16 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know


By Rieva Lesonsky


1—How Startups Can Make a Lasting Impression

Making a good impression is important for all business, but for startups it’s especially crucial. Check out this visual guide from CM Brand to help your business develop a positive lasting impression.


2—How to Win Customers’ Loyalty

How do you win your customers’ loyalty these days, in an ever-increasing competitive market. Check out this report from Kobie Marketing, Loyalty in the Age of the Connected Consumer? It highlights consumer shopping preferences across generations and how businesses can best build loyal shoppers.

Here are some key stats:

  • 86% of consumers primarily join loyalty programs to collect and redeem points for rewards
  • 36% join programs specifically to redeem points for discounts and prizes
  • 22% say they’d be most willing to join a loyalty swipe card
  • 35% of consumers rank price as the most significant factor in whether they would return to a business or shop elsewhere


3—Back-to-School Tips for Retailers

Even though we’re in the throes of August heat, many schools are about to open, which means the back-to-school shopping season is well underway—thanks also in part to Amazon Prime Day being pushed up nearly a month this year! It should be a strong season too,  with 29 million households across the U.S. planning to spend a total of $27.6 billion on supplies this year.

Since back-to-school is the second-biggest shopping season of the year, it’s important that retailers step up and meet the evolving needs of today’s shoppers.

The Sitel Group, a world-leading customer experience management company, shares some tips on how retailers can ensure customer satisfaction during the back-to-school shopping season?

  • Your staff can make or break your brand reputation: In-store shopping is expected to dominate this season, with 57% of the B2S spend anticipated to take place in-store. As technology continues to evolve, it’s critical that employee training remains a top priority. Everything from situational training to rewards and recognition to regular staff assessments should be considered when preparing staff for a busy shopping season—especially one that is as hectic as B2S.
  • Everything omnichannel:  Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access websites, look for prices, and collect coupons and discounts versus making purchases. Retailers must be cognizant of these trends and prepare accordingly. This means creating a digital experience that is tailored to consumer shopping trends and behaviors, while also maintaining an exemplary physical presence in-store and through contact centers to streamline every stage of the shopping experience, all the way from initial research to the final purchase.
  • Automation needs the human touch: New tech, such as chatbots are great tools for brands to leverage as an alternative engagement option for consumers. Simon Malls is a great example of a company that’s utilizing chatbot services to supplement in-store staff with its introduction of a “concierge” chatbot that can provide directions, deals and discount information, and more. However, it’s important to remember thoughtful human interpretation and integration are essential to the success of these tools.


4—Connecting Consumers with Pinterest

Most of us hear about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram every day. But did you know 200 million people worldwide use Pinterest every month? And that 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest?

To help marketers leverage the value of Pinterest, Sprout Social’s new Pinterest integration enables marketers to:

  • Create, publish and measure Pinterest content within a unified platform
  • Facilitate stronger team collaboration and manage Pinterest strategies cohesively and naturally across channels
  • Assess top performing Pins and leverage them across channels to get the most out of their visual strategy

Given 87% of Pinterest users have purchased a product due to Pinterest, businesses should investigate integrating this channel into their social strategies.

You can read more about the program here.


5—Do Your Social Media Platforms Need Their Own Logo?

We all know the value of an eye-catching logo. It’s a way for current and potential clients and customers to recognize us. Once you create your logo, it’s natural to want to put it everywhere possible—on your letterhead, of course, but also on your social media profiles, website, and email campaigns.

But, according to FlashMarks, despite what you may have been told, your logo isn’t meant for use on social media. The company explains that while most logos “do a good job communicating brand principles, values, and functions on company websites, marketing materials, etc., there’s one element most logos lack that makes them ill-suited for use as social media profile pictures—scalability.

“Once a logo is forced into the tiny, cramped space allowed for profile pictures on social networks

  • The logo in general gets smaller and hard to see
  • Logo details blur and disappear or get cropped out
  • Text becomes annoyingly small and sometimes impossible to read”

When you place your logo into your social media profile, invariably something’s cut off, cropped out, pixelated, illegible, or too close to the edges.

And, FlashMarks adds, “Attempting to design a logo that can scale up to the size needed for use online and scale down with clarity to the small proportions needed for social media profile pictures is difficult. It also limits the creativity you can have with your design.”

If you’re not happy with the way you logo looks on your social profiles, consider using FlashMarks instead of full logos. Here are a few examples of FlashMarks you may recognize:

You can see that mega-brands often use a special, simplified version of their logos without text. These FlashMarks are symbol-focused branding that looks modern and is designed especially for use on social media. The company says using these symbols make your company “easier to remember and recognize.” That’s important when users are quickly scrolling through their newsfeeds.

