15 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1—Should You Start a Side Business?
Thinking of starting a business, but not quite ready to leave your job yet? Maybe you should explore starting a business on the side first.
2—Small Businesses are Growing
Now in its ninth year, The Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur just released by Hiscox, shows 72% of U.S. respondents experienced top-line revenue increases in the past year—the highest amount of any country surveyed. And both investment spending and export activities surged, which boosted profits, with 31% of respondents reporting double-digit growth.
Key findings among U.S. entrepreneurs
- Millennial entrepreneurs are thriving—56% of respondents under 30 say their financial situation is better now than a year ago; 59% of 30-39 year olds agree.
- 51% of male and only 40% of female SBOs say they’re doing better financially.
- 46% think government policies are supportive of entrepreneurs, up from 34% in 2016.
- 26% currently operate more than one business.
- 17% depend on their largest customer for more than half their revenue.
Millennials hitting their stride
For 56% of respondents under 30 and 59% ages 30-39, their personal financial situations are better now than they were a year ago. And 73% under 30 and 86% ages 30-39 are also the most optimistic about the future.
Embracing non-traditional sources of financing
Small business owners are actively embracing non-traditional sources of financing:
- 23% have borrowed funds using a credit card
- 14% have turned to family and friends
- 11% have brought in equity investors
- 10% have used crowdsourcing
- 9% have raised money by remortgaging their house
Cyber-attacks cause serious loss
Technology has also introduced new challenges for small businesses, with 16% saying they’ve experienced a cyberattack. Of those, 61% suffered a serious loss. Despite the damage a cyberattack can do to a small business, only 10% have insurance that covers cyberrisks, such as cyberattacks or data breaches/loss.
3—Holiday Marketing: How Many Emails Should You Send?
According to a new report from Klaviyo, which examined emails sent by industry and the average revenue generated, fashion & apparel, arts & crafts, beauty & cosmetics, and food & beverage businesses made the best revenue by sending volume when sending between 21-30 emails.
The report also shows the increase in revenue from sending 21-30 emails versus sending between 1-10.
- Fashion & Apparel – 17x
- Arts & Crafts – 23x
- Beauty & Cosmetics – 77x
- Food & Beverage – 16x
Alicia Thomas, Content Marketing Manager, at Klaviyo, identified some trends among the top performers and differences between strategies used for each industry.
Fashion & Apparel
- Be very clear with what’s inside. Subject lines including a percentage off (especially on top of already discounted merchandise) performed well. As did subject lines that had a price point for a certain group of items. Examples: “Today only, an extra 20% off,” “$25 and under holiday sweaters.”
- Treat VIPs differently. A number of top performers had exclusive holiday campaign emails for their VIP customers. Because VIP’s are your most engaged customers, it makes sense that a VIP segment would perform better than an overall send.
- Connect each email with a theme.There were a number of campaigns centered around holiday themes like the 12 days of Christmas with different promotions.
Beauty & Cosmetics
- The subject lines were direct and often urgent.Similar to fashion and apparel, direct subject lines worked well. Noticeably, subject lines that included a sense of urgency or scarcity saw bumps in conversion. Examples: “Only 4 days left to purchase,” “Last chance to pick up our bestselling t-shirt.”
- Not everyone is getting 21-30 emails.Many of the top-performing beauty and cosmetics retailers are segmenting out purchasers who have recently bought and only sending additional promotions to those who have not. An example would be filtering out someone who has purchased in the last three days.
- Sending times are pretty smart. Clearly, the top performers are getting into the minds of their personas. Sending times for the most successful beauty and cosmetics campaigns seemed pretty strategic.
- First thing in the morning, around 7am, when most are waking up or even doing their beauty routines.
- At the end of the work day, between 5-6pm. Most are checking their phones or killing time during a commute home which is a great time to get a captive audience.
- Late night, between 10-11pm. Another peak time for mobile usage right before bed or while watching TV.
