small business

6 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky



1—How Much Willpower Do You Have?

Entrepreneurs are supposed to be strong-willed—but are you? CashNetUSA says self-discipline is the key to getting rid of annoying mental habits or achieving your goals. Check the infographic below for 14 ways to boost your willpower.

small business 


2—Tech’s Gender Gap

We’ve all heard about the gender gap in the tech industry. But, just how many women hold executive positions in the top ten tech companies? According to Ecardshack has created an informative infographic (see it below) to highlight how women are “woefully underrepresented at senior levels” in the tech industry.

  • The board of executives at Apple is 84% male, with only 3 females present
  • 100% of the executives and the board of directors at Samsung are male
  • At Qualcomm, there is 1 female executive and 10 male executives
  • At Cisco, 3 females have seats at the executive table alongside 4 males


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Tech Boards

3—Busting Myths: 4 Unfounded Reasons Retailers Avoid Gift Cards

Guest post by Krista Lee, Director, Gift Solutions, First Data  

We’re in the middle of the second-largest shopping season of the year. It’s a prime time for retailers to test new tools and strategies to maximize sales and drive profits.

As consumers hunt for the perfect gifts for friends and family, savvy retailers should offer a range of options to suit every shopper, including gift cards, in order to maximize potential sales. Businesses that haven’t set up gift card programs may be intimidated by rumored set up challenges or weary of consumer interest, but these retail urban legends are just that. Here are four gift card myths you can consider officially busted:

1—Myth: Set Up is Tough and Time Consuming

Reality: Implementing a gift card system for your small business is now simple and convenient for you and your customers. With options like Clover Gift Cards, you can start selling your own custom-branded plastic and digital gift cards. What’s more, integrating your gift card system with your point of sale (POS) system allows you to easily track balances, create promotions and issue store credit from one place.

2—Myth: Consumers Don’t Buy Gift Cards

Reality: Consumers purchased an average of 5.9 physical gift cards in 2016, according to the First Data Consumer Insights Study. That’s up from an average of 4.8 physical gift cards in 2012, and digital gift cards are fast movers as well, with those who purchased e-gift cards picking up an average of four cards total.

3—Myth: There’s No Return on Investment in a Gift Card Program

Reality: Gift cards are the gift that keeps on giving for retailers, as they can continue to drive spend beyond the initial transaction. In fact, 75% of consumers shopping with a gift card overspend by an average of $27 beyond the gift card’s original value.

4—Myth: Gift Cards are Consumers’ Back-Up Plan

Reality: Gift cards are at the top of consumers’ wish lists, and offer a range of options for shoppers hunting for the perfect gift. Paired with a personal note, gift cards can go far beyond store credit and allow shoppers to give the gift of experiences—from a prepaid card good for a massage and manicure at the salon to dinner and drinks at the latest hot spot in town.

The myths have been busted, and the truth is clear: gift cards are a win-win for retailers, so why not cash in?


4—Don’t Leave Home Without These

Traveling for business is far from the glamorous activity so many non-travelers think it is. Packing can be stressful, so it’s important to take the essentials in your carry-on bag—the stuff you just don’t want to be without.

Andrea Graziani, cofounder of DUFL recommends, in addition important documents and your valuables [along with any medication], you pack the following in your carry-on:

  • External battery/batteries for all your electronic devices.
  • Power bars or other healthy snacks to keep blood sugar levels regulated and cognitive thinking on point.
  • Wireless headphones—there are too many cords to pack already. And wireless makes things a bit easier to find in your bag (minus the tangled cords).
  • Hand sanitizer spray and/or Airborne as no entrepreneur has time to get sick!
  • Tablet or lighter-weight laptop to reduce the weight of your bag.


5—CRISIS!*&! It Just Hit the Fan

Guest post by Major General Michael J. Diamond, US Army (retired), author of The Diamond Process: How to Fix Your Organization and Effectively Lead People, co-authored by his son, Capt. Christopher R. Harding. This piece is an excerpt from Chapter 15.

Judgments during crises can either break the back of an organization or bolster how it is perceived in the marketplace. Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol and the VA are recent examples where crisis action either aided or hampered the organizations involved.

Johnson & Johnson had a scare in 1982 when a malicious person poisoned bottles of their Tylenol medication. The company responded by temporarily pulling all their products off the shelves and began informing the public through media channels. The American public quickly forgave the company and respected their crisis strategy, which saved the product line.

Johnson & Johnson’s deliberate response to this crisis suggests they had a well thought out plan. If companies do not have any type of contingency plan to deal with various types of crises, it is usually noticeable in the chaos that ensues after an unforeseen event.

It is also apparent that the company put the customers first, because they made a sound decision not only to pull inventory to protect the customers but also to engage very openly with the public. During strategic planning sessions, Johnson & Johnson likely set a strategic objective that if any crisis were to occur, they would put the customers first and be fully transparent.

More recently, the Veterans Administration has been involved in a scandal where they were caught tampering with patient wait times to make them look more favorable. Many critics argue the VA’s crisis management strategy has been less than admirable, and public opinion still wanes.

Although you would think a government organization would be professionals when it comes to contingency planning, the opposite rang true with the VA scandal. The organization seemed to have no plan at all for responding to allegations that it was masking the real wait times of patients, and that dozens of service men and women died awaiting care.

The poor decisions during this crisis resulted in the top two VA officials being terminated and the VA being subjected to investigations from the VA Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The difference between making good or bad judgments in crises often depends on the level of contingency planning. During strategic planning sessions, leaders should “what if” different scenarios and have a basic plan for emergencies. Contingency plans are effectively macros for future decisions. They provide information in a time of crisis, which is much better than starting from scratch.

Of course, you can’t plan for every contingency, but some base plans are suitable for many situations. Contingency planning is an area worth learning about from the military’s playbook. They do a good job of developing contingencies because many lives depend on the creation and quality of these plans.

A General’s Reflection

When I was a Commander in Iraq, I took it upon myself to review the contingency plans (CONPLANs) for both my command and the lead command to which I was assigned. One day when I was “kicking the tires and checking under the hood,” I noticed the port I was in charge of had some assets that would be quite vulnerable and do considerable damage if they were targeted by air strike or a creative terrorist with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

I felt a contingency was important for a couple of reasons. First, the port was one of the most important logistical nodes in the theater and was the key to most of the shipments of materials and supplies for the Iraqi theater.

Second, the port was surrounded on one side by massive tanks of chlorine, and on the other side was surrounded by massive oil tanks from the oil fields of the Arabian Peninsula. Any attack on either one of these could destroy a tremendous amount of important real estate.

Who knew what could happen if the two were to combine? I was surprised to discover that there was no CONPLAN for this scenario, so I asserted myself to ensure that those responsible developed a good one to address this potential disastrous event. To this day, that particular CONPLAN is still in the archives, and will undoubtedly help in case of disaster.

During contingency planning sessions, you should analyze the full range of potential situations that surround your business. It pays to be creative, and the military often does this by assigning a “red team” that represents an enemy. In the corporate world, you can follow suit by assigning a team of creative people to think of different scenarios for which you need to plan.

You must decide both what you anticipate for future challenges, and also which operational leader should handle the situation. Whichever leader is deemed the appropriate one to manage the situation identified in the contingency should review the plan to ensure you have a winning response if the situation occurs. It is important to insist on high-quality planning because decisions made now can affect you greatly in a crisis down the road.

Operational leaders should take charge of developing these crisis action plans and should be assigned for the planning and execution of such plans if they are needed. It is also a good idea to review these plans periodically to make sure they have been kept up to date and that any new situations are captured. Updating contingency plans are also a good idea in case the would-be operational leader assigned to drive a crisis response is still within the organization.


Cool Tools

6—Sales Software

At its annual CompCloud user conference Xactly announced several new software programs, including Xactly SimplyComp™ , the industry’s first do-it-yourself (DIY), automated incentive compensation software designed specifically for small sales teams.

Xactly SimplyComp software has the look-and-feel of a spreadsheet, and can be self-implemented in minutes. Businesses can set up plans quickly using DIY functionality that includes templates based on best practices gleaned from tens of thousands of incentive plans.

Xactly SimplyComp software is available now. Pricing starts at $35/month per user for an annual subscription, and $45/month per user paid monthly. Xactly is also offering organizations a free 30-day trial.

Xactly also introduced the next generation of Xactly Insights—Xactly Insights for Sales— empowering sales leaders to accelerate their team performance with incentive intelligence. Now, these executives will have a cohesive view of performance across the entire organization with prescribed courses of action to adjust behaviors. These insights are based on machine learning derived from over 12 years of incentive compensation pay and performance data.

Leveraging Xactly Insights for Sales, leaders can now quickly compare sales performance and compensation by teams, regions, managers or custom groups and leverage actionable insights to proactively adjust rep behaviors.

Some features of Xactly Insights for Sales include:

  • Sales leader dashboard
  • Next best action recommendations
  • Deeper learning
  • Benchmarking

Xactly Insights for Sales will be available the second half of 2017. For more information, contact Xactly.