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Yo – Are You Yammering Yet?

Sometimes called “Twitter for business,” but actually much more than that, Yammer is shaking up internal communications at many mid-to-larger companies by connecting employees inside a private and secure company-only social network hosted on the Yammer site. Yammer is business social networking at an enterprise level, providing an easy way for employees inside a company to communicate, collaborate and share information. The basic version is free, and companies can pay to upgrade their network with additional features.  Yammer launched in Sept. 2008 and now is being used by over 100,000 companies and organizations.

Although Yammer is as easy to use as consumer products like Facebook or Twitter, its platform is built from the ground up specifically for business.  Yammer lets users communicate, collaborate and share more easily and efficiently than with other systems. It reduces the need for meetings, increases communications and connects remote workers. Each network is private, and a valid company email address is required to join.

Key Features:

  • Enterprise Micro-blogging – Start a conversation, read posts, and actively collaborate with your coworkers in real-time.
  • Direct Messaging – Create a private dialog with one or multiple co-workers.
  • Files, Links, and Images – Upload and share documents with co-workers, groups, or your entire company.
  • Groups – Create and join private or public groups and collaborate in small teams within your network.
  • Communities – Create communities for working with partners who are outside of your network.
  • Profiles – Upload a picture and fill in your expertise, past work experience and contact information to become discoverable across your organization.
  • Company Directory – Use Yammer to connect with employees in other departments.
  • Knowledge Base – Each conversation is archived and fully searchable so you can find what you need from your company’s knowledge base.
  • Administrative Tools – Keep your Yammer network running smoothly with a suite of admin features built to increase control.
  • Security – Message privately and securely in the cloud. Your security is Yammer’s top priority.
  • Topics – Tag content and messages in your network to make content easy to organize and discover.
  • Applications – Install third-party applications into Yammer to increase the functionality of your network.  Polls — Tap the wisdom of crowds by quickly and easily creating a poll and asking co-workers to identify the best option. See real-time updates as the votes come in. Events — Invite co-workers to company or group events and track responses. Download events into Microsoft Outlook or Google calendar. Links — Share URLs with co-workers in a form that displays web content such as videos and images inline.
  • Mobile – Connect to your network anywhere, any time. Download free iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile applications.

Several third-party developers are integrating their applications with Yammer, including:

  • Crocodoc for Document Mark Up and Review — Collaboratively highlight and comment on PDFs, Word documents, images and other files that are attached to Yammer messages.
  • Zendesk for Customer Support — Attach a Zendesk ticket or knowledge base article to a Yammer message so that all key stakeholders can collaborate and resolve trouble tickets quickly.

Yammer also has these applications in development:

  • Box.net for Enterprise Content Management — Share files from Box.net’s leading cloud content management solution in Yammer messages.
  • Expensify for Online Expense Report Management — Notify the appropriate people when an expense report requires action.
  • Lithium for Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) — Enable employees to share and discuss feedback from brand influencer and customer conversations that take place in Lithium’s leading customer community solutions.

Yammer is headquartered in San Francisco and is well-funded by top tier investors including Charles River Ventures, Founders Fund, Emergence Capital, SV Angel’s Ron Conway and Goldcrest Investments.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved. 

Best Ways to Beef up Business Value

If you hope to sell your business someday, the time to think about increasing its value is now. Too many business owners are shocked to find out the business they’ve been running isn’t worth nearly as much as they thought, says John Martinka, VP of Partner On-Call Network, a Kirkland, WA-based firm that helps small businesses prepare themselves for sale.

Here are 10 ways to make your business more valuable to potential buyers:

1.   Don’t let it be just you.  “Too many businesses suffer from the all-controlling owner who not only knows how to do everything but also insists on being part of everything,” notes Martinka. Don’t become a bottleneck.  Prospective buyers can be scared off if the shoes they have to fill appear too big.

2.   Avoid excessive customer concentration. Buyers dislike seeing a small number of key customers accounting for the bulk of sales. Work to diversify your customer base. You should also know that if you have a highly concentrated customer list when your business sells, you may be asked to include a so-called “erosion clause” in the deal that lowers the price if a top customer leaves.

3.   Keep financial statements and tax returns in line. It’s vital to have good accounting systems and financial safeguards in place, and keep accurate records and statements. Try to avoid adjustments or add-backs.

4.   Don’t be too dependent on a key employee. “A small company I know of recently had severe problems when their top salesperson left and took most of their accounts,” says Martinka. The problem can also arise with a technical expert, machine operator or indispensable office manager.

5.   Negotiate the right kind of lease. You might think a month-to-month lease is great because it offers flexibility. But buyers and banks think more about how expensive it is to move a business. In fact, for other than professional type businesses, banks are reluctant to lend for longer than the term of a lease, including options.  No lease can mean no sale.

6.   Keep your tech up to date. Use the expertise you have in your industry to get technology up-to-speed, show increased efficiencies (and profits) and sell for a higher price.

7.   Avoid any “off the books” cash. “There isn’t a CPA around who will let a business buyer pay a price based on unreported cash,” says Martinka.

8.   Grow your revenues. This one’s rather obvious, but true.  A business doing $1 in sales won’t sell for the same multiple of profits as a similar business doing $10 million. There are simply more risk factors associated with a smaller business. A minor hiccup to a larger firm can be a major disruption to a smaller one.

9.   Keep business and personal matters separate. Many small business owners have received lower prices or haven’t been able to sell a business at all because they’ve co-mingled their personal and business finances.  Sure, it’s sometimes easier to pay for things out of your own pocket, or have your business cover expenses that are really personal in nature in order to get the tax write-off. But, the bottom line, says Martinka, is that banks and buyers want to see profits. “Show a lot of profit, pay some tax and it will come back to you in multiples when it comes time to sell,” he says.

10. Make it a business, not a 24/7 commitment. Maybe you’re willing to work all the time, but most buyers aren’t. They may not have the same passion for your product or service; instead they have business skills to leverage what you’ve done.  Hire employees and learn to delegate.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.