12 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—Financial Fixes That Can Turn on The Cash Flow Spigot
Guest post by Scott Notarainni, Managing Director, FTI
How can your company free up cash for investing in its future and improve operational efficiency? By better managing working capital. Here’s how to do it
Whether or not your company has a monthly cash target, when working capital dries up, panic sets in. Often there’s a mad scramble to find any available source of cash, which in turn can lead to inconsistent accounting, overextension, and damaged long-term relationships with vendors. The good news is, there are proven ways to improve working capital management quickly that will also lead to sustainable results. In the infographic below, we present “spigots” companies can open to get the cash flowing. Check out our blog at FTI Journal.
2—Should You Encrypt Your Company Emails?
DataMotion believes it’s very important for a small business to protect sensitive information, customer and partner relationships—and the company’s reputation and bottom line. For businesses conducting transactions and dealing with sensitive information, the data security threat is constant. Breaches occur daily and ransomware attacks dominate headlines. As has always been the case, employees remain the biggest threat to a business and unfortunately, many users unknowingly help cybercriminals. Recent research has found nine out of 10 senior managers admitted to using personal email or cloud storage accounts for sensitive data to work outside the corporate network. In a recent survey, 75% of workers admit their organization’s security and compliance policies are occasionally or routinely violated.
The fact is, when email travels openly and unprotected across the internet, it can be read by cybercriminals. And if it contains sensitive information, it should be assumed that it will be read. While no one would send a postcard with their social security number on it, they do send sensitive business data in unencrypted emails that accomplishes the very same. The short of it is, if you ask any IT administrator, one of the foremost actions users often don’t take to protect sensitive company data is to encrypt email.
Check out the infographic below to truly understand the potential threats.
3—Move Over, Millennials: Generation Z is Entering the Workforce
Guest post by Aldor H. Delp, Division Vice President & General Manager of ADP Resource
With school back in full swing, the next generation is one step closer to entering the workforce. Although some of the oldest members of Generation Z have already started working as interns or are recent college graduates, most small businesses are still focusing on how to attract and retain Millennial talent. We know that Millennials are looking for increased mobile connectivity and access to growth and development, but what does Generation Z want in an employer?
As companies are looking to this next wave of talent, it’s important to consider how Generation Z, born in the mid-1990s, will think about work. This generation is looking for a workplace that helps them make an impact on the world, allows them to be entrepreneurial, enables personal interaction and allows them to start working quickly. Generation Z grew up with smart phones and limitless connectivity, but they also came of age in the midst of the financial crisis and high student-loan debt. With this in mind, they likely will think of work differently than their older co-workers, even Millennials.
So what can small businesses do to prepare for these employees now? Here are four specific ways to engage Gen Z employees—whether as interns or full-time hires:
- Give them some autonomy.Because Gen Z interns and employees have a strong desire to be entrepreneurs, they likely may seek employment at smaller organizations where they can have more opportunity to think critically and show-off their creativity. As interns or entry-level employees, they’d love the opportunity to manage a project on their own that will help solve a key issue or challenge in your business.
- Provide opportunities to do meaningful work.Help balance the “day-to-day” work with work they are passionate about, be it a specific part of the business that interests them or a company volunteer effort. If your business doesn’t have a volunteer program, offer a broader perspective about how your company is making a difference in your industry or how an employee can make a difference in your company.
- Teach them.Remember that they are there to learn and will value your guidance, expertise and knowledge. Ensure that the work they are doing helps them learn more about your business and the industry you are in—as well as the value they are adding. Encourage these employees to set up in-person meetings with other people in your business to learn more about the company while also increasing the amount of personal interaction they have in their day-to-day work.
- Help them see the path forward.By explaining growth opportunities and showing where their paths can lead, interns and new employees will have a clearer idea of how to reach their long-term goals. This also will highlight for them the skills they are learning, which will keep them motivated as they continue in your company.
Small businesses that focus on providing opportunities to learn, grow and do meaningful work have the ability to shape a culture that appeals to Gen Z talent as they graduate and enter the workforce. Unlike Millennials, who are constantly looking for the next opportunity, Generation Z is looking for a place to begin a meaningful career. Appealing to this talent pool will help you attract talent that is willing to learn and make a difference in your company.
4—Can You Go Global—From Your Couch?
Actually you can as technology has made it easier than ever for people to start a small business—even a global one. There are a number of tools entrepreneurs can use to bring together the talent and resources they need without having to set foot outside of their home offices. Check out these tips from Fiverr and 8×8.
Finding freelancers on Fiverr: Your small marketing budget can afford talented marketers on Fiverr—whether it’s in the U.S. or an Asian market you want to tap into. Find skilled workers for a fraction of the cost with this professional skills marketplace site.
Connecting global employees with 8×8: Once you have your hired employees scattered across the globe working on your product, you’ll need a cloud-based enterprise communications platform like 8×8 to make video, phone, and chat conferences seamless. The company offers contact center technologies as well.
Navigate the confusing world of taxes with Taxfyle: After launching your small business, the nuances of your next tax filing can be more complex than you realize. Taxfyle lists CPAs on-call to help you out.
