business

18 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

 

1—Most Hated Corporate Speak

Using corporate jargon reflects on you and your business. The business communication experts from Rice University say people who overuse corporate jargon are actually more likely to lose credibility.

One Rice finance professor even said that business buzzwords are red flags that signal what you’re hearing is likely shallow and meaningless. So it’s time to drop the corporate speak and talk like a normal person.

What are the most hated business buzzwords? Go.Verizon.com created a report about The Most-Hated Corporate Jargon. You should take a look at the report but here’s the most popular and most hated business buzzwords.


 

 

Big picture                              Analysis Paralysis

All hands on deck                   I’ll ping you

Bring to the table                   I’ll run that up the flagpole

Go all in                                  Boil an ocean

Out-of-the-box                       Behind the 8-ball

 

2—Talent Trends Report

Business leaders are more optimistic about the future of their businesses in 2020, when compared to 2019, according to Randstad Sourceright’s 2020 Business Health Index. The report shows overall business sentiment in the U.S. has risen by 11 points, moving U.S. up five spots to 10th place.

“Historic lows in unemployment and steady job gains marked a strong 2019 for the American workforce, and human capital professionals feel that this momentum will carry into 2020,” says Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad global businesses and executive board member. “Business leaders are keeping a close eye on the political environment and how it will potentially impact their business this election year.”

The Business Health Index ranks 17 markets based on four key measurements to create a single outlook score for each market. Measures include reported business growth against expectations, levels of hiring, the political environment’s perceived impact on business and future growth stance. Specifically, the data shows that:

  • 65% of global business leaders report hiring extensively in the last 12 months.
  • 46% more business leaders in the U.S. expect the political environment to have a positive impact on their businesses than last year.

Mexico, Latin Americas second largest economy, is also a major mover in the 2020 index, rising from last place on 2019’s list to #4 this year. Mexico faced a mild recession in early 2019, but an expanding economy, more robust construction activity and a 20% wage gain may be driving confidence that the economy and its businesses are bouncing back.

The Netherlands, Japan, Germany and Mexico rank highest in the 2020 index, while Canada, Poland and Italy show the least positive outlooks for the year ahead.

Randstad Sourceright’s 2020 Talent Trends Report, Unlock Human Potential in a Perfect Storm of Technology, provides business  leaders with an inside look at the top 10 HR trends they need to follow this year to develop their talent management strategies that complement technological innovation in the workplace.

 

3—Small Business Revenues on the Rise

Small businesses reported an 11% increase in business revenues and a 29% increase in the number of expansion loans funded over the previous three-quarter average, according to the SMB Economic Insights report for Q4 2019 from Lendio.

Expansion is the 2nd most common use of funds for small business owners, behind general working capital. However, the recent increase points to growing optimism among small business owners and their abilities to scale. In addition to higher reported revenues, business owners’ average personal income increased by 2% and the average credit score held relatively steady. Meanwhile, the average number of bankruptcies and cash negative days both decreased in Q4.

The SMB Economic Insights report provides a state-by-state summary of the impact of lending on small business health. Findings are based on information provided by more than 10,000 funded borrowers through the Lendio platform in the last quarter.

Additional key findings from the Q4 report (based on growth over the previous three-quarter average):

  • The total amount funded to businesses in the U.S. increased by 27%.
  • The average loan amount grew by 4%.
  • The number of small business loan inquiries went up in all 50 states.
  • The number of business owners reporting expansion as the main use of funds grew by 29%. Other uses of funds saw notable increases including working capital (up 28%), funding payroll (up 2%) and equipment loans (up 21%).
  • The average credit score of U.S. business owners held relatively steady in Q4, coming in at 667.5. Business owners in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Utah claim the highest average credit scores in the nation.
  • The top small business industries funded are construction (with an average loan size of $17,701) retail (with an average loan size of $18,271) and restaurants (with an average loan size of $18,821).

 

4—Economic Confidence Grows 

Small business’s economic confidence climbed to 102.2, a year-to-year gain of 7.4% in January 2020, according to the monthly Small Business CEO Survey from Vistage.

Report highlights

Jobs

  • 31% of business leaders increased their total number of employees by 10% over the course of the year
  • 61% plan to add to their workforce this year

Climate change: 91% of business leaders have not changed how they operate their business, what they sell or where they’re located because of climate change or extreme weather

Tariffs: 65% of business leaders say tariffs are not impacting their business

Check out their full results and infographic.

 

5—Small Business Owners are Optimistic, but are Preparing for a Downturn

Over half of small business owners (SBOs) (57%) feel better about the current state of the economy compared to a year ago, but 90% have taken steps to prepare for an economic downturn, according to the 2020 Hiscox Small Business Owner Risk Study™.

Beyond the economy, SBOs are also optimistic and confident about their business’s performance in 2020—51% expect profits to increase in the next 12 months, 93%  are optimistic. This positivity is driven by new customers (60%), steady/improved demand (47%) and new products (30%).

However, SBOs are preparing for volatility. When it comes to the internal risks of running their businesses, they are concerned about attracting new clients (39%), maintaining profitability (34%), passing cost increases on to customers (17%) and receiving timely payments from customers (17%). External concerns about government and political issues are also top of mind, including taxes (21%), economic growth (20%) and healthcare policy (12%). While 66% feel their businesses are prepared for an economic downturn, only 12% feel “very prepared.” Respondents are taking steps to prepare, including reducing expenses (43%), setting up an emergency savings fund (38%) and increasing marketing efforts (31%).

 

6—Student Loan Repayments

It’s not a secret that many millennials and Gen Zers are saddled by student loan debt. LendEDU created a report of the average monthly student loan payment by state, in addition to finding out how many years it should take them to fully repay their student loan debt.

Key findings

  • Massachusetts had the highest average monthly student loan payment—$229.02, followed by New Jersey ($225.56), Connecticut ($225.26), New York ($223.10), and California ($221.17).
  • Wyoming had the lowest average monthly student loan payment—$176.46, followed by Idaho ($176.98), Nevada ($190.57), South Dakota ($191.74), and Louisiana ($192.62).
  • Nationwide, the average monthly student loan payment was $210.73.
  • Utah had the quickest predicted student loan payoff time (8.14 years), followed by California (8.49 years), New Mexico (8.61 years), Alaska (8.91 years), and Washington (9.30 years).
  • New Hampshire had the longest predicted student loan payoff time (14.40 years), followed by Connecticut (14.34 years), South Dakota (13.86 years), Rhode Island (13.82 years), and Pennsylvania (13.68 years).
  • Nationwide, the average student loan payoff time was 11.30 years.

 

7—Celebrating America’s Main Streets with Annual Online Contest

Independent We Stand just announced the 5th annual America’s Main Streets contest. The three-month long web-driven contest helps consumers, small business owners and Main Street organizations reward a deserving Main Street with $25,000 in cash and sponsor-related prizes. Whether your local Main Street is making a comeback or never lost its staying power, Independent We Stand invites the public to help draw attention to the vital role America’s Main Streets play in the long-term success of communities by nominating and voting for their favorite Main Street.

All nominations and voting take place on MainStreetContest.com. To help promote the contest, the Independent We Stand team heads out for The Great American West Coast Cruisin’ road trip starting March 16. You can follow their journey through Port Townsend, WA; Gold Beach, OR; and Eureka, San Francisco, and Seal Beach, all in CA. You can also follow on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Important dates

  • 24 to April 19: America’s Main Streets nominations and quarterfinalist voting
  • 16-20:The Great American West Coast Cruisin’ road trip
  • April 27 to May 24: “America’s Main Streets” semifinalist voting
  • June 2: “America’s Main Streets” winner announced
  • July 4: Main Streets Make Us Better event; America’s Main Streets winner announces plans for $25,000 grand prize

 

8—The SB Pro Growth Challenge

Andrew Frazier has helped over 500 small businesses grow, achieve profitability and receive expansion capital. Now, he wants to help 1,000 businesses grow in 2020. Frazier, the CEO of Small Business Like a Pro, an outsourced CFO and business consultant, author and speaker, is challenging small businesses to do better. And, he’s putting his money where his mouth is, launching The SB Pro Growth Challenge.

Frazier announced that he will be awarding $20,000 in cash, as well as prizes including various business services, to those businesses that enter the SBPro Growth Challenge and can document the most year-over-year growth.

The SBPro Growth Challenge will help small businesses establish achievable goals, develop a plan to achieve those goals and an actionable method to implement their plan, according to Frazier. His proprietary methodology is an outgrowth of Frazier’s coaching practice, and is outlined in his book, Running Your Small Business Like a Pro.

Competitors will learn how to improve their marketing and selling strategies and skills with professional guidance from the pros. A series of quarterly rallies culminating in a conference will highlight the program. To keep the playing field level, entrants will be divided into two categories—those businesses with under $100,000 in revenue, and those with over $100,000 in revenue.

Frazier says, “The SBPro Growth Challenge will afford small businesses the opportunity to learn best practices, to have access to a proven growth planning strategy and to join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.”

The SBPro Growth Challenge is open to traditional business types in the U.S that started prior to 2018, with revenues of at least $20,000 in 2019, but under $20 million. Entrants must have at least one full-time owner employed in the business. Competitors will provide quarterly revenue numbers, and finalists will be required to document their growth with profit and loss statements, as well as tax returns.

 

9—Cybersecurity Trends of 2020

BSI Cybersecurity and Information Resilience Centre of Excellence forecasts five key trends across the cybersecurity landscape for 2020.

1.  Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Attacks: A report by LastPass shows last year 57% of global businesses adopted MFA, compared to 45% in 2018. While this indicates a growing uptake of MFA in 2019, it also means attacks against MFA will inevitably rise.

Stephen O’Boyle, Global Head of Cybersecurity and Information Resilience Services at BSI says, “MFA is a method of authentication developed to add an additional layer of protection for users, and while we have seen a positive roll out in 2019, we expect to see attackers increase their attempts to bypass it. One such example is what we call a ‘9am attack’, whereby the attacker attempts to login at around 9am local time of the user. The end user arrives at the office, and when logging on, gets a prompt on their authenticator app to approve; if the attacker has it timed correctly, the user approves and inadvertently grants access to the attacker.”

“This along with other targeted attacks, such as Evilqinx (a man-in-the-middle attack framework used for phishing credentials and session cookies) or SIM swapping (at its most basic level, when a hacker convinces your phone carrier to switch your phone number over to a SIM card they own), will become more prominent this year. Provided that phishing attacks remain a ‘high return and low risk’ proposition, they will continue to be attractive to attackers. [Businesses] must have the capability to detect and react to advanced attacks in order to keep their clients, employees, and information secure.”

2.  Third Party / Supplier Risk Management: Managing supplier risk effectively has been strengthened by a number of new directives and regulations which have wide reaching effect, including the Network and Information Security (NIS) directive and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

O’Boyle explains, “Supplier risk management allows organizations to identify, assess, manage, and treat supplier risk. This year businesses will need to further enhance their solutions when it comes to reducing risks associated with third party management. This includes processing of information, outsourced system development, integrations, configurations, and hardware product provenance. Doing so will allow them to be in a better position from a security perspective to achieve their objectives and meet their compliance requirements.”

3. Ongoing Privacy Assurance: Globalization and the relentless advance in technology mean that privacy safeguards are necessary to ensure the protection of the fundamental rights of citizens. The need to adopt a principles-based privacy program to establish a rights-centered approach to controls will be further required this year as enforcement of regulations, such as the GDPR progress. In 2019, 134 fines were reportedly issued under the GDPR equating to over €417 million.

“Many organizations have realized their compliance requirements under GDPR; however, new and evolving global legislation, such as Japan’s Act on Protection of Personal Information (APPI), Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD), Thailand’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) mean a business’s  privacy compliances continue to evolve. These global requirements must be considered based on a company’s global reach and their data jurisdictions,” says O’Boyle.

4. Advanced Hacking Techniques: Mature security organizations often attribute significant human and financial resources to their cybersecurity programs. In 2019, many industry security teams were tasked with proving the value of the company’s security investments. In addition to certifications such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), ISO/IEC ISO 27001 Information Security Management Systems, and SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2), companies began conducting Purple Teaming exercises, where Defenders (Blue Team) are pitted against Attackers (Red Team) to determine the effectiveness of their defense capabilities and this will expand in 2020.

“This technique provides a truly effective view of attack susceptibility and defense capability in a close to real-world attack scenario. The benefits to organizations are extremely valuable as defenders gain attack experience in a safe scenario environment, deficiencies are highlighted, and opportunities to improve identification and response capabilities are advanced through process improvements and monitoring system tuning. We will see more companies adopt this approach as part of their annual assessment activities this year.” says O’Boyle.

5. Cloud Security—Zero Trust Networks: As cloud adoption grows and organizations begin to truly accept the ‘death of the perimeter,’ the Zero Trust model will rise to the fore. Security measures for protecting organizations beyond the traditional firewall will proceed to improve and conditional-based access considering device enumeration, certificates, location, biometrics, and user secrets will become the norm for protecting organizations leveraging cloud first models.

“Cloud services are key targets for attackers with password spray and credential stuffing attacks as examples of methods used to gain access. Companies who progress their cloud journey without adequate Identity and Access Management tools and processes will soon find themselves subject to compromise. Those with limited monitoring in place can expect attacker persistence to remain for extended durations,” says O’Boyle.

He concludes: “We are seeing the next phase in cyber threats, cyber-related regulations, technological evolutions, and specific solutions within these trends, looking beyond the stalwart and ever-present security risk of inadequate patching. Defense preparation must remain high on the agenda for 2020 across all industry sectors including finance, the public sector, transportation, food, and healthcare. Organizations need to prioritize and address their cyber and regulatory efforts this year and opt for a deeper level of assurance across the board at all levels. Doing so will ensure that everyone has a greater understanding of the cybersecurity landscape and that their information resilience is enhanced across the organization.”

 

Cool Tools

 

10—Want to Be a Producer?

Entrepreneurs can be found in all fields—including the entertainment industry. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a producer, my long-time friend Jane Applegate has written the perfect guide for you—Hair on Fire: An Insider’s Guide to Producing for the Big and Small Screen. Jane is not only a veteran producer, she’s an entrepreneurship expert as well, so you get real-world, practical advice and insights.

 

11—Managing Multiple Brands

Adobe Spark will enable users to add and manage multiple brands, each with their own distinct brand assets, without ever leaving the Spark editor. Whether you’re a freelancer creating content for a variety of clients, with several branded assets to manage, an agency needing to organize multiple campaigns, or a marketer managing a variety of products or sub-brands, you now have one convenient content creation dashboard where you can create and manage all of your branded content.

Spark’s new multiple brand feature combines Spark’s branding capabilities, such as style matching across projects and formats, with the productivity-boosting ability to organize your projects for each of the brands or campaigns you work on.

Check out the details about how you can create and manage multiple brands.

12—Get Personalized Logos

Fiverr just launched Logo Maker, a new service that uses AI to instantly match business buyers with automatically personalized logos, based on hand-crafted designs from vetted Fiverr designers.

  • Fiverr’s Logo Maker combines the best of human design with the power of artificial intelligence to streamline the logo creation process, allowing them to rapidly personalize and customize original, handmade designs created by Fiverr sellers.
  • Fiverr sellers now have the opportunity to monetize their existing design portfolio by instantly producing hundreds of logo permutations using AI-based tools developed by Fiverr.
  • Uniquely, Fiverr Logo Maker also provides the option to work with the designer who created the logo on any special design changes or edits that can’t be created with the AI.

 

13—Audiovisual-as-a-Service Solution for SMBs

Onepath, a provider of managed technology services to small and midsize businesses, has launched Onepath Audiovisual-as-a-Service (AVaaS), a new solution designed to reduce the cost and simplify the process of procuring and using audiovisual tools and technologies.

A recent survey from Onepath found SMBs are continuing to use AV tools such as video monitors, projectors, and web and audio conferencing solutions. But the tools can be difficult to set up and expensive to maintain. For example, 88% of SMB IT professionals responding to Onepath’s survey said that company employees are experiencing AV problems daily or weekly, diminishing productivity and taxing IT. Furthermore, most of these companies are spending at least $10,000 annually on tools and support.

Onepath’s new AVaaS solution is a response to this problem. Consisting of physically-installed hardware and full support in an “as-a-Service” pricing model, Onepath AVaaS allows SMBs to select and use current, nonproprietary AV technology on a three-year refresh cycle. Because the technology is nonproprietary, companies can switch platforms as their needs change. Onepath AVaaS also includes help desk support, proactive monitoring and management of all AV tools, break/fix support, and remote firmware updates to ensure network security. In addition, Onepath AV engineers will assist clients in determining the correct offering for their needs and rooms.

“Most (93%) knowledge-workers work outside the office at least one day a week,” says Michael Lane, VP, Engineering at Onepath. “This means AV tools have to be uncomplicated and operate as expected—downtime results in lost productivity and stretched support resources, which our clients simply can’t have. The goal of Onepath AVaaS is to put our clients’ minds at ease when it comes to the use of AV tools and technologies, while turning what has traditionally been a CapEx charge into an operating expense, making the service incredibly attractive to SMBs.”

Onepath AVaaS is available now and starts as low as $180/month for a huddle room system, going up to $325/month for a boardroom with web conferencing capabilities. For more information about Onepath AVaaS, click here.

 

14—Create Engaging Visual Content Online

GoDaddy Inc. (NYSE: GDDY) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Over, the company behind the popular Over app that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses grow their brands by easily creating impactful visual content for any platform online. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The Over app, which has over 1,000,000 monthly active users, enables people to create inspiring content quickly on a mobile phone for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and other popular social platforms, as well as email marketing campaigns and websites. It features a vast library of hand-curated, professionally designed templates and layouts for quick customization that standout and grab attention.

The app was recently recognized by Apple as a “Best of 2019 App Trend of the Year.”

Over will help bolster GoDaddy’s focus on enabling small business owners to look great everywhere online that matters via its Websites + Marketing product, giving customers a simple yet powerful mobile tool for creating visual content that drive awareness and engagement online with customers and prospects.

The Over app will continue to be offered as a standalone app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

 

Quick Clicks

 

15—Most Popular Unicorn Brands

Unicorn companies are privately held startup companies with a valuation over $1 billion. The list of companies that have reached “unicorn” status includes household names like Uber, Spotify, and Twitter.

McGuffin Creative Group set out to explore the relationship between valuation and brand awareness among U.S.-based B2C unicorn companies. To do this they surveyed over 4,000 consumers to determine which unicorn companies’ consumers are most familiar with.

 Findings 

  • Reddit, Airbnb, Buzzfeed, Credit Karma and DoorDash are the best-known unicorn companies.
  • While the bulk of the data tells us that a higher valuation leads to higher awareness, there are exception like JUUL Labs which is valued at $50 billion but is known by just 36% of consumers.
  • The fastest-growing unicorns are JUUL labs ($68.7M per day), Epic Games ($34.7M per day), Scopely ($20M per day), DoorDash ($18M per day) and Airbnb ($11.1M per day). Growth is indicated by the value added per day since the company joined the unicorn list.

Check out the full report from McGuffin.

 

16—Word-0f-Mouth Advertising: Find out what you need to know about word-of-mouth advertising in this thorough post from Best4Businesses.

17—Do you have a shop on Shopify? Linkshero offers some valuable lessons.

18—B2B stats: Get the latest stats in this extensive collection of data from FinancesOnline Reviews for Business.

Business stock photo by nd3000/Shutterstock