By Rieva Lesonsky

1. Accentuating the Positive

Hiscox, an insurance provider for small businesses, just released its annual DNA of an Entrepreneur study, which finds most American entrepreneurs owners embracing their inner Pollyannas. More than half of all small business owners are optimistic about the coming year, possibly because 50 percent experienced revenue growth in the past year and 57 percent attracted new customers.

Innovation is a little slower to develop, apparently, as only 22 percent of entrepreneurs developed a new product or service in the last year. But (I told you they’re feeling positive) 66 percent will launch a product in the year ahead, which would be a significant change.

There’s good news for women business owners as well, as they experienced more customer growth (62 percent vs. 53 percent for men) and had equal growth in new hires. Women-owned businesses also boasted a 17 percent increase in new customer growth and a 5 percent increase in revenue.

Of course, into every life some rain must fall. Entrepreneurs’ biggest challenges included not being able to attract new clients (43 percent), having to pass cost increases on to customers (36 percent) and facing rising costs of debt (31 percent).

And 41 percent of those surveys blame the “economic climate” for their increased stress levels, which is down from 50 percent in 2011.

One part of the survey that surprises me, given all the publicity in the past year of cyber attacks on businesses large and small, is that small business owners are not protecting their businesses from cyber threats. Only 38 percent change company passwords after an employee leaves, just one-third require their employees to change passwords regularly and only 27 percent use encrypted email to send secure information.

Ben Walter, CEO of Hiscox USA, says American “businesses have weathered the storm…and are looking forward to the year ahead with increasing courage and confidence. The overall sentiment…is positive, bolstered by renewed signs of growth and opportunity.”

There’s a lot more information in the report, which is definitely worth reading.


2. Want to be more productive? Take more breaks. Seriously. New research says people who take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes they work operate at peak productivity.

3. Is crowdfunding good or bad for product development? You’d think the answer would be “good”, but it ain’t necessarily so.

4. This entrepreneur raised nearly $600,000 on Kickstarter—and that’s when the trouble began.

5. Sometimes the “dumbest” ideas can have the biggest impact.

6. Resourceful idea for startup retailers: open your store within another store.

7. Michael Dell did it. 12 businesses you can start in your dorm room.

8. Are you a startup? Chances are your employee onboarding process is broken. Here’s how to fix it.

9. Secrets from those who’ve conquered time management. (Is this really possible? For me managing time is akin to finding the Holy Grail. I keep trying, but it remains out of my grasp.)

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 and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.