Here’s What 11 Successful Entrepreneurs Do Every Day


©iStock/donskarpo

Success is a habit—and like all good habits, you have to work hard to achieve and maintain it.  We [Rieva Lesonsky for Bank of America] talked to 11 small business owners, including Laurel Delaney, about the daily habits they believe contribute most to their success. From exercise to quiet time to diligently tracking sales in QuickBooks, here’s what some successful entrepreneurs do every day.

Reading about other business owners’ daily success rituals is inspiring—but as Delaney says, “We cannot replicate business success by copying another business owner’s daily rituals—we need to cultivate our own.” 

Dive deep into what accomplished entrepreneurs do daily to foster entrepreneurial success.

How ‘Bachelorette’ Star Kaitlyn Bristowe Leveraged Reality TV Fame Into Multiple Successful Businesses

Her post-‘Bachelor’ mission is building brands that make women feel empowered.

13 min read

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

In 2015, seven million people watched Kailtyn Bristowe on her season of The Bachelorette.

Bachelor Nation has been going for 17 years strong. And in recent years, there has been something of a straight line from appearing on the franchise to becoming a social media influencer, driven in part by fans curious to watch, and brands eager to capitalize on — in the parlance of the show — the post-TV “journeys” of their favorite contestants.

Including Bristowe. The 33-year-old former dance instructor has 1.7 million followers on Instagram, but she says it was important to her not to just be a face for someone else’s products, but to create her own. 

Since starting her hair accessory line Dew Edit last summer, she has put out a total of 100 products and nine collections, some of which have sold out in minutes. The company has grown a following of 105,000 and counting on Instagram. Her podcast Off the Vine yields an average of one million downloads per episode, and she is currently working on a new venture, a wine line set to launch later this spring.

In conversation with Entrepreneur, Bristowe shared her experience of emerging from the reality TV bubble and the importance of authenticity when building an on and off-line community.

Related: Chriselle Lim Started Out as a Wardrobe Stylist. Now She Has More Than 3 Million Social Media Followers.

What was it like transitioning from being in the public eye because of the show to developing your own brands outside of it? How did social media make that possible?

On the show, they are filming you almost 17 hours a day, seven days a week. And what people are seeing at home is an hour and a half every Monday. They can get a sense of their personality, but nobody really gets to know the real you. I didn’t know what kind of platform I was going to have, or that I could turn it into a business or multiple businesses. I didn’t understand the power of social media, so I just used it to show people a more behind-the-scenes approach at my life. I enjoyed that, and then I saw that money could come in. And then I also saw that I could build something more important here rather than just one-off, making money, ride the wave kind of things.

When did you realize you didn’t want to only promote someone else’s products, but make your own?

From the get-go out of the show, I was excited by the money that was going to come in rather than building the longevity of a community of followers. So I thought, that’s exciting, I can get a paycheck to talk about this waist trainer, for example, that I don’t even use, but I’ll take a picture. People didn’t respond well to that.

I don’t know if I want to call it a backlash, but I looked at it as constructive criticism. I saw the followers drop, people were asking, “Why are you pushing this?” People can see through it. They didn’t believe that I was using this waist trainer, especially when I always talked about how, at that time in my life, I hadn’t worked out in like a year. I was showing them that they couldn’t trust me. I slowly started seeing how they want real things, and they want to believe in what you’re talking about.

So from that moment on, I turned down money to [make sure I] only promote things that I used and believed in. And to show up as Kaitlyn, not as an influencer. [It’s important to me to] just be real with everybody, whether it’s having a moment where I’m actually crying or talking about my anxiety or sharing my new relationship. I try to just be as real and open as possible.

What has it been like starting these brands? Why were these the right products for you to pursue?

Starting a business obviously was very new to me. I was always wearing a scrunchie in my hair — I don’t feel like they ever left my wardrobe, even when they weren’t a thing. People always kind of teased me for it, but then I started seeing celebrities wearing them. All these people started to rock the scrunchies, and I thought this was a great opportunity to jump on the scrunchie train and share it with my followers.

I’ve just been absolutely overwhelmed by the response and the support, and to me, again, it’s a testament to making something that you love and sharing it with your audience. They can truly see that you’re passionate about something.

To me it’s more than a product; it’s been a bunch of women coming together and making friends and being part of the scrunchie gang, and being on social media and just building each other up through something as small as a scrunchie. And for the wine, I used to work in a restaurant, where I would actually train servers and do wine courses. And I have always loved learning about wine. To me being on the other end of it just felt like such a natural transition.

What do you want people to think of when they see your brands?

It’s a little bit different for each one. For the scrunchies, my personality is quirky and fun and bold and that’s [the feeling that] I wanted the scrunchies to have. When it comes to wine, I definitely feel like I’ve matured, and diving into the business world has changed me in a way where I feel like I have more responsibility. My actions have impact.

I think it comes in conjunction with me now being in my 30s and having my priorities change. I wanted the name, the design and the brand to represent the changes I’ve been feeling the last couple of years. Everything I do — whether it be the podcast, the wine, scrunchies, my live spring break tour — I always want it to be about empowerment and bringing women together and feeling strong.

Read on for Bristowe’s five favorite Instagram posts.

“The communities that have been formed because of both my podcast and Dew Edit amaze me! These women not only support me, but they also support each other. It’s so cool to see, and definitely not something I could have foreseen when I thought of starting a podcast or scrunchie line.”

Trust me when I say — the greatest thing you will ever do for yourself is to simply listen to what you actually want from life. Drown out the guidelines, the advice, the ‘shoulds.’ Drown out all of the opinions, all of the ways in which others are telling you how to live, and love, and exist in this world. It won’t be easy, it never is; because this is what they don’t tell you — finding your own version of happiness isn’t this comfortable, miraculous thing. It can get confusing, it will be hard. It’s difficult to be the person who does things differently, who chooses to walk away from from a life, or a love, or a hope that they once wanted. It is never easy to be the person who changes. But it’s the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. It will push you towards figuring out what your own personal version of happiness looks like; and when you grow on your own terms, when you figure out what actually matters to you, what actually ignites your heart, what actually drives you to love yourself more — you live on your own terms. You become the person you have always wanted to be, rather than the person you were always told to be, and that is beautiful. Because when it comes down to it — life is about finding a happiness that works for you. So choose that happiness. Choose the kind of love that feels right, the kind of love that makes you understand why it didn’t work out with anyone else. Choose the kind of life that makes you so damn happy you kept fighting for the things you wanted, for the way in which your heart asked you to believe in more. Choose yourself, unapologetically and without guilt — the way you choose others. Show up for yourself. Give yourself permission to hope, to care, to trust in the things you deeply crave from life. Choose letting go. Choose forgiveness, choose to turn your losses into lessons. Choose to move forward, into the kind of story that fulfills you, into the kind of person that holds your heart just as carefully as you hold theirs, into the kind of happiness that exists because you chose to fight for it, and never stop fighting for it. Never stop. Thankyou @rainbowsalt who wrote this for me. Thank you @jason_tartick for being you.

A post shared by Kaitlyn Bristowe (@kaitlynbristowe) on

“It’s weird that posting a picture on Instagram seems like a big deal, but it was when it came to posting a picture of my new relationship with Jason. There’s already enough pressure to post that FIRST picture, but this one especially. I wanted to make sure to post it when it felt right to me, rather than the pressures I felt about it. Jason was a very unexpected surprise, and one I’m glad I welcomed with hesitant but open arms.”

“The growth and success of Dew means so much to me, and it’s given me the continued confidence to keep going after the things I love! Seeing how supportive my audience has been about my first product has been unbelievable, and, in all honesty, has given me the confidence to also pursue my dream of having my own wine label.”

Couple things. Did you know that you can have Botox and still post a #Realstagram ? Doesn’t make you less real. Did you know you can have microbladed brows, and still do a realstagram? Doesn’t mean you need to call me out. The message behind a realstagram is that, we we are all human, and we are all victims to the suckhole of comparisons. Did you know that social media ISN’T REAL LIFE??? If you guys love me for my confidence, my happiness, and my humor, I want you to love me for my insecurities and my hard days as well. Because that’s real. Sometimes, believe it or not I have really bad days. Anxiety is something very new to me but also very real. We go through things as human beings wether you have a platform or not. And I just wanna say, that no matter where you’re at emotionally today, could be different tomorrow. So feel your feelings. Sit in being sad and uncomfortable, and try to learn from it. And most importantly, talk to someone about it. Today is a tough day. And to be honest what started it was just missing Tucker. I’m counting down the days to see him again. Just wanted to tell ya you’re not alone and you’re not crazy to get caught up in your emotions. You’re human. Now go throw a scrunchie in your hair and give yourself a mirror high five.

A post shared by Kaitlyn Bristowe (@kaitlynbristowe) on

“I grew up in [the] dance world, and with that came the pressure of looking and acting a certain way. I’ve always in some way tried to rebel against the norm, but there’s always been a voice deep inside that pressures me to look my best, not leave the house without makeup, etc. As I get older — and wiser of course — I appreciate natural beauty in a different way. Our perception of beauty is more distorted now than ever, and I feel like encouraging women to embrace their real beauty is a positive way for me to use my platform.”

“I remember feeling so happy in this picture! I was in one of my favourite places, Napa, the wine was flowing, and the weather was perfect! That was the trip where I decided I was going to take the plunge and go ahead with the idea I had been toying with for months: to start my own wine label! No better place to make a decision than where the soil grows some of the best grapes in America.”

Successful People Often Share These 2 Traits

A good leader recognizes the importance of pace and intensity.

2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Mike Phillips explains two key leadership behaviors: pace and intensity. Phillips points out that successful people often have high energy and move quickly. They’re often intense, and Phillips recommends a few tips that can improve the pace and intensity in your life.

In business, working on yourself is integral to getting better in your business. Start by gaining knowledge and confidence in your abilities. Then, focus on training your employees. 

Click the video to hear more.

Related: Are You Properly Focused on Your Goals?

Watch more videos on Lead the Team’s YouTube Channel.

Entrepreneur Network is a premium video network providing entertainment, education and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We provide expertise and opportunities to accelerate brand growth and effectively monetize video and audio content distributed across all digital platforms for the business genre.

EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in the business vertical. Watch video from our network partners on demand on RokuApple TV and the Entrepreneur App available on iOS and Android devices.

How to Set Up a Successful Affiliate Marketing Partnership: An Expert View

Geno Prussakov is an award-winning affiliate marketing professional, CEO & Founder of AM Navigator, and a guest of our recent #SEMrushchat. We asked him to give us expanded answers on how to find a valuable affiliate partner. Here are the main criteria of successful collaboration and the biggest mistakes to avoid.

What are the three parameters one should look at first when searching for an affiliate partner?

Quality and Targetedness of Referred Traffic

One would assume that, by its very definition, affiliate marketing is about these two elements as affiliates get compensated on a performance basis and should have no interest in sending low quality or untargeted traffic. The reality, however, is such that we do see low-quality affiliates out there. So, advertisers should look for those affiliate partners whose audiences they really want to touch through them – in a targeted and value-added way.

Marketing Complementarity

Ask yourself if the affiliate’s marketing efforts will complement your own, helping you amplify your marketing message, lubricating the path to conversion. Be it a unique mobile app that they have, or a consumer advice website, or skills to market you in ways that you yourself cannot look for the element of complementarity. If missing altogether, move on. If elements of potential marketing cannibalization are found, stay away. Look for valuable affiliate partners!

Incrementality of Referred Business

Whether it is an affiliate who can refer new-to-file customers or one who can effectively re-engage those customers who are no longer actively spending their money with you, look for affiliates who have the capability of driving incremental business. You do want to compensate affiliates on return customers, but it’s important to also reward them for incremental business.

Preview: How to Evaluate a Prospective Partner

Looking for a reliable way to evaluate a potential affiliate, co-marketing or business partner? Fill in the ultimate SEMrush cheat sheet to choose the most promising candidate! Evaluate the main metrics to figure out your future partner’s potential and make the optimal decision.

Get Free PDF

What are the best ways for a startup to find their first valuable affiliate partner?

Startups are typically bootstrapped. Therefore, they should first consider the lower-cost ways of recruiting affiliates. Here are a few ideas:

  • Contact your happy clients. Who could be a better advocate than a satisfied customer?

  • Identify potential prospects within an affiliate network if your affiliate program is run on one. Search for them by type, niche, keywords, etc.

  • Look into giving your affiliate program additional visibility through paid search. You’ll be surprised how affordable it can be.

  • Submit your program’s information to affiliate program directories. We know that one in five affiliates uses them when searching for new affiliate programs to join.

  • Target attendees of affiliate conferences as well as your niche-specific conventions and meetups.

  • Identify your competitors’ affiliates or those who make your direct competition successful through affiliate marketing relationships. This method will require website traffic analytics tools, which means additional investment, but it has high chances of paying off.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when choosing affiliate partners? How can they overcome them?

  1. Auto-approving affiliates. An open door is never a good idea. To ensure that you’re partnering with those you do want to partner with, I recommend that you vet every affiliate application manually.

  2. Being misled by affiliate network size. What is more important is the number of strong affiliates in your niche that are active in the network.

  3. Focusing on quantity of onboarded affiliates. The number of recruited affiliates is irrelevant. It is the activated affiliates that are important.

  4. Failing to police compliance. Having rules and policies in place is important, but it doesn’t guarantee compliance with them. Having these gives you a solid foundation to police and enforce affiliate compliance, but it is important to devote the effort to doing it.

  5. Failing to diversify. Putting all your eggs in one basket has never been a good strategy. Do not rely on any one type of affiliate (be it coupon aggregators, ranking sites, incentive affiliates, or anyone else). Make sure to build a diversified affiliate base to effectively influence your customer throughout their journey through the sales funnel.

What are the best ways to estimate the number of leads/ROI that you can get from an affiliate?

This is a really tough question. The reason for this being that there are always too many contingencies and variables to make feasible predictions. And not only on the affiliate side but also on the brand side (price competitiveness, user-friendliness, CRO aspects, etc.).

Of course, you could estimate the number of conversions based on the affiliate’s traffic volume, assuming a click-through rate, and then tying in a suitable conversion rate assumption (basing the latter on what’s realistic for this particular type of affiliate). I would advise any affiliate manager not to share the results of such arithmetic with the affiliate, though. You do not want to set their expectations at a level they will never be able to reach.

Successful Business Events

More than a Few Words – Episode: 376

April 12, 2019

This week our guest Grant Carlile explains why a successful event is about so much more than the food and the venue. 

THIS WEEK’S GUEST

About Grant Carlile

_______________________

Grant has spent 15 years building processes and teams, from robotics to startups to running, he has played multiple roles at various levels.

Grant loves the camaraderie that comes from passion projects and he thrives on curiosity, coffee, and office supplies.

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How to Run a Successful Electrical Business

Many electricians decide to go into business for themselves. After all, they’ve mastered the trade, created relationships with loyal customers, and developed a good sense of the rules and regulations. However, knowing how to run a successful electrical business requires a different skill set than that of a first-rate electrician.

You likely spent the first few years in business learning the finer details of running an electrical company. Here’s a chance to check in on your progress as a business owner, and spot opportunities for improvement and growth. Just as you need to stay current in your technical skills to maintain your license, keeping your business successful requires a periodic assessment and tune-up.

How to Run a Successful Electrical Business

1. Benchmark Your Performance

If your company is growing and profitable, it may be tempting to continue with business as usual. But are you as profitable as you could be? Perhaps your competitors have a formula for how to run a successful electrical business that’s more potent than yours.

Business benchmarking is sort of like a voltage drop test. You’re comparing your numbers to those of your peers. CliftonLarsonAllen provided three years of benchmark data for electrical and mechanical contractors. For example, it took contractors an average of 69.6 days to convert their receivables into cash. How long is it taking your business? Check out data relevant to your business to make sure you’re keeping pace.

2. Keep Your Business Plan Current

If you don’t have a business plan, it might be time to create one. Running an electrical business successfully involves having a plan in place for how you’ll reach your goals.

If you’ve created a business plan in the past, also keep in mind that it can “expire” quickly. That’s because circumstances change. Maybe it’s something good, like a new residential community is about to be built nearby. Or maybe it’s something bad, like a new electrical contractor opened up in your town and hired away some of your best people.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s important to keep a current plan. A common way to begin is with a “SWOT” analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Once you identify them, you can create or update your business plan.

3. Stay Tuned In to Your Customers’ Needs

Getting customers can be a challenge, so it’s vital to keep them. When possible, check in to see how things have worked out since your last job. Perhaps your customer remodeled a bathroom and your role was to install several new fixtures and GFCI receptacles. Maybe adding new fixtures to another bathroom would spruce it up without a complete remodeling job, a small project you could propose. Maybe you’d want to bring a new NFPA 70 standard to the attention of a customer you haven’t seen for a while.

Also, as innovative electrical system products come to market, like surge protectors with energy-saving features, your customers might appreciate an occasional product update. It may also keep your name top of mind the next time they need an electrician.

Business owner maintains safety while fixing fuse box, part of how to run a successful electrical business

4. Keep Your Technology Up to Date

Almost daily, new small business technology hits the market that enhances personal safety and business productivity. You don’t need to buy new technology for its own sake, but to help you grow and maximize your profitability. Whether it’s software for customer relationship management, bookkeeping, making financial projections, tracking time, managing work orders, or job bidding, it’s all out there and getting better all the time. Technology’s long-term benefits can make it a worthwhile investment.

5. Maintain Sufficient Working Capital

Running short on cash can be costly in more ways than one — when it forces you to maintain a balance on a credit card account, lose out on discounts from suppliers, or prevents you from purchasing productivity-enhancing technology. Leveraging working capital loans and other forms of small business financing are key to running a successful electrical business. They can tide you over during a dry cash flow spell.

6. Evaluate Your Bidding Track Record

There are two aspects to bidding a job successfully when running an electrical business: getting a healthy share of the available work and charging the right price. If your bids aren’t competitive, you won’t get much business. If they’re too competitive, you could lose money. Take a fresh look at how you’re pricing jobs, and how you’re deciding which projects to bid on (and be prepared to say no to new business). Make sure you’ve accounted for all the costs you need to cover, including overhead, with some money left over for a fair profit.

Also, consider your success ratio. If you’re consistently losing out to a competitor, try to determine the reason. And remember, cost isn’t the only variable, though it’s typically the most important. Are you getting your bids in promptly? Are they detailed, professional and clearly presented? Where applicable, can you provide customers with more than one option when bidding?

7. Optimize the Size of Your Business

Knowing how to run a successful electrical business includes knowing how big, or small, your business should be. The “Goldilocks principle” applies here — not too hot, not too cold … not too big, not too small. Too small is when you’re so busy doing administrative tasks that you don’t have enough time to do the work that’s the focus of your business. Too large can mean having greater capacity — and larger associated expenses — than the available work. It’s essential to find the right balance.

8. Maintain Your High Safety Standards

The risk of personal injury inherent in running an electrical business is one of the reasons you can command a good price for your work. But easing up on safety precautions, for whatever reason, is not only bad for business, but could mean the end of your business. Make sure you have proper safety training programs in place, as well as a workers’ compensation policy.

9. Think About Your Talent Pipeline

If key people in your business are closing in on retirement, or might just decide to move on to another opportunity, don’t be left in the lurch. It’s not always easy to find skilled younger workers moving into this field, but don’t let the challenge deter you. Consider partnering with a local community college to offer internships or apprenticeships, to keep new talent flowing into your business.

10. Ask for Referrals

No list of tips on how to run a successful electrical business is complete without a reminder to ask your customers to refer their friends to you. Sometimes it just doesn’t occur to them to do so. But if they’re happy with your work, and if you help them remember you by staying in touch, they’ll become your best — and least expensive — marketing tool.

Of course, progress is hard to come by without time, effort and determination on your part. Sometimes, it will also cost money. As you prep for growing your electrical business, you may want to research how to get a small business loan to front some of these expenses without tying up your cash flow. Whether you’re ready to tackle each of these pieces of advice in one go, or you need to start small, it’s important to carve out time to consider your business practices and plan for future growth.

How to Write a Successful Cannabis License Application

The cannabis licensing process is like the Ivy Leagues. Everybody can apply but very, very few succeed.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Like many brands emerging as multi-state cannabis operators, my company routinely applies for retail and cultivation licenses across the country. The ONE Cannabis (ONE) team puts a significant amount of time into these applications, as there is no business without them. Recently, we applied for an adult-use license in a California municipality with three available slots to fill — 180 entities applied for those slots.

You could cut the number of applicants in half and still be up against long odds, which is why it’s more important than ever to lead the pack.

Writing an application and winning the license are two very different things. Most large operators have a designated team that specialize in applying. After a few attempts, they craft a winning formula that gives them an advantage, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they succeed though. Everything can be improved upon and each municipality has a different process.

Winning a license involves bringing all stakeholders, industry officials, financial professionals and community members together. Whether you’re applying for multiple licenses or just one, there are fundamental aspects of applying that translate across state lines. Having a straightforward, firm foundation to build your own process upon can be the difference between succeeding in your venture and heading home empty-handed.

Related: Sluggish Bureaucracy Is Blamed for Disappointing Marijuana Tax Revenues in Massachusetts

Participate in the public conversation.

Before you start writing, find out what you don’t know. Most jurisdictions discussions with communities before awarding any licenses. Those meetings are a fantastic way to figure out exactly what the city wants from their license holder that isn’t exactly spelled out in the application. Some are looking for specific community outreach initiatives while others are more concerned with employment standards.

Giving the community a hand to shake and a face to go with the company name can pay off considerably. There’s usually a public hearing at some point in the process at which the public can comment specifically on your business plan. For obvious reasons, this needs to go well. The best way to get the community on your side is to engage with them prior to the public hearing. Listen to what the community has to say and prove to them that your business is going to be good for everyone. To really drive the point home, commit some time to petitioning the area for support.

Related: State Regulators Consider Better Ways to Determine Who Controls Cannabis Business

Regulators are your friend.

Remember, each city has their own process, so get a clear understanding of how they operate. Different states have different expectations for transportation, security and product handling. Details are the differentiator– one municipality my team recently applied to required twice as many security cameras as Denver. Had we submitted the security plan we’ve used previously, we would’ve been out. Sift through all the info the local and state authorities make available — don’t start you application until you thoroughly understand their technical expectations.

Laws and regulations are usually provided by a designated city licensing department — those departments are also a key resource. Your application will be stronger with any additional information you can gain from the people who award the license, so understand that regulators are your friend.

ONE Cannabis’ motto is “compliance first, profit second” for a reason: a company is only profitable if it can adhere to city standards. Work with them and establish a professional relationship if possible. A great way to solidify those ties is to attend training workshops they provide. Half the attendees are typically regulators, and your attendance shows them you’re committed to compliance.

Related: Is Your Cannabis Business Properly Licensed?

Nobody wins a license alone.

Running a successful dispensary takes a stellar team, and so does winning the license for it. ONE President John Darwin recently weighed in similarly on the subject. He summarized it quite well — the best advantage you can have is quality team. Hire a team of professionals from diverse backgrounds. Compliance officers, financial aces and technical writers are indispensable and can typically be contracted out if necessary. Diversity has more than one meaning as well — a team that’s representative of the larger community brings more creativity and understanding to your situation.

Applications are large documents and require expertise in many fields. Leverage as many resources as possible to build out a collective that’s capable of meticulous work. The investment will pay off when the license does.

Related: The Myriad Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

Okay, now you can start writing.

The observant reader has realized that nothing in this article, so far, has been about writing the application. Ask any writer, and they’ll tell you that writing is only half of, well, writing. Good research drives the narrative.

Make sure you follow what the application is asking, not what you’d like them to know. After a few conversations with compliance officers, I was surprised to hear how common it was for applicants to spend valuable time and money on applying, only to have their final product ignore vital criteria.

Your city is going to be swamped with applications. Anything you can do to help them process in a timely and efficient manner will help your cause. You will undoubtedly have an edge if your submission is the most cohesive and accessible. Write an outline that will make English teachers everywhere proud and keep the heaps of information flowing in the same direction.

Winning a license takes legwork and elbow grease. You’ve got to be present in multiple arenas and surrounded by experienced professionals who can assist you. Only after you work all that out does the actual writing starts. The cannabis industry’s potential, however, makes the payoff more likely every day. Nobody needs to be told the market is booming, with more opportunities coming online around each new turn. At the center of it all is the licensing process, so do it right.

4 Top Affiliate Marketing Tips, How to Create Successful Social Media Campaigns, How to Write a Business-Winning Proposal and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

19 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

1—Private Sector Small Business Employment Increases

By now you’ve all seen the jobs report. But what about small businesses and their contributions? According to the ADP Small Business Job Report in March very small businesses (1-19 employees lost) 9,000 jobs, small businesses with 20-49 employees gained 14,000 jobs, for a net gain of 6,000 small business jobs.

Take a look at the infographic from ADP below for more stats.

2—7 Things You Need To Know Right Now As You Prepare To File Your 2018 Taxes

With a week (or less)  to go until the April 15th tax filing deadline, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), the nation’s leading advocate and resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses, released its list of 7 last-minute tips for filing accurate returns and reducing tax liability.

Keith Hall, President and CEO of NASE, says, “As you prepare to file your returns, think about hidden deductions and updates to the tax code that might help you. Don’t leave anything on the table; find and use these key policy changes to work for you. And if you still need more time, file an extension.”

1—New tax system: 2018 is the first filing season of the new tax code; make sure you know about these new, potentially beneficial policies:

  • A lower individual rate, which is where most self-employed small businesses file
  • A doubling of the standard deduction, which is $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples
  • Reduction or elimination of specific deductions such as for moving expenses or the unlimited state and local tax deductions known as SALT deductions, which are now capped at $10,000

2—Home office deduction: In its sixth year, small business owners who work from their homes can now claim a streamlined, standardized home-office deduction rather than completing a complicated and cumbersome 43-line IRS form. By simply checking the box on your federal tax returns, you can easily save money by choosing the standard home-office deduction of up to $1,500 for the business use of your home.

3—Mileage rate: If you use your automobile for business, you also can deduct a standard mileage rate on your return. The reimbursement rate is 54.5 cents for 2018.

4—Retirement contributions: Limits for retirement contributions have also changed for most Americans. SEPs, IRAs and 401k plans, all allow you to contribute to your own future and take a tax deduction on your 2018 tax return.

5—Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs): Small businesses that offer HRAs can do so without the threat of penalty.

6—Submit your return electronically: By filing your return electronically, you can avoid making errors.

And if you’re still not ready…

7—File an extension: There is always a last-minute extension you can file with the IRS if you can’t make April 15th.

3—Small Business Owners Stay Confident, Despite Concerns  

Nearly half (49%) of small business owners are concerned that a recession could impact the overall success of their company in the next year, according to Capital One’s latest Small Business Growth Index, a biannual survey of small business owners gauging sentiment related to the economy, business conditions and plans for growth. At the same time, 66% say recent fluctuations in the stock market have not changed their business outlook. Additionally, 44% think their financial position will improve six months from now.

“Small business owners remain cautiously optimistic,” says Jenn Flynn, head of small business bank at Capital One. “While we saw a slight dip in optimism compared to Fall 2018, small business owners are still making strategic investments in their businesses, while paying close attention to the uncertainty in the stock market and evaluating the potential impact of a recession.”

Key Small Business Growth Index themes:

Small business owners think stock market volatility will impact their businesses, but many have yet to feel the effect. However, they’re preparing for the impact of future stock market volatility.

  • 49% are or will be more conservative when it comes to inventory or supply management
  • 36% say it has or might decrease their sales
  • 34% say it has or might impact their ability to expand and grow their business.

However, the fluctuations in the stock market have not changed the outlook of 66% of business owners. Additionally, 40% of SBOs report an increase in sales over the past six months.

Optimism has dropped 8 percentage points, with 59% of SBOs saying business conditions are good or excellent, down from 67% in Fall 2018.

The economy and a tight labor market are impacting small businesses’ ability to hire, while those who plan to hire are competing for talent with their pocketbooks.

29% of SBOs plan to hire in the next 6 months, down from 33% in Fall 2018. 66% of these new hires will be full-time employees.

Of SBOs who don’t plan to hire:

  • 29% would like to but are nervous to take on the added expense due to economic conditions 28% cannot find the right talent
  • 24% don’t have the financial resources to do so.
  • 25% say they are investing in other areas of their business.

The majority of SBOs are competing for talent with their pocketbooks. Of those who plan to hire in the next 6 months:

  • 76% provide industry leading or competitive salaries
  • 47% offer more benefits to employees
  • 43% market their business as a great place to work
  • 35% invest in differentiated or modern office perks
  • 29% provide an option for flexible work environments

Plus, 34% have leveraged the gig economy for their business, and 19% say that it has helped them get work done in a tight labor market

The tax plan:

  • 51% of SBOs say the tax plan has been positive for small business. More male business owners say the tax plan has been positive for small business (57%) than female business owners (41%).
  • 21% of SBOs expect to pay more in taxes this year, up from 19% who expected to pay more in Fall 2018 and 11% one year ago.
  • 53% of business owners think they will pay about the same.

Business owners are split on how they’ll be impacted by AI and Machine Learning:

  • 53% of SBOs with $1 to $10 million in revenue believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is already impacting or will impact their industry. Additionally, 48% of these SBOs are concerned about their ability to hire the right tech talent to help advance their business into the future.
  • However, most business owners with $1 to $10 million in revenue do not think that some of their employees’ roles will be replaced by AI and ML-based technologies. Only 8% feel some of their employees’ roles will be replaced in the next five years, and 19% feel some of the roles will be replaced in 10 years.
  • 23% of all SBOs feel pressure to change aspects of their business, like customer experience, based on industry innovation driven by large companies like Amazon.

“Change is a constant for small business owners, and it’s encouraging to see them remain resilient as they interpret new things like tax reform and the impact of technology on their headcount,” says Brad Jiulianti, head of small business card at Capital One. “We look forward to seeing how business owners continue to innovate to meet the changing needs of today’s marketplace.”

4—4 Top Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginners

Guest post from HostingTribunal

Affiliate marketing is worth $12 billion and still going strong. Even after being around for so long, it remains one of the best ways to earn handsome money online without any upfront monetary investment.

But there’s no easy money to make in affiliate marketing. If you want to earn $10,000 in your first month as an affiliate marketer, you’re bound to be disappointed.

That’s not going to happen.

Affiliate marketing is hard work and sales grow gradually. First, you’ll have to learn the ropes of affiliate marketing, create a website, publish some great content, and build social media presence. These things take time.

Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Understand that.

What else must you know before you plunge into affiliate marketing? Here are 4 top tips for beginners.

1—Know your niche: As much as possible, pick a niche you know most about. If you are a yoga enthusiast, you may be better off entering an affiliate program in this niche than picking a niche about, say, car parts.

2—Test your product: Know the ins and outs of the product you’re marketing. Take your time to find out how’s it different from competing products. Without this knowledge, you’ll have a hard time convincing consumers that you’ve the answers to their problems. And if you can’t show customers that you can help them, they aren’t going to waste their time listening to you. The global retail revenue approaches $3 trillion, so there is no shortage of shopping options.

3—Create a slick, visually-attractive site: The attention span of consumers is perhaps not more than a few seconds. This makes it crucial to be able to catch their attention the moment they enter your site. Otherwise, they’ll navigate away to never return. WordPress, the most popular website creation tool, is absolutely free. So are many plugins and themes. If you spend some time building a site, you can ensure it is fast, pretty, and user-friendly. These are the qualities that consumers love in a website.

4—Leverage social media: Millions of people visit social media sites every day. There’s no way you ignore social media and still become a successful affiliate marketer. That said, publishing promotional content left, right, and center on Facebook and the like will get you nowhere. You must use the medium to establish a rapport with your target audience. This you can do only by offering them value.

To learn more about the potential of affiliate marketing and most rewarding niches, take a look at this infographic below.

5—How Small/New Businesses Can Execute Successful Social Media Campaigns

Guest post by Social media influencer expert, Joe Gagliese, is cofounder and managing partner of Viral Nation.

1—Post emotional and fun content. Small business owners need to take measured risks and have a sense of fun to find success. Consider the recent Tweet from the son of the owner of Billy’s Donuts (named Billy). The Tweet and accompanying picture showed the sad owner of the doughnut shop with a request to come visit. The message quickly went viral. Billy’s Donuts grew its Instagram followers from around 35 to 125,000 in a matter of days. The entire family is now pitching in to bake more product to keep up with demand. This situation is a great example of viral social marketing. The Tweet used emotion and a great visual of a sweet older gentleman to evoke empathy. Who doesn’t understand wanting to help their dad? Small businesses should take this example to heart. They need authenticity in their messages and also a sense of playfulness.

2—Develop influencer partnerships and campaigns. Even the smallest of businesses can establish relationships with quality influencers. Find influencers who use your product or service and will enthusiastically share their experiences with their followers. Ideally you can offer these influencers free products or services in exchange for their promotions. Talk to them about the ways you can benefit each other, and then you’ll find influencers that are invested in your success. You want influencers that are shown to engage directly with their fans. Look at how they respond to comments. If the influencer is starting conversations and producing great content, then you want to get in with them on the “ground floor” before their popularity takes off. The best influencer campaigns will generate organic website or physical store visits as well as generate additional followers for the brand. Influencer marketing provides small businesses with the potential to reach targeted consumers in a much more organic and personal manner than a typical direct sales pitch.

3—Create and share interesting visuals. Social media campaigns are increasingly visually based. Instagram is fundamentally about sharing interesting stories and developing emotions through pictures. Some small businesses offer a product that’s easily captured in photos. Billy’s Donuts has delicious glazed, sprinkled, and chocolate-frosted doughnuts that look delicious. But a donut shop could also include visuals of the customers or doughnut-making machinery. If you offer a service instead of a product then you require more creativity. Use visuals to tell a story about the customer journey. Or showcase the people inside your office. Invest in a great camera or latest cell phone to capture high-quality shots for your social channels.

4—Repurpose your content. Once you find some impactful and viral content, then you need to run with it as far as possible. What this means is to use your popular content across multiple social channels and for a variety of other purposes. Consider again the Billy’s Donut example. The company is doing great but should also use the “sad dad” imagery on other channels or with merchandise. Once you have a social hit on your hands then you have to build the brand as much as possible. You can also create an arrangement with your influencer network to run Facebook or Instagram ads through their content. Make sure you have content ownership of the campaigns you run with an influencer so you can repurpose it in multiple ways. Use it on your own social campaigns or integrate the content into a tutorial. Extract maximum value from all of the content that you use with social. Develop videos that discuss your unique value proposition, and include them on your site, all social channels, within presentations, and anywhere else it makes sense.

6—3 Tips for Freelancers to Write a Business-Winning Proposal

Guest post by Vidya Chandra, LinkedIn Group Product Manager

LinkedIn ProFinder data reveals that 70% of small businesses have hired a freelancer in the past, with 83% of those businesses looking to hire a freelancer again. The takeaway? There is more opportunity in the gig economy than ever before. It also means, that there are more freelance professionals vying for the same jobs you’re looking to win. Knowing you’re competing with people who have a variety of backgrounds and expertise, creating an effective and impactful proposal is crucial, especially if you rely on freelance work as a main source of income.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to grab your reader’s attention, peak their interest, and get them excited about what you (and nobody else) can offer. Below are my three top tips, as well as insights from LinkedIn ProFinder experts, for freelancers looking to take a smarter approach to their proposals to gain new business in 2019.

1—Make it personal and establish trust. You won’t be the only freelancer vying for a job, so start by introducing yourself, and tailoring your proposal to the needs of the client and their project. It sounds simple, but it is a tactic that is often overlooked in proposal writing. Make your value clear, and your delivery concise and personable.

Nader Mowlee, a career coach and LinkedIn ProFinder Expert, does this by sharing his past successes, “I do this by telling short stories of my previous clients whom I’ve successfully helped. I begin the short story (following the STAR Method of writing) by describing the situation my client was in and the problem they had before they met me. Then I share the number one tactic I taught that person, how fast they were able to implement it, what their final outcome was and how it made them feel after achieving their ideal results.”

2—Be succinct, but thorough. Clients are busy and, put simply, lengthy proposals won’t get read. I recommend outlining the key messages you’d like to convey about the service you provide. Then, as you build and develop your proposal, always check that list to be sure you’re not only getting your point across, but also keeping them clearly visible to the reader. Utilize easy-to-read formatting and take liberties in bulleting out points instead of differing to lengthy sentences and paragraphs.

Another reason to keep it succinct? Your information is available in a multitude of places online. Knowing this, feel free to direct prospective clients to these auxiliary resources, and link to additional resources like the following:

  • Professional website or portfolio. Your website is a great place to house your previous client work and include more context of completed projects. Make sure you have all your contact information, your LinkedIn page, your social channels (if relevant) linked so that anyone that views it can easily paint the bigger picture of work you do.
  • LinkedIn ProFinder page. LinkedIn ProFindermakes it easy to showcase your experience and any recommendations you’ve received during your freelance career. Be sure to link your page so potential clients can dig deeper into the noteworthy work you’ve delivered to past clients.

3—Explain your “Why?” In today’s gig economy, the common thread for those that land the job is clear: they make it easy for clients to hire them. By defining the reasons why you should be chosen over other candidates is imperative in proposal writing and making this clear throughout could make the difference between landing the job or missing out on a new client.

Think about the service you provide and how you will be able to deliver something different than others in your category. Whether your specialty lies in finance or marketing, think about how you’ll be able to go above standard expectations and provide an unparalleled experience for the client. LinkedIn ProFinder expert Mariya Lugmani leads with her successes, “Describe in detail how you handled and delivered the required services and/or products in an efficient and timely manner. Include examples/case studies to be more specific. A prospective client is looking for your experience and your ability to manage their project efficiently and effectively.”

Sometimes the best way to explain these points is to have a previous clients share their experience. Don’t shy away from including referrals, or even encouraging your reader to check out the endorsements you’ve received on your LinkedIn profile.

Proposals are just one piece of the broader freelancing puzzle. My best recommendation for those just getting started is to learn as much as you can, soaking up all the resources you can. Dive deeper into ways you can write better cold emails to drive more leads, or more generally, how a few small changes can help you get more work. Don’t be afraid to take it a step further by proving to clients that you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Offering a free consult is a great way to paint a picture of your value beyond what is written on paper.

7—The Pros and Cons of PEOs vs. Fully Insured Plans for Small Business Health Insurance

Guest post by Sally Poblete, CEO of Wellthie. Poblete has been a leader and innovator in the health insurance industry for over 20 years. As a broker and former industry executive herself, she founded Wellthie out of a deep passion for making health insurance simpler and more approachable for consumers and small businesses.

As a small business owner, you want to provide your employees with health insurance. However, there are a plethora of important choices to make in a limited timeframe. When it comes to providing your team with health insurance, as long as you are well informed it will greatly simplify the process of choosing what health plans ultimately make the most sense for you and your company. If you are not entirely sure whether you should use a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) or consider Fully Insured Medical Plans, it might be helpful to know the pros and cons of each:

What are PEOs? PEOs offer services ranging from payroll processing, benefits administration, HR training and support, and workplace insurance coverage, to both small and medium-sized businesses.

The Pros of PEOs                                                                                    

  • PEOs include employees with all of the PEO’s co-employees to create one larger group/pool of employees; This enables the PEO to provide the employees with access to employee benefits similar to ones they would receive as part of a larger corporation, despite the fact they work for a small business.
  • PEOs offer more services to small business employees than just health benefits. PEOs make available compliance support, payroll, human resources services, and workers compensation.
  • PEOs lower the administrative burdens of small businesses which allows them to focus on their core business strategies in lieu of worrying about the minutiae of benefits.

