February 19, 2013
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SmartBrief on Small Business

Problem. Solved.
Platform streamlines employee-benefits setup for small companies
A startup called Zenefits is looking to make managing employee benefits easier for small businesses. The traditional method for setting up benefits can take weeks and reams of paper, but Zenefits provides an online option that allows small businesses to import employee information from certain payroll services. Entrepreneur Parker Conrad co-founded the company based on his own frustration with managing the benefits process at two startups. TechCrunch (2/18)
4 ways to get prospects to answer your e-mails
If your e-mail sales pitches lack specificity, don't explain the value you're offering and force the recipient to guess at who your mutual contacts are, they could be ignored, writes Ryan Estis. "Be helpful. Focus on the customer. The customer will only be interested in your product or service because it could help them," he writes. PassionOnPurposeBlog.com (2/18)
How to satisfy an unhappy customer
The next time a disgruntled customer complains about your business, thank him or her for giving you information that you can use to improve your company, recommends Marilyn Suttle. Try to stay calm, and ask what you can do to rectify the situation. "When a customer puts pressure on you, see it as a good way for you to grow your abilities," she writes. Inc. online (free registration)/The Successful Soloist blog (2/18)
How to energize employees through responsibility
To keep employees energized through a winter slump, try letting them set their own hours, collaborating online quickly instead of dragging workers through long meetings and giving them the authority to get things done without constant supervision, writes Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab Design. "At MetaLab we don't care when or how long your lunch is, or whether you have to run to a doctor's appointment -- just go do it. We aren't your parents and we aren't going to time your bathroom breaks," he writes. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (tiered subscription model) (2/12)
6 tips for creating a culture that attracts talent
In addition to competitive salaries, talented employees are also looking for companies that offer flexible working arrangements and training programs that can help them to develop their skills. They will also gravitate toward employees who recognize their contributions and give them an opportunity to give back to the community. Entrepreneur online (2/18)
Small businesses and lenders find P2P lending attractive
Peer-to-peer lending as a finance option is gaining traction among small businesses, Robert Moskowitz writes. Transaction costs are lower than those of a financial institution, and underwriting criteria are less onerous than those for a small-business bank loan. For lenders, the risk is slight because of careful vetting and the ability to spread money across multiple loans. Intuit Small Business Blog (2/18)
Tips & Tools
How to maintain your privacy on the Internet
If online privacy is important to you, switch to the anonymous search engine Duck Duck Go and use Cryptocat to send messages, recommends Simon Black. Also, consider getting Silent Circle, which allows for encrypted e-mails and text messaging, among other services. Business Insider (2/17)
Just for Fun
The commanders-in-chief you didn't know about
In addition to the 44 presidents of the U.S., other individuals have occasionally acted as commander-in-chief. Among them: Dick Cheney was acting president for two extremely brief stints during President George W. Bush's administration, and Edith Wilson may have assumed decision-making authority while her husband, Woodrow Wilson, was incapacitated. MentalFloss.com (2/18)
When someone loves their work, work becomes fun. When work becomes fun, people work more, and more productively."
-- Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab Design, writing at The Globe and Mail.
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