small business

14 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky


1—Microsoft Empowers Small Business

I recently returned from Microsoft’s Inspire Conference, where I got a glimpse of some new programs Microsoft will soon unveil. Most exciting for small business owners if Microsoft 365 Business, which is loaded with the programs you and your team need to propel your business.

Microsoft 365 Business offers the great programs you’re already familiar with (Word, Excel, etc., and new programs Microsoft will be launching soon (I’ll write more about them in coming weeks). The idea of Microsoft 365 Business is to “bring together teams and resources—all in one place.” It will, “empower you team, safeguard your business, and simplify IT management.”

You can see a demo here and sign up for the public preview (coming August 2nd) here.

Also, I’m betting there’s a lot of power in the Microsoft programs you’re currently using, you don’t know about. The folks at STL in London have compiled a great infographic highlighting 14 programs in Windows 10 “you’re not using but should.” Check it out below.


2—Apply for a Business Loan—On Your Phone

Imagine lying on the beach and applying for a small business loan. No, I haven’t been in the sun too long—if you’re a Bank of America customer, you can now truly bank on the go. Thanks to a suite of newly released updates, Bank of America small business clients can now apply for a Business Advantage Term Loan or Business Advantage Credit Line from any Bank of America digital platform—including the Bank of America mobile banking app, and at

Sharon Miller, head of Small Business Banking at Bank of America says, “Our high-tech, high-touch approach provides our three million small business clients the capability to bank how, where and when they want—including applying for financing anywhere, at any time.”

More than 1.3 million small business clients are active users of the Bank of America mobile banking app, an increase of 14% over the past year. “Technology is continuing to shift small business financing toward a more streamlined digital experience,” says Michelle Moore, head of Digital Banking. Small business client get access to:

  • A loan product tool that helps small business clients find the right loan for their needs
  • A monthly loan payment calculator
  • Real-time access to small business specialists via online chat or phone
  • Convenient in-person appointment scheduling to meet with a small business banker


3—The State of Social Video

According to Animoto, “today, ‘video-first’ has become a reality for consumers and marketers alike.” It surveyed consumers and marketers, and found:

  • 64% of consumerssay watching a marketing video on Facebook has influenced a purchase decision in the last month
  • 92% of marketersmake videos with assets they already have
  • 81% of marketersare optimizing their social videos for mobile viewership, including 39% who are creating square and/or vertical videos.

The survey also showed marketers feel the most confident about reaching customers with video on Facebook and YouTube. And while consumers are still viewing videos on these platforms, they are starting to expand the platforms where they watch branded video content. Their top three channels are Facebook, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat.

There’s lots more in the infographic below.


4—Workplace Stress is On the Rise

According to a recently released Udemy report, Workplace Confidential: The Real Story Behind Stress, Skills, and Success in America, 52% of full-time employees feel more stressed today than they did one year ago. Additionally, 58% turn to company-sponsored skills training to combat this epidemic.

“Workplace stress has reached unprecedented levels in America, with a unique confluence of internal and external triggers—from a volatile political climate to the rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace. At the same time, the skills required to do our jobs change about every three months, and pressure to adapt is relentless. This study shows that workers are responding to stress with a new self-driven approach centered around learning and growth,” says Darren Shimkus, vice president and general manager for Udemy for Business, a curated learning platform that helps enterprises continuously upskill their workforce and foster a culture of learning.

The study shows 60% of workers are stressed all or most of the time at work due to:

  • #1 stress trigger outside work—the current political climate
  • #1 stress trigger inside work—fear of losing jobs to artificial intelligence or new technology
  • Other top-ranking stressors include, the pressure to master new skills quickly to keep up with changing job responsibilities, and feeling under-skilled for the job.

Generationally, millennials and Gen Z are the most stressed at work, with 64% feeling stressed all or most of the time at work.

Employees proactively learn new skills

One way to deal with the stress of feeling like they lack the proper skills to do their jobs is to acquire new skills. The study shows 42% of workers have invested their own money in professional development. Their primary form of stress relief is company-provided training and professional development programs, followed by meditation and/or physical activity. Other insights:

  • 57% rank opportunities to learn and grow as one of the most important aspects of workplace culture
  • 54% of millennials and Gen Z workers say one-on-one coaching is their preferred form of learning
  • 48% think investing more in professional development is one of the most impactful things their companies can do to alleviate their stress
  • 47% would like their companies to provide on-demand learning opportunities.


