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How To Nail Social Media and Influencer Marketing: The SME Edition

I bet you’ve already read about social media and influencer marketing a lot. I bet you’ve already tried techniques that didn’t break the bank but didn’t excite you, either. And I bet you’ve already browsed the internet for answers on how to improve your marketing efforts.

The truth is that social media marketing and influencer marketing are two branches where something can go wrong pretty easily. However, this doesn’t mean it’s difficult to make it nor does it mean that you’ll need to pay a hefty amount of money to lead users further down your sales funnel.

sales funnel
Source: https://www.finteza.com/en/marketing-resources/13-conversion-funnels-must-have-marketing-tool

As you can see, not even 5% of the top of your funnel converts fully. We’re here to make sure that you won’t fall into any traps without having to pay a hefty amount of money for it.

Determine the platform and the target audience first

social media platform

You can’t know what you need to do later if you haven’t decided on who your target audience is first. Your target audience consists of those who will think that your brand is useful and will be positive when it comes to purchasing something.

After determining that, you’ll need to think about the platform they’re using. For example, you’ll need to develop a great Snapchat game if you want Gen Z’ers to notice you. For Baby Boomers, you’ll need a great Pinterest plan.

Two things are for sure though:

  • You’ll need a solid plan when it comes to Facebook and Instagram, regardless.
  • You’ll need a great email marketing and automation tool

The first one, because Facebook and Instagram are the most influential social media platforms and most people check a business online before trusting it.

business graph
Source: https://irishtechnews.ie/sme-utilize-social-media-marketing/

The second one, because email marketing and automation is the most affordable channel with a crazy-high ROI.

What are your goals?

Do you need more leads? Do you need to nurture the already existing leads? What are you after?

If you can’t determine that, you can’t have a strategy. Study all the data you gathered when you went through with step one. This will give you more clarity and insight when it comes to actually understanding the core values of your business, but from a client’s perspective.

Determining clear and achievable goals is what will give you better leverage to pretty much everything, from designing a newsletter template to using a landing page builder down the line.

“But why is that?” I hear you ask.

The answer is pretty simple — because content rules all. However, content that is not consistent with your brand’s tone will, in the long run, damage your goals.

As you see, everything is linked back to your target audience. This leads us to step No. 3:

Use influencers and giveaways

social media influencer marketing

 

You need your name and brand to grow one way or the other and influencers are the perfect people to help you do that. On the other hand, giveaways are the perfect way to give something back to your crowd and perhaps attract more people while you’re at it.

Now, think of combining those two:

Giving something back to an audience that would be interested in you, but is not following you yet.

This is where an influencer comes into play. Again: an influencer. Not a model or an ambassador as this would be a costlier option. Besides, their audience wouldn’t be niche-specific.

For example:

Use a makeup artist if you want to promote your beauty brand. A makeup artist will have followers that will definitely be interested in your product, be it other makeup artists or just people watching YouTube tutorials on how to nail the perfect cat-eye.

That influencer can host a giveaway. It will attract people that will definitely be interested in what you’ve got to give back.

One little tip here:

Your brand tone should match the influencer’s brand tone. Here, you’re the one trying to convert an already existing audience into followers and, ultimately, customers.

Those followers are used to a specific tone of voice and means of promoting a product. So, the best thing to do would be simply leaving the creative aspect up to the influencers themselves — up to an extent, of course.

See Also: The Importance of Storytelling in Marketing

A couple of tips for the road

You wouldn’t want things to go wrong or maybe you’ve already gone through with your first giveaway and it didn’t quite work out.

This is where the following tips come into play:

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be very careful about what you’re giving out on a giveaway, what is in your inventory in the first place and about the terms and conditions. You don’t want to have to deal with a case like this one.

Don’t be too vague with the rules. Your followers need to know exactly what they need to do in order to be eligible for the giveaway. Confusion is not your friend.

Don’t make things too complicated for a gift that’s too simple and vice-versa. Nobody will bother with a free sample if they’ve got to tag and tag accounts and people.

See Also: How To Drive Traffic to Your Website Through Social Media

Takeaway

The use of social media and influencers can be of great value to SMEs especially, seeing as everyone takes on to social media platforms in order to check the social proof and the end-value of a business.

Leverage micro-influencers that are niche-specific and you’ll see your conversion rate skyrocket!

So, what say you? Are these tips on social media and influencer marketing enough? Is there something you’ve tried and would like to share with us?

Tell us in the comments and don’t forget to share the knowledge!

The post How To Nail Social Media and Influencer Marketing: The SME Edition appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan

Are you a smart businessman? Do you have what it takes to take bold decisions when your company faces the music? Are you aware of the regulations and policies of the top lenders? Do you know how to get a short-term business loan?

If your response is affirmative to the above questions, you know how to sail your company’s ship out of the troubled waters like a champion captain.

Now, before you go ahead and set a meeting with your lender, you must first know your primary purpose.

Basically, such a loan is usually obtained by small businesses when they are in an urgent need of cash. It could either be due to the need for a bigger space to  store your products or fit your growing workforce. They also come across situations where they need extra cash to purchase resources for a big order from a special client.

Such challenges can test an entrepreneur’s ability to handle the pressures of the business world.

Although a short-term business loan can save the day, business owners must repay the loan within 18 months or one and a half years.

Now that you have understood what a short-term business loan is, let’s look into how to qualify for one.

Maintain a Good Credit Score

It all starts with your credit score or the record of your bill payments.

A lender needs to know the status of your finances and how responsible you are in dealing with your debts. If you are able to maintain a clean and reputable credit history, your credit score would allow you to look for different sorts of financing options.

Always keep in mind that lenders check your personal credit score in addition to your business one. It is important because personal debts and mortgages often create problems in the repayment of loans.

This way, your lender will have a 360-degree view of your finances like your credits, debits, and years of business before offering you a loan.

Meet the Minimum Requirements

get a short term business loan

It is essential to know that getting a loan is a two-way deal. You must be equally indulgent and cautious about the whole process as much as your lender is.

If the lender asks for your financial information and reviews your accounts, then it is necessary for you to do your own research as well. Even before approaching a lender, it is wise to carry out research to make things easier and more transparent for you.

You should look into their mission statements and understand the requirements that should be met to get a loan approved. Having all proofs and documents ready will impress your prospective lender. It will make it easier to meet their standards and increase your chances of getting approved.

Get Your Testimonies Ready

Getting a loan is a hectic process. Sometimes, it can take months of rigorous hard work to complete it and a delay in the process can deliver a severe blow to your business.

As a smart entrepreneur, you should be prepared. Before even applying for a short-term loan, make sure that you have read its details and requirements.

Your next task is to collect the necessary documents, like personal and business balance sheets, leases, and bank statements. It will not only improve your loan application’s chances for approval, but will also save your precious time.

The quicker you arrange the required paperwork, the earlier you are going to have an access to that pile of cash for your business.

Make Your Business Strong

short term business loan

The status and prospects of your business are of great interest to the lenders. No lender would want to engage its money in a business that is not doing well. Things may become even gloomy if your company has no future business plan or if it has a flimsy business structure.

You need to have a robust and proactive approach in your business. You must have a detailed picture of where your business started from, where it is now, and where will it stand in the future.

Make sure that your business plan is free from any discrepancies or shady areas. It must be strong and articulate for the lender. Don’t forget to include your company’s origin, background, mission, and vision statement.

It should mention your product or service description. It would be a great idea to also make an industrial analysis, relevant market research, and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) for your business. These things will make your lender well-informed and impressed with your efforts.

See Also: 5 Ways Business Investment Loans Can Help Your Start-Up

Final Thoughts

Securing a short-term business loan is quite convenient if you know your business and you’re willing to go the distance to inspire its growth. A suitable lender will see through your hard work and reward it with a prompt loan — and with leniency and a lower interest rate.

You have to believe in your business and pitch the idea to your lender with real dedication and conviction. Do not laze around or delay the process. Be active.

In fact, you need to be proactive in both receiving and returning the loan. If you have the qualities mentioned earlier in your business, you will have a short-term business loan approved in no or little time.

See Also: What Are The Advantages Of Business Consolidation Loans?

The post How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Create Effective Infographics to Boost Your Content Marketing Game

A static content is nothing but an onslaught of dead words running the length of a full page. The wordy research might be of high value, but for today’s generation that’s highly off-putting.

Do you know why?

Because present online users have relatively shorter attention spans and are more likely to lean towards visually appealing content that’s logically moving and impels their participation at the same time.

The true mark of a successful business organization is marked by its ability to use different strategies according to the latest trends.

And what’s in hype these days? ‘Interactive’ infographics that are dynamic, colorful, and engaging. It’s the new marketing strategy.

How do you create a perfect ‘interactive’ infographic? How to create effective infographics?

It’s not an easy process. It’s quite a tricky one. A significant amount of planning goes into it. But you need not worry because I’ve delineated the proper steps in a convenient progression below.

Here’s how to create effective infographics:

Examine your brand

Before heading out towards the battlefield, it’s wise to make a thorough inspection of the artillery and inventory, right? To make sure you’ve got the right weapons and defenses?

Similarly, before creating interactive infographics and adopting this new marketing tactic, it’s crucial that you reexamine your brand from top to bottom.

  • Run tests on it and sort out its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Mark the selling points and focus on improving the lags.
  • Plan your pitch and devise techniques to convert consumers into clients.

Once you know what your brand’s true call is, it’ll be easier to project it from the rest of the world.

Double-check the target audience

If an English Literature teacher delivers a lecture on Shakespeare to a class of medical students, that would sound absurd. It’s a total waste of time, energy, and resources, right?

So, it’s absolutely paramount to understand that audience matters greatly. The people listening to what you’re saying and receiving your message get to have the final say about that message after all. A simple yay or nay of the consumers could make or break your brand’s image.

Know your target audience so you can build a productive interaction through an infographic with them. Consider their pains and problems, find out their interests and motivations, and then mold your call accordingly.

Collect convincing facts

create effective infographics

Abstract propositions are a total turn-off for consumers, believe me. It’s like throwing darts haphazardly into thin air and never hitting the bull’s eye. Missing your mark means missing your chance of survival in the long run.

Only with concrete data, hard-core facts, and undeniable logic can you turn disinterested online consumers into potential customers. You need to convince them why they should opt for your brand instead of others.

If they do choose your brand, what’s in it for them?

Relaying everything through an interactive infographic sounds like a wonderful idea, doesn’t it?

Saves everyone time and positively leads to sales.

Craft an interesting narrative

Information explosion is one thing you have to look out for. It’s hardly delectable and not easily digested. If an infographic is filled to the brim with hard-core facts, then the online consumers will find it difficult to relate to it. And if they can’t find a hook, they’ll just drop it and that’s not something you’d want.

So, to make it easy for your target audience to smoothly sail from one point to the next one, you need to:

  • Craft a clever story around your brand which will take the onlookers on a journey and touch them on an emotional level.
  • Include real-life examples, metaphors, cool analogies, voice-overs, and comments in the infographic. This will allow it to actually speak to your potential clients and convert them into buyers.

Incorporate eye-catching graphics

The appeal of a pastry lies in its delicate decoration. Because it seems pleasing to the eyes, we naturally assume it to be tasty and worth eating, right?

The same applies to interactive infographics. If the information is represented visually, it automatically engages the users’ attention. You might think of graphs, pies, and charts, but they’re too mainstream and bore easily.

Animation, on the other hand, is a foolproof attention-grabbing hook.

A wonderful color-scheme coupled with creative doodles and mechanisms like easy transitions, on-click revealing of hidden information, scrolling and hovering is bound to keep the online consumer’s eyes on the infographic through and through.

See Also: 10 Design Rules You Should Never Forget in 2019

Embed SEO-friendly gambits

how to create effective infographic

An interactive infographic is like an open canvas. You can freely throw paint on it, add music videos in it, include links and watermarks, gifs, voice-notes, and so much more.

In addition, you can embed top-ranking keywords in the visual content in more than one SEO-friendly ways. This will allow Google or other search engines to trace it and rank you higher in its result. Crafty, right?

Elicit user response

The most important feature of all is enabling the online consumer to engage with the infographic and respond to it. To this end, you can include a smart ‘form’ or an opinion-based poll in the content, which the user can fill and give his feedback.

This feedback can then be used to inform the firm’s policies. It is a positive call to action which is the main purpose of the infographic.

Because of this, the user will feel empowered and know that his voice matters for the brand. This will encourage him to share the infographic with others and do an indirect advertising for the brand.

Once you’ve taken all these factors into account, creating an interactive infographic should not be a conundrum for you. Just make sure to operate over a stable connection and you’re good to go. Say goodbye to plain wordy content and welcome the colorful interactive one. It’s the way of the future.

The post How to Create Effective Infographics to Boost Your Content Marketing Game appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Did The Gig Economy Jump The Shark?

Is the gig economy working and thriving?

The gig economy came on strong at a time in American history when people needed to be able to onboard quickly and start making money immediately. The country was deep in the grips of The Great Recession and people were losing jobs and homes left and right. The idea of driving people around in your own car for money didn’t seem all that crazy.

And back then, the money was actually pretty good.

These days, gig drivers have seen wages fall by more than half since 2014 and it’s not just gig driving jobs that are seeing turnover rates of more than 500% per year. As the economy strengthens and people are able to find more steady employment that includes the benefits they need to live, the gig economy is starting to show signs of jumping the shark.

Where Did The Gig Economy Come From?

gig economy working

During the Great Recession, unemployment rose to 7.2% and many people struggled to get back into the workforce right away. This is due to the higher numbers of applicants that went out for the same small pool of jobs.

At the same time, tech was being developed to hire and manage independent contractors to do things that didn’t require companies to own any property or employ any workers. It included things like ridesharing and home-sharing.

With an app, you could suddenly rent out your spare room like a hotel or drive people around like a taxi. It seemed like the perfect stopgap move for people struggling to find full-time employment and the money was worth the effort — at least at first.

What Happened To The Gig Economy?

As these jobs became more popular and more people were competing for them, wages fell. Municipalities began to question the legality of such employment situations, with some outright banning the services due to concerns about worker protection and even public safety.

As wages continued to fall, people began to realize that when they factored in the cost of wear and tear and fuel for their cars, they actually weren’t even making minimum wage in some cases.

As a result, some people tried to unionize while turnover skyrocketed to 500% for some companies. Today, 60% of gig workers can’t come up with $400 for an emergency.

The Gig Economy Is Still Struggling

the gig economy working

As this option becomes less appealing as a full-time job and people are reverting back to using the gig economy as a side hustle, incomes have dropped off sharply. Median monthly incomes for gig economy sectors are:

  • $793 non-transportation
  • 762 transportation
  • $534 selling

The number of full-time gig workers dropped from 16.2 million to 15.8 million between 2014 and 2018, but the number of part-time gig workers rose from 12.9 million in 2017 to 14.9 million in 2018. People are relying less on the gig economy to provide them with full-time work and a living wage and more to provide a part-time, short-term gig to help get them out of a pickle when they need it.

The U.S. Department of Labor ruled that gig workers are not employees. Therefore, they are not entitled to minimum wage protections or normal employment benefits such as health insurance. Most workers are flocking to more traditional forms of employment, but employers are increasingly seeking gig workers to do jobs in more flexible arrangements.

As of 2016, one in six organizations had at least 30% of contingent workers in its workforce, signaling a shift in the parameters of traditional roles. Meanwhile, gig companies like Uber are trying out benefits like free college tuition for top drivers, though this is doing little to stave off unionization efforts.

See Also: GenZ and Money: How GenZ Faces Their Financial Fears

Is It Completely Doomed?

As with all new things, the gig economy is going through growing pains trying to find its place in the world. There are some people who benefit from being able to start and change jobs quickly and set their own hours and who don’t necessarily need all the perks that come along with doing a particular job.

As the gig economy grows up, these will be the people who power it, while others will move back into more traditional working arrangements as the economy strengthens. Learn more about the future of the gig economy from the infographic below.
Gig Jobs
Source: Online Schools Center

The post Did The Gig Economy Jump The Shark? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Why We Need To Think More About Ethical AI Now

Artificial intelligence is the stuff of nightmares and science fiction stories. What if it goes rogue and thinks we are dispensable? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

Artificial intelligence can automate many of the repetitive things we do every day. It can even drive for us and recognize different human faces.

The problem?

Artificial intelligence is only as unbiased as we can program it to be — and we are humans with bias. How can we ensure AI is programmed in an ethical and unbiased way?

The Proven History of Bias In AI

People have tried several times to program AI to take over lower-level tasks. It was supposed to free us up to handle the things that are higher-order in nature.

Amazon famously tried this with its hiring protocols. It fed resumes into an artificial intelligence algorithm, telling it which candidates were successful hires. The result was not only that the AI refused to consider women applicants for jobs, but it also kicked out any resumes that have women as references.

There are more dangerous instances of biased programming in artificial intelligence. A 2019 study found that driverless cars were better at detecting pedestrians with lighter skin tones. The data fed to the algorithm contained three times as many light-skinned people as it did dark-skinned people. So, the AI learned to detect lighter skinned people much faster but struggled to identify people with darker skin tones.

There’s also been a lot of talks lately about facial recognition software utilized by police departments. Some cities and states are banning the practice. However, states like Orlando, Florida and Washington County, Oregon have already started using the software.

It has many of the same problems as facial detection software in autonomous vehicles. The programming is biased and often misidentifies people with darker skin tones. The ACLU compared 25,000 mugshots with photos of members of congress and found 28 false matches, 39% of which were people of color. This technology scans police body camera footage as well as security footage even with known flaws.

The Purpose Of Ethical AI

Artificial intelligence can potentially make our lives easier. If we can figure a way to program AI to be ethical, we can actually use the technology to save lives. Driverless cars are estimated to save us up to 250 million hours of free time, $234 billion in public costs in savings from accidents, and 90% of traffic fatalities. But this is, of course, only if it is programmed correctly.

driverless car
Via phys.org

There’s not even a consensus about how driverless cars should react in situations that could lead to death or injury. Only about three-quarters of people believe that driverless cars should save as many lives as possible. There’s not even a consensus that human life is more valuable than property or other considerations.

There are people who believe that autonomous vehicles should spare the lives of children almost unanimously. However, less preference is given to the lives of criminals or animals. What’s more, very few people were actually willing to spend the money to buy a car with programming that would minimize harm.

How Can We Promote Ethical AI?

As the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.

If we want artificial intelligence to be less biased, we have to understand the inner workings of human bias. We need to spend the time to ensure it doesn’t get translated into the AI’s training modules.

Training the AI to weigh darker skin tones more heavily or to ignore gender could help make the algorithms less biased. Being more careful about the data that is fed into the system and monitoring for any problems in the output are going to be crucial steps moving forward. Subtle human bias can be multiplied when it becomes part of an algorithm. Once the AI is left to its own devices this can become a serious problem.

If we want to be able to fully benefit from AI, we need to do the work on the front end to make sure it thinks ethically. Learn more about ethical artificial intelligence from the infographic below.

Are we ready for a world where the machines can make their own decisions?
Ethical AI
Source: Cyber Security Degrees

The post Why We Need To Think More About Ethical AI Now appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Things to Consider Before Starting a New Marketing Campaign

Starting a marketing campaign from scratch can feel overwhelming. In case you have never made a marketing campaign or if you have at least tried and just felt like you were in a tight spot, you’d know how tough it is.

However, if you want serious returns for your new business, you need to think your marketing campaigns through.

Preferably, before you plan a coupon marketing campaign, you ought to have a marketing plan for your business. The marketing plan is the foundation of your marketing strategy for a product or service. It gives the general coupon marketing strategies and objectives to draw your target market to the products or service your business offers.

A good marketing campaign includes only a bit of your actual marketing plan—an activity intended to accomplish a specific marketing goal. When you know how your campaign fits into your general marketing plan, then you can distinguish your objective market and how best to approach them.

Here are some things you should consider before starting a marketing campaign for your product/service.

When to start your campaign

Your marketing campaign must have a start and an end date. Utilize a calendar to schedule and plot out the significant dates and activities.

Figuring out when to begin your promotions is similar to tossing spaghetti at a wall. You study different marketing strategies and implement what you think fits the bill.

Hence, there is no definite answer to this question as it varies from business to business. You need to consider your market, the type of product or service, the purpose of the product, and other factors before you can decide when to start your marketing campaign. However, you need to take your time to plan out and design the campaign and the strategies you will need to implement in order to make the campaign successful.

See Also: Ask Questions Before Approving a Marketing Campaign Plan

Pick your target audience

Before you start your coupon marketing campaign, you have to decide the “who”. You need to determine your target market and how you will contact them.

The most ideal approach is to comprehend their novel difficulties and how you can tackle them. Characterize purchaser personas for your customers so you can refine your messages to their particular needs as they assess their alternatives.

Create a content calendar

target marketing campaign

When you share content on different marketing platforms, it tends to be hard to remain on track. On the off chance that you fall behind, completely disregard a platform or miss a post, it could destroy your whole campaign.

Endeavor to recall what content to post and when can be a noteworthy pressure. Occasional posts and conflicting messages may make your clients think that you don’t care about your online nearness.

A content schedule or calendar will enable you to remain on track and guarantee you’re posting the right data at the best time. Rather than expecting to recollect what day you should post something, you can check your calendar every morning to decide what ought to be planned for that day.

Moreover, it enables you to see the master plan for your marketing procedure. You will know how each bit of your marketing content fits together to make the whole campaign.

See Also: Effective Content Marketing: 8 Ways to Get Your Content Noticed

Where to distribute your campaign

What media channel will you use to convey your message and pull in and catch your customers?

Some marketing platforms include:

  • Websites
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Mobile
  • Video
  • Search Engines

The channels you pick should depend on your business, target audience, and objectives.

Note: The channel is the way to communicate with people. The strategy is how you use the channel to promote your business. So, your coupon marketing strategy is the thing that you post, share on the marketing channel to promote engagement which turns into leads.

Set your marketing campaign budget

The amount of cash you can spend on your campaign will enormously influence the advertising strategies you pick.

A billboard is much more expensive than flyers. Try not to rely upon free publicizing and advancement procedures for your business.

This doesn’t mean that all free advertising techniques are terrible. However, there is always an expense to marketing. The best method to achieve your target market may not be so cheap, so be reasonable when setting your campaign budget.

Track and measure results

It is imperative to monitor your marketing strategies to results. Results will be dictated by what your objectives were for the campaign. Following and estimating results can be easy or complex depending on the business.

When you have finished your campaign, keeps these things in mind during the review:

  • Did your offer fulfill the needs of your target customers? If not, what would you be able to offer that will?
  • What did you discover that you can apply to your next campaign?
  • Did you meet the objectives? If not, why?
  • Should anything change next time you run the campaign?

Boosting a marketing campaign isn’t something you can do rapidly and accomplish results overnight. Every activity should be arranged and carefully thought of before you start the campaign. Without an appropriate plan, your campaign is probably going to fall flat.

Make changes

marketing campaign

You can dissect, measure, and track your marketing practices to figure out what your crowd will associate with. When you realize your coupon marketing campaign isn’t verging on accomplishing your objectives, then you need to make changes.

Remain mindful of how your audience is responding, yet keep your team ready to make improvements and amendments wherever necessary. Do not sit idle or waste your money on a campaign that will not bring you any returns.

Conclusion

The key takeaways here are to focus on the needs of your audience, pick the channels that you believe will give the best return, and monitor your progress and finally stick with what works for your business. Consider the factors mentioned above before starting a marketing campaign to get the most out of your coupon marketing efforts.

The post Things to Consider Before Starting a New Marketing Campaign appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How WiFi6 Will Make Your Home (And Business) Better

Do you remember the first time you got a WiFi connection in your home?

The possibilities seemed endless, and suddenly they were. A whole new set of gadgets started to emerge, from connected doorbells to connected thermostats. There was an increase in connected gadgets per person, too.

Where the internet was once only available from a shared home computer, people now have multiple devices each, including phones, laptops, e-readers, gaming systems, and more.

Unfortunately, the older generation of WiFi has struggled to keep up. While speeds have increased, it still has a fatal flaw. Many current WiFi routers only connect to a single device at a time, sending and receiving information from just that device before moving on to the next.

More recent WiFi5 routers can connect to 4 devices at a time. WiFi6, meanwhile, will be able to connect to multiple devices at a time, revolutionizing our connected homes and businesses.

Old Technology Leads To Lag Time

old technology lag wifi

Your old WiFi router is getting the job done but sometimes, it struggles to keep up. You can watch streaming video just fine, but when the kids are all playing Fortnite with their friends, your video might buffer more.

That’s because the more devices there are connected to a single WiFi router, the longer it takes for the signal to jump back to your device. Every time you add a new device to your old network, it bogs the signal down even more.

The History of Signal Hopping And WiFi

In 1941, Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr patented Frequency-Hopping Spread-Spectrum as a way to guide torpedoes in WWII without being detected. The technology skipped signals across different frequencies in a predetermined pattern, much like how WiFi works today.

In fact, this invention is also used in Bluetooth and Zigbee, as well as many more technologies. Its importance wasn’t discovered for decades after its invention. Then, Lamarr finally received recognition for her work in 1997. That’s three years before she died.

ARPANET was the first network of multiple computers, hardwired together to communicate with each other. It’s thought of as the predecessor to the internet. The first wireless network was developed in 1971 at the University of Hawaii using radio communications.

Then, TCP/IP was invented in 1983 to grow a single network to a network of networks. The World Wide Web followed in 1990. Multiple technological advances before, during, and after these major milestones had been stitched together to give us today’s modern WiFi.

Upgrading to Wifi 6: The Future of WiFi

future of wifi

WiFi5 routers upped connections from one device at a time to four. As of 2017, the average U.S. household had five connected devices, enough to slow the connection for everything. What’s more, the average number of connected devices has ballooned to more than three times that of 2017, ushering in the need for even better technology.

Think about your connected thermostat and all the auxiliary items you can connect to it, each with its own need for a WiFi connection. Then, think about your IoT refrigerator that connects to your Alexa so you can check the contents of your fridge before heading home from the office. There are all the WiFi connected televisions, gaming systems, tablets, laptops, and more, each bogging down your system.

WiFi6 is going to revolutionize the way we connect to the internet both at home and at work. Not only will the new generation of WiFi be able to connect to more devices at a time, it will also be able to handle larger packets of information from each. Think about all the laptops on your work network and how laggy the internet gets when everyone is in the office on the same day — upgrading to WiFi6 will make that better.

The Need Is Growing Greater

By next year, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices worldwide. That’s more than 2.6 times what we already have today.

Before you buy your next IoT toaster, stop to ask yourself if your network is ready to handle yet another connected device. It might be time to upgrade to WiFi6 just to save your sanity. Learn more about the history and future of WiFi from the infographic below!

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6 Things to Do Before a Product Launch

The best way to bring much-needed attention to your new product or service is by doing a product launch.

Even with an awesome product, a great deal of its success depends on the launch, as the hype surrounding it can bring you more sales, more happy customers, and a better reputation for your company.

Still, having a good product launch is a daunting task, which takes a lot of research and planning in order to be successful and if you don’t go through all the key steps to do it right, you are risking the future of your product.

Here are a few things you shouldn’t skip doing when launching your new product.

Research the market

For a new product to be successful in the market, you should do your research well. There are three key points that need to be considered even before developing the product.

  • Audience. No product will succeed if no one wants to use it, so think about your potential customers and their needs. Is there a pain point your product will solve?
  • Competition. Are there any other businesses offering the same or similar product? How are you going to differentiate yourself from them? What makes your product unique and special?
  • Finances. How much will you need to invest upfront and what are the risks attached to the new product launch?

Once you’ve found the answers to these questions, you will be able to create both a unique selling proposition and a value proposition.

This means you will be able to provide your customers with answers on why your product is better than the one your competitors are offering and what they’ll get in return for their money.

Plan ahead

new product launch

For a product launch to succeed, one must plan ahead.

There are numerous aspects which need to be included in the plan, from product development and testing to marketing and pricing.

Not all the details have to be known at the early stages of the planning, but the timeline and the framework of the activities should be mapped out and defined.

As gaining attention is your main goal, you will need to gear up early and focus on building relationships with influencers, as well as brainstorm all the creative elements which are going to get you publicity. Making a schedule will make it easier for your teams to check their progress and prioritize tasks, and if followed, a plan will decrease the odds of working under stress and launching late.

Find the right influencers

With all the impact social media channels have nowadays, you should focus on finding influencers who can easily approach your target market.

Stats say that 49% of consumers rely on the influencer recommendation on social media, so be sure to provide influencers with the exclusive news and samples of your products.

Encourage, entice, and incentivize them to put their reviews of your products on their blogs, video, and social media channels. This can bring the right kind of attention to your launch and attract the right customers.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Instagram Advertising

Promote the launch

product launch checklist

Before the product hits the market, you need to educate your potential customers on its features and advantages and build hype around its arrival. Here are some ideas on how to best achieve this:

  • Update your social media followers regularly on your progress.
  • Write a blog and educate your customers on products features.
  • Use videos, demos and whitepapers to give detailed info on your product.
  • Submit guest posts to sites relevant in your industry.
  • Have social media contests offering your customers a chance to be the first to get a sample of your product.
  • Provide the industry experts and influencers with samples of your product and freebies.
  • Make a countdown timer on your website and publish teaser videos and photos.

If possible, it is the best to tie your launch day to a larger event, such as an industry event or trade show, to get the most publicity for launching.

Get feedback

The best way to know whether your product is going to be a success once it reaches the market is by soft-launching it to a portion of your target audience. By testing your product in your product market, you will gather valuable information. You can then use this to make the necessary adjustments to your product or campaign.

There are many different ways to get customer feedback that can help you solve the customers’ complaints and issues from the moment your new product reaches the market. Statistics show that a dissatisfied customer shares their experience with 16 people on average, while only 1 out of 26 will actually complain to the company. By using different social media listening and other available tools, you can now respond to both the positive and negative feedback in a timely manner and do wonders for your brand’s reputation.

Keep the fire alive

The launch is hardly over when the launch day is done.

To get the most out of it, plan ahead on how to best exploit it afterward.

You can achieve this by posting the news about your latest product and the benefits it brings into your customers’ lives. Also, think about the ways to involve your customers into this post-launch campaign and motivate them to post videos and photos of themselves using and enjoying your product.

As a successful launch is essential to the positioning of your product in the market and your brand’s reputation, make sure to plan it carefully and not leave anything out. Use as many promotional tactics you can handle, because when it comes to a product launch, you can not over-market it.

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Ask Questions Before Approving a Marketing Campaign Plan

Before you sign off on a marketing campaign plan, it’s crucial that you understand what the plan is about and if the budget is reasonable. You can’t let a plan go ahead without questioning the people who worked on those ideas to see if they are worth doing.

Why did you choose that platform?

The first question is about why the marketing team chose a specific platform.

Is it the best option considering the choices available? Isn’t it a rehash of previous campaigns used?

If the next campaign focuses on traditional ads like the use of pop up banner design and posters, you need to ask if they’re worth the money when compared with online campaigns. The goal is not to discourage the chosen platform, but to know the reason behind the proposed use.

How will it attract the target audience?

You need to ask this question to determine if the marketing team has studied the target audience. Perhaps, the members decided to come up with such a strategy without knowing if the ads will work with the people you want to buy your products. If you don’t think the ads make sense or there’s no guarantee they will appeal to your chosen audience, you need to encourage the use of a different campaign.

How much will the campaign cost?

You need to know how much you’re going to spend if you pursue the plan and if it will significantly affect the overall budget you allotted for marketing. If the amount is reasonable and the team can justify the decision, you can sign off on it; otherwise, you need to ask the team to resubmit the budget plan and defend it.

What’s Plan B?

It is crucial that you know what the marketing team intends to do if things don’t go as planned. In the world of marketing, any result is possible. You can’t always expect things to end the way you want. As such, you need to ask what the alternative plan is and how it will be implemented. You don’t want to work on the plan, but you need to know what it is in case things go south.

You’re not making it hard

You might think that you’re making it difficult for your employees because of your decision to ask several questions. The truth is that you’re only protecting your business because you don’t want to terrible results.

Besides, asking questions doesn’t mean you are power tripping. You’re trying to clarify things and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It also makes you feel confident seeing your marketing team know how to respond and even defend their responses. They will implement the plan, and if they seem to have no idea what’s going on, it could end in a huge mess.

Once you have finished asking questions, you can encourage everyone to work hard until you achieve the marketing goals.

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Online and Offline Businesses You Can Start With No Money

These days, it’s easier than ever to start your own business. With the rise of the internet and online platforms for conducting business, there are plenty of opportunities to make money. There’s a long list of businesses you can start with no money.

Traditional wisdom holds that you need to “spend money to make money”. In reality, however, there are many ways to earn money without an initial investment.

Here are just a few potential businesses you can start with no money.

Driving for Lyft or Uber

One of the more popular ways to make extra money these days is driving for a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber. These companies don’t require anything other than a car, a valid driver’s license, and a background check to get started.

It does take some time to complete the onboarding process. However, once you’re a part of their network, you can start earning money fast on your own time. There are some requirements in terms of how old your car can be. Working in certain cities or at specific times of the day will allow you to make more, but it’s relatively easy to get started with these companies.

Pet Sitting

Do you have any friends with pets?

If so, you could easily start working as a pet sitter with little to no upfront costs. Even if you don’t personally know anyone with pets, you can advertise your service on Craigslist or other freelance websites and start taking care of people’s pets while they’re away.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys being around animals, pet sitting is definitely one of the best businesses you can start with no money.

Babysitting

Obviously, babysitting might require more screening than pet sitting. However, if you are good with kids or know people who will trust you to take care of their children, it can be a great way to make money.

Of course, people want to be careful with whom they hire to look after their children, so you may have to invest some time being interviewed by the parents. But other than time and the gas it takes to get around, there’s not much you’ll need to spend to get started as a babysitter.

Selling things on Etsy or at Flea Markets

If you have any items lying around that you no longer use or you feel willing to part with, selling things at flea markets or online marketplaces like Etsy can be a great option. Everything from the furniture you no longer need, clothes you don’t wear anymore, video game consoles you never use or even your old appliances and electronics can be sold to people who have more use for them.

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are other options for selling your stuff online. If you have some things at home that you no longer need, consider putting them up for sale to start making some extra money.

Delivering Food

Similar to driving for Lyft or Uber, all you really need to start delivering food is a car and a valid driver’s license. Uber Eats, Postmates, Grub Hub, and many other companies offer this service nowadays. It’s a great option for people who want to set their own hours and make money without a significant cash investment up front.

Of course, you’ll want to work during lunch and dinner rush hours to make the most money possible. However, delivering food represents a good business opportunity if you’re willing to work during those times of the day.

Tutoring

If you happen to have a lot of knowledge about a particular topic, such as math or grammar, you can make a fair amount of money as a tutor. Unlike teaching at a school, there’s no formal training that’s legally required for you to tutor. As long as you can prove your expertise, you can find work.

People of all ages may require tutors. You can teach kids in school, college students or even adults attending night school. If you have good people skills and a fair degree of knowledge in a specific area, tutoring could be a good business opportunity for you.

Blogging

freelancer website

There are a few different ways you could potentially make money through blogging. One is to work using freelance sites to write blog articles for other people or companies.

Of course, to do this, you may need to have some experience to prove to a potential employer that you’re worth hiring. But even if you have no experience, you can start your own blog and potentially make money by running ads on it.

Once you have a few blog posts up, try promoting your blog via social media or other outlets. If you can generate an audience, ad networks may pay you to run advertisements on your blog.

Cleaning

While you may need to invest in some cleaning supplies, getting started as a cleaner is relatively easy. You can advertise your services online and make money by cleaning people’s homes or apartments. There’s also the opportunity for you to find regular clients who pay you to clean their place every week or so.

The biggest investment you’ll need to make to start a cleaning business is time since you won’t be able to do this job from home.

House Sitting

If you have friends who are preparing to travel for a long period of time or if you know someone with a summer home that needs regular maintenance, you could take care of their home while they’re away.

House sitting won’t require you to make any expensive investments. One of the downsides, however, is that it can be tough to find this type of work regularly. But if you can rack up a few clients that need some house sitting done, it can potentially be a lucrative business that doesn’t take much money to get started.

Dog Walking

There are websites like Wag and others that allow you to sign up to become a dog walker and start earning money quickly and with no cost up front.

You may need to undergo a quick background check to ensure you can be trusted with other people’s pets. After that, you can start making some cash quickly. One of the perks of being a dog walker is being able to spend time outside and getting some extra exercise.

If you enjoy being outdoors and you like dogs, this could be an ideal business for you.

Social Media

Like blogging, there are different ways you can use your social media skills to make money. You could manage social media accounts for a company or individual.

If you have some experience doing paid social media work in the past, this could be a great opportunity. If the only social media experience you have is running your own accounts, you can still find work, especially if you can show that you’ve generated a lot of engagement.

Another potential opportunity is to make money through your own social media accounts. Some companies might pay you to be a brand ambassador or make sponsored posts if you can prove that your content will be seen by a large enough audience.

As you can see, there are a lot of businesses you can start with no money. Whether you prefer to work online or offline, there are businesses that can put some extra cash in your pocket fast. You can choose to work for another company or start your own in one of these areas.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure to perform the job well and communicate with clients. It’s a really good way to build your network and get more work in the future.

See Also: 3 Home Business Ideas to Help You Start Making Money from Home

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15 Benefits to Outsource Document Management

Outsourcing is a significant breakthrough, which started in the late 90’s in North America and Europe. Different aspects and processes in businesses were outsourced, including documents from public, classified, and restricted archives. Without a doubt, outsourcing is an efficient method that enables businesses to focus on core processes.

Why It Matters

The rise of document management outsourcing isn’t that surprising, considering that most companies view their document management solution as an inconvenient part of their functional operations. Companies are aware that it cause an unnecessary delay from time to time. Aside from delays, document management also results in an even more disorganized process.

These inconveniences can lead to errors and redundancies that could easily be avoided by consulting experienced document management experts. These people can provide a holistic solution and approach to your enterprise content management, which plays a fundamental role in the control of the information in your company. The effectiveness of your document management system can have a negative or positive impact on your business processes.

After determining the importance of document management, it is natural for us to know more about what is it and how you can make the most out of its benefits when the process is done as it should be.

What Exactly Is Document Management?

document management
Via sodapdf

Document management is often referred to as Document Management Systems (DMS). This process uses document management software to store, manage, and track electronic documents. In other cases, it is used on images of paper-based information captured through the use of a document scanner, as well as other file types. The system comprehensively shows how your organization stores, manages, and tracks its electronic copy of documents that is applicable in modern or paperless settings.

Document management is one of the precursor advancements to content management. But before it became mainstream, document management was available exclusively in a stand-alone basis like imaging, workflow, and archiving brethren. In the first few years of the document management system, it’s not considered as necessary as other functions. It all changed when businesses discovered the benefits document management system offers,especially when a reputable outsourcing company is hired to do the job.

To date, outsourcing firms provide some of the most basic functionalities to content management such as imposing controls and management capabilities onto otherwise “stagnant” documents. In addition, they now have the capability to create software or programs that can handle more complicated procedures in the document management process. This is extremely convenient at times when you have piles of documents and you have to look for a specific file immediately.

Top Benefits of Outsourcing Document Management

document management outsource

Outsourcing document management is an effective way to help business owners so they can divert their attention and full potential in more essential divisions of the company.

Most, if not all, outsourcing companies can provide the equivalent level of effectiveness in services at a much lower cost. This aspect of outsourcing document management is of vital importance because business and company owners are looking for means to save as much as possible. But, of course, companies need not bargain on the quality of results. Therefore, outsourcing document management is a high common ground that meets both budget and quality of results. You may found very useful information provided by John Mancini here about outsourcing document management.

It’s a cost-effective strategy that allows small to large businesses to save and make use of their budgets in more critical areas of the company.

In general, outsourcing is a great way to save more bucks since you can use the budget in other means that you’d find more profitable. For instance, instead of investing in a few sets of computer or devices, you can use the extra money for office improvement. Subsequently,the outsourcing company will be the one responsible for the machines that the outsourced employees will use. Simple changes like this yield considerable improvements in budget allocation.

It eliminates the risk and burden of launching solution.

When you do choose to outsource, you can cut off the time spent in brainstorming to find the best solutions for your company’s requirements. The document management outsourcing firm can evaluate the demands of your business and find suitable strategies that tailor fits your needs.

Outsourcing helps save space or storage.

document management outsource business
Via eleadersnetwork

Having document management done by a dedicated team is an excellent way to keep office space and room. The documents can either be collected in cloud storage (soft files) or file cabinets if the company prefers printed copies. It’s also a good option if you want to make your office look more ergonomic and organized. The CIO will give you some valuable information about the benefits of outsourcing.

Outsourcing document management requires a little to less employee involvement.

Another great benefit of utilizing outsourcing for document management is the fact that you can cut off the number of employees who will be handling the documents. Also, you don’t need to hire more people to manage the records as the outsourcing company will do it for you.

Get your document management handled by the experts.

Most outsourcing firms are well-trained in providing efficient methods of document management. Thus, there is a higher chance that you’d get the results your company deserves. Moreover, these outsourcing firms choose document managers who are highly skilled and professional in handling different types of files, using dedicated software suitable for your business functions and the industry you’re in. I found this article very useful on Amplexor about document management from the experts view.

Outsourced documents pass industry compliance.

Since experts handle the materials involved, you are ensured that each file passes the industry compliance. Most outsourcing firms offering the service require quality assurance checks to determine if any material needs revision depending on the industry standards.

It’s an efficient way to create reports.

Organizing, validating, and disseminating the reports is another time-consuming factor that causes a delay in the performance of other vital tasks. These tasks normally takes a great deal of time.This is why it’s highly beneficial to use outsourcing firms that offer efficient reports daily, weekly, and quarterly. I think every business platform needs outsourcing firm. Please visit this page of Nytimes to get some ideas of its benefits.

It’s a useful method for maintaining document copies.

It’s true that outsourcing document management can save space and storage in the office. But it doesn’t mean that the document managers will get rid of old files to give room to the new one. In fact, the outsourcing firm will find ways to efficiently save and maintain copies of documents, whether they are created recently or years ago.

An efficient strategy to improve the workflow of the business.

Overall, outsourcing business processes is a great way to enhance the workflow. It makes the tasks easier and the results better. It is suitable for almost all types of businesses across different industries, making it a flexible technique for successful management of the company.

Outsourcing document management is a scalable process.

Document management services can be easily scaled up or down based on your company’s demands and specifications. A professional outsourcing bureau offering this service usually provides a complementary product development team to meet all your company’s future needs. I have this video for you to learn how it works.

Expert management of documents requires shorter turn around.

What makes outsourcing document management even more beneficial is the fact that it requires a quicker turnaround time. Expert document managers can handle more files in a shorter period. In addition to that,

Outsourcing document management provides maximum security and privacy.

Outsourcing document management is not well received in the first few years of its launch. It is due to privacy and security concerns that most business owners have. As time goes by, business owners learned to trust the system because of the advancements in features and security settings. Using a document management system has now become more secure and packed with state-of-the-art features that keep documents in a safe place.

Get accuracy in results.

Utilizing document management services yields excellent and accurate results. Companies offering document management services use techniques and tools that generate accurate reports. These reports are used to analyze the data and determine which files or documents were processed.

Software automation at its finest

Software automation is utilized in document management by outsourcing firms. A large portion of the process relies on a document management software. Every company offering document management services use different software and automation process, depending on the needs of the business or client. This video contains informative ideas for the beginners.

In a modern business setting, there are growing volumes of documents, especially if the company has been around for quite a long time. Thus, it requires commitment and hard work to manage these files accordingly. From reducing the risk of losses to improving employee efficiency in meeting deadlines, there are great benefits that should convince you to outsource document management to a professional record management provider. They can address various company priorities as necessary.

Choosing where to focus your company’s energy and resources is a crucial step to reaching progress. Thus, it’s vital to select a company that you can trust when outsourcing document management for your business. With all of the business transactions happening, it is so easy to feel swarmed and overwhelmed, especially if you are short with manpower. However, if you’re able to pick a trusted firm to handle these, your business processes could go smoothly and more systematic than ever.

See Also: 5 Tips to Stop Wasting Money on Substandard Services When Outsourcing

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5 Rules For Effective Packaging Design

Your packaging choices can make or break your brand. After all, your product’s packaging design influences consumer behavior and brand perception.

If you want to start right with design, check out the following rules to follow.

Be honest with customers

Honesty can go a long way in package design. It must be the true reflection of your product or brand.

Do not attempt to under-deliver or over-promise. Otherwise, you’ll disappoint your customers by tricking them into something that does not exist or that they don’t expect.

Speaking of honesty, strive hard to depict your product in the best way possible.

For example, why would you put a cookie in melted chocolate if you were just selling chocolate-flavored cookie? Or why would you include many strawberries in the design of your fruit yogurt if yours has little strawberry content?

Just be honest. Don’t depict your product five times better than it is. Otherwise, you’ll mislead and disappoint customers who won’t attempt to buy from you ever again. In all cases, don’t use a misleading package design.

Keep it simple

simple packaging design

Simplicity and clarity go hand in hand.

For one, customers have nothing against inexpensive products, so you don’t have to put many unnecessary elements in the design. It will just mislead customers.

Simplicity is the key to helping customers easily recognize what your product is for and what the brand behind it is.

For example, avoid listing tons of benefits without a clear brand name or try to make your packaging look great on the outside without clearly explaining what’s inside it.

It’s one of the main rules of package designing – it must be clear about the product and the brand.

Make it useful

Think about the footprint of your product’s packaging and factor in transportation and/or international transit cost.

Make sure your box, can or bottle is moderately small. Before the actual manufacturing of your product’s package, deliberate over it along with your product’s shelf life.

With usefulness of a product’s packaging design also comes practicality. It deals with the actual functionality, shape, and size of the jar, bottle, box or container and not just of the wrap or label.

The more sales your product might be getting if it’s indeed a practical product.

Remember Heinz?

heinz upside down bottle

Its sales went up when it turned its bottle upside down because that design simply makes ketchup dispensing much easier

At the end of the day, ask yourself:

  • Does my package feature conveniences or innovations valued by customers?
  • Can it solve a problem?

Finally, you must adhere to the law and ensure that your packaging is recyclable.

See Also: Why The Right Product Packaging Is Essential to Your Business’ Success

Create a WOW customer experience

Another rule for an effective packaging design lies in customer experience.

What kind of impression do you want to leave consumers? How would you make them remember your brand and product while browsing different other products in the grocery shelf with your package design?

That’s why you have to express a unique and clear reason to exist in the first place. If you’re good at this, you’ll create a deeper relationship with your customers because they feel good about your brand.

One way to do that is to appeal to them with your package design. Make equally great packaging choices. Don’t embellish too much or else, you won’t make an accurate representation of your product.

You should also not exaggerate things by making your product seemingly loaded when it is not. As again, you have to be honest with your customers.

Make eco-friendly packaging

Go green with your packaging and show customers you sincerely care for the environment. Make sure that your packaging design has a lower carbon footprint to help you create a positive image for your brand.

And again, ensure it is recyclable and your materials are sourced locally. By using eco-friendly packaging, you can improve your brand’s image, too. This will favor consumers who are environmentally conscious.

Final Thoughts

Remember that your choices influence how consumers will perceive your brand and product. It’s your last chance to convince them to choose you over competitors.

If you want to make an impact — not only on the shelves but also in the minds of consumers — think about the best packaging design that shows honesty, eco-friendliness, usefulness, and simplicity. Finally, it should create a WOW customer experience.

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Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Scott Andes
Contributor

Scott Andes is the program director for the National League of Cities City Innovation Ecosystem program.

The more than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is finally over, with New York City and Washington, DC, capturing the big prize. With one of the largest economic development windfalls in a generation on the line, 238 cities used every tactic in the book to court the company – including offering to rename a city “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for life.”

Now that the process, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d like to ask a different question: How can cities build stronger start-up ecosystems for the Amazon yet to be built?

In September 2017, Amazon announced that it would seek a second headquarters. But rather than being the typical site selection process, this would become a highly publicized Hunger Games-esque scenario.

An RFP was proffered on what the company sought, and it included everything any good urbanist would want, with walkability, transportation and cultural characteristics on the docket. But of course, incentives were also high on the list.

Amazon could have been a transformational catalyst for a plethora of cities throughout the US, but instead, it chose two superstar cities: the number one and five metro areas by GDP which, combined, amounts to a nearly $2 trillion GDP. These two metro areas also have some of the highest real estate prices in the country, a swath of high paying jobs and of course power — financial and political — close at hand.

Perhaps the take-away for cities isn’t that we should all be so focused on hooking that big fish from afar, but instead that we should be growing it in our own waters. Amazon itself is a great example of this. It’s worth remembering that over the course of a quarter century, Amazon went from a garage in Seattle’s suburbs to consuming 16 percent — or 81 million square feet — of the city’s downtown. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest global technology company in 1994 (the year of Amazon’s birth) was Netscape, which no longer exists.

The upshot is that cities that rely only on attracting massive technology companies are usually too late.

At the National League of Cities, we think there are ways to expand the pie that don’t reinforce existing spatial inequalities. This is exactly the idea behind the launch of our city innovation ecosystems commitments process. With support from the Schmidt Futures Foundation, fifty cities, ranging from rural townships, college towns, and major metros, have joined with over 200 local partners and leveraged over $100 million in regional and national resources to support young businesses, leverage technology and expand STEM education and workforce training for all.

The investments these cities are making today may in fact be the precursor to some of the largest tech companies of the future.

With that idea in mind, here are eight cities that didn’t win HQ2 bids but are ensuring their cities will be prepared to create the next tranche of high-growth startups. 

Austin

Austin just built a medical school adjacent to a tier one research university, the University of Texas. It’s the first such project to be completed in America in over fifty years. To ensure the addition translates into economic opportunity for the city, Austin’s public, private and civic leaders have come together to create Capital City Innovation to launch the city’s first Innovation District at the new medical school. This will help expand the city’s already world class startup ecosystem into the health and wellness markets.

Baltimore

Baltimore is home to over $2 billion in academic research, ranking it third in the nation behind Boston and Philadelphia. In order to ensure everyone participates in the expanding research-based startup ecosystem, the city is transforming community recreation centers into maker and technology training centers to connect disadvantaged youth and families to new skills and careers in technology. The Rec-to-Tech Initiative will begin with community design sessions at four recreation centers, in partnership with the Digital Harbor Foundation, to create a feasibility study and implementation plan to review for further expansion.

Buffalo

The 120-acre Buffalo Niagara Medical Center (BNMC) is home to eight academic institutions and hospitals and over 150 private technology and health companies. To ensure Buffalo’s startups reflect the diversity of its population, the Innovation Center at BNMC has just announced a new program to provide free space and mentorship to 10 high potential minority- and/or women-owned start-ups.

Denver

Like Seattle, real estate development in Denver is growing at a feverish rate. And while the growth is bringing new opportunity, the city is expanding faster than the workforce can keep pace. To ensure a sustainable growth trajectory, Denver has recruited the Next Generation City Builders to train students and retrain existing workers to fill high-demand jobs in architecture, design, construction and transportation. 

Providence

With a population of 180,000, Providence is home to eight higher education institutions – including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design – making it a hub for both technical and creative talent. The city of Providence, in collaboration with its higher education institutions and two hospital systems, has created a new public-private-university partnership, the Urban Innovation Partnership, to collectively contribute and support the city’s growing innovation economy. 

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh may have once been known as a steel town, but today it is a global mecca for robotics research, with over 4.5 times the national average robotics R&D within its borders. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh is creating a more inclusive innovation economy through a Rec-to-Tech program that will re-invest in the city’s 10 recreational centers, connecting students and parents to the skills needed to participate in the economy of the future. 

Tampa

Tampa is already home to 30,000 technical and scientific consultant and computer design jobs — and that number is growing. To meet future demand and ensure the region has an inclusive growth strategy, the city of Tampa, with 13 university, civic and private sector partners, has announced “Future Innovators of Tampa Bay.” The new six-year initiative seeks to provide the opportunity for every one of the Tampa Bay Region’s 600,000 K-12 students to be trained in digital creativity, invention and entrepreneurship.

These eight cities help demonstrate the innovation we are seeing on the ground now, all throughout the country. The seeds of success have been planted with people, partnerships and public leadership at the fore. Perhaps they didn’t land HQ2 this time, but when we fast forward to 2038 — and the search for Argo AISparkCognition or Welltok’s new headquarters is well underway — the groundwork will have been laid for cities with strong ecosystems already in place to compete on an even playing field.

How To Modernize Your Business By Ditching The RFP

In our modern, fast-paced world, there is hardly any time to spare. Businesses need results and they need them quickly, encouraging the development of new technologies that can keep up. Yet 95% of companies still use RFPs when they need to get the job done – why is this outdated practice still treated like a business staple?

It’s Time To Move On From The RFP

request for proposal

Smart businesses today understand the value of diversifying away from the risk of relying on single one-stop-shop vendors. If the massive change in Forbes Global 2000 companies that outsource IT projects to single vendors is any indication, this shift is a massive trend. In 2008, 42% of these businesses worked with a single vendor for their IT or application needs; in 2018 that number is just 15%.

And yet, for lack of a better method, many businesses find themselves at a loss for reaching new vendors. Whether their project scope is too wide for in-house work, or they just need some extra guidance from creative professionals, it’s easy to turn to Requests for Proposals to scout out the talent. But there’s a glaring problem with using RFPs to do this – the results very rarely elicit the most innovative solution. Companies that use RFPs may ignore innovative startups in favor of “established” vendors, rewarding longevity over skill and flexibility.

How Do Startups Compete With Established Relationships?

When we look at startup funding trends, we are met with stats of explosive growth. In 2017 alone, the global venture capital investments for startups hit over $140 billion, and in the years between 2015 and 2017, the total global startup economy value creation was $2.3 trillion. Any way you spin it, there is some serious firepower behind startups and for good reason. Unfortunately, these talents can go ignored and even outright rejected when forced to participate in requests for proposals.

  • Bidders must specify how long they have been in business to even qualify
  • Not useful and counterproductive in the age of startup innovation

As a result, RFPs are actually a roadblock to reaching effective new vendors, placing incumbent vendors ahead of other bidders. For new vendors participating in RFPs, they may only have a week to respond, yet incumbent vendors are notified several weeks beforehand. Even then, many startup level vendors find it challenging to work within the confines of typical RFP guidelines and are unable to let their talents show.

  • Discourages considerations of more innovative proposals
  • Rewards easy solutions over flexibility and talent
  • Low value and low innovation
  • Long-term costs are higher than originally projected

There’s A New And Better Way

It’ll take more than a simple update to overhaul this antiquated process. Real solutions will come from a total mindset change, improved flexibility, and real ROI projection. The best way to try out a new vendor is by using Proof of Value, or PoV. This process ensures the best value projects are done for the right price and by the right people. Based on information measurement theory, Proof of Value considers the predictability of success or error using measurable, factual information. This replaces the RFP with scalable options using information and performance-based solutions as a new standard.

  • Create a full working cloud-based model app
  • Share the real app with business users to get an idea of what the full solution will look like
  • Use PoV as a first iteration jumping off point to fast-track the project

Accounting for lost time, wasted money, and piles of busy work, RFPs, or requests for proposals just don’t work anymore. A LexisNexis survey revealed nearly 17% of businesses deal with up to 10 RFPs per month, and 15% of businesses have a load of 21 or more. Organizations are relying more on RFPs, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit their firm. Smart businesses can use more nimble vendors and methods to outperform instead.

  • Intuitive user experiences
  • Clean interfaces
  • Deliver against tighter project deadlines
  • Reliable, measurable ROI
  • Diversify risks away from conventional mega-vendors

It’s Time To Ditch The Outdated RFP

Though many organizations are still using RFPs for solutions, when has following the status quo ever done business any favors? Is your company still using RFPs? Take a look at this infographic for more on how RFPs hurt innovation, stunt professional growth, and ignore real talent, and what you can do to break this cycle by developing better solutions that fit with your business’ needs.
RFPs: Dinosaurs of the business world?
Source: Semarchy.com

The post How To Modernize Your Business By Ditching The RFP appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Korean AI startup Skelter Labs lands strategic investment to expand to Southeast Asia

Korean AI startup Skelter Labs is expanding to Southeast Asia after it pulled in undisclosed funding from Singapore-based VC firm Golden Gate Ventures.

Skelter Labs was founded in 2015 by founded by Ted Cho, the former engineering site director at Google Korea. It started out developing apps and services that made use of AI but then it pivoted to focus fully on AI tech, which it licenses out to companies and corporations that it works with. Now it is eying opportunities in  Japan and parts of Southeast Asia — which has a cumulative population of over 600 million — with Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia specifically mentioned.

The startup raised a $9 million seed round earlier this year, and Golden Gate has added an additional check to that round which came from KakaoBrain — the AI unit of Korean messaging giant Kakao — Kakao’s K-Cute venture arm, Stonebridge Ventures and Lotte Homeshopping, the TV and internet shopping business owned by multi-billion dollar retail giant Lotte.

More specifically, Seoul-based Skelter Labs works on AI in the context of vision and speech, conversation, and context recognition, while it goes after customers in areas that include manufacturing, customer operations, device interaction, and consumer marketing.

The startup doesn’t disclose customers, but it previously told TechCrunch that its vision is to bring its machine learning technology to daily life and schedules. Possible examples of that might be could include “intelligent virtual assistant technology that can be widely applied to various areas including smart speakers, smartphones, home appliances, automobiles and wearable devices.”

Golden Gate is one of Southeast Asia’s longest running tech VC firms. This deal is part of its recently announced third fund, which is $100 million in size.

In a statement, Skelter Labs CEO Cho paid tribute to the VC’s strong footprint in Southeast Asia that he said could open doors for the company. Startups in Golden Gate’s portfolio that might be of particular interest could include mobile listings startup Carousell, auto portal Carro, fashion commerce site Grana and online furnishings seller Hipvan.

Note: The original version of this article has been corrected. Skelter Labs has announced an extension to its previous round not a new round. Apologies for any confusion caused.

Jane.VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise.

Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money maker on your side.

There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro.

Jane.VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Send them your pitch, no wealthy or successful intermediary necessary. The fund, which has so far raised $2 million to invest between $25,000 and $150,000 in early-stage female-founded companies across industries, is scrapping the opaque, inaccessible model of VC that’s been less than favorable toward women.

“We like to say that Jane.VC is venture for every woman,” the firm’s co-founder Jennifer Neundorfer told TechCrunch.

Neundorfer, who previously founded and led an accelerator for Midwest startups called Flashstarts after stints at 21st Century Fox and YouTube, partnered with her former Stanford business school classmate Maren Bannon, the former chief executive officer and co-founder of LittleLane. So far, they’ve backed insurtech company Proformex and Hatch Apps, an enterprise software startup that makes it easier for companies to create and distribute mobile and web apps.

“We are going to shoot them straight”

Jane.VC, like many members of the next generation of venture capital funds, is bucking the idea that the best founders can only be found in Silicon Valley. Instead, the firm is going global and operating under the philosophy that a system of radical transparency and honesty will pay off.

“Let’s be efficient with an entrepreneur’s time and say no if it’s not a hit,” Neundorfer said. “I’ve been on the opposite end of that coaching. So many entrepreneurs think a VC is interested and they aren’t. An entrepreneur’s time is so valuable and we want to protect that. We are going to shoot them straight.”

Though Jane.VC plans to invest across the globe, the firm isn’t turning its back on Bay Area founders. Neundorfer and Bannon will leverage their Silicon Valley network and work with an investment committee of nine women based throughout the U.S. to source deals. 

“We are women that have raised money and have been through the ups and downs of raising money in what is a very male-dominated world,” Neundorfer added. “We believe that investing in women is not only the right thing to do but that you can make a lot of money doing it.”

We’re kicking off Startup Battlefield MENA, here are the startups and agenda

We’re kicking off Startup Battlefield MENA here in Beirut, where 15 startups will be taking the stage, along with speakers from Facebook (our partner on the event through its FB Start program), Instabug, Eventus, Wuzzuf, Careem and Myki.

For those of you who can’t be here in person, check back on TechCrunch later today, where we’ll be sharing videos and other highlights from the event. And of course, announcing the winner!

For the first time, TechCrunch is holding Startup Battlefield MENA in partnership with FB Start. After scouring does dozens of countries, sifting through hundreds and hundreds of extremely talented startups, TechCrunch selected 15 elite companies across the region to compete in prestigious global Startup Battlefield competition for $25,000 equity-free prize, a trip for 2 to TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 and the coveted title of “Middle East & North Africa’s Favorite Startup”.

After weeks of intense coaching from the TC team, these startups are primed for international launch. For the semi-final round, each founder will pitch for 6 minutes, with a live demo on stage, followed by 6 minutes of Q&A with our expert panel of judges. After, our judges will deliberate and 5 teams will be selected to compete in the final round of Startup Battlefield – same pitch, but with an even more intense Q&A.

So, who are these chosen few? From creating new forms of fast setting concrete to quickly build houses in areas recovering from natural disasters to agricultural monitoring technology preventing water-related conflict, this batch of companies is truly changing the world. Companies also include financial investment AI platforms, edible insect based protein powder, to culturally relevant dating apps. Founders in the automotive industry are poised to change everything from how we pick the cars we want to buy to how we optimize their maintenance. From innovations to hydroponic gardens, educational tutoring platforms to modernizing technology for hotel chains, Startup Battlefield MENA is set to highlight the regions most promising startups. Videos from the event will be posted on TechCrunch.com after the event. Stay tuned!

Session 1: 9:30am – 10:30am

BuildinkHarmonicaMaterialSolvedMoneyFellowsNeotic AI

Session 2: 11:10am – 12:10am

NutransaSeabex by IT GrapesIN2SeezAutotell 

Session 3: 1:40pm – 2:40pm

SynkersVerboseMakerbraneArgineeringPureHarvest


Welcome Remarks
9:05 am – 9:25 am

Infrastructure and Connectivity: A Regional Perspective with Imad Kreidieh (Ogero Telecom) and Ari Kesisoglu (Facebook)
Access to the internet and connectivity is the driving force for the 4th industrial revolution. Join a conversation about how the Telco industry is changing in Lebanon and the region, and what that means for businesses and consumers. Sponsored by Facebook

9:25 am – 10:30 am

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #1
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

10:30 am – 10:50 am

BREAK
10:50 am – 11:10 am

Jennifer Fong (Facebook)
Hear from Facebook’s head of the Developer Circles Program about their work with developers, startups and businesses to build, grow, measure, and monetize using Facebook and Messenger platform products. Sponsored by Facebook

11:10 am – 12:10 am

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #2
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

12:10 pm – 1:10 pm

BREAK
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Workshop: Automated Driving Mobility in MENA with Mandali Khalesi (Toyota)
Toyota’s Global Head of Automated Driving Mobility and Innovation will share Toyota’s latest automated driving research findings and its plans for the future. There will be 30 minutes set aside for consultation, where the audience will have the opportunity to advise Toyota on both how it should go about developing automated driving mobility for MENA, as well as how best to work together with entrepreneurs in the region.

1:15 pm – 1:40 pm

Lessons 10 Years On with Omar Gabr (Instabug), Nour Al Hassan (Tarjama), Mai Medhat (Eventtus) and Ameer Sherif (Wuzzuf) – Moderated by Editor at Large Mike Butcher
Ten years ago the Middle East and North Africa’s tech ecosystem was worth perhaps tens of millions of dollars. Today it’s in the hundreds of millions, and beyond. A decade ago the societal landscape was very different from today. Let’s discuss the huge changes that have happened and challenges and opportunities ahead.

1:40 pm – 2:40 pm

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #3
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

2:40 pm – 3:00 pm

Fireside Chat with Magnus Olsson (Careem) – Moderated by Managing Editor Matt Burns
How do you scale a big startup in MENA? We hear from Magnus Olsson, founder and Managing Director of ride-hailing giant Careem on how they joined the unicorn club with Lyft and Uber.

3:00 pm – 3:25 pm

Where Will the Exits Come From with Henri Asseliy (Leap Ventures), Priscilla Elora Sharuk (Myki), and Kenza Lahlou (Outlierz Ventures) – Moderated by News Editor Ingrid Lunden
Both VCs and startups in MENA alike are furiously building the companies of the future. But you can’t have a startup without an acquisition or IPO, so where are they going to come from? We’ll hear from both the founder and investor perspectives.

3:25 pm – 4:40 pm

Startup Battlefield Competition – Final Round
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

4:40 pm – 4:55 pm

BREAK
4:55 pm – 5:20 pm

MENA Content Plays with Paul Chucrallah (BeryTech Fund), Hussam Hammo (Tamatem) and Rami Al Qawasmi (Mawdoo3) – Moderated by News Editor Ingrid Lunden
A little-known fact about the MENA market is the sheer lack of Arabic language content online for consumers, whether it be media, music, games or events. Arabic-specific sites have appeared, tailor-made to the market. We’ll get the perspective of key entrepreneurs in this space.

5:20 pm – 5:35 pm

Startup Battlefield Closing Awards Ceremony
Watch the crowning of the latest winner of the Startup Battlefield

Take Up Your Business: How To Pitch A Business Idea

Presenting is probably one of the most common things people are afraid of. Anxiety, headache, high heart rate… All these symptoms are familiar to unexperienced presenters and professional speakers.

You might have an excellent idea which will take your business to a higher level, but if your presentation skills are not developed enough, you are likely to fail. Low self-esteem and anxiety are frequent enemies of young and ambitious professionals.

So, what can you do to pitch your ideas successfully? How can you stand out from the crowd and make people listen to you? What qualities or skills will assist you in this task?

Below are six ways on how to pitch a business idea successfully and draw the attention of your audience.

Face the Fear

business presentation

If you feel nervous while making a presentation, psychologists suggest you look straight in the eyes of your fear. Gain more experience telling jokes to friends, presenting ideas to your colleagues or just speaking to a crowd in the street. But don’t attack people straight away as you might have troubles with the police.

Try to capture the audience’s attention with funny stories or interesting facts. If you can pitch to a stranger, you can conquer the world with your ideas! All these exercises will help you reduce stress and feel calmer while presenting to a bigger audience.

See Also: Overcome Your Fear of Making a Presentation

Assertiveness

“Assertiveness” is a “buzzword” in the world of business. Assertive employees do not hesitate to respond to colleagues’ negative comments or ask for a pay rise. They state their position clearly so that no one can question their authority.

So, next time someone tries to kill your idea with negativity, feel free to fight back with arguments. If you’re assertive enough, others will treat your suggestions seriously and take your opinion into account.

Know Your Audience

There is a substantial difference when you present to a group of colleagues or you try to pitch your idea to a “big cheese”. The structure of your presentation, the choice of vocabulary, and even your look will be different.

It would seem weird if you organize a meeting with a board of directors and start your presentation with the phrase: “Hey, men! What’s up?” or show up dressed in a swimsuit.

Of course, you will bump into your audience’s memory, but your idea will unlikely gain the necessary support it needs. Surely, it would be better to prepare beforehand. Ask your colleagues for advice and get some information about your manager’s opinion. These steps will help you customize your ideas so they will be more appealing to your audience.

Predict Questions

It would be a fairy tale if your bosses accept all your suggestions without a question. Most likely, they’ll be interested in details or ask you to present a business plan. However, you have to stay realistic.

Your boss will not request your marital status or talk about space projects (unless you work for NASA). Financial statements, implementation plan, and profitability are what will make your bosses interested.

Try to get into your manager’s shoes and anticipate potential objections. Perhaps, your idea is not profitable enough or it is too risky for the company. Get prepared to defend your point of view with convincing arguments.

Use Visuals

visual presentation

Did you know that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than a speech or a text? You can be as eloquent as Kennedy or change your communication styles as a chameleon changes its colors, but you will not succeed if you don’t provide any pictures or charts.

The best solution here is to use infographics to briefly present the data. They are entertaining and will likely grasp the audience’s attention.

See Also: 7 Ways To Create a Presentation that Captures Attention

Show Your Personality

You can learn all the rules and still talk like a textbook. The best speakers, such as Margaret Thatcher or Martin Luther King, had a set of distinctive features which set them apart from other public figures.

If you are average, nobody will remember you!

It’s better to show something weird and become a star in the office rather than ramble, making people not want to pay attention to your ideas.

Are you a great joker or an interactive lecturer? Engage your audience in some activity or just tell a fascinating story. Define your peculiarity and show it up!

To wrap it up, you don’t need to spend long hours studying the habits of famous speakers. Just allocate some time, get prepared, remain assertive, and show your personality. Just follow these tips and you won’t have problems mastering how to pitch a business idea to anyone.

The post Take Up Your Business: How To Pitch A Business Idea appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How Is an Entrepreneur Different From a Businessman?

“I am an entrepreneur, but I am also a businessman. I can’t be both. There must be some difference between entrepreneur and business owner. Oh, God! Can anyone help me with this?”

If this is the thought going through your mind right now, then you are on the right page at the moment. Many find themselves in this difficult situation when they start a business of their own. I will try to clear all your doubts and help you decide what you are through my points.

So, read this post till the end to entirely comprehend the difference between entrepreneur and business owner.

Originality of idea

originality of idea

An entrepreneur always starts with a fresh and out-of-the-box idea. He wouldn’t even start if the idea has already been taken.

A businessman may or may not have one’s own idea. He only thinks of money and profits which is why it won’t really matter to him if the idea is already out there.

Since entrepreneurs usually have less to invest, they have to emphasize a lot on finding the most innovative ideas, unlike regular business.

The decision of taking risks

When it comes to risk-taking, an entrepreneur doesn’t usually hesitate in taking any risk as there isn’t much choice.

This, however, might not be the case with businessmen. A businessman would usually think hundreds of times before getting to any decision.

Businessmen take well-calculated risks. One may not take the risk if losing money has been predicted. In entrepreneurship,  it’s always a 50-50 chance.

A boss vs a leader

For an entrepreneur, his co-workers are his business partners. He would even take part in the active processes of his organization to lead his team. This eventually motivates his co-workers and improves their productivity to a massive extent. It also serves as a way for an entrepreneur to consistently keep up with the performance of his organization.

On the contrary, a businessman sees every person working under him as a worker and him as the boss. He may not always keep up with the performance of his organization as there’s a pretty thin line between visualizing things from going through reports and experiencing things personally.

Perspective towards customers service

For an entrepreneur, serving one’s customer is a holy duty which one must do with one’s full heart. One is always grateful to the customers and letting them down would be one’s biggest nightmare. Now, these customs would not necessarily fit a businessman.

For a businessman, customers are just the source of income to one’s business. Practically, one does not truly respect them unless one observes a considerable amount of profit from them.

Perception of competition

A businessman is competing with the market on a daily basis to get his company on the top. He’ll take whatever step is necessary to achieve that.

An entrepreneur continually strives to make his startup better. He does his best without having to actually compete with anybody.

Furthermore, entrepreneurship is all about proving that one’s idea really works in making the lives of their consumers better. Once proven, sales will generate automatically. Of course, the process also requires a great deal of promotion.

Definition of Success

definition of success

Entrepreneurship is striving to get one’s vision come true. A lot of startups have come up with many revolutionary ideas over the years. Of course, there’s no denying the fact that entrepreneurs love to make money, too. However, it’s a business generated out of one’s profound faith in one’s ‘out of the box’ idea.

Most importantly, entrepreneurs are believed to always have something better and new to offer. They aim to revolutionize the lives of many.

However, this doesn’t hold true for a regular business as it is totally profit oriented. In many cases, businessmen even overlook the quality of their services or products as they desperately look for ways to earn more profits.

Success in a regular business, nowadays, is certainly beating the competitors and getting on the top of the SERP. Of course, there’s no denying the fact that there are many regular businesses that have been delivering at their best over the years.

See Also: Top Lessons From Successful Entrepreneurs You Need to Know Now

The Bottom Line

In this post, we have shared some valuable points that should make the difference between being an entrepreneur and a businessman much apparent by now.

Aspects like independence, low capital, originality of ideas and of course, innovative ways of earning is what really make an entrepreneur. Most importantly, it is absolutely based on coming up with the most brilliant ideas to improve lives.

A regular business, on the other hand, runs on the basis of heavy capital and unimaginably effective promotion to beat its competitors even if it has nothing new to offer.

See Also: Tips for New Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know Before Starting A Business

The post How Is an Entrepreneur Different From a Businessman? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Avoid Decision Fatigue: Learn The Steps for Effective Delegation

Small business owners are no strangers to sacrifice. Whether it’s spending your family vacation tied to your laptop or skipping a paycheck to float the business, owners give their all to help their business succeed. But if you’re working long nights trying to do everything yourself, you’re probably not making your business grow.

Paralyzed Overthinker: Delays making choices, creating more work in the long run.
Overwhelmed Hothead: Easily frustrated and overly combative.
Immediate-Satisfaction Seeker: Takes impulsive shortcuts that favor short-term goals.

Does one of these profiles describe you?

If so, you might be suffering from decision fatigue. Decision fatigue robs your brain of its decision-making powers and has a negative effect on your business. Learning the steps for effective delegation can help you refocus on your long-term goals.

Step 1: Hire the Right Team

hire the right team

Small businesses can struggle to compete with the salaries and benefits offered by larger companies, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find the right people. Focus on what you do have to offer. It can be flexible work hours or better company culture. Try to hire people who are a good fit for your company and are committed to sticking around.

Replacing a single employee can cost nearly a quarter of their annual salary. Specialized employees whose replacements might need additional training can cost even more. The good news is, as freelancing grows more common, you may be able to find qualified flexible staff who can work only when you need them.

When hiring contract workers keep in mind:

  • Freelancers only work when needed, but you can always offer a full-time position later
  • Find someone qualified so you don’t waste time training freelancers
  • There’s no guarantee your flex staff will be available when you need them
  • Flex staff are less invested in your company, meaning they’ll bail if a better offer appears

See Also: What Managers Should Know About Motivating Their Team

Step 2: Create a Training Manual

A training or operations manual can guide your employees through procedures and decision making even if you’re not around to provide input. Your manual should lay out procedures that are consistent, proactive, and any staff member can follow. Design your policies and procedures so they’ll scale easily as your company grows. That way, you’ll be able to save yourself from major organization shifts down the road.

When writing your training manual, be sure to include:

  • An overview of your company’s history and story
  • Your mission statement, company culture, and long-term goals
  • Descriptions of major systems and operations
  • Job descriptions for each employee, including their specific responsibilities
  • Instructions and procedures for regular operations and tasks

You can streamline your operations even more by creating form letters for responding to common client questions. With a little tweaking, your staff will be able to quickly answer queries without bugging you for input. Once you have a well-trained staff in place, you’ll be free to let go of daily decisions and focus on the bigger picture: growing your business.

Step 3: Time to Delegate

effective delegation

If you’ve prepared your business and your employees well, beginning to delegate should be natural and easy. Start by considering each employee’s skills and match their strengths to the tasks at hand. Don’t dump a whole set of new responsibilities on the same employee. Give everyone the time to adjust to a new task before asking one to take on even more.

It’s always important to keep in mind how much time each employee has available. It might be tempting to delegate all administrative tasks to your office manager, but if he’s already working late every night, you’ll need to get other staff to help out, too. Asking one employee to do too much is a recipe for disaster. Many workers will simply get fed up and leave the company.

Delegate tasks that don’t require your input or don’t match your expertise, such as:

  • Bookkeeping and payroll
  • Social media management
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Legal counsel
  • Data entry
  • Web design

Regardless of what you delegate and to whom, remember that you’re asking your staff to take on extra work and extra responsibility. Be sure to acknowledge and be grateful for their extra effort. Always offer constructive feedback and give thanks for a job well done.

To learn more about how delegation can help your business thrive, check out this infographic:

The post Avoid Decision Fatigue: Learn The Steps for Effective Delegation appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Smart Tactics to Resolve and Stay Out of Entrepreneurial Debt

Debt is a part of every business and every entrepreneur knows that. However, not all entrepreneurs are aware of the difference between a bad and good debt and that makes it hard to learn how to avoid the debt trap.

All good business debts are credit lines, mortgages, and loans. They get leveraged for the benefit of the entrepreneur’s business. In other words, they are productive debt.

Bad debt, on the other hand, is the amount that you can’t leverage as your company expands. Financial experts call this reductive debt. Simply put, it’s money which isn’t working in your favor. Generally, this capital gets used to purchase things that are beyond your financial reach. Typically, the results aren’t always favorable.

Reasons entrepreneurs encounter debts

Entrepreneurs find themselves in debt for three main reasons. They are discussed as follows:

The fluctuations of the cash flow

Some entrepreneurs and business owners sometimes undervalue the crucial cash-flow ups and downs. They are unable to predict a poor cash-flow for a prolonged time frame. These entrepreneurs usually switch to credit cards to manage the troublesome cash flow, hoping there’s some balance.

Most entrepreneurs feel that they can repay off their credit card amounts fast, but that’s far from the truth. And that’s the starting point of the crisis. It is here that entrepreneurs contemplate on loan and get caught up in a debt cycle.

Excessive business pressure

Sometimes, entrepreneurs start to live on their business income. It is not a smart call until such time the business can support them.

Most leave their jobs and go all out to develop a business. But most don’t realize that they aren’t yet ready to pay off the monthly earnings that they stay on.

Each company requires investment and it also needs time to invest. It also requires time and reserves for generating a consistent cash-flow. If you resonate with this, have a second line of earning to balance the crisis.

Overconfidence is dangerous

At times, entrepreneurs can be overconfident while using productive debt. Generally, the situation shapes up something like this:

The entrepreneur counts on his earnings and he decides to maximize the business debt to expand his business as fast as possible. However, his lifestyle also gets modified to the new income level.

Here’s where the situations go out of hand.

Due to losing customers or an economy change, a crisis happens. The entrepreneur incurs a financial loss and the situation goes out of control. The entrepreneur incurs a debt to smoothen financial crisis.

See Also: Tips for New Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know Before Starting A Business

How to manage entrepreneurial debt?

Entrepreneurs who understand good debt go a long way. Their strategies are progressive. Some of these entrepreneurs, who are millionaires, have various thought processes that other business owners don’t possess. They have a unique way to make money and manage debts as well.

Two primary methods have been discussed below as follows. If you want to know more on managing entrepreneurial debt management, you can browse through sites like NationalDebtRelief and others to get better information.

Getting out from a reductive debt

Every entrepreneur wants long-term success. For that, it’s essential to obliterate all kinds of wrong and reductive debt from your business at the earliest.

The spreadsheet strategy or analysis must be familiar to you. It is instrumental in taking you out of any business debt faster than you can imagine. The process is simple.

All you need to do is:

• Develop a basic financial plan
• Adhere to it
• Learn from your experience

You need to start by outlining the monthly earning. Know how much of it you can use on an end-to-end basis to reduce the reductive debt. Commit as much as you can. The amount you decide to pay to remove the deficit needs to stretch you.

Go on and create a reductive debt list in proper order. You may start with a high-value debt amount at number 1 and the least at last. Don’t forget to add in the least payment beside every debt in your list.

Once you do this, you’re all set to execute the plan. Go ahead and take out the exact sum that you promised to remove the debt with on a monthly basis. You may add some extra money to small debt payment.

Keep on making your required minimum repayments for every remaining payment. You’ll notice that the lowest debt gets repaid fast this way. Going forward, you may apply the same process to pay off the high-value debts. In the same process, you’ll see that the high-value debt amounts get repaid. Repeat this process, until such time all the debts get cleared.

Consciously stay out from any debt

It is the ideal way to steer clear of all kinds of business debt. However, precise financial planning is essential. You can count on few of the best business practices to manage and stay away from entrepreneurial debt.

Try and shrink expenditures – Being frugal is smart. Successful entrepreneurs always suggest this practice. You can read books that will be of help.

Avert unnecessary expenditures – Do consider the opportunity expenses when you are arriving at a financial decision.

Recruit people only when it’s possible – You have to pay your staff. So, it’s a smart call to only recruit people when you have the financial capacity to. Else, you will have to apply for a loan and eventually fall into a debt cycle.

Don’t stretch with productive debt – Spending carefully, even with productive debt, is crucial. Making investments that can go against you isn’t a smart decision.

Conclusion

In all situations, it is always advisable to have ample cash deposits. It helps to manage economic downturns and manage other emergencies.

In the recent times, debt consolidation has proven to be a great way to manage entrepreneurial debt. Rather than repaying at various quarters, it is easy to pay off one huge loan amount. That way, an entrepreneur will have one amount to pay off in a month.

Today, there are various financial institutions providing debt loan consolidation services and other financial counseling. You can use it to plan your business cash-flow better and master how to avoid debt trap.

See Also: Entrepreneurship: A Better Career Choice For Generation Z?

The post Smart Tactics to Resolve and Stay Out of Entrepreneurial Debt appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Lesser-Known But Highly Effective Hacks to Achieve Sales Success

Sales is one of the most crucial aspects of a business and the art of selling is a sought-after trait. In fact, as competitive individuals, humans go through a continuous process of selling. From selling delegated products to selling our skills and unique personalities to our superiors in the office, we regularly undergo the sales process in our daily lives. This makes it important that we become extremely aware of the best ways to boost sales.

“No matter how big (CEO) or small (a salesman) is the job, experience in sales is a must”, said Naeem Zafar, former CEO of multiple unicorns including Bitzer Mobiles and the founder of Telesense, in an interview.

Now, to ensure that you become successful in the process, here is a list of 5 lesser-known ways to boost sales.

Tune in to your prospect’s frequency

Grabbing the attention of your prospect is the most important thing in the sales industry. More than speaking about the product, you need to ‘listen’ to the customer and suggest to him the right product.

This typically requires building a certain amount of trust with the prospect. The best way of doing that is by tuning yourself according to the potential customer.

Mirroring the customer’s actions is how you can pair yourself with his frequency. If he talks slowly, slow your speech down. If he is a conservative, serious person, hold your dad jokes and be serious as well.

Understanding customer psychology and showing familiar ground between you and him is crucial to furthering the sales process. After all, like attracts like, right?

Foresee objections and prepare answers to them

Anticipating is the key and preparing accordingly is your best bet.

The most embarrassing part of sales is when your prospect throws an objection or problem at you and you have no answer to that.

To prepare yourself, you must start by thoroughly researching the product you are selling. Keep track of the competitive landscape and know the pros and cons of your product so you can demonstrate its unique offering when compared with rival products in the market.

To know how to handle prospects, make a list of hurdles already thrown your way by previous prospects or customers and come up with turnarounds for them. Having done that, you will automatically feel more comfortable talking to customers. That can make you look more confident and approachable, setting you on the road to speedier sales success.

Unleash your emotional chameleon

As mentioned above, you need to let the customer do the talking and exercise patience when it comes to sales. In fact, you have to take the back seat and let the prospect drive if you want a successful deal.

Start by letting the customer narrate his problems. Throw emotional darts at him and pinch his pain points. Then, slowly take the leash and guide him towards the solution– your product! And voila, you have your deal signed!

The key is to be sophisticated and subtle while you do this. Genuinely try to understand the customer’s pain points.

Take note of feedback

Customers tend to share feedback in creative ways. From Facebook posts to spitting venomous words in person, customers tend to be brutally honest when it comes to sharing feedback and reviews.

Quite naturally, this can be a huge blow to the seller’s ego, causing the salesperson to get offended and switch off from the conversation. However, ignoring the issue can only lead to dissatisfied customers leaving your product/service subscription and a needlessly high churn rate.

To counter this, think of such unpleasant customer interactions as a golden chance to understand current issues. Use them to come up with things you need to improve or work on.

Grab an in-person meeting

Phone calls and emails all work fine but if you want to hook the big fish, get a face-to-face appointment.

Again, you need to be creative here and not seem like you are imposing yourself on the customer. A light, cheery, ‘I’m in town next week, want to meet up?’ or ‘I’m free tomorrow, can I pop in?’ will work much better than saying outright to your customer why they should purchase your product/service.

Once you get the opportunity, you can pitch your product in a far more relaxed setting than the four-walled sales setting of your office. This can increase the probability of signing a deal sooner than you thought possible. To maintain professionalism, bring a prototype along. If you can get the product itself, there’s nothing better.

In Summary

These are just a few ways to boost sales. The key lies in understanding that your customers and prospects need to see value in your product/service. Critiquing your product is the first step towards understanding the crowd. Once you understand the mindset of the person buying your product or subscribing to your services, you will be in a much better position to sell.

The sentence ‘How can I help?’ should be your signature line and a smile on your face should reflect your empathy, understanding, and conviction. After all, persuasion is the key to sales success.

Happy selling!

The post 5 Lesser-Known But Highly Effective Hacks to Achieve Sales Success appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

MallforAfrica goes global, Kobo360 and Sokowatch raise VC, France explains its $76M fund

Jake Bright
Contributor

Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa.

B2B e-commerce company Sokowatch closed a $2 million seed investment led by 4DX Ventures. Others to join the round were Village Global, Lynett Capital, Golden Palm Investments, and Outlierz  Ventures.

The Kenya based company aims to shake up the supply chain market for Africa’s informal retailers.

Sokowatch’s platform connects Africa’s informal retail stores directly to local and multi-national suppliers—such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble—by digitizing orders, delivery, and payments with the aim of reducing costs and increasing profit margins.

“With both manufacturers and the small shops, we’re becoming the connective layer between them, where previously you had multiple layers of middle-men from distributors, sub-distributors, to wholesalers,” Sokowatch founder and CEO Daniel Yu told TechCrunch.

“The cost of sourcing goods right now…we estimate we’re cutting that cost by about 20 percent [for] these shopkeepers,” he said

“There are millions of informal stores across Africa’s cities selling hundreds of billions worth of consumer goods every year,” said Yu.

These stores can use Sokowatch’s app on mobile phones to buy wares directly from large suppliers, arrange for transport, and make payments online. “Ordering on SMS or Android gets you free delivery of products to your store, on average, in about two hours,” said Yu.

Sokowatch generates revenues by earning “a margin on the goods that we’re selling to shopkeepers,” said Yu. On the supplier side, they also benefit from “aggregating demand…and getting bulk deals on the products that we distribute.”

The company recently launched a line of credit product to extend working capital loans to platform clients. With the $2 million round, Sokowatch—which currently operates in Kenya and Tanzania—plans to “expand to new markets in East Africa, as well as pilot additional value add services to the shops,” said Yu.

MallforAfrica and DHL launched MarketPlaceAfrica.com: a global e-commerce site for select African artisans to sell wares to buyers in any of DHL’s 220 delivery countries.

The site will prioritize fashion items — clothing, bags, jewelry, footwear and personal care — and crafts, such as pictures and carvings. MallforAfrica is vetting sellers for MarketPlace Africa online and through the Africa Made Product Standards association (AMPS), to verify made-in-Africa status and merchandise quality.

“We’re starting off in Nigeria and then we’ll open in Kenya, Rwanda and the rest of Africa, utilizing DHL’s massive network,” MallforAfrica CEO Chris Folayan told TechCrunch about where the goods will be sourced. “People all around the world can buy from African artisans online, that’s the goal,” Folayan told TechCrunch.

Current listed designer products include handbags from Chinwe Ezenwa and Tash women’s outfits by Tasha Goodwin.

In addition to DHL for shipping, MarketPlace Africa will utilize MallforAfrica’s e-commerce infrastructure. The startup was founded in 2011 to solve challenges global consumer goods companies face when entering Africa.

French President Emmanuel Macron  href=”https://pctechmag.com/2018/05/french-president-emmanuel-macron-launches-a-usd76m-africa-startup-fund/”>unveiled a $76 million African startup fund at VivaTech 2018 and TechCrunch paid a visit to the French Development Agency (AFD) — who will administer the new fund — to get details on how it will work.

The $76 million (or €65 million) will divvy up into three parts, AFD Digital Task Team Leader Christine Ha told TechCrunch.

“There are €10 million [$11.7 million] for technical assistance to support the African ecosystem… €5 million will be available as interest-free loans to high-potential, pre-seed startups…and…€50 million [$58 million] will be for equity-based investments in series A to C startups,” explained Ha during a meeting in Paris.

The technical assistance will distribute in the form of grants to accelerators, hubs, incubators and coding programs. The pre-seed startup loans will issue in amounts up to $100,000 “as early, early funding to allow entrepreneurs to prototype, launch and experiment,” said Ha.

The $58 million in VC startup funding will be administered through Proparco, a development finance institution — or DFI — partially owned by the AFD. “Proparco will take equity stakes, and will be a limited partner when investing in VC funds,” said Ha.

Startups from all African countries can apply for a piece of the $58 million by contacting any of Proparco’s Africa offices.

The $11.7 million technical assistance and $5.8 million loan portions of France’s new fund will be available starting in 2019. On implementation, AFD is still “reviewing several options…such as relying on local actors through [France’s] Digital Africa platform,” said Ha. President Macron followed up the Africa fund announcement with a trip to Nigeria last month.

Nigerian logistics startup Kobo360 was accepted into Y Combinator’s 2018 class and gained some working capital in the form of $1.2 million in pre-seed funding led by Western Technology Investment.

The startup — with an Uber like app that connects Nigerian truckers to companies with freight needs — will use the funds to pay drivers online immediately after successful hauls.

Kobo360 is also launching the Kobo Wealth Investment Network, or KoboWIN — a crowd-invest, vehicle financing program. Through it, Kobo drivers can finance new trucks through citizen investors and pay them back directly (with interest) over a 60-month period.

On Kobo360’s utility, “We give drivers the demand and technology to power their businesses,” CEO Obi Ozor told TechCrunch. “An average trucker will make $3,500 a month with our app. That’s middle class territory in Nigeria.”

Kobo360 has served 324 businesses, aggregated a fleet of 5480 drivers and moved 37.6 million kilograms of cargo since 2017, per company stats. Top clients include Honeywell, Olam, Unilever, and DHL.

Ozor thinks the startup’s asset-free, digital platform and business model can outpace traditional long-haul 3PL providers in Nigeria by handling more volume at cheaper prices.

“Logistics in Nigeria have been priced based on the assumption drivers are going to run empty on the way back…When we now match freight with return trips, prices crash.”

Kobo360 will expand in Togo, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal.

[PHOTO: BFX.LAGOS] And finally, applications are open for TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa, to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, December 11. Early-stage African startups have until September 3 to apply here.

More Africa Related Stories @TechCrunch

More Africa Related Stories @TechCrunch

·         CowryWise micro-savings service opens high-yield government bonds to everyday Nigerians


African Tech Around the Net

·         More Than Half of Sub-Saharan Africa to Be Connected to Mobile by 2025, Finds New GSMA Study
·         Ethiopia’s Gebeya acquires Coders4Africa to accelerate its growth
·         Rwanda, Andela partner to launch pan-African tech hub in Kigali
·         Google’s free public Wi-Fi initiative expanded to Africa
·         Accounteer wins 2018 MEST Entrepreneur challenge
·         SafeBoda completes expansion to Kenya, now live in Nairobi
·         Uganda government sued over social media tax

Don’t Make Them Wait: How to Improve Customer Response Time for Business

People do not like to wait. They don’t like being put on hold. They don’t like when a website takes forever to load. They don’t like waiting for a call or an email that they doubt will ever come at all. Generally, people don’t like being told to wait for anything. Anything at all. This is understandable because there’s really nothing more precious than time. In fact, there are so many distractions these days that people need to evaluate what they do with their time, which is the one single thing you can’t bring back. Once it is spent, it is gone forever.

This is also what businesses need to understand. If you want to keep your customers happy, get to their concerns as quickly as you can. A study on customer response time revealed that for 43.4% of customers, one business day is still an acceptable response time for emails. However, 43.9% want a response within four hours or less.

It’s a whole different story on social media. In a virtual world, more people want it extra fast. A related survey showed that a whopping 84 percent of customers prefer getting an instant response – that means within 24 hours after a post has been posted on social media.

Still, all these efforts and the hassles ultimately pay off in the end. A study from Autodeal about car dealership response time showed that dealers who respond to a customer in six hours or less have a better conversion rate. If the response time is reduced to under an hour, the conversion rate can increase by an additional 37%. People want it fast, and they associate good customer service with a quick response from the business’ end.

Now that we have pretty much settled on the importance of quick response times, let’s see how you can improve your brand’s quickness in customer response during a time where everyone seems to be impatient and easily-irked.

Sweeten your automated replies

improve customer response

A customer needs to know if his inquiry, feedback or complaint has reached the right people. This is important because only then will a customer know that he is valued and that his concerns matter.

A lot of companies now use automatic response emails to serve several purposes. Among them is to reach out to a customer, improve customer relationships, as well as give the company some time to sort things out, and craft an appropriate reply. You can have autoresponders via email or text.

But since everyone is doing it, you might want to make your messages more personal and less bland. For example, use their first names and not just the impersonal “sir/ma’am”. Draft your automatic responses in a way that sounds like it is coming from an actual human being — warm, sincere, and genuine. You might also want to consider adding a summary of their complaint, and a number of days when they could expect an action. Just be true to your word and stick to it.

Use a response software

It is not advisable to keep everything in your shared company email or to have someone manually print out everything and file them accordingly. It is best to invest in customer service software to improve your workflow and to make everyone’s life easier.

This type of software acts like your obsessive-compulsive secretary. It stores, sorts, tracks, and backs everything up. It can also be linked to your email to send those autoresponders and to your social media pages as well. A reference case number or a ticket can be issued for better tracking of concerns.

The good thing about this is it keeps everything centralized. Apart from that, the company can also keep messages and conversations that they might find helpful in the future. On the backend, you can store and sort messages, monitor response time of staff, and keep all the information and data that are very valuable these days. Through this, you will know what the top complaint about a product or a service is and work on it. You’ll also have a clearer picture as to the demographics of your market, which will allow you to target messages more effectively.

Direct them to FAQs

faqs

By this time, you probably already have an idea of what the frequently asked questions are. In your website, app or social media page, you may categorize these questions so that customers can be directed to your FAQ page. For all you know, customers don’t even need to contact you anymore. Just direct them to the said page. They most probably can solve whatever concerns they have on their own. This is called being proactive, something that customers always appreciate. In your automated emails or text messages, you may also add a link to your FAQs to let your customers know that this section exists.

Engage your employees

Improving customer response time can be a very mechanical thing, but since you are dealing with real people with real concerns, you need actual people responding to them. Companies need to engage their employees in the whole process — from setting an objective to the strategies. Remember that any software can only be as good as the people using them. You cannot set a 3-day response time if your company receives hundreds of inquiries and feedback a day and you only have five customer service officers.

Companies must also enhance employees’ soft skills such as communication techniques that involve listening, empathy, and exercising responsibility. At the same time, brush up on everyone’s technology skills to increase productivity and improve delivery.

See Also: Know Your Customers In The Digital Age

Speed is an essential component in improving customer relationships. However, it shouldn’t be achieved at the expense of quality. Any company must learn how to balance speed and quality of responses. While there are tools you can use such as automated emails and customer service apps and software, don’t underestimate soft skills that can only come from employees who have the heart for customer service.

The post Don’t Make Them Wait: How to Improve Customer Response Time for Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The Top 4 Best Alternatives to Paypal for Business

Paypal is the biggest payment gateway out there and there’s no doubt about that. It is the most famous online payment system in the world to the point that people associate the word “payment gateway” with Paypal. It offers a nice, clean and very comfortable service within a click and makes everything possible. You know the score.

However, Paypal is not the only payment gateway out there and it is not even the best of the bunch. Sure, it dominates the market but it doesn’t mean that the competition is just slacking around. There are competitors and they rapidly evolve and try to outplay the big guy.

Before we get to the best alternatives to Paypal for business, let’s explain its problem first.

Paypal is a victim of its own marketing. Over the years, Paypal was hyped as the one and only super payment gateway and people believed in that idea. However, the reality is not exactly like that.

Paypal is good for basic transactions. It is serviceable for slightly larger sums but when it comes to a commercial operation with diverse payments and schedules, it gets clumsy and barely usable.

Another thing that raises concerns is security. Paypal is not very good at it. There are holes in its security systems that enable account hijacking and account blocking and that is not something you want to experience. Imagine the consequences of such glitches in your business.

Who are Paypal’s Competitors?

Diversity is the key to success in eCommerce operation. You need to have a set of options for your business and you need to give your customers several options to perform payments.

By using only one payment gateway, you are seriously limiting not just yourself but your customers, too.

With that, here are the best alternatives to Paypal for business you should consider.

Stripe

stripe payment

Stripe is a heavy hitter. It came late to the party and turned the tide on its side simply by being handsome and charming. Jokes aside, it is one of the biggest competitors to Paypal because of its smoothness of operation and security.

Stripe is really easy to integrate into any kind of website. In addition, it avoids redirects and performs the entirety of operation on your website. It gives a larger degree of control over the operation and that is particularly calming for a businessman.

Stripe’s greatest asset is its fraud detection system. It consists of thorough credibility checks, comparison with blacklist databases, and analysis of activity. It guarantees that no one ever will succeed in wrecking your account.

Stripe’s fees are standard but chargebacks are lower than Paypals.

The challenge comes with operating it. In order to make Stripe work, you need to know a thing or two about programming. That isn’t that much of a problem if you think about it for a moment.

Square

square-official-payment

Square is probably the most radical payment gateway out there. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t skew the principles of the economy. Instead, it offers services that feel absolutely different from any other payment gateway available.

For the lack of a better word, Square is “Stripped-down” or “no-nonsense” payment gateway. That is what makes it so attractive to an ever-growing audience.

From the user experience perspective, Square is very similar to Paypal if it was cleaned-up and dropped weight. It is faster, smoother, and more elegant to use.

In terms of service, it is a reliable and trustworthy gateway. If there is something wrong, don’t worry as its customer support service will be the ones to handle it.

Authorize.Net

authorize net

Authorize.Net was there from the very beginning of eCommerce on The Internet. It saw it all and it knows a couple of tricks. As one of the oldest payment gateways active today, Authorize.Net has the benefit of having the time-tested trust.

One of its major assets is security measures. Authorize.Net is a perfect gateway for those who have a paranoia about online transactions.

In terms of UX, it is really user-friendly. You can do whatever you need if its legal. The tools for structuring payments are easy to handle and there are many additional settings that help with nuances and scheduling.

However, Authorize.Net is not cheap and that is a major turn off.

Braintree

braintree

Braintree is a division of Paypal that is a much better fit for eCommerce payments.
The best thing about it is how easy it is to handle very different types of payment. Just a couple of clicks and you can get your thing done.

Another great thing is integration. Unlike Paypal that needs some tweaks in order to fit the website, Braintree fits every type of site like a glove.

Fees are standard but in exchange, you get more features to play with so this is definitely a win. However, there might be some complication regarding technical adjustments.

Conclusion

Paypal still stands tall in the payment gateway segment, but there are worthy competitors who have something else to offer. For business owners, that is a good thing.

The nature of the competition in the payment gateway segment is beneficial for every involved party. It jumpstarted rapid evolution, increased the overall quality of services, and deepened sets of available features.

As such, the variety of options available is inspiring.

The post The Top 4 Best Alternatives to Paypal for Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Finance A Startup Business

After telling your boss to go to – well, you know where – and coming home to explain to your wife what you had just done, you sat in your man cave and processed both reactions: your boss was shocked and your wife was seriously mad.

You’ve got this, so you assured her. But, is that really the case?

Yes, you have a wonderful business idea that will surely take off, but she brought up a very important point:

How are you going to finance it?

Don’t fret as we share with you the best tips on financing your business.

Business Investors

business inventors People invest in businesses every day when they purchase stocks, but you aren’t ready for your initial public offering just yet. You need somebody who is willing to put his or her money into your idea, which is an entirely different beast.

Your first step is to write a business plan that details your idea. You will be asking people to give up their cash, so you must keep this in mind when you write your plan. Think back to your business courses in college.

You likely learned that there are many sections of a business plan and all are important. You must include an executive summary first that briefly encapsulates all aspects of your vision. Next is your company description which should include your corporate set up and business goals.

After that, describe in detail your product and/or services and how they will make money. The fourth section is your marketing analysis. Section five should explain your business startup and growth strategy and how you plan to implement it. Sections six and seven, meanwhile, are your management and financial structures, respectively.

Investor options include angel investors, crowd funders, and – believe it or not – your competition.

Angel investors are wealthy people willing to put their own money into business ventures. Some will put a ton of cash into a new venture while others will invest just a tiny sum. You can have one or many angel investors banding together and forming a group.

Angel investors do more than just give you moolah; they can also take a stake in your company which means they will expect investment returns. Many will take a management role, too. They can give you crucial advice while you’re still starting out.

Crowd Funders

For the independent entrepreneur who doesn’t want anyone else involved in managing his startup, crowd funders are another option. It leaves you 100% in charge.

Just like GoFundMe, there are a lot of available online crowdfunding websites for businesses. You will need to find a website the best one that can help you raise money. Remember to be realistic about this financing option.

While there are success stories about people reaching their funding goals, they don’t mean you’ll surely experience the same thing. For you to be successful, your plan must be full proof and others must become impassioned by your idea.

The benefit is this money is yours to keep with no strings attached. This is another reason why so many business startups try crowdfunding.

It doesn’t hurt to try. Even if you don’t reach your goal, you may still receive donations which you can use for your startup and for networking with others in your niche. This can bring you to investment by your competitors.

That isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound. Many people in your industry might be interested in giving you a helping hand. Competition is healthy and when you’re on your feet, you can divest out and be on your own. Don’t forget about microloans and grants, either.

Growing Your Entity

Once you are up, running, and turning a profit, think about venture capital to grow your business to greater heights. Venture capitalists are people who invest in existing entities to give them the boost they need to reach their next plateau and then go beyond it.

Many people think that venture capitalists only invest in technology companies, but this isn’t the case.

Many businesses receive funding from VCs, as they’re called, including biotechnology and other science companies, food service, retail, and beyond. Companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Uber have taken advantage of VC financing in the past, too. amazonChris Sacca is one venture capitalist who helped put Instagram and Twitter (among others) on the map. Born in Lockport, New York, Sacca founded Lowercase Capital which has had its hand in financing and managing numerous businesses.

Experts in business growth, Sacca and his team helped owners design and implement growth plans. And when you look at Sacca’s record, you’ll realize VC is a wonderful tool once you’re established. It’s full of visions which are usually successful.

Your wife will calm down eventually and you don’t ever need to worry about your boss again. In the meantime, write a comprehensive business plan and seek out the money you need to get your venture off the ground. There are plenty of financing options available whether you are just starting out or planning your growth. So, keep your mind open and good luck to you!

See Also: Tips for New Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know Before Starting A Business

The post How to Finance A Startup Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Top Security Ideas for Businesses You Need to Implement ASAP

A thief walks through an unlocked door and manages to steal valuable property – money, fixtures and intellectual property.

A security guard, working a double shift, falls asleep and fails to prevent a violent crime on the premises.

An office employee wanders into the wrong area of the building and suffers an injury due to lack of proper safety clothing or equipment.

Off-shift vandalism shuts down a factory line for days, costing the organization thousands of dollars.

These are all examples of poor physical security systems and procedures and they should never happen.

When things are under control, the organization operates smoothly and its people are kept safe and comfortable.

But when security systems fail, results can be disastrous.

How effective are your organization’s security measures?

A physical security assessment can tell you a lot about how “under control” things are in your organization or facility. If you’re unsure of that, check out these security ideas for business you can start using today.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

organization security

Get a straightforward assessment of your organization’s security systems before disaster strikes.

Start with a consultation with a qualified and experienced security firm. They know what to look for and what to recommend to keep your operation running smoothly.

A comprehensive assessment will evaluate the following:

  • Access to the facility and to various areas within the facility of the right personnel at the right times
  • Compliance with codes and regulations as well as with current best practices.
  • Preparedness for a variety of contingencies- from fire to natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • Risk management across a range of potential vulnerabilities- from personal injury liability to asset protection.
  • Environmental responsibility and security of materials and equipment, which could pose risks to safety and health.
  • Problems which might exist within an organization’s current security systems and procedures, including gaps and vulnerabilities, which may not have been previously considered or “caught.”
  • Vulnerabilities to the security of the organization’s data and intellectual property.
  • Appropriateness of the organization’s security program, given such factors as the location of the facility, the type of business, or the amount of foot or vehicle traffic anticipated at peak times.
  • The effectiveness of the current security program

Maximize Your Security Resources

security cameras

A great security firm not only knows how to find gaps and vulnerabilities but is sensitive to the limits of your organization’s resources.

It’s one thing to have the best security money can buy but most organizations have to maximize a limited budget. They need the most efficient and effective security program for the money they can afford to invest.

A professional assessment will not only show where the operation might be vulnerable but also reveal possible redundancies.

In Conclusion

Make sure things are under control in your organization. Call a security professional, and walk through the operation right away to learn what a potential thief or vandal might already know about your organization’s vulnerabilities. After all, the time to know about a gap in your security system is before a disaster strikes.

The post Top Security Ideas for Businesses You Need to Implement ASAP appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Shared housing startups are taking off

When young adults leave the parental nest, they often follow a predictable pattern. First, move in with roommates. Then graduate to a single or couple’s pad. After that comes the big purchase of a single-family home. A lawnmower might be next.

Looking at the new home construction industry, one would have good reason to presume those norms were holding steady. About two-thirds of new homes being built in the U.S. this year are single-family dwellings, complete with tidy yards and plentiful parking.

In startup-land, however, the presumptions about where housing demand is going looks a bit different. Home sharing is on the rise, along with more temporary lease options, high-touch service and smaller spaces in sought-after urban locations.

Seeking roommates and venture capital

Crunchbase News analysis of residential-focused real estate startups uncovered a raft of companies with a shared and temporary housing focus that have raised funding in the past year or so.

This isn’t a U.S.-specific phenomenon. Funded shared and short-term housing startups are cropping up across the globe, from China to Europe to Southeast Asia. For this article, however, we’ll focus on U.S. startups. In the chart below, we feature several that have raised recent rounds.

Notice any commonalities? Yes, the startups listed are all based in either New York or the San Francisco Bay Area, two metropolises associated with scarce, pricey housing. But while these two metro areas offer the bulk of startups’ living spaces, they’re also operating in other cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Pittsburgh.

From white picket fences to high-rise partitions

The early developers of the U.S. suburban planned communities of the 1950s and 60s weren’t just selling houses. They were selling a vision of the American Dream, complete with quarter-acre lawns, dishwashers and spacious garages.

By the same token, today’s shared housing startups are selling another vision. It’s not just about renting a room; it’s also about being part of a community, making friends and exploring a new city.

One of the slogans for HubHaus is “rent one of our rooms and find your tribe.” Founded less than three years ago, the company now manages about 80 houses in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, matching up roommates and planning group events.

Starcity pitches itself as an antidote to loneliness. “Social isolation is a growing epidemic—we solve this problem by bringing people together to create meaningful connections,” the company homepage states.

The San Francisco company also positions its model as a partial solution to housing shortages as it promotes high-density living. It claims to increase living capacity by three times the normal apartment building.

Costs and benefits

Shared housing startups are generally operating in the most expensive U.S. housing markets, so it’s difficult to categorize their offerings as cheap. That said, the cost is typically lower than a private apartment.

Mostly, the aim seems to be providing something affordable for working professionals willing to accept a smaller private living space in exchange for a choice location, easy move-in and a ready-made social network.

At Starcity, residents pay $2,000 to $2,300 a month, all expenses included, depending on length of stay. At HomeShare, which converts two-bedroom luxury flats to three-bedrooms with partitions, monthly rents start at about $1,000 and go up for larger spaces.

Shared and temporary housing startups also purport to offer some savings through flexible-term leases, typically with minimum stays of one to three months. Plus, they’re typically furnished, with no need to set up Wi-Fi or pay power bills.

Looking ahead

While it’s too soon to pick winners in the latest crop of shared and temporary housing startups, it’s not far-fetched to envision the broad market as one that could eventually attract much larger investment and valuations. After all, Airbnb has ascended to a $30 billion private market value for its marketplace of vacation and short-term rentals. And housing shortages in major cities indicate there’s plenty of demand for non-Airbnb options.

While we’re focusing here on residential-focused startups, it’s also worth noting that the trend toward temporary, flexible, high-service models has already gained a lot of traction for commercial spaces. Highly funded startups in this niche include Industrious, a provider of flexible-term, high-end office spaces, Knotel, a provider of customized workplaces, and Breather, which provides meeting and work rooms on demand. Collectively, those three companies have raised about $300 million to date.

At first glance, it may seem shared housing startups are scaling up at an off time. The millennial generation (born roughly 1980 to 1994) can no longer be stereotyped as a massive band of young folks new to “adulting.” The average member of the generation is 28, and older millennials are mid-to-late thirties. Many even own lawnmowers.

No worries. Gen Z, the group born after 1995, is another huge generation. So even if millennials age out of shared housing, demographic forecasts indicate there will plenty of twenty-somethings to rent those partitioned-off rooms.

The Best Tips to Boost Pinterest Conversion

Pinterest has emerged as an important marketing platform to drive conversion for businesses. But how exactly can it drive sales and generate leads?

To understand the potential of Pinterest, it is important to know how it stands apart from others. Let us explain first its key attributes.

Visual Content: Most researchers agree that visual elements generate more interest in reading content. Do you want some statistics in favor of it? Just have a look at the following stats:

  • Visual content enhances 94% more page views.
  • It makes at least 37% more engagement.
  • Visual impressions are processed by our brain six billion times faster compared to text.

Easier sharing: Visual content gets better sharing compared to text. A visual in Pinterest gets around 10 repins compared to text.

Driving traffic: Pinterest can generate a good volume of traffic in a quicker time if you can make a solid visual campaign on it. Here are some tips:

  • Do not pin any image without website link.
  • Pin tutorials in greater number to get more clicks than others.
  • Offer pins on trending topics to gain more clicks.
  • Use appropriate Call-to-action buttons like, ‘Repin this’, ‘Comment below’,  and ‘Click here’ to push clicks and conversion.
  • Make all your posts easily pinnable by using a Pin App.

Pinterest is less competitive: The competition on Pinterest is significantly lower as compared to the major social media sites. Facebook has 1.40 billion users while Instagram has over 400 million. Pinterest only has 100 million active users in a month as of now.

More discoverability: The posts on its homepage stay much longer, allowing more views.

Pinterest is ideal for shopping: A 2014 statistics revealed by Pinterest says that 93% of pinners, comprising both men and women, shopped through the platform in the last six months.

So, you have got the mandate loud and clear.

Pinterest conversion is better than other social media platforms. If you are ready to apply it to your business, here are the 5 most effective tips you can use.

Understanding the users

pinterest social media

Every platform has a typical user mindset. The same person while using Facebook has a different mindset than the one using Pinterest.

A recent study by Digitas and Curalate revealed that 70% of brand engagement on this platform is created by the users only, not by the business brands.

What are the basic experiences people refer when using Pinterest? Here’s a quick look:

  • Just having a glimpse.
  • Wish I could do it.
  • Taking a closer look.
  • I am definite of what I want from it.

These four reactions happen on the basis of user needs, context, and time. You should have a solid grasp of the target user preferences, contexts, and the way they prefer content. A unique look and feel coupled up with staying relevant to your audience will be the key to prompt action from them.

Promotional campaigns

On Pinterest, coupons and contests are very popular. Terms like “free”, “discount,” “best offers” will surely get your users’ attention. Seeing the products and reading their data in details can also increase engagement and conversion.

To set up coupons on Pinterest, you can easily take help from a third-party coupon creation app like Wishpond. You can run the campaign through the business website.

There are also free third-party coupon apps. Some of these apps also provide tools, like real-time analytics of campaigns to spot opportunities.

When running a photo contest on Pinterest, make your strategy based on social-proofs and allow only user-created content for the contest. This will enhance credibility and enhance engagement to the contest.

Such contests should allow sharing the content across all social channels, generating fresh traffic for your website and opening new avenues of engagement.

SEO for better discoverability

How can you make your content easy to discover on Pinterest? Well, this requires some maneuvers that we would refer to as Pinterest SEO.

First of all, begin your pins with the username of your company. In Pinterest, just as it is allowed on Facebook, you can create custom URL.

Secondly, always use some target keywords in the About section and then let those keywords appear in the Pinboard names. To make it further optimized, you can also use backlinks to your website or use hashtags within the pin description.

A Pinning Strategy

pinterest

You should have a pinning strategy in place. There are various aspects to it but the most important of them include wise targeting, quality images, and enriching pins.

Let us have a look at these:

  • Pinterest offers robust analytics to know your audience and accordingly fixes your pinning strategy with relevant keywords, image strategy, promoted pins, etc.
  • High-quality images have no alternative to boost your pins for better user engagement. Besides professional quality photos, make use of graphics, infographics, and posters to offer a varied mix of visual content.
  • Rich pins consisting of various types of texts and images can engage audience better.

Using pins to allow direct purchase

There is not a better way to push Pinterest conversion than allowing people to make purchases directly from pins. Pinterest pins can be used to make such direct purchase and they are called buyable pins. At present, they are only available for iOS and Android users only in the U.S. Anytime soon, it will be extended to other parts of the globe and across other platforms.

See Also: Use Pinterest to Plan Your Next Vacation — Here’s How

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Six Ways Brexit Could Affect Global Finances

With the UK still locked in negotiations with the 27 member states of the EU following the country’s decision to leave the Union, a great deal of uncertainty still remains about what form a post-Brexit world will take. At the moment, even the negotiating position is open to debate with the country’s MPs split on what the best approach should be.

Although the direction Brexit is taking is still uncertain, there is no denying that it is going to influence more than the UK or the EU’s finances.

Let’s take a look at the likely influences of Brexit around the world, in six key areas.

Supply chains and manufacturing

brexit supply chains affected

Today’s supply chains are global, so the cost of raw materials for manufacturing may increase under new trade agreements, as well as being affected by currency exchange rates. One thing’s for sure, whichever way Brexit goes, it’s a monumental event on the world’s economic data calendar, with ramifications for more just one country. Increased customs procedures for materials entering or leaving the UK for EU countries could also slow down the supply chain, increasing costs and reducing efficiency.

Corporations

Many global corporations have their headquarters in the UK and are actively considering what this could mean for them once the country has separated from Europe. If they do decide to move to an EU country, it will obviously have financial consequences for them, not least in meeting the costs for both new premises and relocation expenses for valued staff.

Trade

brexit trade affected

The UK is actively looking to draw up new trade agreements worldwide as a hedge against any changes in the way that it trades with EU countries. One of the UK government’s key mantras has been “Britain is open for business” so it could be that many countries are in a good position to negotiate especially favourable terms to minimize tariffs for exports and imports.

Exchange rates

As was seen shortly after the Brexit referendum result was announced when the value of sterling dropped by 10% almost immediately, the pound is likely to be weaker against all of the world’s major currencies. Some hope that this may help to offset the higher tariffs that might form part of new trade agreements.

Taxes

The UK is very aware of the need to both retain the companies headquartered there and attract new ones. So, there have been suggestions that the level of corporation tax, which is currently 20%, could become as low as 15%. If this was the case then it would be one of the lowest rates of any of the world’s major economies.

Equity markets

Just as the value of sterling fell after the Brexit vote, global equity markets also showed considerable volatility. So, although nothing can be certain right now, it is expected that these will react in one way or another as more is known about the world economy after the UK has finally severed ties with the EU.

So these are interesting times not just for the UK and Europe but for the whole world. But it’s only after March 2019 that anyone will know just how interesting they are for the global economy as a whole.

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Southern California needs to find its hub for it to develop its own tech ecosystem

Recognizing the tens of billions of dollars that the Southern Californian region leaves on the table, because it hasn’t taken its rightful place in the American technology industry, a new group called  the Alliance for Southern California Innovation has just released a report to analyze how SoCal can work to assume its pole position.

Through interviews with 100 leaders of the technology ecosystem and an analysis of venture capital funding for the region, the organization has concluded (with the help of the Boston Consulting Group) that the promise of a regional rival to Northern California’s silicon valley won’t be fulfilled without the establishment of a geographic hub and a willingness to overcome regional differences.

Founded by Steve Poizner last year to accelerate the growth of a startup entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southern California, The Alliance is building a network of investors, entrepreneurs and universities to provide ballast in the south to the dominance of the Northern California tech industry.

The Alliance estimates that Southern California’s tech community could be one-third the size of Silicon Valley’s by supporting or further developing the six pillars it already has for innovation to occur.

The potential impact making these changes could have is an added 200,000 new jobs and growth of $100 billion for the whole economic region.

“Over the past several years we have observed a significant decrease in startups leaving SoCal,” said Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank . “We’ve also seen a substantial inflow of venture capital from all over the world.”

In fact, as is well-reported, the luster of Silicon Valley is fading. As BCG writes in its report:

The good news for SoCal and any region with tech ambitions is that the Bay Area has in some ways been too successful. Our research revealed a saturation level causing unprecedented challenges, starting with exorbitant housing prices and runaway operating costs that accelerate a startup’s “burn rate”—its monthly spending.

Los Angeles investor Mark Suster, a general partner with Upfront Ventures, has been beating the drum for Los Angeles as a new tech hub for a while — and billion dollar exits for Ring and Dollar Shave Club, in addition to the public offering for Snap, lend credence to his position.

Suster has also noted for years that the region produces more technology doctorates than any other geography in the United States. Caltech generates more patents than any other university while UCLA boasts more startups founded by its graduate than any other school in the nation. Meanwhile, UCSD in San Diego has a deep bench of biotechnology expertise stemming from its proximity to the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, the Salk Institute, and the Scripps Research Institute.

However, to thrive, BCG recommends taking six steps to bolster the the ecosystem and its chances to begin to catch up to Silicon Valley.

The consulting firm says that Southern California needs more local venture capital; the individual geographies need to work to promote their regional strengths; regions need to collaborate more closely with each other; founders need to start gunning for that IPO slot instead of taking acquisition offers; the region’s commitment to diversity needs to be emphasized; and finally the embarrassment of entrepreneurial riches needs to be promoted abroad.

“Southern California is a region of extreme innovation; however, it is so spread-out, making it hard to navigate,” said Steve Poizner founder and board chair of the Alliance, in a statement. “We believe by finding, filtering and aggregating exciting startups from top universities, research institutes, and incubators/accelerators, we can demonstrate the combined strength of SoCal in a compelling way to top investors and thought leaders.”

Digital Marketing for Business: Is It A Must?

Why is content going digital?

There are plenty of people who prefer going to movie theaters to see new movies. There are still lots of folks who enjoy a live musical performance over listening to the radio.

But more and more people are choosing to download digital copies instead of standing in line to buy physical copies of books, music, and movies. And that’s not even the most seismic shift to digital content we are seeing at this point in time.

There is a ton of data out there that is finally starting to be used for something and they are going to change everything about our lives.

How Much Digital Content Is Out There?

90% of today’s data were generated in the last two years and that’s really not surprising. Smartphones have only been around just over a decade. Users have only recently embraced their ability to generate data pertaining to their everyday lives.

Two and a half quintillion bytes of data are created every single day worldwide. Considering that internet usage worldwide is only at 50%, that figure is going to continue growing exponentially in the future.

What Else Is Going Digital?

One major example is currency.

We see this a lot with cryptocurrency. Even though news of cryptocurrency’s volatility, carbon footprint problems, and security problems are making headlines daily, digital currency is still getting more popular. In fact, it increased 43 times in just one year.

That speaks volumes about the trust people put on digital currencies and content.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Is On The Rise: Are You Prepared?

Businesses Are Leveraging All That Digital Content To Innovate

digital business marketing

Think about all the data generated about you when you go online and interact with people there. That’s the same way companies get an idea of who their target audience is.

Think of it this way:

When you call a call center with a complaint or customer service issues, the other party asks for your details. That includes who you are, where you live, how much money you make, your education level, and more.

Those data can tell a company a lot about who its target audience is. They can also provide valuable insights on how its employees and products are doing in terms of customer satisfaction and retention.

Some of the ways that big data is being leveraged to improve businesses include:

  • Cost-benefit analysis and decreasing expenses
  • Making decisions based on data
  • Discovering new avenues for innovation
  • Speeding up current innovation efforts
  • Launching new products and services based on what customers want
  • Adding revenue
  • Transforming business into a sustainable model that will work in the future

See Also: Know Your Customers In The Digital Age

Potential Downsides To Going Digital

We’ve seen places like Puerto Rico get slammed with hurricanes that have wiped out the entire power grid. Replacing that power grid is slow and costly.

Of course, in that situation, you wouldn’t be worried about accessing your digital movies, books, and music.

But what if you’re relying completely on digital currency and there’s no electricity to connect you to the Internet? How can you use it?

Digital Marketing for Businesses

At this point, it no longer makes sense for your business not to adopt and utilize digital marketing. It’s the hottest thing right now and it’s what can give your business the boost it needs to improve its sale.

Here’s a list of what you need to do:

  • Post videos of special events and see how the public will react to them.
  • Post photos regularly on Instagram and see which ones get the most interaction. This is often where you will find your next big idea.
  • Use social media as a means to interact and build relationships with your customers.

Learn more about leveraging digital content from this infographic!

Infographic by MerlinOne

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5 Creative Ways to Establish Business Credibility

Big companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle, and McDonald’s are brands well-known throughout the world. When you go to those companies or buy their products, you get a certain feeling of authority and trust as a customer.

Why?

Because they are huge and established multinational companies.

Now, if you are just starting out with your business, you’re probably hoping to trigger the same feelings in your customers. In this article, we’ll share with you the best tips on how to establish business credibility.

Configure your auto attendant creatively

An auto attendant is a collection of voice menus and actions defined by the caller’s behavior. Depending on what you set it to, you can connect the caller to an extension, send them to a voicemail, play announcements, and more.

For instance, you can assign a voice menu that says, “To reach our sales department, press 1. For technical support, press 2. To talk directly to our receptionist, press 3.”

Even if you’re just a two-person business, you can assign yourself multiple extensions so that you can handle incoming calls for both sales and reception. This will impress callers and make them think that your company is bigger than it actually is.

Make your website more appealing

Being stuck with an outdated website design won’t do your business any good. Since your website is a reflection of your business, you have to make sure that it’s impressive.

Work on the following when trying to make your website more appealing:

  • Fantastic UI. Customers should be able to navigate your site with ease. If they don’t know where to go after they visit your homepage, you can easily lose them to your competitors.
  • Attractive color schemes. Some business owners are prone to using unpopular colors on their website while some are just basing their colors on their personal preferences. It’s good to remember that it’s not always about you but about the audience you’re trying to attract. If you don’t know where to get started, you can get inspiration from tons of online resources.
  • Effective and readable content. Readability is important to make sure that visitors are getting the most out of the stuff they read on your site. Put some effort in ensuring that your content is targeted and friendly to the readers.

See Also: 4 Ways to Make Your Website an Effective Business Tool

Improve your customer interactions

Remember that you have control over how you deal with your patrons. Make sure to turn every interaction into a positive and memorable one for them.

Here are a few strategies you can use:

  • Cover all of your bases. Customers will be getting in touch using all forms of communication imaginable. They will email you, call you, record voicemails, send faxes or fill up a form on your website. Make sure that you track all of those forms and see to it that you respond to them in a timely manner. If you can afford it, find a good CRM platform that will allow you to centralize and simplify all types of customer engagement.
  • Try to see things from the customer’s perspective. Treat your patrons the way you want to be treated.
  • Be transparent with handling feedback. Be appreciative of the feedback that you get whether they’re positive or negative. By doing this, you’ll be able to find the things that you’re doing right and discover the things you still need to work on. Large companies aren’t fazed by negative feedback; they quickly work on making improvements.

Engage in corporate social responsibility

Businesses shouldn’t always be entirely about what the customers buy. Several studies have already proven that modern consumers are more likely to patronize companies committed to advocacies or those that support causes.

Well-known brands such as TOMS and Warby Parker have understood this perfectly. While they don’t exactly have the best products on the market, they sell items like pancakes because of their business model.

“Traditional marketing, where savings is the main message, is no longer as appealing as it was before,” says this social responsibility article on the RingCentral Small Business blog.

Because of this, you need to keep up not just because it’s trendy but because it pays to have a purpose. Also, you have to make sure that the cause you’re supporting is relevant to your business.

Become a leader in your niche

It would be best to score speaking engagements at industry forums. This way, you’ll get to share your knowledge, generate awareness about your brand, and become a leader in your space. You also get the chance to learn from others when you do this.

Spend time building relationships with your audience and with like-minded individuals in your niche. Participate in meet-ups if you can and be active when attending such events.

Be part of associations or organizations that are niche-specific. These will add to your “seal of approval”. They will help you gain the credibility and trust of the people around you.

The bottom line is that you should get your name and your brand out there. You want to be seen and be heard at this point.

These are just some of the things you can do establish business credibility. If you’ve already tried out some of these tactics, let us know how they’re working out for you.

See Also: 8 Top Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

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8 Instagram Trends In 2018 You Need To Know

Instagram offers a wealth of possibilities when it comes to reaching your customers and effectively distributing your content. It is a convenient platform for brands since it’s where your audience already engage with other brands and users.

As you look ahead to 2018 and begin planning your social media strategy, it is essential to monitor trends. With that, here are 8 Instagram trends you need to watch out for this year.

Rise of Instagram Stories

instagram-stories
Via TechCrunch

Instagram Stories were a big deal in 2017. This trend isn’t likely to go anywhere in the coming 12 months.

The introduction of Instagram stories was the most noticeable change in the Instagram user interface. It has enormous marketing implications.

Accounts with over 10,000 followers can now add a link within the feature. This is a significant development as it has the potential to multiply buying or inquiry opportunities.

In just one year after launch, Instagram stories surpassed Snapchat in terms of daily viewers.

Improved Visual Search

The ability to search using image content is an extremely useful feature. Facebook has already started developing an advanced image recognition AI. This feature will be even more valuable on Instagram since its primary focus is image and video posts.

The search feature on Instagram is continually being upgraded. This means that we can look forward to more improvements in 2018. We can expect to see better search capabilities, including images.

This is especially beneficial for brands since they will be searchable both by image content and hashtag. Customers will also be able to find and identify products easily.

A Boost in User-Generated Content

In the coming year, we can expect to see more brands making use of user-generated content. Various companies are already focusing on content created by fans. Most of the time, it’s through community-driven hashtags and campaigns.

Brands are now working on implementing systems that will make it easier to share user-generated content. As a result of this, social media managers will be able to access more trusted, high-quality content.

Expansion of Shopping Tags

In 2018, we’re likely to witness Instagram putting more of a focus on growing their business options. They need to remain competitive with other business platforms that are witnessing substantial growth. As a result, we are likely to see the expansion of their shopping tag. Through that, businesses can add descriptions and prices to their product images.

They have been trying this out since November 2016 and have recently partnered with Shopify. As expected, tons of brands are looking forward to this feature and Instagram is likely to do a more extensive roll out in the next few months.

Video Will Have a More Significant Role to Play

Video content is extremely popular and, therefore, increasingly important for brands. Videos play a huge role in building an audience and generating engagement. They generally get more likes, shares, and comments than any other types of content.

Brands can now create videos and share them immediately with their followers, thanks to the Instagram Stories feature. Having the ability to create and promote video content will be critical for brands in the upcoming year.

More Robust Social Analytics Tools

When someone interacts with a brand on Instagram, they will be immediately put off if they come across something that is irrelevant or doesn’t add value. If they are constantly bombarded with this type of content, they will get frustrated and may even unfollow the brand.

This is the reason why content personalization for audiences is a major trend in content marketing. Marketers will be better equipped to do this with better social analytics tools available. In 2018, social analytics tools are likely to become more detailed and valuable to marketers.

Focus on Generation Z

instagram users

According to a recent study, marketers on Instagram must shift their focus from Millennials to Generation Z. People in this generation are in their early twenties and are just beginning to enter the workforce. This gives them newly increased buying powers that many organizations are looking to tap into.

As more and more brands start to recognize this, they are shifting their social media strategies accordingly. Instagram is a platform Gen Z love and is likely to bring in new features to cater to this group.

Instagram-based Influencer Marketing Will Be on The Rise

An increasing number of brands are adding influencer marketing to their social media strategies. Influencer marketing is an effective way to connect with new followers and build engagement with your existing audience.

Brands that don’t evolve with the times and only opt for traditional advertising strategies will find it difficult to connect with social media users. In 2018, more brands will use social media influencers as a way to improve reach and engagement.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Instagram Advertising

Final Thoughts

In the next twelve months, we can expect to see numerous developments on Instagram. Marketers will focus on consistently putting out more personalized, high-quality content for their audiences. There will be cutting-edge analytics tools and improved selling options to help them.

These Instagram trends have enormous implications for users and marketers and are set to change the way we use the platform.

See Also: The Secret Behind Instagram’s Success

 

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Online graphic design startup Canva is now worth $1 billion

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Canva is Australia’s first unicorn of 2018, after raising $40 million (AUD$50.9 million) to push the design startup’s value over $1 billion.

Now available in 190 countries, with over 10 million users, the online design and publishing platform was launched in 2012 by CEO and co-founder Melanie Perkins — now the youngest female entrepreneur to have reached unicorn status. 

“It’s still extremely early days for us yet, and we feel like we’ve done one percent of what we believe is possible but it’s quite exciting to get to this point in time, and it’s been a huge journey,” Perkins told Mashable. Read more…

More about Business, Startups, Startup, Unicorns, and Businesswoman

4 Simple Ways To Increase Your Customer Base

So, you’ve been in business for some time now. Do you know how to increase your customer base?

When you started out, you’re probably not so bothered about having little or no customer. After all, it’s normal for new businesses. But now, you’re probably thinking why you can’t keep your business on a steady ride.

What will be the fate of a business without customers?

I’m no prophet of doom but it’s quite obvious that it’ll be a disaster. And that’s because customers are the sustaining factor of a business.

It’s no exaggeration when they say that customer is king. Their patronage provides the revenue that businesses thrive on. Simply put, they are the reason why you are in business.

So, how do you deal with the problem of little or no customers? Unless you want to go out of business soon, you have to be worried about your lack of customers.

Here are four simple ways to increase your customer base.

Provide excellent customer service

customer support

Charity begins at home.

A good way to increase your customer base is to work on putting customers at your disposal. When you don’t give these customers a reason to stay, they’ll run into the open arms of the next available competition. The first contact a customer makes with you is worth more than a million dollars.

You know why?

If such a customer is satisfied with your delivery, he/she could transact businesses worth more than a million dollar with you subsequently. A satisfied customer is likely to tell their friends, family, and associates about your services, referring more clients to you even without you asking.

See Also: Live Chat for Business: The Best Investment?

Understand your target market

Needs can only be met when they are understood.

It’s impossible to provide a solution to a problem you know little or nothing about. You could end up spending so much time and resources doing the wrong things.

Identifying prospective customers’ needs gives you better insights on how to provide products or services that are tailor-made for them. When you have the answers to customers’ problems, they’ll naturally be drawn to you. And if you live up to their expectations, you’re likely to keep them around for a very long time.

At the end of the day, every customer wants to be satisfied. If you tick that box, you’ll have their full attention.

Utilize your network

In this digital age, we are bombarded with different modern marketing strategies with the promise of great results. While some of these techniques are efficient, they are still a far cry from the good old proven word of mouth marketing technique.

You see, your social capital isn’t just there for socializing; it can be of great help in growing your business, too.

Your network consists of people who know you personally. While they may not be able to vouch for you on matters of life and death, they trust you enough to give you the benefit of the doubt in trying out your products or services. Don’t be shy to tell them about what you do.

Remember, you are your best marketer. Talk to people in your network about your business. You’ll be surprised at the number of new customers you’ll get from that.

Explore social media

social media marketing

If everyone is gushing about the benefits of social media in business, there’s a chance that there’s something in it for you as well. It’s okay to be a doubting Thomas but sometimes, you have to give the benefit of the doubt.

Look at it this way:

With social media, you can reach people that you may not be able to reach normally. When you do it right, you are likely to generate leads from your social media marketing strategies.

See Also: 4 Good Reasons For Marketing With Facebook

Technology makes it easier for you to streamline your campaigns to consumers who are in need of what you are selling. You can get your products or services right in front of people who are looking for exactly what you are offering.

There’s no such thing as too many customers; the more the merrier. If you made it a point of duty to increase your customer base on a regular basis, you’d have more revenue in your bank account. You get to meet your business goals and even expand. In the end, you stand to lose nothing. So, wouldn’t you rather give it a try?

The post 4 Simple Ways To Increase Your Customer Base appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

4 Simple Ways To Increase Your Customer Base

So, you’ve been in business for some time now. Do you know how to increase your customer base?

When you started out, you’re probably not so bothered about having little or no customer. After all, it’s normal for new businesses. But now, you’re probably thinking why you can’t keep your business on a steady ride.

What will be the fate of a business without customers?

I’m no prophet of doom but it’s quite obvious that it’ll be a disaster. And that’s because customers are the sustaining factor of a business.

It’s no exaggeration when they say that customer is king. Their patronage provides the revenue that businesses thrive on. Simply put, they are the reason why you are in business.

So, how do you deal with the problem of little or no customers? Unless you want to go out of business soon, you have to be worried about your lack of customers.

Here are four simple ways to increase your customer base.

Provide excellent customer service

customer support

Charity begins at home.

A good way to increase your customer base is to work on putting customers at your disposal. When you don’t give these customers a reason to stay, they’ll run into the open arms of the next available competition. The first contact a customer makes with you is worth more than a million dollars.

You know why?

If such a customer is satisfied with your delivery, he/she could transact businesses worth more than a million dollar with you subsequently. A satisfied customer is likely to tell their friends, family, and associates about your services, referring more clients to you even without you asking.

See Also: Live Chat for Business: The Best Investment?

Understand your target market

Needs can only be met when they are understood.

It’s impossible to provide a solution to a problem you know little or nothing about. You could end up spending so much time and resources doing the wrong things.

Identifying prospective customers’ needs gives you better insights on how to provide products or services that are tailor-made for them. When you have the answers to customers’ problems, they’ll naturally be drawn to you. And if you live up to their expectations, you’re likely to keep them around for a very long time.

At the end of the day, every customer wants to be satisfied. If you tick that box, you’ll have their full attention.

Utilize your network

In this digital age, we are bombarded with different modern marketing strategies with the promise of great results. While some of these techniques are efficient, they are still a far cry from the good old proven word of mouth marketing technique.

You see, your social capital isn’t just there for socializing; it can be of great help in growing your business, too.

Your network consists of people who know you personally. While they may not be able to vouch for you on matters of life and death, they trust you enough to give you the benefit of the doubt in trying out your products or services. Don’t be shy to tell them about what you do.

Remember, you are your best marketer. Talk to people in your network about your business. You’ll be surprised at the number of new customers you’ll get from that.

Explore social media

social media marketing

If everyone is gushing about the benefits of social media in business, there’s a chance that there’s something in it for you as well. It’s okay to be a doubting Thomas but sometimes, you have to give the benefit of the doubt.

Look at it this way:

With social media, you can reach people that you may not be able to reach normally. When you do it right, you are likely to generate leads from your social media marketing strategies.

See Also: 4 Good Reasons For Marketing With Facebook

Technology makes it easier for you to streamline your campaigns to consumers who are in need of what you are selling. You can get your products or services right in front of people who are looking for exactly what you are offering.

There’s no such thing as too many customers; the more the merrier. If you made it a point of duty to increase your customer base on a regular basis, you’d have more revenue in your bank account. You get to meet your business goals and even expand. In the end, you stand to lose nothing. So, wouldn’t you rather give it a try?

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4 Ways Small Business Can Become More Efficient Through Cloud Computing

In today’s business world, it is important that business have access to what they need when they need it. Whether through phones, tablets or computers, there is a need for convenience and reliability as far as access to information is concerned. Cloud computing facilitates all these. Without a doubt, it has transformed how several businesses operate.

For those who are entering the arena for the first time, it is important to note that cloud computing is an umbrella term that includes:

  • Cloud storage
  • Cloud hosting
  • Software as a service
  • Cloud backup

By migrating the cloud, your business can use this technology to enhance your operations in a couple of ways. In essence, cloud computing guarantees several benefits.

Enhanced collaboration

cloud computing collaboration

Provided there is reliable internet access, it is possible to access cloud-based programs any time using a couple of devices. For a business with remote employees, nothing facilitates greater collaboration than this.

In today’s economy, we have a substantial number of small and medium-size businesses which rely on remote productivity as a critical aspect of their operation. Using various cloud-based software, different teams in various locations can collaborate on the same documents without the need to email attachments, schedule calendars, and share task lists.

This reduces the need for physical meetings. Participants only need to sign up for the services and pick up their tasks online without the need to install new programs or download other software.

Secure data backup

Businesses have always relied on data. The only difference is that businesses are more dependent on data now than before.

Losing essential data can be detrimental to a business or an organization. For smaller businesses, you might not have the resources or time to implement an effective backup strategy.

With cloud computing, you can easily retrieve the latest version of your data in case of an onsite system failure. Such system can also come handy in case of a disaster, such as fire.

Remember, you have the option of using cloud-based services to back up your business data automatically. In case of any unforeseen interruptions, your business will be back up and running in a couple of minutes.

Several firms offering cloud services provide geo-redundant backup. That implies that your data is saved in multiple centers across various locations to enhance data security.

Improved reliability

We all understand that cloud-based services are often more reliable compared to promised services. This is particularly true in instances where the servers and other hardware components used in service delivery are aging.

Cloud service providers boast of dedicated and highly experienced IT staff. When it comes to resolving various IT issues, you can rely on such team to provide better services in terms of reliability and speed.

For any business, nothing is more important than knowing that there is a team you can always rely on in case of anything. With the kind of support offered by cloud service providers, you won’t always have to worry about your data.

Better resource management

small business cloud computing

When you opt for cloud service, one huge burden lifted off of your shoulder is that of hosting the servers. Since the servers will be located off-site, you can sit back knowing that their management is an experienced IT staff.

Since there is easier access to resources as needed when dealing with the cloud, there will be less time involved in starting these services. It is also clear that several smaller businesses have limited IT experts and resources.

Outsourcing cloud computing services give them an opportunity to concentrate on the other aspects of their business while cloud service providers handle the rest. For smaller businesses that are out to edge or rival the big names in the market, cloud computing provides an opportunity to be more competitive and claim their fair share of the market.

Don’t ignore the details

While it is true that cloud computing comes with multiple benefits, it will not be fair to ignore the possible setbacks that can come with this technology. Just like any other technology, it takes time to set up and adapt to a new system. You will need to train your personnel, even in the slightest ways possible.

In addition to that, there is also the need to establish a very effective troubleshooting system during and after the system is launched. Always remember to never ignore security risks when considering cloud computing services. The rate of cyber crimes is at an all-time high.

If you are going to use any cloud service provider, make sure that they have all the answers to any security concerns you have. Try to understand the contingency plans they have in place in case of a security breach. Only after that should you sign on the dotted lines.

See Also: How Cloud Technology Can Help Your Business Grow

The post 4 Ways Small Business Can Become More Efficient Through Cloud Computing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Things You Need To Know About Shared Web Hosting

With technology evolving, customers have more options than ever before. They are surrounded by streams of brands- millions of them. People are agog over searching things they want over the internet, so if you do not exist online, you are probably losing a multitude of your potential customers.

Having a website is a must!

Whether you own a large corporation or a small cafe, you will need an influential web presence where your customers can connect with you, discover about your business, and eventually buy your products online. Taken together, an appealing, user-friendly, and informative website can magnetize new customers and prospects.

Businesses that still don’t have a website may be considered as outdated or even unreliable. Obviously, you wouldn’t want your business to have the same impression.

Since a majority of small and big businesses get their own website, they need to choose between different hosting solutions at some point. If your website does not attract much traffic and you have a tight budget, then shared web hosting service is the best option for you.

The Most Affordable Hosting Option

web host

Shared hosting is the most classic and widely chosen hosting plan across the globe. The key reason is its affordability as you don’t have to burn holes in your wallet.

Shared hosting is more like sharing an apartment where you share different facilities, like parking lot, kitchen, internet provider, and so on. When it comes to hosting, you have to share your resources with other hosting mates, like CPU time, memory, data, and disk space.

The Drawbacks

Shared hosting comes with some drawbacks. Potential website instability is one of them.

Take note that your website will be sharing server CPU resources with different other websites. When any of the websites sharing your server experiences an upsurge in traffic, your site might load slowly.

More Things to Consider

Hosting providers offer different plans for shared hosting. They may ask you to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly depending on your chosen plan.

Apart from payment options, you also have to be clear about the features you should be able to get from your plan. Storing files on the server is essential and so is the volume of data transfers and storage limits. If the basic features aren’t enough, you can always get an upgrade but be prepared to pay more.

Many shared hosting providers offer unlimited monthly data transfers to their customers. This may not be a catch, but you have to be sure that there are no hidden prices involved and that your definition of unlimited is same as theirs.

Now comes the OS. Check if you need Windows servers or Linux servers. Most common OS available for servers is Linux, but there are some web hosts that will allow you to choose between Linux or Windows hosting. For server-side apps that require Windows, let’s say SQL Server or a customized software coded in .NET, then Windows hosting will be the right option.

Make sure that your prospective web host offers a user-friendly control panel to streamline server administration and website management. Rather than typing a command line manually, the user can click the icons they recognize.

Another thing is customer support. You need to be certain that your host offers responsive 24/7 customer support. Some useful tools are forums, tutorials, and knowledge bases, but there’s nothing like having a human at your disposal.

customer support

See Also: 5 Effective Ways To Sound More Human Over A Customer Support Live Chat

Hosting For Bloggers

WordPress hosting is an effective and affordable solution, just like shared web hosting. This sort of hosting is the best solution for people planning to create a website powered by WordPress CMS (content management system), but don’t want to be troubled with things like updating CMS and the apps. Managed WordPress plans is mostly comprised of security features aimed at protecting CMS from layabouts.

Some managed WordPress hosts restrict certain plugins. Therefore, if your website demands certain plugins, then you might have to search for other hosting options. Please note that only WordPress CMS can run on managed WordPress hosting.

See Also: How to Choose a Web Host for Your Website

 

To wrap up

Selecting the right hosting option is no rocket-science; it truly depends upon your unique needs and budget. Most of the time shared web hosting is more than enough to cover your hosting needs as it is affordable, practical, and uncomplicated.

The post 5 Things You Need To Know About Shared Web Hosting appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Feds want to take Martin Shkreli’s $2 million Wu-Tang album

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Feds want to seize everything around Martin Shkreli.

Prosecutors asked a Brooklyn court on Friday to force the incarcerated “pharma bro” to forfeit some of his most valuable possessions, including the $2 million single-copy Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the unreleased Lil Wayne album Tha Carter V, a Picasso, and an antique World War II Enigma machine.

Shkreli, who gained notoriety when he spiked the price of a life-saving AIDS drug as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was convicted in August of defrauding hedge fund investors in an incident unrelated to the pricing debacle. He’s currently in jail as he awaits a sentencing in which he could see up to 20 years in prison.     Read more…

More about Martin Shkreli, Wu Tang Clan, Business, and Music

Do VC woes extend to portfolio companies? For Rothenberg, probably not

 As VC brands go, Rothenberg Ventures has seen better days. The firm built up a reputation as an up-and-coming early-stage investor. But Silicon Valley soured on Rothenberg Ventures last year; lawsuits ensued. So it hasn’t been a good year for Mike Rothenberg. But what about the Rothenberg Ventures portfolio? Read More

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5 Behaviors That Annoy Your Customers

Frequent calls and customer complaints are staples in every business. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are completely harmless. In fact, the increasing number of calls and customer complaints can mean that your business isn’t doing well.

Today, customers aren’t afraid of switching. If they are unhappy with your services and goods, they’ll just move on and find another company or brand that can meet their needs and expectations.

So, whether you are a startup or a big player in your niche, providing the best services and products for your clients is essential. After all, the more unhappy customers you have, the less chance you’ll succeed.

With that, we have jotted down 5 things customers find annoying and what you can do to avoid them.

Slow response

One of the most common things that customers find annoying is when they can’t find a quick and instant solution to their problems. If your business fails to impress with a quick response time, it creates a negative experience and forces customers to switch to a competitor.

Introducing a live chat solution can permanently fix the problem. Your customers can connect to a live chat agent in seconds and get their questions answered in real-time, creating a positive impression.

live chat

See Also: Know Your Customers In The Digital Age

Irrelevant Information

Most businesses today focus on acquiring customers through social media campaigns. Posting engaging content with appealing headlines is the most common way to do that.

But, are you false-trapping your buyers through click baits? If yes, then you need to reconsider your strategy as soon as possible.

Customers feel annoyed when they aren’t provided with the promised content. They are likely to leave and never return if they feel like they’ve been fooled.

As a way to solve this, make sure you live up to your promises. If you are offering a solution to your customers’ problem, ensure that your content has it. In addition to that, you should also consider the way you deliver your promise.

Most web users are short on time these days and they want solutions that they can consume in a matter of minutes. If you provide that, you are most likely a step ahead of your competition.

Insufficient Value

Valuing your customers is one of the best things you can do for your business. If your customers feel privileged, they will stay and ultimately become members of your loyal tribe. On the other hand, not offering what they expect can make them switch to a competitor product.

That said,  you must focus on getting regular feedback from your audience. You can use the information you get from them to improve the products and services you offer.

Introducing a live chat can be one option but it’s not the only thing you can do. You can also offer discount coupons, freebies and more to make them feel valued. Never miss an opportunity to show how your customers are important to you.

Uniform Treatment

happy customer

 

A business has both loyal and occasional customers.  While occasional customers expect discounts and better services, loyal customers may demand more.  They should be given some liberty points, coupons or schemes to make them feel more special. Customers observe each and every detail, so you should always keep these things in mind.

Not listening to your customers

Every business has problems that their customers also feel. If you are a smart business person, you will find a way to make sure that your customers are heard.

If your customers have no platform where they can put their thoughts, they may feel neglected, annoyed and angry. This can decrease customer retention and negatively affect your overall business. A live chat can help in this case as it allows your customers to speak their mind.

See Also: 4 Surprisingly Easy Tips To Improve Customer Engagement

The Solution

You obviously don’t want to continue making those mistakes. So, here are a few notable suggestions to avoid unhappy customers:

  • Provide 24/7 online support by integrating live chat for website
  • Improve the quality of your services and products
  • Take immediate actions on customer’s feedback and complaints
  • Keep refining the products

Conclusion

Businesses should aim to improve their relationship with their customers to increase retention. The more loyal customers you have, the better your business’ survival rate is.

Avoid having unhappy customers by giving them exactly what they want. Provide a solution to their problems and make that solution easy to achieve. Be consistent in your efforts in making them feel valued and they are highly likely to stick around for a long time.

The post 5 Behaviors That Annoy Your Customers appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business

If you are aware of the developments in technology, then you have probably heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI). For a lot of people, it’s too complex or high-tech so they don’t really pay a lot of attention to it.

In fact, even small businesses don’t think much of AI. They believe that only big tech companies like Apple and Google can utilize it. However, that’s not true.

AI has numerous benefits for small businesses. It’s something you cannot ignore if you want to stay ahead of your competition.

Today, open-minded businesses have started using AI to create a business logo, respond to emails, comb the Internet for leads identification, help customers with chatbots and a lot more.

If you have not seriously considered AI automation for your business yet, then the following 5 reasons can surely convince you.

Enhanced Bookkeeping

There are plenty of AI tools designed specifically for bookkeeping that you can use. While many offer help with the basic data entry tasks, some are more advanced and can easily perform many roles. You can use it in reading and preparing invoices, set invoice reminders, release payments on schedule and more.

So, instead of expanding your accounting department, you can invest in an AI bookkeeping program which is more affordable and highly useful.

Lead Nurturing

No matter how skilled your sales reps are, they will always have limitations.

For starters, one can handle only a certain number of leads at a time. Secondly, they need a certain amount of time with every lead to learn about their personality, pain points, opportunities for connection building and many other aspects that are required for their nurturing.

However, with AI automation you can take the entire process to the next level and benefit from increased productivity.

An AI program designed for lead nurturing can read and respond to the emails of your prospects using a list of set messages and the Natural Language Processing technology. It can also go through the past conversations you have had with your leads to pinpoint important bits of information. Most importantly, it can work 24/7 since it can function without human intervention.

Online Customer Support

A number of studies have found that customers find it more comfortable to inquire about the services or products of a company through messaging, especially via online chat as opposed to voice calls. However, hiring a full-time customer executive can be expensive for a small business. Again, this is where AI automation can be a great option.

chatbots

Not only AI-powered chatbots are highly popular today, you can also find some highly affordable options easily. You can install one of these on your website so that when your customers need some information, it will be readily available. In addition to that, having AI-powered chatbots can also make your website more attractive.

See Also: How To Boost Your Business with Influence Marketing Chatbots

Cheap but Quality Branding

Usually, it’s hard to find quality and affordability at the same place. However, AI automation seems to have changed that.

This is because it can help you with your company branding in many ways and at modest pricing. There are companies like Tailor Brands that offer an entire suite of branding tools- from logo creation to social media banner creation at a fraction of the price that you would pay to a graphics designer.

Intelligent Personal Assistants

You are probably already familiar with virtual personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft Corona. Today, a new range of similar assistants is emerging and they are even more intelligent and more suitable for businesses. For instance, there is Amy from x.ai that can arrange meetings for you or Pana that can arrange your travel.

amy intelligent personal assistant
Via slideshare.net

AI has matured enough today that it can be utilized in different ways in every industry. It’s now easily available at affordable costs, too. If you haven’t considered using one for your business, it’s probably the right time to reconsider your strategy.

 

The post 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Here’s our first look at Elon Musk’s Boring Co. LA tunnel

 Elon Musk is digging a tunnel under Hawthorne near SpaceX headquarters in California, after receiving approval from city council to do so. Musk’s Boring Co. has already made considerable progress on the dig and tunnel build, apparently, as Musk shared an image of the tunnel from the inside showing a reinforced tube that stretches off into the distance out of sight.
The tunnel features… Read More

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6 Science-Backed Tips On How To Be More Successful In Life

Balancing your work responsibilities and personal life commitments is never easy.

Being in an active relationship can put you way behind your professional objective. Focusing intensely on your goals at work can prevent you from keeping an eye on your lifestyle and eating habits. In the end, you may need to sacrifice one for the other.

Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to be that way. There are things you can do to make sure no areas of your life suffer as you work on achieving your goals.

And to help you with that, here are some highly-effective tips on how to be more successful in life.

Set A Deadline For Each Task

set deadline

One amazing tactic to organize your workload is to set a time limit. By doing so, you will be forced to refrain from indulging in frivolous activities and getting involved in unimportant tasks. You will save more time and have a better day at work with all of your ducks in a row.

According to a study conducted back in 2002, setting deadlines can increase self-motivation and ultimately help individuals to prosper at double rates. The researchers state that self-imposed deadlines work more efficiently than externally imposed ones.

What happens is, when we know that we have endless time to complete a job, we begin to indulge in vain activities. We put other things first, delaying the job in the end.

By putting a tap on your workload, you’ll be able to invest your utmost attention and dedication to finish the job successfully and on time.

Reward for Progress

No matter how old you become, you will always need that little spark of appreciation and reward to be motivated.

After setting deadlines for your tasks, you should also think of something to reward yourself. The idea of receiving a reward increases the level of dopamine in your brain.

According to a recent study, people who are more active and enthusiastic have shown to have more dopamine level than those who are always lazy and tired. By rewarding yourself, you remain grounded and feel encouraged to accomplish your goals. Moreover, it makes you feel completely satisfied from the inside.

Celebrate The Tiny Wins

Frank Gruber stated, “This is a journey — a hard one — and the only way to make it sustainable and bearable is if you actually acknowledge your small successes along the way.”.

One principle to follow for a successful life is to love yourself.

In your journey to being successful, you need to set big goals and targets. Unfortunately, those big goals require time and waiting for them to happen can ultimately demotivate you.

So, instead of focusing on those big goals, take some time out and set your eyes on the little achievements you made by the end of the day or week. Cherish those little achievements and you’ll surely stay motivated.

See Also: The Surprising Success Strategy That Will Empower Your Next Steps

Do Not Consume Negative News Before Going To Work

A study at the University of Pennsylvania suggested that you should stop watching negative news at the start of your day. By viewing negative news for only three minutes, you are more likely to spend an unhappy day. Keep in mind that happiness is related to productivity.

Therefore, being exposed to the negative news before 10 o’clock in the morning can build up a mindset that you are unable to take control of things. This will ultimately affect your level of productivity. It will influence your ability to organize your workload.

Instead of focusing on the negative, try to watch some solution-driven news that can motivate and freshen up your mind. Stay away from depression-inducing news and keep your head up to show the world who you truly are.

Meditate

meditate daily

Experiencing excessive workload stress creates tiny clots in our brain. This affects our nerves and blood circulation, resulting in a severe headache and laziness.

To keep our brain functioning well, you can try mindfulness meditation. Meditation rejuvenates the body from head to toe. It prevents the body from cognitive loss, controls high blood pressure, and reduces the intensity of pain by up to 40 percent.

By meditating properly, you’ll feel positive changes within your mind and body. Practices, like inhaling pure oxygen and being under the sun, can recharge your body, giving it an enthusiastic flame of energy flow. According to researchers, even the simple act of opening a window can lift one’s mood.

Therefore, to perform better, you need to recharge yourself, meditate, and get closer to nature.

See Also: Questions and Answers: A Beginners Guide to Meditation

Act Like A Pro

If you think you are investing enough efforts into your professional life but your outcomes are still minimal, then analyze the things you are doing wrong just for a second. Upon focusing, you will realize that the real problem lies in your attitude towards your work.

You are probably acting amateur. This mindset is stopping you from stepping out of your comfort zone. You take every suggestion as criticism and you never try to move ahead and learn new skills and abilities.

One tip on how to be successful is to act professionally.

Being a pro means putting your utmost dedication and surpassing every obstacle that comes along your way. You need to face your challenges as a pro learns from his mistakes and never backs down.

Conclusion

At present, the world has transformed into a highly competitive platform where every other person aims to take the superior spot. In such times, you have to work like a pro if you want to be successful. Search for new opportunities, learn from experiences, and practice new technologies. Keep pace with the ever-growing advancements and discoveries and you’ll be well on your way to the top.

The post 6 Science-Backed Tips On How To Be More Successful In Life appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Tesla fires hundreds of workers companywide amid production struggles

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Tesla just made some drastic changes to its workforce.

The automaker fired between 400 and 700 workers from its south Bay Area headquarters and production plant this week, the San Jose Mercury first reported. The company claims the employees were fired for subpar job performance rather than laid off.

“Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement. “Performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures.” Read more…

More about Tesla, Business, and Big Tech Companies

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How to Increase Business Efficiency In Print Marketing

When all businesses are moving online and making it their prime source of business, print marketing gets left behind. People have been putting too much effort on technology that sales and marketing in this niche have been ignored for long.

But, let me ask you this: Don’t you think it’s time to reconsider print marketing? After all, it’s still one of the best businesses around.

Technology is very important for any online business but your business growth starts with your customers. If you do not have customers, how are you going to run the business? A web to print solution’s success depends entirely on customers. Here customers are of two types- a) your existing customers and b) customers you wish to acquire.

To target both these customers, you need a planned marketing move or strategy. Think of this as a “new service” you wish to market. You could pitch the features to your staff first and then your customers to see what they have to say about your “new services”.

Here are a few web-to-print solutions marketing tips you can use to make your business more efficient.

Using Target Marketing Strategy

When you plan a marketing strategy, you also plan whom you are going to target. You need to define your audience in advance in order to achieve the best results. Using target marketing gives you a clear picture as to whom you should target and how.

Most web-to-print solutions marketing strategies fail because they are not sure who to target and they end up pitching to the wrong group. This wastes both money and time.

Once you have defined your audience, you need to know what you want to pitch to them. Not all customers will want every service or product you sell, so you’ll have to do research to find out what interests them the most. The way you segment your customers will allow you to market your products in the best possible way.

After that, you need to set your business goals. They need to be realistic for you and your team. Like keeping a track of the first order in the system, this will keep your team on their toes to get their first order in the system.

Marketing success is way different from technical success. Here’s how:

With technical success, it means you have successfully implemented the system. If your marketing strategy is a success, then it means you and your business is growing.

Using Branding as a Marketing Strategy

brand marketing

Every business has a name, so choose one that can easily make you and your business more popular. A smarter way to choose a name is to pick something from your internal projects.

This is called Branding. It’s a type of marketing strategy that will let people know about your business and what it can do for them.

See Also: 5 Smart Ways to Boost Brand Awareness

Don’t Sell Without a Story of Your Business

How you started, when you started and what made you start your business is very important. What you sell and what you do not sell are things that are necessary for your sales and marketing team, too.

As much as possible, never let your sales team go out without a story because they might end up making one of theirs and this can get you in trouble. A story is a good way to market your business and the services it provides.

In addition to that, you also need a plan on how you can tell the story. You need to say it in a way that matches the demands of your target customers. Therefore, you need to play a clever and smarter game here. You need to do branding in a way that you tell them how your solution is going to benefit them. Never tell them what features your business have. Instead, tell them how those features are going to help them.

Like most customers, I would not be bothered to know about you or your business. My prime concern will be how your solution will benefit me. That has to be your focus when you are creating a brand.

Know Your Customer

You should know your customers before they know you. You have to identify their needs and understand the solutions they are looking for. Apart from that, you also have to know when they’ll need you and you must have offers ready by that time.

Using Social Media as Marketing Strategy

social media marketing

A third of the world uses social networks regularly. Hence, it is one of the best marketing tools around. This is why most marketers are expanding their business widely using social media.

Why should you focus on Social media marketing? The stats below will give you a clearer picture.

See Also: The 5 Internet Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2017

Some Facts

  • Around 72% of people who use Facebook are adults.
  • 74% of people use Facebook for professional use.
  • Facebook has the most engaged users with 70% daily log.
  • 59% of Instagram users are on the platform daily, including 35% who visit several times a day.
  • In the past two years, people who use LinkedIn has increased 21%.
  • Instagram has 500 million monthly active users.

In the print industry, the same ideas follow. You can target group of people from different regions and different age. You can attract customers by creating attractive ads on these social media platforms.

Your marketing move is very important. You need to decide how and what has to be your next move to achieve your customers’ goal.

Conclusion

Print Industry is huge and when you take web-to-print solution, then you need to have a proper marketing strategy in place so that you can collect more customers. Your prime goal needs to match the customers’ demands.

Promoting something you know the customer has been looking for will fetch you results that are more positive. Hence, keep your target audience in mind, use branding and sell solutions or features while keeping in mind what your customers want. This will be a great success for your print business.

The post How to Increase Business Efficiency In Print Marketing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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NFL players slam Donald Trump for rant against protests

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Football players are lashing out at Donald Trump after the president went on an extended rant about athlete activism at a rally Friday night.

Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who kneel or otherwise protest during the national anthem and encouraged fans to boycott the league.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!” Trump said.

Read the transcript from Trump’s racist rant on Black players in the NFL

It’s WAY worse than I thoughtpic.twitter.com/WbbUEZvVgr

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 23, 2017 Read more…

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Using Zero Trust Network Segmentation To Protect Your Business From Hackers

Cyber security is a major concern no matter what size or type of business you have.

Despite how critical it is, a lot of people are still not doing enough to protect themselves. They don’t take information security seriously – until something bad happens.

Take security breaches for example. They can be costly, often putting small businesses out of business for a few months.

There are practices that could stave off most attacks. Unfortunately, since humans are the weakest link in the cyber security chain, breaches can happen no matter what type of preparation a company does.

To help reduce this risk, there’s a newer and safer model for cyber security. It’s called the Zero Trust model with network segmentation.

What Is Zero Trust?

business protection

In the old ways of cyber security, gaining access to a network was as simple as putting in your username and password. Once you’re in, you have access to everything.

Unfortunately, this model has some pretty obvious weaknesses. Hackers only need to gain access to your login data, which is easy to do through social engineering.

In the zero trust model, everyone is assumed to be a hacker.

Login info will get a person into the front door. Once he’s inside, he’ll find many more doors. This leaves fewer chances for hackers to exploit.

This model regularly checks activity logs, too. This is done in real time to detect any threats as quickly as possible.

Even the Department of Homeland Security recommends zero trust segmented networks. It suggests:

  • Design network segments based on need-to-know and zero trust principles
  • Ensure that sensitive information is segmented, even from other sensitive information
  • Layer security measures so each segment has its own requirements for access

See Also: Are There Benefits to Implementing Business Intelligence for Small Business?

How Much Do Data Breaches Cost?

According to Hackerpocalypse: A Cybercrime Revelation from Cybersecurity Ventures:
“Cybersecurity Ventures predicts global annual cyber crime costs will grow from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion annually by 2021, which includes damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, post-attack disruption to the normal course of business, forensic investigation, restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems, and reputational harm.”

The cost of cleaning breached records varies by company and by industry.

Retail breaches are great examples. They are the most publicized type of breaches because they affect several consumers at once. Generally, they cost millions of dollars per incident to clean up. They also cost the retail outlet in lost sales and reputational damage.

Small data breaches can happen to small businesses, too. In such cases, breaches can cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up. This can easily put a company out of business.

After all, how many small businesses have tens of thousands of dollars they aren’t using to put toward cleaning a data breach?

How To Implement Zero Trust Segmented Networks

zero trust implementation

Even if you don’t have a large corporation with an information security team and a network architecture specialist, there are still ways for you to protect your small business.

  • Software can automate some security needs
  • Next generation firewalls can provide greater security
  • BYOD and password hygiene policies can go a long way
  • Security consultants often specialize in working with small businesses to find Info Sec solutions
  • SaaS and NaaS providers can give your business the same level of security as large corporations

See Also: Wireless Network Hacking And How To Avoid Being Hacked

Don’t Let InfoSec Get Away From You

Doing something about your company’s information security before it’s too late is crucial if you want to stay in business. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, so the time to act to make your network safer is now. You are the weakest link and hackers know that. Don’t let them destroy your businesses by not acting to protect it. Learn more about zero trust network segmentation from this infographic!

Source

The post Using Zero Trust Network Segmentation To Protect Your Business From Hackers appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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7 Cross-Border Dropshipping Tips Winners Use

Thinking of scaling or taking your dropshipping business overseas? Today is the best time to do that!

E-commerce’s global consumer base continues to expand exponentially and with this type of demand, supply must also rise.

BigCommerce reports that 96% of Americans shop online with 8% of millennials shopping daily. Studies show that more firms, including B2B companies, are now considering dropshipping. In 2011 alone, a Forrester report showed that dropshipping accounted for 34% of products sold on Amazon. That equates to $14.2 billion.

Increased consumer confidence, internet accessibility, multi/omnichannel options, technology, competition and innovation are some major drivers of this upbeat trend.

The Big Question

Is dropshipping for you?

Wisdom says if it is too good to be true, then it probably is. However, just like any business, dropshipping requires time and effort.

Dropshipping is an e-commerce order fulfillment model where a facilitator (dropshipper) receives orders from buyers (shoppers), passes it on to manufacturers or suppliers and delivers those orders direct to customers (D2C).

In other words, you order from a wholesaler or manufacturer only when your customers order from you. There’s no need for you to stock inventory. All you ever have to worry about is marketing and sales as your entire supply chain and logistics are handled for you.

Unfortunately, dropshipping isn’t for everyone. It could be for you if you love to work remotely and independently and if you hate:

  • Warehousing
  • Managing CRM/WMS/OMS
  • Buying and stocking inventory
  • Packaging
  • Printing labels
  • Shipping
  • Handling returns
  • Paper work

If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some of the top-rated dropshipping companies today:

  • Oberlo
  • SaleHoo
  • Worldwide Brands
  • Wholesale2B
  • Inventory Source
  • Vista Wholesale
  • Dropshipping Design
  • Doba
  • Drop Ship Access
  • Sunrise Wholesale
  • Megagoods
  • Dropship Direct

You could start a self-hosted dropshipping store. However, for someone who’s just starting out, you’ll be better off with platforms or companies that already have solutions that seamlessly integrate dropshipping with e-commerce like Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce etc. You can skip this tip if you have the men and means to build one from scratch.

Cross-Border Dropshipping

Cross-border dropshipping is basically you (dropshipper) dropshipping orders to customers beyond your borders. Take a look at the following model to understand the concept better.

Local vs Global Dropshipping

The following highlights some key differences between local and global dropshipping:

1 No customs duties, taxes, levies Custom duties, taxes, levies
2 Known regulated products Different from country to country
3 Single currency Multi-currency considerations
4 Monolingual Multilingual considerations
5 Single time zone Different time zones
6 Cheaper More expensive
7 Limited reach Unlimited opportunities

7 Tips For Better Cross-Border Dropshipping

Now that you know the differences, here are 7 tips to help you nail cross-border dropshipping:

Investigate Your Target Market

You need not become or hire a Sherlock Holmes. Simply look into existing research before you make the leap. Worth over $672 billion, China is the largest e-commerce market. However, issues like distance, customs procedures, government regulation and payment processing are major pain points for non-Chinese businesses.

Do your due diligence and risk assessment before commencing.

Know Your Target Customers

BigCommerce, in a recent report, similarly revealed that 43% of US shoppers shop while in bed. If this group form part or the core of your consumer base, you need to adjust your marketing efforts accordingly.

You need consumer behavior insight when dropshipping abroad.

Some key questions to ask include:

  • What are their age, gender, income level, location?
  • What hours do they shop online most?
  • Who are they?
  • What is their time zone?
  • Which social media or search engine do they frequently use?
  • What products sell more?
  • What device is mostly used?

Answers to these questions will help you streamline your dropshipping services for more efficiency.

Know International Trade Regulations

It is easy to cross the line with cross-border dropshipping if you are ignorant of relevant international trade laws. This is why you need to familiarize yourself with the current business laws before you actually start with your project.

Take, for example, Kenya.

Recently, Kenya banned the production, selling and use of plastic bags, targeting manufacturers and sellers first. This information can help you decide whether to expand into Kenya, considering your product packaging practice.

Follow the Leaders

Follow industry leaders in cross-border dropshipping and not leads. Most e-commerce marketers spend their ad-earned currency chasing and hoping to convert and keep leads. Instead of being like them, you should study dropshippers like Irwin Dominguez who went from zero to over $1 million in one year.

irwin dominguez dropshipping
Via zacjohnson

That’s the kind of guy you should follow and leads will follow you back soon. Follow their strategies on blogs, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other places where they hang out.

Optimize Your Dropshipping Website

It is critical to get your dropshipping website right. It is your major opportunity to attract, convince and convert leads.

Retail Dive reports that more than 65% of shoppers browse online before buying offline.

As they interact with your website, online shoppers form opinions about your business. They assess your site’s loading speed, landing pages, ease of navigation, design, UX, forms, product photography/description, and checkout to payment.

If you are unsure how to create one, you can hire freelancers to design one for you on a budget that won’t break the bank.

See Also: A Practical Guide to Hiring and Managing Freelancers

Offer Multilingual, Multi-Currency Support

Language is a core component of social identity and culture. Offering your services in languages local to your international audience is a great way to connect with them.

Currency conversion calculations is another pain point for many cross-border shoppers. E-commerce stores that support multi-currency payments take that stress off of shoppers. It allows them to pay in their local currency while you receive payments in your own currency.

Consider Marketplaces

dropshipping marketplace

Brand recognition and awareness take time to build. It is okay to sign up to popular marketplaces like Amazon or eBay when you are just starting out. They are platforms that support hundreds of thousands of stores. You can gain experience and share valuable insights from forums and community support such platforms provide.

See Also: The 5 Internet Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2017

As you cut your teeth and become more successful, you can start considering other options. If you’re on Shopify, apps like Oberlo can make dropshipping simpler by automating everything from product importation to order fulfillment.

What winning tips have you used in your dropshipping business?

 

The post 7 Cross-Border Dropshipping Tips Winners Use appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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