12 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1. Small Business Scorecard
The May 2016 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard reports 28% of small business owners don’t have a company website for their businesses. (If this is you, I’m begging you to build one immediately, and check out #3 blurb below for why it’s so vital to do so.) Of the businesses with websites:
- 52% hired a firm to build the site for them
- 20% hired a freelance designer/web developer
- 17% built the site themselves with the help of a service
Only 26% have an e-commerce component on their sites.
Here’s what shocks me: 42% say the web really isn’t that important to their businesses. Again, if this is you, please understand the web is increasingly important to consumers, meaning your current and potential customers and clients.
Check out more in the infographic below.
2. State of Cybersecurity
- 50% of SMBs have been breached in the past 12 months
- The most prevalent attacks against SMBs are web-based and phishing/social engineering
- 59% of SMBs have no visibility into employee password practices
- 63% of breaches are due to weak or poor passwords
- 65% of SMBs that have a password policy do not strictly enforce it
- Only 14% of companies represented rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as “highly effective.”
If you think you’re vulnerable or just want to know more there’s a free webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, June 28th at 1pm ET presented by Darren Guccione, CEO and cofounder of Keeper Security and Dr. Larry Ponemon.
3. How Small Businesses Can Optimize for Google to Increase Visibility
Guest post by Anthony Long, Head of Demand Generation & Analytics, Vistaprint Digital
Uncovering new ways of attracting customers is often on the minds of small business owners without large marketing and sales budgets. Luckily, search engines can help level the playing field. Rather than actively seeking out customers, search engines can deliver them directly to businesses—so long as those businesses are set up to be discoverable.
The Importance of a Digital Presence
Let’s start at the top: simply having a website places SMBs ahead of the curve. A recent study found that 46% of small businesses don’t have one. While many business owners insist word-of-mouth is their most valuable source of new customers, online research is equally important. The Digital Impact Report, a recent survey of 2,000 consumers, found 36% of respondents find new businesses through online research, compared to 35% who find them through word-of-mouth.
The same survey found 34% of respondents are unlikely to shop at a business if it does not have a website. With over 3.5 billion Google searches daily, the obvious first step in improving a business’ discoverability is creating a clean and simple website for search engine users to land on.
Perfecting the Simple Website
Websites are intended to provide consumers with details about a business, encourage trust and help establish brands. While having a website is important, unprofessional sites may actually work against business owners. Nearly half (45%) of Digital Impact Report respondents say they’re unlikely to buy from a business with a poorly designed site. It’s tempting to load websites with as much information as possible, however a proper website is simple and focuses on the key information most important for customers, such as location, hours and ways to get in touch. Useful, yet non-immediate information can be hosted on a company blog.
Becoming an Expert
Original content establishes SMBs as subject experts—a necessary differentiator for savvy consumers searching the web prior to purchase decisions. When creating content, owners should begin with a refined list of key terms and subjects important to their customers, then map content back to those topics. This is what builds SEO.
Be careful not to be overly keyword-centric. SMBs should be wary of keyword stuffing when drafting content. Google is known to penalize sites using this practice. Rather than cram key term terms into every page, SMBs should genuinely discuss subjects to provide value to customers and prospects. Popular content often offers customers useful tips, “how-to’s” and perspectives on relatable industry news.
Mobile Friendliness is Key
For the past two years the number of mobile web users has exceeded that of desktop. According to 2016 Pew Research, 72% of Americans own a smartphone—up 6% from 2015. Modern consumers are on-the-go and rely on their mobile devices to research businesses. Not only will a non-mobile optimized website deter visitors due to poor user experience, Google’s algorithm prioritizes sites designed for mobile.
While it may differ on a case-to-case basis, professional quality SEO requires owners to be cognizant of how customers look for them—on mobile! Search rankings can be improved by building a website using one of several services offering mobile-optimized sites as a standard. Mobile-friendly sites welcome mobile users with easy navigation, text that’s legible without zooming and avoid using software not supported on mobile (i.e. Flash). Google recently rolled out an algorithmic update that boosts visibility for mobile-friendly sites. Take advantage of this update and make sure your site is optimized for mobile search.
Expand Your Online Presence
It’s important to remember SEO is not based solely on a business’ website. In the Digital Impact Report, 25% of respondents say a social media presence is very important for small business. Additionally, one in four Millennials surveyed now use social media as a first point of research for SMBs. Expanding an online presence to include social media helps businesses increase authority and awareness, which could ultimately lead to improved search positions. Links to a business’ site or content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helps search engines understand what sites are credible and popular. While it’s not necessary to be on all social platforms, conversations with customers can shed light on which networks are the most popular among them.
The notion that professional quality SEO should be reserved for big business is false! While Google’s algorithm is confusing, it underscores one central theme—prioritizing the customer. Once understood, small businesses can own SEO using personal customer relationships as guidance to determine what customers need to know, want to know and how the business can provide solutions.
4. Amazon Helps Businesses
As consumers we all know we can buy almost anything we want on Amazon. But did you know Amazon is now serving businesses of all types and sizes, from home-based businesses to ones with thousands of users on a single account.
