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Los Angeles and Atlanta are the big destinations this August.
First, the #BlogHer16 Conference brings plenty of Hollywood star power. Just look below.
Headliners will include music legend Sheryl Crow, TV actresses Mayim Bialik and Sarah Michelle Gellar and comedian Aisha Tyler.
Then it’s onto the city of Atlanta for the Small Business Market Expo & Job Fair. You’ll be able to connect with small businesses like your own, market yourself and tap into an incredible network.
Do you know of any other big events coming in August of interest to the small business community? Please let us know.
To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.Featured Events, Contests and Awards
August 04, 2016, Los Angeles, Calif.
Join an exhilarating mix of content creators, social media stars, entrepreneurs, top brands, activists and fans at #BlogHer16! You’ll experience inspiring keynotes, up-to-the-minute educational tracks, and of course, fabulous opportunities to network with YOUR community!
Small Business Market Expo & Job Fair
August 27, 2016, Atlanta, Ga.
Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with small businesses, market your organization and tap into a network of entrepreneurs, service providers, financial organizations, business coaches, and franchises.
VIP (25% off)
Content Marketing World 2016
September 06, 2016, Cleveland, Ohio
Content Marketing World is the one event where you can learn and network with the best and the brightest in the content marketing industry. You will leave with all the materials you need to take a content marketing strategy back to your team – and – to implement a content marketing plan that will grow your business and inspire your audience.
TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016
September 12, 2016, San Francisco, Calif.
TechCrunch Disrupt is the world’s leading authority in debuting revolutionary startups, introducing game-changing technologies and discussing what’s top of mind for the tech industry’s key innovators. Disrupt gathers the best and brightest entrepreneurs, investors, hackers, and tech fans for on-stage interviews, the Startup Battlefield competition, a 24-hour Hackathon, Startup Alley, Hardware Alley, and After Parties.
September 12, 2016, Seattle, Wash.
Three days of forward-thinking, actionable sessions in SEO, social media, community building, content marketing, brand development, CRO, the mobile landscape, analytics, and more. MozCon speakers share next-level advice on everything from building a loyal community to making data-driven decisions in your marketing.
Leadpages’ Converted 2016
October 18, 2016, Minneapolis, Minn.
Converted 2016 will be an immersive experience taking place over two action-packed days in Minneapolis. We’ll share data-driven, practical tactics that will make a difference in the way you grow your business.
Lean Startup Conference
October 31, 2016, San Francisco, Calif.
A gathering of thousands of thought leaders at Pier 27 for a week of keynote talks, interactive workshops, speed mentoring, industry dinners, bootcamps, and startup tours at the scenic edge of San Francisco. The conference unites intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs from government agencies, international conglomerates, boot-strapped startups, and civic organizations in their mission to create radical change in their industries.More Events
Hollywood, LosAngeles photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Plan for Big Events in Los Angeles and Atlanta This August" was first published on Small Business Trends
It’s not uncommon for businesses to get a bit ahead of themselves when it comes to growth opportunities. But you need to have the basics covered before you can really experience success. The tips below include some insights from members of our small business community about some basic business strategies you may have overlooked.Say Thanks and Build Engagement
Thanking your customers isn’t just good manners. It can also be a way for you to boost engagement. This Process Street post by Benjamin Brandall explains how you can use your company’s thank you page to boost engagement among website visitors.Establish a Realistic Work Schedule
You need to establish a schedule that allows you to put your all into your business without burning yourself out. Take lunch breaks, for example. You need to take a long enough break to recharge your batteries, but not so long that your work suffers. You can share how long you normally take for your lunch break in the poll in this Small Business Trends post by Executive Editor Shawn Hessinger.Write Persuasive Business Content
If you use content as part of your marketing strategy, you need to learn to be persuasive. In this Enchanting Marketing post, Henneke Duistermaat shares some power words you can use to spruce up your content. You can also see discussion surrounding the post over on BizSugar.Make Sure Your Content Stays On Brand
Content marketing can be a great way to get the word out about your business. But if you want to create content that’s part of a strategy and doesn’t confuse your customers, you need to keep it on brand. Scott Pittman of Reef Digital shares thoughts on keeping content on brand in this post.Simplify the Payroll Process
Payroll is essential if you’re running a business with employees. But the process doesn’t need to be overly complicated. In this CorpNet post, Charles Costa includes some tips you can use to simplify the process of setting up and managing your business’s payroll.Avoid These Blogging Mistakes
Blogging has been a popular content marketing tactic for businesses for years. But plenty of bloggers and entrepreneurs still make mistakes when it comes to blogging. Here, Mike Brown of The Blogging Buddha lists some of the most common blogging mistakes made by experienced bloggers and entrepreneurs. And BizSugar members comment on the post here.Get Started With CRO
CRO, or conversion rate optimization, is an important part of running an ecommerce business. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Even newbie business owners can get started with CRO using the tips in this Search Engine Journal post by Andrew Raso.Avoid Offering Review Incentives
Positive online reviews can be very beneficial to your business. But that doesn’t mean you should offer incentives to your customers to leave them. As Mike Blumenthal points out in this GetFiveStars post, there can actually be several downfalls of seeking positive reviews with incentives.Don’t Underestimate the Appeal of Snapchat
Social platforms like Snapchat can gain popularity really quickly. And in those cases, you don’t want to realize the viability of a platform too late. In this Better Than Success post, Ileane Smith shares why Snapchat’s appeal is spreading beyond just millennials. And BizSugar members discuss the post further here.Use Employee Referral Incentives to Build Engagement
Building a great team is an essential part of running many types of businesses. And if you want to build a team that’s actually engaged with your business, you might consider utilizing employee referral programs. McKenzie Stephens of Marketing Innovators details how those programs can benefit businesses here.
If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: email@example.com
Steps Photo via Shutterstock
Think you need a lot of complicated equipment to start a business from your home? Think again. There are actually plenty of opportunities out there for entrepreneurs to start businesses with just a laptop and maybe a couple of other simple items.
If you want to start a business from your home, but you only have a laptop to work with, here are some work from home ideas for businesses you can start right away.Work From Home Ideas You Can Start on Your Laptop Virtual Assistant
A huge variety of business owners and professionals need help organizing and managing their day-to-day tasks. That’s why they hire virtual assistants. You can start a virtual assistant business just by setting up a website and outlining your services and prices to potential clients. Then you can help them manage things like scheduling, email, social media and more communicating with your clients via chat, Skype, email or other means.Social Media Manager
If you want to get more specific, you can start an online business just to help various businesses start and manage their social media accounts. You can work remotely and communicate with clients about their social media activity. And you can enact specialized social media campaigns and promotions to help them grow their networks on those sites.Copywriter
Skilled writers, you can offer your services to clients as a freelance copywriter. You can provide a variety of different writing services, from blog posts and product descriptions to short ad copy.Blogger
Or you can start your own blog about business or a variety of other topics. Then you can earn revenue through PPC advertising, sponsored content, affiliate promotions or even selling informational products related to your topic.Website Manager
Web developers and tech savvy business owners can also offer services as a website manager. In this capacity, you’d be responsible for maintaining websites for different businesses and clients. You might also be able to help businesses set up and develop different features of their websites. You can do all the work yourself or outsource some of the day-to-day operations with services like Go Daddy Pro.eBay or Etsy Seller
If you have physical or even digital products to sell, you can set up an eCommerce store on a number of different platforms from your laptop. eBay is one of the most popular platforms for home businesses. But you could also sign up for an account with Etsy, Amazon, or a number of other options.Translator
Things like books, transcripts and reports all need to be translated into different languages from time to time. If you are fluent in multiple languages, you can offer your services as a translator to make content available in languages other than the one in which it was originally created.Proofreader
Offering your services as an editor or proofreader is another option for a home-based business. You can have clients send you pieces of writing that you can check for errors. You can even provide suggestions for overall content improvement.Ebook Author
Writers who have a more long-form story or subject in mind could opt for book authorship rather than short blogs or articles. And you can even become an author from your home with just a laptop thanks to the growing popularity of ebooks. Platforms like Amazon offer the opportunity for writers to upload entire books and offer them for sale to an eager community of online readers.Logo Designer
Designers who create complicated pieces may require desktop computers or complicated equipment. But you can offer some simple branding packages like logo design to clients right from your laptop. You’ll need to create a website and outline your services. Then work with clients to develop designs for their brands.Marketing Consultant
If you have some expertise in any area of marketing, you can offer your skills to businesses as a consultant. You can choose a specific niche or just work with businesses in a variety of different areas of marketing. Then communicate with your clients through email, phone calls or other online communications.Online Teacher
Or you can share your knowledge with online consumers in another format. Whether your expertise is in business, marketing or another discipline entirely — like French, history or creative writing — you can create online courses within your niche and then sell them on your website or other online platforms. This option allows you to share your knowledge with more people in a shorter amount of time than if you were to just work with clients one on one.
Laptop User Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "12 In-Home Business Opportunities You Can Start From Your Laptop" was first published on Small Business Trends
Ed “Skip” McLaughlin felt pretty good about his job, but could see the proverbial “writing on the wall”. He became a partner but at the expense of his salary. He had already watched his business devolve from a growing environment into one where you had to watch your back.
Then, one day, he saw a spreadsheet with his name on it.
That spreadsheet was a list of people who would be part of the company’s “downsizing”.
When he saw that spreadsheet, McLaughlin took the first steps to own his own business.
He ended up with two and an incredible story he shares in The Purpose is Profit.What is The Purpose is Profit About?
McLaughlin shares the purpose of his book early on. He wanted to share his personal journey into entrepreneurship from the inside out. That journey tells the two stories of two businesses, both in real estate, United Systems Integrators (USI) and Sigma Communications Incorporated.
Only one business survived (USI) and survived to become a powerful multi-million dollar business.
The key theme that McLauhlin learned from that journey is the power of capitalizing “distinctive competence.” Distinctive competence is your “special sauce”, your unique set of skills and knowledge that can be leveraged into something more powerful. Ed tapped into the power while working with Trammel Crow Company and single-handedly closing one of the firm’s largest real estate deals. He saw that he had a knack for building a real estate network in completely new areas from scratch. What if, he thought, I helped businesses build and manage their real estate using what I know?
That “what if?” question followed McLaughlin for a long while. It followed him as he progressed at Trammel Crow Company. It followed him as he watched his wife develop her own independent dental practice. McLaughlin calls this the “what if?” question, the “pull” to entrepreneurship.
Then, he saw that spreadsheet with his name on it, the spreadsheet of employees that would be no longer needed. From that point on, he experienced the “push” to entrepreneurship that capitalized on his distinctive competence of building a network from scratch into a profitable business that grew into something incredibly larger.
Besides authoring The Purpose of Profit, McLaughlin is the founder of four businesses. One of those four businesses, USI, grew to become a multi-million business sold to a Fortune 500 company within a few years of its launch. His current business is Blue Sunset, LLC., a real estate investing and consulting company.
Co-author Wyn Lydecker is the founder of Upstart Business Planning. Lydecker is an author, consultant, and business owner with an MBA degree in Finance from the Wharton School and a BA in Economics from the University of California.What Was Best About The Purpose is Profit?
The greatest part of the The Purpose is Profit is the unique internal perspective McLaughlin offers on entrepreneurship. The book offers a view on the developing mindset of an entrepreneur as it progresses through hesitation to mastery.
Beyond that, The Purpose is Profit offers a unique perspective on the post-sale life of a business. As shared in the book, the author built and then sold his business to Johnson Controls. Unlike most books which stop at this point, The Purpose is Profit goes further.What Could Have Been Done Differently
The Purpose is Profit does an incredible job of providing a unique perspective on entrepreneurship, but that focused perspective predictably leaves out other perspectives. So the focus seems to be on experienced professionals like McLaughlin looking to branch out into an area that they have a distinctive advantage in.
In other words, this book won’t help you discover your distinctive competence. It will show you how the author maneuvered his business using his personal competence. To the book’s credit, the authors recognize this and attempt to provide advice for a broad group of entrepreneurs.Why Read The Purpose is Profit?
The Purpose is Profit is an incredible book for entrepreneurs who want a more comprehensive story about business from a personal viewpoint.The book delves further into what it feels like to take a business idea from start to selling your company. McLaughlin takes readers on his journey in a storytelling fashion, dropping off tidbits of professional wisdom and advice along the way.
If you are seeking a real-life business story with substance and advice, this is a book that will inspire, inform, and connect with your inner entrepreneur.
This article, "“The Purpose of Profit” Shares Journey of Entrepreneurship" was first published on Small Business Trends
Throwbacks are all the rage right now. And that’s what MTV is banking on with the launch of its new network, MTV Classic. The new network will play nothing but reruns of popular MTV shows from the 90s and early 2000s, like Beavis and Butthead, Daria, Total Request Live, MTV Unplugged and Laguna Beach.
And MTV isn’t the only company using nostalgia to get people’s attention. Nickelodeon also has a network dedicated to older shows. And Pokemon Go likely wouldn’t have been as popular without nearly 20 years of the Pokemon brand behind it.
Nostalgia can also be a big selling point for other types of brands. If people have fond memories of something from their past, they could buy something associated with it without much convincing from you. And in the case of MTV, playing reruns also means saving money on production costs.Using Nostalgic Marketing
Using nostalgia doesn’t mean you have to sell an actual product that’s old. You could find a way to associate your new product with something from the past. You could create a new spin on something older. Or you could even use a retro design in your marketing materials.
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that your nostalgia is likely to bring back fond memories for people. And keep an eye on the trends. MTV’s move makes sense because everything from 90s music to 90s fashion is experiencing a resurgence.
When you look at using retro ideas for your next product, service or marketing campaign, make sure it’s from an era your audience can relate to. Otherwise you’ll be putting distance between you and your customers instead of bringing people together.
Beavis and Butthead Image: MTV
This article, "MTV is Bringing Back the 90s With New Network (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends
Commercial drone use is a hot topic for commercial deliveries these days. But Facebook is using technology in a very different way — in an experiment aimed at giving a potential four billion more people access to the internet. Some of those could be additional customers for your small business, by the way.
In addition, here’s a look at Pinterest’s long awaited Buyable Pins feature for the web. These headlines and more are included below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.Social Media Facebook’s Aquila Internet-delivery Drone Could Add Billions More Online Customers
Social networking giant Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) last week reported the first successful full-scale test flight of its ambitious Aquila solar-powered high-altitude unmanned aircraft. It’s part of an ambitious goal to bring four billion more people online — more customers, freelancers and maybe even partners for your business.Pinterest Brings Buyable Pins to the Web – Finally
Pinterest is finally introducing Buyable Pins to the web version of its site — and a new shopping bag is being rolled out too. Last year, Pinterest introduced “Buyable Pins” on mobile and later integrated them into eCommerce platforms such as Bigcommerce, eBay-owned Magento and IBM Commerce.Your Ice Bucket Challenge Videos Worked! New Gene Breakthrough Discovered (Watch)
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge from a few years back? The viral videos had everyone from LeBron James to former President George W. Bush getting buckets of icy water dumped onto their heads — all for a good cause, of course. The Ice Bucket Challenge was created to support research into a cure for ALS, or Lou Gherig’s Disease.Finance U.S. Bank and Sage Announce AP Optimizer to Streamline Invoice Payments
U.S. Bank (NYSE:USB) and Sage (LON:SGE) announced this week at Sage Summit 2016 in Chicago a new partnership that will benefit Sage customers in the U.S. and Canada. The partnership centers around the introduction of AP Optimizer, an application built by U.S. Bank that lives inside the Sage Live accounting platform.Sage Announces API Partnership: This Will Make Using Third-Party Apps a Breeze
Cloud Elements, a Denver-based API management and integration platform, today announced a strategic partnership with Sage (LON:SGE), the accounting, payment and payroll provider used by millions of small businesses, as a part of the Sage Partner Program at Sage Summit taking place this week in Chicago.Marketing Tips Email Marketing STILL Not Dead, New Podcast Claims
“Email marketing is dead.” If you’ve been involved in the world of marketing over the last few years, you’ve likely heard that declaration more than once. But a new podcast wants to bring a new perspective to that discussion about email marketing. Email Marketing’s Grave is a new podcast from the team at marketing solutions provider PostUp.The Latest Harry Potter Book is Already Breaking Records (Watch)
Harry Potter is back – or at least, another book starting with that name will be released this weekend. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a book written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, which is actually based on a play of the same name, is slated to hit bookshelves on Sunday.Make Money, Get New Customers Now Thanks to Pokemon Go
If you don’t know your Pikachu from your Pichu or if you have no idea what either of those are, that doesn’t mean you have to stand out in left field as the rest of the world — and thousands of businesses big and small — capitalize on the Pokemon Go craze.Zoho Introduces Email for Sales People, Marketplace and More
Zoho came out with four announcements today. Among them is the launch of SalesInbox. Zoho calls it the first email client just for salespeople. SalesInbox prioritizes customer conversations, instead of displaying emails strictly in chronological order. Also announced were upgrades to Zoho’s popular CRM system, as well as an expansion into the European market.Small Biz Spotlight Spotlight: BeeSmart Provides Social Media Services for $75 a Month
Social media has become a huge part of small business marketing. But it doesn’t have to take up all your time or marketing budget. BeeSmart Social Media is one company that strives to provide affordable social media solutions specifically for small businesses. Read more about the company and its offerings in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.Small Business Operations 2-Minute Whirlwind Tour Of Sage Summit 2016
The theme was “Ignite your passion” at Sage Summit 2016. Sage CEO Stephen Kelly said in the opening keynote yesterday, “At Sage we want to help you ignite your passion for business.” To help with that goal, Sage this year included several celebrities in the speaker lineup. Day 1 kicked off with iconic entrepreneur Richard Branson on stage with Kelly.What Brand is Tops with Small Business Owners? WordPress, Alignable Index Says
Winning the trust of small businesses is not always easy, but one brand that seems to have succeeded is WordPress. According to the new SMB Trust Index, WordPress is the most trusted brand for small businesses, with a Net Promoter Score of 50 in Q2 2016. Languishing at the bottom of the list are Web.com (-62 NPS score) and Yelp (-65 NPS score).Need to Get Off the Phone? Microsoft Bookings Will Handle Customer Scheduling
Small business owners are jacks of all trades, which is a great attribute, but can be overwhelming if there is not enough help and the business is growing faster than expected. However, digital technology has introduced many solutions that have made it possible to run a business single-handedly without pulling out your hair.Sage Introduces New Partner Program, Marketplace, Community at Summit 2016
In his keynote address to partners on Monday at the annual Sage Summit, held in Chicago, Sage CEO Stephen Kelly introduced several new initiatives designed to build on his company’s partner strategy. These include the Sage Partner, Marketplace, Community and Rewards programs.UPS Can Now Rush Deliver Your Package to More Places Than Ever — 177 Countries to be Exact
UPS (NYSE:UPS) has announced a major expansion of its UPS Worldwide Express that will see the world’s largest package delivery company provide customers with next day shipping to 117 countries across the globe. Over 50 countries and territories have been added to the UPS Worldwide Express service, which guarantees delivery on the next business day by 10:30 a.m., noon or 2 p.m.Skype Meeting Broadcast Will Get Translation, Transcription Features
A communications tool used to facilitate online meetings will soon have the capabilities to translate the remarks of participants and preserve a written transcript of what was said. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced last week at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto that it would be adding automatic transcription and translation for Skype Meeting Broadcast.Startup Does Census Data Suggest Progress Towards Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship?
Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners — the Census Bureau’s quinquennial examination of business ownership — indicates that the fraction of women-owned businesses increased substantially between 2007 and 2012, the most recent year the survey has been completed. But on other measures of entrepreneurship, there has been less progress.Technology Trends Watch Out for Modobag! It’s Motorized Luggage You Can Ride — Really
Ah, the road warrior of the business world. The image is almost universal — a business person in the airport running along pulling their luggage, a laptop on one shoulder, a carry on, an overcoat of some kind, and the always present pastry and coffee.Amazon is Going Outside the U.S. to Test Drone Delivery (Watch)
Remember that drone delivery service from Amazon you’ve been hearing about? Well, the company is finally getting to do some testing in preparation even if the actual implementation of the program could still be a ways off here in the U.S. Amazon is partnering with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority to test the technology, since U.S.Small Cable Companies Worry About FCC “Unlock the Box” Rule
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a proposal that would make room for software, hardware devices and other technology innovations to compete with the set-top boxes that consumers lease from cable, satellite and telco companies.How Good a Deal Did You Get on Your Smartphone? ZTE Still Has You Beat
It doesn’t matter how great a deal you got on your last business smartphone, there’s one company that almost certainly has it beat.Think Pokemon Go is Advanced? Here’s What’s Next (Watch)
Pokemon Go’s massive breakout popularity could propel some other tech companies into the world of augmented reality success. Microsoft’s HoloLens, for example, is an AR headset that could let users play games like Pokemon Go without having to actually look through a phone screen.Verizon Will Acquire Yahoo for $4.8 Billion with Advertising Assets Being Added to AOL
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) for $4.83 billion. The acquisition only includes Yahoo’s core operating business, not its more valuable assets: Yahoo Japan and its $41 billion stake in Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce company.New Product Sunscreenr Shows Where Sun Damage Can Occur
As you apply sunscreen before you go outside or spend the afternoon at the beach, how sure are you that you have covered all of the areas that will be exposed to the sun? Sunscreenr is a small and lightweight viewer that lets you see where your skin is covered or not covered by sunscreen.
This article, "Facebook Successfully Tests Drone, Pinterest Adds Buyable Pins to Web, More" was first published on Small Business Trends
Urban Airship, a mobile SaaS company, recently surveyed 2,000 consumers on how their attitudes and usage of mobile wallet technology, like Apple Wallet and Google Wallet have changed. The findings point to a rapid shift in mobile consumer behavior, including:
Judy Chan, product manager at Urban Airship, shares more insights coming from the survey, including the positive impact on customer loyalty the use of mobile wallet technology can have.
Below is an edited transcript of the conversation. To hear the full conversation click the embedded player below.
* * * * *
Small Business Trends: Give me a little bit of your personal background.
Judy Chan: I am a product manager here at urban airship. So my primary role entrepreneurship is really to talk about mobile wallets. So what I like to tell everyone is you know in many ways I have a really fun job. I get to basically market to marketers about mobile marketing. And you know in this you know in this role and looking at mobile wallets it’s a great opportunity.
Small Business Trends: And just so people know a little bit more about what Urban Airship does, maybe you can fill us in.
Judy Chan: Urban Airship is a mobile SaaS company. We primarily have three lines of products. One of our focus area is around mobile app notifications and how we can best reach customers on an app. The second thing that we work on is mobile wallets, and then the third thing is around the data products.
Small Business Trends: Talking about mobile wallets – you had around 2000 people take this study. And after looking at some of the results of your survey it looks like the adoption level is really growing fast.
Judy Chan: 54 percent of respondents said that they’ve actually used mobile wallet. 30 percent of respondents said they actually use it in the past week. And so what’s going on right now is there has been a lot of investments made on the mobile team side that is helping to drive a greater awareness for it. But I think from looking at the broad stroke like exposure that people have had to mobile wallets is pretty amazing.
If you look at mobile wallets on the non-human side, you have items such as loyalty cards, coupons, boarding passes and some more very innovative use cases that we’ve come across like sweepstakes and breaking news releases. What we’re seeing is because the platform is there you know the mobile payment apps are already natively on the phone. People are beginning to use it more. So I had it in my head I kind of think of it as like you are you’ve got the central hub of information that people are now being able to access and brands are all participating in the central hub.
Small Business Trends: Over the last year or so mobile payments seem to be the focus of using the phone to do things from a business perspective. But it looks like mobile wallet adoption is being driven by more than just mobile payments.
Judy Chan: If you think about swiping a credit card it isn’t really that difficult to do. So the question then becomes what else is there. So if you want people to use mobile payments how does that happen; the ability to add value to the entire mobile payment ecosystem. And I think that’s where mobile wallets come in. Right. One day you’re basically going to have your phone and you tap your phone on a POS system and at that same moment it updates your loyalty card. It’s going to update and give you a new coupon. And it’s also going to help you make that payment rate complete that transaction so you make things like that and more seamless. And I think that’s where we’re headed directionally. I think that’s how mobile wallets are going to help the mobile team inside grow.
Small Business Trends: You mentioned something a little earlier around loyalty programs and just looking at one of the things in your study 72 percent of the folks that took the survey are belong to at least 1 to 5 loyalty programs. And 19 percent belong to six and upwards of 15 programs. So what impact is mobile wallet technology having on customer loyalty?
Judy Chan: The impact is actually pretty big. People who have loyalty programs, what they’re telling us in our survey is if there’s a digital version of that loyalty card they are 69 percent more likely to actually use that loyalty card . What this means then is you’ve got a really great way of interacting with the customer on their phone. And we found that eighty-two percent of millennials are more likely to use a loyalty card on on their mobile device. So I think that coupled with what loyalty cards can lead to on the payment side really gives this entire ecosystem a lot of momentum.
Small Business Trends: And it’s not just the millennials. Seventy-three percent of Gen Xers are doing that as well.
Judy Chan: And there’s very strong evidence that mobile wallets are driving higher loyalty sign ups. In our survey we found that 73 percent of them will join a loyalty program. If those loyalty points are automatically updated, and it is all through the mobile wallet. So if you’re really trying to cross that threshold in terms of loyalty acquisition I think mobile wallet is a great way to do that. So what are the things that you think are potentially keeping businesses in particular as a base.
Small Business Trends: Do you think companies are adopting mobile wallets at the right levels? What are the things that may be holding them back from adopting?
Judy Chan: Looking at adoption and SMBs in the marketing world people tend to think that mobile is apps, and therefore there is no place for SMBs. Or maybe if you are lucky enough to have an SMS list of phone numbers you can go and reach. But those are very expansive programs. So I think the message that we collectively need to take to everyone is other than apps or SMS you’ve got this great platform – mobile wallets – that’s really going to be able to cover and reach 100 percent of your audience on mobile. And once you’ve acquired those customers on mobile, solutions like Urban Airship will help you make a lot of updates to that very same card. You can do dynamic pass updates on these on these loyalty cards.
Small Business Trends: And it sounds like it provides the opportunity to stay connected stay engaged and customers are actually looking for that kind of engagement.
Judy Chan: Speaking of that we found three-quarters of folks are looking for updates on mobile wallets. They want it. So you know if you’ve got all taken out you plan as an example right if you’ve got a coupon. And it’s been used once. They want a system where it’ll actually automatically update to the next coupon. So again going back to the concept of how the mobile wallet get it on to your consumers phone and then from there then you can really talk about the engagement rate and then in the lifetime engagement of that pass. Because for the most part the pass will stay on the phone unless they choose to delete it. But up to 80 to 90 percent of passes are never deleted.
Image: Urban Airship
This article, "Judy Chan of Urban Airship: 82 Percent of Millennials More Likely to Use a Loyalty Card on Their Mobile Device" was first published on Small Business Trends
If you experience an emergency and need cash fast for your business, you won’t have the leisure to apply for an SBA loan or seek out new investors. You may not have personal savings to help you out.
There are options for obtaining a quick infusion of cash for your company. Review all of the options and determine which is best for you after taking costs and other factors into account. Here are five ways you can get money within a day or so.How to Get Cash Fast 1. Use Online Lenders
With some sites, you can complete an application in minutes and obtain cash in as short as 24 hours if you provide all required financial paperwork immediately. Usually, however, it takes a few days for approval. Some sources to consider:
Check out the borrowing limits for which you can qualify. Keep in mind the cost of this borrowing, which may not be cheap.2. Factor Your Receivables
Usually you have to wait 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, or more to collect on your invoices. However, you can factor them for quick cash. You’ll receive a discounted amount for the invoices you factor, so the cash you receive reflects the factor’s fee (typically 2 percent or more, depending on your industry, your customers, etc.).
It usually takes several days to set up an account with a factor. Once this has been done, you can submit invoices at any time and typically receive cash within 24 hours.3. Use Your Business Line of Credit
If you have a line of credit in place, you can take cash from it at any time up to the extent of your line. You pay interest only on the portion of the line that you use.
The size of your line of credit depends on the typical loan criteria. These include capital or what your company is worth, capacity to carry debt, collateral that can be sold if you don’t repay the loan, and character, including the number of years in business, whether there’s been any prior bankruptcy, and other factors.
Caution: Some online lenders advertise 24-hour approval for a line of credit, but it’s really only a factoring variation, based on your invoices.4. Cash Advance from Your Credit Card
Use your business credit card’s cash advance amount if you need money quickly. You can tap into your limit through an ATM or obtain more than the ATM’s limit in the bank.
The cost of money through a cash advance is steep, so use this option only as a last resort and only for a small amount of cash.5. Borrow from Your 401(k)
If your company has a 401(k) plan in which you participate and the plan lets participants take loans, then this may be a good source of quick money. The maximum amount you can borrow is 50 percent of your vested account balance or $50,000, whichever is less. If your vested account balance is less than $10,000, you can borrow up to $10,000.
The loan takes only as long as the administrator needs to process it. If you’re the administrator, this can be very quick.
The good news about his type of loan is that interest can be very low and the repayment can be spread over five years, with no prepayment penalty if you want to pay it off sooner. The bad news is a reduction in your retirement savings while the funds are out of the plan, and you can’t deduct the interest.Conclusion
As you can see, the instant-money options often require some advance planning so you can access them quickly when needed. For example, you can apply now for a line of credit, even if you don’t currently need the cash so it will be in place if you have a cash crunch. Or you can research now the best credit card option for a cash advance so if you need to use it, you won’t pay a cash advance fee — or at least not a hefty one. NerdWallet has a list of the best credit cards for this purpose.
Rain Photo via Shutterstock
Whether you are launching an ecommerce site, starting up an online consulting business, creating copy or video for online clients or selling products as an online merchant from sites like eBay, Etsy or Amazon, the possibilities for an online business are almost endless. Having an internet business also allows you to work from the comfort of your own home with lower overhead and no commuting costs. But you’ll still need some essential items in order to get your internet home business off the ground. Here are some things that can make running a business of any size easier.Setting Up Your Internet Home Business High Speed Internet
If you want to have a business online, the first thing you need to be able to do is access the internet. Make sure that your home-based online business is prepared with a strong and reliable connection so that you can manage all of the necessary online tasks. And make sure your internet service is sufficient to allow you to easily upload video and perform other tasks that may be necessary in the daily operation of your business.Laptop
You also need a good computer that not only allows you to access the internet but lets you store files, load photos and video, run management software or do anything else needed for daily operations . Many of today’s laptops are sophisticated enough to let you run pretty much every aspect of an online business on one machine. And they’re convenient since you can move them around your home or even to the local coffee shop if you need a change of scenery.WiFi Network
If you’re going to work on a laptop, then you’ll also likely need a WiFi network in your home. If you only have an Ethernet connection or something that requires you to be plugged in, you could miss out on some of the benefits of having a flexible, home-based business operation — or of easily connecting other tools like laptops or printers as your business grows.Accounting Software
Managing finances is an operational necessity for any business. Even if you’re running an online business from your home, you need a way to organize your payments, expenses, invoices and more. Quickbooks, Xero and other tools provide accounting solutions that work for online businesses and many now provide these services in the cloud making it unnecessary to buy any software and easy to upgrade and add capabilities.Online Payment Service
To actually collect and send payments, you’ll want to use an online service like PayPal or Dwolla. These services allow users to transfer and accept money online securely. There are also other services like Authorize.net or Google Wallet that offer some of the same features.Cloud Storage
Saving files and important documents to the cloud allows you to access them from anywhere. But even if you’re not planning to take your business on the road anytime soon, you can still use cloud storage as a way to securely backup your important files. Cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Carbonite let you save important files or even backup your entire system.Wireless Printer
More and more businesses are going paperless. But that doesn’t mean that there will never be situations where you’ll need a hard copy of something. If you do feel the need to print documents or other items even on occasion, investing in a good wireless printer can be a convenient solution.Calendar or Scheduling System
Keeping track of all your various meetings, events and tasks can be hard work. But there are plenty of different programs that can help you keep it all organized. Google Calendar and similar apps let you schedule appointments and even share events with other contacts. And others like Todoist or Acuity Scheduling can help you stay on top of appointments or even regular to-do list items.Time Tracking System
For those times when you’re not necessarily meeting with someone, but still need to set aside a certain amount of time for a project, you can use time tracking tools like Harvest. Even if you don’t opt for a specific app or service, it’s important that you have a specific method for keeping track of how much time you spend on things so you’ll be able to keep up with your progress and know how much to charge clients for various activities.Video Conferencing System
Even if you work from home, you’ll still probably need to be in touch with other team members, clients or partners from time to time. So video conferencing systems like Skype or GoToMeeting can be a big help in letting you have face to face meetings — even if you’re in different towns, different states, different countries or halfway around the world.Email Marketing and CRM System
No matter what type of business you run, you’ll need a way to stay in touch with your best customers via email. CRM systems like Infusionsoft or email marketing platforms like Vertical Response let you send emails to your list and even create personalized sequences for different types of customers.Business Name and Domain
Even if you’re running a business from home, you need an official name and a website. Choose a domain name that’s available and fits with your business name and purchase it from a provider like Namecheap or GoDaddy. You might even consider registering your business name officially so that others can’t use it.Web Hosting
Once you have a domain name secured, you also need a hosting provider for your website. Of course, companies like Namecheap and GoDaddy, mentioned above, also provide hosting, as do other options like Bluehost. These companies can help you get your website up and running and even provide storage for all the different files you might need.Social Media Accounts
When you’re working to get the word out about your business, social media can be an incredibly useful tool. Set up accounts on sites like Facebook and Instagram if you’re hoping to reach consumers. Or if you’re looking to get more into the B2B market, try LinkedIn.Business Plan
Yea, you’ll also need one of these? Didn’t expect to see this listed among must-haves for an internet home business. Well, you’ll also need an actual plan for your business. How are you going to earn revenue and keep your business profitable? Will you sell products? Services? Who will you sell these things to? Even if you’re running a business from your home, you need an official plan in order to be as successful as possible. Setting up a home internet business may be cheaper than other entrepreneurial options. But that does’t mean abandoning the basics.
Home Business Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "15 Things You Will Need for Your Internet Home Business" was first published on Small Business Trends
Ah, the road warrior of the business world. The image is almost universal — a business person in the airport running along pulling their luggage, a laptop on one shoulder, a carry on, an overcoat of some kind, and the always present pastry and coffee. (Maybe you are this person!) But if Modobag has its way, the hectic scene will be a distant memory for the tens of thousands of business — as well as regular — travelers plodding through airports around the world.
