small businesses

9 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know


By Rieva Lesonsky


1—Who Do You Trust?

Check out the latest Small Business Trust Index (from Q1 of this year) from Alignable. You’ll see the brands small businesses trust to work with.

2—9 Ways to Motivate Your Remote Team

Remote work is not just the employment method of the future, it’s already here. In a 2017 survey, nearly 40% of the American workforce described themselves as freelancers. This means a massive change in what team leaders need to do to keep their teams motivated.

There’s a wealth of management books and motivational speakers that can tell you how to increase engagement and maximize staff productivity in a physical environment. But what if you’ve never even seen your team? How do you gauge their interest? How do you find out what makes them tick?

Building the kind of cohesiveness and team spirit that defines a successful business can be especially difficult when working with remote employees. That’s why Nivene Judeh from The Business Backer says, “Right from the start it’s important to have absolute clarity on roles and expectations. With physical distance and differences in time-zones, simple requests for clarification on responsibility can cause significant delays in projects. Similarly, it is useful to share information about the organization’s goals so that remote staff can see the bigger picture that they are part of.”

One of the biggest advantages for employees when it comes to remote work is its flexibility. When employees can set their timetable around their own most productive hours the increases in productivity can be anywhere between 13% to 35%. This means loosening rigid work-hours and measuring work by actual output rather than time clocked.

Keeping a remote team happy and engaged takes some effort on the part of management and it can also be tough to shift to a very different way of working. However, with access to a global talent pool and large savings on physical space, remote working can be a game-changer for your organization.

Check out the infographic below for more information.


3—3 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

Last December Campaigner released its annual Digital Marketing Industry Report study, which shows email is still the preferred communications channel for marketers. But, there are concerns. Seamas Egan, Director of Sales and Marketing at Campaigner offers some tips and insights to help you get more out of your email marketing

  1. Build relationships using dynamic content:In 2017, 59% of marketers reported increasing open rates as their greatest challenge. In order to optimize open rates, email marketers should utilize dynamic content and personalization to create a relationship with subscribers. In fact, nearly a third of marketers believe dynamic content is a tool not being used enough that can improve ROI.
  2. Focus on the law—become GDPR ready:With the EU’s mandatory compliance date just months away, 84% of marketers are not familiar with how GDPR will affect their business. Email marketers should spend the first half of 2018 reading up on GDPR requirements. Campaigner found 39% have or are not sure about emails from EU residents being in their lists—this is clearly an issue with fines of €20 million at risk.
  3. Explore and integrate new tech:As predictive analytics continue to make waves in marketing, 44% of marketers look to use more of it in 2018. Furthermore, 40% anticipate voice assistants, like Alexa and Siri, to be more prominent. Email marketers should create integrated campaigns using these assistants to capture the eye of users who are becoming increasingly dependent upon tech to make purchases.


4—Tax Time Made Easier

Intuit estimates 43% of the U.S. workforce will consist of contractors by 2020, leaving many small business owners to adapt to this new way of working. To help, Intuit just launched two new features that can take the pain out of preparing 1099s for both small business owners and independent contractors. All QuickBooks users can now more securely collect necessary tax information and electronically deliver tax documents to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and contractors from within the QuickBooks product.

Already, 30% small businesses pay at least one contractor annually. However, Intuit says, the process of onboarding, sending tax information and payment is often riddled with inefficiencies, making the process time consuming, stressful, confusing and irritating on both sides. Small businesses often forget to collect W-9 information from contractors and have to request it over potentially unsecured methods such as text or email, putting the contractor’s information at risk. Additionally, small businesses spend hours preparing, printing, labeling and mailing 1099s to the IRS and contractors. That’s time that doesn’t get spent managing and growing their businesses.

The new QuickBooks features are designed to help relieve pain and stress for both small businesses and their contractors. The new QuickBooks features include:

  • More secure and trusted data entry: Avoid data errors and eliminate time spent tracking down contractor information by inviting contractors to enter their tax information on their own. Simply send your contractor an invite from within QuickBooks, and the contractor can then more securely share their information, which is then added to the QuickBooks account. Contractors can also update their data to reflect changes to address, and these changes will be updated in the small business’ QuickBooks account. Contractors also can share their information with other small businesses that use QuickBooks when hired without reentering their data.
  • Deliver contractor tax forms electronically: Save time and money by electronically sending 1099s to the IRS and contractors, getting contractor’s data where it needs to go faster and more securely while sparing small businesses the headache.

There’s more information on QuickBooks Contractor here.


5—Don’t Let Your Employees Suffer—Consider Auto-Enrollment

Guest post by Chad Parks, founder & CEO, Ubiquity Retirement + Savings

When it comes to planning for retirement, the hard truth is America’s workers will have to rely on personal savings for the foreseeable future, and it is critical for companies of any size to ensure that their employees have an opportunity to save for retirement. One solution to the looming retirement crisis? Auto-enrollment.

Put simply, auto-enrollment allows companies to, automatically enroll their employees in a 401k retirement plan. By pairing up with a plan provider, auto-enrollment takes the bulk of the responsibility off the employee and ensures that money is being put away for the future with each paycheck.

The idea behind auto-enrollment is to fight employee procrastination when it comes to retirement savings, as the reality is it is just not at the top of the priority list for much of today’s workforce. By forcing employees to automatically use a small portion of their paycheck without any work on their end, it proves without a doubt that it does not take much to establish a sustainable retirement plan. Often coupled with an employer match, it is a no-brainer when it comes to personal savings. Moreover, if you work with a plan provider who can ensure efficient management and compliance, it is one of the best strategies for jumpstarting your employee’s retirement plans.

Skeptics of employers participating in auto-enrollment occasionally reference the fact that most auto-enrollment plans begin at a common misconception about auto-enrollment is that plans often start at a 3% contribution rate, which is not a sustainable rate for a fruitful retirement. However, there are a couple of points to keep in mind here:

Auto-enrollment is specifically geared at people who would not save for retirement otherwise. So, if the alternative is 0%, auto-enrollment accomplishes far more than no plan at all.

With auto-enrollment comes “auto annual escalation,” a system that gradually increases your contribution rates to 6% over a five-year period. Assuming an increase in salary during that timeframe, the amount of money you are contributing to your retirement is exponentially more.

It is important to re-emphasize that these plans are intended for people who otherwise wouldn’t be saving. Employees can opt out at any time or adjust their auto-escalation schedule (in either direction), but the bottom line is they are being placed into a system that forces them to create a retirement savings solution for themselves.

Auto-enrollment plans have proven to be very popular in companies with more than 25 employees. Where I want to see the continued adoption of auto-enrollment plans is in businesses with fewer than 25 employees. The smaller the company, the less likely that company is to offer their employees a retirement savings plan, a critical problem for the future of personal savings, particularly given the decline of pension programs and (eventually) Social Security. By embracing a strategy like auto-enrollment, we are providing our workforce a true path for personal savings that otherwise might not exist.


Quick Takes

6—From Inmates to Entrepreneurs

Sageworks chairman and co-founder Brian Hamilton has created a program, Inmates to Entrepreneurs, as “the opioid crisis and increased tensions around crime and imprisonment have escalated.”

Its mission: To assist formerly incarcerated individuals in starting their own business and engaging in entrepreneurship by providing resources, mentorship and hope.

Its vision: To reduce the rate of recidivism by providing an alternative path to financial stability and success.

This is a worthwhile cause worth checking out.


7—All You Need To Know About Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Are you confused about inbound and outbound marketing? Don’t feel bad, so many business owners are. Check out this helpful guide from Umair Anwar, the founder of
8—Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?

If you, or someone you know has student debt, check this guide from Credible, “Should I Refinance My Student Loans?”

Cool Tools

9—Free Stock Photos

Finding stock images small businesses can use for content and other photo needs is hard. Finding them for free is even harder. So, take a look at It’s a free stock photo website, with more than 100,000 images—20,000 of which are exclusive. And they’re all free to use.  Pikwizard’s goal is to have over 1 million images. These are really worth checking out.