New Skype Business Platform in Preview, More Small Biz Headlines

Updates for Skype, Slack Make Small Biz Headlines This Week

Businesses that use Skype for communication purposes may be pleased to learn that Microsoft is previewing a new version of Skype that would serve as a consolidated business platform for a variety of business functions. And that isn’t the only news from the past week that might be of interest to small business owners. Squarespace, T-Mobile and more also made announcements that could impact the business community. Read about these headlines below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Technology Trends

Microsoft  is Previewing Skype Professional Account to Use Service as Business Platform

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has revealed that it is creating a unique Skype version for freelancers and small business owners. Called the Skype Professional Account, the new offering is designed to consolidate everything from billing to scheduling tools into one app.

Squarespace Launches New Mobile App for Tracking Customer Analytics

The redesigned mobile analytics platform from Squarespace gives you valuable insights into your website so you can make informed decisions about your small business. The new Squarespace Analytics app delivers a range of metrics about your website on your iOS and Android mobile device.

The T-Mobile REVVL Plus Combines Features with Competitive Pricing for Business

The T-Mobile REVVL Plus has been released three months after the company launched the budget-friendly REVVL line. The addition of the plus is going to give T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) customers a bigger screen, battery, and a price increase of $75. At $200 the REVVL Plus is entering a segment with a lot of competition.

What is Google Jamboard, and Will it Help Your Small Business?

Small businesses sometimes need to brainstorm on a whiteboard. But, whiteboard brainstorming meetings don’t really work when you have remote colleagues. To overcome this and other challenges, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has designed a cloud-based digital whiteboard called Jamboard for businesses.

Office of the Future: It’s Faster, Better, Smarter and Finally HERE!

Picture this: you step into your office and the light goes on automatically. You sit down at your desk and your computer recognizes your face, unlocking the screen. You ask your digital assistant what appointments you have, and you get a voice response back. No logging in, no typing. You get ready to print off four copies of last year’s strategic plan for tomorrow’s team meeting.


90% of Small Businesses Plan to Hire in 2018 — Depending on Budget

Small business optimism remains high and with this optimism comes thoughts of growth. According to a Microsoft Store and SurveyMonkey survey to determine trends for the upcoming year, the company found that 90 percent of small business plan to hire one or two employees next year. At the same time, counter to this optimism, is the reality of running a small business.

Small Businesses in the US Haven’t Been This Optimistic Since 2012

To find a time small business outlook was this positive, you would need to go all the way back to 2012. The latest Capital One Spark Business Small Business Growth Index goes on to say current business conditions are good or excellent for 60 percent of small business owners.


All Your Employees Want for the Holidays is a Little Time Off

You may be starting to think about what to get your employees as a nice holiday gift. Cash? Gift cards? According to a just released survey from Randstad US, the one thing employees loved most about the holidays was having some time off from work. In the survey, 70 percent said they love the time off they get at the holidays.

Small Businesses Add 79,000 Jobs in October — Big Rebound in a Month

Small business job creating rebounded considerably last month when compared with the month before. According to the October 2017 ADP National Small Business Report, small businesses with 49 or fewer employees added 79,000 jobs overall. In September, by contrast, small businesses lost 7,000 jobs.

Local Marketing

97% of Customers Read Online Reviews, Survey Says

Would you reconsider your attitude on consumer reviews if 97 percent of customers said they had read reviews for local businesses in 2017? Well, that is one of the findings of BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey. For small businesses, the gain or loss of customers has a bigger impact than for a large company.

Retail Trends

The Once Banned Kinder Eggs are Coming to the US

Kinder eggs are coming to the U.S. If you’re unfamiliar with this unique product that has lots of fans around the world, you might want to pay attention — it could be a great opportunity for your small business. The Kinder egg, or Kinder Surprise as it’s known in some circles, is basically a chocolate egg that contains a small plastic toy inside. It sounds innocent enough.

