Small Business Week kicked off Sunday. In honor of the week we are going to do post two Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know this week.


18 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky


1—SBA Events

Here are some activities you can participate in, sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA):

  • Participate in the FREE National Small Business Week Virtual Conference on May 7-8 from 11am-5:30pm ET. This virtual conference will offer exclusive educational webinars, mentoring sessions, networking opportunities, downloadable resources and prizes. You will hear from industry experts about the latest business trends and best practices. Register now.
  • Join@SBAgov for the National Small Business Week Twitter Chat on May 10 at Noon ET. They’ll be sharing tips and resources about how to start and grow a business with hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek. I’ll be participating. Hope to see you there.


2—Are Small Businesses Making Money?

As we start this week, these stats from a TSheets by QuickBooks survey were eye-opening.

  • 22% of small businesses are breaking even
  • 15% are operating at a loss
  • 19% say they can’t get the funding they need to grow.


3—The Truth About Mentors

Olivet Nazarene University recently surveyed people about professional mentor-mentee relationships. Here’s what they found:

  • 76% of people think mentors are important, but only 37% of people currently have one
  • Most people opt for same sex mentors (69% women, 82% men)
  • Only 14% of mentor relationships started by asking someone to my mentor. 61% of those relationships developed naturally.

Check out the full report below.


4—Helping Women Entrepreneurs Get Loans

Bank of America is doubling its investment in the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program—committing $100 million in capital to connect women small business owners to affordable loans. Since the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program launched five years ago, more than 2,500 women entrepreneurs have received $46 million in loans through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to help them grow and refine their businesses.

“We recognize that women entrepreneurs help fuel economic growth in communities across the U.S., and that access to capital remains a key challenge,” says Andrew Plepler, global head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Bank of America. “Partnering with the Tory Burch Foundation to advance women in small business is one way we invest in the future of local economies.”

The Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, a partnership between Bank of America and the Tory Burch Foundation, launched in 2014 with a goal of increasing the number and size of women-owned businesses.

The program is needed since only 1 in 23 loan dollars is distributed to women-owned businesses in the U.S. The program connects women business owners to affordable loans that are administered through local CDFIs, which provide capital and financial services to underserved markets and populations, including women entrepreneurs. Bank of America is the largest investor in CDFIs, with more than $1.5 billion in investments to 255 CDFI partners across the U.S. Sharon Miller, Managing Director, Head of Small Business, Bank of America, told me, “Every community needs help.”

It’s still harder for women entrepreneurs to get money. Miller says when preparing the Women Business Owner Spotlight Report, they asked women if access to money was a barrier and “most women said yes.”

“We know women pay back loans at higher rates than men, but because of cultural bias, they are denied critical capital to grow their businesses,” says Tory Burch, founder of the Tory Burch Foundation. “Over the past five years, the Capital Program has allowed us to reach women businesses owners at scale, and we’re looking forward to doubling that investment.”

The program operates in 17 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. CDFIs participating in the capital program offer a 2 percent interest rate reduction on loans for qualifying borrowers. CDFI partners work with women representing a range of industries, including accounting, hospitality, home improvement, fashion, and child care.

Through partnerships like the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, Bank of America has helped more than 11,000 women entrepreneurs through mentoring, training and access to capital. The company has a long-standing history of supporting women within the company, making the financial lives of women clients and customers better and advancing economic empowerment of women in communities around the world. The bank’s investments to advance women entrepreneurs are part of its approach to responsible growth and an example of how the company deploys capital to advance economic and social progress.


5—Solving Small Business Cash Flow Issues

Intuit QuickBooks just released new data in its State of Small Business Payments report showing how big a role payments plays in a small businesses’ cash flow health.

  • QuickBooks found 44% of small business owners say the biggest obstacle to getting money in their bank account is customers not paying on time, followed by credit card companies not paying fast enough (35%) and customers having insufficient funds (28%).
  • 60% of small businesses still get paid by check, especially when it comes to larger payments.
  • 33% estimate their businesses currently have more than $20,000 in outstanding receivables, and the average U.S. small business has $53,399 in outstanding receivables.
  • 47% of small businesses manually calculate, such as in Excel, to track their bill payments, while 37% use an accounting software, and 33% use an accountant or financial professional.

This report is a continuation of the recently published The State of Small Business Cash Flow, a global study focused on the behaviors, attitudes and status of cash flow challenges experienced by small businesses and the self-employed. That survey found 31% of small businesses estimate it takes more than 30 days to get paid by customers, clients, vendors or banks.

To help solve the cash flow crunch QuickBooks has added features to the QuickBooks platform. It just announced the ability for small businesses to get paid the next day from ACH payments easily and affordably, ensuring small businesses can improve cash flow no matter the payment they accept.

“The QuickBooks team is very focused on delivering innovation that improves cash flow outcomes for small businesses because we know how pivotal it is to their success. We are proud of the innovations we have launched across our platform to improve cash flow — from QuickBooks Capital to Same Day Payroll,” says Rania Succar, business leader for QuickBooks Payments and Capital, Intuit. “With the addition of Next Day ACH, we are giving small businesses and the self-employed a powerful suite of payments tools that allows them to get paid both fast and affordably.”

The results are impressive. Small businesses that invoice with QuickBooks Payments are three times more likely to be paid on the same day. With QuickBooks Payments, eligible merchants will receive the benefit of Next Day Funding for both their credit card and ACH transactions, so money gets into their accounts the very next business day. Next Day Funding will also give merchants full transparency into their payments, instilling confidence that the money will be in their bank account the next day.


6—Are You Prepared for a Cyber Attack? 

Hiscox has just released its 3rd annual global report to determine how prepared businesses are to combat cyber threats. The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2019™ found 53% of U.S. businesses reported a cyberattack in the past 12 months, compared to 38% last year and 45% of companies experienced three or more attacks in the last year. The mean cost of U.S. cyber incidents was $119,000.

Additional findings:

  • 72% plan to increase spending on cybersecurity in the coming year.
    • Only 11% plan to spend more on employee training and culture changes as a result of a cybersecurity incident, which are crucial components of a company’s defense
  • 56% of firms experienced cyber-related issues in their supply chain in the past year
    • Only 7% cite increased evaluation of the supply chain as a result of a cybersecurity incident occurring in the past 12 months.
  • Yet despite all this 27% have no plans to purchase cyber insurance, and 5% are unsure of what cyber insurance is.

To determine preparedness to handle cyberattacks, Hiscox evaluated the firms’ strategy (oversight and resourcing) and execution (technology and process) and ranked them as a ‘cyber novice,’ ‘cyber intermediate’ or ‘cyber expert.’ Only 11% of US large and enterprise firms ranked as ‘cyber experts.

Cybersecurity best practices

The study identified ‘cyber expert’ best practices that ‘cyber novices’ lack globally. These include:

  • Only 54% of ‘cyber novices’ believe cybersecurity is a top priority for their company’s executive management vs. 85% of ‘cyber experts’
  • On average, ‘cyber experts’ devote 14.7% of their IT budget to cybersecurity, but ‘cyber novices’’ cybersecurity spending accounts for just 8.7% of their overall IT budget.
  • 51% of ‘cyber experts’ have a dedicated leader who oversees cybersecurity, vs. to just 39% of ‘cyber novices.’
  • Only 18% of ‘cyber novices’ strongly feel they have good visibility into their suppliers’ security arrangements, vs. 34% of ‘cyber experts’.
  • 85% of all ‘cyber experts’ have a clearly defined cybersecurity strategy, vs. 53% of ‘cyber novices.’
  • 41% of ‘cyber novices’ have conducted phishing experiments to understand employee behavior and readiness for attacks, vs. 69% of ‘cyber experts.’
  • 59% of ‘cyber experts’ have already adopted cyber insurance, vs. 37% of ‘cyber novices.’


7—America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Remains Strong

According to the 2nd annual The UPS Store Inside Small Business Survey, the American entrepreneurial spirit remains strong. The survey reveals 54% of Americans say they’d rather open a small business than retire, if money or health were not a factor later in life. In fact, Dr. Luke Pittaway, Ohio University Professor of Entrepreneurship, says the proportion of people ages 55-66 starting businesses has increased in recent years.

Additional stats from this year’s survey:

  • How’s the Economy? It Depends on Who You Ask. The survey showed that small business owners are much more optimistic about the economy compared to the general population—72% of small business owners believe the current economy is a positive factor for the small business climate, compared to just 42% of non-small business owners.
  • Like Father/Mother, Like Son/Daughter. 62% say they have hoped their child or a child they know would grow up and start their own business. Of survey respondents who are also small business owners, this increases to 81%.
  • Run the Show. The idea of being your own boss is still the most exciting aspect of owning a small business at 57%, up from 53%.
  • Rallying the Community. 70% of Americans plan to support a small business when it opens in their community. This increases to 83% among survey respondents who are also small business owners.
  • Surprisingly, No Fear of Tech. 64% of Americans believe artificial intelligence (AI), such as autonomous machines and 24/7 automated customer support, will be helpful for small businesses competing in the future.
  • Shop Small Over Big Business. Convenience, at 46%, and the quality of goods and services, at 45%, are the top factors in determining whether respondents would rather shop at a small business than a bigger company.
  • Startup Dreams.
  • 65% of Americans have dreamed of starting their own small business.
  • Thinking about startup, the biggest barriers are: financial security (40%), financial commitment to operate the business (35%) and fear of failure (35%).
  • If they were to start a small business, 23% of Americans want to go into the restaurant/food services industry; 18% would choose the consumer goods/products industry and 16% would pick the clothing/fashion industry.
  • If they were to start a small business, 44% of Americans would like to operate a home-based business; 28% would like to operate a brick-and-mortar location and 21% would like to operate an e-commerce site.
  • 39% regret not implementing a small business idea they later saw someone else make successful.


8—When it Comes to Voice Search Readiness: Stop Ignoring Bing

Uberall, Inc., a location management solution, recently released its Uberall Voice Search Readiness Report 2019, analyzing 73,000 business locations across SMB, mid-market and enterprise. The report, the first-of-its-kind, is the most comprehensive analysis ever on Voice Search Readiness (VSR).

Key findings

Bing is being ignored by businesses and brands: Although Microsoft’s Bing may not be the biggest search engine by volume, it is critical in search results from Windows. This is because Windows sites make up approximately 25% of all search queries in the United States and work invisibly behind many other apps—including Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual, voice-based assistant and Alexa. However, Bing listings had the most errors of the three major VSR directories (Google, Yelp, Bing), with 35,095 total errors across all 73,000 business locations.

“Almost half of all Bing business listings had missing or inaccurate information,” says Norman Rohr, SVP of Marketing at Uberall. “But it’s a key platform for search as well as one of the big 3 for voice search. Businesses should therefore take Bing seriously and factor accurate Bing listings into their online optimization efforts.”

Nearly 25% of listings have name errors: One of the most glaring business listing errors was location name. In fact, almost one quarter of all listings featured name errors or missing data.

“Most businesses would be horrified if they took out a newspaper ad [and noticed] their name was misprinted; yet it seems that this same attention to detail isn’t applied to digital directories, where nearly one in four contain mistakes or omissions,” says Rohr. “Getting the location name right may sound basic but it is absolutely critical. Users conducting voice search queries for local business information have almost certainly decided to visit the store with purchasing intent. If the name is wrong, the customer journey breaks down and sales are lost.”

SMBs are the least likely to be voice search ready: Across the 73,000 business locations analyzed, 3.82% of business locations had no critical errors. When Uberall broke down the 3.82% of business locations with perfect citations on Google, Yelp and Bing by business size, enterprise businesses (39.1%) topped mid-market (36.4%), with SMB in last place (24.6%).

“SMBs made up the vast majority of the 73,000 businesses in our sample,” says Rohr. “However, they represented merely 24% of the top 4% of those with no critical errors. Our findings show SMBs are the least likely to be voice search ready. It is our recommendation that SMBs look seriously at working with an agency to become VSR ready, especially as these services have become more cost-friendly, delivering a high ROI.”


9—Spring Into Financial Stability: 4 Tips for SMBs to Clean Up Their Finances

Guest post by Stuart (Stu) Blake, VP of Sales and Customer Success at BlueVine

Spring is fully underway and that means now is a good time to visit finances and hit reset on your financial strategy for the remainder of the year. For small business owners, this time of the year means that post-holiday momentum has waned—but, on the flipside, your sights are set on holiday season 2019—and that is all the more reason to refocus and take a hard look at where the business stands in reaching its goals for 2019.

In the Q1 afterglow, it’s more important than ever for SMBs to be financially ready for whatever the rest of the year will throw at us. With tax returns down 16% from last year, business owners may be feeling the side effects from a holiday hangover a bit more this year than usual. To set yourself up for renewed success in 2019, here are some critical tips to rejuvenate and achieve financial success.

1—Stop using credit cards for cash flow: Six in 10 small businesses regularly struggle with cash flow, according to the QuickBooks State of Cash Flow report. According to that same report, 32% of those small business owners were unable to pay themselves, employee payrolls, vendors or loans within the last year.

Credit cards may seem like an easy out for establishing working capital, but the reality is that they are a very expensive form of financing. As a general best practice, you should use credit cards only for expenses you know you’ll be able to pay off immediately. Instead, consider alternative financing solutions like invoice factoring, which allows businesses to receive cash advances on outstanding invoices, or a revolving line of credit.

2—Establish a relationship with a non-bank lender: To maintain access to the capital you need throughout the year, small business owners should consider establishing a relationship with a non-bank lender to secure quick access to capital.

Alternative lenders offer SMBs benefits that traditional banks usually are not able to match. Traditional bank financing requires long, complicated applications, detailed record submissions and long wait times to render a decision. Many alternative lenders offer streamlined the application and approval processes. You can submit just a few required pieces of information about the business and yourself, connect your accounting or invoicing software all online, and hear back within a day or even in a few minutes on the lender’s decision.

Finally, alternative lenders tend to service a wider variety of business owners than traditional banks thanks to their underwriting processes. Alternative lenders’ minimum credit score requirements are often lower than the bank’s, and they typically have less stipulations related to how long the company has been in business, meaning startups seeking capital are much better served.

If you need funding quickly, want a simple and quick application process, and/or don’t meet a traditional bank’s qualifications, consider an alternative lender.

3—Secure a line of credit before you need it: Securing a business line of credit early in the year when your business is strong and your financing needs are minimal is a strategic investment.

Having quick and easy access to funds can be a game-changer for any small business. For businesses with seasonal sales cycles and unpredictable cash flow, a business line of credit gives them the financial flexibility to handle ebbs and flows throughout the year.

4—Spend cautiously: It’s important to invest in your business. However, doing so cautiously is key. Make sure you’re not over committing to high expenses even though times are good. Another recession may be approaching within the next few years, and the money you spend today has a direct impact on your business’ future. Strategic spending can elevate your business to the next level but spending frivolously can be detrimental. Make sure you strike a balance.

Spring can be a slower time for most businesses, making it an ideal time to pause and focus on your financials and business strategy for the remainder of the year to ensure your business blossoms into another successful year. If you stick to these tips, you’ll better position yourself to end 2019 with the same financial optimism and confidence that you began it with.


10—Digital Resources for Small Business Owners

From Cyber/ID theft protection to a 24/7 business assistant and financial management tools, your Mastercard has a new small business program available across Mastercard Business and World Elite offerings. Some of the benefits being offered include, discounts from Intuit, makers of Quickbooks® and TurboTax® and automatic savings on everyday business expenses including recruiting, travel and dining. Savings are applied automatically which means no need to worry about points redemption or piling up bonus points.

“Mastercard is developing solutions that leverage advanced technologies, partnerships and industry alliances to provide small business owners with the resources they need and the seamless experience they deserve. At the end of the day we realize that they’ve got a business to run and we’ve got the solutions that can help them do that today, as well as get ahead of their needs tomorrow,” says Amnah Ajmal, EVP, Core Products, Mastercard.

Small business owners today don’t always have access to resources to run their businesses. But, now Mastercard small business cardholders will begin to automatically enjoy new benefits and access to the tools and solutions.

  • Intuit Quickbooks® Online:Cardholders will receive up to 50% off a 12-month subscription of QuickBooks Online (Simple Start, Essentials, Plus or Advanced) or QuickBooks Self-Employed for small business owners and individuals.
  • Intuit Turbo Tax®:  Save up to USD $20 on TurboTax federal products.
  • 24/7 Business Assistant: Comprehensive, personalized assistance that provides access to key business services, such as locating tech support or a recruiting service, arranging client dinners, securing a meeting room, or purchasing gifts.
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection™:Cardholders will have access to enhanced Mastercard ID Theft Protection™ to monitor their personal and business information. Additionally, cardholders have access to a team of identity theft resolution specialists, available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to help resolve any identity theft incidents that may occur.
  • Mastercard Easy Savings®:A program that provides eligible cardholders access to automatic savings on every day expenses from travel to dining and business services. So whether you’re recruiting for your business with com, booking a car with Avis, dining at Flemings or fueling up with Shell your savings will be applied automatically. A full list of everyday savings can be found here.


11— U.S. Small Business Owners Confident in their Business and the Economy

The annual Small Business Pulse Survey from SunTrust reveals a strong small business community, with 68% of small business decision makers reporting strength in their local economies and 65% reporting the same about the U.S. economy. The positive outlook is bolstered by 67% of decision makers who report their business is strong, 85% saying their company’s financial well-being is equal to or greater than last year and that they have less work-related stress.

Though they feel positive about their businesses, only 49% have a clearly stated plan for business growth. Among business owners who do have a growth plan, 33% have shared it with their external business partners and only 27% have shared their plan with an advisor. This reluctance to create and share a plan is in contrast to the fastest-growing companies in the survey. Fast-growing companies are one-and-a-half times more likely to have a stated growth plan and twice as likely to share their plan.

“Small businesses are a cornerstone of successful communities so we should celebrate their optimism about the economy and their business,” says Reggie Davis, head of Business Banking at SunTrust Bank. “By developing a growth plan and discussing it with partners and advisors, an entrepreneur can gather insights that inform decisions, increase their confidence, and create a positive impact on their business, employees and community.”

The absence of a plan could be one reason cash shortfalls are common among small businesses—37% have experienced a cash shortfall in the past year, and 75% faced variations in their cash flow. Cash flow variations are often driven by seasonality (36%), expense fluctuations (28%), and the loss or gain of major customers (20%).

When faced with a shortfall, small business owners often balance business and personal financial solutions to keep their business on track:

  • 36% use personal assets for a cash infusion
  • 26% dip into their business cash reserves
  • 26% tap a business line of credit
  • 25% forgo their salary for the well-being of the business
  • 19% take out a personal loan

Cash shortfalls may have significant impacts to the owner and business, including reduced productivity, damage to the owner’s credit, slower production and distracted management.

“Monitoring cash flow is critical to the health of a small business and 30% of business owners report they need to improve in this area,” says Davis. To help small business owners improve their financial well-being, SunTrust has created a Small Business Best Practices Site with additional survey findings, tips and tools for small businesses, and insights that can help generate business growth.


12—4 Tips to Help Employers Successfully Handle Salary Negotiations

Guest post by Matt Thomas, WorkSmart Systems President

Oftentimes, we read about tips and tricks for how candidates should handle salary negotiations, but rarely are we provided insights from the employer perspective. During an employer’s tenure, counteroffers and salary negotiations are a common situation that many will have to face. It begs the question; how do you properly prepare for it? Below are some strategies that can help you navigate the situation from the employer’s point of view.

Be open about salary policy: Providing the candidate a salary range up front can quickly encourage employers to determine whether the candidate is under or over-qualified and vice versa. Once you determine they fit within the desired skill set and salary range, you can proceed to the next step of conducting a phone interview or inviting them to the office for an in-person.

If a candidate has the desired skill set but is way outside the salary range, it is important to remember that the range was provided for a reason. The last thing you would want to do is over-stretch your company’s budget, causing unnecessary stress and expenses. If you are unable to provide the candidate more money, try offering additional benefits like added vacation days or allowing them to work from home one day a week.

Be aware of company salary restrictions: The back and forth between an employer and hopeful employee can seem never-ending and can oftentimes get out of hand. Many companies have salary limits in place to keep the negotiation from going off the rails. When negotiating with a candidate, having these limits set for each position will help define clear boundaries. In order to be strategic when negotiating, try first offering a candidate the low end of the salary range. For example, if the salary range is $50,000 to $60,000, make the initial offer between $50,000 and $52,000. This will provide bargaining power if they ask for additional money. Providing the company with internal salary ranges, set strictly for each department will help not only when hiring external employees but can help with internal promotions as well.

Make salary negotiations positive for both parties: Review sites like Glassdoor and Yelp can be extremely beneficial to employers but can also be a hindrance due to the fact that they can quickly hurt your company’s reputation if a candidate has a bad hiring experience. It is important to remain cordial, even if a candidate decides to forego your offer.

Develop a committee to help with executive hiring: One of the more difficult tasks to go through as a recruiter or hiring manager is having to hire for executive-level positions. The salary range is larger and generally takes longer to fill. By assembling a hiring committee to help with the process, a significant amount of stress can be alleviated. The hiring committee should primarily consist of prominent company stakeholders as well as employees that the executive will work with on a daily basis. This will also allow you to gather attributes and skill sets that they would like to see in a potential employee to help narrow down the candidate pool.

Since executives have many years of experience, you can almost always expect that they will come back with a counter offer. Generally, in executive compensation packages, candidates are expecting more than just money. These compensations could include things such as stock, a company car, additional benefits and vacation days. Make sure that you and your company are aware of these additional compensations, so you aren’t caught off guard when this comes up in an interview.

Overall, finding a qualified candidate can be a difficult task for employers, especially when there are salary negotiations and counter offers involved. Although a candidate might seem perfect, it is important to stay aware of these tips to make sure you are successfully navigating a salary negotiation.


13—Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

CIT Group Inc., in partnership with the nonprofit Operation HOPE, just announced the next phase of its Launch and Grow initiative, a 12-week HOPE Inside program aimed at empowering women small business owners in New York City and Los Angeles.

Kicking off this week during Small Business Week, the programs builds upon 2018’s 10-part small business educational video series and includes a series of in-person workshops and classes for small business owners. Classes will focus on key topics such as maintaining strong personal credit, accessing capital, and managing budgets.

The Launch and Grow initiative was created by Operation HOPE to provide no-cost financial empowerment coaching and education to small businesses. Throughout the next 18 months, the program will provide over 400 women with tools and resources to cultivate their small businesses. In addition, the New York program will include a network of program partners to include Mastercard, the Francine A. LeFrak FoundationSTRIVE, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. These partners, along with CIT representatives, will provide their expertise and insights along the journey. The Los Angeles program is expected to begin in the summer.

The New York and Los Angeles cohorts will culminate with an “Ideas into Outcomes” business plan competition that will provide participants with the opportunity to showcase their plans and skillsets before a panel of distinguished judges. CIT will award the top three winners seed money to advance their business goals.

Go here to learn more. And you can follow #LaunchAndGrow on social media.


14—Making HR a Benefit

The HR function at a small business is often one person wearing many hats. Equifax Workforce Solutions shares some tips to help make HR more of a benefit and less of a burden for small business owners:

Get smart about Form I-9. With recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdowns, small businesses need to be vigilant about Form I-9 compliance. Although Form I-9 may look simple, it’s easy for even well-informed employers to make small mistakes that can add up to big fines. According to an industry expert with Jackson Lewis, an estimated 60-80% of paper Form I-9s are missing, incomplete or contain errors. Technology solutions or third-party services can help automate the processes related to Form I-9 and E-Verify® and help take some of the stress out of new hire paperwork.

Let someone else handle the calls. Small business owners may feel like they need to do everything, including answering calls from lenders or state agencies to confirm employment and income information about their employees. Automated systems like Equifax’s The Work Number® database can manage nearly all of those calls. Small business owners can then focus on their other hats instead.

Take good notes. During interactions with employees taking good notes and keeping an updated personnel file is important, especially in the event you need to separate an employee. Employers need to respond as completely as possible, with the right documents in a fairly short timeframe, when presented with an unemployment claim


15—The Current State of International Business and Trade

As the landscape of international trade continues to evolve, DHL Express surveyed SMBs to “capture the perspectives of businesses on current international trade trends.” The company says they want to “recognize the challenges and opportunities businesses are facing today, [so they] can best assist their customers in expanding their respective footprints internationally, [and] provide resources to help them achieve success.

Key findings

Tariffs are a major concern and are impacting profits. When asked what businesses are most concerned about this year in regard to international trade, 47% of respondents say tariffs. Just 13% said they were most concerned about Brexit and 7% said the USMCA. Additionally, 56% say the recent changes in tariff policies have had a moderate or significant impact on their business’s operating costs.

Diversification is imperative. Businesses are recognizing that to offset declines as a result of tariffs, they should be expanding their international audience and entering more global markets. That’s why 40% of respondents say to drive more sales this year, they are focusing on additional international markets.

Which markets are most appealing? Most (55%) say both Canada and Mexico are top priorities for their business this year. This is likely because of their proximity to the U.S. and existing deep trade relationship with the U.S.

Also garnering top interest according to survey respondents was Asia. Despite the tariffs placed on U.S. exports to China, 21% say they are making Asia a top priority this year—including other growing Asian countries like Vietnam and India.

E-commerce is growing with 30% experiencing 34-100% YOY (from 2017 to 2018) growth in international e-commerce sales.

Focusing on fast shipping—34% of respondents are focusing most this year on faster shipping options to drive sales.

International trade barriers and constant changes to trade regulations are more than just a headache for business owners—they can have a major impact on sales and operations. That’s why all respondents were willing to go to great lengths to ensure they don’t have to worry about those issues:

  • 45% would rather have their in-laws move in than have to worry about international trade barriers/regulations for their business
  • 31% would rather give up their smartphone for a month
  • 19% would rather get audited by the IRS
  • 15% would rather get 100 scathing business reviews

Findings from the DHL Express International Business Trends survey suggest there are currently a lot of uncertainties when it comes to international trade and that SMBs need assistance. Working with an experienced logistics partner to ship internationally and grow their business can help companies navigate evolving trade regulations, varying shipping requirements and new markets.


Read This!

16—Business Planning Made Easy

As mentioned above in #7, according to a UPS Store survey, 65% of Americans want to start their own businesses, joining the more than 30 million small businesses that already exist. Sadly, only about half of those businesses will survive more than five years. So, what’s the prime ingredient for building a successful business? A business plan. And what’s the bestselling business plan guide, Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies by Rhonda Abrams, is all about.

Just released in its seventh edition, Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies is up-to-date, jam-packed with the info, resources, and worksheets an entrepreneur needs. Abrams offers step-by-step guidance making business planning easy and fast. She takes you through the entire planning process, from an initial feasibility analysis to advice on polishing your final document and pitching the plan. Each section of the business plan is broken down into checklists and easy-to-fill worksheets. You’ll get info on:

  • Crowdfunding—who is it good for, when to use it, and new crowdfunding laws
  • Lean Start-Up—how to get going with fewer dollars
  • Minimal Viable Product—ways to get to market faster
  • Sample PowerPoint—slide-by-slide guide to the 12 slides investors want to see
  • Sample Business Plan
  • Tips on impressing investors and winning Business Plan competitions

The book is available in print, electronic, and bundled editions and can be purchased via the and the PlanningShop website.


Quick Clicks

17—Life Without Software?

Unimaginable. Entrepreneurship has fl0urished since the 1990s, when so much software focused on helping small business owners was introduced. But what if you’re using the wrong software in your business?

According to the State of Software Happiness Report 2019 from G2 Learning Hub, 62% of employees have felt like they were not reaching their professional potential because of a software mismatch at work. And 13% of employees have actually quit their jobs because of mismatched software.

Check out this report, it is full of interesting and useful information.


Cool Tools

18—Dell Deals

Dell is celebrating Small Business month by offering deals on computers, servers and electronic accessories. There are laptops starting at $179. Definitely worth checking out this month.

Business stock photo by fizkes/Shutterstock