16 Things Small Business Owners Really Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky


1—The Power of Logos

How important are logos? More important than you may think. According to C + R Research, “Microsoft grew its annual revenue by $73 billion on the back of a single logo between 1987 and 2012.” Check out the infographic below for more information on the impact a logo makes.


2—Automating Employee Reviews

No one likes reviewing their employees—or being reviewed. And for those who have to manage the process, it’s often a nightmare. According to Formstack, 85% of SMBs operate out of file cabinets, spreadsheets, and outdated paper-heavy workflows. It says, “To effectively route company employee reviews in a timely manner, HR professionals need an automated solution.” Take a look at the infographic below which highlights businesses can take to streamline employee review processes.


3—Three Positive Ways to Effectively Address Employee Mistakes

Speaking of dealing with employees, Don Rheem, a preeminent authority on leadership science, author of Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience that Drives High-Performance Cultures, and CEO of CEO of E3 Solutions, says, “Even in the best-run organizations, things go wrong and employees mishandle their assigned tasks.”

He adds, while sometime those mistakes are costly, infuriating managers, managerial venting just makes matter worse in the long run. “The traditional role of managers is to hold people accountable to timelines, budgets, productivity and other factors,” he says. “But often that’s done with a fear-based approach where employees perform their duties under threat of some kind of punishment.”

But says Rheem, “That’s counterproductive because humans don’t perform to their optimum level when the brain becomes preoccupied with fear and uncertainty.” In fact, he points out, it’s just the opposite. People work better under positive circumstances, and research shows employees, the team and the business all are more likely to thrive when leaders are positive.

Of course, that doesn’t mean managers should ignore problems. Employees need to be held accountable when things go wrong. The key, Rheem believes, is to show managers how to hold people accountable without being negative. He offers the following three-step approach when an employee botches an assignment:

  1. Show appreciation.Start the conversation with appreciation for something positive about the employee that relates to performance, behavior or attitude. This appreciation needs to be unqualified. You can’t insert a ‘but’ or a ‘however’ because that quickly negates what you’re trying to do. The appreciation step is essential, because otherwise the employee will see the entire process as unfair or unbalanced. You can’t focus strictly on failures. Employees wonder why their manager only connects with them regarding their mistakes.
  2. Be real. Turn the discussion to what isn’t going well to hold the employee accountable for their actions. The goal is to let the person know in no uncertain terms that the project was not successful, but to do this without shaming, blaming or demoralizing them. Start this part of the conversation with a statement such as: “We didn’t get where we wanted to with this project.” That acknowledges a shared responsibility, without the punitive sting.
  3. Ask thoughtful questions.Inquire about ways their performance could have delivered a better outcome. Questions such as: “If we did this project again, what could we do differently to change the outcome?” “How could I have supported you and your team better?” Let them know you don’t want answers right way. Say you’ll connect with them the following day to hear their thoughts. That can change the trajectory of what the employee will do after the meeting. Instead of going home and updating their resume and complaining to their spouse about the unfair treatment, they are more likely to spend their time focused on what they could have done differently since they have to answer that question the next day.

This process leads to personal and professional growth for the employee,” Rheem says, “and can turn a point of failure into an opportunity for future success.”


4—Real Time Search Stats

Ever wonder how many mobile searches Google gets in a minute? It’s a stunning number. Check out the infographic below to see that—and other real-time mobile usage numbers.

5—How Businesses Use Social Media

Clutch and Smart Insights surveyed social media marketers from around the world to determine the value of social media, the most engaging content to share, common challenges, and social media resources businesses invest in.

They found:

  • The most valuable social media platforms for businesses are Facebook (89%), LinkedIn (83%), YouTube (81%), and Twitter (80%).
  • Written articles (27%), videos (26%), and images (24%) are the three most engaging types of content on social media
  • Nearly 80% of companies share mostly original content on social media.
  • The most important metrics for tracking the success of social media are engagement (36%) and conversion rates (35%).
  • More B2C companies (58%) consider investing time and money in social media valuable than B2B companies (46%).
  • The major challenges companies face with social media are not having enough human and financial resources (26%), lacking a formal strategy (24%), and building a community of followers and influencers (24%).


