12 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1) Company Culture
Company culture seems to be all the buzz right now, but what actually makes for a good company culture? Check out the infographic below from Incorporate Massage.
2) Is Entrepreneurship is a Good Career Choice?
According to the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 66% of adults see entrepreneurship as a good career choice, and more than half of the working-age population feel they have the ability to start a business.
More insights from GEM:
- The majority of entrepreneurs worldwide are fueled by opportunity rather than necessity. They make up 78% of those in innovation-driven economies, and 69% in factor and efficiency-driven economies.
- 70% of adults hold entrepreneurs to a ‘high status’ in their respective societies.
- 21% of adults across 60 economies intend to start a business in the next three years.
- Across all economies, the highest entrepreneurship participation rates are found among those ages 25-44.
3) Top 25 Customer Service Products
It was recently reported that 52% of businesses are adopting customer service software for the first time. With that majority in mind, GetApp, a site where businesses can compare customer service software, recently published a new ranking report of the Top 25 Customer Service products on the market today.
4) Lessons from Holiday Shopping 2015
Online holiday shopping is changing. Splender, a cash back shopping site, analyzed over 4 million online transactions and learned that while Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to be the top two shopping days, sales on those days are decreasing, as consumers buy throughout the holiday season.
Check out the infographic below for the details.
5) Keeping Your Email Lists Engaged
Business owners spend a lot of time and money crafting emails that are meant to engage the average subscriber. Over time engagement levels (open rates, click rates, etc.) tend to trend down for the average subscriber. Without successful re-engagement you can risk losing that subscriber all together. For the average email list, 60% of subscribers are inactive. So how can successful businesses keep their subscriber list active and engaged?
The prolific Matt Zajechowski from Digital Third Coast worked with Reachmail to develop a guide that covers dormant subscriber list re-engagement to help answer those questions. Because investing in acquisition of new customers is 6-7 times more costly than re-activating past customers, there is a huge value for business owners in investing in re-activation campaigns.
The guide covers how ISP’s determine your deliverability, why open rates decline and what to do about it, as well as how to re-engage your list with case studies that back up our suggestions. You should definitely check it out.
6) Are Millennials a New Breed of Entrepreneurs?
According to new research from The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM: Business Owners Millennials are changing the expectations of running a business. The Index (which is part of a series of quarterly studies commissioned by The Principal Knowledge Center examining the financial well-being of American workers and business owners, as well as advisor opinions and practice management) shows Millennial entrepreneurs have an overall healthier outlook on their business prospects when compared to other generations, a higher regard for work/life balance and will go to greater lengths to make employees happy.
- Millennial business owners have a healthy outlook. 83% of Millennial business owners have added staff in the past year, compared to 66% of Generation X and 49% of baby boomers. Over half of Millennial owners say their businesses are growing, compared to just 35% of Gen X. Millennials are also significantly more likely to add unique benefits and work perks in the coming year.
- Millennial bosses value work/life balance. Luckily for many business owners, the average number of hours worked per week is 44.7, down from 45.7 in 2014. Millennials work significantly fewer hours per week on average (38.8%) compared to Gen X-ers (47.8%) and baby boomer (47.1%) business owners.
- Technology is shortening the workday.Though many of us feel having a smartphone means we can never truly “shut down” even after leaving the office, technology is actually improving work/life balance. Over half of business owners say they use technology that allows them to work from anywhere, half make sure they take their vacation time, four in ten schedule time for exercise and only 7% don’t maintain a work/life balance. Baby boomer business owners are significantly more likely than Gen X or Millennials to say they don’t maintain a work/life balance.
- Millennials were overwhelmingly the most likely to use a financial professional. 90% rely on a financial professional for their personal and/or business situation, compared to only 71% of boomers utilizing these services.
7) Password Protection
It boggles my mind that with so much of our lives exposed online, you’d think that people would be more interested in protecting their privacy at all costs. But the annual list of the worst passwords for 2015 just came out and the “123456” and “password” once again tops the list.
Bill Carey, VP of Marketing for RoboForm share some helpful tips and tricks to ensure your passwords don’t make the worst list in 2016!
Passwords are the first line of defense for most business networks, but too many managers and employees continue to use easily hackable passwords containing names, birthdays, titles and other information hackers can find online in seconds. Instead, require employees to use passwords that contain both upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. That makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access.
Try the ‘First Letter’ method when creating new passwords. Take the first letter of your favorite expression, lyric, song or movie, etc., and put them together in a creative way. For example, the evolution of a password based on Frank Sinatra’s My Way may be: For what is a man? What has he got? Turns into: Fwiam?Whhg? It has capital letters, lowercase letters, symbols and is 11 characters long. Pretty strong.
Change passwords every 30-60 days and use a different password for each site. Keeping the same password long-term is dangerous, and using a single password for multiple sites is just asking for trouble: In that scenario, all a hacker would have to do to gain access to sensitive data stored on numerous sites would be to crack a single password. Change passwords at least every 60 days and use a unique one for each secure site.
8) Global Spending
PayPal’s recent report with IPSOS highlights global ecommerce trends and insights into consumers looking to spend beyond their own borders. The research looked at data from 29 countries and 23,000 consumers, and helps entrepreneurs looking to increase sales and understand the dynamics of global ecommerce.
Key insights from PayPal’s IPSOS report:
- China’s global shopping growth: 35% of Chinese online shoppers now buy cross-border (vs. 26% in 2014)
- Mobile engagement in developing markets: highest mobile spend in Nigeria, China and UAE; Nigeria: 37.8% of their online spend is made via smartphone (3x global average)
- China is the top export market for US merchants, with an estimated 78 million online cross-border shoppers buying from U.S. websites, followed by Canada (14.86 million) and India (13.21 million)
- The U.S. remains the most popular destination for cross-border shoppers, followed by China and the UK
- Shipping cost is the top reason for purchase abandonment from a website in another country, cited by 43% of online shoppers
9) The Entrepreneurial Hustle & Creating Social Capital
Guest post by Chris Hale, CEO and founder, kountable, Inc.
Entrepreneurs hustle. It’s part of the deal—table stakes. When they’re trying to get something moving, they make connections, convince others to join their quest, ask for help, learn from experts, attempt to gain the support of influencers and will communicate with just about anyone to advance their agendas. The end result of all this effort is the development of something called social capital. It sounds a bit like a buzzword and it might just be one someday, but the phrase borrows very deliberately from finance to accurately describe the stored value in all of these myriad relationships. The skill of a great entrepreneur is to create and cultivate this form of capital and then activate it with precision, at just the right moment, to transform that piece of their social capital into intellectual capital, financial capital, or human capital to advance their cause.
If you’re on this site and reading this, you very well could be an entrepreneur, and even if you’re not, it’s likely you’ve seen one in action. You’re probably aware, then, that all of this thrashing around in unexplored territory leaves a trail of broken branches, matted grass, and frayed leaves that makes it easy to track one of these animals. This is especially so in the context of our digital world. Even if we are fortunate enough to have the time to converse one-on-one, face-to-face, most of our interactions with each other have some element of digitization. If two people meet and plan to take over the world at the local Starbucks, the scheduling process leading up to that human interaction was likely done on email and therefore leaves a digital trail. In addition, there’s likely a “thanks for coffee, good chat!” text, Slack message, IM or email to follow shortly afterward.
Why Social Capital Matters More
For some entrepreneurs, the “exchange rates” between social, intellectual, financial, and human forms of capital are efficient, relatively inexpensive and fluid. The Bay Area has one of the most efficient markets in the world for this capital exchange. It is that efficiency that makes it so unique. People move from all over the country and the world because of this efficiency. The further away one moves from this center of gravity though, the less efficient this exchange of capital becomes. In many cities, both here in the US and abroad, the imbalance between each of these different forms of capital becomes profound. The exchange becomes cumbersome, expensive, and intimidating. Outside of our bubble, one can build an energized, active, robust, diverse and influential set of relationships and still be excluded from other “capital markets.”
In a 3-year examination of the challenges faced by skilled entrepreneurs with highly developed social capital operating in geographies with underdeveloped ‘financial capital’ markets, the dislocation between the two proved to be profound and stifling. The technological developments of the last decade have made the development of social capital essentially free, aside from the time and courage one needs to put into building it. The cloud transcends geographical isolation, referrals from one connection to the next are a feature of most social media software platforms, and an algorithm often recommends the next relevant connection. Building social capital has never been easier.
The Future of Entrepreneurial Readiness Evaluation
Financial capital, on the other hand, seems to have gone in the other direction: The financial crisis, risk aversion, and regulatory responses have added tremendous amounts of friction. The deepening geopolitical tensions and the resulting regulatory backlash has offset the speed at which money has been digitized.
This observation leads to the question, “could social capital be measured and scored in a consistent enough way that we could use that score to attract financial capital?” The team at kountable believes it can. For the last two years we’ve been measuring and scoring the social capital of entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda. Since September 2014, that score — the kScore™— has been used to attract investment capital from investors here in the U.S. to help these entrepreneurs grow.
The kScore™ looks for behavior markers associated with entrepreneurial behavior; it measures the way that an entrepreneur interacts with their contacts and it helps to identify the level of community trust that is represented in the entrepreneur’s digital footprint.
At the end of the day, social capital is about human relationships, and most people around the world get up every morning and build new relationships and deepen existing ones in order to provide value to other people. Big data lets us measure pretty much anything we want at this point. By using it to measure the most important skills of a great entrepreneur, we can help more people prosper and add immeasurable value to their communities, their countries, and beyond.
10) Small Business Scorecard: January 2016
Only 1 in 10 small business owners are operating with debt or reducing staff, according to the January 2016 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard.
This despite optimism about the economy dropping significantly from a year ago, with only 68% of small business owners feeling optimistic, compared to 78% a year ago.
Check out more info in the infographic below.
11) 5 Experts Small Businesses Can’t Live Without: The Small Business C-Suite
Guest post by Justin Crawford, founder & CEO of Agents of Efficiency, Inc., author of Live Free or DIY: The Time-starved Small Business Owner’s Survival Guide, and the chief architect of the Efficiency RoadmapTM process.
Do you still remember the precise moment the idea came to you to start your own business? Do you remember the passion, the energy, and the excitement?
Then, the idea became a reality. Suddenly, you found yourself swimming in a complex world that was never a part of that vision but now seems to have become your new life. There’s all the legal complexity involved with incorporating your business and figuring out contracts. Then, taxes – oh, the taxes! You never wanted to become the world’s foremost expert in QuickBooks, but suddenly you feel like that should be front-and-center on your resume. And the insane mess of web design and marketing—that’s not why you started this business, or how you want to spend all your time! It was a mess of stuff that you never considered yourself good at and didn’t want to be doing in the first place.
But you rolled up your sleeves and did it because you were willing to do whatever it takes to bring your vision into reality. And that’s what it takes to make a fledgling small business succeed, right? You didn’t have enough money to pay for the luxury of hiring others to do this stuff for you. So, “DIY’ing” your back-end operational tasks were your only realistic option, whether you wanted to or not, and whether you were good at this stuff or not. Right?
Why you can’t afford to grow your own groceries
In essence, you were trying to grow your own groceries. Enticed by the logic that water is free and seeds only cost pennies, you set out on a career of farming to grow all the metaphorical food you saw that your business would need to eat to live. You never had farmed before, and that wasn’t really what you wanted to be doing with your time—but a business has to eat, right?
And yet, when you come home, this logic seems to fall apart. You don’t come home to a house you built yourself, then get busy milking your cows and tending to your crops. You buy your groceries from a grocery store just like the rest of us. Why? Because you’re not a farmer. And while you surely could learn that skill and grow your own garden, you’ve somehow done the math in your head to prove that it’s not worth it. In other words, you intuitively knew that the true cost of growing your own food is higher than the prices you pay at the grocery store.
And your intuition is right.
What your home-applicable logic has intuitively discovered that many small-business owners fail to apply to their business is the most critical component to your cost-benefit equation – the value of your time.
You see, every minute you spend trying to “grow your own groceries” is a minute not only spent away from your family, but also a minute you can’t spend working a job that may pay you more than the cost to buy those same groceries from a local store. And every minute you have your head buried in the books trying to figure out payroll taxes for yourself is a minute you can’t be doing something that adds a lot more value to your business than the cost of a $10-$15 per hour bookkeeper who lives and breathes that stuff for a living.
That’s the difference between cheap and efficient. And that’s why trying to DIY every aspect of your business is one of the costliest mistakes you can make. Instead, the path to profitability for most small businesses requires five essential experts that almost always return value well in excess of their cost.
The Fractional C-Suite
More small businesses are employing a creative new strategy of hiring a “Fractional C-Suite.” As they realize the value of these high-level positions, they outsource them to experts who can fulfill key tasks in half the time of a full-time executive.
- Fractional COO: You started your business because you’re an expert at what your company does—not because you have an MBA from Harvard. But what if you had both? What if you had all the power of your specialized expertise and vision, blended with the power of a seasoned operations expert with decades of experience starting and growing companies across various industries? That’s precisely the vision of the operations experts at Agents of Efficiency. Agents of Efficiency’s COOs work with small-business owners to help identify the best business strategy to rapidly increase their profits and regain their time.
- Fractional CLO: Think you can’t afford a high-priced attorney to make sure your corporate formation and tax strategy is on point and your contracts are solid? Think again. In addition to DIY resources like Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer, companies like Priori Legal are changing the small business law game and filling out this critical role of the Fractional C-Suite with shocking efficiency.
- Fractional CFO: Everyone has a tax accountant. And a vast majority of small businesses use QuickBooks, but for nothing more than a receipt repository. What if you used it instead as an analytical tool to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by which you measure success in your company? Better yet, what if you used a trained expert to do it for you, rather than continue to fight with your own bookkeeping and financial metrics? Companies like InDinero are changing what it means for small businesses to “have an accountant.”
- Fractional CHRO: Your time is too valuable to be wasting it fighting with payroll and trying to navigate complex HR regulations. But, by joining with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like Justworks, another company becomes the “Employer of Record” for your employees in the eyes of the IRS. Not only do you never have to worry about any of these employment-related headaches ever again, but you’ll now have access to things like group healthcare benefits and a 401(k) that would have been cost-prohibitive to pursue without this type of system. And the low cost for all this might shock you.
- Fractional CMO: If you have a physical storefront, getting your name out there may not seem like rocket science. But if you’re lost in the weeds of trying to navigate social media marketing and digital marketing strategy—inbound vs. outbound marketing, brand strategy, SEO, PPC, business collateral, etc.—there are great resources to help without breaking the bank. Companies like The Marketers Table can get you started with a powerful brand and marketing strategy. Then you can use resources like Upwork to find people to cost-effectively execute on that strategy over the long term.
Your Fractional C-Suite should serve as a profit center for your business. But, changing technology and trends have removed the barriers for building out your C-Suite in ways that simply weren’t possible before. If they aren’t returning benefits in excess of their costs, remove them from your team.
By creating this team, this will be the year that you stop growing your own groceries, and start enjoying your business more than you ever have.
12) More Mobile Marketing Options
Mood Media recently expanded its capabilities for Shazam In-Store, debuting services specifically designed for small and local businesses. With this full-service offering, small and local businesses can quickly and easily activate mobile campaigns to deliver customized messages and offers directly to a consumer’s personal device.
Shazam In-Store, powered by Mood, a turnkey mobile marketing solution for businesses of all sizes, utilizes Mood’s patented Presence™ audio beacon technology. When a customer activates the Shazam app to identify a song or other audio, targeted content can be delivered directly to the customer’s mobile device. Small businesses can also access Mood’s content and design expertise and select from a range of customizable mobile content for promotions, coupons, loyalty programs and special offers.
You can use theses services to engage with customers in several ways:
- Connect with customers using the Deals platform to send coupons and offers
- Direct customers to loyalty program sign-up pages, collect email addresses and gauge customer opinions through surveys
- Grow social media presence by linking customers to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media pages