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Having an App Skill Will Boost Your Business Sales

If you haven’t seen an Amazon Echo commercial where someone calls out “Alexa” in the last year, you are among the few. According to a recent study by NPR and Edison research, one in six Americans, or around 39 million people, have a smart home speaker — and the Amazon Echo leads all of these sales.

Want to build a bridge to your business sales?

Even the simple Alexa app is a skill set. ANY skill that you acquire will make you more savvy in business. Usually apps are talked about so often and in so many ways — that even knowledge of a simple app can boost your sales.

Most apps can be downloaded onto the device of your choice by voice command. This includes the apps on your phone, or the website. With so many people using Alexa — your business might consider adding an app or skill, not just for boosting sales, but for branding and awareness.

Types of skills.

It is claimed that the Amazon Echo is compatible with around 30,000 different skills. A few of Alexa’s most popular skills for business include the conference manager, email assistant, and quick events. These skills are designed to make everyday office tasks more manageable. Alexa can go through your calendar and find the number to dial into your conference calls, look through your inbox to give you details about travel information, and even help you schedule events.

Why build app skills?

Here are some reasons you should build a skill for your business now:

  1. Voice is not only the future — it’s now.
    According to Google, around 20 percent of mobile searches in apps are conducted through the voice command feature. People are more likely to ask Siri or their smart speaker before they pull out their phone and start typing a question online. As voice recognition continues to grow apps will becomes more intelligent, and your team will need to understand how this skill-set fits into business and life.
  2. Get ahead.
    Many times businesses are too scared to lead in new technology because they are afraid to put the time in effort into something that has no guarantee to work and save. We all remember this being the case with having your mobile optimized just a couple of years ago.

    Voice search isn’t going anywhere. It’s better to be on the front end of mobile — or any skillset than be left behind. It will be beneficial to you to get app users loving your app and building their skills before the rest of your competitors figures the benefits out and your app becomes obsolete. 

  3. Currently — many apps are free.
    Many experts assume that as smart speakers become more and more popular, businesses may have to pay more. And what about skillsets? To be sure, learning how to be placed higher than others on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) there is a lot of speciality knowledge that has to be used.

    Some people predict that the future is for those who keep building their skillsets. You can’t afford not to do this. If someone asks a question pertaining to your skill, apps and devices will always need some skillsets for usability. Your employees and customers may as well be using yours. 

  4. Publicity.
    Getting your name out there is one of the hardest but most beneficial things you can do for your business. People can hear about your app and interact with you and your brand. Marketers agree that word of mouth can be one of the best ways to get traffic to your website or through your doors. Your app that can be used by voice is one way to get people to talk about you — literally.
  5. Authority.
    Having authority and a skillset gives you instant credibility as a brand they can trust. Make your app user friendly and well-established enough that people don’t have to have a degree to learn how to use it.  You must be serious about your business, your brand, and your products or services.

How to build a skill.

Depending on the size of your company, your IT team may be able to build your apps for you to do similar tasks, or you can hire an outside organization to do so.

Building an app takes time and is an investment. Don’t create an app just because it is the trendy thing to do. Instead, make an app that starts with the consumer, the customer and your employee’s needs.

Also consider who is in your company and how your employees will best be served by an app. It’s better not to have an app at all — than to have an app that isn’t functional or an app that is very difficult to use or doesn’t really contribute at all. 

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Jeremy WebbHaving an App Skill Will Boost Your Business Sales
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The Importance of Market Research Before Expanding Internationally

The goal of all businesses is to grow and expand operations, a task which is often easier said than done. To achieve growth, a business must have a great model as well as generating a healthy profit, which allows it to further market its product/service and acquire more customers in the future.

Those which are exceptionally successful in their efforts may have the opportunity to expand beyond the confines of their national borders and set up shop internationally. Here are some of the reasons market research is incredibly important in this scenario.

Competitors

Whilst a business may have a completely unique, effective business model in their home country, there may be many more competitors overseas, who are likely to be more established in their own country than the business looking to expand. These competitors could pose a significant threat to the business’s chances of success when operating overseas.

Market research allows a business to gauge the number and power of their potential competitors, and make a more informed decision about how/when/where to expand. They could, for instance, begin their expansion in a different area of any given country if one area is saturated which businesses of the same type. 

Customer Base

Without doing market research, there is no way for a business/company to know what its chances of success are in relation to its potential overseas customer base. For it to succeed in the long run, there will need to be a market for its product/service. If there is no market, then it may be up to the company to create one, or expand to a different country with a more established market. 

Having a loyal customer base is essential in helping businesses which expand stay afloat (expansion is, after all, a very expensive process), so market research can give them a good overall impression of how popular they may be before they spend money in expanding.

Investors/Shareholders

It is worth noting that shareholders of any given company will also want to be reassured about overseas expansion, given the risks it poses. Much like CFD trading, there has to be a good reason for investing in expansion, as well as a good chance of making a profit.

Market research also provides investors with hard evidence that expansion will be both successful and rewarding overall.

Clearly, expanding overseas without conducting market research massively contributes to the risk levels associated with expansion. As such, market research is essential for any business considering setting up in another country.

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Jeremy WebbThe Importance of Market Research Before Expanding Internationally
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The Difference Between Pitching an Idea vs. Pitching a Product

As one of the leading accounting and tax solution focused on growing startups, inDinero works with many founders who have questions about fundraising. How and when to find investors and what to do once you’ve landed the perfect investor or lender — from a financial perspective. 

Fundraising Research

Fundraising takes research. You quickly learn that there are many do’s and don’t’s. Mostly you will learn that there isn’t a ton of actionable advice from entrepreneurs who have done fundraising before. There is very little regurgitating you can find online of a “10 Best Practices List,” that we all want to see.

The best is to find shared stories from accomplished CEOs and industry professionals. Hearing actual experiences from professionals raising money — there are a few distinct differences between talking to investors about a physical product versus a million dollar idea.

First, let’s start with the common denominators.

Three things every investor wants to see.

Each investor goes into a startup pitch with their own expectations and details they’ll want to see — but once you boil it down, the essentials remain the same.

Three essential elements.

Suren Sultania, the Co-Founder and COO of the travel app startup, Headout, shares the three essential elements investors look at:

1. First and foremost, investors care most about the team and what skills they have. More importantly, how committed and determined are they toward the business? 

2.They also need to get some context for the long-term potential of your business and how competitive it will be in its market.

3. From there the the investor will want to know how quickly the team can learn, make improvements, and grow.

Commonalities.

Aside from the widely accepted investor expectations, there are also commonalities between your goals and how you plan to reach them. To scale any startup or build any business idea, you’ll need to focus on and nail the following details:

1. Solution to pain point and market potential.

What are you hoping to solve? Does your product or idea solve a problem that impacts a particular type of individual or organization?

2. Vision and growth plans.

Your ability to taste the future of your business and what will separate it from a shameless cash grab or get rich quick scheme.

3. Your finances (personal and business).

The way you handle money tells investors a lot about your priorities. Justin DiPietro of SaleMove puts it best, saying “if someone’s going to give you millions of dollars, they’re going to look at everything — literally — everything. From the very start, always dot your I’s and cross your T’s.”

4. Pitching an idea to investors.

You’ll find advice for pitching investors ideas plastered all over Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, TechCrunch, etc. Many would tell you that ideas are a dime a dozen. Not really. What is it that makes that dime idea shine and stand out? Think: ridiculously thoughtful pitch.

Great products.

Really good products or prototypes can speak for themselves. If you are still in the ideation stage, your pitch needs to tell an even stronger story. Like every good story, yours will need a beginning, middle, and a hook. Not an end — your pitch story is almost like the pilot episode of your TV show, so make sure you’re creating something worthy of binge-watching.

Selling an idea only works when you have the right people.

It helps to have experienced team members—either in your industry or in startups. When Kevin Busque started Guideline, he already had decades of entrepreneurial experience under his belt consulting with various health tech startups and working alongside his wife and Founder & CEO of TaskRabbit, Leah Busque.

Experience.

Kevin’s experience and stellar business idea not only helped him recruit a team of reputable experts at Guideline — but also helped his startup establish trust with investors. “Before [Guideline] had anything user-facing, we had the organizational infrastructure. We were able to close the seed round just on the idea, the size of the market, the pitch deck, understanding the problem, and the team.”

What to emphasize when you pitch an idea to investors:

  • The pain point you’re trying to solve and any broader implications of not solving the problem. This helps bring value to life.

  • Research and Experimentation (or R&D) opportunities and patent potential. This can add incentive for some investors to get in on the ground floor before the development phase.

  • Your team’s credentials and past work (operating costs).

Some considerations of pitching an idea:

  • Roles your financials play:
    Investors want to know how you’re planning on using your money. At this stage of your business, the costs you’ll want to account for and tell them about are all tied to turning your idea into a real, tangible business: sourcing, hiring, and producing or developing your product.

  • Protecting your intellectual property:
    This seems very basic but is the most valuable way to position your idea. Do you have a patent on your idea or the way you plan on doing things? That alone can increase your valuation and potential investment interest.

Pitching a Product to Investors.

Pitching a product to the investors is the easier of two conversations. If you have come this far without bringing on outside investment. Clearly, your time investment stems from passion and faith that what you’re doing is worthwhile. At this point, it’s all about helping others see your vision.

Have You Emptied Your Savings Account?

Suren Sultania and his fellow co-founders quit their jobs and emptied their savings accounts to build their travel app, Headout, for six months before approaching investors. “We decided to bootstrap our app as far as we could and validate it both to ourselves and to the larger community,” he shared, “only then did we pursue fundraising.”

What Risk Can You Handle?

A willingness to take on that risk is the ultimate proof that you believe in your product and the first hurdle toward getting investors to share your passion.

Sultania continues: “At first it felt like a gamble, but a couple of years of savings was a bet we were willing to take because we had complete belief in ourselves and what we were building. If we couldn’t take that risk, how could we reasonably ask somebody else to come and invest, right?”

Tips for “selling” your product to investors from sales experts.

Will Dinkel is the Co-Founder and CEO of Nova, a sales tool that incorporates artificial intelligence into sales communications. As he hit the fundraising road, he found himself putting his own tools to use more and more. When it comes to planning a sales or investor pitch, the essentials are very similar:

  • Let your product speak for itself in a live demo, catered to your investor audience.

  • Build rapport and tease out the value you’ll provide (i.e., why they should invest).

  • Give them a clear, solid a call to action.

In that regard, pitching to investors and selling to customers are very similar activities, but while pitching to investors is, in theory, selling, the supply in this scenario has a bit more leverage than the demand.

Dinkel cautions:

“Almost any time you’re selling something to a potential customer, they know you want them to buy. But [when it comes to fundraising a business] there’s a limit to the number of investors you can have. This shifts the social dynamics of supply and demand.”

What to emphasize when pitching a product to investors:

  • The quality of your product or offering and things you want to improve:
    Be clear about the current state and quality of your product — is it packaged and ready to sell or still a prototype?

  • Potential buyers or market opportunities:
    Who will use your product, why, and how much will they pay? At this point, you should not still be shooting in the dark about your target audience, customer acquisition plans, or overall go-to-market strategy.

Considerations of pitching a product:

  • Roles your financials play:
    With so much of the work already done building what you plan to sell, your financial projections and revenue model should focus on growth goals and customer acquisition.

  • Marketing and sales:
    This will be at the forefront to increase awareness that your product exists and convert customers. As things take off, fulfilling demand (producing enough goods or hiring enough staff to support demand). How much money did it cost you to build your product and how can you save money as you scale production?

  • Picking your partners and investors wisely:
    The more specific your growth plans and goals get, the more you’ll want to consider when choosing investors that can help your business. It can be advantageous to target niche entrepreneurs or VC firms who have specific knowledge and history within your industry or sales channels.

Ready to knock your pitch out of the park?

To recap, here’s an overview look at the key ways you can improve your pitch regardless of the product or idea:

  • Emphasize your team first. Even if you have an exceptional product or idea, a team can make or break investor confidence.

  • Tell a riveting story. The best way to get others to believe in your idea or product is to show them why you “invested” in the first place.

  • Protect your business and relationships with fellow partners and investors by having solid planning around your financials, intellectual property, and legal affairs.

  • Be targeted, and find the right audience so you can let your product or idea speak for itself.

  • Choose investors wisely—unlike finding customers; there’s always a limit to the number of investors you can “sell” on your business.

The takeaways in this article come from fieldwork done while putting together: 

The Startup Founder’s Guide to Fundraising, eBook, written by Melissa Hollis of inDinero.  

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Jeremy WebbThe Difference Between Pitching an Idea vs. Pitching a Product
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Remote Entrepreneurs: 7 Tips for a Distraction-Free Home Office

In the last decade, the number of people who work from home has increased by 115 percent. That’s a significant boost. If you’re one of them, you’re part of a fast-growing trend that looks like it’s only accelerating, especially as younger workers enter the workforce.

But though the home office comes with benefits — easier to set the environment, less time-wasting meetings, less likely to get distracted — it also has its own share of possible distractions. You want to maximize your productivity and avoid anything that could slow you down. How do you do that?

1) Only Use the Home Office for Work.

When you go to your office, you should be entering a completely different environment — one that you associate with work. Sitting on your couch isn’t going to cut it. (This will also hurt your back and rear-end.)

Set yourself up with a different computer than you use for non-work stuff. If possible, have a completely separate room set up as your office and only use it for work. Creating a distraction-free office means keeping it organized, too — according to Extra Space Storage. “If your home office is messy, take the time to declutter your desk and get organized. Working at a clean desk will help clear your mind and keep you focused on the task at hand.”

Create a work-centered environment so that every time you sit down at your computer, you’re already thinking about working — not about checking your social media or playing Hearthstone. Make sure that your space is set up in a way that makes you think about working.

2) Set a Schedule.

Just as you need a physical space devoted to work, you need a space of time that’s devoted to work. Working from home means you never quite leave the office behind, and if you aren’t careful, the lines between work time and personal or family time can get blurred.

If you want to get maximum productivity, make sure that you carve out space for work and stick to a set schedule.

That doesn’t have to be eight to five office hours. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be.

Especially if you have kids, the most distraction-free time is likely to be either early morning or late evening. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, having that quieter, more productive time to yourself can be the difference between a productive day and a non-productive one.

3) Make Sure the Kids (and Others) Have Ground Rules.

If you have children, you know already what a distraction they can be. That’s multiplied by a lot when you’re working from home. If the kids are around, make sure there are some ground rules in place so that they know you’re working and not to disturb you.

Some parents will put up a sign when they don’t want to be bothered. Some will close the door.

Whatever path you take, make sure that the kids know: when you’re there in your office, you’re working, and only to be bothered with emergencies. Make sure you set time to come out of your office and interact with them — they’re less likely to bother you if they know you’re coming out eventually.

You must set firm boundaries with friends and neighbors who use the line, “since you’re at home, could you…” NO, you cannot.

4) Invest In Your Office.

Nothing is more distracting than having to deal with technology issues or things that you don’t have on hand. Stopping your work to drive to a print shop, go buy paper, or deal with a balky computer is both frustrating and productivity-sapping.

Make sure you’ve invested in setting up your home office the same way you’d set up your office in a workplace. Have everything on hand that you need, and make sure it’s up to date and in working order—because having to jury-rig without the right equipment available, or deal with problematic old tech, is a major distraction.

5) Stay On Task and Off Email.

We’ve all done it. Work for five minutes, see an email come in, tab over and read it — maybe quickly answer it — then take several minutes to get back to the task at hand.

That’s not the way to be productive.

When you’re working, make sure that you’re staying on task by turning off your notifications. Don’t leave them on for your phone or computer — email, social, anything. Then have set times during the day where you read and answer emails. 

It may seem like you’re being less productive — but batching your communications all at once — helps you save time and stay invested in whatever you’re currently working on. Batching is also a well-known growth hacking tool for businesses. It takes longer than you think to get back to task after you’ve gotten out of the mindset.

6) Make Sure You Socialize.

No man (or woman) is an island, to paraphrase John Donne — and you’re no different. Without getting some time around other people, you’ll probably go a little stir-crazy, and that sets you up to be distracted.

