SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Office Depot Takes First Step in Strategic Transformation to Become Business Services Platform with Acquisition of CompuCom

Adding Market-Leading Provider of World-Class IT Services with Approximately $1.1 Billion in Sales to Create a Powerful Omnichannel Tech Services Platform

Combines CompuCom’s Broad Set of Managed Technology Services with Access to Office Depot’s Extensive Customer Base and Last-Mile Advantage to Generate Substantial Growth Opportunities

Expects Over $40 Million in Estimated Annual Cost Synergies within Two Years; Acquisition to be Accretive in Year One

Attractive Free Cash Flow and Significant Financial Flexibility to Implement Office Depot’s New Strategy to Grow Recurring Business Services Revenue

Office Max

Corporate/Financial News, Products and Services News
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 4:35 pm EDT
BOCA RATON, Fla.

NASDAQ:
ODP
US6762201068

BOCA RATON, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Office Depot, Inc. ("Office Depot” or the “company”) (NASDAQ:ODP) today announced it is pivoting the company from a traditional office products retailer to a broader business services and technology products platform. As the first step in this new strategic direction, the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CompuCom Systems, Inc. (“CompuCom”), a market-leading provider of award-winning IT services, products and solutions that enable the digital workplace for enterprise, small and midsize businesses. The company also provided a preliminary estimate of third-quarter financial results and a lowered outlook for Office Depot’s stand-alone business for 2017.

“Technology is the office supply of the future,” said Gerry Smith, chief executive officer of Office Depot. “Today marks a significant milestone as we move to provide a unique business services platform for our current and future customers. Acquiring CompuCom is the first step in this new strategic direction. The combination of CompuCom’s enterprise IT services with our millions of customers and approximately 1,400 distribution points gives us the credibility and scale to build a sustainable platform and stand apart from the competition. The company will create value for shareholders from a diversified revenue base with a clear opportunity to grow higher value services and business-to-business revenues.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Office Depot will acquire CompuCom from Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. ("THL"), a premier private equity firm, for a total consideration of approximately $1 billion, which includes the repayment of CompuCom debt and issuance of new Office Depot shares. Following the transaction, THL will hold an equity position in Office Depot of approximately 8% of total shares outstanding.

Founded in 1987, CompuCom provides highly-rated managed IT services to businesses with over 5.1 million unique end users. CompuCom’s team of approximately 6,000 licensed technicians is the largest employee field technician workforce in North America, providing remote and onsite technology support. CompuCom procures, installs and manages the lifecycle of hardware and software for businesses, and offers IT support services including remote help desk, data centers and on-site IT professionals. CompuCom was positioned in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner's® most recently released Magic Quadrant® for Managed Workplace Services, North America. CompuCom has established long-term relationships with hundreds of blue chip customers, including six of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies, and many small- and medium-sized businesses, including local franchises of national brands.

Compelling Market Opportunity

The combination represents a unique opportunity to bring world-class IT support services to all of Office Depot’s customers, particularly underserved small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

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The Challenges of Internationalising a Startup

Working on creating a successful startup is challenging at the best of times. However, once you’ve set up your website, your business model, your products and your services, there’s still the biggest problem to face. Expansion.

Today, we’ll explore some of the most common challenges that startups like yours face when trying to boom into the global market and how you can overcome them.

Not Starting Early

One of the biggest mistakes that start-up companies make when trying to secure their position on the global Mapnetwork is leaving it too late. Every decision you make needs to consider the fact that you’re planning to globalize in the future.

Even down to a basic level of choosing the name of your brand. You may have come up with a really awesome name for your startup but have you considered how well received it will be in other countries. In some cases, it might even be offensive, in which case you’ll need to adapt and move forward.

Overcoming the Language Barrier

Let’s face it, not everybody in the world speaks English. Or at least fluently enough for them to understand your website. To overcome the language barrier, you’re going to need to think about translating your pages in the near future. If you want your startup to definitely be a global entity, you’ll need to start thinking of this early on in your development.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply copy and paste your content into Google Translate. Although this will do the basics, it won’t be able to translate full sentences and thousands of words accurately. Instead, you’ll need to use a professional translator who’s fluent in the languages. Fortunately, there are several sites that can carry out this process on your behalf such as UK top writers and Best Australian writers. Simply find which one best suits you.

Ensuring Expansion is Right for You

Sometimes, startup companies will move to the international markets simply because they don’t have enough business in their domestic market. However, this is not always the best decision, and the chances are that you aren’t’ receiving business in your domestic market because of your business model.

However, this can be a critical error and will possibly result in your breaking your business due to huge expenditures that won’t pay off. Unless you’re originally planning to operate in another country, always try to conquer your domestic market first before expanding.

Consider Your Communication Methods

Whether you’re operating an online service or selling your products to the world, you’ll need to pay attention to how you’re communicating with your customers and the methods you’re using. For example, you may be using social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, but are these the primary source of communication in certain countries?

Lean Dole, a marketing expert at Viawriting, explains, “You’ll need to explore other options. You could invest in multiple, dedicated email addresses. You may need to think about dedicated country phone support lines. You may even need to consider what prefix you’re going to use on your domain name, such as France (.fr), Spain (.es) etc.”

Increasing Global Credibility

Not only will you need to adapt and customize your content for your online users, but you’ll also want to adapt and personalise your user-generated content. For example, customer reviews and feedback are vital aspects that will contribute to your success. So, you may be highlighting reviews from your own country, but what about promoting the views of others?

Another thing you’ll want to think about is adapting this content to suit the country that you’re promoting in. Every country is different and will have its own mindset, its own culture and its own ideas. It is better to outsource such work to professionals like Academadvisor or Write my essay. You will need to address these if you want your startup business to succeed.

Don’t Risk Poor Customer Experience


Let’s imagine you’re based in the US, and you’ve got an increasing number of customers in China, none of which speak English. Then, let’s say there was a problem with your product or service. Maybe the parcel wasn’t delivered, or your product was faulty. The individual then attempts to contact your company, you answer the phone, but neither of you understands each other.

This is going to seriously harm the reputation, credibility and trustworthiness of your business and it may be extremely difficult to claw back these brownie points. Before you launch your service into another country, it’s vital that you set up the right customer support teams that can handle any queries or complaints.

Not Playing the Long Game

Moving into the international markets is a long game, and many startups will be extremely eager to make the biggest impression that they can, causing them to overlook this consideration.
Instead of trying to steal your competition’s market share in one huge strike, it’s much more effective, and budget-friendly, to chip away at it slowly and gain ground and traction.

Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years of experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs. She believes that constant learning is the only way to success. You can visit her personal blog at Letsgoandlearn.com

 

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My Moto Summer Fling

With the Fall Equinox upon us, I can now share my summer research findings concerning mobility.

This is truly a case of starting over. This summer, I tested the Android-based Moto Z Play2 as part of my journey post-Windows Phone (Nokia 1020). The decision was very simple. Increasingly the apps I want and need were not on the Windows Phone platform. And I’ve been there; done that
with the Apple iPhone (I had the iPhone 3G in 2008). As leading Microsoft partner and IAMCP executive Jeff Shuey said “…time to get appy” when briefed on my intentions. I gave my test unit and the mods a stress test by attending the recent Microsoft Inspire conference (conference in Washington D.C. in July 2017- this conference was formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference “WPC”).

Intel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 1: I’m with a Lenovo rep discussing the Hasselblad True Zoom mod at Microsoft Inspire.

My NEEDS!
Years ago I listed my basic needs in a mobile phone in a blog at SMB Nation. Basically beyond the whiz-bang apps, it amounted to phone service, testing, photos and sound plus battery life. Those are still my core needs and the Moto Z Play2 really excels here. Why?” Because these featured are enhanced via the mods you can attach (and I’ve now tested).

Sound. The JBL-based sound mod, that snaps on to the back of the phone, is really a super cool conference phone feature in my opinion. While at Inspire, I placed several calls on speaker and had multi-person calls (including a few people standing next to me in a busy and loud tradeshow hall. Everyone was impressed. Finally a phone that was a real speaker phone. Bonus was when I stream Xfinity content while traveling (watching CNN), I have world class external audio.

Power. The most useful mod was clearly the Moto Turbopower Pack, a battery recharger (I use it daily). Like anyone, I fiddle with my mobile phone all day every day. I typically hit the later afternoon low energy zone. Viola – I attach the Turbopower Pack (often on my commute home) and return to full power quickly. This is important because the nature of my evening commutes has me away from power.

It should be noted that each of the mods I used came with their own power supply (e.g. up to ten hours power for the speakers or projector). However, these Mod built-in batteries only ran the actual function (e.g. sound, projector) but did not have a reverse current flow to charge the actual phone. Only the Turbopower Pack had that ability. I wish the engineering would support both the device power (speakers, projector) and recharge the phone. Why? Because it’s unlikely I’m going to run my projector for ten hours.

Projector. I used this mod the least but I do feel it’s essential as a mobile businessman. I’ve used it for pleasure, to stream a short high school graduation spoof vid for my son’s big day at the celebration dinner. I’ve used it for business to show web sites, such as a predictive analytics firm, when I was having a business discussion. And I’ve used it to show PowerPoint presentations on the fly (I showed this off at a recent tradeshow where I had a booth). Bonus is that the Moto Insta-Share Projector is available complimentary (as I write this) with the purchase of Moto Z phone (offers may vary). But for free, it’s one hellva must have.

Camera. Truth be told, I only used the internal camera (front and rear) regularly. As a blogger/analyst, the built-in camera(s) are sufficient for my digital media needs. I quickly tested the Hasselblad True Zoom camera in the Lenovo booth at Microsoft Inspire (see Fig 1 above). So it’s hard for me to remember a verdict on the Hasselblad True Zoom camera mod. I was able to zoom into the audience as seen in Fig2 (non-zoom) and Fig 3 (zoom) and clearly see the results. The non-zoom pic was about the same quality as the built-in camera, but I’m a shutterbug and I understand the value of the Hasselblad True Zoom camera for more specialized needs (such as print magazines). This mod has the effect of allowing me to leave my Nikon D5000 SLR at home when I travel for business (the Nikon would still be part of my luggage when I travel to Alaska for scenic photography).

Kindly note one matter concerning the camera function. If you have your phone brightness turned down (to save power), it results in dark pics. For some reason, the auto adjusting/lighting feature just doesn’t work well. Once I restored the phone’s brightness to a sufficient level, my pics got brighter if that makes sense. Learn from Harry on this one.

Jabra Faraway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 2: Broad non-zoom shot using the Hasselblad True Zoom mod.

Jabra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 3: Same shot. Approximately 10x zoom shot using the Hasselblad True Zoom mod.

Android. I’m learning as I go with Android. So far so good with respect to the UI. But there are a few nuances. For example, the Microsoft Office 365 mobile version for Android is not as robust as the Windows Phone version (go figure). The Outlook application, while supporting my multiple business calendars, doesn’t have a proper pop-up notification when an appointment is approaching. Ergo I have missed a few appointments over the summer and have ad to modify my work habits to set alarms with the Clock app. (I’ve tried other calendaring apps such as Business Calendar Version 2.23 but found these apps struggle with supporting multiple business calendars – your reader suggestions are welcome).

My favorite summertime application? Strava. My God – you can accurately record your bicycle rides! It uses the internal GPS capability. See Fig 4.

Chilly Hilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 4: Big Data meets cycling with Strava – my summer bking as part of my Moto Z Play2 mobile app test bed!

A shout out to the FM Radio app (native Motorola Mobility app version 02.02.0146). I can listen to real over-the-air radio when I’m on the ferry/bus or evening travelling in new cities (e.g. Austin, TX) and want to absorb some local sound. Interestingly the FM radio capability is new in the Moto Z Play2 edition; it did not exist in the original Moto Z Play and I was spoiled from this capability with the Windows Phone and my commute time radio listening habit. Bonus: the use of the FM Radio does not consume data or voice minutes on your mobile phone plan (I use AT&T). It behaves like an FM transistor radio (kids won’t get that).

