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One-Third of Small Business Owners Work Half of the Major Holidays

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 16:30

One-third of small business owners work at least three of the six major holidays in the US. This was the finding of a survey by the direct funding platform Kabbage.

Kabbage’s new survey reveals several work/life balance issues related to the sacrifices small business owners are willing to make. The research involved surveying 400 small business owners, with 67 percent stating they expect to increase revenues by the end of the year. More than half of the small business owners interviewed said they anticipate an increase in revenue of 10 percent or higher.

The survey found that 60 percent of small business owners only take one full vacation a year, while 23 percent take less than two holidays off annually. Furthermore, when on holiday, 75 percent of small business owners continue working.

Small Business Owners Are Not Taking Holidays

In a press release about the survey, Kabbage Chief Revenue Officer Victoria Treyger spoke of the diligence and hard work small business owners put into their businesses, so much so that they’re willing to relinquish holidays and work during major vacations.

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our economy, and they deserve an enormous amount of gratitude. These are the individuals who take service calls at midnight on Christmas Eve, work long hours and forgo what many Americans take for granted. They define hustle and motivation and go to great lengths to support themselves, their families and their communities,” Treyger commented.

As well as being willing to sacrifice vacations and spend time carrying out business during major holiday seasons, the survey found that almost half of small business owners use personal savings to pay for different elements of their business. The tendency to rely on personal funds for business budgets and requirements is particularly prevalent among younger business owners, with 75 percent of 25-34-year-olds admitting to using their own savings.

The findings of the study confirm that when it comes to running their own businesses, small business owners are driven by diligence, hard work and commitment.

Work Lunch Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "One-Third of Small Business Owners Work Half of the Major Holidays" was first published on Small Business Trends

More People Open Marketing Emails on Thanksgiving than Black Friday, Study Finds

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 14:30

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday among the biggest sales days for businesses, research from small business email marketing solution Constant Contact shows consumers are opening less and less email marketing messages on Black Friday. However, these same consumers aren’t shy about checking those emails on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23, 2017 in the US).

Email Marketing on Thanksgiving Day is More Effective

According to Constant Contact’s study, which analyzed tens of billions of emails around the start of the holiday shopping season over a period of three years, email open rates have increased on Thanksgiving Day even though far fewer emails are sent on Thanksgiving itself. Companies often don’t want to bother customers on the holiday. But you shouldn’t be afraid of sending Black Friday notices on Thanksgiving Day. Emails sent on Thanksgiving have a higher open rate than Black Friday, the researchers found.

Nearly 45 percent of emails sent on Thanksgiving 2016 were opened on a mobile device, and more emails were opened on a mobile device on Small Business Saturday than on Thanksgiving. More people are also opening marketing emails on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving than on Cyber Monday.

Small businesses and digital marketers who are sending out marketing emails should take note and ensure their email marketing is mobile-optimized this holiday season.

Holiday Mobile Email Open Rate

In the last two years, Constant Contact found that mobile open rates have decreased on Black Friday — the worst day to send email, per the study. This means your small business may also need to deploy email marketing on the days before or days after Black Friday to avoid getting lost in the clutter of the holiday.

Check out this neat infographic below by Constant Contact drawn from their study. It tells you how to stand out in an overstuffed inbox this holiday shopping season:

Sending Emails Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "More People Open Marketing Emails on Thanksgiving than Black Friday, Study Finds" was first published on Small Business Trends

Former Corrections Officer Helps Others Launch Creative Small Businesses

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 13:04

Some entrepreneurs find their niche by helping others release the creativity they have inside. Anne-Marie Faiola understands the importance of creativity more than most. A former corrections officer, Faiola turned to her hobby of soap making to deal with the stress of her day job. And now she helps other people leverage their own creativity in a similar way through her company Bramble Berry Handcraft Provisions.

Faiola recently spoke with Small Business Trends’ Ramon Ray in the latest installment of our exclusive Smart Hustle Report series. In the interview, she spoke about her favorite creative outlet and how she helps others through her work with Bramble Berry.

“Our big goal is to be a partner with you on your creative journey,” Faiola says. “I really think that creativity is essential and I think that everybody has a little do it yourself kitchen chemist inside of them whether they know it or not, because there’s something so deeply rewarding about making useful things.”

Creative Business Success Story

Currently, Bramble Berry has about 80,000 annual customers and 95 employees. But when Faiola was starting out, making soap was just a hobby that she did on the nights and weekends to relieve some of the stress of her job as a corrections officer.

She explained, “Everybody’s story was so deeply sad and pained me so much that I was going home every night and finding this solace in this creative outlet of making, again, deeply useful things.”

During the interview, Faiola shared some tips and insights about her own journey that could help other entrepreneurs leverage their creativity and build successful businesses. LISTEN TO THE FULL SHOW HERE

Here are a few of Faiola’s insights:

Look for the Lightbulb Moment

Because Faiola enjoyed making soap so much, she soon realized she had more than she could ever use on her own. So she went to a craft show and ended up selling $1,500 worth of soaps and toiletries.

She said, “That’s when the kind of light went off in my head and I thought to myself, ‘Hey, wait. I could do this for a living and more importantly, I could teach other people to do this for a living.’”

Don’t Romanticize Business Ownership

While Faiola is thankful for her journey, she does caution other entrepreneurs against discounting all the hard work and struggle that happens behind the scenes of every successful business.

Faiola said, “One really big piece of advice I always have for entrepreneurs is that quitting your day job is not always the answer. It’s so romantic to be like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m going to quit my job, and I’m going to be an entrepreneur and it’s going to be wonderful and the birds are gonna sing and no more yucky bosses for me.’ The reality … is that being an entrepreneur is harder than it sounds and that customers don’t always come right away.”

Build a Business on the Nights and Weekends

Though Faiola did quit her own job to build her creative business, she says that holding onto a day job while building a business is actually a very viable option for most entrepreneurs.

She said, “Doing your job, your hustle, your passion project in the nights, in the evenings and the weekends is a great way to build up your company while you still have the security of a job job during the day. The average American watches four or five hours of TV a day. That is enough time to start a part-time business.”

This article, "Former Corrections Officer Helps Others Launch Creative Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends

Intuit Introduces Innovations at QuickBooks Connect

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 11:38

I just returned from the fourth annual QuickBooks Connect (QB Connect), an annual conference hosted by Intuit’s QuickBooks in California’s Silicon Valley. The event was the perfect combination of information and inspiration for small business owners and the accountants who help them.

The conference was kicked off by Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) CEO Brad Smith, who reminded the audience that 60 percent of all new jobs worldwide are created by small businesses. “Globalization,” he said, “has both shrunk and expanded the world, opening new opportunities and creating new competition” for small business owners.

Quoting New York Times columnist and bestselling author Thomas Friedman, Smith reminded the crowd that we’re living in an era of “exponential change” which can be, at once, exhilarating and disorienting. Change is, Smith says, “a two-sided coin, with challenge on one side and opportunity on the other. Our job as entrepreneurs is to flip the coin from challenge to opportunity.”

Smith acknowledges that is not an easy task, but we don’t have a choice. “We can either wing into the future,” he said, “or get lost in the past.” So, how do we do that? Smith recommends we find our moral centers and give ourselves permission to change. Want to find your center? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are your values? What do you and your company stand for? How do you treat others?
  2. What is your mission? What impact do you want to leave on society?
  3. How do you define success?

Smith says while this exercise might seem “too California-y” for some, at Intuit they regularly look at their core values — the three B’s: be bold; be passionate; be decisive and the three We’s: we learn fast; we win together; and we deliver awesome.

At the heart of it all is giving back. Smith believes “when small business owners thrive, we all thrive.” And in that spirit, Intuit announced a slew of new products and product enhancements designed to help small business owners (and their accountants) succeed.

Innovations at QuickBooks Connect 2017

Here’s a quick look at some of these innovations.

Small Business Payments

The sad truth is 64 percent of small businesses have invoices that go unpaid for 60 days or more. Intuit believes one of the primary reason for this is most small businesses create and send invoices by “outdated, manual methods.” Now, that’s a thing of the past as Intuit introduces “effortless invoicing” where small businesses can electronically create invoices which are “payments-enabled,” which means their customers and clients can click a link to send payment. Intuit says this process allows you to create invoices in less than a minute and enables invoices to be paid two times faster.

The company has streamlined the set-up process, allowing small businesses to create a payments account in one minute with three clicks, instead of the typical 48-hours and 33 clicks it takes now.

There’s also a Gmail integration, so you can send an invoice, view its status and get paid online — straight from Gmail. This feature is available to any business that uses Gmail. You don’t have to be a QuickBooks customer.

If you’re a GoPayment user, you can now use a Bluetooth-enabled mobile card reader that accepts both magnetic strip and chip credit cards, and works with iOS and Android devices.

QuickBooks Assistant

This is a virtual assistant or chatbot, similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, that “combines data-driven insights and natural language processing” so you can ask — via smartphone — questions ranging from how much money you made last week, last month or last year to your profitability, your tax obligations and more.

Using the QuickBooks Assistant saves business owners time, giving them instant access to their financial data and allowing them to retrieve this information from anywhere at any time.

Currently the Assistant is available for iOS and Android devices and will be released for QuickBooks online next year.

QuickBooks Capital

As previously discussed on Small Business Trends, Intuit launched QuickBooks Capital, a loan program designed to offer loans to small businesses that might not otherwise qualify. Rania Succar, head of QuickBooks Capital, told me that Intuit is looking at other potential applications for the QuickBooks Capital credit model, which could more broadly transform the small business lending experience.

Alex Chriss, QuickBooks’ Chief Product Officer, also pointed out the power of “Smart Connections,” which helps connect the more than seven million QuickBooks users, 500,000 accountants and 5,000 app developers. The “Find-A-ProAdvisor” program already connects nearly 1,000 business owners with accountants every day. Chriss says QuickBooks customers should look for a new program that will connect freelancers and independent contractors with small businesses in need of help.

All these innovations are designed to help you thrive. Running a business can be overwhelming and too often small business owners feel isolated. But Smith says Intuit wants to make sure “no one is alone  — that you have the power of many at your back. Like they say in Game of Thrones, ‘winter is coming.’ But when the snows fall and the winds blow, the lone wolf dies — but the pack survives.”

Images: Intuit

This article, "Intuit Introduces Innovations at QuickBooks Connect" was first published on Small Business Trends

Brother Business Survey Highlights Challenges of Small Business Management

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 10:30

When starting your small business, you hoped you’d be able to create a new culture leaving behind some of the problems of the big corporate world.

Well, the results (PDF) of the 2017 Brother (TYO:6448) Business Survey show that small business and big business alike share some of the same problems just on a different scale.

Small Business Owner Challenges

Take, for instance, this one highly relatable stat: 90 percent of small business owners believe their employees are lifting office supplies and taking them home.

The most commonly stolen item? A pen (or pencil). According to the 500 small business owners and decision makers surveyed by Brother, 62 percent say they believe employees are taking pens and other writing implements home with them. Other commonly stolen office supplies include sticky notes (according to 46 percent of respondents), printer paper (according  to 42 percent), and paper clips (according to 41 percent).

It makes you wonder … what are they doing with these things at home?

Outside of office supplies, probably the most valuable thing to your small business that’s being taken by employees is your time. And that’s a hard thing to replace.

Whether it’s showing up late or leaving early (or both), 69 percent of those surveyed by Brother believe this is the top office crime. Tied for second place in the Brother survey were two other “crimes”: talking loudly on the phone and not refilling the paper in the printer when it’s empty.  Fifty-seven percent of small business owners surveyed indicated one or of these were a problem.

Speaking of printers and other office equipment, if a Millennial tells you they know what they’re doing, you’re right to be skeptical. In the Brother survey, 63 percent of millennials say they fake knowing what they’re doing around office equipment until they actually learn how to use it. This could possibly explain the rash of broken or malfunctioning office equipment, too.

Paying the Cost to be the Boss

Being the boss of the company is probably one of the driving factors that led you to start your own business. Well, heavy is the head that wears the crown. You’d better start exercising that neck to make sure it can sustain the pressure.

In a small business office, 85 percent of owners believe they’re the most productive of all the workers.

So what can small business owners do to alleviate some if these problems?

According to the survey, 97 percent of small business owners believe better management is the answer. Improving process remains one of the top ways to improve management, the survey suggests. The survey identifies staying organized and creating better budgets as two other ways management can be improved.

But probably the biggest problem faced by small business owners, the survey suggests, is not being able to step out of the day to day. In fact, 58 percent of those surveyed say they can’t be away from their business for more than two days before they need to be called to solve a problem.Colored Pens Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Brother Business Survey Highlights Challenges of Small Business Management" was first published on Small Business Trends

Spotlight: Circle of One Marketing Focuses on Events

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 09:30

Events can be a great way to market a business. But it takes a special type of entrepreneur to really make the most of event marketing Suzan McDowell discovered her love of marketing and event planning by accident while working for a radio station. Read about her journey and how it led to her company, Circle of One Marketing, in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides integrated marketing, public relations and event services.

McDowell told Small Business Trends, “Circle of One is known especially for engaging events and brand activations on behalf of our clients. Bringing their brand, services and products to the public in an effective experiential manner affords greater engagement opportunities for our clients.”

Business Niche

Creativity and multicultural messaging.

McDowell explains, “Our creativity and execution makes these events and activations memorable which affords our clients the benefit of having their brand, services and products become memorable. Our expertise in event management is also enhanced by our fluency in multicultural messaging and engagement.”

How the Business Got Started

Because of a successful event.

McDowell was previously a successful account executive selling radio advertising for a top tier station. While at that job, one of her clients asked her to help execute a promotional event for her business. That event helped McDowell realize she had the skills and ability to do that type of work full time.

McDowell says, “That was over 15 years ago, and Circle of One Marketing has used this foundation to assist numerous companies of varying sizes and types grow their businesses.”

Biggest Win

Delivering great results to a big client.

McDowell says, “The biggest win for Circle of One Marketing was getting the contract to market the Jazz in the Gardens festival in Miami Gardens. As the Circle enters its 13th year of marketing the festival, it is amazing to reminisce about the first year that we were involved. It was a desperate situation for the young event, and ticket sales were not moving. Circle of One Marketing took on the challenge and helped to drive 1800 attendees to that year’s festival. Fast forward over a decade later, Jazz in the Gardens has garnered as many as 70,000 attendees. The work with Jazz in the Garden solidified the Circle as the “go to” agency for event management and marketing. With the continued growth of Jazz in the Gardens, Circle of One has been able to offer quantifiable evidence of undeniable expertise in developing and executing marketing and Public Relations strategies that deliver results.”

Biggest Risk

Taking on a big project at the last minute.

McDowell explains, “The biggest risk that was taken by Circle of One took place in 2016 with the acceptance of the Many Rivers to Cross concert in Georgia. Sponsored by legend Harry Belafonte’s social justice organization, Sankofa, Circle of One was contacted 30 days before this mega concert after the coordinators realized that they were tremendously underselling tickets. The event was on the brink of disaster, so Circle of One went to immediate Code Red, all hands on deck mode. With a significant social media and PR blitz, we were able to scale engagement in short order. With some strategic alliances and creative connections; the concert gained significant momentum in the final weeks and it turned out to be an amazing and well-covered event.”

Lesson Learned

Be more financially disciplined.

McDowell explains, “Though fiscal responsibility has improved throughout the Circle’s evolution and maturity, realizing this discipline earlier in the process would have positioned the company on a more solid foundation sooner. Time management has also been a work in progress. Servicing clients effectively requires a mastery of time management, and in retrospect, that would have been an operational priority in the earlier stages of Circle of One’s development.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring key team members.

McDowell says, “The extra 100K would be used to hire both a full time Business Development Director and affiliated sales assistant. Ideally, there would be a percentage left to put into financial reserves to be used on a discretionary basis. The primary deployment in Business Development represents an investment on the Circle of One attention to growth. Investing in a full time committed effort to develop more business opportunities and increased revenues would position the Circle to purchase a building that would serve as our official headquarters and diversify our assets to include a substantial real estate holding.”

Favorite Team Treat

Tacos.

McDowell says, “In addition to the endless cups of coffee which are typically the mainstay of any creative organization; The Circle is obsessed with tacos. We don’t really know how it evolved, but in our most stressful times, tacos are often brought in to calm the masses and get us back on track.”

Favorite Quote

The one who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the ONE doing it – Confucius

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Circle of One Marketing — Top Image: (left to right) Kimberley McDowell – Executive Marketing Assistant, Suzan McDowell – CEO/President, Flora Sweet – Director of Special Events, Gabby A. Reid – Assistant General Manager/ Overtown Performing Arts Center (OPAC); Second Image: (top row, left to right) Tariq McLean – Executive Assistant, Andrea Cookhorn – Managing Director, Circle Rising, Sidney Hannibal – Intern, Richard McCulloch – VP, Brand Development, Carlos Shiera – Intern, (Kneeling) Kimberley McDowell – Executive Marketing Assistant; Third Image: Calvin Hughes – Anchor, WPLG/Channel 10, Suzan McDowell – CEO/President, Robert Townsend, celebrity comedian

This article, "Spotlight: Circle of One Marketing Focuses on Events" was first published on Small Business Trends

Only 4% of U.S. Small Businesses Are Exporting, Missing Out on a $424 Billion Opportunity

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 08:30

Foreign markets such as China and Malaysia hold immense potential for small businesses in the U.S. Yet only a small percentage of businesses are exploring this opportunity.

According to data compiled by London-based financial services company WorldFirst, the total value of worldwide B2C cross-border ecommerce is expected to reach $424 billion by 2021. Only 3.9 percent of U.S. small businesses, however, are exporting goods today.

In comparison, eight percent of European small businesses are trading abroad.

Small Business Export Opportunities Why Small Businesses Must Look Beyond North America

With more than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power, foreign markets offer lucrative opportunities for businesses to thrive.

But it’s not just profitability making foreign markets desirable. Sixty-nine percent of U.S. small businesses say it’s “easy to moderate” to begin selling internationally.

What’s more, U.S. companies selling internationally are 8.5 percent less likely to go out of business.

Businesses Need to Focus on Ecommerce

Ecommerce plays a crucial role in reaching foreign markets data from WorldFirst shows.

Sixty-six percent of consumers worldwide make ecommerce purchases from sites outside their home countries. But the majority of small businesses remain ill-equipped to reach these customers as 74 percent of small business websites have no ecommerce.

Of even greater concern, WorldFirst finds 28 percent of U.S. small businesses lack even a website. Clearly, these small businesses lose out on some very attractive growth opportunities simply by failing to develop a web presence of any kind.

With a solid export strategy, small businesses in the B2C domain can achieve success.

To understand how cross-border ecommerce can benefit your business, check out the infographic below:

Logistics Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Only 4% of U.S. Small Businesses Are Exporting, Missing Out on a $424 Billion Opportunity" was first published on Small Business Trends

12 Examples of Invoicing Mistakes – and How Cloud Services Help Avoid Them (INFOGRAPHIC)

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-11-22 07:30

You send an invoice to a good customer and it has taken longer than usual to get paid. You go back to review the invoice and you realize you have made a couple of mistakes.

Being able to catch these mistakes while you are in the process of filling out the invoice can save you a lot of headaches. According to a new infographic from cloud-based accounting service provider FreshBooks, having the right solution in place will help you identify the mistakes before you click send.

For small businesses unable to afford the delay in getting an invoice paid, this can be invaluable. Cloud accounting applications provide real-time services for all of your employees no matter where they are. This allows them to issue invoices out in the field to your customers without making simple and trivial mistakes.

Avoid these Accounting Mistakes With a Cloud Solution

Here are some of the mistakes your business can avoid with a cloud solution:

Failing to Specify Due Dates for Payments

This is a surefire way to ensure you will not get paid on time. While your regular customers may recognize the mistake and pay on time, others won’t.

By customizing the due dates, you can make sure to get paid on time.

Not Updating the Dateline

Once again, the problem with dates shows up. Sending an invoice with the wrong date is as bad as or worse than sending one without any dates.

The app can make sure you have the right date by issuing updates automatically.

Not Updating the Invoice Number

Invoice numbers serve a purpose, especially come tax time. If you can’t remember what the last invoice number was, make sure to get an application capable of generating sequential invoice numbers. 

Miscalculating Taxes

Miscalculating taxes not only creates problems for you but also your customers. If it continues with many invoices, the wrong amount can result in penalties for both of you.

An application that can calculate tax percentage and fill out the results will solve this problem.

Not Following Up

If for whatever reason you don’t receive a payment, you should follow up until you do. By creating customized reminders, you can send them on set dates automatically from your application.

You can see the other mistakes a cloud accounting software can help you avoid in the infographic below.

Accounting Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "12 Examples of Invoicing Mistakes – and How Cloud Services Help Avoid Them (INFOGRAPHIC)" was first published on Small Business Trends

Why Your Business Credit Score Matters When Applying for a Small Business Loan

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-11-21 16:30

More than half of small businesses have not built a credit score. And that can be a major problem when those businesses seek out financing to grow their business.

Small Business Trends recently sat down with Rania Succar, head of QuickBooks Capital, to discuss the importance of business credit scores and planning ahead for financing your small business’s growth.

One of the biggest issues that Succar believes is overlooked by small business owners is the need to grow their credit scores in order to get the capital they need.

Why Your Business Credit Score Matters

Succar explained, “One of the things you need to think about is having a business credit score. A lot of small businesses don’t think about that. They think about their personal credit score. More than half of small businesses have not built a business credit score. And when you go to borrow, that can really hurt you in terms of what you can get.”

And a business credit score doesn’t just impact the amount or the rate of your loan. It can also help you avoid tricky situations where you might end up with a last minute financing solution that has less than ideal terms for your business.

Succar said, “We know that 70 percent of small businesses need capital to grow. But you need to plan for it. It’s not just the type of thing that you want to get into a situation where you need it overnight and you get yourself into terms that are not good for your business.”

Overall, Succar says that small businesses can avoid these difficult situations by planning ahead and thinking about capital opportunities early on, even if you don’t need the money right away. If you grow your credit score, evaluate opportunities and keep an eye on rates and trends, you can have a much better chance of getting the capital you need to grow without putting your business at risk.

This article, "Why Your Business Credit Score Matters When Applying for a Small Business Loan" was first published on Small Business Trends

Last Minute Business Flights Could Cost You on Average 44% More

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-11-21 14:33

Travel is usually more hectic as you approach Christmas. According to a report by Concur Technologies (Nasdaq: CNQR), a SaaS company providing travel and expense management services to businesses, waiting until the last-minute to book your business flight could be a very costly move.

Last-Minute Travel Costs for Small Businesses

Concur conducted a study that looked into last-minute business travel costs and patterns, comparing trends across the globe, fare classes, industries and age groups. The study found eleventh-hour bookings (i.e. those tickets booked less than seven days prior to departure) average 44 percent higher in cost than the same ticket booked 15 days in advance.

So, for example, a round-trip ticket costing $489 booked at least two weeks out could cost you $704 if booked in seven days or fewer, says the SaaS company.

Concur also found cost premiums on last-minute domestic travel booked less than eight days in advance are highest in the U.S. Travelers who booked at least eight days in advance paid 39 percent more than the same ticket booked 15 days in advance, the highest compared to Canada, U.K., France and Germany.

This data can help your small businesses make better decisions around holiday travel bookings and flights.

End-of-year Travel Bookings and Management

Most last-minute business travel occurs in June and November. Concur says this happens because many companies’ fiscal year ends in June or December, which often necessitates a last-minute dash to close deals and get business in order before year’s end.

The best month for last-minute travel in the U.S., however, is June. Historically, this is the time when premiums average about 8 percentage points lower in comparison to the overall flight costs. January and August are the months with the highest premiums on last-minute travel.

Setting business travel policies that encourage employees to travel more on the least costly months, and book flights at least eight days prior to departure can lead to great savings. Concur says businesses can save on average $148 per ticket by adding such a guideline.

Departure Sign Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Last Minute Business Flights Could Cost You on Average 44% More" was first published on Small Business Trends

Join the #MetLifeSmallBiz Twitter Chat – Build Culture, Win Talent:  Driving Small Business Success

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 16:30
Sponsored Post

Do your employees like working at your company? The answer to this question is probably related to the kind of company culture you’ve created.

If company culture seems like too much of a “touchy feely” concept for you to worry about, it shouldn’t!

After all, the kind of company culture you create is directly related to the quality of talent you can attract — and how long you are able to keep them!

You already know people are the key to success in your business.

So it should be easy to see how company culture capable of attracting great talent and keeping them interested in working for you all relates directly to your bottom line.

Join Anita Campbell, CEO and founder of Small Business Trends, Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of SmallBizDaily and the small business experts behind Susan Solovic for the Twitter chat “Build Culture, Win Talent: Driving Small Business Success” sponsored by MetLife.

The event will take place Nov. 29, 2017, 3 to 4 p.m. ET and you can participate on Twitter at #MetLifeSmallBiz. Additional hashtags to be used during the chat include #SBIndex and #smallbiz.

MetLife will also be on hand to facilitate the discussion.

Among questions to be asked of participants — particularly small business owners — will be “what makes your culture great?”

That’s assuming you feel you have a great business culture. If you don’t, you may want to hear from other entrepreneurs what goes into creating a great small business culture.

