- Front Page
- Biz Tools
The Franchise Owner's most trusted news source
Optimism among small businesses is at its highest level in more than a decade, according to the latest NFIB Optimism Index. But not every new change and concept is a positive one for small businesses. According to analysis from Cision, a decent portion of conversations surrounding the gig economy are negative.
You can read more about these items and more small business news below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.Economy Small Business Optimism Skyrockets As Trump Prepares to Take Office
Optimism among America’s small businesses skyrocketed in December. A Optimism Index made up of 10 survey indicators rose 7.4 points to 105.8, its highest level since 2004, said the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The December 2016 NFIB survey shows dramatic improvement in the economic prospects right after President Elect Donald Trump’s win.37 Percent of Discussions on Gig Economy Negative, Study Finds
Media calls it the force that could save the American worker. But independent workers feel differently about the gig economy. According to a new media analysis by Cision, on behalf of The Rockefeller Foundation, about 37 percent of overall discussions on gig economy is negative.Bitcoin Hits Three Year High: What Should Small Businesses Know?
In 2016 Bitcoin rose 125 percent in value, and it started 2017 by topping the $1,000 mark for the first time in three years. After reaching a high of $1,153.02, the crypto currency once again showed its volatility by dropping $200 on January 5 in just one hour. It currently stands at $970.18 as of this posting.Employment What is an H1B Visa and Will Proposed Changes Affect Your Business?
President-elect Donald Trump has suggested changes to H1B visas that could impact some small businesses and their employees. But if you’re busy running every other aspect of your small business, you probably don’t have time to keep up with all the country’s complex immigration laws.Retail Trends Keurig, Anheuser-Busch Introduce Single Serve Beer Brewing (Watch)
What do you do when you’ve already mastered your corner of the marketplace? You diversify. That’s what two big name beverage companies are currently trying to do. Keurig has done so well in the single-serve coffee segment that its name is basically synonymous with that market. And Anheuser-Busch InBev is the company behind successful beer brands like Budweiser and Corona.Small Biz Spotlight Spotlight: Peeks Mixes Livestreaming and Social Commerce
Livestreaming is becoming increasingly popular with individuals and businesses alike. But for businesses that actually want to increase revenue through livestreaming, there aren’t quite as many options. That’s where Peeks comes in. The company mixes livestreaming and social commerce in one platform.Small Business Loans Trump Bump Extends to Small Business Lending, Biz2Credit Reports
According to Biz2Credit the “Trump Bump” is extending beyond the stock market to small business lending. In its recent report, Biz2Credit says that lending at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) and institutional lenders finished the year strong, improving to post-recession highs in December 2016. And President elect Donald Trump is being given at least part of the credit.Small Business Operations 21 Things You Should Keep in Company Vehicles During Winter
Is your business located in an area hard hit by winter weather? If your business has vehicles that transport goods between locations, make deliveries, are used regularly for business meetings or for making sales calls, then you may need to take some extra precautions.Yahoo Isn’t Yahoo Anymore – Here’s Why (Watch)
Yahoo is making some major changes. A recently released Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed that Yahoo is changing its name to Altaba after its merger with Verizon. In addition, CEO Marissa Mayer and half of the current board of directors plan to step down. Of course, not all of these changes are exactly unexpected.Startup What Weakening Accelerator Companies Mean for Policy
The past decade has witnessed a dramatic rise in the rate of formation of accelerator companies. As the number of U.S.-based business accelerators has increased from one in 2006 to nearly 500 today, and the size and frequency of accelerator classes has grown, the number of high potential startups receiving financing from these entities has increased at exponential rates.Starting a Marijuana Business: A State By State Guide
California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada recently passed laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota enacted medical marijuana initiatives, bringing the total of states (and the District of Columbia) that allow some form of marijuana use to 33.Technology Trends Taking Cybersecurity Seriously Could Save Your Business – or Even a Life! (Watch)
