10 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—Creating Viral Infographics
Want your infographics to go viral. Visme has put together an infographic (naturally) telling you how to do just that.
2—Managing Your Small Business Data
We all know how important data is to businesses today, but a general lack of trust in the quality of their data prevents them from achieving strategic business objectives. A report from edq.com (Experian Data Quality) shows Nearly half of organizations globally say that a lack of trust in their data contributes to increased risk of non-compliance and regulatory penalties (52%) and a downturn in customer loyalty (51%). To be of value to organizations, data needs to be trustworthy.
You can download the report here and check out the infographic for more.
3—Small Business Startup Stats
Guidant Financial asked its clients about living the entrepreneurial life. Check out the infographic below for their answers. And you can get a copy of Guidant’s white paper: The Complete Guide to Starting a Successful Business. Click here to download now.
4—How to Use Video to Drive B2B Sales
Guest post by Andrea Kalli, founder, VirtualAssist.net
Business-to-business, or B2B buyers today do not contact a supplier directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete, research shows. For businesses, this means that much of the decision-making process takes place before a potential B2B purchaser even contacts you to discuss your products or services.
Well-crafted explainer videos can increase your return on investment (ROI) by helping you engage with and influence buyers during the early stages of the purchasing process so you capture more sales.
Why B2B Videos Work: Well-produced, quality videos can give business consumers the information they need to evaluate your product or service compared to others. These videos also promote your brand and knowledge, serving as informational and engaging trend pieces. Whether or not a B2B purchaser decides to buy your product after watching the video, they walk away from it with a better understanding of your brand, products, and services, and may decide to buy from you next time. This is the qualitative explanation of why B2B videos help to increase sales.
B2B videos also increase your search engine optimization and make it more likely that a B2B purchaser searching for an item will come across your product before those offered by your competitors. Every service or product you offer is a solution to a problem. A video is the best way to emotionally engage the viewer in a sort of “show and tell” presentation where you talk about the problem, reveal your solution, and make a call to action for them to get it from you.
The more video content, and other online assets, you create the more chances of success you will have. When you regularly create and share engaging video content, you increase your product placement in search results and get more business.
How to Drive Small Business Sales with B2B Videos
Once you understand why videos are an important part of your small business digital marketing strategy, you need to know how to create high-quality videos that will drive sales.
Before you create content, define your purpose or your message: Are you trying to sell more products or services? That’s a sales video. Do you have a unique, next generation product you need to explain? That’s an explainer video. Your purpose should be as short and succinct as an elevator pitch. Always make sure your video has a purpose in mind and you follow through with it.
When you make a video keep its end result in mind: You will be able to develop a stronger video quickly and with fewer costs when you keep the end purpose in mind. A targeted, purposeful video will also resonate more with users than a general video whose purpose is not clear. Before you start your video project, know what you want the end results to be, and make sure you let your audience know what you want them to do once they’re done watching.
To connect with your target audience, your video should be in the right format or style: When there is a mismatch between your audience and your video’s format or content, you will not be successful. Will it be in a presentation style? An illustrated animation story? A whiteboard sketch video? It seems simple, but it is such an important step in the design process.
Think about the style and tone of your brand and that of your regular clients: While it would be acceptable for a B2B business brand to have a sleek, designed video, it would not make sense for that same brand to use animation in their videos. When you keep your brand in mind, you can make decisions regarding the tone, language, style, and intent of the video that ensures success. What is the emotion you want to trigger?
Once you have your purpose and tone, determine what an appropriate length is for your video: If you’re creating a product demo, your video could be anywhere from 60 seconds to 3 to 5 minutes long. (Cisco did research on this and determined the sweet spot for B2B video length is 60 to 90 seconds). Any longer than that and viewers might lose interest. On the other hand, if you wanted to generate thought leadership, 5 minutes would be your minimum video length.
With these tips in mind, you can create targeted videos that meet your purpose and leverage your video assets to grow your business and drive sales. Always know too that if producing video is challenging for you, you can always seek the expertise of those who specialize in it.
5—Win a Main Street Makeover
On February 27, Independent We Stand kicked off its second annual America’s Main Streets contest to reward a deserving Main Street with $25,000 in cash and sponsor-related prizes. The public is invited to nominate and vote for their favorite Main Street. Main Street organizations can also nominate themselves.
“In our inaugural Independent We Stand ‘America’s Main Streets’ contest last year, we saw an outpouring of hometown pride from across the country,” says Independent We Stand cofounder Bill Brunelle. “We know small businesses on these Main Streets help them thrive and have a measurable economic impact. Now we want to hear those stories! It’s as simple as going online and telling us what makes your Main Street great or what could make it even better.”
Voting begins as soon as an area is nominated. Nominations started last month and run through April 23. All nominations and voting take place on MainStreetContest.com.
To support the contest, the Independent We Stand team will hit the road for “The Great Rocky Mountain Road Trip” starting April 24, visiting 5 iconic Main Streets in 5 states in 5 days. Look for the team in Denver, Casper, WY, Bozeman, MT, Idaho Falls, and Salt Lake City. You can follow their journey on Facebook and Twitter.
The presenting sponsor of the contest is STIHL Inc., the country’s number-one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment and the founding sponsor of Independent We Stand. Supporting sponsors include our friends at Alignable, as well as Do it Best Corp, North American Retail Hardware Association, PPG Pittsburgh Paints and SnapRetail.
6—Is Everybody Happy?
Seems so, according to the inaugural American Express Global SME Pulse. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the U.S. and around the world are optimistic about the economy and confident about their futures. The survey shows these businesses in the U.S. are “even more optimistic about the global economy than their foreign counterparts” (54% vs. 39%) and are even more “upbeat” when it comes to their local economies (59% vs. 45%).
Some highlights from U.S. SMES in the survey:
- 69% of expect significant revenue growth (at least 4%) over the next 12 months.
- 42% anticipate revenue growth of at least 8% over the same period.
- 35% forecast a net profit of at least 8% per year over the next three years.
- 48% say their most important strategy to grow domestic revenue is more effective marketing and sales to domestic customers, followed by understanding changing customer demands (46%).
When it comes to “enhancing innovation” 73% say “developing & implementing innovations” is the challenge they will work hardest to address over the next three years by:
- Encouraging all staff to contribute ideas (68%)
- Incorporating customer feedback into the research and development process (67%)
- Encouraging an innovative culture by accepting challenge and risk (66%)
- Employing talented innovators (65%)
- Creating innovation taskforces within the organization (62%)
- Allocating staff time for idea generation (62%)
- Investing more in R&D (62%)
The SMEs are focusing on growth and expansion strategies to improve their financial performances.
- 36% of U.S. SMEs say growing their share within existing markets and the same number say expanding into new domestic markets will contribute the most to their businesses’ financial performance over the next three years
- 27% believe expanding into new international markets will be a contributor to financial performance
- 58% rely on bank loans & 50% rely on existing working capital to fund their investments
7—Small Business Owners are Still Optimistic
Another survey underscores all this entrepreneurial positivity. According to a New York Life survey, fielded recently by Ipsos Public Affairs, the optimism among small business owners significantly outpaces that of the general public, with 60% of business owners feeling positive about the coming year, compared to 43% of Americans aged 30 and up. This optimism can be attributed to several areas small business owners think will positively impact their businesses:
- Technology – 75%
- The new political landscape – 57%
- The employment market/talent pool – 56%
- Interest rates – 54%
- Health insurance – 53%
Small Business Owners Are Building Their Companies in 2017:
|Plan to incorporate mobile technology in my business||66%|
|Plan to network more with other business owners and/or professionals||64%|
|Plan to grow my company- e.g, open another location, increase revenues, expand capabilities, etc.||62%|
|Plan to seek additional capital||55%|
|Plan to hire more employees||52%|
|Plan to improve my employee benefits package||49%|
|Plan to take out a loan||46%|
Some of the key planning steps (financial and otherwise) that small business owners are interested in taking throughout 2017 include:
- Learning about ways to minimize taxes – 79%
- Taking a family vacation – 75%
- Learning about ways to build an emergency fund – 71%
8—New Features from Instagram
Instagram launched a new feature allowing users, including those with Business Profiles, to share up to 10 photos and videos in one post. The social platform reports small businesses are using the new feature to highlight their products and showcase their brands.
If you want to see how your business could use this feature, check out the three companies Instagram highlights that are taking advantage of the new offering:
Behind the scenes product creation: Japanese textile factory @shimogawakyozo displayed photos of textiles as well as a video of the loom creating fabric.
Collections of products: UK artisan @HopeInTheWoods spotlighted multiple images of his handmade woodenware.
Telling a larger brand story: India-based @TheBurplapPeople created an ad campaign in a single post, showing off their burlap bags and telling the viewers a story about how their product can be used.
9—Launching Pad for Innovators
SOSA, which connects corporations and small business startups, recently announced it is expanding globally and opening in New York City.
Roy Oron, CEO of SOSA explains, “Innovation is the driving force behind the corporations that remain ahead of the curve and having an effective open innovation program is a critical piece of that puzzle. By bringing the world of global startups and corporate giants together under one umbrella, we are connecting the supply and demand of corporate innovation and helping our partners infuse open innovation into their operations.”
SOSA says its New York space “will serve as a landing pad for the world’s most promising startups that are ready to go to the U.S. market and need to hit the ground running by developing critical relationships and engaging with local corporation and investors. International startups will also gain access to services that help them effectively access the U.S. market.
The New York space joins SOSA’s already thriving Tel Aviv location, where it has created a global bridge to Israel’s innovation ecosystem helping over 200 corporations and members engage potential partners on the ground, effectively screen over 2,500 startups and manage all functions of their local presence.
A few months ago HonestFew announced the launch of its new book discovery engine. The platform enables readers to find the perfect ebook for them. HonestFew negotiates deals with large publishers and independent authors to provide ebooks for $0 to readers.
HonestFew’s platform is 100% free for readers. Here’s how it works: Book titles and authors remain a mystery. Each book is condensed into a concise 1-line description in a Cards Against Humanity-style stream, with readers browsing through intriguing one-liners like “Killing a person raises your lifespan by 20 years”.
Readers can click to see more and download the book. It’s up to creators to sell their work with just 1 sentence, which puts billion-dollar publishers and indie authors on a level playing field where the best book wins.
New titles are added every week, with all books brought down to $0. HonestFew’s selection of books includes titles from indie writers, independent publishing houses, and Amazon bestselling authors. This movement represents a controversial shift from traditional bookstores to a direct-to-reader model. Just as customers abandoned television for Netflix, readers are leaving print in favor of electronic books that are faster, cheaper, and available from anywhere.