The Cons of PEOs

  • PEOs offer a very limited choice in carriers, meaning that your employees won’t necessarily be presented with the best options for them or their families.
  • PEOs require administrative fees to support their services and are charged per month per employee or percentage of total payroll.
  • PEOs force small businesses to rely on an external team (rather than internal employees) to handle important and sensitive HR processes.

What are Fully Insured Plans? Fully Insured Plans are employer-sponsored health plans where the premium rates are fixed for at least a year (could have longer contracts) and are based on the number of employees enrolled in the plan each month and their ages. The company pays the insurance carrier a premium.

The Pros of Fully Insured Plans                                                        

  • With Fully Insured Plans, the prices are based on ages and/or zip code which allows employers to budget. The rates do not vary with the health of employees, and you cannot be denied based on the health of your employees (no medical underwriting required.) The insurance provider manages all claims, and the risk is assumed by the insurance company.
  • With Fully Insured Plans, you can traditionally choose your own package and decide on carriers, as opposed to being required to stick to a very limited set offered by a PEO. You can purchase a fully-insured plan if you have at least 2 employees. Some PEOs require you to have a higher minimum number of employees (5 Employees).
  • With Fully Insured Plans, there are no administrative fees paid to a PEO. You can choose your own payroll company and have internal HR resources.

The Cons of Fully Insured Plans

  • With Fully Insured Plans, premium costs can be higher depending on your geography and age of employees, regardless of the overall health of your employees. (Sometimes claims experience varies depending on the size of the company.)
  • With Fully Insured Plans, you don’t have the “one-stop shop” of payroll, HR, and compliance that is available with most PEOs.
  • With Fully Insured Plans, the administrative burdens associated with running a small business fall solely on the business.

The health insurance options available for small business employers are vast, and there are pros and cons to each choice available to you and your employees. Prior to making a decision, it is best practice to be as familiar with all of the details as possible. In the case of PEOs vs. Fully Insured Plans, neither is necessarily better than the other. The best approach to acquiring small business health insurance is entirely dependent on the specifics of your company and your individual employees. If you do your research and don’t rush into making a final decision, you’ll secure coverage for your team that suits all parties concerned.

8—Catapulting Your Digital Transformation

Guest post by Priya Sri, CEO and founder of CubeYogi. She’s a software industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience, and about 10 U.S. patents in her name. CubeYogi is a firm of Zoho experts based in South India.

Today, Zoho/Salesforce/SugarCRM are some of the most popular business software in the global arena. Their user base is raising at a tremendous pace. If you’re seeking the right solution tailored to your business needs, here’s the “secret sauce” we use at CubeYogi in the decision-making process.

1—Identify the stakeholders: Who are those in the business who will be using the system, rather, administering the system that you are going to buy/build?

2—Come up with a budget: When I talk to key decision makers, I realize many of them don’t have even a ballpark idea of their estimated budget. This becomes key in outlining the plan for your digital transformation.

3—Pin down your KIAs: What are the Key Impact Areas (KIAs) in your company? Of course, it is the dream of every leader to transform the entire company. However, first steps first. So, I strongly urge you to come up with the top three KIAs that impact your company the most—those that would add the most value when digital transformation is applied to them

4—Define your change management plan: Change means resistance. There will be resistance from your team. Resistance doesn’t immediately mean you need to back off. You need to approach resistance the Zen way.

5—Play the champion: You are the one who’s heading this. So, you be sure of what you are doing first. Project that confidence. Say it loud and clear to your team. Keep talking about it. Utilize every opportunity to capitalize on that momentum and drive the change.

Be the champion. Be the change.

9—WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work

The What Would You Do with More Time? survey by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace examining how employees across eight nations view their relationship with work and life, asking the simple question, “What would you do with more time?” was recently released.

They surveyed nearly 3,000 workers across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S. Part one, The Case for a 4-day Workweek?, found that 75% of workers say it should take less than seven hours each day to do their job—yet specific time-wasters result in 40% of employees working more than 40 hours a week, and 71% saying work interferes with their personal lives. Part two asks employees: If you could get these lost hours back in your day, what would you do with more time?

People wish they could spend more time with their families, traveling, and taking better care of their mental and physical health.

  • With more time, the top 5 things people worldwide wish they could do more of are spend time with family (44%); travel (43%); exercise (33%); spend time with friends (30%); and pursue their hobbies (29%).
  • Rest and relaxation were also big themes, as 27% of people said they would want to get more sleep and 22% would focus on mental health. More sleep is a universal desire regardless of age—from Gen Z (27%) to baby boomers (26%)—although U.S. workers (33%) crave more sleep than all other nations, with Indian workers desiring the least amount of additional shuteye (16%).
  • While all nations rate spending time with family and travel as their top two desires, the remaining top 5 “more time” wish lists vary by country. For instance, employees in France, Germany, the U.S., and the UK listed “sleep more” as a top 5-priority; UK and Indian workers wish they had time to learn a new skill or hobby; people in Mexico and India would spend more time watching TV, movies, or listening to music; and Mexican employees were the only ones to have “read more” in their top 5 list.
  • On the bright side, 62% of all workers agree their job offers enough flexibility to have a healthy work-life balance, while only 14% either disagree or strongly disagree.
  • What would you do with more time at work? Personal development leads the way.
  • Regardless of age, role, level, or country, all employees wish they could spend more time developing new skills, as it was the top-rated answer for both individual contributors (44%) and people managers (40%) alike—with exactly half of Gen Z respondents and 47% of millennials craving more time to develop skills.
  • A whopping 66% of employees in India wish they had time to develop new skills, with the U.K. (49%), Mexico (48%), and Australia (47%) following suit as the nations where more professional development is desired the most.
  • While helping customers was the second highest-rated wish for individual contributors (31%)—and a greater desire the older the worker—the remaining top-5 desires fall squarely in the personal maintenance camp: take a meal break (#3); take a mental break/meditate (#4); and catch up on work (#5).
  • Both managers and employees—especially in Australia—wish they could spend more time on long-term or significant projects (27% and 23%, respectively), and 23% of employees wish they had more time to innovate, brainstorm new ideas, or find a better way of doing things.
  • Workers in Mexico (37%), Canada (27%), and Germany (26%) would use extra time to exercise during the workday. On the other hand, only 13% of UK employees would use extra time to exercise, but 32% wish there was more time to eat.
  • Workers in Australia, the UK and the U.S. feel the busiest, as they are most likely to spend additional time in the day simply catching up on work. In France, 25% of French workers would spend extra time looking for a new job compared to the worldwide average of 16% and Mexico at only 11%.

Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos says, “While the vast majority of workers say work interferes with their personal lives, it’s clear people want to do meaningful work and want to do well by their employers. It’s the employer’s responsibility not only to provide workers with the tools, processes, and resources to optimize their time at work, but also to empower employees to best manage work-life harmony with clear and specific time-off policies, creative and self-service scheduling solutions, benefits to help relax and refuel, and, above all, open communication between the company, employees, and their people managers to ensure time while working is time well spent.”

Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and research director, Future Workplace adds, “Workers worldwide clearly see the benefit to stay relevant in their jobs by investing time in training, yet also desire more time with their family, to travel, and get fit. Instead of trying to have a balanced lifestyle, which is especially difficult in today’s highly connected, technology-driven world, workers should seek integration, ensuring they allocate time to their biggest professional and personal priorities each day. There’s more of a need today to work smarter and be more efficient to free up time to invest in things that matter most, inside and outside of work.”

There’s more research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos, including the recent Working Your Way study, which found that organizations often undermine their own employee experience around work-life harmony when it comes to time off, productivity, and workload. You can subscribe to follow The Workforce Institute at Kronos for insight, research, blogs, and podcasts on how organizations can manage today’s modern workforce to drive engagement and performance.

10—Deadly Jobs

Are the top 5 deadliest occupations compensated fairly relative to how dangerous they are? GPS fleet management company Teletrac Navman pulled data pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the top 5 deadliest occupations by fatality rate. As you can see in the infographic below, the workers taking the most risk, aren’t necessarily compensated in relation to the danger of their jobs.

  • Logging Workers: $40,830
  • Fishers and Related Fishing Workers: $41,190
  • Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers: $138,690
  • Roofers: $42,780
  • Refuse and Recyclable Materials Collectors: $38,920

Truck drivers are in the bottom percentile for salaries at $39,790 with a fatality rate of 24.7.

Check the infographic below for more information.

11—Private Company Executives Feel Less Prepared

Nearly half of public company executives see no slowdown ahead in the time and effort to be spent on compliance with the new lease accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board, according to a new Deloitte poll conducted in February 2019. In fact, after they file Q1 2019 earnings, 25% expect to spend the same amount of time and effort on lease implementation related activities and nearly as many (23.9%) plan to spend more.

“One would expect that the level of effort around lease accounting compliance would drop off considerably for U.S. public companies once 2019 first-quarter earnings are filed, but that’s simply not the case,” says Sean TorrDeloitte Risk and Financial Advisory managing director, Deloitte & Touche LLP. “Whether public companies need to better streamline lease accounting operations, fix temporary manual processes or refine technology solutions, there remains a lot of work ahead for many public companies. Private entities appear to have even more work ahead.”

Private companies appear behind in lease accounting implementation efforts: 33.2% of private company executives surveyed feel unprepared to comply with their 2020 lease accounting compliance deadline—a rate exceeding any expressed by Deloitte-polled public company execs since the respective standards’ issuances (in February 2019, only 6.9% of U.S. public company executives felt unprepared).

“It’s critical to understand that lease accounting compliance is non-negotiable, and many organizations still have a lot of work to do to achieve compliance—particularly on the private side,” says Mark DavisAudit & Assurance partner and national managing partner of Deloitte Private Enterprises for Deloitte & Touche LLP. “However, the one thing private companies have to their advantage is that public companies were required to implement the new standard first. Private company leaders can learn a lot from public companies’ efforts to date.”

Some of the lease accounting implementation lessons private company executives can learn from public company leaders are:

Finding leases is easier said than done. Collecting necessary data on all organizational leases in a centralized, electronic inventory has been rated a top challenge for executives more than once in the past by Deloitte poll respondents. “Whether leases are on paper, dispersed globally in various languages or embedded within larger contracts, gathering data needed for lease accounting calculations is a considerable undertaking. Private enterprises can learn from public companies by developing robust lease data plans and data quality procedures not only for initial abstraction, but also ongoing data maintenance,” continues Davis.

Change management is rarely fast or simple. “The organizational changes resulting from the new lease accounting standards are far-reaching and may include areas of the organization such as IT, operations, accounting and finance, tax, treasury, and financial planning and analysis. No matter who is managing the lease accounting implementation at an organization, it’s important to achieve alignment with the various internal and external stakeholders impacted by the changes. Davis concludes, “Private companies can benefit from strong project management, including a clearly defined roadmap, regular stakeholder engagement, and effective change management and training procedures.”

12—Tech Pros Need to Develop Skills to Confidently Manage

SolarWinds, a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, just  released the findings of the SolarWinds® IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow.

The report explores confidence, current and future skillsets, career development, and barriers to career success to provide a clear understanding of how tech pros and the businesses they serve can improve to better manage future technology realities.

The majority of technology professionals are not fully confident they have all the skills needed to manage their environments into the near future, especially when it comes to emerging tech.

  • 75% of all tech pros surveyed are not “completely confident” in having all the necessary skills to successfully manage their IT environments over the next three to five years—even though 99% have worked to develop a skill over the past 12 months.

This is also consistent with a recent study SolarWinds MSP conducted with The 2112 Group, 2018 Trends in Managed Services, which found only about one in four partners feel their managed service skills are expert-level, while 65% claim only basic managed service skills, with room to improve, and 5% admit they lack basic skills or capabilities altogether.

As business size increases, so does confidence: 49% of small business tech pros are somewhat to completely unconfident in their ability to manage environments into the near future with current skillsets, compared to 31% of medium-size tech pros and 27% of enterprise tech pros who share this sentiment.

An August 2018 Deloitte® survey of SMB executives revealed 57% of the respondents surveyed are planning to spend more on IT this year than they did in the past year. These findings are echoed in a recent Tech Pro Research study, which found 44% of participating technology professionals ranked internal employee training and development as a critical priority for 2019 IT budgets.

When it comes to the idea of implementing or managing specific technologies, emerging tech is a pain point (despite how much mind share these buzzworthy technologies get in headlines). The top three technologies tech pros feel unequipped to manage with their current skillsets are:

  1. Artificial intelligence (53%)
  2. Quantum computing (43%)
  3. Machine and/or deep learning (43%)

According to the Gartner® list of strategic technology trends that have the potential to disrupt and are on the verge of becoming more widely used in the next five years, AI and quantum computing both rank in the top 10.

There is a great opportunity for tech pros to increase their knowledge of these technologies and to have productive conversations with businesses on the reality of implementation in the near future.

Tech pros will continue building skills in daily operations with an eye toward areas like data science.

  • In the past 12 months, tech pros have prioritized skills in systems and infrastructure management (47%), security management (SIEM, policies, compliance, 41%), and hybrid IT deployment/management (41%).
  • Along with the top three overall, small business tech pros also worked to develop coding and scripting skills (46%) and mid-size tech pros worked to develop network management skills (40%).
  • In the next three to five years, the top two skills tech pros plan to develop skills are hybrid IT deployment monitoring and management (47%) and security management (46%).

This is in line with what tech pros say will be most important to their organizations’ transformation over the next three to five years (by weighted rank): cloud and/or hybrid IT, and SIEM and/or threat intelligence.

Small businesses rank IT security protocol and/or processes as number one, and technology innovation as number two, while the third career development goal is management/leadership skills (people management).

Tech pros have an appetite to prioritize career development on a weekly basis but are hindered by factors like time and cost—83% say their day-to-day IT tasks extend into time earmarked for career development, with 28% saying this always happens.

As business size increases, the percentage of tech pros who say “always” decreases, suggesting small business tech pros are even more strapped for time than their enterprise counterparts. This is alarming, considering tech pros enjoy technology skills training, with 49% finding it informative, 31% saying it’s engaging and interactive, and 26% reporting it’s not long enough.

However, training should be customized according to business size, as 34% of small business tech pros report training programs often assume knowledge they don’t have. This is potentially due to the amount of vendor-led training SMBs engage in to get past adoption hurdles. To solve this, vendors should consider customizing learnings according to business size.

To explore and interact with all of the 2019 findings, please visit the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, a dynamic web experience that presents the study’s findings by region and additional insights into the data, as well as charts, graphs, and socially shareable elements.

Quick Clicks

13—15 Proven Writing Techniques that Work Great in 2019 from Content Fiesta.

14—The Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Marketing Online from Canva.

Cool Tools

15—New App Takes the Worry and Work Out of Getting Paid for Small Businesses

Square, Inc. announced the Square Invoices app, providing sellers a self-serve and elegantly designed tool for creating, managing, and sending invoices from anywhere. As part of Square’s wider ecosystem of mobile tools, the Invoices app enables sellers to manage all aspects of their business in real-time from their mobile devices.

“The way we do business is changing; not everyone works from an office and small businesses need the flexibility to handle core processes like invoicing on the go.” says Alyssa Henry, Seller Lead at Square. “With the Square Invoices app, small business owners are able to get paid remotely and access their funds quickly and securely.”

According to a recent report from Fundbox, it takes the average small business 21 days to get paid after sending an invoice. With the Square Invoices app, sellers can get paid quickly and easily—no more manual invoices and waiting for checks to come in the mail. Whether they are getting paid for photographing a wedding or after taking on a new landscaping job, sellers can send invoices and get paid, in just a few simple taps. In fact, more than 60% of invoices processed through Square are paid the same day.

With its launch, Square Invoices also enables businesses to send sleek, professional estimates to confirm details of future jobs through the app or on desktop. This feature is especially useful for service businesses like home and repair providers, freelance consultants, wedding and event planners, photographers, and others who need to provide a quote to secure prospective customers.

Since launch, more than $13 billion has been processed globally through Square Invoices. The Square Invoices app is available today in the U.S., Canada, Japan, the UK and Australia via the App Store or Google Play. To learn more about the new Invoices app, feel free to check out their post on the Town Square blog.

 

16—Optimizing Cash Flow for SMBs

Bento for Business, a leading provider of B2B payment solutions, just announced a new payment solution, partnering with Visa to transform how SMBs manage and optimize their most critical asset—cash.

Bento for Business’s financial operating platform brings more complete financial controls to SMBs for their expenses, payments and purchasing, cashless workflows, working capital, banking, and more. Visa Business debit cards will now be integrated into the platform to instantly give millions of Visa SMBs access to Bento for Business’s modular financial solutions for their distinct working capital challenges, such as budgeting, expense and spend management, and bookkeeping.

“The SMB segment is a priority for Visa, and we continue to be an advocate for the 30 million SMBs in the United States,” says David Simon, Global Head of Small and Medium Enterprises, Visa. “The Bento solution will evolve how Visa Business cardholders and merchants manage expenses and gain insights into their cash flow and financial management activities.”

Farhan Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer, Bento for Business, says, “We are confident that working with Visa will strengthen and accelerate our mission to bring a complete financial operating platform to the underserved SMB market and help these businesses to unlock the fullest potential of their working capital.”

Visa customers using the Bento for Business platform will immediately benefit from complete control over expenses prior to purchase, real-time insights over their cash flow, secure physical and virtual cards, 24/7 support, and access to savings on travel, fuel and other services based on their purchases.

 

17—Get More out of LinkedIn

ContactOut is a simple browser extension that helps you find the email addresses and phone numbers of people listed on LinkedIn. ContactOut finds emails from 75% of LinkedIn users (2x better than the next closest competitor) at a 97% accuracy rate.

It speeds up the recruitment process, enabling you to find job candidates and hire faster. ContactOut will also let you up your sales game, enabling you to find elusive contact information of prospects.

The company has been around for more than three years and has thousands of users—including from one-third of Fortune 500 companies. It has been named one of the best freemium email outreach tools available multiple times.

18—Bringing the WhatsApp Business App To iPhone

Now you can use the WhatsApp Business app on the device of your choice. They just introduced the WhatsApp Business app for iOS. Like the Android version—which over the last year has been adopted by millions of businesses around the world—the WhatsApp Business app for iOS will be free to download from the App Store and will include features to help small businesses and customers communicate. These include:

  • Business Profile:Share useful information about your business such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.
  • Messaging Tools:Respond to customers easily with efficient messaging tools—quick replies to provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages to introduce customers to your business and away messages to let them know when to expect a reply.
  • WhatsApp Web: Chat from your desktop to manage conversations and send files to customers.

The WhatsApp Business app is free to download from the App Store in Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, India, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. The app will be rolling out around the world in the coming weeks.

19—Take Control of Your SEO

DataForSEO, a top software technology companies and SEO API data provider based out of Ukraine, recently launched, what they’re calling “the best API built for SEO tool makers and agencies”. DataForSEO enables digital marketing teams to gain the full governance over the data they use every day, rather than being chained to the third-party software they have absolutely no control of. This API provides all the data you need for custom SEO software – Bulk Search Volume, CPC, Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), Keyword Research, and Site Audit. The company provides the comprehensive SEO data via API at a simple, predictable price.

Simple, Easy-to-implement, High-Speed API: Building digital marketing software requires a lot of time and money. DataForSEO can make the entire process much easier. The API functionality is simple and doesn’t require completing any unnecessary steps. You don’t need to create projects, add keywords and so on. You just set a task to retrieve data from the system, and it returns everything in the result array to you.

“With our APIs you don’t have to worry about scraping SERPs, building complex backend systems, and hiring expensive software engineers,” says Nick Chernets, the CEO and founder of DataForSEO. “Our APIs allow you to get over technical complexities and focus on what you are good at – developing ideas into tools!”

High-Speed, Fresh, Accurate, and Real-time Data: SEO companies and agencies require up-to-date, reliable data to work with. DataForSEO ensures that they are always working with fresh data with its proprietary data harvesting technologies and robust APIs. The data is delivered in real-time for a specified search engine, language, and location. Also, the DataForSEO system is tested and stable and guarantees 99.99% availability and high-speed delivery.

Key benefits

  • 5-Star, 24/7 live support: DataForSEO provides top-class support during the whole process of implementation—testing and integration. You can opt for any communication channel—group chat, Skype call, or online contact form.
  • Simple pricing: No need to sign any contract or make huge upfront payments. It uses a “pay per use” pricing model. Your credits remain in your balance until you use them.
  • User dashboard with clear statistics: You will be always in the know how you spend your credits for API usage.
  • Reduced cost, improved efficiency: By using DataForSEO APIs, some of the SEO software providers have cut 60% of the overall cost and development time.
  • Trial period: DataForSEO offers a trial period that is not time limited. On signing up, you receive 1000 credits on your balance and use it whenever you like.

Check out the YouTube video.

Business owner stock photo by g-stockstudio/Shutterstock

7 Skills MBA Grad Requires to Become Successful

Everybody wants to be successful in the business world but only a few manage to reach there. If you’re an MBA grad and often wonder what exactly makes one successful then you should understand that success is not guaranteed with any degree, any exam or any renowned institution for that matter.

MBA grad success tips

Success is simply the result of different important qualities, each one equally essential as another. Let’s find those out.

1. Knowledge

Knowledge is important, no doubt, but will only bookish knowledge bring you success? No. The knowledge that your mentors impart from books and from their own experience, your own real-life experiences, lessons learnt during training from professionals and technical knowledge are all of significant value. You don’t have to mug things up day and night, if you’re passionate about this field you’ll learn from everywhere.

2. Communication

You must have heard this a hundred times before, and that should make you realize its importance. Communication skill is to business what salt is to cook. You are more likely to be successful if you can communicate your ideas and plans with precision, you can move people with words not just spoken but also written. If you’re getting an MBA online, develop top notch communication skills on your own. This is not to be compromised with.

3. Leadership

If you’ve noticed successful people in the business world are not called bosses, they are referred to as leaders. In business, you won’t succeed alone, you’ll grow with your team. You should know how to lead your team, motivate them to try harder, push them up through failures and recognize efforts. Become team oriented, make them feel appreciated, connect with them, be humble and build a positive environment in your workplace.

4. Ambitious

How will you ever become successful if you haven’t even thought about being so? You have to first aim to become successful and then plan your way up. Success won’t be one big mountain, it’ll be a cluster of hills, you need to have a go getter attitude to reach small achievement to ultimately reach the top. Develop a good concentration power and strong focus. Your commitment will show you the way.

5. Optimism

Road to success won’t always be good work, realized results and smiles and cheers. You are bound to face failures and come across hurdles. Many people give up when they face hard times, you too have to go through those phases. An optimistic outlook won’t solve the problem but it will give you the energy to keep trying. Become so resilient that you can tackle each obstacle with a smile, whether or not you conquer it, do not give up.

6. Creative Approach

Originality is closer to success than the old tried and tested ideas. As an MBA grad you must be having knowledge of the working of the business world, combine that with a hint of creativity and see the magic work. If you can bring in something new and fresh, if you can think outside the box then no one can stop you from being successful because that quality is much valued. So, keep your brain running.

7. Strategic Thinking

Your strategic thinking will enable you to see the bigger picture all the while completing daily tasks. You become organized with your work to achieve daily goals contributing to the ultimate one. All the qualities that you learn during an MBA like logical analyzing, rational thinking, efficient problem solving, practical and strategic planning, decision making capabilities will all contribute to your success.

As you can see that success depends on small yet important aspects of your personality. Most of these aspects can be practiced and learned in real life situations and they will hold more value than some papers. So, what are you waiting for? Get the ball rolling.

10 Traits All Successful Entrepreneurs Share

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?

Not all entrepreneurs are created from the same blueprint. They come from different geographic locations, upbringings, income brackets and social classes, as well as education levels. While there isn’t a foolproof map to entrepreneurial greatness, one thing is consistent — successful entrepreneurs all possess the following 10 traits.