Track your work/life balance with stratustime: When your office is also your home, holding yourself (and your remote employees) accountable with a flexible work schedule is key. stratustime is small business budget-friendly and integrates with 60+ payroll services to make time tracking simple.
Stay compliant with LegalZoom: Make sure you’re navigating the law—domestic or international—with your own affordable legal counsel. Or simply tap a lawyer from the site for basic legal documents like employment contracts.
5—Is It Okay to Hire an Employee with a Criminal Record?
Most employers typically avoid hiring people with past criminal records. But, according to Snagajob, a leading technology platform in hourly work employment, that sentiment is about to change. In a recent research initiative, Snagajob found many hourly employers are now more open to hiring people with criminal records than they were in the past.
According to Snagajob’s upcoming Holiday Hiring Analysis Report:
- 88% of employers frequently conduct background checks on job applicants. This is down 2% from 2014.
- 58% of employers are likely to hire applicants with a criminal history. This is up 26% from 2014.
This shows that today’s hourly employers are willing to make fair considerations in order to tap into another employment talent pool that many have purposely avoided in the past (check out “Ban The Box” initiative). By tapping into this talent pool, employers are helping these employees establish a more sustainable quality of life.
Snagajob’s study also found that more than 70% of America’s workforce are considered hourly workers and out of this number an astounding 69% currently live below the poverty line.
6—Bundle Your Benefits
MetLife recently launched MetLife Simply Smartsm Bundles, giving brokers and small business owners access to employee benefits that enhance their ability to compete in local markets. Designed specifically for businesses with 10-99 employees, the Bundles include a combination of dental and vision insurance. They will also provide the opportunity to add on an employee-paid group legal services plan to give employees access to a nationwide network of qualified lawyers on a prepaid basis—the first time MetLife is making this benefit available to small businesses.
Through extensive data mining of dental and vision plans quoted and sold across the country, MetLife created pre-built, tiered plan options to match the coverage and pricing needs of small employers in each geographical area.
“To help [small businesses] stabilize their budgets, we lock in pricing for 24 months across products—a two-year rate guarantee,” says James Reid, executive vice president, regional & small markets at MetLife.
Based on its knowledge of the current and emerging benefits needs of small businesses, MetLife has expanded its offerings—starting with MetLaw, a prepaid legal services plan. It’s the same plan MetLife has previously offered to larger employers, except there are no minimum participation requirements and will be available for groups with effective dates of 12/1/16 or later.
MetLife Simply Smart Bundles include dental and vision coverage , which is among employees’ most-desired and “must have” benefits after health insurance, as reported in the 14th Annual MetLife U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study.
Brokers can see what Bundle options are available in their markets in one step at MetLife.com/SimplySmartBundles.
Like most group benefits programs, benefit programs offered by MetLife contain certain exclusions, exceptions, waiting periods, reductions, limitations and terms for keeping them in force. Ask your MetLife group representative for costs and complete details.
7—Startup Event in Los Angeles on Thursday
If you’re in the Los Angeles area on October 13, you can drop by the Loews Santa Monica Hotel for Vator Splash LA 2016 startup and investor festival. It’s from 8 am to 5:35 pm and costs $425 to get in. Tickets are available here.
The company expects 400 startup founders, CEOs, investors and media for the event. Some program highlights include appearances by:
- The iconic entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks and is a regular on Shark Tank. Cuban will judge the startup competition, share his political views and talk about applying his investing and startup lessons to the business of sports.
- Mike Jones, the founder of Science, which has invested in some of LA’s top startups, sucha as the Dollar Shave Club. Jones will share lessons about the startups journey toward being purchased by Unilever for $1B.
- VC founding partners from Javelin Venture Partners, Susa Ventures, Vator Investment Club, Greycroft Partners, TYLT Ventures, Mucker Capital, Wavemaker Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Efficient Capacity.
8—Is Your Data Accurate?
You may think it is, but only 40% of executives believe their data quality is highly accurate. In fact, for most B2B marketers having data that is a complete, up-to-date and actionable is one of the biggest challenges they face. Radius, which offers B2B marketing solutions, saw the opportunity to improve B2B data quality by taking a widely popular B2C approach and bringing it to B2B: customer network effects.
Radius just released a research report that looks at the impact of customer networks, which revealed that:
- Even a 5% improvement in data accuracy can increase ROI of marketing campaigns by 8% or more
- Accuracy of business and contact attributes improves to 95% with each new customer signal added, exceeding industry benchmarks and getting closer to 100%
- Data comprehensiveness increases from 64% to 80% on average
- Data is validated and available 20x faster
Some quick stats from the Radius Customer Network Effects Report:
- 80% of teams blame data quality for ineffective demand gen processes
- Only 27% of executives are “highly satisfied” with their company’s efforts to harness insights from their data programs
- On average only 70-75% of CRM data is accurate
And about data decay—based on average data decay rates, after only three months a database with 10,000 businesses will have the following data outdated:
- 210 phone numbers will be disconnected (businesses moved or closed)
- 418 phone numbers will change (phone numbers are updated or reassigned between businesses)
- 592 business addresses will become invalid (businesses move or go out of business)
- 757 contacts won’t connect (contacts move to other jobs or are no longer reachable)
- 252 emails will become invalid (emails become invalid after contacts move or businesses cease operations)
There’s more in the report here.
9—A Fix for Wet Smartphones
Staples just announced its expanded its mobile phone repair services by adding the TekDry® water damage recovery service to 600 stores by mid-November. The top two issues for mobile phone repair is water damage and cracked screens and Staples will be the largest national retail partner offering TekDry services and providing customers a risk-free option to repair water damaged mobile phones.
TekDry will fix a water-damaged mobile phone in about 30 minutes for $69.99 or the service is free. While mobile phone users have tried many ways to repair a water damaged phone, including placing it in rice, they are often unsuccessful. Instead, shut off the phone, refrain from plugging it in, and take the phone to a Staples store offering TekDry services. The in-store TekDry water removal machine will remove 100% of the water.
Other benefits of TekDry include: data preservation, stays within common manufacturer specifications, doesn’t require device disassembly, and is more affordable than replacement costs. In addition to mobile phones, the TekDry machine can repair other devices suffering from water damage.
To find a Staples store with TekDry services closest to you, go here.
10—Faster EMV Processing
EMV processing just turned one and while the payment procedure does combat fraud, the time it takes to complete an EMV transaction can be daunting for businesses. The Clover Mini processes EMV transactions in under three seconds, from the time the chip is inserted to the moment the customer sees the message to remove their cards. More accurately, Clover Mini clocks in at 2.93 seconds (which can vary based on internet speeds).
Check out this fun video to see the Clover Mini in action.
11—Learn Social Media Skills
Hootsuite, the most widely used platform for managing social media, just launched the Hootsuite Academy, an “online offering designed to boost social media skills and credentials.” Hootsuite Academy provides hundreds of free social media videos, resources, and industry certifications to help professionals drive value from social media—quickly.
Why is this so important? “The stereotype that an intern can handle a brand’s social presence has shifted. Companies are now more aware than ever that social media is a complex beast that changes almost daily,” says Jennifer Reynolds, digital strategist at leading global communications marketing firm, Edelman.
Due to the ever-changing developments in a growing digital industry, it’s still a challenge for employers to find skilled talent to fill these critical roles. Hootsuite Academy can help bridge this digital skills gap. It has already educated 200,000+ professionals about leveraging social media to grow businesses, connecting with customers, engaging and recruiting employees, and boosting productivity.
With Hootsuite Academy, Hootsuite now offers its up-to-date, online video courseware entirely for free.
There’s additional information here.
12—Building Video for Social Media
Animoto just launched a Marketing Video Builder, which enables marketers to make videos that stand out on social media without any previous video editing experience. Having helped customers create more than 100 million videos over 10 years, Animoto designed this new product to anticipate the current and future needs of DIY marketers who must adapt to a world that is now video-first.
Video creation best practices are embedded in the product through starter storyboards and a simple drag-and-drop interface, so now businesses of all sizes can create thumb-stopping videos using content they already have. The Marketing Video Builder makes sophisticated video editing techniques easily accessible via an intuitive experience with instant visual feedback that’s more akin to simple website building than traditional video editing. New features include custom branding, voice-over, advanced text control over video clips, photo collages, timing controls, and a diverse library of commercially licensed music.
According to the 2016 Social Video Forecast, 77% of professional marketers and small business owners who have tried video marketing say it has a direct impact on their businesses, and 60% plan to increase their investment in video in the next year. Meanwhile, social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat have optimized for video in response to the growing consumer appetite for more dynamic, short-form video content.
Crate & Barrel: “We wanted to create a video to promote our new Spring product line and engage our customers through our online marketing channels,” said Suzy Cirulis, Vice President Marketing at Crate & Barrel. “Animoto allowed us to do this in a quick and cost-effective way; we were able to create a video same-day, using assets we already had. The video received similar levels of impressions, clicks, and engagements as other brand awareness campaigns that we’ve run that took us weeks to create or that we had to outsource.”
Mighty Leaf Tea: “Tea drinking is such a personal experience, and Animoto has given us a whole new way to connect with our customers through videos that bring our story to life,” said Tom Smallhorn, CMO of Mighty Leaf Tea. “Animoto’s ease of use has opened the door for us to create videos more frequently. We now have a way to engage with our customers on social that elicits emotional response and keeps them coming back.”
Nu-Era Bakery: “We consider ourselves Main Street America small business owners, and we’re proud of that,” said Libby Albright, co-owner of West Virginia-based Nu-Era Bakery. “However, that also means that we don’t have the marketing budget to compete with corporate bakeries that sell in chain stores. With Animoto, for the first time, we’ve been able to bring our business to life through social media. Telling our story visually on social media has led to unexpected customer demand across the U.S. and we are going to expand our business to start shipping as a result.”
More case studies are available at http://animoto.com/success-stories.
Animoto’s Marketing Video Builder is available now in the Professional and Business plans, starting at $22 per month. For more information visit http://animoto.com/business. Animoto is hosting a launch event on Facebook Live to introduce the new product and to provide a demonstration today, October 6, at 2pm ET, at http://facebook.com/Animoto