A solid business plan will help you identify the goals you have for your business and make it easier to make decisions about which path to take when there are multiple options ahead of you.
If you’re new to the concept, here are four essential areas you need to cover to help you take your first steps towards success.
1. Cover all the bases.
The best plan covers a wide range of areas – not just those where your personal strengths lie. If, for example, you are a phenomenal coder, that’s great, but that doesn’t mean you can run a business of your own. Showing that you have a clear understanding of areas you might know little about, such as marketing, sales and accounting, is essential if you want investors to have the confidence to back you.
You don’t need to master all or even any of those skills yourself. You can either hire those with more expertise in those areas or simply outsource until your business is big enough to hire staff of its own. The important thing is to show that you are aware those parts of the business exist and that they won’t be magically taken care of by someone else.
2. Present a Detailed strategy.
Showing that you know the exact steps you need to take in order to achieve success, as well as being able to explain why your firm will succeed where others might have failed or might not venture, is essential if you want your business plan to get potential investors excited.
If your product or service outperforms others on the market, show why your ideas are better both in those contexts and in the context of running a business as a whole. Demonstrate the many ways in which your business is sustainable, your plans for growth and how you expect the business to look a year or two years down the line.
3. Security protocols.
The rise of cybercrime means that security has become a board-level consideration. Jobs can be lost, or business shutdown if security isn’t taken seriously. It is now no longer a case of wondering if your company might be the victim of an attack, but rather planning how to deal with the fallout when the inevitable attack comes. This is known as “assume breach” where you assume a breach has already occurred and it’s a matter of time before you find out about it.
Showing that you are aware of the threat by including a rudimentary strategy in your business plan will show potential investors that you are being wholly realistic about the level of threat and not simply burying your head in the sand.
Practical steps you can take to mitigate the threat include stating your intention to hire a chief security officer as soon as it becomes practical, and detailing the precautions you are taking with your hardware/software systems.
If you plan to utilize cloud services for your IT needs, then make sure you have a plan to address the security issues that come with using the cloud. While your existing firewall and proxy will help protect your network, securing your cloud usage requires additional security technology. Make sure you understand all the security controls applicable to cloud services, such as single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, or security controls offered by cloud access security brokers (CASB). CASBs protect both the data that’s in the cloud and the users that access that data.
4. An exit strategy.
Your exit strategy need not form part of your formal business plan, but it is something you need to have in mind for the earliest possible stage. The reason is that the way you run your business on a day-to-day basis will be very different if you have a clear end in mind, rather than just assuming the business will run on and on forever. It is quite likely – in fact almost guaranteed – that the exit strategy will change as your business grows, but having one in place means it can be easily adapted to keep you on track with your long-term goals.
Running an e-commerce business can be a challenging thing to do, but not really impossible. If you are selling products online, it is necessary to develop a platform that enables you to sell on retail basis. This means that you must maintain a stock of products you are selling in a public storage facility that you can access easily whenever you have an order.
If you are just getting your e-commerce business started, here are three tips to getting it started and growing fast:
1. Understand who your target customers are.
Prior to rolling out your e-commerce business, consider investing time to define who your prospective customers would be. By clarifying your online target audience, you will be able to determine what channels you can use to reach them and the type of adverts to run. For example. Millennials would be a good target audience if you are selling trendy accessories. Understanding how your target audience shops online will help you get your e-commerce business on the path to success from the start.
2. Craft a strategy for selling online.
Once you are clear about your target customers, it’s time to prepare your sales strategy. A good place to start in developing a sales strategy is to find out how your would-be customers search the Internet for the products they want to buy. cnn live news show sites such as Amazon that display search results based on which products customers are likely to buy and search engines like Google that display results depending on the queries that customers make can provide you with the valuable information you need to beef up your sales strategy. An effective strategy should be able to address components such as conversion rate, relevance and customer satisfaction.
Your sales strategy should also have a component of creating strategic partnerships that enable you to grow your business faster. With that strategy, map out the key players in your industry then try to enter into deals with them. When searching for such partnerships, bear in mind the sales channels they would be enabling you to access and how those channels will enable you to scale up. Since there are many products online today, focus more on building long term relationships with each sales channel that you come across so that your product remains visible to customers at all time.
3. Identify keywords and check how they rank on search engines.
Irrespective of the platform you plan to use to sell your products, you need to ensure that you word your product name and descriptions in a manner that makes them easy to find online. Find out the keywords your target customers use to search similar products and ensure that those words feature on your products as well. Google keyword planner is a tool that can get you started in terms of identifying keywords. With this tool you will be able to find out the competitiveness of each keyword and how different people use such keywords each month.
by Amanda Bowman of crowdspring
This time of year, there are holiday marketing campaigns everywhere. Whether the campaigns are small and involve dressing up a company’s logo, or campaigns that manage to go viral, many businesses are keenly aware of the opportunity to take advantage of the spending season and find ways to market to enthusiastic customers.
Late November and December alone drive an astounding 30% more revenue for e-commerce businesses than the rest of the year.
The key to a successful holiday marketing campaign is to analyze your brand and find which strategy is a natural fit for your business.
Here are some great small business holiday marketing strategies:
1. Find your brand’s unique holiday angle.
Apple is well-known for creating products that leverage technology as a way of connecting people and making their lives better. Their focus on products that foster communication was brought together with the holidays brilliantly in a commercial a few years ago, “Misunderstood.”
In it, a teenager spends his holiday time with family seemingly fixated on his mobile phone. At the end of the commercial, he connects his phone to the TV and surprises the entire family with a thoughtful, heartfelt holiday home video that he created using his phone. Apple’s name never appears in the commercial, and the only branding, Apple’s logo, appears at the end.
It’s a heartwarming, moving commercial and showcases how Apple communicates their brand and their mission effectively through the prism of the holidays.
2. Get your customers involved.
Big companies like Starbucks have made user generated content (UGC) a key part of their holiday branding strategy.
In 2016 Starbucks ran a UGC contest on Instagram inviting customers to post festive photos that incorporated that year’s “red cup” design. Entries were tagged with the hashtag #RedCupContest.
Over 40,000 entries were posted and the campaign was a huge success.
But if you’re going to ask people to send you content, be prepared to filter the entries for inappropriate things and make sure that entries are moderated if they appear anywhere on your site.
3. Offer discounts, contests, giveaways.
Promotions can be a great way to spread holiday cheer to your customers.
A holiday promotion can take many forms: maybe a discount code, rewards points, or a free surprise gift with a purchase.
With contests or coupons you can:
Another effective strategy is to run a holiday-themed contest.
If you have a signature product, try running a photo contest. Offering the opportunity to have their posts showcased by your brand is a reward in and of itself (and free!).
Need some ideas for a photo contest? We’ve got plenty:
To really celebrate your customers and make them feel extra special during the holidays, you can offer them exclusive deals.
One easy way to do this is to offer rewards or discounts for signing up for your company’s newsletter, email chain, or following your company’s social media accounts. Everyone loves to feel special, and everyone definitely loves a good promo code.
4. Give your site a festive, holiday feel.
We’re living in a digital age. 92% of holiday shoppers will research or buy gifts online – they can interact with your brand and product from the comfort of their fuzzy slippers and glass of eggnog.
When customers land on your site, your business’ special holiday promotions should welcome them with festive, cheerful designs. Create holiday-themed landing pages to help direct customers to any deals you are offering, and make it an enticing, enjoyable experience to shop on your site.
5. Create a special unboxing experience.
Many companies release redesigned packages every holiday season, which can be quite delightful when done well.
For example, every year Coca-Cola releases new holiday packaging for Coke; The inventiveness and creativity of the packaging is a prime example of how to incorporate a festive feel into your product without compromising its brand integrity.
Showing your holiday colors is a nice way to bring the season to your brand while making store shelves (and other places) prettier and more festive.
6. Social Media posts.
You can use social media to target users who might not otherwise have the chance to engage with your brand. Styling your posts with unique holiday-themed content is sure to pique interest. Try using some of these ideas to engage social media users.
The 2017 holiday shopping season is expected to be one of the best in recent years. Don’t let your business miss out on the chance to spread your own holiday cheer to your customers. Follow these holiday campaign strategies, and you’ll be sure to make you and your customers very merry this season.
Amanda Bowman works in customer service at crowdspring, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. Amanda helps guide crowdspring customers through the easy process of obtaining affordable, high-quality custom artwork and content for their business.
by Samuel Culbert, author of “Good People, Bad Managers: How Work Culture Corrupts Good Intentions“
Americans idealize “getting ahead,” and the work culture pushes this ideal to an extreme. In the hierarchical corporate world, for instance, it’s not the American way for managers to help their employees succeed if it gets in the way of their own upward trajectory. A get-ahead attitude is endemic to the way people in management are conditioned to think. Yet, this attitude leads to a perverse way of thinking about one’s self and other people that makes bad management predictable and prevalent in almost every large American organization and company, and plenty of smaller ones.
Under constant pressure to accomplish and appear competent, managers become absorbed in work-culture-provoked insecurities that prevent them from following their good instincts. A culture of deception, guardedness and collusion evolves and they fear taking any action that others might see as detrimental to the company – or, more importantly, their positions. They insist on work practices that make no sense when you think about what’s really good for the company. Forces like these led engineers at General Motors to not speak up about a conspiracy to hide defects that cost lives. It led hundreds of administrators at the Veterans Health Administration to become complicit in double bookkeeping appointment ledgers that delayed treatment for veterans with urgent needs. And, unfortunately, I can go on and on.
Out of self-preservation necessity, managers skirt their responsibility to speak truthfully to those up the chain of command, but they often exert a command-and-control temperament toward their direct reports. Instead of helping employees reach their potential, they treat them as resources to deploy in furthering their own goals. In their zeal to succeed, managers overlook their primary assignment – setting the stage and creating the conditions for others to accomplish and succeed in their goals.
President Trump conveyed this corrupted mindset when he once described his managerial approach in this way: “My style of doing things is fairly simple. I just push, push and push again what I want to achieve.”
Overcoming this managerial focus requires that leaders, managers, operatives, and employees accurately recognize what’s going on, and then make a concerted effort to expand the consciousness of their corporate culture.
Here are some suggested ways to start the process:
1. Create reciprocally accountable relationships.
Instead of hierarchical relationships within the workplace where the employee is the only one held accountable, we need relationships where each person is committed to helping the other accomplish what the company needs. Why are managers not held accountable for failing to notice, remove, and replace practices and protocols that prevent the people they oversee from functioning effectively? By revamping managerial relationships to make accountability two-sided, the employee is accountable for bringing in results, and the manager is accountable for the employee’s successful performance. No one wins if the other doesn’t succeed, and both gain by transparency.
2. Take an other-directed focus.
Unlike a self-directed focus that entails managing resources and systems to achieve company results, an other-directed managerial process is aimed at facilitating people to accomplish their individually held goals along with giving the company what it needs. An other-directed focus requires managers to learn enough about each of their report’s skills, thought processes and reasons for limitations to know what appropriate inputs are needed for the employee to be most effective. Managers need to get employees in focus and to get credit for spending time coaching and supporting direct reports and helping other managers get what they need.
3. Remove roadblocks to straight talk.
Set the stage so that employees feel safe to speak their minds. One way to do this is to insert some humility into your corporate missives. For example, expand the standard communication roll-out message from “Here’s what we want and the benefits we expect” to also include some version of “Here are the erroneous assumptions we’ve been making, and what we overlooked and ignored by not searching for better ways to proceed.” Straight talk relationships also involve actually engaging what other people tell you, especially when it goes counter to what you want to hear.
4. Get rid of performance reviews.
Performance reviews are fraudulent, bogus, pretentious activities. They allow bad managers to get way with bad behavior and prevent good managers from establishing the trust that allows their good behavior to pay off. Theses bosses may say that their door is always open and mean it. But they’re not going to hear what’s really on employee minds. Get discretion out of the annual bonus. Pay people what they can negotiate for themselves, and give everyone on the team a comparable bonus. Keep in mind that a conflict avoider in one manager’s eyes is a consummate team player to another. Stop the pretense of objective assessment. Forget the idea that people are able to excel on any metric used to judge them. Start getting people straight; everyone is imperfect, and imperfect people succeed by using the skills they have and by avoiding the skills they lack. The manager’s job is to stage for people to do their best with what they have and are.
5. Establish lessons-learned accountability.
There’s no accountability without consequences. But when thinking about consequences, most managers think penalties. And we know where that leads – to no one raising their hands and owning up. Why say “I did wrong” when you’re going to be punished? There’s a better way to hold people accountable but it doesn’t occur to most. It involves allowing those who error to scrutinize their mistake sufficiently and learn what they missed and why they didn’t see it or know. Assumptions and motivations need to be probed, essential skills acquired and remedies assured. If a person can, the company is ahead. If they can’t get it, they remain loose cannons ready to repeat. By the way, accountability is two-sided and bosses need to learn why they didn’t know enough to prevent what went awry. It’s their responsibility that things are done right.
The good news is that individual companies don’t have to wait for the culture at large to change to realize the benefits of getting hierarchy out of relationships, other-directed focus in management, lessons-learned accountability and other practices that promote greater camaraderie. Replacing hierarchical organizations with a new management mentality can happen at the company level. But it takes a valid process and a great deal of earnest commitment at the top to reverse what the work culture has wrong.
Samuel A. Culbert, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, researcher and professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. He is the author of books such as “Good People, Bad Managers: How Work Culture Corrupts Good Intentions” and “Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing – and Focus on What Really Matters“.
When it comes to succeeding in small business, you’ll soon grow to realise that you need to prioritize your customers’ wants and needs. Many of us quit our nine to five employed roles and enter the realm of self-employed business ownership in order to follow our own hopes and dreams. We want to work in an area that we’re interested in, creating products and offering services that we’d invest in ourselves.
Sure, this is great. But when it comes down to it, you’re going to have to be a little lenient if you intend to succeed. After all, your target customer base is going to have to be much wider than yourself if you’re going to succeed and rake in the profits. In some ways, the greater your mass appeal, the more secure and profitable your business is going to be. This means putting the customer at the centre of the picture, rather than your own ideas, thoughts, and preferences. There are both direct and indirect ways that you can ensure your products are perfect for your target consumer audience.
Here are a few ways to find out exactly what your potential customers want and how to go about bringing their dreams to reality. Implementing these changes to your small business could truly be the step that takes you to the big time!
Do Your Market Research.
First things first, it’s essential that you undertake thorough market research. This process involves the collection and analysis of information and data concerning consumers, marketplace competitors, and how effective given marketing programmes are. Not only is market research absolutely essential for any startup, it’s something that should be employed by businesses at any point in their progression, as it gives you a clear understanding of where customer demand and interest lies. Having a thorough understanding of the marketplace can allow you to choose the direction that your product development should take.
Remember that the closer your wares fit the marketplace’s expectations, the more profitable your company will be overall. Generally speaking, outsourcing this area of work often proves best, as an impartial and independent party contact consumers on your behalf and find out exactly what they have to say about various aspects of your company. So, if you hand over this task to a specialist agency, they will know all the right questions to ask.
However, if you decide to save a little cash and take matters into your own hands, ensure that you engage with customers using the following methods: surveys, multiple choice questionnaires, seminars, focus groups, and product trials. The results from these market research activities will help you to decide what customers want, aiding you to tailor your products to their specific needs.
Bespoke Items and Services.
Another area that you can profit from is bespoke items and services. These are individual, custom-made products or services that meet a specific customer’s needs. Sure, this may not be ideal on a grand scale. But if you’re a smaller company, this can bring in a lot of profit. After all, people are more likely to pay out for something that is exactly what they want. You can personalise goods with equipment such as a hobby laser cutter, an embroidery machine, or paper cutting, letterpress, or printing. This is a small add-on to existing items from your product inventory that could sway a customer to purchase an item rather than opting for an alternative or a competitor. Sure, the machinery, equipment, and tools used to personalise goods may seem a little pricey.
However, they will quickly pay for themselves and then provide you with the means to continue making profit with personalisation for years down the line. This is also better than outsourcing personalisation, as you can make small tweaks to your designs as you go, rather than having to sell an entire bulk run of your original design.
Alternatively, you can craft items from scratch, taking direct orders from customers and providing them with completely custom made items. Bear in mind, however, that this is more time consuming, and you are likely to have to charge higher prices to make the venture worthwhile.
Packaging is becoming an increasingly popular business tool, with many companies using packaging and the unboxing experience as a means of crafting brand image or aesthetic and advertising. Think about it. Packaging can be whatever you want it to be. You can incorporate your brand colours into the wrap, add branded tape or sealant stickers, and include business cards or promotional material inside the envelope or box.
More and more people are sharing details of their day to day lives on social media, so if your packaging catches their eye, they’re likely to take a snap and share with their friend’s list. This exposes your brand to numerous people who have never heard of it, as their followers may then visit your site and make purchases themselves after browsing your goods. This is ideal, as, at the end of the day, it means more profit!
However, you can always take things a step further to guarantee that shared snap. Add a personal touch to your product packaging. If you have a small scale business, take the time to write a personal thank you note, which can be included on the packaging. This won’t take all too long but will make a real impact on your customers, making their shopping and unboxing experience all the more memorable.
Remember that customers want to feel individual and appreciated. Nowadays, the consumer market is saturated. Consumers are making purchases and sellers are closing sales multiple times a day, every single day. It’s not surprising then, that many sellers and retailers can begin to take their clients and their custom for granted. This is something that you need to avoid at all costs. Especially if you are a small business: at the end of the day, customer loyalty is the key to repeated sales and success of small scale retail.
So make sure that you truly tailor what you’re offering to their wants and needs! Sure, it may take a little time and effort. But it’ll be worth every investment you make!
The internet is a crowded place with many companies fighting to get themselves noticed. If you want to attract more visitors to your website, here are just a few different tactics that you can use to stand out amongst other companies.
Invest in SEO.
Your website is more likely to get noticed if it lists highly on search engines. It’s possible to get to the top by strategically using keywords on your website, but your best bet is to use an SEO company such as SMR digital. SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’ and requires various methods of helping to organically boost your rankings.
Link it up with social media.
You can also encourage people to visit your website by promoting it on social media. If you’ve got a Facebook and Twitter page for your company, make sure that there’s a link to your site in the bio of these pages. You should also post a link to your website whenever new content is added, whether is a new blog post or a new promotion that you’re doing on your website. Vice versa, don’t forget to promote your social media pages on your website – you can usually do this by downloading plug-ins that allow people to like and follow you from your site, or you could simply add a link for people to click on.
Pay for PPC ads.
You can also promote your website using PPC (Pay Per Click) ads. These ads, when clicked on, direct users straight to your website. Your ad is displayed until a certain amount of visitors click on it. There are two types of PPC ads. There are firstly picture ads as designed by companies such as Screaming Frog, which display randomly across the internet dependent on the search history of the individual user. There are then text ads, which appear on search engines and can be paid for using services such as Google AdWords. Both types of ad are beneficial, so it’s worth trying both out.
Cross-promote with other companies.
Another way to promote your website is to pay other companies to promote you. This could be via their own website or on their social media accounts. The best way of encouraging other companies to promote your website is to promote theirs in exchange. This is known as cross-promotion and is best done with companies that rely on one another for business. For example, an electrician company might agree to cross-promotion with a plumber, whilst a hotel might want to team up with a hire car agency.
Market it offline.
You can also advertise your website offline. Your website should be printed on any branded items such as business cards, company vehicles, branded t-shirts and even the sign to your premises. People may see your web address and be urged to search you up on their phones.
by David Zimmerman, CEO of LC Technology International
Entrepreneurs and small business owners are often coming to market with that “one great idea.” Their intellectual property that details their new product or service is exceedingly valuable and warrants the utmost in protection. Unfortunately, it’s much too easy to not properly plan for disasters and how to protect and recover data during such catastrophes.
The recent hurricanes and the raging wildfires out West are just some of the events that are impacting hundreds of small businesses, some of which were exposed to data loss, specifically digital data which resides in computers and servers. Thankfully, many firms saw the lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina and have taken steps to lessen the impacts of disasters as they relate to data. In Houston, many of the area’s hospitals had proactively put in place flood control measures and most had already moved to electronic health records instead of paper documents. And during this span, storage options such as the cloud have become much more accessible, secure, and affordable.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs that want to best protect their valued digital assets should follow these best practices for data management during and after a disaster.
Write a Formal Disaster Management Plan.
A formal plan adds accountability and transparency and helps eliminate confusion about who holds various responsibilities. Everyone involved with the company should understand their role in disaster planning.
The data recovery plan should be a part of the broader disaster recovery plan which will cover a variety of concerns, including; how employees will physically evacuate, which staff hold special responsibilities during and after the disaster, and how will upper management meet and discuss the ramifications of the disaster to the business.
Protecting data from a disaster requires careful and comprehensive planning. Here are just some of the considerations and questions that should go into such a plan:
Test the Plan.
A disaster management plan is worthless unless it’s applicable within the real world. IT and other departments will be involved in actual fire drills to prepare for evacuations, and they should also test the data management parts of the plan.
If for example the plan involves moving data from on-premises to cloud storage, then how long does this take? Is it a nightly process? Can this process be changing to an automated “mirroring” of data to the cloud?
Firms should test every staff member involved in data management to be sure they understand their role during a disaster. This involves not just IT staff, but also non-technical staff. For example, does the marketing department understand the proper login procedures to important systems if they’re forced to work offsite? Does everyone understand the risk of accessing company data via a public Wi-Fi connection? Utilize surveys to test the knowledge of everyone in the company regarding their adherence to approved disaster management procedures.
Organize and Protect Data Before and During a Disaster.
Firms must consider data as a tangible asset, just as they would office buildings, furniture, and all of the other “things” that go into running a business. The first priority in disaster planning should of course be the wellbeing of the employees, but protection of data should follow behind in terms of importance.
The plan should indicate the physical or virtual location of the data sources, whether that includes Excel files, CRM data, or accounting files. Businesses cannot protect the “unknowns”, so a first step is to find all of the data and centralize its location. When a hurricane is scheduled to arrive in four days, companies won’t have time to locate all of their data sources. This has to be done on the front end, with a full accounting of every source of content and information. Once a disaster occurs, IT should have a way to temporarily suspend access to certain systems, especially local machines in the affected office. If a company headquarters will be unoccupied for several days, IT needs to have in place remote locking capabilities to restrict unauthorized usage.
Collecting the data is a useful exercise in many respects. The team might find data that is no longer needed and should be deleted – which can lower the company’s liability. They might also find unexpected data sources that can be correlated with others to produce insights. All of this can be uncovered through sound disaster planning practices.
Using the Cloud as a Disaster Management Tool.
The cloud is ideally suited because it provides businesses with offsite redundant storage. If an earthquake strikes a business’ headquarters in Los Angeles and that firm keeps all of its content on on-premises storage, then the loss of data can potentially ruin the entire firm. If all of the firm’s content and IP is instead kept in the cloud, the earthquake will disrupt business operations, but the team can get back on its feet quickly. Workers can function remotely and still pull the data they need to get things done.
Here are some of the ways the cloud can be worked into a disaster plan:
In addition to cloud storage, firms should consider backing up their most sensitive data to external hard drives, encrypting the data, and keeping them in secure vaults. This provides an additional layer or protection against disasters, especially those that might restrict internet access for an extended period of time. Plan on having this physical storage located outside of the typical “disaster impact zone.” For example, a business located in southern coastal Florida could have data stored offsite in Atlanta or areas of northern Florida.
Data recovery and protection plans are an essential part of a broader disaster recovery strategy. The best plans are those that reflect proactive thinking and consideration from all the stakeholders.
David Zimmerman has been in the hardware/software industry for over 30 years, specifically in the data recovery software market for 18 years. During this period, he has been involved in the creation; marketing and support of the earlier drive recovery software products to enter the PC market and successfully marketed them both nationally and internationally. His company LC Technology International makes data recovery products for most of his competitors.
It was once only an idea that machines would be able to think like humans. With the rapid advancements of technology, however, it is now a reality. It took extensive funding and efforts, but artificial intelligence is now one of the most popular topics on conversation when discussing the future, both in and outside of the industry. It only continues to significantly increase in its role in business and daily life in general. An important aspect of AI, which seems to not be discussed as much as it should be, is the important role that women are, and must continue to have in the world of artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence has already been introduced into many common business practices. It can help generate consumer insights based on knowledge gathered from data, make services more accessible, and improve processes altogether. For example, chat bots are used to help organizations stay on top of their customer service efforts. Chat bots can help answer basic questions, commonly asked questions and channel more complex questions that require human attention to the right department. Another example of AI is that of Open Source Intelligence. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), is free and unclassified information that is publicly available. Artificial intelligence machines can then be trained to sift through OSINT and learn what to pick up and what not to pick up depending on the potential it might have to help a business. The machine can then learn what information is actually valuable to the business and thus perform this check more efficiently each time. This can save businesses significant time, money and energy and have AI pick up tasks and filtering that a human employee would otherwise take a longer time to do.
As there are many benefits of artificial intelligence, Stephen Hawking also helped to explain the need for diversity in the world of intelligence. In a Reddit online Q&A session about AI, Hawking said, “A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.” Of the leaders that have helped shape the world of artificial intelligence, are a team made up of mostly white men. It is entirely crucial that women and minorities are involved in the development and rollout of artificial intelligence, so that the goals that are represented are those of all. If we are programming computers to think like humans, it is vital that they are not programmed (intentionally or otherwise) with the same prejudices we are trying to fight across the business world and beyond.
So it is vital for women to be working on the development of AI, yet there is a lack of women involved with it- but why? There are many answers to this question. There are undoubtedly gender stereotypes that are very alive in the technology and science areas. Furthermore, according to Marie Desjardins, a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, women often seek fields with humanistic and communal goals. Desjardins say, “There’s a difference between agentic goals, which have to do with your personal goals and your desire to be intellectually challenged, and communal goals, which involve working with other people and solving problems.” Women often pursue the latter, which is not always associated with artificial intelligence. Even though the technology can improve people’s lives, the research into tech and AI does not highlight this. Thus, those with communal goals may not have as much drive to join the world of AI.
It is vital that the potential for working in the world of AI is explored by all. There are opportunities outside science/tech heavy roles, as AI requires a combination of Maths, Computer Science, Psychology and Storytelling. You can be a part of the development, encouragement and even with how it will affect the day to day for those that will use AI.
There are many ways to get involved, and it is absolutely crucial that more women do in order to ensure AI is built with equality at its core. Indeed, the tech world, in general, needs more women in order to help balance the industry. AI isn’t going anywhere and technology will only advance, so we have to make sure as many women as men are involved to create intelligence free from prejudice or bias.
by Alex Campbell, Managing Director, Asia, Xero
Global Entrepreneurship Week took place last month around the world, and it was a rather opportune time for me to examine the factors that have helped Singapore startups succeed. It should not really come as a surprise that this year, Singapore was ranked number one in the world for startup talent by Startup Genome, a US-based small business research and development firm. The supportive pro-business environment paired with forward-thinking government initiatives such as the Start-Up Enterprise Development Scheme (SEEDS) ensure that Singapore’s startup community is teeming with activity.
There are also efforts by the government to share data collected by public agencies through online portals as part of the Smart Nation initiative. This creates a symbiotic relationship with Singaporean startups. As Singaporean businesses have access to reliable and sufficiently large data sets, they become more amenable to implementing data-driven insights. In turn, they are empowered to innovate solutions that benefit society.
Singaporean startups are in fact becoming measurably more innovative. A study by NUS Enterprise reported that almost every second young startup is currently focused on developing completely new technology. This is an encouraging trend as the study also showed that innovative startups attain significantly higher sales growth – an average of 70.4 percent per annum – than less innovative firms.
Despite these positive moves, the same NUS Enterprise study reported that half of Singaporean startups operate at a loss. Of the 530 Singapore startups surveyed in 2016, a quarter recorded no revenue at all while 29 percent generate revenues but were spending more money than they earned. The unfortunate consequence of this is that only half of startups formed in Singapore five years ago are still currently operating.
To identify the success factors of the startups that demonstrated staying power, I spoke to six of Xero’s customers which successfully operate in a diverse range of industries, to get their take on what helps their businesses run effectively. Each of their answers was surprisingly consistent, revealing four key pieces of advice to fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Understand your market, understand your customer.
Lelian Chew of Floral Atelier, a boutique floral studio and online delivery service, encourages businesses at their inception to clearly identify their market, “The market won’t find you! Have a target market and be consistent in your approach towards it.”
Similarly, Keyis Ng, CEO and co-founder of Cafebond.com, an online coffee retailer and subscription service, emphasized the value of understanding your customers: “Watch how they interact with your product – even the smallest changes should make you innovate and adapt.”
RSS feeds can also be very helpful for keeping on top of conversations in the small business community, helping to build mental model of the market. At the same time, new information should always be assessed on how it either reinforces or challenges that existing mental model, developing an understanding of what customers want and how they want it. This can also help to grow your confidence, particularly when it comes to making big moves.
2. Build a team.
“Don’t do it alone!” implores Amira Priest, CEO of Zahara. Zahara is an online retailer of halal makeup. The website also acts as a supportive online community for Muslim women. While Amira did not have a team per se, she did have her husband Cam who acted as trusted confidante and business advisor.
Fitness enthusiast Luciano Tesoriero concurs. The New Zealander, who started the first F45 gyms in Singapore, advises entrepreneurs to identify their business values and build a diverse and interesting group around them. A like-minded team that you can trust helps to take the pressure off doing it all on your own.
3. Be open to new technology.
Michelle Koh of tech company Robust Tech took a cautious approach when it was starting out, to avoid repeating the business decisions which had led to the failures of other small businesses. However, with the business having grown and thrived, she now sees the value in taking leaps of faith. In particular, she says, “be open to exploring new technologies and ideas. Keeping an open mind leads to more business opportunities.”
Ben Lee, the proprietor of bustling CBD sandwich shop, Sarnies, encourages the same, “Get the right technology tools to manage your finances!”
4. Know your numbers.
In that same vein, Ben also highlighted the importance of being smart with your company’s finances. “Only invest what you can afford to lose”, he says.
This is an important one. There is a premium put on sticking out the struggle and being in the game for more noble reasons than money, but these noble pursuits have to be balanced with common sense. If you love what you do but are losing money, then get out! Or make sure you find a way to make it profitable. After all, money and a positive cash flow is what keeps the machine oiled and running smoothly.
Alex Campbell is Xero’s Managing Director for Asia, a role he took on in early 2016 to officially launch Xero’s operations in the region. He leads Xero’s growth into Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, and 45+ countries across Asia. Alex brings over a decade’s experience working in technology and a passion for helping small businesses grow and thrive.
Did you know that the legal term amicus curia is a Latin phrase that means, a friend of the court?
Law contains at least 100 phrases directly borrowed from Latin. Theology students study Latin deeply to help them interpret early scriptures written on ancient manuscripts. This knowledge helps them to understand the writer’s message in the right context hence maintaining accuracy during translation.
Are you wondering how you can establish yourself as a successful online Latin tutor? Here are some basic requirements to get started:
Some online tutors offer their Latin courses on their own websites. If you don’t know how to construct a website, you can register as an online Latin tutor on Preply.
What are the perks of being an online Latin tutor?
1. Determine your own worth.
One key advantage of being an online tutor is the freedom to set your own hourly rates. An online tutor with a Bachelor’s degree in Latin can confidently charge double the rate what another tutor with less experience charges. Some students are willing to pay as much as $60 dollars an hour.
2. Choose your own working hours.
If you’re looking for a career that’s viable and still grants you the freedom to pursue other personal interests, then look no further. Some online tutors prefer teaching in the morning because their brains work best during this time of day. Other tutors have full-time jobs but still enjoy teaching Latin during the weekends.
3. Create your own syllabus.
Unlike normal schools where the teacher strictly adheres to a pre-approved syllabus, an online tutor has full control over the content. This means you can come up with online Latin courses for various market segments. For instance, you could create a beginner’s course for tourists who are visiting Latin-speaking nations. The aim of this course is enabling tourists to overcome language barriers through understanding basic day-to-day Latin.
What factors determine how much I make per month as an online Latin tutor?
1. Online marketing strategies.
In order to attain your monthly revenue targets, you need adequate customers. Thriving online tutors use various keyword research strategies in order to identify their target markets. They also own blogs where they post informative articles, which enable them to convert readers into students.
2. Uniqueness of your services.
One mistake you should avoid at all costs is offering the same online Latin course offered by virtually every tutor around you. If your competitors offer high school Latin courses, step up and offer advanced courses for college students. This will help you to stand out and dominate the market segment in need of advanced Latin courses.
Latin teachers usually get paid on an hourly basis. Unlike a permanent employee who receives a fixed monthly salary irrespective of their output, an online tutor has to roll up their sleeves.
Summing it Up.
You can generate rewarding monthly income as online Latin tutor if you dedicate enough time and effort to three important areas. First, do thorough market research to help you come up with an effective online marketing strategy.
Second, research what content the market is currently offering by enrolling in a few online Latin courses. You’ll gain credible knowledge of what customers are actually looking for. Finally, customize your timetable according to your clients’ needs.