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Why You Should Try a Subscription Model for Your Business (and Some Tips on How to Do It)

Every entrepreneur wants consistent monthly income to fuel their cash flow and business goals. However, between economic cycles and changing customer interests, that regular revenue may be hard to achieve.

I’ve talked with more and more small business owners lately who use a subscription business model. It involves offering monthly subscriptions for various products and services. Options for these subscriptions cover all kinds of items. Maybe you know someone who receives a subscription box filled with clothing or makeup. Perhaps you’ve tried making meals prepared by Blue Apron or you receive shaving supplies from Dollar Shave Club. Millions of people enjoy Netflix and Spotify for streaming. Other companies offer toys for kids and treat boxes for pets.

The subscription e-commerce industry generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. A 2018 McKinsey survey noted that nearly 60 percent of American consumers surveyed had multiple subscriptions. The monthly subscription economy doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. People love the time and money they save, as well as the excitement of personalization and convenience.

Besides attracting and retaining customers who want these benefits, there’s a significant advantage for subscription companies: recurring revenue. Instead of a one-time payment, monthly subscription businesses collect a monthly fee (or sometimes a year of fees in exchange for a lower monthly rate) before sending out the product or service.

This revenue model provides an upfront spike in cash flow along with a longer-term outlook for stable income. Moreover, you’ll get a better sense of product volume for inventory planning and management.

There is no time like the present to start a monthly subscription business to ride the lucrative wave. Here’s how to launch:

Decide on a subscription model type.

There are three main sub-models that can frame your monthly business within the subscription model. The curation model involves creating a personalized box for customers based on interests they share when they sign up. This might include sample-size versions of products related to a hobby or lifestyle.

The replenishment model is the one I use most often. It offers a regular stream of products the customer uses. For example, Amazon offers this under the name, “Subscribe and Save,” for many food items, cleaning supplies, vitamins, and more.

The access model provides a feeling of exclusivity for customers who get products and experiences not available to anyone without a subscription. Again, let’s reference Amazon. Its Prime program gives members special discounts, offers, and products not accessible to non-Prime members.

Consider a service-oriented subscription model.

You may be wondering how to find your niche. Consider a service-oriented skill set you have that could fit this approach. For example, if you specialize in graphic design, web development, or writing, consider this model for your monthly business.

In contrast to a monthly retainer model, a service-based subscription model provides upfront revenue while giving clients the opportunity to select a pricing tier with accompanying services that fit their needs.

Proceed like any business startup.

I’ve met many a startup founder that didn’t do the basics. Make sure you conduct research, determine a market need or interest, think about what the new product looks like, scope out any competition, and establish pricing.

Create a business plan that outlines your monthly business model, marketing plans, launch timeline, budget, and profitability forecast. Explore technology that helps automate the ordering, processing, and payment aspects of your subscription. I know entrepreneurs who use SaaS companies like Zuora or Zoho here. Also, study how other subscription brands have used marketing tools and platforms to launch and grow their business.

When you are ready to share your subscription business with your audience, consider a no-obligation trial. This entices people to try it on their terms and get excited to sign up for a longer period. In addition, make sure your website or social media promotion has a transparent subscription pricing guide that describes what customers receive at each pricing tier.

Taking all these steps prior to launch can set your monthly subscription business up for success. You want to know that you can attract customers and then deliver an exceptional experience so they maintain their subscriptions and spread the word.

Offer a recurring automatic payment method.

As part of establishing a successful subscription business, it’s ideal to offer old and new customers a way to select recurring automatic payments for their monthly subscription service. They can choose where to deduct the money from — a bank account or credit card.

This model works because it saves them from having to remember to make a payment each month. Instead, they can set up a payment method and comfortably receive the service on a regular basis.

By: John Boitnott

Source: Why You Should Try a Subscription Model for Your Business (and Some Tips on How to Do It)

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For more info: http://smarturl.it/COBS-YT Could doubling or tripling your revenue this year be a reality? Are you serious about growing your business and maximizing its success? Business growth is extremely teachable and you can “Clone” success strategies and tactics as easily as it is to learn a recipe and bake a cake! The Cloning of Business Success is a one-of-a-kind, live hands on business event where you will be guided through a proven process for creating the specific blueprint to dramatically increase your revenue and profits in the next 6-12 months. I realize this is a bold claim, but the truth is, there are a few key things that (when done right), will have an immediate positive impact on your business’ revenue. I know this to be true because I’ve done it may times myself and have shown thousands of small business owners all over the world how to do it for themselves. Now, it’s your turn. For more info: http://smarturl.it/COBS-YT Subscribe To My Channel: http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c… Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/johnassarafpage http://www.facebook.com/PraxisNowLLC Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnassaraf http://twitter.com/PraxisNowLLC Website: http://www.johnassaraf.com http://www.praxisnow.com

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Why Your Managers Should Become Opportunity Managers

To successfully recruit, hire, train, retain and build the capacity of Opportunity Youth, organizations need a strong corps of frontline managers who have unique skills to successfully supervise, support and develop these young adults. We call these managers “Opportunity Managers”.

Opportunity Managers build strong working relationships with their team members. They are kind and empathetic, set clear (and high) expectations, and create an inclusive culture with high levels of support. These leaders are also strong at the day-to-day tactics of people management including coaching, giving and receiving positive and constructive feedback, communicating effectively with their team, and creating an environment where entry-level employees can grow over time. Given the skills that Opportunity Managers possess, it is no surprise that these managers frequently have a profound impact on the lives and the careers of the young adults that they supervise.

Becoming an “Opportunity Manager”

At Grads of Life, we believe that strong managers are “made”, not “born”. Skills such as relationship-building and effective communication are skills that can be learned. We have developed the Opportunity Manager Training (OMT). The OMT is an engaging, relevant, and actionable online training to help frontline managers learn to effectively supervise and support their team. The training is 100% online, self-paced, and contains actionable modules that frontline managers can begin using immediately.

One such module highlights the impact that a frontline manager had on one of her team members.

The Return on Investment

Kelly’s experience is a powerful example of how skilled managers can help their team. Research shows that when frontline team members – especially Opportunity Youth – feel supported, the business thrives. In 2007, The GAP created the This Way Ahead Initiative to recruit and train Opportunity Youth to work in its stores. The initiative has expanded over time because participants stayed with GAP twice as long as their peers and have higher employee engagement scores. Given the high cost of turnover and low employee engagement scores, it makes business sense to engage with new ways to improve on retention and engagement metrics.

Having frontline managers who effectively manage diverse teams also benefits the managers themselves. McKinsey surveyed frontline managers and found that over 80% of them are unhappy with their performance. The study found that the majority of managers surveyed are not engaged in “high value” practices such as coaching their team members, a practice that ultimately improves the performance of the organization. As managers become more effective in their work, and as their team members become more productive, these managers will likely enjoy their work more. This pattern can lead to a virtuous cycle.

When strong managers support their team, their team members have greater workplace engagement and higher performance rates. When team members perform better, not only does your business grow but you now have a pipeline of committed, high-performing individuals who can grow your business and grow with your business. It’s a win-win-win.


Learn more about our Opportunity Manager Training, and how Grads of Life can help your organization grow your frontline talent.

Philip Price is the Product Management Lead at Grads of Life. He designs, builds and develops online programs and face-to-face trainings to help workplaces become more inclusive and effective. This past year, Philip designed and built the Opportunity Manager Training, an innovative program designed to help frontline managers more effectively supervise and support diverse young adults in the workplace. Prior to joining Grads of Life, Philip designed and developed online training programs for frontline healthcare workers and built leadership development programs for managers at Fortune 1000 companies.

Philip is an educator at heart. He is committed to serving young people who have not traditionally been served well. He has led schools in Philadelphia, PA and Providence, RI and has worked with young people as a teacher and outdoor educator in Providence RI, New York City, Florida and South Africa.

Philip holds an MBA from American University, and MA from Columbia University Teachers College and a BA from Brown University. He lives in Philadelphia with his family.

Source: Why Your Managers Should Become Opportunity Managers

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https://youtu.be/NANOjjCdmRI
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The Fear Fund: Nancy Davis’ ETF Aims To Protect Investors From Scary Stuff, Like Recession And Inflation

Stocks have recovered from last fall’s crash, low interest rates stretch out to the horizon and the VIX volatility index is half what it was at Christmas. Sit back and coast to a comfortable retirement.

No, don’t, says Nancy Davis. This veteran derivatives trader runs Quadratic Capital Management, where her somewhat contrarian view is that investors, all too complacent, are in particular need of insurance against financial trouble.

The Quadratic Interest Rate Volatility & Inflation Hedge ETF, ticker IVOL, is designed to provide shelter from both inflation and recession. Its actively managed portfolio mixes inflation-protected Treasury bonds with bets, in the form of call options, on the steepness of the yield curve.

Those options are cheap, for two reasons. One is that, at the moment, there is no steepness: Yields on ten-year bonds are scarcely higher than yields on two-year bonds. The other is that the bond market is strangely quiet. Low volatility makes for low option prices.

                                   

“Volatility has been squashed by central bank money printing,” Davis says, before delving deep into the thicket of option mathematics. If volatility in interest rates rebounds to a normal level, her calls will become more valuable. Alternatively, she would get a payoff if the yield curve tilts upward, which it has a habit of doing when inflation surges, stocks crash or real estate is weak.

If IVOL is all about peace of mind for the investor, it’s all about risk for its inventor. Davis, 43, has poured her heart, soul and net worth into Quadratic, of which she is the founder and 60% owner. If the three-month-old exchange-traded fund takes off, she could become wealthy. If it doesn’t, Quadratic will struggle.

The fund showed its worth in the first week of August, climbing 2% as the stock market sank 3%. But it needs a much bigger shock to stock or bond prices in order to get big. It has gathered only $58 million so far. A crash had better arrive soon; IVOL’s call options expire next summer. Quadratic, moreover, needs to somehow scale up without inspiring knockoff products from ETF giants like BlackRock.

Davis was a precocious trader. As an undergraduate at George Washington University, she took grad courses in financial markets while earning money doing economic research for a consulting firm. She put some of her paychecks into a brokerage account. “Some women love to buy shoes,” she says. “I love to buy options.”

This was in the 1990s, a good time to indulge a taste for calls. Davis made out-of-the-money bets on technology stocks, which paid off well enough to cover the down payment, in 1999, on a New York City apartment. Nice timing.

There may be a sour grape, but there’s also truth in her current philosophy that hedge funds are not such a great deal for investors. ETFs, she says, are more liquid, more transparent and cheaper.

Davis spent a decade at Goldman Sachs, most of it on the firm’s proprietary trading desk, then did a stint at a hedge fund. At 31 she quit to actively manage two kids. Returning to Wall Street after a three-year hiatus, she worked for AllianceBernstein and then did what few women do, especially women with children: She started a hedge fund.

Quadratic, whose assets once topped $400 million, used a hedge fund platform at Cowen & Co. When Cowen ended the partnership last year, Davis set about reinventing her firm. There may be a sour grape, but there’s also truth in her current philosophy that hedge funds are not such a great deal for investors. ETFs, she says, are more liquid, more transparent and cheaper.

IVOL’s 1% annual fee is stiff, but Davis says it’s justified for a fund that is not only actively managed but also invested in things that ordinary folk cannot buy. If you want to duplicate her position in the Constant Maturity Swap 2-10 call due July 17, you’d need to know what banker to ring for a quote, because this beast is not traded on any exchange. Each of these calls, recently worth $7.71, gives the holder the right to collect a dollar for every 0.01% beyond 0.37% in the spread between ten-year interest rates and two-year interest rates. The spread has to move a long way up before the option is even in the money. But at various times in the past the spread has hit 2%. Could it do that again? Maybe, at which point the option pays $163.

Starting a firm like Quadratic is like buying an out-of-the-money call: long odds, big payoff. Davis is doing what she was doing in college. You can’t stop a trader from trading.

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Source: The Fear Fund: Nancy Davis’ ETF Aims To Protect Investors From Scary Stuff, Like Recession And Inflation

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Nancy Davis, founder and CIO of Quadratic Capital Management, introduces her new ETF that takes advantage of interest volatility and inflation expectations: IVOL. In this interview with Real Vision’s co-founder & CEO Raoul Pal, Davis deconstructs the structure of the ETF, highlights the cost of carry associated with the strategy, and discusses her macro outlook and where she thinks the yield curve is headed next. Filmed on May 29, 2019. Watch more Real Vision™ videos: http://po.st/RealVisionVideos Subscribe to Real Vision™ on YouTube: http://po.st/RealVisionSubscribe Watch more by starting your 14-day free trial here: https://rvtv.io/2KHDkoc About Trade Ideas: Top traders unveil their specific plans for cashing in on the market’s next move. In these short videos, our traders cut straight to the point and lay out their thoughts on the best risk-reward trades of the moment. Each episode concludes with a visual recap of trade details including profit-loss potential and trade duration. About Real Vision™: Real Vision™ is the destination for the world’s most successful investors to share their thoughts about what’s happening in today’s markets. Think: TED Talks for Finance. On Real Vision™ you get exclusive access to watch the most successful investors, hedge fund managers and traders who share their frank and in-depth investment insights with no agenda, hype or bias. Make smart investment decisions and grow your portfolio with original content brought to you by the biggest names in finance, who get to say what they really think on Real Vision™. Connect with Real Vision™ Online: Twitter: https://rvtv.io/2p5PrhJ Instagram: https://rvtv.io/2J7Ddlw Facebook: https://rvtv.io/2NNOlmu Linkedin: https://rvtv.io/2xbskqx The ETF Play on Interest Rate Volatility (w/ Nancy Davis) https://www.youtube.com/c/RealVisionT… Transcript: For the full transcript visit: https://rvtv.io/2KHDkoc NANCY DAVIS: So we invest with options with a directional bias on everything. So our new product that we recently launched, IVOL, is the first inflation expectations and interest rate volatility fund out there. It’s a exchange traded product. RAOUL PAL: Does anybody even know what that means? NANCY DAVIS: So what we do is for an investor, if you’re an equity investor, you want to have tail protection, for instance. It’s hard to own equity volatility as an asset allocation trade because it decays so aggressively. So it’s a more benign way to carry volatility as an asset class from the long side using fixed income vol. It’s not as sensitive as equity vol, but it’s a lot lower level. Like, the vol we’re buying is 2, 2 basis points a day in normal space. So it’s very, very cheap, in my opinion, and it gives you a way to have an asset allocation to the factor risk of volatility without having as much decay as you would in the equity space. And then for a fixed income investor, the big risk there is obviously Central Bank policy, fiscal spending, trade wars, as well as inflation expectations. And we saw a need to really give a fixed income investor a way to capitalize on the deflation that’s been priced into the market for the next decade. I mean, so current US inflation is around 2%. The five-year break-even is 1.59%. So that’s an opportunity in an option space. And so it’s long options with TIPS. And so that gives investors exposure. It gives you inflation-protected income, but also options that are sensitive to inflation expectations. And we think it’s pretty– you know, you’re never going to time these macro calls perfectly. But given the Central Bank in the US is so focused right now on increasing inflation expectations, and there’s been so much talk about the yield curve inverting– and that’s kind of crazy. If you step back and you’re like, all right, we have a $3.9 trillion balance sheet. We have a fiscal budget deficit. We have unclear or radically changing monetary policy. If you look where we are now with so many cuts priced into the interest rate markets in the US versus where we were four months ago, it’s wildly different. And at the same time, interest rate volatility is literally at generational lows. Equity, while people talk about equity vol, I think VIX today is 17. It’s low, I guess, in the context. But when you look at a percentile, like one-year vol over the last decade in equities, it’s about the 70th percentile. So it might be low, but it doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Interest rate volatility is literally at, like, 2, 1, you know, 0.

3 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Company & Why Right Now Is the Best Time to Do It

David Barrett survived the Great Recession by making his business as boring as possible.In 2007, the founder and CEO of Expensify was trying to launch a prepaid debit card that would enable–and hopefully encourage–charitable giving to panhandlers in San Francisco. But, as forecasts of economic turmoil mounted, investors were interested only in ideas that sounded “sane and reasonable,” he says. So Barrett started pitching the safest related product he could imagine: an automated expense-report management system.

That worked; Barrett secured enough money to quit his full-time job in April 2008. He still intended to pursue the card idea, but soon hit a production snag–and with the economy in free fall, Barrett recalls thinking, “Shit, I really need to make a business out of this right now.” So he doubled down on business-expense management.

Almost 1.4 million small businesses with employees closed from 2008 through 2010, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Expensify, now with five offices and a staff of 120, wasn’t one of them–a feat Barrett attributes to those pre-recession pivots. They taught him to “build a product that is needed in a downturn,” he says. “Sell aspirin, not vitamins.”

Recession war stories may seem out of place during this prolonged period of economic growth, but there are signs that a slowdown is on the way. A June 2019 survey from the National Association for Business Economics put the risks of a recession beginning before the end of 2020 at 60 percent. A third of the 2019 Inc. 5000 CEOs expect a recession to begin this or next year, with another third bracing for one in 2021. Whenever the downturn hits, these steps can help your business weather it.

Fundraise.

Build your cash reserves while you can. Serial entrepreneur Mitch Grasso had a potential downturn in the back of his mind while raising capital for his latest venture, Beautiful.ai. The presentation software company raised $11 million in Series B funding in March 2018, just 17 months after a $5.25 million Series A round. “I chose to raise money earlier than I would have otherwise, even though it cost me probably a little more” in terms of valuation, says Grasso. “If there’s money on the table, take it sooner rather than later. You’ll always find a way to spend it.”

Conduct consumer research.

You might not be able to pivot your entire business model, so figure out what products and services your customers will need even in poor conditions, says Carlos Castelán, managing director of the Navio Group, a retail business consulting firm.

Ryan Iwamoto, co-founder of caregiving service 24 Hour Home Care, started asking his customers for their input when the federal government introduced sweeping rules for home health care agencies in 2016. He wanted to be “the first in market to educate them on all the regulations coming down in our industry,” Iwamoto says. “It allowed us to build better relationships”–and has helped boost his company’s revenue by more than 68 percent since the law changed, he reports.

Ink multiyear contracts with clients, not vendors.

Earlier this year, during a regular assessment of her company’s revenue targets, Sandi Lin considered the potential impact of an economic slowdown. The co-founder and CEO of Skilljar was happy to discover half of the customer training platform’s revenue was on multiyear contracts, meaning “at least theoretically, that even if all of our other customers went bankrupt,” Skilljar would have some runway–and less pressure to scramble for new business.

Lin applies the opposite approach for vendor contracts; while Skilljar is sponsoring a major customer conference this fall, she negotiated a minimal commitment on room nights and seats with the hotel and venue. Which is a smart business practice in good times, too; as Lin says, “the most important job of an entrepreneur is to survive.”

By: Jeanine Skowronski

Source: 3 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Company–and Why Right Now Is the Best Time to Do It

WATCH MY PREVIOUS VIDEO ► https://youtu.be/SCCMp_PVxz8 WATCH MY NEXT VIDEO ► https://youtu.be/9Pa7mAcKmXo ———————————————————– FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP ACADEMY (USE DISCOUNT CODE: “FREEDOM” FOR 30% OFF) ► http://bit.ly/Buy-FSA-Webinar ———————————————————– ▼ 30 DAY GUIDE TO REDUCING STRESS AT WORK▼ ============== EBOOK FOR MOMS (30% OFF DISCOUNT CODE: STRESSFREE30) ► http://bit.ly/Reduce-Stress-eBook PAPERBACK (AMAZON) ► http://amzn.to/2yvaQaS KINDLE (AMAZON) ► http://amzn.to/2lUZ57W AUDIO (AUDIBLE) ► http://amzn.to/2oEp3sJ iBOOK (APPLE) ► http://bit.ly/StressiBook ———————————————————– FREE DETOX SYSTEM FOR MOMS ► http://bit.ly/10DayMBDS SMART MOM’S TRANSFORMATION SYSTEM ($100 OFF DISCOUNT CODE “TRANSFORM”) ► http://bit.ly/Buy-SMTS ———————————————————– Brief Overview: Small and Large businesses can get hit pretty hard during recessions so it’s important to choose a business that can withstand the ups and downs that come with the economy. There’s lots of different options and ideas to choose from if you are new to small business, but there’s also some ideas that you can choose to diversify your income streams if you already own a business or multiple businesses. The key is to pick a person, product, and/or company that you know, like, and trust to make sure you have the best chance of success during the ups and downs. ———————————————————– ▼ NEXT STEPS▼ ============== SUBSCRIBE ► http://bit.ly/LanceMcGowanYT SHARE ► This video with someone that would benefit from it COMMENT ► On what you liked most about this video! ———————————————————– ▼ SEARCH ▼ =========== #lancemcgowan #fsa #financial #financialstewardshipacademy #finances #finance #stewardship #biblical #bible youtube for more videos! ———————————————————– ▼ BUSINESS INQUIRIES▼ ===================== Email Lance at support@lancemcgowan.com with questions OR Email Tanner at frigaardtanner@gmail.com ———————————————————– ▼ SEND ME MAIL▼ ===================== Lance McGowan 11700 W Charleston Blvd #170-415 Las Vegas, NV 89135 ———————————————————– Disclaimer: The information contained on the Lance McGowan YouTube channel and videos are provided for general and educational purposes only and do not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.

You’d Be Better Off Just Blowing Your Money: Why Retirement Planning Is Doomed

Between interest rates and poor financial planning, the comfy retirement you may have dreamed of is most likely to remain a dream.

