Davinci Virtual Blog



Teenage Entrepreneur Works to Inspire Youth

Need a little entrepreneurial inspiration? Katalina Pinkney offers plenty.

In many ways, Pinkney is your typical teenage California girl. Typical, that is, if she wasn’t the Chief Executive Officer of a wildly successful skin care product company.

Pinkney founded Tahiti Waheennee. The company produces and wholesales skin care products to hundreds of retailers across the U.S. and in Canada. Her success is no accident. She had a strong entrepreneurial pull to build a company while still in high school—and that determination drove her to success.

“I wanted to build a successful business that creates great products, jobs and ultimately does good things for other people,” says Pinkney. “My generation is learning lessons from watching the older generations and the fallout from the global recession.

"I’m young and at the beginning of my journey in business, but I’m convinced that young people with a dream can succeed and make a difference. There is no rule that says you cannot succeed until you are 30 or 40. Many successful businesses are started by teens, and I’m working on building a global business.”

Listen to her talk! Pinkney got inspired when she was just 16. She was watching the a continual drop of news about families around the world being impacted by layoffs, increasing unemployment rates and other bad economic news. So she set out to build a business that could help people with jobs and in other ways.

In fact, one of first things she did when the company started turning a profit was to throw a holiday party for school children living in a financially distressed area. Pinkney’s reasoning: “I want to help others by inspiring them to visualize and strive for their own goals in life.”

Sheila Routon, marketing manager at Four Seasons, a major U.S. distributor of Pinkney’s products, says she have been amazed by this young entrepreneur since the company started distributing her products in November 2010.

“We see her at national trade shows commanding large audiences of retailers, and we have enjoyed being part of her success,” Routon says. “Her product sales have grown exponentially since we began distributing Tahiti Waheenee. It’s been great to watch Katalina and her business grow.”

How Social PR Can Help Your Small Business

Public relations campaigns have always been one of the main streams a medium, or large business would use to reach out to their prospective clients.

The idea is simple: Get inside the everyday life of potential clients, without making it look like an ad, using a clever trick or two, at times. As the Internet progresses, more companies are finding out that their best target audience could be regular participants in an industry-related social network or a blog.

This makes it incredibly easy for just about any company to deliver their message to their target audience, with laser precision. This new opportunity gave birth to a totally new way of performing public relations.

Aptly named "Social PR" or "Social Public Relations", this marketing field is quite new, but is quickly proving to be one of the most viable ways for promoting a business today. As

Grindvision Team CEO Steve Weiss puts: "It is a waste of time for all businesses to have accounts on social networks like Twitter, or Facebook if there is no consistent message or engaging content that interests the masses."

One of the latest ways to leverage social PR is the Google +1 button. The Google +1 button is an easy way to publicly 'vote' for a piece of content online. When a business "+1's" their press release published on Online PR Media, one of many press release distribution services, for example, those following their recommendations will see the press release higher in the search results and noted as recommended.

"The Google+ network is poised to be the next big social network for sharing and connecting online," says Tara Geissinger, Co-Founder of Online PR Media. "We've always been committed to incorporating the most trending news sharing features at Online PR Media, so it was only natural that we add the Google +1 button to our published press releases to make it easier for readers to connect with their Google network."

If Your Small Businesses Uses Wi-Fi ... Beware!

Does your small business offer Internet access to customers? If so, you should get proactive about security.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses has issued an urgent warning to small business owners: take steps to prevent customers from logging on and illegally downloading copyrighted materials.

Why the urgent alert? Because copyright holders—including record labels and movie studios—struck a deal with Internet Service Providers to issue warnings to residential customers whose accounts are allegedly used to pirate content.

Although the agreement doesn’t impact commercial businesses, small businesses could be affected, according to the NFIB. Small businesses that have residential accounts for Internet connections could meet with “mitigation measures” if the provider sniffs out illegal activity five times.  Those measures could include reducing Internet speeds or redirecting traffic to a special landing page until the customer contacts the Internet provider to discuss the issue.

“This could potentially be an issue for home-based businesses or small businesses whose owners are using residential accounts for whatever reason,” says Beth Milito, senior executive counsel for NFIB. "Regardless, it’s a good idea for small businesses to take precautions to prevent customers or even employees from using their Internet connection to steal content."

Milito says requiring a password is a simple way to discourage abuse: "For example, they could print a password on the receipt and change it periodically, to prevent non-customers from using the service."

Businesses can also block access to certain websites and types of websites, Milito suggests: "This requires a little bit of know-how on the part of the small-business owner, and it may accidentally block access to legitimate websites, but it also can discourage people from using a business' network to steal content. With more and more people carrying smartphones and even tablets, free Wi-Fi can help a small business attract and keep customers, but unless a business owner uses commonsense and takes precautions, those customers could come at a hefty price.”

Check out this video for more Wi-Fi security tips:


Study: Employees Happier Working From Home

Want happier, loyal and more productive employees? Send them home. No, don’t fire them. Just allow them to work from home—at least some of the time.

Those are among the findings of a recent Staples Advantage survey. In the survey, telecommuters say they feel and work better when they can do business from home. Specifically, 86 percent of telecommuters say they are more productive in their home office.

Why are they happier? Consider the statistics:

  • Stress levels have dropped 25 percent on average since working from home.

  • 73% say they eat healthier when working from home.

  • 76% of telecommuters are more willing to put in extra time on work and say they are more loyal to their company since telecommuting.

  • More than 80% say they now maintain a better work-life balance.

It’s no surprise, then, that telecommuting is on the rise. According to Forrester Research, the number of telecommuters is expected to reach 63 million in the U.S. by 2016. But what could your small business do to make these employee even happier working from home?

The Forrester survey offers some ideas: Most telecommuters said their companies don't provide furniture (87%), office equipment (60%) or supplies (57%). Improving in these areas can help create an environment that simulates corporate office conditions and maximizes productivity.

With the right set-up and support from small businesses, telecommuting programs can be rewarding and productive options for employees. In fact, telecommuters claim they'd even be willing to sacrifice a few of their favorite things to continue working from home:

  • 54% would give up their favorite TV show

  • 48% would forgo an extra hour of sleep

  • 40% would swear off a favorite food

  • 40% would take a pay cut

Telecommuting is not an option for all small business employees. But with these statistics in mind, it may be time to consider how you might fit telecommuting into your scheduling paradigm.

Win $50,000 Worth of Marketing for Your Small Business

Looking for a quick way to spread your small business brand far and abroad—for free?  The UPS Store is running a Facebook contest that aims to arm small business owners like you with promotional tools and resources.

Dubbed The Promotion Promotion, the contest starts today and runs through Aug. 31. The grand prize winner will get an integrated marketing campaign worth $50,000. Doner, The UPS Store network's advertising agency of record, will work with the grand prize winner to examine the business' needs, develop a marketing plan, produce creative and run it in appropriate media.

It’s worth entering even if you don’t win the grand prize. The UPS Store is giving away up to $3,000 worth of other prizes every week, including an Apple iPad 2 and gift cards from various retailers.

Ready to enter? All you have to do is visit the UPS Store’s corporate Facebook page. Of course, you a have to like the page before you can enter to win. When you do, you’ll be instructed to fill out a form that offers up all your personal particulars, and then answer three questions in 500 words or less.

  1. Tell us something unique about your business.

  2. What inspired you to start your business?

  3. If you could tell someone one thing about your business, what would it be?

A panel of experts will judge the contest for the grand prize. The winner will be chosen based on the contestant's passion for small business. The weekly prizes are chosen the old fashioned way, well sort of. You contest form goes into a virtual fishbowl.

Beyond all of this, The UPS Store network will also offer Facebook-only coupons for discounts on business-related services at participating The UPS Store franchise locations. Starting the second week, fans choose the next week's offer by crowdsourcing via Facebook Questions. The Promotion Promotion tab also will stream relevant articles from the business section of msnbc.com.