In today's rundown: very small businesses are see a drop in Q1 revenue and the importance of chatbots in the social media landscape.
Welcome to the Small Business Run Down. Each day we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Today we look at OSHA compliance fails, what very small businesses can tell us about the economy, and the potential for chatbots to take over the world…or at least your customer service department.
OSHA: coming soon to a jobsite near you!
OSHA released the list of its top violators during Q1 of this year and it’s compelling reading as a cautionary tale–especially since US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recently announced that OSHA inspections are likely to increase soon. Fines for serious violations, other-than-serious violations and posting violations increased to $13,260 at the beginning of this year. President Trump has also requested $557 million for OSHA in his 2020 budget, with funds directed towards paying for additional compliance officers and whistleblower investigators. Hold on to your hard hats, everyone.
The Number: 76. OSHA hired and began training 76 new inspectors in 2018.
The Quote: “[W]hile the administration has avoided trying to embarrass contractors with heavy-handed remarks, the monetary penalties are as severe as ever.”
Very small businesses see drop in Q1 revenue
Companies with 20 employees or less make up 98% of US businesses, per the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, so flagging revenues in the first quarter of this year at very small businesses have some economists using the “R” word. An analysis of data from 30,500 sole proprietorships and companies with only a handful of workers found that sales fell compared to this time last year. This tracks with a survey released last week from the National Federation of Independent businesses that reports that 27% of companies indicated that sales have dropped over the last 3 months. This ultra-small companies make a sizeable portion of the US economy and often feel the pinch first.
The Number: 3.4%. Revenue at very small businesses fell 3.4% in the first quarter of 2019.
The Quote: “I think it’s showing that small service businesses are seeing a (pullback) in demand that’s indicative of a cooling economy and could be a leading indicator of recession.”
As the social media landscape shifts, chatbots are useful tool for SBOs
As social media platforms evolve, consumers are growing increasingly willing–and even expecting–to engage with messaging apps and chatbots in a customer service setting. Using chatbots can be a low-cost way for small businesses to interface with consumers, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction and profits.
The Number: ⅔. A full two-thirds of consumers say messaging is their preferred method of communication with businesses, ranking chat apps above phone, email, and face-to-face interactions.
The Quote: “A chatbot, then, might just be a small biz’s favorite new employee, responding to customers’ queries immediately at any time of day. More sophisticated bots can even take service claims or try to solve an issue.”
The perfect internship offer letter (postage not included)
You’ve created a competitive and compliant internship program and selected strong candidates from the applicant pool. Now what?
Send them the perfect offer letter, of course! Include all necessary information while avoiding common pitfalls using these helpful tips for crafting great internship offer letters.