15 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
If you have startup questions, such as What’s the startup failure rate in your industry? Your city? What prevents startups from failing? How should you conduct the best market research? Where can you find funding? What are the best cities for startups? What are the most profitable industries for startups?
Check out the infographic below from SmallBizGenius to learn more.
2—Consumers Would Spend More on Back-to-School Shopping with Flexible Payments
More than one-third (35%) of consumers would spend more on back-to-school shopping—if they were able to use flexible payments solutions, such as interest-free installments or ‘buy now, pay later’ plans, according to a survey commissioned by leading installment payment solution Splitit. The survey also shows a staggering 40% of consumers are planning to do their back-to-school shopping on Amazon, presenting a challenge for retailers looking to capture consumer attention this back-to-school season.
Competing with Amazon: In order to compete with retail behemoths like Amazon, small business owners must find ways to gain a competitive edge. Splitit’s findings show flexible payment options present a unique opportunity for retailers. In addition to the 35% of consumers who say they’d buy more back-to-school items if they could use flexible payments, 37% say free shipping would encourage them to spend more money this back-to-school season, and 29% would be incentivized to spend more by getting a 10% discount.
Their top motivations when choosing where to shop for back-to-school purchases are (48%) finding the best prices and (33%) the ability to buy as many items as possible in one place. Another 22% of consumers would be most motivated by flexible payment options, such as monthly instalments or ‘buy now, pay later’ plans.
“Retailers and direct-to-consumer brands are in fierce competition with the likes of Amazon and only those who differentiate themselves will succeed. Our research clearly shows that consumers crave flexibility,” says Gil Don, Splitit CEO and cofounder. “Back-to-school shoppers want payment solutions that suit their cash flow without incurring debt. Merchants who meet this demand will draw customers, combat cart abandonment, and see their bottom lines grow.”
Back-to-school spending: The survey shows of the 43% of consumers who plan to do back-to-school shopping, 82% plan to spend under $500. They plan to buy:
- 41% clothing and/or shoes
- 28% backpacks, school bags, or luggage
- 25% stationery
- 16% computers, laptops or other electronics
Generation Z: The findings show 23% of Gen Z shoppers say flexible payment options would encourage them to buy more this back-to-school season. Another 26% believe flexible payment offerings would help them avoid overspending.
Nearly 50% of Gen Zers plan to spend under $100 on back-to-school shopping this year and 30% plan to spend between $100 and $500. More (41%) would rather shop at large retailers instead of Amazon (35%), followed closely by discount stores (34%).
35% prefer to use cash only for back-to-school purchases, beating debit cards at 20% and credit cards at 13%.
3—7 Steps to Prepare Your Small Business for Hurricane Season
Guest post by Peter Shelley, President at THREE by Berkshire Hathaway.
Now that we’re in the midst of hurricane season, which runs from now through November 30, it’s vital for small businesses, particularly those in hurricane-prone areas, to get disaster-ready. While no one wants to think about preparing for and recovering from a disaster, it is especially important for small businesses to plan, as they often don’t have resources readily available to bounce back quickly after a calamity. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen following a disaster. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) found that over 90% of companies fail within two years of being struck by a disaster.
The reasons for this are many, but one of the key elements is a lack of sufficient preparation. As the hurricane season continues, here are seven critical steps small businesses can take to help ride out a disaster and to recover quickly should one occur:
- Conduct an Insurance Review:Make sure your business is adequately covered, before a hurricane or other natural disaster strikes. Hurricanes are violent events that can cause damage from not only wind but also flooding. Flooding can be caused by sustained heavy rainfall that accumulates over many hours or days, or also due to storm surge, in which rising seawater penetrates far beyond the natural coastline. Remember, most small business insurance policies do not cover flood losses, so make sure you have the right property coverage in place. Check for business interruption coverage, too.
- Look to the Cloud:Cloud-based storage and systems can provide safe and secure access for key documents, systems, and data. Consider backing up core customer files, key documents, and images of your property, assets, equipment, and key contacts so that this information is readily accessible after a disaster.
- Build a Plan:Define a hurricane preparation plan that has the timeline and activities that your company will follow before, during, and after a hurricane. The plan should detail the actions to be taken during each stage of a hurricane warning, especially when you will evacuate, and should look to protect your people first and critical assets second. FEMA has excellent planning tools and checklists that can be used to help create your plan.
- Gather Emergency Supplies:Based on your plan, pre-position needed supplies to help protect your company’s key buildings, vehicles, and equipment. This can include plywood for windows, heavy plastic to cover equipment, sandbags, or emergency generators.
- Create Employee Emergency Communication:Hurricanes can significantly disrupt standard communication, so create a plan for communicating with your employees before, during, and after an emergency, using a mix of traditional methods, such as phone chains, and new social tools such as Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and other platforms that can help keep everyone informed.
- Conduct Training:Employee training sessions to review the hurricane plan, communication procedure, and preparations will not only help ensure the plan goes smoothly, the sessions will also increase employee confidence in the business through the emergency.
- Develop Customer Communication:One of the keys to small business success is staying connected with customers before and after a disaster. If you haven’t done so already, explore Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms to be able to reach your customers. Then create a plan to keep them informed, letting them know when you are going to be closed for the hurricane, how your business fared, and when you are going to be back and ready to serve them.
While hurricanes and other natural disasters cannot be prevented, small business owners can follow these seven steps to best position their business to overcome the setbacks they present.
4—American Entrepreneurs are Optimistic
U.S. entrepreneurs are optimistic about business growth, the power of technology, as well as their contributions to local communities, according to a global study of small businesses (less than 25 employees) commissioned by GoDaddy.
SMB optimism: 70% of U.S. entrepreneurs expect to grow at least 25% in the next 3-5 years.
- 75% are confident AI or robotics will not take their jobs
- 17% are concerned about political and societal turbulence—making Americans the least likely to be worried about that across the 10 countries surveyed
- Flexibility is the most compelling benefit to being a small business owner (globally)—ranking 5x higher than the potential to earn money
- The web matters. 79% of U.S. respondents with a website expect to grow at least 25% in the next 3-5 years, compared to 64% of those with no website
Generational differences in the U.S.:
While the number of people who work from home is on the rise in the U.S., baby boomers (49%) and Gen Xers (42%) are still nearly twice as likely as millennials (26%) to believe remote work will be commonplace in the future.
Millennials are much more optimistic about business growth and their impact on their local communities:
- S. millennials are nearly twice as likely to expect big growth (50%) in the next 3-5 years compared to boomers
- 55% believe they’re providing the services their communities need compared to 46% of Gen Xers and 36% of boomers
Gender differences in the U.S.:
- Female entrepreneurs (80%) are much more likely to handle their own tech needs compared to their male counterparts (63%)
- Women are more likely to value flexibility (65% to 54%) and more likely to work in a home office (46% to 35%)
- Females (76%) are slightly more confident than men (71%) that AI or robotics will not take their jobs
Learn more in their blog.
5—Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Opening Another Business
Successful business owners often wonder when (or even if) it’s time to open another location. Shawn and Tammy Friesen, successful multi-unit franchise owners of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, part of the Expedia group family of brands, own and operate five franchise locations and are top performers in the franchise network.
They share their advice below:
What made your first location successful and is it replicable? Was it your training program, your exceptional customer service, your rock star employees, your real estate location, etc.? Identify your wins and make sure these success factors are replicable and can translate to a new location. Capitalize on all of the research and development of your first location – be willing to share your systems.
Do you have money to invest? Even if your first location is hugely successful, you have to remember that there will be extra expenses required to open an additional location—rent, payroll, insurance, inventory, equipment, marketing/advertising, etc. Begin making calculations to determine the realistic timeframe for the new location to be profitable and then decide if you have adequate cash to fund the investment.
Do you know the market you want to open in, really? Many small business owners fail in opening their second or third location because they don’t adequately research the new market. Make sure you conduct thorough research to determine if there is demand for your product/service, understand realistic revenue projections, and begin tailoring your approach to meet the unique characteristics of the area you are expanding into.
Are you ready to delegate and do you have the right people to do so? You have to ask yourself if you’re comfortable with delegating a large amount of responsibility—running one of your businesses—to someone else. You have to be willing and ready to step back at times, but most important, you have to have a team in place who can help run the business. Think about who would be second-in-command, can you identify someone you’re confident in—someone you can train using the same proven systems in place?
Do you have a long-term business plan in place? Just as you likely had a business plan for your first location, you’ll need to update it to reflect your new expansion. Use the first plan as a model but adapt based on lessons learned. You may think this is repetitive, but it is critical to write the plan so it can be shared with all your new support members so everyone is on the same page in terms of reaching the long-term goals…five or 10 years down the road.
6—Facial Recognition Technology
Are you comfortable with the use of facial recognition technology, particularly in airports? Rerservations.com polled Americans and found that 32.5% disagree with the government using facial recognition technology at airports to improve security and boarding speed, while 42.6% approve of using the technology.
Check out the infographic below for more information.
Image source: Reservations.com
7—Addressing the “Ghosting” Problem
Guest post by Vinita Venkatesh, VP of Product Marketing, Mya Systems
Almost every candidate who’s tried to find a job in today’s fast-paced market has been ghosted by a recruiter. It’s rare that most candidates even receive an automated rejection email—65% of job seekers say they never or rarely receive even an automated rejection notice from employers.
Ghosting is a very real problem in the staffing space today, yet there are modern solutions. Tools like HR chatbots can help develop a robust hiring experience that personalizes the process and keeps candidates engaged.
Here are several ways you can offer a premier hiring experience to your job candidates:
Instant post-application two-way engagement. Automated hiring tools can expedite the screening process by engaging candidates right after they apply and asking them questions about their experience, skills, and salary requirements. Most chatbots are also equipped to answer FAQs about the organization and specific benefits.
Get the data you need when you need it. Beyond suitability, there are several other considerations in the hiring process: approvals from all the interviewers, benefit negotiations, and background verification. instead, pull relevant information from candidate conversations using entity extraction which then automatically populates discrete fields on the candidate profile with this data in real-time in your ATS.
Never ghost a candidate again. A candidate, upon rejection, often desires feedback on what they could have done better. Chatbots can interact with each candidate, explain why it rejected a candidate for a role if asked, and can even redirect candidates to apply to a fallback role.
8—BYOD Gains Acceptance
Just a few years ago the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) was a controversial one. Now, reports Ring Central, as an increasing number of companies are starting to support the trend of remote working, BYOD is on the rise. BYOD allows organizations to empower their workers, by allowing them to use the devices they feel most confident and familiar with. It ensures that wherever your employees are, and whatever they do, they can access the tools and services they need to remain productive.
Ring Central says the BYOD market is prepared to reach a value of about $367 billion by 2022.
But do you thoroughly understand what BYOD is, and what it can do to help your business thrive?
Learn more in this blog on Ring Central’s UK website.
9—Ride Hailing Report: Uber and Lyft Achieve Record Popularity
Uber, Starbucks and Lyft were the most expensed items in the Certify Q2 2019 SpendSmart™ Report, which aggregates expenses submitted by Certify users.
For the first time since Certify began reporting on ride hailing in Q1 2015, Uber and Lyft combined to appear on over 16% of all expense reports submitted by users of Certify’s desktop and mobile applications. Uber was the most expensed vendor overall in Q2 2019, with 12.71% of expenses compared to Lyft, which finished third overall, with 3.75% of all expenses. Starbucks was the second most expensed vendor this past quarter, with 4.01% of expenses. Amazon (3.63%) and Delta (3.56%) finished fourth and fifth respectively. The complete list of the Top 10 Most Expensed Vendors in Q2 2019 according to Certify’s user data can be found here.
Ride hailing giant Uber was responsible for 72.80% of all car-related ride hailing transactions in the second quarter of 2019. Meanwhile Lyft had 21.57% of receipts in the category for the quarter—a slight increase over Q2 2018. Taxis accounted for the remaining 5.63% of second quarter ride hailing transactions.
The average cost of an Uber ride remained consistent to previous quarters at $25.37 per ride and $25.51 for Lyft. Taxis once again were the most expensive option, with an average transaction of $36.17.* After five consecutive quarters as the top-rated ride hailing service, Lyft (4.4 stars) fell behind Uber’s average rating of 4.6 stars, according to Certify’s 5-star customer rating system.
Uber continued to control the car ride hailing market regionally in Q2 2019, taking the largest percentage of expenses in eight major metros. Of the metro areas Certify researched, Uber use was up in Q2 2019 from Q2 2018 in all but Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles—where the number of receipts declined. Lyft was up nearly across the board;
San Francisco and Boston were the only metros showing a decline. Taxi use decreased compared with Q2 2018 despite recent ride-hailing regulations meant to level the playing field.
In scooters, Lime became the frontrunner in Q2 2019, collecting 57.50% of all receipts/expenses compared to 30.17% for Bird—a 15% increase compared to Q1 2019. Razor was third with 7.59% of scooter transactions, Skip followed with 3.79%, and Spin claimed 0.95% of receipts in the category. Spin was the least expensive scooter service this quarter, with an average receipt of $4.28 versus Skip at $4.31, Razor at $4.76, Lime at $6.63, and Bird at $8.92. Bird and Lime were also the top-rated scooters in Q2 2019, each earning a 4.9-star customer rating.
The food delivery market, another disruptive force in corporate T&E, stabilized somewhat in Q2 2019. Grubhub topped the list at 27.39% of all transactions compared to 23.88% for DoorDash, 21.72% for Uber Eats, 12.34% for Postmates, 9.03% for Caviar, and 5.64% for Seamless.**
Seamless was the most expensive food delivery service in Q2 2019, with an average receipt of $133.26 compared to $103.83 for Caviar, $64.53 for Grubhub, $63.41 for DoorDash, $60.91 for Postmates, and $30.19 for Uber Eats. DoorDash was the highest rated service in Q2, scoring 4.9 stars in Certify’s 5-star rating system, followed by Caviar and Uber Eats tied with 4.6 stars.
Other items of note from Certify’s Q2 2019 SpendSmart report:
- Starbucks was the most expensed food option in Q2 2019, with 4.01% of transactions.
- Starbucks was the most expensed breakfast option, taking 17.39% of all breakfast receipts/expenses in Q2 2019, while McDonald’s was the top lunch and dinner choice at 2.83% and 1.68% of transactions for those meals, respectively.
- Marriott (10.30%) topped Hampton Inn (8.99%) as the most expensed lodging service in Q2 2019; Marriott was also the most expensive, at $306.50 on average.
- Delta was the most expensed airline in Q2 2019, earning 19.57% of all category transactions, compared to 18.83% for American Airlines.
- JetBlue ties with Southwest Airlines as the top rated airline vendor, with an average user rating of 4.6 stars.
“Our latest report shows just how ingrained sharing economy services have become among businesses and business travelers,” says Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify. “It’s been clear for a long time that business travelers preferred Uber and Lyft to taxis, but the rise of on- demand food delivery and scooter services really underscores how important convenience is to the business travel community.”
Certify analyzes over 10 million expenses submitted by business travelers every quarter and has processed over a quarter-billion expenses since the SpendSmart Report was launched in 2013.
* The average transaction prices for all car-related expenses analyzed by Certify may or may not include tips.
Does your business have a dress code? To many, that seems a quaint memory from another century, to others it triggers bad memories, and to many younger workers it’s a foreign concept. (I personally still remember being called to the HR Department at my first-ever job, because I had the temerity to wear pants to work during a frigid New York winter.)
Today, dress codes are more rare than common—although, this blog post from SimplyHired about professional appearance in the workplace suggests the “business ramifications of loosened dress codes remain unclear. While some experts suggest casual attire impedes productivity, others contend that it boosts morale.”
SimplyHired surveyed employees and found “business casual” and “smart casual” were the most common categories of work styles. However employees who had more rigid dress codes were more satisfied with their jobs (82%) than other workers.
There’s a lot of interesting information in the blog. Well worth a read.
11—Air Force CyberWorx Small Business Innovation Research Seminar
Air Force CyberWorx will host an all-day Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Seminar at Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in downtown Colorado Springs on Thursday, August 22. The seminar gives non-traditional small businesses, innovators, and entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn more about both SBIRs and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.
Space is limited for this free event, so participants must register at this link. The deadline for registration is Monday, August 19, 2019.
The seminar will cover the SBIR and STTR application process, eligibility requirements, funding options, accounting requirements, pitching to the government, local small business resources, and more. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the first-hand experiences of SBIR awardees and meet individually with organizations that provide support to small businesses. The goal of the event is to improve the government’s access to innovative technologies, products, and services by attracting small businesses and non-traditional government contractors to the market and enabling them to succeed.
For more information, please contact Stephanie Abeyta at firstname.lastname@example.org.
12—The History of Wi-Fi
Though the internet as we now know it didn’t exist until the 1990’s, the real history of Wi-Fi started decades before with Nikola Tesla when he, Paul Otlet, and Vannevar Bush all had the same basic idea of being able to talk and share information on a pocket-sized device.
We’ve come a long way over the past two decades seeing Wi-Fi speeds increase by 650x.
Check out the infographic below from NetGear.
Surveys show email is still the most effective marketing channel for small businesses. New Email Usage Statistics research from Campaign Monitor offers a blueprint to help you create effective email marketing campaigns.
Some examples from the free report:
- Up to 60% of email opens occur on mobile devices, depending on the industry (IBM)
- 82% of workers check email outside of normal business hours (Statista)
- Adding videos to emails can increase click-through rates by 300% (Martech Advisor)
15—Virtual Debit Cards
Passfeed, a social shopping app, has a “simple dream”: People should be able to shop, save and share deals without having to deal with credit cards or pay banking fees. Along with a robust shopping experience, Passfeed’s expanding offerings include virtual debit cards, gift certificates with merchants like Best Buy, Macy’s and Starbucks, ETF’s and even exclusive incentive cards.
Passfeed, “Your Social Shopping App,” has expanded to include its own virtual debit cards for consumers. These debit cards can automatically be filled and refilled for purchases. Customers can also send money from their digital wallet on the App to another user. The company has partnered with several major banks to offer a virtual debit Visa/Mastercard for its American customers.