18 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky


1—Get Paid Faster

According to the data scientists at FreshBooks 40% of self-employed professionals have at least one overdue invoice averaging over $2,500. FreshBooks then looked into if there was a science behind what makes a perfect invoice.

After looking at more than 10,000 invoices, they created the ultimate data-driven invoice checklist to help business owners get paid, fast. Their data indicates out of the invoices that ticked all the boxes on the checklist, 91% were paid in full.

Learn more in the infographic below.


2—What are Apps Doing with Your Data?

Guest post by Anish Sebastian, Cofounder, Babyscripts

In May The New York Times published an opinion piece titled “It’s Time To Break Up Facebook.” The title itself is not necessarily provocative—voices have been calling for the disbandment of the social media conglomerate in greater and greater numbers—but the by-line is. The article is authored by Chris Hughes, cofounder of Facebook.

Hughes’ claim that Facebook poses a “threat to democracy” is grounded in the social media’s access to an incredible amount of raw data. Facebook and its affiliates, Instagram and WhatsApp, aggregate data such as likes and dislikes, engagements, time spent watching a video, etc., and encourage users to share even more personal information, ostensibly to improve their targeted ad services. However, as Hughes points out and the Cambridge Analytica scandal confirmed, such unfettered access to data can lead to more concerning problems than targeted ads that seem to read your mind.

Hughes is neither the first nor the only tech entrepreneur to blow the whistle over data privacy concerns, and the problems he identifies are not limited to social media. The current generation, fueled by smartphones, smart speakers, smart homes—smart everything—is waking up to the serious challenges to privacy that these technological efficiencies are potentially introducing, driving policies like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For companies that deal with special categories of sensitive data—like medical information—the stakes are much higher, as publications like The Washington Post and Vox have enumerated. Access to information such as mental health, sex life, family planning, history of disease, physical wellness, etc. could potentially jeopardize users’ job opportunities, promotions, and may even engender or perpetuate discrimination in the workplace.

While the increased awareness of data privacy and security issues is forcing companies to take a second look at their protection policies, there are steps that consumers can and should take on their own to keep themselves informed — a “know before you go” approach.

As an executive at a data tech business, here are my five top tips for consumers to keep data private and safe:

Ask yourself: how do they make money? If an app or tool is “free,” it’s likely collecting revenue from advertising rather than sales, which means that your data—everything from number of logins to location to the number of times you visit the app in a day —  is potentially being shared with third-party sites, either in a direct or de-identified form.

Look for the company message and prioritization of security. If a company has a chief information security officer, that likely means that data is being monitored 24/7, making it a critical part of a cybersecurity system. If the company has any users in the EU or does any business with the EU (and this is the case with many companies), they may need to be GDPR-compliant. While there is a long list of requirements for GDPR compliance, one of the most significant is that a company must inform its consumers of a data breach without undue delay and in many circumstances within 72 hours.

Is there a consent process? Is the app or tool upfront and transparent about data use and policies? Do you have a good understanding of how your data will be used after you have been given access to the App? Apps or tools that do not ask for permission at set up or mask their data sharing practices in complicated language are suspect. Pay special attention to third party data sharing, including services like Apple, Alexa, and others, and make sure you are okay with this before you sign up.

Check the fine print. Not all data use and sharing is equal. Sharing data in a de-identified and legally-compliant manner can have the positive effect of improving outcomes or performance for the benefit of all users without compromising user privacy. Check the fine print to determine what type of data sharing a company is performing.

Do your research! It is always a good idea to do your own research. Take the time to do a simple Google search on a company’s privacy and security policies. Look up the third-party sites that are sharing their data. Determine whether you can delete your own data from a site should you choose to. Companies may or may not adhere to regulations of data, but the consumer has the power to hold them accountable.


3—How Businesses Use Social Media

According to new research about small businesses and social media from Visual Objects:

  • 43% of the millennial small business owners surveyed will invest more in in Instagram this year, demonstrating the platform’s popularity with younger users.
  • Small businesses with 50 or more employees are almost twice as likely to invest in YouTube than small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, showing that smaller companies struggle to compete across platforms with larger companies.
  • 56% of small businesses in the retail industry use Instagram, making it an effective platform for B2C companies.

There’s more information in the full report.


4—Lemons, Fire and Poking: Master Leadership Skills with Experiential Learning

Guest post by Adriano Pianesi, a leadership practitioner, change agent, high-performing team coach, consultant, and teacher ( Johns Hopkins University) who helps people create better futures. Through his consulting practice, he helps diverse groups come together to solve tough problems, and help leaders work for change by harnessing the powers of conflict, diversity and complexity.  

The idea behind experiential leadership learning is simple: We learn through experience.

But let’s go beyond the buzzword. What does it mean to teach experientially, really? As a leadership trainer and facilitator, I know it’s an effort to create a bias-free environment where students are asked to deal with unpredictability, conflict resolution and creative problem solving. But what does that mean, in practice, for adults?

This is what it looks like for children in school. Students may maintain school gardens that give them hands-on experience growing their own fruits and vegetables. Teachers could ask students to design their own solar system to deepen their understanding about how ours works. You likely get the point.

Now, how does that play out for leadership development in the workplace? It’s a lot like reproducing a playground environment, where the roles of leaders and followers are shaped naturally through spontaneous human interactions. But how is a leader made? What are the key steps to learn and master experiential leadership learning? Below are a few examples that can help you navigate and apply this learning method.

Be grateful to unpredictable teachers: Leaders turn lemons into lemonade. An unpredictable teacher is a lemon supplier, a source of questions that need answers. A good leader thrives in unpredictability and accepts the challenge of an unpredictable teacher as an opportunity to lead and build change. Unpredictable teachers can impart lessons about authority, like a boss who doesn’t tell you exactly what to do. Lack of direction from teachers forces students to confront their own beliefs about authority and to learn to manage differently the need for direction. So the next time you face an unpredictable challenge, be excited about it: It’s an opportunity to test your leadership skills.

Take the heat: We all deal with conflict—whether at home, while stuck in traffic or at the office. But not all of us can deal with conflict productively. We may tend to avoid  heated discussions because we believe they’re wrong. I come from Italy, where people don’t have this concern! I know—based on thousands of hours of what I’ll call “personal research”—that what comes out of those interactions, (most of the time) is a better understanding of another point of view. So don’t shy away from a heated discussion. Embrace it as an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and deal with conflict as a way to learn new things. Good leaders know how to leverage such interactions, turning them into a positive force for themselves and their organizations.

Poke your peer: Have you ever dealt with a skeptical peer who lacks engagement and is not sold on your ideas? That’s a great opportunity to learn about engagement and credibility, two qualities that are crucial in a leader. The barrier of a disengaged peer can force you to approach your communication style differently. Consider it as an offer to experiment on how to inspire others when they are uninterested. Accept the challenge openly. You’ll be amazed by the results.

Focus on the power of how: What I teach is how I teach. Yes, I teach a set of theories, competencies and frameworks, but I do it differently. I encourage my students to engage in spirited inquiry; I diagnose situations and assess an organization’s environment. I apply critical thinking to leadership. The participants of my courses learn not just a theory of leadership, but the process of thinking about leadership critically.

This should go without saying, but make sure your delivery matches your philosophy. I have seen emotional intelligence taught with PowerPoint—no joke. I expect that you will develop a style that “brands” your personal leadership values. Part of that branding must be a technique that is clearly different from traditional training.

I teach leadership experientially because I want people to practice and engage in acts of leadership in class, so that they can apply them at work. When we drop sterile debates about what defines a leader and what leadership requires— move from autonomy and individuality to create connections and interdependence—we change the game. This lays the foundation for a more holistic way of practicing leadership.


5—Reducing the Cost of Stress

It’s estimated stress-related illnesses and injuries from accidents due to being distracted lead to absenteeism, employee turnover rate and lowered productivity and cost the U.S. $300 billion per year. Investing in your workplace and employees may reduce your costs in the long run.

To help your business, created a guide on seven major ways to reduce the cost of workplace stress and combat the costs that tag along.

Please include attribution to with this graphic.

Cost of Stress


6—4 Attributes Your Next VP of Sales Must Possess When Expanding to New Markets

Guest post by Ryan Moore, Director of Client Management, Peak Sales Recruiting, North America’s leading sales recruitment firm.

When it’s time to hire a VP of Sales, there are a few common attributes you’re probably quick to look for. You know, things like experience hitting revenue goals, knowledge about a product or industry and the ability to successfully lead a team of reps come to mind. But how much are you considering factors like a new hire’s existing network?

Not every business can boast the brand recognition of Apple or Nike, and every product isn’t going to have the sizzle of a Marc Jacobs bag or the latest Lexus model. But there are still plenty of ways you can generate buzz, build a strong foundation and create a reliable, engaged network for relationship marketing and sales growth. Of course, the reality is that a lot of this starts with who you hire.

At Peak Sales Recruiting, we know first-hand that a poor Sales VP hire is expensive—not just in lost revenue and time, but in overall morale and direction, too.

If you’re expanding into new territories, consider these four reasons for filling your VP of Sales role with someone whose industry network and knowledge are already robust.

1—Gain an Untapped Network: When it’s time to make a new hire, pay careful attention to each candidate’s existing network. Relationship sales play a critical role in expansion—whether you’re entering an unfamiliar market or launching a new service or product. By bringing on a VP of Sales who’s already got their own Rolodex full of loyal clients, the entire sales team has the opportunity to hit the ground running. This initial motivation can ignite a fire under your sales team and keep everyone energized as they push toward your organization’s revenue goals for the year.

Plus, if someone is willing to give you access to their network, it means they really believe in what you’re building. That’s exactly the kind of person you want at the helm of your sales team.

2—Tactical Recruitment Skills:  One of the most significant assets you’ll gain from your VP of Sales is the ability to successfully recruit high-quality sales reps. The importance of your sales reps can’t be overstated—this organizational backbone can make or break your numbers for the year.

Building a great sales team starts with hiring a great leader. Your VP of Sales should come to the table with a few great reps ready to follow them anywhere, plus a few others in mind for the future. The ideal Sales VP will have just the right blend of experience and knowledge to motivate, coach and support a team of reps toward high achievement.

 3—Access Deep Market Insights: As you determine your direction and which market you’ll enter next, it makes the most sense to utilize someone with demonstrative market insights. This is important not only to give you intel about the new market you’re entering, but for your understanding of tangential industries as well.

These insights can help with the formulation of your entire entry strategy, whether you’re keying in on commonalities and differences between related markets, developing a realistic view of your market opportunity or working through adjustments to your timeline or approach. In-depth insights that are grown organically from experience and knowledge provide lasting value that’s difficult to replicate.

4—The Right Mindset: You’re looking for a VP of Sales with the right mix of know-how, hustle and skill. What this mostly boils down to is intuition, which can in turn help drive good leadership and smart decision making. The reality is that experience does not always equal talent. It’s entirely possible to hire someone for a VP of Sales role who has spent plenty of time in the industry but isn’t going to be the right fit for your brand.

In addition to experience, you want a VP of Sales who also brings well-matched energy and attitude to your organization. This can be a driving force behind new market entry and can help keep the rest of your team galvanized as you set sights on your goals for the year.

There are different strategies for how to best accomplish entry into a new market, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But if you’re planning a market entry or expansion, consider how the person you hire for your VP of Sales role can be instrumental to your success. To facilitate your execution into a new territory, look for someone with a strong and loyal network, a talented team of quality reps and a blend of knowledge and perspective to give you the right advantage.


7—Small Businesses Plan to Outsource

This year, 52% of small businesses plan to outsource business processes, according to a new survey report from Clutch, the leading B2B ratings and reviews firm. Small businesses will most frequently outsource accounting (21%), IT services (20%), and digital marketing responsibilities (20%).

Experts in the survey recommend that small businesses set clear expectations and goals for the work they plan to outsource. Otherwise, outsourcing can cause issues with communication, quality of products, or security.

“Before looking for your next partner, be sure you are able to outline all the technical and aesthetic expectations you have for the production of your products…and how to communicate that to someone who would take this over for you,” says Juli Lassow, founder and principal of JHL Solutions, a business solutions and management firm.

Outsourcing Can Increase Efficiency, Expertise: Small businesses primarily outsource to increase the efficiency (24%) and available expertise of their business (18%).

For example, entrepreneur Rio Rocket outsources more routine tasks to free up his time for responsibilities that actually build his business. “[Outsourcing] gave me more time to negotiate new contracts, handle client correspondence, and manage the creative direction of current projects,” Rocket says. “Through outsourcing, I could manage 10 to 15 or more projects and still maintain clarity and a fresh state of mind.”

More Technical Responsibilities Can Benefit From Outsourcing: Small businesses currently most commonly outsource accounting (37%), IT services (37%), and digital marketing (34%) tasks.

Accounting requires more specific skills, such as Excel or mathematical analysis, and the financial information accounting produces can set the direction for the rest of the business.
Businesses can benefit from outsourcing accounting to ensure their companies don’t suffer from decisions based on incorrect data or analysis.
“When you set your goals and your KPIs, you want to make sure that they’re guiding the business in the right direction,” says Erica Quigley, a business operations consultant at Quigley Management Consulting.

IT services and digital marketing can also only succeed with in-depth knowledge of more specific skills, such as coding or search engine optimization.

Check out the full report.


8—Fighting the Opioid Crisis

Do employers have the power to slow the opioid epidemic? Workplace drug testing isn’t the only tool that can stem the tide. In many instances, fear of losing their jobs prevents people who struggle with addiction from getting help. Having a framework in place for helping people get the recovery services they need can be more effective at preventing workplace drug abuse than drug testing alone.

Many people suffering from addiction started with a legally prescribed opioid medication following an illness or injury and found themselves dealing with an unexpected addiction on top of their recovery. Fear of losing their job prevents many of them from getting help, especially since rehab programs can take a lot of time and be very expensive. Allowing those suffering from addiction to access rehab services without fear of losing their jobs can help more people break the cycle of addiction. When they return to work, having a mentoring program in place to ensure a smooth transition can help make their recovery stronger.

There’s more in the infographic below from US Drug Test Centers.


9—The Largest Marketplace and Community for Wedding Professionals Just Launched

The Knot and WeddingWire, the leading wedding planning resources, recently launched WeddingPro: the largest marketplace and community for wedding professionals. As the leading B2B wedding brand, WeddingPro connects wedding professionals with more than 13 million visitors per month planning weddings on The Knot and WeddingWire—the largest and most active audience of engaged couples in the country—as well as with hundreds of thousands of other industry. Through its online marketplaces, educational programs and community-building events, WeddingPro is dedicated to helping wedding professionals build relationships with couples and pros that grow their businesses.

In December 2018, with a combined more than 40 years of experience, The Knot and WeddingWire officially merged to join efforts and accelerate growth in the wedding industry. The result is an offering of more connections, education and value to engaged couples and wedding pros than any other business could do on a stand-alone basis. With WeddingPro, industry professionals will benefit from a number of unique advantages, including:

Making Great First Impressions. Wedding pros will be on the radar of the largest audience of engaged couples anywhere—13 million unique monthly visitors. With less than 1% lead overlap between The Knot and WeddingWire, most of today’s engaged couples are within reach.

SEO Boost. The Knot and WeddingWire are the top search results in nearly all wedding planning areas, driving significant traffic into each marketplace, and enabling pros to quickly and easily connect with couples that have the highest intent. Whether couples are searching by category, region or business name, WeddingPro is hyper-focused on ensuring that couples get the most relevant results showing pros in their area. When couples are m ore tailored results, faster, The Knot and WeddingWire generate more leads, ultimately creating better ROI for pros.

Building Meaningful Connections to Book More Business. Quantity of leads is great, but quality is what’s game-changing. The Knot and WeddingWire engineers are constantly working to make pro recommendations more personalized on each platform with messaging, availability and pricing tools that allow for quick and easy connections. Together, The Knot and WeddingWire make more than 1 million relevant pro recommendations to couples every day based on what they need. In fact, both brands have increased leads that respond back to pros by 42% YoY.

As long-standing innovation leaders within the wedding space, we’re proud to use technology to make smart connections between wedding pros and millions of couples to create their unique and personal weddings,” says Tim Chi, Chief Executive Officer of The Knot Worldwide. “But more than just an ad platform, WeddingPro is a community made up of hundreds of thousands of cocreators, visionaries and entrepreneurs who work every day to make the impossible possible, and the best weddings even better—together.”

Creating Relationships Made to Last. Reviews are so important to the success of any business in today’s trust economy. The Knot and WeddingWire make it seamlessly simple to request reviews and showcase pros’ favorites to help couples see their value. With more than 6 million reviews between The Knot and WeddingWire, it’s the number-one destination for wedding reviews in the U.S.

Building Relationships That Drive Every Local Pro’s Community. Last year alone, The Knot and WeddingWire collectively helped over 10,000 local wedding pros connect in real life through empowering day-long education events, community-focused networking opportunities, parties and more. The Knot and WeddingWire have combined efforts to double down on education and events so pros can easily meet their next collaborator, mentor, referral or even a BPF (best pro friend) to ultimately grow their businesses.


10—Undergrad Expectations vs. Reality

Generation Z might be in store for an unpleasant wake-up call after graduation. According to new research from Clever Real Estate, the average undergraduate expects to make $57,964 right out of college. That’s more than $10,000 above the national median early career salary for a bachelor’s degree holder.


  • Women expect lower salaries than men, even when they have the same major
  • The average undergraduate overestimates their mid-career salary by about $15,000
  • Generation Z ranks money-based employee benefits over “fun” incentives

Check out their full report here.


Quick Clicks

11—Internet Stats, Trends & Data: Almost everything you need to know about the internet is in this post. Bookmark this valuable resource from DailyWireless—I did.

12—Need to Get Away?: GOGO Charters, a charter bus rental service, shares the 10 most popular group travel destinations. 

13—Traits of Marketing Leaders: Adventurousness, energy level, assertiveness, and intellect are the most common personality traits of marketing leaders. Read the post from Fractl to learn more.

14—Millennial Burnout: Millennials are burning out. The #1 cause—72% says its work. Take a look at the whole study from Yellowbrick.

15—Sleepless Nights: Having trouble sleeping. Check out these useful tips from 67 health-care professionals via All the Stuff.

16—Social Media Habits: According to BroadbandSearch we could go to the moon (and back) 32 times in the time we spend on social media. Check out their post on social media habits.

17—Best Small Business Credit Cards: FitSmallBusiness rates the best credit cards for you.


Cool Tools

18—Secure Cyber Protection for SAP HANA

Acronis, a global leader in cyber protection, recently extended the easy, efficient, and secure backup and recovery capabilities of Acronis Backup to SAP HANA data. Acronis’ innovative data imaging solution now seamlessly protects the entire database without requiring any deep knowledge or expertise in SAP HANA.

Enterprise organizations are now responsible for more data than ever before. In fact, more data is now stored with enterprises than in all the world’s existing endpoints. This data arrives from a wide variety of sources around the world and around the clock in a wide variety of formats, and on a wide variety of platforms.

To achieve data management flexibility and increase their operational efficiency, over 27,000 enterprises rely on SAP HANA databases. With so much data filling these SAP HANA databases and real-time analysis constantly running, it’s vital for them to be comprehensively protected, with backups maintained regularly and available for recovery the instant they’re needed. Today, that’s faster and easier through Acronis Backup’s new script-based, verified support of SAP HANA backup and recovery.

To find out more, go here.

Business stock photo By Branislav Nenin/Shutterstock