As businesses and entrepreneurs have persevered through 2020, the climate has shifted from business continuity and pivoting to how to recapture business and growth as we enter 2021. Throughout the year, businesses of all sizes and various industries have sought innovative ways to launch new products or services while in this new normal of quarantine, restrictive travel and working from home.
How are entrepreneurs doing this? Social media immediately comes to mind, but more than that, many are using virtual office services, virtual assistants and reimagining what it means to work from home. The proliferation of virtual offices is allowing businesses to have a physical footprint in a market, grow their business and stay connected to their customer base while remaining apart.
A virtual office is typically provided by coworking or flex office providers, although there are some online-only providers. From business address services, phone services, virtual assistants, office space available by the hour or day, coworking and other offerings, a virtual office can be the primary address of a business, used as a satellite office for a business or used for larger businesses looking to reduce their overhead costs. More than a PO Box, businesses are able to use their virtual office to list their business on Google and other online search engines, have physical office space on an ‘as-needed’ basis, utilize telephone services and receive mail or packages.
Why do I need a virtual office?
With the unpredictability of what 2021 may bring, a virtual office provides you with business options and space, whereas previously, the options would have involved investing in a long-term, costly commercial lease. By utilizing a virtual office service, your business has options. You can test a market without large overhead costs, scale slowly in a new market without hiring multiple employees and have the flexibility of canceling a virtual office if unsuccessful. Most virtual office plans are month-to-month and can easily be canceled.
Second, you must show your existing customer base that they are making the right choice by investing in you. People want to buy from businesses that solve their problems and have an upward trajectory for stability and growth. Even incremental investments in new markets demonstrate perseverance and strength, and signal to existing customers that you are a stable choice to assist their business through 2021.
Third, by establishing a strong business relationship with your virtual office provider, you can be a part of a business networking community already established in that location. Typically, the management is in constant communication with other businesses and entrepreneurs that both have physical office space or a virtual office. customerbase
Throughout the past year, most have worked hard at reinventing their business via new networking opportunities, and now have a calendar packed with virtual networking lunch and learns, virtual “happy hours” and other innovative events.
Businesses and entrepreneurs alike are looking to rebound from 2020, and by using a virtual office, most find they can enter new markets, reduce overhead and become more appealing to their customer base. There is only one guarantee about 2021 — just like 2020, expect the unexpected!
In order for any team to survive and thrive, there needs to be a culture of inclusion, collaboration, and respect. As the manager of a remote team, developing and promoting this type of culture is an especially important task. When coworkers aren’t physically in the same place, there are fewer opportunities to foster interpersonal interaction and connection, so it’s important to be proactive and creative. Really, an effective remote team should feel pretty similar to a team with a physical office.
Humans are social creatures who want to feel safe and have a sense of belonging—the key here is relationship building. Creating a positive social vibe will help your team members build relationships with each other. Building strong relationships across your team can lead to an increase in psychological safety, strengthened attachment to the team and organization, and elevated performance outcomes.
You may be asking yourself, “how do I create an inclusive and productive work from home culture?” Let’s check in with Debbie Farese. Debbie is HubSpot’s Director of Global Web Strategy. She’s been leading a 100% remote team for more than two years and wants to share her tips on how to create an inclusive virtual office.
You’ve probably heard business leaders justify their flat-footedness in a crisis by claiming that every organization is flying blind in times of deep uncertainty. But in fact some leaders know precisely where they’re going. They understand what’s required to chart a course through market turbulence, and they’ve built organizations with keen situational awareness.
When it comes to developing the ability to figure out where things are heading and respond nimbly to a changing environment, nothing is more important than analytics. Unfortunately, in recent years analytics (also known as data mining or business intelligence) has become the unloved stepchild of data sciences, overshadowed by machine learning and statistics. Those two disciplines layer mathematical sophistication on top of a foundation of human intuition, creating an appealing illusion of objectivity and deft steering. Ironically, of the three, analytics is the most essential competency for navigating crises.
Solutions based on AI and machine learning hum along well during stable times but fall apart when disaster strikes. These technologies automate tasks by extracting patterns from data and turning them into instructions. Such models can quickly become obsolete when the inputs to the system change. Analytics, in contrast, alerts you when the rules of the game are changing. Without that kind of a warning, automation solutions can quickly go off the rails, leaving you exposed to exogenous shocks.
Statistics has a similar shortcoming during a crisis. Statisticians help decision-makers get rigorous answers. But what if they’re asking the wrong questions? While statistical skills are required to test hypotheses, analysts have the acumen to come up with the right hypotheses in the first place. To attempt statistics without analytics, you’d need great confidence in your assumptions—the kind of confidence that’s foolhardy when a crisis pulls the rug out from under you.
Analysts thrive in ambiguity. Their talent is exploration, which makes them particularly good at foreseeing and responding to crises. By searching internal and external data sources for critical information, analysts keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on. They scan the horizon for trends and formulate questions about what’s behind them. Their job is to inspire executives with thought-provoking yet qualified possibilities. Once the highest-priority hypotheses have been short-listed by leaders, then it’s time to call in a statistician to pressure-test them and separate true insights from red herrings.
During good times, leading organizations build analytics capabilities to strengthen their ability to innovate. Analysts’ ability to find clues to such things as shifting consumer tastes can help firms take advantage of opportunities before less-savvy competitors do. When the going gets tough, however, what looked like a nice-to-have innovation booster turns into a must-have safety net. To be sure, some events are impossible to see in advance—the true black swans—but addressing their fallout is a game best played with open eyes.
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to cobble together a mature analytics department on short notice. The technical skills that allow analysts to guzzle data with lightning speed merely increase the mass of information they encounter. Spotting a gem in it takes something more. Without domain knowledge, business acumen, and strong intuition about the practical value of discoveries—as well as the communication skills to convey them to decision-makers effectively—analysts will struggle to be useful. It takes time for them to learn to judge what’s important in addition to what’s interesting. You can’t expect them to be an instant solution to charting a course through your latest crisis. Instead, see them as an investment in your future nimbleness.
It also takes time to secure access to the promising data sources analysts need. Ideally, business leaders won’t wait for a big disruption to begin building relationships with data vendors, industry partners, and data collection specialists. Bear in mind that in the face of an extreme shock, your historical data sources may become obsolete. If your understanding of the past fails to give you a useful window on tomorrow’s world—perhaps because a pandemic has changed everything—it doesn’t matter how good your information was yesterday. You need new information. After the 2008 financial crash, for example, banks around the world recognized that there might be an advantage to analyzing nontraditional signals of creditworthiness, such as data from supermarket loyalty cards, but not all players were equally positioned to get access to them.
Additionally, your internal data stores may require special processing before analysts can mine them, so it’s worth thinking about hiring supporting data engineers. If analytics is the discipline of making data useful, then data engineering is the discipline of making data usable; it provides behind-the-scenes infrastructure that makes machine logs and colossal data stores compatible with analytics tool kits.
When I began speaking at conferences about the importance of analytics, I found that convincing an audience of its value was the easy part. The mood changed when I explained the catch: Analytics is a time investment. You can’t count on getting something useful out of every foray into a data set. To succeed at exploration, your organization needs a culture of no-strings-attached analytics. As the leader, you are responsible for setting the scope (which data sources should be looked at) and the time frame (“You have two weeks to explore this database”). Then you must ensure that analysts aren’t punished for coming back empty-handed.
During an extreme shock, your historical data sources may become obsolete. Then it doesn’t matter how good your information was yesterday. You need new information.
Once business leaders accept that analytics represents an investment that may not immediately pay off, I hit the next stumbling block: the perception that only a large and technologically sophisticated company such as Alphabet can afford it. This is nonsense. In my experience you’re more likely to find analytics thriving in start-ups than at well-established behemoths.
Start-ups naturally invest in analytics as they try to navigate a new market, with several generalists taking on a share of the exploratory work. Then as the venture grows, the culture changes. Workers are trusted less and made more accountable for return on their efforts, and overzealous management stifles opportunities for analytics to thrive. Analysts hired into this culture rarely get to enjoy the most interesting part of their work—exploration—and instead serve as human search engines and dashboard janitors. Many quit out of frustration as their potential is squandered.
Creating a culture where analytics flourishes takes thoughtful leadership. As organizations grow toward incumbency, only the most visionary will have the courage to nurture a true analytics department and make sure that business leaders have access to it and are influenced by it. Industries that have been burned by a previous crisis — banking is a good example — are especially likely to invest in analytics and apply it to risk management.
Becoming a leader in analytics takes a commitment to trust your analysts and give them space to do their work. Their job, after all, will be to reveal threats that you never even imagined should be on your radar. That sort of work can’t be managed with a stopwatch and a checklist.
Crises such as a pandemic—when no one has the answers, and uncertainty is high—remind us of the importance of asking the right questions. Analytics gives firms an edge in learning and adapting. When the world is suddenly upended, those who can learn the fastest are best positioned to succeed. Smart companies will invest in analytics today to get ahead of whatever is coming tomorrow.
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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has a terrible human rights record. But the average Filipino is doing better under Duterte.
When it comes to per-capita gross domestic product (GDP), that is. That’s a measure of the total output of a country divided by the number of people in that country.
The Philippines’ per-capita GDP was last recorded at an all-time high of 2,891.36 U.S. dollars in 2017, according to Tradingeconomics.com. That’s well above the average of 1,627.98 USD for the period 1960-2017.
Also, Filipinos are doing better under Duterte when per-capita GDP is adjusted by purchasing power parity (PPP). That measure, too, reached a record 7,599.19 U.S. dollars in 2017, well above the average of 4969.71 USD for the period 1990-2017.
Per Capita GDP
Per Capita GDP PPP
GDP Annual Growth Rate
Source: Tradingeconomics.com 10/26/2018
To be fair, comparing per-capita GDP in USD for different time periods is a tricky exercise. Numbers can be distorted by population growth and currency fluctuations. For instance, the climb in the Philippines per capita GDP has been helped by a slow-down in population growth. It’s also an ongoing trend that can be traced back to the Aquino administration, which brought macroeconomic stability to the country.
“Aquino is delegating power to competent technocrats and seems to understand what needs to be done to get the lights back on,” wrote Ruchir Sharma in Break Out Nations.
Macroeconomic stability has helped the Philippines economy demonstrate a great deal of resilience in recent years. At the end of 2017, it grew at an annual 6.9% in the September quarter. That’s the strongest growth since the third quarter 2016. And the Philippines’ economy was still growing at 6% at the end of 2018.
Tracing per-capita GDP growth back to the Aquino period certainly raises the question: Who should take credit for the record per-capita GDP, Aquino or Duterte?
Philippines iShares MSCI ETF
Meanwhile, a recent McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) study places the Philippines among the few emerging market economies that are well-prepared to achieve sustained growth over the next decade.
That’s thanks to a rise in gross fixed-capital formation (investment). It reached 695,414.08 PHP million in the second quarter of 2018 from roughly 450,000 PHP million in July of 2015–well above the 303,138.16 PHP million for the period 1998 until 2018, and an all-time high.
Still, the Philippines’ per-capita GDP is equivalent to 23% of the world’s average, which makes Filipinos poor. And a resurgence in the cost of living in recent months makes things worse for them. The Philippines’ annual inflation rate rose to 6.7% in September of 2018 from 6.4% in the August, and compared to market expectations of 6.8%.
That’s the highest reading since February 2009, thanks to soaring food, transportation and utility prices.
Inflation, together with revolution and corruption, has suspended Philippines economic progress before, and it will do it again, if they aren’t addressed effectively.
Pilippines Corruption Rank
So rather than celebrating record per capita GDP, Duterte’s administration should keep an eye on the price of bread and rice. And he should look at his human rights record, which cannot be balanced by any economic record.
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