15 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—GDRP is Coming. Are You Prepared?
There aren’t many days left until the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) goes into effect on May 28, 2018, but many marketers are not ready. A recent survey found a surprising 87% of digital marketers are unaware of how the law will affect them.
The mandate aims to protect consumer data from companies—meaning every company that collects data from European consumers must take immediate action to avoid hefty fines for violating the regulations. To help with GDPR preparation, take a look at the inforgraphic below from Campaigner.
2—10 Best Ways to Meet a Deadline
Are you a procrastinator? Do you have problems meeting deadlines? If that sounds like you, check out the infographic below from CashNetUSA to learn 10 techniques for meeting deadlines.
3—Data Breach Report
Verizon just released its 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), which shows 58% of all victims surveyed this year can be categorized as small businesses. The DBIR series provides the most comprehensive view of global cybersecurity based on actual cyberattacks from malware to insider threats to cyber espionage, and this year’s report analyzes more than 53,000 cybersecurity incidents and over 2,300 data breaches from more than 65 countries.
Key findings include:
Ransomware is the most prevalent variety of malicious software: Ransomware was found in 39% of malware-related cases, moving up from 4th place in the 2017 DBIR (and 22nd in 2014). Most important, based on Verizon’s dataset, it has started to impact business critical systems rather than just desktops. This is leading to bigger ransom demands, making the life of a cybercriminal more profitable with less work.
The human factor continues to be a key weakness: Employees are still falling victim to social attacks. Financial pretexting and phishing represent 98% of social incidents and 93% of all breaches investigated—with email (96% of cases) continuing to be the main entry point. Companies are nearly 3 times more likely to get breached by social attacks than via actual vulnerabilities, emphasizing the need for ongoing employee cybersecurity education.
Phishing attacks cannot be ignored: On average 78% of people did not fail a phishing test last year, 4% of people do fall for any given phishing campaign. A cybercriminal only needs one victim to get access into an organization.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are everywhere: DDoS attacks can impact anyone and are frequently used as camouflage, often being started, stopped and restarted to hide other breaches in progress. They are powerful, but also manageable if the correct DDoS mitigation strategy is in place.
Most attackers are outsiders: One breach can have multiple attackers and the report found that: 72% of attacks were perpetrated by outsiders, 27% involved internal actors, 2% involved partners and 2% feature multiple partners. Organized crime groups still account for 50% of the attacks analyzed.
The time to act is NOW: 68% of breaches took months or longer to discover, even though 87% of the breaches examined had data compromised within minutes or less of the attack taking place. While safety cannot be guaranteed, you can take proactive steps to help keep your business from being victimizeds. These are:
- Stay vigilant. Log files and change management systems can give you early warning of a breach.
- Make people your first line of defense. Train staff to spot the warning signs.
- Keep data on a “need to know” basis. Only employees who need access to systems to do their jobs should have it.
- Patch promptly. Doing this could guard against many attacks.
- Encrypt sensitive data. This makes your data next to useless if it is stolen.
- Use two-factor authentication. This can limit the damage that can be done with lost or stolen credentials.
- Don’t forget physical security. Not all data theft happens online.
The full report and related materials can be found here.
4—National Pitch Off Contest
The UPS Store and Inc. magazine have joined forces and have created a Small Biz Salute Pitch Off contest. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can enter the Small Biz Salute Pitch Off, a contest that will reward one small business owner with $25,000 and an editorial feature in Inc. magazine.
To enter the contest, eligible owners and entrepreneurs of qualifying small businesses need to submit an entry sharing how $25,000 would help them grow their businesses. Part of The UPS Store annual month-long initiative, Small Biz Salute is dedicated to honoring and supporting small business owners in their communities.
Want to enter the Small Biz Salute Pitch Off? Here are the details:
- To enter visit theupsstore.com/smallbizsalute
- Submit a 60-90 second video or a 100 -word essay responding to the questions “What makes my business unique?” and “How would I use the prize money to grow my business?” All entries must be received by May 4, 2018.
- A panel of judges will select the top 10 semi-finalist. These entrepreneurs will be presented for an online public vote from May 18 to June 29, 2018.
- The top 3 finalists (based in part on public votes) will be invited to attend and compete in the live Small Biz Salute Pitch Off event this August in Detroit.
- The 3 three finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of celebrity judges and an audience for a chance to win the grand prize of $25,000, and get featured in the October 2018 issue of
- The grand prize winner will be announced at the live Small Biz Salute Pitch Off event.
Even if you’re not considering entering the contest having a polished business pitch ready is a smart idea for any entrepreneur. You never know when you’re run into someone who can have a positive impact on your business. To ensure potential customers or investors remember your business, always have a business card handy. During April, The UPS Store is offering 500 premium business cards for $9.99 Go here to learn more and order.
You’ll find more information about The UPS Store Small Biz Salute, how to enter the Small Biz Salute Pitch Off and full official rules at this site.
5—Take Advantage of National Business Traveler Day
The first National Business Traveler Day launches April 24. To celebrate the vital role business travelers play to get business done, Upside and 20 other leading companies created the Business Traveler Dream Sweepstakes.
You can enter NOW for a chance to win:
- Grand Prize: 1st class upgrades for 20 years. ($5,000/year to cover your domestic 1st class upgrades)
- 1st Prize: 1st Class Upgrades for One Year
- And more prizes and giveaways
6—8 Ways to Manage Millennials
Millennials have rapidly transformed U.S. work culture. According to global training consultants Guthrie-Jensen, experts predict by 2025, 75% of workers are going to be millennials. Want to know the best ways to manage them? Check out the infographic below to find out.
7— Go Vertical to Meet You Net New Customer Goals
Guest post by Lorcan Malone, President and COO, Swiftpage
In this overcrowded, ultra-competitive market, you’d think you’d need a megaphone or bulletin-sized billboard to stand out. The truth is, small businesses can skip all those flashy gimmicks—and still enjoy heaps of success—simply by going vertical.
Going vertical allows businesses to specialize in a niche market by offering products or services that meet the needs of a specific group or demographic. It’s a powerful strategy for strengthening marketing campaigns, meeting annual sales goals, and attracting new customers.
Find your niche: If you’re the owner of an SMB, you may have been too busy running the shop to even consider potential business verticals. The good news? It’s not too late to start.
There are plenty of opportunities to serve your customers—both within the B2B community and beyond—by working in niche markets. The first step is determining which sectors to target. If you’re a software developer, focusing on finance-sector startups could be a great start. Or, if you’re a florist, etch out a reputation in the always-lucrative wedding niche, or perhaps look to target local hotels in the markets you serve. Think about your business, what it does best, and how you could best position it to conquer a particular niche.
Remember, in today’s oversaturated market, customers expect to be catered to. They want to know how your product or service will benefit them directly. In fact, the majority of shoppers say personalization is likely to influence their buying decisions.
Revisit and reevaluate verticals: In the business world, failures are often predecessors to great successes. If you’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to pursue specific verticals in the past, don’t give up. The verticals you previously targeted could be more relevant today than in the past, so consider giving them with a fresh perspective and consider giving it another try. Demands are cyclical, and customer needs are constantly changing. A previous failed attempt doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for the next one.
On the other hand, if you believe those already sought-after niches are now outdated, find new markets to pursue. In today’s quickly evolving marketplace, you’d hate to be investing advertising, marketing and sales resources into a vertical that’s no longer in demand.
When identifying your business verticals, focus on those that are likely to bring meaningful new revenue and business to your business. Do research and your due diligence to ensure the niche you’re targeting is large enough to be worth your time. The gluten-free market for example, is projected to reach $759 billion by 2020. And did you know the dietary supplement industry has contributed more than $122 billion to the U.S. economy?
The opportunities are out there—you just have to find them.
Monitor changing needs: As I’ve mentioned, being aware of—and responding to—evolving customer demand is critical. It’s an extremely valuable way of attracting new customers, while identifying fresh opportunities with your existing patrons.
Reflect upon the products and services you offer, and connect them with the short- and long-term needs of your customers. Perhaps you have a product that would be of value to the green energy sector, or offer a service that aids the content marketing field. If you’ve done your research, you’ll know that such verticals are projected to see significant growth. Positioning your offerings to meet customers’ needs is a powerful tactic for achieving meaningful net new customer growth.
Capture information: It’s impossible to effectively determine your business verticals without first identifying the needs of your current and prospective customers. Utilize your customer relationship management (CRM) strategy to gain insight into your customers’ inquiries, requests, spending habits, and areas of interest.
An effective CRM strategy captures valuable, current data that can help you market and sell your new verticals to both current and prospective customers. According to an Accenture study, 75% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a business that recognizes them by name, recommends products based on previous purchases, or knows their purchase history. Simply put, offering a personalized service is a statistically-proven way of generating higher sales. A CRM strategy can help your business offer that service.
Let’s face it: We’re not living in a cookie-cutter world where all customers are looking for the same products or services. Conversely, no business can serve as a one-stop shop for customers across the spectrum. While going vertical doesn’t change those facts, it can give your business the focus it needs to succeed with the right group of customers.
Targeting specific verticals to serve current and prospective customers provides an excellent opportunity to generate net customer growth in 2018 and beyond. And if there’s one thing all small business owners can agree they’re looking for in the New Year, it’s new customers to grow their business!
8—5 Keys to Designing Popular Apple Watch Apps
Guest post by Jeni Mattson,Chief Design Officer, General UI
With Apple Watch sales finally surging, driven by a drop in price, the addition of cellular connectivity, and a growing user base, taking on the challenge of making an app for the Watch is very much worth the effort.
The heart of Watch development is still XCode and Swift, so the good news for iOS veterans looking to add wearable technology to their repertoire is that the same tools you’re already using for iPhone and iPad development can still be used for the Apple Watch.
For designers, the challenge comes from working with the device’s resource and form factor constraints, so there are a few initial considerations to wrap your head around. For one thing, whether you’re doing design or development for this device, the processing speed should always be on your mind. For a snappy and pleasurable user experience, you need to minimize the amount of work the Watch does on its own, and offload as much of it as possible to the beefier, more robust iOS devices it is connected to.
Debugging apps on the Watch itself is also made more difficult by the hardware limitations. Sometimes it can take several minutes to launch an app on the device. As of now, there isn’t really any way around these resource issues, but the amount of debugging you have to do can be mitigated by maintaining good test coverage in XCTest.
The Watch also has pretty crucial size and input constraints. The dimensions are (obviously) smaller, but layout for Apple Watch works a little differently than normal AutoLayout in iOS, so there is a slight learning curve when moving between the two. Designers should wherever possible lay out the views so that they maximize information content without sacrificing clarity. That’s always going to be a challenge, but the form factor is also one of the reasons we like the Watch in the first place.
The limited battery life of the Apple Watch requires developers to be cautious about only asking it to work or communicate when it needs to. In fact, apps need to handle most of the thinking on their iPhone, both because it’s faster, and because otherwise the Watch’s battery will quickly be drained.
While thinking about these considerations here are some tips for smoother development when creating apps for Apple Watch:
Tip #1: Almost all interactions start with a notification so they’re central to a good app experience. Send too many, and you’ll be yelled at and uninstalled. Send too few and you’ll be underutilized. The context of interacting with a smart watch differs significantly from phones or tablets: it’s rarely the focus of the user’s attention, except when it needs to tell them something. Make sure it is communicating timely and relevant information to the user, because it’s so much harder to ignore something on a wrist than in a pocket.
Tip #2: Find a way to leverage the unique information that’s gathered by being so closely attached the user. This might mean using available fitness data, such as walking, or by noticing a long period of inactivity and looping that back into the app itself. Or it could be location data, such as GPS coordinates and speed of travel. Done well, collecting this kind of information can help build a cooperative relationship between the user and the app.
Tip #3: Limited navigation metaphors and capabilities means designers and developers have to work well together. With the Apple Watch, there are currently two choices in navigation: a carousel and a list. Limitations like this mean you need to focus in on the real purpose of your app, and stick closely to it. Start by figuring out the feature or function that is core to the app, and (very carefully) build out from there.
Tip #4: Those little icons and bits of text that act as a shortcut from the app to the watch face are called complications. Complications are, well, complicated…but they’re worth it. With a confusing but limited array of options at each size, type, and location, complications convey a microscopic amount of information about the status of your app. They also keep it front and center in the user’s mind, so pick something that really conveys as much about the app’s status as possible, and try to keep it relevant with timely updates when anything changes.
Tip #5: Typing anything at all—for example username and password—is awkward, difficult, and inconvenient on the Apple Watch. Eliminate, if possible, the need for logins. If you can’t, use alternatives like text message verification, or magic links. At the very least, integrate with apps on other devices to allow users access to a keyboard, and help them keep a bit of their sanity.