So what is Modobag, you ask? This video, which has gone viral, shows the old way of getting around the airport could soon be a thing of the past.The Idea for Modobag
While traveling with the Chi-Town’s Finest Breakers, a dance troupe, Kevin O’Donnell noticed the kids were taking turns riding on his suitcase. And that’s when the light bulb went on. “We’re gonna put motors in these!” he exclaimed. And he rest, as they say, is history.
O’Donnell had studied Industrial Design at the University of Illinois and spent some time in the technology sector, so he called his friend, Boyd Bruner, a college buddy, competitive motorcyclist and designer, to make it happen. Fast forward two years, and the Modobag is being demonstrated by people whizzing on the luggage with big smiles on their face.
The experience in the tech sector definitely came in handy when the bag was being designed, because it seamlessly integrates the functionalities today’s traveler needs.The Modobag
The 150 Watt electric motor has a belt drive, high torque maintenance-free design capable of reaching speeds of 5 MPH for indoors and 8 MPH for outdoors. The entire unit is put together with a CAD-designed, lightweight aluminum chassis that can support riders that weigh up to 260 pounds. The range depends on the weight of the rider, but based on someone that is 180 lb., it can travel up to 8 miles.
The Modobag has a state-of-the-art lightweight lithium batteries with more than 4,000 full charge cycles, which can be charged to 80 percent in 15 minutes and fully charged in less than an hour. The lithium battery uses the latest patented nano-crystal technology, which makes it compliant with Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), United Nations (UN), and International Air Transportation Association (IATA) regulations.Storage, Charging and Security
The bag has a dimension of 22″ x 9″ x 14″ and weighs in at 19 lbs., with 2,000 cubic inches of interior storage space for your belongings. The side pockets have been designed to quickly put your laptop, tablet and smartphone in a protective casing for easy access.
Since you are going to be carrying these devices, the Modobag has two illuminated USB charging ports, so you won’t have to endure sitting on the floor next to an outlet in an airport if your device needs to be charged.
Security measures include GPRS-GSM real-time tracking with proximity features so you will know where your bag is at all times. The Modobag Mobile App, which is another tracking option, comes with one free year of service.
If so, you can go to the Modobag Indiegogo page and get one of the super early bird specials for $995, plus $69 if you want the tracking app. Estimated delivery time is January 2017.
Let’s face it, airports are getting bigger, and it is taking longer to connect to flights and get to your destination. The Modobag will not solve all of the obstacles you face on the way to being seated in your plane and ready for take off, but it could make the experience much more enjoyable zooming around to where you need to go.
This article, "Watch Out for Modobag! It’s Motorized Luggage You Can Ride — Really" was first published on Small Business Trends
“Email marketing is dead.” If you’ve been involved in the world of marketing over the last few years, you’ve likely heard that declaration more than once.
But a new podcast wants to bring a new perspective to that discussion about email marketing. Email Marketing’s Grave is a new podcast from the team at marketing solutions provider PostUp. And you can subscribe on the podcast main page to never miss a future episode. Or download the podcast via iTunes or on SoundCloud.Email Marketing Podcast Offers Ideas, Tips and Advice
PostUp Product Marketing Manager Andrea Bridges-Smith, who hosts and runs the podcast, said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “Email marketing gets declared dead a lot. Everyone’s always excited about the latest social media platform popping up every two minutes. But email has been around for awhile, so no one’s that excited about it anymore. But those of us in the industry who are dealing with it every day and seeing all of the innovation and potential for it to bring about different relationships than the ones you can have with social media, we think it’s really exciting. So we want to sort of turn that notion of email being dead on it’s head.”
The first episode, titled “How to Make Email Sexy Again,” features an interview with Jeff Kupietzky, CEO of PowerInbox. He and Bridges-Smith talk about some of the changes that businesses are making with their email marketing efforts and where they see the industry going over the next several years.
Bridges-Smith thinks there’s plenty of room for innovation still. From companies including animated GIFs and videos to news tickers and other unique formats, email doesn’t just have to feature static text anymore. And she’s excited to feature those types of ideas and innovations in future podcast episodes.
The first episode of Email Marketing’s Grave is just about 15 minutes long. But Bridges-Smith says that future episodes will probably be around a half hour in length, and released every other Wednesday. Since she has plenty of experience with podcasting, both on a personal and professional level, Bridges-Smith will continue to host and produce each episode, with a rotating roster of guest interviewees.
“What I want is for people to get excited about email again,” Bridges-Smith says. “We’re going to be discussing trends in the industry and the evolution of the industry. We’re going to take a look at email marketing programs from all different kinds of people. There’s a lot of attention paid to retailers and eCommerce businesses and their email marketing programs. But there’s a lot of other interesting people out there like publishers and media companies that are experiencing a real resurgence now. It gives publishers the ability to have real relationships with their audience, especially when we now have adblocking taking away revenues and social media where algorithms keep changing to make it harder for businesses to connect with their audiences. There are a lot of cool things people can do in email now that we couldn’t do a few years ago. So we want to celebrate that.”
Email Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Email Marketing STILL Not Dead, New Podcast Claims" was first published on Small Business Trends
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge from a few years back? The viral videos had everyone from LeBron James to former President George W. Bush getting buckets of icy water dumped onto their heads — all for a good cause, of course.
The Ice Bucket Challenge was created to support research into a cure for ALS, or Lou Gherig’s Disease. But after several months of people dumping ice cold water on themselves, some were starting to show skepticism about what this challenge could actually accomplish.
Well, those viral videos got so much attention that they also caused donations to come pouring into The ALS Association — to the tune of approximately $115 million. And thanks to that funding, researchers have now identified a gene that is linked to the disease. That’s a major breakthrough that wouldn’t have been possible had all those people not been willing to make frozen, sopping wet fools of themselves.The Takeaway of This Viral Marketing Example?
And viral videos don’t just make a difference when it comes to raising money for a good cause. Businesses can also use them to get messages across or even raise money. The important thing is to have a goal in mind for those videos — otherwise you may find yourself with a bunch of really enthusiastic fans but no clear way for them to help you reach your business goals.
Ice Bucket Challenge Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Your Ice Bucket Challenge Videos Worked! New Gene Breakthrough Discovered (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends
It’s Olympics season and we’re talking hiring hurdles.
You’d guess that the biggest problem small businesses face when hiring is finding the right person for the job.
Actually, it’s the opposite. Small businesses worry that, while there re qualified people out there, they won’t be able to attracting them.
Or so says a new survey of small business owners conducted by Indeed. The company has been investigating hiring trends among small businesses in the U.S.
Specifically, the survey found that 64 percent of small businesses identified attracting the right candidate for their open job as the biggest obstacle toward making a hire.
The same survey found 40 percent of small businesses worry most about making a hire who is a good fit with the company culture.
Nearly the same amount of those responding — 39 percent — said finding the right person within the amount of time they had allotted for making the hire was their biggest challenge.
Just more than a quarter of those responding — 28 percent — said being able to meet their ideal candidate’s compensation request was the biggest worry.
Twenty-seven percent told Indeed that their biggest obstacle when hiring is finding time out of their own schedule to dedicate to finding the right candidate.
And 21 percent said that carving out some time as a company to find the right person to bring on board is their biggest challenge they face when hiring.
Only three percent of those responding to Indeed said they don’t really face any obstacles when hiring.
So, what should you get from this survey’s findings?
First off, expect hurdles and be prepared for them when hiring someone new at your company. Few, if any, small businesses go through the process without some sort of hiccup.
And this survey identifies some of the biggest hurdles you’re likely to face. So with this information in hand, you’re already at least partially prepared for the problems that might lay ahead.Finding Good Employees
So what can your small business learn from all this? Being prepared ahead of the hiring process — before you even schedule your first interview — is one vital way to make the process go more smoothly.
Include at least one other person within your company in the process, too. How else will you get a true sense of the company culture?
In terms of attracting the right candidate — after all, it’s the biggest hurdle identified by Indeed’s respondents — you’re going to have to canvass the right places.
Recruit in multiple locations. Consider and be open to alternatives to the plan you had originally for the open position with your company.
If you were thinking of hiring an on-location, full-time employee for your job but you believe you may have found a good fit who wants to telecommute, you should be open to this.
This article, "64 Percent of Small Businesses Worry They Can’t Attract Qualified Candidates" was first published on Small Business Trends
One of the issues many new handmade entrepreneurs frequently approach me with is the concern that the handmade market is too saturated for them to be successful. While I agree that consumers can choose from an almost dizzying array of handmade products, I disagree that the handmade market (or any market, for that matter) is too saturated for a new entrant offering quality and value to get a foothold. That’s not to say it won’t be a challenge. It will. Here are three tips (with case studies) to help you effectively compete in the competitive market for handmade goods.Competing in a Competitive Market 1. Be Distinctive
Not only must your product be distinctive. You must be distinctive.
This does not mean your life must become a social media reality TV show, but it does mean that you must find unique ways to connect with your target customers on a personal level.
For example, you won’t find many pictures of Samantha Standard, the Maker behind Tempe, Arizona’s Standard Wax, in the company’s Instagram feed. But you will find tons of reasons to love and admire Samantha after a few minutes of browsing there. Here are a few of them.
Samantha is loyal to her Tempe community and shares snapshots when she is physically interacting locally. Samantha values her off-the-grid time, as shown in this Big Sur vacation image. Samantha is serious about her craft, as shown in this fun shot of her and a team member suited up in candle making protective gear.
People don’t just buy Standard Wax products because they are distinctive. (And they truly are, so you should check them out!) They buy them because Samantha wraps a bit of herself into the brand, and a bit of the brand into herself.
It’s distinctive. It’s unique. And no one can compete with it.
It is something no one else can duplicate … because no one else can be Samantha Standard.2. Be Discerning
When you see other people selling products that are similar to yours, you must look quickly for what you can learn, and then step away. If you cannot do that, then don’t look at all.
If you cannot learn anything, move onto something else. Don’t hang around long enough to wreck your confidence by meditating on all the things they have that you don’t have.
It’s hard not to be drawn in, I know. But you must remember that when you make a habit of visiting competitors’ websites to compare yourself to them, you are putting nails in your own coffin. There will always be people doing things better than you. You must learn what you can from successful people, and then turn the other way and focus squarely on what you need to do to serve your target customers.
Do not torture yourself by subscribing to their newsletter. Do not wake up in the middle of the night to see how many hearts they have on Periscope. Recognize what you have to do to serve your customers, and get busy doing so.3. Diversify Your Income
After you’ve created a solid business foundation selling specific products to specific people, look for new products and services to offer. For example, Roberta Perry of Scrubz Body Natural Skin Care Products in Bethpage, New York, has been selling a line of bath and body products for a decade. Over the past few years, she has been featured in dozens of media outlets thanks to Help a Reporter, a service that posts media queries that anyone can respond to. Roberta has become so good at it that she started answering other small business owners’ questions about how to use the service. I personally noticed her developing expertise and asked her to speak on my annual #IndieCruise this year, and she did. When a friend of mine said she needed someone to speak at her conference on how to get media attention for your small business, I referred Roberta and she was immediately hired. Roberta is now writing a book about how to use the service, and I’m sure courses and programs will follow.
Roberta is an example of how a Maker created a new income stream serving a new audience, but you can also create a new income stream for the audience you already serve. For example, Kristin Fraser of The Grapeseed Company in Santa Barbara, California, had been making and selling bath and body products containing grapeseed extracts for years before deciding to open a store. Today, not only can you get Kristin’s handmade products online and in her Santa Barbara store, but you can also make your own custom lotions, perfumes and body butters at her in-store cent bar. This is a new way for Kristin to enhance the lives of existing customers already in her target market. They can chose from one of Kristin’s products off the shelf, or they can come into the store and create their own. This new income stream is a win for both Kristin and her customers.
From this discussion and these case studies, you can see that effectively “competing” in a competitive market place is not about competing at all. It’s about serving.
More specifically, it’s about serving your target customers and then capitalizing on the opportunities that naturally come your way when you do so.
Handmade Leather Goods Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "3 Tips (with Case Studies) for Effectively Competing in a Crowded Handmade Market Place" was first published on Small Business Trends
No small company wants to go out of business, yet many do. And the younger the company, the greater the likelihood that it will.
According to the SBA Office of Advocacy (PDF), about two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least two years, but only 50 percent make it to the five-year mark and just one-third celebrate their 10-year anniversary.
The rates of companies that go out of business have changed little over the past 20 years, the SBA says, and are consistent across a range of industries, including manufacturing, retail trade, food services, hotels and construction.
Why do small companies fail and go out of business?
Unfortunately, the reasons are many and all too common. Here are ten to consider, along with advice on what the business can do to avert disaster before it strikes.Why Small Companies Fail 1. Starting for the Wrong Reason
According to Forbes, more than 500,000 businesses are started each month — many for the wrong reason. Case in point, an electrician who worked for a building contractor decided that he no longer needed to answer to an employer and could do better financially by stepping out on his own.
What he failed to realize, however, was that although he had the skills to do the electrical work, he lacked the acumen to manage a business successfully. Over time, his enthusiasm waned. He shut down his fledgling company and, happily, went back to work for his previous employer.
Unlike the unfortunate electrician, you stand a much better chance of success if you start your business for the right reasons. These include having a passion for what you’ll be doing, a positive mindset that keeps you going when others give up and a willingness to learn the skills needed to run a business.2. Insufficient Capital
Starting a business without sufficient operating capital is almost certainly a death-knell. Not only that but many new business owners underestimate the perils of riding the cash flow roller coaster. In fact, according to Hiscox’s 2015 DNA of an Entrepreneur Report, 21 percent of US entrepreneurs have resorted to using their credit cards to fund their businesses.
Failure to manage cash flow is what caused one marketing consultant to lose his business. Used to a regular paycheck, he failed to realize that clients can take weeks or even months to pay. Being forced to take on expensive loans just to survive left him with no choice but to shutter his business and find a job with another firm. Protecting your capital before you start your business gives you a good buffer for the ebbs and flow in your business. In fact as per Hiscox Business Insurance, one third of small business owners don’t have insurance and one in three small business owners get sued even if they haven’t made a mistake and have to spend a chunk of their capital combating lawsuits. Getting the right liability insurance for your business is the first step to helping you manage your cash flow better.
Before starting a company, it is vital to ascertain how much money you will need to cover startup costs and to keep the business running for the first year or two. Use a startup calculator like this one from the Wall Street Journal. Also, sit down with a financial advisor or SCORE mentor to discuss your plans.3. Improper Planning
Lack of proper planning is another common reason small companies fail and go out of business. All too often, entrepreneurs focused on achieving their dream of financial independence fail to take the painstaking but necessary step of creating a strategic business plan that factors in components such as workforce needs, analysis of competitors, sales and expense forecasts and marketing budgets.
One burgeoning entrepreneur, enthralled with the idea of becoming a salon owner, started her business without first conducting market research to see if the area could support such an endeavor. Try as she might, she was never able to build a customer base strong enough to keep her doors open.
To better ensure success, take whatever time you need to create an effective business plan. Many companies have software to make the job easier and faster. It doesn’t have to be reams of pages long — some companies even offer one-page plans. Regardless of length, planning is critical.4. Poor Management and Leadership
Effective management and leadership skills are essential to business-building success, and a lack of either can lead to confusion and conflict within the ranks, poor morale and reduced productivity.
Make it a priority to acquire the skills needed to strengthen areas where you know you are weak. Read books on leadership from authors such as John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker and Sheryl Sandberg; join peer advisory groups like Vistage or take an online course in leadership from Dale Carnegie.
The bottom line: Your employees look to you for leadership — so lead!5. Expanding Too Quickly
More than one company has experienced bankruptcy as a result of the business owner’s reach exceeding his grasp concerning expansion.
Decide about expansion only after carefully reviewing, researching and analyzing what you will need regarding new employees, facilities and systems. While it may be feasible to do much of the work yourself early in the life of your business, that won’t be the case after your expand. Just keep in mind, slow and steady wins the race.6. Failure to Advertise and Market
An adage says, “When business is good, it pays to advertise; when business is bad, you have to advertise.”
Many companies go out of business purely because the owner failed to promote and market. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality doesn’t work in an age when consumers can choose from among a multiplicity of options. You have to get your message seen and heard.
While traditional methods of advertising are still useful, one of the best ways to market your business is with a website. Even in 2016, nearly half (46 percent) of all small businesses do not have one, according to a report from the research firm Clutch. So just by creating a site, which you can do using any number of self-service platforms, you put yourself ahead of many of your competitors.
While you’re at it, set up profiles on social networks where your customers gather. Also, start an email newsletter and advertise on Google and Facebook — both of which are inexpensive ways to build a presence online.7. Lack of Differentiation
You’ve heard of the term, “Unique Value Proposition” (UVP, for short). That describes the qualities, characteristics, products or services that differentiate a business from its competitors. The problem is, too few businesses actually have a UVP, or they fail to make it clear what theirs is — probably because they don’t know themselves.
To determine your value proposition, use a tool like the Value Proposition Canvas, which makes it explicit how you create value for your customers and even helps you to design products and services your customers want. Once you know the UVP, communicate it clearly, to customers and staff.8. Unwillingness to Delegate
Entrepreneurs can often be their own worst enemies in that they seek to do everything themselves. One extreme example comes from a CEO of a small but growing engineering firm who, after 10 years was still emptying the dishwasher in the employee break room.