Amazon launched Amazon Business one year ago offering the selection, convenience and value consumers receive, but adding new features and unique benefits tailored to businesses, such as business-only selection and pricing, free two-day shipping on eligible orders of $49 or more, single or multi-user business accounts, approval workflow, payment solutions, tax exemptions, dedicated customer support, and more.
Accounts are free, and require verification that the customer is a business.
Forrester Research forecasts that by 2020, the U.S. B2B e-commerce market segment will be worth $1 trillion—twice the size of the U.S. B2C e-commerce market segment.
- Amazon Business serves more than 300,000 businesses
- Businesses say Amazon’s “breadth of selection” is a key to solving their “tail spend” challenges
- A significant amount of money is spent on non-strategic/managed supplies every year, spanning many categories (office, computers, software, food service, and janitorial)
- Amazon Business offers access to the hundreds of millions of products available on com and more than 9 million new business-relevant items added since its launch, including business-only products in specialized categories, such as Professional Medical and Dental, Lab & Scientific.
5. Entrepreneurs Choose Career Path of Most Resistance
U.S. Trust, in its annual survey of high net worth business owners (those with at least $3 million in investable assets), concluded that while business ownership can be challenging, most entrepreneurs wouldn’t consider any other line of work—and have personally invested themselves and their families in their businesses. While the survey reveals there are distinct differences between younger and older owners, entrepreneurs of all ages share a strong desire to control their own destinies.
The study part of the 2016 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth® survey, reveals what worries entrepreneurs most is what they don’t have control of—the unknown impact of the 2016 presidential election and a breach in cybersecurity, both of which could have significant implications for their business and personal financial interests.
Here are some highlights.
Business ownership in their DNA
- 95% of business owners surveyed founded or acquired their companies. While few inherited their businesses, 70% of business owners say their upbringing was very influential in their success, and family plays a central role in business ownership.
- 42% have a family member involved in their businesses in some capacity.
- Involvement of family members can both complicate decision making, as well as be a competitive advantage.
- Many business owners have used their own or family savings to finance their business; however, they have also raised money from venture capitalists and private equity firms, in addition to bank financing to support business expansion.
- 74% agree that owning a business is harder than working for someone else; however, business owners don’t regret their career choice.
- 60% say that given an option in an ideal world, they would choose to own a business.
83% say owning a business can make you wealthier than working for someone else. But, that’s not their primary motivation. The top reasons are to control their own destinies, pursue their passions or because they simply evolved into ownership.
Top concerns on the minds of entrepreneurs:
- Outcome of the U.S. presidential election (66%).
- Cybersecurity breach (64%).
- Personal income taxes (61%).
- Employee health care costs (57%).
- Government regulations (55%).
Always have an exit
- 63% don’t have a formal exit strategy, including plans to sell or transfer ownership and leadership of their companies. As many as 71% of business owners age 52 or older have not put a succession plan in place.
- Reasons for not developing a formal succession plan:
- No plans to retire soon (43%)
- Their wishes for their business are outlined in a will (29%).
- Younger business owners (Millennials and Gen X) are more likely to have a succession plan than their older counterparts—33% plan to sell or transfer ownership of their company within the next three years.
6. Overcoming Common Barriers to Building a Successful Online Business
- Building their website
- Optimizing their website
- Website branding
- Customer communication
- Selling their products online
You can read the white paper here.
7. What Benefits Do Your Employees Want? It May Not Be What Your Think
Namely, an all-in-one HR, payroll and benefits platform for mid-market companies, released findings from a new #HRWins report, Where Purpose Meets Performance, Can HR Tech Solve Culture?, from industry analyst George LaRocque. The report reveals that in order to build a healthy company culture, employers should prioritize core benefits and compensation before introducing employee engagement perks like recognition, wellness or rewards programs.
The research, sponsored by Namely, found that HR and finance leaders see the biggest potential ROI from investments in core HR technology and improved employee benefits. The findings are clear: businesses should focus on core HR and benefits—not perks and gimmicks—to create a healthy company culture of engaged employees.
Some research highlights:
57% of employees say “meaningful work” contributes most toward a positive sentiment in the workplace.
When rating employer-provided perks:
- 54% of employees chose “benefits and paid time off” as the perk which drives engagement most
- 60% say “benefits and paid time off” have a high ROI—well above rewards programs, team outings, office environment, snacks and recognition.
8. Is There Too Much Jargon on Your Restaurant Menu?
OpenTable reports that nearly 33% of diners think some restaurant menus are confusing. The company recently released data from its Menu Jargon survey, which reveals diners’ behavior when faced with a menu item (dish, ingredient, or cooking technique) they don’t understand or don’t know how to pronounce.
Some findings include:
- Dish & Dining Experience: 56% of respondents worry that ordering a dish with an unfamiliar ingredient will ruin their whole dining experience, and 74% feel they’ll be wasting their money if they don’t enjoy their meal
- Familiarity: Nearly 2 in 5 diners choose a restaurant based on how familiar they are with the items on the menu
- Training Servers: Most diners rely on their server or fellow diners to help when ordering a menu item they couldn’t pronounce, with 53% taking a stab at pronunciation, 52% asking their waiter, 47% pointing at the item on the menu and almost 20% don’t order the dish at all
- Imagery: 91% say they’re more likely to order a dish they’re not familiar with if it has additional menu features to add explanation and context to the dish; 53% say photos would make them more likely to order an unfamiliar dish
9. 5 Ways to Maximize Productivity
Guest post by Rebecca Barlow, founder, Bella Bambino Nannies
- If you have staff working for you, take a good look at each person’s strengths and weaknesses and delegate accordingly. You can’t do everything on your own—there are no self-made millionaires—only team made. If you don’t yet have a team working for you, look into outsourcing as much as you possibly can. There are very low cost ways to get things done. Virtual assistants are awesome! You can also outsource mundane but important tasks, like bookkeeping, and other things that will free you up to be creative and focus on building your business, rather than working in your business. For me personally, nothing ruins my productivity more than having to stop and run to the grocery store or do accounting—those are things I outsource daily.
- Stop checking email first.We’re all guilty of opening email first thing in the morning, or right when we get to our desks. Most of the time, emails aren’t time sensitive and can wait until later. Tackle the most important tasks of your day first thing in the morning and get them out of the way. Then, you will have all the time you want for emails and social media.
- Two-minute rule.This is something I read a while ago and it really works. If something takes less than two minutes, do it now! You’ll be surprised how many tasks take under two minutes, and you will clear a lot from your to-do list very quickly if you follow this rule.
- In order to be at maximum productivity, you must take care of yourself first. Ideally, you should exercise in the morning and spend a little time in prayer or meditation and focus on how you want the day to go. Tony Robbins calls this “priming”. Take some time for yourself every morning before you start working to set the tone for your day—you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you are when you put yourself first.
- Set the tone. Whether you’re working from home or an office, make sure to have a dedicated space for creativity and workflow. I like to light a candle, and put some background music on. Lately, I’ve been using binary beats for focus. Hop onto Pandora or Spotify, and find something that makes you feel motivated and focused. Play it in the background so it’s not distracting—just background noise to help you focus. Often, I will set a timer for an hour and play music or binary beats in the background. When the hour is over and the timer rings, I take a break and I’m usually shocked at how much I’ve accomplished.
10. Get Smarter
Paychex recently introduced what it calls a “one-stop shop for business-related resources and information.” Paychex WORX has articles, whitepapers, videos, and tools covering important small business topics, such as human resources, business marketing, payroll, and more. Check it out.
11. Small Business Email Practices
Email on Acid released some interesting information about email practices in small businesses. About a third of the respondents were developers, 25% of them were marketers.
Some survey highlights include:
- More email will be sent this year—24% plan to send an average of more than one email daily.
- 40% say coding for email is overwhelmingly the #1 pre-deployment problem
- 69% spend 1-5 hours creating or developing each email campaign.
- 72% will spend more time creating emails in 2016
- 87% of the marketers plan to spend more money on email marketing this year.
- The increase in their email marketing budgets will most likely be spent on technology and tools (60%), with list growth (38%), development (38%) and design (33%) factoring in, as
- Tools that can “fix” code for you was rated the number one thing that would help the email production workflow (40%), followed by a more streamlined testing system (25%) and then project management tools tailored for email (22%).
- Expected trends in 2016 are:
- Interactive features (28%)
- Contextual relevance (20%)
- Fluid hybrid design (19%)
- Personalization (19%)
- 57% use responsive templates; 8% use fluid hybrid design.
- Respondents expect to use the following in their 2016 email campaigns:
- Dynamic content elements (other) (53%)
- Merge tags for personalization (46%)
- HTML 5 video (23%)
- CSS navigation (27%)
- Predictive content technology (26%)
- In email advertising (23%)
- Carousel hero images (20%)
- Live social media feeds (18%)
- 88% of marketers aren’t currently using predictive intelligence in their email campaigns, but 77% are interested in implementing this technology in
- Improving email content (32%) and providing contextually relevant email experiences (34%) were cited almost equally as marketers’ #1 goals for email marketing.
- While marketers say they track conversions or business metrics related to email campaigns (73%), most don’t know an exact number, but believe that email positively influences ROI (52%).
12. Delivery Made Easy
Need to get something unusual delivered? “Roadie has become the single, best way to send hard-to-transport items,” says Marc Gorlin, the company’s founder and CEO.
Roadie delivers oversized, heavy or awkwardly shaped items, which can save you time and money. You can use Roadie’s web, iOS or Android app to get a free estimate, set up a Gig, and get your items on the road, with protection up to $10,000 provided by UPS Capital®,
The company utilizes excess capacity in vehicles already on the road, rewarding drivers for delivering items on trips they are already taking.
Since launching in January 2015, the Roadie app has been downloaded by more than 250,000 people nationwide. The Roadie app is available for download in the App Store, Google Play store and at its website.