10 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—Small Businesses Power U.S. Sales
SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, reports that small businesses now account for 54% of U.S. sales. And 38% of small businesses say they’re growing. What do they attribute those new sales to? Word-of-mouth recommendations remain their top source for new customers and sales.
Check out the infographic below for more details.
March Madness is well underway. In fact, we’re down to the Sweet 16. And even if you’re not paying attention, your employees likely are. Captivate surveyed U.S. workers and found:
- 45% of business professionals plan to watch some games this year
- 48% of millennials plan to watch, compared to only 38% of Baby Boomers
- 15% of millennials say they’re going to “secretly” watch during the work day (At this point watching at work will only affect businesses in the Pacific time zone, Alaska and Hawaii, and late shift workers.)
- 35% of business professionals say there’s a March Madness pool at their offices this year
- 61% plan to take part in a bracket/pool at the office 68% of Gen Xers plan to participate in the office pool, more than any other demo group
- The #1 reason people participate in an office bracket/pool is “To have fun with coworkers/boost morale”—65% say that
Will there be a surprise winner this year? There have already been some major upsets. The business professionals predict this year’s winner will be either: Gonzaga, St. John’s, Villanova, Xavier, and the Nevada Wolf Pack. Unfortunately for them, of that group only Gonzaga, Villanova and Nevada remain.
Check this blog for more information about March Madness.
3—How to Grow Your Side Hustle
Millions are now starting their journey to entrepreneurship by creating a side business first. Is that your plan? If you, check out the 10 steps you should take to turn your side hustle into a full-time business from QuickQuid.
4—What to Do in a Crisis
In Part 1 (see #8) of this four-part series we focused on simplifying and clarifying your goals as a formal statement all parties can focus on during a crisis. Now let’s focus on the audience that often gets ignored and forgotten during a crisis—your own employees.
Communicating internally to your staff during a crisis: A crisis doesn’t only effect customers, it directly effects your staff. It’s your staff that has to communicate with angry, scared customers – calming their fears and resolving their problems. It’s your staff that needs to keep their cool, show empathy and have crazy amounts of patience.
But leadership often forgets that employees themselves are often scared during a crisis. They’re scared for their jobs, they’re scared of the extra work that will be required of them, and they’re afraid of not knowing what’s really going on.
There are some important steps company leadership must take (to keep employees on their side).
Leadership needs to be seen and heard, and employees need to be told what the company is committed to doing, and how they’ll be acting in the future (see part one of this series on simplifying and clarifying your goals during a crisis).
- Hold small group meetings with team leaders. Very quickly (within hours) have a series of small group meetings with your senior team leaders. Hold the meeting in-person if possible, but even a video streamed meeting or conference call will work. Tell them what you’re doing, and what they should be telling their teams. The staff will be looking to their supervisors for instructions, and nothing is scarier to morale than managers not knowing what to do or if they themselves look scared. A five-minute meeting can make all the difference to your teams. Make the time.
- Walk among the workers. Have leadership walk through the cubicles and offices thanking employees and portraying confidence—even if leadership doesn’t completely feel that confidence. If you’re in multiple locations this may not be possible, but have local leaders do the walk-around instead. When leadership smiles and displays confidence in employees it goes a long way for morale.
- Have your talking points and be prepared to repeat them. The key points should all revolve around the simplified, clarified statement you set (again, see Part 1). Stay on your talking points, even when asked lots of specific questions. Stick to the main points while acknowledging that the question is valid but that you’ll make an announcement to all employees about it soon to ensure everyone has the same information at the same time to avoid more rumors or confusion.
- Host a town hall in person or live streaming. After the initial shock, and after you have time to digest the core issues, it’s time to hold a large team meeting (or series of meetings). Your staff may be scared, but you need to show your confidence in them. Tell them you know that this isn’t easy for them, but you appreciate them. Tell them your leadership team will support them and do all they can to help resolve the problem. Answer what questions you can, but only share information you want the media or the public to hear. Even if it’s only intended for employees, all it takes is one scared or angry employee to talk to someone they shouldn’t.
- Demonstrate your appreciation. Maybe you can buy breakfast or lunch for your team as a simple thank you. Or handwrite letters to key team members at all levels telling them they are appreciated. Perhaps you can send a group email to a select team saying you appreciate their efforts. Simple acknowledgements and thank yous go a long way in keeping staff on your side.
