• Startup Accelerators Aren’t Banking on Exits Any More

    Accelerators are increasingly selling a range of services to generate ongoing revenue, without waiting years for startups to be sold.

    Within only a decade, accelerators have become a mainstay of startup ecosystems in regions around the globe. Throughout this period, the accelerator business model has continued to evolve. Still in the Global Accelerator Report 2015, a majority of accelerators globally still indicated that they intended to follow the traditional “cash-for-equity” model, first established in 2005 by Y Combinator, which involves investing a small amount of seed money in a startup in exhange for equity. Investments typically are around $25,000 on averag in exchange for between 5 percent and 10 percent equity.

    This model has now been abandoned by a majority of accelerators, as highlighted by the recently published Global Accelerator Report 2016. The report highlighted that only 32.7 percent of accelerators predict that they will generate revenue from exits in the future, a significant shift from 2015.

    The reason for the pivot in the accelerator business model is, most likely, the small number of exits — 178 reported in 2016 — which has proven insufficient in funding their operations. Morevoer, exits usually do not occur earlier than three to five years into a startup’s lifecycle, denying accelerators a profit on investment for several years. To make up for the expensive day-to-day upfront costs of operating their programs, accelerators have deployed new models that allow them to generate revenue.

    These changes enabled the industry to keep growing year-on-year. According to new findings in the 2016 Global Accelerator report more than $206M (up 8 percent) was invested into 11,305 (up 28 percent) startups across five major regions, including the United States and Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia and Oceania. USA continues to be the leading country both in terms of startups accelerators and in dollars invested via accelerators.

    Nearly all (90.4 percent) of accelerators globally relied on, and continue to explore, new models of revenue generation. These include charging for mentorship, subletting office space, hosting events and working with corporations. Revenue from corporations has seen the largest increase. More than half (52.1 percent) of accelerators are at least partially funded by a corporation, and 67.2 percent aim to generate future revenue from services sold to corporations.

    On the one hand, this is because corporations are discovering that accelerators are an efficient and effective way to engage with startups. On the other hand, accelerators understand that corporations can help them fund operations in the short-to-medium term (exits are often far out). They improve the prospects of their portfolio companies that can potentially sell to, raise funds from, or be acquired by these corporations.

    Corporate revenue generated by accelerators came from two main sources in 2016: corporate partnerships, generally in the form of a white-labeled or jointly-run acceleration program created by the accelerator on behalf of the corporation, and corporate sponsorship packages sold by accelerators.

    It is clear that accelerators have changed their operating model globally in a significant way over the last few years. The accelerator model whilst still aligned with its predecessor’s original vision of nurturing disruptive companies – is different in a number of ways. These new accelerators possess a diversified revenue model, often focus on a specific vertical and work closely with corporations. In the coming years and beyond, it will be interesting to see what new pivots the global accelerator industry will undergo in an attempt to achieve sustainability and less reliant on government grants and private funding.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • The Most Powerful Brands in Franchising

    Here are the strongest brands in franchising for 2017, ranked.

    There are many ways to measure the strength of a franchise. How many units does it have? What are its financials? Its growth? How well does it support its franchisees? But this month, for the first time ever, Entrepreneur is zeroing in on a factor that’s challenging to measure, easily overlooked and yet critical to the health of any business: branding.

    We wanted to know: Which franchises have done the best job of building themselves up as beloved, recognizable, robust brands? We did this by analyzing factors such as social media followers, system size, number of years in business, number of years franchising and overall reputation — and looking at how they all combine to form lasting relationships with fans.

    Our list shows that great brands are a paradox. Longevity and consistency matter, but only if a brand also constantly evolves. A prime example is KFC, which tops our list. On the following pages, you can see how its recent “Re-Colonelization” efforts have paid off, and learn how other top franchise brands stay fresh while maintaining their already strong foundations.

    Please keep in mind that this list is not intended as a recommendation of any particular company. A vibrant brand is just one of many elements to consider when buying a franchise; it’s critical that you do due diligence before investing in any opportunity. Read the company’s legal documents, consult with an attorney and an accountant and talk to as many existing and former franchisees as you can.

    To learn who made the cut, check out our list of The Most Powerful Brands in Franchising.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • If You’re Trying to Raise Money, Doing Any of These 9 Things May Scare off Investors

    Avoid these mistakes and funding could be yours.

    Most new and existing businesses can benefit from outside funding. With such funding, they can grow faster, launch new initiatives, gain competitive advantage and make better long-term decisions as they can think beyond short-term issues like making payroll.

    Unfortunately, though, most entrepreneurs and business owners make several mistakes that prevent them from raising capital. These mistakes are detailed below. Avoid them and funding could be yours.

     Making unrealistic market size claims

    Sophisticated investors need to understand how big your relevant market size is and if it’s feasible for you to eventually become a dominant market player.

    The key here is “relevant” and not just “market.” For example, if you create a medical device to cure foot pain, while your “market” is the trillion-dollar healthcare market, that is way too broad a definition.

    Rather, your relevant market can be more narrowly defined as not just the medical devices market but the market for medical devices for foot pain. In narrowing your scope, you can better determine the actual size of your market. For instance, you can determine the number of foot pain sufferers each year seeking medical attention and then multiply that by the price they might pay for your device.

    Failing to respect your competitors

    Oftentimes companies tell investors they have no competitors. This often scares investors as they think if there are no competitors, a market doesn’t really exist.

    Almost every business has either direct or indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer the same product or service to the same customers. Indirect competitors offer a similar product to the same customers, or the same product to different customers.

    For example, if you planned to open an Italian restaurant in a town that previously did not have one, you could correctly say that you don’t have any direct competitors. However, indirect competitors would include every other restaurant in town, supermarkets and other venues to purchase food.

    Likewise, don’t downplay your competitors. Saying that your competitors are universally terrible is rarely true; there’s always something they’re doing right that’s keeping them in business.

    Showing unrealistic financial projections

    Businesses take time to grow. Even companies like Facebook and Google, with amazing amounts of funding at their disposal, took years to grow to their current sizes. It takes time to build a team, improve brand awareness and scale your business. So, don’t expect your company to grow revenues exponentially out of the gate. Likewise, you will incur many expenses while growing your business for which you must account.

    As such, when building your financial projections, be sure to use reasonable revenue and cost assumptions. If not, you will frighten investors, or worse yet, raise funding and then fail since you run out of cash.

    Presenting investors with a novel — or a napkin

    While investors will want to meet you before funding your business, they will also require a business plan that explains your business opportunity and why it will be successful.

    Your business plan should not be a novel; investors don’t have time to wade through 100 pages to learn the keys to your success. Conversely, you can’t adequately answer investors’ key questions on the back of a napkin.

    A 15- to 25-page business plan is the optimum length to convey the required information to investors.

    Not understanding your metrics

    How much does it cost to acquire a customer? What is your expected lifetime customer value?

    While sometimes it’s impossible to understand these metrics when you launch your business, you must determine them as soon as possible.

    Without these metrics, you won’t know how much money to raise. For instance, if you hope to gain 1,000 customers this year, but don’t know the cost to acquire a customer, you won’t know how much money you need for sales and marketing.

    Likewise, understanding your metrics allows you and your team to work more effectively in setting and achieving growth goals.

    Acting like know-it-alls

    While investors want you to be an expert in your market, they don’t expect you to be an expert in everything. More so, most businesses must adapt to changing market conditions over time, and entrepreneurs who feel they know everything generally don’t fare well.

    A good investor has seen many investments fail and others become great successes. Such experiences have made them great advisors. They’ve encountered all types of situations and understand how to navigate them.

    If you’re seeking funding, acknowledge such investors’ experiences. Let them know that while you are an expert in your market, you will seek their ideas and advice in marketing, sales, hiring, product development and/or other areas needed to grow your business.

    Focusing too much on products and product features

    When raising funding, you need to show you’re building a great company and not just a great product or service. While a great product or service is often the cornerstone to a great company, without skills like sales, marketing, human resources, operations and financial management, you cannot thrive.

    Furthermore, if your product has a great feature, be sure to specify how you will create barriers to entry, such as via patent protection, so competitors can’t simply copy it.

    Exaggerating too much

    When you exaggerate to investors who know you’re exaggerating, you lose credibility.

    One key way to exaggerate is with your financial projections as discussed above. There are many other ways to exaggerate. For instance, saying you have the world’s leading authorities on the XYZ market is great, but only if they really are the world’s leading authorities.

    Likewise if you say it would take competitors three years to catch up on your technology, when investors ask others in your industry, they better confirm this time period. If not, your credibility and funding will be lost.

    Lacking focus

    What do investors care about? They care about getting a return on their investment. As such, anything you say that supports that will be welcomed.

    For instance, talk about your great product that has natural barriers to entry. Discuss your management team that is well-qualified to execute on the opportunity. Talk about strategic partners that will help you generate leads and sales faster.