Shopify Has Real-Time Reporting for Your Online Store

What if you could view how your store is performing in real-time right from your mobile device or desktop? Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has added yet another feature to its platform, giving small businesses more access than ever with Live View. A simple click on Live View will let you see new visitors, items in carts, customers making purchases and more.

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Success Offers Takeaways for Your Small Business

Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) set a new record for sales on Singles’ Day this year. The Chinese ecommerce giant sold $25.3 billion in merchandise, a mark that’s 39 percent higher than sales from last year’s Singles’ Day. The annual shopping holiday is a growing phenomenon in China. It’s a day for single people to celebrate being single by buying gifts for themselves.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Fattmerchant  Offers Subscription-based Payment Processing for Business

Subscription businesses have made an impact on nearly every industry, from music to beauty supplies. And now, the idea is coming to payment processing, thanks to Fattmerchant. You can read more about the business and its unique way of serving merchants in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Provides payment processing services.


QuickBooks Capital Bases Credit for Loans on QuickBooks Data

Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) just announced the launch of a new small business lending service that’s powered by data and artificial intelligence. Small Business Trends’ Ramon Ray recently sat down with Rania Succar, head of QuickBooks Capital, to discuss the new offering and how it can potentially benefit small businesses.

78% of Small Businesses Say Higher Taxes May Cause Them to Downsize, Survey Says

Taxes can make a major impact on business decisions, according to a new report from Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Fall 2017 Small Business Owner Report The Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report is a semi-annual survey of 1,000 business owners across the country.

Small Business Operations

Google Docs Outage Highlights Need for Backup of Online Business Services

Google Docs went down for a significant number of users Wednesday. The outage lasted for just about an hour and didn’t impact any other tools within Google Drive or G Suite. But because Google Docs is such a major tool for a lot of businesses and professionals, the outage had a major impact. Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) didn’t share the exact number of users affected.

SimpleCitizen  Launches Service to Help Small Businesses Compete for Top Global Talent

A new software program is promising to streamline the pathway for small businesses looking to hire international workers. SimpleCitizen for small business is designed to automate every aspect of the business visa application process.

Xero HQ Apps Now Available to Small Business Accounting Companies in US

Xero (NZE:XRO) just announced the general availability of Xero HQ apps in the Americas. The release of the new apps corresponds with a growth of 43 percent in Xero’s business domestically. Ten apps have been launched in collaboration with the company’s partners to improve the Xero online accounting software for small businesses.

59% of Small Businesses Need Two Calls to Track a Late Payment

Late payments can lead to more than just delayed revenue for small businesses. They can lead to a loss in productivity as well. A recent survey from WePay and Survata found that 59 percent of small businesses have to follow up with customers on late payments an average of two times. For small businesses, this means that valuable resources are tied up.

Fleet Complete Launches Inspection App for Owners and Operators

If you are a small business with a fleet of vehicles, you might ask yourself if a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) solution is necessary. According to Toronto-based asset management and fleet tracking software company Fleet Complete, the answer is yes. Fleet Complete recently released a new app called Inspect.

Social Media

Facebook Introduces 4 New Ways to Grow Your Small Business Internationally

Four new cross-border solutions expand the initiative Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) launched in September of 2016 to give businesses global reach. The benefit of using Facebook’s platform to look for international opportunities is the incredible amount of data it provides.

Zoho Social  For Agencies Streamlines Management of Outsourced Social Media Marketing

Zoho Social for Agencies allows smaller advertising agencies the ability to manage several client accounts from one platform. These agencies can collaborate with clients and make reports using customized aggregated statistics. The new service from Zoho provides a way for small businesses to be more hands on in their marketing too.

Facebook  Community Boost Provides Mobile Economy Training to Novice Entrepreneurs

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has unveiled Facebook Community Boost — a new program that seeks to help U.S. small businesses grow by enhancing their digital skills. In a Facebook Newsroom post, Facebook’s VP of Small Business Dan Levy said the Facebook Community Boost program will visit 30 cities in 2018.

Image: Skype

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.