business

16 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

1—How’s Your Cyber Hygiene?

OpenVPN’s latest cyber hygiene study shows:

  • Of those who said voice assistants invading privacy was their top cybersecurity concern of 2018, 64% still own voice assistants. In fact, 36% of them believe their voice assistant is secure and will not be hacked
  • 24% believe their home assistant has the potential to be hacked, but continue to use it for convenience
  • 35% don’t have a home assistant because they fear it invades their privacy

Check out the infographic below to learn more.

business

 

2—Imagined Home Offices

This could be one of my favorite infographics ever, courtesy Bingham Self Storage. They imagined what home offices would look like if designed by the likes of Apple, Google and, my fave, Lego.

Apple
Google
Facebook
Lego
Nintendo
Pixar

3—Managing Your Finances

We all need help at some point managing our finances. Here are some tips from Johannes Endhardt, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing & Analytics, Small Business Bank at Capital One.

DON’T: Believe saving a small percentage won’t add up.

DO: Start Saving from Day One: When you’re first starting your business, it can be difficult to juggle setting aside cash with everyday expenses, but keeping money in a business savings account—rather than your checking account—can help you build your nest egg. Start small by setting aside 1%-2% of your earnings, and as your savings start to grow, slowly increase that percentage and focus on what you are saving for to give you clarity and motivation.

DON’T: Shy away from implementing new technology.

DO: Evaluate new tech opportunities to streamline financial management: It may feel as if there is a new technology advancement everyday but there are some proven ways to implement technology to streamline the financial management of your business. For example, look for a bank that integrates with accounting software providers like QuickBooks or Xero to simplify the time spent on managing your cash flow.

DON’T: Be afraid of tax change.

DO: Take Advantage of Tax Cuts: There are several provisions within the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that can help to drive small business growth and increase tax savings. You should connect with a financial planner or accountant now to determine how you could benefit from tax reform. For example, is your business eligible for the pass-through deduction? Should you invest in new equipment to take advantage of higher deductions and bonus depreciation? Every business will have different factors to consider, so evaluate how these changes may impact your business and what actions you can take to increase your benefits.

DON’T: Rush the hiring process

DO: Maintain Efficient Hiring Practices: Streamlining your hiring process is another critical component to growing a successful business, especially in the terms of maintaining good financial health. Outline the specific tasks and expertise your business needs, then determine the number of hours per week you’ll require an employee to work to accomplish those tasks. Business owners should also analyze cash flow and financial projections to ensure they’re able to support additional employees and determine how hiring will impact the bottom line.

DON’T: Combine business and personal expenses.

DO: Find the Right Business Credit Card for Your Business: Small business credit cards can be an invaluable tool for your company. They have the potential to offer businesses secure and convenient methods of payment while giving them short-term financing options, help build business credit and offer specific rewards/perks. If you use a personal credit card for business expenses, you may get into a tricky situation when it comes time to separate business and personal expenses. By using a business credit card, you’ll simplify the process of tracking business expenses, and can often pull specific summary reports, which can make tax time much easier, as well as help you maximize deductions and minimize tax burdens.

DON’T: Leave money on the table.

DO: Use a Business Credit Card and Business Savings Account to Boost Your Bottom Line: All small business owners, especially those who purchase supplies, inventory and equipment at a high volume should use a business credit card as a purchasing tool. You can capitalize on credit card rewards by setting up automated payments and using your card for payments you wouldn’t normally consider. For example, most major insurers will take a card and, given insurance is usually a large expense, entrepreneurs can earn significant cash back when they pay for it with their business credit card. You can use the cash back rewards to reinvest back into your business in the form of new equipment, employee bonuses, etc. Additionally, with rising interest rates, you’d likely be receiving a better rate than expected. Business savings accounts can provide valuable interest to add value to your company, especially when you focus on building up your reserves for unforeseen issues

 

4—From P.T. Barnum To Social Media: 3 Lessons About Promoting Your Personal Brand

Guest post by Adam Witty, CEO, Advantage|ForbesBooks. Witty and Rusty Shelton are the coauthors of Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant.

The battle to create brand recognition is taking place in a media world that’s noisier and more crowded than ever. That’s why some entrepreneurs, CEOs and professionals have come to realize they can set themselves apart by looking beyond the corporate brand and instead building their personal brand, positioning themselves as an expert and leader in their industry and marketplace.

It’s a path that such luminaries as Rachael Ray and Dave Ramsey used to much success. Although what’s called “authority marketing” isn’t used as much as it should be, it’s not new. More than a century ago, P.T. Barnum understood how to generate buzz around his name and get the press to report on his every move, which led to more ticket sales for his circus.

Conventional wisdom holds that “authority” is something that can’t be manufactured; it’s bestowed upon you by your peers. [But] that’s utter nonsense because why would your peers want to crown you king? That would mean they’re not the king.

Here are a few ways you can begin to position yourself as the authority in your field :

The traditional media route. Anyone who wants to emulate Barnum’s technique, if not match his extraordinary gift for self-promotion, can do so by using mass media—which today includes TV and radio as well as newspapers and magazines. You can pitch ideas directly to the media. You can pitch an article idea on a certain topic, or you can pitch yourself as a guest or source who can offer insight on specific topics.

The social media route. In the modern era, people who want to promote themselves possess a tool that Barnum and his contemporaries didn’t have. In addition to attracting the attention of traditional media, they can also grow their authority through social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms give people the opportunity to communicate directly with their target audiences without the traditional media as a go-between. In this new landscape, the power is truly in your hands, and it’s up to you to establish yourself as an authority to make sure your message is heard.

The book route. People instantly gain a significant amount of respect when they can tell others they are the author of a book. The perception is that if you have enough knowledge to write a book on a topic, you must know more than most people do about it. Many people find the idea of writing a book intimidating, but it’s not unusual to hire ghostwriters to help with the task. And if traditional publishers show no interest, self-publishing is an option. Once completed, the book becomes additional piece of your marketing arsenal as you are routinely introduced as “the author of. . .”

But for anyone eager to put authority marketing into practice, there’s a caveat: This should not be an exercise in ego. This is about strategically elevating your authority to grow your business.

 

5—Enter to Win the California Climate Cup, a Startup Innovation Competition

I am a proud long-time resident of California, which continues its longstanding role as a global leader and innovator in driving progressive environmental initiatives forward.

That’s why I’m really excited about the California Climate Cup, a startup innovation competition seeking the next generation of technologies, business models, and platforms that will help megacities, states and regions, accelerate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and enhance resiliency in the face of climate change, just announced by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF).

“To fight climate change, we need innovators with cutting-edge solutions that can be implemented in megacities, like Los Angeles,” says Matt Petersen, President and CEO of LACI. “This is an opportunity to pitch game-changing technologies on a worldwide stage, and connect with decision-makers across sectors.”

“Cities like Los Angeles and others around the world are experiencing the impacts of climate change,” says Danny Kennedy, Managing Director of CalCEF. “They are also demonstrating solutions. The Climate Cup is a great platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their most innovative climate change solutions and technologies to the world’s leaders gathering at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September.”

Startups from around the globe in three areas of zero emissions mobility and goods movement, the energy and transportation nexus, and sustainable cities are encouraged to apply for the competition. Three finalists from each category of the competition will be selected on August 10 and invited to Los Angeles in September to LACI’s La Kretz Innovation Campus to pitch their solution before a panel of expert judges.

Category winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to pitch their startup on stage in front of delegates, key climate policy decision makers, and local, state, and world leaders who will assemble at Governor Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 12-14, where the grand prize winner will be announced.

In addition to significant exposure to public and private sector leaders, two of the category winners will receive a prize of at least $5,000, and the grand prize winner will be awarded $25,000.

California Climate Cup Competition Categories

Mobility and Goods Movement: Zero-emissions innovations are needed in the areas of goods movement and urban logistics, urban mobility and access, first and last mile solutions, and shared mobility.

Energy/Transportation Nexus: Platforms and innovations that facilitate deployment of clean energy and electric vehicle infrastructure through EV charging and energy storage, demand response, smart charging, and other grid management needs for transportation infrastructure assets.

Digital Solutions for Sustainable Cities: Platforms and innovations that enable sustainable city solutions that improve resiliency, resource efficiency and unlock new markets through solutions that utilize blockchain, fintech, IoT, smart sensor networks, and/or big data.

The California Climate Cup application deadline is August 6, 2018. Apply for the Climate Cup, or you can get more information by emailing climatecup@laci.org or laci.org/climatecup.

 

6—How to Network in Chinese

The world is getting smaller when it comes to business as international commerce expands. While many people in business situations know English, it can’t hurt for you  to learn a few key phrase in foreign languages.

Take a look at the infographic from Asian Absolute to learn the Chinese phrases you need to know.

business

 

7—POS Financing for Small Businesses

SuperMoney, a leading financial service comparison site, recently launched a No-Fee Financing Platform that offers affordable point of sale financing opportunities for small businesses nationwide.

The No-Fee Financing Platform is built on top of SuperMoney’s consumer loan offer engine technology, and is making point of sale financing available for merchants and service providers across all industries.

Small businesses can get set up to offer financing in a matter of minutes, and SuperMoney is partnering with banks, credit unions, and direct lenders to provide competing financing offers for the consumer.

Go here for more information.

