10 Things Entrepreneurs Really Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—Enhance Your Social Media with Social Cards
A study by Facebook reports people using clickable social cards increased traffic from the platform a whopping 250%—simply by using clickable social cards.
AnyImage is a unique web-based tool that enables you to transform regular images into clickable social cards, linking to the web page of your choice. The cards can be shared on a number of social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
Check the infographic below and learn how to create your own social cards.
2—What to Do in a Crisis
Communicating to your supporters and impacted customers
The hardest and most important communications you have to handle during a crisis is to set the right tone and be responsive when sharing information to your supporters and any impacted customers.
Your customers are the ones who ultimately hold your company’s destiny in their hands. If you want to weather the storm, the easiest way is to protect and save what you already have secured. If you’ve already read Part 1 of this series, you should have your simplified and clarified message finalized. Now, let’s discuss how to communicate with impacted customers and your supporters during a crisis.
Tips for talking to impacted customers
Be honest and be direct. People will be upset—don’t ignore or belittle that anger. Be humble and empathetic in your wording, but also tell customers what to do or what to expect. Provide usable information in the first few sentences; don’t bury the detail halfway through your statement. Someone who’s stressed by your company shouldn’t have to search through a long document to find updates or answers.
Provide expectations and instructions, even when you don’t know the answer. Even if you don’t yet have all the answers, acknowledge the issue and explain that you’re working on an answer. A simple statement on your website and social media channels can help, such as, “We are aware of the issue and are working on a solution. We will provide an update with additional information at 3pm today, or earlier if possible.”
Move the issue off your main page. If you’ll need to communicate lots of information over time, or will be giving lots of updates over several days, create a secondary website or social media page to separate angry customers from unknowing or unimpacted customers.
Respond to social media posts. Angry customers will post a lot on your social media pages. Create a series of short responses that can be used. One response may simply be that you’re working on a resolution to the issue and that the company will provide an update as soon as it can. Another might be to direct impacted customers to another page for more information, updates and how the company plans to help impacted customers. Ultimately, people want to be acknowledged, and others will see you responded.
Accept that media is a conduit to talk to upset customers. Upset customers during a crisis will be watching media to see how you respond to the crisis. Therefore, your response needs to have them in mind. If customers need to do something as a result of the crisis, tell the media what customers should do and use them to help give instructions.
For the most part, people can accept that mistakes happen, and that not everything is in your control. Customers just want to know you’re genuine in your desire to fix the problem and truly do apologize and accept responsibility when it’s expected. If you handle the crisis well, and your customers are content with how you handled everything, they may become even more loyal to you and your brand, knowing they can count on you to do what’s right—even when it’s not easy.
3—The Dark Side of the Internet
The internet is huge—it would take months and months, probably years, to go on Google and find every single website on the internet. But, did you know that the sites you can find on search engines such as Google and Bing only make up 10% of the whole internet?
So where’s the rest of it? What is the rest of it? How do we find it and why is it hidden?
Check out the infographic below from the UK legal experts CartwrightKing to learn about the dark web.
4—Moving Tips for Small Business Owners
Guest post by Miranda Benson, Marketing Coordinator, Dolly, the truck-and-muscle company that will load, haul and move just about anything.
Whether it’s an exciting expansion to a new location or a downsizing effort to save money, moving your business is always a major source of stress. Here are a few tips for a smooth and successful small business move.
Appoint a moving coordinator: First things first: once you know when you’ll be moving, choose an organized, level-headed member of your team to coordinate all aspects of the move. Allow him or her to take control (and responsibility) for everything from finding a mover to delegating tasks to the team on the day-of.
Create a timeline for the move: Saying “We’ll pack the week before” is never a good plan, but a moving schedule is about more than just packing. If you’re a customer-facing business, like a restaurant or store, figure out when your last day of sales will be, and which merchandise items will be moving to your next location. If your business is an office location, determine when is the best time for the team’s work to be put “on hold” for a few days to allow for the move.
Tell your customers early: Even if your move is months away, putting up a sign in the window (and a note on your website) about when you’ll be leaving and where you’ll be going will give both regulars and infrequent customers a chance to come find you at your new location. Once you have access to your new location, make sure to hang “Coming Soon” signs in the window with your logo. And once you’ve moved out, make friends with the new tenants in your old location so you can hang a sign there that lets customers know of your new address.
Fill out the paperwork (no, really): The people who need to be informed of your move the most are the ones most often forgotten. The government needs to know about your move in a few places: the IRS, your state Business Licensing Service, USPS, and in some cases, you may have to apply for a new business license and associated permits. If you’re moving between states, check with both the Business Licensing Service of the state you’re leaving and the state you’re moving to—there may be additional paperwork involved. And of course, make sure all your vendors are aware of the move—you don’t want your produce delivery left halfway across town, rotting in an alley.
Ask everyone to help pack (and not just their desks): No busy manager wants to help pack the file cabinet of expense reports from the 1990s, but the top of the pyramid sets an example for everyone. If the boss is helping pack boxes, everyone else will make time in their schedule to pack, too. And if the boss packs more than just his or her own office, the rest will follow suit. Be sure to check out these expert packing tips from our very own Helpers to help speed up this process.
Transport valuables on your own: Whether you’re DIY-ing your move or hiring a moving company, extreme valuables—like cash, employment forms with social security numbers, and anything else that might be stolen—should be transported personally by the business owner or move coordinator. While it’s good to trust others, it’s not worth it when the earnings of your entire company—or the identities of your employees—are at stake.
Keep your move organized: Writing “front desk” on a box isn’t enough. The most important things to remember are:
- Label your boxes with where they go and what’s inside
- Pack your boxes with the right materials (bubble wrap, etc.)
- Tape your boxes (and double-tape the heavy ones!)
Most importantly, be prepared: Rain, traffic, no parking, blocked loading dock, running out of gas, delays. There’s a lot that could go wrong. Thankfully, it’s easy to prepare. Grab a tarp if you plan on moving with an open-back pickup truck. Leave yourself lots of time for the move and make sure you’re filled up on gas. If you’re worried about parking or a loading dock, send someone else from the company ahead with their car to scout out the situation and temporarily snag a parking spot if necessary. When you’re ready for the worst, everything your move throws at you will feel easy.
5—Are Your Online Forms Turning Consumers Away?
Nearly 90% of consumers fill out at least one online form per week on average, according to a new survey from Clutch, a B2B research firm. However, consumers tend to abandon poorly designed online forms, putting small businesses at risk of losing conversions such as lead generation or ecommerce sales.
The survey found that ineffective online forms can harm a business’s reputation by suggesting that the business is untrustworthy or out of touch with technology. Experts recommend small businesses apply user experience best practices that make it faster and easier to complete an online form. These best practices can also help ensure the data collected is accurate.
Almost half of online form users (44%) say the average web form requires two minutes or more to complete. Small businesses should create short and efficient web forms that do not ask for extraneous information.
Features that autofill addresses or pull data uploaded documents are popular, and can make a web form more concise. Applying conditional logic can ensure users aren’t asked irrelevant questions.
“For instance, if a form first asks for an age range, whatever that user answers, the subsequent questions should relate back to that,” says Leeyen Rogers, vice president of marketing at JotForm, a web form builder tool. “If someone says they’re 30 years old, the questions shouldn’t ask anything pertaining to a different age range.”
Online form features such as a status bar indicating progress, inline validation, or a password strength checker can help deliver a better user experience and are preferred by 90% of online form users, according to the survey.
Finally, consumers say they prefer to scroll through all the form’s questions on one page more than clicking through multiple pages of questions. This stands in opposition to current design trends, which promote forms with multiple pages.
You should read the full report to learn more.
6—Most (and Least) Innovative States in U.S.
With the U.S. projected to spend $553 billion on research and development in 2018 and multiple cities vying to become the location of Amazon’s HQ2, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2018’s Most & Least Innovative States. WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 22 key metrics. The data set ranges from share of STEM professionals to R&D spending per capita.
|Most Innovative States||Least Innovative States|
|4||District of Columbia||45||Kentucky|
- The District of Columbia has the highest share of STEM professionals, 9.5% three times higher than in Mississippi, which has the lowest at 3.2%.
- Virginia has the highest share of technology companies, 7.52%, 3.9 times higher than in West Virginia, which has the lowest at 1.95%.
- New Mexico has the highest research and development (R&D) intensity, 6.52%, 16.3 times higher than in Nevada, which has the lowest at 0.40%.
- Florida has the highest share of public high-school students taking advanced-placement (AP) exams, 51.9% 3.9 times higher than in North Dakota, which has the lowest at 13.2%.
Check out the full report to see where your state ranks.
7— New All-in-One Business Management Solution
Microsoft is introducing Dynamics 365 Business Central, a new solution that enables customers to upgrade their entry-level accounting software and legacy ERP systems with a single, comprehensive solution for managing finances, operations, sales and customer service. Business Central is a cloud-based, all-in-one business management solution for companies with 10-250 employees—and will have full NAV capabilities. It launches April 2nd.
Check out this blog post to learn more.
8—Protect Your Small Business from Being Hacked
I know you’re busy—so busy you’re likely not thinking much about the security of your website. But, according to the latest website security study released by SiteLock, you should.
If you look at the latest report, you’ll see the average website is attacked 44 times a day. And if you think this doesn’t apply to you because no search engine has blacklisted your their site yet—you’re wrong. Only 19% of infected websites were blacklisted by Google in Q4 last year.
Every site on the Internet is at risk. So, what can you do? Take a look at the latest report to see how you can protect your small business.
9—What is SEO?
Many small business owners are understandably confused by search engine optimization and how they can best master it to help their businesses. FitSmallBusiness has an excellent guide that answers a lot of your questions.
10—Mobile POS Solution
Verifone has launched Carbon Mobile 5, a portable point-of-sale solution that runs on Android applications, and helps retailers execute a range of activities, including point-of-sale engagement, customer loyalty management and inventory lookup. Carbon Mobile 5 also helps you engage customers in personalized, 1:1 interactions wherever they are in the store.
Other key Carbon Mobile 5 features include:
- Verifone Trusted Android (a locked-down version of Android 7 OS) and Verifone Engage’s secure payment engine
- 4G LTE, dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth with BLE / beacons
- Integration with Verifone Connect