Make sure you’re getting out and actually talking to people, not just parking yourself in a chair and not moving all day. Whatever form that take — client meetings, grabbing lunch with a friend, spending some time with your partner and/or children — staying social will keep you grounded.

7) Take Breaks.

Working straight through isn’t actually the best option, as research has shown over the last several years. A study conducted a few years ago by DeskTime indicated that the most productive interval was 52 minutes of work interrupted by 17 minutes of break.

This doesn’t mean you need to get out a stopwatch. But you should build in time away from work — you’ll be less likely to get distracted and more productive with your time.

The home office can be great for entrepreneurs, but you have to make sure that you’re set up for success. Use these tips to propel yourself to even greater productivity and supercharge your home office.

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Jeremy WebbRemote Entrepreneurs: 7 Tips for a Distraction-Free Home Office
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Remote Entrepreneurs: 7 Tips for a Distraction-Free Home Office

In the last decade, the number of people who work from home has increased by 115 percent. That’s a significant boost. If you’re one of them, you’re part of a fast-growing trend that looks like it’s only accelerating, especially as younger workers enter the workforce.

But though the home office comes with benefits — easier to set the environment, less time-wasting meetings, less likely to get distracted — it also has its own share of possible distractions. You want to maximize your productivity and avoid anything that could slow you down. How do you do that?

1) Only Use the Home Office for Work.

When you go to your office, you should be entering a completely different environment — one that you associate with work. Sitting on your couch isn’t going to cut it. (This will also hurt your back and rear-end.)

Set yourself up with a different computer than you use for non-work stuff. If possible, have a completely separate room set up as your office and only use it for work. Creating a distraction-free office means keeping it organized, too — according to Extra Space Storage. “If your home office is messy, take the time to declutter your desk and get organized. Working at a clean desk will help clear your mind and keep you focused on the task at hand.”

Create a work-centered environment so that every time you sit down at your computer, you’re already thinking about working — not about checking your social media or playing Hearthstone. Make sure that your space is set up in a way that makes you think about working.

2) Set a Schedule.

Just as you need a physical space devoted to work, you need a space of time that’s devoted to work. Working from home means you never quite leave the office behind, and if you aren’t careful, the lines between work time and personal or family time can get blurred.

If you want to get maximum productivity, make sure that you carve out space for work and stick to a set schedule.

That doesn’t have to be eight to five office hours. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be.

Especially if you have kids, the most distraction-free time is likely to be either early morning or late evening. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, having that quieter, more productive time to yourself can be the difference between a productive day and a non-productive one.

3) Make Sure the Kids (and Others) Have Ground Rules.

If you have children, you know already what a distraction they can be. That’s multiplied by a lot when you’re working from home. If the kids are around, make sure there are some ground rules in place so that they know you’re working and not to disturb you.

Some parents will put up a sign when they don’t want to be bothered. Some will close the door.

Whatever path you take, make sure that the kids know: when you’re there in your office, you’re working, and only to be bothered with emergencies. Make sure you set time to come out of your office and interact with them — they’re less likely to bother you if they know you’re coming out eventually.

You must set firm boundaries with friends and neighbors who use the line, “since you’re at home, could you…” NO, you cannot.

4) Invest In Your Office.

Nothing is more distracting than having to deal with technology issues or things that you don’t have on hand. Stopping your work to drive to a print shop, go buy paper, or deal with a balky computer is both frustrating and productivity-sapping.

Make sure you’ve invested in setting up your home office the same way you’d set up your office in a workplace. Have everything on hand that you need, and make sure it’s up to date and in working order—because having to jury-rig without the right equipment available, or deal with problematic old tech, is a major distraction.

5) Stay On Task and Off Email.

We’ve all done it. Work for five minutes, see an email come in, tab over and read it — maybe quickly answer it — then take several minutes to get back to the task at hand.

That’s not the way to be productive.

When you’re working, make sure that you’re staying on task by turning off your notifications. Don’t leave them on for your phone or computer — email, social, anything. Then have set times during the day where you read and answer emails. 

It may seem like you’re being less productive — but batching your communications all at once — helps you save time and stay invested in whatever you’re currently working on. Batching is also a well-known growth hacking tool for businesses. It takes longer than you think to get back to task after you’ve gotten out of the mindset.

6) Make Sure You Socialize.

No man (or woman) is an island, to paraphrase John Donne — and you’re no different. Without getting some time around other people, you’ll probably go a little stir-crazy, and that sets you up to be distracted.

Make sure you’re getting out and actually talking to people, not just parking yourself in a chair and not moving all day. Whatever form that take — client meetings, grabbing lunch with a friend, spending some time with your partner and/or children — staying social will keep you grounded.

7) Take Breaks.

Working straight through isn’t actually the best option, as research has shown over the last several years. A study conducted a few years ago by DeskTime indicated that the most productive interval was 52 minutes of work interrupted by 17 minutes of break.

This doesn’t mean you need to get out a stopwatch. But you should build in time away from work — you’ll be less likely to get distracted and more productive with your time.

The home office can be great for entrepreneurs, but you have to make sure that you’re set up for success. Use these tips to propel yourself to even greater productivity and supercharge your home office.

No comments
Jeremy WebbRemote Entrepreneurs: 7 Tips for a Distraction-Free Home Office
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Three Economics Truths for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is about creating a product or service for the benefit and good of others. Since business is about relationships and people, it’s important for every entrepreneur to know and understand how to best serve people.

Knowing marketing, accounting, product development, and every other aspect of the business is important and necessary, but oftentimes the subject of economics gets thrown to the wayside and forgotten.

