3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: May 3

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Yahoo! Small Business launches marketing tool. Called the Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard, the free tool intends to help "entrepreneurs discover new marketing opportunities to grow their businesses," Yahoo!'s ( YHOO) small business unit says in a press release.

The tool provides a clear, consolidated picture of a business's marketing results while enabling them to easily analyze website metrics, manage online reputation, and maintain accurate and comprehensive business listings across the Web.

"With all these key business metrics accessible in one location, small business owners with limited resources can spend more time focusing on their core businesses and less time buried in multiple interfaces and spreadsheets," according to Yahoo! Small Business.

Key features include monitoring of search engine and directory listings as well as social media site profiles, and website traffic analysis and email marketing campaign tracking, among other things.

The tool also offers premium services for a fee, like more integrated email campaign tracking using third-party vendors like Constant Contact ( CTCT) and OrangeSoda.

2. This profile explains more about Kickstarter. The New York Times profiles Kickstarter, one of several crowdfunding websites sprouting up in the new world of appealing to peers and others for funding. The 3-year-old company seems to be finding its footing as the solution for entrepreneurs who want to put their toes in the water with an idea before looking to secure more traditional financing or venture capital money.

Kickstarter has paved the way for other sites in the space, however Kickstarter is the largest, the article says. It has raised more than $200 million for 20,000 projects.

>>>Indiegogo's CEO: a Very Exciting Time

Those who back Kickstarter campaigns are typically rewarded with "insider access to the projects they finance," and a tangible reward. Campaigns are free to set up, but the site takes a percentage if it succeeds in its funding goal.

Critics of sites like these say it's not the best way to start a business, however, the founders say they are clear about the line between projects and business.

"With the more consumer-oriented projects, we make sure it's very clear backers know they're helping build a project and they will get one as their reward," co-founder Yancey Strickler told The Times. "They are intended to be finite projects, but you do find things that start off with a small idea and grow into something quite large."

3. Fastsigns CEO Catherine Monson chooses goth disguise on Undercover Boss. Friday's airing of Undercover Boss will show Fastsigns CEO Catherine Monson tapping her inner goth girl as the disguise she uses to infiltrate her franchises. Monson is the latest franchise CEO to be featured on CBS' popular TV series.

Monson, who became Fastsigns CEO in 2009, acknowledges to Yahoo! TV that she in fact has never worked on any of the signs the company produces every day.

Monson's transformation includes "a black wig with red streaks, black nail polish, even fake tattoos," the article says.

While Monson wasn't nervous about wearing the disguise, she wasn't excited to show the world that she had never made a sign. One of the hardest things she had to do while undercover: Hang a sign from a cherry picker bucket four stories high. "Not only did she have to wield a 35 lb. concrete drill for a prolonged period of time, but Monson is afraid of heights," the article says.

Her experience was worth it though -- Monson learned that the company needed to improve their training and communication to employees. She also gained a new appreciation for the quality of franchisees they are attracting, she says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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