Top CRM Providers, Employees Want Health Benefits, Are Powerful Women Bitches? & More!

Date posted: August 24, 2015

16 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

1) Top 10 CRM Providers

There’s no doubt CRM software and services are key to any company’s success. But there’s an increasing confusing array of CRM vendors to choose from. Software Advice decided to cut through the noise and, based on its unique methodology combining three ranking factors (survey data from real users, brand search traffic, and social followers), create a ranking of the best CRM systems.

Most-popular-infographic-final-3

2) Men are Assertive, Women are…

Roseanne Barr famously said, “When a man is assertive, aggressive, opinionated and demanding, he’s admired for it, but if a woman is any of those things, she’s a bitch.”

Sadly not much has changed since Barr said that in 1992, at least according to a new study from New York Times bestselling authors and behavioral scientists Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield. Their study revealed gender bias still exists in the workplace showing a woman’s perceived competency and worth drops when they act assertively at work. Check out the infographic below:

Curbing-Gender-Bias-Infographic-2-315x1024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Comic Relief

I am frequently asked to support crowdfunding campaigns. I usually say no, since I’d have no time to do anything else. But this company’s pitch really appealed to me, both for its cause and its distribution method—comics. As a kid I was addicted to comic books, riding my bike to the local drugstore on the day the new comic books came out.

YourComicStory.com just launched its Kickstarter campaign. The company teaches kids about entrepreneurship via comic strips. Their comic strips show entrepreneurial scenarios relevant to children, helping them form an entrepreneurial state-of-mind at a young age in a fun and creative way.

Their first project is the My First Startup comic book—currently on Kickstarter. In the future they plan to start regularly publishing and start online/TV extensions.

My First Startup will help parents teach kids an alternative to the 9-5 career, as well as a reasonable response to the plea of “Buy me more presents!” Their thought process is if the child wants a new game console, they’re going to have to earn the money for it.)

 

4) Employees Demand Health Benefits

Aflac just released its 2015 Aflac Workforces Report (AWR) for Small Businesses revealing some interesting data. As the battle for talent heats up (the lower unemployment rate makes it harder to find good employees), more small businesses are offering healthcare benefits in order to attract and keep employees. The report shows:

  • 59 percent if small business employees are at least somewhat likely to accept a job with slightly lower pay but better benefits
  • 49 percent of those who say they’ll be looking for jobs in the next year would consider staying if their current employers improved their benefits package
  • 87 percent at least “somewhat agree” that voluntary insurance is part of a comprehensive benefits program.
  • Of those who have voluntary benefits 74 percent are “very or extremely satisfied” with their jobs—17 percent more than those not offered voluntary benefits

The study also reports 34 percent of businesses expect to hire full-time employees and 28 percent will hire part-time workers in the next 12 months. And while the top business objective in 2015 continues to be controlling costs, the percentage of small-business employers offering voluntary insurance to employees increased from 18 to 22 percent from 2014 to 2015.

But all is not rosy in small businessland according to the Aflac study:

  • 18 percent expected to eliminate or delay raises in 2014—28 percent did
  • 16 percent anticipated cutting back on hiring—23 percent cut back
  • 12 percent thought they would lay off staff—18 percent had layoffs
  • 12 percent said they’d reduce employee hours from full to part time—16 percent actually did

 

5) Do You Expect Delivery People to Wear Uniforms?

Most of the people who deliver stuff to our doors, whether they’re from the Post Office, FedEx or UPS wear instantly recognized uniforms. But this may be a thing of the past. Is that a good—or bad thing? Amine Khechfe, the general manager and co-founder of Endicia, weighs in below:

How would you feel if… a person in plain clothes dropped off a package at your door? Amazon and Uber are reportedly testing crowdsourcing delivery services that would hire everyday citizens to transport packages. In a recent earnings call, Mike Glenn, executive vice president of FedEx, voiced a few potential barriers for these new programs. Since consumers think it’s important for their courier to wear a uniform and have proper identification, he explained, most people might not be comfortable with a plain-clothed delivery person at their door.

To test this theory, Endicia surveyed more than 1,000 people to find out whether uniforms are still relevant. Here’s what we found.

While plain-clothed delivery is certainly making strides, survey results reveal that 59 percent of consumers prefer that package delivery people wear a uniform.

Here are four reasons why uniforms still play an important role in the delivery world:

  1. They create a sense of trust and security. To some, plain-clothed delivery could potentially become a security issue—40 percent of those surveyed were concerned that a non-uniformed delivery person might be dangerous.

It’s also worth noting that 34 percent of survey respondents still prefer traditional carriers like the USPS, FedEx and the UPS over newer delivery services because they’re familiar with them, indicating that trust and a well-established history continue to play an important role in the delivery process.

  1. They make it easy to see who’s an employee. Uniforms allow people to identify employees quickly and easily—72 percent of survey respondents say the thing they like most about traditional shipping carriers’ uniforms is that it’s easy to figure out what company the delivery person is from.
  2. They keep things professional. An added benefit of uniforms is they help establish a sense of orderliness and professionalism. Nobody wants to receive a package from someone who looks sloppy or unkempt. When we asked survey respondents to tell us what they wouldn’t tolerate from a plain-clothed delivery person, 40 percent said dirty, ripped shirts or pants.
  3. They reflect your brand. One of the most critical benefits of a uniform is that it’s an extension of your company’s brand. There’s a reason why companies like Apple are able to convince hundreds of thousands of people to wait in lines for hours, just to get their hands on the newest product. It’s all about the power of the brand, and uniforms help reinforce that image.

Keep in mind that a uniform doesn’t necessarily have to mean a full-scale head-to-toe outfit. Identifiers such as nametags, lanyards, branded t-shirts and hats work just as well. Just take a look at Lyft’s pink mustaches or the decals that Uber drivers place on their windshields. As long as people are able to recognize and identify your brand, that’s what matters.

The bottom line is uniforms still have a place in the delivery world today. They play an important role in establishing trust, professionalism and brand recognition. However, that’s not to say that crowdsourcing delivery is bound to fail. The real game-changer lies in whether these types of services are able to earn consumer trust and acceptance without relying on traditional uniforms. Once consumers begin to view crowdsourcing delivery as reliable and familiar—likely by incorporating uniform elements or other branding techniques—there’s huge potential for this kind of service to find its niche in the world of shipping.

Learn more in the infographic below:

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6) 5 Tips for Creating Successful Twitter Header Photos

As Twitter continues to be a vital tool for small businesses, many users are concerned about how their Twitter profiles look. Sarah Matista, the Content Marketing Manager at Pagemodo, a product of Vistaprint’s digital services business, offers five tips for making your profile more effective.

  1. Go Big: While the recommended header image dimensions of 1500px by 500px might seem like overkill to laptop-only users, keep in mind these header images are responsive to the size of the viewers’ screens. That means what looks fantastic on your 15-inch laptop could look like a pixelated mess on a large desktop display. Don’t risk it—max out those dimensions to be safe.
  2. Show Your Stuff: Visuals convey a lot of information very quickly. Take advantage of this by creating a photo collage of your products, or lay them all out on a solid background and take a shot from above to give potential customers an instant sense of what you offer.
  3. Get Personal: A great way to create engagement and emotional attachment to your brand is to show the people who use it, or the people behind it. Use an image of a real customer or show a photo of your staff creating the products your customers love.
  4. Promote Your Promotions: Changing your Twitter header photo is neither difficult nor time consuming—especially if you use a design tool with Twitter templates (like Pagemodo). From holiday sales to hashtag contests, your Twitter header should always reflect your current promotions.
  5. Make Your Logo Stand Out: If your Twitter account promotes a business (as opposed to your personal brand) then you should probably be using the logo for the smaller Twitter profile picture. In order to make that logo stand out and create brand recognition, consider a black-and-white header photo or a complementary solid color with minimal icons.

 

7) New Tech Increases Productivity & More

There’s a lot of news coming from HP, all designed to help small businesses run more efficiently and productively. Here’s a short roundup:

Graphic Solutions

If you are, or want to be, a “print-preneur” (someone who owns a printing business) HP just released a new HP Latex 110 Printer, which offers easy and affordable access to large-format printing—whether you operate from your garage or rent space.

The HP Latex 110 Printer boasts a lower upfront investment, while delivering professional, high-quality products. In its third generation, the Latex produces a variety of indoor and outdoor large-format print projects, from posters, canvas and stickers to point-of-purchase signage, roll-ups and banners.

There’s a health upside as well. Unlike competitive ink technology, such as solvent, the water-based HP Latex inks do not require special ventilation and produce odorless prints, both vital features for printers working from their home or small working environment. The prints come out completely dry, ready for same-day delivery, helping print SMBs meet the needs of their customers, who are often interested in fast turnaround on small, one-off projects.

Some other features of the HP Latex 110 printer include:

  • Professional, high-resolution prints up to 1200 x 1200 dpi with six color ink cartridges for vivid colors and user replaceable printheads
  • Easy and intuitive operation with no specialist knowledge required
  • Automatic maintenance and space-saving front-loading features, as well as online learning tools and software assistance to help educate new owners on print operations and best practices for building their businesses
  • Access to free professional solutions like HP WallArt Software, Media Certification Program and the HP Latex Mobile app, which is now available in 12 languages

Managing Workflow

To compete in the new economy, SMBs need to focus on revenue opportunities, and not worry so much about their tech environments. Larry Tracy, HP’s new business development manager, says that while SMBs know workflow is critical to their business agility, many are overlooking key opportunities to streamline and simplify their tech, ultimately helping employees be more productive. Tracy explains there are three things SMBs should consider in order to increase productivity:

  1. Mobility is on the rise creating challenges for many small business owners—more devices to manage, security threats to thwart and even new technology to purchase. But, when approached correctly, mobility can be an opportunity to increase productivity, providing employees with the ability to work where and when they need to without sacrificing access to content or network security.
  2. Printers and multifunction devices can help SMBs make the transition to the hybrid office where digital and paper workflows come together seamlessly. Cost-effective devices like the HP OfficeJet Pro X Series with PageWide technology, make accessing and storing content simple and secure with leading features such as mobile printing, pull printing and network manageability.
  3. Managing office supplies is vital for SMBs to streamline workflow. Early detection when running low on supplies can help prioritize the reordering process. Free technology is available, like the HP SureSupply App, which sends alerts when it’s running low on ink and toner in the office and automates the reorder process.

Limited Edition Laptop & Windows 10

HP just announced its strategy for delivering Windows 10 to its commercial devices, including new hardware, solutions and services to support the new operating system. It also released its new Bang & Olufsen limited edition (pictured) of the HP EliteBook Folio 1020, which leverages the tough, cutting-edge design of the industry’s thinnest, lightest and most secure business notebook. (I own the regular HP EliteBook Folio computer and can vouch for how great a laptop it is. It’s lightweight, but powerful with a great, responsive keyboard and bright, clear screen.) Among its new features is a dual color and finish of ash silver and copper and precise sound with Bang & Olufsen, which is custom tuning the speakers.

Security is an important component of why businesses will be moving to Windows 10 faster than many anticipate. HP’s security solutions include HP Sure Start, the industry’s only self-healing BIOS protection, available in the Elite line of notebooks and HP ZBooks. HP Sure Start checks the BIOS before the operating system boots to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with and resets the BIOS to its original state if an issue has been detected.

hp

8) 5 Trade Show Tips for Entrepreneurs

Trades shows are increasingly important to many small businesses, but to startups it can be particularly crucial. And you can’t just decide to exhibit at a show—you need to do some planning first. Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of Exhibitions Mean Business:

  1. Determine WHEN it’s best for you and your business to exhibit at a show. Naturally, there are different stages of startup growth, so it’s important you know what stage of the game you’re at before attending an event. Decide whether your business is at a point where you’re ready to talk specifics with potential investors, partners and customers or if you’re more at the stage of walking the floor as an attendee to do some live onsite research. Ensuring your business is in the right place to become a fully-fledged exhibitor will help ensure maximum return on investment.
  2. Determine WHY you want to attend a trade show. Ask yourself why you’re considering a trade show as a tactic to gain exposure for your business. Are you entering a new market? Are you seeking executive positioning? Are you searching for product/service publicity? Having a clear notion of why you want to invest in a trade show will help guide your development of the strategy you take to plan your participation.
  3. Determine WHAT event is best for you. Just because a show in your industry may be popular or well attended doesn’t mean it’s the right show for your business. Do research to find out which exhibition best caters to your specific reasoning for wanting to attend. Many exhibitions are aimed at very niche audiences, and determining which one is best for your business will grant you access to key connections in the industry.
  4. Determine WHO is at the event. Each show is going to have competitors, vendors, thought leaders and many others within your industry who you could benefit from meeting or observing. Find out who will be at the event so you can set up meetings with prospective customers or vendors, and so you can check out competitors while you’re there. Plan to not only exhibit at the show, but be an attendee, so you’re able to take it all in and see what everyone has to offer.
  5. Determine WHERE to attend an event. As a business owner you’re naturally interested in expanding your business’ reach. Whether domestic or international, invest in a show that is located within or near a market you’re interested in entering or growing. While not all shows you attend will be in a market you’re interested in entering, the ones that are prove to be valuable additions to the line-up and allow you to network with individuals and organizations who have stature within the market.

 

9) Onboarding Employees

In a survey of SMBs ExactHire discovered more then 65 percent of employee onboarding processes last less than three weeks, “indicating a failure by SMBs to invest in a comprehensive onboarding process.”

To help solve this concern and implement change in the onboarding process, ExactHire just released an ebook, All Hands On Deck: A Guide to Employee Onboarding Process Improvement, which incorporates perspectives from over 150 SMBs. The ebook discusses trends in onboarding technology, includes innovative ideas from successful organizations, and shares insights from HR consulting experts.

onboarding

10) Biz Funding Resources for Startups

It’s not easy to get a business loan, in fact 78.4 percent of small business loan applications get denied. For some businesses, the best (and sometimes only) option of raising money is getting equity financing. But you certainly can’t enter into the hunt for equity financing blind. And you don’t have to. Quickbooks, in collaboration with FlashFunders, just launched a collection of resources on equity financing to prepare new business owners.

Resources include a comprehensive guide, as well as visual assets like infographics and videos from funding experts. The purpose of this content is to help inform new business owners of the different types of financing available, as well as provide the necessary next steps once a type of financing is chosen.

equity

11) Do You Need Life Insurance?

Tragedy can strike at any time, so if you own your own business the answer to that question is most likely “yes”. If you’re not sure, Jeremy Hallett, the founder of Quotacy, an online life insurance agent, offers some insights below:

Life insurance plans taken out on behalf of a small business owner or a key person is the easiest way to protect a business in the event of an untimely passing. More often than not, those people are the ones with the strongest relationships that drive business through the door. And if the owner or key person is no longer able to perform, a strong life insurance plan provides the lifesaver the business needs to stay afloat.

Here are some ways life insurance can protect a business after the loss of the owner or key employee:

  • It keeps the doors open. A business should not close because the owner has passed. Ensure the futures of the business and the employees by purchasing enough insurance to keep the company afloat until a new leader emerges.
  • It ensures business continuity. It provides a financial cushion that will keep payroll and other benefits going while recruiting and hiring qualified replacements.
  • It provides capital so the surviving partner(s) can buy out the deceased’s estate. A lot of businesses go under due to hefty estate taxes, but if the remaining partners or board members can buy out the estate, they avoid those fees and keep running the business.
  • It covers any outstanding loans or debts. One of the main reasons people purchase life insurance is to keep their loved one from being saddled with remaining debt, and the same thing is true for business owners. Business owners should take out enough life insurance to cover their loans and debt.
  • If the business goes under, a strong policy can provide for employees. If the surviving partners cannot sustain the business, then life insurance should be able to help the employees out while they find new jobs.
  • It can replace lost earnings. There will undoubtedly be a business interruption in the event of an owner’s death, which can result in lost earning. Life insurance can cover and even replace those losses.

 

12) Businesses Under Attack

Though it may seem like businesses are newly under threat, the truth is businesses have been endangered for centuries. Check out this cool infographic:

threats to enterprise

 

13) Small Business Growing Stronger

ShopKeep, a cloud-based technology provider that works with retail shops, restaurants, and other organizations, just released its Q1 2015 ShopKeep Small Business Index (SSBI). The SSBI reveals small businesses are growing, and are the strongest they’ve been in recent years. Following a strong holiday season, survey respondents reported their highest revenues and optimism to date. Ninety-six percent of business owners are confident about the current state of their businesses, versus the current U.S. average of 65 percent and 97 percent are optimistic about the success of their businesses one year from now. Revenue increased for 75 percent of those surveyed over the last six months and 90 percent anticipate revenue to continue growing over the next six months. Other noteworthy economic findings include:

  • 68 percent of survey respondents reported an increase in net profits over the last six months
  • Same-store sales data revealed an 11 percent increase in the revenue during Q1 2015 compared to Q1 2014
  • ShopKeep merchants also saw a 17 percent increase in the number of transactions during Q1 2015 as compared to Q1 2014
  • Q1 2015 sales figures reflect a 25 percent increase in revenue for restaurants and bars as compared to Q1 2014

ShopKeep asked its merchants about the resources they rely on to run their businesses. The results:

  • 60 percent of respondents are first-time business owners and look to trusted accountants, bookkeepers or financial advisors for advice and support
  • 55 percent rely on online resources
  • 54 percent rely on family and friends (54%)
  • 43 percent count on other small businesses owners

You can read the full Q1 2015 ShopKeep Small Business Index here.

 

14) Project Managers Wanted

More and more businesses are relying on project managers today. What exactly are employers looking for when they’re filling project management positions? Some surprising results of a survey conducted for Udemy:

  • While only 2 percent of employers look for decision-making skills, but 47 percent of professionals say this is a must-have quality
  • Just 1 percent of employers look for critical thinking in potential hires, but this is a key trait for 26 percent of professionals

Want to know more? All the info you need is here.

 

Cool Tool

 

15) Managing Client Appointments

According to Agendize and a survey by Getapp.com more than 56 percent of SMBs use online calendars to book appointments, while 24.2 percent schedule over the phone and 8.8 percent still use pen and paper. Indeed, 89.2 percent of SMBs fail to use online scheduling systems to book appointments, and instead use less efficient systems that cost them more time and money. The Getapp.com survey shows double-bookings, missed meetings, and even a simple lack of information or client history can compromise SMBs in the process of serving even their most valued customers.

To help Agendize just launched a new mobile app, Agendize Staff. The app enables business owners to manage all the details of their appointments, giving Agendize users the flexibility to work and respond to customer needs anywhere and any time. Agendize Staff is available for both Android and iOS users and also integrates with Apple Watch. To get started, business owners need only to create an account on the Agendize sign up page and download the new mobile app.

Agendize offers 24/7 dedicated support worldwide, and is available both as a white and private label, so customers don’t have to know that an external bookings system is being used. The Agendize suite features all the calls-to-action a business needs to connect with consumers online and revolves around its Online Scheduling software and an integrated CRM.

 

16) Getting App-ier

Mobile Action, a leading provider of solutions for App Store intelligence, just launched a new automated conversion rate tool giving developers insight into how many people who view their App Store pages go on to download their apps. The company says this capability not only saves significant time and effort, but also empowers developers to optimize their app store performance.

It’s hard to get users to find apps among the nearly 1.5 million apps in the App Store. App developers spend countless hours tracking app downloads and rankings in order to understand their performance. But according to Mobile Action’s research, most apps on the App Store are losing over 60 percent of potential downloads every day—meaning more than 60 out of 100 viewers who see an app page are not downloading it. Mobile Action created the conversion rate tool to bridge this gap, enabling developers to drive downloads from the users who are just within their reach.

“Understanding conversion rate is one of the most important metrics for developers to track, but until now, doing this was a painstaking process, and this meant developers essentially left money on the table,” says Aykut Karaalioglu from Mobile Action.

Mobile Action is upping the ante by offering a 30-minute response guarantee for its premium users. If the company fails to respond to a query within 30 minutes during business hours (9 am to 6 pm PT), customers get a month of premium service for free.

 

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