    But, don’t go off on tangents that don’t specifically relate to how you earn investors returns, like the fact that you’re a great tennis player.

    Likewise, conveying too many ideas shows you lack focus. For instance, saying you’re going to launch product one next year, and then quickly launch products two, three and four, will frighten investors. Why? Because they’ll want to see product one be a massive success before you even consider launching something new.

    Investors have two scarce resources: their time and their money. Avoid the above mistakes when you spend time with investors, and hopefully they’ll reward you with their money.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Has Your Business Stopped Growing? Here’s How to Turn Things Around.

    There are four big reasons businesses stall out. It happened to me.

    Has your business ever stalled out and simply stopped growing?

    It happened to me. Early on in my career as an entrepreneur, I couldn’t figure out why everything stalled. But lucky for me, I didn’t quit there. I kept working, changed my business, and now — having worked with thousands of business owners — I have discovered that the primary reasons a business stops growing tend to land into a handful of categories.

    1. Lack of opportunity

    Some businesses just aren’t made to scale up. When I first started in the dry-cleaning delivery niche, I didn’t understand this simple fact: Business in my little area was never going to be a million-dollar business, let alone a multimillion-dollar business, no matter how hard I worked. Make sure you aren’t trying to win the Super Bowl with a peewee football team.

    On a side note, when I make this argument, sometimes people argue the point. For example, they may tell me I could have expanded into other areas or franchised. Of course, I’m not saying there aren’t ways to scale a business, but some businesses are simply easier and less risky to scale than others. If you are in an industry that is challenging to scale, one where your risk of failure is super high, it may be a good idea to start looking into other opportunities.

    2. Boredom

    It’s amazing how many of us get bored. We get bored with our marketing, with our product, with our niche. Our boredom causes us to cancel marketing, taking our eye off the main business to focus on some new exciting startup we want to work on.

    Want to sell and jump into a new exciting niche where every prospect only says yes and sales come easily? I get it. I’m not immune to those feelings. But, making changes because we are bored is insanity! If you have an ATM machine that spits out hundred-dollar bills, why would you try to rewire it? This is what people do with their marketing or when they take focus off the main cash cow business. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they are stopping what’s working because they want to try something new. It’s just crazy.

    3. People

    If you read the crap that comes from some marketers, you’d think that everyone was making money easily, using only the internet with no problems, no skills and no employees. While I do know people I could describe that way who are making money, this is the exception and not the rule. It would be like me pointing to a group of billionaires and selling thousands of products with the premise being: “Just buy this product and you too can be a billionaire.”

    In almost all businesses it takes employees (or at least outsourced labor) to grow. If you’ve stalled, it may be because you need to invest in another employee or two to kick-start the growth. I get it, when you invest in employees, payroll is bloated, short-term profits go down, and it is risky. But guess what? You’re a business owner — that’s the job. And 99.99 percent of businesses need employees to make money.

    4. Too externally focused

    As I write this, I’m in the middle of planning next year’s marketing strategy. I will have a number of new and exciting items on the list (external stuff), but one of the most interesting numbers I’m working on is a plan for our sales call conversion rate. With no increases in the number of calls next year, a 5 percent increase in conversion would equal an additional $1.152 milion in annual revenue. That is an internal number worth focusing on.

    I’ll also be looking at how to reduce customer churn, improve employee performance and increase referrals. Just focusing on internalopportunities, we have the potential to add millions in new revenue and/or cost reductions due to improved performance, which leads to increased margins. If you’re not thinking about ways to work on these internal opportunities, you’re leaving tons of new revenue and profit on the table.

    Growing a business isn’t easy, but it is pretty simple, assuming you have opportunity in the current business model. You just have to be willing to invest. Invest in yourself (your business education), and invest in your company by hiring the right people, focusing on improving your systems and process.

    We’ve talked about why businesses stop growing, and the first two points looked at those reasons, but the last two points could easily be turned around and used as the start of a growth strategy.

    • Who should you hire right now?
    • What internal challenges could you fix that would have an increase on profits?
    • Can you do a better job converting prospects into customers?
    • How are you doing on upsells?
    • What about referrals?
    • Do your customers know who you are, what you do, and that you’re still in business? If not, how are you going to change that?
    • What is the communication strategy for both prospects and customers?

    I could go on, but you get the point.

    The decision to grow (or not grow) is yours; you’re armed with the information. Now you just need to take action.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • 5 Powerful Ways to Become Your Best Self

    The biggest obstacles facing every entrepreneur are within.

