business

14 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

How to be More Productive, How to Recover from a Natural Disaster, Lots of New Tools to Help You Grow and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

 

1—Recovering from a Natural Disaster

Last week some parts of Houston got up to 43 inches of rain in three days! When natural disasters strike (and they do seem to be hitting more frequently) they can paralyze businesses, impacting every aspect from daily operations to communications with the outside world.

Global communications company Viasat says a key element of a business’ ability to bounce back from these types of disaster heavily depends on reestablishing internet connectivity. And of course you should have a business continuity plan in place, so you can quickly reopen your digital doors: access the cloud, serve online customers and help your local community.

Check out the infographic below that shows the impact of natural disasters on small businesses along with the key elements you should think about when putting together a business continuity plan.

 

2—Cloud Solutions to Help You GrowBiz

Last week Oracle NetSuite announced a series of enhancements within the NetSuite solution to help businesses, “unlock growth and take [your] business to the next level.” The latest enhancements include new industry cloud solutions that help customers achieve the benefits of the cloud in as little as 45 days and more than 65 new and updated features for customers to core business management capabilities within NetSuite.

“Running a growing business can be overwhelming without the right levels of visibility and control,” says Evan Goldberg, EVP, Oracle NetSuite. “Our goal is to help our customers focus on what matters and unlock new opportunities by giving them the solutions needed to be agile and adapt to changing business dynamics. The latest updates to NetSuite build on that goal and our commitment to delivering customers in all industries a roadmap for success.”

Key updates to NetSuite include new financial, analytics, HR, supply chain, nonprofit, project management and commerce capabilities. Here are some highlights:

Analytics: Enhancements to SuiteAnalytics querying, pivoting, and charting plus 17 new pre-built Industry & Role SuiteAnalytics Workbooks make it easier than ever for customers to gain visibility into key business metrics by providing insights into commerce search results as well as procurement, inventory and supply chain processes.

Supply Chain: Predictive risks have been added to the Supply Chain Control Tower. This enables planners, buyers and operation users to increase on time delivery and optimize supply chain efficiency by being proactively alerted to potential supply chain issues and being prescribed potential actions to avoid the problems in the first place. This is built on the Intelligent Suite Machine Learning and AI platform.

Distribution: New warehouse management system (WMS) features give customers more control when allocating current and future inventory across the business by optimizing product allocation. In addition, a new order release capability provides better control of what is released to the warehouse, and a new mobile app improves operational efficiency.

Advanced Project Budgets: New project budgeting capabilities enable customers to make more informed decisions by providing a single view into all aspects of project budgeting, including the ability to create multiple versions of the budget plan.

Commerce: New features enable customers to streamline operations by using merchandise attributes such as color, size and pattern to quickly and easily access sales and inventory insights. In addition, Personalized Catalog Views help merchants personalize the customer experience by providing selective access to catalog items based on user preference.

Nonprofit: The new program outcomes feature allows nonprofit organizations to monitor the health and measure the outcome of their key programs, ensuring that they are staying true to their objectives and show donors the effectiveness of their funding.

HR: New capabilities within SuitePeople help customers enhance the employee experience, gain deeper visibility into HR processes and empower HR teams. The new capabilities include an employee timeline to easily view key milestones, an improved payroll experience for administrators and employees, and new HR dashboard capabilities.

Financials: New advanced banking data import features help customers reduce manual and time-consuming tasks associated with bank or credit reconciliation. In addition, new multi-subsidiary management and accounting capabilities help finance teams streamline the management of intercompany business processes.

To help customers achieve the benefits of the cloud in as little as 45 days, NetSuite continues to accelerate its investment in SuiteSuccess. SuiteSuccess is a pre-configured industry cloud solution, built on industry-leading practices, that combines deep domain knowledge with pre-built workflows, KPIs and dashboards. The latest additions to SuiteSuccess include expanded vertical capabilities across more than 10 industries, including restaurant & hospitality, planning & budgeting, food & beverage and SuiteSuccess for SuitePeople, which helps customers streamline the management of employee records and improve strategic decision making around employee job insights and efficiency. In addition, payroll management enhancements help customers make informed budgeting decisions within their workforce.

 

3—Be More Productive

Do you want to be more productive? (Who doesn’t?) That why I really appreciated these science-based tips from QuickQuid about how we can all increase our productivity if we stop doing these 13 things.

 

4—You Could Win $25,000

Every small business owner could use $25,000. Here’s your chance—Mastercard just launched its  third annual Grow Your Biz Contest, in partnership with Bank of America, to empower small business owners with expert guidance (and a $25K grand prize!) to help them take their businesses to the next level.

Past winners have benefitted from teaming up with the small business experts from Mastercard and Bank of America, as well as Bonin Bough, renowned marketing executive and small business expert? Here’s how:

Winner of the inaugural Grow Your Biz Contest, Rachel Estapa, turned her side hustle into a full-time job as a result of the mentorship she received—highlighting the importance of having a business partner who understands your needs and goals. Take a look at this video of her success to-date here after continuing her relationships with her mentors.

You don’t have to win the contest to benefit from the mentorship that Mastercard and Bank of America are offering. Last year, finalist Holly Johnson didn’t take home the grand prize, but has been working with her mentors through the Grow Your Biz program to strategically grow her business. Check out her success video here.

To enter the Grow Your Biz Contest, share your business strategy by submitting a video (up to one minute in length) on the Grow Your Biz microsite that answers the question: “How would $25,000 help grow your business?”

From the submissions, four finalists will be identified for their business strategy, video creativity and overall enthusiasm to receive a $1,000 Mastercard prepaid card and the opportunity to pitch their businesses to the Grow Your Biz Panel during the final event in New York City on November 14.

 

5—The Rise of Fintech

Disruptions in the financial services industry are nothing new, but, reports Fortunly, the rate at which modern technological advancements are changing the landscape is unprecedented.

To paint a clearer picture of how this emerging startup financial model is threatening to upend the world order Fontunly has compiled, in the infographic below, the latest data that shows all the significant disruptions that fintech solutions are causing in the world of finance.

 

Cool Tools

 

6—New Features from Yahoo Mail

Yahoo just launched a new version of its Mail app that redefines the way people use their inboxes. In this era of internet and inbox overload, email usage has drastically shifted with people creating multiple accounts for different purposes as they sort through endless content, receive daily promotional deals, and need a way to manage the mass volumes of messages. Yahoo Mail’s new app organizes the clutter for users, empowering them to personalize and control their inboxes and focus on what matters most to them.

businessThe new app groups people’s messages into “Views” such as Deals, Travel and Attachments, controls email overload by introducing an easy, one-tap unsubscribe tool, and elevates important content like package tracking and travel updates to the top of inboxes. Additionally, users can log in with other email accounts and still take advantage of the app’s features, making Yahoo Mail a multi-purpose inbox that delivers on all of your needs.

Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media says, “Today, [a lot of] communication happens on mobile. People rely on email to manage and organize their lives from navigating multiple accounts, business documents, travel itineraries and shopping. It’s more important than ever to do this efficiently and stress free.”

The app launched today on both iOS and Android, boasting new features, a modern interface, and navigation that allows for one-hand usage with even the biggest mobile screens. A few notable features and Views include:

  • Design refresh and deeper customization: A revamped interface that’s built for today’s taller mobile screens and allows for one-hand usage with the new navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. The layout is cleaner, colorful, easier to use, and customizable. You can personalize your push notifications to highlight which type of mail you want alerts for (personal vs. promotional) and tailor your inbox with custom color themes and sounds.
  • Photos and files in one place: Now there’s one View allowing easy access and navigation of all mail attachments. The information users need is always at hand.
  • Industry-leading management of email subscriptions: With a View for subscriptions, users can browse promotional deals and unsubscribe from any newsletter with a single tap without leaving the app.
  • Spotlight on savings: Three separate types of deal offerings help guide users to the greatest savings.
  • “Active Updates:” The app curates the top of users’ inboxes with timely updates such as package tracking, travel info, or a deal that’s about to expire (for iOS only).

7—GoDaddy Pairs Their Website Builder with Marketing

GoDaddy recently launched Websites + Marketing, pairing its easy-to-use website builder “with a suite of marketing tools designed to help small businesses with little to no marketing know-how reach new customers and fuel business growth.”

GoDaddy InSight, a smart technology that delivers tailored guidance, helping entrepreneurs answer the question “what should I do next” to achieve my goals is part of Websites + Marketing. GoDaddy Insight delivers recommendations powered by anonymized data from millions of websites and gives small businesses an action plan powered by data science, to find new customers and engage more deeply with existing ones with minimal effort.

“We spend a lot of time talking to entrepreneurs, and they share how much anxiety they have figuring out how to show up online. Even once they build a site, they struggle to know if it’s working for them and what else they need to do to get found,” says Lauren Antonoff, Head of Apps and Experiences at GoDaddy. “We want to take the guessing and unnecessary work out of the process so that customers can focus on running their business.”

Users of Websites + Marketing on average:

  • Saw their revenue increase 18%
  • Saw new customers increase 23%
  • Saved about an hour a day in dealing with their website and marketing
  • Doubled their website traffic with SEO tools

GoDaddy InSight also provides a score, showing small businesses how their online performance compares to similar businesses. Their score adjusts over time as they complete items from their action plan, providing consistent visibility on how they are benchmarking with others like them.

Showing Up Wherever Customers Are: Getting a business to show up is critical to success. Websites + Marketing includes integrations with some of the world’s largest platforms to make it easy for small businesses to connect with customers. It syncs with Facebook, Yelp, Instagram and Google My Business, enabling entrepreneurs to respond to customer reviews from within Websites + Marketing. This makes it easy to keep popular social media platforms updated with current information. Images on a company’s Facebook Business Page are readily available to use on their own website, as well as integrated partner platforms.

Selling Products Across Top Marketplaces: Today, half of all product searches start on Amazon, making it more important than ever for anyone with products to establish a presence there and on the largest marketplaces. The Marketplaces feature enables entrepreneurs to list their entire inventory on Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and more, while using Websites + Marketing to manage orders, including payments and shipping, across all these platforms.

There’s more information in this blog. Check it out.

 

8—New CRM Platform Unifying Marketing, Sales & Project Management

Insightly just launched Insightly Marketing, which integrates marketing, sales and project management into a single platform to support dynamic customer journeys. “Businesses today must address the complete customer and that means understanding the intricacies and value of each touchpoint,” says Anthony Smith, CEO of Insightly.

Insightly Marketing is built on the same platform as Insightly’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution for a seamless and streamlined customer experience, enabling businesses to align their sales and marketing activities around a single source of truth on customer data, enjoy consistent user interface, and eliminate the need for expensive system integrations and user training.

The new offering include:

  • Advanced  Analytics: Ability to easily analyze, visualize, and share customer  engagement metrics—open rates, bounce rates, click-through rates, and more—to discover what’s working well and double-down on winning campaigns.
  • Better  Builds: Templates for customizable emails and newsletters to deliver  engaging experiences to your customers, increase open rates, and drive more conversions.
  • Customer  Journeys: Easily chart the course of discovery for each customer  segment with an intuitive and visual journey builder, and quickly learn about their behaviors and preferences.
  • Data  Freedom: With all customer information located in one unified platform,  there is no need to manage multiple sources of data.  Customer data flows freely throughout, so that all marketing, sales and service teams have the exact same view of the customer.

Insightly also conducted a marketing survey, the Insightly Marketing Study, revealing how important marketing is to businesses—54% say marketing is very important to their growth, with nearly one in five reporting they couldn’t run their business without it. But, 11% don’t  integrate marketing and sales initiatives, while 42% only do it on occasion.

The survey also shows that while marketing is critical to a business’ success, 52% say their marketing budget is less than 10% of their company’s annual revenue and a majority of businesses report having less than five people in marketing. As a result, businesses are largely under-resourced with fewer people and dollars invested in this key part of their business operations.

Most businesses (56%), the study shows, still use Excel to manage marketing, 17% say they don’t use any technology, and more than one-third don’t consistently measure marketing’s contribution to their business.

 

9—Network Solutions Offers Microsoft Office 365 to Business Owners

Network Solutions customers can now select one of three Office 365 offerings. “We are delighted to offer a premium email and productivity solution that will help business owners utilize the same enterprise-grade solutions as their larger competitors, all within a predictable price structure,” says Kim Smithers, vice president of brand management, Network Solutions. “Through our collaboration with Microsoft, we’re able to deliver solutions that provide value, while helping them focus on and grow their business.”

Microsoft Office 365 from Network Solutions delivers secure, reliable, email and productivity solutions for businesses of any size. Office 365 includes professional email, contacts, and shared calendars in a single unified inbox; unlimited online meetings; HD video conferencing; Instant Messaging with real-time presence; secure document sharing with cloud storage—all integrated into Outlook, with one-click access from your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

It includes Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint as well as Microsoft Teams. Office 365 also includes built-in security features that help detect malware, spam, phishing attacks and other threats.

There’s more information here.

 

Quick Clicks

 

10—Help for Vets

If you’re a vet transitioning to civilian life, Silent Professionals is here to help. Founded by Adam G. Gonzales, a combat veteran, who launched the site because he “knows how challenging it can be to transition to civilian life.” Silent Professionals helps vets find work using the skills they gained in military service.

Silent Professionals focuses on a very specific subset of veteran employment—combat arms veterans (infantry, artillery, armor/cavalry, special forces, etc.). Gonzales says, “Veteran employment is a niche that’s already under-served; however, combat arms veterans get the shortest end of that stick.”

Gonzales says his site is more than just a board; they also act as “trusted advocates for the veteran candidates.” And he adds, they have an 84% job placement success rate for candidates they recommend to employers.

 

11—Which Businesses Last the Longest?

According to Nulab’s look at the fastest growing/contracting industries, after a single year in business, 20% of private businesses close; by the 5th year in operation, about half of private businesses close.

  • The states with the best business survival rates? Over 80% of businesses survive their first year in Massachusetts (82.4%), California (81.3%), Michigan (81.1%), and South Dakota (80.9%)
  • With over 40% of businesses surviving after a decade in business, North Dakota (42%) and South Dakota (41%) offer the highest resilience rates for businesses; Florida (26%) and Idaho (28%) fared the worst for business owners

 

12—Couponing Trends

According to a report from Shopper.comCouponing Trends To Know For Small Businesses:  

  • Nearly half of consumers in 2019 shop online at least once a week. Nearly 1 in 3 actively look for discount codes almost every time they make a purchase online
  • If your discount code is hard to find, it might upset consumers—1 in 5 say they’d ask a store for a refund if they learned they missed out on a discount after a purchase
  • Encouraging shoppers to find discounts themselves could keep them coming back for more. When American shoppers find coupons themselves, without the retailer offering them upfront, they feel 3x savvier

 

13—The Benefits of Working from Home

An Airtasker report, The Benefits of Working Home shows:

  • The most effective ways to stay productive while working remotely are taking breaks (37%), having set work hours (33%) and keeping a to-do list (30%)
  • 25% of remote employees say working at the same location every day makes them productive
  • On average, remote employees work an extra 1.4 more days more every month, or over three workweeks more a year than office employees

 

14—Relocating for Work

In its report, Adjusting to New Places, HireAHelper says:

  • The top reasons for recent moves are a new job (30%), a fresh start (24.4%) and being closer to family (22.3%)
  • Over 41% of millennials made their most recent move for work—moving, on average, 2.4 times in the last 10 years.
  • Only 42% of those who move for a job receive compensation from their new employer
    • Those who do get compensated receive nearly $6k for things like moving-related expenses (58.2%), hotel/temporary housing (55.3%) and home buying/selling (38.3%)

Business owner stock photo by mavo/Shutterstock