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:: 60% of Small Businesses Do Not Have a Cybersecurity Policy: Survey

Social distancing amid COVID-19 has forced millions of businesses to set up remote workstations that rely solely on Web applications and services (SaaS) to conduct business operations.  According to a new survey by the Cyber Readiness Institute (CRI), the virtual workplace has increased cybersecurity concerns for small business owners, as most of them have not implemented remote working policies to address cybersecurity threats.

The survey, which included 412 small business owners, revealed that while most small business owners are concerned about cyberattacks, many  lack the resources to invest in necessary security measures – and  half of them are worried that remote work will lead to more cyberattacks. It revealed that only 40% of small businesses have implemented a cybersecurity policy. Around 40% of businesses stated that economic uncertainty prevents them from making security investments. While 46% have offered training to help their employees stay secure while working remotely.

Nearly 51% of business owners surveyed said they provided employees with technologies to improve cybersecurity for remote work. And 55% of them said they believe federal and state governments should provide funding for cybersecurity products and services.

:: Your Cybersecurity Spring-Cleaning Checklist

For small business owners, tidying up your digital space means conducting a virtual sweep of your website and organizations security practices. I recommend that small business owners use the following cybersecurity spring cleaning checklist to ensure they don't miss any important items.

Spring Clean Your Website
The first step of cybersecurity spring cleaning is to deep clean your business website. By clearing out what you do not need, you can improve the overall health of your site.

Start with decluttering plugins and software. You should only keep the ones you're using and delete the rest to reduce your sites cybersecurity risk.

After you remove any plugins and software you are not using, make sure the ones you keep are updated. In addition, continue to proactively monitor your plugins and software on a regular basis and check for security updates.

It's also the perfect time to take a closer look at the data you're gathering from customers. Ask yourself if you are collecting information that truly benefits your business, such as information that drives value for marketing, sales, and services. If the type of information you collect has changed over time, delete any data and applications you're no longer using such as analytics code, remarketing snippets, affiliate tracking, and CRM tracking.

:: Offers SEO Solution for Small Businesses

Search engine optimization is an effective tool to build awareness and increase sales. If you’re thinking about using search engine optimization (SEO) to grow your business, then the latest offering from will excite you.
The Company recently announced the launch of an innovative SEO marketing solution, Simple SEO, to help businesses improve their search engine rankings.

It goes without saying that people search online before buying any product or availing any service. According to the search engine giant, Google, 83% of shoppers used online search before visiting a physical store.

So, being found on search results when potential customers type relevant phrases can improve awareness for your business, increasing sales eventually. And implementing the right search engine optimization techniques can boost the visibility for your business on search results.

:: Why Branding Matters Now More Than Ever

As the Covid-19 outbreak wreaks havoc on the retail industry, some are asking a curious question, namely: will companies boost their spending on branding in the aftermath the crisis?

What I find strange about this question is the assumption that branding is something you turn on and off, like a light switch; that it is somehow a conscious decision or undertaking that brands embark on as necessary or when it best serves them. I suspect this is because we’ve long confused the concepts of branding and advertising. They are not the same.

Advertising is what a brand says about itself to consumers. Advertising is a conscious effort on the part of a brand to promote itself, its products and its services. Advertising can be bought and sold. Advertising is transactional.

Branding, on the other hand, is a very different thing. Branding is what others think and say about you. And it’s informed by a wide range of inputs, far beyond what a brand says about itself. More critical is what a brand actually does or doesn’t do. Branding reflects the sum total of every organisational action, set against the backdrop of culture, all of which reveals the true character of a company. Branding cannot be bought or sold. Branding is transformational.

:: Evolutionary Branding: Know The Jungle

The law of the jungle states, in evolutionary terms, that only the fittest survive. Before you can effectively brand an organization, you need to understand its clients/customers/donors/community and its competitors. In the marketing world, this is called a landscape analysis.

Often, companies — especially startups and nonprofits — will say they do not have competitors. Let me get this out right away: Everyone has competitors. Even nonprofits. If you think you do not have competitors, that means you don’t understand what a competitor is. A competitor is any person or organization taking business away from you.

:: 10 Tips For Digital Marketing During a Pandemic

Understand the Challenges Your Customers Are Facing
Before you can market during any period, you need to be able to solve a problem for your customers. During a pandemic, the problem you are solving may change. So you have to be able to communicate that. Part of this is just understanding the current climate. It is probably safe to say that many small business customers are hurting financially. Some may also be in a hurry to receive specific types of items. By understanding your market and staying up-to-date on news in your industry, you should be well versed on the basic challenges that might impact your strategy or talking points. However, Perkin also recommends surveying customers however possible so you can quantify how many of them are struggling in specific areas. Once you know the problems your customers are facing, you can work backward to create your marketing communication strategy.

Learn How to Communicate with New Customers
In fact, you may need to pivot all or part of your business strategy in order to stay afloat during the pandemic. For example, Marran pointed out a UPS client that previously sold pet costumes, but has recently shifted into manufacturing face masks and PPE. This is likely to be a temporary change. But they still need to shift their marketing and communication strategy toward hospitals and B2B customers, rather than focusing on the consumers they normally serve.

:: 5 Marketing Hacks On The Cheap To Grow Your Business During a Pandemic

For small businesses, resources can be tight. Especially right now.
Limited budgets can present challenges for how businesses raise awareness, acquire customers, and generate revenue.

In fact, 39% of small business owners agree that a limited budget is a major roadblock in growing their businesses.

However, there are plenty of low-cost, high-yielding marketing hacks that can help you reach your customers.
Get featured in press by responding to journalists and podcasters
Personalize cold outreach campaigns
Correct Existing Mentions of Your Brand
Add videos to your landing page
Repurpose old blog content

:: 10 Must-Have Content Marketing Tools For Small Business Owners

Customers go through a journey before they commit to a purchase. As a small business owner, it is your duty to engage and interact with them until they do so. And when they do, you continue to nurture them so they become your brand’s advocates.

With content marketing, you can convert random online searchers to website visitors, make them a part of your tribe and drive more sales by consistently providing them with valuable information.

:: How to Market Your Business During Covid

Make communication a priority
In response to the restrictions temporarily in place, companies large and small have made changes to the way they do business. Restaurants are offering curbside pickup. Many retailers have closed their brick-and-mortar stores but are ramping up e-commerce with free delivery and 24-hour customer support. Grocery stores have introduced new cleaning protocols and special senior shopping hours.

No matter your industry, be proactive in sharing this information with customers and keeping them updated. In this digital-first era, all types of businesses are much better equipped to reach customers, both existing and prospective. By using multiple platforms — posting on social media, sending mobile messages, and updating your website and directory listings such as Google My Business — your business has the ability to connect with customers quickly and easily.  

Be transparent
We are living through a period of uncertainty in which nearly every American is affected by this pandemic in some way. It’s important to acknowledge that publicly. Practicing sensitivity and transparency in light of our current economic climate is not only appropriate — it’s necessary. Soften the tone in your messaging and infuse empathy in recognition of what’s happening all around us.

:: The Email Marketing Statistics You Need to Know in 2020

Email marketing continues to be one of the most powerful tools for growing your business. (Need proof? Check out stat #1 below.)

And although email marketing has been around for decades, it’s everchanging.

New email marketing tools — like AMP for Email — pop up all of the time. Marketers are taking innovative approaches to email marketing. And email marketing benchmarks change every year.

Want to see how your own email marketing strategy compares and what other businesses are doing to innovate?

Check out this ultimate list of email marketing statistics to find out how you stack up and see email marketing benchmarks to compare your results.

General email marketing statistics and usage
79% of small businesses say email marketing is important to their business strategy. [AWeber]

60% of small businesses say their email marketing strategy is effective or very effective. [AWeber]

64% of B2B marketers use a dedicated email marketing platform. [Content Marketing Institute]

40% of B2B marketers claim that email newsletters are the most important tactic in their content marketing strategy. [Content Marketing Institute]

43% of small businesses have 500 or less email subscribers. [AWeber]

42% of small businesses with over 500 subscribers have effective or very effective email marketing strategies. [AWeber]

46% of emails are opened on mobile devices. [Litmus]

61% of consumers prefer to be contacted by brands through email. [Statista]

On average, consumers spend 2.5 hours checking email on a typical weekday. [Adobe]

:: Thank You, Small Business

It is hard to believe that six weeks ago we were all living life as we previously knew it and making plans for the life we thought was ahead.

It has been an exhausting six weeks. It has been a frustrating and angering six weeks.  It has been a scary and anxiety-inducing six weeks. It has been a life- and business-altering six weeks.

And yet, every day — over and over and over again — I have seen small-business owners around the world step up, persist and display the type of character that I am inspired by.

