Starting your own business is hard. There are so many things to think about before you can turn your dreams into reality. You have to choose the right industry, secure all the permits and required documents, think about the manpower, and much more. But the biggest concern that most business owners face is the availability of financial funds and where to source them.
In the past, small businesses have had limited resources when it comes to financing their business. In most cases, business owners had to go to lending companies, pursue bank loans, or use their own money. With modern financing methods, things have changed, providing additional options. Today, crowdfunding for small business is so popular that it has become the primary mode of raising capital. But, is it good for your small business?
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing and alternative financing. It is the practice of raising small amounts of capital from a large number of people to fund a project or new business. It makes use of the wide availability of networks through social media awareness and crowdfunding websites to bring entrepreneurs and investors together. By using this technique, a business expands the pool of investors beyond the usual friends and family, increasing available funds as well.
Crowdfunding for startups works by receiving donations from various people in return for a special reward. This reward could be in the form of free products, exclusive discounts, first exposure to new products, premium merchandise, a chance to become involved with the team, or even becoming a major capital investor. Crowdfunding has one ultimate goal – and that is to raise the required amount for the project or business to take off.
There are many avenues for crowdfunding, often done via social networking sites or through a crowdfunding platform, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Although many businesses and campaigns have gained success by utilizing this funding method, keep in mind that choosing the right type of crowdfunding is essential to reach your target objectives.
Types of Crowdfunding
Your Guide to Understanding Crowdfunding - YouTube
Rewards-based crowdfunding is a type of small business financing where entrepreneurs solicit a financial donation to presell a product, service, or business concept without incurring debt or sacrificing shares. Often called non-equity or seed crowdfunding, the goal is to raise capital in exchange for a product or service. This type of crowdfunding is often used for business ventures in the creative fields such as multimedia promotion, computer software, product development, scientific research, and many similar types of business.
Rewards-based crowdfunding for small business works by introducing a project or business idea on crowdfunding sites and engaging people or possible investors to fund the venture. For example, an investor of a solar laptop charger needs at least $5,000 capital to start his business. Everyone who contributes $50 might be offered an exclusive 50% discount and those who contribute at the level of $100 might be given a free product.
This type of crowdfunding works best for small businesses with compelling ideas which don’t usually qualify for a traditional bank loan. Anyone is allowed to contribute to the campaign and most platforms usually charge 5-13% of the funds raised as well as a small processing fee.
Another type of crowdfunding for startups is investment crowdfunding or equity crowdfunding. This is a process where a large number of people provide money to a business in exchange for shares in the company. It’s like funding a small company in its early stages — and in return, you’ll get a slice of the financial pie. Unlike rewards-based crowdfunding where investors are rewarded with products, services, or other rewards, with equity crowdfunding, people pledge money to support your business in exchange for company shares.
The requirements to solicit equity-based crowdfunding projects are similar to what you’ll find in bank loans, but you won’t need any collateral because there’s no loan payment involved. Campaigns with this type of crowdfunding usually entail large amounts of money and companies should NOT be listed on any stock exchange for them to qualify. The equity can be in the form of shares or percentage ownership.
However, it’s important to note that since equity crowdfunding involves investment in a commercial trade, depending on where your business operates, the process can be subject to securities and financial regulation. The great thing about an equity-based crowdfunding campaign is that if the business becomes successful, the value goes up together with your company shares, rewarding both the business owner and the investor.
Benefits of crowdfunding
Compared to traditional modes of capitalizing a business, crowdfunding can take business capitalization a whole new level. There are many ways to raise money and the number of potential investors is never-ending as long as you have a good pitch and a compelling business idea. Additionally, there’s no loan to repay and you avoid the high interest rates that are the nemesis of small businesses.
Social Proof – since crowdfunding is generally shared on social media networking sites, if someone shows an interest to your campaign, you’ve generated social proof to demonstrate the worthiness of your business. Trust is established even before the project starts.
Traction – all start-up companies are hungry for traction. This is when the product or services being offered have developed a great following and growth with repeat customers. Crowdfunding is the best venue to establish traction.
Marketing – crowdfunding for small business doubles as a great marketing campaign. By engaging potential supporters and growing your target audience, you are also marketing your startup. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
Potential investor interest – investors are always on the lookout for promising projects with great ideas. If your campaign garners enough traction and social proof, it’s more likely investors will become interested in your business, leading to an increase in capital and possible expansion.