    You know you are capable of great things. You know that under the right circumstances you could go far. You believe in yourself and what you can accomplish. You may have a picture of yourself in your mind’s eye: a vision of making your dreams a reality, of achieving the success you know could be yours.

    Now all you need to do is become that version of yourself. You need to become your best you. How do you begin transforming into the person you believe you should be?

    It’s time to stretch yourself; to grow and allow yourself to develop. Think of this as a journey of self-discovery. Here are five powerful tips to get you on the road to becoming the person you were meant to be.

    1. Try new things.

    You can’t let yourself become complacent. Fear of change is your enemy. Kick things up a notch by regularly trying something new and unexpected. Is there something you have always wanted to try, but never made time for? It could be something adventurous, like scuba diving or skydiving.

    Or maybe you’ve always wanted to tap into your artistic side and learn to paint with watercolors or take a photography class. Whatever it is, it’s important that you make time to explore a new activity, skill or craft.

    Surprise yourself by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Doing so will give your ingenuity and innovative side a boost. Plus, you will have discovered something new about yourself — perhaps a hidden talent or an ability to learn something you didn’t think you were capable of.

    Along with trying new things, remember to give yourself time to have fun, relax and unplug from daily stress. Downtime gives your brain a chance to recharge and stay open to new experiences. Filling up all your time with work, tasks and obligations is a ticket to mental and physical fatigue. Push yourself away from your desk and remember to embrace life!

    2. Pursue your dreams.

    What is your ultimate dream; the thing you want more than anything? What is your true calling in life? These are some of the important questions to ask yourself in order to unlock who you are meant to be. Pursuing your dreams will give you determination to see your goals through, and will spark your creativity and inspiration. Plus, you will be doing something that makes you happy and holds your interest.

    For many, the hardest part is identifying the goals you want to pursue. You may need to explore different opportunities to see what sticks and what doesn’t. You may want to focus on a problem that you want to solve or an issue you’re enthusiastic about. Remember, your goals and ambitions can change and morph over time — and that’s okay!

    The only rule you should heed is that your dreams must come from within yourself — they shouldn’t be a reflection of what others want for you or what you think you should be doing. If you’re pursuing something solely for the sake of a good income, or to live up to someone else’s expectations, you will fall short.

    3. Sustain your motivation.

    We all have days when we wake up just not feeling it. Those days when our brains won’t get going — we’d rather do anything besides working. But despite being low on energy or inspiration, you have to find a way to keep moving forward. Remember, progress is incremental. You have to find ways to keep that fire in your belly; to keep nurturing that deep desire to achieve.

    Keep your motivation alight by taking time every day to reignite that internal flame. Read blogs and books or listen to TED talks or podcasts on topics that enthrall you. Write down your goals and post them where you will see them every day, so you are constantly reminded of your purpose.

    Keep a notebook and jot down ideas when something inspires you. When you are feeling blasé or need a boost, take some time to revisit your old ideas. They may inspire you once more and help you regain your momentum.

    4. Hone good habits.

    People are naturally creatures of habit. These can be good habits that we have worked hard to instill, or bad habits that suck away our determination and leave us short of our goals. Building solid, reliable habits will keep you taking baby steps in the right direction and sustain you through lackluster periods. Good habits are important to creating your best self because they keep you moving forward when you’d rather be slacking off.

    Developing a habit takes time and repetition, and should be done slowly. Trying to change too many things at once will feel overwhelming and daunting. The goal is to make incremental changes to your lifestyle that eventually become a way of life. Remember that even small habits can have a powerful cumulative effect.

    For instance, if you have a goal of writing a book, develop a habit of sitting down and writing every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Similarly, if you want to get into better shape, start exercising for 20 minutes a day and work your way up.

    5. Focus on self-care.

    If you want to operate at peak performance, you must incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Are you eating nutritious meals and getting plenty of sleep? It’s going to be hard to feel your best if you are run ragged and are stuffing your belly with junk food. Are you making time to exercise and stretch?

    When we work up a sweat, it releases the endorphins that build up with stress. In many ways, your body is like a machine. It needs to be tuned and tended to, or something is going to give. If you don’t care for your body, you may start to feel burned out and you may be more apt to get sick or feel overwhelmed.

    Don’t forget that your mental well-being also needs to be nurtured. Take time to meditate and focus on the things you are grateful for. Taking time to replenish your mind and spirit is paramount to sustaining mental health and giving you a sense of well-being. And that is key to becoming and maintaining your best self, now and over the long haul.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • This Doctor Who Lived to 105 Believed That for a Long Life, You Shouldn’t Retire

    Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara believed that work was key for longevity.

