PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Business Tips & Trends News Highlights

By at 6 December, 2014, 8:16 pm

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The past week’s “How To” articles and other business new stories recommended by SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan:

SALES GROWTH

7 Easy Ways to Boost Your Conversion Rate, Killer Startups. “A high bounce rate on a business website is a clear indicator that the site needs to be redesigned. A business that can’t keep its leads on a page long enough to convert them is in trouble. It is a difficult task, too, considering that, according to at least one study, you have a maximum of 15 seconds to grab and keep the visitor’s attention once they reach your site. Luckily, a bounce rate can be reduced with a few easy fixes.”

Drive Sales With Text Messaging, Business Circle by AT&T. “Want a surefire way to reach customers? Consider adding text messaging to your marketing arsenal. A whopping 99% of text messages are opened, most within three minutes of receipt, according to a study by SinglePoint. Compare this with email marketing open rates, which top out at around 31%.” 

How to Write Tweets that Drive Sales, Business Circle by AT&T. “Why bother tweeting? A Twitter customer study this year found that 73% of users feel better about a small business after following its account and reading its tweets; 60% who follow small businesses have purchased something because of Twitter; and 57% learned about a small business for the first time on Twitter.”

18 Ways Customer Feedback Will Grow Your Business, Small Business Trends. “Satisfied customers lead to business growth. But in order to make sure your customers are satisfied, you need to run regular customer satisfaction surveys.”

ACCESS TO CAPITAL

A Government Program Every American Startup Should Know About, 1776. “When startups learn about the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program for the first time, a common reaction is, “Wait a second. A federal government program provides for-profit firms $1 million or more to develop technology, commercialize it and after, the firm keeps all of the Intellectual Property?”

Why Crowdfunding Closes the Gender Gap, Inc.com. “Women make up 44 percent of investors on Kickstarter, according to research by Kauffman and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. That’s a better balance than the VC or angel investor community can lay claim to. It also demonstrates a ready audience for products made by women, a number of which are specifically targeted at women.”

Perspective: Profiting from The Crowdfinance Revolution, CrowdfundInsider. “A financial revolution – ignited by hordes of individuals who have grown leery of conventional financial institutions, and powered by contemporary P2P and crowdfund marketplaces – has been germinating across the planet. In the same way that the Industrial Revolution redefined manufacturing and the Internet Revolution refashioned commerce, this ‘Crowdfinance Revolution’ will transform global capital markets and reconstitute financial systems.”

MARKETING AND COMPETITIVESS

3 Website Must-Haves for 2015, SCORE. “If one of your business objectives for 2015 is to give your website a much-needed makeover, you’ll want to make sure it has the important features customers are looking for.

Take Business Cards Into the 21st Century With ElloBEE, Killer Startups. “…there’s elloBEE, the 21st-century evolution of the business card. The app is simple: first step is creating an elloCARD that highlights your skills and your brand. The look is clean, harkening back to sites like LinkedIn with a simple, professional profile that anyone would be happy to share.”

OPERATIONS

Why Payroll is One Function You Should Outsource, Small Business Trends. “A good payroll provider offers capabilities that go beyond what you can do on your own.  If you haven’t considered an outsourced solution before, a new year is a good time to consider making a switch.”

The Cyber Security Myths That Small Companies Still Believe, BusinessWeek. “High-profile breaches at Target (TGT), Home Depot (HD), and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) have put cybersecurity on the agenda for companies large and small. But despite the ongoing media commentary and “best practices” memos, consultant Adam Epstein of Third Creek Advisors notes that board members of small-cap companies and those considering or preparing initial public offerings are still befuddled by persistent myths on this topic.”

5 Simple Tips to Secure Your Website From Hackers, Small Business Trends. “There are things that you can do to secure your website from hackers and becoming a target for online vandals. Here’s a roundup of the easiest steps you can take…”

SELF-IMPROVEMENT, TRAINING & RESOURCES

14 Amazing Resources Many Entrepreneurs Don’t Know About, YEC/Huffing Small Business. Take advantage of these accessible resources, many of which are free.

A Whole Town in Colorado Pushes to Improve its Customer Service, New York Times. Steamboat Springs did not like the results of their customer relation’s score from visitors, but leaders did not panic. “…Mr. Kern and a group of business owners made an unusual decision — to give the whole town customer-service training.”

Are Your Goals Tough Enough? Or Too Tough?, Success Magazine. “When you’re aiming to achieve extraordinary things, hitting the farthest target—and missing—can be more valuable than hitting the closest target and succeeding.”

STARTUPS & TRENDS

Before You Quit Your Job to Become an Entrepreneur, Read This, Inc.com. “Identify the right reasons for starting your business and you’re all set to take the first steps into entrepreneurship.”

As Startup Strategies Evolve, So Does Role of Business Plan, New York Times. “Business plans have historically been a necessity for most entrepreneurs, especially those seeking financing, but the definition of a business plan has changed in recent years.”

The Top Four Reasons Passion Drives Startup Success, Forbes. “If you are not passionate about what you are building, you might as well pack up your bags right now, as your startup will never work.”

Shops on Wheels, but the Goods Aren’t Sold From the Trunk, New York Times. “Over the last 10 years, mobile businesses have been on the rise across the country as the economy faltered and aspiring entrepreneurs sought ways to operate businesses for less money.”

Hoarder Nation: America’s Self-Storage Industry is Booming, BusinessWeek. “The number of self-storage facilities more than doubled between 1998 and 2012…Self-storage companies generated $24 billion in revenue last year.”

INNOVATION

Nurturing Innovation: Does Geography Matter? Knowledge@Wharton. “Some of the more interesting consumer and digital plays continue to come from unexpected places. In today’s age, it is time to start thinking about virtual networks rather than centers that require personnel and capital-intensive investments. Instead of a chain of pearls, a more appropriate metaphor might be a net of diamonds…” Read the article here.

More Big Companies are Partnering with Startups. Here’s How Your Startup Can Fit In, Venture Beat. “Truly creative business leaders engage less-conventional partners, such as citizen developers, and entrepreneurs to help drive innovation. They’re also 70 percent more likely to use startups for project execution. And they’re remarkably inclusive when it comes to steering their IT direction — these leaders are about 2.5 times more likely to turn to startups and citizen developers for help with IT decisions.Entrepreneurship plays a critical role to the ecosystem of economic success. So what are the top three characteristics that are integral for entrepreneurs to become part of a win-win situation with larger enterprises?” Read the column here.

INSPIRATION

The Common Traits of the Most Successful People, Fast Company. “What makes someone ordinary become extraordinary? Is it their intellect or good luck? Is it their charisma and leadership qualities? There’s no definite formula, but there’s also no denying that there are common traits that make successful people stand apart from everyone else. There are ways of doing things and thinking about the world that people at top just do differently.”

The Unusual Business Strategy that Made This Woman a Multibillionaire, Inc.com. “In the age of selfies, YouTube stars, and ‘breaking the Internet,’ isn’t it refreshing to discover a young entrepreneur focused more on her business and doing social good than on her public persona? At just 30 years old and as 50% owner of her $9 billion company, Holmes only now seems to be making a concerted effort to come into the limelight.”

4 Habits of People Who Follow Their Dreams, Fast Company. “…some of us follow those childhood dreams no matter what. They ignore the naysayers. They don’t take “no” for an answer. And they do what it takes to make it work. Here are four famous people who followed the calling they had as a child and the habits they had that kept them going.”

 

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