 

8—Enter the Stevie Award for Women in Business

The Stevie® Awards has issued the call for entries for its 2018 (15th annual) Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Entry kits and complete details on the competition are available here.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honor the achievements of working women in more than 90 categories, including Entrepreneur of the Year, Executive of the Year, Mentor or Coach of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, Achievement in Equal Pay, Women Helping Women, Employee of the Year, Woman-Owned or -Run Company of the Year and Innovator of the Year. All female entrepreneurs, executives, employees and the organizations they run, worldwide, are eligible to be nominated.

Final entry deadline is August 22, but late entries will be accepted through September 28 with payment of a late fee. Finalists will be announced on October 4, and the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie winners will be revealed at a gala awards dinner at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York on November 16, 2018.

While most categories require the payment of an entry fee for the submission of a nomination, several categories require no fee, including most of those honoring women in the non-profit and governmental sectors, Female Employee of the Year and the Startup of the Year categories.

 

Quick Takes

 

9—Best Way to Take Advice

While this, from Steve Blank is directed at employees, there are many valuable lessons for small business owners and entrepreneurs as well. Steve is a brilliant thinker, and you’d do well to follow his advice.

 

10—Choosing the Right Influencers

We all know having influencers tout our businesses can only help us grow. But how do you pick the right influencers—the ones that best fit with your brand? Influence marketing expert Tom Augenthaler tells you how here.

 

11—Starting a Lawn Care Business

If you want to start a lawn care business, check out this guide from Gene Caballero on  GreenPal.

 

12—Writing Better Blog Posts

Content is more important than ever for small businesses, but many of you struggle with thinking of ideas and writing your blogs. Take a look at this post from Blogging.com, for how you can improve your blog posts, which will help improve your search engine rankings.

 

Cool Tools

 

13—PR Tool for Nonprofits

If you’re a nonprofit, chances are you need help with your public relations. Check out JOINT.PRESS, a PR tool for non-profits. JOINT.PRESS, is a crowdsourcing platform that helps you earn media attention, by allowing you to collaborate with those who share your passion for the cause. You can all work together to maintain the campaign timeline, find relevant journalists, send press releases and more.

JOINT.PRESS is offering the tool for free nonprofits, “in hopes that nonprofits get media attention in this busy world.”

 

14—Improve Your Customer Communications

R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (RRD), a leading global provider of marketing and business communications, recently released its SuperDoc web statement enhancement. This technology transforms static business statements into interactive dynamic customer communications. SuperDoc enhancement acts as a secure website add-on that embeds customer-facing PDF statements, bills, policies, letters, and other transactional communications with entirely new dimensions of interactivity and activated content.

This latest offering from RRD is designed to help organizations across a variety of industries increase their eAdoption rate. The SuperDoc enhancement provides consumers with a variety of widgets that grant a higher level of interactivity than paper statements, such as:

  • Compare balances month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, and year-to-year
  • Search transactions by date, vendor, amount paid, and more
  • Use payoff and financing calculators
  • Access local data like weather history, property values, and more
  • Model future bills
  • Learn about upgrade details and special offers

The solution can be authenticated and hosted on the client website while being further enhanced via an encrypted connection. The secure transfer of sensitive data and other information through this extra layer of security helps support the compliance and security requirements in place across numerous verticals.

 

15—Plugin to Boost Leads

Check out AeroLeads, a prospecting and lead generation software which can be used to find emails and phone numbers of any business user instantly. The Chrome plugin can help you build your lead list in minutes. And you can transfer it to Salesforce or other CRM or marketing software. Take advantage of the free trial.

 

16—New Security Service Launches

Qualys, Inc., a pioneer and leading provider of cloud-based security and compliance solutions, recently released its Qualys Community Edition, “a free cloud-based service giving small organizations unified visibility of their own or their clients’ IT and web assets, and the ability to easily assess security and compliance postures using the accuracy and reliability of the Qualys Cloud Platform.”

Qualys Community Edition allows users to leverage the power of the Qualys Cloud Platform which performs billions of scans annually with Six Sigma accuracy to automatically gather and analyze security and compliance data from hybrid IT environments. This accurate and immediate visibility helps organizations around the globe maintain a higher level of security and provide auditors with trusted compliance reports, while consolidating their stack and drastically reducing costs.

Additionally, Qualys Community Edition delivers both Qualys CloudView and CertView capabilities integrated with the service, providing the ability to identify all public cloud assets and resources, and to manage and grade all internet-facing digital certificates.

Qualys Community Edition will be available at the end of July. It includes unlimited scanning of up to 16 internal IP assets, three external IP assets and one web application URL. Users receive one virtual appliance for scanning non-public facing assets.

Business owner stock photo by mavo/Shutterstock