19 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

1—Private Sector Small Business Employment Increases

By now you’ve all seen the jobs report. But what about small businesses and their contributions? According to the ADP Small Business Job Report in March very small businesses (1-19 employees lost) 9,000 jobs, small businesses with 20-49 employees gained 14,000 jobs, for a net gain of 6,000 small business jobs.

Take a look at the infographic from ADP below for more stats.

 

2—7 Things You Need To Know Right Now As You Prepare To File Your 2018 Taxes

With a week (or less)  to go until the April 15th tax filing deadline, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), the nation’s leading advocate and resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses, released its list of 7 last-minute tips for filing accurate returns and reducing tax liability.

Keith Hall, President and CEO of NASE, says, “As you prepare to file your returns, think about hidden deductions and updates to the tax code that might help you. Don’t leave anything on the table; find and use these key policy changes to work for you. And if you still need more time, file an extension.”

1—New tax system: 2018 is the first filing season of the new tax code; make sure you know about these new, potentially beneficial policies:

  • A lower individual rate, which is where most self-employed small businesses file
  • A doubling of the standard deduction, which is $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples
  • Reduction or elimination of specific deductions such as for moving expenses or the unlimited state and local tax deductions known as SALT deductions, which are now capped at $10,000

2—Home office deduction: In its sixth year, small business owners who work from their homes can now claim a streamlined, standardized home-office deduction rather than completing a complicated and cumbersome 43-line IRS form. By simply checking the box on your federal tax returns, you can easily save money by choosing the standard home-office deduction of up to $1,500 for the business use of your home.

3—Mileage rate: If you use your automobile for business, you also can deduct a standard mileage rate on your return. The reimbursement rate is 54.5 cents for 2018.

4—Retirement contributions: Limits for retirement contributions have also changed for most Americans. SEPs, IRAs and 401k plans, all allow you to contribute to your own future and take a tax deduction on your 2018 tax return.

5—Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs): Small businesses that offer HRAs can do so without the threat of penalty.

6—Submit your return electronically: By filing your return electronically, you can avoid making errors.

And if you’re still not ready…

7—File an extension: There is always a last-minute extension you can file with the IRS if you can’t make April 15th.

 

3—Small Business Owners Stay Confident, Despite Concerns  

Nearly half (49%) of small business owners are concerned that a recession could impact the overall success of their company in the next year, according to Capital One’s latest Small Business Growth Index, a biannual survey of small business owners gauging sentiment related to the economy, business conditions and plans for growth. At the same time, 66% say recent fluctuations in the stock market have not changed their business outlook. Additionally, 44% think their financial position will improve six months from now.

“Small business owners remain cautiously optimistic,” says Jenn Flynn, head of small business bank at Capital One. “While we saw a slight dip in optimism compared to Fall 2018, small business owners are still making strategic investments in their businesses, while paying close attention to the uncertainty in the stock market and evaluating the potential impact of a recession.”

Key Small Business Growth Index themes:

Small business owners think stock market volatility will impact their businesses, but many have yet to feel the effect. However, they’re preparing for the impact of future stock market volatility.

  • 49% are or will be more conservative when it comes to inventory or supply management
  • 36% say it has or might decrease their sales
  • 34% say it has or might impact their ability to expand and grow their business.

However, the fluctuations in the stock market have not changed the outlook of 66% of business owners. Additionally, 40% of SBOs report an increase in sales over the past six months.

Optimism has dropped 8 percentage points, with 59% of SBOs saying business conditions are good or excellent, down from 67% in Fall 2018.

The economy and a tight labor market are impacting small businesses’ ability to hire, while those who plan to hire are competing for talent with their pocketbooks.

29% of SBOs plan to hire in the next 6 months, down from 33% in Fall 2018. 66% of these new hires will be full-time employees.

Of SBOs who don’t plan to hire:

  • 29% would like to but are nervous to take on the added expense due to economic conditions 28% cannot find the right talent
  • 24% don’t have the financial resources to do so.
  • 25% say they are investing in other areas of their business.

The majority of SBOs are competing for talent with their pocketbooks. Of those who plan to hire in the next 6 months:

  • 76% provide industry leading or competitive salaries
  • 47% offer more benefits to employees
  • 43% market their business as a great place to work
  • 35% invest in differentiated or modern office perks
  • 29% provide an option for flexible work environments

Plus, 34% have leveraged the gig economy for their business, and 19% say that it has helped them get work done in a tight labor market

The tax plan:

  • 51% of SBOs say the tax plan has been positive for small business. More male business owners say the tax plan has been positive for small business (57%) than female business owners (41%).
  • 21% of SBOs expect to pay more in taxes this year, up from 19% who expected to pay more in Fall 2018 and 11% one year ago.
  • 53% of business owners think they will pay about the same.

Business owners are split on how they’ll be impacted by AI and Machine Learning:

  • 53% of SBOs with $1 to $10 million in revenue believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is already impacting or will impact their industry. Additionally, 48% of these SBOs are concerned about their ability to hire the right tech talent to help advance their business into the future.
  • However, most business owners with $1 to $10 million in revenue do not think that some of their employees’ roles will be replaced by AI and ML-based technologies. Only 8% feel some of their employees’ roles will be replaced in the next five years, and 19% feel some of the roles will be replaced in 10 years.
  • 23% of all SBOs feel pressure to change aspects of their business, like customer experience, based on industry innovation driven by large companies like Amazon.

“Change is a constant for small business owners, and it’s encouraging to see them remain resilient as they interpret new things like tax reform and the impact of technology on their headcount,” says Brad Jiulianti, head of small business card at Capital One. “We look forward to seeing how business owners continue to innovate to meet the changing needs of today’s marketplace.”

 

4—4 Top Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginners

Guest post from HostingTribunal

Affiliate marketing is worth $12 billion and still going strong. Even after being around for so long, it remains one of the best ways to earn handsome money online without any upfront monetary investment.

But there’s no easy money to make in affiliate marketing. If you want to earn $10,000 in your first month as an affiliate marketer, you’re bound to be disappointed.

That’s not going to happen.

Affiliate marketing is hard work and sales grow gradually. First, you’ll have to learn the ropes of affiliate marketing, create a website, publish some great content, and build social media presence. These things take time.

Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Understand that.

What else must you know before you plunge into affiliate marketing? Here are 4 top tips for beginners.

1—Know your niche: As much as possible, pick a niche you know most about. If you are a yoga enthusiast, you may be better off entering an affiliate program in this niche than picking a niche about, say, car parts.

2—Test your product: Know the ins and outs of the product you’re marketing. Take your time to find out how’s it different from competing products. Without this knowledge, you’ll have a hard time convincing consumers that you’ve the answers to their problems. And if you can’t show customers that you can help them, they aren’t going to waste their time listening to you. The global retail revenue approaches $3 trillion, so there is no shortage of shopping options.

3—Create a slick, visually-attractive site: The attention span of consumers is perhaps not more than a few seconds. This makes it crucial to be able to catch their attention the moment they enter your site. Otherwise, they’ll navigate away to never return. WordPress, the most popular website creation tool, is absolutely free. So are many plugins and themes. If you spend some time building a site, you can ensure it is fast, pretty, and user-friendly. These are the qualities that consumers love in a website.

4—Leverage social media: Millions of people visit social media sites every day. There’s no way you ignore social media and still become a successful affiliate marketer. That said, publishing promotional content left, right, and center on Facebook and the like will get you nowhere. You must use the medium to establish a rapport with your target audience. This you can do only by offering them value.

To learn more about the potential of affiliate marketing and most rewarding niches, take a look at this infographic below.

 

5—How Small/New Businesses Can Execute Successful Social Media Campaigns

Guest post by social media and influencer marketing expert Joe Gagliese, Co Founder and Managing Partner of Viral Nation.

1—Post emotional and fun content. Small business owners need to take measured risks and have a sense of fun to find success. Consider the recent Tweet from the son of the owner of Billy’s Donuts (named Billy). The Tweet and accompanying picture showed the sad owner of the doughnut shop with a request to come visit. The message quickly went viral. Billy’s Donuts grew its Instagram followers from around 35 to 125,000 in a matter of days. The entire family is now pitching in to bake more product to keep up with demand. This situation is a great example of viral social marketing. The Tweet used emotion and a great visual of a sweet older gentleman to evoke empathy. Who doesn’t understand wanting to help their dad? Small businesses should take this example to heart. They need authenticity in their messages and also a sense of playfulness.

2—Develop influencer partnerships and campaigns. Even the smallest of businesses can establish relationships with quality influencers. Find influencers who use your product or service and will enthusiastically share their experiences with their followers. Ideally you can offer these influencers free products or services in exchange for their promotions. Talk to them about the ways you can benefit each other, and then you’ll find influencers that are invested in your success. You want influencers that are shown to engage directly with their fans. Look at how they respond to comments. If the influencer is starting conversations and producing great content, then you want to get in with them on the “ground floor” before their popularity takes off. The best influencer campaigns will generate organic website or physical store visits as well as generate additional followers for the brand. Influencer marketing provides small businesses with the potential to reach targeted consumers in a much more organic and personal manner than a typical direct sales pitch.