After a rocky start, the Apple Watch is ready to be treated like a first-class member of the Apple device ecosystem. We love its small size and connectivity with other iOS devices, but these strengths are also the critical limitations that designers and developers should bear in mind when making apps for it.
Overall, designers should approach the Watch with an open, research-oriented mindset, making sure to build prototypes and test the experience early on, because many of the iOS paradigms they’re familiar with will have to be reconsidered.
For their part, developers should carefully examine Apple’s documentation and code samples before diving in, and consider adding unit- and UI testing to their process in order to minimize the slowdown caused by debugging overhead.
9—How Do You Measure SEO Success?
Clutch’s 4th Annual Small Business Survey finds 55% of small businesses plan to invest in SEO this year. But how do small businesses define SEO success? By measuring:
- The quantity and quality of links back to their site (21%)
- Site traffic (19%)
- Leads and conversions (19%)
- Keyword rankings (18%).
The survey from Clutch, a B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm reveals the metrics small businesses prefer depend on the stage in the conversion funnel where they engage target customers.
For example, small businesses concerned with branding track keyword rankings to determine the level of exposure they achieve through SEO. Businesses concerned with return on investment (ROI) track leads and conversions that result from SEO investment.
Small businesses benefit from SEO: Overall, 55% of small businesses invest in SEO. But, not all small businesses are convinced SEO is a relevant investment for their companies. Some think they don’t need SEO because they either don’t have a website or are referral-based.
However, as Kevin Tash, CEO of Tack Media, a Los Angeles-based digital marketing agency says, “Every business is a viable candidate for SEO, unless they absolutely don’t require business from the public and they are a referral-based, discrete, or relationship-based business.”
Even without a website, a small business can benefit from local search optimization services such as optimizing their Google My Business profiles and local directory listings. [Editor’s note: Every business needs a website.]
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising often paired with SEO: Small businesses invest modestly in pay-per-click advertising (PPC), often in tandem with SEO. Less than half of small businesses (45%) run PPC campaigns, and they do so as needed (37%) rather than regularly (36%).
Nearly 90% of small businesses that invest in PPC also engage in SEO. The finding supports that most small businesses perform some form of SEO and intend to continue investing in this effort.
You can read the full report.
10—Are Americans Embracing Independent Work?
According to the Freshbooks.com 2018 Annual Self Employment Report, 27 million Americans plan to abandon traditional work for full time self-employment in the next two years.
Other stats to note:
- Currently, 18 million Americans are full-time self-employed workers. Research indicates that will reach 42 million by 2020 and 47 million by 2023.
- 1 in 3 independent workers make $100,000+ a year
- The second largest group (27%) earns $51,000-100,000. They’re also satisfied professionally—97% of self-employed professionals don’t intend on returning to traditional work.
- Career change and control over their career tie as the top reasons respondents turned to self-employment.
Independent workers are trending younger, more educated, and more ethnically diverse. Here’s a look at the 2018 independent workforce:
Gen X: 33%
Baby Boomer: 49%
No College: 12%
And here’s the predicted 2023 independent workforce:
Gen X: 34%
Baby Boomer: 24%
No College: 7%
11—Participate in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program
The deadline to apply to the National Cohort of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is tomorrow, April 17th. The first part of the application takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Interested candidates can apply online. There’s a webinar today April 16th at 3pm ET. Anyone interested in learning more about the program can register here. Local programs may have different deadlines, so check with them first.
The U.S. Payments Forum has updated its resource, EMV Testing and Certification White Paper: Current Global Payment Network Requirements for the U.S. Acquiring Community. The revision includes new information on EMV contactless testing and certification requirements and processes, as well as updates to contact requirements from the global payment networks.
You can download the white paper, which includes:
- The mostup-to-date requirements and processes from the global payment networks American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa
- Testing and certification requirements for Quick Chip and M/Chip Fast implementations
- Information on contactless EMV certification and testing processes
The Testing and Certification Working Committee’s goal is to discuss the challenges with EMV certification and define approaches for achieving certification to meet the payment network milestones for fraud liability shift. For more information, go here.
13—Future of Work & Technology
UNLEASH America (formerly HR Tech World), the fastest-growing international show on the Future of Work & Technology will be welcoming entrepreneurs and innovators in Las Vegas, May 15-16, 2018 at the Aria Resort & Casino.
There’ll be unique content offered by the leaders, decision makers and innovators disrupting the world of work and technology via 100+ sessions and keynotes across 10 stages. In addition to the Main Stage, there is a Startup Stage, Smart Data Stage and more.
“The largest global employers are focusing on the next 10, 15, 20 years. They are asking themselves: What will work the future of work look like? What will employer/employee relationships look like? Will there be employees?” says China Gorman, UNLEASH’s managing director. “These global powerhouses have the budgets, the bandwidth and strategic long-term thinking with which to start experimentation on possibilities and solutions. But they make up a very small percentage of companies. What about the other 95% of organizations?” You can learn more here.
14—New Analytics Tools Launched
Demandbase, the leader in Account-Based Marketing (ABM), just launched ABM Analytics, a new analytics functionality within the ABM platform, which leverages the company’s patented account identification technology. ABM Analytics helps marketers view performance of their ABM initiatives across the full funnel from advertising to pipeline and revenue, to understand the progression of their most valuable accounts across the buying cycle. And unlike basic reporting tools, the new analytics functionality allows marketers to compare the performance of different audiences or account lists, evaluate the impact of specific program combinations, and even benchmark different vendors—all within a single platform. Additional layers of insights expose trend and velocity data, and surface recommendations for next best actions to drive higher conversion rates through the funnel.
ABM Analytics is part of Demandbase’s ABM Platform and is designed to deliver insights to decision-makers and practitioners tasked with driving an ABM strategy, from awareness and engagement to conversion and closed revenue. Using the solution, marketers can monitor the health of their ABM strategies by examining the progress of their most valued accounts through the buying cycle; create side-by-side comparisons of audiences with different revenue ranges, employee sizes or verticals to understand how their segments perform at every stage of the funnel; understand the performance of individual marketing tactics such as advertising, or direct mail, diagnose problems and opportunities along the customer journey and take targeted actions to improve performance; and build credibility throughout the organization by sharing transparent ABM progress reports.
This comparison functionality provides a better understanding of which stages of the funnel are performing well, and alternately, which are underperforming against expectations, so that marketers can continue to improve their ABM campaigns.
At its conference last week, the 5th Annual ABM Innovation Summit, Demandbase also announced an expanded collaboration with Salesforce to provide marketing and sales teams with more comprehensive account and contact level insight. The integration will automatically combine real-time intent data and account insights from Demandbase’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered Conversion Solution with the contact and account records from users’ Salesforce Pardot data. With this integration, marketing can enable sales teams with a complete view of each target account, including early buying signals and other insights. This integration will provide ABM teams with access to both aggregated account level insights and the activity of individuals within an account, combining behavior data on the web site with insights and behavior data across the web.
“ABM has transformed how marketing teams drive new business and retain customers. But many B2B companies still struggle to deliver the comprehensive account view that can help sales teams drive pipeline and close business,” says Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase. “We’re excited to extend our partnership with Salesforce and give marketers the ability to empower sales teams with a complete picture of their target accounts so they can increase their productivity and win rates.”
The integrated solution will uncover both the activity of the contact information in Pardot and the aggregated activity of account-level insights using Demandbase’s AI and proprietary IP-based data and patented identification technology. ABM teams will know when a target account visits their website, what relevant keywords and topics they are researching online, which key contacts are looking at what pages on their site, and when they’re being mentioned in the news or on blogs. These insights will be presented within Salesforce, and also be delivered via email and Slack.
This new functionality will be available to Pardot and Demandbase customers in June 2018.
15—Business Apps Update
At Business Forward Amsterdam, Microsoft announced the latest updates and enhancements coming to its business applications portfolio, including Dynamics 365, PowerApps, Power BI and the Common Data Service for Analytics. Updates include:
Common Data Service for Analytics and Apps. Common Data Service for Analytics is a new solution in Power BI which will reduce complexity with integrating and analyzing data, allowing customers to harness and integrate data from multiple sources, including competitive platforms, and empower users with access to comprehensive business analytics.
New intelligence capabilities. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales has new embedded intelligence capabilities, including: Relationship assistant, auto capture with Outlook, and email engagement.
Dynamics 365 for Marketing: a new marketing automation application designed for companies that need more than basic email marketing at the front end of sales cycle to turn prospects into business relationships.
Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional. To further simplify Dynamics 365 offerings and increase ease of selection, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional, a new streamlined version of its sales application with core sales force automation capabilities. From opportunity management to sales planning and performance management, the solution optimizes sales processes and productivity.