The Importance of Online Reviews, How to Create a Better Website, Tips for Better Negotiating and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Date posted: May 22, 2017

business owners

14 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

1—Create a Better Social Media Strategy

By now you all know social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to target specific audiences, build brand awareness and connect with customers and clients. Yet, so many business owners still don’t know how to create a smart social media strategy. Check out the infographic below from Yeager Marketing to learn how.

 

2—Small Business Credit Needs

According to new data released by TD Bank from its 2017 TD Bank Small Business Survey, small business owners are optimistic about growing their businesses. Many however, still need to be educated about business credit and how to build it. For instance:

  • 21% have or will seek a loan or line of credit in the next year
    • 31% had too high of a debt-to-income ratio to qualify for a loan
    • 20%say rising interest rates are a challenge to their business
  • 80% are self-reliant when managing their finances, but surprisingly, many don’t know how to build business credit
    • 69% either believe they don’t have one or that business credit scores don’t exist
  • 46%of small office/home office businesses plan to increase revenue and sales in the next year

The infographic below explains more.

 

3—The Importance of Online Reviews

Online user reviews impact sales. You may not want that to be true—since you have no control over what your customers say about you—but it’s true. The infographic below from WebsiteBuilder explains it all.

 

4—7 Tips for Creating a Better Website

Guest post by Gustav Degerman, founder and CEO Portfoliobox, a leading CMS and website development tool for photographers and other creative people.

[For entrepreneurs, one of the most important tools in their arsenals is the design of their websites.] There are many online tools in the marketplace that help you set up a website in a couple of hours. However, these can both be daunting and expensive. A website that gets noticed, and especially that is one that is designed to sell, oftentimes, takes more effort, time and an eye for design.

Here are 7 tips small business owners can use to create a website that is memorable:

  1. Pay attention to your landing page: Visitors first start at your landing page. A landing page, or start page, can be one of a few galleries, to a one pager or a full-screen image. When deciding on a landing page, keep the general design of your portfolio in mind. Make sure to follow the concept and style. Also, consider where you want attention drawn. After all, the landing page is your first impression, your virtual handshake. Full-screen images make an impact. If you want visitors to notice the diversity of your work or choose their preferences from the get-go, your landing page could be a collection page pointing to the different galleries. As much as your experience and education will be of interest later in the game, remember this if the first impression needs to make a lasting impression.
  2. Pick the right typography: Your choice of typography is equally important as the image choice of your landing page. The font type, size and style you select will reflect the personality, as well as the image of your business. Do you want to be seen as a creative and playful individual, or a skillful business executive? Another tip for working on the typography of your site is planning ahead. You should create a hierarchy to show how the fonts should be used across the website. For example, if all the page titles use Arial, 20 pt and sub-titles use Arial 15 pt, etc., then you should stay consistent. This will help you build a professional website with a consistent design.
  3. Carefully choose a domain and set up an email address: Picking a domain for your website is like choosing a name for your newborn child. A domain is so much more than just an address. It shows people who you are even before opening your website. Most people use their own name or business name as their domain. Keep in mind, however, a domain that is too long can do more harm than good since it is not memorable and people can easily make a spelling mistake when typing on the browser. The next step is setting up an email address with the same domain name. This makes your website look professional and gives an impression that your business is serious.
  4. Make sure your website is mobile friendly: When designing your website, it’s advisable to take mobile-friendliness into consideration. You should always ask yourself: If I use this layout in the web version, will it also look good on mobile? We are not a UX/UI designer but it’s a good idea to ask your friends to check your mobile site in order to find the areas that need improvement. Having a mobile site is also important for search engine optimization—make sure your mobile site is easy to use, images are not too heavy and loading speed is fast. All these help your website stand out.
  5. Do not forget about the colors: Choosing a color palette is not easy. You want people to think about you when they see a specific color, so when designing a website, select a color palette that best suits you or your business. If you are a new photographer, you may want to consider using baby pink or baby blue instead of tomato red.  [Also,] take the meaning of the color into consideration. Red symbolizes danger, black symbolizes professional, or dark or sad. So how do you want people to associate with your business?
  6. Content is the key: Everybody loves updated content—and so do the search engines. This does not mean you have to add something new to your “About” page every week, but you need to consider having not only a website that is ‘sales’-like, but also contains user-friendly content. A blog can help you achieve this. Technically, a blog helps your SEO, but it is also a way to express yourself and keep connect with your audience.
  7. Sleekness is the new black: Have you ever visited a website that has so much content you are not sure what they sell?? A well-designed website should be clean and sleek, so that visitors will be able to find the information they need without feeling lost or annoyed. If you add too much on a page, chances are, you would be turning the visitors away. For example, your “About” page should just have your biography. Anything else, like your social media feed, should not appear on the same page. Also, think about how to streamline your content. If you have an online store, you may want to include the link to the shipping information on the same page.

