Davinci Virtual Blog



Is Your Small Business All Work, No Play?

Flexibility seems to be a 21st Century virtue.

In order to spend time with family and to maximize business opportunities, small business owners are flexible about work-life balance. So says a new study from Hiscox.

In fact, 51 percent of small business owners cite flexible working hours as their main way of achieving a healthy work/life balance. Another 21 percent point to scheduling time with family and friends and 11 percent leave their work at the office.

Sounds admirable. Bu the truth is the office is never far away for small business owners. Only 5 percent said they don’t work on weekends and only 3 percent keep their BlackBerry, or other mobile device, away from the bedroom and the dinner table.

"The wide range of communications channels available today means that small business owners can always be connected, and the research shows that this is how they're operating," says Kevin Kerridge, small business expert for Hiscox. "Our clients live and breathe their businesses, wherever they are and whoever they're communicating with."

Indeed, some small business owners' use of social media across their personal and business life is also blurred. While 26 percent said that they used separate business and personal accounts to avoid confusion, more than 13 percent have no separation and live their brand in everything they do. This makes sense as 8 percent of all respondents and 10 percent of micro small businesses (less than 10 employees) reported that they don't achieve a good work/life balance.

Exploring what drives small business owners offers some clues to this lack of work-life balance. The survey asked, what motivates small businesses to drive their business forward most?

  • 37% said providing financial stability for themselves and their family

  • 24% said personal ambition/recognition

  • 22% said belief in their product/service

  • 14% said desire for wealth

"These results highlight the innate drive we see in our startup clients," Kevin Kerridge says.  "Starting a small business requires a high level of commitment, and there are few times when they're not focused on their business and looking for opportunities to drive it forward."

Check out this video for some work-life balance tips:


New Widget Makes Collecting E-mail Addresses Simple

If you’ve been reading this small business blog for any length of time, then  you know I’m a big believer in Internet marketing. E-mail marketing is part of that.

However, one of the obstacles with e-mail marketing is finding an easy way to collecting e-mail addresses of potential new customers in a spam-compliant manner. Indeed, a recent Constant Contact survey revealed the number one thing that keeps small business owners up at night is attracting new customers.

Constant Contact didn’t gather that information for the sake of having knowledge. The company has actively moved to solve the problem via a partnership with Web site builder Yola.

Here’s how the strategic alliance benefits you: With the drag of a mouse, you can collect e-mail addresses on your Web site—or on any landing page you create for special online marketing campaigns—using a new widget from Yola. The widget lets small businesses add a “Join My Mailing List” box to their Web sites without the need for any special knowledge about coding.

Essentially, adding a customizable Constant Contact Join My Mailing List box is as easy as dragging and dropping the widget onto a Web page. The widget will automatically update your e-mail marketing lists with new e-mail addresses collected from your Yola Web site.

Of course, the catch is you have to be a Constant Contact customer. If you work with another e-mail marketing company, see if they have a similar tool. Transferring your e-mail lists isn’t always the easiest move to make. But if you need these sorts of widgets and value-adds and your current provider isn’t offering them, it may be time for a change.

Lessons I Learned When My Hard Drive Failed

Here’s a subject near and dear to my heart. Data back up. Why? Because the hard drive on my two-year-old Apple Macintosh computer failed without reason last Friday. Although I had AT&T’s online back up service installed, which saved most of my daily files, I did not have many other important files backed up. Now, I have to employ a data recovery service to retrieve the files—and that’s costly business.

Well, it turns out I am far from alone. Carbonite recently revealed the results of a survey of more than 125 small businesses with between two and 20 employees to study their disaster recovery and data backup methods. And guess what? Forty-eight percent have experienced data loss, up from 42 percent when Carbonite surveyed small businesses in December 2010.

What on earth caused so many data losses? A number of issues. But the top causes were hardware/software failure (54 percent), accidental deletion (54 percent), computer viruses (33 percent) and theft (10 percent).

Although 31 percent of small business owners surveyed agree that backing up their company’s computers is a hassle that takes time away from running their business, the research indicated that physical devices were the most prominent backup methods used by small businesses. Specifically, external hard drives (41 percent), CDs/DVDs (36 percent) and USB/flash memory sticks (36 percent) were reported as the three most-popular ways SMBs back up data.

Let’s be real. Online backup solutions offer significant advantages over traditional physical-device backups. Online back up services, for example, are automatic, continuous, offsite and don’t require any additional equipment. And the price is coming down. AT&T charges me $25 a month. Carbonite just came out with a new program that costs $229 a year. There are many different services out there to choose from. I’d recommend you go out and sign up today. Just make sure you get a reputable firm.

Even at $229 a year, that’s a lot cheaper than the time you lose, the stress you undergo, and the cost of data recovery you have to pay if you lose your data. Believe me. I’m living proof.

ChamberofCommerce.com Launches $250,000 Sweepstakes

You know me. I love a good small business sweepstakes when I see them. Hey, anything that can stimulate the small business world is a plus. After all, small businesses are the main driver of the economy.

So when I found out that the ChamberofCommerce.com had hooked up with some of the Web’s most trusted brands to offer small business owners a boost, I didn’t waste any time sharing it with you. Read on…

ChamberofCommerce.com has launched what it is calling the Economic Stimulus Sweepstakes. The organization is offering a whopping $250,000 grand prize to help transform one lucky small business winner from top to bottom.

Just think of what you could do with $250,000!

"Small businesses need help now more than ever," says David Bayer, CEO of ChamberofCommerce.com. "The economy is unstable and it often feels that nobody's really looking out for the small firms and entrepreneurs that represent the backbone of this country.”

It’s worth entering even if you don’t win the quarter million dollar enchilada. There are plenty of other attention-getting prizes up for grabs through partnerships with Quill.com and Rocket Lawyer, among others. In fact, there’s more than $30,000 in exclusive runner up prizes available for the winning.

Let’s break it down…Quill.com, best known for its office products inventory, is offering up 10 “break room makeovers” valued at $1,000 each. And Rocket Lawyer is providing 10 professional plan memberships with full access to a variety of legal services for small businesses.

The only thing left to tell you is how to enter. So, without further ado, visit ChamberofCommerce.com/250k and fill out the forms now. It’s a small time risk for a potentially large investment.

Customer Loyalty: The Trust Factor Matters

How important is customer trust for small businesses? More important than you might think, according to a new research from Pitney Bowes that explores the role of trust in customer relationships. Indeed, trust is one of the leading influences.

Specifically, the Pitney Bowes study revealed that customer communications drive more than 20 percent of the overall trust a company receives. That trust, in turn, impacts the length of the customer relationship and profitability. Overall, the study results show that trust can drive up to 44 percent of customer loyalty, reinforcing the theory that long-lasting customer relationships are absolutely critical for business success.

"Trusted brands build upon each interaction to enable lifetime customer relationships—every customer interaction—in person, on a Web site, with direct mail, or with a call center —is an opportunity to build or break trust,” says David Newberry, Chief Marketing Officer of Pitney Bowes Business Insight.

What does this mean for your small business? According to Pitney Bowes:

  • Customers are looking for companies that can provide high quality customer care which in turn gives them a feeling of being well looked after.

  • Companies are also looking for a high level of competency and etiquette from front-facing employees.

  • Companies can reach out to customers and exchange opinions about products and services by using digital technologies and social media.

Check out this quick video on customer loyalty marketing for some strategic tips for your small business: