Small businesses are always looking for ways to make operations more efficient. This week, a couple of recognizable names in the business world announced new features that could make small but noticeable differences for small business operations. Shopify, for one, introduced a new shipping label feature for its app. And Nimble now offers a service that will help you track conversations with clients and customers.
Read about these updates and more below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.
Small Business Operations
Shopify Adds Shipping Label Printing to Mobile App, A Boon for Small Businesses
Shopify (NYSE: SHOP) has introduced shipping label printing capability on its mobile app  so you can fulfill orders directly from your phone. With the new update, users can create and print shipping labels as well as manage shipping workflows on Android and iOS devices.
Nimble Contact Will Track Your Conversations with Clients and Customers
You know the feeling you get — it’s a terrible feeling — when you’re on the phone with someone else’s customer service team ? They send you from one person to another and every time it feels like a totally new conversation? Imagine how your customers and clients feel if it feels like they’re reaching you for the first time every time they call or email.
75% of Struggling Small Business Owners Believe Being Disorganized Leads to Productivity Loss
A survey of small businesses by Staples reveals 3 in 4 owners who are struggling or failing say not being organized has affected the productivity level  of their companies. The survey looked at how disorganization, tax preparation, and marketing is affecting struggling and successful small businesses.
Avoid Payment Pitfalls with CardConnect Alliance
Payment processing is a challenge many small businesses face. From being bitten by costly cancellation fees that were undisclosed by a payment processor, to being unaware of hidden fees charged when transactions are made, payment pitfalls are a headache and expense  small businesses can do without.
Intermedia Unite Combines Calls, Video Conferencing and File Sharing for Business
Cloud communication provider Intermedia just announced the availability of Intermedia Unite, a new Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platform  specifically for small and medium sized businesses.
Another Federal Government Shutdown Would Impact Small Business in Many Ways
Another federal government shutdown could happen this week. If Congress does not pass at least another stopgap spending plan for the federal government by midnight Thursday, they’ll shut down Washington DC for a second time  in 2018. And with another shutdown comes more adverse impacts for small business.
Small Businesses Add 58,000 New Jobs, ADP Reports
A report suggests growth of private sector employment  beat projections by almost 50,000 jobs in January 2018 and small businesses were a big part of that growth. Economists were projecting an increase of 185,000 private sector jobs for the first month of the new year.
Make Sure Your Employees are Getting Competitive Pay, New Report Warns
The Randstad 2018 US Salary Guides points out it is now a job seeker’s market. What this means for your small business is you are very likely going to deal with competitive pay for your current employees and any new hires . The competitive rates are being driven by a 4.1 percent unemployment rate and increased wages.
Just 39% of Employees Want to Negotiate Their Salary
Staffing firm Robert Half (NYSE: RHI) just released the results of a survey about the negotiating going on with starting salaries . And only 39 percent of the respondents said they tried to negotiate pay with their last job offer. The survey pointed out differences between genders and age group, as well as the many different cities across the country.
32% of Companies Will Use Tax Savings on Employee Reward Programs
A new poll from Mercer says 32 percent of the employers it surveyed will be putting portions of their income tax savings into employee reward programs . This news comes as some well-known brands also announced they will be sharing their windfall in the form pay raises and bonuses for their employees.
23% of Employees Have No Benefits, An Opportunity for Small Businesses?
Almost a quarter of full-time employees don’t have any kind of benefits , such as retirement savings, health insurance or even paid vacations. The lack of benefits among full-time workers in the U.S. was unveiled in a recent survey on employee benefits, compiled by Clutch, providers of loyalty marketing, solutions and strategies.
Court Sides with Small Business, Rules Baker Doesn’t Have to Make Gay Wedding Cake
A California judge ruled Monday the state couldn’t force a cake shop owner to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding , ruling that doing so would constitute a violation of free speech.
New PayPal Chip Readers Allow Small Businesses to Take Newer Forms of Payment
New PayPal Here readers are available  starting this week. PayPal Here Card Readers These new devices will enable the thousands of small businesses that rely on PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) to accept payments from their customers and clients.
Small Biz Spotlight
Spotlight: vVents Combines Livestreaming with eCommerce
Livestreaming has made an impact on a number of industries. But converting live viewers into actual buyers  can be another story entirely. Now, vVents is looking to make that step easier with a platform that integrates ecommerce and donations right into the stream. Read more about the platform and the company behind it in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
Small Business Loans
Big Banks are Granting Small Business Loans to One in Four Applicants, Biz2Credit Says
The optimism small business owners feel about the economy is highlighted by the increase in the volume of loan applications and approval rates  from lenders. The Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index for January 2018 reveals big banks hit new highs, continuing into the new year the 1.3 percent growth it delivered in 2017.
Attention: 10 Essential Tax Deductions for Your Small Restaurant
According to the National Restaurant Association, there are more than 1 million restaurants, 7 in 10 of which are single-unit operations. Restaurants employ more than 14.7 million workers, with 9 in 10 restaurants having fewer than 50 employees. It’s expected that 1.6 million new restaurant jobs will be created  by 2027.
Could Your Small Business be Getting a Refund for Your iPhone Battery Replacements?
Did you pay full price for a replacement iPhone battery? In a letter addressed to Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) said (PDF) it is exploring whether customers who paid full price for battery replacement should get a rebate for some of the purchase price .
Zoho PageSense and Zoho Flow Help Optimize Your Business Site, Manage Cloud Apps
Two new business apps will let small businesses without big IT budgets or coding expertise create, analyze and customize their websites with new optimization tools  as well as integrate apps in the cloud. Zoho recently announced Zoho PageSense and Zoho Flow.
JotForm Lets Your Customers Give Feedback with Gestures and Emojis
Now small businesses have a mobile based alternative to awkward lengthy forms, and it mimics human gestures in a card format  mirroring face-to-face interaction. JotForm Cards has a graphical user interface (GUI) incorporating swiping gestures. The product also offers corrective suggestions like shaking ‘no’ when a response is incomplete.
Hackers Using Fake Emails from Trusted Tools to Steal Small Business Credentials
Small businesses beware! Cybercriminals are impersonating Google Docs, Microsoft Outlook and other trusted services to trick you into giving up your logins. The latest Barracuda Threat Spotlight details how the criminals use the stolen credentials  for fraud or specific spear phishing campaigns that further attack the targeted business.
Farmers.gov Intended to Give Small Farm Businesses Simpler and Quicker Access to USDA
The US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue just announced the launch of a new website giving farmers access to more resources  for ensuring their long-term sustainability. Farmers.gov is going to bring together resources from the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency in one place online.
Top 16 Freelance Jobs in 2017 were all in Technology, UpWork Says
“The more specialized you are, the more premium you’re going to command.” This is what Rich Pearson, Upwork’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, said recently regarding the highest paid freelance skills . Upwork just released its report on the top 20 skills for freelancers based on billings on the company’s site throughout 2017.
BigCommerce Sellers Get Free Load Time Boost Courtesy of Akamai Image Manager
BigCommerce recently announced the availability of Akamai Image Manager to automatically optimize images for faster loading  regardless of the device. Akamai Image Manager for BigCommerce A closed beta test for the past several months delivered site load time improvements of up to 70 percent for BigCommerce merchants.
Conversica Acquires Intelligens.ai to Give Small Business a Leg Up on AI Conversations
Small businesses that can’t afford to hire data scientists and machine learning experts — and that’s probably most of them — now have a sales and marketing AI virtual assistant scaled specifically to them. Conversica, a company supplying conversational AI for business , announced the recent acquisition of Intelligens.ai.