I saw an amazing quote last week. It reminded that character is not built during crisis, but that character is revealed during crisis. How true is that? I look around and I see people who have been revealed as power hungry and self-centered, but I have also seen people who are kind, generous and committed to the greater good. And so many small business owners fit into that category.

:: How Mobility Is Helping Three Small Businesses Stay In Business

When it comes to turning business challenges into opportunities, small business owners are quick, nimble, and creative. With state governments around the country shuttering all non-essential businesses to combat COVID-19 still in full swing, this is truer than ever.

But, unlike years past, where such an unprecedented closure would have put many small businesses out of business permanently, today they’re turning to mobility and connectivity in large numbers to keep their doors open—if only virtually.

:: 5 Small Business Trends to Pay Attention to in 2020

As an entrepreneur, you've likely had to embrace change lately so you not only continue to succeed, but you also find ways to dominate during unprecedented times. One of the best ways to gain a competitive edge is to stay on top of trends so you can create new opportunities and stay ahead of your competitors.

With that in mind, here are five trends all small business owners should embrace in 2020 and beyond.

1. Employee health and wellness must become a priority.
2. AI will continue to change the business world.
3. Mobile marketing will be used more creatively.
4. Younger consumers will declare World War Z.
5. It is time to go cashless.

:: Your Sleep Habits Need a Spring Reset. Try These 5 Tips Tonight

Chances are good, few habits need more of an overhaul right now than your sleep routine. You probably picked up a few bad sleep habits during the cold, dark winter and any additional stress you're facing is helping the situation, says Brown University associate professor and medical doctor Katherine Sharkey.

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:: The top 10 Prospecting Tools for Your Small Business Sales

The customer acquisition process is a long journey. As any salesperson knows, there are many phases to this journey, and while the close might get all the glory, the most important part of the process may be all the way at the beginning: prospecting.

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:: Essential Business Survival Guide for the Covid-19 Crisis

Expert advice on handling panicked customers, interrupted supply chains, webinars, Zoom meetings, hyper kids, and a work environment that changes by the hour.

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:: Best Sales Tactics for Your Small Business

There are no magic formulas or secret sales tips for boosting your sales metrics and performance. Sales are dependent on a myriad of factors lining up in your favor, and many of them are out of the numbers on your sales dashboard. The best you can do is do your best putting in the work.

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:: 8 Ways Business Owners Can Take Advantage of the Federal Stimulus Package

There is a strategy to maximizing all the benefits of Congress recent $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not just applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or tapping into your 401k. In fact, there are actually eight key pieces to the legislation that can assist business owners in one form or another.

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:: One Way to Start a Lucrative Career From Home That Could Pay $50,000 in a Day

We are in the midst of a difficult time in history. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a health crisis, and both the economy and jobs are suffering as a result.

While many of us can work from home, others cannot. But if a silver lining exists, perhaps it’s this: Now is the perfect time to learn a skill or launch a new career. Affiliate marketing gives you that opportunity.

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:: Half of Small Businesses May Close Within 2 Weeks

Fifty-four percent of U.S. small businesses have either closed or expect to close temporarily over the next 14 days, according to a new Chamber of Commerce survey.

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:: What it is like to lose your small business to coronavirus

We had to terminate all of our employees. We talked about different options, like furloughing employees, which is a temporary termination. We talked to tons of other business founders and really leaned on legal advice to the extent that we could. In the end, we had to terminate all of our employees, which we thought was the best for them, because they could file for unemployment very quickly. When the seven-day wait period for filing for unemployment was waived, we felt that was the best way forward.

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:: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain to Make Better Decisions

Every day brings a tidal wave of choices, from hiring to product features to marketing plans. As the founder and CEO of JotForm, I know that decision-making is one of the toughest parts of my job. Technology and markets evolve at lightning speed, and there’s endless data to weigh with every choice.

On the bright side, learning to make smart decisions can help you work more productively, manage stress, dodge burnout and feel more satisfied in your business and your life.

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:: FinTechs Must Be Involved In Paycheck Protection Program Lending For Small Business

Small businesses drive the economy and create the lions share of jobs in the private sector economy. However, right now they are struggling mightily. Although it is recommended that companies have at least six months’ worth of revenue in the bank to weather economic disruptions such as the coronavirus, the reality is that most small companies don’t have enough cash to operate more than a couple of weeks.

For the service industry: restaurants, nail salons, haircutters, landscapers, athletic trainers, and others, the loss of weekly revenue is devastating for the owners and staff of small businesses. Most service workers live paycheck to paycheck and cannot go very long without being paid. We have already seen an enormous spike in unemployment claims, ending an era when the economy has basically been at full employment.

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:: Banking industry has concerns about the small business bailout program

Many small businesses have shut their doors but the bills are still piling up. The Small Business Administration is launching a program to assist, but many lenders are voicing concerns about it, calling the S.B.A.s expectations unrealistic.

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:: How to get aid for a small business hit by coronavirus crisis

Millions of small business owners will be turning to the government, seeking help for an individual and nationwide cataclysm, the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The government says it will begin disbursing loan money to company owners and freelancers Friday under the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the $2 trillion relief package signed into law last week. For many companies, it may be the quickest way to rebuild the lifeblood of any business: the cash flow that enables a company to pay its bills.

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:: How Is Launching A Startup Different From Starting A Small Business

Facebook and Walmart had one thing in common, they both built a product people loved. But their journey was different. Understanding how and why building startups is different from small businesses will help you make wiser business decisions. Here are the most important differences you need to know.

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:: Starting a Business

One of the great things about being in business these days – whether it is having a side hustle or a retail store or an online business – is that there is just so much free help available.

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:: Small business confidence rises, signaling a more positive outlook for the US economy

Small business sentiment is on the rise to kick off 2020, with confidence nearing all-time highs, according to data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey. The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Confidence Index climbed two points in the first quarter, from 59 to 61, as concerns over trade policy impacts lessened, thanks to a trade deal with China and the signing of the USMCA. This is a sharp turnaround from the lows seen last summer as trade turmoil weighed on Main Street’s outlook.

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:: Why Trade Shows Are Important For Your Small Business

In our hyperconnected digital world, trade shows can be seen as a bit of a relic, an outmoded business building tool that entrepreneurs shouldn’t waste their time on. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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:: 5 Best Practices for Small Business Owner Taxes in 2020

Spring may be just around the corner, but for accountants and tax professionals, this is crunch time. Here are five ways you can help smooth out the filing process for your small business clients (and, consequently, yourself) this tax season.

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:: Small Business Grapples with Uncertainty

Small business challenges for 2020 will not be easy as more than eight of ten owners indicate attracting new customers is their biggest problem, and nearly six out of ten report hiring or trying to hire qualified applicants has become frustrating. Overall, small business optimism during 2019 was a roller coaster ride for many, as potential threats, such as the on-again off-again trade war with China, potential trade wars with India and Europe, has made it nearly impossible to set long-term plans. Compounding the frustration is the potential impact of the upcoming national elections.

While the Republicans have loosened regulations for small businesses, the consequences of the ill advised 2017 corporate and wealthy tax cuts are beginning to bite, thus producing a walk back in 2020.

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:: Small Business Owners to Big Brands: You Do Not Get It

Insiders say the ability to appeal to the emotional side of the SBO will become more important, as so-called Millennials – those born between the years 1980-2000 – are the fastest-growing segment of SBOs and may be more inclined to own a small business than members of older age groups. A study released in 2017 found, among other favorable statistics, that Millennials have more experience with small business and greater desire to start businesses than previous generations.

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:: 7 Bad Habits Small Business Owners Should Avoid

As you take the helm and begin guiding your business into the future, you would be well-advised to listen to suggestions from people who have already made the mistakes they can help you avoid. By the way, you are going to make mistakes. If you can accept that and learn from your mistakes, it will all amount to nothing more than an on-the-job education.

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:: This Is The Secret Ingredient For Small Business Success

The research shows that the majority of small businesses believe their revenue growth underperforms their peers. Specifically, 60% of respondents ranked their revenue growth below the 50th percentile of similarly sized companies. Yet, when comparing their actual cash flow and revenue data with the analysis drawn from the Kabbage Small Business Revenue Index, the information indicates that the vast majority of respondents have healthy revenue performance. The question is, why are these business owners feeling pessimistic about their company's performance, and how is it impacting their decision making?

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:: This Company Says It Is the Airbnb of Boats

GetMyBoat, is a startup that calls itself the Airbnb of Boats. This app lets interested people rent boats in many different countries. Small Business Trends contacted Val Streif, marketing manager for GetMyBoat, to find out what makes this enterprise successful.

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