You’ll also hear how small businesses can attract and retain qualified employees in a tough labor market.

Finally, you’ll hear what benefits are particularly attractive to talented prospective employees.

Share your insights with other small business owners and hear what they have to say. You may discover ways to improve your company’s business culture and drive small business success as well. Be sure to join us.

More Details:

What: “Build Culture, Win Talent: Driving Small Business Success” Twitter Chat

Who:

Where: Twitter

Hashtag: #MetLifeSmallBiz

When:  November 29, 2017 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET

This article, "Join the #MetLifeSmallBiz Twitter Chat – Build Culture, Win Talent:  Driving Small Business Success" was first published on Small Business Trends

Wendy’s and Other Top Brands on Fast Food Survey Offer Franchise Opportunities

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 14:30

Americans have ranked the country’s favorite fast food restaurants, and Wendy’s restaurant takes the top spot.

The burger joint just recently began offering franchise opportunities to investors as it looked to expand. And it wasn’t the only franchise restaurant that topped the chart. Subway and KFC come in second and third respectively, according to the latest survey of top fast food brands in the country by digital polling company Ranker.com.

Those companies, too, are available to investors looking to enter into restaurant franchises.

Ranker’s Favorite Fast Food Restaurant Survey

Ranker’s community voted online for the best fast food burger places in America but what’s really important to entrepreneurs looking for a potential a good opportunity is how any of these brands offer franchise opportunities. Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A closed Ranker’s top five favorite fast food restaurants in fourth and fifth position respectively.

If you are craving to invest in a popular franchise business, some of the highest rated restaurants on Ranker’s list offer more than just delicious burgers and crazy toppings. The fast food restaurants are companies that use franchise owners rather than own each and every location.

Among the favorite fast food restaurants on Ranker’s list with franchise locations available to investors and entrepreneurs are Wendy’s, Five Guys and Burger King.

Top 10 Best Fast Food Restaurants

The top 10 most loved restaurants in the U.S. from Ranker’s survey are:

  1. Wendy’s
  2. Subway
  3. KFC
  4. Taco Bell
  5. Chick-fil-A
  6. Dairy Queen
  7. Five Guys
  8. Arby’s
  9. Burger King
  10. In-N-Out Burger

A well-known fast food restaurant outside the top 10 is McDonald’s (ranked 29) that continues to churn out new burger offerings, along with classics like the Big Mac. McDonald’s also offers franchise opportunities, with its 68 million daily customers in 119 countries across more than 35,000 outlets.

Evidently, opportunities to invest in a restaurant franchise are almost as plentiful as cheeseburger choices.

Positions on Ranker’s list of favorite fast food restaurants were influenced by both votes and re-ranks. Fast food lovers could re-rank the whole list of 50 leading restaurants, and this had more influence on the final item’s position than a binary up/down vote, the online polling company said.

Wendy’s Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Wendy’s and Other Top Brands on Fast Food Survey Offer Franchise Opportunities" was first published on Small Business Trends

PayPal and Synchrony Financial Offer More Small Business Options with Expanded Partnership

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 13:00

When it comes to growing your small business, getting the right credit offering can make all the difference. PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) and small business online lending company Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) have announced they are expanding their partnership to offer you just that — more options to get credit.

PayPal and Synchrony Are Expanding Their Partnership

As part of the expanded partnership, Synchrony Financial will acquire PayPal’s U.S. consumer credit receivables portfolio that’s valued at $5.8 billion. “This will free up cash currently used to fund consumer credit receivables for other uses,” PayPal Chief Executive Dan Schulman said in a statement.

In freeing up more cash for other uses, the sale of PayPal’s U.S. credit assets will reportedly help to improve its digital consumer credit services, and facilitate building of an “innovative, more personalized payment experiences for consumers and merchants on our unrivaled two-sided network.”

Small business merchants who offer PayPal Credit and consumers who enjoy the convenience and flexibility of shopping with PayPal Credit will continue to receive the benefits and seamless buying experiences they have come to expect from PayPal, the company said.

Other online business financing solutions like PayPal Working Capital will also continue to operate as they do today, PayPal noted. The online payments processor will also continue to integrate Swift Financial into its platform to offer more loans to people who use PayPal as a bank (like freelancers).

PayPal Online Consumer Financing Program

PayPal and Synchrony Financial have partnered to offer PayPal-branded consumer credit cards since 2004. When this new deal closes in the third quarter of 2018 subject to regulatory approval, Synchrony Bank, a unit of Synchrony Financial, will become the exclusive issuer of the U.S PayPal Credit online financing program.

“Credit helps people and businesses grow and achieve their aspirations,” Gary Marino, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at PayPal, said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Since 2008, we’ve been proud to offer our U.S. customers online consumer financing that gives shoppers greater financial flexibility and helps merchants sell more, driving greater engagement on our platform.”

Image: PayPal

This article, "PayPal and Synchrony Financial Offer More Small Business Options with Expanded Partnership" was first published on Small Business Trends

$10M Worth of Apps: Zoho Creator’s #GivingTuesday Gift to Non-profits

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 11:30
Sponsored Post

Be it a calamity that catches the world unawares, or a chronic issue that’s been going on for decades, there’s no dearth in the help pouring in from all quarters.

#GivingTuesday celebrates this philanthropic spirit by inviting individuals and organizations to take part in the joy of giving. Since its inception in 2012, #GivingTuesday has gone from strength to strength and is now a massive charity movement in its own right.

On this day, the desire to give back to the society peaks, and non-profits, being the vanguard of every army that wishes to change the world, breath life into that desire.

Taking Strides with Technology

In today’s world, every industry counts on technology to work towards the desired end, which in most cases is an increased revenue. But being a non-profit, your primary focus is on people rather than processes. Besides streamlining processes, you need technology to bring like-minded people to fight alongside for your cause.

Zoho Creator is one such software that’s been empowering non-profits with technology to manage their data, automate processes, and connect people. Some of the apps offered are unique to non-profits, such as Donor Management, Volunteer Portal, and Event management, to name a few.

This #GivingTuesday, as a token of appreciation for all the great work that you’ve been doing and will be doing, Zoho Creator is offering $10 million worth of subscriptions free for all non-profits for a year, complete with access to all its apps that are sure to get all your technological needs covered.

Here’s all You Need to do to Avail Yourself of this Offer — Sign Up

Just make sure you’re a registered non-profit in your country.

