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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

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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

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