AT&T. As I mentioned, AT&T is my carrier. But the native Moto Z Play2 support is for Verizon. Ergo I used an unlocked phone version to support AT&T. I always worry about having the unlocked version because I don’t feel you get the same performance or patch cadence. But during my summer romance with the Moto Z Play2, I have no quarrels.

Summary

I the start of this blog, I shared I know my needs as a mobile traveler, businessman and media/press analyst blogger: pics, sound, basic phone service, long power, basic apps and hero apps. The Moto Z Play2 meets my needs completely and receives the coveted “Astro” award (Astro is the mascot of SMB Nation). Bravo Moto!

ASTRO APPROVED WWW SMBNATION COM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 5: Moto Z Play2 wins an Astro!

PS – one suggestion. I would be nice to stack mods. For example, If I could have both the projector and the sound mods usable at the same time, my streaming entertainment content would sound divine (instead of the projector defaulting to the internal speaker on the actual phone). Today it’s one mod at a time baby.

PPS – shout out to my friend Jerry Essenpreis, IT Manager at the Bremerton Housing Authority, for encouraging me to you the finger print logon security. After a brief training session capturing my thumb print, it worked splendidly and no need to tap in a PN code.

 

 

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Why Asking for Advice is the Best Thing for Your Business and Yourself

BY: Annabelle Short

Do you remember as a teenager, your mom or dad would give you some advice on a relationship or maybe on how to do your homework?

You would respectfully ignore it because…

What do mom and dad know, right?

But, looking back, there were probably several times where you wished you had only taken their advice.Help

It is easy to display the same sense of pride when it comes to your business –

Your business is like your child. You developed the idea and have put time, effort, and money into ensuring its success. So, obviously, you are adamant that you – and only you – could possibly know what is best for it.

But, consider this:

Think of your absolute favorite article of clothing.

Maybe it is your favorite team’s t-shirt or that pair of jeans that fit just right…

Now, when you go to wash that article of clothing, the first thing you do is check the clothing label for washing instructions.

Can you dry it?

Will it shrink?

Does it have to be washed on cold only?

So, why should you not search for professional advice the same way for your business?

You can avoid obvious mistakes.

There are plenty of obvious mistakes that are not so obvious to you at the time-being…

You haven’t made them yet, so how would you know to avoid them?

But, there are plenty of other business owners who have and who would be more than happy to share their story, give you their insight, and allow you to learn from their mistake.

Some of these mistakes might be overwhelmingly embarrassing or just plain costly – but either way, if you could avoid them up front, why not?

It will energize you.

Running a small business can get lonely.

You can easily find yourself consumed with the many hats that you wear as a business owner. However, by getting involved with other business owners or finding a mentor, you can listen to how they approach their businesses…

Not only will connecting with others give you insight into how others do things but it could foster new ideas you have never considered and help your stress, leading you to realize you are not alone.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

This is a saying my parents have told be a million times over…

You don’t know what you don’t know.

And, it is as simple as that.

You might be missing out on the most cost-effective solution for your business that you have been actively searching for.

And, you know what?

It could be right there waiting to smack you in the face if you would just ask for help.

You and your business will prosper.

Ultimately, asking for help will only make you a better person and your business a better business.

You will learn new things that you can apply both to your personal life and to your business practices, you will meet new people who can introduce you to their audiences and help further your business, and you will have someone to call on when the road gets tough.

Final Thoughts

Being a business owner can be hard enough:

Many hats to wear and new challenges to face each day.

Why try to do it alone?

You are only being stubborn not asking for help and continuously missing out on opportunities that you might not even know are available.

Do yourself and your business a favor – swallow your pride and ask for help. When you and your business begin to prosper, you won’t regret it.

 

Annabelle Short is a writer and a seamstress of more than 5 years. She loves making crafts with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11). Annabelle likes to write about business, crafting and sewing, and parenting. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles and writes for Wunderlabel. You can visit her blog to learn more about her and her handmade creations.