As an entrepreneur, you may think, “No one can do it better than me.” Or, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Or, “I can’t trust anyone else with this responsibility.” That attitude can lead to a sense of overwhelm and burnout.
The remedy: Learn to delegate busywork (emptying a dishwasher certainly qualifies) to others while concentrating on the tasks that contribute to the growth of the company, like casting vision and grooming others for positions of leadership.9. Unprofitable Business Model
Just because you have a business idea about which you’re excited doesn’t mean it’s a good one. That’s where creating a business plan, conducting marketing research and seeking the advice of others can be a lifesaver.
Also, it pays to ask yourself questions like: Is there a customer base for this product or service? Is there a proven revenue model? How long would it take to bring the business to market and at what cost?10. Underestimating the Competition
A final reason worth mentioning for why companies go out of business is underestimating the competition.
Even if you have a sound business model, plenty of funds to operate and the necessary management skills to be successful, you still face one daunting challenge: the competition.
You may be a David surrounded by several Goliaths; that’s particularly true if you’re in the retail trade, located where there is an abundance of big box stores.
Also, you have to consider disruptive startups who may be building a better, cheaper, faster, more convenient, higher-quality mousetrap.
To increase your chance of success, conduct a competitive analysis as part of your overall market analysis. Assess your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and implement strategies to improve your competitive advantage.
Window Image via Shutterstock
U.S. Bank (NYSE:USB) and Sage (LON:SGE) announced this week at Sage Summit 2016 in Chicago a new partnership that will benefit Sage customers in the U.S. and Canada.
The partnership centers around the introduction of AP Optimizer, an application built by U.S. Bank that lives inside the Sage Live accounting platform.
Its purpose, according to Bradley Matthews, head of Middle Market Product and Marketing for U.S. Bank Corporate Payment Systems, who spoke with Small Business Trends by phone, is to address three pain points experienced by Sage customers: knowing the best time to pay invoices, the best method for paying them and how to make the payment process easier.
“AP Optimizer creates a cash flow analysis that shows outgoing and inbound invoices over a 90-day period,” Matthews said. “It maps the two sets of invoices together and shows the times when the business has the most cash on hand, or the reverse, when it is cash poor.”Cash Flow Statement
Matthews said that by seeing the two areas, a business can know the best time to pay and when to avoid making payments, as the following screenshots illustrate:
“By showing the projected cash flow from both payables and receivables, the user quickly sees how to maximize their working capital and avoid ‘crunch times’ of late payments and loss of ‘float,'” Matthews said.Real-time Accounts Payables
AP Optimizer marks the first truly digital accounting and payment solution that enables small to medium-sized businesses to manage their cash flow in near real-time. In fact, it was the real-time nature of Sage Live that attracted U.S. Bank’s attention in the first place.
“Sage Live users can see at any given moment when a payment is coming due, and then decide to rearrange the payment schedule based on the amount of cash on hand, thanks to the information AP Optimizer provides,” Matthews said. “If a payment from a customer comes in, perhaps via a credit card, users will see a jump in the revenue line immediately and can change their invoice payment schedule to accommodate.”U.S. Bank Customers Get Payables Tool; Everyone Else Can Analyze
AP Optimizer has two main parts: Payables, which lists the invoices and allows users to pay, and the Optimizer portion, which shows the best way to pay.
While the payables portion is only available to U.S. Bank customers, according to Matthews, Sage Live users can gain insights from the Optimizer’s comparative data, which shows how their business stacks up against its peers and best-in-class performers. It also includes a calculation of the savings or additional revenue that companies could realize by making specific changes.
“The comparative that the tool generates — how much an organization is spending on payments, how that compares with its peers and with best-in-class and how much additional revenue could be realized by making adjustments — is a game changer for small businesses,” Matthews said. “It enables them to do something only big companies could do before.”
Currently, AP Optimizer is designed for larger small businesses preparing to cross the chasm to become a medium-sized enterprise. That’s not to suggest smaller companies can’t use the tool, but they must be Sage Live users to do so. U.S. Bank is looking into ways to integrate the tool with Sage One, the accounting platform used by smaller companies, Matthews said.
Images: Sage North America
This article, "U.S. Bank and Sage Announce AP Optimizer to Streamline Invoice Payments" was first published on Small Business Trends
Just a couple of years ago, businesses looked at Software as a Service (SaaS) with some apprehension primarily because of security risks. A lot has changed since then. Today more than 85 percent of small business executives are willing to invest more in SaaS solutions over the next five years, according to research by Intuit.
What’s led to this change? Shifts in technology, particularly mobile devices and reliance on digital, says Gartner.
The tech research giant even predicts that by 2020, about a quarter of organizations in emerging regions will be running their core CRM systems via SaaS. That’s a 10 percent increase over 2012.
The data has been compiled and analyzed by software company Better Buys in its 2016 Report on the State of SaaS.SAAS Industry Trends – Key Highlights of the 2016 Report on the State of SaaS
The report provides some interesting insights on SaaS adoption by small businesses. Here are a few important takeaways:
A large number of small businesses are opting for SaaS to automate everyday tasks and optimize important workflows. It’s not difficult to understand why. The best thing about SaaS is that it makes it easier for companies to add and access information whenever and wherever they want.
What also works in favor of SaaS is the flexibility small businesses get out of using it. Instead of investing in expensive IT infrastructure, small companies need to just pay for an ongoing subscription. For cash-strapped businesses, this translates into savings.
“Budgets are being decreased and the business units are already going out and buying SaaS without talking to the IT departments about it. They’re finding that they get more choice, they get it faster, they get it with less hassle — it’s instant gratification if you will,” Gartner VP and fellow Daryl Plummer tells ZDNet.
It’s an interesting time for small businesses to take advantage of advanced SaaS solutions. There are many SaaS startups offering great solutions to help businesses navigate today’s social marketplace.
With so many choices available, small businesses should focus on identifying solutions that work best for them.
Check out this infographic from Better Buys:
This article, "85 Percent of Small Businesses Set to Invest More in SaaS (Infographic)" was first published on Small Business Trends
Despite the popularity of donut shop chains like Dunkin’ Donuts, there are plenty of successful donut shops that are thriving in today’s market. In fact, artisan donut shops, which offer specialty confections like cereal or bacon covered donuts, are beginning to gain more popularity in a number of different markets.
If you’re interested in breaking into the artisan donut market but need some inspiration, here are independent donut stores that are already experiencing big success.Independent Donut Stores Making it Big The Salty Donut
This Miami based artisan donut shop specializes in chef-made, small-batch craft donuts. Some of the flavors on the menu include maple bacon, guava + cheese and even spiked donut holes. The team makes everything in house using high quality ingredients. And The Salty Donut even features rotating coffees with different flavor profiles.Dougnut Lounge
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Doughnut Lounge offers a variety of classic donut varieties, along with signature items that come with unique toppings or ingredients. And then there are the “noduts,” which are savory menu items that include donuts along with plenty of other ingredients that make them more like a full meal than a snack. For example, the Glazed & Gravy donut features a glazed donut smothered in gravy and topped with a fried egg. The business also has a selection of cocktails for customers to pair with their donuts.Grace Street
This shop that features Korean specialties like Hodduk, a dough pocket filled with melted brown sugar and other specialty ingredients, along with shaved snow, a type of frozen dessert. Based in New York City, Grace Street isn’t what you’d think of as a traditional donut shop. But the shop has lots of positive reviews from people who are rethinking the entire concept of donuts.Federal Donuts
Featuring donuts, coffee and chicken, Federal Donuts has a few locations throughout Philadelphia. The menu includes interesting donut varieties like churro and guava poppy. Or you can even pair your donuts with a side of fried chicken or even a flavored chicken sandwich.Peter Pan Donuts
This bakery was established in Brooklyn more than 62 years ago. Since then, the shop has cultivated a dedicated customer base and evolved into a specialty donut shop featuring menu items like French toast cake and s’mores donuts. Peter Pan Donuts also features coffee and classic doughnut and pastry flavors.Dynamo Donut + Coffee
This San Francisco based donut and coffee shop includes specialty donut flavors like chocolate rose, black pepper glaze and lemon thyme. With locations in San Francisco’s mission and marina districts, Dynamo Donut + Coffee uses seasonal, local and organic ingredients wherever possible. And the team handmakes each batch right at the mission location.World’s Best Donuts
In Grand Marais, Minnesota, World’s Best Donuts offers a variety of cake donuts in different flavors, including the classics and special flavors like maple swirl. Started in 1969, the business also offers it’s own famous creation called the Skizzle, which is like an oversized but thin fried donut.Bloom Bake Shop
Bloom Bake Shop is a vegan and gluten free dessert shop in Middleton, Wisconsin. The shop features donuts, cinnamon rolls, whoopee pies and even homemade pop tarts, along with a selection of biscuit sandwiches and coffee. The shop’s menu changes daily. But all selections are available in vegan and gluten free varieties.The Morning Call Coffee Stand
For more than 140 years, The Morning Call Coffee Stand has been serving coffee and beignets, or “French market donuts” to New Orleans and the surrounding communities. Mostly known for its French drip coffee, the business has also amassed a large following of pastry fans who enjoy a different take on donuts.Union Square Donuts
Union Square Donuts is a shop that specializes in handmade donuts in Somerville, Massachusetts. The shop offers premium donut flavors like maple bacon and brown butter hazlenut crunch, along with some classic flavors and even vegan varieties.The Donut Man
Located in Glendora, California, The Donut Man features gourmet menu items like its gourmet cream cheese and raspberry topped donuts and orange frosted cake donuts. The shop also features seasonal flavors like fresh strawberry and pumpkin.Primo’s Donuts
Since 1956, the Primo family has run Primo’s Donuts in Los Angeles. Featuring menu items that include classic donut flavors along with specialty items like bacon crunch donuts and bars and devil’s food donuts. The family owned establishment makes fresh batches of donuts daily.Firecakes
This Chicago based shop features specialty donut flavors like maple glazed pineapple and bacon, peanut butter cup and malted milk ball. Firecakes also sells seasonal specialties and ice cream donut sandwiches.
Box of donuts Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "13 Independent Donut Shop Alternatives to Dunkin’ Donuts" was first published on Small Business Trends
Investors can now buy equity in private companies through online platforms, which has led people eager to invest in startups to consider purchasing shares through these portals. But before people become invested in equity, they should think about how they will get their money out. We don’t yet have an efficient secondary market for private company shares.The Challenge of Exiting Crowdfunding Investments
Business angels and venture capitalists usually achieve liquidity when the companies they finance are acquired or go public. But it’s not likely that most investors in crowdfunding portals will achieve liquidity that way. Most of the companies raising money through these platforms aren’t the type to go public or be acquired.
Moreover, crowdfunding will lead to a smaller fraction of private companies having these types of exits. Crowdfunding will increase directly the number of young companies getting financed, but won’t influence the number of IPOs or acquisitions very much at all. If crowdfunding leads more companies to receive investment, but doesn’t alter the number experiencing an IPO or acquisition, it will exacerbate the startup investment liquidity problem.
Strategic and institutional investors might someday become buyers of crowdfunding shares, David Freedman and Matthew Nutting argue in their book “Equity Crowdfunding for Investors: A Guide to the Risks, Returns, Regulations, Funding Portals, Due Diligence, and Deal Terms.” But, these investors aren’t going to do much to make a market for those shares initially. Strategic and institutional investors focus their financing activity on the highest performing fraction of businesses backed by angels and other early investors in private companies. They aren’t likely to be interested in the shares of most companies that raise money through equity crowdfunding.
Other individual investors might want to buy these shares, Freedman and Nutting explain. But that won’t happen while the startups are still selling shares through crowdfunding. Just as people don’t buy previously lived-in homes while builders are still offering brand new dwellings, investors won’t buy shares from others when they can purchase them from the companies themselves.
More importantly, for these shares to really trade between investors, we need a secondary market where buyers and sellers come together. The intermediaries that currently match buyers and sellers for private company shares probably won’t create these secondary markets. The currently market-making entities typically seek the approval of the companies that issue the shares before accepting transactions, making them a better fit for selling employees’ shares than investors’ equity. In addition, these transactions are labor-intensive, which will deter most entities from making markets for small lots.
Then there is the information problem. Potential buyers will have a difficult time getting accurate data on the private companies they are considering buying. No analysts cover these companies or provide reports about them. Few of the businesses have audited financial statements to provide to potential investors.
Before investing in private companies, investors should consider how they will liquidate their holdings in the future. Right now it’s possible to buy shares in private companies quite efficiently. But it’s not yet possible to sell those same shares easily.
Exit Sign Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "How Will Investors Exit Their Crowdfunding Investments?" was first published on Small Business Trends
At a time when organic reach is declining (or dead) on many social networks, Medium is a shining beacon of hope if you’re feeling like your great content is going unnoticed and unloved.
One great thing about Medium is that it’s about the value of your ideas. It’s not just another place where the biggest names and celebrities dominate.
Even if you aren’t a top influencer with a gazillion followers, or if your niche is small, your Medium story can get tons of views and green hearts (the Recommend button). It’s doable.
I’ve already showed you WHY Medium publishing is such a powerful lever for content marketers. Today I’m going to show you HOW to make sure your content on Medium performs at an awesome level.
I’ve been experimenting with Medium for a while, and I think I’ve cracked the code. Here are my best seven tips to optimize your Medium posts and get them to go hot.Medium Publishing Tips 1. Include A Powerful Image
A compelling image at the top of your content can help draw more readers into your post. Add an image immediately after your headline to guarantee it will appear as part of your teaser on mobile news feeds, like this:
Visuals increase engagement, whether it’s on Medium or any other platform. Unless you include an image in your Medium post, your teaser will just be a few words (usually just the opening sentence of your post), which means fewer clicks and fewer readers.
Always try to include a great, eye-catching visual. The right image can help convey what your article is about and entice many more people to click on the Read More link.2. Pay To Promote
You can run ads on Facebook and Twitter to promote your Medium posts. With just $50 as a catalyst, you can give your content a little inaugural push, to help it get to 200 hearts within 24 hours.
I’ve found that if you’re able to cross a 200-heart threshold within a day, there’s a great chance your article will start trending and be pushed out to users by the platform’s content recommendation article. Your pageviews will skyrocket.
You’ll want to target your ads to people who have Medium accounts, because targeting people who aren’t on Medium is a complete waste of money if your only goal is to get hearts.
Once your post starts trending, more and more people will start seeing it, reading it and hearting it. You want to achieve this Medium Virtuous Cycle and ride your unicorn post as long as you can.3. Submit Your Article To Medium Publications
Why go it alone? Ask a Medium publication owner to add your article to their publication.
Getting your article featured in a publication will grow your reach beyond just your followers to reach however many followers that publication has. Getting featured in a really big publication can give you a huge boost – some Medium publications have more than 100,000 followers.
My Medium publication, All Things Marketing & Entrepreneurship, has nearly 10,000 followers – it’s already the largest marketing publication on the platform! So someone who is new to Medium and who has a small following could ask me to feature a post in my channel, which would open that person to a brand new and much larger audience. (Interested in contributing? Shoot me a note on Twitter.)4. Delete & Repost Your Articles
Not every Medium article you post will be a blockbuster. However, if you really believe your article should have done well, but it didn’t get reads and hearts for whatever reason, you absolutely can delete it and republish it.
Give your content a third chance (the first chance being wherever it initially published, and its second being its first incarnation on Medium) if it has less than 1,000 views and 50 hearts. Try again.
There is a bit of randomness to success on Medium. Some if has to do with publishing at the right time when people are active, creating a snowball of people recommending your post.
Just because your content underperformed twice doesn’t mean it will suffer the same outcome every time. Hopefully the third time is the charm. If you try more than 3 times, make sure you change the title and image because at some point, trying the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result becomes a bit insane. Also, wait at least a month or two between tries so as not to drive your followers crazy.5. Build Your Twitter and Facebook Fans
Medium automatically syncs your followers to match your Twitter and Facebook followers. So you need to get more readers into your personal funnel.
Everything you’re doing to grow your Twitter and Facebook following will ultimately help you on Medium (just as, in turn, everything you do on Medium will help grow your Twitter following and Facebook fans). Even if just 1 in 10 people have an account, that will still help.6. Follow People Who Engage With Your Content
This one is so simple. Whenever people engage with your content, whether it’s through a recommendation or a comment, follow them back, which will result in them seeing a notification that you’ve followed them.
They’ve indicated they are interested in what you’re writing about. So keep them engaged! Strike while your content is still fresh in their mind.
The odds are pretty good that the people who have engaged with your posts will follow you back. Usually about a quarter of the people I’ve followed have followed me back.7. Post On a Regular Schedule
You can’t just set up a Medium account, post the occasional article, and expect to gain any real traction. You’ll have to work at it. That means regularly posting interesting content.
I’ve been publishing two or three articles every week for about six months and the results have been pretty remarkable. My posts are generating anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 views per month, and I’m picking up a couple thousand new followers per week, which means future stories are increasingly more likely to be successful.
What’s most amazing is that none of what I’m publishing is original content! It was all posted on other sites first. All the reads are incremental, meaning these people would have otherwise never read my posts.Optimizing for Medium in a Nutshell
So that’s how you optimize for Medium, guys:
Go forth and get more out of your content. Go forth and conquer Medium! (and while you’re at it, follow me on Medium!)
Republished by permission. Original here.
Images via WordStream