Are teachers to blame for the worker shortage?

(This post originally appeared on The Hill)

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who owns a construction company near Nashville, Tenn. Not surprisingly, it’s been a busy couple of years, and he’s certainly not complaining. Also not surprisingly, when I asked him what his biggest challenge is, he immediately told me it was finding good people.  “I have a chronic worker shortage,” he said.

Most businesses, particularly small businesses, are faced with the same challenge. The economy’s strong, unemployment is as low as it’s been in 50 years and talent is scarce. Some blame big companies who offer better pay and benefits. Others blame the government’s immigration policies.

My friend? He blames teachers. Read More…

Is an influencer promoting your business? Sign an agreement – or risk getting burned

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

These days many a small business may be thinking about hiring a social media influencer to help create buzz about their business. It may be worthwhile. But for one owner of a small cafe in Melbourne, it turned into a disaster.

Con Katsiogiannis, in an effort to draw a cool crowd to his business, last year hired Chloe Roberts, a self-described “gym ambassador”, fellow Aussie and social media influencer. Roberts is no Kim Kardashian (who reportedly charges anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000 an Instagram post, if you believe that) but she’s no Instagram slouch either. As of this writing, she has about 128,000 followers who like to keep up on what she’s doing, where she’s eating and what her tan looks like. Read More…

Facebook Changes The Way It Ranks Videos…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — What Facebook’s latest video ranking updates mean for your small business.

Facebook has announced it will modify its News Feed algorithm to reward creators who publish video content that sees longer average watch times and generates more repeat views. In addition, Pages posting unoriginal or re-purposed videos will be penalized through limited access to visibility and monetization. This means small businesses should think about how to keep audiences coming back, should post their strongest images/video clips first, and should ensure content is original to get optimum visibility. (Source: Social Media Today Read More…

Bad Yelp Review? It Could Be the Weather.

(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

Online review sites, like Yelp and Google, are an important part of many businesses’ success. A few great reviews can create a buzz.  A few bad ones? Well…

As a business owner you can’t ignore bad reviews or blame them on people being jerks (although I admit that will happen occasionally). But three new studies collectively show that you may be able to blame someone else: Mother Nature.

Researchers at Ohio State University collected customer reviews from 32 Florida restaurants and found something interesting: more negative reviews were left on comment cards by customers on rainy days versus dry days. And not by a little, either. The odds of getting a bad review when the weather was lousy increased almost three-fold. Higher temperatures and barometric pressure were also linked to the Florida respondents. Whether or not these were just a bunch of cranky old people was not taken into consideration. Read More…

What’s the dynamic demographic running America’s small businesses? Older people

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

The hot fintech startup genius. That amazing e-commerce savant who created a billion-dollar company selling shoes from her apartment. The cool owner of a cosmetics line. The game-changing inventor of an eco-friendly toothpaste. These are tomorrow’s business owners, right? No, not even close.

Although the media loves to write and feature all of these sexy, young, exciting millennial entrepreneurs, they are far from representative of the people who are actually running small businesses in America in 2019. The majority of small business entrepreneurs are baby boomers.

That’s according to an email survey of more than 2,700 male and female small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs from across the US that was conducted by the small business financing company Guidant Financial and the online credit marketplace LendingClub Corporation. Read More…

Work from home: What you need to know before letting employees do that

(This post originally appeared on Philly.com)

Is letting your employees work from home a good idea? That depends. Some companies – and people – are more suited to the arrangement than others.

Research has shown that remote working could make employees feel less engaged, isolated and disconnected from their coworkers, and that could lead to more mistakes, miscommunication, and a lack of productivity. Other studies, such as one recently conducted at the Wharton School, have found that for some employees, the loneliness of working from home could have a significantly negative impact on their performance.

Researcher Dan Schawbel, an employment expert and consultant, even found that work-from-home arrangements could decrease the long-term likelihood that an employee will stay with a company. Read More…

On CRM: Mailchimp Is Introducing A CRM. So Who’s Next?

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Mailchimp, the popular email marketing software that’s enjoyed by millions of users around the world, is announcing a new Marketing CRM module.

Duh.

I say duh because, well, isn’t it obvious? I can’t count the number of times that, when asked what CRM application they use, a small business owner replies to me with “Mailchimp” or “Constant Contact” or “Emma” or any number of a group of email marketing platforms.

But the thing is, these applications are not CRM applications.  They are, as just mentioned, email marketing platforms.  They allow their users to create campaigns, design templates, send out professional looking emails and then track the results. They also give these users the ability to store multiple lists of contacts targeted for their campaigns. Read More…