Special Offer: FlashMarks is new and looking for beta testers to put their new DIY logo tool to the test. SmallBizDaily readers can make a logo and download the full Family of Marks package (a $29 value) free with promo code “flashbeta. 


6—Life-Cycles of America’s Small Businesses

What factors lead to small business growth and failure? A new report with insight into the lifecycle of U.S. small businesses was recently released by the JPMorgan Chase Institute. By analyzing the revenues and cash flows of 1.3 million small businesses, Growth, Vitality, and Cash Flows: High-Frequency Evidence from 1 Million Small Businesses, reveals that although small businesses in the U.S. are often treated as a uniform sector, they are not; they vary in terms of growth, employees, and cash flow management.

“While many people think of ‘gazelles’ and Silicon Valley startups as the keys to U.S. economic growth, self-financed small businesses that may never hire an employee or secure external financing make significant contributions to our economy and are the engine of the small business sector,” says Diana Farrell, President and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute.

Across 12 different industry sectors, the median life expectancy of an American small business is 5.3 years, with real estate firms lasting nine years and restaurants staying in business for 3.7 years before exiting. Across all business types, nonemployer firms are five times more likely to exit the marketplace than they are to hire employees.

Analyses of the data provide new insights on how small businesses manage cash flow. Previously, policy makers did not have data on how small businesses manage their finances that could explain the relationship between small business financing, cash flow, and growth, or that could be used to craft policies to support the development of different types of small businesses.

The report divides small businesses into four types based on size, complexity, and dynamism to identify the economic contributions of different small business segments.

  1. Financed Growth:This sector accounts for 3% of small firms, such as a new hamburger chain or a tech startup, that intend to grow through substantial use of external financing. These businesses have the potential to make sizable contributions to the overall economy, though approximately 20% of these firms fail within four years.
  2. Organic Growth:The largest sector of American small businesses, these firms account for more than half of all firms. These include businesses, such as consulting businesses, that intend to grow with limited use of external financing. These may include a large share of businesses that transition between employer and nonemployer status. Across sectors, organic growth businesses are most likely to fail, with 31% of firms exiting within four years.
  3. Stable Small Employer:Firms, such as a local doctor’s office, that employ a small number of people, generally between five and 20, and are not likely to seek external financing. And 12% of these firms exited within four years after launch.
  4. Stable Micro:These types of businesses, such as a local dry cleaner, typically hire zero or very few employees. These firms provide economic support to large numbers of households of small business owners, whose businesses may not grow significantly over time. Of these businesses, 15% of firms are likely to exit over a period of four years

Additional highlights from the findings include:

Finding 1: Organic growth firms generate the majority of small business payroll and revenue but are also the most likely to exit the market.  They play a significant role in revenue generation, but are also the most fragile and take big risks. More than 31% of these businesses that survive for one year will exit the market before the end of their fourth year.

Finding 2: Financed growth firms are more concentrated in some industries and cities, but organic growth firms abound in every industry and city. Firms in locations like San Jose and San Francisco are three times as likely to be financed growth small businesses, but organic growth firms contribute more to overall economic growth and distribute the benefits of that growth more broadly across geographies.

Finding 3: Nonemployer small businesses are more likely to exit the market than to hire employees. The majority of nonemployer small businesses remain nonemployers, and the overwhelming majority of employer businesses remain employers. Each year, a small percentage of nonemployers become employers, but the likelihood of their transition decreases as firms mature.

Finding 4: New small businesses achieve more stable and regular cash flow patterns over time or exit the market. Small businesses with volatile expenses (relative to revenues) are much more likely to exit than those with other cash flow patterns, suggesting that large and perhaps unexpected expenses could be especially difficult to manage.

Finding 5: Stable firms survive, growing dynamic firms transition to more predictable cash flow patterns, and declining dynamic firms exit the market. New dynamic small businesses are particularly prone to certain types of irregular cash flows. Financed growth firms are especially likely to have sporadic revenues, and organic growth firms are especially likely to have both revenues and expenses with erratic timing. These types of irregularity become less common for firms that survive and grow.


7—Startup Dreams

Have you thought about starting a business? According to the findings of its survey of aspiring small business owners, Lending Tree (which just celebrated a new milestone for its small business vertical—surpassing $1 billion in loan volume in its small business marketplace) finds 31.6% of Americans surveyed have thought about starting a business in the past year. However, 42% of those haven’t taken any steps toward getting started. Why? There are several reasons, but the most common is access to sufficient capital.

Findings of a follow-up survey show:

  • One-third of respondents are considering a Small Business Association (SBA) loan, making it the most popular source of small business financing. Conversely, 25% say they won’t need to borrow to start their small business.
  • Inertia is an impediment for many—46% haven’t taken any steps to start a business, like registering a company, applying for a business loan or working on their business part time.
  • 25% say their primary motivation for starting a new business is wanting more purpose.Only 14% say they don’t want a boss.
  • 20% are willing to forgo an incometo get their businesses off the ground, while 16% refused to tolerate any salary cut.
  • 23% are not willing to take on any personal debt to start a business., while 19% are prepared to risk $25,000 or more.


8—The Reach of Amazon

New numbers show Amazon is an increasingly popular shopping destination for both consumers and businesses.

According to the Consumer Expectations in 2018 report from Avionos:

  • 38% of consumers start their product searches on Amazon
  • 17% of consumers would be willing to share more personal information during the buying experience if it meant Amazon could better anticipate their needs

According to the 2018 Procurement Officer Report from Avionos:

  • 78% of B2B buyers start their product searches on either Amazon or Google.
  • The growth of Amazon Business has led 65% of B2B buyers to make more business purchases through Amazon

According to Walker Sands’ 2018 Future of Retail study:

  • 42% of consumers receive 1-2 packages from Amazon per week. That number jumps to 50% for consumers ages 18-25, and 57% for consumers ages 26-35.
  • 1 in 10 consumers have purchased groceries on Amazon in the past year.
  • 19% of consumers have used a voice-controlled device to purchase products on Amazon Prime.
  • 11% are concerned about Amazon gaining a monopoly.
  • 35% of consumers would use Amazon to fill prescription orders online. This jumps to 46% for those 18-25 and 51% for those 26-35.


9—Making Back-to-School Shopping Fun Again

In addition to being busy business owners, many of you are parents. And while “Thing” #3 mentioned back-to-school shopping from the retailers’ perspective. But what about for consumers? It can be daunting—whether you’re shopping for school supplies or dorm room décor (or everything in between)—the list can feel endless, as you search for this year’s “must haves”.

Tophatter, the “world’s fastest, most entertaining marketplace” for mobile shoppers, wants to make back-to-school shopping fun again. The company just launched its back-to-school shopping catalog—featuring the must-have back-to-school items your kids want and need—at major savings.

Users can hop on the website or search the app store for to get deals at 80% off on jewelry, accessories, electronics, and more.  Mobile discovery shopping is a fast-growing trend and Tophatter connects sellers to over 10 million shoppers across the globe.

How does Tophatter work? It is available online and on smartphones (iOS and Android). Bidding starts with a predetermined opening bid amount.  Buyers place subsequent bids, increasing the price. The price increase for each bid is based on the current bid amount and bids increase in higher increments as the price goes up. When a new high bid is recognized, the viewing time for that item is extended by a few seconds.
The final winning bid is the price at which the item will be sold. There may be an additional shipping price, which is indicated on each listing. The button next to any item shows the bidding status (i.e. OUTBID, WINNING, CLOSED, etc.)


10—Why GDPR Compliance Must Be Baked Into Your Enterprise Software

Guest post by Andrew Lichey, Product Manager at IFS

Most enterprise software applications do not yet have features that deal with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There are standalone point solutions that address GDPR, but can they really address the challenge given that data exists in many different business applications including enterprise resource planning (ERP) software? The different places data may be housed beyond customer relationship management (CRM) is creating new challenges for companies looking to effectively deal with GDPR compliance. It is essential enterprise software delivers native built-in features to enable compliance.

Identifiable customer data is resident throughout your applications, and tracking it, managing it and determining what data you have the right to use is becoming more complex as traditional product-oriented industries pursue servitization—focusing more on services delivered around a product over its lifecycle, as opposed to sale of the initial product itself.

Mission Critical, even in the U.S.: Many sources deal with the requirements of GDPR at length, and it may make sense to consult your attorney or corporate counsel regarding your processes, but in short, any company handling information about individuals must be able show that they have the consent of subjects for data processing and practice anonymous data collection to protect privacy. Businesses will also be required to notify subjects of any breach of their identifiable information as well as safely handle the transfer of data across borders. In some cases, they will also need to appoint a Data Protection Officer to oversee GDPR compliance.

EU residents also have certain rights under GDPR, and it is up to anyone handling their data to show they are safeguarding these rights. Violation of these rights may result in stiff financial penalties. Even if an organization does not reside or have a presence in the European Union, a GDPR violation can lead to a fine of 4% of your annual revenue or €20 million – whichever is greater.

Servitization drives greater complexity: As product-oriented companies make the transition to more and more service offerings, the amount of customer data they hold will increase, and so will the ways they engage with that data. Rather than marketing a product up to the point of a sale transaction, the relationship with the customer continues under a contract or through periodic additional service transactions.

This increases complexity in terms of tracking which customers have contracts in place and which do not, and treating identifying data differently depending on its contractual status. Customers may also want service history and other historical data transferred to a new vendor – a capability organizations must be able to provide under the new regulation. Any company that issues warranties or service contracts to customers who buy their products will also need to determine their exposure from the resulting data.

GDPR: The data challenge: This data can reside throughout your business and is affected by GDPR. Any compliance challenge can be made easier when data is contained in a centralized system of record, but even in a self-contained application, GDPR presents challenges that suggest changes to the underlying architecture and functionality will be necessary to implement to streamline compliance. This is a complex challenge for several reasons.

  • Contractors and integrations: Regardless of who owns the customer relationship, an organization is responsible for compliance as soon as the customer data is received. Even if this data comes into the organization through means such as email, an e-commerce portal or an integration with a supply chain partner’s system, it is responsible for protecting that data.
  • Not just customers: A lot of the attention around GDPR focuses on customer-facing or marketing communications. But GDPR affects data about employees as well as current or prospective customers. This means organizations with European employees need to focus on any data that uniquely identifies them as an individual, including date of birth, address and gender.
  • Not just data but files: The amount of information held across organizations is substantial. Structured data in the database underpinning business systems, but also as unstructured data —such as images, PDFs, Word documents and more. These are all available in business systems as attachments to data objects or transactions. In an ERP system, these files may be documents signed by the customer, scanned performance reviews or job applications in a personnel file. Service organizations may also need to pay attention to data collected in a field service setting during sign-off or approval of service work.

Attacking the problem with software—baked in is better: Just as ERP and field service management software companies have to re-examine their applications in light of regulatory changes and gradual shifts such as the movement of U.S. GAAP towards the IFRS standard, enterprise software companies must evolve their offering quickly to facilitate GDPR compliance.

Most enterprise software vendors will still steer customers towards point solutions integrated with an enterprise software product for compliance. While it will be a challenge, vendors will need to evolve their products to deal with GDPR. This is the most elegant way to achieve key elements of compliance.

Less data can create more problems: Many companies will find they underestimated the challenge of identifying someone from data in their system, particularly if they focus on non-unique identifiers such as first and last name. So, one practical—if seemingly counter-intuitive move—may be to collect more data!

If there are many people with identical names, the company will need to ensure they are processing data for the right person. Destroying the wrong person’s data or handing the wrong person’s data over to an unauthorized person could have serious repercussions. The best way to solve it is to put more personal information in the system. This creates a more unique record and enables you to code it against an index number or field you can use uniquely in your system.

Role-specific access: Enterprise software will typically enable role-specific access to information in order to ensure that financial data is viewed or accessed only by approved people. These defined roles can also be used to ensure that only people with a legitimate need to access protected information have the required permissions.

If a customer, employee or other affected party calls you and wants to be forgotten, organizations need to quickly ascertain what personal data is held in the system – and each disparate system represents a potential failure point in your compliance effort. It is also very inefficient to create and attempt to follow compliance processes across multiple systems.

A centralized system of record eases any compliance effort because it gives you consistent visibility and control over who can see content, who can destroy content, what content people have permission to use in what way and how they secured that permission.

As we see how GDPR sends tentacles throughout the structured and unstructured data that underpins business applications, we start to understand that it is essential that enterprise software delivers native built-in features to facilitate compliance.


Quick Takes

11—Advertising on Facebook

Facebook may be embroiled in controversy, but there’s no argument about the fact that Facebook drives small business sales. And if you invest a little in advertising on the site, it can have a big impact on your business. This uber-helpful Complete Guide to Advertising on Facebook from BigCommerce shows you how to get the most out of Facebook.


12—Optimizing Your LinkedIn Campaigns

LinkedIn just announced a redesigned reporting experience for LinkedIn Campaign Manager, making it easier to understand how your campaigns are performing and letting you quickly optimize for better results. This new interface delivers a clean and intuitive experience that lets you more easily manage your campaigns. You can read more about it here.


13—Importing Goods from China

Importing merchandise from China can be a cost-effective and profitable option for many small retailers. But the endless array of products and suppliers may make the process seem overwhelming and confusing.