Zoho Creator is Just what Your Non-profit Needs. Here’s Why.

Across the world, several non-profits have recruited Zoho Creator as the tech partner to fight for their cause, some of the notable ones being Red Cross and the Salvation Army, as well as a few with limited access to technology but raring to pitch in and do their part.

Zoho Creator’s non-profit oriented apps assist in fundraising, bringing in volunteers, organizing campaigns, with a profile for every person and a module for every process involved. With this, non-profits can take their reach far and wide while ensuring that their core system stays chaos-free. All of Zoho Creator’s ready-to-use apps  support ample customization and integration with existing systems without having to go deep into the technicalities.

And that’s not all. The apps are supported across all mobile and web platforms, rendering them perfect for work in the field. Added to this are in-app communication features like email and sms triggers, so you can stay connected to your volunteers and donors at all times.

You can claim your offer here, or pass it on to friends. To make your product experience a smooth sail, you can check out the comprehensive tool kit created to guide you through the product.

HAPPY GIVING!

This article, "$10M Worth of Apps: Zoho Creator’s #GivingTuesday Gift to Non-profits" was first published on Small Business Trends

Retailers Continue to See Slow Growth in October

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 10:30

The holiday shopping season couldn’t come soon enough for brick-and-mortar retailers in the US. There may be an economic upturn coming, but small retail businesses in the U.S . have yet to sit

RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse October 2017

According to the October RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse, sales at these retailers were down once again by 10.9 percent. The slowdown was the largest in the last six months for retailers. The drop in sales even outmatched poor numbers in August for brick-and-mortars, when they saw a 9.5 percent drop in sales.

And compared to the same month in 2016, October sales were down 7.5 percent.

It’s not just sales that are tumbling for retailers. Foot traffic continues to decline too. According to the Pulse, foot traffic at retail stores dropped 7.5 percent in October too. Both declines  may suggest ecommerce is beginning to eat away at brick-and-mortar sales more consistently.

Conversion Has Risen

Looking for a bright spot or silver lining from this report? The people who do go to retail shops are more likely to purchase something.

Conversion has risen for the fourth month in a row and Shopper Yield spiked with it. Still these numbers weren’t enough to offset the drops in average transaction value. The number of overall transactions dropped from -6.0 percent in September to -7.5 percent in August.

Sales and Traffic

October had it’s best numbers early in the month. Both Shopper Yield and Conversion peaked on October 5. Sales and traffic peaked on the following Saturday, October 7. The average transaction value (ATV) had it’s best day right at the beginning of the month and the numbers dropped after that.

The regional data highlighted some disparities. The Midwest led the entire country in sales with the South coming in a close second. Bad numbers in the East and the West skewed the numbers downward and were responsible for the dismal overall showing.

RetailNext, supplies comprehensive in-store analytics for business clients. Their RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse report is an aggregate of millions of retail data points.

Images: RetailNext

This article, "Retailers Continue to See Slow Growth in October" was first published on Small Business Trends

Blockchain Investment Services: What Small Business Owners Should Know

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 09:30

All economies are built on the basic premise of bartering. Before the creation of currencies, humans exchanged goods by trading one good (or a basket of goods) for another. If someone wanted some of his neighbor’s catch from the day, perhaps he would trade three shucks of corn from his field for one fish–thus initiating a trade.

As society advanced, humans began to use precious metals to assign value to objects. No longer did people trade three shucks of corn for a fish–no, now they had to give the fisherman a small silver coin. Pretty soon, precious metals were the foundations of advancing economies.

Fast forward to today, and the world’s economies look much different. The gold standard is no longer in place, and fiat currencies rule the world. There are complex investment products beyond traditional stocks, bonds, and cash. Now investors can buy swaps, options, and futures to hedge positions or bet on future market conditions. The highly complex investment world is changing everyday, but it also started with a simple barter.

Now, after experiencing almost a decade of success, blockchain and cryptocurrencies are looking to branch out into investment services. The buy and hold strategy has left some people very well off– a simple glance at Bitcoin’s chart reveals how much it’s appreciated this year alone. But as cryptocurrencies grow, many are wondering what’s next for the up and coming investment vehicle.

How is Blockchain Technology Currently Deployed in the Mainstream World?

Several years ago, companies began creating blockchain wallets–think of a digital “bank account” where crypto assets are stored–that automatically converted cryptocurrencies into fiat currencies. This cut out the manual labor side of crypto coin transactions. Users no longer had to convert the currencies using their own calculations.

Then, in early 2015, cryptocurrency debit cards were launched that brought Bitcoin into everyday life. These debit cards allow digital coins to be used like a regular currency. They link the card issuer, the wallet, and the coin exchange together, giving users the ability to “swipe” (scan) their cards  on regular purchases just like a traditional bank debit card. These cryptocurrencies cards give the masses access to the complex blockchain world, as all the computing is done behind the scenes.

Additionally, many blockchain platforms offer B2B and B2C payment services. As cryptocurrencies have dramatically risen in popularity, companies have seen the increasing need to accommodate blockchain transactions. These companies can now participate in blockchain merchant processing services that help businesses conduct operations using cryptocurrency transactions.

The Next Logical Steps

The next logical step is for blockchain based companies to offer investment services through different product offerings. They’ve already tackled some general financial necessities–wallets, debit cards, and merchant transactions. Next, they are hoping to revolutionize more advanced investment industries.

With rising prices comes rising valuations. This is as true of global stock markets as it is of digital coins. The rapid run up in prices this year has understandably left some investors anxious about the next cryptocurrency sell off.

Aware of this, blockchain-based companies like CryptoPay are looking to create blockchain based brokerage service accounts. On the CryptoPay platform, for example, these accounts will work side by side with traditional asset classes — stocks, bonds, and derivatives –to allows users to have cryptocurrency assets alongside other holdings. The result is that investors can move in and out of asset classes as they choose — allowing them to protect against both fiat and cryptocurrency downturns.

Another issue confronting cryptocurrency users is receiving and sending payments from a crypto-coin related source. These payments are well and good when done between other blockchain based platforms. But once a traditional financial services entity is involved, there will likely ensue a compliance nightmare.

In response to this, CryptoPay and others are creating platforms that allow cryptocurrency accounts to be listed with an IBAN (international bank account number) attached. The account will be in the name of the customer, rather than the blockchain company. This will eliminate confusion and allow digital coin users to conduct regular banking operations without an added compliance headache.

Finally, blockchain based companies are developing peer-to-peer marketplaces, specifically to launch ICOs — initial coin offerings. Lack of investor protection has resulted in some ugly cases of fraud, leaving government agencies across the world skeptical of blockchain technology.

In response to this skepticism and out of a heart to protect investors, some companies are launching ICO platforms that offer themselves as a regulatory body. They will act as a go between for issuers and investors, all the while ensuring that both parties’ demands are met. They will also offer underwriting services while working with reputable regulators to ensure that fraud doesn’t take place.

Fiat currency based economies started small and developed over the years, and the same is true with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. As society begins to see increasing demand for cryptocurrency banking and investment needs, many companies are striving to revolutionize the investment world. Some, like CryptoPay, have upcoming ICOs and are hoping to make a splash by entering this promising field.

Bitcoin Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Blockchain Investment Services: What Small Business Owners Should Know" was first published on Small Business Trends

Shopify Integrates UPS Services into Its Ecommerce Platform

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 08:30

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has partnered with UPS (NYSE:UPS) to offer fast and affordable shipping for merchants. With UPS and Shopify Shipping, merchants that use Shopify can take advantage of guaranteed delivery dates. Businesses can also enjoy competitive rates of up to 52 percent off list rates.

Small businesses struggling with shipping costs will benefit from discounted shipping rates, which are usually exclusive to bigger retailers with greater shipping volume. This will mean smaller retailers are able to compete with larger merchants, such as Amazon, in time for the holiday season.

UPS for Shopify

In a blog about the Shopify and UPS partnership, Louis Kearns, Head of Shipping Services at Shopify, spoke of the benefits the integration of UPS for Shopify Shipping will offer small retailers.

“Your customers expect fast, affordable shipping with guaranteed delivery dates. Now with UPS as an option in Shopify Shipping, U.S.-based Shopify merchants can offer a best-in-class delivery experience, just like enterprise retailers,” said Kearns.

As well as offering Shopify sellers discounted rates on shipping, the UPS/Shopify partnership will see Shopify cover any peak surcharges on UPS Ground shipments during the holidays. This will also be a welcomed perk for small businesses that struggle to pay peak surcharges during busy holiday periods.

Speed of shipping is a challenge for many small businesses. These businesses tend to opt for slower deliveries in order to save money. Though slow deliveries don’t equate to happy, satisfied customers.

On the contrary, customers expect fast shipping and delivery and now even small retailers can guarantee speedy and efficient delivery. As with UPS, retailers can guarantee delivery for next day, two days, or even three-day domestic shipping, depending on the different UPS service options.

For U.S. merchants, the fast and discounted UPS Shipping is provided as part of all Shopify plans.

Image: Spotify

This article, "Shopify Integrates UPS Services into Its Ecommerce Platform" was first published on Small Business Trends

4 Tips to Develop Better Business Leadership

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-11-20 07:30

You’re the proud owner of your small business. So you wake up early, and you’re the first to get to work.

But as soon as you get through the doors, there was a fire in every part of your business…

Your marketing systems broke down, there were upset customers calling the whole night before, taxes were due today, the inventory was understocked … and on top of all that, your two best employees called up to tell that they won’t come to work.)

So, you had to take your hose and put out fires.

Time flew by. It’s now 11 pm. You go back home. And then tomorrow, you have to do the same. It seems like an uphill battle.

I know how it feels because I have been there. (Answering customer calls at 11 pm? Yup, done that.) And even today, there’s some days I still go through the ‘fire-fighting’ mode.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can stop being a firefighter, and start becoming a successful small business owner, the leader you always wanted to be … Right now. Yes, you can actually find time to think in your business, and make the best decisions to grow it. I guarantee you that’s possible. As long as you understand this one key difference …

Good leaders react. Great leaders take action.

Here’s the genius of understanding this difference:

Taking action is a choice. Reacting … is not.

How does that translate to what you do as a business leader? When you’re working in the business, you’re reacting to all the problems that people have thrown at you. When you’re working on the business, you are the one who decides where to spend your time and what your priorities are.

Small Business Owner Mindsets to Adopt

To stop being in reactive mode and start taking full control of your company, these are the four key mindsets you should adopt:

1. Stop Chasing Shiny Objects and Focus on What You’re Great At

With the internet, there’s now more opportunities than ever. That’s when you could make a dangerous mistake. You chase one hot fad after another instead of focusing on what you’re good at. I call this the shiny object syndrome. That just destroys any momentum you have built up for your business, since you will have to start from square one again. To stay focused in business, here’s a story I always remember. Ten to fifteen years ago, I met an entrepreneur and I told him “I like to put my eggs on a lot of baskets.” He called me out right away: “Tommy, slow the hell down. Put all your eggs in one basket and that basket will give you more eggs than you [have] ever seen.” So, you should ask yourself, what’s one thing you are the best at that no one can replace you doing? And do just that.

2. Dump Toxic Apples, Hire and Keep Only the Best People

You need people to fill up your positions. You hire like crazy. But then you realize that some of your hires are toxic apples! For me, I learnt it the hard way. It’s almost always better to hire slow and fire fast. No matter how great an employee is, if he or she is toxic to your culture, show them the door immediately so that you protect your business. And, only ever hire the best people you can find in your industry. It takes time to hire this way. But, once you hire the A+ players who also fit your culture, your business will grow more than it ever could with average employees around. That’s how we have grown to 9 states and counting.

3. Stop Working 24/7, Take a Break and Do the Right Work

The more things you can do (read: react to), the more money you get in the door right? Well, you can only work 24 hours a day max … if you really push yourself that way. But that only means one thing: burnout! I sure have tons of things I need to go through on my desk each day, and I work hard. But I make sure that I get at least a bit of time each day to relax and have some time to myself. Without that, I wouldn’t be able to function well as a leader. On top of that, I pick the most important things to work on (with my assistant Breanna’s help — she’s amazing), so I don’t just do ‘busy work.’

4. Dump Complacency and Think Long Term

Now, I’m going to contradict myself a bit. Yes, you should keep doing what you do well. But the thing with disruption is, it might kill off your whole market overnight. I’m not saying you should react by jumping ship. The key instead is to think long term. Take a step back. Look at where things are going for the business you are in. Then, start to ‘plant the seeds’, in other words, try out small experiments with different customer segments, markets and so on. That way, you get the right data to know if you should be investing more in somewhere else or not. When you focus on where the market is going to be tomorrow, you will secure a business for today.

Are you ready to be a successful small business owner?

