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Startups

The Main Reasons Startups Fail

The Main Reasons Startups Fail

Launching a startup is ridiculously exciting. Not only do you get a chance to control your destiny and build an effective team, but if you’re lucky and you work hard, you could turn it into a “unicorn�—a billion-dollar enterprise.

Of course, most of you reading this know that the odds of your business becoming a tech unicorn are slim, even if you have a great idea in place. That’s because more than half of all startups fail within the first five years of operation.

Understanding the reasons why startups fail can help you avoid such a fate. So what are the driving factors that lead to startup failure?

Lack of Market Need

One of the most common causes of startup failure is a simple lack of market need. Economic systems rely on supply and demand. With a startup, you may be supplying a product or service, but if there is no demand for it, it’s not going to sell. You can have a great product, fair pricing, and the best customer service in the world—but it doesn’t matter if people have no need for your product.

The best way to prevent this from occurring is through market research. Before getting too deep into startup development, it’s important to research your target demographics and confirm their desire for a product like yours.

Poor Customer Experience

Another incredibly common motivator for failure is poor customer experience all-around. Not to be mistaken for customer service, customer experience refers to the overall experiences a customer has with the brand. It includes their first impressions, their experiences when using the core product or service, and their interactions with customer service.

If the usability of your product or service is poor, if your customer service is insufficient, or if other experiences are lackluster, your customers aren’t going to stick around. That’s why customer experience should be one of your top priorities for strategic development.

Running Out of Capital

Many business owners launch startups with the intention of running lean—relying on minimal resources to preserve the business for as long as possible. But even the leanest businesses need money to keep running. If you run out of capital prematurely, the business can’t sustain itself—no matter how good the business model is.

This is usually a problem with businesses that are self-funded or those that are utilizing a minimalistic approach. The solution is to start generating consistent revenue faster or to work with angel investors or venture capitalists to get more funding.

The Wrong Team

Sometimes, it’s a team issue. Your startup relies on a team of connected, experienced professionals collaborating to make your vision a reality. If there are members of your team who are inexperienced, or if they’re unwilling to put in sufficient effort, or worse, if they sabotage your efforts, your business isn’t going anywhere.

Too many startups hire quickly and with reckless abandon. But in many cases, it’s better to take your time and make sure you get the right people for your team.

Fierce Competition

Good businesses tend to get a lot of attention. If it looks like you’re making good money and dominating the market, it’s only a matter of time before another ambitious entrepreneur steps in to try and get a piece of the pie. If another startup competes with yours directly and they have a significant edge—such as offering a lower price, being more available, or offering better customer support—they’re inclined to undermine your startup’s operation.

Fortunately, there are many ways to improve your competitiveness, such by lowering prices, targeting a different demographic, or pivoting entirely.

Pricing and Cost Issues

The basis for a startup’s continuing operation is its underlying economics. If you want to continue existing, you need to make money—ideally more money than you’re spending on things like employee salaries and raw materials.

Many startups fail because they can’t manage things like pricing and cost. If they charge too much, customers leave. If they don’t charge enough, they don’t make a significant enough profit. If costs get out of hand, the company will collapse. The only real solution is careful financial planning and management.

No Real Business Model

It’s incredible how many startups get launched without a proper business model. They have a great strategy for getting attention or earning downloads, shares, and engagements, but there’s no real way to make money.

Before starting a business, you need to have a business plan. And no matter what your product or service is, there needs to be some way to monetize it. It’s possible for this model to evolve over time, but without a model, the business will inevitably fail.

Insufficient Marketing

At a certain point, your startup could become so popular that it’s self-sustaining. But most startups, especially young ones, heavily rely on marketing to increase their visibility. If a startup straight-up refuses to invest in marketing and advertising, it’s probably going to fail. If it doesn’t invest in the right strategies, it’s probably going to fail. If it invests too much in the wrong type of strategy, it’s probably going to fail.

Marketing is hard to get right, but it requires a decent investment and a solid strategy to direct its efforts. Working with a professional marketing agency is often the best solution.

Bad Timing

Sometimes, a startup just gets the timing wrong. If the product is too new, and audiences aren’t ready for it, it’s not going to make much of a splash. If you’re too late to a saturated industry, you’re going to blend in as white noise.

Timing is incredibly tricky, and unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to correct this potential issue. Market research and competitive research can help you determine the state of the market, but no matter what, there’s going to be a little luck involved.

A Loss of Focus

Some startups don’t explode in a burst of fire; they gradually wither away. Over time, an entrepreneur may become disillusioned with the business, or they may become motivated by new goals and different ideas. It could also be a problem that an entrepreneur is unable to clarify their vision, making it impossible for the business to achieve a focused goal.

In either case, there is no focus for the business, and the business declines as a result.

Internal Disputes

The greatest strength of a startup can also be its greatest weakness: the collaborative power of the team. Startups rely on an entrepreneur, a team of employees, investors, mentors, and other professionals and authorities to coordinate its actions. If these people can’t agree, or if they’re constantly undermining each other, the business can’t possibly survive.

Setting a coordinated, mutually agreeable vision from the beginning can mitigate this.

A Pivot Gone Wrong

Startups sometimes pivot; when faced with a sudden market change, new competitor, or other issue, the startup transforms to become a different kind of business altogether. This can be a powerful, life-saving move—but it can also go terribly wrong.

If you pivot too quickly or without a proper plan, you could end up exacerbating the problems that already exist, rather than solving them.

Legal Issues

In rarer cases, startups fail because of legal issues. There may be standing lawsuits against the business, copyright infringement claims, or an issue where the startup is directly breaking the law. The only solution here is proactive legal planning; otherwise, you may run out of money fighting the issue in court.

As you can see, there are dozens of ways that startups can fail, so it’s tough to stop all these potential modes of failure at once. However, with the right level of planning, research, and self-awareness, you can identify the weaknesses and threats that are most likely to impact your business and root them out.

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global startups Startups

How Tech Startups Redefined Gig Work (and Where It Goes From Here)

We’re living in the golden era of the gig economy. At least, some of us consider it golden. Regardless of how you personally feel about the gig economy, there’s no denying that it has reached peak popularity for consumers, employees, and businesses – thanks in part to the amazing tech startups that led us here. 

But where exactly did the gig economy come from? And where does it go from here? 

What Is the Gig Economy? 

Let’s start with a primer on the gig economy. The “gig economy� refers to a number of trends related to the issuance and availability of “gig work.� In other words, a lot of people are freelancing and a lot of companies are willing to hire and work with freelancers. 

Freelancers aren’t technically employees. They aren’t protected or bound by the same laws and regulations that traditional employees are. For example, minimum wage laws, workers’ compensation laws, and maternity leave laws may not apply to freelancers. 

Employers benefit from this because they get to save money and hire more flexibly. They don’t have to pay as much money for employee benefits, they don’t have to spend time or money complying with complicated laws, and they can hire people on a flexible basis – and only for the work that actually needs to get done. 

Employees can also benefit from this arrangement. As a freelancer, they’re generally not bound by non-compete clauses, which means they can work for multiple employers/clients at the same time. They can also work as much or as little as they want, creating their own schedule and enjoying the benefits of a practically unlimited income. 

However, there are some downsides to the gig economy as well (as we’ll see). 

A Brief History of Gig Work

Gig work has been around for a long time. The term “gig� itself was coined by jazz musicians looking for a way to describe shows and concerts for which they were hired. Over the years, businesses in certain industries employed temp workers and freelancers when they had short-term, temporary, or frequently changing needs. 

However, the gig economy itself didn’t develop much until a handful of powerful tech startups stepped in.

Early Apps and Connective Tissue

The gig economy began to grow as the internet began to see widespread adoption. Craigslist, one of the earliest classified-ad-style websites, emerged to connect employees and employers, and allow people to make temporary arrangements with one another. If you needed a fence painted, or if you needed someone to do a reading for your audiobook, or if you needed a professional model to show off your company’s latest fashion, you could find them on Craigslist. 

In turn, a number of other connection-based sites arose and the gig economy began to flourish. 

The Uber Effect

Things began to change in the early 2010s, with the advent of Uber and similar tech startups. In case you aren’t familiar, the Uber app functioned like a ridesharing and taxi hailing service in one. With Uber, you can hail a ride from an Uber driver, get to your destination, then pay your driver, all within the app. As a driver, you won’t work directly from Uber, but the Uber app can connect you to individual riders in need of a ride. 

In the wake of Uber’s early success, we saw the rise in popularity of a number of similar apps, all of which allowed buyers and sellers to efficiently find each other. These platforms made gig work both more possible and more popular for a variety of reasons: 

  • The emergence of new markets. Some of these apps created new markets where there were no opportunities before. Uber itself forged a kind of middle ground between calling for a taxi and asking a friend to bum a ride. Airbnb allowed homeowners to rent a room efficiently to new tenants in a way they couldn’t before. Other apps invented entire mini-industries from the ground up, like renting power tools or providing grocery shopping services. 
  • Convenience for buyers. Buyers, including both individuals and companies, could find professionals easier than ever before. If you have temporary needs, you can’t afford to hire someone full-time, but these apps made it possible to find a kind of temporary employee. 
  • Convenience for sellers/producers. These apps were also convenient for sellers and producers. Rather than going through the trouble of starting their own business and marketing themselves, or finding a restrictive full-time position, they could take on jobs whenever and however they wanted. 
  • Minimal interference and natural development. Most tech startups following this formula created small-scale free market conditions. Pricing, worker availability, and consumer demand found a way to balance each other out in a way that became favorable to all parties. 

Collectively, the rise of these tech startups helped change the image of gig work from a “last-ditch effort� of someone who couldn’t find a “real� job to a viable economic opportunity for enterprising individuals. It helped to transform the gig economy into a landscape of value and empowerment. 

Remote Work Options 

The options available for freelancing and gig work have only increased with the rising trend of remote work. New technologies like streamlined video chatting and robust project management platforms have made it possible for a wider range of professionals to work independently from home. 

With no need for an in-house workforce, companies are increasingly open to the idea of managing a team of freelancers. And individual workers are seeing the benefits of working remotely for a handful of different clients, rather than pouring everything into a single employer and going to the same office every day. 

The Obstacles in the Way of Gig Work

Of course, the gig economy isn’t purely advantageous, and it isn’t loved by everyone. There are some key threats that could jeopardize the future of gig work, including: 

  • Regulations. Politicians are increasingly pushing for stricter regulations surrounding gig work. Employees are currently protected by a number of fairness and safety laws, which prevent employers from taking advantage of them or putting them in unsafe conditions. Currently, gig workers have little to no protection in this area. While new protections could put gig workers in a more favorable situation, it would also reduce some of the natural advantages of the arrangement, potentially reducing the number of gigs available for freelancers. 
  • Demand for benefits. One of the drawbacks of being a gig worker is that you generally won’t have access to employer benefits. You won’t have health insurance through your employer and you won’t be able to tap into a retirement program like a 401(k). If a greater percentage of gig workers grow dissatisfied with this arrangement, they may make a conscious push to change the norms within the gig economy (or pick up a full-time job instead). 
  • Worker dependence and mistreatment. Over time, a gig worker may become dependent on a client, platform, or employer; for example, an Uber driver may not feel able to leave Uber because they’ll be without a steady income. This type of environment can lead to abuse on the part of the employer; knowing their workforce is dependent on them, they can cut pay, slash benefits, and impose stricter performance requirements with reckless abandon. Of course, in a free market, these types of actions would be unsustainable. 

What Is the Future of Gig Work? 

So what does the future have in store for gig work? It seems like new technologies and increasingly flexible environments are favoring further developments for employers and freelancers. But at the same time, there are bigger political pushes to impose new regulations and restrictions on the world of gig work. Public demands, gig worker satisfaction, and corporate lobbying will collectively determine whether the gig economy will continue to grow or whether it will be permanently reined in. 

 

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Startups

What Every Entrepreneur Should Do Before Launching a Startup

do before launching startup

Launching a startup is always exciting. This is your opportunity to accumulate wealth, make a name for yourself, innovate in some unique way, and possibly leave behind a legacy. But too many entrepreneurs end up failing because they were inadequately prepared.

Before you even consider launching a startup, there are many preparatory steps you’ll need to take.

Set the Right Expectations

Before you do anything, you need to set the right expectations. A combination of media attention and survivorship bias has led people to believe that launching a startup is a surefire path to success – and maybe even a path to becoming a billionaire.

Being overoptimistic can cause you to overlook important weaknesses and threats and be disappointed and frustrated when things don’t go your way.

Consider:

  • While it’s easier to start a business today than it was, say, 30 years ago, there are still prohibitive costs to keep in mind. Depending on the nature of your startup, you may be responsible for paying for licensing, an office, employees, technological infrastructure, marketing, and more. If you’re not prepared, these costs could completely overwhelm your budget and make it nearly impossible to recover.
  • Failure rates. Some businesses explode in growth, becoming tech unicorns worth more than a billion dollars. Others make a fair amount on an ongoing basis, becoming a reliable source of income for their founders and employees. But half of all businesses fail within five years of launching. You need to be prepared for that reality.
  • Media stories often make it seem like tech startups skyrocket to success overnight. But the reality is, most successful businesses are the result of many years of hard work – including an entrepreneur’s previous failed attempts that serve as lessons for future development. You’ll need to prepare for a long, complex journey to be successful.
  • Hard work. Being an entrepreneur may seem like a lot of fun – especially when you get to choose your own employees and set your own work schedule. However, no matter what, you’re going to face significant hard work. You’ll be working long hours, often into the evenings and weekends, and facing stress from a combination of many factors.
  • Just because market conditions look a certain way at the beginning of your journey doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way forever. Many tech startups fold because they can’t keep up with a changing market, new competitors, or other unpredicted factors.

Do Your Research

You should already know the importance of doing your research before starting a business, but many entrepreneurs skip or gloss over this vital step. You’ll need to dig deep into many areas of business development; for example, you should learn about your target demographics, the current competition, future prospects, financial models, and other factors critical to your success.

Objective data isn’t going to instantly make your business more viable, but it will give you something good to start with.

Write a Business Plan

You can’t launch an effective business without having a business plan in place first. Your idea may be brilliant, and it may solve a problem effectively, but does it have a reliable way to make money? Your business plan will force you to think through your entire business concept, modeling financials for years in the future and outlining the biggest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats before you.

This document will serve as a blueprint you can reference as you invest time and money in your business and begin to grow. It’s also going to serve as a persuasion tool, potentially attracting new investors or partners to your startup.

Build Your Network

Not even the most seasoned, inventive entrepreneurs can build a successful business by themselves. Most businesses strongly benefit from the help of a robust professional network. Through networking, you’ll meet potential investors, partners, employees, vendors, and even peers who can give you advice. Throughout the course of your startup’s development, these people will be indispensable in helping your business grow.

It pays to get an early start here. It’s much more beneficial to have a strong network and start a business than start a business and then build a network.

Find What Makes You Unique

Your business is going to face competition, no matter how original your idea is. There may be competitors already on the market, or they may begin to arise only after establishing yourself as a major player. Either way, you’ll need to find something that differentiates you from the competition. What’s something you can offer that other businesses like yours can’t? What’s your unique value proposition?

Don’t start a business without an answer in mind, or else you’ll face significant competitive issues.

Get Support

Hopefully, you’ll have a network in place by the time you’re ready to launch your startup. Otherwise, you’ll need to start reaching out as your startup begins to develop.

Pay critical attention to:

  • You may like the idea of starting a business by yourself, but even a single partner can reduce your fiscal obligations and make your life easier.
  • Investors can make sure your startup has the capital it needs to grow and become successful; they’re also great sources of advice and direction.
  • Your employees are the people responsible for turning your vision into a reality. Don’t skimp on the hiring process.
  • When your startup begins to mature, you’ll want a few eager clients in the wings to step up and provide you with income.

Foster New Skills

Being an entrepreneur means wearing many hats. In the span of a day, you’ll take on responsibilities like accounting, hiring people, making critical business decisions, marketing, making sales, negotiating, making purchases, and more. You’ll also need soft skills like communication and emotional intelligence.

In the months and years leading up to your foray into entrepreneurship, it’s a good idea to develop some of these skills. See if you can land yourself in a leadership position, whether it’s in your job or a volunteering opportunity. Take courses to develop yourself in areas of weakness, and talk to people who may know more than you on these subjects.

Get a Marketing Strategy Together

There are tons of marketing options these days, even if you have a small budget as an emerging startup. But one thing is certain; it’s almost impossible to build an effective brand presence without marketing. Even if you’re relying on positive word of mouth and referrals, you’ll need some initial marketing to attract your first customers.

Some of the best options here include search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing, since they’re both relatively inexpensive, accessible to all businesses, and ideal for long-term growth. However, there are plenty of other options to choose from.

Come Up With Contingency Plans

Don’t forget the failure rate of startups. Even with the best-laid plans, there’s a chance your business will fail. You’ll need to be prepared for that reality with contingency plans – long before you start the business properly.

Consider:

  • Personal financing. Your income may be unstable as your business begins to develop. Can your personal finances take the hit? Do you have another source of income you can rely on?
  • If your business isn’t growing the way you expected or wanted, is there a different business model you could pivot to? What outlets for growth and development are there for your business?
  • Alternate career paths. Finally, are there alternative career paths that could sustain you? For example, is there a different type of business you could start, or could you join an established company in this industry to gain more experience?

No matter how good your startup idea is or how original it is, these steps will be vital to maximize your chances of success. Entrepreneurship is often fun, and always stimulating, but it’s not going to end in success unless you’re adequately prepared.

Image Credit: Minervastudio; pexels

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AI Culture Startups

What Is the Future of HR?

What Is the Future of HR?

Human resource (HR) departments have long been integral to organizational success, and they’re likely to remain that way for decades to come. But the nature of HR is likely to evolve with new technologies, research, and trends.

What does the future of HR look like?

Remodeling the Workforce

For starters, we may see HR leading the charge in remodeling the shape of the average workforce. Increasingly, employers and consumers alike are valuing diversity and inclusion; companies are working harder to ensure a mix of people from different backgrounds are included at all levels of the organization. In the future, this is going to become an even bigger priority.

But this is a minor change compared to the next generation of workforce management. We’re already starting to see a blend of human beings and machines in the workplace, and in the near future, this is going to become more prominent – even in businesses filled with mostly high-skilled, white-collar workers. How will you handle the transition from a human position to one handled by an AI algorithm? How will you ensure that humans and machines can collaborate and maximize productivity together? How will you optimize the balance between human beings and machines in the workplace? And how can you tell what an optimal balance is?

These will be the big-picture questions dictating HR development in the future.

Remote Work

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work was gaining popularity. Employees were getting a feel for the benefits of the arrangement, such as cutting down on commute time, improving flexibility, and even increasing productivity. At the same time, employers get to save money and see better results. After the pandemic forced businesses to rethink work and increase safety, these benefits became more apparent to a wider range of businesses.

Today, HR departments are evolving to treat remote work as the default – rather than a temporary or gimmicky new approach to conventional work. That trend is likely to continue into the future as remote work becomes even more widely accepted.

The Evolution of HR Software

Today’s HR departments and organizations rely on HR software like Rippling to handle things like payroll, benefits management, and employee device management. Using one platform, they can store, review, and gather information, send messages, and even generate reports to analyze data. It’s seemingly comprehensive.

But in the future, these platforms will likely become even more robust. We’ll see the addition of new streams of data, real-time analyses, and possibly the inclusion of machine learning and AI algorithms to increase productivity or improve results.

Culture and Unity

Part of HR’s job is to create and sustain the culture within an organization, and make the team feel unified. This is increasingly difficult in a world dominated by remote work, but it’s increasingly demanded by the workforce.

Accordingly, HR will need to find new channels for communication, teambuilding, and collecting employee feedback. Organizational culture management is going to evolve into new forms, and employees will have to develop a different set of expectations for how it’s facilitated. In line with this, HR leaders will have to remain agile, forging culture-based connections when they can while still preserving the structure of the business.

The Gig Economy: Here to Stay?

Technology is responsible for introducing the “gig economy.� Though freelancing and gig work concepts have existed for decades, apps like Uber, Fiverr, and Airbnb made it much easier for individuals to offer their services as freelancers. In turn, corporations have attempted to take advantage of this by relying more heavily on contractors and freelancers instead of making the investments in full-time employees. This is favorable as a cost-saving measure, but it also introduces more flexibility into the organization. And while workers miss some benefits, they also have more freedom to control their workloads and explore other opportunities.

However, it remains uncertain whether the gig economy is here to stay or whether it was something of a temporary detour. Either way, HR departments will have to adapt to keep in line with current trends.

The Employee Experience

We’re already seeing a wave of momentum favoring the development and maintenance of the “employee experience.� In other words, how does an employee feel about the business and engage with the business, from the moment they’re recruited to their ongoing career development? Positive employee experiences lead to higher morale, higher productivity, and higher employee retention. The subjective nature of the employee experience can also reveal a lot about how the organization operates.

In the future, employee experience will become an even higher priority – and become easier to measure and control. Better tools will make it easier for employees to provide feedback about their experiences throughout their careers, and better analytics platforms will make it easier to figure out which changes to make to improve the business.

Data-Driven Insights

Nearly all departments and all industries are increasingly relying on data to improve, and HR is no different. In the future, HR will become even more reliant on data to operate efficiently.

Today’s HR departments use a variety of data points to create images of job candidates, employees, and organizational efficiency, such as hours worked, employee retention, and metrics related to recruiting, training, and development. Data may become even more granular in the future, studying nuanced elements of employee behaviors from the moment they’re recruited.

Most of these data will be collected automatically, with the help of device tracking and robust HR software platforms – which leads to our next points.

AI and Automation

HR departments are also likely to incorporate more AI and automation. Automation is a no-brainer; if you can automate a task that ordinarily requires manual human effort, you’ll instantly reduce the hours your employees need to work. Not only does this save the organization money, it also frees up human employees to focus on more important things.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will also serve a bigger role in the future. With sufficiently advanced machine learning algorithms, HR leaders can quickly and efficiently crunch the numbers they’ve gathered and come to a final conclusion. And in the right context, a suitable AI could even handle previously human-exclusive tasks, such as handling employee conflicts or interviewing candidates.

Sustainability and Image

Today’s consumers care more about sustainability, and not just environmental sustainability. Human and social sustainability require businesses to engage in socially responsible hiring and employee management practices. Today, this includes hiring people from a diverse range of backgrounds, treating employees fairly, and compensating them well. In the future, these are going to become even bigger priorities for consumers, which means businesses will need to do more to make their operations transparent (and show off their sustainability efforts).

The very nature of human and social sustainability may also evolve in the near future. For example, if machines are gradually replacing human jobs in a certain industry, will it be considered socially sustainable or responsible to maintain at least some human jobs?

Cycles of Progression

Over time, the rate of change within HR departments is likely to increase; in other words, HR progression will be accelerating. As we’ve seen, technology tends to evolve exponentially. New technologies get incorporated into existing businesses that create even newer, better technologies. And once things like machine learning and big data analytics get thrown into the mix, it’s hard to stop that momentum.

This acceleration will also be fueled by competition. As HR departments begin pushing the limits of their productivity and effectiveness, other HR departments must follow suit to keep up. Nobody wants to be left in the dust with a years-old platform that’s now becoming obsolete in mainstream workforces.

Even with the onset of AI, automation, and a machine-heavy workforce, HR departments are going to remain important for productivity and sustainability for the foreseeable future. However, the role of an HR manager or HR director is going to change substantially in the coming years. No one can predict the future, but we can see many of these trends already developing in the present. The transformation is already unfolding.

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Marketing Sales Small Business Startups

How to Properly Use PR and SEO to Amplify Marketing Results

PR and SEO

A business is as good as how it portrays itself. It might have the best product on the market, but how it packages that product determines how it will fare. Here is how to properly use PR and SEO to amplify marketing results.

What is Your Consumer Appeal?

With the advent of technology, firms are increasingly becoming competitive to match the supply of goods and services from competitors. Revamping online presence features prominently in communication strategy as companies angle out their consumer appeal.

PR and SEO handle the same segment, but their approach is different. PR is creating desirable content that resonates with consumers, while SEO customizes the content to rank among the competition.

If these two components of the corporate communication link, they form an integrated communication approach that works both offline and online. Let’s take a look at a few tips on how to use SEO and PR to conquer online marketing.

Capture the Attention of More People

You are capturing more people’s attention if you are using SEO to find your clients and improve your image. SEO brings you to the top of search rankings even if the customer was not looking for your business specifically. If nothing else, the customer will continue to see your business represented in search results.

Over time, it will become clear to the customer that you are an expert in the industry. After all, your website continues to appear in their search results. Potential customers will remember your name, and they will associate your brand with a certain industry. You have branded yourself as a useful resource, and customers will start searching for your company alone in the future.

SEO Keyword Lists to Grow Your Audience

However, you must use SEO keyword lists to grow your audience. If you have just one or two keywords, you are only capturing a fraction of the attention that you deserve. Think bigger. Use SEO keyword lists to highlight everything you do and every location you serve.

For example, you should not list the services you provide. It would help if you used industry keywords that mix with these services. A company that offers pressure washing might add the name of an industrial device it uses.

It would be best if you listed everything you pressure wash. Therefore, you will have keywords for pressure washing driveways, sidewalks, homes, offices, commercial buildings, and industrial buildings.

Where Are You Located?

Take the next step by adding locations to your keywords. You have positioned yourself as a company that can provide customers with the service they need, but they might not know where you are located. Adding every location you service and the surrounding towns or cities makes your SEO more effective.

At the same time, you are adding these locations to your branding. You now have a reputation for serving people in every city you have listed.

When people live and work in your area, they often drive by convenient locations that are far from home. Someone who drops the kids off at school might realize that you are close to the school. You have become a convenient option. If you are close to someone’s office, you are convenient.

SEO Keywords

Finally, you must add keywords that make you look like a family business. You want to talk about helping families, helping local businesses, or helping local students. When you speak to your customers using friendly language, they are more likely to shop with you.

Adding SEO keywords to your content helps more people find you, and you have successfully integrated PR with SEO.

Increase Brand Awareness

The main aim of marketing is to make products known to the public. Brand awareness entails detailing the component and benefits of the product and its utility to the consumer. Clients choose a product based on how well they know it. Crafting a product description is part of public relations where the producer paints a picture of the product.

SEO brings in the online search patterns which the possible consumer uses to get information. Infusing the keywords into the product description and forming a desirable word combination increase product visibility on search engines. The impact of SEO amplifies the PR of the brand.

Enhance Content Development

As you develop content, you want to be as specific as possible. You are educating your customers when they are reading what your business does. You have branded your business such that you work in every city in the area.

By doing so, you have proven to customers that you can help them even if you do not have the same zip code as them. Additionally, it would be best to talk about specific issues that customers in that area have.

Creating a post on an issue, product or statement needs systematic wording. Content development is more than putting words together to explain. Whereas the formulation of the statement drives the meaning, how it sounds, and the target market informs its development. PR ensures formations while SEO customizes it to reach the target market.

How do You Better Serve Your Customer?

If you work in the pressure washing business, you should talk to customers about how you can solve their problems with salt on the roads in the winter, debris on their homes, and other specific items to that town. You can even reference local landmarks that show you have worked in the area.

You are not just an expert in your industry. You are proving to your customers that you are an expert in their hometown. These customers are more likely to trust you, and your brand looks more trustworthy because you have spoken directly to the customer.

What About Vids?

While you can say that you serve everyone in the area, many customers will not believe you until you reference the place where they live. Each new article should educate the customer on something new, and you can do the same thing with videos.

More potential customers will see videos with titles that include locations. Plus, customers can see you working in their area and might even recognize the background. As these videos progress, customers realize that you can come to their location to offer the same service. They trust you because they have seen you at work, and they understand that you can respond quickly.

Content development is popular in blogging, especially for companies offering social services. It helps create a narrative that appeals to a specific cluster of people. Business websites use SEO and PR to style their content to score a particular business goal.

Improve Brand Confidence and Consistency

Every business strives to come out in the best way possible. The product might be exemplary, but its communication decides how it will fare in the market. Consumers relate more with a known brand than a newcomer. They trust their ability since they have little information on the competitor.

However, the difference between brand awareness and brand confidence is how steady and consistent it is, both as a product and its quality. The authority fit commands is in how it communicates and interacts with its customers. The feedback mechanism sparked by the description improves its visibility and implore the producers to standardize the product. Trust builds brands, while confidence breeds authority.

When you are using PR and SEO together, you can be much more consistent with your brand message. A list of keywords will keep you on-task, and you can write in the same style every time you release an ad or write an article. Consistency makes businesses much more profitable, and you want to get as much help being consistent as you can.

Improve Your Brands Reputation

When you want to improve your brand reputation in a certain area, you can start using those keywords more than others. For example, a company that offers plumbing and electrical services might have just started offering its customers electrical services. Start talking more about electrical work to show that you are an expert in the industry.

You can do the same with any other product or service that you offer. If you have been thinking about your approach to these issues, it is much easier for you to brand yourself as an expert in new fields. Customers will see the same brand message in many locations, and they will feel as though they can trust you.

How May I Contact You?

You must also remember that customers can interact with you if you are posting articles online, writing in your blog, or using social media. You can use a script to talk to all these customers so that they always get the same message. This is vital to your success because it shows customers that you have taken the time to give them the best experience.

Share Ideas and Grow as Business Partners

You can share ideas more easily when you have a positive brand image. As you share your message and brand your company as an expert in a certain field, other companies will want to work with you. These partnerships can be profitable and increase your level of productivity. Social media is one place where people often share ideas and meet new partners.

When you are on social media, you can engage in witty banter with other businesses. These businesses might want to work with you, and your chat logs might even go viral. You can share ideas with these businesses, and you can even ask your customers for ideas. This is a very important step in the process because you want your customers to feel involved in what it is that you do.

Do You Convert Your Keywords to Hashtags?

You can convert all your keywords into hashtags. This means that you can share PR-style ads and slogans with the public, but you can use all your SEO keywords to reach more customers. These keywords are not just used in searches.

Social media companies have designed algorithms that find new people for customers to follow. When someone has searched for a company like yours, you will be recommended if you are close to their location.

Many of your most loyal customers might come to you because they found you on social media. Plus, they can check out your pictures or videos, leave comments, and even recommend your business to others. These people can even share your posts via a messenger app.

Social Media Apps

Social media apps also allow your customers to share your posts on their feeds. When customers really like your business, they will advertise for you. You can even create contests that ask customers to post your images or videos on their feeds. When they do this, they might win a prize. While these customers are excited to win something for free, they tell all their friends, family, and followers that you are trustworthy.

You might even go so far as hiring influencers who will advertise for you on social media. Tell the influencer all the hashtags you want to use, and they can add more credibility to your brand by posting about you a few times a week. Each of these steps, then, ensures that your brand image is improving while also driving web traffic to your site.

Communal Sharing

Social media has become a business tool for all budding enterprises, thanks to the following it attracts. Companies invoke social connotations to explore new markets and reach a wider audience. They customize their posts to rank higher with social circles. It spreads faster and relays messages in socially acceptable wordings.

Sharing a post or an advert personalizes the message and reaches as many people as possible. Websites are customizing posts to bring out the intended message before the reader fully opens it. Transmission is faster and conversion significant. This digital marketing strategy opens up companies to infinite possibilities.

Final Words

When you want to improve your public relations and your overall brand image, SEO is a good place to start. You might think that these two things are completely unrelated, but they are not. Many people do not know anything about your business, and they have never been exposed to a marketing campaign of yours in the past.

As you read through these tips, imagine how much your brand can improve when using the proper keywords and strategy.

Are You Trustworthy?

PR is the act of making your brand look more trustworthy. You want everyone who interacts with your brand to believe that you are the best company for the job. SEO helps you find the newest customers. Mixing these two things makes sense when you are running a business in any industry.

Moreover, companies rely on the internet to push their brand beyond its confines and research on emerging trends. However, its marketing results determine its sales conversion and product customization moving forward. As companies develop their communication strategies, a combination of SEO and PR should be their primary focus.

Image Credit: Jopwell; Pexels

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Categories
Entrepreneurs Startups

Will Startup Culture Get Stronger or Weaker From Here?

For the past couple of decades, the United States and countries around the world have felt something akin to startup fever. Millions of young and inexperienced entrepreneurs are excited at the prospect of starting an innovative new business of their own. Millions of savvy and new investors are eager to cash in on the next Google or Apple. And culturally, we’re all fascinated to hear stories about underdogs that become tech unicorns and innovative geniuses who come up with world-changing ideas.

This startup culture has led to ingenious developments, widespread economic growth, and accessible new technologies for millions of other businesses. But what are the future prospects of this trend? Will startup culture grow even stronger from here? Or are we in a bubble that’s about to burst? 

Factors for Startup Culture

Let’s start by looking at the factors responsible for the development of this hot startup culture. 

  • Explosive potential. One of the obvious points of interest here is the potential for explosive growth that each startup offers. Today’s tech giants, which have become household names worth billions, or even a trillion dollars, started in a garage with just a handful of people. Investors are thrilled at the idea of buying shares of a tech startup for $5,000 and turning that into $500,000 in less than a decade. This doesn’t happen often, but it happens enough that people are hungry to find promising young startups and watch them grow. 
  • Underdog stories. We all love underdog stories, and many startups embody this idea. An entrepreneur with a cool idea and a few thousand dollars changes the world with their creative new app and ends up becoming a multi-millionaire. It’s a great story, and one we’ve seen unfold many times over. It makes us more likely to support people trying to achieve this dream and makes us think about trying to achieve it for ourselves. 
  • Accessibility. It’s hard to argue that it’s “easyâ€� to launch a tech startup, but it’s certainly a more accessible opportunity for entrepreneurs than they’ve had in the past. This is especially true now that remote work is becoming more popular, and tech companies don’t have to invest much money into real estate or infrastructure. Anyone with a promising idea has the potential to create a startup all of their own – and even if they don’t, they can fantasize about the possibilities. This draws us further into the admiration of startups and entrepreneurs. 
  • Novel technologies. Our culture loves novel technologies and it’s easy to see why. When a fancy new app allows you to save an hour a day on manual tasks, or when you can share memes with your friends in some completely innovative way, it improves your quality of life. On a less sexy level, new technologies also improve workplace efficiency, helping countless entrepreneurs in other industries create more jobs and increase productivity. We love to see new businesses bring these technologies to light. 
  • Freedom and flexibility. Startups are representative of freedom in some ways. These companies spring forth from the imaginations of people who want to change the world – and often want to create their own work cultures and environments. Most people highly value flexibility and autonomy, and startups embody this. 
  • Challenging the status quo. We can also see startups as challenging the status quo. New startups often introduce agility into stagnant industries, forcing long-established juggernauts to change or become obsolete. This novelty breathes new life into the market and helps us see things in a new light. 

Is There Any Pushback? 

So are there any factors working against the propagation of startup culture? 

The answer is a resounding “yes.� 

  • Anti-monopolistic and anti-capitalistic sentiments. We’re beginning to distrust tech companies and be more skeptical of entrepreneurs. In recent years, there’s been some degree of backlash against powerful companies, wealthy individuals, and industries dominated by a handful of superstars – even if those superstars created the entire industry from scratch. Anti-monopolistic and anti-capitalistic sentiments put a damper on the thrill of tech startups for many. 
  • CEO distrust. We’re also seeing a wave of distrust surrounding major tech corporations – and by extension, nimble tech startups. Platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, have been susceptible to misinformation from fake news and nefarious sources. Many social media users are increasingly concerned with privacy. And millions of consumers look at new “freeâ€� platforms with skepticism, knowing that nothing is truly free. This hasn’t deterred any new startups from emerging yet, but if this trend accelerates, it could create a more hostile environment. 
  • Economic valuation issues. Investors are excited about new tech startups, but they might be a little too excited. Over the past decade, we’ve seen crazy new heights in the stock prices of promising tech companies. Price to earning (PE) ratios have skyrocketed, and many investors fear the forthcoming consequences of a practical economic bubble. 
  • Funding accessibility. Venture capitalists and angel investors are more than willing to stake their money on new startups – but not just any startup. Over time, investor funds have been concentrated more heavily into only the most encouraging ideas. This is a logical and understandable move, but it’s made it harder to enter into the space. 
  • Employment issues. Solid leadership can make any work environment tolerable, but many employees are reluctant to work for a young tech startup. Startups typically offer low pay (due to limited funding), while maintaining a very demanding work culture, and being relatively unstable. This makes it hard for new startups to create new jobs and attract new employees. 
  • Failure rates. We tend to glamorize the most successful startups that have arisen in the tech industry, but the failures are much less visible. The truth is, the majority of startups fail within just a few years of being started. Many of those entrepreneurs go on to start other businesses, eventually finding success, but the high rate of failure may eventually become more visible – and develop into a turnoff that weakens the influence of startup culture. 
  • Other types of businesses. Startup entrepreneurship is economically powerful, but it’s not the only way to pursue business management or entrepreneurship. There are plenty of other available routes, including buying an existing business, flipping businesses, starting a franchise and other options. We work with dozens of marketing business owners who simply white label our link building services, reselling them to their own business owner clients. It’s a hands-off approach with a great ROI for those with existing connections. 

The Case for Stronger Startup Culture

So is it possible that startup culture could continue growing stronger in the coming years? 

Most of the factors leading to the development and growth of startup culture are still here – and are in no danger of weakening anytime soon. New technologies are still exciting to the masses, investors are still thrilled at the idea of making money, and there’s no shortage of great ideas still to come. Ballooning stock prices tell us there’s no startup fatigue setting in, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made startup entrepreneurship more attractive (due to remote work opportunities and limited potential for other types of businesses). 

The Case for Weaker Startup Culture

That said, we could be in store for a reversal of momentum. Anti-monopolistic, anti-capitalistic, and privacy-conscious voices are seemingly growing stronger, pushing for stricter regulations and the dismantling of economic structures that currently support tech startups. If the entrepreneurial landscape becomes more hostile to up-and-coming young business owners, we may see lower rates of new business creation. Still, it would likely take many years, if not decades, for our collective fascination with startups to fade away. 

No matter how you look at it, the strong startup culture in the United States seems poised to stay. There are threats that stand in the way of its utter domination, and there’s always the possibility of a mini-economic crash fueled by overinflated stock prices, but the fundamental factors that support our love of startups remain strong. It’s going to remain a good time to start a tech business at least for the foreseeable future. 

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Customer Service Email Campaign email marketing Entrepreneurs Marketing marketing campaign Startups video email

How To Use Video to Power-Up Your Email Campaigns

video email campaign

Email marketing has resurfaced as one of the most effective ways to reach audiences. While many companies spend entire budgets trying to improve their social media presence and get heard above the noise, email campaigns offer a more personalized and direct approach, even when it comes to new audiences.

That being said, nobody likes spam. The current rise of newsletters as an informative and entertainment medium has proven that audiences are drawn to receiving content that’s not just interested in selling or promoting something.

And here is where the video comes in.

By pairing your email campaign with a video marketing strategy, you’re getting the best of both worlds by delivering valuable and engaging content straight to your customer’s mailbox.

In this piece, I’m going to guide you through the necessary steps you need to take to boost your email campaigns with video. We’ll see how to choose the right type of video for your newsletters, what are some of the best tips and tricks used by the pros, and much more.

But first…

Why Video?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

As you probably know, time is one of the most precious goods of the digital landscape. And video is the most efficient form of communication, cramming large amounts of information into just a few seconds of animation.

Plus, video is the king of engagement. You see it everywhere, from binge-able content and video tutorials to the recent popularity of streaming platforms such as Twitch and Tik Tok. Video is the preferred format of content for all kinds of audiences.

Marketers have been using the virtues of video content on their email campaigns for a while now, and the results speak for themselves:

Choosing the Right Type of Video for Your Message

There’s at least one type of video for each of your marketing needs. So, you should start by determining your campaign‘s main goal and then work with a production team to create a piece designed to achieve it.

Here are some of the most effective type of videos for your email campaign:

New Product or Service Reveal

Newsletters are a way of showing your subscribers what you’ve been up to, and there’s no better news to share with them than the launch of a brand-new product or service. This comes in the form of a product video or demo that showcases your creation’s most important features and characteristics.

A great idea is to include your subscribers in the pre-launch phase of your campaign. That way, they get an exclusive treat before anyone else. This tactic can be especially useful for small businesses that are looking to build a loyal customer base and for brands that want to benefit from word-of-mouth marketing.

Explainer Videos

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned how audiences demand valuable content from the brands they follow, and no other type of video is more helpful than the explainer video. Just as the product video centers around the features of your product, the explainer video focuses on the benefits of your product and how it can better the lives of your customers.

Explainers are short animated pieces that usually don’t go over the 90-second mark. But suppose you need a long-form video that guides users through a lengthy process. In that case, you might want to consider making a series of tutorials or how-to videos that give specific and clear instructions on how to install your product or use it properly.

Customer Stories

Many marketers make the mistake of talking way too much. But isn’t it more effective to let your happy customers do the promoting for you? Customer stories are honest and heartful testimonials from the people you’ve helped along the way. And what better way to deliver these powerful stories than directly to your leads’ inboxes?

Customer stories are at adding a real human face to your brand, humanizing your company, and making your customers trust you more. After all, people trust other people, as simple as that. Make sure your testimonial feels as honest as possible.

Event Invites

Promoting events through email just makes sense: it’s like delivering an invitation right to someone’s mailbox. And what better way to get your audience excited than with a stunning video.

Your vid doesn’t need to be lengthy; just an intriguing animation with your event’s date and location will do most of the time. If it’s a regular sort of event, you can also create a recap of last year’s edition to attract those on-the-fence attendees.

The Three Golden Rules for Using Video on Your Email Campaign

Like with any other marketing strategy, there are plenty of ways to approach using videos on your emails to great effect. However, that’s not the same to say that some practices and principles don’t tend to outperform others!

Here are some we recommend following.

1) Don’t Embed Video on Your Email

One of the most common first-timer mistakes is to think you should embed your video on your email, just like you do on your landing page. But if you’re subscribed to a couple of newsletters, you’ll notice that most of them rather use a thumbnail linked to the video hosted online. This is because many email clients often don’t support the technical requirements needed to play a video right inside the email.

But if you think this is a limitation, then turn that frown upside down. Think about it: instead of making your audience watch a video within the email itself, you can direct them to a landing page where they can watch the video and visit your online store next (or any other specific action).

2) An Attractive Thumbnail Can Make the Difference

Using a thumbnail is the most practical form of ensuring your subscribers will watch your video regardless of the device or email platform they use. So, it’s time to design an attractive thumbnail that intrigues your audience! There are a couple of ways to do this:

· Use a static picture with a play button

This is the easiest way. You can simply use a screencap of your video and insert a play button right at the center of the picture so that your audience knows it’s linked to a video.

· Use a short GIF of your video

GIFs are the closest thing next to actually uploading your video, giving the illusion of video but with the key difference that they are well-supported across email clients. And even though some platforms like Outlook 2013 and Windows 10 don’t play GIFs, they’ll show the first frame of your GIF as a static image.

Extra pro tip: Keep your thumbnail below 200KB, or below 1MB if you’re using GIFs. There’s a chance your email will be identified as spam if it contains heavy attachments.

3) Place Your Video Below the Copy

Before embedding your thumbnail, make sure you write a brief introduction. It doesn’t need to be too long, just a few words to introduce your piece. Formatting is super important in emails. A message with just a picture will look like spam.

Conclusions

The global lockdown has made many companies rethink the way they connect with their audience. Now more than ever, audiences demand valuable content from the brands they support, and an email campaign that uses video can do that.

The pandemic has also taught us how unforeseeable the future is and how things can change from one second to the next.  While this article provides a comprehensive guide, it’s up to you to start figuring out what your own audience likes and dislikes, and what type of emails and videos are going to strengthen that bond. I wish you the bests of luck.

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Categories
B2B Business Digitization Business Optimization Deal Management Productivity Small Business Startups supply chain

How to Optimize B2B Deal Management to Cut Costs and Losses in 2021

B2B deal management

A lot of companies suffered supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. Certain experts have described the situation as a Keynesian supply shock, a negative event that triggers aggregate supply shortages with bigger impacts than the prior reduction in labor supply.

There is still a lot of uncertainty in the air, so many businesses still don’t know how to approach the coming months. Though businesses have been undergoing changes, those shifts do not necessarily have a clear direction.

One area of supply chain operations that have undergone only a little change is deal management.

Deals are still handled pretty much in the same way, with the same old tools and strategies. Yet, they get more complicated. This leads to unnecessary additional costs and losses.

A recent study by Enable summarized the views of 100 sales, purchasing, and finance professionals and found that 83% of companies reported supply chain disruptions in some capacity due to COVID-19, and 47% have seen their revenue decrease between 10-80%.

Many businesses are losing millions of dollars each year because complicated deals are handled using outdated techniques.

COVID-19 and Deal Renegotiation

COVID-19 has delivered the biggest shocks to supply chains globally, forcing businesses to make swift changes to adapt to the new reality.

Right now, governments around the world are easing lockdown measures, despite fears of a second wave of the pandemic sweeping through. There is still a lot of precariousness and businesses are under pressure to renegotiate deals.

Renegotiation is inevitable since COVID-19 has altered the conditions upon which most deals were agreed. The existing arrangement puts all parties in a deal at a disadvantage.

Now, the problem is that many businesses would still be using the same poor tools that had consistently put them at a loss, even before COVID-19 was discovered.

Going forward, businesses need to rethink their strategies and pivot to digital for better deal management. Digitized deal management allows businesses to collect more data, gain better insights, and make better decisions when processing deals.

Ultimately, optimizing deal management strengthens your supply chains and even makes your sales team more effective.

Benefits of Optimized Deal Management to Sales Reps

1. Data-Driven Insights

One of the hallmarks of an improperly managed deal is confusion. Following the signing of an agreement, parties must continue to acquire insights into the realities and conditions that affect the deals. For instance, renegotiating deals at this time will require poring over the data of the business impacts of the pandemic.

Optimized deal management allows the sales team to access and properly assess current information on deals.

2. Friction-less Agreement

Deal negotiation involves many (often conflicting) ideas, and as all parties work towards finding common ground, some uniformity is necessary. Effective deal management puts collective principles above personal ideas. This cohesion drives attitudes that would lead to less friction, an important requirement if deals must go through successfully.

The availability of data-driven insights enhances transparency in the process, which, in turn, builds trust. As such, deals are processed faster, for the good of every party.

3. Collaboration

Deal information should be accessible on-demand to all interested parties at any time. This is important both for making critical decisions and for monitoring progress. The world increasingly becomes connected; deal brokers need to capitalize on this to optimize their processes.

According to Accenture, “digital solutions could ‘virtualize’ the entire end-to-end deal management process, perhaps using a web-based portal to bring together a virtual team from multiple areas of the organization.� Collaboration improves the relationship between deal parties. This, in turn, lowers the lifecycle of deals, empowering sales reps to close more deals in shorter times.

4. Accountability

The situation described above, how businesses lose millions due to unclaimed rebates, is an obvious sign of poor deal management. Optimized deal management is necessary for setting better goals and properly implementing factors to monitor progress.

Digitization of Deal Management

Deal management is one area of business that has not fully embraced digitization. Yet, most of its challenges are tied, directly or indirectly, to the use of outdated tools in a rapidly changing world.

For one, data has become the world’s most vital resource. In deal management, having detailed and accurate data is paramount to preliminary research and for maintaining comprehensive visibility of running deals.

Likewise, data is needed for better forecasting. Recounting the words of an old study, “without accurate forecasts, sales managers can expect a big gap between forecasted deals and actual closed-won deals.�

Businesses have far more data to deal with than they did ten years ago, meaning pages of spreadsheets and other paperwork can no longer deliver the right results. Deal management solutions help you to make better, data-driven decisions by giving you real-time analysis and visibility.

The prevailing data management strategy has data spread across various sources: spreadsheets, emails, and physical paperwork. This lack of consistency is what leads companies to make poor decisions and miss out on financial opportunities such as rebates.

Better forecasting with digitized deal management enhances the robustness of supply chains. By accessing relevant data, businesses can improve their risk monitoring. This results in better preparation and better adaptation to changing needs.

Instead of going with assumptions that things will fall into place, businesses can determine that through proper data analysis and subsequently implement methods to adapt their operations to even the worst shocks.

The digitization of deal management reduces dependency on certain key individuals. Due to the severe limitations of paper spreadsheets, usually only a few individuals broker deals and fully understand the ramifications applied.

With a cloud-hosted deal management solution, however, you can create a multi-threaded relationship. This translates into a more effective implementation of deals by boosting collaboration between all parties to the agreement.

Businesses must change their approach to deal with management. It’s no longer business as usual. In fact, while talking about cloud-hosted deal management solutions, there’s already been suggestions on the future role of artificial intelligence in enhancing deal management.

AI will help improve data analytics, automate financial processes, and overcome forecasting challenges with predictive analytics.

Conclusion

In essence, no business can afford to be left behind. Deal negotiation aims to reach an agreement that is profitable for both sides. But if a business persists with outdated tools and approaches to deal management, it wouldn’t be getting the right value for its agreements.

You can avoid losing money in unclaimed rebates and so on by digitizing your deal management to optimize negotiations.

Digitizing deal management helps you to collect detailed data, maintain comprehensive oversight, and make better decisions concerning deal negotiations.

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2021 business strategies Entrepreneurs entrepreneurship ReadWrite Small Business startup Startups

7 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business

starting your own business

Starting your own business can be an exciting endeavor. As a small business owner, you’re free to make your own decisions, guide the company in the direction you see fit, and benefit from complete creative freedom.

Despite the myriad of positive benefits, starting a company isn’t a decision you should be taking lightly. With that in mind, here are seven important things you should consider before starting your own business:

Can You Solve a Problem?

Far too often, prospective business owners are so excited about their idea that they throw themselves (and their money) into making it happen. But one of the first things you need to consider is whether your business idea actually solves a problem. Why do customers or clients need your service or product? Can they get it elsewhere? What is your value proposition (as in, what makes you more valuable than your competitors)? These are all questions you should consider before you jump into entrepreneurship.

Start Small

It’s always a good idea to test the market before you invest too much of your personal money and start searching for loans. For example, if you’ve created a line of custom frames, why not try selling on a platform like Etsy before you open a brick and mortar shop or create your own ecommerce store?

Starting small lets you get a better idea of what it takes to run a business. It also makes it easy for you to work out the kinks before you become an official, legal business entity.

The basic idea is getting a feel for what you enjoy and what you aren’t willing to do as a business. For instance, if you invested $10,000, you might find that you don’t enjoy being an entrepreneur or that you want to pivot your business but don’t know how to reverse your initial investment. Think of starting small as an insurance policy against potential pitfalls.

Business Name

It might seem like a simple tip but creating a business name is much harder than you think. Most people don’t realize it until they start to brainstorm their business name and have taken the first step towards becoming a serious business owner. The fact is, your business name stays with you forever and sets the tone for your brand. If you’re starting your own business and having trouble coming up with a catchy name that isn’t already taken, try using a business name generator for hundreds of potential ideas.

When choosing business names, try to stay away from names that are difficult to spell. You also want to avoid names that could limit business growth in the future. For instance, if you want to sell cruelty-free lipstick, you might not want to have a brand name that insinuates you only sell lipstick if you plan to expand your product line in the future.

Set SMART Goals

The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your business goals should all be SMART. For example, let’s say you’ve created a website and want to generate more leads for your landing page. In this situation “generate more leads� is a specific goal. You can choose to measure with a time-bound goal by saying, “I want to grow leads from our landing page by 20% this quarter.� To make it attainable, be sure your goal isn’t a far cry from what you’re already achieving. And just like that, you’ve created a SMART goal.

Search for a Mentor

Some of the most well-known business owners had mentors. Did you know Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Apple founder Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs also had a mentor named Bill Campbell. Mentors are there to offer guidance as you navigate the treacherous waters of starting your own business. They’ll give you honest feedback because they care about the success and growth of you and your startup. You can find mentors on platforms like Facebook or SCORE.

There’s No Fast Lane to Cash

No matter how great your business plan is, there is no fast way to get money. If you think you can get rich quickly, chances are you’ll fail. As it stands, the statistics are stacked against you; half of all new businesses fail within five years. If you’re in it for the money, not only will you be disappointed, but you’ll also lose momentum.

To start a business, you need to be passionate about your work as well as potential customers. Passion and hard work are what keep you moving during the tough early days of low to no revenue.

Create a Financial Plan

It goes without saying, you need money to make money. When you’re starting your own business, create a business model that doesn’t put too much burden on your financial resources. After all, as previously mentioned, the goal is to start small.

Use your personal savings for early funding and be sure to save up and accommodate for negative cash flow during the first few months. Create a budget to ensure you stay on track as you build out the business. Before long, you mays start to see the signs of an emerging, successful business.

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Categories
collaboration tools covid-19 remote working SaaS startups Startups work remotely

How Remote Startups are Changing the Game for Everyone

startups

Based on our history, we can see that unprecedented events have the potential to cause permanent mass changes. Remember the 9/11 attack? That attack changed the face of airport security forever. Suddenly, new transit rules were enforced and sophisticated surveillance gear became commonplace. Here is how remote startups are changing the game for everyone.

Likewise, the pandemic has forced businesses to embrace remote working. Like it or not, we have been forced into the largest work-from-home experiment possible, without any prior warning.

Remote Startups are Changing the Game for Everyone
Image Credit: pixaby

 

To be fair, many businesses had distributed teams even before COVID-19 blindsided us. In fact, according to Founders Forum’s survey of 400+ startup owners, 94% of the respondents were already working from home before the pandemic.

Nonetheless, most respondents anticipated that they’d be back to their desks within a maximum of six months. But with the pandemic showing no signs of abating in the United States and elsewhere, they’ve been forced to rethink their business plans.

While many businesses have taken to remote working like fish to water, some are struggling to come to terms with the new normal. To help them make the transition, a new breed of “remote startups� has emerged.

These startups have innovative remote work solutions that help pandemic-prep other companies. Their solutions cover a wide spectrum — from meeting schedulers to gamified learning applications. Their goal is simple: help their tribe make the paradigm shift towards a brighter, remote-friendly future. And, to make a few bucks in the process.

Remote Startups: Turning Adversity into Opportunity

Virus or no virus, our business ecosystem is ripe for remote work. It’s just that startups are better poised than enterprises to capitalize on the remote opportunity.

Startups are uniquely positioned in the business landscape. Their constraints (budget, staffing, opportunities, etc.) compel them to look for out-of-the-box solutions. A startup needs to be on the top of its game to beat the big players and remain relevant. If they don’t come to grips with new situations soon enough, they have a lot to lose.

Considering their flexible mindsets and dynamic states, startups can pivot more easily and adopt a remote culture. That’s one reason why you’ve likely seen an increase in the number of SaaS startups since the pandemic set in.

Newly-remote companies face more roadblocks than a startup will, which impacts both owners and workers.

1. Dip in Productivity

Mega brands like IBM and Google found that their productivity plummeted when they went all-remote. Yahoo, Aetna, and Best Buy reported similar trends. All of these businesses had to roll back their remote work policies and call employees back on-premises.

Upon closer inspection, I have identified a few factors that hamper productivity in remote settings:

  • Less face-to-face supervision: Trust is an issue between remote cadres. Often, managers worry that their out-of-sight teams are not sincere about their working hours. They may be tempted to micromanage their teams, which adversely impacts performance and morale.
  • Tons of distractions: In a Buffer survey of remote workers, 10% of respondents said they struggle to keep distractions at bay when working from home. They find it hard to focus on work in their “chilled outâ€� space. This is a friction point for most people who fail to create dedicated workspaces for themselves.
  • Out-of-sync teams: The communication gap between co-workers can throw the entire team off-track. Although there are many collaboration tools (like Slack and Trello) available, they do have a learning curve that can be hard for non-technical folks. While teams take time to get up to speed, productivity can take a beating.
  • Lag in information access: Remote employees spend more time and effort locating information pertinent to their tasks. This can delay time-sensitive projects and slow down the pipeline.

2. Unhealthy Employee Morale

Happy employees are more productive, satisfied, and loyal to their companies. Sadly, remote employees are more prone to pangs of loneliness and isolation, which can pull down their morale.

The funny thing is that 59% of remote managers are least concerned about their workers’ emotional well-being, which has a cascading effect on team morale.

  • Lack of team camaraderie: Remote workers often feel a sense of detachment from the rest of the team, according to a Harvard study. That’s because they have fewer opportunities to bond informally with their colleagues.

Daily huddles are mostly about work. They just don’t have the same de-stressing effect as random water cooler encounters with colleagues.

  • Lower visibility: Employees in hybrid teams feel left out and mistreated, according to the Harvard report cited earlier. Being out-of-site, they feel managerial positions are out of their reach. If the scope for professional growth is limited, employee churn is inevitable.

They also complain about managers favoring in-office staff, even if they are less competent. Location disparity is a breeding ground for such negative sentiments.

  • Difficulty to compartmentalize stuff: 22% of work-from-home employees struggle with unplugging, states the Buffer report. Don’t believe the hyper-real pictures of people sipping piña coladas on a beach next to a laptop.

Remote work is not one long vacation. In fact, extended hours due to lack of discipline can play havoc with their personal lives. This is especially true for people who fail to draw clear lines between work and home.

3. Technical Challenges

Teams in different locations rely heavily on tools and technology to make their working seamless and easy. They need to use software for team communication, project management, training, and reporting.

Employees, as well as managers, need to be trained to use these new technologies. This way, all of the above fears about employee productivity, engagement, and focus can be assuaged to a great degree.

However, 38% of remote workers claim to have received no special training from their managers to help them get acquainted with these tools, according to the Owl Labs research stated earlier.

Thrust into a dark space with no light to guide them, employees often stumble. They are unable to give their 100% to work.

There have been instances where companies have lost business due to poor client communication. Being technologically challenged, they were unable to revamp their communication strategies. Had they transitioned from pushing files to email workflows, the scenario would probably be very different.

Huge problems are huge opportunities in disguise.

Just like the SARS outbreak, which drove innovation and research in diagnostics and health, the current pandemic is also producing many heroes.

For remote startups, all of the above glitches have acted as catalysts of change. Let’s see how.

How Are Remote Startups Transforming Businesses? 4 Use Cases

Remote startups have a great ideology. They develop state-of-the-art solutions to help companies get used to remote working. By doing so, they help mitigate the aftermath of the pandemic and make the business world a better place.

Among the current crop of remote startups, these are my top four picks:

1. Eloops – Keeping Employees Engaged

In distributed teams, employee engagement is critical. The US-based remote startup, Eloops, keeps employees “in the loop� by means of surveys, gamified learning, and virtual check-ins.

Using the platform, you can build custom apps for your employees to download. The apps offer social and engagement tools, personalized inboxes, gamified onboarding sessions, and a lot more.

To build rapport with your out-of-office teams, you can create contests, quizzes, and challenges. You also get access to effective team-building ideas and tools. In short, Eloops lets you align your internal and external teams in a fun, breezy way.

2. Plann3r: Scheduling Meetings Smartly

Meetings are an integral part of remote work. Depending on your role, you might need to schedule and attend meetings with your teams, prospects, and clients.

Plann3r, a remote startup from Belgium, helps you create slick-looking meeting pages in minutes. In this meeting scheduler, you can sync your calendar, import agendas from other apps, and customize your meeting interface.

You can plan your availability and highlight your “busy� slots. In short, you can achieve reasonable time management and stay on schedule.

3. Proficonf: Staying Connected in Real-Time

There are many prerequisites for hassle-free remote management. Staying connected with partners, teams, and clients is one of them. Video conferencing facilitates synchronous communication where participants can share screens, exchange files, and chat on the side.

In this space, the Ukrainian remote startup, Proficonf is doing wonders. Through this video conferencing platform, you can experience HD-level video quality, without dropped calls or data breaches.

Since the application is web-based, it’s light-weight and can work in browsers. The auto-recording feature makes your meeting highlights available at all times. This can come in handy for repetitive training sessions and sales pitches.

The solution works on adaptive telecommunication technology. In simple terms, the video quality doesn’t dip for participants with poor internet connectivity and low bandwidth.

4. Aubot: Cutting-Edge Surveillance

While you’re working from home, who is keeping an eye on your office premises? Telepresence robots can.

Fitted with dual cameras and sensors, these nifty robots stalk your office and stream their footage to your phone, tablet, or PC. This way, you can ensure the safety and operability of your office space.

I know. One remote startup that’s been taking giant strides in this domain is Aubot. Their main product, Teleport, is a telepresence robot that lets you monitor your office from any part of the world.

The robot can adjust its height and change angles to bring objects into focus. From the comfort of your home, you can control the robot using a web-controlled interface.

Such solutions take the stress out of office supervision so you can focus on more productive chores.

Where Are Remote Startups Headed?

It’s obvious that remote startups have a great present. But what about their future prospects? Is there any scope for their survival when things return to some kind of normal?

Remote work is here to stay and so are remote startups. While the future is a blank page right now, I’m confident that remote work will become the norm.

Favorable stats about remote work from the Owl Labs survey:

  • 71% of people actively seek out employers who let them work remotely.
  • 51% of on-site workers are keen to work from home. 24% will take a pay cut if they are allowed to keep flexible schedules.
  • On average, workers with remote experience draw $100K more than those who have never held a remote job.

All of these facts are a reflection of the popularity of remote culture and its viability in the future. From the employer’s perspective, remote teams offer many advantages, including:

  • Larger talent pool. Hirers can take advantage of top talent even if they are not in close proximity. Businesses that are open to expanding their team by removing geographical barriers have a better chance of finding people with the right skill sets.In fact, the above survey found that fully-distributed teams hire 33% faster than their local counterparts.
  • Stronger diversity of thought. When you look outside your bubble, you can access people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. They bring varied perspectives that enrich your team.A McKinsey study found that diverse teams are 30% smarter than homogenous teams. And they are able to achieve their business goals more efficiently.
  • Easier scaling. It’s easier to scale operations in remote set-ups. If you use software to help you scale up, it’s just a matter of expanding your database and letting the algorithms recalibrate the logistics. You don’t have to buy new furniture or office space to accommodate new members.
  • Lower operational costs. For small businesses and startups, every penny counts. When you do away with brick-and-mortar offices, you save on rentals, equipment, and consumables.Most businesses don’t foot their remote workers’ internet bills or co-working space rents. Though the cost savings should not be your primary reason to go remote, it’s certainly a big perk.
  • Better retention rates. Remote employees tend to be more satisfied with their jobs. With proper time management, they are able to strike a work-life balance. Plus, commute-free jobs mean no stress of travel, which leaves them with more free time.Nestled in their homes, they don’t bear the brunt of office politics (mostly). Overall, they are a happier lot, which is why they stay longer in their jobs.

    For employers, this means lesser attrition and greater stability. Moreover, they don’t have to go through the hassle and expenditure of hiring and retaining staff again and again.

Wrapping Up

Since remote work has so many obvious advantages, it’s very likely that it will replace traditional offices altogether. And as more companies go remote, the demand for remote-friendly products will keep growing. Now you know why I said that the future of remote startups looks very bright.

What are your thoughts about remote work and startups? Share them in the comments below.

Top Image Credit: thisisengineering; pexels

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