By Rieva Lesonsky
2016 is about to end—none too soon for many of us. But whether it was a good year for your small business or a mediocre one, chances are you’re looking forward to the promise a new year brings.
What does 2017 have in store for small businesses? To get some answers I asked an array of entrepreneurial and industry experts to share their insights (shown below in alphabetical order by company name).
Let us know what you think by tweeting me @Rieva or @BizTrendCast.
Outlook for the Business-for-Sale Market
2016 is on pace to be a record-breaking year for small business transactions. And looking ahead, 2017 is poised to be another promising year. According to BizBuySell’s December nationwide survey of business brokers, 79% expect the number of business-for-sale transactions to improve in the new year. Brokers believe the following factors will have the greatest positive impact on the 2017 small business environment: President-elect Donald Trump’s policy changes (31%), an increasing number of owners looking to sell (22%) and improving small business financials (13.82%). In addition, half of the responding business brokers expect sale prices in 2017 to remain consistent with 2016, while another 45% expect prices to increase.
While the post-recession market leaned in favor of buyers thanks to reduced confidence and tighter access to capital, today’s environment is much more balanced. A good indicator of this is the fact that sellers received a final sale price much closer to their original asking price than in previous years, a trend we expect to continue in 2017.
Roughly 5% of today’s small business market buyers are Millennials. As more Baby Boomers sell their businesses, the number of Millennial buyers is sure to rise, however most buyers in 2017 are still expected to be college-educated, middle-aged men according to the BizBuySell 2016 Demographic Study.
Planning for Success
From Josh McCarter, CEO, Booker
- Review Your Results from 2016 and Build a Plan for 2017. What worked, what didn’t work? Did you achieve your desired revenues, growth rates, or targeted expenses? If so, what enabled you to do meet your goals? You should double down on those efforts in 2017. If not, what do you need to do differently to achieve those desired outcomes? Set specific goals, and create a plan to achieve these goals. Using the SMART Goalsframework can be helpful if you haven’t done this before. Fail to plan = Plan to fail.
- Get More Out of Your Existing Customers. Focusing on serving your existing customers can help you grow your revenues faster and more efficiently than spending on new customer acquisition. Why? Because happy existing customers are your best and least expensive marketing channel. They will return and buy more from you, tell their friends to buy from you, and write positive reviews that new customers will read before deciding to buy from you. Consider investing in marketing tools and systems that will help you offer targeted promotions to your best customers or incentivize them to provide feedback, refer friends, and/or write reviews.
- Review your systems and service providers.Do you know how much you are spending each month on marketing? Do you know what results your marketing channels are driving? Do you know how much you are paying for the various software, telecom, and other systems you run your business on? Are there new tools available that consolidate these services into one system that is available [for less money than] the price you pay for all the individual solutions? Every year new advancements are made in marketing, software, technology, etc., and it’s important to be sure you’re spending money efficiently on products/services that help you drive results and free up your time so you can do what you love—serve your customers!
The Growth of SaaS
From Adrian Phillips, senior manager, Product Marketing, Citrix
Unless you are in the IT service provider business, the reasons for owning and managing your own IT infrastructure and perpetual software licenses are diminishing. As old servers reach their end of life and no longer perform the way they used to, and as costly and disruptive software upgrades are needed, more and more businesses are looking outward for help. Business owners and technical decision makers have a choice that often comes down to two things: total cost of ownership, and core competency. The familiar option is to continue making the expensive upfront purchases to own the hardware and software your business has been using, which also requires ongoing maintenance and support.
In 2017, however, more business decision makers are going to shift to the new paradigm, and will choose a monthly or annual subscription from a software-as-a-service (SaaS) or cloud-based hosted IT provider. Their reasons for choosing the subscription model will include always having access to the latest software and the fastest compute resources, as well as secure and redundant data storage. Choosing this option frees up everyone on the team to focus on what’s most important in the business—and not the IT. The renewed focus and improved efficiency this provides is truly transformative and will position the modern business for growth in the years to come.
Tech & Retail
From Smadar Landau, CEO, Feelter
Digital trust. We don’t trust strangers in real life. We won’t get into their cars or hang out with them, but we’re perfectly fine ordering an Uber. Why? Review systems. Small businesses lag behind larger entities because they lack an online presence. Cleaning services, for instance, can only gain traction through word-of-mouth, but they’ll continue to lag behind apps like Handy and TaskRabbit without a website or social page. In 2017, small businesses can boost their bottom lines by encouraging referrals through social media and web page traffic. “Instagram a photo of your new [coat], and we’ll reduce the price of your next purchase.”
Crowdsourcing is huge for retail, and boutiques can do it too! Get feedback from your customers, asking which products, fashions, and colors they prefer for Spring 2017! If you’re crafting your own products, hold a competition to design some element, whether it’s the color or packaging, involvement is key.
From Chris Byers, CEO, Formstack
People are moving from one job to the next more frequently than before. Turnover is costly to employers, so what are some actions businesses can take to improve employee retention rates?
In 2017, businesses will continue to focus on employee retention as a key HR challenge. Some of the newer solutions they will consider to improve employee retention rates include:
- Allowing employees to work remotely or set more flexible schedules
- Creating more engaging onboarding and training programs through innovative technologies like virtual reality
- Working with marketers to create more of a company brand for improved recruiting
- Setting up employee referral systems that include monetary bonuses for those who refer a successful hire
Experts predict human resources teams will become more data-driven in the coming years. How will an increased focus on data impact the recruiting process and the development of a company’s culture?
In the coming years, human resources teams will adopt an increased focus on data, which will impact recruiting processes and the development of company culture. Using data to discover which recruiting tactics result in the most successful candidates and employees will help recruiters tailor their methods and produce more positive results. Additionally, analyzing personality traits, work styles, and more will give recruiters better insight regarding culture fit, which will lead to better hires and less turnover.
Using data from employee satisfaction and/or engagement surveys to measure employee happiness and engagement will help HR leaders create a more engaging and vibrant company culture for employees. It will give the HR department true and relevant information that can be used to create employee programs, benefits, and activities that increase employee happiness and retention and aid in company success.
How can data management help an HR department?
In 2017, employee development and engagement will become key focus areas for the HR department. But to make time for these endeavors, HR professionals will need to have streamlined data management processes in place. HR teams are tasked with collecting and managing large amounts of employee data. Adopting a secure, easy-to-use, digital data management platform can help automate the collection and storage of important employee information, which frees up time for HR professionals to focus on the things that will keep employees around—such as professional development opportunities and engaging workplace activities.
What tools should HR departments invest in to make the most out of the data and information they collect from employees?
As HR departments become more data-focused, some HR leaders will consider adding a data analyst role to the team. Technology experts like analysts are typically found in the marketing or product departments, but they are increasingly needed in the human resources world as more companies adopt a people analytics approach to recruiting, hiring, and employee engagement.
Small Business Lending
From Jared Hecht, CEO, Fundera
As we’re not quite sure what Trump will prioritize when he steps into office, predicting what the state of small business lending will be in 2017 is tough. However, if Trump does end up deregulating banks (which could take years to implement), it might mean small business owners would have easier access to financing from their banks. If banks up their lending to small businesses, we also might see more banks partner with online brokers or lenders, as they will want to acquire more small business customers. But again it is important to emphasize there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what will happen, and even if deregulation occurs, it could take years for us to feel the effects.
Is Doing Good Good for Business?
From JJ Ramberg, host, MSNBC’s Your Business & cofounder, Goodshop
I am seeing an increase in the number of funds which are taking a systemic approach to addressing important societal issues though their investments. For example, Encourage Capital makes commercial investments into solutions to social and environmental problems. The recently launched Brava Investments looks to address women’s inequality throughout the world. Both these companies, and others like them, seek compelling returns based on a double bottom line. This indicates a trend of more investors looking into the social impact of the companies in which they put capital.
7 Ways to Fuel Growth
From Jim Squires, Director of Market Operations, Instagram
This year saw the rise of the mobile-first business owners who felt more at ease running their businesses from a mobile device than from a desktop computer. Here are seven ways to fuel SMB growth in 2017.
- The Shift to Mobile Will Continue. It’s no secret that people love their mobile devices, with American consumers now spending three hours a day on their mobile device (eMarketer). In fact, shopping on mobile reached record highs this holiday season, with Black Friday becoming the first day in retail history to drive more than $1 billion in mobile revenue at $1.2 billion, up 33% over last year. Customers are increasingly turning to mobile, so small businesses need to as well. The good news is that reaching customers via mobile is becoming simpler than ever. If SMBs have a smartphone and an Instagram business profile, they have all the tools they need.
- Video Will Rule the Day: In the shift to visual communication, video is becoming the medium of choice for marketers—third party research predicts that 75% of all data will be video by 2020. With new features like live video on Instagram Stories, businesses can connect with customers in real time and take viewers behind the scenes of their business. And easy-to-use tools like Hyperlapse and Boomerang allow anyone to create engaging and relevant videos in just minutes.
- SMBs Will Deepen Customer Relationships: Customers crave real-time engagement with brands—as do small businesses with their customers. SMBs will continue to make strides in 2017 to connect directly with their customers, be it through calls, texts, emails, online chats and even tools such as Messenger. On Instagram, SMBs will also continue to take customers behind the scenes to tell the world how the business operates, the team that makes it all happen and the effort it takes to bring the product or service to market. This level of authenticity will help SMBs connect with current customers and attract new ones.
- SMBs Will Reach More Customers Globally: Mobile marketing has opened new doors for small businesses to connect with customers across the world. On Facebook, for instance, more than one billion people are connected to at least one business in a foreign country. With tools to help SMBs connect with new customers in other countries that look like their best ones here, that number will only increase. In 2017, we’ll start to see more domestic businesses become international ones.
- Content Will Be Customized More Effectively: While social metrics such as “likes” and comments are an indicator of marketing success, the real metric that matters is sales. With detailed customer insights available to businesses on Instagram, they can pinpoint actionable information about who their followers are and which posts resonate better than others. As small businesses dive deeper into the behavior and demographics of their audience, they can create more relevant and timely content – which will ultimately help drive sales.
- The Barrier to Entry Will Be Lower…But with that Comes Potential Challenges: The good news for aspiring small business owners: With the proliferation of new, affordable technologies and platforms for starting and running a business, becoming a business owner in 2017 will be cheaper and easier than ever before. Companies like Intuit, Shopify and Square have solved many of the pain points facing small businesses, allowing them to focus on what truly matters most: finding new customers and growing. The bad news? Easier entry will result in a more crowded landscape, with competition increasing across the board. And, with a myriad of solution providers targeting the small business community, navigating the tech landscape will be increasingly difficult. Choosing platforms that help your small business stand out will be essential.
- Creativity Will Be Democratized: It wasn’t long ago that creating a video ad was only available to big brands with hefty budgets. But in today’s mobile economy, small businesses can easily develop creative and effective ads from the palm of their hands. With a mobile phone and a few creative tools and resources that can help them be more agile and capture real-time moments, SMBs can create effective ads in mere minutes with built in distribution to 600 million people across the globe. Expect small businesses to push the limits of creativity in 2017.
SMBs Will Rapidly Adopt UC
From Yves Dupuis, SVP, Jabra
UC, or unified communication, is also often referred to as UC&C or unified communication and collaboration. Essentially, UC is the integration of communication tools that helps businesses operate more efficiently and effectively. It could include telephone systems, online tools like Skype, chat, video conferencing, etc.
In the new year UC will gain serious momentum among SMBs. While it will be years before we see complete adoption, by 2018, I predict up to 65% of SMBs will have added or replaced existing systems with UC. Advancements in technology such as cloud computing and the growing acceptance of all things digital at SMBs are contributing to UC’s rapid adoption. No one talks about desktop or landline adoption anymore—and that’s the direction UC is heading.
