18 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—What’s a Millennipreneur?
Millennials (individuals born between 1982 and 2000) lag previous generations in starting businesses, with only 4% reporting self-employment at age 30, compared to 5.3% of Gen-Xers and 6.8% of Baby Boomers.
These lower numbers could be attributed to finances:
- 42% of millennials say they lack the financial means to start a business.
- 81% of college-educated millennials have at least one source of debt.
- 30% have more than one source of debt.
Millennials want to start businesses for a variety of reasons:
- 40% want to be their own bosses.
- 21% want to feel passion for their job.
- 21% desire flexibility in time/location.
- 6% seek challenge and growth.
- 5% were laid off from a prior job.
There’s a lot more about millennipreneurs in the infographic below.
2—Keeping Millennial Employees Happy
Can your company’s core values and the perks you offer be a deciding factor for Millennials when choosing a job? Apparently, they can, according to a survey from Bevi, a smart water cooler company.
The survey says one in 11 Millennials would turn down a job offer if the perspective employer wasn’t environmentally friendly.
Additional findings include:
- 1 in 8 Millennials prefer health & wellness perks over additional paid vacation days
- 1 in 4 would work longer hours if their company provided free food and drink
- 1 in 4 don’t believe they drink enough water while at the office
- Nearly one in five feel guilty about drinking from cans or plastic bottles at work without reusing them
Check out the infographic below.
3—Millennials Want Personalized Service
Speaking of Millennials, according to timetrade, they want personalized service. Learn more in the infographic below
4—6 Steps to Protecting Your Small Business Data
Guest post by David Zimmerman, CEO, LC Technology
Even the smallest of businesses rely on data. Whether it’s detailed schematics on a product, a formulation for a new medicine, or a list of customers, data is invaluable. Protecting this information is vital for the success of any small business, but unfortunately data security is often an afterthought.
Here are six best practices companies can take to safeguard data:
- Create and follow a plan. Small business owners and their staff often “wear many hats.” There’s a lot of jobs to be done, and everyone needs to pitch in. This approach helps staff learn the business and it drives growth, but it’s too informal for data management. Managers and business owners should work together to create formal written plans that detail what information is available, how it’s held, and how it should be stored. Responsibility for every part of the “data journey” should be clear, so employees understand their roles in keeping data safe and using it properly. A detailed plan is also useful for on-boarding new hires, as it provides staff with best practices and reinforces the importance of data management.
- Centralize the data. After determining the various data sources that are available and should be retained, such as sales information, email responses, and web traffic, then it’s time to gather and store the data. Businesses need a centralized location for the data to reduce the chances of mismanagement. It’s also essential for uncovering insights, as the data should be combined so that analytics tools can find correlations and context that might have previously remain hidden.
- Backup—and then backup again. Cloud storage costs continue to plummet as their underlying security improves. Small businesses should not hesitate to use the cloud to hold information, with the public cloud available for non-sensitive data and private clouds for perhaps customer data. Create multiple layers of backups with physical hard drives and cloud services mixed together. Physical storage is useful when internet service is not functioning and provides insurance in case a cloud data center experiences a failure or breach.
- Maintain compliance. Target, Yahoo, PlayStation, and Dropbox are just some of the companies that took a major branding hit after data breaches. While these incidents are damaging, they are buffered by the sheer size of the affected companies. A small business does not have billions in capital to help it survive a downturn in business and reputation, so it needs to closely follow the right protocols when it comes to data protection. Small businesses should go beyond the applicable data compliance regulations that govern “personally identifiable information” and other types of data. For example, firms in the healthcare sector must conform to stringent HIPPA guidelines that control how data “moves” between various entities.
- Manage access and control. Ideally, your small business will grow quickly and need to expand its staff and product offerings. Expansion means bringing on new employees, and shifting responsibilities for current staff. As employees come on board and prior employees transition to other companies, ensure data access remains secure. Set various levels of access rights to restrict certain staff members from the most sensitive data, but without limiting their ability to do their jobs. Establish monitoring procedures to spot any unauthorized activity, and quickly revoke access to workers that leave the company.
- Handle devices with care. Devices such as SD cards and portable hard drives are useful for storing information, but they’re easily exploited and damaged. Establish policies for your staff on the usage of various portable devices. For example, discourage employees from downloading your entire customer prospect list onto a laptop computer. Loss or theft of the laptop means possible exposure of all that data. Instead, store the information securely in the cloud and access it when needed. Talk to employees about your BYOD policies and explain the security risks involved and ways you can work together to minimize risks.
Small business managers and owners should treat data as a valuable monetary asset that deserves protection and proper management. Firms that follow best practices for data security will benefit from improved analytics opportunities and can greatly lower the risk of a brand-killing data breaches.
5—Are Your Employees Happy?
A recent survey from TINYpulse, the 2017 Employee Engagement Report, says not so much. It reveal only 24% of employees feel connected to their peers—which is 11% lower than last year. TINYpulse says this gap is causing “cross-functional frictions.”
In addition, intangible factors, some of which you can’t control, such as interpersonal relationships, culture, and work environment are key to employee happiness. Benefits, work-life balance, and flexible schedules, surprisingly, don’t have a strong impact on employee happiness.
A mere one in four employees feel valued at work—a 16% drop from last year—because managers are falling behind in their recognition efforts.
The whole Employee Engagement Report is worth a read.
6—Employees are Stressed
Most people seem to be stressed these days—52% of workers say they’re stressed at work everyday, and 60% report work-related pressure has increased in the last five years, according to a survey by staffing firm Accountemps. Employees polled cited heavy workloads and looming deadlines (33%), attaining work-life balance (22%), and unrealistic expectations of managers (22%) as top worries.
Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps, says, “A stressed employee can have detrimental effects on a company, including decreased morale and productivity, and increased burnout and turnover. [Business owners] should look for signs their staffs are overworked—like missed deadlines or excessive overtime — and talk to employees to pinpoint triggers and implement stress-relieving solutions.”
Other survey highlights:
- Younger workers are feeling the pressure: 64% of professionals between 18-34 admit to being stressed on the job, compared to 59% of worker ages 35-54 and only 35% of those ages 55 and older.
- Gender differences exist: Slightly more men (57%) than women (47%) say they are stressed at work on a daily basis.
- Most stressed cities: The most stressed staffs are in: 1) Salt Lake City, 2) Boston, 3) Des Moines, 4) Cleveland and 5) New York
- Combatting stress: Exercise daily (yoga, walking, running), enjoy time with friends or a significant other after work, engage in a hobby (gardening, reading), listen to music and take vacation time to recharge.
Here are some tips from Accountemps for combatting work-related stress:
|Employee Tips||Business Owner Tips|
|Protect your time. Staying organized is critical to finishing tasks. Rather than trying to juggle two things at once, schedule periods throughout the day to focus on key assignments.||Help prioritize. Meet with team members individually to help prioritize workloads and set realistic expectations about project deadlines and desired outcomes. If there is too much work to go around, bring in temporary professionals to lighten the workload for full-time employees.|
|Speak up. If your to-do list is never-ending, it’s possible you have too much on your plate. Talk to your manager about your workload and ask for help.
|Offer resources. Encourage your team to take advantage of stress-management webinars, wellness tips or programs, and yoga or meditation classes available to them. Set a good example by utilizing these offerings as well as employee breakrooms or lounges.|
|Take a break. Feeling overwhelmed during the day? Step away from your desk, go for a walk or grab a snack. If you can’t get outside, look away from the computer and focus on a non-work related activity for a few minutes.||Make it fun. The job may be serious, but laughter and camaraderie can lead to greater work satisfaction and happiness. Look for ways to lighten the mood through social activities, staff celebrations or office decorations.|
7—Verizon Focuses on Small Business
Verizon recently launched a new business unit, Verizon Business Markets (VBM), dedicated to serving U.S.-based local small businesses, state and local governments, and educational institutions in more than 300 cities.
VBM brings together Verizon’s products and services to enable these businesses and organizations to better serve their customers, constituents and local communities. The services, specifically designed for these regional markets, include FiOS (voice, broadband and TV service), IP networking, advanced voice solutions, security, and managed IT services, among others, and the company says it “will bring the power of big enterprise technologies to smaller local players, enabling them to take a ‘digital-first’ approach that is simple to understand, deploy and use while tapping into the power of the Verizon network.”
8—The Global Workforce Is Increasingly Mobile
A survey of job seekers around the world who found new work in 2015 reveals that 64% were interested in working abroad, while 7% had already moved to a different country to work. Some 76% expressed an interest in working on a freelance basis, including 23% who were already doing so. These findings in the Job Seeker Trends 2016: Increasing Global Mobility report jointly produced by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Recruit Works Institute for the second year running, highlight the growing flexibility of labor forces around the world, now more willing than ever to move abroad or juggle multiple jobs, as well as how critical it is for companies seeking to enhance their competitiveness to be able to attract talent effectively, not only from within their own country, but from other countries. The report reviews findings from one of the largest global job-seeker perception surveys, a survey that includes responses from over 13,000 job seekers from 13 countries, delivering a global view of the job search process today. The data presented in the report will aid government agencies, human-resource-related companies, recruiters, and job seekers themselves in assessing the evolving state of the job search market and making informed job search and hiring decisions.
Internet Remains Leading Job Search Channel
The report also finds that the internet is taking on greater importance in the search for jobs. In fact, job seekers who do not use the internet at all are now in the minority. Although results vary across countries and age groups, 44% of job seekers now believe the internet—including both internet job sites and social networking sites (SNS)—to be the most effective and important means of finding new work.
9—Turning a Profit
Do you, like many small business owners think you need to grow your business—no matter the cost? And that if you just keep growing at some point you will turn a profit? That’s just not reality. Serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz says a study from the SBA shows 83% of businesses are surviving check-by-check and 83% never become profitable.
Michalowicz sets out to change that in his book Profit First. He notes most businesses don’t have enough cash on hand to pay rent for the next three months and they need to make a big sale fast or push on collections hard, just to cover the next expense (be it payroll, or rent, or salaries). Profit First will change your understanding of cash flow, make it easier for you to manage your money. Hopefully after reading it, it will help you make your business permanently profitable.
