By Rieva Lesonsky
1. Mobile (Really) Matters
It’s hard for local service providers who are working round the clock, like plumbers, painters, contractors, etc. to do their jobs and keep their websites current. And while we all know the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, many small business owners are just not aware of what they need to do.
YP, formerly known as YellowPages.com wants to help. Their message, Get Online, Get Found targets those entrepreneurs, who, says Jeff Federman, SVP and general manager of digital at YP, are often “too busy working in their businesses, and not on them.”
The idea of Get Online, Get Found says Federman is to help local entrepreneurs make their business grow. “They’re not educated enough,” says Federman, “99 percent don’t know that Google penalizes sites [that aren’t mobile-friendly].”
Federman adds the “three most important things entrepreneurs need to work on are being mobile-friendly, SEM and SEO and understanding Google (and other search engines).” And he says YP wants to help by letting them worry about their businesses, and using YP to “show them the efficient way to tackle the market.”
2. Holiday Forecast
Will the holidays be good for small business owners this year? Well, according to a new study from Manta, 67 percent of businesses have already experienced steady or improved sales and 71 percent feel positive about upcoming holiday sales.
Other highlights in the survey:
- Southern entrepreneurs are the most positive (75 percent) about their holiday sales
- 82 percent of business owners don’t plan to hire seasonal
- 74 percent plan to give to charity this holiday season. The biggest givers will be women (86 percent) and Millennials (89 percent).
If Santa’s reading, the number-one gift entrepreneurs hope to get is a new computer.
3. Big Data Matters for Small Businesses
We all know how important data can be in helping inform our business decisions and learning more about our customers and clients. But according to a new report from Constant Contact, 60 percent of small business owners aren’t using Big Data tools (and 25 percent saying they’re now sure if they use them).
Of the business owners who do use Big Data, 66 percent use it to identify which products and services to market to their customers and 51 percent rely on Big Data to tell them when to market.
4. The Power of Local
Our friends at Alignable (along with Independent We Stand) released a new survey this week highlighting how local business owners (who are also feeling optimistic about the upcoming holidays) plan to attract customers this season. Most of the business owners are planning to participate in Small Business Saturday.
Other customer attraction tactics include:
- Offering discounts and specials (59 percent)
- Offering unique or hard-to-find products (47 percent)
- Holding special events (41 percent)
- Cross-promoting with other local businesses (38 percent)
- Participating in town-wide “Holiday Stroll” or other type of town or neighborhood events (32 percent)
- Offering products online (32 percent)
- Extending store hours (24 percent)
Check out the infographic for more insight.
5. Watch out for Holiday Scams
McAfee, part of Intel Security, just released a warning list of 12 holiday scams entrepreneurs need to be aware of. Here are a few of them:
- You’ve Got Mail! Look out for phony shipping notification and phishing scams.
- Chilling Charities. Beware of fake charities.
- iScams. New mobile apps are released daily—and a good number are malicious and can access private information.
- BYOD. Chances are you and many of your employees will be traveling over the holidays, increasing the likeliness of someone losing a smartphone, laptop or tablet. Make sure your network is protected and you have tight security measures in place, so no one can gain access to sensitive business information stored on these devices.
To stay protected McAfee suggests you: do your research, analyze apps before you download them, be careful when using ATM machines, stay informed and educate your employees.
6. Are You Prepared for Retirement?
The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, a subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America just released a survey showing many entrepreneurs plan to sell their businesses in order to fund their retirement. Unfortunately, they’re not quite prepared to make that plan a reality.
The Small Business Owners Retirement Readiness Study shows that entrepreneurs are more confident than they were in the 2011 study that they’re prepared for retirement. However while 35 percent are counting on the sale of their businesses to “be financially prepared for retirement, only 17 percent have identified potential buyers for their companies. Increasingly more owners plan on using their small business to help fund their retirement. The key findings from the study are available in this infographic.
7. Are You Financially Literate?
If your answer is no, don’t feel bad. A new survey from Intuit shows 41 percent of small business owners consider themselves financially illiterate. Specifically:
- 81 percent handle their business’ finances themselves.
- 66 percent wish they knew more about their finances.
- 39 percent do not follow financial news.
- Only 38 percent think their employees understand their business’ finances.
- 28 percent of small businesses are in debt.
If you want to know more, Intuit just introduced a Financial Literacy Tool.
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.