11 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1. How Technology Helps Your Small Business
We are all increasingly dependent on technology to run our small businesses. Check out the latest stats from SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors in the infographic below.
2. Now Available: Skype for Meetings
Skype just launched Skype Meetings, a free online meetings tool that provides small businesses with real-time audio and HD video conferencing. Skype Meetings includes collaboration features like the ability to share screens and content during meetings.
According to Andrew Sinclair, the general manager for Skype for Business says, “With Skype Meetings you can quickly set up meetings and share a personalized URL that participants click on to join the meeting. During the meeting, participants can IM, share their screens or PowerPoint presentation or use the laser pointer and whiteboard features to make it more engaging and productive. The meeting organizer also gets professional meeting controls such as the ability to mute the audience in order to be heard.”
Sinclair says if you have a U.S. business email address and don’t have Office 365 you can sign up for free Skype Meetings. Once you sign up, you can set up meetings for up to 10 people for the first 60 days and up to three people thereafter. All you need is a device with an internet browser, a microphone, speaker and camera, which are included on many devices.
For those of you who already have an Office 365 business subscription that includes Skype for Business, Sinclair says you already have richer online meetings capabilities, such as the ability to conduct large group meetings and the ability to IM anyone in your business at any time—not just during meetings. In addition, Skype for Business is integrated with other Office 365 apps to enable you to do things like schedule a Skype meeting from your Outlook calendar, see your colleagues’ presence, and initiate an IM or start an audio or video conversation within apps like Outlook, Word and PowerPoint.
3. Manage Your Small Business On-the-Go
A new SaaS (Software as a Service) offering, MyBusinessGenie recently launched to help small businesses show, sell and manage their companies. The company was born out of necessity when Venu Gooty, a part-time portrait and wedding photographer decided to make the full-time leap. He couldn’t find a mobile software solution that worked—so he created one and launched StudioGenie, a mobile studio management software for photographers. But then he realized other small businesses shared the same challenges his industry was facing and launched MyBusinessGenie.
- Offers end-to-end integrated business management wherever you are
- Gives you all your data at your fingertips
- Allows you to present your work on the spot and collaborate during meetings
- Acts as a visual showcase catalog and allows you to up-sell or cross-sell during meetings
Gooty says the software is perfect for many industries including, landscape designers, photographers, event & wedding planners, general contractors, caterers, florists, painters, plumbers, electricians, repairmen, artists and architects.
MyBusinessGenie Lite is free, while the Professional Edition costs $29.95 a month. Ask about the special yearly launch price.
4. Get Ready for Prime Day
Amazon is celebrating its second annual Prime Day Tuesday July 12. During Prime Day 2016, customers who are Amazon Prime Subscribers (it’s a great deal) will get access to more than 100,000 deals worldwide, just for them. It’s the biggest Amazon event ever.
You can start shopping at midnight Pacific Time, with new deals popping up as often as every five minutes throughout the day. If you don’t have Prime, you can sign up for a free trial today or tomorrow.
During the first Prime Day, Prime members purchased more than 14 million items from sellers and small businesses.
The Fulfillment by Amazon services help Sellers on Amazon around the world extend the Prime guarantee of free and fast delivery, while increasing the visibility of their products every day.
5. Small Business Owners: Thriving on Independence
According to a recent survey from Endurance International Group 70% of small business respondents believe owning a small business is the best job they’ve ever had—despite the significant financial and personal costs.
Owning a small business is all about freedom and independence for most of those surveyed: 68% became business owners because it gave them the independence to pursue their passions. For 43%, the best part of being an entrepreneur is freedom and flexibility it gives them, while another 22% say business ownership allows them to live their dreams.
But there are sacrifices as well.
- 37% are completely financially invested in their businesses
- 36% have no differentiation between their work and personal lives
- 35% don’t have much personal time
6. Conference for “Wonder Women”
If you’re in the southern California area you might want to check out the 2016 Wonder Women Tech conference July 16 and 17 at the Long Beach Convention Center. The conference “highlights, educates, and celebrates women in STEAM, innovation and entrepreneurialism.” There’ll be a variety of speakers, panel discussions, coding classes and communit-inclusion activities. The goal of the conference is “to create a shift in diversity and inclusion within STEAM industries by offering revolutionary content and impactful discussions.
