Advice to Young Startups Looking to Make an Impact

When you’re thinking about diving headfirst into the entrepreneurial trenches, any piece of advice you can get from those who came before you is invaluable.

To get you started on the right foot in your startup journey, I’d like to share some of the lessons I learned along the way during my tenure in the venture capital industry.

First, remember that starting a company requires both time (lots and lots of long hours) and personal sacrifice. That’s why it’s important to make sure your business idea is something you believe will transform the market or directly impact a major void in a market. . Make it meaningful and something that will create significant interest from consumers.

A second guidance point, and this is probably the most critical: surround yourself with individuals and team members who are smarter than you and passionate about being part of a start-up. You need to build a diverse team of people who have a variety of backgrounds and perspectives and who can give you helpful, educated input and won’t be afraid to provide their opinions on the direction of your company. This will lead to higher-quality decisions and create a dynamic organization.

Be flexible. When you’re building something from the ground up it’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes in the process. Being able to adapt to the unexpected will help you stay focused on what matters and the broader, more long-term goals. Don’t allow yourself to derail over the small things, and be prepared to react quickly to bumps in the road

All entrepreneurs need to prepare for every aspect of running a business, and this includes developing an ability to manage the company’s finances. Whether you are going to ask a lender for a loan or seek an investment from a venture capitalist, make sure to go in with a solid, well-researched business plan that shows the market opportunity.. Remember, angel investors hear pitches all day long and are really looking for a business idea that will stand the test of time and produce the largest ROI.

WIth that said, find a way to grab the investor’s attention. Be upfront about your business’s journey and your plans for its success.

Never fear failure. Instead, recognize that failure can teach you valuable lessons about your business as well as your career path. What works for one person may not work for you – don’t get discouraged. Try again until you get it right.

And my last piece of advice – go for it. There’s no need to spend years working on a business model. Just go and start. Do it. Test it. Good luck!

Entering Venture Capitalism? What to Know

One of the questions I often receive as a venture capitalist is, “How do I become a venture capitalist?” New graduates and startup veterans alike want to get into the industry, and, I admit, it can be enticing.

There are many ways to break into the venture capital world, but they can generally be broken down into two categories: serial entrepreneurship and investment banking. I define a venture capitalist as someone who distributes third-party funds into new, early-stage ventures. An angel investor is someone who invests in companies with their own capital.

If you want to be a venture capitalist or enter in the industry, my advice is to start by building your experience in the greater financial industry as soon as possible. Ask an established VC if you can shadow them and ask as many questions as you can.

You’ll also need strong analytical skills with the ability to research markets and have a mix of foresight and business savvy to pick winning investments. From my experience, success in this area also directly correlates with an ability to keep up with changing industry trends.

Finding entrepreneurs or young businesses at the earliest stages in the process is another critical skill. One way to find these potential investment opportunities is to attend meetups for emerging technologies and identify attendees offering the most potential.

Once you’ve discovered and pinpointed a potential business to invest in and have completed the necessary analysis to suggest it will succeed, the next step is figuring out finances. How much money does this business require? This isn’t the final stage of the process, but shaping out a basic set of terms is fairly easy — and highly important.

Working as a venture capital can be highly stressful, yet at the same time lucrative. Be prepared to clock in a lot of very long hours with most of that time spent listening to pitches by potential companies. It’s also, in my opinion, extremely rewarding to watch a start-up you invested in succeed.

Time Is Money: Why the Average Worker Spends Too Much Time on Email

Time Is Money: Why the Average Worker Spends Too Much Time on Email

Whether you’re a manager and looking for ways to improve the productivity of your staff, or a self-employed entrepreneur who understands how important your time is for your profitability, you should know how common it is for workers to spend too much time on email.

Email productivity issues are rampant in all sectors, and at all levels of employment. But if you know the underlying causes of this inefficiency, you can start working to address them.

Lack of Insight

The first and biggest problem is a lack of insight. Most people have no idea how much time they spend on email, and therefore can’t know whether they’re spending too much time on the platform. They don’t have any data visuals, productivity tools, or email analytics tools that can help them pinpoint their bad habits, so they’re stuck repeating the same processes they’ve grown used to over the years.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of Gmail apps that can help you remedy this problem, giving you insight into your email analytics, and directing your attention to problem areas.

The Volume Factor

Email is also a critical area for time waste due to the sheer volume of email in our daily lives. The average office worker gets something like 121 emails per day. If you do the math, you’ll see that even a 1-second time waste per message can lead to 2 minutes of lost time per day, and over 8 hours of wasted time per year.

A 10-second time waste is 20 minutes per day and 80 hours a year. Accordingly, it doesn’t take much to sabotage a worker’s productivity. From the optimist’s viewpoint, even a few-second improvement to email productivity can have a massively positive impact.

The Distraction Factor

Most employees keep their email open in a tab throughout the day, or have email notifications on a smartphone turned on, so they’re constantly notified of incoming messages. This is handy to shorten your response time, but it also has the potential to distract you from your work.

And as scientific evidence suggests, it takes up to 23 minutes for your mind to fully recover from a distraction. You can control this variable by turning off notifications, and disconnecting from your email periodically throughout the day.

Disorganization

Few emailers have a consistent system for organization; instead, they let their emails come in untouched, and address them more or less in the order they came in. This allows some emails to get lost or go without a response, and makes it harder to find older emails.

Every email platform has tools to improve organization, such as labels or folders—but it’s up to you to devise a clear system, and implement it on a daily basis.

Threads and Inefficient Communication

Then there’s the problem of inefficient communication overall. Employees send emails without subject lines, which make it hard for recipients to categorize them. They send 500-word emails when a 100-word email could suffice. They start and continue threads of 20 messages or more that could have been resolved with 5.

There’s no easy way to resolve these complex and, at times, subjective problems, but focusing on conciseness, intent, and scannable formatting (like bullet points and bold sub-headers) can do wonders.

You won’t be able to change your habits or the habits of your employees overnight, but with enough work and dedication to improved efficiency, you can master email as a communication platform. Start looking for points of inefficiency that you can optimize, and let small, iterative habit changes guide you to a more productive, profitable path.

AI, Marketing and the Skilled Workforce Needed to Drive Its Progression

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have become common components of emerging modern technologies, from the algorithms that recommend new products for purchase to the chatbots that provide customer service assistance on many commerce websites.

Some digital marketing now incorporates AI to great effect, and these approaches can be beneficial, particularly in highly competitive spaces.

  • The use of AI in digital marketing can help optimize a user’s website experience by predicting consumer behavior, personas, cycles, and customer service needs.
  • As mentioned above, AI helps to optimize processes, which can benefit return on investment (ROI). AI can make a payment process more secure and frictionless, and machine learning can help collect better data from customers.
  • Search sessions on a site will be improved by AI assistance, since AI will be able to better predict user behavior and search terms.
  • Reaching the right audience for your brand will be an easier and more efficient process with the help of AI, which can allow for better targeting based on behavior, demographics, etc.
  • AI will improve sales models and other predictive elements, as machine learning and other AI-related tools can process data more fully and more quickly than humans.

However, many wonder about what sort of skills or talents are needed in the workforce to fully take advantage of all the benefits of AI-aided marketing. How can AI be implemented in marketing approaches if there is a lack of professionals who know how to develop and manage machine learning and AI-based tools?

While there is currently a talent gap between the needs of these emerging AI-related jobs and the skills present in much of the existing marketing workforce, many marketing professionals are taking the talents they possess — creativity, resilience, and risk tolerance — and working to build up their analytical skills. Many successful marketing professionals are learning skills related to AI, machine learning, and data proficiency through online courses or short-term workshops, or going back to school to learn more about data analytics, programming, and mathematics.

In addition, since AI is a quickly evolving field, agility is one of the qualities most prized by companies seeking individuals who can innovate and develop the technology for new applications. Many companies are finding that, when it comes to working with AI, it is useful to hire professionals who are creative thinkers, who have a high degree of resilience, and who are not afraid to take risks — and then encourage those employees to acquire and refine their skills through training programs or experience on the job.

AI and machine learning are already present in much of the digital space, and the influence of these technologies will only increase in the next few years. AI-aided marketing and AI-skilled employees will be less of a luxury and more of a requirement for companies and brands in the future.

Modern Age SEO Practices that Guarantee Success

Shockingly, in a recent news feature published by CNBC, Overstock.com reported a sharp 13% drop in the 4th quarter revenues for 2017. The company went on to explain that the decline was due to dwindling number of search results. This happened due to changes in Google’s algorithms, because of which SEO strategies failed to have a positive impact. This is why SEO companies in Dubai like Nenen, which specialize in providing services for search engine optimization in Dubai, always keep tabs on changing algorithms of prominent search engines to ensure the most effective optimization strategies.

We take a look at some of the proven SEO strategies that the best SEO agencies in Dubai follow for assured success.

Dependable SEO Strategies for the Modern Age

  1. Creating interactive, mobile-friendly sites: Prominent search engines like Google have added “mobile friendliness” as one of the factors determining the ranking of websites. Considering the huge impact the presence of mobile devices has had, this comes as no surprise. This is why websites need to be mobile friendly and interactive, in order to make a mark. The resolution and layout needs to be different to adapt to mobile screens. The same layout and design might not suit a smaller screen as it does a desktop.
  2. Concentrating on local SEO: Local searches have increased manifold in recent times. Companies specializing in online marketing in Dubai or any other major commercial hub will always advise strategies that can ensure visibility in local searches. Prospective customers need to be able to find your contact details, directions to your location, your opening and closing hours and other such relevant information online easily. Catering to searches that have the name of the location in them is extremely important.
  3. Structured data is the way to go: Search engines need to handle truckloads of information in varied formats. They need to inspect every website and literally “understand” them for making their job easier. This is why, systems like “schemas” that allow the data to be represented in a much more structured way proves to be of help to search engines. The digital marketing agency you engage will help you in engaging these schemas for best results.
  4. Being equipped with the right set of tools always matters: Search engine optimization strategies cannot be mastered alone. Of course, you will need assistance from expert SEO strategists. You will also need help from a set of tools that can be used for checking traffic levels, your ranking, results on social media, incoming links and so on. If you have a large website with plenty of traffic to manage, monitoring the results of your SEO strategies can never be easy unless you select the right tools.

Your website is like your brick and mortar store in the online marketplace. Making it visible and attractive will require meticulous planning and timely execution of online marketing and SEO strategies. Make sure you plan well.

Boost Traffic On Your Business Website With These Design Tips

Building a business website is not as daunting of a task as it may seem, but there are a few specific aspects of site design that work better than others.  To run a successful business website, you first need people.

Focus your efforts on boosting traffic to your website through design.  The more visitors you draw, the more likely it is for you to see your conversions rise.  Here are a few design tips that will help you boost traffic on your business website.

Build an awesome business blog

If your business blog is good enough, it will act as a powerful tool to draw visitors to your website.  Your business blog is the key to spreading your site’s message across the tangled web of the internet.

When people read and share your business blog posts with friends and family, word spreads quickly.  Your blog is also a great place to build your website’s keyword saturation and rank higher in the SERPs.

Ranking higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) means that more people will have more of a chance to “stumble” across your business website.  Check out how this business set up their blog presence.   

Learn all you can about SEO

Search engine optimization is just as it sounds.  SEO is a set of concepts which (if correctly implemented) will optimize your website’s position in the SERPs, so web users can more easily find your business site.  

Learn everything you can about SEO, and redesign your website to fall in line with the concepts.  You will see boosted web traffic within the first few days of the change.  Learning how the internet works will enlighten you in many ways.

Optimize for mobile access

As you rework your business design, optimize the website for mobile access.  People are no longer accessing web pages from their PCs or laptops as often as they are using their mobile devices.  

For your website to remain relevant to the technology of the times, you need to optimize for mobile access.  People should never have to pinch or swipe their screen to accurately view your business website.

Take your Google My Business slot

Every business, for the sake of visibility, should take their free Google My Business listing.  Google offers the opportunity to literally make your mark on their maps.

After taking your Google My Business listing, local searches will produce a listing and map marker for your organization.  Brick and mortar locations see a marked increase in traffic after signing up with Google My Business.  

Use high quality media on your site

High quality media looks more enticing to the Google search bots.  Sites with high quality media rank higher in the SERPs. People don’t want to look at pixelated images and wait a whole minute for a page to load.  High quality media will solve these issues and boost web traffic.

The Connected Supply Chain: Get Positioned Now to Play

Game changing.

That’s the impact the Internet of Things (IoT) technology may have on Supply Chain Management generally, and inventory management and demand forecasting specifically. And it’s happening now.

Through 2025, according to projections by DHL and Cisco Consulting Services, the IoT can be expected to generate some $1.9 trillion in value driven by supply chain and logistics applications. By 2020, the firms also estimate that the number of devices connected to the Internet will explode to 50 billion from 2015’s 15 billion.

Supply Chain Management at its simplest involves managing the flow of goods and services from the point of origin to the point of consumption and all the stops in between. A supply chain that’s “connected” stands to yield any number of operational efficiencies. But, at the same time, there will be challenges – not the least of which is bringing businesses current with IoT technology, given the number of outdated legacy systems being used alongside new technologies and assets that are both connected and unconnected.

Among the efficiencies a connected supply chain can create:

· Far better tracking of assets and at incredibly granular levels. The IoT poses substantive advantages by expanding the existing application of RFID and GPS sensors that will track products from floor to store or more. In addition, deeper data dives will be possible on things like storage temperature or length of time on retailers’ shelves. All of this improved data will combine to improve quality control, delivery performance and forecasting.

· Having better data on assets can lead to improved production schedules and also give companies a better perspective on vendor performance. That’s important when up to 65 percent of the value of an organization’s products or services stems from its suppliers. Having a better understanding of how they’re handling supplies and product is a bonus.

· IoT monitoring programs for forecasting and inventory planning purposes are a lot more accurate than what humans can do. Still, data collection can be haphazard, not necessarily providing a good baseline for analyzing product performance and predicting failures. MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, though, has developed an algorithm that builds IoT failure data directly into the equation. It not only helps predict future inventory needs, but has been shown to help reduce stock by 6 percent to 10, a considerable bottom-line impact

The drive to create a connected supply chain is not going to be easy, however. And it’s not just the question of investing in the technology and in the skills that people will need to develop to make it work.

The IoT-connected supply chain is going to result in exponentially larger amounts of data. Simply collecting it won’t be enough. It’s knowing what to do with all the disparate data that will be produced, when much of it will be incomplete, insufficient and inaccurate. This data will need to be accounted for and properly managed in order to lead to the sophisticated analytics that provide insights for smarter decisions. Sound analytics processes, along with the right people and technology need to be put in place.

Without question the IoT is changing the supply chain game. But as this game is a work in progress, your best bet is to start positioning yourself now to be a player.

Understanding the Differences Between Financial Advisors and Brokers

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Advisors Channel

As a fee-only financial advisor, I am surely biased to this type of advisor. I do think everyday investors are much better off if they have someone in their corner who is recommending a particular investment product because it actually is the best product for them, given their circumstances and life stage. Not because there’s a commission on the sale at the end of the day.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you shouldn’t be mindful of possible issues – and that’s for any financial advisor, whether fee-based or full-service brokers. For that matter, you also should be mindful of potential drawbacks to other options that may seem (superficially, at least) appealing.

Let’s look at the options.

Fee-only financial advisors are considered advantageous because there’s no inherent conflict of interest as there can be with full-service or commission-based brokers. Brokers often recommend investments owned by their company, which is an inherent conflict.  You simply have to consider whether the products recommended are going to be best for your personal financial goals.

What you pay for is financial guidance, planning and assistance. This may be a flat fee. Some advisors charge a percentage of your account’s assets. You may be able to negotiate the amount. But, the fees you pay do not fluctuate according to the type of investments that are being recommended. What you get with this approach is objectivity and investment advice that’s unbiased. Your interests and your advisor’s are aligned.

The commission-based approach to financial advisory services is less the norm today than in the past. You open an account or buy a stock or bond and your advisor gets a percentage. Recurrent trading may also be encouraged – which may not be good for investors with a longer-term perspective. This all can pose a conflict with your best interests and goals.

And on the do-it-yourself front? Well, as attractive as this might sound on the surface, consider the relevance of the saying about the attorney who represents himself. For investment purposes, you might find good information online, but it’s just as likely you’ll find speculative information, if not real fake news. Investing is a risky business; if you don’t have the time or the expertise to do an adequate job of qualifying research, get a professional to help. Your future – financial and otherwise – depends on it.

Speaking of your financial future, it’s never too early to start planning for it. That means Millennials – and even the oldest Generation Zs who are just entering the workforce – should be putting money aside as they think about their long-term financial goals. It’s a challenge, of course, especially for those who are still trying to pay off college. Retirement is maybe too much to think about, right?

With that said, I’ve developed a service package to make it less painless. My new Robo-Advisor Professional service package is specifically targeted to the needs of Millennials and utilizes an in-depth financial data collection sheet, as well as a plan discussion with myself, to collect essential information about your financial background and goals.  This provides a strong base of understanding for clients to invest in ETFs through WealthSimple with a superior portfolio manager with a track record of beating the index.

ETFs are ideal for those with more limited resources, as a “wrapper” around a group of securities. They have a cost advantage over individual stocks and can be traded commission free. They’re similar to mutual funds, but with more flexibility as they can be traded throughout the day, not just once.

MONEY News

MONEY News: Mergers and Acquisitions- AT&T and Time Warner Inc.

AT&T’s Stock Could Be a Great Bargain for Investors

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) reached a new 52-week low on Tuesday as the company released its third-quarter earnings which failed to impress investors. AT&T’s revenue of $39.67 billion fell short of the $40.10 billion that was expected. Year-over-year, sales were down 3% as the company saw a decline in its legacy wireline services as well as its consumer mobility segment. Earnings per share of $0.74 also fell short of estimates, just narrowly missing the $0.75 that was expected by analysts.

AT&T also add less wireless customers than was expected, although their postpaid churn rate of 0.84% was well below the 1.08% estimated by analysts.

Despite a soft quarter, AT&T did not adjust down its guidance for 2017.

The stock was only down 1% on the disappointing results, but this is because earlier in the month AT&T’s stock declined 6% when the company sent out a warning stating that it was going to show a net loss of 90,000 video subscribers in the coming quarter.

Had the company not sent out that warning, we likely would have seen more of a decline in the share price. However, there is reason for optimism with the company still working on closing its acquisition of Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX), which will further expand its offerings and solidify a stronger grip on the market.

With a dividend of 5.6% and a price to earnings multiple of just 16, AT&T might be a great buy coming off a poorer than expected earnings result. Over the long term the future should present plenty of opportunities for growth that will more than offset any short-term struggles.

Top 3 Cyrptocurrency Wallet Options for 2017

The interest in cryptocurrency is still growing and it is no longer just a game for geeks or an easier way for the (much) shadier businessmen of the world to conduct their financial transactions. Trading and accumulating cryptocurrency is now being viewed as a legitimate investment opportunity by some more forward thinking people from all walks of life – from a lawyer like www.atlantacaraccidentlawyer.com to Reading real estate brokers, and many more.

There are a number of basics the cryptocurrency newbie needs as they build their new skills – and potentially their new wealth as well. One of the most important of all is a good wallet

What is a Wallet for Cryptocurrency? 

As cryptocurrency of any kind is not actually a physical commodity you obviously do not need a traditional physical wallet to keep it in, but you do still need a wallet. Most of those currently on the market look more like a USB storage card than anything else – if they have a physical component at all, some are just software – but within their tiny ‘brains’ investors store their currency, make their trades and keep up with their records, all within a secure, portable environment.

As cryptocurrency gains popularity so does the number of these wallets available. So which should you choose? Here’s a look at our top three wallet choices

Trezor – Hardware Wallet

As far as hardware wallets go, it is Trezor’s reputation for maintaining the best possible security measures to prevent both physical and virtual theft that is usually considered to set it ahead of the rest of the crowd.

From a looks standpoint it is not as stylish and sleek as some of its peers, but it boasts excellent functionality and versatility, able to store multiple currencies and, even if you make use of a PC that then falls victim to a malware attack your private currency keys are guaranteed to be safe. And that kind of security is probably well worth the style trade off any day of the week.

Ledger Nano S – Hardware Wallet

This is, in the mind of many, the very best choice when it comes to a hardware-based cryptocurrency wallet that is reasonably priced (around $65). Thanks to a series of proprietary apps, it can accommodate multiple currencies at one time – it currently supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Altcoins and Ripple – and it can be used in conjunction with almost any PC, laptop or tablet via a simple USB connection. Once connected it embeds a secure OLED screen to double check and confirm transactions. Its security features are considered to be second to none but as it is a larger investment in terms of price than many of its peers it may be a purchase to delay until you are sure you’re serious about the whole endeavor in the first place.

Jaxx – Software Wallet

Some people just don’t want to be bothered with a traditional cryptocurrency wallet any longer but they find that restricting themselves to a PC based software is inconvenient as well. Until recently though it was a choice of one or the other but the launch of Jaxx has changed that.

You see, Jaxx is an app, an app available for both iOS and Android devices. Once installed – and it can be installed to a PC as well – you can receive funds, view transactions, scan codes and more, even if you are miles from the nearest USB port. There is one downside though. Making use of Jaxx calls for a fairly high level of technical know-how and it does boast a pretty steep learning curve versus a hardware wallet. However, if you have the time and patience to learn, then this free app (yes, free) might very well be worth a try.