Here’s our weekly link roundup of small business buzz, musings and muchness. A curation of the best small business talk around the web.
How great would it be to be a fly on the wall as some of the biggest companies are developed? Or to hear about the challenges entrepreneurs have faced on the road to their first million? Last week at the third annual Chicago Ideas Week, a group of successful entrepreneurs opened up about how they created their companies, shared the successes and struggles faced along the way, and the lessons learned from the experience. Here are their pearls of wisdom.
All companies care about their customers. To be successful in business, customers are a prerequisite. The companies that keep customers happy are the ones that prosper while making a positive impact on their community. Of course, all companies strive to put a customer service plan in place, but few achieve the top-notch rankings for the excellent customer experience they strive to provide. Here are key ways that companies can have success with customer service.
When starting a business, managing beneﬁts administration and filing paperwork is the last thing a business owner wants to worry about. Often, startups avoid offering beneﬁts because of the costand time required to manage the administration. For startups, going online with beneﬁts solves a lot of the normal headaches. Why? Because everything you and your employees need will all be in one place, it eliminates the need for paperwork — saving time and money.
Email is holding strong as the marketing vehicle that often produces the highest return for ecommerce merchants. Email can help to not only increase sales, but also make everyday administration and customer services operations easier and more efficient. That assumes, however, that the email program is executed properly. When it is not done properly, the result can be harmful. Here are four common mistakes to avoid in email marketing.
I can’t get enough of Lean Startups, opposite the stance that Michael Sharkey recently guest blogged about on Venture Beat. In the following, I try to contend with a few misconceptions that I have experienced at Twin Engine Labs, as well as in the executions for many startups for which I’ve advised (full disclosure: my company helps startups execute, using lean concepts to do so).
I have had hundreds of startups reach out to me at Red Rocket looking for fund raising assistance, most with hungry, passionate entrepreneurs trying to build a great company in their space. But, it is typically the technology startups that get through the filter of what I think is “fundable” by professional venture capitalists, based on my conversations with those investors.
What can CEOs who contemplate going public in the future do during the startup phase to prepare for an eventual IPO? An IPO may be “the closest business geeks get to winning the Super Bowl,” says Jeff Tangney. The medical app startup he co-founded from his Stanford University dorm room in 1999, Epocrates, went public in 2010.
Much debate surrounds the notion that an entrepreneur is born with innate entrepreneurial abilities. Many believe that specific genes are present in all successful entrepreneurs. In fact, a 2008 study of identical versus fraternal twins conducted by Scott Shane of Case Western Reserve University, Nicos Nicolaou of the University of Cyprus, and other researchers from the King’s College in London concluded a tendency to engage in entrepreneurship was indeed genetic and heritable.
As the European startup ecosystem matures, you would expect young entrepreneurs to enjoy ever-increasing access to useful advice from mentors, business leaders, experienced entrepreneurs, legal advisors and investors. Yet, surprisingly, we continue to come across founders who have made significant mistakes in their early capital raises that we suspect go against their own instincts and jeopardize the foundations of the businesses they are building.
Small business owners don’t have to rely on scary ghost stories this Halloween. There’s enough tall tales going around to spook any business owner. From uncertainties surrounding the health-care reform act to rumors about long-term effects of the government shutdown, here’s a look at four myths put together from online legal website Rocket Lawyer, and what small business owners really need to know about each.
We can no longer precisely track traffic for Google in organic search at the keyword level. As “(not provided)” creeps its way up to 100 percent, so does the lack of our ability to track Google organic keyword conversions. Tell your friends, family, loved ones, the boss. Then if you haven’t immediately lost their attention with the use of acronyms and jargon, also let them know that we’re still able to measure our efforts and gain strategic insight in many ways.
The power and influence of paid media advertising, including print ads, TV commercials, radio, and even online digital campaigns is waning, in favor of unpaid earned and owned messaging from your website, social media, key market influencers, and existing customer word-of-mouth. But startups need to remember that even zero paid media doesn’t mean that marketing is free.
Healthcare.gov, a government-run e-commerce website for the Affordable Care Act, does not actually need to exist. The still-dysfunctional federal site could have offloaded all of the work to startups, which were already building more sophisticated price-comparison alternatives to the official site, just like Orbitz does for airline companies. Healthcare.gov was supposed to be an information hub for the needs of millions of uninsured citizens who are now legally required to have a healthcare plan.
Small businesses face important decisions about employee health benefits, especially as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates new regulations, and new opportunities, around small business health insurance options. Small business owners should consider the following three questions to make more informed decisions about health insurance.
You’ve probably heard of Google Alerts, which sends email alerts about any topic you want. Most people monitor their names and their business, but did you know Google Alerts is quite possibly the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal and it’s free? Today we’re talking search tips to improve the accuracy of your Alerts, then I’m sharing super-sleuth strategies to maximize your Alerts and take your marketing strategy to a whole new level.