14 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—Staying Productive—Even When You’re Tired
Deadlines can be difficult—and stressful! And big projects can cost you a lot of sleep. So, how do you maintain your focus and produce your best work, when you’re already so tired?
A few simple tweaks—like standing up while working or rubbing peppermint oil on your wrists, may work wonders. Check out the new infographic below from NeoMam Studios for 11 energizing tips.
2—3 Ways to Boost Newsletter Subscribers
Guest post by Jessa Barron, NextAdvisor
Email marketing is a successful tool for many small businesses in every industry, as it’s a personalized way to reach your audience’s inbox, and to connect with them directly on a personal level. But no matter how great your email campaigns and your content are, email marketing doesn’t do much good if you don’t have many subscribers to share your campaigns and content with. Since building a newsletter subscriber list can sometimes be an uphill challenge, we’ve detailed a few simple ways you can boost your list to ensure you’re reaching a larger audience.
Promote across platforms: Visibility is essential when you’re trying to reach as many people as possible. That’s why you’ll want to utilize all your digital platforms to help promote your email newsletter and vice-versa. For example, if you have multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, you could share your sign-up link on those platforms to encourage your social media followers to subscribe to your email newsletter. You could also include social media follow buttons in your email campaigns so your subscribers can easily find your social media channels and follow you there, as well. Another way to reach a larger audience is to not only include social media follow buttons, but also include social media share buttons. This way your subscribers can share your content with their friends and followers on their personal social media pages, which could help you more newsletter subscribers.
Offer incentives: Everyone loves free or discounted stuff, so why not offer some incentives to your customers for becoming newsletter subscribers? You can offer things like a free ebook, a limited-time discount on items in your store or an online coupon for a first-time purchase to entice people to sign up for your email newsletter. You can include messages on your website and your social media channels, along with a sign-up link so your customers know how to sign up as well as that kind of incentive they can expect for signing up. It’s important to let new subscribers know what type of content your emails contain, as this will allow them to see what they can expect from your newsletters—if your content isn’t what you advertise it to be, you could eventually lose some subscribers. Another thing to point out to your subscribers is how often they’ll be receiving emails from you. If you send newsletters more or less frequently than expected, you risk annoying your subscribers, which could cause them to unsubscribe.
Make your sign-up form user-friendly: Having a sign-up form that is too extensive or complex can deter many people who were initially interested in subscribing to your newsletter from doing so. Instead, try to keep your sign-up form as simple and straightforward as possible—this will help you from overwhelming your audience with too many questions. You could ask for things like name, email address, birthday and how frequently they’d like to receive your emails as options on your sign-up form. Be sure to keep in mind how short the average attention span is, especially with online content, when deciding how much information you want to gather from your audience. After you’ve decided what information you want to collect, you’ll want to make sure your email sign-up form is easy to find on your website. After all, if it’s only on one page on your website or if it’s too difficult for people to find, you likely won’t be gaining many new subscribers, and that’s the main goal.
3—5 Top IoT trends for SMBs
Guest post by Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid Technologies
- An improved customer experience: The consumer world is rife with customer experience (CX)-related improvements and this has worked its way into the B2B space too. IoT devices not only allow SMBs to deliver a better CX, they will also collect customer touchpoint data that helps companies to further improve it.
- Reduced costs: IoT devices or smart things will remove the need for manual labor elements and the associated costs. Not just in replacing discrete human actions but also activities related to the management of previously “dumb” things. Plus, IoT devices will be used to glue existing automation together – in a “sense, decide, and act” way—again reducing the need for, and cost of, human intervention.
- Better information leading to better decisions: IoT devices will collect and transmit back a wealth of data. SMBs can use this data – with the help of a business intelligence tool and/or machine learning – to drive a multitude of business decisions related to products and services, customer behavior, service quality, staffing, support and customer service, and future business investments.
- New products and services: IoT devices will be embedded into existing products and services or be used to create brand new business opportunities—with the power in the “connectedness” and the opportunities this brings. Plus, SMBs shouldn’t overlook the less tangible opportunity of the availability of IoT data being a potential new service in itself—the insight might be more valuable than the product or service it is gleaned from.
- Improved business operations: IoT devices will not only remove some of the reliance on people, they will also provide opportunities to improve the way things are done – speeding up business processes and reducing the delays, and potential fallout, from human errors. The collected data is also a rich source to be mined for improvement opportunities that will improve business operations, CX, and margins.
4—3 Ways to Protect Your Small Business from Hackers
Ignorance is not bliss: Many small businesses don’t think they’re going to be targeted by hackers, but they represent a way for hackers to get access to larger companies. It’s the principle of attacking the weakest link and in most cases that’s a small business. Anyone you work with could also be attacked through their network. All small businesses owners need to understand this. However, most cyberattacks against small businesses are not sophisticated. There are fundamental security controls that anyone can deploy to mitigate most attacks.
Safeguard against basic threats: Small business owners should stop the basic threats first. Here’s how:
- Use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running
- Patch applications such as Flash, web browsers, Microsoft Office, Java and PDF viewers
- Patch operating systems
- Restrict administrative privileges to operating systems and applications based on user duties
In general, a simple defense tactic anyone can implement is to not allow your servers to initiate connections with the internet. A server is designed to receive connections, and not initiate them. Any deviation from this should signal that your system is being penetrated.
Segment and Isolate: The most crucial security tactic for small business owners is employee education. Employees are your weakest security link. Even with the correct network security protocol, your employees can still be fooled by hackers. These sorts of attacks usually involve an employee clicking on something, not just once, but multiple times. To combat this, I recommend you employ a tactic I learned in the Navy called “Segmentation and Isolation”. That means designing your network so when one employee’s computer is compromised, you can isolate the infection to just that one machine. If you can contain a cyberattack to just one machine, you have a success on your hands. Think about cybersecurity like disease prevention. Your goal as a small business owner is to prevent the spread of disease from patient zero.
5—Are Your Employees’ Personal Finances Hurting Your Business?
According to PwC US’s 2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey your employees are facing financial stress, which could affect your business. The good news is 57% of millennials have some sort of financial stress, which is more in line with the stresses of the 59% of Gen X employees who are stressed.
Kent E. Allison, leader of PwC’s Employee Financial Education and Wellness practice, says, “Despite a steady economic recovery and enhanced financial stability, 53% of employees are still stressed about their finances. Millennials are no longer the start-up generation; they’re settling down, buying homes, and having children. Couple this with caring for an aging baby boomer population, and you’ll find that both millennials and Gen X are feeling squeezed by their daily living expenses.”
Employee financial stress can be costly for companies: Nearly one-third of all employees say they’re distracted by personal financial issues while at work, with almost half of that group spending three hours or more each week handling personal finances at work.
In fact, PwC’s survey results find that employees who are stressed about their finances are nearly 5x more likely to be distracted by their finances at work, twice as likely to spend three hours or more at work dealing with financial matters and three times more likely to spend five hours or more. They are also twice as likely to report missing work due to their personal financial issues and more inclined to cite health issues caused by financial worries.
Concerns over meeting monthly expenses impacts long-term financial goals: 41% of millennial employees find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time each month. And 70% consistently carry balances on their credit cards, 45% use their credit cards for monthly expenses and 40% have student loan debt.
Gen X is also stressed with 50% finding it difficult to meet household expenses on time each month, 30% providing financial support for their parents or in-laws and 63% consistently ing credit card balances.
Nearly one in three of all employees has already withdrawn money held in retirement plans to pay for expenses other than retirement and 44% think it’s likely they’ll need to do so in the future. Most who plan to withdraw money from their retirement plans need it for unexpected expenses (51% millennials, 57% Gen X and 53% baby boomers) and paying medical bills (22% millennials, 18% Gen X and 24% baby boomers).
“The fact that employees are looking at their retirement savings as an emergency fund signals they could use some additional support from a financial management perspective,” says Allison. “If short-term unexpected expenses drive the most financial stress, companies should consider offering alternative savings programs that can be used for this purpose.”
A mixed view of their retirement future
Despite 75% of all employees currently saving for retirement and 44% saying they are saving more for retirement than last year, many employees (40%) have saved less than $50,000 for retirement. While common sense would imply this number was influenced by millennials who have had less time to save, a surprising 30% of baby boomers have saved less than $50,000 and 72% of boomers have saved $300,000 or less.
6—Going Back to Work after a Workplace Shooting
Guest post by Rob Wilson, CE, Employco USA
Several weeks ago Cedric Anderson brought a gun to his wife’s school in San Bernardino, killing her and a special-needs student in the crossfire. Classes resumed several days later, but as the community tries to put the pieces back together, Americans are once again left wondering if their schools and their workplaces are safe.
Workplace violence is a growing concern in this country, from the 2016 shooting at a Kansas lawn care company, to the 2016 San Bernardino mass shooting, to the WDBJ-TV shooting which occurred on-air. These shootings seem to be on the rise, and when acts of senseless violence like this occur, it robs us of a sense of security in our workplaces and beyond.
Here are some steps to take in the event of workplace violence:
Put emergency guidelines in your handbook. Make sure your employee handbook offers procedures on how to handle the unthinkable. We have everything from fire drills to tornado drills, we should also have steps in place for how to handle a mass shooting. If possible, you can even discuss these steps with a local law enforcement officer to help to ensure that the best procedures are given to your employees.
Offer grief counseling if appropriate. It can be hard to forget the aftermath of a tragedy and switch back into work mode. A grief counselor can be an invaluable resource when it comes to processing these emotions.
Consider offering a limited work schedule. Where possible, allow employees to personalize their own schedules in the week following a tragedy. Maybe it is advisable for the workday to be short and limited. Look for ways to cut stress from employees’ plates.
Find a project to help bring peace back to the workplace. Whether it’s planting a garden, collecting cans for a food drive, or setting up a memorial, find a way to bring a sense of togetherness and community spirit back to the fractured workplace.
Keep political talk of out of the office—and off social media. This is an important time to remind staff that the office is not the place for political debate, and neither are their social media pages if they interact with clients and other coworkers on these sites. Focus on healing and unity, not on divisive debates.”
Ask employees to follow the “see something, say something” motto. Ask your employees to keep their eyes and ears open for anything that might be a sign of trouble. Have an open-door policy and let employees know that they will not be penalized for sharing their fears, even if that fear turns out to be unfounded. We all need to responsible for keeping our workplaces violence-free.
7—Are You Using Google My Business?
Guest post by John Swanciger, CEO, Manta
Google My Business profiles are more than just online business listings. If small businesses link their listing dashboards to Google Analytics, they uncover a wealth of information about their customers, which can be a powerful research tool in improving and better targeting marketing strategies. Connecting a profile to analytics provides small businesses with the following data:
How customers find a Google My Business Listing: Once consumers click on a company’s business profile, SBOs can uncover what those individuals typed into the Google search bar to find their business listing. Since this is a customer-based keyword tool, this can help small business owners optimize their profile by utilizing keywords their audience is using to find them.
What people do after finding a Google My Business Listing: Google Analytics also tells SBOs what individuals are doing once they find a business listing. Google My Business profiles are built for customers to take action, so knowing how they interact with the listing (i.e. calling the business, visiting the website, checking on hours etc.) is valuable for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a small business’ profile.
Whether customers use Google Maps to find a business: If a customer finds a business through Google Maps or clicks “Directions” in a business listing, SBOs can see exactly where the customers are coming from. This can assist in location marketing tactics because businesses can know where to target online advertising and where to target new customers.
8—eBay Celebrates Small Businesses & Entrepreneurship
Guest post by Hal Lawton
One of the best parts of my job is hearing the amazing stories of our eBay sellers. I’m constantly inspired by the dedication, passion, and enthusiasm of our seller community. Our sellers come from all walks of life—they are entrepreneurs who have turned great ideas into successful businesses and helped make eBay into the vibrant marketplace it is today.
Last year, to recognize the role sellers play in powering our marketplace, we launched the first annual SHINE awards for Small Business. This year, with support of its sponsor, the United States Postal Service®, we’re excited to continue the tradition and launch the 2017 SHINE Awards for Small Business. We’re looking for shining examples from our community who have a passion for selling on eBay. If you’re a U.S. eBay seller, you can enter to become eBay’s Small Business of the Year. You could win $10,000, a VIP trip to eBay’s OPEN seller celebration, a 1-year Anchor Store subscription and much more!
This year we’re looking for rockstar sellers in the following categories:
- Rising Star: A small business owner new to selling on the eBay platform (joined within the last 24 months) or with significant positive growth in the past 12 months.
- Global Business: A small business that sells a portion of their inventory on eBay internationally.
- Minority or Woman-Owned: A female small business owner or a small business owner from a racial or ethnic minority group including: Native American or American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian Pacific American, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Asian-Indian and Subcontinent Asian Americans, Middle Eastern & North African or Arab-American.
- Charitable Business: A small business or organization that leverages the eBay for Charity program to donate a portion of their profit to charity.
- Young Entrepreneur: A person between the ages of 19-35 that owns or has a major role in the business operations of a small business selling on eBay.
Applications will be accepted until May 19. Starting June 26, the eBay community of sellers will get to vote on who most inspires them and help us determine the most deserving winners among the 15 finalists. Finally, we’ll all celebrate our winners in style at this year’s eBay OPEN!
Ready to share your story and win big? Go here to learn more about the eBay SHINE Awards for Small Business, read tips for drafting a successful submission and enter the contest.
9—Innovation Partner of the Year
YP received Bing’s 2017 Innovation Partner of the Year award, which shows growth in the adoption of clients using Bing Ads and innovative thinking around a feature or product application. In the past year, YP added 141 new high-spend clients to Bing, resulting in 280% growth of our client base on the world’s number two search engine. On average, these clients received 385% more impressions, 452% more clicks, and a 14% improved click-through-rate (CTR). Read more here.
10—Get Access to World’s Largest Market
Alibaba is holding an event June 20-21 in Detroit where small business owners can learn how to go global and grow their businesses by tapping into the China consumer opportunity. Alibaba says China’s fast-growing middle class is now larger than the entire U.S. population. And “these discerning shoppers are increasingly looking to purchase high-quality, American products—and they are looking for them online.
At the event, where you’ll hear from Alibaba founder Jack Ma and hundreds of others, you’ll learn about the tools and information you need to access this fast-growing consumer and sourcing market. You can register here.
11—You Could Win the ‘Office Selfie’ Contest
OFM, one of the nation’s leading office and school furniture manufacturers and distributors, recently announced its “Office Selfie Contest.” All you have to do is take your best group photo on your phone in an office setting.
“Outside home, we spend more time in the office than anywhere else, but we often take our coworkers for granted,” says Blake Zalcberg, president of OFM. “We hope that by snapping an ‘office selfie,’ people will take a minute to appreciate their work family.”
The contest is being held on Instagram and Twitter until May 31, 2017. To enter, contestants must take a “selfie” on their cellphones in an office setting with their coworkers, then upload the photo to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #OFMOfficeSelfie. Winners will be selected in three categories: best selfie with the most people, most creative and best overall.
Each category winner will have the option of selecting three stools from OFM’s Jupiter, Hex or Quin series, offering a versatile seating option for any workspace. These soft-covered stools boast a contemporary design and can be used as standalone seating or in combination to create longer lines, circular shapes or even more abstract designs.
To learn more about the OFM Office Selfie Contest, go here..
12—Marketing Automation Comparison Report
R2i, a leading independent digital agency, recently released its annual Marketing Automation Comparison Report, scoring the features, technical requirements, and capabilities of the industry’s top marketing automation systems.
The MA Comparison Report is built for business leaders to differentiate between today’s leading marketing automation platforms and identify which system aligns to their company’s technology requirements and business objectives.
Chris Chodnicki, R2i’s Co-Founder and Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships notes, “Marketing automation is now table stakes when it comes to building a marketing technology stack. Marketers rely on these platforms for their ability to run connected email, lead nurturing, scoring, account-based, and other multi-channel programs. Our report is for teams that are evaluating a new solution, an upgrade, or an understanding of common functions of leading MA platforms.”
Columbus, Ohio was named the top city for scaling startups by the Kauffman Foundation, and no doubt Rev1 Ventures is one of the catalysts for the region’s success. New data shows Rev1 has produced $1.2B in capital, revenue and exits in the past three years.
“The true indication that a region is creating sustainable entrepreneurial success is when startups begin to scale,” says Tom Walker, CEO of Rev1 Ventures. “Central Ohio is an ideal hub for startup activity because of the innovative spirit of the region’s entrepreneurs and support from the corporate and public sector, as well as active angel investors.”
Backed by a stage-based startup studio, Rev1 helps new and experienced entrepreneurs identify, build and scale disruptive companies by connecting them with capital and expertise from the company’s seasoned, data-driven team.
Rev1 recently achieved the Standards for Excellence® certification, a national initiative established to promote the highest standards of ethics, effectiveness, and accountability in nonprofit governance, management, and operations. Rev1 is only the second venture development organization to receive this recognition.
14—The Ultimate Headset
Jabra just launched the Evolve 75, which combines top-rated features from across the Evolve series—active noise cancelation, wireless freedom, a busy light and great sound—into the “best wireless headset” for workers in noisy environments such as the open office.
According to Jabra, a survey shows 78% of knowledge workers say their work is negatively impacted by noise and other interruptions. This headset is designed to minimize interruptions and help keep employees in the zone. It boasts a unique combination of features including superior Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and an integrated “do not disturb” busylight.
The Jabra Evolve 75 comes equipped with world-class speakers for music and high-definition (HD) voice for crystal clear calls. Dual Bluetooth® connectivity supports calls and music by allowing the user to simultaneously pair the headset with two connected devices, such as a computer and smartphone. With a wireless range of 100 feet for laptops and 33 feet for smartphones, the headset also enables the flexibility and freedom to move, allowing workers to multi-task without the noise and interruptions from colleagues that stifle concentration and productivity.
Certified for modern office use: The Evolve 75 meets Open Office and Outdoor requirements for Skype for Business from Microsoft and is also certified for Skype for Business, Cisco and other leading Unified Communications (UC) platforms.
Key features and specifications include:
- HD voice for crystal clear calls and music
- Flexibility to connect two Bluetooth devices at the same time for calls and music – for example, both a computer and a smartphone
- Integration with leading UC platforms including Skype for Business and Cisco
- Up to 15 hours of battery life
- Leather-feel ear cushions and an on-the-ear wearing style for all day comfort
- Discreet boom-arm that can be clipped into the headband when not on calls
- Easy-to-reach button on the ear cup that allows users to hear announcements without removing the headset
- Easy charging and docking comes with an optional charging stand to eliminate battery concerns
You can learn more here.