Is crowdfunding right for your business?
Crowdfunding has proven again and again that those who want to start a small business but lack the financial resources can still make their dreams come true. But before jumping on the bandwagon, it’s best to be informed that crowdfunding isn’t all about receiving donations.
Crowdfunding sites will usually take a certain percentage from your funds as a fee.
A processing fee is required before you can use their platform.
An accountant may be required to help manage your numbers.
Large crowdfunding investments are limited to SEC-accredited investors.
Your crowdfunding campaign is the life of your project.
To ensure successful crowdfunding for startups, make sure to:
Present a serious business plan and great explanation of why you need the money.
Mention that you have invested your own money into your projected business.
Your video pitch should be short, concise, and have a call to action.
Be active on all social media sites before and after the crowdfunding campaign.
Don’t limit the perks and privileges, make sure that they feel like valuable rewards.
Urge your friends and families to get involved, and to promote your campaign to others.
Today marks the start of the 21st FIFA World Cup. The tournament, which is taking place in Russia this year, brings together 32 teams from around the globe who will play a total of 64 matches in 12 venues in 11 different cities.
According to FIFA, the World Cup is the largest sporting event on earth — even larger than the Olympics. As a result, from teams and players to stadiums and sponsorships, every aspect of the event seems to have its own form of insurance. Who will win?
Germany and Brazil might be two favorites, but Lloyd’s, the global insurance company, has predicted that France will be victorious at this year’s tournament. According to their research, France has the highest amount of total insurable value at £1.4 billion, followed by England at £1.17 billion, and then Brazil at £1.1billion.
In theory, the better the team, the more it costs to insure. Lloyd’s is looking to go 2-0 with their predictions, after successfully naming Germany the winner back in 2014 using the same methodology.
Other facts from Lloyds on the insurable value of players:
Forwards are the most valuable players – their legs are worth £19.2m on average.
Midfielders have the largest share of total squad insurable value (38%).
Players aged between 18-24 years old have on average the highest insurable value at £20m.
What insurance is there for the event?
Allianz broke down several of the risks involved for an event like the World Cup, including fans, public viewers, and spectators, event contingency and cancellation, and stadium and infrastructure. For Russia, the total tab of hosting the tournament is expected to top $11.8 billion, excluding some new stadiums and costly infrastructure.
The cost of cancellation or interruption due to a natural disaster or catastrophic event would be huge. However, both Russia and FIFA have insurance that pays out if a game is abandoned or moved to another location, or if the World Cup is canceled, according to Allianz.
And beyond that, organizers, broadcasters, and sponsors, as well as players and clubs, also have their own insurance policies. Allianz points out, “For this World Cup, FIFA has earmarked $134 million alone for insurance for clubs whose players get injured – more than a quarter of the prize money on offer to the 32 competing teams.”
Through our commercial partnership, CoverWallet extended its U.S. platform to Europe, enabling Zurich to provide small businesses with a platform to learn about types of policies, get quotes, purchase insurance, and manage their coverage, online, in minutes. The platform is currently live in Spain, and, bolstered by the investment, CoverWallet will continue to grow its international footprint, expanding to other European countries with Zurich.
Zurich, powered by CoverWallet, is an application of the B2B platform CoverWallet announced in May. With the platform, users benefit from real-time quoting, underwriting, binding, billing, and servicing capabilities. The Hanover Group was the first carrier to use the tech platform in the U.S., providing it to agents for its emerging micro-small commercial business, whereas Zurich leverages CoverWallet’s B2B platform to sell its policies directly to small businesses online.
We are excited to share this news and look forward to our continued work with Zurich!
There are many statistics about the success and failure rates of new businesses. Some claim that new businesses have a failure rate of 30-90%, while the SBA reports that 50% of new businesses will make it past the 5-year mark and a third will continue to grow strong after 10 years. Whatever statistical report you want to believe, starting a new business can be very intimidating, and that is why choosing the right industry is crucial for the success of your trade.
CBInsights claims that 42% of small businesses fail because there’s no market for their products and services. This only proves that investing in the right idea will decrease your chances of being included in the feared 42% failure rate.
With thousands of small businesses sprouting like mushrooms in the wild, the competition is stiff. While of course, it’s important to choose an industry that you are passionate about, whether you’re planning to start a small shop or having doubts entering the market, keep in mind that careful industry selection is the key towards success.
Consider Barriers to Entry
Barriers in the industry are like a double-edged sword. They can be both favorable and unfavorable for your business depending on the consequences. Barriers to entry can make it easy or difficult for you to flourish and prosper in the market.
If you want an industry where requirements are lenient and starting up is pretty easy, consider businesses with few barriers to entry such as online selling, food carts, retail goods and general merchandise. Although, be aware that businesses with few barriers to entry invite tons of competition and put a lot of pressure on you to stand out and make a difference.
Trades with high barriers to entry, on the other hand, like healthcare, automobile, insurance, restaurants, professional services, etc., are more difficult to access due to their stringent requirements. While they require various degrees, permits, insurance policies, safety certifications, and great industry experience, higher capital cost and longer time for investment recovery are the tradeoffs of having less competition. Some things to remember when making this decision include:
Always study the industry barriers related to your business and create a plan to overcome these deterrents.
A new business entering the market should bring a different type of product to establish uniqueness.
Review the distribution channel and access to suppliers, and make sure that they are not monopolized by big players.
Fragmentation Can Create Opportunity
When an industry is fragmented, it means that it is made up of smaller businesses with no dominant players to control the majority of the consumers. Even though highly fragmented industries are packed with smaller players, they are easier to access and the public has not given its loyalty to any one business. Fragmented industry, when penetrated, could lead to great success given the diverse portfolio of smaller businesses.
Most of the time, fragmentation leads to localized businesses in multiple locations. Marketing is focused towards a geographic location or to a certain group of consumers depending on your products and services. While fragmentation can lead to great opportunities, there are certain things you need to secure success. Some of these include:
Use the advantage of lower marketing expenses to establish a position in the fragmented industry. Your marketing efforts should target locals and word-of-mouth as a strong option.
Work your budget and keep your focus small rather than big. You don’t need to make a big entry to start competing with other businesses. Make a loyal following by offering great products and quality services.
Differentiate your business from others, as uniqueness attracts leads and customers.
Recent Changes in Law and Expected Changes
While starting up your very own business is deemed to be difficult, so as to follow certain rules and regulations mandated by the government. Legislative rules can have a great impact on your business. They can open opportunities for growth, but they can equally shut down your small company in one single change of local law. Those planning to start a business should keep an eye on new federal regulations, current changes in the legislation and political shifts that will affect future trends. Consider also insurance requirements in your state you’re operating like General Liability or Workers Compensation.
For example, the increasing sales of vape products and flourishing support from the community have been affected by recent regulations pertaining to e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. Even if your industry is considered to be booming, if not properly addressed, laws and regulations could shut down your business, so keeping up and following changes is considered vital. Some key points to watch legally in business include:
Watch out for government regulations. They have a huge impact on small businesses and potentially to your chosen industry.
Keep yourself informed regarding minimum state wages, insurance policies required by the government and licensing rules.
New laws may open opportunities, so be quick to capitalize before others.
Tax Breaks and Government Incentives Might Make the Difference
To encourage industry growth and increase local employment and active economic trade, many states and communities provide incentives to new and aspiring business owners. Most of the time, these incentives come in various forms such as tax abatements, tax revenue sharing, financial grants, infrastructure assistance, low-interest financing, tax credits and other monetary or non-monetary aids.
Just imagine the annual savings you will potentially make if the government offers tax breaks for your chosen industry. These savings are useful for lowering operational costs or to support the growth of your business. There are many reasons why government offer assistance for new businesses, and the factors you need to watch out for are as follows but not limited to:
Economic development zones often receive incentives to boost growth rate in the area.
There are specific incentives meant for specialized industries, like the Stimulus Bill of 2009 tax break for the clean-technology industry.
New industries that are useful and advantageous to the community frequently receive encouragement from the local government thru special programs and tax incentives.
Availability of Investment Capital
Small businesses that remain stagnant are usually caused by a lack of financial capital to facilitate growth. Unless you have unlimited resources and overflowing fund availability, if you have big dreams for your small business, you will need the help of investors. Consider what attracts capitalists and determine their needs as well as wants, and check if the industry your eyeing for appeals to investors.
Industries with big potential and those that are engaging in the market are the usual ones to get financial aid from leading investors. Small businesses that are slowly disrupting the traditional force and getting a cult following are a growing haven for bigtime capitalists. Investment capitals are given to desirable industries, and for investors, there are certain indicators to look for in a business. Some of these include:
They desire for an experienced entrepreneur who has been seasoned and strengthen by the trade.