Food & Beverage
- Tease a discount. Differing from the Fashion and Beauty industries, teasing a discount inside an email worked very well for specialty food and beverage e-commerce shops.
- Don’t stop sending after a major holiday. Offering additional discounts or offers after a holiday was a big revenue generator for many food & beverage businesses.
4—What’s Your Company’s “Free Breakfast”?
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Jay Hum, Pivotal’s product manager, made the compelling case for why the company offers all its 2,300 employees a free breakfast each workday. The reasons are twofold—encourage collaboration and productivity and show employees the company truly cares about the wellbeing of its workers. Every company should have a version of Pivotal’s free breakfast.
Happy, satisfied workers are naturally more productive and loyal to their company. If you ask a Pivotal employee why they like their job, odds are, the daily free breakfast will be near the top of the list.
Not every business, of course, can afford to offer an impressive array of breakfast items every day. However, every business can still do little things to boost that collaboration and productive spirit and show employees they are appreciated.
Here are some cost-free suggestions.
Be a good listener. The best managers are terrific listeners. Try what research calls “empathic listening,” which involves more than just your ears. Few things are more insulting and demoralizing to employees than to be talking to a manager who turns away or shows they are not paying attention. Be engaged, make eye contact, acknowledge what your employee is saying so they feel truly heard.
Lead with authority & compassion: Follow Steve Roesler’s wise advice: “People don’t have to be disagreeable in order to disagree. We often respect someone who tells us not only that (s)he sees things differently, but who then takes time to calmly explain ‘why.’ When you mean “yes” say “yes.” When you mean “no” say “no.” And share your reason.” Your employees will know exactly where you stand and will welcome your honesty.
Appreciate the little things: Failure to appreciate employees is what drives workers screaming from a company. Appreciating employees goes way beyond bonuses and awards (or free breakfasts).
One of the easiest ways to show employees you value them (which is what appreciation is all about), is to ask them for their thoughts and comments. Ask them for their recommendations, how they would solve a problem, their concerns they may have about a project. Really listen to their answers. Not only will you have a happy employee who feels respected, but more often than not, employee input when genuinely encouraged by management can significantly benefit the company.
For more tips, go to www.facebook.com/HappyEmployeesEqualProfits.
5—Most Small Businesses Don’t Have Succession Plans
Rocket Lawyer recently announced the findings from its 2017 Make-A-Will-Month survey. The results show 72% of SMBs do not have a succession plan for their businesses and that the majority of Americans do not have a will in place.
Rocket Lawyer has surveyed American consumers since 2011 and released data in an annual report illustrating the knowledge gap in estate planning. Year-over-year, from 2011 – 2016, Rocket Lawyer’s estate planning data reveals 51.3% of Americans do not have a will.
As Rocket Lawyer notes: Typically, a significant portion of the wealth and income for SMBs and their families and/or beneficiaries (as well as any business partners you may have) is tied up in the business, so it’s important your wishes are communicated before you pass or have a change of life circumstance occur. Charley Moore, founder, and CEO of Rocket Lawyer adds, “Drafting a Will enables people to specify their final wishes, take care of loved ones, protect assets, businesses and prevent family disputes.”
Additional key findings
- 75% of consumers say online bank/financial accounts are the most important digital assets, and the one they are most likely to pass on to loved ones
- 39% of consumers asked if they’d like their social media footprint to live on after they die, say they “hadn’t thought about it yet.”
- Year-over-year, the number one reason more than 50% of consumers don’t have a will is because they “haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
- 87% of small business owners were not aware that there are wills that can be created to specifically protect their businesses.
For more information on Make-a-Will Month, go here.
6—Gen Z’s Future will be Brighter Than Previous Generations
As Gen Z begins to enter the workforce, they’re optimistic about their future, according to the 21st annual International Intern Leadership Conference (IILC) from EY. In fact, 63% of EY Gen Z interns surveyed by the firm at the IILC are confident they’ll be better off, both financially and in happiness at work than their parents.
Contributing to their optimistic outlook is their belief employers are more in tune with employee needs and the prevalence of new technologies such as automation, robotics and AI. Gen Zers feel that these technologies will allow employees to focus more on adding value to their work and increase productivity.
IILC convenes nearly 3,500 interns from 26 different countries annually for training sessions and programs designed to help build leadership skills and broaden awareness around the EY network and the professional services industry.
Key findings from the survey
- New technologies will enhance job satisfaction and productivity:
- 76% say new technologies will evolve the nature of work
- 66% think new technologies will enable them to increase their productivity
- 52% think it will let them focus on more interesting and ‘value-added’ work
- 17% say new technologies will decrease the number of jobs available to them.
- Gen Z has the most inclusive mindset to date: 84% say their ability to work well with people from different backgrounds and cultures is a key skill that sets them apart from older job candidates. This sentiment is particularly apparent among black respondents, 97% of whom cited this; followed by Hispanic (87%) and white individuals (82%).
- Ambition is prevalent and flexibility important: What are their priorities when looking for an employer?
- 84%—potential for career progression and growth
- 24%—work abroad opportunities
- 16%—competitive maternity and paternity leave benefits
- Millennial managers are the preference: 67% would prefer a millennial manager over a Gen X or Baby Boomer. Men (48%) would like a male millennial manager while 40% of women would prefer a female millennial. Furthermore, 71% of African Americans, 65% of Hispanics and 45% of white respondents would rather have a millennial manager.
- Job satisfaction counts: 66% say job satisfaction and financial stability are equally important. More males (54%) than females (42%) prefer financial stability (15% total).
To learn more about how EY recruits and supports students and graduates, go here.
7—The Social Media Power Struggle
According the Q3 2017 Sprout Social Index, there are no secrets in the age of social media—81% of people say social media has increased accountability for brands, and only 8% would stay silent if they saw inappropriate behavior from a brand.
Consumers are now free to call out brands and share their grievances with the entire internet—millennials, in particular, will hold brands accountable for bad behavior.
- 56% of millennials have complained or called out brands on social
- Social media is millennials’ first choice: 59% would use social media to address an issue with a brand while only 51% would have an in-person discussion
- Millennials are nearly 40% more likely to call out a brand on social media than other generations.
8—Elevator Pitch, Season Two Launches
Knowing your business is one thing, the ability to pitch to a potential investor is another. This topic is addressed in The UPS Store, Inc.’s season two Elevator Pitch, a web series where real small business owners are put on the spot. This season, small business owners will step out of the elevator and stand side-by-side as they give their best pitch to Marcus Lemonis, serial entrepreneur and host of CNBC’s The Profit, for a chance to win $10,000.
“Elevator pitches don’t always occur in an elevator—they can happen any time and any place, and small business owners need to be prepared,” says Lemonis. “The best elevator pitches I’ve heard have been from entrepreneurs who know their business inside out and can deliver the top selling points in a short and concise way. Every small business owner should craft and perfect their elevator pitch.”
In each episode, three business owners compete for $10,000 by giving their most creative, compelling and concise elevator pitch. Lemonis listens to each pitch, asks clarifying questions and provides on-the-spot advice and critiques. After this round, Lemonis sends one contestant home, while the two remaining business owners give a revised pitch based on Lemonis’ feedback. The winner of that round wins $10,000.
“This series is fun and entertaining for all audiences, but it’s a must-see for small business owners,” says Michelle Van Slyke, senior vice president of marketing and sales for The UPS Store, Inc. “Each episode gives small business owners tips to shape their elevator pitch and demonstrates how marketing materials help make a positive first impression.”
Of course, to make a perfect pitch, you need perfect print materials. The Elevator Pitch print collection featured in the series is available at upsstoreprint.com/elevatorpitch. Small business owners can customize the templates featured on the show with their own images, logos and branding. From now through October 1, customers can take 30% off the print collection which includes business cards, brochures and more, all Marcus Lemonis-approved.