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How to Nurture an Email and Facebook Lead into a Sale

As more and more businesses adopt inbound marketing as a way to get more leads, the significance of choosing the most effective lead nurturing strategy becomes paramount. Typically, a large share of leads disappears after the first interaction with a business, so getting more quality ones and turning them into sales is something that you just need to master.

If you haven’t been able to turn your subscribers, followers, and fans into active sales, you need to change your approach to nurturing them. Are you interested in knowing how to accomplish this in the right way?

If you are, keep reading.

Today, we are going to talk about email and Facebook leads. Why? Because these two sources contain the most users, therefore they are used by the vast majority of businesses.

Let’s start with Facebook.

How to Nurture Facebook Leads

When it comes to social media, you should think about it as the initial step of your sales cycle. Your ultimate objective is to move leads to a landing page on your website. However, there is a complex task of getting them there.

These tips will help you to make this task easier:

Engage leads with Helpful and Shareable Content

Facebook is a powerful platform for lead generation that has one significant advantage: it gives brands a human face. The interaction with the customers, however, should follow some guidelines. For example, Facebook is not a tool for spamming your followers. People are using it for fun and communication, not sales pitches.

The marketers understand that. According to 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study completed by Content Marketing Institute, creating more engaging and useful content remained the highest priority in 2016. This situation is not likely to change anytime soon.

Top Priority B2C

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Therefore, all content you share with the leads on Facebook should be useful and shareable. The more shares and likes it receives, the better your reputation is.

Dos:

  • How to articles
  • Articles relevant to professionals from your industry
  • Engaging news

Don’ts:

  • Sales pitches
  • Posts with clear messages to “click here,” “buy from us,” and “share this.”

Optimize the Path to Conversion

Let’s come up and be honest here: many of us are fairly lazy customers. We don’t look for something really hard unless we urgently need it. So, if we have to figure out how to purchase a product or a service, we just might close that site and look for another one where purchasing is easy.

The takeaway here is that you to need to ensure that it’s super easy for leads to make purchases from you. Analyze the page of your business on Facebook:

  • How does a customer make a purchase?
  • Do they have to click on tabs, then click some more on your website, and then figure out how to contact you for the inquiry?

If you feel that your purchasing process is a bit complex, simplify it until it’ super easy.

How to Nurture Leads with Emails

If you’re using email marketing to increase your profits, consider these tips:

Think about the Experiences and Needs of your Leads

After a lead has signed up on your website using an email, you need to treat it as the beginning of the sales cycle. However, the most important role that defines your future marketing effort is the experience of that lead. Here are some examples of emails just for that:

  • Welcome Series – welcome the lead and thank them for joining! See an awesome example from Holland & Barrett below:

HB 1

  • Upsell Offers – emails that let the leads know about the sales and discounts and create a sense of urgency. Another great example from Holland & Barrett:

HB2

  • Educational Content – by sending relevant and helpful articles about the products you sell, you are building rapport with the leads. For example, you can describe product use ideas, benefits of specific products and other actionable information. Holland & Barrett excel at that as well:

HB3

Emails like these can drive major conversions and ensure that customers receive only highly personalized messages at the best possible moment.

Tools for Nurturing Leads using Facebook and Emails

  • MailChimp – an email automation tool that allows to enhance the process of engaging leads via emails sent on an automated basis.
  • Buffer – a social media tool that automatically posts the content at a time at frequency specified by the user.
  • Assignmenthelper.com.au – this tool is useful for creating marketing texts for Facebook campaigns, targeted emails, and more.
  •  Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule – verify whether the headlines in your content are appealing and get tips on improving them. 

Final Thoughts


To succeed, be critical of your lead nurturing campaigns because they are your tool for getting more sales. Don’t forget to measure the results you’re getting because it is the only way to determine where leads are in the sales process.

Hope these tips will be helpful for increasing your profits and getting more quality leads. Follow them closely and continue to build your success sale by sale!

Lucy Benton is a marketing specialist, business consultant. She helps people to turn their dreams into the profitable business. Now she is writing for marketing and business resources. Also Lucy has her own blog ProWritingPartner where you can check her last publications

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