You can simplify the process. Check out this helpful video on YouTube from 2Flow which will help you better navigate the complex importing process.


Cool Tools

14—An All-in-One Solution Becomes Even More Helpful

Zoho just announced major updates to Zoho One, its flagship suite of applications designed to put businesses completely in the cloud. First launched in July 2017, the all-in-one solution includes apps that run sales and marketing, finance and HR, operations and business intelligence. Now, Zoho One has added a new set of capabilities that bridge the gap between different departments and roles within a business.

In the past year, the company added four new apps to Zoho One: CliqZoho SprintsZoho PageSense and Zoho Flow. And they just introduced Zoho Backstage (see “Thing”#15), an end-to-end event management platform, which is being added to the suite at no additional cost.

“The stats clearly show customers will use multiple apps from a single suite, if those apps work together more deeply than a patchwork of products from different vendors,” says Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist at Zoho. “We see customers combining data from different Zoho and third-party apps—like email campaigns, CRM, customer support, and invoicing—to generate new insights and make better decisions.”

New Capabilities Added to Zoho One 

Analytics—which provides analytics across Zoho’s suite of transactional business apps. Business owners can track KPIs and trends from one tab, helping them make more informed decisions. You can create your own custom reports and dashboards to blend data from different business apps and do cross-functional analytics. Currently, there are over 500 pre-built reports and dashboards available across applications. Users can also import data stored in third-party applications and analyze it along with the data from Zoho’s internal apps.

Zia for Zoho One—Zia, an AI-powered assistant is being added to Zoho One. It functions across various applications, pulling data from different departments to provide the right contextual information.

Zia Search—On average, knowledge workers spend 30% of their workdays searching for information, according to an IDC research paper. The new Zia Search lets users search across all their Zoho apps instantly, dramatically improving information access. Zia Search also offers a results preview as well as contextual actions so users can utilize their results without having to leave the search window.

Mobile app—which allows your business to onboard new employees, provision applications, manage permissions, set security policies, create groups and more, all from your mobile devices. With this app, admins can even take care of time-sensitive requests, like resetting a password, when they are away from their computers.

Zoho Concierge—This was launched last year and is a free service available exclusively to Zoho One customers. Since its inception, this dedicated 24/7 team has helped more than 6,500 customers by mapping their business processes and advising them on how best to optimize Zoho One for their particular needs.

Pricing and availability—Zoho One is available for $30 per employee per month. Businesses must purchase a license for every employee in their organization to get this pricing. Zoho One is currently available worldwide, in multiple languages. Users can sign up for a 30-day trial version of Zoho One.

Zia for Zoho One is not currently available. The Analytics feature will be rolled out in phases, whereas Zia Search is available immediately.

The Android mobile app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. The iOS app will be released soon.


15—The Easier Way to Manage Events 

Zoho also just announced Backstage, an end-to-end event management tool that allows organizers, corporations, and non-profit agencies to plan, promote, and run enterprise events ranging from large-scale meetings to conferences and trade shows. Zoho Backstage has a broad range of features, including a multi-language website builder, agenda planner, attendee mobile app, sponsor management, detailed analytics and more. Backstage adds a completely new marketing channel to Zoho’s integrated suite of apps, Zoho One.

“Planning and running an event is a complex operation that has traditionally required different tools for each stage of the process—a website builder, a mass emailing solution, scanners for checking in attendees, and a stand-alone app for audience engagement,” says Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist, Zoho Corp. Backstage offers “a unified online platform that allows organizers to market the event, fill seats, and engage audience all from within one product.”

Zoho Backstage is integrated with Eventbrite. It also works with Zoho Flow, an extensive integration platform that connects Backstage with over 100 third-party applications.

Pricing and availability: Zoho Backstage is available immediately, both as a web app and as mobile apps for iOS and Android. There are four subscription plans: the Free plan, the Professional plan ($99 per month), the Professional+ plan ($199 per month), and the Single Event plan ($299 per event) with a custom branding add-on at $1000 per year. Custom branding includes a custom domain and mobile app. The Zoho Backstage Professional+ plan is included as a part of Zoho One.


16—Business Performance Dashboards

Chances are you’re getting a lot of data from the various cloud applications you uses. Octoboard lets you build business performance dashboards using the data from the cloud applications, such as social platforms, financial apps, sales and marketing applications, etc.  And it only costs $5 a month.

Take a look at this short (50 second) video to see how to connect to email marketing data or this one that is an overview of the interface.


Small business stock photo by mavo/Shutterstock