To watch the Elevator Pitch series, visit The UPS Store’s YouTube channel.
9—Social Network That Gives Back
pitch.Me is a professional social network, where, like LinkedIn, users with aligned interests can connect with one in another. The key difference is that when you connect, individuals make a donation to a charity in exchange for your time. pitch.Me’s charitable aspect provides for a mutual exchange of value where everyone is winning.
The app is now available on both Apple iOS and Android platforms.
pitch.Me connects two professionals for a 15-minute conversation in an efficient and courteous way. As an alternative to an email or cold call, you can easily connect with someone by requesting an in-app audio or video call. The charitable aspect provides a mutual exchange of value where everyone benefits.
10—Millennials and Cars
A few key highlights:
- 76%of car-owning millennials do not believe cars will be necessary in 20 years
- 1%would prefer to buy a “green” car over a traditional car, while 42.51% would give up manually driving a car for a self-driving car
- 53%of car-owning millennials see their car as a status symbol
- 50%used an auto loan to finance their car
- 31%were surprised by insurance costs
11—New Way of Training
Training has evolved. According to the folks at Braidio, “Formal training is like getting ready to run standing upright with your heels planted at the starting line. If someone were to push you, you’d likely fall down. Today’s business landscape requires agility and the ability to be malleable. Formal learning comprised of instructor led training or long form videos made of up of boring PowerPoints with a monotone voice over masquerading as a shiny new online course are OUT. Information needs to be readily available, it needs to be concise and to the point.”
How do you do that? Rafael Solis, COO of Braidio, offers some insight about three key trends influencing the shift:
- Mobile consumption is more prominent than ever. This takes place on laptops, tablets/iPads and smartphones. Optimizing your content and information for mobile is imperative—make sure it’s short, sweet, and to the point.
- Multi-Tasking. This seismic shift in mobile consumption feeds the “always on” training and learning that companies are looking for. Today’s employee is constantly on the move, making the ability to multi-task and adapt to every situation an invaluable skill.
- Rapidly Moving Business Landscape. It is important to provide a solution that is easily built into workflow, keeping companies agile to adapt to market shifts and changing workforce demos, that can easily be weaved into the fabric of any type of business.
12—LinkedIn Expands Its Marketing Partner Program
Guest post by Dan Morris, LinkedIn Marketing Partner program
Let’s face it, being a marketer isn’t as easy as it used to be. With a constantly changing digital marketing landscape and rising expectations, it can feel like there’s never enough time in the day to do it all. In light of this, marketers are increasingly turning to technology and service providers to help them do more with less. In fact, according to a recent Chief Marketing Technologist study, 59% of marketers now devote at least 10% of their budgets to technology and 70% plan to increase their investment this year. But with so many options to choose from, finding the right provider isn’t always easy.
That’s why three years ago we established the LinkedIn Marketing Partner program, a community of technology and service providers that marketers can leverage to improve ROI on LinkedIn.
We’ve expanded the LinkedIn Marketing Partner program, adding 19 partners across three new categories (Marketing Analytics, Audience Management and Media Buying) to give you even more options for getting the help you need to be successful on LinkedIn.
The partner program is rooted in our efforts to make it easier for marketers to work with us on a global scale. We’ve integrated with each of our new partners’ technology and service offerings, making it easier to target, manage and report on LinkedIn campaigns if you’re working with a partner today.
With the expansion, you can now leverage LinkedIn-approved partners who specialize in one or more of the following categories:
- Ad technology
- Content marketing
- Community management
- Media buying (new)
- Marketing analytics (new)
- Audience management (new)
Looking at the new offerings:
Media buying: Marketers often find themselves spending too much time on day-to-day campaign management and not enough time on strategy. Our Media Buying partners offer managed services that you can leverage to save time and boost LinkedIn ad campaign performance. We’re welcoming AdParlor, B2Linked and SocialCode to the program as our first three partners in this category.
Marketing Analytics: According to our long-time partner HubSpot, 40% of marketers think proving ROI is their company’s top marketing challenge. Our Marketing Analytics partners offer technologies that help you prove ROI and make better marketing decisions on LinkedIn. The Marketing Analytics category includes seven new partners: Bizible, DashThis, Datorama, Hootsuite, Nugit, SocialBakers and Falcon.io. Each partner has integrated with LinkedIn’s Marketing Analytics APIs, allowing you to access powerful campaign performance insights directly from their platforms.
Audience Management: Account Based Marketing (ABM) success comes down to effectively reaching and engaging your customers and prospects. Our new Audience Management partners offer technologies that help you target your contacts through LinkedIn Matched Audiences and manage contacts generated through LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms to boost ABM performance. We’ve added data management solutions Acxiom and LiveRamp, marketing automation platforms Oracle Eloqua and Marketo, CRM Microsoft Dynamics, and systems integrators Driftrock and Zapier as new partners to this category. Integrated with LinkedIn’s Audience Management API, these partners allow you to target and manage audiences more effectively on LinkedIn.
The expansion also includes the addition of two new Asia Pacific-based partners to our Content Marketing partner category. We’re excited to welcome FrogIdeas and Text100 to our partner community and provide our customers in India, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia with more third party options for creating and managing their content on LinkedIn.
To learn more about our program visit our new website.
13—Cash Flow Solution
CashSage provides a simple dashboard where business owners use sliders to immediately see how changes in KPIs (key performance indicators) can increase cash. These indicators include sales growth, overhead growth, net profit margin, accounts receivable days, accounts payable days and inventory days. CashSage also provides automated reports with industry-specific recommendations for improving each, making it easier for owners to prioritize their time to focus on tasks that will improve cash.
With CashSage, business owners can:
- Automatically sync monthly financials from QuickBooks online to quickly analyze cash flow.
- View and adjust six key financial metrics to immediately see how possible changes in these business drivers can impact available cash.
- Benchmark the company’s performance against Sageworks’ industry database.
- Receive monthly industry-specific recommendations on how to improve each metric.
To learn more or to sign up for a free account, go to cashsage.sageworks.com.
14—Reinventing Business Payments
Bill.com, a leading business payments company, has joined forces with Commerce Bank to offer “CashFlow Complete,” an AP and AR automated service powered by Bill.com Connect, the company’s new banking payments platform. With CashFlow Complete, Commerce delivers a banking experience with the power, simplicity and visibility SMBs need to manage cash flow and payments digitally.
Despite more business and financial services coming online, a majority of businesses still use paper checks. Consumers have benefited from digital payment solutions, but many businesses have been left behind without a modern solution that meets their unique needs. As a result, banks have the opportunity to reestablish and redefine what banking means for small businesses. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Bill.com found that nearly half of all small businesses in the Midwest are looking for more digital tools from their bank.
To learn more or to sign up for CashFlow Complete visit here.
15—Email for E-Commerce
GearLaunch, the leading E2E commerce platform, recently unveiled GL-Mail, a suite of email marketing automation tools to supercharge customer engagement, retention, and lifetime value. GL-Mail allows merchants to effortlessly send marketing emails to customers with the most effective combination of messaging, product recommendations and special offers that result in maximized engagement and buyer conversion. The addition of this feature to GearLaunch’s industry leading suite of e-commerce tools and unique “Virtual Tradeshow” of available products helps GearLaunch merchants retain customers and earn more profits from repeat purchasers than ever before.
GearLaunch’s new email marketing suite includes the following features:
- Select from a set of top-performing email campaigns
- Assign specific buyer audiences and dynamic special offers to campaign
- View and analyze results of campaigns including total profit, open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate