Can you stay level-headed regardless of the situation? If not, here are some tips to help you become a more objective leader.
Chairman and Founder of Right Angles
I've read dozens of management books in my time -- and frankly I'm bored with reading the same advice about the importance of honesty, integrity, resilience and empathy. While I agree these are all important for success in business, most books overlook the elephant in the room -- temperament.
When I created my first business, I had a client who was a nice guy, but as a CEO he was feared and disliked by his employees because of his volcanic temper. Plagued with high staff turnover and low morale, it was a blind spot which undoubtedly damaged his business.
I didn't envy the employees on the receiving end of his rage, but I sympathized with him. Running a business is a hard slog. No one knows better than a business owner the gut-wrenching feeling of being copied into an email from one of your employees to a client that is going to go down badly, or finding out a vital piece of work hasn't been done.
Daily challenges -- late payments, passive-aggressive clients, cash-flow hiccups -- can all cause worry, potentially triggering rage and frustration in even the most Zen-like of business leaders.
The timing of your response to difficult situations (or people) is vital. React too soon, when you're angry or upset, and you risk saying something unprofessional that you may regret. But, leave it too late to say or do something, and there's a risk that your employees will think you are indecisive. In that vacuum of leadership, rumors can quickly escalate.
Ann Dunwoody, the first woman to become a four-star general in the U.S. military, once told me to never walk past a mistake. If you do, people will see that you've ignored it and assume that you don't have high standards. I agree, but it has to be addressed in an appropriate way.
How leaders communicate with employees is a vital factor in not just the performance of a business, but also its ability to recruit the best workers. Employee survey sites such as Glassdoor put entrepreneurs under even more scrutiny. My friend of many years, Craig Donaldson, CEO of Metro Bank, was recently named one of the top CEO in a Glassdoor survey of employees -- and much of the respect Metro employees have for him is due to his character and the way he cares for the staff.
Having the kind of outlook that thrives at the top of business relies on one thing: the regulation of emotion. Even-handedness, if you like. But, how do you achieve this if it doesn't come naturally? Luckily for some -- myself included -- it's easy to fake.
The method I'm about to outline comes from the leader of a global business, who told me that when he became annoyed about something or someone, he'd do what he called his "objective analysis" test. The test ranked his annoyance out of 10 based on how annoyed a "reasonable" person would be about the matter. Are you feeling a seven out of 10 when a three would be more reasonable? It's turned out to be one of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received.
So, while some of what I'm about to tell you may sound folksy and obvious, it's actually surprisingly hard to stick to when things are going wrong and you've had a poor night's sleep. Here are some tips I've learned the hard way.
Related: 10 Books Every Leader Should Read to Be Successful
1. Be mindful.
Yes, I know, "mindfulness" is the go-to buzzword of the day, but what does it actually mean? You've most likely read articles about how business leaders should embrace mindfulness, and you probably have a meditation app on your phone that you've only used twice. With all the hype, it can be easy to forget how useful mindfulness can be for business leaders.
But, by becoming more aware of their how your thoughts are affecting your emotions and behavior, you're more likely to remain calm under pressure. It also ties into other keys of self-care like getting enough sleep, exercise and regular meals, which can also be tedious to constantly hear.
2. Encourage honest feedback.
When giving employees feedback, we're familiar with the basics: Don't do it in a negative way. Give it in person, away from the rest of the team.
However, when it comes to receiving feedback, it's important to encourage employees to challenge you and your ideas -- including in front of clients. It's the best way to get a plurality of views and avoid the blinkered group-think of The Borg in Star Trek.
One of my proudest moments in business was when an employee disagreed with me in front of a client and suggested a different way of doing something. The employee was right, and the client got a better service. It can be easy to see disagreement as a threat when it's actually the opposite. It's a sign of a healthy, open workplace that's more likely to produce good ideas.
Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader
3. Get some mentors.
I once had a conversation with Jack Straw, a former foreign secretary in the U.K. government. When I asked him who he trusted for advice, he said that he only trusted advice from people who were or had been a foreign secretary, because only they could truly know the pressures of the job.
When you're looking for a mentor (inside or outside your business), make sure that the valuable sounding board is of a similar senior level to yourself.
Related: 15 Ways to Lead With Effective Communication
4. Exit interviews are a golden opportunity.
Let's be honest: Many business leaders would rather make an appointment with the dentist than do an exit interview.
I know exit interviews can feel awkward, but if the employee's severance package is sorted and any bad feeling about their departure has been dealt with, an exit interview provides a fantastic opportunity to gather intelligence about your business. There's no better way to get an honest opinion on your management style and what employees really think of you. The employee has nothing to lose, so encourage them to be honest. Their feedback may even highlight weaknesses in your management style or business strategy that you would never have spotted otherwise.
Read more from Entrepreneur
Kevin O’Leary of ABC’s “Shark Tank” gets the vast majority of his investment returns from women-owned companies. In various interviews, O’Leary said that female entrepreneurs tend to start small and handle cash conservatively whereas male CEOs often increase enterprise risk by aggressively expanding operations.
Women own 20% of employer businesses nationwide, according to 2018 data from U.S. Census Bureau. That’s 11.6 million firms, 9 million jobs and $1.7 trillion in sales, according to National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Women-led companies are also growing in number year over year.
Let’s take a look at insights female business owners share on how they’ve make their venture successful.
Put People First, Profits Second
It’s ultimately about helping others. There’d be no profits if people don’t want to do business with you.
Today In: Leadership
“In order to run a successful business, from sales calls to team building, you’ve got to see people. Understand what they want, what drives them, what stops them from creating the life they dream of and if it even makes sense for you to work with them,” says Tara Oldridge, creator of Vision to Business, a two-day workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Women are positioned to serve customers in the industries they choose. According to Guidant Financial, the top 5 female-owned small business industries are:
Leading an enterprise also means balancing various and competing interests of the founder, customers, employees, investors, suppliers and other stakeholders. But Oldridge says leaders must prioritize people, and that people are not a means to an end.
“If you see people as dollar signs, you may achieve a few great successes, but you won’t know the level you missed had you put people before padding your pockets.” She adds, “I coach my clients to always start at the basics and as they advance in their business, I often bring them back with this question: ‘What 10 people need you today that you have left behind?’ Go find and serve them.”
Declare Your Values And Empower Employees
“Know what you stand for,” says Kelly Bone, Founder and CEO of Wolfpack Solutions. She says a founder must establish the company’s values and develop employees to become leaders. “To truly empower employees, you need to make them leaders. You need to help them understand that it’s up to them to move from intention to action, while still providing the support they need to make this change.”
According to Guidant Financial, of the top three challenges for small business owners, 36% of female entrepreneurs found lack of capital or cash flow to be their top challenge, while 16% said it was marketing and advertising, and 14% struggled with time management.
Bone says a founder can build a strong company and overcome challenges by hiring talent who can execute and make the right decisions. “One of the ways you empower your employees is by showing them how to embrace a ‘focus on what matters’ mindset. You do that by making them responsible for their departments and not intervening unless necessary or if they ask for your help.”
She also advises against micromanaging. “Your people will not be able to focus on what’s important in their job because they will be trying to predict what you’ll change. Shift to performance management leadership by letting them discover their own path to your shared goals.”
Do It Your Way
There’s definitely a sense of fulfillment when one leads a thriving venture: on a scale of one to ten, 70% of female business owners rate their happiness level between eight to ten, according to the same Guidant Financial survey. One entrepreneur says business allows women to express themselves, and they should leverage such creative energies.
“Making mistakes is part of the path, and the more willing you are to examine your motivations, what pushes your buttons and how you respond and react will help you grow further and faster,” says Destinee Berman, a marketing expert who helps professionals and coaches launch their life’s work online.
She believes that entrepreneurs can differentiate their ventures because they themselves are unique. “There is a distinction between being industry-proven practices and utilizing your individual success blueprint, with space for both. With the reach and scale of the internet today, you have the freedom to be who you are and be wildly successful doing it.”
“Effective marketing is establishing a connection as quickly as possible, showing you understand their problem and communicating what you stand for. You can’t do that unless you are clear on your DNA and why you exist.”
Read more from Forbes...
Is your small business sales team newer, less tenured, or used to a different selling motion? You may find that their ability to drive a sale to close is just as much of a variable.
Recently, our Essentials Business Coach team in Atlanta held a “War Room” — a sales tactic to review deals in play, understand where gaps in pipeline lie, or to break down a big topic — on how to better ask for the close. After evaluating different sales talking points typically associated with driving to a close, we broke into groups to brainstorm any points, questions, or statements that could help our team (full transparency, it got very competitive and funny).
Here are the seven best strategies we came up with to ensure a close. If you’re a small business sales team looking for tips on how to close your next deal, take note:
1. Set the stage for a close
Your prospect should feel like they fit into an established process. By setting proper expectations and explaining what comes next for them, you can instantly build credibility for yourself as well as your company.
Our language sounds like: “We have a five-step process, and you are at step two already! The first step was getting in touch with us, and the second step is talking to me. Next, we will evaluate your business needs and share how the product can benefit you, and you will have a chance to work through our free CRM trial. After that, we will decide whether or not you want to move forward, and if you do, I will introduce you to our adoption and support team to ensure you’re set up for success.
2. Speak boldly
Nothing adds more confidence to your pitch or demo than suggesting that your prospect is already on their way to becoming a customer for life. Far too often, salespeople shy away from bold statements because they don’t want to seem pushy. A simple cue to get the customer in buying mode is switching your “if” language to “when” language. Get in the habit of saying things like, “when you get started,” “once you sign the contract,” or “as a customer” versus “if you decide you want to sign up.” This switch in language shows belief in your product and your ability to show the prospect what they need to feel equally as confident as your customer or increasing their spend.
3. Get buy-in
Strong discovery and need analysis is the easiest way to show your customer value throughout your demo or pitch. But if you don’t use that information or ensure the customer is following your value proposition, the likelihood of them losing attention or focus is very high, and your sale could flop.
Using buy-in language will help your team keep the customer engaged and on board with what they are proposing. For example, say “Do you see how this will help you keep your inventory organized and avoid the inconsistency you’ve seen with your current system?” or “As we look at this feature, what impact do you think it would have on your payroll process?” If you get a genuine answer, you’re on the right track! If they don’t give you much, simply back up and say “Not a problem, sounds like I am not hitting the nail on the head, what aspects of the service/solution do you feel most confident about?
4. Bargain in shorter blocks of time
“Time kills deals” is the fated term every salesperson has etched into their memory as they set their follow-ups. The easiest way to start securing shorter follow-ups is to bargain in shorter time blocks. On your next call, instead of letting your customer lead the conversation with “Give me two weeks and then we can regroup,” say “Usually it takes our customers a day or so to decide whether or not the solution is a good fit, seeing as today is Monday, what time can I give you on Wednesday to figure out next steps?
Typically, customers will ask for another 24-48 hours. If the prospect pushes back, saying they need a week, just dig in to understand why. This allows you to get even more insight into their timeline and decision path. Finally, if you’re in high-velocity sales that is designed for one call closes, offer to be put on hold and call back in minutes or an hour to keep the quick sale moving.
5. Use “if… then…” for discounting and perks
Cash flow may be a concern for your customer and showing them you are empathetic to their situation will allow you to build credibility and trust in your company. However, if your discovery around budget wasn’t the strongest, your team may slip into the discount death spiral — offering deeper and deeper discounts and find themselves without any other moves to make if the customer still says ‘not right now.
Establishing a bi-lateral concession (I scratch your back, you scratch mine) with your prospect before seeking approval on a discount will help ensure you aren’t giving away the family farm to win business. Start by saying, “If I can get you approved for a 15% discount, then are you ready to sign today?” This gives you insight into how serious your customer is about getting started and also allows them to let you know their true opinion on your offer.
6. Tell them they’re ready
Sometimes customers get cold feet or think their business savvy isn’t strong enough to actually take the training wheels off and start using your solution at full speed. If you have been following these steps, you have already established yourself as a credible consultant, so it helps to give your customer a little extra boost of confidence to get them over the line. Just like a coach pulling a player off the bench because they believe they can make the winning play, you should encourage your customer in the same way, especially if you have a technical product or are, say, selling a CRM. Here’s an example on how to do so: “We have been talking for a few weeks, and I truly believe you have a strong understanding of how to best use the platform for your team. Let’s talk about next steps and getting you started. What are your thoughts?
7. Ask for the business!
Imagine your colleague is telling you about the awesome party they’re throwing this weekend with pizza, drinks, a live band, and more. You are listening and waiting for an invitation, but it never comes. Instead, you sip your tea, smile, say “Hope it’s fun” and return to your desk feeling left out. Similarly, when it comes to sales, many salespeople forget to invite their prospect to the party. You just told them about this amazing product that is going to change the way they run their business, but if you don’t invite them to the party, they may not opt-in on their own. Ask for the close by saying “Let’s get you started” or “From here it takes a few minutes to put together a contract for us to review, do you mind if I put you on hold so we can get you started?
If you have done your job to ensure the customer was following your points, and you got buy-in, it’s very hard for them to say no. If they do, that’s okay too — you can start digging to understand where you went astray and figure out a way to invite them back to the party again!
Setting the stage to close starts from the beginning of your communications with your customers. By following these steps, you can get your team that much closer to Closed Won status.
Salesforce Essentials helps you find more customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can grow faster than ever. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Read more from https://smallbiztrends.com/2020/02/small-business-closes-sales.html
Latino-owned businesses contribute about $500 billion to the U.S. economy in annual sales and employ more than 3 million people.
By Kate Cimini
On the weekends, Salinas food truck owner Orlando Osornio, 30, and his wife, Denise, sell mile-high tortas, filled with California fusion-inspired ingredients: hot Cheetos, bacon, mango-habañero sauce, or pineapple. Some come for the birria torta or the chicken-bacon-alfredo torta.
A line of customers winds its way around the side of his tent as meat sizzles on the grills. On the other side of the mesh, Osornio and his crew pack and stack toasted buns as fast as they can.
Two years ago, when Osornio, who is Mexican-American, was contemplating launching Tortas al 100, he knew one thing: He didn’t want to apply for a loan. Osornio had racked up “about $30,000” in credit-card debt as a teenager and when life smacked him in the face in his early 20s, he got serious about paying it down and fixing his credit score.
That experience, he said, was what prompted him to forgo applying for a small business loan. Instead, Osornio estimated he and his wife spent at least $50,000 of their salaries on the burgeoning business, including food, four grills, a tent and more during its first year of operation.
Latino small business owners like Osornio are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., even as they battle systemic racism that has resulted in lower incomes and loan rates. Over the past 10 years, the number of Latino business owners grew 34%, compared to 1% for all business owners in the United States, according to a recent study from Stanford University. And more Latinos than ever are applying for small business loans to launch or grow their operations.
Becoming an economic force
The growing success of Latino small business owners comes as Latinos are increasingly becoming an economic force in the U.S. The same Stanford study found Latino-owned businesses contributed about $500 billion to the economy in annual sales.
A 2019 report to Congress based on data from 2017 found almost 60 million Latinos in the United States already account for $2.3 trillion in economic activity in total, which on its own would rank as the eighth largest economy in the world. And Latinos are projected to make up 30% of the U.S. population by 2020, meaning the group’s contributions are only likely to grow.
Latino-owned businesses employ more than 3 million people, the 2019 State of Latino Entrepreneurship report by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI), a Stanford University research initiative centered around Latinos in business, found. All told, Latino-owned businesses account for about 4% of U.S. business revenues and 5.5% of U.S. employment.
However, Latino-owned companies remain smaller than white-owned firms, averaging only $1.2 million in revenue compared with $2.3 million brought in by a white-owned company.
That is a problem, said Jerry Porras, a professor of organizational behavior and change emeritus at Stanford Business School, co-founder of the Latino Business Action Network, a nonprofit out of Stanford University focused on empowering Latino business owners, and co-director of SLEI.
“I think that there’s really a positive story when you look at Latino businesses across the country,” said Porras. “The number is smaller as a base but its growing very rapidly. Latinos are oriented towards starting businesses and are doing it at a significant rate.”
If Latino-owned employer firms were given the same chances, Porras said, they would generate an additional $4 billion in revenue and 1 million jobs.
Younger than other entrepreneurs
Across the U.S., Latinos are represented in all the major industry sectors, owning businesses in manufacturing, education, health services, finance, construction and more.
Latino business owners tend to be younger than non-Latino business owners. Roughly 33 percent of Latino entrepreneurs are younger than 45, compared to just 22% of non-Latino entrepreneurs.
For every 100,000 Latino adults in the United States, on average 510 became entrepreneurs each month in 2018.
However, research by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, an institute that studies economic opportunities for people of color, evidences that historic disenfranchisement of people of color has led to those very people having less generational wealth than white people.
Furthermore, policies that favor the affluent have continued to widen the gap, particularly between white families and black or Latino families.
While the income gap between blacks and whites closed somewhat between 1970 to 2016, Hispanics fell even further behind at all income levels, the Pew Research Center think tank found in 2018. Even top-earning Hispanics earned only 65% as much as whites in 2016, down from 74% in 1970.
And Hispanic people on average continue to make lower salaries than white people, research out of Stanford showed.
In the end, this combination means Latinos typically have lower credit scores, which, in turn, can mean higher interest rates or being turned down for loans.
According to a report submitted to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee in 2019 by UnidosUS, a nonpartisan think tank focused on the Hispanic community, banks originally had loan officers who determined the “trustworthiness” of a loan applicant. As such, people of color were often discriminated against.
In the following decades, banks lost their loan officers to the war effort, and soon invented credit scores as a stand-in. However, these, too, had their issues as they were built on longstanding disparities and have resulted in communities of color, young adults, people with low income and immigrants having disproportionately low credit scores.
According to the 2017 Small Business Credit Study by the Federal Reserve Banks, of applicants denied credit, 45% of Latino applicants were denied for insufficient credit history and 37% were denied for having too low a credit score. (Applicants could choose more than one response.) In comparison, white applicants were turned away at rates of 33% and 26% for the same reasons.
“I think the Latino story in some ways follows the story of why black families have less wealth than white people today,” said Urban Institute research fellow Steven Brown. “There is a lack of the same kind of resources that help build wealth.
Brown cited restricted access to homeownership under policies such as “redlining” as a primary way Latinos were kept from building generational wealth. For decades, black and Latino neighborhoods were unfairly deemed too risky for loans and mortgages through redlining. That left people in those neighborhoods reliant on speculators or private sales.
“When Latinos have been able to buy homes, they have historically been relegated to neighborhoods where the homes didn’t have as much value so they’re unable to build as much wealth and pass it on,” said Brown.
In more recent years, as Latinos have become more prominent in U.S. culture, their economic standing is also rising.
A 2019 study of 61,000 small-business loan applications submitted to Biz2Credit’s online marketplace found that the number of credit applications from Latino-owned businesses rose 23 percent from 2018 to 2019.
Outpacing US economy
And over the last year, Latino-owned businesses reported an average revenue growth of 14%, outpacing the growth of the U.S. economy, the Stanford report showed.
While revenues climbed, though, the average credit scores of Latino business owners dipped to 588 from 594 last year, according to Biz2Credit.
According to Biz2Credit’s CEO, Rohit Arora, that could indicate business owners are using personal credit cards to fund their business growth if their companies did not qualify for loans. Furthermore, cost management can be difficult for young businesses, which may factor into the dip in scores.
“When credit scores are less than 600, it is hard to get traditional bank loans,” Arora said in the report his firm released.
Porras said the lack of credit can force Latino business owners to make riskier financial decisions, such as relying on personal credit cards to grow their business, or taking out a loan on their accounts receivable.
“By and large, I think Latinos are very unsuccessful in securing loans from the more professional sources,” said Porras. “It’s the smaller ones that are hurting the most,” added Porras, referencing business size.
In other cases, Latino borrowers may be less trusting of financial institutions as a whole, based either on past experiences or a general understanding of systemic racism by lending institutions.
“Latinos have to pay more for interest,” said Fausta Ibarra, 59, who owns her own hair salon, Tropical Cuts, in Salinas, California. “We have to pay more for everything.”
Fausta Ibarra, 59, owner of Tropical Cuts Beauty Salon in Salinas, carries shampoo and conditioner bottles to the front of the store. Photo by Kate Cimini/The Salinas Californian
Ibarra, who calls herself a “cien por ciento,” or 100%, Mexican woman, herself had poor credit, after issues with a house she and her sisters bought together in the early 1990s. When she applied for a loan in 1993 to open her hair salon, a brightly lit salon tucked into a small strip mall in Salinas, Washington Mutual Bank denied the loan. (The bank collapsed in 2008 during the financial crisis.)
She ended up borrowing nearly $30,000 from friends, family, and coworkers, slowly paying them back one by one.
Later, when Ibarra tried to purchase a home in 1996, her low credit still held her back. There was, however, another way, the realtor told her. Ibarra ended up paying more than the house was on the market for, and she had to borrow from friends and family so she could put down a deposit of $10,000, twice what she was prepared to pay out of pocket.
Ibarra felt taken advantage of.
“Los Latinos tienen que ganarse el pan cada día,” said Ibarra in her native Spanish. “Yo sí pienso que los Latinos pueden contribuir más si nos dan la oportunidad para sacar adelante a nuestros hijos. Yo pienso que todos tenemos las ganas de progresar pero no se nos dan las facilidades que se les da a una persona ciudadana de aquí.”
That translates in English to: “Latinos have to start all over again, every day,” said Ibarra. “I do think that Latinos can contribute more to this country if they give us the same opportunity to better ourselves and our children. I think we all want to progress, but they don’t give us the same tools they give someone who was born here.”
Today, black people and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act records analyzed by Reveal for The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2018.
The analysis showed black applicants were turned away at significantly higher rates than whites in 48 cities, and Latinos in 25, even when controlling for loan size, neighborhood and income.
In other instances, black or Latino applicants were steered toward higher-cost, riskier loans.
Bank of America, for example, agreed to a $335 million payout to the Justice Department on behalf of its mortgage lender, Countrywide. Prior to Bank of America’s purchase of the lending institution, Countrywide purposely charged more than 200,000 black and Latino borrowers more for their mortgage loans than white borrowers with similar qualifications between 2004 and 2008.
The lender advised those borrowers of color to take out risky sub-prime loans, even when they qualified for prime loans, or simply charged them higher rates.
Other lending institutions, such as Wells Fargo, have had similar claims levied against them.
Latinos turn to friends, family for seed money
According to the 2019 Stanford report, Latinos get loans from local banks at a much higher rate than they do from national banks.
However, local banks are disappearing across the United States and in California, thanks to what some say are more onerous federal regulations, potentially leaving Latinos out in the cold. According to data provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as of Dec. 31, 2001, 8,080 FDIC-insured community banks existed in the country. By Dec. 31, 2018, 5,406 remained.
“The local banks are tied to the community more tightly,” said Porras. “If the community has more Latino businesses, the relationships are built up and they grow. National banks lag behind there because local banks work harder to network with the businesses in their communities.
When local banks are not available, instead of applying to larger loan institutions, many Latinos turn to friends, family and crowdfunding for seed money.
In Salinas, a small city surrounded by rich agricultural land, U.S. Census Bureau data shows 78.7% of the some-156,000 residents are Hispanic or Latino. While the city’s agricultural industry thrives financially, thanks to the tens of thousands of Latino farmworkers that flow in and out of Salinas every year, the average farmworker takes home just $17,500 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. More than 17% of its residents live in poverty.
Brew-N-Krew co-owners Marlene and Steven Garcia serve customers at Steinbeck’s Home Brew Fest. Photo by Kate Cimini/The Salinas Californian
Still, Latino entrepreneurship is evident in Salinas. Latino-owned restaurants, barbershops, grocery stores, showrooms and more have risen out of the landscape all over town, tucked into plazas and surrounding big box stores. Nearly 30% of all businesses in Monterey County, where Salinas rests, are owned by Hispanic or Latino people, per data provided by the Monterey County Workforce Development Board from the 2012 American Community Survey.
Marlene Garcia, 29, is the proprietor of a homebrew operation turned commercial brewery that will open in Salinas in the spring. She borrowed $210,000 from her mother to start up her operation.
Salinas’s downtown is just three blocks long, but Garcia’s brewery, Brew & Krew, will open on the 100 block of Main Street, near four other Latino-owned businesses that have opened (or re-opened under new ownership) in the last two years. The growth is notable on a side of town that is inhabited primarily by white residents.
“I am honestly so thankful for my parents, both of them,” said Garcia, reminiscing about her parents’ insistence that she help with the family businesses.
Her parents, Graciela and Gildardo, worked in fields after immigrating to the U.S. from Guanajuato, Mexico. Every month or so, they would go to Los Angeles, five hours away, to stock up on Mexican candy, piñatas and cassette tapes, Garcia said. Then, they would turn around and sell them at the Santa Cruz weekend flea market in central California, dragging their children with them.
It was there that Garcia learned the dedication it took to run a business, even as she told her parents she never wanted to own her own operation.
“Growing up, my entire life, we would go to the flea market,” said Garcia. “We’d wake up super early, drive to Santa Cruz, and work. I remember telling my parents, ‘I don’t want this, I don’t want to go into business.’
“Now that I’m older, I appreciate everything they did. I see why they did that.”
The Garcias opened another stand in another flea market, then a taquería. Finally, they sold all their businesses and took out their first loan of $80,000 to open a liquor store in Gilroy, a small bedroom community 30 minutes south of San Jose. They named the store La Flor de Jalisco.
When Garcia wanted to open her own brewery, her mother became her silent business partner.
“Because of them, because of the way they saved, because they saved, a lot of the money that has been invested came from my mom,” said Garcia.
Garcia is in the process of applying for her first loan — a Small Business Administration loan for $480,000 to open her business. She credits her mother’s help in allowing her to so far not rack up debt and interest rates.
Although the space is still unfinished, Garcia has big plans for her small brewery. She wants large, stainless steel canisters in the back, behind a large pane of glass so brew enthusiasts can watch the brewers at work as they sip on suds.
She hopes to connect with other business owners in the area to cross-promote, whether it be with the cinema next door or the sandwich shop across the street.
“Hispanic parents are never excited to hand out money,” Garcia said, laughing. “But she believed in it, she saw that people really do like beer. If she wouldn’t seen that reaction, it would have been harder to convince her.”
Osornio’s family has a saying whenever they have to pay for something. “Puro cash,” they repeat, laughing, or pure cash in English.
The joke is based on Osornio’s father. Years ago, when he was purchasing a car for his wife, the salesman asked him if he wanted to finance.
“No,” said Osornio the elder. “Puro cash.”
Despite the financial savvy his father displayed, Orsonio said his parents rarely talked money management with him. All he recalls was being told credit cards were for emergencies only, a lesson that, like many teenagers, he immediately disregarded as soon as he got one of his own.
Osornio, owner of Tortas Al 100, closes the back of his cargo trailer. Photo by Kate Cimini/The Salinas Californian
The experience of wiggling out from under a pile of debt taught Osornio that he wanted applying for a loan to be “a last resort.”
Years later, Osornio has managed to build such a successful business with his unique torta recipes that he routinely fields offers from locals to invest in or outright purchase his business — and his recipes — from him.
And that, advocates have said, is the hidden silver lining for Latino entrepreneurs: even more untapped potential.
According to a 2017 New American Economy report on the power of Hispanics in the U.S., Hispanic entrepreneurs own a large chunk of transportation and warehouse businesses, laying claim to more than 20% of the industry in 2012. They also owned about 12% of the country’s construction firms.
Advocates say that, given a chance, Latinos could grow their portion of the economy even further. However, the “opportunity gap” between Latinos or Hispanics and their white, business-owning counterparts is wide.
“Wealth is the missing ingredient in the Latino community,” said Porras. “If we could add more wealth, people would consume more and grow the economy. How do we get more wealth? Grow businesses.”
“It’s a synergistic process,” said Porras. “In the long term, it will benefit the whole country.”
All Latinos need, Porras said, is a chance.
Kate Cimini is a multimedia journalist for The Californian. This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.
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Family-owned chain Modell’s Sporting Goods, a familiar retailer throughout the northeastern U.S., has hit the skids, and the CEO has taken an unusual step of reaching out publicly to crowdsource funds in order to keep the company afloat.
by Matthew Stern
In an interview with Fox Business, Modell’s CEO Mitchell Modell announced that he was for the first time planning to sell equity in the company and that he was hoping people who were watching the show and are fans of the chain would invest in it. In the face of an ongoing downturn, Modell’s has been forced to close more than 15 percent of its stores.
Mr. Modell also created a video, posted online, in which he personally details the onset of the financial issues, discusses the company’s 130-year history in New York City (featuring members of his family) and makes a pitch to outside investors to help keep the company running.
Among the causes for the decline Mr. Modell cites are a broad shift in power from the retailer to the consumer in the past decade and, more directly, fallout from a Wall Street Journal article and a season of bad weather in 2019, which provoked a liquidity crisis. At that time the chain had more than 150 stores.
Modell’s really began wrangling with its decline early last year, when it brought on a restructuring advisor to determine how to fix the company, according to the Journal. At that time, the chain was in a position to file bankruptcy as one possible way to restructure its debt.
While brick-and-mortar sporting goods as a whole has faced challenges, some companies seem to be finding ways to successfully compete in the new economy.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, for instance, has shown signs of improvement recently, which it has ascribed in part to its increased investments in employees. In 2019, the retailer launched a new associate training program and began to focus on employee recognition, offering tiers of rewards for employees demonstrating different types of exemplary service.
Mitchell Modell Executes Precedent Setting Crowdsourcing Campaign To Save New York Institution Modell’s Sporting Goods And 3300 Jobs – Modell’s Sporting Goods/PRNewswire
Interested in investing? – Modell’s Sporting Goods
Sporting-Goods Retailer Modell’s Hires Restructuring Adviser – The Wall Street Journal
Will its culture of recognition be a game-winner for Dick’s Sporting Goods? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Modell’s crowdsourcing campaign help pull the chain out of its downward spiral? What other steps will Modell’s need to take to turn its business around?
Kudos if you have a website for small your business because many small business owners still don’t have websites for their businesses.
According to the latest survey from Visual Objects, about one-third of small businesses (29%) plan to begin using websites for the first time in 2020.
Needless to say, a good website can work like a well-oiled machine to generate leads. However, not all small businesses have websites. In fact, around 36% of small businesses are working without websites, states the Small Business Association (SBA).
2020 Small Business Marketing Statistics
Regardless of your niche, there is always a tough competition in the market. So small businesses need to adopt multiple business channels to grow.
Following are the top 5 channels businesses can use to grow:
However, it is surprising to know that 29% of small businesses, as the survey states, will start using a website this year.
2020 Small Business Marketing Statistics
Thanks to frequent Google Algorithm changes and spammy SEO techniques that some SEO companies follow, small business owners find it hard to trust search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
As the survey finds, 21% of small businesses planned to use SEO more in 2020. And only 5% of small businesses found SEO the most successful strategy to grow.
So now the question is which channel small businesses use to grow.
37% of businesses said that social media was the most successful channel to achieve business goals, as the survey states. And 70% of businesses plan to increase their investment in social media.
Digital marketing is gaining popularity among small businesses to achieve business goals. This is because digital marketing is an effective yet economical tool to build awareness and reaching customers.
So there is no surprise that 25% of small businesses plan to use digital marketing in 2020.
2020 Small Business Marketing Statistics
As a small business owner, you should try to adopt a mix of channels for better results. Having a website is a must as people now search online before buying anything. What’s more, visiting the website of a business is often the first step in the buyer’s journey.
A good website along with social media management plays an important role in creating winning online visibility for your small business.
So you should focus on both having a good business website and executing aggressive social media marketing strategies.
How to Build a Website That Converts
These days, small business owners can easily create websites for their businesses with free website builders.
However, not all websites are created equal. Some websites can persuade prospects to make a purchase decision, while others don’t move the needle.
Following are some tips to create a lead generation website for your small business:
It goes without saying that small businesses often try to reach local customers to grow. So you should not ignore the power of local SEO.
Creating and optimizing your Google My Business profile, building profiles on reputed business directories, collecting reviews and ratings, and getting mentions on reputed online platforms in your niche can help your business improve local search ranking.
About the Survey
Visual Objects conducted this survey to understand how small businesses plan to grow this year. 500 small businesses participated in this survey. If you want to know more about the survey, you can click here.
Kevin Aries, from Verizon Connect, recently shared his opinions on the current changing technology trends and which ones may affect professional landscapers in 2020 and beyond. Today, we are going to take a look at a few more trends and how they can influence all aspects of your landscaping business.
No matter how successful your business is, there are always ways to improve productivity and get a leg up on the competition. Here are six tips that will help your business stand out in 2020.
Payroll and bookkeeping
Who has the time to balance books or run payroll when there is still work to be done? A full-service payroll service could be a solution. Many payroll services offer time-saving automated features that do much of the leg work for you. Employee-friendly interfaces allow them to onboard by themselves allowing for more time to focus on the work.
Keeping your finances in order is crucial to the well-being of your business. There are lots of options out there for small business accounting software that can help. The PCMag team has put together a list of reviews of some of the best accounting software options for 2020.
If you want to keep all of your business banking in one place, consider an online banking option that caters to small businesses. Many are designed for small business owners and freelancers who do not have time to wait in line at a traditional brick and mortar bank. Cash deposits can still be made with access to ATMs virtually anywhere, and you can track spending, manage cards and utilize a built-in bookkeeping service from anywhere.
One of the biggest challenges in getting the job done can occur in the very beginning: making sure you and your client share the same vision.
Landscape design software takes the guesswork out of the equation allowing for more time to be spent completing tasks. You can create 3D models, sharp digital images or detailed overviews that only include the plants and other elements that are available to you.
The best part? Many of these landscape design programs are available for free, while others may require additional payment for access to the full range of features.
Scheduling and organization
Planning is key to the success of any business, and it can be a lot for a small team to keep track of. With online scheduling software, you can handle everything from client management to disclaimer forms and waivers. Two-way external calendar sync ensures that you never miss out on any client meetings, phone calls or internal events.
There is even field-service software built specifically for landscaping and similar industries that allows for scheduling, planning, client communication and project designing all under the same umbrella.
Robots and batteries
With environmental concerns becoming more and more pressing, it is important to do what you can in the field to help decrease the negative impact. One way is by using battery-powered equipment on your next job. Not only do they help the environment, but they tend to be lighter, more portable and many systems have interchangeable, rechargeable batteries.
Sometimes having an extra hand can make all the difference. A programmable lawn robot can handle some of the workload, like mowing, while you and your team can focus on other aspects. Popular Mechanics shares a list of some of the best robots and battery-operated outdoor tools for your next assignment.
While it’s important for a landscaping team to be environmentally conscious, customers need to think this way, too. Providing your clients with eco-friendly ideas for their desired products or design can help them maintain their beautiful new landscape in a green-friendly way.
Xeriscaping is a great option for many clients that wish to reduce their environmental impact. This landscaping philosophy has been around for decades but is experiencing a growth in popularity. By using primarily native, drought-resistant plants, water usage can decrease significantly.
Events and training
With so much focus set on the future of the landscaping business, looking to the next generation of workers is vital. Recently, Total Landscape Care shared a three-part series on ways to increase interest in the incoming workforce. Recruiting and training young workers will allow your business to grow this year and beyond. Integrating new technologies and equipment at the on-set will allow these young employees to help your business to be more efficient and ready for the newest, latest advancements that the near future will bring.
If you are still looking for ways you can beat the competition this year, consider attending a green industry event. Throughout the year and all across America, many expos and trade shows will present the latest products, trends and innovations to the green industry.
There will also be many contests and events tailored toward students and young professionals looking to be recruited by landscaping companies. Many events will include training opportunities for seasoned professionals, as well. It never hurts to brush up on some skills or acquire some new ones in this ever-evolving industry.
Read more from https://www.totallandscapecare.com/
Despite the opportunity gap between Latinos and other Americans, Latinos have become the fastest-growing small business owners across the U.S.
Kate Cimini, The Salinas Californian
Leer en español
The USA TODAY Network series Hecho en USA, or made in America, focuses on the nation's growing Latino community. Roughly 80% of all Latinos living in the U.S. are American citizens, but media coverage of Hispanics tends to focus on immigration and crime, instead of how Latino families live, work and learn in their hometowns. Hecho en USA tells the stories of the nation’s 59.9 million Latinos – a growing economic and cultural force, many of whom are born in the U.S.
SALINAS, Calif. – On the weekends, food truck owner Orlando Osornio, 30, and his wife, Denise, sell mile-high tortas, filled with California fusion-inspired ingredients: hot Cheetos, bacon, mango-habanero sauce, or pineapple. Some come for the birria torta, or the chicken-bacon-alfredo torta.
A line of customers winds its way around the side of his tent as meat sizzles on the grills. On the other side of the mesh, Osornio and his crew pack and stack toasted buns as fast as they can.
Two years ago, when Osornio, who is Mexican-American, was contemplating launching Tortas al 100, he knew one thing: He didn't want to apply for a loan. Osornio had racked up "about $30,000" in credit-card debt as a teenager and said when life smacked him in the face in his early 20s, he got serious about paying it down and fixing his credit score.
That experience, he said, was what prompted him to forgo applying for a small-business loan. Instead, Osornio estimated he and his wife spent at least $50,000 of their salaries on the burgeoning business, including food, four grills and a tent, during its first year of operation.
Study: Latino-owned small businesses are outpacing U.S. economy
Latino small business owners are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. even as they battle systemic racism.
Read more from USA TODAY
Caroline Castrillon Contributor
I write about career, entrepreneurship and women’s advancement.
Can you guess what the key ingredient is for small business success? I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not funding, and it's not a business plan. It’s confidence. A fascinating new study by Kabbage revealed that entrepreneurs, specifically small business owners, are battling underconfidence. The research shows that the majority of small businesses believe their revenue growth underperforms their peers. Specifically, 60% of respondents ranked their revenue growth below the 50th percentile of similarly sized companies. Yet, when comparing their actual cash flow and revenue data with the analysis drawn from the Kabbage Small Business Revenue Index, the information indicates that the vast majority of respondents have healthy revenue performance. The question is, why are these business owners feeling pessimistic about their company's performance, and how is it impacting their decision making?
Why small business owners feel underconfident
According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, underconfidence is defined as, “a cognitive bias characterized by an underestimation of one’s ability to perform a task successfully or by an underrating of one’s performance relative to that of others.” Most of the time, underconfidence leads people to avoid opportunities that could lead to small business success. Or worse, to give up. According to UC Berkeley-Haas management professor Don A. Moore, there is a reason these small business owners tend to downplay their performance. “Having studied the effects that confidence levels have on decision-making for over 20 years, I’ve found entrepreneurs are often overconfident,” Moore said. “However, this study shows the potential for small business owners to err on the side of under-placing their performance when comparing themselves to others. The likely reason for this is that people tend to rate themselves below average on difficult tasks. Simply put, people assume they’re worse than others when a task is hard. Both running a small business and benchmarking performance without solid data are difficult tasks, and respondents showed underconfidence despite sharing similar struggles.”
How underconfidence affects decision making
Underconfidence also affects decision making. Moore states that “People who demonstrate underconfidence are more likely to opt-out of or choose to exit a competition when, in fact, they would have succeeded had they persisted.” In other words, the primary distinction between those who persist and those who give up is self-confidence. The good news for small business owners is that self-confidence is something you can improve upon. All you need are focus and determination. There are additional benefits to fostering self-confidence. According to Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory, people who exhibit more self-confidence also experience less stress, expend more effort, persevere longer on activities and are more resilient when facing adverse situations.
The cure for underconfidence
Today In: Leadership
The best remedy for underconfidence isn't overconfidence but rather seeking more accurate and dependable information. Providing small businesses with access to benchmarking systems and analysis like what is available to large companies may help them more accurately estimate their performance. "There is no question that technology advancements will empower small businesses with smarter systems to better analyze and understand their business performance," said Kabbage Chief Revenue Officer Laura Goldberg. "What's most exciting is the potential for technology to fuel greater confidence in entrepreneurs and their businesses and to provide the encouragement to keep growing."
While these findings suggest that small business owners may carry unfounded self-doubt about the financial health of their businesses, the message is clear. Small businesses need appropriate resources to analyze and compare their cash-flow performance against their peers. Mix one part data, one part self-confidence and one part persistence, and you'll get the ultimate recipe for small business success
Read more from Forbes
While digital marketing is always evolving, one thing remains constant: The importance of word of mouth.
In the old days, word of mouth was quite literally done by the exchange of words coming out of people’s mouths over casual chit-chats.
Those conversations about businesses still happen IRL, but have largely moved online.
Think about it – wouldn’t you rather trust a recommendation from a friend or family over a branded commercial?
In fact, people trust other people more than they could ever trust a brand or its ads.
There are many online review stats that prove this point:
91% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
76% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends.
The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.
So, without a doubt, more (and better) online customer reviews can make all the difference.
It may seem daunting at first, but garnering more reviews for your local business isn’t as hard as you might think.
Just try the following eight techniques.
1. Collect Email Addresses During Billing
Asking for the customer’s email address and phone number at the time of purchase is a big step toward landing a review from them.
Because usually, if someone is willing to share these contact details with a business, it is highly likely they had a satisfactory experience and thereby, quite likely to share their experience with others.
Once you have their emails, send a friendly follow up after a week and ask them to write an honest review about their experience with your business.
Provide a choice of review platforms, such as Google My Business, Yelp, or Trustpilot, so they can pick what’s more convenient for them.
2. Use In-Store Placards to Encourage Reviews
Being a local business with a brick-and-mortar store, you can make use of in-store signage to spur reviews.
This can be in the form of banners, flyers, brochures, and window clings.
You can also include a review request at the bottom of the bill receipts.
Furthermore, you can have a kiosk with an in-store app that can direct customers to a page on the business website to leave an on-site review.
Or, you can even have a QR code that when scanned, points to a list of review profile links which enables them to choose the platform of their choice to write a review.
These are clear cues to customers about your desire and appreciation for online feedback, proving you care about their opinions and continuous improvement of your services.
3. Verbally Mention How Much You’d Appreciate Honest Feedback
Train your employees to mention how much an honest review would be appreciated, especially if a customer seems satisfied.
Of course, this tactic won’t be effective if there’s a line of customers and the person at the counter keeps repeating the same “please review us” message to everyone.
But, when the rapport is right, a friendly staff member should be authorized to use their judgment to say, “It’d be great if you’d consider dropping a review about <business name>”.
In this case, an ask for a review will sound heartfelt instead of pushy. Keep in mind that this applies to both in-store staff and online/phone support.
4. Include Review Reminders on Your Website
The easier you make it for your customers to leave a review, the better the odds you have of landing more reviews.
It sounds super obvious and yet so many businesses aren’t making any effort to simplify the review writing process for their customers.
You see, a big reason why most people don’t leave a review is that they don’t want to make an effort to “learn” how to do so.
Even if they do know how to, it’s just viewed as an unnecessary tedious process which they can’t be bothered with.
So, make it as straightforward as you can for your customers to leave their valuable feedback.
Use call-to-action buttons and pop-ups (not in an annoying way) on your website to lead them to your Yelp or Google My Business review page.
Consider using a direct link generator tool like Supple to generate a unique Google review link for your business and send it to your customers via email.
Clicking on this link brings customers directly to the URL on Google My Business where all they have to do is write the review and post it.
Don’t expect your customers to follow an elaborate path for writing reviews as it’s highly unlikely they’d do that.
5. Incentivize the Process
As there’s nothing tangible in it for them, most people need a nudge to write a review. And that nudge comes in the form of incentives such as vouchers, gift cards, reward points, and special offers.
In this way, customers would feel it’s worth their time to post a review, making it a win-win for both parties. This also serves to improve customer retention and loyalty to your local business.
Note that there’s a difference between providing incentives to actual customers to write honest reviews and directly buying fake reviews from people.
Never do the latter, not only is it unethical but it’ll only hurt your business in the long run. Always ask and incentivize for genuine feedback.
6. Leverage Social Media
You can use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to post specific questions regarding your business’s performance.
Interested followers can be directed to leave a review on their choice of review platform.
For instance, if you have a restaurant business, you might informally ask if there was an older menu item that was discontinued that your followers really miss.
You could ask customers to mention that in their review as a “vote” for bringing it back.
This technique empowers customers to share fun stories in the form of reviews while boosting the social media engagement of your brand.
7. Thoughtfully Respond to All Reviews
No matter how busy you are, if someone takes the time to review your business, it’s your duty to respond.
And while it’s always advisable to avoid sounding robotic as a brand, even a simple timely “thank you” can encourage customers to stick around with your business.
In other words, your response should ideally be personalized and uniquely worded.
When people see that you respond to every review, good or bad, it gives the impression that the business truly cares about consumer sentiment, thus providing an incentive for new customers to take a moment to share their own experiences.
Also, don’t feel dejected by negative reviews – they help make your brand more authentic.
If all the reviews are sunshine and rainbows, there’s almost always something fishy.
People would start doubting the authenticity of those reviews.
Here are some guidelines to follow when responding to negative reviews:
Respond as quickly as you can.
Acknowledge your mistake.
Explain your point of view courteously.
Write a meaningful and personal apology (even if you think it’s not your fault).
Provide an immediate resolution or compensation (such as a refund, voucher, etc.).
Request to take the matter offline if things seem to be getting out of hand.
Use bad reviews as an opportunity to improve your business and show that you care about your customers’ satisfaction.
Go back to the drawing board and fix the root cause of the problem.
Long story short, follow the golden rule of responding to reviews ― always respond and never respond harshly.
8. Delight Your Customers With a Great Experience
Your customers’ in-store experience is what’s pivotal to the amount and quality of reviews you’ll receive.
If a customer is awestruck with your product, service, or the experience they had, they’ll feel obliged to leave a review.
Delighting customers and exceeding their expectations is key to more and better reviews.
So, if you are striving to deliver the best possible customer experience, rest assured it would pay off.
Can you remember the last time you did business with a local store without first checking its reviews online?
Customer reviews serve as one of the best forms of social proof for your business.
More often than not, online reviews are the tipping point where prospects convert into customers.
Not to mention they carry a lot of weight in terms of achieving better rankings on Google.
So, if you don’t already, it’s time to give online word of mouth the attention it deserves and focus on earning more customer reviews for your local business.
Where & How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business
Local Intent Marketing: What Businesses Need to Know
Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
If You Are Growing A Small Business, Your Future Involves Disruption, Data Analytics And Automation. Six Insights On How To Stay Relevant
Bernhard Schroeder Contributor
Small Business Strategy
I write about branding, trends, culture, creativity and disruptive businesses.
It used to be that big business had its marketplace and small business had their marketplace and rarely did the two cross over. Now with technology, online ecommerce and direct to consumer, everyone is potentially competing with everyone. Casper is displacing small business mattress firms, Warby Parker is hitting the local optometrist hard and Intuit TurboTax is disrupting small tax service and accountancy firms. It looks tough out there for the small business environment.
The good news? Small businesses are an important and growing driver of U.S. economic growth and dynamism. They employ over half of America’s private sector workers, produce over half of America’s non-farm private GDP, and create roughly 75% of new private sector jobs. The next decade will see the growth of small business continue, and the social and economic impacts of small business will increase. The bad news?
According to statistics published in 2019 by the Small Business Administration (SBA), about twenty percent of business startups fail in the first year. About half succumb to business failure within five years. By year 10, only about 33% survive. So, you need to hedge your bests and be in the latter group and not only survive, but thrive. If you have a legacy business like a local paint, hardware or bookstore, you need to completely rethink your strategy for survival and growth.
It’s not enough to just deliver what you delivered last year. You need to constantly be progressing your business and looking at everything you are doing through your customer and prospect eyes. All while keeping your eye on competitors. One thing you just have to accept. There is no normal anymore. You can be just as easily be disrupted by a large corporation as you can by two people and dog working out of a converted garage who land VC funding.
In order for you to understand what to focus on and perhaps where to start, review the following below for takeaways so that you can evolve and grow.
Disruption is the new normal. No mater your business, you have to assume that at some point, it will be disrupted by a trend, technology, consumer or a competitor. So, before that happens, pay attention to what your current or future customer will need and begin to test or offer that service or product now. In other words, disrupt yourself before someone else does.
Surveillance Capitalism: Will It Erode The Promise Of BYOD And Mobile Privacy?
Niche expertise becomes more important. As ecommerce and services become more competitive, you will need your product or service to have specific capabilities or expertise. Perhaps it caters to a narrower but growing customer base or perhaps it’s drill bits coated with a certain coating that makes them so much better than the competition. Instead of regular tax or accountancy advice, perhaps it’s services related to the coming transfer of wealth from baby boomers to their Gen X or Millennial children.
Remote work. With competition comes higher costs. Rather than expanding your company’s physical footprint, and costs, consider remote workers. You can acquire a talented employee without the resulting overhead expenses. You might also have a better chance at recruiting a person with a special expertise than you might find in your local city.
Data analytics are becoming critical. In the 1800’s, early prospectors might have said “there is gold in them thar hills.” Today, the gold is in the data your company generates or the data you can acquire to better understand your customer. How do you know what to offer your customers next if you don’t really know what problems the customer is really trying to solve? It costs five times as much to conquest a new customer as opposed to an existing one and if you can attain 60% customer loyalty rates, that is more than 50% of your revenue year over year with no additional marketing expense. Track and actually analyze your data in order to make better decision on current and future products and services.
Automation/outsourcing of redundant tasks. Review your current business and assess exactly what every employee is working on. How much of your employee’s time is spent on redundancy or repeating their tasks each week? Outsource or automate those tasks and have the employees focus on increasing your current customer service levels or generating new sales.
Population is aging. Okay, this is a wildcard but it is also a large population group. The reason aging population is on this list is that our aging population represents a very large opportunity over the next 15 years as the 70 million baby boomers currently hold tremendous financial and real estate wealth. And baby boomers will spend their wealth trying to live an amazing life as they try and avoid death. Analyze the research data on this group and determine if you could offer them a product or service they would be willing to pay for in hopes of achieving their goals.
Read more ...
Successful PR, media strategy, creative and advertising executives from Forbes Agency Council share trends and tips
POST WRITTEN BY Expert Panel, Forbes Agency Council
In recent years, there has been an explosion of activism on the internet. Some businesses have opted to stay away from addressing sensitive topics or anything that may be construed as controversial, for fear of alienating their target audiences. While this may be a smart marketing decision, it gives up a chance for the business to establish authority and inject authenticity into its branding.
Even so, not every taboo topic is worth investing time and content into, while others can significantly boost a brand’s visibility and help it ultimately draw in more potential customers. Nine members of Forbes Agency Council delve into the taboo topics that can help a business connect to its audience and establish a sense of personality to the brand without being too offensive.
1. Issues Relevant To The Customers
If you're making content that is focused on and meant specifically for the customer, they are where the topics should come from. Writing for the customer, you will find it's important for content to be emotion-based, not product-based. Discussing things besides your company can be great, so long as it's a topic that will appeal to the customer interested in your business. - Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO
2. Any Topic Relevant To Your Brand
Don't intentionally wade into controversy or respond in a reactive manner. Providing articulate, non-defensive explanations, interpretations or defining your position relative to current events or industry developments that affect your brand or your customers in a manner authentic to your brand voice (e.g. humorous or serious) can be a powerful way to establish a leadership position. - Brian Sullivan, Sullivan Branding
3. Your Past Mistakes
In PR, we often see companies quick to downplay mistakes, seeking to elevate any positive in order to avoid potential business risk. Those missteps are not what kills a brand, but rather a company's response. Stakeholders increasingly want to see brand authenticity. One way to build this is through accountability -- address shortcomings while providing a clear, actionable solution for the future. - Megan Humphreys, Convé Communications
During the 2019 Formula One season, teams competed on 21 race tracks across the world, all with their own unique combination of straights, turns, track surfaces and environmental factors. For Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, it means creating a bespoke car for every event – which means the Team never races the same car twice. Two words are dominating business conversations at the moment, speed and agility. Given the amount of uncertainty and disruption present in every market, territory and vertical, that’s perhaps not surprising. Neither are necessarily new concepts; however, both have risen to become strategic objectives for almost all organisations – from start-ups to global corporations.
Two words are dominating business conversations at the moment, speed and agility. Given the amount of uncertainty and disruption present in every market, territory and vertical, that’s perhaps not surprising.
Neither are necessarily new concepts; however, both have risen to become strategic objectives for almost all organisations – from start-ups to global corporations.
Though speed and agility sound similar, they are actually very different:
Speed is your business’ ability to move in one direction as quickly as possible.
Agility is your business’ ability to accelerate, decelerate and quickly pivot to avoid issues and grasp opportunities.
The manufacturing industry has traditionally prioritised speed, with businesses believing that better, faster, cheaper were the primary drivers of efficiency gains and growth.
Yet, being able to manufacture a product faster isn’t of much value if the demand for that product evaporates and you can’t adopt to changing consumer demands fast enough.
The real strength, and a bright future, for UK manufacturing lies in high value, lower volume, built on an ever-increasing level of customisation, automation and the ability to produce short-run bespoke products quickly and efficiently, according to Jason Renders, Account Director, Global Industries, at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
Realising such a vision relies on businesses being both fast and agile, he continues.
“Many manufacturers understand speed and efficiencies to a very high level, but far less so regarding agility and reacting swiftly to disruption. That’s been the downfall of many a business.”
It’s not always easy to get the balance of speed and agility right, and that’s where ‘smart’ technologies play a leading role.
How does Aston Martin Red Bull Racing execute 30,000 design and engineering changes a year?
👀 WATCH THE VIDEO TO SEE HOW 🎥 … 👇
A winning combination
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing perfectly illustrates what happens when all these factors – speed, agility, technology – are successfully brought together and ingrained within a workplace culture.
Since the 2005 Formula One season, the UK-based Team has racked up 62 wins and four double world championships, in part by swiftly adapting to design changes and new regulations with agility.
To keep pace with a constantly changing environment, the Team executes more than 30,000 design and engineering changes a year, 1,000 design releases per week, and makes very data-driven decisions at the race track when seconds count.
In order to successfully achieve that, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has had to select the best applications possible, and invest in highly capable infrastructure, internal software development, and upskilling Team members.
In essence, the organisation has had to “recreate their entire digital ecosystem” and integrate a suite of “digital tools that touch every part of the business”, explains Matt Cadieux, Chief Information Officer for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
“The Team has undergone a deep and far-reaching digital transformation over the past several years. Digital technologies are used throughout the entire lifecycle of our business, from engineering through manufacturing to racing the car.”
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 15: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 on track during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 15, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
A ‘digital backbone’
According to Matt, constant design development is the secret to on-track success.
To meet such demands, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has developed a digital backbone that helps the Team accelerate its car development programme, as well as create feedback loops that capture what is happening, or has happened, on the racetrack and help drive the continuously improvement of the cars throughout the course of a season.
Each car is instrumented with 100 sensors gathering real-time telemetry related to performance, reliability, aerodynamics, and a host of other digital inputs that have to be analysed and post-processed.
The Team relies on the results of this analysis – and the critical infrastructure that delivers it – to make optimal decisions regarding pre-race set-up and to adjust their tactics during the race itself.
With four double world championships under its belt, it looks like the transformation has been successful; yet the Team isn’t resting on its laurels.
“Creating this digital ecosystem is an ongoing, multi-year project involving many stakeholders from different areas of the organisation all working together and all pulling in the same direction to achieve a united vision,” Matt concludes.
Self-improvement is a big theme, considering many people see the start of a new decade as an opportunity to push themselves harder
Self-improvement is a big theme considering many people see the start of a new decade as an opportunity to push themselves harder. Want ideas on how to sharpen yourself? Check out this selection of inspiring books, curated by high-achieving founders and executives.
1. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
"Culture trumps everything. What I love about this book is that it gives you a peek under the hood of one of the most innovative movie studios out there. Through numerous stories about Pixar, it becomes very clear how crucial culture is in creating a company that constantly pushes the boundaries. I also love the transparency the author brings to the stories to illustrate how challenging the creative process actually is. It's so easy for us as a consumer to see the final product and just assume it's the result of a spark of brilliance, but the reality is that the process of innovation is often very messy and full of missteps and detours towards the final output."
--Matt Hornbuckle, cofounder and co-CEO of Stantt, a men's apparel company which offers men's clothing in over 99 sizes and is sold in over 400 retailers across the U.S., including Nordstrom, Rothmans, and Richards
2. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo
"This book is a pleasure to read because it gives future managers and leaders a glimpse of some of the factors that influence how an organization functions, such as team culture, trust, feedback, and self-development. Oftentimes as leaders of our organizations, we forget that the foundation begins with us. Julie talks in raw depth about her personal development and growth as an individual before she was comfortable assuming the role of a true manager. Without a good understanding of yourself, you will have a hard time understanding what you want in a team. From what I've gathered, her focus is on culture and finding the right people to weave seamlessly into the company fabric. I've implemented some of her strategies and suggestions into my businesses and the change in company output is immediate."
--Lewis Chen, restorative dentist and cofounder of Beam Street, a New York City dental studio which has more than quadrupled its clientele within six months of opening and has been featured in a variety of media outlets, such as Well+Good, SHAPE, and MSN
3. All about Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on Others by Bruce Turkel
"In marketing, it's easy to get caught up in talking to your customer about the company and [the] product. However, [this] book does a great job of outlining practical insights on how successful companies can shift from being company-centric to customer-centric. From afar, the premise of this book seems simple and trivial, but the takeaways are complex and vital."
--Kevin Escalera, digital marketing director at RSP Nutrition, an all-natural active nutrition brand distributed at retailers such as Amazon, Bodybuilding.com, Whole Foods, GNC, and Vitamin Shoppe, in over 5,000 U.S. retail locations and over 80 countries
4. The Originals by Adam Grant
"This book showcases how to create and champion original, powerful thoughts and concepts through testing and experimentation. Anyone can be original, but it's calculated risk taking (rather than reckless) that is the most rewarded and successful. The challenge and opportunity with creativity is selecting the right ideas, not just having them. Building breadth and depth of experience is paramount. Having diverse interests, experiences, and hobbies enhances creativity. Also, procrastination isn't bad. Strategic procrastination lets you incubate thoughts and ultimately come up with a better solution."
--Ricky Joshi, co-founder and chief strategy officer of online luxury mattress brand Saatva, which has more than $200 million in annual revenue
5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
"This story serves as a reminder that the path to success is littered with significant challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome. We like to celebrate successes, and for good reason, but it's easy to only see the end result and think that it was a forgone conclusion from the start. Perseverance and perspective are critical characteristics for a start-up founder's peace of mind while on the journey. Also, having been a rower as well as a history instructor in the past, I appreciate how the author interweaves the sporting narrative with the broader historical significance of the time."
--Matthew Zarracina, founder and CEO of True Tickets, a mobile ticketing start-up that has established commercial partnerships with numerous major live theater organizations
6. It Starts With You by Fred Stuvek
"[This] book is a three part success-with-integrity how-to that lays out reasons and strategies for becoming more mentally disciplined, cultivating a goal-supportive community, and developing resilience via the opportunity of failure."
--Andrea Marcellus, fitness expert, author of "The Way In: 5 Winning Strategies to Lose Weight, Get Strong and Lift Your Life" and CEO of AND/life
7. Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall
"I recently read this book and loved it because it brings together physics, organizational structure, and company culture. Loonshots are innovative ideas -- some would say crazy ideas -- and this book talks about how an organization's structure can impact and foster a culture that nurtures these ideas and drive innovation and breakthroughs. At a time when we're moving faster than ever, this book is a great reminder to take risks, challenge conventional thinking, and learn from failure as we seek to do things better and drive innovations."
--Erin Hutchinson, CMO, Americas at Merkle, a marketing agency with more than 9,200 employees, and more than 50 offices around the world
8. Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
"Founders typically embrace a visionary approach, recognizing a need in the marketplace and being ambitious enough to pursue a new solution. This book talks about the essential leadership combination that will accelerate your business growth -- a 'visionary' and an 'integrator.' It was recommended to me by one of my mentors, and I recommend it to anyone looking to structure their business for rapid growth. As I have steadily grown my own business, it has continuously inspired me to analyze what I need to set my company up for success, whether it be through new hires or business goals."
--Tiffany Guarnaccia, founder and CEO of Kite Hill PR, a public relations agency that has represented dozens of clients specializing in the tech, media and advertising sectors, and founder of Communications Week, a cross-industry conference for the public relations, communications and media industries, hosted in three countries around the world
9. The Green New Deal by Jeremy Rifkin
"This book addresses the economic, social, and technology impacts we have on society when it comes to the transition from fossil fuel to clean-energy. It is imperative that as we all continue to innovate and look for ways to leave our mark on the world that we understand the ramifications, and continually strive to better the world around us. This book helped spark that passion in me."
--Philippe Bottine, CEO, North America at SES-imagotag, a global retail technology provider with solutions currently in more than 1,500 U.S. stores
10. Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff
"This is one of my favorite books because it dives into the untold stories of the early days at Salesforce. The company transformed the way enterprise software is licensed, on its way to becoming the leader of the cloud computing revolution, but the path wasn't always that clear. Everyone, from founders to leaders in our communities, can learn about thinking differently, motivating a group of people with a solid mission, and the power of being bold through this book. It's these early values that Marc Benioff created that inspired Salesforce employees around the world. He, and this book, serve as an inspiration for any founder who wants to fulfill an even higher mission in the world."
--Duke Chung, cofounder and CEO of TravelBank, a business travel and expense management platform serving more than 20,000 organizations
11. The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky
"I highly recommend this book for entrepreneurs, founders and anyone looking to take their business to the next level. It covers a part of the startup journey that's not often discussed -- the tricky middle years. Belsky is chock full of insights on the unglamorous and unpredictable aspects of scaling a business and addressing difficult decisions. It's a must-read for entrepreneurs who are in the middle of their journey and need reassuring advice."
--Peter Guagenti, CMO of MemSQL, a database for operational analytics and cloud-native applications, which has 160 million streaming users and customers including 12 of the Fortune 50 and 5 of the top 10 banks
12. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
"It was my inspiration to become a professional cook in the first place, but it also reminds us of our company mission to make restaurant life easier. Oftentimes, companies can get lost in numbers and metrics, but Kitchen Confidential reminds us that we are serving real people in a tough industry. I encourage all of our employees to read it, because it enlightens everyone to put humanity before our technology."
--Wilfred Pacio, co-founder and CEO of Pared, a hospitality-focused marketplace connecting and matching restaurant operators with restaurant professionals to work together at over 4,000 businesses in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
13. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
"Contrary to popular beliefs, greatness is not innate. Great performers are masters of deliberate practice. Practice doesn't make perfect, but rehearsing specific skill sets with high repetition and intensity can make the difference between good and excellent. This book also carries significant meaning as it was given to me by a U.S.A. Olympian, Sayaka Matsumoto."
--Steven Khuong, co-founder and CEO of Curacubby, a mobile commerce platform that tracks over one million financial data points and has helped hundreds of private schools across the U.S. improve their operating margins by over 13% in 2019
14. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
"[The author] provides an empathetic and humanistic view of what we can and should do for those we know who are growing old and preparing for death. His book should be required reading for anyone in the health, nutrition, diet or lifestyle industries."
--David Kopp, president and CEO of Healthline Media, an online health information publisher whose sites Healthline.com, MedicalNewsToday.com and Greatist.com inform more than a quarter of a billion readers monthly
15. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
"I dove back into this book multiple times over the last couple of years as my business began to scale. We're a fast-growing company that takes pride in transparency from the top down, so it is vital for every team member to understand the why behind our vision and each decision we make. It serves as the North Star for the organization and the culture within it. Sinek provides concrete examples of how to communicate the why, how, and what of your business to your team. It has helped me understand that, in my role as CEO, I need to ensure my thought process is crystal clear for each decision before I try to communicate it to my employees, customers, partners, investors and other stakeholders. This book is a must-read for any leader searching for better ways to connect with and create buy-in across teams."
--Josh McKinney, CEO of Ekos, a business management software platform used by nearly 2,000 craft food and beverage producers
Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, working from home is no longer a privilege, it’s a necessity.
While factories, shops, hotels and restaurants are warning about plunging foot traffic that is transforming city centers into ghost towns, behind the closed doors of apartments and suburban homes, thousands of businesses are trying to figure out how to stay operational in a virtual world.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to test working from home at scale,” said Alvin Foo, managing director of Reprise Digital, a Shanghai ad agency with 400 people that’s part of Interpublic Group. “Obviously, not easy for a creative ad agency that brainstorms a lot in person.” It’s going to mean a lot of video chats and phone calls, he said.
A woman carrying a laptop crosses a near empty Nanjing Road in Shanghai on Jan. 29.
The cohorts working from home are about to grow into armies. At the moment, most people in China are still on vacation for the Lunar New Year. But as Chinese companies begin to restart operations, it’s likely to usher in the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.
The vanguards for the new model of scattered employees are the Chinese financial centers of Hong Kong and Shanghai, cities with central business districts that rely on hundreds of thousands of office workers in finance, logistics, insurance, law and other white-collar jobs.
One Hong Kong banker said he’s going to extend an overseas vacation, as he can work from anywhere with a laptop and a phone. Others say they are using the time typically spent wining and dining clients to clear their backlog of travel expenses. One said he’s shifted focus to deals in Southeast Asia.
“No one is taking meetings, my schedule is pretty empty,” said Jeffrey Broer, a venture adviser in Hong Kong. “One person emailed me: ‘Shall we meet somewhere in February?’”
Reaction In Hong Kong As U.S., Japan Warn Citizens to Avoid Travel to China
People wearing protective masks in Hong Kong.Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg
One of the most unsettling factors for employees is the fast-changing impact of the virus, which is prompting daily changes in corporate directives.
Tiko Mamuchashvili, a senior event planner at the Hyatt hotel in Beijing who was supposed to return to work on Friday, was initially told her vacation would be extended until Feb. 3. Then she received a notification to work from home for two additional days. A few days later, the directive was extended until Feb. 10. She has to notify her department each morning about her whereabouts and report whether she is running a temperature.
“Usually going back to work from holidays feels a little weird, but working from home this time with such short notice feels even more unusual,” she said. With hotel event cancellations rolling in on a daily basis, “basically, all I can do is answer emails,” she said.
How the Coronavirus Is Infecting the Global Economy
Some managers worry the office exodus will lower productivity, but there’s evidence the opposite may be true. A 2015 study from Stanford University in California found that productivity among call-center employees at Chinese travel agency Ctrip went up by 13% when they worked from home due to fewer breaks and more comfortable work environments.
While the virus may test that theory on a wider scale, it poses an existential threat to another new business model: co-working spaces, which multiplied around big Chinese cities in recent years as property rents skyrocketed and tech startups boomed.
“It will be a very tough time,” said Dave Tai, deputy director of Beeplus, a Chinese co-working space and bakery with 300 employees.
The virus delayed the opening of its Beijing location and he says it’s pretty much impossible for him and others in his industry to work from home. Without customers willing to work in close quarters at the physical space, the business will die.
Views of Shanghai as Virus Cases Soar
Passengers wear protective masks as they ride the subway train in Shanghai on Jan. 30.Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
“The core of work space is community, people coming together. It’s difficult to replace that interaction and connection online,” he said.
For many companies, instructing office workers to stay home only solves part of the problem. Many rely on factories, logistics companies and retail outlets that face their own disruptions.
For phone-case maker Casetify, 2020 was supposed to be the best year yet. Headcount at the Hong Kong-based company had surpassed 150 by the end of December, and it was aiming to double sales this year.
But the spread of the virus from the city of Wuhan caused the factories in China that make its products to stay shut and prompted Casetify to ask most employees to work from home. A new outlet in Hong Kong’s airport lay empty. Sales in the city tanked.
“The show must go on, somehow,” said Casetify Chief Executive Officer Wes Ng, who has been logging onto a laptop in an apartment he shares with his wife and 9-month-old son.
No Plan B
Casetify has 30 days of extra stock, but Ng says there’s no plan B if the factories don’t reopen soon, a plight shared by thousands of other businesses in China and around the world.
Even for those who can do business by internet and phone, the virus means there may not be much business to do.
Bankers say IPOs and deals are on hold. Transaction value in the first 30 days of 2020 was half what it was the year before, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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Serenity Gibbons Contributor
I share insights gathered from purpose-driven entrepreneurs
Although the economy is doing well, it’s not time for small business leaders to slacken their marketing efforts. Nearly half of small business owners in Capital One’s Small Business Growth Index expressed concerns about a possible recession ahead, and 35 percent thought tariffs and trade difficulties would pose an additional hurdle. At the same time, 44 percent expected to see improvement in their financial position over the next six months.
Given these mixed sentiments, it’s hard to know what to expect. As a small business owner, you can’t control the markets or the economy, so it’s important to focus on what you can control. The stock market and the new tax law may be out of your hands, but the way you reach customers is a strategy you own.
While changes in marketing trends may temporarily subvert your plans, you always have the power to try novel strategies and learn more about your market. Online innovators keep creating new means of reaching customers and promoting brands. For example, Instagram has become an important marketing tool for small businesses, enabling brand awareness, advertising, and e-commerce in ways that have changed rapidly since the platform’s launch in 2010.
Savvy entrepreneurs know they have to be ready to pivot in their approach as the marketing landscape quickly shifts around them. How have you adapted your marketing strategy this year? To stand the best chance of success, consider these three approaches to getting the word out about your small business.
1. Identify as “local.”
The term “small business,” while accurate, doesn’t capture customer attention online. It's dry — more like a term from a college business course than something that will excite potential brand advocates. What’s more, the term can be confining as you look to scale your business up.
Instead, marketing your business as “local” can improve public perception. To fully embrace the local tag, make sure you're taking advantage of options to broadcast your location. That includes managing a Google My Business listing, running a local SEO campaign, and remaining involved in your community. Be sure to advertise with local media outlets and run promotions in your area.
You can also consider organizing niche events to network with nearby business leaders and funnel in qualified leads. I’m From The Future, a Philadelphia-based digital marketing consultancy, has found success using Meetup.com to organize technical SEO events in its area. Not only does this engage interested community members, but it could also lead to sponsorships and other business partnerships in the future.
2. Own your marketing data.
While platforms like Facebook are powerful ways to reach potentially billions of customers, there's a disadvantage to how your marketing data is used and owned on some social networking sites. These services collect and feed customer data into their ad placement algorithms, but in many cases, they own that data — not you. Consequently, you can’t use that customer data to benefit your brand beyond the platform. Even worse, if the site diminishes in popularity (hello, Myspace), some contact information could be lost.
You should strive to own more of your marketing data so you can continue to leverage it off-site, promoting your brand no matter what happens in the social networking sphere. Closely examine agreements with social networking providers, and pull back your marketing efforts with those that don’t let you control your own data. Social media is still a great avenue for engagement, but not as much for lead generation. Be sure to include a call to action (such as an email newsletter signup) on social media posts so you can gather data yourself.
Work on building your own data set of leads, including phone numbers and email addresses, to convert followers through email marketing campaigns. As Tyler King, CEO and founder of Less Annoying CRM, advises, “You can’t take followers, views and likes to the bank, but you can take phone numbers and email addresses with you no matter what system you’re using.”
3. Broaden your scope with a partner.
Partner marketing is an effective and low-risk technique for getting your brand in front of a fresh crop of potential customers. There are significant ROI opportunities associated with referral programs, and partnerships benefit your brand by leveraging your partner’s brand recognition and network of customers.
For a recent example of this approach, consider the collaboration between Harry’s, a company specializing in men’s shaving gear, and skincare shop Heyday. Based on their overlapping target audiences, these brands were a good fit for effective partner marketing. The collaboration resulted in a co-branded facial mask for men, which the companies hope will engage more men in skincare and further their marketing message of skincare accessibility to a broader audience.
Michael Pollak, co-founder and chief brand officer of Heyday, describes the partnership enthusiastically: “To be able to have a conversation with Harry’s audience around [skincare] is incredibly exciting for us. We admire what they’ve done in terms of helping men open the door to grooming and self-care.” Together, the brands aim to snag their share of a men’s grooming market that's expected to grow to $78.6 billion over the next four years.
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Time in the service can mean success beyond the battlefield.
I value the contributions of founders of every background. Women, people of color, and people living with disabilities -- the business owners I call the "New Majority"-- all have steeper hills to climb to success. However, they tend to be as or more successful than most founders. That's why I started my digital platform, Alice, to help these entrepreneurs reach the achievements they deserve. As the daughter of a veteran, military-affiliated business owners are especially close to my heart.
My father Michael McKee is a CEO and an Air Force veteran. He's built a long career helping people make job transitions, including going from the military to civilian life. There are big names in business with military backgrounds too, like Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, who served in the army. Esurance founder Chuck Wallace was an Air Force pilot. Phyllis Newhouse of Xtreme Solutions? She was an army officer.
Earlier this month, to celebrate National Veterans Small Business Week, I attended Business Beyond the Battlefield, an event in Arlington, Texas devoted to veteran entrepreneurship. Here's what I learned from the veterans I met.
Truth Over Artificial Harmony
One of the highlights of Business Beyond the Battlefield was a talk by James D. Murphy, CEO of Afterburner, a business consulting firm that uses military professionals to counsel businesses in more than 26 countries. He's been on the Inc. 5000 list nine times, so apparently, he's doing something very right.
"What you did in the military was great," Murphy said. "What you're doing now is more important. We need your integrity in the business world." That means having difficult conversations and being honest with your team about your needs.
How do you do it? By clearly defining goals and being in alignment with your whole operation. In fact, the most obvious similarity between business and the military is bringing together a group to fight as one for a better destiny. It's about building a team that will put their necks out for you when the going gets tough.
There's a Lot of Good News
Chris Pilkerton, acting administrator of the United States Small Business Administration, reported in his talk that the unemployment rate among veterans hit a record low this year. Part of that is because vets are striking out on their own. Veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than lifelong civilians.
Pilkerton said that that number owes to some of the big companies mentioned above, but also from small startups. Veterans are organized, tactical, and not afraid to take a risk-- all they need is a little support to do big things.
No Matter What Your Challenges Are, You Have an Advantage
I got to talk to veterans from every branch of the military and every walk of life at Business Beyond the Battlefield. I was particularly touched to get to know one young man who attended a talk that I gave on the subject of using AI in your business. He was not only a vet, but lives with Asperger Syndrome. He's using every resource he can to pave the way to help his business succeed, including connecting with me and asking some great questions.
It made me think about the fact that while we all have advantages that can help propel us in our businesses, we also have hurdles to overcome. But there are resources and people out there to help make your entrepreneurial journey easier.
And to all of you men and women who have served or are currently serving-- I salute you. (Especially you, Daddy.)
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Avery Blank Senior Contributor
I help people advocate for themselves and leverage opportunities.
It is annoying when people say “I’m so busy” in response to a colleague asking how things are going. Everyone is busy. People are not going to feel sorry for you. It makes it look like you want to sound important or are too lazy to articulate a response. You might even come across as a complainer or someone who is unable to manage your professional life. Don’t risk being misunderstood.
When a coworker asks how’s it going, take the opportunity to share something of value. Don’t try to make it look like you are important. Show your importance. When someone asks how it is going, consider these two responses:
1. “I am working on…”
Share a specific project or goal you are working on. You might start with saying the following: “I’m working on a gap analysis of the cybersecurity laws.”
Sharing specifics is more impactful. Details allow others to wrap their head around what you are doing. Generalizations can make it difficult for others to visualize your accomplishments.
2. “I’d like your perspective on…”
When a coworker asks how things are, take advantage of the situation to gather information that might help you with your work. Feedback can be hard to take, but two minds are generally better than one. Ask about their thoughts on a project you are working on.
Getting people’s perspective on a particular project is a good way to share what you are doing, as well as a great way to improve upon what you are doing. If someone asks how things are going and you respond saying you are busy, you will not get any value from the other person. Responding with “I’m busy” ends the discussion. Not only might you annoy the other person (they are probably busy, too), but you also don’t get anything out of them. The “I’m busy” or “I’m swamped” response is unhelpful.
The next time a colleague asks how things are going, try to avoid the generic and annoying response of “I’m so busy” or “I’m swamped.” Everyone is busy. Instead, use the response as an opportunity to showcase your worth.
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Ralph Guzman Forbes Councils Member
POST WRITTEN BY Ralph Guzman. Ralph Guzman is Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Guthrie-Jensen Consultants
Not all companies are large corporations or conglomerates. Across the world, the majority of businesses are actually family owned. In North America, they are an estimated 80% to 90% of businesses. They employ 60% of the workforce.
In the European Union, at least 70% of firms are family owned (download required). In China, the world’s most populous nation, it’s about 85% But do all survive?
Research has shown that "only 13% of successful family businesses last through three generations. Less than two-thirds survive the second generation."
These figures indicate what many have long called the three-generation syndrome. This is where the first generation starts the business with scarce resources—usually a father and/or mother. The business grows, and the children take over. Many of these children are highly qualified. They don’t take the business for granted because they saw the struggling years. By the third generation, cousins may lead the business. My clients from the more senior generation complain that children and grandchildren, after growing up in comfort, are not as driven nor as involved.
In a nutshell, it’s rags to riches to rags for many families. This is unfortunate, if not tragic, because at the end of the day, every family business that shuts down or is sold means ending the legacies of its founders.
Still, many family enterprises are doing well. S.C. Johnson, makers of Johnson Wax and Pledge is now led by CEO Fisk Johnson, a fifth-generation CEO. Confectionery giant Mars, makers of M&M’s, is led by Victoria B. Mars, a fourth-generation family member. More than 100 years later, both these firms remain profitable and privately held.
So what goes wrong with many businesses? And what can we do right?
There are three critical things that family businesses should consider.
Consideration 1: Recognize the uniqueness and complexities of family enterprises.
If being part of a family business often feels burdensome, you are not alone. Sons or daughters do find it doubly hard when they’re harshly corrected at work by the boss—only to find that same person at Sunday dinner because that boss is Mom or Dad! We want these dinners to be solely about fellowship, but many family members can't help bringing up work.
My advice is to agree on boundaries and strictly enforce them. A client of mine has taken a “fun” approach. A family member who brings up work while at a restaurant foots the bill.
Families must also recognize the three overlapping roles that Harvard Business School has identified:
We may play one, two or all three roles at once. Families in business should be extra mindful as these roles can easily clash with each other.
A “loving” brother who is CEO may treat his colleague – a younger sibling -- with kid gloves at the expense of the business. Another CEO could react harshly because of sibling dynamics that really don’t have anything to do with business. The people I coach always complain that negative feedback is inevitably emotional and a pile-up of grievances pushes talented family members to leave the business. Being fair, just or right must be guided by clear family and business values.
Also, given the three overlapping roles, families must remember that each role needs to be governed uniquely. Purely family-related issues need their set of policies and communication channels. Operations must follow best management and finance practices. Family issues should not leak into the employee grapevine. Meanwhile, the board has its responsibilities. But what are the protocols, expectations and compensation for operationally involved family board members vis-a-vis the nonemployed board member relatives?
Consideration 2: Policies must be put in place before they become personal issues.
A few years ago, I had a client, a family whose father was CEO and all three children were part of the business. The family owned several car dealerships, and they described themselves as “conservative and protective.”
Two of the three children have been married for several years. And then, the third child—a son—decided to get hitched. The challenge: Unlike the two other in-laws, they didn’t have a liking for the youngest son’s fiancée. Both son and fiancée were already in their 40’s, and they were OK with not having kids.
The family’s issue: The fiancée already had children from a previous marriage. With this development, the parents pushed for a prenup, which wasn’t previously discussed. The parents worried that their son’s stepchildren would inherit what their “blood, sweat and tears” had earned them. The son was up in arms. He held a critical position, and he eventually resigned in protest. It fractured the family and left a vacuum in the business.
Policies must be agreed upon before they become personal issues.
I haven’t even discussed the issue of money. But a client could not have said it better: Blood is thicker than water, but money is thicker than blood.
Consideration 3: There are some policies you will need to formulate.
1. How will the next CEO be chosen and compensated?
2. How will shares and other family properties be divided?
3. What are the rules when it comes to hiring family? Can in-laws be part of the business?
4. Can a family member be fired?
5. What are protocols regarding prenups and divorces?
6. How will we prepare the next generation?
7. How do we manage, even avoid, conflicts?
8. Can shares be sold to non-family? Will we go public?
Many families, especially those with larger businesses, eventually develop family constitutions. Some caution: Family constitutions often take years to develop, and it’s tempting to abandon such effort. My advice is to work on priority policies, and then work your way up.
While being in business with family can be difficult, it has many rewards: working and growing together professionally, passing on values from one generation to the next, and enjoying prosperity as one family. But just like all other worthwhile relationships, families must persevere through clear values, open communication, well-considered policies and commitment
Predicting the future is no easy task, and even experts can focus on the wrong trends—but the future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.
Mathew Lodge, CEO at Diffblue. Product exec with broad experience within the IT industry across a wide range of sectors, technologies and geographies.
A select few organisations are already making use of the AI-powered tools of tomorrow, but 2020 is likely to bring broader innovation in the way organisations use artificial intelligence and software automation technology.
1. AI will continue to move beyond simple automation
This year, we’ve seen continued strong growth in cloud computing and AI as more businesses have embarked on their digital transformation journeys. Still, Gartner has estimated that by 2021, demand for application development will grow five times faster than tech teams can deliver. Ironically, software has automated nearly every business process except the writing of software itself.
In the past few years, this has started to change. Just like software ate the world, AI is eating software from many different angles. No-code/Low-code solutions have been around for years, but there’s a new generation of platforms and approaches that allow non-coders—analysts, for example—to create work that previously would have required a programmer. AI tools that can write code are eating traditional software from the top down. Companies in this space include Data Robot and H2O.ai.
Bottom-up AI, which improves developer productivity, is now here as well. TabNine released a machine-learning-driven auto-completion tool that suggests likely code completions derived from learning over large open source code repositories. In November, Microsoft released a similar tool for its Visual Studio Code IDE.
At Diffblue, we’ve developed Cover, a tool that analyses Java code and uses AI to write unit tests that run quickly to find regressions early on in the development cycle. The key benefit of these tests is the freedom to adopt Continuous Integration and deliver better quality software, faster. This code no longer needs to be written and maintained by developers, because the unit tests for the next commit can always be regenerated from the current version of the application.
2. Investment in AI skills training will grow
The current AI adoption landscape is full of companies that would love to use the newest technology, but lack the resources. Recent research from Deloitte found that although 82% of large businesses in the UK are pursuing some form of AI initiative, only 15% can be considered ‘seasoned’ or mature AI adopters. The rapid advancement of technology we are experiencing today is leaving organisations across many sectors struggling to attract and retain talent with the necessary skills.
To address this, a number of universities, organisations and institutes are investing heavily in developing new AI talent. In October 2019, the UK government announced a £370 million package of government and industry investment into 14 universities and 200 businesses, including the NHS and Google, as well as training for 200 AI PhD students across 16 new centres for doctoral training. The government is also investing £13 million in Masters programmes to help develop careers in AI, and a £10 million fund for scholarships to help those from underrepresented communities access AI and data science education.
Businesses are also getting involved: Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the goal of training 15,000 new AI professionals by 2022. In 2020, there will likely be more of this type of investment as more businesses see the need to shrink the AI skills gap.
3. Automation will play a bigger part in the creation of secure code
In the last year, a third of businesses reported cyber security breaches. The biggest data breaches have happened as a result of compromised code, and although infrastructure can also be attacked, the applications themselves are a much larger surface area for attackers. Automation can provide businesses with more eyes to monitor for vulnerabilities and breaches without having to dedicate additional developer time to this task.
Semmle, for example, is a tool that analyses code so that it can be queried like a database and crowdsources vulnerability signatures, making it possible to automate large-scale signature checking over code; it’s the first step along a path to automated remediation. Semmle was acquired by GitHub (now part of Microsoft) for an undisclosed sum in September. Although there are several tools in this space, having one of them integrated into the world’s most popular source code service is significant, and it will be interesting to see what GitHub and Semmle do together.
As the threat landscape continues to expand and hackers become more sophisticated with their attacks, there will be greater pressure for businesses to ensure their applications are protected against vulnerabilities that could leave them open to cyberattacks. As a good first step, the British government has announced plans to invest £36 million into making the UK a world leader in tackling cyber threats, so expect to see progress on this front over the next year.
Tackling the business challenges of tomorrow
While the rise of data, the shortage of coding and AI skills, and growing cyber threats are not new challenges, the ways businesses tackle them are changing. Leading-edge activity in AI and software gives us a glimpse of where these approaches might end up, and will no doubt shape how organisations work with tech in 2020.
No longer confined to delivering IT, the chief information officer can now play a central role in formulating business strategy
BY SOORAJ SHAH
The role of chief information officer (CIO) has evolved in parallel with the growing development and influence of technology. As tech has become more important, and now essential for businesses, CIOs have become a mainstay of the organisation. They have switched from being merely a back-end IT executor to a strategic and influential member of the board tasked with delivering growth.
They have switched from being merely a back-end IT executor to a strategic and influential member of the board tasked with delivering growth
CIO’s role becoming more influential as tech grows in import
But while businesses and boards are increasingly aware of the benefits of tech, there are some industries that are further along in how they’ve embraced technology.
“Retail has been completely disrupted by technology, while others such as construction haven’t historically been as affected, but now everything is becoming disrupted,” says Richard Steward, former CIO of advertising business Clear Channel and UK consumer goods firm PZ Cussons.
The Bank of England’s executive director and CIO Rob Elsey agrees that technology is becoming a larger player in the majority of organisations.
“We’re starting to see a changing age in technology in most financial services organisations when tech is the thing that can make a difference,” he says. “So in general you’re seeing the CIO role changing; it’s becoming a lot more influential because discussions you’re having with the board are a lot richer.”
CIOs must be board members first and technologists second
There is no point of a CIO being on the board, however, if their voice isn’t heard, ensuring technology can make a meaningful impact on the business.
“You need to lead the conversation with the business first and have a broader set of skills including the need to understand financials; you can’t just sit in the meeting and wait until technology comes up and shut up the rest of the time,” says Mr Steward.
“You have to be fully contributing the rest of the time and you need a CIO that is a business leader first and not a technologist.”
To do that, Mr Elsey suggests CIOs need to understand the business drivers, the threats to the organisation and the opportunities. Crucially, he says, the CIO needs to be able to “demystify technologies to the board”.
“If you talk about technology for your own sake, making it sound very complicated and not understanding business drivers or how the environment is changing then you’ll have a little voice because your opinion is not appreciated by board members,” he says. “There is an opportunity for CIOs to have a bigger voice around the table and many CIOs understand that.”
But Mr Steward believes that building relationships with the board can be a double-edged sword. “You need to have relationships so you can collaborate with board members and move the organisation forward, but you also have to have a certain level of credibility because non-executive directors are there for a reason; they’re independent and can question what the chief executive and other board members are saying, and bring their external experience to the table,” he explains.
The CIO provides capabilities that the CDO can build onIt’s also essential for the CIO to grasp the opportunity that arises when technology naturally forms a part of wider discussions, particularly with the rise of the chief digital officer (CDO).
General Electric (GE) CDO Bill Ruh, who is also chief executive of GE Digital, says the CIO owns internal productivity while the CDO is more about product management and allowing digital capabilities into the products and services a business sells.
“The CDO will count on the CIO to provide a set of capabilities that can be built upon to help build those portfolios out and I think that’s the way it will work eventually,” he says.
But if the CIO is relied upon by the C-suite to merely provide a set of capabilities, might they be siloed and perhaps not have as much influence within a business as the CDO?
“I think that’s the way it works at the moment in many cases, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Mr Ruh. “I think the chief executive of a business has to want the CIO to enable the business, to have a seat at the table and to understand what they’re trying to accomplish, while the CDO will work with the CEO on their portfolio plan of what they need,” adding that organisations need to be careful not to duplicate duties and functions for CIOs and CDOs.
CIOs must encourage mindset change among the board
But Mr Steward believes that eventually all these responsibilities will come under one tech leader and, no matter what the role is called, the IT leader in the organisation has to encourage a change in mindset among the board. That shift is from thinking of IT as a way to minimise costs to increasing value.
“If you invest in the right technology, you can create even more value in the organisation,” he says.
But taking this a step further, technology needs to be considered as part of a natural answer to business questions. “We get hung up too much on the IT side of things; it’s about what you’re trying to do in the business,” Mr Steward adds.
It’s clear there is a need now more than ever for the CIO’s voice to be heard.
Barry’s back: Expedia chairman Barry Diller opens up on hour-long earnings call — here’s what he said
Follow-up: Layoffs looming at Expedia? Diller looks to simplify ‘bloated’ company, aiming to save up to $500M
BY TAYLOR SOPER
This earnings call was going to be different from the outset.
“I haven’t been on one of these analyst calls in I don’t know, [an] endless amount of time, so I’m probably a bit raggy,” Expedia Chairman Barry Diller said on Thursday. “But I won’t ask your indulgence. I’ll just kind of plunge in.”
For the next 56 minutes, Diller took center stage as the media mogul opened up about the future of Expedia.
It didn’t seem to hurt investor perception. Expedia shares were up 10 percent in after-hours trading following its fourth quarter earnings report.
Diller and vice chairman Peter Kern took over day-to-day operations at the Seattle-based travel giant after the abrupt resignation of former CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerill on Dec. 4.
Expedia stock rises 10% as travel giant cites focus on core operations following executive shuffle
At the time, Diller cited a strategy disagreement between the top executives and the board over efforts to unify the company’s brands and technology. The shakeup came a little more than two years after Okerstrom was promoted to the CEO role, succeeding Dara Khosrowshahi after he left to become Uber’s top executive.
Diller shed more light on the changes at Expedia, and also talked about the impact of Google, Airbnb, coronavirus, a potential CEO search, and other issues affecting the $17 billion company.
He seemed to genuinely enjoy the discussion. At one point, when the call operator cut off an analyst who was trying to ask a follow-up question, Diller stepped in. “No, you can go ahead, what did you want to add?”
“I appreciate that, Barry,” the analyst said.
Diller was rather blunt throughout the call, describing Expedia’s organization as “bloated” and calling HomeAway a “dumb name.”
Diller, chairman of Expedia for nearly two decades, began with what appeared to be an off-the-cuff opening statement that reflected his optimism for the company in the wake of its recent executive shuffle. He’s spent the past two months “on the ground” with Expedia leadership, learning the ins and outs of the business, and figuring out what needs to change.
The 78-year-old shared something he heard recently that has “rang in my ears.” It was an anecdote that in Seattle, for employees at Amazon the work-life balance mantra was “all work and no life,” whereas at Expedia it was “all life and no work.”
“Now that’s an enormous exaggeration. We’ve got wonderful people in the business and this is not damning our employees,” Diller said. “But for several years we really lost clarity and discipline. So we’re changing a great deal. We’re stopping this too large complexity. We’re simplifying our strategy. We’re stopping doing dumb things and starting to do what we think are good things.”
Added Kern, who was also on the call: “We’ve learned a ton in the last two months. We’ve seen some great people and great things. And we’ve seen a fair bit of wasted energy and calories going into things that may not have promise, and may not get us to the promised land. And certainly we have not learned and been agile enough and willing to say no to things and willing to acknowledge failure when it happens.”
Read more from GeekWire.com
The development of the mobile application can also help in improving the sale and acceptance of every product. The five of the benefits of the development of business through app improvement is:
By Tarun Nagar
The mobile apps for business can be very useful in the propagation of any business to a great extent.The mobile apps are the ones that help to increase the demand for any business and helps to build up brand recognition.
The value can be presented to the customers who will decide the sale of the products to a good extent.The mobile application development can also help in improving the sale and acceptance of every product. The five of the benefits of the development of business through app improvement is: Provide More Value to Your Customers Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Having a Mobile App Build a Stronger Brand Direct Communication And Geo-Targeting Marketing Increased Recognition Builds Customer Loyalty Provide More Value to Your Customers The practice of business is always about reciprocation.
The product value must match with the wallet demand of the market. The mobile apps for business always provide more information to the user. One might try to sit with the employees of the company and nail down the issues which can open engagement with the customer and promote the sale of the product to a higher extent. The level of the customer must always be decided before the product is released in the market.
This can be decided by sitting regularly with the employees who can also talk about the demands of the audience or the customers. There are loyalty programs that must be built with the app and the process of working will be described in the article here. The customers need to stop to interact more with the business and the product details of the company.
The points collected with the help of the product following can be used in the dealing of products in the later times. The great deals about the known products can be sealed in this method. One can also provide services exclusively to the people who have taken a subscription in the company.
These benefits will attract more customers. The fact which lets out the deals in the early stages of the business are the ones which succeed more. This can be observed in the mobile app development.
Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Having a Mobile App One can always talk about the functionality of mobile apps. They are better than most of the software which works on the computer and also helps in the functionality of the device in the app.
The purpose of the host application is to attract customers. The physical world of spreading the leaflet and the printing of advertisements takes up a lot of capital and the mobile realm reduces this a lot. The billboard cost can be reduced by using the phone world and attracting users.
The mobile apps are important for the development of the company. One may have a retail business and the prospect of the business online might not be in the plan.
But the idea of keeping a good mobile app in the planning of the business is a perfect one for future prospects. Build a Stronger Brand The best way of creating a greater brand value is by using a proper mobile app. The terms of communication and the awareness of the society can also help in the development of the stronger brand value. The regular interaction with the target audience with the help of the mobile app development is a perfect method of enhancing client acceptance and the stronger brand value.
The fostering trust can also help to build up a good relationship with the customer. The audience when trusts your mobile application development can help to increase the business. The commitment to the brand is a perfect method to increase the attraction of the brand.
The demonstration of the trust must be done on a high scale basis which can help to increase the business. The distribution of a fridge magnet is an exclusive idea of maintaining a good business. It is as suggested in the name. The advertisement and assistance of mobile apps can always help to strengthen the brand value and the customers can also be educated in this method. The strategies to keep out the business in the field can be adopted well to keep up the brand name.
Direct Communication And Geo-Targeting Marketing The mobile application can prove to be quick and engaging for the interest of the customers. The new services and the improved features of the apps can also provide the promotional offers of the mobile app which are sure to attract the customers to a great level.
The discounted rates can also be provided in this app and the improved features can also help to attract the new customers. The geographical location of the customer along with the people they interact with can also be found in the app which can help to increase the brand value of the company as well. Mobile application development is a new approach to find new customers. Increased Recognition Builds Customer Loyalty The building of customer credibility is an important factor in the field of business in every place.
The tricky and critical section of any business is to build up the loyalty of the customer to the company. The smooth paving of the road of the business can be done by increasing the recognition of the brand by the customers. The connection can be made between the customer and the company with the help of cross-platform app development. The development of the business can be done by increasing the brand awareness of the customer and the company. The business app development especially looks into this.
The services and products which are provided by the company and the customers might be provided with the details of the company and the customer will realize the credibility of the company. The brand recognition is a good method of improving the company's reputation. Conclusion Above are the significant benefits of using app development. Business app development is a good method to attract customers.
The best methods will include direct interaction with the customers. This can be done by the app use in the mobile sector. The app development in these scales can be done by the investment of very little capital. It is a very useful method to propagate business.
Read more at: https://yourstory.com/mystory/five-benefits-developing-mobile-application-business
While businesses take SEO seriously for marketing their products and websites, they often fail to realize the value of technical SEO.
By Anand Srivastava,business.com writer
While a majority of social marketers feel that technical search engine optimization (SEO) is ignorable in the long run, we would like to believe that it is the most essential, yet underrated tool that guarantees business growth, if taken seriously. Most importantly, technical SEO mostly requires professional help, and businesses should consider getting an affordable and credible service provider for taking care of the same.
We understand that every business owner isn't well versed with the technicalities and importance of this form of SEO, and this is why we would clearly segregate the topic with examples, characterizations and valid postulates.
What is technical SEO?
Every business that is looking to make it big in the digital domain must concentrate on getting a functional website for catering to the diverse audience base. Put simply, technical SEO evaluates the website's state of well-being while making sure that the outreach and other technical aspects of its operations are duly attended to.
In simpler words, technical SEO is almost anything that is done to the website which makes it easier for search engines to identify and index. Technical SEO works best when paired with the likes of on-page and off-page search engine optimization techniques. Technical SEO is one skill that makes the website content visible to web crawlers
Why is technical SEO important?
Giving proper attention to technical SEO is necessary for growing organic business traffic. While on-page search engine optimization takes care of the content quality, even the most cohesive piece of information would falter if search engines fail to identify the concerned website. Therefore, technical SEO renders visibility to all the other existing SEO and content marketing efforts that are restricted to the website.
How will technical SEO help my businesses?
Technical SEO helps businesses in several direct and indirect ways.
Faster website loading
Almost 47% of global users prefer (and even expect) that a good website to load within two seconds. If your site takes a long time to load, customers will look elsewhere, which eventually kills traffic and overall sales.
Moreover, Google is expected to launch new algorithm changes in 2020, and the existing SEO landscape might change in favor of technical SEO. Moreover, Google still gives priority to mobile-optimized websites. If your website doesn't adhere to this guideline, Google will push the business lower down the rankings.
Keeping duplicate content at bay
There might be a case when a business has already published an informative and empowering blog for the readers, but without technical SEO and the concept of canonical tag added into the mix, it is easy for a competitor to steal the same and get it published. Moreover, without a canonical tag, even Google cannot make out which is the original piece and which one has been unlawfully published.
That said, if the competitor has a canonical tag added to the website, Google will consider their content to be original and will penalize you for duplicate content. This might include deindexing the pages, besides dropping you from SERPs altogether.
This is where expertise in regard to technical SEO comes into play as it allows businesses to stay immune against these threats. In addition to canonical tags, technical SEO enables businesses to use the 301 redirect, which ensures all the content versions are directed toward a more uniform location. This technical inclusion allows businesses to retain their domain authority besides combating the content issues about duplication.
For a business to be even relevant in this existing landscape, the website must be indexed by the search engines. This is what technical SEO strives to achieve as it allows the business to list its website or the concerned web pages on Google or any other search engine in that regard. The best thing about this process is that single pages, directories, or even the entire site can be indexed or disallowed depending on the preferences. However, it all boils down to professional expertise in play.
Every website needs to have a page log by which Google or any other search engine determines its position. This is where technical SEO and XML sitemaps come into the scheme of things as they define the concerned pathways for a search engine to index and identify the concerned website. A decently created sitemap can also speed up the page loading process about the concerned website.
Technical SEO for dummies
If you don't have access to professional help or a large budget, here are some basic things you can do to boost the visibility of your website.
Businesses can incorporate minimalistic website templates for keeping the page loading speeds up to pace with customer requirements. In simpler words, if the entrepreneur isn't sure about how to increase the page-loading speed, the safest avenue is to make room for only the necessary elements and to avoid using additional plugins and widgets.
Optimized images and other visuals
Businesses can add high-quality images in JPG formats to ensure they do not interfere with the page-loading speeds. Moreover, only the relevant pictures should be added as a safe and neat technical SEO trick for increasing page speeds.
A good way to boost page-loading speeds is by minimizing the number of page redirects. However, even in case of a 404 error, if redirecting is essential, it needs to be done precisely to stop the user from ending the session and migrating elsewhere.
Technical SEO is an underrated yet extremely essential and vast topic that needs thorough attention. It will become even more important in 2020 as businesses will be identified by the popularity of their websites and even the amount of organic traffic that is being generated by them.
Read more from Buisiness.com
Two experienced entrepreneurs share how to overcome the feeling of isolation that comes with launching a startup.
Ask Pramod Raheja, founder of Airgility, what the most significant oversight of his startup days was, and his answer might surprise you. Making a wrong hire? No. Mismanaging cashflow? No.
Raheja considers his biggest startup mistake to be not joining a peer group sooner.
“I didn’t understand the value I could have gained if I had joined a network of entrepreneurs early on. Had I tapped into the right network, I would’ve grown and scaled faster. I would have become a better CEO faster.”
A member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) since 2011, Pramod says, “my network of peers has been key to my success.”
“Many times,” he adds, “I might’ve given up or gone in a different direction without trustworthy peers to bounce ideas off of and to share my sadness, frustration and even happiness with.”
Adrienne Palmer, founder of Insite and an EO member since 2000, agrees. She describes the loneliness that many entrepreneurs can relate to. “As a founder, there was no one I could really talk to about the challenges and fears that emerged. Friends often questioned why I was so obsessed with my business — why I had nothing else to talk about! Even family couldn’t truly relate. Many of them thought I was being irresponsible by not accepting offers for stable jobs.
“As an entrepreneur, you worry about your business all the time because it boils down to this: Clients (no matter how great the relationship) must always feel like the business is solid and everything is thriving. Likewise, with vendors and suppliers. And employees. And the bank. And the landlord.”
However, Palmer says, “When I could share with other entrepreneurs, without judgment, the walls came down. I was able to get perspective and insight from their experiences, knowing that they were sharing freely, with no agenda or vested interest. I was able to feel heard and understood. It gave me strength and confidence, knowing that I wasn’t the first to go through this, nor would I be the last.”
Raheja and Palmer agree that emotional support is an important reason to join a network of entrepreneurs. What other benefits can you expect from joining a peer group?
Learning Most peer groups provide executive education that’s tailored to founders across a variety of industries.
“At my very first EO event, I was blown away,” Pramod says. “Warren Rustand put on an all-day workshop. I showed up at noon because — well, I’m a busy entrepreneur and had things to do. I spent the afternoon thinking, ‘What could have been more important than this? I should’ve made the time to be here all day.’ I still reference takeaways from that one lecture nearly ten years ago.”
Beyond structured learning events, peer-based entrepreneurial organizations offer a built-in network of mentors and advisers. Pramod explains, “Issues crop up that you can’t necessarily talk to your executive team about because it may have to do with them. Having other CEOs that I can call, confidentially, and say, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on with my company. Any thoughts or suggestions? Do you know anyone who can help me?’ More than likely, they’ve been through a similar situation and can share experiences that may benefit me.”
Interested in hearing more from Raheja and Palmer? They’ll be participating in the panel, “Benefits for Business: Build a Diverse Network of Entrepreneurs,” during Startup Grind on Feb. 11 at 1:30 pm on the Community Stage in Cinema 2.
Leadership Palmer appreciates the leadership opportunities provided by her peer group.
“EO gives me an opportunity to develop my leadership skills through volunteer leadership positions. Depending on your background, these opportunities might hone your ability to lead others, allow you to gain a more global perspective, or challenge you to think completely differently.”
Raheja is part of EO’s United Nations team working to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He recently had the opportunity to participate in a focus group around gender inequality at the UN. “It was life-changing,” he shares. “Being on the floor of the UN and knowing that the actions of this group you’re a part of could be the spark that significantly transforms the lives of others? That’s the entrepreneurial mindset in action.”
Inspiration As part of a global network of entrepreneurs, you’ll meet business owners at every stage of growth. For many individuals — particularly more established entrepreneurs — interacting with that fresh, unbridled energy can be exhilarating and provide them with new ideas for their own organizations.
“I enjoy being inspired by the startup entrepreneurs and their exciting new ideas and businesses,” says Palmer. “It gives me a spark of energy and new perspectives. Also, learning about many new social impact businesses being formed feeds my optimism about the future.”
Pramod concurs. “I get energy from other people — from helping other people, specifically. When I walk into a room of people, I want to impart my energetic passion and have them walk out of the room psyched up and inspired to make something of their business or connect with other peers! That’s why I coach people and mentor them.
“There’s so much value in this community — we need as many people as possible to develop and share the entrepreneurial mindset. It can help make us all better versions of ourselves.”
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