Ambitious Women Are Unleashing Their Potential by Starting Businesses


Foreign correspondent Tanzeel Akhtar talks to successful female entrepreneurs from Nigeria and South Africa to find out about their achievements and discover what motivates them.

Female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa is rising rapidly, with a number of ambitious women defying the odds, going solo and unleashing their potential.

There are also a number of global initiatives supporting and propelling female-run businesses on the continent but the fact remains that there are still challenges women need to overcome.

For example:

In sub-Saharan Africa, at least 40% of the labour force is female, according to the Pew Research Centre.  However, 74% of women’s non-agricultural employment is informal, in contrast with 61% for men.

Read more about the wonderful stories of women who dare to dream.  Be inspired.

Maturepreneur Event Focuses on Those Starting a Business in the Next Stage of Life

Life expectancy has skyrocketed. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when mature individuals stay in business longer. Or when they start a new venture later in life.

The Maturepreneur Today Virtual Summit aims to provide resources on how to start and run a business in the next stage of life. The event targets an underserved segment. And you can see how this group has been overlooked be everyone in the business world. Consider the fawning over groups like the “Top 40 Under 40”, “Top 30 Under 30”, and “Top 20 Under 20”.

The one-day virtual summit offers track sessions in the morning and afternoon covering relevant business topics.

Experts across a range of industries will present tracks on legal, financing and marketing issues. Other trackings follow brick and mortar, solo and franchise businesses.

You can attend the virtual event from your home or office starting at 9:30 AM through 5:00 PM on June 11, 2019.

Click the red button and register now.

Register Now

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

#SmallBusinessWeek Hackathon Event#SmallBusinessWeek Hackathon Event
May 03, 2019, Washington, DC

Visa and the U.S. Small Business Administration invite you to bring your ideas and your laptop to the Inclusive Innovation Incubator, 2301 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 from May 3rd to May 5th, 2019. Spend a weekend creating solutions to help small businesses recover or prepare for sudden impacts of natural disasters.
Team up with entrepreneurs, designers, and developers to build apps and solutions that will help small businesses prepare and/or recover from major natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, tornados, snowstorms or earthquakes.

National #SmallBusinessWeek Awards Ceremonies: Facebook Live EventNational #SmallBusinessWeek Awards Ceremonies: Facebook Live Event
May 05, 2019, Online

Watch live on SBA’s Facebook page ( on May 5th at 6pm ET as the SBA announces the SBA Resource Partners awards. Join us!

National #SmallBusinessWeek Awards Ceremonies: Facebook Live EventNational #SmallBusinessWeek Awards Ceremonies: Facebook Live Event
May 06, 2019, Online

Watch live on SBA’s Facebook page ( on May 6th at 12:45pm ET as the SBA announces the Exporter of the Year, Federal Procurement, Small Business Persons of the Year, and National Small Business Person of the Year awards. Join us!

National #SmallBusinessWeek Virtual Conference EventNational #SmallBusinessWeek Virtual Conference Event
May 07, 2019, Online

The U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE will host a 2-Day Virtual Conference during National Small Business Week. The conference will take place Tuesday, May 7 – Wednesday, May 8 between 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM Eastern / 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM Pacific each day. Registration is FREE to the public. Learn new strategies, network, and chat with industry experts! This 2-day event will include webinars, business advice, giveaways, free resources, and networking chat rooms for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Maturepreneur Today Virtual SummitMaturepreneur Today Virtual Summit
June 11, 2019, Online

Maturepreneur Today is holding its full day virtual event on June 11, 2019. The summit is for new, existing and budding entrepreneurs in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Visit our website to view the entire list of renowned speakers. #MaturepreneurToday

Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Off)

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More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.


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5 Mind Hacks You Need to Know Before Starting a Business

Ever use the Pomodoro Technique? You work in short bursts of extreme productivity, then take a break. Try it.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting a new business is both an exciting and daunting experience. The typical entrepreneur is racing toward the goal of being successful, but the truth is,he or she will likely struggle to get there. If you consider yourself an entrepreneur, you need to understand your customers’ psychological profile, as well as how you can manage, even manipulate, your own psychological state to become a more productive business owner.

Related: 5 Brain Hacks to Boost Your Motivation

Below are some of the ways you can start your business on the right foot by delving into some excellent brain hacks to improve your chances of creating a worldwide recognized brand.

These hacks are gaining ground owing to the scientific research surrounding them. When you combine more than one of these methods together, you have the chance to drastically improve your odds in what today are so many overpopulated industry segments — with so much noise.

Now, here’s how to dive in to those hacks:

1.Use your brand’s colors to your advantage.

Color plays an important role in the way we perceive companies and their functionality. A revealing study by the University of Winnipeg found that 62 to 90 percent of buyers surveyed said they make up their minds whether they are interested in a brand, or its offerings, based on the colors used in the brand’s design.

Related: Neuroscience Tells Us How to Hack Our Brains for Success

How can you use colors to convince your customers that your product is the right choice? Here is a chart that shows colors and what kinds of emotions they evoke.

Image Source: CoSchedule blog

You should think about the kind of product you’re creating, and how you expect customers to feel when they see your brand. In the example above, the brands that promote creativity or have products designed to increase creativity have used the color purple. The SyFy channel, which thrives on creative (and sometimes hilarious) ideas, uses purple to create a brand that is instantly recognizable.

2. Make complicated topics easy to understand.

One of the best ways to win over your audience is by explaining a process or idea in terms that virtually everyone can understand. Think about the last time you had a question about a topic, looked up what other people were saying and found some articles that left you scratching your head even more than when you started.

You never, ever want to leave potential customers more confused than they were before. Use the power of storytelling in combination with simple language to make complicated topics easy to understand.

If the topic you’re covering requires multiple pieces of content, don’t forget to intertwine the content as it comes out. If readers come to your business site and get an answer to their question bolstered by facts and confidence, they are more likely to convert — because they trust your brand.

3. Make an impression, using imagery.

We have all heard about how first impressions are everything. This rule applies to your business, too! According to a study titled Behaviour and Information Technology, most users decide whether or not they are going to stay on a website in 50 milliseconds! In other words, you have to let potential customers know exactly what your product does when they land on your website.

Along with the first impressions advice, we’re also told throughout life that a picture is worth a 1,000 words. It turns out that this is true! You can tell your customers more about what your product or service does, how it will make them feel and what problems your product will solve — using just your imagery.

Quick, check out the following image.

Image Source: Crazy Egg blog

What did you think when you merely glanced at this Coca-Cola ad?

As it happens, the color red encourages feelings of excitement. But this imagery manages to do so much more than that. At first glance, the image is of two happy people. At the same time, the word “happiness” is right next to the Coca-Cola logo. If someone, for whatever reason, has never heard of Coca-Cola, his or her first experience with this ad will promote positive emotions and, hopefully, create a positive customer.

4. Keep your inner monologue in check

As someone who wants to start a business, you’re probably feeling confident and excited. Sadly, however, more of us struggle with feelings of self-doubt, even if we are doing something well. You need to learn to hack your mind and keep your inner monologue in check when it starts hampering your progress as an entrepreneur.

The best way to keep your self-doubt in check is by focusing on the positive outcome you hope to achieve. It’s a difficult process, to be honest. But here’s the thing. When you start focusing on positive things, you train your brain to push out negative feelings and emotions.

Obviously, we are only human and sometimes have doubts and negative emotions. But learning to control our thinking and focusing on productive, positive thoughts can breed positivity and increase our chances of success.

5. Hack your time-management abilities

Time management is one of the most challenging, but important, aspects of any business. You’re going to have a million things going on at once and you’ll need to learn to manage your time properly.

One great way to manage your time is by using The Pomodoro Technique. Basically, the Pomodoro technique involves your managing your time by working in short bursts of extreme productivity, followed by a short break.

Related: Science-Backed Brain Hacks to Crush Your Goals

When you use this schedule over time, you’ll hack your brain into entering productivity mode when the timer is going; and then you can relax on your breaks. The Pomodoro method helps you build discipline and use your time wisely, which helps you get things done in a timely manner.

The Importance of ‘Positioning’ Your Brand When You’re Just Starting Out

Positioning may seem simple on the surface, but few people give it the time it deserves.

7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

“Positioning” is a term that gets thrown around a lot but can often be confused with other marketing activities.“Very few startups have a firm grasp of what exactly positioning is, why it’s important and how to do it,” says April Dunford, an expert positioning consultant.

Related: The Art of Positioning Your Brand and Why You Can’t Afford to Screw It Up

“Positioning” means the place a brand occupies in the minds of its customers. That’s important, but one of the main mistakes founders make when considering their position is doing so too late. After all, it’s easy to get caught up on the product side of things. You start out building marketing strategies, complete with innovative ideas for how to captivate a wide audience. But in fact, the most crucial decision to make in those early days, is instead exactly what your message is, and how it fits into your marketplace.

Once this has been locked in, you an work on the product to back this up, and on the marketing strategies needed to spread the word.

With this said, here are some key pointers for anyone launching a new business and looking to define his or her positioning.

Avoid head-on collisions.

In Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, their seminal book on the subject, Al Trout and Jack Ries argue that you should never compete head-on with a company that already has a strong, established position. You should always look to position your product or service as a radical departure from the norm, even if you’re operating within the same niche.

Chipotle’s opposition to industrialized farming is a good example. The company effectively sidestepped many of its fast food competitors by making integrity a key tenet of its business. However, critics may well have argued in those early days that Chipotle’s positioning was a hard one to occupy long-term in the fast food industry.

Take note of competitors’ branding strengths and weaknesses.

To determine what your business’ positioning should be, carefully analyze your competitors’ branding strengths and weaknesses. This is something that most marketing departments do when starting out, and it’s important that you do it too; be honest about your competitors if you want to avoid a potential “head-on” collision.

By filling in the gaps in the service your competitors provide, you may find that your competitors are less your competition and more your means for drawing more attention to your niche. This is why clothing shops and restaurants often congregate at the same location in cities. As long as their offerings differ, they can benefit from their competitors’ overflow, especially at the start. (For more tips on competitor analysis, see this SEMrush blog)

Lyft is a company which effectively sized up its competition, Uber, and used its analysis to carve out a large share of the market. On the surface, these are two companies offering similar rideshare services, but  Lyft quickly sized up Uber’s reputation as an enterprise with some ethically dubious practices. Accordingly, Lyft focused on offering a friendlier service which both encourages interaction with drivers and passengers, and introduced carbon-neutral rides and bike shares.  

Work on your positioning statement.

Back in the 1940s, marketing was comparatively easy. If yours was a less competitive market, you simply had to provide some clear text, explaining the features of your offering. In the 1950s and 1960s, things got a little harder as images began to define which products would draw the most attention and see the most success.

Since those early days of marketing, things have come almost full circle again — because establishing exactly what your product or service does is once again crucial in a world that’s chock-a-block with advertising. Your own statement must be concise and focus on one or two key attributes. It needs to differentiate your offering from the competition’s and target your ideal audience.

Related: 6 Secrets to Writing a Better Brand Positioning Statement

Amazon’s positioning statement form 2001, when the company mostly sold books, is an often-cited example of an effective positioning statement: “For World Wide Web users who enjoy books, is a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books. Unlike traditional book retailers, provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices, and comprehensive selection.”

Wow, that’s one positioning statement that’s changed. But in your own case, don’t take your positioning statement lightly, as it will end up forming the core of your marketing activities.

Provide evidence.

While this might not be a priority in establishing your positioning, being able to back up the claims of your positioning statement and related materials will be invaluable.

This can be as simple as linking to customer reviews on your site, or linking to more detailed reports on how your service or product operates. Giving your potential customers the ability to deep-dive into the intricacies of your offering is essential even if their first exposure to your company is merely a brief statement of services.

Neil Patel has said that optimizing your case studies to contain more high-quality facts that back up your claims, while reducing unnecessary word count, is crucial for increasing your conversions. The use of case studies affects conversion rates regardless of what industry is being marketed, Patel has said.

Gathering enough reviews to impress your customers before you’ve launched can be difficult, of course, but some case studies and carefully selected pull quotes should tide you over until you’ve on-boarded more customers. If you aren’t sure how to write your first case study, AutoGrow has provided this useful guide guide.

Consider segmentation.

While positioning statements for the same kind of product from multiple companies may vary, segmentation further varies how a business positions itself. If you want to know more about segmentation, you can see a useful article at Insane Growth; but in short, you may find that dividing your messaging among two or three key groups of customers (whether that be by customer persona, location or any other useful parameter) can do wonders for your conversion rates.

McDonald’s, for instance, uses segmentation to great effect. Its breakfast ads tend to target men of working age men, rather than children, and its international locations contain both products and advertising geared toward local tastes and traditions. Its McCafé segment is also trying to take customers from Starbucks by targeting younger, more health-conscious students and offering a location often open 24 hours.

This is what’s meant by “microscale product positioning,” and it is likely to form some of your own marketing department’s work in the future; but it is worth considering now if your offering requires a more segmented audience from the get-go.


As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Positioning is the first hurdle to startup success, but many entrepreneurs and marketers fail to treat it with the care they offer their general marketing and product development activities.

Related: How to Build a Brand from Scratch

If you are going to dedicate a large proportion of your working hours to a business venture, make sure you figure out your positioning before you do anything else. If handled diligently, intelligent positioning won’t just ensure that you have a fighting chance at survival, but it will reduce the impact of your competition, and help you avoid the need to make drastic changes to your product or services over time.

8 Tips for Starting a Home Staging Business

The benefits of staging a home when trying to sell it are clear. According to the 2018 HSR Survey, which studied 4200+ homes, 85% of the staged homes sold for 6-25% more than unstaged homes. The real estate market has long been aware of the power of staging, but now, there’s statistical data to back up this theory. That’s why now is one of the best times to become a home stager. If you love decorating and see every room as a canvas, then that’s why you’re here. You’ve come to learn more about starting a home staging business!

Home staging business

Bringing your dream of starting a business to life can get overwhelming, and that’s why we’re here to help. In this guide, we’re going to offer 8 tips for starting a home staging business, and we hope these tips will help answer your questions and point you down the right path as you start your new career.

1. Define Your Target Market

You won’t want to generalize your business; instead, look for a specialty. For example, many home stagers like to specialize in working with house flippers and investors, while others might want to work with apartment complexes or office buildings. When you choose your target market, you can narrow down what you’ll be doing and work towards making your services as comprehensive as possible. You’ll become a go-to expert in your chosen field!

2. Get Insured

While running a home staging business is one of the more low risk entrepreneurial ventures you could embark on, it’s not without the potential for an accident to happen. For instance, if something was broken or damaged while you were at a client’s property, then you could find yourself in litigation. Having liability insurance will cover you in the event of the unthinkable.

3. Create a Client Contract

It’s just good business sense to have a professional client contract that outlines everything you cover, what you don’t cover, and what you plan on doing for them. Your client contract releases you from harm and offers certain protections for the client. You can find pre-made templates of such contracts online, but you might want to have sit-down with a lawyer to create a more specific contract that represents your wishes precisely.

4. Find Storage

In the home staging business, you can expect to collect a lot of random furniture, props, and décor. Rugs, curtains, benches, and tables will all need a place to stay while you aren’t using them, and perhaps the best place to look is with a storage unit or, if you can swing it, storage on your property. Having this storage in place will let you keep all of your staging tools in one place, waiting for you.

Looking for furniture deals

5. Look for Deals

When you start your home staging business, you will want to purchase a lot of furniture, decor, and accessories, but, like most startups, you probably are on a tight budget, with intentions of building your business as you go. While that’s a great tactic, another worthy strategy is to look for deals with a home decor supplier. Discounts and bargains can help you save a lot when you start up and assure that you have everything you need to “wow” your clients and their prospective buyers.

6. Create a Website

If you’re not sure how to start a website, do not worry! There are numerous ways to do this. You could create your own website using sites like Wix, Yola, and Weebly. It’s free to begin building your site, and you can easily upgrade when you’re ready to go live. Or, you could choose to have a web developer create your website on your behalf. Be sure to implement local search engine optimization (SEO). While that might sound complicated, it’s not! Just offer organic content that caters to your local area, and you’ll find that your search engine rankings soar to bring in even more traffic from your town or area.

7.Leverage Social Media

Using social media sites, especially Facebook and Instagram, is a great way to show off your work, tell people what you’ve been up to, and connect with prospective clients and fans. Social media can help with that SEO thing we talked about earlier, which means it can even help you draw in new prospective clients in your area. In addition, you can even host giveaways and contests with your followers to have some fun.

8. Ask for Referrals and Reviews

When you’re just starting out with your home staging business, it can feel awkward to encourage referrals and reviews, but you need this positive feedback now more than ever! Don’t be afraid to ask happy clients to share your business with others, and certainly don’t be shy to ask for a gleaming review. If you’ve earned their business and done a great job, then most clients will be happy and willing to share your company with people they know.

Home stager


Starting a home staging business is a great idea for people who love to decorate but are looking for something to do part time. The great thing about this business is that you can scale it as big or as boutique as you’d like, and you can truly put your own touch on your business.

As you go about setting up and launching your business, remember to promote in your area with a website and social media accounts, and also be sure that backend priorities, like a storage solution and insurance, are squared away. If you have a passion for staging, are great at it, and love working with people, then just remember to always be consistent in your business to achieve the very best results!

9 Tips for Starting a Business in a Crowded Digital Marketplace

What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person? Which is the best retirement plan for a small business owner? More importantly, which is the right retirement plan for you – as a business owner and / or a self-employed individual? Choosing the best retirement plan for you and your personal financial goals will depend on a few factors. Those include how much you can save into a retirement plan, whether or not you have employees and when you are setting up the retirement plan. Is it during the tax year or when filing taxes? To name a few.

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Here are 15 examples of great integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content, digital and website marketing, with traditional marketing methods like PR.

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Here are three popular things that are actually not mandatory for all small businesses:

1. Aggressive Marketing

It is easy to go overboard with marketing. With so many tools available, your gut instinct is to try anything with the slightest potential. Even if you stand to lose money, you want the assurance of knowing you are doing everything you can to gain the interest of your target audience. And it is difficult to ignore a marketing tool that has worked marvelously for other small businesses. If they had to do it all over again, these businesses would likely spend 10% of their time developing their products or services and 90% marketing them.

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So what sets those who actually take the plunge from those who only dream? What pushes a keen hobbyist or excellent amateur into actually becoming a business owner? A recent study of more than 400,000 people out of MIT came to decisive answer, and it is not the one you are probably expecting.

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Many successful entrepreneurs were inspired to start their businesses after noticing a hole in the marketplace that needed to be filled, whether it was Bill Gates creating an operating system for home computers, Pierre Omidyar starting an online auction site, or Elon Musk building a reliable electric car.

But what happens when you want to jump feet first into a marketplace thats already crowded? We spoke to the entrepreneurs behind a wide-ranging group of successful companies in some of the most competitive digital spaces — from butchers to home brands to eco-friendly cleaning products — to get their insights into what makes a business that lasts.

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Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

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Now, I do not want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense, because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Mil

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included a bevy of changes that will affect the 2018 federal income tax returns of many small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. As tax return time approaches, here are the 10 changes that are most likely to affect your business or you as an owner.

1. New flat 21% tax rate for corporations
Before the TCJA, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15%, 25%, 34%, and 35%. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that beneficial rate applies to PSCs too. So the tax cost of doing business as a profitable C corporation is greatly reduced, and this favorable development will show up on 2018 corporate returns. Enjoy.

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When done correctly, a tagline can become synonymous with a brand. A good tagline should communicate your companys message quickly and effectively, helping your target customers understand how you can help them in a way that’s easy to remember.

Since it is something that will likely appear in all of your companys marketing materials and may stick with you for years, your team should put a lot of care and consideration into crafting your tagline.

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A business plan is a written description of your business future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities.

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Very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background. Here are four tips to ensure your small business is achieving profitable growth.

Most small business owners start their own business because they have a passion for something, a new idea, want to be their own boss or are seeking more financial stability and/or earning potential. However, very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background.

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The standards for small business success have unquestionably gone up. Todays small businesses must do a lot more to stay competitive than their predecessors. Myriad businesses, however, take this notion a bit too far. Once they discover yet another resource or strategy with the potential to elevate their success, they jump all over it. This is partially due to the many online articles urging business leaders to devote more effort to virtually every element of their businesses.

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Many small businesses start out with a single location or product offering and grow over time. Expanding your business is a good way to increase your long-term profitability and reach a wider audience.

But while growing your venture might be something you’d like to do eventually, now might not be the ideal time to dive in. Here are four reasons you might choose not to grow your business, and instead stick with the status quo.

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Get out your pink paint. Or your coral, or yellow or teal. By the time you finish reading this column, you’re going to be painting one wall of your small business a color that will pop on Instagram.

Why? Because Instagram is today’s powerhouse social media site for consumer businesses. And if you give customers an inviting way to post to Instagram, they’ll advertise your business for free.

A few years ago, if you wanted to reach retail consumers, the social media site of choice was Facebook. While it may still work for reaching certain demographics, many consumers – especially female Millennials – love Instagram.

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A new report is saying that almost half of people recently hired (41%) used an online job board to find work and 61% flagged automatic job alerts as helpful. What is more, a full 14% found their present job using social media. The findings from How Do People Find Jobs? published by the B2B research firm, Clutch, highlights how today’s candidates are connecting with small businesses and vice versa.

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How did life lead you to entrepreneurship?

I have been in the technology industry for 25 years. I am a business-facing technologist, which basically means I have a background in finance and business. However, I stumbled into being a software engineer early on in my career. This resulted in a passion for data and solution creativity.After hitting the 20-year mark of working for enterprise-size organizations, I decided I needed a change. I experienced some life-threatening health challenges–all while taking care of my two sons with their own unique needs. A culmination of it all really made me stop and reflect on what I really wanted to do on a daily basis and the people I do it with.

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Step 1: Set meaningful goals.
People do nott achieve goals unless the goals are meaningful to them. Sure, every seller has a quota for this year, but so what? If you want to maximize your motivation to achieve the goals, you must know why achieving it is important to you. To do that, go beyond your one-year quota-focused goal.

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Are you making big changes to your small business?

Whether you’re entering a new market, eliminating services that your clients love but no longer work for you, or changing the structure of your business entirely, follow these three tips to shake up your small business without losing revenue or hurting your reputation.

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Most working class Americans are employed by companies that either require or offer retirement savings options in the form of a 401(k), 403b), or pension plan. Because these contributions are automatically deducted from the employee’s paycheck, saving for retirement tends to be a rather painless process. Over time, the cumulative effect of regular monthly contributions leads to a nice sized nest egg that can be used in the retirement years.

But for entrepreneurs, the story is a little different. With no steady paycheck or employer-sponsored plans, many of these hardworking individuals forgo retirement contributions.  And though it may not seem like a big deal in the early years, this misstep can prove to be dangerous and irresponsible as entrepreneurs age.

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Crowdfunding has become a viable form for funding a venture, project, cause, event and much more. For small businesses looking to bypass traditional sources of financing such as bank loans, angel investing or venture capital, it is now a great option.

If you have been thinking about starting a campaign, it is important to note there are different types of crowdfunding. And this does not mean the platform or portal such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others.

The confusion stems from clumping crowdfunding under one umbrella, when in reality there are different types or models. Depending on your project, choosing the right model for your small business is critically important to ensure the success of your campaign.

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Being a leader can be a difficult, and sometimes thankless, job. You work long hours, make tough decisions, and try your best to make your employees and your customers happy. But things don’t always work out the way you hope.

Every leader can use a bit of inspiration and humor every once in a while. Adding some fun to your day can make it all come together and, at the same time, perhaps even put a smile on your face.

The next time you feel down, here are 17 funny leadership quotes to perk you up.

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Procrastination is an odd compulsion. Everyone has experienced it, but the underlying reasons can be tough to pin down.

After all, procrastination delays the very activities that bring people closer to their goals — whether that is building a thriving business or stronger triceps. So why do not humans just sprint toward that brighter, fitter future?

The science.
Scientific studies of procrastination have spiked over the past 20 years. Researchers once considered the issue a basic time-management problem, but they now view it as a complex and highly individual phenomena.  

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Not every step you take to move your business forward will be a big one. But sometimes, even small steps can make a large impact on your future. Here are some recent tips and insights from members of the online small business community about big and small steps you can take to really make an impact on your business.

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Like departments and agencies throughout government, the Air Force is tuning its acquisition methods to get closer the speed of technology, and will be holding its first live pitch day in March, with an available funding pool of $40 million.

The Air Forces Small Business Innovation Research program has issued a call to start-ups and small businesses—those with fewer than 500 employees—to offer pitches on innovative technologies for secure communications, down-range battlefield operations and digital technologies.

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I am pleased to bring you my top five tricks for disconnecting – and at least temporarily escaping the job stress.

1. Make the business case.

Taking time to recharge is not just good for your mental and physical health — it is the smart thing to do for your business. Studies have shown that increased stress leads to reduced productivity, while decreased stress levels lead to increased productivity.

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The benefit of working for a large company is gaining access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) – a critical tool that helps millions of workers save for retirement.

But if you are a small-business owner, you should know that you have several tax-advantaged savings plans at your disposal that allow you to sock away substantial funds for your golden years.

Better yet, the annual contribution limits for all of these plans increased in 2019, so now’s a better time than ever to start funding one.

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The beginning of the year is a great time to make resolutions for your small business. Whether you’re launching a new product or implementing a new technology, you are setting goals and working hard to achieve them. The New Year could also be the perfect time to fix internal issues that are holding you back from success. Below is a list of common business hurdles that arise in small business and how you can overcome them.

Hurdle #1: Trying to do everything yourself

There are a lot of tedious tasks involved in keeping a small business running smoothly – like running payroll, approving time off requests, and so on.

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Rising interest rates and high levels of corporate debt have lots of investors concerned. Should small businesses be worried?

The majority of small businesses (in most industries) are able to pay their bills on time. According to Experian/Moodys Analytics Main Street Report, overall delinquencies for businesses with fewer than 100 employees were slightly down in the third quarter of 2018. Credit utilization rates were also down slightly.

At the same time, that same research has found that rates for delinquencies of 31 to 90 days rose slightly. While it is not yet a cause for concern, the report points out that the period of consistent declines in delinquency rates for small businesses may be near its end.

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Owning or running a small business comes with a special set of challenges that larger companies do not face. Major national brands have a lot of advantages, with the biggest one being that a single misstep probably won’t derail a business.

That is not always true for owners of small businesses, where the distance between success and failure can be precarious. Sometimes seemingly small decisions can send a smaller company on a course that can’t be corrected.

In some cases, however, it is possible to plan ahead to avoid certain pitfalls.

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As we welcome 2019, attention is shifting to what’s on the horizon for small businesses in the year ahead. The reality is that the nature of work is evolving. During my more than 25-year career, I have held a number of leadership positions. Early in my time in the health insurance industry, compensation reigned supreme among my employees, while health and wellness were perceived as a nice-to-have benefit.

Now, workplace norms are beginning to align more with employee wants and needs and new rules about conducting business are being established — particularly when it comes to employee health and wellness. I believe this shift, which I have witnessed within my own team, will continue to dominate work environments across the nation in the new year.

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Establishing a strong social media presence can mean big business for your small business. But if you don’t have dedicated resources to devote to it, or you don’t have much time to spare, you might find it tough to gain traction. Use these nine social media tips to boost business and grow your brand.

Set Clear Goals

No matter how eager you are to start using social media for your business, take the time to set clear goals before you begin. Try setting SMART goals — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely — to guide your social media strategy.

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On one hand, year-on-year improvements are what makes companies great; on the other, firms can’t control many of the factors that dictate whether, say, revenue rises or not.

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When Mandy Bass speaks to business leaders and professionals who want to improve sales, productivity, teamwork, customer satisfaction and profitability she consistently finds that they are working way too hard to achieve the results they seek. With that in mind, for the New Year she has compiled a list of seven small or low-cost things that could get small business owners, solopreneurs and sales professionals big results in 2019.

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The 2018 holiday season is in the books, and small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) sold big on Amazon. In fact, SMBs had their best holiday shopping season ever.

The e-tail giant itself had a record-setting holiday season as well: More items were ordered worldwide on Amazon than ever before.

But it was not just corporations like LEGO that benefitted from all this shopping. More than 50 percent of all items sold came from small and medium-sized businesses.

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A healthy economy means many small businesses are thriving — but they’re also having a hard time hanging onto employees. A good 24% of small businesses lost at least one employee in 2018, while 11% of small businesses lost 10% of their workforce, according to Bank of America. Not only that, but 58% of businesses had trouble finding qualified candidates for open roles, and 25% said it took more time to fill open positions in 2018 than it did in 2017.

And there lies the problem with a strong job market: When employment is plentiful, workers have more options to choose from, so getting them to join or stay with your team becomes more challenging for companies across the board, but particularly for small businesses with limited resources.

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7 Valuable Tips to Consider When Starting a Small Business

With so many people choosing business as their career of choice, some things need to be cleared. Once one becomes successful as an entrepreneur, the benefits of such a career are quite distinct; creating something from scratch, being your own boss, making some money and bringing some value to those who are around you. Unfortunately, not everyone can pursue business as a career.

Startup small business owners high-fiving

To do business, one must start acting and doing things the proper way. Here are the top 6 prerequisites that one needs to become a successful entrepreneur.

1. Deal With Excuses

Although a lot of people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, they never accomplish this. This is because most of them are burdened with fears of failing and excuses. From the lack of money to the lack of time, you can find over a million excuses for not venturing into businesses. To some people being your own boss I scary with little insights into their chances of successes new business owners have a lot to lose. While worrying about the business is normal, excuses will only prevent you from achieving what you want to achieve.

2. Network As Much As You Can

Before getting your business off the ground, networking can significantly help you. When you do this, those initial helpers will turn into very powerful allies. Before long, you will be in a position to ensure that another struggling startup stands on its feet. Apart from making connections, ensure that you keep a record of everyone whom you meet. Keep in touch with them, ask for their advice and help and build your network such that it becomes useful.

3. Learn Your Niche and Be a Consummate Student

Many small businesses succeed because they’ve identified a niche and studied the market. By discovering a product, service or feature that no one else has thought of, you will give your business one of the best shots of success. Also, as an entrepreneur, you should always be ready to learn. You must be willing to take advice, learn from others and learn from those who have made mistakes before. You may also pursue an online MBA degree to develop a managerial perspective and your skillset.. Entrepreneurship is about learning on the go and solving problems.

4. Be the Solution

Instead of starting your idea with what to sell, you need to understand what it’s going to solve. When your business involves fixing the problems, it’s quite easy to solve the problems. Your startup should, therefore, fill a gap in a particular niche or market. By understanding your motives, you’ll create the best brand that will help you market your company.

Calculating costs

5. Count the Cost

Once you’ve developed your business idea, you need to know how much it will cost. When it comes to adding the cost you need to add any every expense that’s important for the business to succeed. Some of the costs include rent, location, supplies and marketing among others. Also, you should think about the budget. You also need to look at how much money you require for rent, healthcare, food, gas among others. Once you’ve known all the expenses, you need to create a business budget.

6. Don’t Worry About the Money That You Have But Never Go Broke

If you are starting a business, you are going to use some units of money. Just as the saying goes, you cannot make any money without investing. The best businessmen do not consider how much money they’ve made but rather how much value they can add. With that said, if you cannot pay your rent, you can’t add any value to your business. It’s crucial to determine what you need while you pursue business as a career.

7. Take Good Care of Yourself

What advantage does a successful startup has if you end up destroying yourself? It’s, therefore, in order not to sacrifice your well-being for the sake of the business. Allowing yourself to become stressed, losing sleep and unhealthy eating are some of the things that might shorten your life expectancy.

Starting a Business Without Quitting Your Day Job

be your own boss
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Every single day you work hard. You work hard to make money for someone else. Sure, you receive a paycheck for the work you do, but it probably isn’t comparable to the amount of work you do each day.

Imagine how great it would be to work just as hard, but instead of making money for someone else, you make it for yourself. Seems like a dream, doesn’t it?  The good news is this dream can be a reality. All you have to do is cut ties with the big boss and become the big boss.

Here’s how to do it easily and quickly, so you can successfully start making money for yourself.

#1: Start a Side Business

Do not quit your job until you have to. Quitting a job to start a business is risky at best.  But do check any papers you signed when you started working for your current boss to be sure there was nothing prohibiting you from starting a sideline business, or that gives your present employer rights to any work you produce on your own outside the company.

What you need to do is prepare to leave your big boss. You do that by starting a part time business on the side.

Can’t decide what type of business you want to start? Think of your passions, and then see if you can make any money from them. Come up with a few different ideas and research them to see if there is a market for them. These are some great part-time business ideas you may want to consider.

Take your time with this step because your side business can turn into your main business. Talk to people, look up information online, and come up with a plan. The plan is what will help you get your business off the ground.

When you feel comfortable, get started. You don’t have to tell anyone. You can simply do everything in your spare time. It may be hectic for a while, but the more you work now, the less you’ll have to do later when you say good-bye to your boss.

#2: Grow the Side Business

You need to make a good income from your side business to quit your job. This means you need to grow your side business as fast as possible. 

Many people will use money they are making at their current job to fuel their side business. This is a good idea, if it’s possible for you. Since it takes money to make money, using your big boss is a great option.

Loans may be available if your credit rating is good and you can convince lenders you can repay the loan. Research different loan options, so you can choose the one that will give you the most amount of money with the lowest interest rates.

There may be a time in which you will need to hire someone or bring on independent contractors to take care of your side business while you are working. Only do this when you have the money to afford to pay them. Be sure you are bringing enough money in to still make some profit after having people help you. 

#3: Network with People

Running a successful business has a lot to do with networking. The more people you reach out to in the industry you’re in, the more information you’ll receive that can help you. Attend networking functions in your local community or look for groups online.

As you meet people, do not only discuss what you’re doing. Find out what others are doing and see if you can help them. By lending a hand, you can learn a lot from the experiences, which could end up propelling you into amazing opportunities for your business.

This step is an important one, so don’t do it until you read this completely. DO NOT tell the big boss about your business until you are making enough money to be able to live on it. Some bosses feel insulted when they hear their employees have been making money on the side. While they shouldn’t feel that way, many of them do. It’s like a betrayal to them.

This is why you should never tell your boss about your business until you can walk away and live off your business’ profits.

This doesn’t mean you are quitting just yet. You are simply letting the big boss know you are working on something that could lead you to leaving soon. It’s the nice thing to do.

#5: Say GOOD-BYE to the Big Boss and Say HELLO to Being the Big Boss

You have succeeded at this point. You have started a business, you’ve developed it, and now you are making enough money to comfortably step away from your current job. All you have to do is let your boss know you will no longer work hard to make him money. Instead, you’re going to work hard to make yourself money – and a lot of it.

It’s freeing. It’s exciting. It’s a little scary too.

It could end up being the best thing you ever did for you and family.

Free Business Startup Checklist

Starting a business can be overwhelming! Use this free Business Startup Checklist to make sure you don’t miss any important steps. This downloadable Word document lists the steps you need to take to get your business up and running, and includes space for you to note your own comments and deadlines. You can get the checklist free when you subscribe to the free Business Know-How Newsletter.

Request your free Business Startup Checklist

Final Thoughts

If you’re not making money for yourself, you’ll make money for someone else.

Remember this phrase. It’s an important one. It’s one that will motivate you as you work double hard to cut ties with your big boss to become the big boss.

Good luck and much success to you on this incredible journey!

© 2019 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

Should You Quit Your Job Before Starting a Business?

by Allen Taylor

Last Updated: Apr 1, 2019
When you’ve decided to start your own business, it’s tempting to quit your job so you can give your new business all of your attention. But at first, you might need the income of your job to make ends meet. Here are five things to consider before turning in your resignation.

Should you quit your job when you start a new business?
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You’ve decided it’s time to start a business. Good for you! But should you quit your job first and then start the business or run your business on the side first?

There are a number of considerations to think about before you start any business, one of which is how you will make ends meet while building your clientele. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are starting, there is always an initial start-up phase where you will be scrounging for every penny as you develop your track record. This aspect of running a business is not unique among service or product businesses.

5 Things to Consider Before You Quit Your Job

Unless you are independently wealthy, there is a good chance that you are working because you have to. In that case, it would be foolhardy to quit your job until you are sure you have another source of income to replace your weekly paycheck. However, there may be certain circumstances under which you should quit your job before kicking off your business.

Consider these 5 factors before making that decision:

Do you have a sizeable savings account?

If you have saved up enough money to live on for a few months while starting your new business, then you can get by without collecting pay stubs. But how much is enough savings? It is generally recommended that you have at least enough to live on for six months. If you’re single, that’s not going to be as much as if you are married with two children. Take your entire living situation into consideration and ask yourself how much you need to live on from month to month, then multiply that by 6, or 9 is even better, and if you have that much money in the bank, feel free to quit your job and start your business.

RELATED: Business Startup Cost Calculator

Do you have ready-to-go clients waiting for you?

If you already have ready-to-pay clients wanting to do business with you, then quitting your job might be an option. But ideally, the total billing for all of your clients should exceed your current income by enough money to at least cover your costs for lost benefits, extra self-employment or payroll taxes, and the costs for operating your business. If you can manage, however, the best scenario would be to wait until those potential clients become sign contracts or become steady, regular customers.

RELATED: Finding Customers for Your New Business

Do you have investors?

Anyone who makes a significant investment in your business is likely to expect you to give the business your full attention. About the only exception might be close family members.  If you have outside investors (people who are not close friends or family members) their idea of “full-time” could be 80-90+ hours a week.

Is your job a full-time job or a part-time job?

If you are working part-time and starting a business on the side, ask yourself how much time you really need to run the business. If you can get it off the ground working part-time while you continue to work your part-time job, then you should wait to quit your job when your income from the business is twice what you are making on your job.

Will keeping your job will create a legal or an ethical dilemma?

If starting your business will put you in competition with your employer, or interfere with your ability and availability to work for your employer, starting a business while you keep your current job may be inadvisable, or impossible. In this case, moonlighting could get your fired and/or sued.

Free Business Startup Checklist

Starting a business can be overwhelming! Use this free Business Startup Checklist to make sure you don’t miss any important steps. This downloadable Word document lists the steps you need to take to get your business up and running, and includes space for you to note your own comments and deadlines. You can get the checklist free when you subscribe to the free Business Know-How Newsletter.

Request your free Business Startup Checklist

Weigh the benefits of your job against the business opportunity

Ultimately, you must decide whether it is more important to spend your time building the business or being a good employee. In most cases, you should wait to quit your job until you are making enough money from the business to sustain your lifestyle. In some rare situations, you could be fortunate enough to quit your job and work on the business full-time. Ask your family and friends if they can help. You’ll often find that the answer to this question is in your own back yard.

RELATED: Creative Ways Your Boss Can Help You Build Your Business

© 2015 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

Beginner’s Guide on Starting with Email Marketing in 2019

By Nina Delacruz

If you’ve been thinking about using email marketing, now is a great time to move to action. Email marketing ROI – the impressive $44 per each dollar spent! – is at its peak, and if compared to a decade ago, the learning curve is relatively short even for a complete newbie.

Here are three more fascinating facts showing exactly why email marketing is worth the try, especially when you are a growing business carefully spreading the budget across channels:

  • Customers purchasing products via email tend to spend 138% more than those who don’t receive promo messages in their inbox (Wordstream).
  • 80% of retail professionals claim that they see the highest customer retention rates from email (eMarketer).
  • The average value of an order received through an email campaign is 3 times higher than from social media. (McKinsey).

