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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

The post Digital Marketing for Business: Is It A Must? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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

The post 5 Creative Ways to Establish Business Credibility appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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

 

The post 8 Instagram Trends In 2018 You Need To Know appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Online graphic design startup Canva is now worth $1 billion

TwitterFacebook

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?

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

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…

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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…

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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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Cruise ship company is rescuing its employees from Irma—on a cruise ship

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The high seas are not where anyone wants to be as Hurricane Irma rips through the Caribbean and southern Atlantic. 

To evacuate employees usually stationed aboard ships now in hurricane-churned waters, Royal Caribbean is using its most valuable resource: its own gigantic cruise boat.

Royal Caribbean is taking the 2,500-passenger Enchantment of the Seas mega-boat to calmer waters with the cruise company’s employees and families onboard.

.@RoyalCaribbean Enchantment of the Seas leaving #Miami – taking employees + fam out to safer waters before #Irma hitspic.twitter.com/mgT9j3qDAa

— Erica Hill (@EricaRHill) September 8, 2017 Read more…

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Crunch Report | China’s Central Bank Puts a Ban on ICOs

China’s central bank puts a ban on ICOs, the next generation of the Lily drone is here, WhatsApp for Business is launching and Alphabet creates a new holding company to complete 2015 corporate reorganization. All this on Crunch Report! Read More

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4 Free Business Productivity Apps To Help You Grow Your Small Business

Managing a business is easier said than done. When you run your own business, you need to give it all your time and attention. It’s a job that is both demanding and fulfilling.

Eventually, you’ll want to turn it into a business that can run without you. This, unfortunately, is the harder part.

The first obstacle you need to anticipate is manpower. For small businesses and start-up companies, it is usually the owner that does most of the work. To help you out, here are the top business productivity apps you can rely on for help.

1. TMetric

tmetric

This is a time tracking app that can help you manage projects and your team at the same time. It can track your team’s work activities which you can view in a simple timeline mode.

If you have remote employees or you’re not in the office most of the time, you can use this app to check on your team’s productivity. As the project leader, you’ll be able to view what sites your members visited or what apps they’ve used in a specific period of time.

Tmetric is completely free and can be integrated with other tools like Trello, Basecamp, Jira, Asana, and RedMine. Compared with other time tracking apps, this one is very user-friendly and does not require training to understand.

It’s a simple click-and-go app with powerful features at no cost.

See Also: Top 7 Ways to Improve Your Productivity 

2. MailChimp

mailchimp

For a business to grow, its mailing list should grow as well. It’s a great way to continuously generate leads and sales.

MailChimp is an easy and professional way to send emails to your subscribers. Its intuitive interface allows even the most non-techy users to make it work.

For small businesses, the free version is a good starting point. You can send up to 12,000 emails a month to a mailing list of up to 2,000 contacts.

MailChimp has a huge directory of integration. Popular platforms include WordPress, Shopify, and Magento.

3. Wave

waveapps

This app is pretty straightforward. It’s a free accounting software that covers invoicing, payroll, bills, and other factors that involve money. It’s specifically tailored for small businesses.

Wave gives business owners an easy and efficient way to manage books. If you want to handle accounting work yourself but don’t want to spend money for more advanced apps, this is a great solution.

You can securely link your banking accounts, send unlimited invoices, and pay as many bills as you want. It is a Canadian-based company with over 2.5 million users.

You can securely link your banking accounts, send unlimited invoices, and pay as many bills as you want. It is a Canadian-based company with over 2.5 million users.

4. Tasytt

tasytt-app

Welcoming a new team member can take a lot of work, particularly when it comes to orientation and training. This is a common experience and issue for most small businesses.

As a solution, you can try a tiny but powerful app called Tasytt. It streamlines your company’s training process so you know who’s reading what and for how long.

See Also: 8 Top Marketing Tips for Small Businesses 

In addition to onboarding new team members, it’s  a great tool for training existing team members without having to set up individual meetings, too. By creating ‘flows’, which are basically tasks made into a smaller set of activities, you can easily track your team’s progress and productivity.

BONUS: You can also consider this free automated timesheet template as an additional resource to help you track time across your teams and stay more productive.

 

The post 4 Free Business Productivity Apps To Help You Grow Your Small Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank backs cloud accounting startup in first deal for $30M fund

 Thailand’s banks have stepped up to chase the startup dream over the past year. Following on from SCB’s Digital Ventures, which has backed blockchain startup Ripple among others, Kasikorn Bank (KBank) has made the first investment from its $30 million fund — a $1.15 million round for Bangkok-based FlowAccount. KBank announced its Beacon fund this summer. It has made… Read More

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Samsung heir handed 5-year jail sentence for bribery

 Samsung vice chairman and the company’s heir apparent Jay Y. Lee is headed to jail after a court in Korean ruled that he is guilty of bribery, embezzlement, capital flight and perjury charges. Lee, who has been earmarked as the future leader of the company, was handed a five-year jail sentence, although he is expected to appeal the decision. He took a board seat at Samsung last year in… Read More

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Use neuroscience to convince your boss to let you nap at work

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 A nap can be a beautiful thing when we feel our brain slowly grinding to a halt. Whether it’s a siesta to shake off a food coma, a daytime doze on a lazy Sunday, or an all-out nap orgy with friends or loved ones, we arise feeling replenished, recharged, and ready to take action
Unfortunately, not very many bosses see any correlation between snoring and success. Only a handful of organization—Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, Zappos, Google, and The Huffington Post, to name a few—currently see naps as smart business. They’ve invested in nap pods and massage chairs because they know that, when it comes to boosting productivity and creativity in the workplace, naps can be  Read more…

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How To Boost Your Business with Influence Marketing Chatbots

The growing popularity of chatbots goes without question. We are all familiar with a rule-based chatbot that is quite easy to distinguish from a human being. It demands exact command input to respond, so this form of communication isn’t that new.

However, AI-powered chatbots make a different story. In addition to the information-providing bots, like Echo by Amazon or Apple’s Siri, that has almost no influence on marketing and sales, online stores get their loyal assistants represented by branded chatbots.

These chatbots are taking a firm position in modern marketing. In 2016, a lot of retailers started using chatbots to foster brand awareness and personalize customer experience.

It was the right decision for both sides. Modern clients are less responsive to old marketing techniques; they appreciate advanced approaches to communication.

Why chatbots?

chatbots

A chatbot is a form of software that’s able to hold a conversation in audio or text format. This is a robot copying human behavior. Due to artificial intelligence, chatbots can imitate real communication with a human being.

Machine learning presupposes that chatbots can study and enrich their knowledge. The more they communicate, the smarter they become. However, it will still depend on who they talk to, as the case with Tay Twitter bot by Microsoft.

Nevertheless, social networks and media, like Facebook and CNN, are still interested in chatbots.

After Mark Zuckerberg had presented the first Facebook-Messenger-based chatbot, brands were very fast to adopt the technology. For instance, 1-800 Flowers gave its customers an opportunity to write a name of a friend in its app to order a bouquet for this person.

Chatbots are easy to set and this feature makes them a perfect tool for e-tailers. The similar personalized approach to promotion is applied to one more popular trend called influence marketing.

What is influence marketing?

Influence marketing is a type of marketing aimed at delivering a brand message via industry leaders. Instead of communicating with your customers directly, you hire an influencer. Thus, the target of such companies is not a whole market but a group of influencers.

The main idea of influence marketing is establishing mutually beneficial relations. Such cooperation brings better reach both for the brand and influencer.

Influence marketing is widely spread on Youtube. There are a lot of popular bloggers working with well-known brands to promote their products.

See Also: How Online Blogging Is Influencing Business Trends

Tarte, for example, organized Trip with Tarte campaign for beauty-bloggers with 1 million+ followers covering all their expenses. The only condition was to shot a video about the trip and share it with the #tripwithtarte hashtag. As a result, millions of internet users learned of the brand. Quite a wide reach, isn’t it?

Takumi made a research showing that brands are interested in working with influencers than with celebrities. But, according to another survey, if an influencer’s post isn’t original enough, it won’t have a strong impact on women.

See Also: 5 Instagram Tools That Can Boost Brand Performance

What will you get by combining these two trends?

The answer is simple- you’ll become a marketing wizard.

At the end of last year, two companies combined efforts to create the first influence chatbot for the American brand Cover Girl. Marketing platform (The Amplify) and chatbot developer (Automat) turned Kalani Hilliker, a Dance Moms’ celebrity and an influencer, into a chatbot. Based on Kik messenger, the chatbot mimics the star’s personality to promote Cover Girl coupons.

What kind of marketing magic happens there?

Engaging

You have only 7 seconds to make the first impression. It concerns not only real-life meetings but also online behavior. People spend on site 10-20 seconds on average so the faster you start reacting, the more chances you get to interest your potential client.

Cost effective

How much time do you spend daily to answer identical questions of your customers? Sooner or later, you’ll get tired of writing the same responses so you hire a person to do this for you or you buy additional equipment for that. Chatbot can do it all for free.

Customized

Imagine an influencer talking to you like a friend who knows all your tastes and needs. Sounds like a dream, but now it’s a reality. Speaking about Kalani’s case, the bot managed to generate 14% higher conversion rate than an average Kalani’s post in social networks with striking 91% of positive feedbacks from its users.

Can I create my personal chatbot?

The easiest way out is to hire somebody to do the job for you. But first, you need to know that AI development is rather expensive. Why so?

The technology is comparatively new and there are not many top-level specialists. Lack of skilled programmers can boost the price of the process. Even hiring a junior AI developer will cost you more than $1000/mo, let alone seniors who will demand at least $8,000/mo. Some forums even suggest addressing development institutes to find a future employee there.

But, do you need to hire a programmer to build a chatbot for your marketing campaign? The answer is no. You can find a lot of various tools for building your own chatbot. Even having no skills in coding won’t stop you from getting one. Platforms like Chatfuel don’t require any programming experience and allow you to create an AI chatbot for Facebook or Telegram.

computer programming

By combining chatbots and influence marketing, you will discover a wide range of opportunities. You don’t necessarily have to be a developer. The only limit is your imagination, so don’t be afraid of mixing new strategies to become more efficient.

The post How To Boost Your Business with Influence Marketing Chatbots appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Alibaba, Tencent, Didi and other tech firms pour $12B into mobile operator China Unicom

 China is about to take net neutrality to the next level after a group of influential tech companies that includes Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Didi Chuxing and JD.com agreed to invest nearly $12 billion into state-run mobile operator China Unicom.
China Unicom is the country’s second largest operator with 269 million mobile customers, which makes it one of the largest in the world. The… Read More

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10 Proven Ways To Build Your Personal Branding in 2018

Admit it or not, if you want to do business, you’d want to do it with other people- not companies. Putting up a strong personal branding allows you to reach out to your clients more which, in effect, can dramatically boost conversion rates and sales.

But, how exactly do you build a personal brand?

Honestly, there’s no single formula that can make you successful overnight. It will take a lot of hard work and commitment before you can make it big in this kind of business. But, to help you out, below are 10 easy yet proven ways on how to build your personal branding.

Ready?

Get a logo

If you want to build a personal brand people can easily identify, you’ll need a logo. It’ll be the visual representation of your brand so you have to pay close attention to how you’re going to make it. You can go simple or complicated, depending on your style and the people you want to connect with.

Logotypes are highly effective, despite being simple and plain at times. You can create your brand name and print it on your preferred typeface. This choice can save you time and money, especially if you don’t have enough moolah to spend on hiring a good designer.

While designing a logo used to be a costly and time-dependent process, logo makers have come a long way in recent years, and are rapidly overtaking humans as the go-to tools for creating affordable and eye-catching logos.

Be you

In creating a personal brand, it’s understandable why a lot of people work so hard to impress their target audience. After all, the more you impress them, the more they are likely to patronize your brand, right?

Well, that isn’t always the case.

You see, consumers prefer to see the real personality behind a brand. And if you come across as NOT authentic, they are likely to leave you. So, show your true personality. Use social media to bring forth an honest profile your consumers will be able to relate with.

