14 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1) The State of Startup
2) How to Protect Your Data
Losing data can be as simple as not backing it up correctly or as complex as getting hacked. No matter how it may be lost, protecting your data from hackers, thieves and accidental loss is crucial for small business owners.
David Zimmerman, the CEO of LC Technology International, a leading data recovery firm says since it’s vitally important, data should be protected and properly managed. Here are his tips for entrepreneurs about keeping your data intact:
- Build a detailed plan. If you’re running a small business, then you know a solid marketing, sales, or IT plan is essential to your success. Data is very important, so it also merits a well thought out plan. The first step is to establish which data sources you will be storing and using, including social media data, sales information, and of course marketing campaigns. A side benefit to this exercise is you might be able to uncover certain contextual relationships between the data sets. You then should write down who is responsible for the data segments, for compiling the information, and for backing it up on a regular schedule.
- Centralized management is key. Even the smallest company can produce a large amount of data from myriad sources. Centralized management of this information helps keep it organized and reduces the risks of theft. A formal data plan should detail what solutions will aid in data centralization and who is responsible for managing security. As the business grows you’ll need more control mechanisms and layers of access so that all employees are not able to view sensitive data. Understand that mismanagement is a frequent cause of data breaches, and can be something as simple as an “admin” password or an employee leaving a hard drive in a taxi. Your plan should include the procedures for handling departing employees.
- Backup the backups. Cloud storage is becoming cheaper by the day and reliability is improving. It’s a viable option for backups, but make sure you don’t simply move all of your data storage to the cloud. You want redundancy, which means a mixture of cloud and on-premises storage. For the most sensitive data, consider a private cloud and/or saving information to hard drives that are kept in a locked safe. Cloud data access relies on Internet access, so physical media can still be useful if you can’t get online.
- Check the laws and regulations. If your business is collecting PII (personally identifiable information), then you need to be sure you are following privacy laws. Customers are entrusting you with information, so you need to develop data storage practices that will help keep their information out of the hands of hackers. Ignoring such regulations can result in fines as well as potentially ruin your business if customers cannot trust your brand.
- Protect devices. Portable storage media are great tools for capturing and storing images, video, and other types of data. If you opened a new store location, then you’ll want some DSLR photos to capture the event. Those photos end up on a SD card, which is a convenient yet very fragile device. SD cards can be easily damaged or corrupted, so be sure you handle them with care and don’t expose them to any liquids. Hard drives are more durable in comparison, but they can still be irrecoverably damaged after being dropped. Put in place a plan for staff members to quickly move data from hard drives and SD cards to the cloud or other approved media.
- Recovery means hiring an expert. Losing data contained on a SD card or hard drive isn’t always without hope. The one solution that is very flawed is to select a free software utility, which is very likely to be corrupted by malware, or can potentially damage data further. This is a classic risk/reward where you should be open to spending a little money for a reputable company that has demonstrated expertise in data recovery.
3) Living the American Dream
In honor of July 4th OnDeck, a leading platform for small business loans, just released its latest Main Street Pulse Report revealing why small business owners started their business, how they live their everyday lives and their core values.
Key findings of the study include:
- The American Dream is alive and well. 81 percent of those surveyed traded the security of a corporate “9 to 5” job to live the American Dream, have more flexibility and follow their true passion.
- Small business owners are tireless. Over 66 percent work over 50 hours a week; 90 percent work on weekends; and 80 percent work from home after leaving the office.
- Their top priority is growing their businesses. The #1 thing business owners want more of is money for their businesses. More time with family was a close 2nd, while business owners put themselves a distant 3rd.
- Small businesses are committed to the growth of their communities. 80 percent of small business owners help their communities by sponsoring local activities, supporting local charities and working with business organizations such as the local chamber of commerce.
- Running a small business isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Despite the time and work required to run a business, 65 percent of business owners say they’re in a better personal financial situation than they would be if they worked for someone else; half have work/life balance; and nearly 90 percent would never look back.
4) Business Travel Trends
Certify, a leading cloud-based travel and expense management software provider just released its 2015 What Business Travelers Prefer survey, a comprehensive look at business travel trends.
Employees, when traveling, value convenience over price and many attempt to stay healthy while on the road. The top companies, based on that criteria, include: Delta, Southwest, Panera and Chipotle. Marriott and Hilton ranked highest for hotels with the nicest amenities.
Some other highlights:
Frequency: 45 percent of travellers take 2-4 business trips a year, 29 percent only travel once a year or less, 15 percent take 5-9 trips and 11 percent travel 10 or more times a year.
Ground transportation: Travelers prefer rental cars (41 percent), hotel shuttles (25 percent) and licensed taxis (20 percent) over ridesharing and limousines (7 percent and 6 percent respectively).
Hotel preferences: The most important factor when choosing a hotel for business travel is proximity to clients or meetings (54 percent) followed by quality accommodations (20 percent), room rate (11 percent) and rewards program (8 percent). Hardly any travelers choose a hotel based on its proximity to the airport.
Airline preferences: Travelers choose their based on scheduling needs (41 percent), followed by price (27 percent), company policy (17 percent), mileage rewards (10 percent) and connecting flights (6 percent). Southwest was cited as the airline with the friendliest service (40 percent), followed by Delta and American.
Meals on the road: Travellers wanted to eat healthy, but even though only 3 percent of them chose Starbucks as a healthy option, the coffee chain is the most frequently-expensed restaurant.
Top post-travel concerns: Upon returning home from a trip, employees are most concerned about: catching up on email (27 percent), followed by catching up with family (24 percent) and tracking down receipts and submitting expenses (17 percent)
5) Lessons for Local Businesses—from Your Customers
Yodle, a leader in local online marketing, just released Yodle Insights: What Consumers Want from Local Businesses, an in-depth survey on consumer behavior and preferences.
Key survey findings include:
Consumers like to shop local. Most consumers (82 percent) are using local businesses 48 percent plan to increase their use over the next year.
Consumers want more ways to connect online with local businesses. Improving their websites is the #1 improvement consumers want small businesses to make. They also say making special offers to returning customers is the best way to stand out from the competition.
Online reviews matter. 75 percent say having reviews either gives a business a competitive advantage (36 percent) or is expected (40 percent). However, only 7 percent have been asked to write a review of a local business, even though 89 percent would do so if asked.
Try competing on service and quality, not price. Consumers believe that local businesses outperform national chains in many areas, such as personalizing service (96 percent). While 77 percent say national chains offer more competitive prices, 72 percent are willing to pay more to a local business for better quality work.
6) Going Offsite
Are offsite meetings more effective? Certainly they’re more enjoyable for you and your team. Check out the infographic from Noah’s Event Center below.
7) Employment Trends: June 2015
The Intuit Small Business Employment Index shows that from May to June:
- Small business employees saw a decrease in monthly compensation by 0.13 percent with average monthly pay reaching the equivalent of $2,812.
- Hourly employees worked an average of 108.8 hours in June, about 20 minutes less than in May.
- Small businesses added 25,000 new jobs in June and more than 980,000 jobs added since March 2010.
8) Small Businesses Report Decline in Economic Conditions
According to Thumbtack.com’s Small Business Sentiment survey, small business owners are feeling less optimistic about the economy for the third month in a row, although sentiment about current and future conditions continues to be higher than it was one year ago.
Key findings include:
- For the second month in a row, small businesses expressed increasing pessimism about future economic conditions; this has been the largest contributor to the decline in overall sentiment.
- Expectations of future credit conditions were the most resilient of the 11 indicators Thumbtack looked at, continuing to reflect a general increase in the ease of obtaining loans over the last two years.
- Economic conditions in the South continue to be generally more positive than in the nation overall.
9) Getty Images Available for “Fiverrs”
Fiverr, the world’s largest marketplace for digital services, and Getty Images are teaming up to offer premium creative services to SMBs. Fiverr sellers will have access to millions of licensed, affordably-priced images from Getty Images premium stock photography assets and iStock, Getty’s value stock photography offering.
10) Martha Awards American Made Products
For the fourth year Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is presenting the Martha Stewart American Made program, which “spotlights the maker, supports the local and celebrates the handmade.” The nomination process is underway and voting begins on September 21. Winners will be announced October 23 and the process will culminate on November 7 at the American Made Summit in NYC.
In addition to the nine 2015 Martha Stewart American Made honorees selected by the editors, one Audience Choice Winner will be chosen by our website audience. The 10 winners get $10,000, a trip for two to New York to attend the Summit, the opportunity to be featured on MarthaStewart.com and marketing and public relations to help move their businesses forward.
11) Inbound Phone Calls Up 16 Percent
According toCallRail, the call tracking and analytics platform, SMBs are boasting a 16 percent year-over-year increase in call volume since Q1 of 2014. And based on this growth, CallRail projects steady inbound call growth across service industries, such as auto repair shops, hair salons, dentists and medical clinics, for the remainder of the 2015.
One interesting factor—m0re calls than ever are being made from mobile devices like smartphones, where getting connected is as simple as tapping click-to-call. CallRail says the trend is likely to continue and underscores the increasing importance of mobile marketing for SMBs who rely on phone calls as their primary inbound lead channel.
12) What’s Guzzling Your Energy?
Smappee, a global energy management company, just launched Smappee Pro to help SMBs see exactly how much energy they are using in real time and control their office tools remotely via mobile devices—independent of any utility.
What’s amazing about this is that the cost of the technology has been too high for small businesses to access, leading to small businesses consuming the same amount of energy as all residential customers combined and half of the total commercial load in many major cities, according to Lime Energy, a national energy efficiency provider for small businesses.
Smappee Pro’s key features include real-time insight into (via the Smappee website and mobile app) what devices and appliances are consuming your energy and costing you money. This enables you to identify the energy guzzlers and replace them with more energy efficient ones or changing particular habits that contribute to that energy expenditure. Then you can control specific office appliances remotely from your mobile devices.
Pricing varies depending on the number of units your company deploys. You can preorder Smappee Pro now and if you order before July 30, you’ll receive six free Comfort Plugs..
13) Better Presentations
Want to create more engaging presentations? Prezi says its template can help you do just that—and get higher retention rates. There’s even a template for pitching investors and other specific templates relevant to entrepreneurs, including:
Prezi has several pricing choices including:
Public: Free; prezis are publicly viewable, searchable and reusable.
Enjoy: $10/mo, or $59/year; Includes 4MG storage, full control of privacy settings, access across devices and premium support.
Pro: $20/mo, or $159/year; Includes unlimited storage, all benefits of Enjoy, plus image editing (custom logos, etc.) and ability to work offline with Prezi for Windows & Mac.
Teams: $159/user, per year; Includes all features of Pro, plus Prezi training and centralized account management.
14) Network with Other Entrepreneurs via Mobile
Endurance International Group, a provider of cloud-based platform solutions to help SMBs succeed online, recently added new features to its Business On Tapp mobile app, including helping small business owners connect directly with each other to network and share advice and personal expertise.
Business On Tapp is a free mobile application that delivers daily insights and actionable tips to help small business owners succeed both online and offline. The app features unique editorial content as well as interactive features that allow small business owners to connect with their peers to share advice and best practices
Tapp members can create and share digital business cards, directly connect with people by industry and location, and check the leaderboards to see how their entrepreneurial interests rank against others. Since the app’s launch in February, more than 75,000 people have downloaded the app.