    To live a long life, work forever. At least, that’s what one of Japan’s leading doctors believed — and he was his own proof.

    Before his death on July 18, 105-year-old Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was a practicing physician, a chairman of St. Luke’s International University and the honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital. Up until a few months before his death, Hinohara was active in the medical community — treating patients, taking new appointments and working up to 18 hours a day.

    Often credited as a major contributor to the foundations of Japanese medicine and in positioning Japan as a world leader in life expectancy, Hinohara held a number of beliefs for healthy living and longevity. And one of his main ones was: “Don’t retire. And if you must, retire much later than age 65,” he told the Japan Times.

    Maybe we should listen to the wise words of Hinohara, who believed that because the average life expectancy of Japanese people reached 84 years as of 2015, then the retirement age should be pushed back too, because work is what helps keep people going. At least that was the case for Hinohara, whose career, in a way, kept him living.

    Janit Kawaguchi, a Japan Times journalist who considered Hinohara a mentor, said, “He believed that life is all about contribution, so he had this incredible drive to help people, to wake up early in the morning and do something wonderful for other people. This is what was driving him and what kept him living.”

    On top of working for as long as possible, Hinohara also preached other guidelines for a long life, including having fun, always taking the stairs, asking your doctor questions and unsurprisingly, not being overweight.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • 7 Ways To Grow Your Personal Brand in Less Than a Week

    How to get your name out there, starting today.

    If you want to promote your name and your company online, you have to begin by building your personal brand. You have to begin thinking of yourself and your name as a brand. If you start there, everything else is easy.

    How do I know? I’ve spent years building my own brand, and I’m going to show you how to do it.

    1. Do a little preliminary research.

    Before you can build a positive personal profile online for yourself, you need to know what is already out there about you. Did you write a mean op-ed in college that has now made it into Google’s cache? Do you have some unsavory photos floating out there in the world wide web?

    Set up Google alerts using your name. Try to clean up any negative press or posts. You may even want to consider changing your name slightly — such as by using your middle initial or dropping our your nickname to build your new profile. Get your name as clean and professional as possible before you begin building your brand online.

    2. Get a website.

    If you’re going to make a name for your brand online, you need a site where your audience can visit so they can learn more about you. So, get a personal website with an “About me” page. There are lots of tools that you can use and websites you can visit to help you build your own website. Some of them are free. Some are paid, but remember,  you get what you pay for.

    If you want your website to be dynamic and professional-looking, make sure that you allot enough time, effort (and even money) into it. Use high-resolution photos of yourself and keep your copy short and engaging.

    3. Think about your audience.

    Who are you trying to reach? This is called your target audience.

    If I’ve learned anything in my years of marketing, it’s that you need to define your audience early on. Are you trying to direct people to your personal website so they can learn something from you? What do you have to offer them?

    By answering these questions, you’ll be able to get a better picture of your audience, and this will give you direction on how you communicate with them on your website and on social media.

    4. Make friends with influential people online.

    Influencers are some of your best assets as you build your personal brand. Over the years, I’ve made friends with people online who have big audiences in my industry. By building these relationships, my influencers are more willing to share or retweet my social posts to their audiences.

    If you get free exposure to an audience that you are already trying to target, it’s a win-win for both parties. Try out this technique to see if it works for you. If you have the right influencers in your circle, you’ll get more traffic to your website and more engagement in your social posts.

    5. The more people you meet, the better.

    When you are building a personal brand, the people you know can help promote you. You can’t limit these relationships to online. Perhaps you will reach out to some influencers online, and that is perfectly acceptable. I do that all the time, and it is rewarding to see these friendships form. But, you also need to do everything you can to meet influencers in other ways. Go to local events related to your industry. Network at happy hours.

    Tell everyone what you do everywhere you go, from the waiter at your favorite restaurant to the people you sit beside at church. Expand your circles — and your personal brand — simply by being present with others.

    6. Be you and only you.

    I’m offering you this advice because I learned the hard way. When you are building a personal brand, you do want to put your best face forward. But you also don’t want to create an online presence that isn’t true to who you really are. Social users are savvy about honesty — and they can tell when marketers are not being vulnerable and genuine.

    So make sure you are putting forth an honest profile of who you are. When you do this, you’ll effortlessly build trust.

    7. Capture information.

    Once you have started building a relationship with your online audience, it will be time to collect some of their information. This will be useful in building an email list, for example, so you can communicate more directly with your target audience.

    You can test this using creative ways. For example, once you have proven yourself as an established, trusted voice who offers valuable content, you can ask your audience to sign up for your monthly newsletter. You can also create videos to share your brand story. Incentivize this by offering a free giveaway or running a contest to generate excitement around free prizes. Make it fun for your target audience to participate.

    It can feel overwhelming as you get start building your personal brand. But, it takes less than a week to try out these tips. It’s easy to try one new strategy, and it won’t be long before you have a great target audience listening to you and looking to you for advice. That’s what a personal brand is all about.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • McDonald’s Puts Mobile Ordering to the Test

    McDonald’s on Wednesday March 15 began testing new mobile ordering and payment functionality at 29 of its restaurants in Monterey and Salinas, California.

    It will expand the pilot to another 51 restaurants in Spokane, Washington, on March 20.

    The company will run multiple pilots to gather customer feedback, work out any issues that arise, and streamline integration with its IT systems before rolling out its updated mobile app to nearly all 14,000 restaurants in the United States — as well as 6,000 others in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia and China — by the end of the year.

    Improving the Customer Experience

    Providing mobile ordering is part of a global growth plan McDonald’s unveiled on March 1, which hinges on improving the customer experience. The updated app will track a customer’s location, allowing customers to place orders anywhere and ensure their food is fresh when they get it.

    “You want to make sure that orders are correct and delivered on time — that stuff that’s supposed to be hot is hot, and stuff that’s supposed to be cold is cold,” Beagle Research Principal Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer.

    The mobile-ordering functionality likely will contribute positively to the customer experience, remarked Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research, because “when you order fast food, you want to order fast, pay fast and eat fast.”

    The Trend Toward Mobility

    Demand for mobile ordering in the restaurant industry is “experiencing explosive growth,” noted Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research. For example, Panera Bread, an early adopter of mobile app ordering, has projected its digital sales to hit US$1 billion this year.

    Constellation has found that about 30 percent of U.S. adults aged 65 or older have a smartphone, and “they are moving towards mobile device ordering for the convenience and selection,” Zhou told CRM Buyer.

    Take Starbucks’ mobile ordering app, for instance. It “worked so well that they had a problem filling orders,” Mueller told CRM Buyer. There were long queues at the pickup counter.

    When Being First Isn’t Best

    Other restaurant chains, notably Domino’s and Starbucks, took an early lead in providing mobile ordering capabilities to their customers.

    McDonald’s may have wanted the early adopters to grapple with the new technology first. CEO Steve Easterbrook reportedly has said that it’s better to be right than to be first to market.

    “Starbucks saw a decline in customer satisfaction and their stock dipped about 4 percent last quarter because of issues around long lines and in-store congestion resulting from mobile ordering,” Zhou noted.

    “McDonald’s is what we call a ‘fast follower’ at Constellation,” she remarked. “Not being the first to market gives them an opportunity to gauge consumer demand for the service and ensures they avoid some of the mistakes others have made.”

    Being first to market can provide a competitive advantage, though, depending on the strategy hammered out by management.

    Execution is key. The Panera Bread 2.0 app, which offers rapid pickup and fast lanes, “has led to excellent customer reviews, with over 6,000 4.5-star user ratings on the iTunes App Store,” Zhou pointed out.

    “Service is important, but so is engagement,” Pombriant observed. “If you can find a way to engage better with your customers, they’ll overlook small failings.”

    Improving the Customer Experience

    Providing mobile ordering is part of a global growth plan McDonald’s unveiled on March 1, which hinges on improving the customer experience. The updated app will track a customer’s location, allowing customers to place orders anywhere and ensure their food is fresh when they get it.

    “You want to make sure that orders are correct and delivered on time — that stuff that’s supposed to be hot is hot, and stuff that’s supposed to be cold is cold,” Beagle Research Principal Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer.

    The mobile-ordering functionality likely will contribute positively to the customer experience, remarked Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research, because “when you order fast food, you want to order fast, pay fast and eat fast.”

    The Trend Toward Mobility

    Demand for mobile ordering in the restaurant industry is “experiencing explosive growth,” noted Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research. For example, Panera Bread, an early adopter of mobile app ordering, has projected its digital sales to hit US$1 billion this year.

    Constellation has found that about 30 percent of U.S. adults aged 65 or older have a smartphone, and “they are moving towards mobile device ordering for the convenience and selection,” Zhou told CRM Buyer.

    Take Starbucks’ mobile ordering app, for instance. It “worked so well that they had a problem filling orders,” Mueller told CRM Buyer. There were long queues at the pickup counter.

    When Being First Isn’t Best

    Other restaurant chains, notably Domino’s and Starbucks, took an early lead in providing mobile ordering capabilities to their customers.

    McDonald’s may have wanted the early adopters to grapple with the new technology first. CEO Steve Easterbrook reportedly has said that it’s better to be right than to be first to market.

    “Starbucks saw a decline in customer satisfaction and their stock dipped about 4 percent last quarter because of issues around long lines and in-store congestion resulting from mobile ordering,” Zhou noted.

    “McDonald’s is what we call a ‘fast follower’ at Constellation,” she remarked. “Not being the first to market gives them an opportunity to gauge consumer demand for the service and ensures they avoid some of the mistakes others have made.”

    Being first to market can provide a competitive advantage, though, depending on the strategy hammered out by management.

    Execution is key. The Panera Bread 2.0 app, which offers rapid pickup and fast lanes, “has led to excellent customer reviews, with over 6,000 4.5-star user ratings on the iTunes App Store,” Zhou pointed out.

    “Service is important, but so is engagement,” Pombriant observed. “If you can find a way to engage better with your customers, they’ll overlook small failings.”

    Source: technewsworld.com

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  • Earning money in the mobile app era:how apps can help you to save more

    Tech in the digital age is ubiquitous. Everywhere you look, you will find someone holding a smartphone, watching a movie on their tablets, or listening to music via their mobile devices.

    The mobile industry is huge and it can entice people to spend a lot more money than they usually would have. However, that does not have to be the case. In fact, people can now earn money on their spare time with simple tasks, and save money when buying anything.

    Earning money on your free time

    Most people seem to think that every service that promises to make its users money from home is a scam. While it is true that there are many apps that are entirely fake and attempt to simply trick people with fake promises, there are many legitimate ones too.

    In fact, there are countless lists of mobile apps that help you earn money online. These apps all share common features, such as allowing their users to complete as many or as few tasks as they want and earn equivalent cash in the process.

    While such apps rarely pay enough for a full-time income, their purpose is not to completely replace your actual job. Instead, they can be used whenever you have some free time and would like to earn some extra cash.

    For instance, plenty of people have a long commute every day to work. Many will spend that time listening to music, reading the newspaper, or catching up with the latest updates in social media.

    Instead of doing that, they could potentially take some time to work through mobile apps like Swagbucks which will allow them to make some extra money, perhaps enough to pay for the commute or an extra cup of coffee.

    Apps that earn you money are entirely flexible

    The best thing about these apps is that they never force their users to complete more tasks than they would like. In fact, users can simply close the app whenever they get bored and continue later in the day or even later in the week.

    The way most of these services work is that they allow users to accumulate points whenever certain tasks are completed. Completing tasks gives users points which can then be exchanged for actual money.

    That kind of flexibility is hard to come by and is one of the most appealing aspects of doing some extra work from a smartphone or tablet. As long as you are content with spending a limited amount of your time for limited rewards then such apps are the right choice for you.

    The mobile industry can also help you save money

    Earning money via mobile apps is an absolutely fine way to spend a couple of hours every day but it is not for everyone. Some people have a satisfying day job with a high salary and they do not wish to continue working when they get home or during their long commutes.

    Instead, they may wish to scout the web for deals, discounts, and interesting products that they can add to their collection. This is precisely the reason why so many apps concerned with online shopping keep popping up in each app store.

    Wish and Shpock are just two of the many examples of apps dedicated to saving people money, albeit through different avenues. The first allows people to connect with overseas shops which can ship items are highly reduced costs whereas the second one lets users sell their items to anyone in their vicinity, a modern version of the classified ads.

    Apps and the sharing economy

    The sharing economy has come under a lot of fire recently. For example, Airbnb is believed to worsen the renting problems that many major cities face because it allows people to rent their rooms in the short-term only, leading to increase shortages in housing.

    However, the sharing economy is a concept which has been readily embraced by everyday users. Today, many people would prefer to bring up Uber on their phones and order a ride than calling a taxi company and booking a ride from them.

    The sharing economy concept seems to have found a solid home in the mobile industry as more and more apps embrace it in ways that disrupt the market. In China alone, the shared economy industry is estimated at $502 billion, a number that doubled in a single year.

    Soon, major cities in the West will also catch up and ride the sharing wave even further. In the next few years, it will not be uncommon to use apps in order to rent a bike, visit a shop and pay with a mobile coupon, and request a ride via an app on the way back.

    Such concepts seem strange for the uninitiated but users across the world seem ready to adopt them whenever they actually hit the market. With apps available to earn, save, and share money, it is not difficult to believe that the mobile industry will play a vital role in the economy for years to come.

    Source: www.thenextweb.com

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    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
    11601 Wilshire Blvd. 5th Floor
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  • 6 Ways to Save Your Business Thousands Each Month

    Cutting costs is always quicker and easier than bringing in more revenue.

     

    For the majority of small business owners, cash is most definitely king. In hopes of increasing their bottom line, business owners often pay themselves much less than they deserve. The truth is, you have to spend money to make money. That being said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be saving wherever possible. While some tips work better than others, here are a few you can implement right away and start saving.

    1. Bootstrap as long as you can.

    In an era of endless technology and knowledge, it’s probably “been done before”. Just because you have competition, doesn’t mean you’re too late. There’s always room to find your niche and provide value where your competitors can’t. This is actually a great way to save yourself time and money.

    Whenever possible, look to work with larger companies and utilize their pre-existing technologies or infrastructure. You can either swap services or create a revenue-sharing agreement in exchange for access to their services. Ideally, they will allow you to white-label their products so you can create an original brand presence. This strategy will surely save you thousands and give your business time to build out your own products and or services.

    2. Optimize your purchasing power.

    Taking advantage of group buying and collective purchasing is a great way to save cash. By joining these groups you’ll have access to discounts and exclusive rates on office supplies, hardware, business travel, and much more.

    There are plenty of group buying services you can utilize based on your particular business needs. If you’re a non-profit, ThriveGPO provides a great group purchasing tool. If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll never buy alone.

    3. Barter your way to growth.

    If you’re looking to avoid cash outlays or unload slow-moving inventory you can always look to swap your products and services for others. Bartering with other companies can be time consuming, so if you’d rather not bargain with other companies directly you can always hire a commissioned barter broker. Otherwise, you can join a commercial barter club or exchange.

    The National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) is a registered clearing house for member exchanges nationwide. NATE essentially allows business owners to swap any product or service with anyone. When a sale is made, participants will often receive trade dollars for their goods and services. Trade dollars are brokered across cities nationwide under NATE.

    4. Get your business credit card rewards.

    If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to apply for a business credit card. Since issuing banks assume business owners will spend more on a business card than a personal card, the rewards tend to be much more enticing. According to NerdWallet, here are the best small business credit cards of 2017:

    • Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for cash back
    • The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express: Best for airport lounge access
    • Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for travel credit
    • Capital One Spark Classic for Business: Best for fair credit

    When you redeem your credit card rewards, you should also look to redeem in the form of a gift card. Companies often times offer gift cards that you can purchase with credit card rewards points. From a dollar per points perspective, you’ll get the most bang for your buck using this strategy. If you know you’re going to need to make some big purchases on office supplies, look to purchase a gift card for Ikea for example. Using these simple but effective strategies are a great way to save much needed cash especially on larger purchases.

    5. Free trials and consultations.

    There’s no better way to save money than to get a service for free. Instead of investing large amounts of money in enterprise software for your business, you can find much less expensive SaaS tools to meet your needs. These services often provide free trials, some as long as a month. After the trial period is over, they’ll typically offer tiered pricing that allows you to pay as you scale your business. Whether it’s a payments solution, CRM software, or simple accounting tools, you should always start with a free trial.

    Free consultations are very effective when seeking legal advice. Some business attorney’s charge as high as $600/hour and bill you to the second. Typically, a lawyer will give you about 30 minutes to even an hour of time as a consultation with the assumption you’ll choose them as your legal council. If you’re just looking to get a few questions answered, use a few attorney’s and get a few consultations. If you use this trick with three or four attorney’s you’ve just saved well over $1000 in legal fees.

    6. Review your expenses quarterly.

    Generally, you should be well aware of your expenses at all times. However, it’s best to do a full analysis quarterly to determine which expenses are necessary and which aren’t. Software that you used last quarter may be obsolete to your business now, so you’ll want to cancel that subscription. It’s easy to forget about all the various software and business tools you’ve signed up for over the years. It’s good to “trim the fat” each quarter so you can make every penny count.

    Regardless the size of your business it’s very important to stay on top of your finances and be frugal. Especially for smaller companies, your growth depends heavily on how your dollar is spent. If you implement these six strategies you can save your business thousands of dollars each month, so get out and build that business!

    Source: www.entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
    11601 Wilshire Blvd. 5th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA, 90025
    United States of America

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    info@www.p2pdevelopers.com
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