If your business uses technology of almost any kind, you could be vulnerable to hackers. This is something that is already understood in many high-tech businesses. But in other industries that simply use technology in some capacity, cybersecurity falls a bit further down the list of priorities.Wearables Not Dead: Lenovo Means Business With New Glass Device
Unless a device can be adopted for real world use cases, what’s the point? Arguably, Google Glass had this problem. But Lenovo (HKG:0992) has taken the innovative wearable idea and decided to find a new customer or use case for its New Glass C200.Giant HP Screen With Pop-up Camera May Be Too Pricey for Small Businesses
The new generation of personal computers are not only beautifully designed, but they come packed with some great components. And the new HP (NYSE:HPQ) Envy Curved AiO 34 that was just unveiled at CES 2017 more than delivers in terms of looks and specs. A Peek at the HP Envy Curved All-In-One Desktop 34 The AiO 34 is striking.Latest HP Spectre Laptop Adds Weight,Thickness and Functionality
When HP (NYSE:HPQ) announced its last 2-in-1 Spectre x360, the company proudly said it was the thinnest and lightest ultra-book on the market. The announcement of the latest version adds 1.89 millimeters of thickness and an additional .42 pounds of extra weight.New Honor 6X Phone Sports Dual Lens Camera, Low Price
Media capability is one of the biggest selling features for a smartphone these days, and the new Honor 6X didn’t disappoint on these specs at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. The “double or nothing” motto being used in the campaign applies to the rear dual-lens camera of the Honor 6X, one of the many premium specs the Huawei (SHE:002502) phone provides at only $249.99.Apple Products, Phablets Top List of Most Popular Mobile Devices This Holiday Season
Post-holiday season, you’re most likely to find traffic to your site or eCommerce store coming from Apple devices or phablets– if any brand. That’s because both Apple devices and, more generally, phablets were among the top gifted mobile devices this holiday season.
Graph Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Small Business Optimism Rises, Positive Response to Gig Economy, Not So Much" was first published on Small Business Trends
A McDonald's which sparked a holy row when it opened next to the Vatican will begin handing out free burgers to the poor next week. From Monday, the fast food giant will work with Medicina Solidale and the papal almoner office to dish out 1,000 meals to Rome's vulnerable in and around St Peter's Basilica.
TweetDeck it wasn’t and now, Twitter Dashboard is toast.
The social media site says it’s now ditching Twitter Dashboard — an app specifically designed for businesses — on Feb. 3. That’s only six months after Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) introduced Dashboard.
And this is just the latest anti-development for Twitter. The social media site continues to appear to lag behind the others, namely Facebook, especially in the revenue and profits columns.
News of the activity was shared on the @dashboardapp account by Twitter.
Twitter Dashboard will be closing down on February 3rd. 1/5
— Twitter Dashboard (@dashboardapp) January 10, 2017
In the future, we hope to bring the best features from Dashboard to the broader Twitter community. 2/5
— Twitter Dashboard (@dashboardapp) January 10, 2017
Thanks for making Dashboard part of how you use Twitter, we’ve been overwhelmed by your positive feedback. 3/5
— Twitter Dashboard (@dashboardapp) January 10, 2017
Obviously, the “positive feedback” noted in that tweet run-on wasn’t enough to keep Dashboard going beyond Feb. 3. And really, Dashboard lacked what other more established Twitter managing apps already provide. And that includes a product Twitter already owns, TweetDeck.
In fact, it’s TweetDeck where Twitter is directing the actual Dashboard users who will be impacted by this recent development.
All of your scheduled Tweets will still be posted as scheduled and can be seen/updated from @tweetdeck 4/5
— Twitter Dashboard (@dashboardapp) January 10, 2017
TweetDeck is a rather popular Twitter manager for users who either manage multiple accounts or follow several streams at once. It also allows for easy scheduling of Tweets, including from multiple accounts at once. Twitter geeks surely appreciate the user-friendly interface of TweetDeck, something Dashboard simply didn’t provide.Why Twitter is Shutting Down Its Dashboard App
Dashboard was aimed at business users but outside of some analytics, the benefits clearly haven’t proven to keep enough users enticed. Some users told Twitter directly in response to the above tweets that they did find some perks of the app helpful — the ability to look at lists (again, something easily done on TweetDeck, too), for example.
— Jeri McNeill ?? ? (@bajshagirl) January 10, 2017Twitter Needs Some Good News
The trend for Twitter has been largely negative.
The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, was famously left out of a ballyhooed “tech summit” with President-elect Donald Trump. The site’s financial struggles are well documented. The NFL experiment’s success is unknown. Executives are leaving. It — along with Facebook, to be fair — has come under scrutiny for stances it has taken on censorship and banning users.
And as other sites are adding new features and experiments, it seems Twitter is taking away as much as or more than it’s giving.
The six-second video service, Vine, was recently shut down by the site. These somewhat goofy or irritating video loops had an ability to go viral when done correctly and were popular among some users. Regardless, it’s kaput.Which Which is Which?
Dashboard’s failure is at least partly due to the fact that Twitter already has a product like it in place. And a popular one, too.
So, why have two of the same?
It’s got another example of this — live video.
The live-streaming app Periscope (which it owns) seems to have set the tone for the future of social media feeds. But, like the Dashboard/Tweetdeck conflict, Twitter also recently announced that live video abilities were coming to its mobile apps. And it’s not named Periscope.
So long and thanks for all the Tweets, ? , the @dashboardapp team. 5/5
— Twitter Dashboard (@dashboardapp) January 10, 2017
HubSpot is as well known for its inbound marketing content as they are for the platform they’ve built for companies to execute marketing strategies. But recently they’ve created a new online site focused more on content for C-Level executives at Fortune 1000 organizations.
Sam Mallikarjunan, Principal Marketing Strategist at HubSpot (NYSE:HUBS) and editor of ThinkGrowth.org (formally known as ReadThink.com), discusses how the site differs from the content HubSpot is best known for, why they built the site on Medium and how it’s helping them compete with established management brands like Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan, the role “skimmable” content and audio podcasts is playing in reaching execs, and how even in today’s digital marketing world most marketers still aren’t measuring the impact of their activities on ROI.
Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To see the full conversation click on the embedded video below or the SoundCloud audio player.
* * * * *
Small Business Trends: Tell us about ThinkGrowth.
Sam Mallikarjunan: We launched a publication that’s different than what we normally do. You’re used to HubSpot doing tips and tricks and advice specific; how you learn the discipline of good sales and marketing, good growth. ThinkGrowth is aimed at a broader work strategy. An executive mindset. Not trying to get a lot of people to read it because there’s only a thousand Fortune 1,000 CEO’s. But Ev Williams, the founder of Medium, highlighted a bunch of our stuff. Some Salesforce VP’s highlighted a bunch of our stuff. Creating content for the really sophisticated executives who want to push thinking forward in their company. That’s what I’ve been working on for the last year.
Small Business Trends: You told me a little earlier you’re looking to compete with the MIT magazines, Harvard Business magazines. You’re starting an online magazine aimed at those kind of institutions. How daunting is that?
Sam Mallikarjunan: We have a little bit of a different strategy. HBR is a phenomenal magazine that I read every month, that has 300 years of brand presence behind it and brand power.
Getting people to turn us into a monthly reading habit may not be the winning strategy, but the beautiful thing … We publish on Medium. Medium’s an awesome content platform combined with a social network. It has those network effects. The beautiful thing about that is you get a lot of people discovering your content who never would have found you before.
Creating content that gets discovered by people who weren’t actively looking for it. How do you sell cars in a country with no roads, for example? You have to build those roads first. You have to convince people that mobility is an issue. We’re solving some of those discovery things.
Then also focusing on creating content that gets passed around within an organization. One of my biggest wins was Joel from Buffer, the CEO of Buffer, sent one of our articles around to his entire executive team. That’s our win. The CMO at Buffer may not be actively Googling, “How do I optimize my sales and marketing acquisition funnel?” and then click a CTA (call to action) and then download an ebook; and then talk to one of our sales reps. But to get him to believe in the methodology that powers Inbound, that powers HubSpot. We want to get that content to go further in a different way.
We’re not trying to sell magazine subscriptions. We’re not trying to directly competing with them (HBR/MIT Sloan Review), but we do want some of that same audience.
Small Business Trends: I know you’re doing an online publication, but where does video fit in in the strategy of reaching that top level executive? Are they starting to take in video content more?
Sam Mallikarjunan: We haven’t done as much with video. The two things that have worked well for us, one, Medium is very skimmable. It actually hurts me as a writer because you write these one sentence paragraphs and you’re writing specifically for a mobile screen. You just break all the rules of English to do it, which begs a different question … do the rules of English need to change.
That, combined with audio. We have a really popular podcast called The Growth Show. Maybe not necessarily video, but audio. I don’t know about you but more of my reading’s actually done by Audible now. Audible Channels is amazing.
The combination of skimmable mobile content, Medium, and audio content the team does with The Growth Show, that’s what’s worked for us so far.
Small Business Trends: What are the hot content areas for the forward learning executive right now?
Sam Mallikarjunan: A lot of the topics that we’re working on are, how do you structure a company to survive the future? How do you do, for example, internal disruption, internal innovation? I’ll just use us as an example because I know us well, but we rolled out a free version of the HubSpot. It was doable. Somebody was going to make a free sales and marketing software anyway. You don’t want innovation to happen to you. You want it to happen within you.
Our labs team put out the free version of that stuff to focus on self-disruption. We don’t want to wake up one morning and find some MIT kid has just crushed our business model. We want to figure it out before the MIT kid crushes our business model. Selling that concept of internal innovation and then also selling the concepts of aligned growth. Sixty percent of marketers still don’t measure their marketing in any way.
Small Business Trends: In any way?
Sam Mallikarjunan: In any way. They don’t measure it at all. You can go to stateofinbound.com. You can read the full report we had. It was really depressing. I remember when I did the state of eCommerce marketing survey. I wanted to talk about advanced attribution and all these other things … Abandoned cart nurturing. It was more than 50 percent of people don’t measure the abandoned cart rate, much less actually do abandoned cart nurturing. I’m trying to avoid … Are you familiar Butler syndrome?
I call it sprocket syndrome … We have to fight the temptation that everybody in the world is as sophisticated as the people who come to the Inbound event. Most people still do marketing the same way it was done 10 or 15 years ago. I want to avoid us having this echo chamber of, “Okay, everybody’s doing amazing work already,” and ignoring the part of the market that still has to be educated.
This article, "Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot: 60 Percent of Marketers Still Don’t Measure Their Marketing in Any Way" was first published on Small Business Trends
We live in a business world that’s largely ruled by automation. As a result, you’re losing time and money if you’re manually doing something that your competition is streamlining through automation. But are you aware of the various marketing tasks that your competitors are already automating?What to Know About Automation
Automation is a big word with big consequences. It’s not as simple as identifying a problem, finding an automated solution, and implementing said solution. There are certain areas of your business that are naturally conducive to being streamlined and then there are other areas that need lots of manual input.
It’s also important to recognize that automating a task doesn’t mean you’re completely stepping away and severing all human ties with that task. Automation simply means that you’re able to eliminate some of the time wasted and relocate resources elsewhere.
“Businesses looking to adopt automation must realize that it is far from a one-size-fits-all solution,” IT pro Barclay Ballard says. “There are areas of your businesses that can become more efficient and productive by being automated, but even these are likely to require some human involvement. What’s more, there are likely to be some companies or teams that are completely unsuited to automation.”
The point is that you need to spend time carefully evaluating your needs and understanding what can and cannot be automated within your organization. What you discover may surprise you.Marketing Automation for Small Businesses Five Marketing Tasks the Competition is Automating
One area of automation that’s experienced a lot of growth over the last couple of years is marketing automation. There’s a ton of competition in this niche, with many good vendors to choose from. You can either select some sort of all-encompassing automation platform or pick and choose which tasks you want to streamline with individual tools. Either way, here’s a look at some of the tasks your competition is already automating as you read this article.1. Social Media
Social media is the best place to start since just about every business with a solid online presence is automating their activity in some form or fashion. There are a multitude of tools and you can find applications for automating posting, sharing, engaging followers, syncing accounts, and much more. While there’s still a place for manually monitoring your account, automation can greatly reduce the time and manpower it takes to complete very basic tasks.2. Blog Promotion
Blog promotion is a huge undertaking that has a considerable impact on your ability to grow your brand and generate leads. With the help of marketing automation tools, you can streamline many of the smaller tasks that take up your time – such as sharing posts, split testing headlines, finding high-quality images, and more. Most marketing automation platforms have a handful of blog promotion features packed inside.3. Email Marketing
How’s your email marketing going? If you aren’t automating parts of this time-intensive area of your business, chances are, you’re missing out on opportunities to capture more leads and push them through the conversion funnel. Email marketing is naturally conducive to automation and with the right system in place you can segment lists, personalize messaging to the recipient, schedule email blasts, integrate relevant calls-to-action, and much more.4. A/B Testing
A/B testing is something that a lot of marketers are scared to get involved with because they feel it will overcomplicate things. Well, thanks to automated tools that effortlessly handle spit testing, nothing could be farther from the truth. You can set up A/B tests in the background and you won’t even know they’re running. Then, based on the results from the tests, you can set up a system that automatically changes various landing page elements to satisfy what your audience responds best to.5. Analytics
If you look at your analytics data and feel like it’s composed in a foreign language, you aren’t alone. But if you aren’t doing anything to deconstruct and understand what the data is telling you, you’re in the minority. Thanks to an influx of new analytics tools in the marketplace, it’s easier than ever to automate the collection and interpretation of data so that you can see exactly what’s happening in clean, visually stimulating reports.Catch Up With the Times
“To carry out an automation project correctly requires time and investment in both software and people. It is not a quick fix,” Ballard says. “However, the businesses that succeed in automating the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks will reinvigorate their workplace by giving their employees the ability to work faster, more efficiently and more intelligently than previously possible.”
Automation Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "5 Marketing Tasks Your Competitors are Successfully Automating" was first published on Small Business Trends
Okay, I’m going to start with a question.
What would happen if a hacker decided to launch a cyber attack against your business? Would they be successful? Would they easily gain access to your company’s sensitive information? Or would their attempt fall flat?
Believe it or not, cyber security isn’t just a concern for large businesses. It’s something that small business owners need to pay attention to.
Consider these statistics about Small Business Security:
If you’re a small business owner, you can’t ignore these statistics. You don’t want your business to suffer because you didn’t take the appropriate steps to protect it.
You have worked way too hard to allow your company to be threatened by a hacker, right? In this post, you will learn why it’s important to focus on cyber security. You will also learn how you can protect your business.Why Should Small Businesses Be Concerned With Cyber Security?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that your business is so small, nobody would ever want to hack it.
It’s easy to think that a small business would never have to deal with cyber security issues. Makes sense, right? Usually when you hear about a company being hacked, it’s a major brand like Target or Sony.
But these aren’t the only targets.
It may sound hard to believe, but hackers target small businesses too. You just don’t hear about it because the media isn’t going to report on hacks involving small businesses. There are several reasons why a hacker might go after a small business…Small Businesses Don’t Take Cyber Security Seriously
Let’s face it. Most small business owners don’t take cyber security seriously. They think that they’re too small to get a hacker’s attention.
However, this is one of the main reasons why a small business might get hacked. Hackers know that most small business owners don’t invest in cyber security.
Why? Because small business owners tend to think they have nothing worth stealing. This makes them an easy target.
Chances are, you do have something that hackers want: customer payment information. That brings me to my next point…You Have Information That Hackers Want
Your business may not be as big as Target or Starbucks … but it doesn’t matter. You do take payment for your products and services, right? That means you have something that hackers want. You have your customers’ payment information. You have your employees’ information.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus found that 7.4 percent of small business owners have been defrauded. As a business owner, you have customer and employee information. This information is as valuable as gold to hackers. If your system isn’t secure, these hackers could have access to payment information and social security numbers. It’s your job to make sure that this information is protected.How to Protect Your Small Business Against A Cyber Attack
Okay, so I’ve showed you that being a small business doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get hacked. But if you’re smart — and I know you are — you’re probably wondering how you can protect your company’s information. That’s what the next section of this post is about.Get Cyber Security Insurance
Insurance! It’s not just for your car, house or medical bills. You can also get insurance for your business. As a matter of fact, every company should carry some type of business insurance.
But, there is also cyber security insurance. If you’re a small business, you need this.
Sure, we all hope that security breaches won’t happen. But hope isn’t good enough. You need to make sure your business is covered.
Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect your business from various cyber security threats. If there is a security breach, and your company is held liable, you may end up having to pay out tons of money in a lawsuit. This can cripple most small businesses.
If you have cyber liability insurance, you won’t have to worry about this. If you buy the right type of insurance, your legal costs will be covered.Develop A Password Strategy
Many cyber security attacks happen because the passwords your employees use are way too simple. If your team isn’t educated, it’s possible that they’re using passwords that are way too easy to hack.
It happens all the time.
That’s why you need to implement an effective password strategy. You may not be able to stop every single attack, but you can certainly slow down a persistent hacker. If your system isn’t easy to hack, it could discourage the attacker. They will move on to another small business owner who isn’t as smart as you are!
Fortunately, this is pretty easy.
You should make sure that your team members are required to create passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, along with numbers and symbols. Yes, I know this might be a pain, but the security your company will have is worth it. Also, you should require your employees to reset their passwords at least once a month.Use Virtual Data Rooms (VDR)
Virtual data rooms are a great way to keep your company’s information secure. They make it easier for your employees to share sensitive data.
A virtual data room is an online repository where your company can store data. They’re usually used with financial transactions. It’s very hard for a hacker to get to information that is stored in a VDR.
There are many types of information that a company might store in a VDR:
VDR’s are a great way to ensure that your sensitive information is being kept safe.Speak With An Expert
Yes, I know you don’t want to do it. But you should. Paying an IT security consultant might seem to be a little expensive. But it’s a great investment.
If your house sprung a leak and water was building up in your kitchen, would you try to fix it yourself? Probably not. You would probably call a plumber, right?
Why? Because if you’re like most of us, you don’t know the first thing about plumbing. The same principle applies to IT security.
If you’re concerned about cyber security, you should consider speaking with an IT security expert. An IT security consultant can take a look at your business and determine the best course of action when it comes to protecting it from cyber attacks.
An IT security consultant can identify areas where your company is vulnerable to cyber attacks. They can make recommendations that will help you keep your business safe. When it comes to cyber security, you can never be too careful. If it’s in your budget, hire an expert. You’ll be glad you did.Beware Of Internal Threats
This may be a surprise, but most of the cyber security issues that happen are the result of someone inside the company. It’s not something most business owners want to think about, but it’s totally true.
Here’s a hard truth: 55 percent of all cyber attacks come from inside the organization. 31.5 percent are done by malicious employees. 23.5 percent are done by company insiders who mistakenly leave the company vulnerable to an attack.
Protecting your company means looking within the organization. It’s easy to assume that a cyber attack is going to come from an outside force. But it’s not true. You have to focus on the people inside your company just as much as people outside your company.
Make sure that you are keeping an eye on your authorization requirements. Be careful when you’re deciding which employees should have access to sensitive data. This will help you prevent “internal hacks.”
Don’t feel guilty for watching your employees’ activities; as the owner of your business, it’s your duty to ensure that you and your team are being protected. I get it. You don’t want to micromanage. The key is to find the balance between being safe and being big brother. It’s different for every company, but if you work at it, you will find that balance.Summing It All Up
If you’re a small business owner, you need to take your cyber security seriously. Don’t assume that your company isn’t a target just because you’re not a big business.
You owe it to yourself, your employees and your customers to make sure that your business is secure. Preventing cyber attacks should be one of your top priorities. If you take the right steps, you won’t have to worry about endangering your business.
Hacker Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "The Most Effective Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Attacks" was first published on Small Business Trends
The fast food chain is selling up to a third of its stake in its Japan unit, and private equity firms are considering making bids, according to the Wall Street Journal. Fred Katayama reports.