Your staff is already going to have their hands full dealing with customers and the public, but if you lose the support and confidence in your own employees your task becomes nearly impossible. By investing the time to communicate and solidify support of your internal teams, your likelihood of quickly winning back customers and the public support goes up significantly.
5—Is Your Business Cyber Secure?
A recent study from specialist insurer Hiscox reveals 73% of firms face major shortcomings in cybersecurity readiness. The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2018™, which gauges how prepared businesses are to manage cyber threats, surveyed department managers, IT specialists and key professionals at small to large companies in the U.S., UK, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
The U.S. topped the list in cyber expertise, with 13% ranking as ‘cyber experts’ compared to 11% of global respondents. Almost half (45%) of the global businesses had at least one cyberattack in the past year; two-thirds of those targeted suffered two or more attacks.
Among the key findings of U.S. companies:
Cyberthreats rank as a top risk: While many firms may lack adequate defenses, 69% of respondents say the threat of a cyberattack is as big a risk to their businesses as fraud.
Cybersecurity spending on the rise: Almost 60% of survey respondents believe their overall cyber security spending budget will increase by five percent or more. The average IT budget of survey respondents in the US is $11.65 million, with 10.6% being devoted to cyber security.
Employee training works: Of the organizations making an investment in cybersecurity efforts, 54% say employee training helps reduce the number of cyberhacks and incidents. Plus, 43% conducted cybersecurity exercises, such as phishing experiments, to understand employee behavior and readiness for an attack.
Small businesses behind the cyber insurance curve: Despite an increase in spending across the board, there is a stark difference between how small and large businesses view Cyberinsurance—58% companies with more than 250 employees have cyber insurance, while only 21% of companies with fewer than 250 employees do. In addition, 52% of small businesses say they have no intention of securing cyber insurance, while only 9% of their larger counterparts say the same.
But, says Dan Burke, Vice President and Cyber Product Head for Hiscox in the US , “As threats become more advanced and sophisticated, cyber readiness is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’ for businesses of all sizes. There needs to be a dedicated investment, and not just a financial one, in order prevent, detect and mitigate cyberattacks. Beyond the allocation of funds, an organization must focus on its people, its thinking and its processes, in order to become a cyber expert.”
Becoming a cyber expert: Here are the top factors that divide the cyber experts from the cyber novices globally:
- Strategy: 89% have a clearly defined cybersecurity strategy compared to 49% of cyber novices. Cyber experts are likely to have put a formal budgeting process in place, which is integrated into all security projects and activities.
- Engagement: Cyber experts get support from the senior leaders and engage a broader range of stakeholders when setting their organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Experts are more than twice as likely to agree that ‘there is formal support for cybe security from business leaders and executives on an ongoing basis’ (86% versus 38% for cyber novices).
- Organizational leadership: 52% of all cyber experts globally have a dedicated leader or executive responsible for cybersecurity and 46% have a dedicated team to support that leader. By comparison, cyber novices are roughly half as prepared.
- Training and evaluation: 90% of all cyber experts review the cybersecurity competence of their people on a regular basis, using established metrics. And cybersecurity competence has become a part of regular performance evaluations.
- Willingness to respond: 72% of those who experienced an incident in the past year increased their security measures, while 51% cyber novices failed to act.
- Investment: The expert organizations devote a greater proportion of their IT budgets to cyber than the novices. Plus, far more experts plan to increase spending across all areas this year, from staffing, training and technology to outsourcing and consultancy.
- Insurance: Based on all respondents globally, 60% of the cyber experts have taken out cyber insurance, and 31% plan to do so in the future. By contrast, 26% of the cyber novices say they have cyber coverage—though 24% plan to take out coverage in the next 12 months.
A full copy of The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2018™ can be accessed here.
6—Remote Work Policies
Upwork, the largest freelancing website, recently released the results of its second annual Future Workforce Report, which explores hiring behaviors U.S. managers. As companies struggle to fill the skills gap, they’re embracing agile, remote teams to get work done. And while remote work is on the rise, are companies ready for it?
Companies have the resources, but lack the policies to support remote work: 64% of hiring managers feel their companies have the resources and processes in place to support a remote workforce, yet 57% lack a remote work policy.
Companies with work-from-home policies have become more lenient & inclusive: Work-from-home policies are evolving—45% of hiring managers say their company’s work-from-home policy has changed in the past five years, with 60% saying it has become more lenient and inclusive. This makes it easier for companies to find the talent they need. In fact, 52% of hiring managers who work at companies with work-from-home policies believe hiring has become easier in the past year.