They want a team with passion, tenacity, flexibility, commitment, coachable and knowledgeable drive.
They want to know ifs your business model is profitable, repeatable, expandable, defensible or predictable.
Investors put a huge importance on customers, so they need to know that your products or services entice the public.
First introduced during the 1970’s and really taking hold in the 90’s, email has become one of the most used forms of communication. Regardless of age, gender, race, and location, people from all over the world can instantly send and receive messages by using their electronic devices.
With its unparalleled convenience and ease of use, email marketing campaigns have been predominantly used to reach target customers and prospective clients. Each time we open our mailbox, most of us receive a huge amount of marketing emails from known and unknown sources. From the important websites we follow to spam messages offering various products and services, the savviest digital marketers work their email marketing efforts to ensure successful mail delivery.
But with every seven out of ten emails unopened or deleted and only 3% click-through success rate, it is actually trickier than it seems. To have success with your next email campaigns, here are 5 email marketing tips that are very useful, especially for small business owners.
Tip 1: Build Your List with an Attractive Opt-in Offer
Consumers today are smart and personal information is more valuable for them than gold. They know that asking their names, contact numbers and email addresses will only be used for marketing purposes. Unless you give them an irresistible offer, you’ll find it hard to get that email address.
One easy trick to get consumers share their email address is to give them an attractive opt-in offer. Keep in mind that just like everybody else, customers love free stuff, discounts, exclusive perks, rewards and other deals relevant to their lifestyle. Without spending too much money, and by simply stretching out your creativity, offer them something great in exchange for an income generating email list.
Give them a free course that is useful, appropriate and most importantly content-filled. Use a combination of text, audio and graphics to make it more appealing and worth reading. Create a web link where they can download the free course after signing up using their email.
Offer regular contests or games. Prizes can be of anything from one of your products, special discounts, free shipping, coupons or even a thank you cake or basket of goodies. Doing this will also help increase your sales as people will most likely browse your website.
Tip 2: Think Mobile and Consider Cross OS Platform
Just like you, most savvy customers don’t just rely on their laptops or computers to check email messages. According to Campaign Monitor, emails that are opened on mobile devices grew by over 30% for the past 5 years. The use of cellphones and tablets is on the rise to the point that they are now comparable to desktop and webmail clients.
Before you send emails, make sure that they are optimized for all platforms. This includes mobile handsets, tablets, convertible devices, pocket computers, digital watches and all others. When designing your emails, make sure that they are compatible with smaller screens and that vital information will be kept visible rather hidden somewhere at the bottom.
Always use a mobile-ready email template. Ready-made templates are great because they are specifically designed to look great regardless of email platform. Use online tools to check how your email looks on iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and Blackberry devices. Check out Litmus.
Balance the image and text content. An email campaign without pictures is too boring to read. And those filled with images will be difficult and slow to open especially for underpowered mobile gadgets.
Tip 3: Choose a Subject Line that Tells the Reader What to Expect
Next to these email marketing tips is to choose a subject line that gives an overview of the actual email content. They always say that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and while this is 100% true, this doesn’t apply to email messages.
A great subject line that is relevant and interesting is more likely to be opened. But a misleading subject line with confusing thoughts and deceptive wording will be tossed straight into the trash folder. Spend time analyzing your subject line because this will help boost your email open rate. Communicate with it and use it as an introductory spiel, so that readers can expect what’s in store for them after opening the email.
Avoid using spammy words or terms used by aggressive marketers to lure customers. By all means, do not use loud punctuations, all caps, multiple exclamation points, “buy now” words, and limit the use of “free” if you don’t want your email to be marked as spam.
Use A/B testing to accurately check your subject line. A/B testing is imperative because it compares two subject line versions to indicate which one converts better.
Tip 4: Target Lists as Much as Possible
Continuing on these email marketing tips, always practice list segmentation before you send emails. It is a big “no-no” to send generic emails to a group of consumers with different wants and necessities. Always remember that customers will only open emails and click links if the content is relevant to their needs, otherwise they wouldn’t waste time scrolling your message.
This trick is very useful for both small and medium-size business owners who want to create a loyal following of customers. Sending the right email to the most appropriate target market is indeed a match made in heaven. Try to collect as much information as possible from your customers and create a mailing list by group, by product, requirements, wish list, etc.
Your mailing list should contain relevant information about the purchasing behavior of your customer. Start with the basics; make sure that the profile or demographics are filled in accordingly. Include details about sex, location, age, occupation and other relevant customer information.
Group your customers according to their predicted value. Depending on their latest purchase, the frequency of orders and assortment of products, classify them into most valuable customers, most growable customers and below zero customers.
Tip 5: Choose The Right Email Marketing Automation Platform
Finally, on these email marketing tips, always invest in a quality email automation program. For small business owners, you don’t need software with super high-end capabilities – a simple program that can do basic tasks is usually enough. As your small company grows, then that’s the right time to splurge on automation programs to accommodate bigger volumes.
Pick a program that works with your email subscribers, contact management system, or point of sales system. One platform that can easily fill all of these needs is MailChimp. There are different platforms and subscriptions available, for little to nothing monthly, helping to work with your budget and content needs alike. If the budget permits, choose to add tracking and statistic functions along with testing capabilities in the marketing platform you initiate.
If you are not good at designing and crafting emails, make sure that the email program offers an easy-to-use workflow editor. This is the heart and soul of every automation platform. It should have a huge collection of ready-made templates and convenient functions such as drag and drop.
To effectively combine marketing campaigns with emails, select a program with robust analytics. Check if they have metrics for sending volume, click rates, unsubscribed rates, bounce rates, location tracker, leads generated, device origin and many more.
For more detailed information use the following links:
Back in 2013, the U.S. Labor Workforce saw a huge decline in the number of workers employed and those that were actively seeking employment. Several factors have been attributed to this such as the aging American population, the weak economy, and the increasing number of workers going on disability insurance. Then, there was the sudden rise of small business survival rate by up to 80%.
There are approximately 30 million small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) all over the US competing for top talent to help improve their business. Sure, the small business can’t beat luxurious salary packages, neverending benefits of health plans, study programs, opulent workspace and the allure of joining a prestigious large corporation. However, there are tricks you can use to compensate for these benefits and attract quality workers to join your business. Competition in the SMB world is tough but these tips will definitely help you win valuable talents for your small business.
Tip 1: Differentiate Your Business
Most employees will leave their current job in exchange for a unique opportunity from a different company, so use this to your advantage. Don’t give them false hopes or the promise of golden opportunities. Instead, show them why joining your small business is better for their careers.
People seeking new career opportunities will often look online. Make your business information easily accessible online and list it on various websites so that job seekers can learn more about what makes your company unique.
Use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to make a dedicated page for your business. Keep in mind that this is not your personal account so only list information, pictures or text contents in accordance with your business.
Make sure that your company is listed on major business websites such as Google Business, Yellowpages, and LinkedIn. All of these websites are free and you only need to acquire subscription for advanced options.
Have a presence on sites like Glassdoor, which collects employee reviews, interview questions, and information from other employees from your company. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Get a Free Employer Account and fill in all necessary information.
Tip 2: Be Competitive
It is very likely that you are by no means as financially capable as larger businesses. Salary is a major factor for many employees who are seeking new job opportunities. Before scouting new talent, make sure that you can afford the ideal pay for the listed position. Be competitive and always check current rates for similar job listings. It is wise to use tools and read advertisements from other SMBs to determine what is acceptable and what is not for base salaries.
Go to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website and search current wage rates based on region, state and listed job position. You can also use the employment tool to increase your knowledge of workers’ pay compensation. On the top left corner of the website, click the “Data Tools” tab and scroll down until you reach the “employment” section.
Calculate the median wage rates to know the highest and lowest pay for that position. Again, you can use the above tools from BLS to check current salaries. Additionally, you have to weigh the value of the position. To do this, check the job description and gauge everything from duties and responsibilities to expected skills, background and experience.
Tip 3: Add Some Perks
If you can’t provide higher employee pay, rethink your benefits and add some perks that are usually not offered by other companies. It doesn’t have to include financial benefits. Giving your employees free lunch every week, flexible schedules, and paid vacation days are usually enough to keep them happy. Remember that attracting them to join your small business is tricky, but keeping them satisfied goes a long way. Some additional perks may include:
Give extra time off at the holidays. Plan your holiday schedule at least six months in advance and carefully consider your workload during for the season. If your business is at its peak during the holidays, you can give extra time off during the new year. But if your business is low during holidays, you might consider your employees time off then.
You don’t necessarily have to follow government-mandated employee rules when it comes to the number of allowed leave credits. Extending maternity and paternity leave is a huge thing for those with families. Flexibility or added time off for other family emergencies and issues also brings a new sense of purpose and revitalized work attitude.
