12 Easy Steps to Get Started With a Lean KPI Methodology

November 29, 2018

Management

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Starting with a lean KPI methodology is the simple and practical way for the beginner, the busy, and the budget-constrained to measure what matters for business performance.

Ultimately, I will always advocate that a robust performance measurement methodology is critical for every organisation to master. If we can’t know how well what matters is working, we can’t really manage anything well.

But practically, not everyone can start with a robust performance measurement methodology. Skill, experience, time, and money – especially in small businesses and non-profits, can all constrain the ability to start with something rigorous like my performance measurement methodology.

You can lay down a foundation for good measurement in less time and with less effort and know-how.

Good measurement can be as simple as having clear goals, choosing a few relevant measures, tracking them through time and looking for the signals worth responding to.

It’s best to start this with just one or two goals, before you progress to measuring a team or department’s collection of goals and align them to the corporate strategic direction.

More advanced organizations align and link goals and measures throughout the whole organization. Experts have performance measurement embedded naturally into routine planning, reporting, decision-making and performance improvement processes.

But it’s a journey to move from novice to expert.

Getting started on this journey means keeping it simple, relevant and making an impact.

There are 12 very specific but very simple and easy-to-follow steps to set up your first powerful performance measures:

  1. Choose a goal you really want or need to achieve. (10 minutes to simply decide, or choose universally important goals)
  2. Make your goal measurable by teasing out the performance result(s) it implies.(20 minutes using a measurability test.)
  3. Use sensory rich language to describe your result. (15 minutes to discuss)
  4. Choose potential measures that give evidence of your result. (15 minutes to list potential measures)
  5. Evaluate your potential measures and select the most meaningful one. (10 minutes to score your measures)
  6. Name and describe your selected measure. (5 minutes to apply a measure recipe to your chosen measures.)
  7. Define exactly how to calculate your measure’s values. (5 minutes to write the formula – get help from a data expert if you’re not confident.)
  8. Get the data and make it ready for analysis. (This is where time is hard to predict, as it depends on whether you have data available or not. If you do, get the data expert to extract it for you. If you don’t, start collecting basic data as a pilot.)
  9. Calculate your measure’s values. (10 mins to set up the calculated field in Excel.)
  10. Choose the presentation method that best highlights your measure’s message. (10 minutes to set up an XmR chart. Donald Wheeler is the guru in this space.)
  11. Interpret what your measure is saying, and understand why it’s saying that. (5 minutes to look for signals in your measure. 30 minutes or more to do a basic cause analysis.)
  12. Make a decision, and take action to move closer to your goal.(15 minutes to design a business improvement experiment. Up to you how much time to give to implementing the experiment.)

An important thing to continue reminding yourself of is that we often over think this stuff. Just get in and do these 12 steps, aiming for practicality, not perfection.It’s more important to learn the right way and less important to measure everything.

When you’re just getting started with performance measures, it’s more important to learn the correct mechanics of measuring what matters and to get the experience of the value of measuring what matters.

It’s far LESS important to measure everything or get everyone involved right up front. You should only ever measure what truly matters in helping you pursue and achieve the goals or results you want in your business or organization.

If measuring performance feels like jumping through bureaucratic hoops, you’re doing it all wrong, and doing more damage than good. Start small and specific, learn quickly, and measure more only as the relevance and buy-in start to grow.

Intricacies of Machine Learning in Data Science

November 29, 2018

Careers Employment

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Machine learning served as APIs

Machine learning is no longer just for geeks. Nowadays, any programmer can call some APIs and include it as part of their work. With Amazon cloud, with Google Cloud Platforms (GCP) and many more such platforms, in the coming days and years we can easily see that machine learning models will now be offered to you in API forms. So, all you have to do is work on your data, clean it and make it in a format that can finally be fed into a machine learning algorithm that is nothing more than an API. So, it becomes plug and play. You plug the data into an API call, the API goes back into the computing machines, it comes back with the predictive results, and then you take an action based on that.

Machine learning – some use cases

Things like face recognition, speech recognition, identifying a file being a virus, or to predict what is going to be the weather today and tomorrow, all of these uses are possible in this mechanism. But obviously, there is somebody who has done a lot of work to make sure these APIs are made available. If we, for instance, take face recognition, there has been a plenty of work in the area of image processing that wherein you take an image, train your model on the image, and then finally being able to come out with a very generalized model which can work on some new sort of data which is going to come in the future and which you have not used for training your model. And that typically is how machine learning models are built.

The case of antivirus software

All your antivirus software, typically the case of identifying a file to be malicious or good, benign or safe files out there and most of the anti viruses have now moved from a static signature based identification of viruses to a dynamic machine learning based detection to identify viruses. So, increasingly when you use antivirus software you know that most of the antivirus software gives you updates and these updates in the earlier days used to be on signature of the viruses. But nowadays these signatures are converted into machine learning models. And when there is an update for a new virus, you need to retrain completely the model which you had already had. You need to retrain your mode to learn that this is a new virus in the market and your machine. How machine learning is able to do that is that every single malware or virus file has certain traits associated with it. For instance, a trojan might come to your machine, the first thing it does is create a hidden folder. The second thing it does is copy some dlls. The moment a malicious program starts to take some action on your machine, it leaves its traces and this helps in getting to them.

Now that you have seen the importance of machine learning in Data Science, you may want to learn more about it and other areas of Data Science, which continues to be the most sought after skill set in the market.

Why Is Data Science Certification Crucial for You?

November 29, 2018

Careers Employment

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Data Science happens to be one of the highly sought after skills in today’s job market. This is reinforced by the seemingly unstoppable demand for these professionals. However, prior to you taking the plunge in getting the certification, it is imperative to know all the aspects of the landscape around it.

What are the Data Science Components?

Let us now spend some quality time in trying to uncover the intricacies of a sampling of the terms you usually hear related to Data Science. Some of the general terms you may have come around are Visualization, Statistics, Deep Learning and, Machine Learning. These terms happen to form the pillars of its components. These are also the major areas when we consider the various parts of Data Science. The individuals who form part of teams of Data Science are really expected to be experts in Statistics. Statistics forms one of the chief skill sets. Visualization also forms a big part of the required skill set. Machine Learning is not where everyone works on a Data Science team. This area is specially occupied by individuals who have a background in computer science and to top it off, they have the ability to break problems down into crisper forms.

Machine learning as it relates to Data Science

As far as Machine Learning goes, the crucial part of reaching a final solution is to ensure that the problem is made as precise as feasible. Once you can achieve that, the final solution to the given problem is very much doable or can be achieved using various methodologies. Given that there are a lot of tools centered approaches available nowadays, programming languages of the nature of R/Python along with many other exclusive tools like SAAS, Data Scientists are able to shape models of Machine Learning models very rapidly. In most of the cases, individuals typically lack the understanding of the methodologies. What these people lack is an understanding of the algorithms before using the tool. That is also an important factor in coming out with a solution successfully.

Another burning thing that is being spoken about for quite a while now in the industry is the topic of Deep Learning. Deep learning in effect is a part of Machine Learning. The really powerful thing that Deep Learning gives us is due to its very highly accurate models that it can build and that combined with its capability to work with data of higher dimensions that was not feasible with the earlier models of machine learning. Even though you are enabled to solve a problem in data science with high dimensions using machine learning, the very accuracy was really not at acceptable levels. Deep learning has been changing this very problem for us.

What are the Components of Data Science?

  • Statistics is the about presentation of numbers
  • Visualization is about visuals that help in communication.
  • Machine learning is about to study, exploration and construction of algorithms.
  • Deep Learning is an upcoming area.

This article has taken you through various aspects and components of Data Science. This will hopefully help you make the right decision about which part you want to focus on.

6 Ways in Which IoT Is Revolutionizing Supply Chain Management and Logistics

November 29, 2018

Management

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Supply chain management and logistics, for example, that have for long relied upon human inputs and capabilities have found a new hero in IoT. The addition of sensors, identity chips, and communication devices that are constantly connected to the cloud and analytics engines have brought a new wave of automation in business that delivers constant feedback and enable better business decision making for organizations of all sizes. So what are those five ways in which IoT has helped revolutionize supply chain management and logistics for global businesses? Let’s take a closer look.

What can IoT do for supply chain management

In a connected world where consumers and businesses have direct access to each other from halfway around the world, data becomes an extremely precious commodity, and an integral variable in the growth of a business. Traditionally, this data has been difficult, if not impossible to collect. Once the data was collected, it had to be sorted and analyzed manually for it to make a real impact on the business bottom line.

For example, a vending machine that shares real-time feedback with the warehouse management system and informs it when the inventory is running low and automatically places an order for those items, makes a payment to the suppliers, and generates a quick report for the manufacturer on the sales figures. This can allow companies to better segment their target audience in a particular geographical location and focus their energies on marketing efforts accordingly.

Such automation is no longer a piece of science fiction fantasy. It is for real and it is happening all around us. Another example can be seen at airports where RFID tags on baggage ensures safe delivery of luggage to its intended destination. With a reduced number of incidents of misplaced luggage, airlines can easily reduce their costs of having to compensate customers for such mishaps. When taken to the next level, use of RFID tags in conjunction with GPS, weather, and traffic etc. on large cargo consignments can enable businesses to track optimal routes of delivery by land, air or sea, and improve the overall efficacy of the supply chain. And all of this in a day’s work.

A responsive supply chain

Businesses are no longer confined to a single channel to reach out the consumers. As a result of this omni-channel market where everything and everyone is connected, it becomes pertinent for organizations to embrace IoT to enable an responsive supply chain that evolves constantly at every stage. Real time supply chain data collection and analysis can help businesses to accurately track and assess inventory movements with the help of sensors, and hence be in a position to accelerate or reduce the supply of inventory based on consumer demand.

Smart warehouse management

IoT enabled supply chains can operate efficient warehouses with a visible impact on the bottom line. Asset losses, temperature variations, order fulfillment, payment tracking, and other such operational hurdles can easily be optimized for accuracy and efficiency. For example, if assets in a warehouse are connected to the internet via small GPS enabled RFID tags that work like The Google Android Device manager to locate an android phone, they can easily be tracked anywhere before they become a problem. Such a system can not only ensure efficiency, but also protect against theft or damage to the inventory

Supply chain business intelligence

The increased connectivity in the supply chain offers a sizeable business intelligence to the organization. It includes financial data, customer data relevant for marketing, sales and operations, and allows improved accuracy in forecasting consumer demand. This in turn ensures better coordination between different departments that allows considerable savings in cost and time for the business. Not only that, supply chain forensics data ensures that things that went wrong during the process of delivery can be identified and rectified before it turns into a bigger problem for the business.

Consumer insights

IoT has proven to be a boon for the supply chain managers in the retail sector. Every device, our cars, our phones and even satellite radios share a lot of valuable information about our habits and preferences on the cloud. Companies can analyze this information and find out the kind of car we drive and if we have kids or not. And this analysis can help them transform their business in the way they manage the creation, procurement, and delivery of products across their supply chain.

Fleet and fuel cost management

Everyone uses Google Maps to know about traffic conditions and optimize their commute. IoT, however, can help logistics go a step further and learn from the traffic patterns at specific times of the day, temperature, humidity, altitude etc. to maximize fleet and fuel cost management. GPS devices embedded in pallets or even deployed on the vehicles can analyze historical data to ensure optimal delivery routes and times, and also keep a close check on fleet maintenance and driver health at every stage.

Reduce transit damage

Nearly 30 percent of perishable items are destroyed during transit across the globe. That is a significant financial hit on the business. According to UNFAO, most of this damage is caused by unregulated temperatures and poor storage conditions. It sounds like an elementary and uncomplicated task. But just think about how difficult it can be to regulate and maintain a steady temperature inside a car while traveling cross country on a highway, and you’ll get the picture on how difficult it is to do the same inside a fleet truck. Simply plugging this gap with IoT monitored consignments can reduce this transit damage and ensure that more perishables can reach their destination unharmed and on time.

Tips For The Best Employee Training & Development

November 29, 2018

Management

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Employee training is essential for an organization’s success. Training is a program that helps employees learn specific knowledge or skills to improve performance in their current roles.

Employee training is a process focused on communicating with and teaching an employee information and/or instructions. When things get financially tight in business, often employee training is the first thing to go.

Your employees are your biggest asset since they get the required work done so your organization can meet its business objectives.

For employees to be efficient, productive and adaptable, new skills are required, such as:

1. Critical thinking and problem solving.
2. Communication.
3. Collaboration.
4. Creativity and innovation.

Properly training newly hired employees is essential in any industry.

Failure to provide adequate training can result in job dissatisfaction, low productivity, and staff turnover. In your job, you may have spent time sitting through training sessions of questionable value.

Now your boss has assigned you to develop a training program on the job for the rest of the department. Development is more expansive and focuses on employee growth and future performance, rather than an immediate job role.

However, a trainer can combat this by demonstrating that training is actually a crucial part of employees’ and managers’ work.

Why Employee Training Is Important

Training is crucial because it:

1. Educates workers about the effective use of technology,
2. Ensures competitive edge in the market,
3. Promotes safety and health among employees,
4. Creates opportunities for career development and personal growth, an important factor in retaining workers
5. Helps employers comply with laws and regulations, and
6. Improves productivity and profitability.

This is a positive experience for everyone involved: The information gained can prove useful to others who may have the potential to partake in a similar situation, while people who have experienced a similar situation have the chance to talk about their solutions that worked effectively.

Develop a Training Program on the Job:

1. Analyze the training need
2. Design the training program
3. Develop the training program.
4. Implement the training program.
5. Evaluate the training program.

First and foremost, remember is that learning can and should be fun. Your staff members want to absorb knowledge, and they’ll most likely want to learn concepts when they are presented in a fresh, lively and exciting manner.

Putting a twist on your current employee training methods can help people become excited about learning. As you can see from the breadth and depth of employee training opportunities, the ways in which you can provide your employees the chance to grow and develop are limited only by your imagination.

Employee Training is also makes sense to adjust your course evaluation criteria over time too to match different training goals. And changing business environments, different learner profiles, and market and/or technological changes.

7 Ways to Get Maximum Marketing Results at Any Time

November 29, 2018

Marketing

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Here is something many entrepreneurs need to understand when it comes to marketing: there is no such thing as guaranteed results.

There are too many factors about your marketing campaign that no one can control. Among them, there is the behavior of the overall market, competitive pricing, demand for offers like yours, current events, and others.

It would be anti-ethical for any marketing agency or freelancer to guarantee ABC results if you invest XYZ amount of money. But it does not mean that there are not ways to get the most out of your marketing budget (according to the circumstances).

Here are seven ways you can maximize your marketing efforts – whether we are in a recession or a booming period.

Do Not Confuse Marketing with Networking

If you are marketing your business, you need to understand the difference between connecting and communicating with your community and sharing / promoting your business.

Do not take to social media or networking events to present your sales pitch right away. People do not like it when you sell stuff to them. Instead, connect first by hearing about their problems, and communicate with them in ways they can solve those problems.

There will be time for you to promote and share on social media and at networking events. But you need to build a relationship first. That way, your audience would not feel like you are selling to them, but that they are taking advice. Because they trust you.

Market Efficiently

I am a firm believer in A/B testing. It is the best way to keep your marketing campaigns rolling and not waste your budget.

You do not want to throw money away with marketing that is not appealing to your market. That is why it is imperative that you constantly test your letters, ads, and emails to see what is getting the attention of the market, and what is persuading them into buying.

Cut What Does Not Work

Once you start testing your marketing efforts, you will know what to keep and what to drop.

You do not need to be everywhere at once. You need to be where your market wants you to be.

Do not waste your time on Facebook if the people are not responding. Stop sending letters if there are no sales coming from them. And please, do not waste two million dollars on a TV spot that won’t produce any ROI.

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

I believe both inbound and outbound marketing have a place and are beneficial to every business. But they have their place in the marketing process.

Outbound marketing should be the focus when you are starting out. You need to let people know that you are there to help them. Thus, you should be sending emails, making phone calls, and making the first step to connect with the market.

Once you have set up a reputation for your business, then inbound marketing takes over. Because people will be looking for you. They will look at your website, your blog, and your social media channels.

So, do not disregard either marketing strategy. Just place them correctly according to the level of growth of your business. Outbound marketing when you are looking to prove yourself, and inbound marketing when you have an established name in the market.

Cold Calling as a Marketing Tactic

Most people are afraid of cold calling. Honestly, I believe “terrified” is a more proper term.

That is the reason many dismiss this tactic from their marketing strategy. But I think cold calling is as practical a marketing tactic as any of the others.

You need to make that first connection. And if the market is not coming to you, you might as well go to them.

And cold calling is not as bad as people make it out to be.

All you need is a good script and some thick skin (to handle rejection). And after a couple of times doing it, you will feel comfortable approaching targets and converting them into leads.

Hire Professionals

You can divide any marketing campaign into three facets: strategy, content, and design.

If you have experience in marketing planning, website design, and copy and content writing – then, by all means, go for it. Although I would recommend getting a critique from a professional on each, just to go safely.

But, if you are marketing your business, and have no prior planning, writing, or designing experience, your best bet is to hire professionals for each endeavor. They will know what to do to present your product in the most appealing way possible to your market.

There is also the choice of learning things yourself, but if time is not on your side, then I suggest hiring the professionals anyway until you can take over after getting some marketing seasoning.

Plan Your Marketing

You might have expected this to be tip number one. But I wanted to make sure you understood some things before we got into time management.

But now that we got the small details explained, here is a template to develop a weekly marketing schedule:

Mondays: Market research to find targets

Tuesdays: Prospecting

Wednesdays: Content marketing

Thursdays: Automation

Fridays: Website updates

Every day: Networking on Twitter and LinkedIn

Make sure to separate (at least) an hour every workday to do your marketing. You can perform a marketing task each day to keep your efforts moving. Also, make room for at least half an hour of networking – online or in person.

7 Small Business Marketing Trends You Need to Follow in 2018

November 29, 2018

Marketing

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The way marketing works are essentially changing day by day because of the absolute volume of people using the internet and the depends on new technologies as well.

Keeping in mind, here I would like to share the 7 Marketing Trends You Need to Follow in 2018 for your small businesses.

1. Email Marketing

Email marketing keeps on to be a vital communications channel to engage with customers and is still an important strategy that every small business should execute. Each and every email that a b2b marketer sends out purposes to generate more qualified leads. It is cost-effective and an affordable.
If you utilize this marketing in the right way, then you can acquire valuable customer or prospects and easily expand your brand awareness. But If your marketing messages aren’t relevant and easily read on mobile devices, you can expect consumers to move on. Because the secret to creating the most valuable email marketing campaigns is to offer relevant information to customers and make mobile friendly as well.

Increase your marketing results with these simple techniques which are given below:

Be Mobile Friendly
If your emails aren’t mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on the opportunity to engage your customers or prospects and drive results.

Use AI Technology
By using an AI, you can execute the most effective email marketing trends and makes emails feel more personal and human.

2. Video Advertising

People don’t have enough time to read a long content posted on the small screen of a Smartphone. So nowadays people tune into videos online. Because they can watch videos anytime and anywhere as well as you can use video content to attract new customers and increase conversion to implant a video on your prospects or customers landing page.

To keep unlock fresh insights, small businesses need to focus on video marketing and you can share videos on Instagram and Facebook along with hashtags to expand your brand reputation and generate new leads. It boosts the open rates as well as click-through rates.

3 .Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a process of creating educational content and make public it on other valid sites that accept guest posts. It helps you make your site get a much better ranking in SEs and increase your SEO ranking in a commercial way. It becomes the fuel for mounting the quality leads in your pipeline.

If guest blogging is done correctly, then you can get these benefits which are given below:

• Helps you gain traffic and get in front of your audience.
• An essential way to influence other people, whether it’s with regards to their business.
• Will send many different targeted visitors to your business websites.
• You can also get backlinks from high-quality sites.
• Generate brand awareness and ultimately grow your audience.
• Maximize the results that you will receive.

Through guest blogging, you can get the chance to network with a lot of top content writers and bloggers related to your niche.

4. Social Media Marketing

Every small business needs customers. Without qualified customers, it would be hard for small business to stay alive in the long run. When you use social media marketing for small business you can easily reach out to your target customers and it gives you the power to learn more about your customers, their interests and build a long-lasting relationship as well.

The majority of social media advertising is inexpensive than traditional advertising, so you don’t have to waste a lot of dollars to meet more audience and its aid to grow customer base and gain more reputation.

If you need to enhance your small business campaign, then try these methods which are mentioned below:

• Set Goals and Objectives
• Focus your Efforts on select Networks
• Use Paid Social Ads
• Collect Audience Feedback

5. Live Streaming

Video live streaming is the act of transmitting live footage over the internet to active prospects or customers. Live streaming is a powerful tool for connecting with your target audience. Facebook Live is the preferred choice for the most people and marketers around the world to engage their audience and grow their business.
The appearance of Facebook Live and Instagram doesn’t just mean fun for users. Nowadays it’s changing the way small businesses market themselves on social media to connect with their followers and find new ones.

6. Influencers Marketing

Influencer marketing is a highly effective way of generating trust and advertise your brand through influencers from a specific niche. It lets you tap into the networks of some of the most connected people in social media.

Influencer marketing involves using key brand advocates to drive your message to the larger market in an organic way and grow awareness about your brand and/or products. If you need to promote your products or services, influencer marketing may prove to be the best option for small business.

7. Hyper-Local Marketing

Hyperlocal marketing is a shape of highly targeted and is a marketing buzzword that focused in a certain city, neighborhood or region. It is a great way to increase your businesses presence in your niche marketing and acquire their attention and business.

You can use online search ads to drive local traffic to your business. Ensure that the ads are actually optimized for local customers. For online ads, mobile technology is a powerful tool and you can use social media channels to acquire your customers experience and reviews in your hometown as well.

7 Powerful Strategies to Implement Before You Start Internet Marketing

November 29, 2018

Marketing

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My wife, daughter and I were just watching World of Dance when a community warning interrupted our relaxation time. There were toxins released into the water, which freaked out my wife.

I wasn’t worried, of course, but my wife was getting ready to have me take the 30-minute commute to Eugene and have me buy as much water as I could carry! But I’m so relaxed, please don’t make me go out there…

Luckily, I looked up the warning online and found that the toxins actually wouldn’t affect us since it was taking place in a nearby town 60 miles away.

Whew!

And instead of braving the traffic I’m here on the keyboards writing this article for you.

Before you start Internet Marketing for your local brick-and-mortar, e-commerce and start-up business, I want to give you 7 powerful strategies to implement.

These are areas where the majority miss the boat and it costs them money and time establishing a business online.

My intention in this article is to help you get up to speed quickly before you start Internet Marketing so you avoid making costly mistakes:

1. It’s essential that you have short, medium and long-term goals even before you start Internet Marketing.

This means thinking about exactly what you want to achieve within a week, a month, six months, a year, five years and so on.

Goals are critical to your success in business. Without them, you’ll flounder because you have no focus, no direction, and no plan. You can even set goals for the next 10 to 20 years.

The mind needs specifics. If your goals aren’t specific and measurable then your goals won’t be effective in helping you move your business forward.

2. Identify all the business activities you’re good at. Are you good at sales and marketing? Accounting? Human Resources? Operations? List them and analyze which ones you’d like to achieve long-term.

3. Make sure you have a proven Internet Marketing strategy that can be documented even before you start Internet Marketing. Every detail included in your plan should be studied and reviewed on a regular basis to see if you’re right on track or if you need to do some tweaking (which is normal as a business grows).

4. Identify what types of services and/or products you’ll be selling to potential clients. Focus on a small number of products or services to start.

You can always modify your goals as you adjust to your markets’ wants and desires. You can’t afford to jeopardize the quality and efficiency of your work by trying to do too much. I’ve learned this the hard way…

5. You must know what you want your marketing/sales funnel to look like even before you start Internet Marketing. I recommend to all my clients to outline their funnels. This outline can be a simple list or diagram, but you need to make sure that the layout is arranged in order of appearance.

Plus, create a products and services catalog that has product and service descriptions, payment options and possible campaigns you can run to promote them.

6. Planning your promotions is critical to your success. An editorial and promotional calendar is something you should focus on. Once you have your marketing/sales funnel outline and catalog, the very next step is to schedule when you’ll promote your products and services.

7. Look for a mentor; someone who can give you answers to all your business-related questions.

I’d like to be your mentor so if you’d like to take the guesswork out of growing your business online then click here to get the ultimate shortcut to help you start Internet Marketing today.

Of course, you can find some of this information online. But nothing beats the information and best practices by learning from someone who has been in your shoes and has successfully established their own Internet-based business.

The Top Business Trends You Must Keep in Mind

November 26, 2018

Business

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As you know, we live in an environment where it’s “blink,” and you missed it. Still, there’s always an urgent need to keep on top of what is happening so that you can stay ahead in business. I own several companies and, candidly, I don’t think there’s a single day I’m not thinking about how to make things better and improve our competitive advantage in our industries.

A couple of days ago I read an article about a luxury yacht company that had been in business for generations, and although they had client orders on hand, in the tens of millions of dollars, they fired everyone and shuddered their doors. They were hemorrhaging money and not paying attention to the changing winds.

The reality is that I can sit here today and write what you want to be looking for in business trends and then a year from now, write the same sort of article with different ideas to keep an eye on as business and society evolve. Still, there are some areas that I think will remain constant and you should pay attention to in your company.

Always Pay Extra Attention to Millennials

For decades and decades, the “darling” of generations were the Baby Boomers because of their sheer size and buying power. As the Boomers are now seniors, the same can be said about Millennials. They will be, and already are, a force for years to come and they are the first generation that is pure digital natives. Your products and services should be marketed to them and how they think. By 2020, Millennials will have an estimated $1.4 trillion in spending power.

Get Comfortable With AI, IoT, and ML

What used to be buzzwords such as AI, IoT, and ML, are not anymore. They are not the future; they are the present. Most of you know about AI (Artificial intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), but maybe you have not heard about ML (Machine Learning). Machine learning is when computers do things without being programmed to do it because they are learning it for themselves. Through machine learning, we are given self-driving cars, excellent web search tools, practical speech recognition programs and a host of other platforms. As technology evolves, all of these elements will play a more substantial part in life and business.

Remote Workforce

I have a preference for my team to be onsite, but for some functions and aspects of our work, these elements are outsourced. Currently 40% plus of American workers are doing some work remotely, without having to be present at their place of business all the time. This trend creates demand for adequately training remote employees through video conferencing platforms, especially for social media and programming positions. All that is required is a computer and Internet.

Get Past the Clutter

The way you brand your business is essential. People are drowning in data and information, and you have to be able to cut to the chase immediately. Branding, which encompasses the name, logo, etc., creates instant identification. With excellent branding, you are perceived as an authority, successful and trustworthy because you pay attention to the details. Also it makes prospecting easier. Customers find you. You can hire better talent. Candidates seek you out rather than looking to apply for a position with an unknown company. Because of branding, it is easier to create more businesses under the same name.

Opportunity Exists in Buying Businesses

There are more businesses for sale due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer and Millennials will be buying them and then reinventing the companies they buy. Keep an eye out for your competition because there’s always an opportunity in looking to buy an existing competitor. For instance, you can buy their entire client base, or perhaps they’ve excelled in e-commerce, and you’re able to bring that into your portfolio. I’ve successfully purchased some of my competitors, and it’s only helped my businesses grow.

15 Business Etiquettes Professionals Should Know

November 26, 2018

Business

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“A man without a smiling face must never open a shop” or so the Chinese proverb goes. Truly, smiling goes a long way to lighting up the mood for a friendlier, more understanding conversation. This is true in business as well, especially when trying to make a business partnership. However, there are more business etiquettes beyond smiling and demonstrating these will show others that your customers and your business are worth respecting.

* Introduce everyone, even when in doubt – There is a proper way to introduce people to each other. First, introduce the person who is the most senior, using their full name and their job title or responsibility. Next introduce that person to the person who has lower authority. Make sure to also mention his or her full name. To end, you may mention some details about each other as a topic of common interest. When being introduced to someone, always stand up if you are sitting.

* A firm handshake – The way businessmen shake hands more often than not sets the tone between them. Giving a good, firm handshake will set a good first impression as it may eventually end up in a successful business partnership. If you are the host or the senior member, you should be the one initiating the handshake.

* Admit if you forget their names – Forgetting the names of people you were recently introduced to is not uncommon. If it happens, admit it and ask for it again as this shows that you give them importance.

* Sitting down for a meeting – Whether the meeting is in a restaurant or in an office, in a group or a one-on-one, it is best not to pull out the chair for anyone. In a business setting, everyone should dismiss social gender rules and treat everyone equally. When seated, never cross your legs as it may be distracting and disrespectful.

* Meeting in a restaurant – Contrary to business instincts, do not use your knife to break bread. Tear it off with your bare hands as this signifies your openness to your potential business partner. When finished with the meal, never push your plate away nor stack the plates. Try not to have any left overs as well. If your guest orders appetizers or dessert, you should be ordering as well. This avoids the potential awkwardness of having other people in your party eating and you have nothing on your plate. If you are the host, you should pay for your guest unless he or she insists otherwise or is against their company’s gifting policy.

* Dress properly – The way someone dresses is a form of nonverbal communication. Dressing appropriately for a meeting shows an automatic sign of respect for either the guests or for the host. Additionally, always check the dress code for an event as some events may require either more or less formal attire.

* Keep cellphones in your pockets – Never place phones on the meeting table and don’t use them during the meeting. Only answer calls that are urgent and excuse yourself from the meeting and take your call outside so you don’t interrupt the meeting.

* “Please” and “Thank You” – These two phrases show politeness in any conversation and it is all the more important in a professional setting. Saying “please” can be used as much as needed. “Thank you”, however, should be used once or twice as saying it too many times may lower its impact. As much as possible, give thanks to everyone individually after a meeting.

* Stay sober – Businessmen have lost reputations and careers because drunken behavior. Although none of the things said or done while drunk were meant, it is a clear sign of disrespect towards either the host or guests. Don’t embarrass yourself or your business. Know your limits and control your pace.

* Be genuinely interested – Always make eye contact in a conversation and make sure to pay attention to every detail the guest says. Take the time to ask questions as this shows that you were listening and interested.

* Double check emails – Simple mistakes can be made to derail a meeting or blow a deal. You may have date and time wrong for a meeting, left out some paperwork to be signed, or worse, your emails were sent to the wrong person and may potentially endanger the company.

* Use professional photos – When using your or anyone’s photos for business matters, always use a proper headshot. Businesses would need to look credible to other businesses.

* Greet everyone anywhere – Regardless of seniority, always greet people. You may never know that he may actually be your next business partner. When people greet you, it is imperative that you greet back.

* Don’t forget to smile – Just like the Chinese proverb, smiling works wonders in any occasion, whether in a meeting, during introductions, or in a business social gathering.

End on a polite note – When you need to leave, make sure you exit politely with either, “It was nice to meet you” or “See you at the next meeting”.