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5 Essentials of the Perfect Business Plan

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Your first pitch to investors is likely to shake you up. As you pitch your business idea to more investors, you will get better. Over time, however, the quality of your pitch is likely to lose its edge. Your business plan, however, will continue to make strong impressions, provided you create a killer plan. This guide will help you do that.

1. Follow the basic structure

Consider the context in which your business plan will be read; it doesn’t make sense to change a lot in the basic format. Investors are very clear on what they’re most interested in, and it is not in your best interests to create a plan that deviates from that format and is hard to navigate. Follow the basic structure and include the following elements:

  • A cover letter
  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Executive summary

The cover letter is the traditional short explanation of why you are contacting the recipient. The title page should have your business’s name, the founders’ names, logo and product images (optional), and, of course, the phrase “business plan.” The table of contents acts as a navigation aid for readers and is followed by the content of your business plan.

2. Treat the executive summary as a pitch to the busiest investor

Not all investors you approach will give you that elusive face-to-face meeting. In the absence of influential references, your business plan needs to do the talking, at least to get investors interested. At some stage, you will have to rely on email, and that’s where your business plan’s executive summary comes into play.

Investors are incredibly busy. If they are interested in your idea, they will only spare five minutes to read the executive summary. Therefore, treat it with importance. I’d suggest writing the executive summary last so you include only the most crucial details and create a crisp pitch. I recommend reading The Balance’s guide to writing a killer executive summary.


Editor’s Note: Looking for a business plan service? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:



3. Submit a detailed marketing plan

A marketing plan is essentially the heart and soul of your business plan. It’s critical if this is your first business and you have no previous experience or reputation to back you up. Social media plays an important role in your plan, provided you set proper goals and KPIs from the outset. Your marketing plan should cover every aspect of marketing for your business, including:

  • Detailed information governing how your product line was created, what the pricing mix is, what your promotions strategy is and estimated sales
  • Your positioning strategy for your products, the branding strategy, and customer segmentation and targeting plans
  • Who the top competitors for your business are, alternatives for your key products, along with how you plan to combat these challenges
  • For product-focused businesses, include product augmentation and product line expansion plans

Moreover, you need to use proper tools to complement your marketing strategies. Email validation tools like Zero Bounce and marketing automation tools like Pardot are some common services that every business should use.

4. Be vocal about your assumptions

Every business plan makes some well-informed assumptions, for instance, about:

  • The purchasing behaviors of certain consumer groups
  • Trends in government regulations that impact businesses in a particular geography
  • Interest rates and the ease of obtaining working capital
  • Increases in the cost of human resources
  • The total number of working days for the business in a year

Of the assumptions you include in your plan, mention the ones that might not be obvious. This has two benefits. First, it demonstrates to your investors that your numbers are research-based and not mere guesses. Second, if any of the assumptions don’t pan out as expected, you have the plan to go back to in order to explain deficits in performance.

5. Include lucid financial details

Too many entrepreneurs assume they can throw in advanced financial analyses and extrapolations and get investors onboard. Remember, the deeper you delve into financial analyses before getting your business off the ground, the more skeptical your investors are likely to be. That, however, does not undermine the importance of the financial information you include in your plan. Focus on:

  • Crisply explaining your plan to procure working capital
  • Offering a pessimistic as well as optimistic extrapolation of revenues and margins based on data from the last two years
  • Highlighting any historical sales spikes linked to cyclical or special expensive marketing events
  • Explaining your plan to manage cash flows
  • Listing your disaster management plan to demonstrate that you can be relied upon to fulfill your responsibilities to investors

Before you finalize your business plan, incorporate the time-tested and proven effective suggestions offered in this guide.

Microsoft’s New 365 Business Features May Surprise You

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Microsoft announced yesterday morning that it’s adding a new office suite for businesses called Microsoft 365 Business. Microsoft 365 Business is designed as a single solution for owners of small and midsize businesses looking to simplify and integrate multiple areas of their business. There are three new apps – Listings, Connections and Invoicing – that accompany add-ons to familiar programs such as Outlook and Bookings.

The service is subscription-based and can be purchased for $20 per user per month for up to 300 users. Subscribers will still have access to Office 365, which includes Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, Dynamics 365 and Flow, and will be automatically upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.

In addition to these applications, Microsoft 365 Business will have the power of a CRM, payroll service and email marketing service. The new subscription plan also incorporates security features, mobile device management and IT admin security measures to ensure that small businesses operate safely and efficiently. With all of these new features, small businesses everywhere will have the ability to revamp different aspects of their business. Here’s a snapshot of what’s new in Microsoft 365 Business.

New apps: Listings, Connections and Invoicing

The Microsoft 365 Business bundle includes three new apps: Listings, Connections and Invoicing. In addition to being part of this new offer, these apps can be independently downloaded by Office 365 Business Premium subscribers.

Listings gives small business owners the opportunity to control how their business information appears on Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp, all in one place. In addition to adjusting the company’s name, logo, address and hours in one place, business owners can monitor customer reviews. It’s worth noting, however, that this service currently only supports businesses with one location. 

Connections is a template-based email marketing client that allows business owners to create announcements and newsletters, as well as monitor referrals and issue incentives, such as discount codes, to top referrers. Business owners can monitor who has opened their emails and who has clicked on links within the emails through the Connections tool. Connections is entirely template-based, so small businesses looking for some creative freedom when it comes to designing and creating emails for campaigns may be better off seeking a third-party service.

Invoicing allows businesses to create custom-made, professional invoices for their customers. The service syncs with QuickBooks and Dynamics 365, and payments can be completed with PayPal. In addition to these third-party integrations, Invoicing allows business owners to track pending payments, set sales tax, add discounts and transform estimates into invoices.

All three of these apps are integrated into the Business Center. Business owners can view analytics and get a bird’s-eye view of each program from one dashboard. The Business Center can also be used to navigate between other Microsoft 365 Business features like Bookings and Contacts.

Heightened security

Microsoft 365 Business subscribers automatically have Windows Defender enabled when they install their new program suite. It enables automatic updates so security features are constantly up to date. In addition to heightened device security, other measures in Microsoft 365 Business allow a business owner to wipe company data from lost or stolen devices. The device’s data is immediately wiped when the device reconnects to the cloud.

Business owners can manage employee access by creating distinct groups of employees and adjusting permissions associated with each group. This will manage an employee’s access to company files and even certain apps in the app store. It does not, however, provide an option to create a group within a group, and specific users within each group cannot have special permissions, which is a vital tool for some IT professionals.

Another built-in security feature touches on mobile device management. While employees can use personal devices for work, Microsoft 365 Business includes features that prevent employees from copying and pasting company data into personal email messages. It also protects company information, requiring a specified PIN to access work accounts.

Other new features

In addition to its new apps and security features, Microsoft 365 Business updates and adds on to existing features, such as Outlook Customer Manager, Bookings and MileIQ. Outlook Customer Manager allows business owners to see a customer’s full profile on the same screen as Outlook. This is crucial for building and maintaining customer relationships, and not having to flip between multiple windows may increase efficiency.

With Bookings, customers can easily set up appointments through a simple webpage that integrates with Facebook. Once an appointment is created, it’s automatically added to your workers’ calendars and updates automatically.

MileIQ tracks worker mileage through automatic drive detection and mileage logging, and it features analytics that report on the data. Small business owners also have the option to classify a trip as personal or professional with only one swipe. Microsoft 365 Business also comes with StaffHub, an existing Microsoft app that manages scheduling and allows managers to plan employee hours.

Bottom line

Microsoft 365 Business offers a bunch of new features that businesses can use to grow and improve efficiency. The biggest draw seems to be its integration. By providing one solution for businesses owners to manage multiple facets of their business, Microsoft is working to make everything more efficient. The many features could overwhelm some businesses, though, especially startups or other small operations. Microsoft does offer all the apps to Office 365 Business Premium subscribers, allowing smaller businesses to select what they need.


2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The November Prompts

It’s time again for our pair of Content Excellence prompts! All year, our community has been working with these each month to create better work, and to create more of it. This month’s prompts could potentially be swapped, because they’re both ways to do better work and more work. They go together like (dare I
Read More…

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A Near Death Experience Changes Perspective on Success

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A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective on Success

Sometimes major life events, like near death experiences, can help entrepreneurs find some much-needed perspective about what success means to them. That was the case with Rand Leeb-du Toit.

A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective on Success

Said Leeb-du Toit, “If you were on your deathbed 18 months from now, and there was no coming back. That’s it. You’re on a one way ticket out of here. And you ask yourself that deep meaningful question at that point, have I done what I wanted to do? Have I done what really meant so much to me in my life? And if you can unequivocally answer, ‘Yes, absolutely,’ then that’s what success is.”

Leeb-du Toit is a coach, speaker, founder of EXOscalr and author of the new book Fierce Reinvention, which is a guide to being fierce in entrepreneurship and finding success as a leader.

I had a chance to speak with Leeb-du Toit recently. During our interview, he shared some tips for entrepreneurs along with his own story of fierce reinvention.

Check out the full interview here …

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These are the tips for entrepreneurs Rand shared in our discussion.

A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective

Leeb-du Toit explained, “I’m essentially a serial entrepreneur and former venture capitalist and I was working for one of the largest research and advisory companies at one point in 2014 and suffered a sudden cardiac death experience, which was a massive trigger event for me to contemplate what it is that I should be doing with my life. The result of that was one year later I left that company, started EXOscalr with the vision and the quest to help people get onto the right track with their lives. I hesitate to call myself an executive coach, a leadership coach, a guide, a spirit guide. It’s all of the above.”

A Near Death Experience Changes Your Perspective on Success

Stop and Think

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle of business ownership and forget about the bigger picture. When this happens, Leeb-du Toit recommends taking a pause to reset your brain.

He said, “Once you stop for a moment, you stop that hustle, and I’m not saying stop it completely by any means. I’m just staying stop, whether it’s a micro pause or it’s going on a hike for a couple of days or a retreat.”

Harness Fear

Making major changes in life or in business can be scary. So instead of fighting that, use it to energize your journey.

Leeb-du Toit said, “What are you so afraid of stopping and thinking about? What’s going to emerge for you? And that’s the real challenge as well in terms of once you understand that fear doesn’t control you and you’re able to live with it to get in there and manage it and that’s a lot of the process that I work with my clients through is getting to love their fear and harness then turn that into energy.”

Hold Yourself Accountable

From there, you need actual systems for making the changes you want to make. Leeb-du Toit calls this an operating system. Essentially, it’s a roadmap to your major goals.

Leeb-du Toit said, “You build out an operating system, which starts with your very high level of goals of consequence and then starts mapping that down into, right down to on a daily basis what you’re going to be dong over a period of time and you then start mapping out and checking in on yourself. Being accountable to yourself or to your coach or your guide or to a friend, am I on track? If you’re not on track, how can I recalibrate so I do get back on track?”

This article, “A Near Death Experience Changes Perspective on Success” was first published on Small Business Trends

How to Effectively Use Social Proof to Increase Conversions

Many factors can influence a customer’s decision making.

How can you get them to buy products from your company instead of your competition?

You have to find a way to influence their opinions.

You can achieve this by leveraging social proof.

The goal is to create a positive perception of your company. It’s power in numbers.

Let’s say a prospective customer is searching for a product online.

They know what they want, but they’re not sure which ecommerce store to buy it from.

What are some things they may be looking for?

Company A has over 500 reviews. Company B has only 7 reviews.

Which one do you think has a better public perception?

image5 4

Look at the factors in this graphic as a reference point.

Obviously, the company with more reviews will seem more attractive to the new customers.

That company feels more reliable.

Over 500 people took the time to write a review, so they must be legitimate, right?

Honestly, the quality of the product is irrelevant here.

Company B could potentially have a far superior product, but if nobody knows about it, it’s useless.

Don’t get me wrong: quality is obviously important.

If you’re selling a product that’s faulty or has lots of problems, social proof can backfire.

You may get hundreds of reviews, but if they’re all negative, it could put you out of business.

Regardless of your company type, industry, or current reputation, I’ll show you how to improve your conversions by using social proof.

Use celebrity endorsements

Don’t let the term “celebrity” throw you off.

Unless you have lots of connections, it’s probably not realistic for you to land a superstar like Jay-Z, Shaquille O’Neil, or Tom Cruise to endorse your product.

If you want someone like Selena Gomez to recommend your company on her social profiles, it will cost you $550,000 per post.

That’s outrageous.

Instead, look for regular people with large followings, especially on social media platforms like Instagram.

Here’s an example of how Bose used Russell Wilson to create social proof:

image6 4

Over 250,000 people viewed this video.

If Russell Wilson says it works, then it must, right?

That’s the power of social proof.

Keep in mind that the Federal Trade Commission requires social influencers to clearly disclose their relationships with brands they promote.

That’s why Russell used the #Ad hashtag in this post.

I know what you’re thinking.

Maybe Russell Wilson isn’t an A-list celebrity, but he’s still an NFL quarterback.

You can also find local celebrities or regular people with lots of social media friends.

Browse through your followers. Do you see anyone with 10k, 20k, or maybe even 50k followers?

Reach out to them directly to see if they’d be interested in becoming a brand ambassador for your business.

You may even have better success with these people as opposed to celebrities with millions of followers.


It’s easier for someone with 20k followers to stay more engaged with their fans.

image1 4

Get out there, and try to find people to endorse your brand and products.

It doesn’t have to be Justin Timberlake—anyone with a large social following can help you generate social proof.

Proudly display your best numbers

Let your numbers do the talking for you.

How many people bought your product or downloaded your ebook?

Tell your customers.

Post this information on your website in real time.

Here’s an example from Nosto:

image4 4

What screams social proof louder than 22 billion?

Here are some other options you may consider using:

  • How much money have people saved by using your business?
  • How many social media followers do you have?
  • How many customers have you served?

But if you don’t have impressive numbers, omit them.

For example, let’s say you have only 450 Instagram followers.

That’s nothing to brag about.

First of all, if that’s the case, you need to learn how to build a larger Instagram following.

But don’t include that number on your website.

Instead, show off your strengths.

If you have 30,000 followers on Twitter, that’s something you’ll want to showcase.

Here’s another example from Kissmetrics:

image2 4

The homepage shows how many companies use their behavioral analytics and engagement platform.

It creates social proof.

If it said, “10 companies use our service,” nobody would be impressed.

But 900 is nothing to sneeze at. It’s impressive.

Take a look at your best numbers to see which ones are worth displaying on your website.

Display visual proof of your product in action

Photos are powerful social proof.

Images can help reinforce the idea that your product works.

Remember the example of Bose we looked at earlier?

Russell Wilson had the speakers under water. And it was effective. Why?

Because it’s one thing to tell people that something is waterproof, and it’s another to show them.

That’s why you should include before and after photos on your website.

Proactiv has been doing this for years:

image15 2

This page on their website encourages users to upload their own before-and-after photos.

They want to hear from their customers because it will show any skeptics that the product works.

It’s a great idea.

Plus, storytelling is an effective way to engage and persuade someone.

Think about your brand, products, or services for a minute.

What kinds of images would generate social proof?

Let’s say you’re a carpet cleaning company. You could show dirty rug vs. clean rug.

Before and after photos work well for anyone involved in the health, wellness, and fitness industry.

Here’s another example from a fitness company:

image7 5

Do you look like the guy on the left?

Well, we can make you look like the guy on the right. And we promise to do it in 90 days or your money back.

It’s an impressive marketing strategy.

Visual evidence of your product working will improve conversions.

Give your customers incentives for writing reviews

Let’s take our last point one step further.

Sure, you can always post photos on your website.

But they’ll mean a lot more to prospective customers if they see reviews from other users.

That’s why people research companies on websites like:

Your company should have a profile on as many of these platforms as possible.

This will increase your chances of getting more reviews.

It’s all about customer preferences.

Some people may trust only Yelp reviews, while others will check your ratings on Google.

If you have one but not the other, you’re alienating potential new clients.

Encourage people to upload photos when they leave a review.

image3 4

Earlier we discussed how visual evidence could impact a buyer’s decision making.

Based on the graphic above, we know user photos are far more important when it comes to generating social proof.

Customers may feel a professional photo on a company website could be glamorizing the product.

To some extent, they’re right.

Obviously, you’re not going to willingly share images that portray your business in a negative light.

But customers feel they can trust other customers.

Here’s a helpful tip for convincing customers to leave reviews.

Be direct, and ask for a review.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach.

If you have a brick and mortar location, make sure your staff understands the importance of customer reviews.

Before a customer leaves, train your staff to say, “Don’t forget to write a review on Yelp.”

If a customer bought something from your ecommerce store, send a follow up email with a direct link to your profile on a review website.

Look how Zappos accomplishes this with their email campaign:

image12 4

The message is short and direct. All they’re asking for is a review, nothing else.

What’s the incentive they offer?

“Help others.”

Make sure you give your customers a good reason to leave a review.

Providing valuable insight to other consumers may work for people, but other customers may need some extra motivation.

Here’s an example from The Body Shop:

image13 3

Let’s be clear.

You’re not offering an incentive for customers to leave a positive review.

Obviously, that’s what you’d prefer, but you can’t control that.

Notice how The Body Shop just says, “Tell us what you think.”

It doesn’t specify good or bad.

Either way, as a customer, you will get 10% off your next purchase if you write a review.

This incentive can be the extra motivation customers need to generate social proof for your business.

Create surveys and share the results

Sometimes people won’t take the time to leave a full review.

It’s understandable.

You have to realize people are busy, and an incentive may not persuade all your customers.

Here’s where you can use a survey to your advantage.

Rather than typing customized reviews, a customer can simply click on some predetermined survey responses.

It’s quicker, takes less effort, but can be just as effective.

Here’s an example from Nordstrom:

image11 4

It’s easy to build a survey online.

Check out these sites:

Share the survey results on your website to create social proof.

Look how 4Change Energy does this:

image8 4

If you’re not having much luck generating customer reviews, see if your customers will respond better to surveys.

Get testimonials from experts in your industry

Customer opinions are valid, but does the customer always know what they’re talking about?

An expert is another matter.

If you have customers with high credibility, see if they are willing to give your business a testimonial.

Figure out which experts in your industry may be relevant to include.

For example, if you’re a mattress company, getting a positive testimonial from a chiropractor makes sense.

Other experts to consider for various industries could be:

  • Lawyers
  • Doctors
  • Teachers
  • Physical therapists
  • Mechanics

Here’s an example from Kissmetrics:

image10 4

Follow this template.

Try to include the expert’s:

  • full name
  • company
  • title
  • photograph

How did your company help them? Be specific.

In the example above, the testimonial says “30% lift in conversions.”

All of these factors help contribute to social proof.

You’re allowed to brag

Growing up, your parents may have told you not to brag.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to do that.

Let everyone know about your success and what you’re good at.

I’m not saying you should brag about how much money you made last month, but boast about anything that establishes your credibility.

Were you featured in a respected publication?

Did a popular website use your business as a reference or resource?

Check out this example from Roma Moulding:

image16 2

Forbes Media is a “global media, branding and technology company, with a focus on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and affluent lifestyles.”

They are recognized across the world.

Getting featured on their website is a big deal.

Don’t be afraid to share information like this with your customers.

If a company such as Forbes says you’re legitimate, then you must be, right?

That’s the power of social proof.

Come up with a customer referral program

We’ve already established that customers trust other customers.

Customer referrals can generate social proof.

If someone had a bad experience with a brand, they won’t recommend that company to their friends and family.

If you get a referral from someone you trust, it implies they had a good experience.

They want you to get the same positive interaction.

Look at the impact referrals can have on your business:


You increase the chances of getting a conversion through customer-to-customer recommendations.

Let’s take this a step further.

Yes, your customers may love your business.

But will they go out of their way to spread the word?


Like with reviews, sometimes people need some extra motivation.

Offer an incentive, like Airbnb does:

image9 4

It doesn’t need to be over the top.

Just give them some encouragement to share your brand with their friends.

Trust me, it works.

Use Facebook

We’ve discussed the importance of generating social proof through Instagram and review websites such as Yelp or Google Local.

But that’s not enough.

Encourage customers to review your brand on Facebook.

Facebook has such a wide reach, you can’t afford to leave it out of your social proof strategy.

Think of it like this.

How many followers do you have on Facebook?

How many friends do your followers have?

You’re indirectly connected with all those people even if they don’t follow you.

If your customers comment and write reviews on your Facebook page, it will show up on the news feed of all their friends.

It’s great exposure for your brand.

Here’s something else to consider: Facebook is the top platform for positive reviews.

image14 3

Comments on your Facebook page are more likely to paint your company in a positive light than on other review websites.

How can you encourage people to write reviews on your Facebook page?

Engage with your customers. Like their posts. Respond to their comments. Make sure your profile is active.

All of these factors can help generate social proof on Facebook.


Customers trust other customers.

One of the best ways to improve your conversions is by leveraging social proof.

This strategy won’t cost you anything.

Sure, it might involve some promotional giveaways, but for the most part, it’s free.

Display your best numbers. Show your customers how many people visited your website or downloaded your app. It gives your company more credibility.

You can also brag about certain achievements, like being featured in a popular magazine.

Encourage customers to review your products. It’s even better if they upload their own photos. People trust user photos more than professional ones.

Images are a powerful way to prove your product works. Incorporate some visual demonstrations and some before and after shots whenever possible.

Get an endorsement from a celebrity or expert. It doesn’t have to be Brad Pitt, but find someone with a large social following and send them some free products.

If you follow this advice, you’ll create social proof for your product or service and improve your conversions.

What incentive will you offer your customers to review your brand on Facebook?

Here are the Seven Shining Qualities of Successful Bloggers and if you want to b…

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9 Things About Salesforce that Small Business Owners Should Know

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9 Things About Salesforce for Small Business that You Should Know

Salesforce serves businesses big and small today. But even as the company grows and its customers do, too, it hasn’t taken its eye off companies like yours.

Here is a list of 10 things every small business should know about Salesforce to get a better understanding of the company and what it offers.

Salesforce started small, too — 18 years ago in a small apartment.

The story of Salesforce’s beginnings is probably one to which many small business owners can relate. Back in 1999 Marc Benioff and three co-founders started Salesforce in San Francisco. To start Salesforce, Benioff gave up a successful career and struggled to find investors.

Today, the company is a tech titan. In the past quarter, Salesforce revenue reached $2.56 billion. That’s a 26 percent increase over the previous year. And it’s been recognized as the top CRM company in a competitive industry.

Salesforce has more than 150,000 customers, many of which are small businesses.

Once a small business itself, Salesforce got off the ground by serving small business needs. Today, some of the biggest companies in the world rely on Salesforce but still, many of its customers are startups and small businesses. The company is not taking its eye off the customers who got them where they are today.

DUFL is a great example of a company that has grown tremendously with Salesforce. Acting like a personal valet for business travel, DUFL cleans and stores garments customers need for their trips and ships them directly to their destination. DUFL uses Salesforce to keep a complete record of each individual’s unique needs so it can then deliver personalized, 1-to-1 experiences to its customers. With Salesforce supporting its sales and customer service, DUFL’s team of less than 50 employees has seen 10% month-on-month growth while maintaining a retention rate of more than 99%.

Today, Salesforce is much more than CRM.

Sure, Salesforce is nearly synonymous with CRM, especially for small businesses. But the company is getting a reputation for other services it provides companies like yours.

For instance, a few years ago Salesforce acquired Demandware, which it now calls Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Commerce Cloud allows small businesses to create unique shopping experiences for all its customers, including new ways of engaging customers on mobile devices at any time.

Salesforce also offers Quip, content collaboration tools for businesses.

Salesforce puts on one of the largest user conferences in the United States.

You’ll never walk alone at Dreamforce. That’s the annual user conference put on by Salesforce. And this is a big deal. It’s the largest software conference in the world.

Dreamforce offers the opportunity to learn first-hand how Salesforce — and any of its offerings — can help your small business. And if one of the many experts on hand isn’t enough, you’ll have a chance to meet the 175,000 or so attendees at this year’s event. That’s right — 175 THOUSAND!

“It’s bigger than a lot of cities,” says CRM Essentials co-founder Brent Leary, a regular at Dreamforce.

Many of those at Dreamforce are small business customers. This year there will be over 300 sessions dedicated to small businesses.

Salesforce has invested big in artificial intelligence.

Salesforce is integrating artificial intelligence with its CRM platform. The company calls its AI Einstein and promises to make everyone in your small business using it smarter.

In an interview with Small Business Trends, Salesforce’s Tony Rodoni stressed the role and impact of AI for a small business.

“No small business should have to have a data science department,” Rodoni said. “But we want to put functionality into the product that helps them see trends, recommend actions, and take next steps. And our SMB customers are going to see that in our products pretty darn quick.”

Your small business can access capital, find an investor, or get help on growth with Salesforce.

Salesforce has its own venture capital and investment arm called Salesforce Ventures.

The company has also created the AI Innovation Fund and is investing $50 million in startups that use AI to integrate their companies’ products with Salesforce.

Salesforce for Startups provides startups with access to the Salesforce technology, resources and expertise needed to become thriving customer and community-focused companies. Salesforce helps startups build, grow and give back through the AppExchange Partner Program, Salesforce Ventures, Pledge 1%, customer-focused products and much more.

Salesforce has a 1-1-1 philanthropy program.

Making an impact on your community, outside of being a successful company, adds value to any small business. is based on the company’s own 1-1-1 model of social philanthropy.

And the 1-1-1 model is ideal for small businesses to donate from the beginning without stunting

their own growth. The 1s in 1-1-1 represent a percent of time, resources, and products that go to the common good of the community surrounding every business who’s pledged to contribute. says, to date, it has donated $168 million in grants, 2.3 million hours of community service, and product giveaways to more than 32,000 nonprofits and higher education institutions.

The AppExchange offers other apps for your business that automatically integrate with Salesforce.

Salesforce was the first to come out with an app store for third party integrations and extensions. It’s called Salesforce AppExchange. The AppExchange is where you’ll find other business apps that integrate with Salesforce.

The AppExchange recently reached its five million installs milestone, which shows the accelerating momentum of the AppExchange. Salesforce hit one million installs after six years, but in the last 12 months, it has grown from four to five million. This illustrates the exponential growth and strength of Salesforce’s partner ecosystem, which empowers SMBs with pre-integrated business apps to help them run their business efficiently.

Salesforce training is gamified.

Salesforce has a learning system dubbed Trailhead. The company calls it the fun way to learn how to use Salesforce.

Trailhead is free and offers learning modules and guided trails for every skill level. Check out this blog post to learn more about how small businesses can use Trailhead. There’s even a special “Trail Mix” designed especially for small businesses.

Salesforce Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “9 Things About Salesforce that Small Business Owners Should Know” was first published on Small Business Trends

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