10 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know By Rieva Lesonsky

1. March Madness

You know your staff is going to be preoccupied the next few weeks as March Madness kicks of tomorrow (March 15). To help American workers all over the country Staples is offering a free 2-foot by 3-foot Bracket Poster (and additional special discounts) starting today, March 14 and lasting through Wednesday, March 17.

Just go to your local Staples store and pick up your poster with the first round teams pre-populated in bracket formation.


2. Thinking of Buying a Business?

According to SCORE, the market for buying and selling a business has steadily strengthened over the last few years.

Following a major increase in sales from 2012 to 2013, sales of small businesses have been stable

  • 2015, 7,222 businesses were sold
  • 2014, 7,494 businesses were sold
  • 2013, 7,056 businesses were sold
  • 2012, 4,730 businesses were sold

Small business prices are rising

  • In 2015, the average asking price was $225,000 with a sales price of $199,000, up from a median asking price of $187,000 with a sales price of $164,000 in 2012.
  • The most expensive businesses are Internet B2B companies, which sell for $364,400 on average.
  • The least expensive businesses are beauty salons and barbershops, which sell for $75,000 on average.

Tips for buying a small business

If you’re thinking of buying a small business:

  • Invest less than 15% of your net worth
  • Keep at least 10% of liquid assets free for future business needs
  • Expect to pay 20%-40% of business costs out-of-pocket

Tips on selling a small business

If you’re thinking of selling your business:

  • Start planning 2-5 years in advance, and research the due diligence process
  • Consider seller financing, which may increase your price by more than 15%

For more information check you the infographic below. And don’t forget to consult with a SCORE mentor for help.

Score Infographic-Mar2016-Buying-Rev5-OL_Page_1


3. Are You an Entrepreneurial Winning Woman?

EY is in search of extraordinary women entrepreneurs with the ambition and talent to scale their companies to full potential for its 2016 North American Entrepreneurial Winning Women program.

The Entrepreneurial Winning Women program, founded in 2008 and open to women in the U.S. and Canada, is an annual competition and executive education program helps the winners (all high-potential women business owners) achieve their ambitious goals by providing them with access to networks, education and advice.

You can nominate yourself or someone else can nominate you for the program, which is similar to an accelerator for women-owned businesses. The collective revenues of the previous Winning Women have grown 54% since the years they joined the program.

The Entrepreneurial Winning Women are chosen by a panel of independent judges who are successful entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders. Up to 12 women will be selected for the class of 2016.  

To apply for the Entrepreneurial Winning Women program, applicants must fit the following criteria:

  • Founding woman CEO and majority owner of a privately held American or Canadian company. (For those women who have sought outside investment, the founding woman entrepreneur may still apply if she retains a majority ownership stake of what’s left after deducting all outside investments.)
  • Company must have reported at least $2 million in sales in each of the last two years
  • Venture must be less than 10 years old
  • Entrepreneurs must be able to attend an orientation and coaching session at EY’s headquarters in New York City on October 26-28, 2016, as well as the EY Strategic Growth Forum, November 16-20, 2016, in Palm Springs, California.

You can apply or nominate a deserving woman entrepreneur here. The application deadline is June 27, 2016. For more information follow @EY_WinningWomen.

EY also provides guidance to help individuals and organizations tackle gender inequality in the workplace through its Women. Fast forward platform.


4. The Cost of Obesity

Obesity alone costs employers over $73 billion a year in health care hours, lost working hours, and overall productivity. And while there are many different laws and established practices designed to help keep such discrimination in check, according to Eastern Kentucky University, there are certain cases that go unnoticed. Weight discrimination is one of the biggest problems in the workplace. Because the current federal discrimination laws do not protect obesity, many obese people claim that they suffer discrimination on a regular basis.

Take a look at the infographic below from Eastern Kentucky University’s online Safety Management program.



5. Main Street Makeovers

Does your Main Street need some additional curbside appeal? Or, is it in need of a makeover? A new contest that just launched wants to spruce up one of America’s Main Streets—and you can help choose the winner. Independent We Stand is asking the public to nominate and vote for a deserving Main Street. The winner receives $25,000 in cash and related prizes for revitalization.

“The goal of this inaugural Independent We Stand “America’s Main Streets” contest is to promote the importance and strong economic benefits of Main Streets and the small businesses that help them thrive,” says Independent We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle.

Voting begins as soon as an area is nominated. If you’re looking for a formal main street group to nominate, Main Street America has a list of nationally designated main street programs that can be found by clicking here. The nominations and voting take place on MainStreetContest.com.

Today, the Independent We Stand team hits the road, traveling the iconic Route 66, also known as “America’s Main Street”. You can follow their journey on Facebook and Twitter.

Important dates:

  • March 1-April 24: “America’s Main Streets” nominations and quarterfinalist voting
  • March 14-18: “The Great American’s Route 66 Road Trip”
  • May 2-29: “America’s Main Streets” semifinalist voting
  • June 3: “America’s Main Streets” winner announced
  • July 4: “Main Streets Make Us Better” press conference;


6. How Charitable are Small Businesses?

Alignable, which helps small businesses build relationships within their communities, surveyed its members about their charitable giving habits and found a whopping 95% gave to charity last year.

Donations took the form of:

  • 81%: Money
  • 75%: Good and services
  • 67% Their time
  • 90% donated to local organizations

Reasons for giving:

  • 86% find it personally meaningful to give
  • 71% feel it’s their social and/or local responsibility
  • 61% says it makes them feel good to give


Cool Tools

7. Help for Retailers

Stitch Labs, the leading inventory control platform, just announced new product and partnership integrations to help enable mid-market retailers streamline and scale operations and combat their most common inventory and shipping issues

These new resources will help retailers prevent what they rank as the leading cause of inventory and fulfillment issues: human error. A recent retail operations survey conducted by Stitch Labs showed 63% of inventory or fulfillment issues are caused by human error from manual process management and that 45% of retailers say an out-of-stock product after a customer placed an order is the leading inventory mistake that results in lost customers.

“As our retail customers continue to scale, we recognize the need to expand our feature set by providing an emphasis on automation,” says Brandon Levey, Stitch Labs CEO.

The new barcode technology offers an efficient solution for purchasing, inventory management and fulfillment. Scanning and printing capabilities enable customers to speed up order processing and reduce human error during cycle counts, receiving inventory, and picking and packing orders. The new barcode scanning feature is included on select pricing plans.

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • 46% of retailers plan to invest a majority of their IT spend in 2016 on warehouse inventory management
  • 50% expect to see more free shipping as e-commerce fulfillment competition heats up, and 29% anticipate an uptick in same-day shipping
  • A mere 3% expect to see more delivery via drones in 2016

8. Online Marketplace for Marketing and Advertising

MarketingZoom, a startup, launched its social marketplace platform for connecting buyers and sellers of local marketing and advertising in January.

The marketplace is intended to help business owners, who often don’t have advertising or marketing backgrounds, find out where to locate advertising opportunities.

The site is organized around three different types of profiles: Companies, Opportunities, and Agencies. The platform allows users to find their next marketing partner in 10 seconds or less. You can search and filter by multiple options, such as by location, pricing, demographics, focus areas, exposures and more. MarketingZoom allows members to display information about their specific opportunity or about their business or agency, share photos, share marketing materials and proposals, and send private messages all to help you find and communicate with that perfect marketing partner.

9. New Card Reader for Small Businesses

FreshBooks recently launched its own FreshBooks Card Reader for their users. The pocket-sized device plugs into an iPhone’s audio jack and takes under a minute to process payments that are directly recorded into the FreshBooks bookkeeping system.

The FreshBooks Card Reader allows small service-based businesses to accept credit cards securely on the go while also recording payments automatically on their accounting platform and no advanced set-up is required.

10. Xero and Google Join Forces

Xero has teamed up with Google to make it easier for businesses to stay on top of their customer relationships by integrating with Google’s Gmail platform and Google Apps for Work.

This collaboration enables small business owners to email their contacts without leaving Xero, export content to Google Docs and Google Sheets, use Hangouts to collaborate with advisors and build Smart Lists for sales and marketing campaigns, just to name a few.

This integration also gives business owners a centralized hub of information that can be segmented by category, including by geography and purchase history, better allowing them to find revenue gaps and opportunities.