Look, I’m not perfect either. As I mentioned, I go through days or weeks that I ‘play dodgeball’ i.e. reacting to the millions of problems that land in my lap. But when I do practice these key mindsets, I lead my team on the right path to expand our businesses. This will be the case for you as well. To recap, here’s how they all work together.

When you can be world class in what you do, customers will come to you. When your business has a world class reputation, you can afford to hire superstars and pay them above market rate. With top people in your team, you will have time to think strategically. And that will lead to the smartest long term strategy you can make for your business.

Just remember: you have a choice in your small business. And your choice should always be excellence in the long run. Start taking action and stop reacting.

Butterfly Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "4 Tips to Develop Better Business Leadership" was first published on Small Business Trends

4 Ways Your Consumer Health Product Startup Can Find Success

Small Business Trends - Sun, 2017-11-19 19:00

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 80 percent of new businesses survive a year or more of operation. It’s no different in the consumer health and medical product industry.  While a startup takes a lot of work and can be a scary proposition, the rewards can be immeasurable. As medical devices and home health products become increasingly connected, there are more and more opportunities for startup opportunities with consumer health products.

Consumer Health Product Startup Tips

Take a look at these four ways you can ensure a startup in this industry finds success for that first year and beyond.

Find Enough Cash

It doesn’t matter what type of business you start, extensive cash flow is the key to stabilizing your business and breaking the barriers to entry with any product. Companies involved in home health products and medical devices are no different. The road to product launch can be long and product testing and approval may require significant capital investments. It’s important to be smart about taking on investors and avoiding the roadblocks that prevent entrepreneurs from securing loans.

Start by creating a solid business plan to help attract investors or obtain necessary funding from lenders. Consider consulting with a business advisor who has plenty of experience launching consumer health products and may have a connection to retailers, designers and understands the importance of patent law. An active investor with real world experience can be a big asset.  His or her guidance will prove invaluable and can save you significant amounts of time and cash. 

Hire the Right People

This one is really important: you have to hire the right staff, consultants or agency to ensure your consumer health product startup gets off on the right foot. You will need qualified, experienced designers, developers and staff that is ready to transfer a product from prototypes to manufacturing.  Products that require human factors testing or interface design may require an industrial or product design firm that understands consumer health or medical product design. Even though you’re eager to get your business up and running, take your time and choose your team wisely – it’ll pay off copiously.

Refine Your Pitch

The competition is fierce for consumer health, and success or failure may depend on how effective your pitch for funding and investment is.  You need to be able to clearly state the goals, expectations, forecasting and target audience that your product will solve a problem for. Unfortunately, no matter how well you understand your industry and how skilled you may be, you may still experience hiccups as you try to run your business. The best sales pitch ideas combined with great presentation skills will help you convey a successful roadmap to any investors that you may be seeking to involve.

Understand FDA Requirements

There is no denying it; the present is a time when the medical and consumer product worlds are intertwined. Medical devices that consumers can use themselves are hotter than even – wearables can encourage health habits, and other products can solve health issues and improve the individual’s quality of life. Even the Food and Drug Administration is on board with the life changing devices being created today; the FDA has created an approval fast-track for Apple, Fitbit, and Samsung, making new health product technologies available to the public much faster while slashing the time and cost needed to develop them. As you run your business, it is essential you follow the federal and state regulations for your health products application to make sure you are on the right track from day one. Understanding the federal requirements for taking a consumer health product to market creates a better understanding of your product development road map.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to launch a successful product, so remember that your vision, passion, and skills, combined with preparation, are key to a successful future.

Health Product Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "4 Ways Your Consumer Health Product Startup Can Find Success" was first published on Small Business Trends

65% of Your Customers Expect More Automation in Businesses of the Future

Small Business Trends - Sun, 2017-11-19 16:00

The latest Pew Research Center survey revealed 52 percent of Americans believe stores will probably be fully automated in the next 20 years. But 13 percent said it will definitely happen, bringing the total number who see automation having an impact in the segment to almost two-thirds or 65 percent.

The Pew survey looked at how Americans view automation and the spread of the technology over the next two decades across several industries. Small businesses in the retail sector, including those that rely on deliveries, will be affected, according to the survey.

The Pew Research Center survey was carried out from May 1 to May 15, 2017 with 4,135 US adults participating. Participants are part of the American Trends Panel, which was created by Pew Research Center. It includes a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults who participate in self-administered web surveys every month. 

Retail Automation Expectations Store Automation

Responding to the question whether most stores will be fully automated and involve little human interaction, 2 percent said definitely not, 32 percent said probably not, 52 percent said probably so, and 13 percent said definitely so.

Small businesses can now access a range of automation solutions for their physical and digital stores to improve their operations. Everything from monthly deliveries to POS software, marketing, customer engagement and accounting can now be automated.

If you choose the right technology for your particular industry, you can introduce new levels of efficiency to your business. This will leave your human employees to deliver the best-personalized customer service possible.

Deliveries

Amazon has already announced intention to use drones for deliveries, and there may now be additional types of robots in the market able to accomplish something similar. Earlier this year, Virginia became the first state to legalize delivery robots.

Regarding deliveries, the Pew survey wanted to know how many  believe deliveries in cities will be made by robots or drones instead of humans. Four percent of respondents think this innovation definitely won’t happen, 31 percent believe it probably won’t, 53 percent believe it probably will happen and 12 percent believe it definitely will happen.

Restaurants and other businesses relying on making deliveries may soon use drones, robots or other automated technologies as part of their operations. As the price point comes down and the technology becomes more reliable, use of such delivery tools will likely become more common.

Will Automation Impact Your Small Business?

According to a McKinsey Global Report, physical activities in highly structured and predictable environments, and data collection and processing will be the most susceptible jobs to automation. In the US, the activities the report mentions account for 51 percent of the economy, which is responsible for close to $2.7 trillion in wages.

The McKinsey report explains this will not happen overnight. But early implementation of automation, robotics, drones, 3D printing and other technologies allows your small business to compete and stay relevant.

If you are worried machines will have all the jobs, the McKinsey report says, “Our analysis shows that humans will still be needed in the workforce: the total productivity gains we estimate will only come about if people work alongside machines. That, in turn, will fundamentally alter the workplace, requiring a new degree of cooperation between workers and technology.”

The Pew Research Center survey is a must read if you want to know how Americans feel about these technologies. You can take a look at it here.

Image: Pew Research Center

This article, "65% of Your Customers Expect More Automation in Businesses of the Future" was first published on Small Business Trends