Russ Glass, VP of Products, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Market consolidation will accelerate. Large tech players, digital companies and consulting firms will be the acquirers competing to build the most robust platforms. Point solutions that don’t have differentiated tech or unique data sets will struggle to find a soft landing.
Marketers will turn to chat bots. Chatbots will remove friction from the customer experience and increase relevancy of ads.
Adtech & martech will continue to integrate. We’ll see a ton of small acquisitions in 2017 as major tech companies continue to build their marketing and advertising offerings.
Social Media Marketing
From Penry Price, VP Global Sales, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Social media will continue to grow in importance because it allows businesses to maintain an ongoing dialogue with existing and potential customers. But brands need to look beyond merely selling on social to become trustworthy, useful partners.
Consumers have become more discriminating about social and brands need to win their trust. Social is also making content marketing more important—everything in the business, from your product, website and CEO, has to be marketed through social channels.
From Cindy Bates, Vice President US SMB and Distribution, Microsoft
The year 2017 will accelerate the SMB “technology revolution” that is underway. Solutions that previously were available only to the largest companies are now available to the smallest thanks to the Cloud. This includes affordable Business Intelligence solutions that let SMBs take advantage of data to understand and optimize their businesses, CRM solutions that help drive profitable, satisfied and loyal customers and mobile solutions that allow SMBs to work from anywhere and serve their customers with mobile solutions.
Data, Analytics & BI
From David Smith, Vice President World Wide SMB Sales, Microsoft
Data will take the guesswork out of entrepreneurship. The potential for data and analytics in the small business space is huge—it will help business owners and empl
oyees make more informed, impactful decisions about their businesses and also innovate in new ways. Adoption of business intelligence and analytics solutions will come fast and furious in 2017.
The Power of Data Analytics
From Stu Aaron, President & COO, Mixpanel
Machine Learning Gets Smart. Machine learning will be a major area of focus, as it enables teams to analyze vast quantities of data to predict outcomes that give them an edge. The next big challenge lies in determining the best way to represent a problem in a way that’s “learnable,” and we can expect the market to meet this challenge with new offerings that make this process smoother.
Embracing New Platforms with Analytics. The rapid growth of new traffic types, like video and messenger platforms, will place a huge burden on product teams to figure out how to incorporate, track and measure these avenues. In the absence of known best practices, data analytics will be the lynchpin to unlock value from these platforms.
Analytics Decentralized and Diversified. Analytics will become a crucial skill for a growing number of non-technical roles, including product and marketing, and the organizations that can get more employees on board with analytics faster will get ahead. In turn, analytics platforms need to be intuitive, smart and accessible to add value.
The Future of IoT is in the Analytics, not the Devices. IoT will continue to blaze ahead, but the marketplace will fizzle out unless manufacturers deploy intelligent analytics solutions to make sense of the noise from the sheer volume of connected devices and data being shared. Analytics will bring the intelligence needed to help IoT scale in the long run, but it will require an investment.
Customer Service Challenges (and Solutions)
From Yaniv Masjedi, CMO, Nextiva
Consumer patience will only decrease: While it seems impossible that we may want things with even more immediacy, I see this happening. Consumers these days want solutions now, not a minute from now. Companies that are able to respond instantly to any customer will do well in 2017.
Artificial intelligence will become more mainstream: The use of AI systems to help companies automate their customer service solutions will become much more common in 2017. The businesses that adopt AI solutions (chat bots and the like) for customer service next year will have a leg up on their competition. I see basic customer service roles soon being replaced by machines and thereby allowing employees to focus on more productive and important issues.
Doing Business with the Government
Onvia, the leading commerce intelligence in B2G recently released a special government spending report: 2017 State & Local Government Contracting Forecast.
Key takeaways gleamed from top industry experts, and economic trending data provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) as well as Onvia’s B2G Intelligence System (B2GIS) include:
- #1: Infrastructure Upside Promising: In a departure from years of de-prioritization infrastructure spend is expect to rise. This uptick is already forming with more than $200 billion in transportation funding initiatives approved in November.
- #2: Continued Growth in IT: The report found a longer-term upward trend in government IT spending that exceeds inflation fueled by: IT being viewed as an investment, the rise of cyber security concerns, new ways of standardizing cloud services, and the glaring need to modernize outdated legacy systems.
- #3 Dollars Faster than Bids: State and local agencies are feeling the pressure to buy more efficiently, which is creating a noticeable gap between slow growing spending and declining bid volumes.
- #4 In the Short-Term, Incremental Not Major Changes: Purchasing activity by state and local government will see a slight uptick in 2017, reverting to its typical 2% post-recession pace.
- #5 Planning for Uncertainty: Agencies and vendors face a longer-term uncertainty in the economy, all while balancing an already stressed fiscal environment with limited revenues and mandated expenses like pensions. In response, the report surmises governments will continue to seek operational efficiencies and turn to the private sector for new ideas.
Planning for Success
Sabrina Parsons, CEO Palo Alto Software, creator of the popular small biz planning tool LivePlan.
- Put together a strategic forecast that includes revenue, expenses and cash flow.
- If there are uncertainties in the next 12 month for your business, put together “What if” scenarios. Use your strategic forecast as a starting point and then make adjustments based on what might come your way: hiring new employees, expanding the business, competitors moving in, etc.
- Make sure you have contingency plans in place to be able to get access to capital, should your business require it—60% of small businesses fail in America when they are profitable. They simply don’t have plans in place to access cash, and then something happens in the business that requires access to cash. Set up a credit line, have extra business credit cards, or set aside money in a savings account for your business, so if you need cash, you can access it quickly.
- Make sure you keep up with technology in your industry. Technology can give you or your competitors huge advantages. Don’t be left behind. Understand the advantages technology is bringing, and be ready to implement. You don’t need to be on the bleeding edge, but you shouldn’t be left behind either.
Customer Experience: Beyond the Buzzword
From Hillary Berman, founder Popcorn & Ice Cream, a marketing consulting firm focused on small businesses and start-ups & the author of Customer, LLC: The Small Business Guide to Customer Engagement & Marketing.
Many customer service and marketing experts called 2016 “The Year of the Customer.” With the increasing visibility and importance of online reviews, there’s no doubt that customers play an active unofficial role in marketing and word of mouth. Yet today’s customer is busier and more distracted than ever. As a result, businesses must compete in an on-demand, need “instant” solutions world. At the same time, customers have more options than ever. They can buy online from someone that never would have been a competitor 10 years ago. And they’re comparing prices while standing in your store or office.
In 2017, as small businesses strive to continue to remain competitive in a crowded marketplace, they’ll move beyond the Customer Experience headlines and buzz. Actively managing customer loyalty will become a necessity more than a luxury. As a result, small businesses will start assigning real resources toward creating and delivering memorable customer experiences and building (and continuously nurturing) customer relationships. And Customer Experience and Customer Engagement will become increasingly commonplace in marketing plans and earn their own line in operating budgets.
Small businesses will make investments in three key areas:
- Technology that empowers more personalized engagement, including CRM systems and marketing automation platforms.
- Training for staff and teams on their roles in bringing companies’ brands and customer commitments to life.
- Discretionary budget for ad hoc customer love—any gifts, discounts, sponsorships or other out-of-pocket investments in customer relationships.
From Fields Jackson, Jr., Founder & CEO, Racing Toward Diversity magazine
Diversity and inclusion become more effective when the problems you encounter are complex.
From Ken Yancey, CEO, SCORE
While many people start businesses regardless of the economic environment, 2017 could be an especially good year for startups due to an expected increased business-friendly focus. We expect more people will start “true” small businesses (Main Street companies) and micro businesses and become solo entrepreneurs.
Two other entrepreneurial sectors areas we believe will grow in 2017:
- Social entrepreneurs. Should be a surge of social entrepreneurs—as more people want to do well by doing good.
- Encore entrepreneurs. More people over 50 will embrace business ownership. Baby boomers should examine their hobbies, interests and dreams for startup inspiration.
Small Business Regulatory Reform
From Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
There will be significant action taken to reform the federal regulatory system in 2017 to make it more transparent, reasonable and accountable to small businesses. Both presidential candidates pledged to do that on the campaign trail, and president-elect Donald Trump obviously gets to execute on his reform agenda once he assumes office.
Trump Executive Orders: President Obama has signed (to date) 260 executive orders, and President-elect Trump will start using this authority on day one—that is, Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017. He will not be shy in using this power, and will quickly wield it to address Obama’s orders on climate change, mandates on government contractors, and what agencies must do to make the regulatory process more open and sensitive to economic and small business costs and burdens. Trump is serious about his “1 in, 2 out” regulatory proposal and language addressing that could be in his first-day order. With regard to multiple legal challenges to various Obama regulations (the EPA’s “waters rule” and overtime regulation, for example), Trump could just drop government appeals or pull out of these cases, which would either end some of these rules or send them back to the agencies.
Congressional Review Act: At the same time Congress moves legislation to address broad regulatory reform and specific statutory reforms (like Dodd-Frank, for example), there will be a series of Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions proposed to rescind a variety of final rules enacted during the waning days of the Obama Administration. Expect Congress to use this authority very aggressively, and to target up to 20 rules across various agencies—from the EPA, Department of Labor, the CFPB and more. President-elect Trump will sign what reaches his desk.
More Legislative Action in the Congress: The 115th Congress will convene prior to Inauguration Day, which means Capitol Hill will get a head start passing legislation the first week of January. Expect votes in the House on the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), an all-encompassing bill that boldly reforms the entire federal regulatory process; the REINS Act, a bill that would make Congress vote up or down on major rules; and a Midnight Regulations bill to give Congress the ability to “bundle” regulations for CRA review. With regard to the REINS Act and making changes to the CRA, I do not see the Senate reaching 60 votes on these two bills. On broader regulatory reform, I do expect some type of compromise bill to reach the White House. Such a bill will make significant changes to the federal regulatory system with small business being the center of these reforms. A bill called the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act passed the House last year, and could represent the type of compromise that would get the new president’s signature. I believe a bill to establish a commission in Congress that identifies outdated and duplicative regulations (and a process for repealing them) will be enacted. This concept has strong bipartisan support.
The design of the federal regulatory process will prevent the whole-scale “rolling back” of some of the major rules that are currently being implemented. However, there will be a combination of smaller-scale reforms at agencies (like the Securities and Exchange Commission and CFPB that relate to capital access) as well as broad regulatory efforts of the system itself that will be enacted. Small businesses can expect their voices to be heard more effectively, and a new framework developed that will consider costs and impact more seriously, and a mechanism for reviewing “old” rules on an ongoing basis to address the cumulative burden of these regulations.
Social Media and Small Business
From Brian Moran, Founder & CEO, Small Business Edge
Every year for the past 3-4 years social media prognosticators have been predicting that “this year will be the break out year for small business owners and social media.” I think they may be right in 2017.
There are too many valuable platforms and tools for business owners to use in 2017; they can no longer sit on the sidelines. Here are my three predictions for small business and social media in the New Year:
- Social Media Becomes a “Means to an End” for Small Businesses: Business owners will finally realize social media can be used as a marketing tool to help them achieve sales success. There will be a measurable increase in social selling among small business owners in 2017.
- Video Marketing Takes Over: It’s very easy to use video on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even an independent platform such as Periscope. Small business owners will like the simplicity of video and the fact they don’t have to write and edit their content. The caveat here is that “bad” video is worse than no video at all. Unfortunately, I think we will see mostly bad videos, some good videos, and a few award-winning videos from small businesses in 2017.
- The Winners Will Have a Mobile Strategy: The savviest small business owners will create a “mobile first” strategy when it comes to reaching customers who are always on the move. They will actively use and measure their social media in real-time in order to make changes to target customers literally walking by their stores.
From Trend Micro
2016’s threat trends reached a new level in terms of scale. How should security evolve to meet these changes head on in 2017?
Prediction #1: Ransomware growth will plateau in 2017 but the variety of attack methods and targets will further diversify.
- There will be a 25% growth in ransomware families discovered for the year
- There will be an average 15 new families a month in 2017 compared to 12 in 2016
- This will be driven by the profitability of RaaS and open source ransomware
- We will see more targeted ransomware
- Jump off from healthcare attacks in 2016
- Double payout by holding networks hostage
- Black Energy and Ukraine power outage POCs for bigger attacks in 2017
- We also see a move to non-desktop targets
- Mobile ransomware apps increase will continue
- Smart device/equipment attacks will not require “encryption”
- Machine learning is a viable solution
Prediction #2: The simplicity of Business Email Compromise will drive an increase in targeted scam incidents in 2017.
- The scam is easy and cost-effective, and is more profitable than ransomware
- The estimated loss from BEC: $3 billion in two years
Prediction #: 3: Apple and Abode will outpace Microsoft in vulnerability discoveries in their respective platforms.
Prediction #4: IoT devices will play bigger roles in DDoS and targeted attacks.
- The Mirai malware code is now public
- There is bigger smart device proliferation
- DDoS attacks can be launched as form of censorship, show of force, or extortion
- Unaffected brands will likely not review security until attacked
From Matt Rissell, CEO, TSheets
The status of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is still very much up in the air, and it appears the Department of Labor isn’t backing down without a fight. While it’s going through the legal system, it’s important to remember the FLSA regulations still apply exactly as they did before. As it stands today, lawsuits are up 456% and millions of misclassified employees are still fully capable of bringing wage and hour lawsuits against even the most well-intentioned employer. To think the threat to small business owners has gone away, simply because the overtime threshold didn’t increase on December 1, could be a costly mistake.
Are you guilty of committing one of the seven sins of FLSA?
You can learn more about FLSA here.
From Geri Stengel, Founder & President, Ventureneer
Over the past two generations the story for women-owned businesses has been their growth in numbers—from 5% of all businesses in 1972 to 38% of all business in 2016, according to the Census Bureau and American Express 2016 State of Women Owned Business. The story for the next generation will be the growth in the size of their businesses. The average male-owned business generates 4.7 times more revenue than their female counterparts.
Money is a key ingredient to growing business. Whether it is using their own money or other people’s—loans, angel and venture investments—women use less. There’s no doubt: Women business owners face greater funding challenges than men. Some of the obstacles are internal, such as not dreaming big, so there is no need for outside funding. Some is external, such as discrimination.
This flies in the face of the facts. Women have leadership chops and the skills needed to build and scale businesses even more than men, as research studies by Dow Jones (Women at the Wheel), First Round, Kauffman and the SBA show.
Supporting women entrepreneurs in their ambition is an ecosystem that has exploded over the past few years. In the late 90s, Springboard Enterprises, an accelerator for women-led businesses, and Astia, which identifies and propels high-potential women-led companies with expertise and money, were pretty much alone in providing support. Now there are accelerators, leadership programs, networking groups, media and competitions galore.
Importantly, women are now funding women entrepreneurs. For women who are comfortable with the risks of angel investing you have 37 Angels, Golden Seeds, Pipeline Angels, Plum Alley and Portfolia Funds. For those who want a steady return on their investment you have CNote. For those who don’t need a return there is Kiva and Radical Generosity.
It’s Getting Cloudier
From Rod Drury, CEO, Xero
Over the last 10 years the cloud has opened up the vast small business sector that spends trillions of dollars across the world. Cloud technologies have changed the distribution costs and enabled companies of scale to begin to serve this vast but fragmented market. We’re starting to see the first $100 million revenue small business technology companies emerging as listed companies, capturing the small business opportunity. We think it is one of the biggest revenue opportunities on the internet and set to grow for many years. The aggregation of small business on new cloud financial platforms and app ecosystems is seeing small business seamless connect to each other, large enterprise, financial institutions and government. The small business cloud is effectively rewiring the global economy.