So, with so much stress, is it possible to find happiness in the workplace? Andrew Luttrell, Ph.D., a Professor of Social Psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio and Udemy instructor says it is. Here are three of his tips you might want to share with your staff:

  1. Get to know other people at your job, even if it won’t turn into long-term friendships or relationships. Social connections are important contributors to happiness. The more we connect with people in our lives, the happier we are. Interestingly, though, we often assume we’ll be happier if we isolate ourselves. In one recent study (Epley & Schroeder, 2014), when researchers interviewed train commuters, they found these commuters tended to think talking to a stranger would make the ride less pleasant than keeping to themselves. But it turns out, having small conversations really does make people happier! Those same experimenters told some commuters to make a connection with a stranger on the train, and they told others to sit in solitude on the train. Contrary to what people expected, the people on the train had significantly more positive experiences when they were asked to form a connection with a stranger on their commute that morning. Think about how you can apply this concept to your work life—even small conversations you have during the day with coworkers can increase your happiness at work. Push yourself to put yourself out there, and you might see some unexpected positive results.
  2. Be thankful. A set of researchers (Emmons & McCullough, 2003) had people do one of three exercises over the course of 10 weeks. One of them was to say five things they were thankful for that happened the previous week. The second exercise was to come up with five things they found challenging the previous week. The final possibility was to simply write about things that happened in the past week. The results showed the people who did the gratitude exercise were 25% happier than those who’d done the other exercises. That simple task of writing down five things they were thankful for was enough to create large increases in happiness over time. I recommend practicing gratitude at the end of each week, by writing in a journal, or just reflecting throughout your week. If possible, break your gratitude down into something you’re grateful for in your professional life, and something you’re grateful for in your personal life. Pushing yourself to be mindful of what’s going right for you at work can help quiet negative thoughts or anxieties.
  3. Be kind. New research in psychology has started to look at the idea that helping other people can actually help us be happier. One study looked at 19 classrooms in a school (Layous et al., 2012). Some of the classes were told to do something nice for another person at least three times a week. The other classes were told they should be on the lookout for opportunities to go somewhere they’ve never been at least three times a week. Throughout the following weeks, the students who helped others began to feel happier over the course of the program. It also developed a better sense of community within the classrooms. So, try to help your coworkers, even in small ways. You might find that over time, you have a greater sense of fulfillment yourself.


5—Top Cities for Mobile Startups

More and more, business is happening on mobile, making it even more important for small businesses to have a mobile-ready site, and to be able to conduct business from their mobile phone. According to GoDaddy, here are the top 10 cities where mobile-savvy entrepreneurs are getting businesses up and running from their phones:

  1. St. Louis
  2. Detroit
  3. Dallas
  4. Pompano Beach, FL
  5. Washington, DC
  6. Santa Ana, CA
  7. Atlanta
  8. Boston
  9. Miami
  10. New Orleans


6—High-End Freelance Marketplace

Fiverr, the marketplace for creative and digital services, recently introduced Fiverr Pro, a high-end initiative. The new offering blends the efficiency and simplicity of Fiverr’s one-click order, e-commerce marketplace with hand-picked, professional talent to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Fiverr also announced the acquisition of, a high-end video and animation marketplace, featuring professional freelancers working with clients such as Facebook, Google and Slack.

Features of Fiverr Pro:

  • Curated, high-end talent: Fiverr Pro Gigs are hand-vetted and carefully curated so buyers can easily find the right talent.
  • Stellar customer experience: All Fiverr Pro clients and freelancers have dedicated, 24/7 support, with personal success managers assigned to freelancers
  • Guaranteed trust: With Fiverr Pro’s selection of professional sellers, buyers can feel confident putting any project, big or small, in the hands of freelancers.


7—4 Ways to Get Passive Candidates to Come to You

 Guest post by Keith Johnstone, Head of Marketing at Peak Sales Recruiting. You can follow him on Twitter @KJ_Peak.

In LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2017 report, nearly 85% of talent leaders say finding top talent is their number-one priority. However, with less than 5% unemployment, shrinking talent pools, and 95% of executives admitting to making bad hires every year, getting strategic hires right is only getting harder.

With arguably the fiercest competition over talent in more than a decade, it is more important than ever for human resource leaders to pursue candidates who are not actively “looking” but open to “listening.” These passive job seekers make up approximately 75% of the workforce, but convincing them to ‘jump ship’ can be a challenge.

Too often, even the savviest Fortune 500 companies lack a coherent strategy to pursue passive candidates. Instead, they sift through incoming resumes from candidates who are unemployed or always looking to move. While is it unfair to generalize, these are less likely to be the best performers.

At Peak Sales Recruiting, we have worked extensively with world-class companies on this issue and have developed 4 ways to get passive job seekers to jump ship:

1) Become a ‘Best Place to Work’ and Promote It Proudly. Glassdoor reported that 84% of employees would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation. Money is not the be all, end all it once was.  Candidates of today seek career opportunities, compensation & benefits, culture & values, senior management and work-life balance. In the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study, nearly 80% of executives rated employee experience as very important or important.

Moreover, Glassdoor Community Expert Scott Dobroski recently said, “We see employees talking favorably about working for companies with mission-driven company cultures, working for [people] who embrace and practice transparency, and doing interesting work that has a greater impact, career growth opportunities, and competitive pay.”

2) Make Your Application Process Seamless and Optimized. Unemployed candidates have one job and that is to apply for jobs. Passive job seekers on the other hand have a never-ending to do list. If they happen to stumble across your job ad, it is critical you make the application process as seamless as possible or they are likely to abort the mission. Follow the lead of emerging SaaS organizations that offer one-click apply options, or Facebook and Netflix who allow you to simply upload your resume and cover letter with a couple of clicks. A laborious online application process will severely hinder your ability to score a passive job seeker.

In addition to speed, your application process must be optimized for any device. A survey from Glassdoor revealed 9 out of 10 job seekers are job hunting on mobile. A Global Web Index (GWI) study found on average people own 3.64 connected devices each. Passive job seekers, who may only have a few minutes to browse career opportunities, must be able to apply on the go on any device.

3) Use a Third-Party Recruiter to Avoid a Poaching War. Using a third-party recruiter is the best way to approach passive candidates without starting a poaching war. While some leaders believe that lateral recruitment is controversial, many believe poaching from a competitor is ethically sound and a smart business move. Just as companies compete for clients, they need to be prepared to compete for top employees too.

4) Use Social Media to Network. The evolution of social media has made scouting out potential candidates invariably easier. The number-one reason HR professionals use social media is to recruit passive candidates per a study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Consider using multiple channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube. In addition to sending cold messages—which is absolutely fine, as long as they are targeted and individually customized—join groups relevant to your industry, and share content that will contribute and elevate the discourse. This will make A-Players more likely to hear your pitch and may even drive them come to you.

In 2017, having a best-in-class recruiting program is no longer optional, it is critical to the success of your business. In the current climate, having a robust strategy to target passive candidates is more important than ever.




8—Awarding Main Street Small Businesses

Forbes, in partnership with Canon U.S.A. Inc., powered by MAXIFY printers, is calling for entries for the first Forbes Main Street Awards, where five winners will be selected and featured on and in Forbes magazine at the end of the year. The Forbes Main Street Awards are designed to champion the positive impact of small businesses that are leading the way by taking big steps for both their businesses and their communities.

Forbes Small Business Editor Loren Feldman, says, “Forbes is excited to partner with Canon U.S.A., Inc. to uncover the compelling and inspiring stories of these companies—all of which are true small business owners—in its first annual editorially-driven awards program.”

The Main Street Awards are open to for-profit U.S.-based eligible small business owners. All entries, which will be accepted through August 17, 2017 at 11:59:59 pm ET, and must be submitted online. Five winners will be selected, one for each category, by the Forbes editorial team and one through audience choice. Official Rules, submission guidelines for the competition and detailed descriptions of the four categories can be found here.

The four categories are:

  1. Best Brick-and-Mortar Adoption of E-Commerce: Awarding a small business that has embraced the web. Entries should highlight how the small business has expanded its traditional Main Street business online. Entrants should share information about their web strategy, digital platforms and marketing efforts.
  2. Best Community Engagement:Awarding a small business that is making a difference in their community, beyond writing a check or sponsoring philanthropic activities. Entries should highlight how the small business engaged with its community and contributed both in time and money. It should also share the impact on the company and its employees.
  3. Best Paid Marketing: Awarding a small business that has done something smart, different and effective in marketing. Entries should highlight the platforms used, content, engagement metrics and overall results.
  4. Best Social Media: Awarding a small business that has done something smart, different and effective in social media. Entries should highlight platforms used, content, social media strategy, engagement and overall results.

Entrants must complete a brief questionnaire about their businesses and the category or categories to which they are applying. Entrants are also encouraged, but not required, to upload a 1-minute-or-less video “elevator pitch” for consideration with their questionnaire.  Video submissions are not required.

The winners will be announced the week of September 25th and will be featured on and in the December 12, 2017 issue of Forbes magazine. Each winner will also receive an engraved award and a Canon MAXIFY MB5420 Wireless Small Office All-in-One printer.


9—Vote Now

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced the finalists for its annual Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award, presented by MetLife, which celebrates the achievements of small businesses and honors their contributions to America’s economic growth.

Award winners will be announced at the Dream Big Awards Celebration on Tuesday, September 12 in Washington, D.C. as part of the 2017 Small Business Summit.

Finalists are entered in to an online ballot for our Community Excellence Award. The Community Excellence Award recognizes a small business that has demonstrated an exemplary level of leadership and community engagement to positively impact the quality of life in its community. Online voting, running now through July 31, will allow the people who know a company best—its customers, employees, and neighbors—to cast a vote for their favorite business.


Quick Takes


10—How to Power Through Your Day Without Coffee

Funding Circle surveyed over 1,000 entrepreneurs about their relationship with coffee—and learned more than 45% of small business owners drink two or more cups of coffee a day. If that sounds like you, and you’re trying to cut back, Funding Circle came up with three other ways to power through your day.


11—New Marketing Resource from LinkedIn

LinkedIn is now offering Sophisticated Marketer’s Sessions, which are masterclasses for marketers on how to build audiences and boost engagement and ROI on LinkedIn. The first eBook on Targeting Capabilities is a detailed guide. Also check out the blog post on Selecting Your Target Audience on LinkedIn, which offers actionable tips.


12—IoT Payments Conference

IoT Payments 2017, a new Secure Technology Alliance event, will be held October 10-11, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Texas. IoT Payments 2017 is the only conference bringing together financial executives, device and application providers and retail industry experts for a deep dive into the evolving intersection of payments and the Internet of Things (IoT). Attendees will hear first-hand from select speakers on the best strategies for developing solutions that meet the “big three” criteria for IoT payments success: security, mobility and usability.

“There’s a lot to be considered for IoT payments to take off,” says Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Secure Technology Alliance. “IoT Payments 2017 is a great opportunity for thought leaders and experts from both the IoT and payments communities to share their insights and collaborate with peers on the most important developments, innovations and efforts driving secure, seamless IoT payments.”


13—Is Your Privacy at Risk?

A new survey from Clutch shows that although 57% of websites collect visitors’ email addresses, 63% of website managers admit they don’t currently use common security tools.

Michelle Delgado, the author of the survey, says, “This risk to privacy is startling. Experts warn that a name and an email address are enough for hackers to begin reconnaissance in preparation for an attack.”
But, she adds, with the effectiveness of email marketing, businesses need a secure path forward.

Check out her extensive report here.


Cool Tools


14—Savvy Travelers’ Getaway Kit

These are different kinds of tools—Savvy Travelers is a curated collection of designer beauty wipes for busy travelers. The no-rinse formulas—all TSA-friendly—are perfect to take with you anywhere you go. The Savvy Travelers’ Getaway Kit (only $10) offers 12 individually-wrapped beauty wipes, that are convenient, biodegradable, compostable, and cruelty-free.

Wipes include:

  • SPEAK EAZY, a sugar-free, spearmint flavored teeth, lip and mouth cleanser
  • BOTTOMZ UP, a “Booty Bidet Wipe
  • NO SWEAT, an antiperspirant and deodorant wipe
  • TAKE OFFZ, a facial cleanser, toner & moisturizing wipe
  • KLEAN UPZ, an antibacterial hand & body wipe
  • KLEAN OFFZ, a surface cleaner
  • LIFT OFFZ, an instant nail polish remover wipe
  • IN THE KLEAR, a lens, screen & camera lens cleaner

Savvy Traveler’s Getaway Kits will be available at Ulta stores in August.