10—Never Stop Learning
11—Stop Fighting the Price War
Is discounting hurting your business? The folks at sales-i say stop fighting the price war. You can download the free whitepaper, Don’t Wage a Price War: Why Discounting is Killing Your Business or check out the SlideShare presentation.
12—The Art of Negotiation for Women
World-renowned experts in the field of negotiation and business from leading universities including Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Chicago Booth and top voices from corporate America will gather at The WIN Summit on May 17 and 18, 2017 in New York City to teach women (across all industries) the Art of Negotiation so they can reach their full leadership and professional potential. Attendees will learn valuable skills from basic negotiations to dealing with uncertain environments, dealing with difficult people, managing conflict and ways to establish leverage in any negotiation. You can register here.
13—State of Student Loan Refinancing
LendEDU recently released a study, LendEDU’s State of Student Loan Refinancing Report 2017, showing:
- The average approved applicant has a 757 FICO credit score
- 43% of applicants are denied during the application process
- The average refinanced loan has a 4.82% interest rate including ACH auto-pay discounts
14—Backpack for Business Travelers
Marlon Travel launched (and already funded) a Kickstarter campaign introducing its business traveler’s backpack. This backpack is so useful, it will replace any other backpack you own. It’s not bulky and has just about every feature you could possibly ask for, such as a built-in USB charger and device sleeves. There are currently three different models to chose from. Check it out here.
15—Mobile POS Solution
Total Merchant Services recently announced the Groovv mPOS, an omnichannel, mobile point of sale solution. Part of the Total Merchant Services free product family, Groovv mPOS comes with a free EMV-compliant and NFC-enabled mobile payment device for in-person payments as well as an online payments suite enabling acceptance of “card not present” payments for phone, mail and online transactions.
The Groovv mPOS handheld EMV/NFC payment device is easy to carry, and features a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone—so there’s no need for an audio jack plugin. The device is ideal for small businesses that travel to customer sites as well as online businesses with pop-up stores. You can accept payments in person and online, securely manage and track inventory, email invoices and set up recurring billing for customers.
Through the Groovv mPOS online payments suite, businesses can manage transactions from all sources through one, cloud-based interface offering:
- Virtual terminal to process mail and phone payments
- Electronic invoicing and hosted pay page to request and accept payments online
- Recurring billing and secure customer card data storage for later payments
- Inventory syncing, order history reporting and transaction voids/credits/refunds
Groovv mPOS is available now from Total Merchant Services sales partners and direct from the company. To see if you qualify for free placement of Groovv mPOS or other payment processing equipment, contact the company at (888) 610-1025.
16—Manage Your Ratings and Reviews
We all know how important consumer ratings and reviews are to small businesses, but it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s being said about your business. If that sounds like you, check out the just-launched Review Grade a cutting-edge tool from Podium. It’s so simple—just go to ReviewGrade.com, enter the name of your business and you’ll receive an immediate snapshot of customer reviews ranked across 6 factors: quantity, quality, engagement, diversity, recency, and their overall rating. And it’s all free.
Viewing this data can help you understand how you rank among local competitors, where you can improve in regards to reviews and local SEO, and spot any trends from your reviews.
How will Facebook impact retailers this year? Steve Weiss, the cofounder and CEO of MuteSix, a leading Facebook marketing agency, advises small business owners to keep their eyes on:
- Video First: Facebook continues to prioritize video in the news feed to the tune of 500 million people watching 100 million hours of video every day. Facebook Live will continue this growth with new ad units such as in-stream ads or commercial breaks interspersed within live video.
- Messenger: In 2016, Facebook hit a milestone of 1 billion users on Messenger and the growth is not slowing. Expect messenger bots to start playing an automated role in lead gen, sales and customer service.
- Paid Search Advertising: Facebook already generates an estimated 2 billion searches per day in the form of business, event, people and group searches. With new features such as Instant Articles there’s more for people to search for every day, creating a significant opportunity for Facebook to enter the paid search arena.
18—Create Online Forms
JotForm recently released JotForm 4.0, the newest version of its online form building software, and the first way to create online forms using a mobile device. JotForm’s brand new form builder has been redesigned not only to improve aesthetic quality, but to improve access to form creation.
New features include:
- Create forms on any mobile device
- Edit forms offline, even if a user loses internet access
- Simultaneously collaborate with teammates on editing a form
- Sleek, intuitive new user interface
With the ability to create forms anywhere, anytime, JotForm users are no longer restrained to editing forms from their web-connected computers. For example, if a JotForm user works on a form using a mobile phone while riding a train, and the phone loses internet connection while the train travels through a tunnel, the user will be able to continue editing the form without disruption, with changes uploaded automatically once the user is back online.
You’ll also have faster access to popular features, like payment integrations and widgets. And with fewer steps required to implement conditional logic on forms, create autoresponder emails for when someone submits a form, add additional pages to a form, and to add custom designs, users will be able to build forms in less time.