Make friends online

When it comes to personal brands, having influencers around can be one of your greatest assets. These people can share your brand, stories and posts to their respective target audience and this can greatly extend your reach.

Apart from that, you should also be more active online. Join forums that are related to your niche and engage in online conversations that are relevant to your business. Create a personality that people trust. Take advantage of social media in making your presence felt online.

Meet friends offline

Although online influence is essential, you can’t just limit your connections within the boundaries of the Internet. Go out and actually meet people offline. Attend local events within your industry and start building friendships with everyone you meet. Expanding your circle and networking means expanding your influence.

Start a website

If you want to make a name online, there should be a place people can go to if they want to know more about you and your brand. This is where a website plays a major role, particularly the About Me page.

There are tons of tools you can use to create a decent website. You can get them for free or for a fee but make sure to get only what you’ll need. Purchasing complicated tools and not using them will only be a waste of resources.

Provide your consumers with value

Your personal brand should reflect the true you, but it shouldn’t be all about you. Instead, focus on your audience and what they really want. Create content not just to satisfy their needs but to keep them coming back for more.

Make sure to provide them with something unique so you can set yourself apart from your competitors. Research about what your readers are interested in and what products and services they are talking about more. Finding areas of unique perspective will put you one step ahead of the competition.

And don’t forget to be relevant. Be your consumers’ source of information and you’ll easily grow your authority in the industry.

Work consistently

Being consistent can take a lot of work and commitment but it’s one good way to ensure the growth of your personal brand. If you are inconsistent, you’re just likely to confuse and bore your audience to the point that they’ll look for something better.

Be focused

The initial stage of building a personal brand can be discouraging, especially if you only have a few followers. If you want to make it big, don’t focus on the number and pay more attention to your purpose.

Talk as if you are speaking to hundreds of people. Write as if the whole world is reading your content. You’ll be surprised with how this kind of dedication and focus can change your business.

See Also: Finding Out the Best Time for Posting on Social Media Sites

Learn how to say no

In your quest to establish authority, it’s likely that you’ll meet other people and businesses that’ll want to work with you. Before you actually agree, think first. Make sure those people and businesses are in line with your brand, vision, and personality.

Your work, as well as your actions, will reflect your brand so be careful in what you do and what decisions you make.

Just give it a go!

Although preparation is key, too much planning can get in the way of you actually starting. In fact, if you wait too long to get started, you may end up not starting at all.

So, don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you start. With your limited resources, start building authority, reach out to people and be consistent with your job. After all these things, success will surely follow.

In Summary

Building a personal branding isn’t that easy, particularly with so many people aspiring to create their own. If you want to be successful, you have to know exactly what you want to achieve.

Be you in creating your personal brand but remain relevant and focused on your consumers. Take advantage of technology and use tools that can make the process a lot easier. Be consistent and don’t wait too long before getting started.

 

The post 10 Proven Ways To Build Your Personal Branding in 2018 appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Uber suspends its service in the Philippines following ban over unregistered drivers

 Uber has suspended its services in Philippines after the national regulator banned it from operating for one month. The country’s Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered a cease and desist against the U.S. ride-hailing firm on Monday over its apparent flouting of a ban on new drivers. The company initially lodged an appeal and continued with its service,… Read More

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Increase Sales Leads With These Best Marketing Strategies

You’ve got big dreams for your business. Unfortunately, your budget is in the opposite direction. And if you think you’re alone in this dilemma- you’re not.

The majority of small companies are chartering the same waters. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s no way out. It just means you need to be smart if you want to outwit your bigger competitors.

The big-splash strategies of the Fortune 500 will not work for you as you don’t possess a whole floor of people to maneuver these tasks. You don’t have a Pepsi-size budget either.

But then again, you don’t have to.

The Rule of Thumb

The golden rule in business has always been knowing how to sell. You can build just about anything. But, if you can’t sell it, it won’t matter at all.

Sales are the life of every business. Without it, you’ll most likely fail. Finding out what works best for generating sales for your business is the key to success.

Strategize To Increase Your Sales

According to the US Small Business Administration, 54% of the total sales revenue in the US comes from small businesses. This, however, doesn’t ensure that making sales will be an easy task.

As a matter of fact, one-size-fits-all doesn’t apply when it comes to sales and business. For instance, flyer printing could be beneficial for your business, but it may not for others. Notwithstanding, there are simple yet effective strategies to increase sales that you can use to grow and develop your customer base.

To generate substantial sales, you need to depend on many factors. This includes your niche, location, and industry.

Below, are some of the best marketing strategies that you can use to make your business more prolific in the sales department.

Build Customer Relationship

There are numerous ways to increase sales that pop out on a regular basis. However, traditional approaches still work for modern businesses.

Building relationship with customers is no longer a new idea, but it stands the test of time because it works.

The best approach here is to build a personal relationship with your customers. Listen to their needs and do your best to satisfy them. You can even customize your product offers to meet their needs.

Of course, building customer relationships comes with a cost. Be prepared to invest your time, effort and resources into customer relationships.

See Also: 5 Effective Ways To Sound More Human Over A Customer Support Live Chat

Use the Power of Web

The traditional approach in business can generate sales, but you also need to utilize modern day technologies. The internet allows you to reach a bigger audience and communicate with them in distinct ways.

The approach that you need to make online business is different from what you would normally do in bricks-and-mortar style of business. It’s impossible to keep a personal relationship with each customer online due to the big numbers of potential buyers. But, you can create customer relationships using a sales page with clear contact information and outstanding customer service.

how to maintain a blog

Digital marketing, content marketing, and email marketing are just a few of the available avenues that you can use to maximize digital media.

Consider Print Advertising

It’s unarguable that digital media is a now a primary component of many marketing strategies. However, the age of brochure printing is still very much alive.  You shouldn’t disregard print advertising as it remains as one of the most efficient ways to build a credible reputation and customer awareness.

For instance, newspaper ads are advantageous in boosting engagement levels and growing your audience. Besides, the majority of newspapers are now using both digital and print versions of their papers. This means that your business gets double exposure when you use an integrated marketing campaign.

Prioritize Retention

According to the WASP Barcode Technologies State of Business Report in 2016, 43% of small business owners use retention as one of their strategies to upgrade growth of revenue.

The mechanism of retention is simple. You create contents for your existing customers. It will mean a closer partnership with customer service, too.

Go Where Your Audience Is

Choose your battles carefully. Don’t feel bad if you skip Snapchat with less than 50 audiences. You need to spend your resources on things that will benefit your business.

You just have to track where your target audience gathers online. Find out which social channel they love, what blogs and publication they read, which podcasts they follow and just about anything that deals with your audience.

Takeaway

Suffice to say, sales are the lifeblood of every business. When you know how to produce and track sales for your business, then you’re close to reaching your dreams.

Utilize your creativity and flexibility to get the results that you want even it means going back to your start-up roots. And as you go on your daily operations, keep upgrading your sales efforts as it’s a continuous process.

The post Increase Sales Leads With These Best Marketing Strategies appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Integrating User Experience Design and Internet Marketing Successfully

There was a time when having a website was the new thing in marketing. In 2010, there were just 255 million websites worldwide. That number nearly quadrupled to 966 million in just six years.

As a marketing professional, this trend tells me two things: websites are a major factor in strategy planning and websites have to deliver more in order to rise above the crowd.

At first glance, you might say that I have only to worry about the first and leave the second to website designers. However, website designers tend to focus more on how a website looks than how it works and that can be problematic for marketers when the website design has a negative impact on the user experience or UX.

As Steve Jobs said, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But, of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” That is exactly what it means to have a website with good user experience or UX.

A Marketing Approach to Your Site’s UX design

The UX was not always a big issue, which is why there is a divide between marketing and website design. People, back in the day, were more patient and willing to overlook a cumbersome website if they could get otherwise inaccessible information.

That is no longer the case today.

Now, users have higher expectations when it comes to website performance. Since they have a wider option of obtaining what they want from other sources, they are more likely to leave a site if it has a negative UX design.

The factors that influence website UX include accessibility (loading speed, working links), usability (navigation), findability (SEO), value (content relevance and credibility) and desirability (design and layout). When a website lacks one or more feature, it results in a negative UX.

How does this impact on marketing?

Well, consider that the average user in 2017 will wait only a few seconds for a page to load and about 80% of users are less likely to use a website with poor UX. This means fewer conversions and that’s not good from a marketing perspective.

Marketing and UX Pairing

The question then is how marketing can improve the UX. The answer is simple: the two sides have to work as a team.

Sales and marketing professionals routinely deal directly with people, unlike website designers. As such, they have an in-depth knowledge of what people want and need when they visit a particular site.

For example, if you sell clothes online, the people that go to your site need to buy clothes. How can you provide them with a solution to their problem? The answer is to make it easy for them to find what they want.

Marketing professionals can provide valuable insight into buying behavior and psychology, which may not make much sense to web designers. On the other hand, marketers have no idea of the principles behind website design. They may know how to sell but not how to present it to the user effectively.

In other words, marketing and UX design have to forge a working relationship. Below are some brilliant ways marketing and UX design can boost your site’s conversion rate together.

Coordinate marketing efforts

marketing campaign

One of the biggest challenges for many companies today is coordinating different marketing campaigns to benefit the company as a whole. One study shows that nearly two-thirds of companies identify marketing silos as a barrier to communications, productive and effective execution of a cohesive marketing strategy.

Collaboration with the UX design team can break down these silos and improve communications because it establishes a common ground to work on. Working with the UX design team makes any breakdown in communications among marketing glaringly apparent, so it necessitates agreement among them on major goals. When there is a cohesive message and approach, the UX design team can produce a better website. It’s a win-win situation.

Carry out user testing

Marketers may know people but, ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. UX design teams have access to information that reveals how users actually interact with the website through user testing tools. These provide valuable insights to marketers about what the users want so they can refine their marketing campaigns and maximize conversion.

This, in turn, will guide marketers on what they need the UX design team to fix on the website so that they can improve and create the ideal UX. This entails a certain measure of trial and error but it is a very effective method of designing the perfect website in the long term.

designing the perfect website

Unify campaigns across different channels

Websites often serve as the anchor for campaigns and the average company uses about eight different channels for their marketing efforts. While marketing strategies for each channel optimize user response, they don’t necessarily dovetail neatly into your conversion funnel.

You need to make sure your email campaign is in line with your mobile app so that they end up generating leads or sales for your company. The best way to do this is to design your website to be the pivot or hub for different channels so most of your leads can conveniently navigate across channels.

Actionable plans

Now that you know how marketing and UX can work and complement each other, your next step is to take action. Here’s how to do that:

Do initial research

Designing a site for a kick-ass UX all begins with gathering information about your user. You need to find out who they are, what they care about and where they come from. You also need to know how they spend their time before you can even think about your site design. Learning about your target audience is essential for success in developing your website UX. After all, it is the user experience.

Monitor users

Your initial user research will give you a good idea of how to design your website. However, until you take it out for a test drive, it is just an idea. Once your site goes up, you should monitor how users are actually interacting with your site and use tools to monitor and analyze their behavior.

Before you do that, take note of your own expectations on user behavior to serve as a benchmark for future observations. This will prevent you from “hindsight bias” and help you figure out gaps in your user research.

Do a survey

According to TermLife2Go, after you have observed your users and identified certain behaviors you want to understand, do a survey to get the answers from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Most of e-commerce websites are doing actionable plans to enhance users shopping experience. They send specific questions to ask why users bought an item or why they clicked on a certain option. Your intention is not to be nosy, but to increase your understanding of how your users think. That way, you can improve the website UX as well as your marketing campaigns.

Conclusion

A marketing approach to website UX is simply about integrating two important elements of your conversion funnel. If you can manage to do this successfully, it will maximize your marketing efforts to an incredible degree.

See Also: The 5 Internet Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2017

 

The post Integrating User Experience Design and Internet Marketing Successfully appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Amazon under investigation for violating Iran sanctions

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Turns out when you sell a lot of stuff to a lot of people, you sometimes, maybe violate international sanctions. 

#AmazonProblems

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, the company said it is under investigation for selling around $34,000 of music, clothes, electronics, jewelry, books, office supplies, and other items to an Iranian embassy and others connected to the Iranian government since the start of 2012. 

The sales may have violated United States sanctions against Iran that prevent sales to certain Iranians associated with that nation’s government.  Read more…

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New York property speculators have figured out how to evict everyone

New York’s catastrophic homelessness is about to get much, much worse: the skyrocketing property values (driven by speculators who buy apartments in order to get their money out of corrupt and failing states abroad, leaving them empty with the understanding that they can be cashed out on short notice, thanks to the white-hot market of other money-launderers) have attracted very deep-pocketed, anonymous hedge-funds that are snapping up buildings with rent-stabilized and rent-controlled units, who use a ruthless set of highly refined tactics to kick out all their tenants and then flip the building.
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How To Fail-Proof Your Business From The Beginning

Building a business from the ground up is not easy. There’s a whole culture surrounding startups these days and you’ll often hear about the “lean startup” or how you only need to work 2 hours on your business and still make money. The reality is, you’re very likely going to be working a lot more than two hours a week for a very long time, and even then you aren’t guaranteed success.

One of the hardest lessons in life is that you can do everything right and still fail. Nowhere is this more evident than in the failure rates of small businesses in the United States. Approximately 20% will fail before their first year, more than a third will fail before two years, half will fail by year 5, and 70% will fail by year 10.

Sometimes the circumstances are truly out of your control, but there are still a lot of things you can do to fail-proof your business before you even get started.

Make A Business Plan

business plan

Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail, as the old saying goes. And, apparently, it’s one of the most common reasons why businesses fail.

You shouldn’t just be picking out office furniture and paint colors during the planning phase. In fact, those things should come later.

Primarily, you need to plan what kind of business will do well, where it will thrive and who would be the best people to help you run it. Among the things you should consider carefully are the following points:

Location: Are you in a location where there is an abundance of talent, relatively low business taxes, enough infrastructure for your needs and room for business growth?

Competition: Can you withstand the competition or are you in a sector that is highly competitive when it comes to market share?

Team: Are you choosing the right people for the job or just taking anyone with a resume and a pulse?

Cash Flow Management: Can you deal with the ups and downs of cash flow when customers don’t pay you and you still have to pay rent?

Flexibility: Are you able to turn on a dime if you catch a hint of a shifting market?

The above is where most businesses fail and thinking about how to mitigate these problems at the outset is the first step in building a business that lasts.

See Also: How Awareness In Business Can Predict Your Future Success

Know Your Strengths, But Also Know The Strengths Of Your Community Or Sector

business location

Four of the top five worst places to start a business in the United States are in California, Stockton, Modesto, San Bernadino and Santa Rosa and it’s because of the high poverty rate and low education in the areas.

If you are in any one of these places, you have to carefully plan your business strategy.

Location is important, but so is industry. Healthcare is one of the most successful types of businesses to start while construction and transportation are some of the worst.

Does your town have good infrastructure? It’s going to be hard to start a tech business if you’re somewhere that still uses dial up. Shipping things out? Hope you have access to a major shipping company hub, like UPS Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky.

Having access to top talent is another concern when you are starting a business. If you are starting a business in a place that doesn’t have a university, you’re likely to starve for talent as your company grows. If you’re setting up shop in a place with high poverty, chances are the folks who need jobs the most aren’t going to have the education needed.

Take a look around as you are planning your business and determine what industry would fit your location. Don’t be afraid to move if you can’t get what you need in your current community.

See Also: 4 Key Ideas To Help Your Passion-fuelled Business Take Off Fast!

Businesses Fail Frequently, But Yours Doesn’t Have To

A little extra planning can go a long way when starting a business. Learn more about why businesses fail from this infographic and then do a serious audit of your business plan or current business.

Have you built something that can last or something that will barely survive the next major market shift? Is your team up to snuff? You owe it to your business to ask the hard questions.

Source

WhyBusinessesFail

 

The post How To Fail-Proof Your Business From The Beginning appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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