12 Expert Insights to Accelerate Small Business

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On May 4 in Denver, Colorado, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, and Entrepreneur partnered to present the Accelerate Your Business series. This event series brings together today's most influential innovators in business and technology to help entrepreneurs power their business growth. Over 300 people gathered for the event to soak in the priceless advice. I was also privileged to be in attendance. Let me share a few takeaways that are sure to help your businesses grow, continue to make an impact, and evolve in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Alexis Ohanian, Co-founder of Reddit

The opening keynote featured Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who candidly discussed many of the issues facing small business owners and how to overcome them. The presentation would not have been complete if he hadn’t added in several cat photos pulled from Reddit. His advice to the packed audience was:

  • Know when to quit. This involves overcoming inhibitions and getting your products in front of customers.
  • Sucking is the first step to being sorta good at something. Learn from your mistakes and seize opportunities that will make yourself better.
  • Don’t play house. In a cutthroat marketplace, you’ll always have too much to do and not enough time. Hit the ground running and compete to win.
  • Love the haters. Use competition to fuel your fire. Celebrate it as an opportunity to prove them wrong and focus on building the right products for the right people.
  • Don’t build your company for press or tweets. Instead, build your company for your customers.

Panelists Ramon Ray, Sally Hatcher, and Promise Phelon

Attendees were treated to a panel discussion where Smart Hustle publisher Ramon Ray, Sally Hatcher — president and COO of fertility awareness app Kindara — and CEO of TapInfluence Promise Phelon talked about common issues in small business. Here are a few topics they discussed:

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  • Metrics matter: Panelists pointed out metrics small business owners should be focusing on, such as the cost acquisition, yearly value, and lifetime value of a customer.
  • Cloud security: Ramon Ray spoke to the cloud’s surging role in security, saying that “it’s not just a big business issue — great technology helps reduce this risk.” He also discussed the importance of using the most updated systems, as well as creating an internal process for employees and educating them about which mistakes not to make.
  • On technology: Focus on creating and selling your products first, then add the technology later.

Carol Roth, national media personality and best-selling author

Carol Roth, author of the New York Times bestseller "The Entrepreneur Equation,” gave her own keynote in which she spoke about customer loyalty and how it has evolved over the years. Loyalty, she explained, used to be based on transactions — such as buy-one-get-one-free promotions — which created loyalty to a program, but not to the brand itself. But loyalty today isn’t transactional. Today it means having a superior product or service that naturally draws in loyal customers. It’s about building trust. Her advice to small businesses:

  • Offer the best of the breed and give customers something that no one else has.
  • Extend customer service by offering customization to your patrons. For example: Do they like red wine? Have a bottle ready in their room when they check in.
  • Take part in community and affinity groups, which give you a chance to get involved with people who can help get the word out about your product or service.
  • Make your product relevant, make it easy, make it your own, and continue to build customer relationships.

I was thrilled to see so many entrepreneurs take part in this invaluable event, network with each other and take away key messages that will help their businesses grow. Microsoft and Intel are proud to work with small businesses by giving them the tools they need to grow and evolve, and helping them to make an impact that will last. I look forward to sharing more with you as we make the journey together and learn how to accelerate small business growth.

Let’s connect on Twitter and keep this conversation going.

~ Jen

For more advice and tech solutions to help your small business thrive, visit Intel's Small Business Solutions page.