So, what do you start with? In this article, we’ll walk you through the key steps from goal-setting to email newsletter optimization. Consider it a brief checklist on preparing for your first campaigzn.

Establish Your Goals Before You Start

Your email marketing strategy may vary drastically based on what type of business you’re in and what your goals are. And that will dictate most of your further steps from how you acquire new subscribers to how you design your emails.

Notice how different newsletters can be when sent from an ecommerce brand (example above) and a personal brand (example below). One uses an HTML template, the other one is plain text. In the first case, an email was acquired through a product giveaway, in the second case – through a webinar registration. Finally, the tone and the frequency are completely different. Yet both emails are perfectly aligned with their goals.

What will it be for you? Sales? Sign-ups? Content promotion? App or service usage?

Before you start, you should have clear answers to the following questions:

  • What’s the primary reason you decided to use email marketing?
  • What action do you expect your subscribers to take when they receive an email from you?
  • How are you going to measure success? What is your KPI?

Now, after we’ve established that, let’s move on and talk about building an email list.

Define Your Email List Building Strategy

Many entrepreneurs find this stage especially challenging. The reason is obvious: getting people to subscribe to your email list gets harder every year. And if you were planning to use the good old “subscribe to our newsletter” opt-in forms, think twice because this doesn’t sound enticing anymore.

The leading method of building an email list in 2019 is providing real value to your audience. It can be any “ethical bribe” you can afford to offer in exchange for an email. Think of your customer persona and an incentive that will sound irresistible to them. Most incentives fall into a category of “lead magnets” and there is plenty of ideas for any type of business.

Here are just few examples you’ve probably seen on various websites:

  • Discounts, free delivery, special offers
  • Cheat sheets, PDFs, eBooks, reports
  • Content upgrades
  • Product or service giveaways
  • Demo version of an app, free updates
  • Access to a webinar
  • Even a free consultation!

Build an Email List (or Grow Your Existing One)

Although lead magnets (typically offered on a popup or a slide-in as illustrated above) have proven to be a great way to collect email subscribers, you shouldn’t eliminate other sources that can bring signups. It’s that plain opt-in form placed at the bottom of each page or in the sidebar. It’s your social media channels, your email signature, a floating bar, and any other idea you may come up with.

Here is a case study by Buffer showing why you should make use of all possible ways to collect emails. Their team was able to double the number of email signups when they switched from relying on slide-ups to using 9 different email capture channels including social media and floating bars.

And the best part, you don’t have to be very tech-savvy or understand coding to replicate a success story like this one. There is plenty of affordable tools to help you collect emails in different ways:

  • Creating custom popups and floating bars
  • Running contests and giveaways via email signups
  • Adding basic sidebar opt-in forms on WordPress
  • Adding an email signup tab to your Facebook profile

Choose Email Marketing Software

Making the decision about the right email marketing platform might take some time because the options are numerous, and the final choice is often quite subjective. So before recommending the most affordable yet feature-rich solutions, let’s talk about the two most important factors you should keep in mind when looking for a tool.

First, pricing. Remember that the price tag for most software will grow in alignment with your subscriber base. Some providers including MailChimp and Drip offer free plans for campaigns involving a couple of hundreds of email contacts. Others have a free trial for you to get the hang of the software. Overall, for having 1000 subscribers you may be paying as little as $15/mo (MailChimp, GetResponse) or as much as $199/mo (Infusionsoft).

Second, usability. Modern email marketing tools are developed with non-techies in mind. You’ll find a drag-n-drop newsletter builder with templates and detailed guidance on how to get started. Not all the tools are created equal though, and this is where we get back to your initial goals.

If you’re looking to start with a simple solution for sending occasional newsletters and basic automated emails, MailChimp, Aweber, and GetResponse are probably among the simplest ones. If you’re planning to build campaigns based on user interactions (triggers), apply audience segmentation and advanced automation, you may want to check out solutions like Drip, ConvertKit, and Active Campaign.

Track Results and A/B Test Your Emails

Sending out your first newsletter will be thrilling! But how do you set expectations and what do you do if they aren’t met? Two things: benchmarks and A/B tests.

Email marketing benchmarks provide average results businesses receive when they run campaigns. The main metrics you need to know are open rates and click rates. The first one indicates how many of those who received your email opened it; the second metric shows you how many of them clicked on your call-to-action.

These numbers vary drastically depending on the industry so you may want to get familiar with the stats using reliable sources like WordStream. Plus, the email marketing software you’ll choose will most probably provide additional data as well. The screenshot above shows a campaign report from MailChimp allowing you to instantly compare your results to the industry average.

Now, your numbers don’t have to be lower than average for you to be willing to increase them. After all, there is always some room for optimization, and A/B testing is probably the best tactic here.

You can test practically every element of your campaign as long as you stick to the rule of having just 1 variable per experiment. For instance, it’s well-known that a subject line directly affects open rates. Therefore, you can play around with its length, its content, and the level of personalization to find the winning combination of words (and probably emojis).

Here is what else you may want to test:

  • Sender name
  • Message preview
  • Send times
  • Email length
  • Call-to-action (CTA)
  • Creatives and overall design

Read a detailed guide on email campaign A/B testing on Yesware blog.

Wrapping Up

The amount of information on email marketing on the Internet may seem overwhelming but getting started with it is way easier than it sounds. In fact, given that there will be some trial and error path anyway, it’s probably better to start early and set your mind to thorough optimization than taking too long perfecting your first newsletter.

Are you planning to use email marketing in 2019? Or have you started experimenting already? Let us know in the comments below.

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Nina Delacruz
Nina is a Hubspot certified inbound marketing consultant currently curating content strategy for GetSiteControl – an email list building app. She has been helping IT startups develop a content marketing strategy and create media relations for over 5 years.