Creating a website nowadays doesn’t require any programming language or formal web design education. Everyone can do it with the right and affordable online website builder in the market. Keep your branding in mind as well as your target audience, and having an outstanding website will be within reach.

 

5—10 Top Tips for Getting Killer Results in Your Next Negotiation

Guest post by Nick Psyhogeos, Founder and CEO of Global Negotiations, LLC ), a consultancy dedicated to improving results for corporations and employees in their negotiations and author of the recently released book, Confessions of a Global Negotiator: A Quick Guide to the 5 Rules Business Development Professionals Need to Close Great Deals.

In any negotiation, your ability to get the best deal possible depends on: (a) your preparation in uncovering the optimal “gets” for your side, and (b) your success at selling the value of the deal to the other side. There are many things you don’t control at the negotiating table—your opponent’s motivations and biases, their behaviors (win at all costs, hide the ball tactics, etc.), or developments outside the conference room that impact or impair the relationship between your company and theirs. What do you control? Your behaviors.

Here are the top 10 things you should do to best position yourself for blowout results in your next deal:

  1. Learn their wants and needs. You very well may go into a negotiation with a decent idea of what the other side might be looking for in a deal. But that’s an awfully low standard for preparation. Don’t leave money on the table by working with an incomplete, unappealing, or ineffective vision for your deal. Your first step in up-leveling your preparation is to assemble key stakeholders from across your company, or friends or colleagues from within the industry who know about the other side, to help fill in the blanks. A negotiating “consulting team” within your company can consist of a sales group that sells to the company, a product team that is seeking a partner like them for a pilot program, or your business development group that may see strategic value in deeper collaboration with them. Where these resources exist, don’t go it alone. Tap their knowledge and develop a more complete view of desirable benefits. Informing yourself of the broadest possible scope of gives and gets will dramatically enhance your deal’s value potential.
  2. Solicit and probe key information from your opponent. I’m a big proponent of taking control of your negotiation by leading the other side through a vision for a deal worth doing, and a process for aligning on terms. This does not mean, though, that you talk and they listen. To find value, you must solicit information from your counterpart. Probe their goals, must-haves and non-negotiables. What is the best way to invite transparency from their end? Demonstrate it from yours. This isn’t to suggest you share your walk-away number or anything that might undermine your negotiating position. But the reality is that to construct and sell an appealing if not optimal value exchange—for both sides—you must promote and model open communications. Guarded, tight-lipped negotiations will lead to a value pie with several pieces missing. Be hungry. Construct a heaping, overflowing pie.
  3. Validate/complement what you’ve learned. To build maximum value in your deal, take what you have learned from the other side, and your stakeholders, and take further steps to validate and expand it. Put your natural curiosity and researching skills to work. Read their recent earnings reports, press releases, CEO speeches or presentations to connect the dots and arm yourself with the data and story to assemble that killer deal pitch.
  4. Find their Achilles heel. The flip side of learning their wants is to uncover their weaknesses, including an Achilles heel. You may be working on a deal with a new supplier. You want to establish a fixed price over a five-year term with no minimum volume commitments. The supplier is looking for minimum commitments with penalties in the form of higher prices in the event of volume shortfalls. You reach an impasse.  Your preparation, however, reveals that the supplier is experiencing extreme cash flow pressure. While their cash situation is likely to stabilize by the end of year 1 of the deal, an unanticipated shortfall from a cancelled order puts the supplier’s business in distress. So much so that they might consider paying a premium (i.e., willing to consider otherwise non-negotiable concessions) in exchange for more cash up front. Knowing this gives you the opportunity to structure a deal to your liking by front-loading the year 1 payment, with savings on the back end and no volume commits.
  5. Paint a picture of success, for the other side. You will often find yourself in the situation where you need to illustrate and sell positive outcomes for the other party. This is particularly true when youare pushing the idea. Doing this effectively can be the difference between successfully persuading your opponent and inviting indifference or inaction. Knowing their motivations and weaknesses is the first step in getting you there. In crafting your message, be specific on the advantages they will gain in doing a deal. Importantly, package it in a way your counterpart can use it to build internal consensus for the deal with key execs within their own organization.
  6. Make concessions conditional. Extending value—even significant value—to the other side does not equate to weakness, or losing. A colleague of mine once commented that: “Good deal people get good deals done. And you aren’t close to getting it done until both sides get a little uncomfortable.” Deals, like the world, are not always tidy. By definition, they are decidedly imperfect, explained by their consummation by “agreement” of the parties. Harnessing and delivering relevant value to your opposite will be necessary in most negotiations. The trick is you should refrain from giving something of value to the other side without gaining something of value for your company in return. In other words, the give should be “conditional.” This is illustrated by some through an “If… then” construct (if you do this for me, then I can do this for you)  as referenced in We Have a Deal by Natalie Reynolds (2016) at page 54. You may be interested in a longer term for the agreement, while they may want additional marketing support. This may then form the basis for a valuable exchange for both companies.
  7. Uncover asymmetrical gives and gets. You will often find that there is asymmetry in how each side attributes value to a certain item. What they might be willing to give up on the cheap, given its nominal value to their company, may be of considerable value to your company. The kind of conditional exchanges just noted can be a powerful tool for smoothing out the economic terms of a deal for both sides and in securing significant value for your company, particularly when you unearth asymmetrical trades that work in your favor. The key? You have to prepare, research, probe, question and persevere. Gems (i.e. bargain concessions and grand-slam “gets”) are out there. But you need to want to find them.
  8. Expand the value pie. Let’s consider an everyday situation. Perhaps you are looking to buy a car. You and the salesperson hit a snag and simply can’t bridge the price gap that divides each side’s “best” offer. The salesperson can decide to limit the discussion to price, which likely will lead to a walk-away. Or she can start asking questions, e.g.: How important is safety and security (which may bring in to play an “SOS” type service to assist stranded drivers)? Or do you have any family members who will be in the market for a vehicle in the next six months? These questions lead you to share that, in fact, your daughter’s vehicle is coming off lease next month and that your wife had read about the SOS program and seemed interested. Each new element provides added value to be considered as part of the deal. The salesperson may have more flexibility to discount in a two-for-one deal, and the SOS service provider, which is a new entrant in the market, is offering a great promotion for first-time users. By asking questions, the salesperson expands the pie. Rather than accept defeat, buyer and seller move toward a handshake on a deal worth far more—to each party—than either expected or intended at the outset. Always look for ways to expand your deal pie.
  9. Use multiple offers, especially when things tighten up. Let’s face it, for savvy negotiators, haggling on price is part of their genetic make-up. You can expect it early and often and should assume the most competitive negotiators won’t be satisfied unless they believe they’ve “beaten” their target price for the deal. No matter how many other terms you successfully cleared, your progress can come to a sudden and fatal halt if you get stuck because you’ve valued your auditing services at $10,000 and they won’t pay a cent more than $8,500. What to do? Of course, you can walk away if simply conceding and accepting their price would make it a bad deal. Alternatively, you might consider presenting multiple options, each one of which you find acceptable. The first might be your original offer of $10,000 to perform the audit services as requested. The second may extend up to a 15% discount if they pay the entire sum upfront, rather than the half upfront with the remainder due within 30 days of project completion. Lastly, you might propose an $8,500 fee with standard payment terms but with a narrowed scope of the project, eliminating say 2 of the 4 days planned for onsite interviews. Presenting multiple options can break the impasse and, importantly, create space for the demanding negotiator to extract themselves from their entrenched position and preserve their ego in landing what they may still perceive as premium deal value.
  10. Always maintain your integrity, and return to it throughout the negotiation. This may seem like a no-brainer. Of course, we should have integrity. But I am approaching it not just from your vantage point, but the vantage point of your audience. We’d like to think that the vast majority of us act with personal values that are mostly virtuous. Some reinforce it by talking about it; others just let their actions speak for themselves. The notable point is that you are being observed, and yes, judged by others. How you speak, including to subordinates, how you maintain confidences, how you handle pressure, and what you do to close the deal all leave a trail of behaviors that shape opinions about you.

Anyone with accountabilities feels the strain of pushing through their initiative or plan. While it may be rare for someone to openly cheat, it is not so uncommon to see those motivated by the bottom line to flirt with the edge of the line. Know something when you do it: People are still watching you. Put your best foot forward and keep it there. Avoid name-dropping, insults, sharing too much information (whether of the personal or confidential variety), and bending the rules for the sake of getting your way or closing the deal, even when you claim to be doing so in a way that benefits the other side. Even if you are prone to such behaviors or lapses, you should not assume your audience or the opposing side is. Stay clear of it and stand firmly on principles rooted in high character and integrity. Your employees, manager, co-workers, and even your opponents will respect you for it. And you, in turn, will undoubtedly respect yourself and you’ll remain on course for getting a great deal done.

These tips for creating and selling deal value should help you be a better negotiator.

 

6—Can You Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance?

Guest post by Joel KleinCPBC and Producer, BizTank.

1—Establish goals and construct a clear action plan: If you don’t know where you’re headed or how you’re going to get there, that’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Setting specific goals and a particular course of action creates a thought-out plan for you to follow which will reduce stress when the pressure starts to mount. Having a plan in place will also allow you to allocate time appropriately so that you aren’t taking your work home with you constantly and you can enjoy your weekends and time outside of the office.

2—Prioritize: Be sure to tackle important projects first so that time isn’t squandered on tasks that could have waited until later in the week. Also, as each working day is drawing to close, allocate some time to make a list of any tasks that can wait to be done until tomorrow and add them to your to-do list. Some evenings you may have to stay late, but don’t make this a habit. Family time is very important.

3—Learn that perfection isn’t always good: Know that you can’t always be perfect and allow yourself room for improvement. Don’t stress about the small things and let them take over your life.

4—Relinquish Control: Not everything in life is under our control or can be manipulated by our actions. When you allow yourself to realize this and relinquish control, you’ll have time and energy for other important matters.

5—Exercise: It may feel overwhelming to add another activity to your life, but exercise pumps feel-good endorphins through your body, which help reduce stress. This helps clear your mind, lift your mood and ultimately make you more productive.

6—Switch off: Today’s technology can make the line between work and personal life very hazy so make sure you allocate some time every week where you turn off all your mobile devices and focus on embracing the moment.

 

7—Where Business Travelers are Spending.

Certify, a leading automated travel and entertainment expense management software provider, recently released the results of its SpendSmart™ report for Q1 2017. The Certify SpendSmart report tracks business travel expense spending across major categories such as food, airlines, lodging and car rental.

The Certify SpendSmart™ Report provides analysis of vendors, expense amounts and satisfaction rating data from corporate expense reports collected directly from its customer base. Certify SpendSmart™ reports on millions of receipts and expense transactions every quarter, delivering valuable insights to its clients and the business travel and expense industry at large. Previous quarterly reports are available here.

First Quarter 2017 Highlights:

Most Expensed Restaurants:

  • Starbucks: 4.55% of expenses, averaging $12.61 per receipt
  • McDonald’s: 2.85%, averaging $9.03
  • Panera Bread: 1.73%, averaging $43.62
  • Subway: 1.56%, averaging $18.08
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: 1.40%, averaging $13.79

Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal

  • Breakfast: Starbucks        16.27%
  • Lunch: McDonald’s           56%
  • Dinner: McDonald’s         86%

Top-Rated Restaurants (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)

  • Chick-Fil-A            4.5
  • Dunkin’ Donuts 3
  • Olive Garden       4.3
  • Panera Bread      4.3
  • Starbucks              4.3

Most Expensed Airlines

  • Delta: 20.36%, averaging $420.58
  • American: 19.62%, averaging $338.15
  • Southwest: 15.51%, averaging $276.37
  • United: 14.10%, averaging $382.54
  • JetBlue: 1.62%, averaging $238.67

To- Rated Airlines

  • JetBlue                  4.6
  • Alaska Airlines    4.6
  • Southwest           4.5
  • Delta                      4.3
  • American              3.9

Most Expensed Hotels

  • Hampton Inn: 9.40%, averaging $227.45
  • Marriott: 8.54%, averaging $260.51
  • Courtyard by Marriott: 7.76%, averaging $174.42
  • Holiday Inn Express: 4.78%, averaging $210.39
  • Hilton Garden Inn: 4.64%, averaging $199.43

Most Expensed Car-Rental Services

  • National: 26.08%, averaging $185.09
  • Enterprise: 17.49%, averaging $188.28
  • Hertz: 13.52%, averaging $190.55
  • Avis: 11.94%, averaging $168.74
  • Budget: 3.62%, averaging $181.49

To- Rated Car-Rental Services

  • Enterprise:           4.4
  • National:               4.3
  • Avis:                       4.2
  • Hertz:                    4.0
  • Budget:                 3.9

For complete data and analysis from the SpendSmart Q1 2017 Report, go here.

 

8—Too Many Cooks Ruin The SAAS: How a Team of 4 Can Serve 1.5M Customers

Guest post by James Clift, CEO of VisualCV, an easy way for job seekers and freelancers to create a resume, CV, or portfolio.

According to SAASTER founder Jason Lemkin scaling a SAAS product is 10 times easier than a consumer product, but scaling a SAAS team is much harder. Lemkin argues if founders don’t spend half their time recruiting leaders in sales, marketing, product, business development and client support, their company is doomed.

On the flipside, Jeff Bezos has a different philosophy for Amazon. If a team cannot be fed by two pizzas, then it is too large. Smaller teams generally have less rigid hierarchies and decision making processes, and are proven to be more innovative and agile. And according to Gallup’s The State of The American Workplace, aside from being more productive, teams of less than 10 are more satisfied and loyal too.

The jury is out as to what the magic number of employees is for a growing startup—some  say 21 and others say 100. However, our company took a radically different approach, by growing a user base of more than 1.5M with a team of just four.

So how can a lean team manage partnerships, marketing, product and business development and client support with so few people?

1. Nip any customer service issues in the bud at an early stage: Having a lean team shouldn’t affect ‘outward facing’ aspects of your company like customer service. Your client base expects and deserves the same level of attention as they would from a multi-billion dollar global giant with thousands of employees. It is important to respond to, and rectify any customer support issues in a timely manner, or you risk losing clients.

As a rule, if you receive upward of 10 complaints or more about the same problem, you should focus your team on changing that part of your product almost immediately. Based around the concept of ‘technical debt’, taking shortcuts, or allowing small software glitches to accumulate over time, can eventually cripple startups.

Small teams should keep track of complaints and bugs from the support side, and then make sure to address the most pressing issues in an organized manner. Make a list of pressing issues based on the amount of complaints you have received from customers, and then set tight deadlines for these to be resolved. It is important to allocate tasks and set deadlines, as development teams lose productivity if they try to stop and fix every problem which arises in a disorganized manner.

2. Set clear roles for team members and communicate like clockwork: When working as a lean team, every member will be your expert in something. However, the realities of running an efficient SAAS business requires far more than four experts.

Consequently, it is important to set clear roles for team members but give them the freedom to innovate in areas outside of their roles, based on their personal interests and skillsets. Offering employees time to focus on personal projects is growing popular in both corporations—think Google’s late 20% policy and Adobe Kickbox—and startups alike, and is proven to reduce burnout, increase engagement, retention and productivity. But as a small team juggling so many responsibilities, it is important to have clear guidelines in place.

For example Ben, our customer support expert, also has a passion for writing. He spends a percentage of his time working with our marketing manager on marketing content like customer success stories and Ben’s Tips—a series of how-to tips which bridge the gap between marketing content and support content.

While it is important to allow team-members flexibility to avoid them becoming ‘siloed’ and disengaged in their roles, their main role should always take priority when it comes to time management. It is also important to clearly define roles—and subroles—throughout the whole team, to avoid work overlap.

Avoiding overlap requires efficient—and constant—communication between your team. We use the Slack bot Standup Jack that asks what everyone is working on daily so no one does the same task. HipChat and Bitrix24 are also useful alternatives. It is also useful to use visually digestible project management tools like Waffle.io to help teams see when tasks are piling too high.

Leaning on the Entrepreneurial Operating System, each team member should be made responsible for progress in a clearly defined area. From a managerial perspective, small companies should give four big quarterly goals to each individual team member, and have meetings each week to monitor their progress.

This allows managers to flag any issues at an early stage, so work can be re-assigned, or extra help can be brought on temporarily to solve problems.

3. Temporarily expand your team when needed: There will always be busy periods when extra help is needed, such as extra design support in the run up to a new product launch or update, or customer service in the aftermath. Also, while you should expect your team to run like machinery, unlike robots, human teams get sick and expect the occasional holiday too. Luckily, there are 53 million freelancers in the U.S. alone to lean on for help.

When working with a small team, time is always of the essence. Therefore, it is important to build a trusted network of talented freelancers, contractors, or development houses which you can call on at a moment’s notice without needing much if any training or onboarding.

Our savings on salaries allow us to work with the best—and most qualified—freelancers who we wouldn’t be able to afford full time. They might cost more on an hourly wage, but can get the job done quickly and to the highest possible standard.

We have found it to be much more profitable to remain a small team and put more resources into scaling our technology around a multi-platform code base that doesn’t require a whole new redesign with each new launch. Many roles, such as design and PR, simply don’t require a full-time employee for a company of our size. But by sticking to clear rules and responsibilities, communicating well, checking in regularly, plus having an ‘on call’ team of freelance superstars, keeps our outgoings down while allowing us to continue providing the best service possible.

And harking back to Jeff Bezos’s rule, it’s probably for the best, considering we already struggle to share two pizzas between the four of us after a hard week’s work.

 

9—Stop Thanking Your Employees by Emailing

Guest post by CEO coach Krister Ungerboeck, founder Courageous Growth, a company that assists CEOs with business and personal growth.

A new study from AttaCoin reports 47% of employees say that they do not feel appreciated by their employera. And only 41% feel their managers effectively reward staff members who do a stellar job.

Feeling unappreciated might sound like a minor complaint, but in fact, research shows when employee efforts are not acknowledged, workers become disengaged and easily go off task. They also require more compensation for the same work, as they seek financial appreciation when emotional appreciation is unavailable.

So, can employers keep their staff engaged? The AttaCoin study shows a simple ‘thank you’ from their supervisors was very important to employees, and that a private, one-on-one conversation means much more to workers than a big, public thank you. This is because employees really want to feel a human connection with their bosses, especially in a world where nearly everything happens over e-mail, Skype, social media, etc. While emailing your employee a “Good job” can suffice, if you really want to get the most of the interaction, make sure it happens in person.

When [saying] thank you, remember eye contact and body language. You need to be sure you aren’t just looking at your employee. You should be seeing them, whole-heartedly validating their efforts and their unique gifts. It is going to take some practice, as positive feedback doesn’t come naturally to most employers, but it is a key leadership skill to learn.

Managers could also benefit from old-fashioned forms of communication, like hand-written thank you notes. It’s such an easy, simple gesture, but it holds a great deal of weight. I know some people who have saved thank-you notes from their bosses for years. It’s something that is very meaningful, and it costs much less than handing out a raise to keep employees invested.

 

Quick Links

10—Vote Now!

The public has spoken and the votes are tallied. More than 156,000 votes were cast for 242 nominees during the nomination phase of the 2017 Independent We Stand America’s Main Streets contest. Independent We Stand, a movement of independent business owners across the country aimed at drawing attention to the impact and strong economic benefits of buying local, invites the public to vote now to help one of these deserving quarterfinalists get another step closer to winning a $25,000 grand prize.

Quarterfinalist voting runs through May 28. The top ten semifinalists will be announced on May 29 and the winner of the “America’s Main Streets” contest will be announced June 5.

 

Cool Tools

11—Next Generation of Smart Payments

As commerce evolves beyond the traditional storefront, so does the need for businesses to provide their customers with a seamless payment experience, regardless of where they check out. First Data, a global leader in commerce-enabling technology, recently launched Clover Flex, a smart payment terminal designed to fit comfortably as a handheld device or on the countertop. The latest addition to the Clover family, Clover Flex harnesses the full power of the Clover platform. Clover Flex can accept PIN entry, NFC, mag stripe transactions, electronic gift cards, and can process EMV chip cards in less than three seconds.

While Clover Flex is available for businesses of all sizes, its design makes it ideal for restaurant, retail, and service-based industries that want to take the checkout experience to the customer. Compact enough to be a handheld device, Clover Flex makes it easy to accept payments in-line, at the table, on the shop floor, or in the customer’s home. Business owners using Clover Flex can monitor sales remotely on their computer or mobile device through the Clover dashboard. All transactions are protected with the same security that businesses have come to expect from Clover.

It can be used as a standalone device or seamlessly integrate with the broader family of Clover products for a connected commerce experience. Through this integration with the Clover platform, businesses can leverage the tools from the expanding network of Clover software partners. Clover Flex is designed for simple software integration, and is available to independent software vendors, value-added resellers, software developers, and system integrators through First Data’s recently-formed Integrated Solutions Group.

You can learn more by going to Clover.com.

 

12—Bidding for Professional Services

The service economy is immensely important to the U.S. economy. In the U.S., services account for 80% of the economy. Hire.Bid just launched its new professional marketplace to “improve the way people find and hire high-end professionals and allow professionals to better leverage and monetize their skills.”

Hire.Bid’s proprietary system incentivizes professionals to perform their best for clients and allows those same professionals—even if employed—to make money by auctioning off their spare time. The platform inverses the traditional model where professionals race to the bottom with low bids (and resulting low service), instead allowing clients to bid for the services of high-performing professionals.

Hire.Bid is an open, transparent, more efficient marketplace. Traditional marketplaces often employ a ‘walled garden’ approach, where the website controls the connecting of professionals and clients, resulting in inefficiencies. It uses a unique model to create a more efficient and transparent market connecting professionals and clients.

With such high numbers of professionals involved, traditional marketplaces encourage these workers to bid lower and lower prices to win freelance contracts from clients online. Hire.Bid will change this process, increasing the quality of the experience for everyone involved.

Founder and CEO Neil Sandhu says, “Anybody looking to hire a professional for a gig or project, from programmers, to lawyers, to accountants, finance professionals, consultants, and many more will love what we have to offer. Users can test drive professionals without making expensive commitments, and professionals don’t have to focus on undercutting rivals.”

13—Making Smarter Financial Decisions

Xero and Capital One Financial Corporation recently joined forces to simplify direct bank feeds, credit card data, and the bank reconciliation process, empowering millions of small businesses to make more informed financial decisions.

With a direct, secure integration through Capital One’s new application programming interface (API), small businesses will be able to connect their Capital One financial data with their Xero cloud-accounting solution through a fully digital process. The integration will strengthen data sharing security for Capital One Small Business customers and grant more control over the financial data that they choose to share.

Together with their trusted advisors, small business owners can better manage daily bank reconciliation activities and understand cash flow in real time. Business owners can make smarter decisions, fueled by a feed of accurate and comprehensive financial data without the hassle and costly mistakes caused by out-of-date cash flow information.

The growth of the financial web, where a network of organizations connect and share financial data in order to drive their business, is transforming the way the economy operates. Many of the world’s leading financial institutions now share this vision. Capital One and Xero are demonstrating their commitment to an open API-based ecosystem to unlock the power of the financial web for all mutual US small business customers.

 

14—Turn High Mobile Traffic into Sales 

Dynamic Yield, the personalization technology stack, recently released a new mobile web personalization solution designed to help convert mobile e-commerce traffic. While mobile traffic to e-commerce websites is skyrocketing, retailers are struggling to convert mobile visitors into paying customers. According to Dynamic Yield’s analysis of 50 million shoppers, mobile accounts for 60% of online traffic but contributed to only 16% of purchases due, in large part, to consumers being turned off by lackluster and cumbersome mobile shopping experiences.

A research report from Dynamic Yield, The State of Mobile Commerce: Poor Design, Lack of Convenience and Frustrated Shoppers, found only 12% of shoppers find mobile web to be the most convenient medium for shopping. Additional highlights from the report:

  • Only 19% of the users think that shopping on a mobile phone is more convenient than shopping on a desktop.
  • 67% of shoppers say that the main impediment to shopping on the mobile phone is links and pages too small to click on.
  • Only 30% of the users felt that the more they browsed on the mobile device, the shopping experience became more relevant to them.

Dynamic Yield’s mobile web solutions are currently available to all customers. Additionally, to help retailers visualize a personalized mobile web experience, Dynamic Yield has built a demo tool that allows users to plug their mobile URLs to preview personalized mobile web experiences on their site. Please contact us for more information.

Go here for more information. And you can watch a video here.

 

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