By Rieva Lesonsky
1. Money for Small Business
Kabbage, the leading online provider of working capital for small businesses, is now funding more than $2 million per day to small entrepreneurs. It was only six months ago that the company reached the milestone of funding $1 million per day to small businesses. Kabbage says its growth is driven by its patented, automated underwriting platform, which enables real-time underwriting.
Kabbage serves all types of small businesses, including restaurants, beauty salons, advertising agencies, IT consulting firms, and other business verticals. Interestingly, today more than half of the company’s loans are to brick-and-mortar businesses vs. only 7 percent last year.
2. Driving Innovation
What’s the number-one driver for global strategic partnerships? According to a new study, Grow From the Right Intro, by the CMO Council and the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, it’s “new ideas and innovation.”
But the study found that 42 percent of companies are not satisfied with how well they leverage their partnership and alliance potential.
Only one-third of these companies have formal partnering strategies, and almost 50 percent report failure rates of 60 percent or higher, even though 85 percent say partnerships and alliances are “essential or important” to their businesses.
The businesses in the study say acquiring customers and increasing revenues are the primary benefits of partnering, but the top three drivers for actually forming partner relationships are:
- Need for new ideas, insights and innovations
- Complexity and pace of business
- Growing an increasingly diversified customer base
One of the study’s sponsors, Powerlinx, conducted additional research showing 40 percent of businesses seek partnerships to reach new geographical markets or expand their online presence rather than focus on customers in their existing markets.
If you want to see the entire study, check it out here.
3. The Power of Local
The biggest challenge for local businesses, says Stuart Wall, the CEO of Signpost, a cloud-based marketing software company is “attracting and retaining quality customers.” Signpost has just released a solution, which Wall says, “automates marketing to new and existing customers while providing quality insights into current customer behavior…all without stealing time from the work day.”
This is big for small business. Peter Krasilovsky, VP and Chief Analyst with BIA/Kelsey says his company estimates SMBs will spend more than $50 billion next year on local marketing and media services.
How can Signpost help you? The company says its new features include:
- Automatic data collection for every call, email, and credit card transaction
- An automated CRM platform, which includes cross-referenced data to form comprehensive customer profiles
- Timely messages sent on your behalf to drive purchases, reviews and referrals
- Real-time spending behavior for every customer in actionable digests to help identify and maintain your best clients
- Patent-pending integration with payment gateways for tracking customer purchase behavior
4. Need a Mentor?
Pitney Bowes launched a Small Business Mentorship Contest. Two winners will get support and advice from respected business experts (and good friends of mine) Brian Moran and Marsha Collier.
It’s easy to enter. All you have to do is “like” the Pitney Bowes Small Business Facebook page. Then post on the page why you think your business would benefit the most from getting help from a mentor.
Hurry, the deadline to enter is September 22.
5. Growing Global Businesses
To help small businesses across the world Dell just named Elizabeth Gore as its new entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR). Gore will assume the position in early 2015, and comes to Dell from her EIR position at the United Nations Foundation.
Gore’s mission is to drive initiatives supporting Dell’s goals of helping SMBs scale and prosper, fueling the expansion of global entrepreneurship, which will help create jobs further drive global economic prosperity.
Gore also plans to extend Dell’s “global advocacy efforts to raise entrepreneurship to the public policy agenda, encouraging policies and practices that support and enable entrepreneurial growth.”
Karen Quintos, Dell’s SVP and CMO says, “Entrepreneurs have the power to transform our global economy, but they face challenges around access to markets, capital and technology.” Quintos cites Gore’s global experience at the UN Foundation as key to her ability to “create positive change for entrepreneurs and help remove the barriers to risk-taking that exist in many cultures.”
6. Small Business Outlook
A new survey Ink from Chase and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) revealed some interesting findings. Women small business owners are more likely than their male counterparts to find work life balance challenging:
54 percent of them say time management/delegating work to achieve better work-life balance is most challenging when it comes to running their small business compared to 45 percent of male small business owners. (Personally I don’t’ think balance is achievable—it implies splitting your time 50/50 between business and personal time—we should stop chasing it and just set our priorities based on our goals.)
Complying with tax and government regulations was a bigger challenge for men (41 percent vs. 34 percent).
In other findings a majority of the small business owners surveyed (89 percent) say personal relationships influence the way they run their businesses. Slightly more than two-thirds admit they’re influenced by their peers. Other influencers include their past work experiences (68 percent), gut instincts (55 percent), other small business owners (53 percent) and mentors (51 percent).
More than half (57 percent) of small business owners plan to expand to other geographical markets in the next 12 months. Over 60 percent plan to increase marketing and 56 percent will increase their social media outreach to current and potential customers to help grow their business.
Most are not planning to hire—only 25 percent say they’ll increase their head count. Those that are hiring, however, plan to hire full-time employees.
Many (but not enough in my opinion) plan to invest in technology. Forty percent are going to increase the use of new technology to help grow their businesses. And 60 percent plan to use payment platforms in the next year. The male owners (44 percent) are focusing on ecommerce, while 65 percent of the female business owners will concentrate on growing their social media platforms.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.