This is a major folly because economics is about human behavior, incentives, and the allocation of resources, all of which are important for every entrepreneur to know.

Therefore, every entrepreneur should commit to memory the following three economic truths. By doing so, you will take your business to the next level, serve your customers more effectively, and increase profits like never before. 

#1 Economics is not Finance.

The common misunderstanding that I hear all the time is that economics is about making money. This is not true. Other misnomers include how to invest, how to get rich, and how to bank. Being a good businessman does not make you a good economics

Yes, economics may cover each of these topics to an extent, but that’s not what economics is about. 

The textbook definition of economics and said by economist Thomas Sowell is, “the allocation of scare resources which have alternate uses.” 

This basically means that there is a lot of stuff that can be used for many different purposes, but it’s limited, so people have to decide what to make and what not to make. Really, it’s that simple.

Now, where economics becomes confusing and daunting is when you begin to dive into economic systems, how that works, what effects it has on the economy, and the other big topics you read about. But at it’s core, economics is about how stuff gets divvied out.

Entrepreneurs inherently understand this because they have limited money, limited resources, and limited demand, but their task is to increase each.

Knowing the background and foundation of this conundrum is beneficial.

#2 Economics Greatly Affects Public Policy.

It is amazing for me to see how many good entrepreneurs support bad policies that harm their customers, employees, industry, and marketplace. 

I first saw this when I worked at Fidelity Investments right after graduate school. At the time, Fidelity Investments was the largest 401(k) provider in the country, with more than $3 trillion in assets. This is massive amounts of money.

During this time there were also the Occupy Wall Street Protests, people protesting against the greed and evil of Wall Street. This included people protesting at the local Fidelity Investment branches in the California Bay Area, one of which I worked at for my job. 

What I found interesting is that I was hardly rich, in fact, I was just out of grad school and flat broke. But, there were protesters outside and to them, I looked evil because I wore a suit and tie to work. Don’t mind that the tie was a hand-me-down from a retired businessman and the suit was purchased on-sale from Men’s Warehouse. 

What was even more interesting were the comments I heard from my coworkers. The majority were in favor of the protesters and supported their cause, “Wall Street is evil!” I’m over here like, “guys, we work for Wall Street.” But the protestors couldn’t connect the dots. They didn’t see that their direct support of the protesters and the related policies would hurt our industry, make our jobs more difficult, increase the amount of paperwork we already had to do, and create additional barriers to entry that would actually hurt minorities and females from entering the financial world.

There was a massive cognitive dissonance.

The same thing happens all of the time with a million other public policy issues. Too often, good entrepreneurs who are creating wonderful small businesses vote in favor of destructive things like:

  • Minimum wage laws.
  • Consumer protection.
  • Protectionism of an industry.
  • Choosing winners and losers.
  • Tariffs.
  • More regulation.
  • Public-private partnerships.
  • Subsidies.

Each one of the things listed above increases the cost of doing business.

This means it’s harder to start a business, those costs get passed onto the customer, and the entrepreneur is less able to provide his product or service.

An important note should also be made about subsidies and public-private partnerships.

Any time the risk of failure is mitigated or hidden from the entrepreneur, this distorts the business model, the marketplace, and increases the amount of bad ideas. It also creates an uneven playing field for those who can’t get the government protection, usually hurting women and minorities most, unfortunately.

When the government takes the risk, that risk gets passed onto citizens in the form of taxes, bailouts, and failed companies. BUT, when the entrepreneur is forced to take the full risk (and reward!) of the company, you see better, healthier companies.

Economics is About Human Behavior.

Adam Smith is known as the Father of Economics and penned his famous book, The Wealth of Nations, in 1776. What most people don’t know is that before Adam Smith wrote his important text on economics, he was first and foremost a moral philosopher. 

The lesser-known book he wrote prior is called, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The entire book was dedicated to understanding and exploring the concepts of conscience, moral judgment, virtue, and the greater good.

Therefore, it’s massively important for every entrepreneur to understand that economics is about human behavior and every action, product, or service should be in line with right and just behavior. The idea of moral actions that benefit others, mutually beneficial transactions that are not coerced, and the concept of services to others should be at the fingertips of every entrepreneur in the world.

What also gets left out oftentimes is the notion that the world is not perfect and never will be. People are not perfect either and as such, we should not expect perfection. Instead, entrepreneurs are forced to deal with the reality we live in and to deliver our products and services within that reality.

When considering business decisions, you should always keep top of mind the following three questions, coined from Hoover Institution’s Thomas Sowell:

#1 At what cost?

#2 Compared to what?

#3 What hard evidence do you have?

Every entrepreneur should ask these questions to himself often and understand there is no perfect decision, only some decisions that are better than other decisions. But as entrepreneurs, we ought to accept this reality and note how we can best influence human behavior to purchase our products or service. Economics helps you understand that.

How Do I Learn Economics?

You don’t need to attend school again to get a good grasp of economics. But, here is a very short list of where to start so you can build a good foundation of economics knowledge:

  1. Watch the, Fear the Boom and Bust Cycle– this is a rap video made by economics and it is hilarious, but historically accurate. This will help you love economics.
  2. Read, Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell- this book is easy to read, has no confusing charts and graphs, and will give you a wonderful introduction with historical context to understand economics.
  3. Next, go through, Economics in 1 Lesson– written by a newspaper editor, this book is short, simple, and covers the big topics in economics.
  4. Diversify your reading. Read both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Watch CNN and Fox News. When you come across an issue, read both sides of the issue.
  5. Remember, there are always trade-offs. No solution is perfect.

By understanding economics, you will gain insight into human behavior, which will allow you to better serve your customers and your company.

The entrepreneur who chooses not to understand economics will commit follies and impede the growth of his company. You are different though, you have what it takes to connect with people on a deeper level, serve them, and deliver a wonderful product or service that will make their life better. 

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Jeremy WebbThree Economics Truths for Entrepreneurs
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Pros and Cons of Preventive Maintenance for Businesses

Several factors can come into play when there is need to choose a fertile option between reactive and preventative maintenance for maintenance of your business assets and equipment. Since both approaches are employed by business organizations and companies to keep up their business assets and tools in best working condition, they both have positives and negatives that you should consider before moving ahead with any of them.

What is preventive maintenance?

It is a business assets maintenance approach that involves periodic or scheduled inspection of business assets, equipment, tools, machines and their parts even when they are operational at workplace or plant. Basically, preventive maintenance is a routine maintenance to keep business equipment up and running to prevent unexpected and expensive downtimes.

Facility managers inspect business tools and machines periodically during the preventive maintenance before there is breakdown or equipment failure.

Reactive maintenance.

Whether your facility managers are comfortable with preventive or reactive maintenance, you must have a glance at pros and cons of each maintenance approach in order to determine which one is suitable according to your business needs and what benefits it can offer to your facility managers in results.

Below I am about to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of preventive maintenance to help you understand why it is the best choice for you and what side effects it can have for your business or company.

Pros of preventive maintenance.

Reduced risk factor.

During the preventive maintenance, business assets and tools are inspected and checked on regular basis (according to a maintenance schedule) that enables a business or company to experience reduced risks of unexpected breakdowns and a safer workplace environment for employees to complete their tasks efficiently.

Longer equipment life.

When all business assets and tools are being checked according to a pre-planned maintenance schedule, almost all business assets would be in good working condition with a longer lifetime. Since poorly performing parts are also changed during this maintenance approach, every equipment or asset can perform more productively than ever.

Flexible maintenance schedule.

As its name shows that it is the preventive maintenance to prevent unforeseen downtimes and failures. Every business follows a flexible maintenance schedule to let the management know when the equipment will be down for maintenance.

Management and employees should be used-to and up-to-date on replacement orders to keep the business operations running smoothly.  In this way, a business can enjoy increased productivity without facing the issues of equipment breakdown and failure — with the resulting time delay waste.

Reduced costs.

When you are taking care of your business assets by using the preventive maintenance system you will see that the business is bearing reduced costs in terms of less breakdown and a fewer expensive repairing costs. In this way, you can also replace a business tool or machine at the right time instead of spending a lot of money in its repairing or maintenance.

Use of the maintenance management software can help you keep up with preventive maintenance schedules by providing the all essential equipment details and breakdown history in real time.

Less consumption of energy and resources.

When a businesses asset or equipment is not maintained well, it is more likely to consume more energy (fuel or electricity) than normal condition. When you are keeping up your business tools are assets with preventive maintenance, the issue can be identified quickly to save energy and other business resources for well-being of the business. The more business energy you will save, the higher of business profits would be.

Fewer disruptions.

Due to the regular inspection and maintenance of business tools and assets, the chances of disruption are always fewer. By having a maintenance schedule on hand, you will have better information about when to close down the machine or equipment for maintenance without having an impact on business productivity and efficiency.

Did you know that hotels even have an exact maintenance schedule for their mattresses? If you are a business owner — pull up those sheets and check it out. It’s marked in black marker on the corners. The mattresses are turned an exact direction every week — with a resultant time and equipment savings of millions across the industry. That is what a scheduled maintenance can do for you. Your equipment is much more expensive than a mattress.

Cons of preventive maintenance.

You may need more budgets to get started.

Initial implementation costs of CMMS for preventive maintenance can definitely be higher for small businesses or even unbearable if there is limited business budget for asset management and maintenance.

As it is the process of inspecting and checking assets for maintenance regularly, you may need to invest in latest tools and equipment to carry out the maintenance jobs accordingly that will definitely increase the overall business costs.

More resources required.

As you are following a maintenance schedule, there will be need of more resources in terms of manpower, parts and finances to perform preventive maintenance. On another hand, you may need to call a mechanic for a onetime fix when relying on reactive maintenance.

Over maintenance.

By having a regular maintenance plan on hand, you have to check and inspect business assets that may not need to be checked as they are working properly without creating troubles. In this way, you are spending more business resources and money on over maintenance of business assets that can be spent on other productive areas to increase the overall revenues.

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Growth Hacking With The Power Of Instagram

Business — whether big or small needs Instagram to showcase their products and services.

Launching In 2016

Since its launch back in 2016 — Instagram has been able to provide the best possible platform to make yourself established as a brand. About one billion people use Instagram, and because of this, it is a perfect fit to establish your business quickly. Let us tell you how you can use Instagram as your best friend to gain worldwide recognition without spending millions.

Build Professional Instagram Profile

Just like any other business advertisement, Instagram is also a mode of advertisement for your company. Your profile is something that will let your customers know who and what your company does.  You have to take Instagram as your business card, then only people will be able to get in touch with or recognize you.

Try building a professional profile or hire an expert company to do so. Getting more Instagram post likes doesn’t happen overnight. Buy real likes on instagram  to make your brand grow swiftly and reap other benefits as well.

Everything Starts With Consistency

Consistency is the best policy you can ever have or use. There are no hard-and-fast rules applicable with this awesome tip. Even in your business, consistency matters a lot. So, unless you’re consistent about what you want or what you want to show to the world, nothing will help.

The general rule of thumb is to stay focused and consistent. If you don’t see any immediate results, don’t worry — just stay confident that you’ll soon see them.

This is Instagram growth hack tip number one — and you can apply it in your life and business aspects.

Content Paves The Way

Until now people haven’t understood the importance of content marketing and how they can use it to their benefit. Instagram growth hack for your business solely depends on how well you produce your content. It can be in the form of a video or picture(s) — and needs to be something spot-on to get your customers intrigued.

Instagram is now a whopping community of 1 billion users and you need to publish something that is unique or captivating content. Thus, you have to produce and fashion the content in such a great way, that your customers can’t resist your presence.

Automation Is Your Key To Success

Being a businessman or businesswoman — do you have enough time to do engaging Instagram posting? If not you should hire a professional team to manage the daily posts. If you can’t afford doing so, take some time to choose the best automation software for your Instagram account.

There are many reputable and recognized social media service providers, and you can study their Instagram marketing strategy to begin immediately. Automation will allow your profile to be engaging and active for your customers. Further, you’ll be able to drive traffic with valuable content admiration — this is what we are striving for.

New On Instagram? Buy Instagram Likes

Usually, every business profile has thousands of likes and followers. But, if you’re relatively new on the Instagram platform – you need to think like a pro. Your profile will not show in the newsfeed of your customers without heavy-duty marketing.

You’ll need to invest with social media stars or more prudently with services like Social Noor.  Remember that you can’t blindly work with just anybody. Study their profile, see their ratings and results. Then only decide if you can truly rely on them.

Contests And Gifts Will Help In Engagement

This is a common knowledge that your business needs to engage with your customers to drive traffic. What are your proven strategies to do so? The best tip from our experts are to research and start doing gift and online contest sessions. Advertise and post about them one week prior to create a hype. Then choose a nice little contest and ask your customers to comment, like or post about it.

The one who can do it actively or more engagingly can be declared as a winner. This can be used in different formats. For example, you can ask your customers to like, share, post or comment about your business.

Plan Strategically To Win Customers

What is it that your competitor is doing better than you?  Something you have to invest time in ? Or is it something that you never thought about? With the looks of it, most probably they’re doing something you never heard about. Let us tell you what it is.

They’re stealing the fan following and liking the general public as they go. This is something you can do too. Simply, like or comment on public posts and you’ll start seeing auto fan following. But yes, this tip is time-consuming and you have to carefully draft this strategy to get your customers actually like you. You don’t want to annoy them on purpose or something.

Stay On Top Of Your Hashtag Game

No matter how often you post or how often you do a contest, likes etc., unless you understand the mode of working on Instagram you won’t be able to do much about getting fame on it. Hashtag play an important part in getting on top of newsfeed and getting targeted traffic to your post.

With hashtag fun, you only get to drive the traffic that is extremely important for your business. This will also increase your brand following because you’ll create a universal hashtag, and then add your business name to get into the search news feed of your clients.

A simple example to study your niche and see what your competitors are using on their posts. Grab a similar or exact idea and start posting. You’ll see an instant rise in the growth and engagement part of your profile. Use as many hashtags as you want. Just stay relevant to your post and niche.

Think Smartly

Once you jump into the pool of Instagram marketing, stay alert about the changing trends in the market you’re doing business. Further, subscribe to reputable digital marketing blogs and websites. This way, you’ll get an instant notification if something new arrives. Try to be proactive, as no matter who you hire to do your Instagram marketing – unless you’re paying attention you won’t see the desired results. ​

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Jeremy WebbGrowth Hacking With The Power Of Instagram
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Don’t Forget Profit

An old friend of mine had a simple but brilliant theory of business.

Get your pens out folks, this is as good as an MBA:

“There has to be more money coming in than going out.” 

You can spend thousands on business degrees in Harvard and Babson and no-one will tell you that one simple thing.

You would imagine anyone in business knows this, wouldn’t you?

You would be surprised.

The root of the problem.

At the root of the problem is one simple word: profit. Too many businesses start out with the best of intentions but forget that one vital thing. We are often inclined to see profit as a dirty word. All those nasty big business making profits for their greedy owners at our expense.

Many are afraid to charge enough for their products or services. 

So when it comes to starting a business, people are often afraid to charge enough for their products or services. And then they don’t have enough spare cash to do marketing and advertising, make  essential product improvements, take on qualified staff and have industry standard premises and systems. These are the so called losses.

Is your profit margin too low?

If the profit margin is too low, and often this can be dictated by the industry you choose to go into, you can struggle to survive. Mature industries are notorious for delivering lower margins, as after a few decades, there are often too many players looking to create value in it, and new entrants often replace the old.

Let’s look at some grocery businesses.

The food business is a very good example. When I was a child, the food was bought at “Mr Mac’s,” a local privately owned grocery store. He, and thousands like him, have been usurped by the  huge supermarkets of this world. Supermarkets who manage enormous turnovers at wafer thin margins of two to four percent. 

I find it hard to figure out how they calculate profit margins that low. These are they whom in turn are being eaten alive by Lidl and Aldi (discounters in Europe), whose secret is to have 10,000 products instead of Tesco’s 50,000.

Joseph Schumpeter, the renowned economist, referred to this as “Creative Destruction.”

So what’s the answer to this dilemma?

Blue Ocean Strategy. May I recommend this book?  I believe it is worth a read, if you are so inclined. Simply put, you should go into a business, or part of a business that is fresh and new and where there are not so many existing players. The author calls it “a Blue Ocean” where there aren’t  sharks in the water “Red Ocean.”

Cirque du Soleil is an example of a new version of an old business (circus). The idea is to re-create an industry in a whole new way. Note the success of those who have done this very thing: Amazon, Southwest Airlines, Iphone. You get the idea.

Back to the food service industry — think differently.

In food, an example would be specialist health foods. You would be able to think this through for business as a pretty safe bet — because many people are becoming more and more health conscious. Could you cut our a niche in this area? It IS still possible to carve out a niche there with something you come up with that is specialized.

Please don’t forget the main rule of all business:

There Must Be More Money Coming In Than Going Out. 

And guess what? This same rule applies to anything you undertake to do in life. 

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When to Fire a Prospect

As an entrepreneur, you are pouring your life, your time, your energy, and your money into your business so that it is a success, impacts the world, and creates an economic benefit in your life.

Part of building your company includes creating a massive sales funnel that is full of prospects. Common wisdom is that you get as many prospects into your funnel as possible, which will turn into qualified leads, and then customers. Sounds good, right?

Wrong.

You do not want bad prospects in your sales funnel because it will take away from the good, real, and viable prospects. Every minute you spend with a bad prospect is a minute away from a good prospect.

Here are 6 common reasons to fire a prospect from your sales funnel.

#1 They steal your ideas

This happens all the time and it marks the fundamental breakdown in understanding what business is all about. Relationships.

Very often, a prospect will seem interested and ask, “what would you recommend?” or “what would you do?”. To the eager entrepreneur, this sounds like a great question and step toward working together.

Sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s not.

The good prospects love to hear your ideas, get excited about working together, and sign the contract to start business. The bad prospects hear your ideas, ask for more information, and then go silent on you.

Before you know it, the prospect isn’t responding to your emails, calls, or texts, and then you see the prospect is trying to implement your ideas on his own.

Sometimes, he’ll try for a few months, fail, and then call you to fix the problem. That might be OK. Most often if this happens, the prospect will do his own thing with your ideas, leaving you in the dust.

Drop this prospect immediately and quit pursuing them. If they steal your ideas in the first place, it’s going to be a rocky relationships later on, anyways.

#2 They string you along

This happens all the time to entrepreneurs and good salespeople.

You want to make the sale, close the contract, and build the relationship together, yet the prospect is always just a little too busy or the timing isn’t right.

Yes, sometimes this is true and you should always seek to serve your prospect and respect the demands of life on him. But be weary of the prospect who always has some sort of reason or excuse as to why he can’t do business, especially if he has indicated interest, told you he would do business, or given you the verbal OK or handshake.

If the prospect is stringing you along now, they will likely string you along with every other aspect of business, which makes for a painful and difficult business relationship down the road.

#3 They are expensive

Prospects are expensive in a variety of ways. Customer acquisition can take the form of time, meals together, entertainment, thank-you notes, gifts, or a variety of other good measures. 

When a prospect becomes overly expensive, that’s when they are so burdensome, demanding, or high-touch that it literally becomes not worth your time.

You always have to consider what time and what energy you give to which prospects. If somebody is overly demanding of your resources, that means somebody else is not going to get your attention. If this is the case, drop the prospect and find somebody who really wants to work with you.

#4 They are abusive

Sometimes, prospects can be mean or verbally abusive. Unfortunately, this happens and you should drop the prospect immediately.

I don’t mean that the prospect is hitting your or performing other types of abuse. What I mean by this is that the prospect is abusing your generosity, your time, your willingness to help or provide proof of concepts. Sometimes, prospects abuse members of your team with teasing, demeaning language, or a lack of respect.

Any of these things should grab your attention and perk your ears up to if you want a business relationship with the person. Remember, however the prospect is acting now is probably a good indicator as to how he will act for the remainder of the business relationship.

You are a professional and you should be treated as a professional.

#5 They lack ethics

This one is a major red flag and should cue your attention immediately. Always keep in mind that if a prospect is cheating somebody else, lying, or doing unethical business, that it is only a matter of time until the prospect does that to you.

Your product or service is a direct extension of your brand, which represents you. As an entrepreneur, you should covet your reputation and hold your network as precious. Do not work with unethical people and if your prospect starts showing these signs, get them out of your sales funnel immediately.

#6 They want it for free

Business is about relationships and successful entrepreneurs create something out of nothing for the benefit of others. This something usually costs money.

If your prospects starts asking for free business, you need to be weary of toeing the line that is between proof of concept work and getting used. Don’t ever start work without a contract in hopes that it’s in “good faith”, either.

Providing a complimentary audit or small proof of concept may be OK and even a show of good faith. But be very cautious if your prospect asks you to provide the full product or service for free. This tells you that your prospect doesn’t understand contracts, doesn’t value your product or service, and doesn’t respect you as a professional. All three are bad things.

Do not give things away for free. Remember, your blood, sweat, and tears have gone into your business and it’s worth every penny.

How to break it off

Business is all about working with people and sometimes it means that you have to end the relationship. That’s OK.

To be a healthy entrepreneur, you need to have healthy boundaries. This means saying no, being firm, communicating clearly, and even breaking if off.

The best way to do this is by being professional, clear, and concise. Do not be rude, mean, or angry. But stand up for yourself and your business and recognize that not all people are going to be good prospects and customers for your company. Remember, it’s OK to have boundaries.

Remember these 6 telltale signs of when to fire a prospect and you’ll be headed in a good direction to grow your company and impact the marketplace worldwide.

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Jeremy WebbWhen to Fire a Prospect
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