I know this is a bold, and possibly controversial title, but retirement planning is broken and leaving people broke.

The destructive narrative is, “work hard, save money in a retirement plan, wait and it will all work out in the long run.”

The reality is, without the ingredients of responsibility and accountability, there is no easy solution for retirement. Meaning, if we just work hard and set money aside, we are putting money into a market we have no control over.

The institutions are winning though. Taking fees along the way. Convincing us to separate ourselves from our hard earned money, encouraging us to take it out of the business we know and put it into investments we don’t.

Low interest rates are great for those borrowing money, but terrible for those wanting to take income from a retirement plan. Those low interest rates are not providing enough cash flow, so that even if you’re a millionaire on paper, you still may be living like a pauper. For example, if you could find 4% interest in a fixed income account, that is only 40,000 dollars a year per million in your retirement account. Oh, and that income is taxable if it isn’t coming from a Roth IRA.

The concept of retirement has robbed the public of the responsibility and accountability required with personal finance. It has become too easy to hand money over to so-called experts due to the busyness of business, kids, hobbies, and other obligations competing for our time.

The reality is, we have more opportunity for time now than ever. For thousands of years people were limited and constrained with the monumental duty of providing for their family by having to hunt, farm or provide shelter with less technology, efficiency and access to resources. We have become addicted to saying yes to things less important than financial stability and freedom…..

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/garrettgunderson/2019/07/16/youd-be-better-off-just-blowing-your-money-why-retirement-planning-is-doomed/#18c0d351302d

10 Small Business Apps, Services And Tech Platforms Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

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If you want to know the best place to keep up with technology for your business, follow my weekly tech roundups for entrepreneurs each week. You’ll learn because I’m always learning.

So what have I learned? Businesses that invest in the right technologies are assuring future growth and success.  I’ve also learned that there are a few apps, services and technologies – about ten categories in all – that are critical for small businesses in 2019. So in honor of National Small Business Week, I thought it would be helpful to share.

Customer Relationship Management

Don’t be fooled by CRM. People like to complicate this stuff and it’s not that complicated. It’s just a database of every person and company who you do business with – from prospects and customers to vendors, suppliers and partners. A great CRM system will integrate with your email and calendars and ensure that nothing falls the cracks and everyone in your company is sharing the right information. It will be mobile, include workflows and automation and integrates with tons of other great apps to do marketing and other functions. If implemented the right way (which is easier said than done) it will be an instrumental asset to your organization. There are many great CRMs for small businesses. I recommend looking at Salesforce.comMicrosoft Dynamics and Zoho CRM.

Managed Service Providers

If your inventory, order entry or other business critical application is older or located on your internal server you need to move it out of your office and into the hands of a managed service provider. Well-managed service providers will ensure that your data is secured as best possible and will likely have better security tools that you have internally. Your applications can be accessed by your team from anywhere and on any device. Many of them rely on public cloud services from Amazon, Google and Microsoft and that’s fine. With internet speeds hitting 5G, a well-managed service provider will deliver the performance, reliability and accessibility of your data at a cost that makes sense. Recommended providers include Right NetworksCloudJumper or any number of information technology firms.

Cloud Accounting

If your accounting application is located on your server, it won’t be for long. That’s because most accounting vendors are moving quickly to the cloud. It makes sense for them, and for you. You pay a monthly fee and they get a revenue stream. In return, the software provider can provide faster support, upgrades and technical services. Cloud applications are also much easier to integrate with each other. Today’s cloud accounting apps provide the added benefit of doing invoicing, cash receipts or retrieving reports from any device, anywhere. It’s a crowded field of cloud accounting options so do your due diligence and lean towards good companies with big communities. I see QuickBooks OnlineXero, and FreshBooks being used often by business owners.

Back in the day, there wasn’t much you could do with a scanned invoice or document other than file it away. But with today’s Optical Character Recognition technology there’s a growing crop of applications that can extract data from any scanned document – from vendor invoices to airline receipts – and put it in a format so that someone in your office can easily review and then import into most popular accounting applications. This saves time, improves accuracy and cuts overhead. Recommended applications: Bill.com, EntryLessExpensify.

Human Resources

HR platforms are exploding and, in my opinion, any company with more than five employees should have one. Why? Because they’re affordable and with a good HR platform your employees will be able to – usually through a mobile app – track payroll, update forms, schedule vacation, alert for sick days and even manage their performance reviews. The more your employees use the application, the less administrative time will be needed by your office staff – and that means less overhead and more productivity. Check out: PaychexGusto and BambooHR.

Office Collaboration

Back in the day, there were telephone calls, instant messaging, text messaging, emailing and lots and lots of yelling. Yes, we’re still yelling. But the good news is that today’s office applications have brought all those other things together under one umbrella so that your employees can conduct their communication, document management and collaboration activities – including video calls, file storage and sharing, messaging as well as alerting and reminders – from any device and wherever they are. Not only that, but today’s collaboration and communication systems have powerful searching tools to find old conversations and exchanges. The systems can even be configured for outsiders to access too. Applications that focus on collaboration include Microsoft Office 365Google G-SuiteBox.

Virtual Phones

Our company, like many small businesses, uses contractors and employees who frequently work out of the office. The thought of maintaining an on-premise phone system seems expensive…because it is. That’s why, for the past ten years, we’ve been using a virtual phone service. Our service provides a toll-free number, dial by name directory, voicemail for all users including transcription and archive recordings and…well, you get it: a total phone system (even hardware) that makes my small business look like a big business. I pay by the mailbox (about $12 per month) and love it. Recommended applications: GrasshopperVirtualPBX and Ooma.

E-Commerce and Payment

If you’re in retail then please pay attention to this word: convergence. It means getting a point of sale system that not only works in your store but works online too. That’s because you want to sell your products both from your store and over the web because that’s what successful retailers are doing to thrive. The best point of sale systems not only use tablets (a must for good customer service) and integrate with popular payment services, but they also provide the ability of setting up an ecommerce site that relies on the very same database you’re using in-store. Recommended applications: Paypal, SquareShopify, Magento.

Yeah, yeah, I’m leaving some stuff out. Like email apps (but don’t we all have them by now?) and project management solutions such as Basecamp and Asana.

Cloud Storage

There was once a time when everyone in my company would be saving multiple versions of multiple documents and spreadsheets on their laptops, desktops and our servers. That…was a mess. But not today. Today, we all save to a cloud storage service which synchronizes the files (that we choose) to our respective devices. Everything is updated and I no longer fear what happens if someone leaves their device on the subway. To me, a business without a cloud storage service is a business that’s losing money. Applications that focus on this space: Dropbox, Microsoft OneDriveGoogle Drive.

Security

Ransomware has become a billion-dollar business and that makes sense: it’s finally a way for clever hackers to actually make money with their malware. We read about the stories of hotels, transit systems and city governments brought to their knees by security breaches like this, but we don’t hear of the thousands of small businesses that are also affected. To protect yourself you need to use a good cloud backup service, keep your operating systems updated and use a good security application in your company.  Recommended applications: Carbonite (for backup), Malware Bytes,Barracuda.

What else am I missing? You tell me and maybe I can expand this list in a future column.  In the meantime, take a moment to review the techs, services and apps you’re using in your business. Have you got all the bases covered?

Author’s Note: I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed above to be mentioned in this article. 

 

Gene Marks owns The Marks Group PC, a 10-person technology consulting firm and is also a small business expert, speaker and columnist at other major outlets.

I was a former senior manager at KPMG and since 1994 the owner of the Marks Group PC, a 10-person customer relationship management consulting firm based outside Philadel

 

Source: 10 Small Business Apps, Services And Tech Platforms Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

Armin Hamidian : Helping To Build Our Center Against Crypto Scams

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This Ex-Googler Built What Is Now A $6 Billion Business And Raised $400 Million For His Next Company

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Many entrepreneurs seem to struggle with following what they are passionate about, versus creating startups just for the money.

Mohit Aron went with passion, co-founded a company that successfully completed an IPO with a valuation of more than $6 billion today, and has raised more than $400 million for a second venture which has already surpassed the billion dollar valuation.

After getting his Ph.D. from Rice University in Houston, Mohit made the move to the Valley. After a stint at Google where he was one of the early employees, he has gone on to create highly impactful ventures that have become a large part of the DNA of our tech today.

In a recent appearance on the DealMakers podcast, he shared his take on following your gut, when to go solo (and not), why you should sleep more, how to incubate a winning startup idea and the algorithm for hiring great leaders (listen to the full podcast episode here).

Google, Hyper-Convergence & Taking Time to Think

Mohit was one of Google’s early tech guys and received, as a result, Google shares at $2 per share. He was responsible for managing a team that had the goal of innovating in the file storage space. Selling those shares gave him financial freedom, and refusing just to stay comfortable he ventured out into building companies from the ground up himself.

Mohit takes a very different approach to cultivate startup ideas than most. Rather than jumping on the first idea, running with it and then getting an office, he has taken the time to build the architecture of those ideas and really get clarity before diving in.

For Nutanix, which became one of the early unicorns, hitting a $6 billion valuation and going public, he first rented office space just to develop and crystallize the idea.

Again, avoiding the seductiveness of getting too comfortable, he began working on his next venture, Cohesity, even before his previous company went public. There he repeated the brainstorming process before creating a new tech success, which raised $15 million in Series A funding from Sequoia in just two days.

Cohesity, a modern data management company, empowers enterprises to back up, manage, store and derive insights from their data and apps, has now raised more than $400 million, including $250 million from its latest Series D round. Investors in the company include Accel, Sequoia, Battery, Cisco Investments, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Google Ventures, Foundation Capital, Trinity Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, and the SoftBank Vision Fund to name a few.

The Algorithm for Hiring Great Leaders

Cohesity just celebrated hitting 1,000 employees. Mohit has found huge respect for the recruiting process and putting teams of great leaders in place.

He went into Nutanix with cofounders and then went solo on his second venture, a move he only recommends after you’ve had the experience of launching a startup with others.

Still, he admits it was a steep learning curve, especially when it came to hiring. Most notably there is a big difference in hiring technical and business staff. Today, he says if he started a new venture he would raise $1 million, and use the first $300k of that to use an executive recruiter to source three great executives.

Mohit says he learned the hard way on how to hire leaders. Now he uses a three-tiered process that starts with a comprehensive checklist. This outlines who you want from a resume perspective, the type of leader you need for this stage in your company, and the experience they should have. Maybe you want the person coming from a startup. Maybe you want a person who has done zero to $200 billion in revenue before. Then you have a list of candidates that meet your pre-interview checklist.

Then you go through an interview looking for specific things and asking specific questions. One thing you look for in an interview is that this leader is a great people-person and is a great culture fit. Once the person meets at least 80% of the checklist you have formed for the interview, then comes the post-interview checklist.

The post-interview checklist is all about references. Specifically from either people who reported to that leader or people who’ve been peers of that leader, because those are the one who tells you the truth. They will tell you any red flags.

Go with Your Gut

Mohit warns that “when you hire the wrong person, especially when that person is a wrong leader, that sets the company back at least six months if not more. The damage done is immense.”

He believes the body has a way to tell you if something bad is about to happen, and strongly recommends people listen to their gut. If everything else is pointing in one way, but your gut is saying something else, he says listen to your gut. Don’t hire the leader, and go with your gut and look for the next one. Conversely, sometimes the gut says that this is a great hire, and that’s where, as long as they’ve sort of met the checklists and there’s not a huge red flag there, then go with the gut.

Look at their enthusiasm. Look at the person’s willingness to learn. Those bets can be very rewarding.

What Do You Do With All That Wealth?

Mohit no longer does companies for money. He does it for passion. Along the way, he says it ’s also very gratifying to give back. That starts with what you’ve learned. He says “knowledge is free. Knowledge should not be for sale. So, I freely distribute to anyone who comes to me for advice on how to do companies.”

He gives lectures to share this information. The other part of giving is just financially. He’s given to charitable organizations. He and his wife have a structure set up that when they pass away, a bulk of their wealth is actually going to go into a charity.

As a company, his firm gives to a local foundation in San Jose that takes care of providing jobs to young people. He’s also given to Rice University and the Institute of Technology in Delhi which he attended.

He says “life is about giving, and I think giving brings you pleasure. Unlike what people believe, accumulation isn’t always very pleasing, but giving can be very fulfilling.”

Listen in to the full podcast episode for all the details, as well as how to contact him directly with your ideas and questions (listen to the full podcast episode here).

Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and author of best-seller The Art of Startup Fundraising, a book that offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.

I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley &…

Source: This Ex-Googler Built What Is Now A $6 Billion Business And Raised $400 Million For His Next Company

Biggest Japan railway company in Japan is considering a cryptocurrency payment system

According to local Japan cryptocurrency news sources, the biggest railway company in Japan is considering a cryptocurrency payment system that would be integrated into its payment cards. With the help of this integration, Japan people could pay cryptocurrency for train rides.https://www.pivot.one/share/post/5ca5ea15ad59e72ed2f0c17d?uid=5bd49f297d5fe7538e6111b6&invite_code=JTOJYV

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