In the News: Salesforce Launches AI Fund, Apple Brings AR to iPhone

salesforceIQ for small business

Startups that use artificial intelligence (AI) technology got some welcome news this week — Salesforce just launched a brand new venture fund to encourage AI innovation in startups. Additionally, any small business can now work on creating augmented reality (AR) experiences using the new iOS 11.

Learn about these updates and more below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Technology Trends

Salesforce Launches $50 Million Fund for AI Startups

Salesforce announced a new $50 million venture fund for startups to innovate with AI technology.  The goal is to encourage AI startups to develop artificial intelligence solutions that work together with the Salesforce platform. The Salesforce AI Innovation Fund, part of Salesforce Ventures, has already made investments in three AI startups.

iOS 11 Brings AR to iPhone, Is Your Small Business Ready?

Every iPhone 5s or later, or iPad Air or later is going to be able to run iOS 11 and the new Augmented Reality (AR) feature. If you are a small business, shouldn’t you be making the most of these features? The availability of AR on iOS means instant market penetration.

Warning: Cyber Security Breach, Could Negligence be Responsible?

What is the number one root cause behind data breaches across North America for small businesses? If you said negligent employees, you would be right. More than half, or 54 percent of respondents in the 2017 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report  gave this very same reason.


Shoppers  Plan to Spend 25 Percent More at Small Businesses Next Year, New Study Finds

More than a quarter of U.S. consumers say that they’re likely to shop at small businesses more often in 2018 than they did in 2017, according to a recent survey from Vistaprint (NASDAQ:CMPR). Consumer Shopping Trends for 2018 The survey results, which the company released today, offer several takeaways that should have small business owners feeling optimistic about the future.

Back to School eCommerce Sales Jump 3 Percent Over 2016

Back-to-school sales come before the big holiday season, and it is an indicator of how consumers will shop when Black Friday finally rolls around. The back-to-school ecommerce sales data released by NetElixir reports a 3 percent increase over the previous year, but a much better number in mobile orders and revenue.

11 Percent of Americans Think Bitcoin is Illegal, But Business Use Growing

Close to 11 percent of Americans believe owning Bitcoin is illegal, but almost half or 47.71 percent are also not sure. This is according to a poll commissioned by LendEDU and carried out by polling company OnePoll. Are Bitcoins Legal? Bitcoins are legal, however, the perception that they’re not is slowing its use.

Could Louisiana Small Business Asset Building Program Be the Start of a Trend?

A new small business program in Louisiana could potentially serve as a model for communities around the country looking to support and fund small businesses. Asset Builders of Southwest Louisiana, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, actually started as a way to help low and moderate income residents save enough to buy homes in the area.

Franchise Businesses Expected to Grow Faster Than the Economy This Year

Eighty percent of franchisors, 64 percent of franchisees, and 76 percent of suppliers expect their business to do better in the next 12 months. This is according to the Franchise Business Economic Outlook Report released by the International Franchise Association.


Are  You Keeping Up with Employee Recordkeeping Requirements? You Might be Surprised

Did you know that employers who don’t file the required Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) reporting forms with the IRS may be subject to a $3 million maximum penalty? That’s enough to keep you up at night! And that’s just one legal requirement.

California Considers 12 Week Leave for Small Business Employees

California is currently considering a bill that would require some small businesses to offer 12 weeks of maternity and paternity leave for employees. Up for Consideration: New Parental Leave Law in California The New Parent Leave Act would apply to small businesses that have 20 employees or more.

Marketing Tips

Facebook  is the Most Popular Social Media Site for B2C Small Businesses, Survey Says

The social media preference for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies not surprisingly is different. While B2C companies like Facebook and YouTube, B2B organizations prefer LinkedIn and Twitter. Even though their preference differs, the new survey conducted by Clutch revealed social media has a positive influence for most companies.

Retail Trends

Hobby Lobby Controversy Shows ANYTHING Can Cause a Crisis for Your Brand

Hobby Lobby has gained some viral attention recently — but not necessarily the right kind. A Facebook user named Daniell Rider posted a photo of a vase containing some decor resembling raw cotton stems being sold at a local Hobby Lobby. The caption to the photo read: “This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton …

Omni-Channel Retail Report Shows Results of Bigcommerce Study (INFOGRAPHIC)

Business owners who understand the different touch-points their customers interact with will be successful. Because shopping channels are not siloed and consumers shop wherever it is most convenient. This is the conclusion of the new comprehensive report and infographic by Bigcommerce.

Shopify Introduces Shopcodes, QR Codes Connected Directly to eCommerce Items

The easier you make the checkout process for customers when they shop online, the more they are likely to buy from you — or so the people at Shopify believe. Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) recently introduced Shopcodes, a service taking customers to a product or cart in your Shopify store when they scan a QR code.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: This Company Created a Business Around Concrete Staining

Staining concrete might not seem like the most exciting thing to build a business around. But one entrepreneurial family recognized that it was an underserved market. So they set out to change that with a new venture — Concrete Camouflage.

Small Business Operations

Is Your Desk Work Killing You? New Medical Research Says — Maybe!

Do you run a small business which requires you to sit at a desk for long periods? Perhaps you’re a freelancer working from a desk at home, day in, day out? If you have a sedentary job, you may be working to the detriment of your health. This is the finding of a study by the Annals of Internal Medicine. The research examined the association between sedentary lifestyles and mortality.

10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs

Winter might be synonymous with cold weather and sky-high energy bills, but it’s not all doom and gloom. If you run a business and are determined to lower your bills this winter, take a look at the following 10 ways to winterize your business to help manage energy costs.

Florida SBDC Offering Assistance to Small Businesses Impacted by Hurricane Irma

This week, the recovery from devastating Hurricane Irma continues in Florida. Small businesses remain closed or are struggling to re-open. And small business owners are faced with no electricity, limited cell service, damaged or destroyed properties, and limited resources to do anything about it.

What is the ELD Mandate and What Small Businesses Does It Impact?

By the end of the year, some truck drivers working for American small businesses will be logging their hours electronically.  The new rule could mean trouble for some small business and no changes for others. What is the ELD Mandate? Many long haul truck drivers including those who carry freight to Canada and Mexico are going to be subject to new electronic logging device (ELD) rules.


16 Percent of Small Businesses Rely on a Single Customer

New research shows some U.S. small businesses walking a tightrope by relying on one customer for half or more of their revenue. However, the ninth annual DNA of an entrepreneur report from Hiscox (LON:HSX) is mostly good news.

Millennials Not Replacing Older Business Owners, Stats Say

As older entrepreneurs retire, the hope would be that younger generations would step up to replace them. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, as some recent reports have indicated that millennials in particular are starting businesses at lower rates than previous generations.

City Tries to Improve Community with Small Business Training Program

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts is putting an emphasis on supporting its small business community with a new executive training program called RiseUp Springfield.

Image: Salesforce

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.