Minor perks combined can have a huge impact, such as free gym memberships, free spa services on weekends, equipped pantry, paid weekend getaways, free foods and drinks every Monday are appealing for many employees.
Tip 4: Define Your Mission
Younger job seekers, the millennials, are the largest workforce today. Most of them want to be part of something meaningful, and they want to make a difference in people’s lives and the community. Presenting the purpose of your small business loud and clear is key to attract new talent for this population. Job seekers want to know how their work matters and how they will impart great cause by joining your company. So, find out a few things on your own:
Do your own research to find out why employees stay and why they leave their jobs. Use that valuable information and apply it to your own goals. Check your mission and make sure that you have a genuine purpose and objectives, remaining consistent and heartfelt.
Introduce your mission into your job descriptions. Not all job seekers will read company goals, mission, and objectives during their search when they are included separately, but all of them will take time to analyze everything that is written on the job description. If you could weave your mission naturally into the job description, they will feel a sense of purpose and meaning, more than just the position.
Employees want to know the future of their career before saying yes to a company. Employees recognize that they won’t be CEO right away, but they are keen on improving their skills and ultimately climbing up on the company ladder. Building your organizational structure and showing your employees where they can go and leading the way on how to get there is always challenging – but it always pays off in the end. You can do this with the following:
Show your employees that you have the right resources for professional development. Tap into organizations in your area and organize career-oriented activities. It doesn’t have to be in the same industry, but make sure everything is applicable to your workers.
Share real-life stories about employee success and career advancement. Keep in mind that employees leave due to lack of opportunity, so be the company that provides not just paychecks but opportunities as well.
Siri, Alexa, Bixby, Cortana and Google Now – although they all came from different mobile platforms, these virtual assistants have one thing in common: AI or Artificial Intelligence. Most of us find them very useful while others are highly disturbed with their human-like thinking capabilities.
But what if this extremely revolutionized technology intervenes with the business sector? Specifically, the industry that where we have to trust the most, the insurance companies. Are we ready to share our concerns with robots? Or talk to computerized machines for specific quotes? How about filing claims with the help of digital customer support agents? Folks welcome to the world of technology!
The insurance industry has proven its tough stand regarding revolutionizing change. Following traditional methods and century-old processes, many companies still resist the urge to employ the convenient powers of technology. But with Artificial Intelligence, it seems that the industry is ready to embrace a faster and more efficient way of providing services for its clients.
AI in Underwriting
Traditionally, insurance underwriters make use of the data provided by the client on the application form to come up with an accurate assessment. By reviewing their history, socio-economic background, lifestyle and working environment, they are able to provide a precise analysis of the various risk factors that could affect the premium. Though, a single honest mistake or minor fraudulent piece of customer information could make these assessments inaccurate.
But with the discovery of NLP, or Natural Language Processing, algorithms and other AI technologies, underwriters can now handle and assess data more efficiently. Cognitive programs are designed to filter public online presence in the form of social media postings, site reviews, tagged location, internet searches and many more. It helps underwriters to better appraise policyholders on certain causes that matter. Posting an online picture while smoking could potentially increase your health insurance premiums.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Claims
Filing claims can be a lengthy process when it requires phone calls to ask for requirements, going to the office to submit files, and waiting for the final decision, which could literally take ages. For many consumers, a great insurance company should be able to process claims and disputes in as little amount of time possible. Hence, filing for claims is synonymous with the reputation of one’s company – a make or break situation that could retain or lose customers.
AI aims to change the way insurance companies process claims. With AI-capable technologies, everything is automated from the First Notice of Loss to resolving issues. A great example is the AI-powered virtual chatbot for insurance companies that provide pertinent info to consumers such as claims submitted, current status, payment information and more. Other companies in the insurance industry use the chatbot to provide immediate customer service communications with policyholders. Within the app, users can submit pictures and other data to file for claims.
AI for Customer Service
There are many kinds of machine learning algorithms along with intelligent virtual programs. And it is no surprise that even in the field of customer interaction, AI can still be used to improve customer service. With the increasing number of modern applications and ever-growing digital trends, it is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence will soon replace humans all across the world of customer engagement.
For most insurance companies, using AI instead of employing real people means lower labor cost, reduced fraudulent cases, improved customer satisfaction and greater savings which can be passed on to consumers by reducing premiums. According to Mobile Monkey, by the year 2020 85% of customer interaction will be done without human communication, and by 2018 most digital assistants will be able to recognize customers via voice and face – which is happening right now.
Coverage Advice Through Artificial Intelligence
The rampant use of Artificial Intelligence in the world of insurance is still far from complete reality, but the future on how the trade will work is undeniably exciting. Imagine small business owners and midsize companies using high-tech programs to inquire for quotations. Or a start-up company talking to a virtual robot for policy advice and filing assistance.
Although security issues are still a major concern, consumers are very much ready to revolutionize and reshape the way insurance works. Fast, easy, smart, consistent, efficient, practical and convenient for companies, consumers and small to midsize business owners; AI is a win-win option for everyone.
They always say that for every business to become successful, business owners must fully recognize the brand and create a long-lasting impression. But with so many companies vying for consumer’s attention, getting your business stand out is challenging.
In this day and age, everything is visual. People judge things according to what they see and what they perceive. The exterior of your office, the furniture inside your shop, the way you dress in front of your clients, and, importantly, the image that personifies your company – your logo.
Here are 5 tips you need to keep in mind when designing a logo.
1. Make sure that it represents your company
Your logo should serve as the visual depiction of your business. Does it help represent your mission, vision, values, products, and services? It should communicate with your target audience in a clear, concise, and powerful manner. By merely looking at your logo, people should quickly associate it with your brand message and personality. Make sure that it captures the heart and soul of your company.
2. Do your research and check out other logos
Be sure to examine your competitors’ logos. Don’t do this to copy, but rather to check what kind of design, scheme and layout they have. It is not a good idea to check your logo based on your competitors’ concepts. You should show customers that you are unique and different. Plus, being too close to your competitors’ could be detrimental, and get you into legal trouble.
3. Follow the five golden principles of logo design
When designing a logo, always follow the 5 golden principles to guarantee a successful outcome. It should be
Use these five design principles as the core foundation and basis of your logo. Each element should be present and creatively done in a balanced and harmonious technique.
4. Choose the right colors and typography options
It’s fun to play with shades, fonts, shapes and icons, but using all the colors of the rainbow and adding too many elements would lead to a disaster. Pick colors based on the nature of your business and remember that certain tones trigger human emotions. Here are some examples in the table below:
Passion, love, fear, strength
Fitness, retail, travel
Generosity, youth, sunshine
Travel, heating, pool services
Ecological, sustainability, earth
Energy, honesty, invigoration
Construction, lawn Service
Trust, knowledge, security
Finance, health, real estate
When it comes to font and layout, it should be easy to read with proper size and well-distributed spacing.
5. Think different, be unique, and make it exceptional
Your logo should differentiate your business from others, so make it highly recognizable while maintaining the greatest minimalism. An exceptional logo should speak to the minds of the audience directly without confusion. Be mindful that less is often more, and this image will carry your brand forever so it must be adaptable to changes as your company grows.
It might be small in size but your logo tells everything about your brand. That is why designing it should be considered not just important, but crucial. Some of the world’s best brands happen to have some of the most amazing logos, and making one for your small business is achievable with proper planning and implementation.
In today’s highly competitive market, starting a small business is without a doubt difficult. But positioning it for future growth is even harder.
With limited resources compared to larger companies, it is essential to determine the right strategies and tactics to make sure you succeed. By combining proven techniques, efficient methods, and convenient tools, ensuring the steady growth of your business can be accomplished in no time at all. We summarized the 5 main key elements for successful small business growth for you!
Tip 1: Data Driven
Without the right measuring tools, you can’t accurately quantify how much progress has occurred. By having quality data, it’s easier to make decisions to grow your business.
Create engaging content for your readers, and measure open rates, click rates, and engagement rates. Learn what.
Make your email subjects more appealing and use effective text descriptions. Try two different subject lines and see what performs best.
Tweak your search as well as display data according to your business needs and wants.
Use reliable tools such as Customer Relationship Management system or CRM data.
Don’t forget your track you web analytics from trusted sources like Google or Adobe.
Always make sure that your revenue data is up-to-date and use Business Intelligence as well as an Enterprise Resource Planning system if required.
Place all your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in one convenient location.
Integrate all data by using a simple spreadsheet or thru web-based dashboards.
Avoid manual data integration, which is time-consuming and prone to errors.
By identifying variables and statistical data, perform a predictive analysis for your business and set your goals
Do not forget to evaluate results and compare them to the current ones in use.
Keep in mind that decisions should always be based on established facts and verified statistics, not just by mere judgment.
Tip 2: Flexibility
Compared to large companies, small businesses are always affected by inevitable challenges. Learning how to manage your business amidst challenges, whether the economy slows down or you are hit with a natural disaster, is essential.
Assess the current state and condition of your trade.
You cannot amend to changes or think future initiatives if you don’t understand and know the present situation of your small business.
Don’t be afraid of changes. May it be a minor process correction, major organizational revamp or a huge structural reform, embracing change is the key towards an agile and adaptive business.
Be flexible enough and leverage technology tools that will help you manage your business better. It preserves your competitive advantage by keeping innovative ideas and following latest business trends.
Tip 3: Customer Loyalty and Acquisition
Nothing is more important than maintaining a loyal following of customers. With so many new tools, this is easy to accomplish with the help of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. But don’t forget the good old trusted methods of drawing in customers.
Let your loyal and recurrent customers feel that they are valued by providing rewards programs. In addition to building loyalty, you could also use your existing customers and provide incentives to help attract new ones, whether it’s buying one get one free or a discount.
Practice the art of SEO especially the use of long tail and geo-targeted keywords. New customers don’t just search exact generic keywords but often use related phrases when searching online.
For those who have tried your product or services, ask them for honest feedback. Other customers often look at online reviews before making purchases.
Tip 4: Proper Budgeting
Increasing sales and bringing more money to the cash register is good, but without proper budgeting and understanding expenses, you don’t have a full view of your actual performance. If you want to guarantee the success of your business, always stay one step ahead of your expenses. Use specialized tools or software to efficiently supervise and have a good control over your operating budget.
Identify the “Must Have” and “Nice to Have”
Always prioritize the must-haves like electricity bills, rent, salary and other essential expenses.
Ideally, you should have several months of advance payment to cover these operational costs.
Consider your risks and potential losses
Think about the roadblocks, untimely expenses and financial challenges inherent to your business.
Identifying business risks allows you to plan a realistic budget by acknowledging these potential setbacks.
To safeguard your assets, make sure to obtain the right insurance coverage such as General Liability.
Always use round numbers
Unless you have a good control on the market, remember that prices fluctuate from time to time.
Use round numbers when budgeting because little extras when combined could lead to a big deficit.
This technique allows you to cover reasonable price shifts without hurting your financial plan.
Tip 5: Employee Management
Don’t just hire anyone. Take special precautions when employing workers by carefully screening each and every candidate. If you can’t beat the salary packages and attractive benefits of bigtime companies, let your employees feel they would be more valued and have a pleasant work environment.
Follow the minimum requirements of the job, providing exemptions but with restrictions.
Mentor your employees to minimize mistakes, avoid errors and to promote job satisfaction.
Show your leadership skills by following business goals, vision, mission and target objectives.
Eliminate all distractions that can affect productivity but allow your employees to de-stress and refocus.
Resolve disagreements and misunderstandings professionally, actively listen to your employees and always treat them with the utmost respect.
Growing your small business is always easier said than done. But with right planning and implementation of strategic methods, this can be achieved with flying colors. Remember not to rush things and always identify the key elements that can make or break your business. Stretch out your resources and create feasible plans to ensure a stable growth over time.
Another week, another data breach. Chili’s recently announced that its systems were compromised, joining the likes of Target, Applebee’s, Wyndham Hotels, The Home Depot, Equifax, and many others, all of whom suffered cyber attacks the past few years.
But data breaches and cyber attacks affect all types of businesses and industries – not just the ones that we see in the news. In fact, 90% of all data breaches impact small businesses.
How does it affect them? A breach can cost upwards of $38,000, and a whopping 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months.
Small businesses need to take a number of steps to mitigate breaches and the impact they have on their businesses. Steps include things like keeping malware software up-to-date, sharing best practices with employees for securing data, and making sure the payments technology protects customer card information.
But when those things fail, it’s essential that businesses be able to recover. In an age where technology is becoming more and more ingrained in businesses, cyber liability insurance is more important than ever before.
Cyber insurance covers a broad range of information security-related claims, including data breaches, network failures, and media or content liability.
To learn more about cyber insurance and to get a quote, head here.
Trustwave: 90% of all data breaches impact small businesses
National Cyber Security Alliance: 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of an attack