3—Create and share interesting visuals. Social media campaigns are increasingly visually based. Instagram is fundamentally about sharing interesting stories and developing emotions through pictures. Some small businesses offer a product that’s easily captured in photos. Billy’s Donuts has delicious glazed, sprinkled, and chocolate-frosted doughnuts that look delicious. But a donut shop could also include visuals of the customers or doughnut-making machinery. If you offer a service instead of a product then you require more creativity. Use visuals to tell a story about the customer journey. Or showcase the people inside your office. Invest in a great camera or latest cell phone to capture high-quality shots for your social channels.

4—Repurpose your content. Once you find some impactful and viral content, then you need to run with it as far as possible. What this means is to use your popular content across multiple social channels and for a variety of other purposes. Consider again the Billy’s Donut example. The company is doing great but should also use the “sad dad” imagery on other channels or with merchandise. Once you have a social hit on your hands then you have to build the brand as much as possible. You can also create an arrangement with your influencer network to run Facebook or Instagram ads through their content. Make sure you have content ownership of the campaigns you run with an influencer so you can repurpose it in multiple ways. Use it on your own social campaigns or integrate the content into a tutorial. Extract maximum value from all of the content that you use with social. Develop videos that discuss your unique value proposition, and include them on your site, all social channels, within presentations, and anywhere else it makes sense.

 

6—3 Tips for Freelancers to Write a Business-Winning Proposal

Guest post by Vidya Chandra, LinkedIn Group Product Manager

LinkedIn ProFinder data reveals that 70% of small businesses have hired a freelancer in the past, with 83% of those businesses looking to hire a freelancer again. The takeaway? There is more opportunity in the gig economy than ever before. It also means, that there are more freelance professionals vying for the same jobs you’re looking to win. Knowing you’re competing with people who have a variety of backgrounds and expertise, creating an effective and impactful proposal is crucial, especially if you rely on freelance work as a main source of income.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to grab your reader’s attention, peak their interest, and get them excited about what you (and nobody else) can offer. Below are my three top tips, as well as insights from LinkedIn ProFinder experts, for freelancers looking to take a smarter approach to their proposals to gain new business in 2019.

1—Make it personal and establish trust. You won’t be the only freelancer vying for a job, so start by introducing yourself, and tailoring your proposal to the needs of the client and their project. It sounds simple, but it is a tactic that is often overlooked in proposal writing. Make your value clear, and your delivery concise and personable.

Nader Mowlee, a career coach and LinkedIn ProFinder Expert, does this by sharing his past successes, “I do this by telling short stories of my previous clients whom I’ve successfully helped. I begin the short story (following the STAR Method of writing) by describing the situation my client was in and the problem they had before they met me. Then I share the number one tactic I taught that person, how fast they were able to implement it, what their final outcome was and how it made them feel after achieving their ideal results.”

2—Be succinct, but thorough. Clients are busy and, put simply, lengthy proposals won’t get read. I recommend outlining the key messages you’d like to convey about the service you provide. Then, as you build and develop your proposal, always check that list to be sure you’re not only getting your point across, but also keeping them clearly visible to the reader. Utilize easy-to-read formatting and take liberties in bulleting out points instead of differing to lengthy sentences and paragraphs.

Another reason to keep it succinct? Your information is available in a multitude of places online. Knowing this, feel free to direct prospective clients to these auxiliary resources, and link to additional resources like the following:

  • Professional website or portfolio. Your website is a great place to house your previous client work and include more context of completed projects. Make sure you have all your contact information, your LinkedIn page, your social channels (if relevant) linked so that anyone that views it can easily paint the bigger picture of work you do.
  • LinkedIn ProFinder page. LinkedIn ProFindermakes it easy to showcase your experience and any recommendations you’ve received during your freelance career. Be sure to link your page so potential clients can dig deeper into the noteworthy work you’ve delivered to past clients.

3—Explain your “Why?” In today’s gig economy, the common thread for those that land the job is clear: they make it easy for clients to hire them. By defining the reasons why you should be chosen over other candidates is imperative in proposal writing and making this clear throughout could make the difference between landing the job or missing out on a new client.

Think about the service you provide and how you will be able to deliver something different than others in your category. Whether your specialty lies in finance or marketing, think about how you’ll be able to go above standard expectations and provide an unparalleled experience for the client. LinkedIn ProFinder expert Mariya Luqmani leads with her successes, “Describe in detail how you handled and delivered the required services and/or products in an efficient and timely manner. Include examples/case studies to be more specific. A prospective client is looking for your experience and your ability to manage their project efficiently and effectively.”

Sometimes the best way to explain these points is to have a previous clients share their experience. Don’t shy away from including referrals, or even encouraging your reader to check out the endorsements you’ve received on your LinkedIn profile.

Proposals are just one piece of the broader freelancing puzzle. My best recommendation for those just getting started is to learn as much as you can, soaking up all the resources you can. Dive deeper into ways you can write better cold emails to drive more leads, or more generally, how a few small changes can help you get more work. Don’t be afraid to take it a step further by proving to clients that you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Offering a free consult is a great way to paint a picture of your value beyond what is written on paper.

 

7—The Pros and Cons of PEOs vs. Fully Insured Plans for Small Business Health Insurance

Guest post by Sally Poblete, CEO of Wellthie. Poblete has been a leader and innovator in the health insurance industry for over 20 years. As a broker and former industry executive herself, she founded Wellthie out of a deep passion for making health insurance simpler and more approachable for consumers and small businesses.

As a small business owner, you want to provide your employees with health insurance. However, there are a plethora of important choices to make in a limited timeframe. When it comes to providing your team with health insurance, as long as you are well informed it will greatly simplify the process of choosing what health plans ultimately make the most sense for you and your company. If you are not entirely sure whether you should use a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) or consider Fully Insured Medical Plans, it might be helpful to know the pros and cons of each:

What are PEOs? PEOs offer services ranging from payroll processing, benefits administration, HR training and support, and workplace insurance coverage, to both small and medium-sized businesses.

The Pros of PEOs                                                                                    

  • PEOs include employees with all of the PEO’s co-employees to create one larger group/pool of employees; This enables the PEO to provide the employees with access to employee benefits similar to ones they would receive as part of a larger corporation, despite the fact they work for a small business.
  • PEOs offer more services to small business employees than just health benefits. PEOs make available compliance support, payroll, human resources services, and workers compensation.
  • PEOs lower the administrative burdens of small businesses which allows them to focus on their core business strategies in lieu of worrying about the minutiae of benefits.

The Cons of PEOs

  • PEOs offer a very limited choice in carriers, meaning that your employees won’t necessarily be presented with the best options for them or their families.
  • PEOs require administrative fees to support their services and are charged per month per employee or percentage of total payroll.
  • PEOs force small businesses to rely on an external team (rather than internal employees) to handle important and sensitive HR processes.

What are Fully Insured Plans? Fully Insured Plans are employer-sponsored health plans where the premium rates are fixed for at least a year (could have longer contracts) and are based on the number of employees enrolled in the plan each month and their ages. The company pays the insurance carrier a premium.

The Pros of Fully Insured Plans                                                        

  • With Fully Insured Plans, the prices are based on ages and/or zip code which allows employers to budget. The rates do not vary with the health of employees, and you cannot be denied based on the health of your employees (no medical underwriting required.) The insurance provider manages all claims, and the risk is assumed by the insurance company.
  • With Fully Insured Plans, you can traditionally choose your own package and decide on carriers, as opposed to being required to stick to a very limited set offered by a PEO. You can purchase a fully-insured plan if you have at least 2 employees. Some PEOs require you to have a higher minimum number of employees (5 Employees).
  • With Fully Insured Plans, there are no administrative fees paid to a PEO. You can choose your own payroll company and have internal HR resources.

The Cons of Fully Insured Plans

  • With Fully Insured Plans, premium costs can be higher depending on your geography and age of employees, regardless of the overall health of your employees. (Sometimes claims experience varies depending on the size of the company.)
  • With Fully Insured Plans, you don’t have the “one-stop shop” of payroll, HR, and compliance that is available with most PEOs.
  • With Fully Insured Plans, the administrative burdens associated with running a small business fall solely on the business.

The health insurance options available for small business employers are vast, and there are pros and cons to each choice available to you and your employees. Prior to making a decision, it is best practice to be as familiar with all of the details as possible. In the case of PEOs vs. Fully Insured Plans, neither is necessarily better than the other. The best approach to acquiring small business health insurance is entirely dependent on the specifics of your company and your individual employees. If you do your research and don’t rush into making a final decision, you’ll secure coverage for your team that suits all parties concerned.

 

8—Catapulting Your Digital Transformation

Guest post by Priya Sri, CEO and founder of CubeYogi. She’s a software industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience, and about 10 U.S. patents in her name. CubeYogi is a firm of Zoho experts based in South India.

Today, Zoho/Salesforce/SugarCRM are some of the most popular business software in the global arena. Their user base is raising at a tremendous pace. If you’re seeking the right solution tailored to your business needs, here’s the “secret sauce” we use at CubeYogi in the decision-making process.

1—Identify the stakeholders: Who are those in the business who will be using the system, rather, administering the system that you are going to buy/build?

2—Come up with a budget: When I talk to key decision makers, I realize many of them don’t have even a ballpark idea of their estimated budget. This becomes key in outlining the plan for your digital transformation.

3—Pin down your KIAs: What are the Key Impact Areas (KIAs) in your company? Of course, it is the dream of every leader to transform the entire company. However, first steps first. So, I strongly urge you to come up with the top three KIAs that impact your company the most—those that would add the most value when digital transformation is applied to them

4—Define your change management plan: Change means resistance. There will be resistance from your team. Resistance doesn’t immediately mean you need to back off. You need to approach resistance the Zen way.

5—Play the champion: You are the one who’s heading this. So, you be sure of what you are doing first. Project that confidence. Say it loud and clear to your team. Keep talking about it. Utilize every opportunity to capitalize on that momentum and drive the change.

Be the champion. Be the change.

 

9—WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work

The What Would You Do with More Time? survey by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace examining how employees across eight nations view their relationship with work and life, asking the simple question, “What would you do with more time?” was recently released.

They surveyed nearly 3,000 workers across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S. Part one, The Case for a 4-day Workweek?, found that 75% of workers say it should take less than seven hours each day to do their job—yet specific time-wasters result in 40% of employees working more than 40 hours a week, and 71% saying work interferes with their personal lives. Part two asks employees: If you could get these lost hours back in your day, what would you do with more time?

People wish they could spend more time with their families, traveling, and taking better care of their mental and physical health.

  • With more time, the top 5 things people worldwide wish they could do more of are spend time with family (44%); travel (43%); exercise (33%); spend time with friends (30%); and pursue their hobbies (29%).
  • Rest and relaxation were also big themes, as 27% of people said they would want to get more sleep and 22% would focus on mental health. More sleep is a universal desire regardless of age—from Gen Z (27%) to baby boomers (26%)—although U.S. workers (33%) crave more sleep than all other nations, with Indian workers desiring the least amount of additional shuteye (16%).
  • While all nations rate spending time with family and travel as their top two desires, the remaining top 5 “more time” wish lists vary by country. For instance, employees in France, Germany, the U.S., and the UK listed “sleep more” as a top 5-priority; UK and Indian workers wish they had time to learn a new skill or hobby; people in Mexico and India would spend more time watching TV, movies, or listening to music; and Mexican employees were the only ones to have “read more” in their top 5 list.
  • On the bright side, 62% of all workers agree their job offers enough flexibility to have a healthy work-life balance, while only 14% either disagree or strongly disagree.
  • What would you do with more time at work? Personal development leads the way.
  • Regardless of age, role, level, or country, all employees wish they could spend more time developing new skills, as it was the top-rated answer for both individual contributors (44%) and people managers (40%) alike—with exactly half of Gen Z respondents and 47% of millennials craving more time to develop skills.
  • A whopping 66% of employees in India wish they had time to develop new skills, with the U.K. (49%), Mexico (48%), and Australia (47%) following suit as the nations where more professional development is desired the most.
  • While helping customers was the second highest-rated wish for individual contributors (31%)—and a greater desire the older the worker—the remaining top-5 desires fall squarely in the personal maintenance camp: take a meal break (#3); take a mental break/meditate (#4); and catch up on work (#5).
  • Both managers and employees—especially in Australia—wish they could spend more time on long-term or significant projects (27% and 23%, respectively), and 23% of employees wish they had more time to innovate, brainstorm new ideas, or find a better way of doing things.
  • Workers in Mexico (37%), Canada (27%), and Germany (26%) would use extra time to exercise during the workday. On the other hand, only 13% of UK employees would use extra time to exercise, but 32% wish there was more time to eat.
  • Workers in Australia, the UK and the U.S. feel the busiest, as they are most likely to spend additional time in the day simply catching up on work. In France, 25% of French workers would spend extra time looking for a new job compared to the worldwide average of 16% and Mexico at only 11%.

Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos says, “While the vast majority of workers say work interferes with their personal lives, it’s clear people want to do meaningful work and want to do well by their employers. It’s the employer’s responsibility not only to provide workers with the tools, processes, and resources to optimize their time at work, but also to empower employees to best manage work-life harmony with clear and specific time-off policies, creative and self-service scheduling solutions, benefits to help relax and refuel, and, above all, open communication between the company, employees, and their people managers to ensure time while working is time well spent.”

Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and research director, Future Workplace adds, “Workers worldwide clearly see the benefit to stay relevant in their jobs by investing time in training, yet also desire more time with their family, to travel, and get fit. Instead of trying to have a balanced lifestyle, which is especially difficult in today’s highly connected, technology-driven world, workers should seek integration, ensuring they allocate time to their biggest professional and personal priorities each day. There’s more of a need today to work smarter and be more efficient to free up time to invest in things that matter most, inside and outside of work.”

There’s more research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos, including the recent Working Your Way study, which found that organizations often undermine their own employee experience around work-life harmony when it comes to time off, productivity, and workload. You can subscribe to follow The Workforce Institute at Kronos for insight, research, blogs, and podcasts on how organizations can manage today’s modern workforce to drive engagement and performance.

 

10—Deadly Jobs

Are the top 5 deadliest occupations compensated fairly relative to how dangerous they are? GPS fleet management company Teletrac Navman pulled data pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the top 5 deadliest occupations by fatality rate. As you can see in the infographic below, the workers taking the most risk, aren’t necessarily compensated in relation to the danger of their jobs.

  • Logging Workers: $40,830
  • Fishers and Related Fishing Workers: $41,190
  • Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers: $138,690
  • Roofers: $42,780
  • Refuse and Recyclable Materials Collectors: $38,920

Truck drivers are in the bottom percentile for salaries at $39,790 with a fatality rate of 24.7.

Check the infographic below for more information.

 

11—Private Company Executives Feel Less Prepared

Nearly half of public company executives see no slowdown ahead in the time and effort to be spent on compliance with the new lease accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board, according to a new Deloitte poll conducted in February 2019. In fact, after they file Q1 2019 earnings, 25% expect to spend the same amount of time and effort on lease implementation related activities and nearly as many (23.9%) plan to spend more.

“One would expect that the level of effort around lease accounting compliance would drop off considerably for U.S. public companies once 2019 first-quarter earnings are filed, but that’s simply not the case,” says Sean TorrDeloitte Risk and Financial Advisory managing director, Deloitte & Touche LLP. “Whether public companies need to better streamline lease accounting operations, fix temporary manual processes or refine technology solutions, there remains a lot of work ahead for many public companies. Private entities appear to have even more work ahead.”

Private companies appear behind in lease accounting implementation efforts: 33.2% of private company executives surveyed feel unprepared to comply with their 2020 lease accounting compliance deadline—a rate exceeding any expressed by Deloitte-polled public company execs since the respective standards’ issuances (in February 2019, only 6.9% of U.S. public company executives felt unprepared).

“It’s critical to understand that lease accounting compliance is non-negotiable, and many organizations still have a lot of work to do to achieve compliance—particularly on the private side,” says Mark DavisAudit & Assurance partner and national managing partner of Deloitte Private Enterprises for Deloitte & Touche LLP. “However, the one thing private companies have to their advantage is that public companies were required to implement the new standard first. Private company leaders can learn a lot from public companies’ efforts to date.”

Some of the lease accounting implementation lessons private company executives can learn from public company leaders are:

Finding leases is easier said than done. Collecting necessary data on all organizational leases in a centralized, electronic inventory has been rated a top challenge for executives more than once in the past by Deloitte poll respondents. “Whether leases are on paper, dispersed globally in various languages or embedded within larger contracts, gathering data needed for lease accounting calculations is a considerable undertaking. Private enterprises can learn from public companies by developing robust lease data plans and data quality procedures not only for initial abstraction, but also ongoing data maintenance,” continues Davis.

Change management is rarely fast or simple. “The organizational changes resulting from the new lease accounting standards are far-reaching and may include areas of the organization such as IT, operations, accounting and finance, tax, treasury, and financial planning and analysis. No matter who is managing the lease accounting implementation at an organization, it’s important to achieve alignment with the various internal and external stakeholders impacted by the changes. Davis concludes, “Private companies can benefit from strong project management, including a clearly defined roadmap, regular stakeholder engagement, and effective change management and training procedures.”

 

12—Tech Pros Need to Develop Skills to Confidently Manage

SolarWinds, a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, just  released the findings of the SolarWinds® IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow.

The report explores confidence, current and future skillsets, career development, and barriers to career success to provide a clear understanding of how tech pros and the businesses they serve can improve to better manage future technology realities.

The majority of technology professionals are not fully confident they have all the skills needed to manage their environments into the near future, especially when it comes to emerging tech.

  • 75% of all tech pros surveyed are not “completely confident” in having all the necessary skills to successfully manage their IT environments over the next three to five years—even though 99% have worked to develop a skill over the past 12 months.

This is also consistent with a recent study SolarWinds MSP conducted with The 2112 Group, 2018 Trends in Managed Services, which found only about one in four partners feel their managed service skills are expert-level, while 65% claim only basic managed service skills, with room to improve, and 5% admit they lack basic skills or capabilities altogether.

As business size increases, so does confidence: 49% of small business tech pros are somewhat to completely unconfident in their ability to manage environments into the near future with current skillsets, compared to 31% of medium-size tech pros and 27% of enterprise tech pros who share this sentiment.

An August 2018 Deloitte® survey of SMB executives revealed 57% of the respondents surveyed are planning to spend more on IT this year than they did in the past year. These findings are echoed in a recent Tech Pro Research study, which found 44% of participating technology professionals ranked internal employee training and development as a critical priority for 2019 IT budgets.

When it comes to the idea of implementing or managing specific technologies, emerging tech is a pain point (despite how much mind share these buzzworthy technologies get in headlines). The top three technologies tech pros feel unequipped to manage with their current skillsets are:

  1. Artificial intelligence (53%)
  2. Quantum computing (43%)
  3. Machine and/or deep learning (43%)

According to the Gartner® list of strategic technology trends that have the potential to disrupt and are on the verge of becoming more widely used in the next five years, AI and quantum computing both rank in the top 10.

There is a great opportunity for tech pros to increase their knowledge of these technologies and to have productive conversations with businesses on the reality of implementation in the near future.

Tech pros will continue building skills in daily operations with an eye toward areas like data science.

  • In the past 12 months, tech pros have prioritized skills in systems and infrastructure management (47%), security management (SIEM, policies, compliance, 41%), and hybrid IT deployment/management (41%).
  • Along with the top three overall, small business tech pros also worked to develop coding and scripting skills (46%) and mid-size tech pros worked to develop network management skills (40%).
  • In the next three to five years, the top two skills tech pros plan to develop skills are hybrid IT deployment monitoring and management (47%) and security management (46%).

This is in line with what tech pros say will be most important to their organizations’ transformation over the next three to five years (by weighted rank): cloud and/or hybrid IT, and SIEM and/or threat intelligence.

Small businesses rank IT security protocol and/or processes as number one, and technology innovation as number two, while the third career development goal is management/leadership skills (people management).

Tech pros have an appetite to prioritize career development on a weekly basis but are hindered by factors like time and cost—83% say their day-to-day IT tasks extend into time earmarked for career development, with 28% saying this always happens.

As business size increases, the percentage of tech pros who say “always” decreases, suggesting small business tech pros are even more strapped for time than their enterprise counterparts. This is alarming, considering tech pros enjoy technology skills training, with 49% finding it informative, 31% saying it’s engaging and interactive, and 26% reporting it’s not long enough.

However, training should be customized according to business size, as 34% of small business tech pros report training programs often assume knowledge they don’t have. This is potentially due to the amount of vendor-led training SMBs engage in to get past adoption hurdles. To solve this, vendors should consider customizing learnings according to business size.

To explore and interact with all of the 2019 findings, please visit the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, a dynamic web experience that presents the study’s findings by region and additional insights into the data, as well as charts, graphs, and socially shareable elements.

 

Quick Clicks

13—15 Proven Writing Techniques that Work Great in 2019 from Content Fiesta.

14—The Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Marketing Online from Canva.

Cool Tools

15—New App Takes the Worry and Work Out of Getting Paid for Small Businesses

Square, Inc. announced the Square Invoices app, providing sellers a self-serve and elegantly designed tool for creating, managing, and sending invoices from anywhere. As part of Square’s wider ecosystem of mobile tools, the Invoices app enables sellers to manage all aspects of their business in real-time from their mobile devices.

“The way we do business is changing; not everyone works from an office and small businesses need the flexibility to handle core processes like invoicing on the go.” says Alyssa Henry, Seller Lead at Square. “With the Square Invoices app, small business owners are able to get paid remotely and access their funds quickly and securely.”

According to a recent report from Fundbox, it takes the average small business 21 days to get paid after sending an invoice. With the Square Invoices app, sellers can get paid quickly and easily—no more manual invoices and waiting for checks to come in the mail. Whether they are getting paid for photographing a wedding or after taking on a new landscaping job, sellers can send invoices and get paid, in just a few simple taps. In fact, more than 60% of invoices processed through Square are paid the same day.

With its launch, Square Invoices also enables businesses to send sleek, professional estimates to confirm details of future jobs through the app or on desktop. This feature is especially useful for service businesses like home and repair providers, freelance consultants, wedding and event planners, photographers, and others who need to provide a quote to secure prospective customers.

Since launch, more than $13 billion has been processed globally through Square Invoices. The Square Invoices app is available today in the U.S., Canada, Japan, the UK and Australia via the App Store or Google Play. To learn more about the new Invoices app, feel free to check out their post on the Town Square blog.

 

16—Optimizing Cash Flow for SMBs

Bento for Business, a leading provider of B2B payment solutions, just announced a new payment solution, partnering with Visa to transform how SMBs manage and optimize their most critical asset—cash.

Bento for Business’s financial operating platform brings more complete financial controls to SMBs for their expenses, payments and purchasing, cashless workflows, working capital, banking, and more. Visa Business debit cards will now be integrated into the platform to instantly give millions of Visa SMBs access to Bento for Business’s modular financial solutions for their distinct working capital challenges, such as budgeting, expense and spend management, and bookkeeping.

“The SMB segment is a priority for Visa, and we continue to be an advocate for the 30 million SMBs in the United States,” says David Simon, Global Head of Small and Medium Enterprises, Visa. “The Bento solution will evolve how Visa Business cardholders and merchants manage expenses and gain insights into their cash flow and financial management activities.”

Farhan Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer, Bento for Business, says, “We are confident that working with Visa will strengthen and accelerate our mission to bring a complete financial operating platform to the underserved SMB market and help these businesses to unlock the fullest potential of their working capital.”

Visa customers using the Bento for Business platform will immediately benefit from complete control over expenses prior to purchase, real-time insights over their cash flow, secure physical and virtual cards, 24/7 support, and access to savings on travel, fuel and other services based on their purchases.

 

17—Get More out of LinkedIn

ContactOut is a simple browser extension that helps you find the email addresses and phone numbers of people listed on LinkedIn. ContactOut finds emails from 75% of LinkedIn users (2x better than the next closest competitor) at a 97% accuracy rate.

It speeds up the recruitment process, enabling you to find job candidates and hire faster. ContactOut will also let you up your sales game, enabling you to find elusive contact information of prospects.

The company has been around for more than three years and has thousands of users—including from one-third of Fortune 500 companies. It has been named one of the best freemium email outreach tools available multiple times.

18—Bringing the WhatsApp Business App To iPhone

Now you can use the WhatsApp Business app on the device of your choice. They just introduced the WhatsApp Business app for iOS. Like the Android version—which over the last year has been adopted by millions of businesses around the world—the WhatsApp Business app for iOS will be free to download from the App Store and will include features to help small businesses and customers communicate. These include:

  • Business Profile:Share useful information about your business such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.
  • Messaging Tools:Respond to customers easily with efficient messaging tools—quick replies to provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages to introduce customers to your business and away messages to let them know when to expect a reply.
  • WhatsApp Web: Chat from your desktop to manage conversations and send files to customers.

The WhatsApp Business app is free to download from the App Store in Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, India, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. The app will be rolling out around the world in the coming weeks.

19—Take Control of Your SEO

DataForSEO, a top software technology companies and SEO API data provider based out of Ukraine, recently launched, what they’re calling “the best API built for SEO tool makers and agencies”. DataForSEO enables digital marketing teams to gain the full governance over the data they use every day, rather than being chained to the third-party software they have absolutely no control of. This API provides all the data you need for custom SEO software – Bulk Search Volume, CPC, Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), Keyword Research, and Site Audit. The company provides the comprehensive SEO data via API at a simple, predictable price.

Simple, Easy-to-implement, High-Speed API: Building digital marketing software requires a lot of time and money. DataForSEO can make the entire process much easier. The API functionality is simple and doesn’t require completing any unnecessary steps. You don’t need to create projects, add keywords and so on. You just set a task to retrieve data from the system, and it returns everything in the result array to you.

“With our APIs you don’t have to worry about scraping SERPs, building complex backend systems, and hiring expensive software engineers,” says Nick Chernets, the CEO and founder of DataForSEO. “Our APIs allow you to get over technical complexities and focus on what you are good at – developing ideas into tools!”

High-Speed, Fresh, Accurate, and Real-time Data: SEO companies and agencies require up-to-date, reliable data to work with. DataForSEO ensures that they are always working with fresh data with its proprietary data harvesting technologies and robust APIs. The data is delivered in real-time for a specified search engine, language, and location. Also, the DataForSEO system is tested and stable and guarantees 99.99% availability and high-speed delivery.

Key benefits

  • 5-Star, 24/7 live support: DataForSEO provides top-class support during the whole process of implementation—testing and integration. You can opt for any communication channel—group chat, Skype call, or online contact form.
  • Simple pricing: No need to sign any contract or make huge upfront payments. It uses a “pay per use” pricing model. Your credits remain in your balance until you use them.
  • User dashboard with clear statistics: You will be always in the know how you spend your credits for API usage.
  • Reduced cost, improved efficiency: By using DataForSEO APIs, some of the SEO software providers have cut 60% of the overall cost and development time.
  • Trial period: DataForSEO offers a trial period that is not time limited. On signing up, you receive 1000 credits on your balance and use it whenever you like.

Check out the YouTube video.

Business owner stock photo by g-stockstudio/Shutterstock