11 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
1) 3 Tips for Holding Better Meetings
Almost everyone hates meetings. They tend to last too long, get off track and not accomplish much. But Dave Kashen, the cofounder of WorkLife (a great tool, by the way) says meetings don’t all have to be useless. Kashen advises us how to have better meetings:
Before the meeting: Create & share an agenda
The time most people think about creating an agenda for a meeting is when their butt hits the chair. Create a habit of going through your upcoming meetings and adding agenda items. If you send it out in advance, it will help others prepare and give them a chance to suggest topics as well.
During the meeting: Stay focused on the agenda & agree on next steps
In most meetings, the future escapes unscathed. People talk in circles, go off on tangents and rush out of the meeting room the moment the time is up. If you created an agenda in advance, make sure to have it present (put it on the wall or on the screen) during the meeting so you can stay focused on it.
Most people know that it’s useful to make decisions and agree on next steps during a meeting, yet too often, it doesn’t happen. Try writing the words “Decisions” and “Action Items” on the whiteboard or adding those headings in your note-taking tool, or use a tool that has this built in (like, say, WorkLife) to prompt the group to make decisions during the meeting. Make sure to assign the action items to specific individuals, so that they’ll actually get done.
After the meeting: Communicate outcomes & close the loop
After the meeting, send out a meeting summary to let everyone know what was decided and who’s doing what. Include the meeting participants, as well as others who need to be informed. This will help ensure the decisions made at the meeting actually get implemented, and serve as a record you can refer back to.
For recurring meetings, try starting each meeting by reviewing the previous meeting. You may want to carry over unaddressed agenda items or open issues, and make sure to review the action items to see what got done. Once you get in the habit of this, you’ll create a sense of accountability so people will know that the action items won’t just slip through the cracks and will be more likely to complete them.
2) The Risks Of BYOD
According to Druva, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is the “new normal” for many companies. While allowing employees to use their own devices increases productivity and flexibility, it also increases the vulnerability of your company’s data.
3) Should You Create a Mobile App?
Are you trying to decide between building a mobile app or a mobile website? Austin Paley, the Corporate Marketing Communications Manager at Blue Fountain Media shares some wise advice about building a strong mobile presence:
With an increasing amount of mobile users, it is no surprise that building a strong mobile presence is becoming more and more important. An enjoyable and user-friendly mobile experience is critical for a brand’s credibility and overall success, and for a lot of brands this means creating a mobile app.
However, there are a few things to consider when it comes to determining if a mobile app is right for your brand, or if an alternative may be better suited to meet your needs. Here are 4 factors you need to consider before making the financial investment in an app for your brand:
Responsive vs. Mobile
When you build a mobile presence for your brand, one of the initial things you should ask yourself is whether your brand would be better off investing in a mobile app or going with a responsive design website instead. The main reason you want to ask yourself this is simple—price. A mobile app is a much larger investment than a responsive site, so you need to think about whether a responsive site would be capable of achieving everything you are looking to get out of your brand’s mobile presence. If your goal is to be a resource for users and to simply provide general information, responsive design is just as effective (if not more so) than a mobile app. It takes less time to develop and is much more cost-efficient—especially for small to mid-sized companies.
As we’ve established, mobile apps are very expensive. As a result, you really want to ask yourself, what kind of ROI can I expect from investing in this? Consider whether you want to generate leads, make sales, or build brand recognition—and if the app will be able to achieve that. If the goals you are trying to accomplish are aligned with the strengths of using a mobile app, you may have a fit. For instance, games are incredibly popular when it comes to mobile apps. However, if you’re thinking of developing a game, it really needs to be connected to your brand and provide actual value. It’s also important to understand that there is a lot of competition out there with games that are well established and well-liked by users, so you might not get the kind of ROI you could expect from a market with little competition.
If you’re going to develop an in-store app that would tie back to a regular sale, then you’re likely better off going with a mobile app. With the introduction of beacons into the mobile world, there is a lot of potential for bigger companies to have some serious success with user interaction on their apps. The relatively new program is a positioning system that detects locations and can send users notifications if they are in the store. For a large company that is trying to make sales, something like this would be incredibly beneficial, and could provide huge ROI. You would have the ability to send users special discounts as they pass certain areas of your store.
As you start to develop a plan, you need to establish a unique value that you are going to be bringing with the development of your app. There are millions of apps available in the iOS app store and on Google Play, and a result competition is very steep. A good marketing plan is going to play a major role in the success of the app, but having an app that really stands out is going to be critical to its success.
You need to focus on what value you can provide to your audience, and how you can get that across through the app. Having that unique factor is what will ultimately make the difference between your app getting lost amongst all the others, or getting a significant amount of downloads. You need a competitive advantage when it comes to marketing apps, and it starts with uniqueness.
It’s important to consider your brand’s target audience as you build your mobile presence. Really take time to understand their needs so that you can make choices with how your app is structured that will best meet those needs. Researching things like your audience’s age and spending habits to help determine how an app can be best configured to bring your brand success. Specifically with technology, age should always be a big contributor to your marketing efforts. If your audience is older, a mobile app may not be best suited for them. Overall, consider what you would like to get out of a mobile presence and how that carries over to generating sales for your business. Certain industries or services may have success with apps, while other industries may do better with mobile browsers and responsive websites.
Furthermore, think about how your audience is going to be accessing the app. Push notifications can be particularly valuable for a business once the mobile app is installed, but if your audience won’t be responsive or uninstall your app as a result, then you’ve lost a huge draw of investing in a mobile app in the first place. Also keep in mind that mobile apps can be used without an Internet connection once they are installed, whereas a responsive design site is of course going to need a connection for users to access it in their phone’s browser. If most of your target audience is going to be using your app outdoors or in an area where there is no Internet connection available, then a mobile app is certainly going to be a sensible investment.
In the end, make your decision about a mobile presence based on what your brand’s ideal ROI would be. If you have a good understanding of the benefits of each of your options, it should be relatively simple to see what is going to work best for your business.
4) Sending More Effective Emails
Today is the last day of National Email Week—and no it doesn’t celebrate the seemingly endless (and sometimes useless) emails we’re bombarded with daily. You know what I mean—on average, business users sent or received 121 emails a day in 2014 (that’s far fewer than I get daily), which is expected to grow to 140 emails a day by 2018.
Still, email is a necessary and important part of the way we all do business. To help us get a handle on all that email—and get more out of them, John McGee, founder of OptifiNow, a sales optimization company offers some advice:
Think about this: If you as a business owner are annoyed by the number of messages you receive from [other] businesses you have interacted with in the past, you have to assume that your current or potential customers may feel the same way about the emails you are sending them. Try these tips:
- Be a News Source. Instead of always relying on a discount offer to spur customers into the buying stage, use industry news to your advantage. Create an email campaign around a new regulation, a competitor recall, or another news topic that is trending in your industry and relevant to your customers. Alert them to what is going on and how you provide a solution.
- Focus on the Subject Line. In a flooded inbox an intriguing subject line is much more likely to be noticed and opened than one that is too revealing and generic. Look at newspaper and online media outlet headlines for inspiration. Instead of a tired “20% off limited time offer” subject line, test response rates for subject lines like “25% of businesses fail at social media sales, how to adjust”.
- Remember Your Audience. Don’t get so caught up in what the goal of your email campaign is you forget the audience. Put the customer first in everything. Don’t just send a generic sales offer, present it in a way that makes your customer feel like you are only giving a discount to make his/her life better. For example, “We’re offering 10% from now to June 30th” makes it seem like you just want to make sales. Instead—“Summer has arrived and you should be spending more time relaxing in a hammock, spending time with family and friends, not cooped up in your office. We’re issuing you a summer break to make it happen. Take 10% off now until June 30th.” The second presentation lets the customer know you are worried about his/her well-being and want to make life easier, not serve your own purposes.
5) Small Business Scorecard
The May 2015 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard shows that some small businesses have helped their employees with personal matters, including among other things, providing free legal work, paying for family members’ hospital bills and even repairing an employee’s dryer. According to the Scorecard, 75 percent of small business owners say they have helped employees with personal issues.
The survey covered many other topics as well. Some highlights:
- 61 percent of small business owners say their company cultures are “collaborative—an open and friendly place where people care a lot about each other.”
- 49 percent say they treat their employees like family.
- 50 percent of small businesses have a casual dress code
6) Can You Disconnect?
How hard is it for you to disconnect? Can you take a vacation and not stay in touch with your office? According to the latest Office Depot Small Business Index, 61 percent of small business owners plan to take a vacation this summer, but 76 percent of them will stay connected to their offices.
Two-thirds of business owners say it’s difficult to take time off during the summer. And more than half of entrepreneurs who take a vacation stay connected by working on their laptops and checking email on their phones.
7) Thinking of Selling on Etsy?
I just advised my nephew to start selling his new products on Etsy. Why? Because consumers like to shop there. According to Jumpshot, a company that provides a marketing analytics product suite, the average cart value on Etsy is $39. Etsy customers in Washington, D.C. and Nevada bought more—they had average cart values of $62.
The tags that get the most views were jewelry (I just bought some jewelry on Etsy), clothing and accessories, and the most-purchased items were in the jewelry, supplies and craft supplies and tools categories.
8) Calling all Small Biz Owners! Want to Win an Apple Watch?
Invoice2go, the world’s #1 mobile invoicing app, is giving small biz owners the chance to win an Apple Watch with a free one-year Invoice2go Pro subscription—and you could be one of the winners! With the Invoice2go app for Apple Watch, small and microbusiness owners can seamlessly invoice clients on the spot, track time spent on the job and receive notifications when they’ve been paid—all with a few taps to the wrist.
Ready to enter? Visit Invoice2go’s Facebook, “Like” the page and leave a comment explaining how their mobile invoicing Apple Watch app can help you run your business more efficiently. Full contest rules and entry details can be found here. Be sure to submit your entry by the contest deadline—Tuesday, June 16 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Invoice2go is trusted by more than 200,000 small and microbusiness owners across a number of industries around the world—from electricians and accountants to dog walkers, creative freelancers and more.
9) Watch This
The Smithsonian Channel is launching a new 8-part series, telling priceless stories of inspiration, controversy, triumph, and tragedy behind innovations—large and small.
The series, MY MILLION DOLLAR INVENTION, premieres Sunday, June 14 at 8 PM ET/PT and addresses such topics as:
- What was Edison’s dubious role in the development of the electric chair?
- Which household utensil came from the mind of a prisoner?
- How the Maclaren baby buggy was inspired by a fighter plane.
If you want to meet the men and women who dedicated, and often risked, their lives to follow their vision and ultimately change the world, you can watch the first two full episodes.
10) Customer Service Made Easier
LivePerson, a provider of digital messaging solutions, just launched the LiveEngage app, a mobile messaging platform that enables small and midsize businesses to deliver best-in-class customer service from the convenience of a mobile app.
The app is also available via a new freemium program, which the company says, “Provides resource-strapped small businesses with powerful engagement tools at no cost, while increasing their capacity to better connect with valuable customers.”
As LivePerson CEO Robert LoCascio explains, “Consumers expect more personal interaction with small companies, yet these entrepreneurs are precisely the ones with the least available bandwidth for customer care.”
According to a recent survey of small businesses LivePerson conducted, while SMBs say customer service and support is their highest priority this year, most dedicate less than 10 percent of their time to customer queries.
11) Make Your Apps More Visible
Mobile Action, a provider of solutions for mobile user acquisition, just released some new features helping developers get their apps more visibility. This release gives app developers access to sophisticated, predictive tools and actionable insights to optimize their App Store performance.
Mobile Action’s Big Data engine provides app developers with a visibility score that factors in over eight billion data points, including category, location, season, market, competitors, organic/paid growth, and more. Based on this extensive analysis, Mobile Action makes actionable recommendations for how developers can amplify their apps’ visibility.
The updated Mobile Action tool makes smart predictions for optimizing App Store performance. It tells developers the best time to run campaigns, offers competitive analysis (revenues, downloads, etc.) and provides the best time to update apps. The engine gives insights into what is missing from user acquisition strategies, best practices, what channels or tools should be utilized, and the most effective way to allocate a budget. It also lets developers know the impact that their actions will have. For example, optimizing for X keyword will reduce the average cost per install by 20%. Every single recommendation is unique for each app.
Mobile Action currently analyzes over 3 million apps in 24 categories and adds 5,000 apps into its database every day. Its analysis extends across the Apple App Store and Google Play, as well as over 140 countries. Mobile Action provides unlimited app tracking, recommended actions, and the visibility score for free. Premium tools, such as the unlimited download estimations and custom reports, start at $499 a month.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva.