As we come to the end of the year (can you believe we are halfway through December already!), it seems like everyone is looking back in an attempt to identify what is noteworthy about 2015. From the economy, to entertainment, education, and entrepreneurship, there’s a best of list for it. While not all directly related to small businesses, the following 2015 best of lists will provide information, instruction, and inspiration that can help you and your small business thrive in 2016 and beyond.

The Best of Small Business

Best Small Business Company Culture of 2015 partnered with CultureIQ®, a culture-management software and service provider, to develop a list of companies that, “have successfully instilled a high-performance culture in their workplace.” The 10-factor ranking was based on scores for collaboration, innovation, agility, communication, support, wellness, work environment, responsibility, performance focus, and mission and value alignment. The top large company (more than 100 employees) is digital marketing agency Elite SEM with a score of 96.96/100. The top medium company (50-99 employees) is behavioral- automation platform company Bounce Exchange with a score of 97.64. And, the top company overall with a score of 100/100 is a small business (25-49 employees). That small business, church staffing company Vanderbloemen Search Group tops the list of The 25 Best Small-Company Cultures in 2015. (It is also interesting to note that the second and third place small business finishers have higher scores than the top medium and large size businesses.)


Best U.S. Locations for Your Small Business 2015

It just so happens that PaySimple’s home city of Denver, CO was rated the best place for business and careers in 2015 by Forbes magazine on their 2015 List Of The Best Places For Business And Careers. “Denver ranks No. 1 for the first time, moving up from a fourth place finish in 2014. The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area, home to 2.8 million people, is attractive for its diverse economy, highly educated labor force and outdoor recreational opportunities,” Forbes writes. Raleigh, NC places second and Portland, OR third; while the bottom spot goes to Atlantic City, NJ. While we may be biased, PaySimple completely agrees with Forbes. If you’re looking to take advantage of everything our wonderful city has to offer, and are also looking for employment, check out our jobs page. If you don’t apply with us, also check out Best of Colorado 2015 from ColoradoBiz magazine for a list of top companies in a variety of industries.

The 2015 United States Small Business Friendliness Survey from Thumbtack surveyed 18,000 small businesses across the United States and asked about the “friendliness” (defined as a pro-business environment) of their state and local governments. The interactive map shows relative ratings for states in categories including overall friendliness, starting a business, tax code, zoning, and more. The most “friendly” states were Texas, New Hampshire, Utah, Louisiana, and Colorado (yup, here we are again), and the least friendly were California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island. Among cities, Manchester, Dallas, Richmond, Austin, and Knoxville were at the top, and Providence, New Haven, Buffalo, Albuquerque, and Hartford were at the bottom.


PaySimple on Best of Lists in 2015

While we are highlighting Denver’s accolades, it’s nice to know that PaySimple is being recognized too. We made The Denver Post Top Workplaces 2015 and the TOP 250 Private Companies in Colorado list from ColoradoBiz magazine (we’re 82 and aiming higher for 2016!).


Best Startup CEOs in 2015

In the recently released list of The 27 best up-and-coming startup CEOs in America right now Business Insider ranked CEOs of US-based startups (those that have taken venture-capital funding and have not yet IPO’d or been acquired) according to the “buzz” they generated from the money they’ve raised and the news coverage they’ve received. Topping the list is ClassPass CEO Payal Kadakia, whose company offers a flat monthly subscription that enables customers to take unlimited fitness classes at boutique studios in their area. For example, in Denver alone there are over 200 studios to choose from offering classes in everything from Yoga to Pilates to Pure Barre to Kickboxing to Black Belt Salsa. In second place is Matt Salzberg CEO of Blue Apron, a company that offers subscriptions for meals that you cook at home using the recipe and pre-portioned ingredients shipped to you. Targeted at the busy cook, as well as the cook who wants to expand their recipe repertoire, the fast growing company that started in 2012 is already shipping over 3 million meals each month, as is reported to be worth over $2 billion. (So, taking the top two together you can eat well, exercise, eat well, exercise etc. Sounds like a winning combo subscription service for that next up-and-coming startup CEO.)


Best Small Business Loans for 2016

The best small business loan is the one that is tailored to your business needs and the one that you are sure you can repay. (See the SBA Small Business Loans page for detailed, authoritative, unbiased advice.) There are so many options out there that it can be daunting. So as you start your search, check out Best Small Business Loans for 2016 from The Simple Dollar and Best Unsecured Business Loans for Small Businesses from


Best Choice for Going Back To School in 2016

The Best Graduate Programs for Entrepreneurs 2016 list from the Princeton Review unsurprisingly puts Harvard Business School in the #1 spot. If you have the money (almost $60K/year) and can get in (only an 11% acceptance rate), then by all means go with #1. But, if you’re looking for a less expensive, less selective, but academically strong choice, consider the Brigham Young University program which ranks #7 on the list, costs just over $11k per year, and accepts 54% of applicants.


The Best Innovations

Most Innovative Companies of 2015

The World’s Most Innovative Companies (2015 Ranking) from Forbes magazine and The Most Innovative Companies (2015) list from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) use very different methodologies to identify those companies destined to change our world. The Forbes methodology involves extensive analysis and “relies on investors’ ability to identify firms they expect to be innovative now and in the future” and places Tesla Motors at the top of the list with at #2. The BCG methodology (described in the full report) relies largely on a survey of 1,500 “senior executives” in a wide variety of industries, with only 20% of ranking weight allotted to financial analysis. It ranks Apple at #1 and Google at #2 (neither of which appear on the Forbes top 100 list), though it does recognize Tesla in its #3 spot.


The Best Tech Innovations of 2015

The annual Best of What’s New list from Popular Science, “honors 100 innovations that are brilliant, revolutionary, and bound to shape the future.” Broken into 10 categories, the editors provide their picks for the best in Aerospace, Auto, Engineering, Entertainment, Gadgets, Health, Home, Recreation, Security, and Software. Topping the software list is video streaming App Periscope (also on the Apple Best 2015 Apps list (see below)); while tops on the Engineering list is SUSIBA2, a genetically modified rice plant that emits almost no methane (Did you know that rice paddies produce 17% of the worlds methane emissions?); and tops for the Auto category is the BMW 2016 7 Series for its gesture control system that enables drivers to perform common functions like answering calls, using navigation, and adjusting audio with a wave of their hand. (Take that iDrive critics!)


Best Apps of 2015

Apple recently released its Best Apps of 2015 list, and Periscope from Twitter, an App enabling you to broadcast live video to your followers, topped the list. In 4th place personal automation tool WorkFlow was also named the most innovative. Winners on the Google Play Best Apps of 2015 are more productivity killers than their counter-winners on the Apple list. (That probably says something about iOS vs. Android users, but I’m not going there.) The #1 spot goes to free coloring book App Colorfy, and #2 to shopping App Jet.


Best Gadgets of 2015

From Wired Magazine, my go-to source for everything geeky-cool, The Best Gadgets Money Can Buy: WIRED’s Picks for 2015 includes the editors top picks in 20 categories including personal technology, home entertainment devices, appliances for the home, and gear to use on the job. Each pick is linked to a detailed Wired review. While not all of the picks are business related, you might find these useful for your business: The best Windows Laptop goes to the Dell XPS13, the best iPhone the 6s, the best Android phone the Google Nexus 6P, and the best pocket camera the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV. And, of course you’ll also want to check out the best Drone, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. (If you’re in the market for mobile devices, also check out The 12 best mobile devices for the 2015 holidays from gizmag.)


Best of Just-for-Fun in 2015

While none of these Best Of lists will help you optimize your small business operations, or improve your own skills as a small business owner, hopefully they will make you laugh and/or help you relax and enjoy a pleasant diversion. After all, even the most dedicated small business owner can’t work 24/7/365. (If you think you can (or must) check out my post How to Delegate Your Way to a Much Needed Vacation.)


Best Albums of 2015

Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2015 includes gems from newcomers taking the music world by storm and new albums from veterans of the 1960s. So while #1 on the list goes to rap artist Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ which Rolling Stone calls, “a sprawling epic that’s both the year’s most bumptious party music and its most gripping therapy session;” #17 goes to Keith Richards (of The Rolling Stones) for his “first studio album outside his day job in 23 years” ‘Crosseyed Heart .’


Best Movies of 2015

There are about as many top movie lists as there are movies, but for this year we’ll highlight The Best Movies of 2015 from the New York Times film critics. Out of more than 900 movies released this year, The Assassin and Mad Max: Fury Road tie for the #1 spot, with the critics advising you to watch “on the biggest screen you can find.”


Best Books of 2015

There are even more top book lists than there are top movie lists, and the Best Books of 2015 from the Wall Street Journal combs through them all to create a list of those that show up on multiple lists in Fiction, Non Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, and Young Adult categories. The fiction winner appearing on 7 of the 12 lists considered is Lauren Groff’s “Fates and Furies.” The non-fiction winner is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘Between the World and Me‘ which also just won the National Book Award for nonfiction. According to the WSJ, this book about race in America was the most cited book of the year.


Best Photos of 2015

From Bloomberg Business, Bloomberg’s Best Photos of 2015 includes 60 photos that the editors thought represented the most memorable moments of a year that “was a groundbreaking year in business, technology, economics, and politics around the world.”


Best Boops of 2015

The Best Boops Of 2015 from BuzzFeed animals includes their top 27 pictures of animal nose touches: Human finger to animal nose, animal nose to human finger, animal nose to animal nose, animal nose to human nose, and dog nose to Mickey Mouse nose. ‘nough said!


There is really nothing that can follow the Best Boops of 2015. So, onward to 2016!


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Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I'm the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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