 – Hosting company LayerHost.
JoyClub.it €4,250 – Purchased by F&P GmbH, a German full-service creative agency. The domain is presumably for a client.
GreatGig.com $3,500 – Varsityplaza, which forwards this domain to jobs search site GreatGigs.com. It was smart to buy the singular version of the domain name.
Franke.id $2,500 – Forwards to Franke.com, a Swiss company that manufactures and installs kitchen equipment such as stoves and hoods, commercial kitchen systems, high-end coffee systems and water filtration systems.
KidsConcept.de €2,500 – Forwards to KidsConcept.com, a Swedish children’s furniture and room decor manufacturer.
CashlessCampus.com $2,000 – Gabbart Communications, a website company that produces and hosts K-12 school websites. It is based in Durant, Oklahoma.
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Young, hip, digitally native brands love swag – t-shirts, jackets, notebooks, and promotional products with their corporate logo.
So why, Jeremy Parker and Josh Orbach asked back in 2016, isn’t there a young, hip, digitally native way to sell swag to those brands?
That was the a-ha moment that prompted Parker and Orbach to launch Swag.com, a New York-based company that has grown to over $6 million in sales in four years. They expect their sales to double in 2020 to $12 million.
They found a way to enter the highly fragmented and competitive promotional products market by focusing on a basic rule: Don’t call what we sell promotional products, call it swag.
“No young person is calling it promotional products anymore. They’re calling it swag,” Parker said in an interview. With the Swag.com domain name, his company is the first result that appears when someone searches online for the word swag. “We’re getting a lot of people to our site without having to pay for them,” with ads, Parker said.
The word swag has long been used to mean loot, as in something robbers grab. In the promotional business it is said to stand for “stuff we all get” or “souvenirs, wearables, and gifts.” The HBO series Silicon Valley included several memorable moments featuring characters rhapsodizing about the wonders of swag.
Parker says the exact origin of the term is debatable. But one thing is certain, he said. Swag.com is a great domain name. “It has a cool feel to it and it’s insanely memorable.”
The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) puts the size of the promotional products industry at $28 billion. That includes all the pens, water bottles, mouse pads, phone chargers, tote bags, hats, shirts and other giveaways handed out at trade shows.
But companies, especially startups that want to build their corporate culture, are ordering high-end jackets, backpacks, or electronic devices with their logos as gifts for employees or favored customers.
Swag.com has put company logos on Bellroy backpacks, Sonos speakers, Allbirds sneakers, and even a custom bicycle.
Parker and Orbach decided to target the office managers at startups and tech companies who were looking for better quality, curated items that can be imprinted or embroidered with a logo, rather than thousands of inexpensive throwaway items.
The promotional products industry is highly fragmented, with over 38,000 businesses in the United States, and with no single company having a market share of greater than 5 percent, according to research firm IBISWorld.
The combined revenues of the four largest companies in the industry – 4Imprint Group PLC, Halo Branded Solutions Inc., PFG Ventures LP, and Bensussen Deutsch & Associates LLC – make up less than 12 percent of the 2019 sales, IBISWorld reported. The industry, the IBISWorld report noted, is also characterized by a low level of technological change.
The Swag.com founders believe that gives them an opportunity.
Parker’s first job after college, 12 years ago, was working for a large promotional products company. “I learned the ins and outs of the industry and I saw how old and broken it was,” he said in an interview. “Every sale was done through catalogs, email back and forth, phone calls, very old school.”
The typical buyer of promotional products a decade ago was a 45 to 50 year old office manager, Parker said, and that buyer didn’t mind the old way of doing business.
“Over the last 10 years the industry has not changed, but the buyer has changed,” he said. “The buyer is now a 22 to 25 year old millennial.”
Those buyers, Parker said, don’t want to page through catalogs or place orders by phone. They want to be able to do everything on their laptops or phones, and find promotional products that make them, and their companies look good.
Parker and Orbach’s first move was to acquire the Swag.com domain name. Without that name, Parker said, their plan to reach millennial office managers wouldn’t work. The owner of the name initially wanted over $1 million for it, but Parker and Orbach eventually were able to buy it for $200,000.
Next, they talked to as many millennial office managers as possible to learn how to build the kind of promotional products digital platform they wanted.
Then, they set out to land some big name customers that would attract other digitally native clients.
They staked out the Facebook office in New York until they won a $3,405 order for T-shirts, making Facebook their first customer. Then they visited WeWork, and when asked ‘Who else have you worked with?’, they replied “Facebook,” and won WeWork as their second customer, with an order for $19,548 for WeWork summer camp t-shirts.
Their first year in business they did $365,000 in sales, all done the old-fashioned way, with face-to-face meetings and cold calls to office managers. The second year, 2017, they launched their e-commerce site and did over $1 million in sales. In 2018, Parker said, they did over $3 million in sales and this year Swag.com is on track to double last year’s results, with between $6 and $7 million in sales.
October was the company’s strongest month to date, with over $700,000 in sales, Parker said. The company expects to double sales again next year, to $12 million.
Now, Parker said, potential customers are calling Swag.com, rather than the other way around. “This is the first year we haven’t made one outbound sales call,” he said. “Every single sale has been inbound.”
The company is not yet profitable, Parker said, because it is investing in growth, particularly in tech innovations for its e-commerce platform.
Swag.com has raised $2.8 million in venture capital from investors.
Tech innovations the company has invested in include a patent-pending color detection software that matches the colors in customer logos to the corresponding color in the Pantone color identification system. That information then goes to the vendors Swag.com uses to supply the t-shirts, water bottles and other products so they can get the logo colors right.
“It’s very important,” Parker said. “Coca Cola needs to be Coca Cola red. If they go Staples red it would be a problem.”
The company recently launched a “Swag inventory” service that lets businesses who need to keep promotional items on hand for new hires, or employee work anniversaries buy in bulk, and replenish items as needed from Swag.com fulfillment centers.
“We think of Swag Inventory like a online swag closet,” Parker said. “We do all the heavy lifting for them. They no longer need the swag closet.” Swag.com will keep track of what items they have in stock and ship them to offices, or sent them out as customer rewards, as needed, he said.
“Our belief is Swag Inventory is going to be game-changing, by locking customers into a longer order cycle,” he said.
Other promotional products firms offer some of the services found on Swag.com, such as inventory tracking, and “swag in a box” - a boxed collection of company logo items for new employees or clients. Many use the term swag on their home pages to boost search results. But Parker and Orbach have something they don’t have, the Swag.com name.
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Aron Meystedt is on to something here.
Domain investor Aron Meystedt, who used to sell domains on behalf of Heritage Auctions, is selling fractional shares in the domain name NNR.com.
Meystedt is selling 300 shares in the domain for $100 each, valuing it at $30,000.
He has thought through some of the limitations of this type of deal. For example, he will refund the money if the domain is stolen or lost in a UDRP.
Meystedt is also working on an exchange in which people can sell their shares to other investors.
It’s a good concept and Meystedt appears to be trying it out as a minimum viable product. When expanded further, such a system would allow domain owners to obtain liquidity in their assets that might not sell for a while. It will also allow investors to own a part of domain names they might otherwise not be able to afford.
Whether it’s Meystedt or another existing aftermarket platform, it would be interesting to see this idea fleshed out more. Among the issues a fractional-ownership system will need to address are:
- Legal implications
- Tax implications
- The strike price at which the domain must be sold. Can the main owner deny an offer that would deliver 3x returns to owners?
- Secondary market sales of fractional ownership
- Security/escrow of the domain
- Who should pay for UDRP/legal defense costs
I imagine the legal and tax compliance costs of doing this one-off would be too high, but a platform could make it work.
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Some long numeric domains may work in corporate China
Long numeric domains can work in China, but not usually.
Generally speaking, long numeric domains are difficult to remember and use for Chinese companies. However, like anything in life, there are always exceptions. A small number of long numeric domains may work if they are meaningful.
Some Chinese companies use numeric domains. For example, in the 2018 Top 100 Chinese Internet Companies Report (2018年中国互联网企业100强分析报告), the following seven companies use numeric domains.
- 360.com by 360 Total Security
- 58.com by 58.com
- 2345.com by 2345.com
- 37.com by 37 Games
- 4399.com by 4399
- 6.cn by 6Rooms
- 253.com by Chuang Lan 253
However, note that these names are all four digits or fewer. Therefore, I consider any domain longer than four digits as a long numeric domain. A long numeric domain is difficult to use unless you can create meaning for consumers to associate the two. A good example is a domain sold recently in a domain auction: 365765.com.
This name is interesting if you break it into two parts: 365 and 765. They roll off the tongue when said in Chinese. When I saw this domain, I decided to use the rhyming method to see if I could create meaning for it. In other words, I tried to find Pinyin phrases that sound similar to the numbers. The result is shown below.
365765 = 想礼物，取礼物 (Xiang Li Wu, Qu Li Wu = Think of gifts, take the gifts)
The “comma” makes it easier to say in Chinese. This domain may be used for a gift-related business.
Be aware that rhyming means the resulted Chinese phrase sounds similar to but not exactly as the number. A certain imagination is required. Also, when this number is used outside China, its meaning will be lost. For this reason, I have not seen any long numeric domain used by major Chinese brands. Long numeric domains are likely used for trading among speculators but not sold to end users.
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