6—Best Consumer Credit Cards

In addition to being business owners, we’re all consumers. And we’re always searching for the “perfect” credit card to meet our needs. Yet, a national survey from Experian found we’re overwhelmed by so many credit card offers and find it difficult to navigate selecting the right card.

The survey found 53% of consumers are not satisfied with their credit cards. So, what do they want?

  • 54% of survey respondents want no annual fee, while 45% want a rewards program.
  • Among the top rewards, almost 90% prefer cash back and 74% prefer gas rewards.
  • 33% say credit cards can better meet their needs by having lower interest rates.
  • 69% wish they knew in advance if they would be approved before applying.

To help consumers get personalized credit card recommendations, Experian® has launched a solution that uses consumers’ own financial data that Experian houses to match them with more tailored credit card options. Consumers can go here to see a selection of cards based on their preferences and credit data.


7—The State of Social Video

According to Cisco, video will make up 80% of consumer online traffic by 2020, and Facebooks’ Mark Zuckerberg says he sees video “as a megatrend on the same order as mobile.”

Given that, Animoto decided to shed some light on the video-first landscape and created a white paper filled with interesting information small business can act upon.

Here are some of the findings about how consumers are interacting with social video:

  • Small businesses are creating a lot of video: 77% of small businesses are creating two or more social media videos a month.
  • More than a quarter of consumers want to see more video from local businesses.
  • 81% of small businesses say they optimize for mobile, yet they still have more to learn about what makes a video mobile-friendly.
  • 62% of small biz marketers use text titles over video or images most or all of the time.
  • 36% of small biz marketers create videos in square and/or vertical formats.
  • Small businesses have an opportunity to stand out on newer channels: 85% of small businesses created a Facebook video in the last year; only 45% posted to Instagram and 33% to Snapchat.


8—10 Tips for Better Public Speaking

Public speaking is one of the most common phobias and something many business professionals dread. Overcoming the fear, however, is just the beginning. Then you have to learn how to deliver an entertaining and informative presentation that keeps your audience’s attention. How can you do it?

Here with the answers is Topher Morrison, the author of The Book on Public Speaking, a professor of practice at the University of Tampa and a professional speaker and speech coach for 30 years.

  1. Pull in your listeners with intriguing stories. When you craft your presentations, it is critical to include elements that grab and hold your viewers’ attention. Only include jokes if you are gifted with natural humor. To make jokes in presentations work it needs to be timed well and paired with the correct audience. Unless it is a sure thing, stick to an intriguing story rather than a joke. Don’t start with a preamble, but rather, jump into the story. Preambles tend to ramble and lose the audience’s precious attention.
  2. Set the stage from the start. Create your introduction ahead of time to send to the organizers of the event. That way there are no awkward transitions before your presentation. Chances are you will need to bring a hard copy when you arrive for the talk. Include your top credentials and instructions for the audience to applaud when you walk on stage. This will create a buffer that harnesses the audience and allows you to take over. No one wants to climb the stage to crickets and then do a cold open.
  3. Have a center piece to create centered peace. A carefully selected floral arrangement has the power to warm an entire room. Never underestimate the power of a presentation space. The physiological trigger of seeing flowers is positive and uplifting for the audience. The environment of your discussion sets the mood for the audience. Make it calm and pleasing to the eye, so they can best indulge in your content.
  4. Entertain to educate. The lowest paid speakers inform while the highest paid entertain. The audience learns the most from a presenter that entertains them. Information is received best when it resonates with the listener. Make your speeches relevant to entertain and teach the audience something new.
  5. It’s all about the body language. It’s not necessarily what you say or how you say it that determines how an audience receives your message. It comes down to what your body is saying when you are speaking. Understanding power positions allows you to get your message across in an effective and intriguing way. Your audience needs to trust you to believe what you are saying. Their trust is built on the energy you exude through your presentation and nonverbal methods of communication.
  6. Check your energy level. Your personal brand goes beyond your website and business cards. Your energy level is a direct reflection of your brand. Be enthusiastic without being spastic and be confident without being cocky. Gauge your personal space during interactions appropriately. When we were small children, this concept was often referred to as a personal ‘bubble.’ Have different personal space settings for a variation of interactions. As a speaker, you must learn how to control your energy, and project as far as your back row. By doing this, your audience is more engaged and stronger connections are fostered.
  7. Sell from the stage. There are more important components to your business than making a sale. Creating value, connecting with your audience, creating unforgettable experiences, and consciously operating your business are paramount. These foundations build your reputation for future sales. Not selling immediately seems devastating, but you can’t take it personally. Everyone has their reasons, and the most important part of your sale is connection. If they don’t buy now, but you make a genuine connection, their chances of buying later are greater.
  8. Be spontaneous but succinct. Mastering spontaneity comes from mastering your presentation. Know your material like the back of your hand to successfully make it look natural. The best comedians appear to ‘wing’ their acts, when they actually present their content hundreds of times and perfect the delivery.
  9. Avoid asking insultingly obvious questionsWe’ve all seen speakers ask the audience to raise their hands for blatantly obvious questions. It wreaks of desperation and usually annoys about half the audience anyway. If you already know what you’re going to say regardless of how many people raise their hands, then the question is unnecessary. Stick with asking questions that you actually care what the answers are.
  10. Be original. Try not to walk like, talk like, and look like, the professional speakers you admire. Because if you admire them, chances are so does the rest of the world. If you just try imitating them it will make the audience realize how much they miss the original. You never want to have someone in your audience say “You remind me of so and so.” What you want is them to say, “You’re like no one I’ve ever heard before.”


9—4 Things Your Worst Salespeople Can Teach You

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

If you are a sales leader who leaves work frustrated because of the ineptitude of your sales team you are not alone.  The most recent State of Sales study released by Salesforce reveals high-performing sales teams represent a mere 20% of all sales organizations.

For leaders with aggressive growth and revenue mandates, meeting targets only half of the time isn’t good enough. It’s why the average tenure has dropped to just 18 months.

As an executive, determining which changes must be made to improve the performance of your sales force is a task that can take months. It requires deep dives into lead, pipeline, and customer segment data.

As Peak Sales Recruiting, we have received feedback from world-class clients and the answers often comes from the unlikeliest of sources: your worst salespeople.

Here are the 4 things your worst salespeople can teach you:

1) Your Recruiting Process is Broken: It is time to examine three things: how this underperformer got hired in the first place; how many new hires are likely to be terminated because they possess the same skills, experiences, and psychological profile of that underperformer; and what investments need to be made to build a world-class sales hiring process.

Why invest in sales processes, training, technology, enablement, or products and services development if you’re going to hire the wrong people to take the product to market. In 2017, it is simply too costly not to invest in a best-in-class recruiting process.

Maren Donovan, CEO of Zirtual, a company that hires virtual assistants correctly stated, “We see companies don’t want to spend money to do this kind of screening but that’s counterproductive. If you’re constantly hiring the “wrong” people who leave in just a few months, or who aren’t the right fit, you’ll end up spending more in the long run than if you’d just done it “right” to begin with.” Eliminating average and below average sellers from your candidate pool requires a structured, rigorous and scientific recruiting process.

The most effective sales hiring processes:

  • Define the specific skills, experience, and DNA candidates are required to possess in order qualify for an interview.
  • Put candidates through multiple behavioral-based interviews and selling environment role plays involving the same set of hiring stakeholders,on the exact same day.
  • Leverage third-party psychometric testing to uncover a candidate’s drivers and motivators
  • Thoroughly check candidate references, including managers, bosses, and direct reports.

2) That You Are Tolerating Underperformance: Being an empathetic leader is critical; being too nice is detrimental.  Tolerating mediocrity hurts revenues, profits, sales force morale, and raises questions about your leadership.

We agree with the editors at Selling Power who laid out simple steps sales managers can use to address poor performers:

  • Set a clear standard and performance milestones for the salesperson.
  • Inform the salesperson where they aren’t meeting the standard, and set milestones.
  • Give the salesperson the opportunity to meet the standard, and set milestones.
  • Offer assistance to meet the standard, and set milestones.
  • Advise the salesperson of the consequences of not meeting the standard, and set milestones.

If the rep fails to make progress despite hands-on support from managers, it is important to take swift action and terminate them. This will benefit your bottom line, cement your standing as a strong leader and in the long run, it will be the best thing for the employee who needs to find their true calling.

3) That Your Leadership Style and Playbook Needs to Change: If you have a group of people who are faltering, you must look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to improve matters. And that includes changing the way you operate.

Four-time NBA Championship coach Pat Riley was the ultimate example of this. He was known for his ability to adapt his leadership style to fit his team. He won with the ‘Showtime’ Los Angeles Lakers using an unprecedented high-powered offense and later with the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, he became a defensive specialist.

Another great example took place a few years ago when CEO Marc Benioff made a bold change to their annual executive offsite retreat to improve employee collaboration. Benioff invited all 5,000 employees to virtually attend the meeting, which was previously restricted to the top 200 executives. The event served as a catalyst for the creation of a more open and empowered culture which has helped the company become the number-one CRM platform in the world.

4) That You May Need a Better Compensation Plan: If you are hiring bad reps, it may be time to re-evaluate your sales compensation plan.  After surveying 600 salespeople in more than 100 cities, the 2017 Peak Sales Compensation Study found that an astounding 70% of employers do not have an appropriate compensation plan in place to retain A-level talent and that only 6% of employees were extremely satisfied with their compensation plan. By nature, salespeople are money motivated and if your compensation package is not enticing enough, you will not attract A-Players nor will you be able to keep the sales team properly motivated.

To conclude, when you leave work feeling frustrated about an underperforming sales rep or team, take the time to examine how you can improve your practices personally and across the organization.


10—Benchmarking Your Business

Sageworks’ financial writer Mary Ellen Biery notes the importance of benchmarking your business against those of your peers. It’s especially important to know if you’re profitable, says Sageworks’ chairman, Brian Hamilton. He notes, “It’s not always true that when you get more sales you get more profit, so knowing the profit margin is important.”

Many business owners turn to need accountants and other business advisors to help them  calculate their company’s profit margin—and to help them grow, and make sure they’re generating enough cash flow to stay in business. They can also help you benchmark your business so you can identify where you are outperforming others in your industry and where you need to improve.

Sageworks recently conducted a financial statement analysis of privately held companies in six industries that are common small businesses in communities across the nation including, dentist offices, physician offices, landscaping companies, bars, restaurants and gas stations with convenience stores. Sageworks examined net profit margin to determine how profitable, on average, companies in these industries are.

Obviously, industries differ dramatically from one to the other, so comparing a business’s net profit margin to companies in the same industry is more meaningful than comparing it to margins of businesses in other industries. Across all industries, net profit margin was about 7%, but industries examined ranged from about 2% to more than 14%.

Based on financial statements filed in the 12 months ended July 31, dentist offices on average generated net profit margins of 14.3%. Physician offices posted a 10% net profit margin, and landscaping firms had net profit averaging 7.7% of sales. Restaurants and bars posted similar net profit margins, 4.1% and 4.6%, respectively. Finally, gasoline stations with convenience stores have the thinnest margins among the industries studied, with average net profit margin of 2.3%.


11—You Can Win “Maximum Funding”

To celebrate Penfolds’ first chief winemaker, Max Schubert, who pioneered the Australian wine industry, Penfolds is offering promising entrepreneurs the chance to compete for $33,000 in capital investment to support the future success of their innovative ideas. Representing $1,000 for each of Schubert’s 33 years at his post, the prize money will be granted to one organization deemed by the public and an esteemed panel of judges to have the most innovative idea. Sponsored by the new Penfolds Max’s wine collection, the contest winner will be announced December. 14.

You can enter the “Maximum Funding” competition here. You have until 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 22 to enter. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and based in the U.S. Their business must be less than four years old and have no more than $4 million in funding at the time of application. Additionally, the enterprise must have a live, viable product or service and must be able to describe how it is innovative, disruptive and exciting.

All applications will be reviewed by a team of Penfolds Max’s representatives and an esteemed panel of judges from an array of respected technology and business firms. Entries will be judged on the strength of their team, strategy and commercial viability. The top 10 applicants will be announced October 30, when the public will have an opportunity to influence which idea makes it to the final round of consideration. Live voting will be held October 30-November 19. Three finalists will be announced December 4 and receive awards of $5,000 each. The judging panel will announce the winner and award an additional $33,000 on December 14.


Cool Tools


12—Translation Tool

In this increasingly global economy many of us need to have an easy way to translate other languages. If that’s you, check out Xerox’s Easy Translator Service. The app provides instant machine translations from your multifunction printer, phone or PC. Output is available in over 40 languages and 20 file formats.


13—Next Generation ABM Platform

Demandbase, a leader in Account-Based Marketing (ABM), recently launched its next generation ABM Platform, a comprehensive, end-to-end solution for B2B marketers. This new technology makes it simpler to set up and manage account-based campaigns across the entire funnel by combining Targeting, Engagement and Conversion solutions into one fully integrated platform. Enhancements include an Artificial Intelligence (AI) layer to enable a 100 percent improvement in account identification rates, the ability to create B2B audiences based on buyer intent signals from thousands of websites, real-time personalization of web site experiences based on interests and account identity, and the ability to improve close rates by providing sales teams with account and individual-based insights.

The new platform also offers users a straightforward self-service interface that makes it easy to select target accounts, manage audiences across campaigns, integrate account information from a CRM system, and measure the performance of ABM programs based on pipeline and revenue.

The Demandbase ABM Platform makes it easy to build target accounts from CRM data, by uploading a preexisting account list, or by leveraging buyer intent signals generated by the only AI-powered ABM platform that learns from 50 billion B2B interactions every month. Marketers can further segment and manage these audiences by a number of firmographic variables such as industry, size, location and others.

The ABM Platform also integrates with more than 50 of the most popular third-party analytics tools for program measurement, analysis and optimization. This integration maximizes the effectiveness of existing marketing tech stacks without data loss and gives sales and marketing teams access to high-level dashboards to quickly measure how well their company is doing attracting, engaging and converting target accounts from first touch to close. As a result, the ABM Platform creates a better understanding of how well a particular audience is performing at each stage of the funnel and how well programs for that audience are performing.


14—Staying Safe

Avast, a global leader in digital security products, recently debuted its Avast Business Solutions portfolio to secure, simplify and optimize security for SMBs. The new, consolidated portfolio (due to its acquisition of AVG last year) delivers the company’s strongest SMB security protection to date and ensures business continuity by reducing downtime and productivity loss from ransomware and other security threats. Advanced antivirus, and data and identity protection features are now available across three tiers of endpoint security solutions as well as the company’s flagship managed services for channel partners.

Today’s threat landscape makes it more critical than ever for SMBs to put proactive and specialized security protection in place. Unfortunately, some SMBs struggle to implement these much-needed security solutions and policies. Recent Avast research indicates that nine out of 10 SMBs believe that IT security will become increasingly important for their business over the next five years, yet one in three respondents have no security projects planned in the near future to continue improving their security infrastructure.

Avast Business portfolio                                                                                                                               The Avast Business solutions portfolio includes three tiers of endpoint protection solutions for Windows and Mac operating systems with an optional management console available in the cloud or on-premise, and the company’s managed services, Managed Workplace and CloudCare.

You can find information about the new Avast Business portfolio and the Avast Business global channel partner program at the Avast Business web site.


15—All-In-One Tool for Professional Service

Keeping customers happy is sometimes easier said than done, especially when you have so much else to do. Thankfully technology can help. SherpaDesk is an all-in-one cloud software for professional services “that gives you more time for relationships, both business and personal.” Features include solutions for help desk ticketing, time tracking, invoicing, resource allocation and project management.


16—Get Cash Back

Check out Dosh and its mobile app that enables you to get cash back on dining out, shopping and travel. You can download it on Android and Apple. After downloading the app and entering your credit card information, the app finds you cash back whenever you shop.

When you book hotel travel through the app, you get the lowest possible rates and cashback one every purchase.