11 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1. Are You Overconfident About Your Marketing?
According to a new Campaigner marketing trends survey marketers are confident in their strategies and have no plans to adapt to meet growing technology demands. In fact only 10 percent of survey respondents admit new innovations would impact their 2015 marketing strategies. Even more startling is 87 percent believe the M-commerce will have little impact on their 2015 strategies. [From my perspective, this is truly frightening. If you agree with those surveyed, please get you head out of the sand. You ignore the potential of M-commerce at your own risk.]
At least these folks aren’t ignoring email. Nearly two-thirds rank email marketing as one of their top ROI generators (62 percent), followed by social media (26 percent), SEO (25 percent) and offline direct marketing (20 percent).
Campaigner has New Year Resolutions for small business marketers. Here are a few you might want to consider:
- Give Social Media a Fair Shot: Invest in tools that provide better functionality and increased insight. Social media has finally come of age and now provides measurable results. This year, marketers should take advantage of social media and really quantify what they’re getting back by using click-through tracking, email collection and click-through sales among other metrics.
- Monitor Technology Advances: Marketers should be more concerned and ready to accommodate tech innovations. Without adjusting strategies, marketers may risk falling behind.
- Prepare for the Wave of Mobile Commerce: 2015 could be the year mobile takes center stage. Today, it’s not uncommon for marketers to see a large number of mobile opens resulting in desktop purchases. Consumers rely on desktops to buy because the process is easier, compared to the time-consuming and cumbersome mobile purchase path. This will change, as the one-click approach becomes the norm on mobile devices.
- Create a New Email Marketing Plan Based on Data: Begin by looking at past data to see what’s worked and what hasn’t. Use segmentation and A/B testing to try something different.
2. The Yin-Yang of the Holidays
This is a happy—and stressful time of year for business owners. Yes, the holidays are a time for family and fun. But it’s also a time for distraction. Need help keeping employees on-track and productive? Fred Mouawad, the CEO of Taskworld, the only task management program that provides performance feedback, and his team offer seven tips to help keep everyone on task.
- Enjoy the time off with your loved ones: Being productive isn’t just about ways to work better, it also about figuring out how to rejuvenate yourself. Do something special; spend quality time with your loved ones. You’ll be surprised at how much this will help you to become more focused at work.
- Shake things up at your workplace: Try to create a festive atmosphere at work. Holiday decorations, lightings and treats might seem childish to some, but they boost the morale of the entire team.
- Have an Informal Feedback Session: Sometimes, feedback given in an informal way has a more lasting impact than formal performance reviews. Take advantage of the light-hearted, festive atmosphere to have a group feedback session, where every team member has to state one positive quality and one area of improvement for every other teammate. This will create stronger team bonding, encourage feedback from multiple sources and, at the same time, provide direction to everyone for the new year.
- Make a list and check it twice: Don’t be afraid to have a list for everything. Whether it’s buying gifts for friends, family and coworkers, or having a list of projects that need to be wrapped up before the new year, a checklist makes everyone more productive.
- Stick to a healthy routine: The holidays are a time when routine goes out the window. We have all had that moment in January when we look back on all the ways we indulged in during December and regret some of the choices we made. Sticking to your regular exercise routine and controlling portion size over the holidays allows you to keep a semblance of normalcy so that your energy levels stay up and you can hit the ground running when you go back into work mode.
- Make the most of your lunch hour: December may be the month to stick to your desk during lunch so you can leave an hour early to run errands—or, be proactive and use your lunch hour to write holiday cards, address gifts or do a quick a shopping run.
- Don’t get distracted by shiny objects: This is the time of year when everything is pretty, frosted, tasty and shiny. It’s great to get excited about the holidays, but now that you’ve made it this far, don’t lose sight of those important tasks so you can wrap up the year in style.
3. It Will be a Happy New Year for Small Business Employees
The 2014 American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Monitor reports 85 percent of small business owners intend to reward their staffs this year, up from 62 percent in 2013. Specifically:
- 42 percent intend to give end-of-the-year bonuses
- 25 percent will give employees raise.
- 56 percent plan to give their employees time off this year
- 44 percent are planning holiday parties and gatherings for their teams
This matches results from a recent 2014 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report showing:
- 89 percent of small business owners will offer holiday perks to their employees
- 52 percent plan to offer holiday salary bonuses
- 49 percent will throw a holiday party
4. The Power of Video
Video is growing geometrically more popular every day. If you haven’t added it to your marketing mix, the folks at Animoto suggest you make it a priority in 2015. Here’s why:
- 54 percent of consumers prefer to receive video instead of traditional printed holiday cards
- 64 percent of consumers find it helpful to watch videos to learn more about the company they will purchase from
- 96 percent of consumers find videos helpful when making purchase decisions online
- 87 percent of consumers say video helpful for researching additional items from the same brand
- 73 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase after a watching an online video about the product or service
5. Entrepreneurs Look to Their Accountants for Advice
According to the Sage Accountancy Index from Sage North America, U.S. accountants are shifting their approach to business beyond traditional accounting to become the most trusted financial advisors for their clients.
- 62 percent of accountants are expanding their range of expertise into new disciplines including business mentoring, startup advice and payroll services.
- 37 percent plan to grow their businesses by increasing customer loyalty
- 28 percent will grow by increasing their services
But there are some challenges:
- 33 percent have a problem collecting documents from clients on time.
- 10 percent use online or cloud solutions to collaborate and share accounting information with clients
- 58 percent most often work with their clients face-to-face and with physical documents.
The good news is 56 percent are adopting online and mobile technologies for themselves and their staffs.
6. It’s Getting Scary Out There
Trend Micro predicts there will be more attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in open source apps next year. Read all about it in its 2015 Security Predictions report.
7. Phoning It In, part 1
Breezeworks, which just raised $5 million, wants to empower independent service professionals to run their businesses from their smartphones. It connects on-site service providers and customers with its smartphone business manager apps, “making it a breeze” to schedule appointments, manage jobs, collect payments, eliminate no shows, navigate traffic, capture repeat business, follow up with customers and connect with suppliers.
The company just released the 2.0 version of its Breezeworks Smartphone Business Manager, which the company says is the first mobile app allowing service professionals to run their businesses entirely from their iPhones or Android devices.
The Breezeworks Smartphone Business Manager seamlessly automates jobsite logistics, payment processing and real-time schedule updates. And activities such as booking follow-ups, mobile payments, and automatic arrival time alerts can all be performed on the fly from a smartphone or connected tablet.
You can download the Breezeworks Smartphone Business Manager.
To estimate any additional revenue you can earn, check out the Breezeworks revenue calculator.
8. Phoning It In, part 2
InsightSquared, provider of next generation business intelligence software also just launched its first mobile app, InsightSquared Mobile. If you’re an InsightSquared customer this give you access to your analytics anywhere, at any time. The app’s features give you personalized dashboards, built-in-messaging and access to key metrics.
The company says 56 percent of businesspeople spend up to three hours a day on their mobile phones doing work-related projects—28 percent spend more than four hours doing work on their mobile phones.
9. Small Business Resources
One of the biggest differences between small and big businesses is we don’t have access to the same resources the big guys do. But we’re not completely on our own. Here are three companies that want to help:
Need: High Tech Recruiting
Solution: ZipRecruiter give small businesses a way to reach the “right” candidates and make the best hiring decisions with single-click postings to more than 50 leading job networks and online interview tools.
Need: Resources & More Resources
Solution: Docstoc hosts a wide selection of professional documents (over 20 million!). Other resources include expert videos, articles and productivity tools.
Need: Same-Day Delivery
Solution: Right now just available in Austin and the surrounding area, Dropoff enables small businesses to offer same-day delivery and manage their courier needs through a simple online process that provides real-time tracking, ease of use in ordering and confirmation, transparent pricing and accurate ETAs for pickup and delivery.
10. Would You Pay for Facebook?
Facebook, by far the world’s largest social media platform is making some changes next month that will impact many small businesses. The company decided (they say due to user complaints) that some (organic) promotional posts from Facebook Pages were, well too promotional. According to them:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
are not okay—unless you want to pay for them.
Will you pay Facebook to promote your small business? Alignable, the local small business social network, just released the results of its Small Business Insights poll and the answer is an overwhelming “no.”
11. Where’s it Hurt?
TriNet, a cloud-based provider of HR services, says CEOs of SMBs are in pain. The company just released the results of its CEO HR Pain Points Survey, which shows HR documentation and workplace compliance is the greatest worry for 33 percent of CEOs. This is followed by litigation (25 percent) and hiring practices (18 percent). The CEOs say they spend an average of up to 46 percent of their time on HR issues.
Other findings include:
- 30 percent of CEOs don’t measure the ROI on HR.
- 9 percent of CEOs offer perks to boost benefit and compensation packages.
- 5 percent use contests and incentives to help keep employees motivated.
- 63 percent rely on benefits to encourage employee retention
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva.