1. Technology has divided retailers into two buckets: Those who are trying to find their place in an online world, and those born online who are attempting to figure out the offline market. This week we spoke to Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox about her journey to reach customers in both markets as she leverages tech to become a true omnichannel retailer. It’s a great weekend read.
2. There’s been plenty of discussions lately about how artificial intelligence can simplify our lives. This week Google showed how AI can make our search results better, even when you miss a couple of words in the search query. The advancement of tech like machine learning is creating a new wave of innovation for small business and eventually it will eliminate the majority of manual processing.
3. Small business security. As we live more of our personal and business lives online, the probability of suffering a security breach rises. For small business owners, there are a few things you can do now so when you get hit, it’s not the end of the world. The biggest risk is actually a human one, so by establishing a culture of security – not sharing passwords, changing them often and getting an expert to help create a plan, you can help avoid your IP falling into the wrong hands. More here.
4. Indulge us for a moment. This week the Xero US team released TaxTouch, an app specially designed for Freelancers and on-demand workers who file a Schedule C at tax time. Freelancing in America isn’t just a growing trend; it’s becoming the new normal. About 34 percent of the U.S. workforce falls under the category of freelance workers — that’s 54 million people pumping over $715 billion of value into the economy. The mobile app helps you keep track of your business expenses and income so when tax time rolls around, you know where you stand. If you are in the US, you can download the app here.
5. Back to normal programming. Small business owners and accountants sometimes need a little creativity boost to solve the issues that get flung at them day-in-day-out. Sometimes it’s as easy as getting away from your desk to spark a little creative thinking and get some perspective. Xero CEO Rod Drury this week gave Fortune the low down on how he boosts creativity across his team.
6. Once you’re feeling more creative, it’s time to start brainstorming. Setting aside time to think each week, even if it’s just an hour, can make all the difference. Using apps like Evernote to keep a running list of your ideas, inspiration and opportunities is one way to keep you business moving ahead when you feel like you’re in a rut. Xero CMO Andy Lark talks about six strategies he uses to keep his business ideas fresh here.