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16 Common Blogging Mistakes

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16 Common Blogging Mistakes
Common blogging mistakes often derail even the most dedicated bloggers. From neglecting SEO strategies to ignoring audience engagement, these errors …

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The 10 Best and Worst States to Start a Small Business

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The 10 Best and Worst States to Start a Small Business

There are many important things to consider when launching your own business or side hustle, and location is at the top of the list. Local and state laws can mean different taxes, zoning regulations and licensing requirements, so it pays to be strategic about your choice of state, city and even neighborhood, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Related: 5 Things Not to Do When You’re Running a Small Business

After all, some 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years of being open, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also found that 45% of businesses fail within the first five years. That number jumps to 65% after 10 years.

Capital on Tap, a company that offers a credit card and spending management platform for small business owners, analyzed BLS data to determine the percentage of startups that are still active after three years — and broke down the U.S. states with the highest and lowest chance of survival in three- and five-year time frames.

“There are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., making up an enormous percentage of the economy, and as this number continues to grow, so will innovation and commercial drive,” says Damian Brychcy, chief executive officer at Capital on Tap. “This research should serve as a positive sign to entrepreneurs in the top ten states who are thinking about starting a business.”

Image Credit: John Coletti | Getty Images. Boston, Massachusetts.

Qualities of business-friendly states

Before diving into the data, it’s important to consider what factors make a state attractive for new business owners. And it’s about more than just starting a business. The following factors can help keep small companies afloat and lead to ongoing success:

Taxes

Perhaps the most important factor of all, a business-friendly tax environment can keep costs down and put more money in your pockets. There are payroll, employment, income and corporate taxes to worry about, all of which can affect decisions around hiring and expansion. Some states also offer tax incentives for small businesses, which can remove expensive hurdles. Reviewing a self-employed tax schedule in your area can help.

Workforce

If you want to run a healthy, growing business, you’ll almost certainly be hiring employees. The best states for small businesses will have a plethora of available talent and a workforce with high levels of college education. Starting a business near a college or university can also attract interest from recent graduates. This is especially prominent in the technology industry.

Regulations

State policies regarding small businesses involve more than just taxes and deductions. Government programs can offer business owners grants and loans and incentivize investment from larger funders. Compliance is another factor. States can lower the costs of business by removing regulatory red tape, such as required government approvals or clearances.

Growth potential

You want to start your business somewhere it can thrive in both the short- and long-term. A number of factors can support this — for example, funding, investment in infrastructure and livability. A close proximity to sources of financing can help your company grow, as long as the area can support your workers and their families. States and cities with a low cost of living, good schools and solid infrastructure will not only attract talent but keep it.

U.S. states/territories with the highest rate of small business survival, per Capital on Tap 

State

1year average (%)

3year average (%)

5year average (%)

Massachusetts

81.91

64.96

54.38

Wisconsin

81.13

64.93

54.97

South Dakota

80.44

64.03

54.88

Minnesota

80.96

63.97

53.51

Iowa

80.85

63.71

53.65

North Dakota

79.55

63.63

53.98

Pennsylvania

80.69

63.51

53.18

Montana

79.60

62.79

53.03

Hawaii

79.37

62.22

52.21

North Carolina

79.85

61.91

51.25

Massachusetts

With elite universities, a thriving tech hub, a strong economy and a highly educated workforce, Massachusetts tops the list. Nearly 82% of small businesses survive their first year. Boston is also a growing hub for STEM jobs and is home to many investors and potential employees. The state also boasts a strong Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) that provides tax and property incentives for job creators.

Wisconsin

Not only does Wisconsin have a relatively low cost of living, but the state has one of the nation’s best public university systems (read: highly educated workforce) and a business-friendly government that offers tax credits, low-interest loans and grants to small companies. Wisconsin also runs a public-private capital initiative through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which recently announced a $100 million investment in the state’s startups.

South Dakota

Taxes are the big selling point for starting a business in South Dakota. With no corporate income, personal income, property or business inventory taxes, the state makes running a small company affordable for owners. The state is highly affordable and has very few regulations, both of which lower overall business costs.

Minnesota

Almost 81% of small businesses survive their first year in Minnesota, a feat that can be credited to the state’s supportive business environment, educated workforce and relative affordability for a high quality of life. Minnesota also has nine small business development centers throughout the state, which offer consulting, mentoring, networking opportunities and access to capital.

Iowa

With a high quality of life and low cost of living, Iowa is an attractive place to start and expand a small company. One of the biggest factors is extremely low energy and utility costs, which is especially important for manufacturing. Iowa cities also offer property tax incentives for small businesses and some of the nation’s lowest workers’ compensation costs.

U.S. states/territories with the lowest rate of small business survival, per Capital on Tap 

State

1year average (%)

3year average (%)

5year average (%)

Washington

75.12

54.60

42.75

District of Columbia

76.04

54.73

43.73

New Mexico

76.64

56.58

45.58

Florida

77.00

56.82

44.95

Nevada

77.18

57.38

46.79

New Hampshire

76.65

57.52

46.63

Arizona

77.34

58.00

46.74

Tennessee

78.46

58.21

46.81

Arkansas

77.64

58.24

47.25

Rhode Island

76.76

58.30

47.75

Washington

Less than 43% of new businesses in Washington are still running after five years, thanks to expensive real estate, complex regulations and the nation’s highest statewide minimum wage ($16.28/hour). The state’s business and occupation tax is also calculated based on gross receipts, not overall profits, so businesses with slim margins will especially struggle.

District of Columbia

Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive metro areas in the country, both in terms of real estate and overall cost of living. That means high salaries and high rents for offices or storefronts. The city’s business income tax and regulatory requirements are also relatively high, both of which can cut into profit margins.

New Mexico

High unemployment rates and limited access to capital make New Mexico a challenging state to open a small business. Skilled workers are lacking compared to surrounding states, and complex regulations can be a burden for business owners. More than 23% of small businesses fail within their first year.

Florida

Although Florida claims to be a thriving hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses, the data tells a different story: More than 55% of small businesses fail within five years. One of the biggest factors is the increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes, which has led to rising insurance costs. This affects both the available workforce and a company’s bottom line as premiums skyrocket.

Nevada

Almost 23% of new businesses fail within their first year in Nevada, and that’s despite no corporate or individual income taxes. Part of the challenge is local governments: regulations vary widely depending on your city of choice, with different requirements for specific licenses and fees. A heavy reliance on tourism can also backfire when travel to the state falls off, such as during the pandemic.

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How the Peak Travel Season Will Impact Payment Fraud

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How the Peak Travel Season Will Impact Payment Fraud

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Summer is just around the corner, and with it comes an influx of vacationers ready to explore new destinations. As the summer travel season begins, businesses operating within travel and hospitality must adopt robust strategies to manage the anticipated increase in transaction volumes and fraud risks. These strategies must also effectively manage disputes and chargebacks during a peak travel period that’s expected to break records.

Americans are still choosing to prioritize their vacations despite challenges like international unrest and rising prices. Projections from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suggest we’ll see a record-breaking summer travel season in 2024, with officials anticipating the busiest travel season ever.

52% of consumers say they plan to travel as much in 2024 as last year, with another 40% saying they expect to travel even more. These prospective travelers already have significant budgets set aside for these trips.

Millennials and Gen Z are the driving forces behind this trend. People in this cohort tend to prioritize experiences over material goods and seek a healthy work-life balance to explore new places and cultures. They’re also heavily influenced by social media, where many influencers showcase travel as part of an aspirational lifestyle.

This surge in travel drives global business at every level of the economy, but it also creates a heightened sense of risk. For businesses, effectively managing fraud and chargeback risk year-round is crucial to navigating the travel space.

Let’s explore the best strategies and tactics for managing these threats, whether in-house, hybrid or outsourced, and why asking for help might be the most effective course of action this year.

Related: How a Bad Billing Descriptor Can Cost You

The challenges ahead

While a travel boom is fantastic for businesses and local economies, it poses significant challenges that underscore the necessity of comprehensive fraud and chargeback management. An exceptionally busy travel season can aggravate existing chargeback triggers already intrinsic to the travel space. We may see:

  1. Increased Transaction Volume. The sheer volume of transactions during peak travel seasons makes managing and monitoring every transaction closely difficult. This increased volume can overwhelm internal systems, leading to errors and delays in handling disputes, contributing to more chargebacks.
  2. Fraudulent Activities. Fraudsters take advantage of the busy season, knowing that the high transaction volumes can mask their activities. From fake travel deals to phishing emails, the types of fraud targeting travelers are diverse and sophisticated, increasing the likelihood of chargebacks from unauthorized transactions.
  3. Overbooked Flights and Hotel Shortages. High demand can lead to overbooked flights and sold-out hotels. When travelers are bumped from flights or denied rooms, dissatisfaction spikes. So, too, does the number of chargebacks as customers dispute charges for services they didn’t receive.
  4. Poor Customer Service. Understaffing is common during peak periods, resulting in longer wait times, unresolved complaints and poor service. Frustrated customers often turn to chargebacks to resolve their grievances when they feel neglected or mistreated.
  5. Operational Strain. Handling a surge in transactions requires a well-prepared operational setup. Without it, companies might fail to process payments and refunds promptly, further aggravating customers and leading to more disputes and chargebacks.
  6. Financial and Reputational Impact. Chargebacks result in financial losses due to refunds and fees. However, they also damage a company’s reputation with customers and hurt their relationships with financial institutions. High chargeback rates can result in higher processing fees and, in severe cases, the loss of merchant processing privileges.

Considering what’s at stake, you can see why it’s incredibly urgent to prioritize effective chargeback management. Aside from saving time and money, it can also help boost customer trust during the peak travel season.

Managing chargebacks: In-house, hybrid or outsourced?

Travel operators can adopt one of three chargeback management strategies to handle the increased demand and the potential challenges outlined above.

First, they can manage everything in-house. This involves maintaining a dedicated team to manage disputes, enhance customer support and refine fraud detection systems. While this approach offers direct control, it can be resource-intensive and requires constant updates and training to stay updated on new fraud tactics and regulatory changes.

A second option is to outsource everything. This allows travel companies to benefit from specialized expertise and advanced technologies without the burden of maintaining an in-house team. Third-party providers can offer scalable solutions, real-time fraud detection and comprehensive chargeback prevention strategies. However, it can also mean that merchants lack insight.

As a third option, merchants can try taking a more hybrid approach. Combining internal efforts with external support lets businesses leverage advanced technologies and knowledge from third-party providers while retaining some control over the process. This approach provides a balance between direct oversight and external expertise.

Related: How to Fight Fraud and Chargebacks Should Regulation Fail

Industry collaboration

As we gear up for a record-setting summer, it’s clear that improved industry collaboration could be the key to addressing fraud and chargebacks.

We could consider the transformative potential of open data and artificial intelligence (AI) within the tourism industry. Combining an open data strategy with AI can enhance decision-making processes, helping to personalize customer experiences and optimize operations.

By harnessing open data, businesses can gain valuable insights into traveler preferences and behaviors. This insight can be refined using AI to forecast trends and tailor services.

Related: Think You Can’t Win Against Chargebacks? Think Again.

Open data and AI will have a much more symbiotic relationship in the future. The kind of collective effort that open data demands will create a more secure environment for our customers and protect our businesses from the financial strain of chargebacks. These technologies promise to boost efficiency and innovation in tourism, help manage threats and enhance the overall travel experience.

Ultimately, travel operators need to be proactive. By adopting the right strategies and fostering collaboration across the industry, operators can thrive during this busy travel season and create a better experience for all travelers.

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How Keeping Things Simple Helps Your Company Innovate and Grow

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How Keeping Things Simple Helps Your Company Innovate and Grow

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to Steve Jobs, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” It seems obvious that keeping things simple will help your business succeed. And yet, it’s surprisingly difficult to do it.

If simplicity is this challenging, you need to be intentional to make it happen. That’s why many successful companies actively prioritize it as a value. Ikea’s focus on simplicity comes across in its designs, catalog, store experience and more. One of Nike’s 11 management maxims is “simplify and go,” focusing teams on moving fast to adapt to new technologies and fashions.

I believe that simplicity is a driver for genius innovation. In fact, my journey as an entrepreneur began with an idea to simplify a complex and bureaucratic process. Today, the success of that idea has created new challenges. We serve millions of customers across over 100 countries, with many different needs — to meet them all, we’d need a ton of different features. So, we have to find the simplest ideas that will improve the experience for the largest number of users.

Related: Here’s Why You Should Embrace Simplicity as a Strategy (and 3 Ways to Do It)

Simplifying innovation is a recipe for success

Some people think that to be an entrepreneur, you have to bring groundbreaking technological innovation to the world. But actually, there’s a lot of room to innovate on top of new technologies, simplifying them and packaging them for specific use cases.

If you think of two of the technology giants of our times, Google and Apple, neither of them invented their core technologies. Apple wasn’t the first company to create a home computer or cellphone, Google wasn’t the first company to develop a search engine. They made existing innovations simpler and more user-friendly, and it was a recipe for success.

This is particularly relevant right now in the middle of a revolution fueled by generative AI. There are definitely huge opportunities in creating new AI-driven technologies, but there are even more opportunities in finding ways to package these technologies into user-friendly software for specific use cases.

To do this, first master the tech, and then put yourself in the shoes of your potential user. Try to understand what is really useful about the innovation and what barriers people might face when trying to use it.

The key is to find a way to simplify the technology, making it easier for your target users to understand and adopt it. Do this, and you’re onto a winner.

Work smarter by simplifying communication

Another part of any business where simplification is super important is communications and processes. As companies grow, it becomes harder to get people on the same page or ensure continuity between departments. Poor communication creates misunderstandings, which can lead to mistakes. The more people involved in a project, the more likely it is that workflows will become complicated. This all slows things down, wastes time and restricts your ability to make an impact on the business.

Let’s start with communication. Using a single, simple language across the company is crucial for people to be able to understand each other. For example, try to use less jargon and fewer three-letter acronyms, or make sure to explain them if you do. By creating organized archives of historical documents and plans, you help onboard new people and anyone can find important information fast when they need it.

Create a culture of transparency where different departments share their plans with each other. Create frameworks to facilitate this, like quarterly reviews or roadmap deployments. It’s not possible for employees to be actively involved in everything going on in the company, but by helping everyone take part passively, you’re making sure they’re on the same page and can facilitate ideas and collaborations across teams.

When you do have to communicate, encourage your teams to do it in the most straightforward way possible. By simplifying communication and making it easy to understand, discussions are more focused and decisions are made faster.

Related: The Key to Effectively Communicating Important Messages Is All About Simplicity

Put simplicity at the heart of your product

A simplification mindset can also be applied to product development. By making small incremental changes, sometimes with test groups of users, you can use the inspect and adapt methodology to understand their adoption, as well as any issues, and innovate further accordingly. Every so often, you can combine all these small changes into a large product update that you roll out for everyone.

For example: A company added a lot of extra value to its product with new features and releases. In theory, this was great for the users, but some found the UI overwhelming and new pricing options confusing. To use a metaphor, some people are happy to be given ingredients to make their own meal, but most would prefer the chef do the cooking so they can enjoy the final result.

Having understood this through their feedback, the company introduced a change to its UI that helped users get the end result they wanted, without having to work hard to achieve it themselves. By simplifying, the company maximized the impact of the value of all the new additions to the product.

Related: Keep It Simple: Why Simplicity Is Key To Making Your Brand Win

Richard Branson once said: “Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.” Simplicity won’t come about by accident — you need to be intentional. You have to call it out and make it a focus for the whole company. You need to put it at the heart of everything. And when you succeed, the impact will be huge.

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