Findings indicate remote work is likely to become the new normal: 55% of hiring managers agree remote work has become more commonplace as compared to three years ago. Five times as many hiring managers expect more of their team to work remotely in the next 10 years than expect less. In the next 10 years, hiring managers predict 38% of their full-time, permanent employees will work predominantly remotely.
Other notable findings reveal:
- Talent is hard to find: 39% of hiring managers say hiring has gotten harder in the past year, vs. 11% who say it got easier. Of those who believe hiring has gotten harder, 53% cite access to skills as their biggest hiring challenge.
- Skills are becoming more specialized: 59% of hiring managers say kills have become more specialized compared to three years ago. And 61% say skills will become even more specialized in the next 10 years. As new technological innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics take hold, 67% agree companies will need to invest in re-skilling to prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
- Companies are using more flexible talent: 52% of hiring managers cite talent shortages as the key driver to adopting a more flexible workforce. Compared to three years ago, 53% of hiring managers say businesses have embraced more freelancers, temporary and agency workers (“flexible talent”). Plus, 59% of hiring managers use flexible talent today, up 24% from 2017. They anticipate work done by flexible talent will increase by 168% in the next 10 years.
- Agile work models are becoming the norm: 88% of companies have made progress in developing a more agile, flexible talent strategy.
Too see more insights from Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, see the results deck here.
7—Pitch Your Business Ideas
March 23rd is the last day for to participate in the third annual “Latino Perfect Pitch,” a small business pitch competition where participants get the opportunity to present their business ideas to a panel of business expert judges. One participant will win a $5,000 grand prize at Hispanicize 2018, the national Latino influencers and trendsetters event takes place April 17-19 in Miami.
The “Latino Perfect Pitch,” which is sponsored by Wells Fargo, is a small business competition for entrepreneurs seeking an opportunity to take their business ideas to the next level and the opportunity to win $5,000 to fund the development of their company and brand. The competition is open to entrepreneurs who have been in business no more than five years and are planning to attend Hispanicize 2018.
To participate in “The Latino Perfect Pitch” competition, interested individuals must complete a simple submission form, and provide the following supporting items: a one- to two-minute video introduction, a brief business plan description, a bio and headshot as well as a case study (if available). The competition is open to small business owners, regardless of ethnic heritage/background.
The three finalists will present their concepts live on stage at Hispanicize 2018 on Thursday, April 19 for the chance to win $5,000 to fund their business expansion or startup, and $1,500 in press release distributions from Hispanicize Wire.
Check out last year’s recap video. Hispanicize 2018 is expected to attract more than 2,500 attendees from the fields of social media, journalism, marketing, music, film and entrepreneurship.
8—Stay True to Your Brand
It’s important to stay true to your brand’s core values and create a visual identity that is consistent throughout all your marketing campaigns. Check out this blog from Visme to help you create the perfect brand, and also maintain the values it is built on.
9—Landing Pages Up Customer Engagement
Campaigner® recently launched a new Landing Pages feature, enabling advanced marketers to take engagement with customers one click further than ever before. Campaigner Landing Pages improve marketers’ ability to personalize content for each subscriber, drive lead generation, and track and report engagement for comprehensive campaign management on one consolidated platform.
Marketers can easily create hosted Landing Pages that integrate directly with their email marketing content on the Campaigner platform. They can merge existing contact information and related content to create Landing Pages that present unique content to each page viewer, for a tailored and personalized experience in a rich medium beyond email. The campaign-specific pages can direct customers and prospects to complete a specific call to action, including completing a purchase, subscribing for content, downloading digital materials or providing additional information.
Campaigner Landing Pages include pre-designed templates as well as a full HTML editor so content creators can design fully customizable content that meets any brand guidelines. The solution features tracking and reporting capabilities for marketers to monitor views, clicks, subscribes, conversion rates and bounce rates – offering a complete view of a campaign’s performance and customers’ engagement.
Survey Anyplace lets you create your own interactive quizzes and surveys. The tool is an online app (it opens in a web browser) with a focus on mobile use, so no app install is needed on personal devices. It’s mobile friendly, too.
Survey Anyplace says they’re “on a mission to save the world from boring surveys.” In addition to the “regular” stuff, such as data collection, event surveys, evaluations, etc., you can use surveys (on- or offline) as sale tool assessments, or even as quizzes to collect leads—check out this interesting case study.