7. Summer Reading List
Guest post by Matt Certo, author of FOUND: Connecting with Customers in the Digital Age and CEO of digital marketing firm Findsome & Winmore
Summer is here and professionals everywhere are leaving the office and hitting the beach. For business-minded individuals without a ton of time to spare this summer, here are 7 books you should check out:
- Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly: Written by a working marketer and brand storyteller, Meaningful is a quick read that sheds light on marketing in the modern (digital) world. Plus, it’s backed by Seth Godin, who seems like he may know a thing or two. (176 pages)
- Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life: A classic, svelte read that is valuable to anyone who fears change. A simply written book that can be truly powerful for those looking for a bit of guidance in tackling anxiety about the future, this is invaluable for any modern professional. (94 pages)
- FOUND: Connecting with Customers in the Digital Age: Blending social media, content and search engine marketing is no easy task, but finding the right audience for your message can be just as challenging. My strategy details how business owners can put the right people in front of the right messaging in order to get business booming. (130 pages)
- Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers: Taking a cue from the PR best practice of never ignoring your critics, this book addresses the best strategies for dealing with your audience –yes, even the “haters” in the crowd (torches and pitchforks be darned). (223 pages)
- Leadership: How to Lead & Influence People to Ultimate Success (Learn to Motivate, Elevate & Communicate Effectively): From CEOs to project leaders, anyone in charge of managing and motivating a team of professionals knows all too well that this responsibility always comes with complications and challenges, especially for those new to the position. This quick read can help point your leadership strategy in the right direction. (67 pages)
- Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life: The ability to stand and deliver speeches with impact and clarity is a skill that comes to some lucky souls naturally. For those of us that may less-easily embrace the podium, whether it’s for a big speech, client pitch or job interview, this book some great strategies from a practiced actor and successful corporate speaker. (274 pages)
- Laser-Sharp Focus: A No-Fluff Guide to Improved Concentration, Maximised Productivity and Fast-Track to Success: With attention spans limited and distractions growing, this book is a must-read for those of us (myself included) who feel overwhelmed by daily interruptions. Check out Laser-Sharp Focus to learn some strategies to combat the daydreaming, mind wandering and endless distractions that kill our productivity every day. (192 pages)
8. Does Customer Service Matter?
A new study from GetApp, a comparison site for sales software technology, shockingly found a mere 1% of shoppers rank customer service as the top factor when buying online or in-store. They were surprised at the findings (as am I), especially in this “Age of the Customer,” so they asked CRM companies, Salesforce, Zoho & HubSpot for their analysis. Here’s some of what they found (you can find the rest here):
- 95% of consumers have abandoned a purchase in store, while 85% have abandoned a purchase online
- 64% rank low price as the most important factor when purchasing goods in store or online, while only 1% say customer service as key
- 5% of salespeople think consumers are looking for personalized customer service
- 15% of sales people are using social media to contact potential customers
Sales software makes a difference:
- Nearly 90% of salespeople saw a revenue increase as a result of using sales software
- 78% saw increased customer satisfaction after adopting sales software
9. Best Practices for Going Global
Guest post by Ed Marsh, American Express exporting advisor
Expanding a business globally has always come with challenges, however digital marketing has helped break down some of the traditional barriers. Using digital marketing, businesses can now ramp up export growth while reducing risk, minimizing costs and optimizing their global business plans without leaving their offices.
One of the largest traditional barriers to exporting is figuring out how to establish a presence in a new market. Here are some tips for leveraging digital marketing for international growth:
Leverage digital tools to help customers find you. With inbound marketing it is easier than ever to reach buyers (both domestically and internationally) anywhere at any time.
Embrace the global nature of markets. Once the right buyers are interested, using the internet makes it easier to move forward at a low cost and low risk to further expand and invest in exporting opportunities.
Applying data for market selection. Businesses can leverage internal leads, prospects and sales data to help reduce guess work and create a more strategic global business approach.
Expand global programs incrementally. There are two ways to expand global programs: market expansion (going into different markets) and local expansion (expanding in preexisting markets). Expanding gradually allows companies to be more strategic about SEO optimization in local languages and keywords relevant to specific markets.
Integrating digital sales channels. Similar to an incremental approach to enter a specific market, businesses should also incrementally expand sales channels—from ecommerce to local sales channels—to find further global success.
You can learn more here.
10. Help for the Helpers
Nav, a free and independent source that accesses both personal and business credit scores, recently launched Nav Small Business Advisor Program, an initiative that gives advisors who work with small business owners free tools and training so they can more effectively advise clients on the ways to build strong business credit, and improve their chances of getting access to capital when they need it. The program is designed for professional advisors, such as CPAs, Enrolled Agents and accountants, as well as the thousands of advisors who help entrepreneurs through agencies such as Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), SCORE offices, Women’s Business Development Centers and Veteran Business Outreach Centers.
The Nav Small Business Advisor Program assists with client engagements by providing valuable counseling and education to small business owners who are potentially seeking loans or want a better understanding of their credit scores. Advisors can sign up at Nav.com/advisors. Once enrolled, they will be able to schedule free training that will enable them to advise clients on ways to build strong business and personal credit. They will also get free articles and calculators to use on their websites or in their newsletters, along with additional training on credit and financing topics as it becomes available.
We all know how important advisors and mentors can be in an entrepreneur’s success—and from Nav’s POV, they can help business owners understand the importance of building, monitoring and maintaining strong business and personal credit scores. In fact, Nav’s research has found that 82% of small business owners don’t know how to interpret their business credit scores. Yet, small business owners who understand their business credit scores are 41% more likely to be approved when they apply for a business loan, and 31% more likely to consider expanding their business.
11. Millennial Entrepreneurs Take More Risks
According to a new Wells Fargo study of millennial small business owners Millennial small business owners are committed to their businesses for the long term, and are more willing to take calculated financial risks and incur debt in order to grow their businesses. The study, conducted by research firm GfK, identified similarities and differences between Millennial entrepreneurs and those of earlier generations—and how they are potentially impacting the business landscape.
In a committed relationship with their business.
Most of the small business owners (of all generations) surveyed started their businesses to control their futures and be their own bosses, wanting greater flexibility in where, when and how they work. Most Millennials (59%) say passion was a motivator for starting their businesses, compared with 51% of older small business owners. Another reason for starting a business—wanting a challenge and growth—ranks higher among older small business owners (55% of older small business owners vs. 43% of Millennials).
The study found that 80% of Millennial small business owners say they hope to grow their businesses over many years, potentially even passing it down to their children someday, compared to 66% of older small business owners who say the same thing.
About 70% of all small business owners work full time at their businesses. One significant difference: 79% of older small business owners say they are happy to stay a small business as long as they can create a comfortable future for themselves and their families, while 59% of Millennials are happy to stay small. But 41% of Millennials want to grow their businesses as big as possible.
Taking on debt to invest in their future
While most small business owners are extremely wary of taking on debt, many Millennials believe business debt and financial risk are necessary for the future growth of their businesses. Additionally, Millennial men are more apt to believe that business debt is needed in order to grow (72% Millennial men vs. 54% Millennial women)—and are more willing to take financial risks to grow (77% men vs. 55 % women).
Outlook of millennial small business owners
Millennial small business owners are more optimistic than their older counterparts—75% expect their businesses to improve over the next YEAR, compared to half of older small business owners. The Millennials are also more apt to believe customers, profitability, sales, and website traffic will increase in the coming year.
Millennials apt to look for help outside their business than their older counterparts, citing friends and family, peers and competitors, social media and other online information sites as resources for their business’s financial success.
12. Accelerate Your Workflow
Enjion is a collaborative workflow engine designed to bring teams together to create apps that automate a business’s process through an easy to use drag-and-drop interface—with no coding required.
Using Enjion enables teams to quickly create mobile-ready workflow apps using customizable drag-and-drop components.
You can find a brief explainer video here.