Friday, November 30, 2018

AI and the Coming Era of Smarter Business Processes


Today, almost 420 million searches happen through AI-based voice assistants, chatbots are helping people in simplifying their day-to-day lives and AI is transforming industries like automotive, healthcare, etc. in ways unimaginable just a decade ago. Clearly, as technology advances, AI is going to be as ubiquitous as electricity in our lives. Prudent business leaders know how critical AI is going to be, for businesses to stay competitive and efficient and hence, they are boosting their investments in the technology. No wonder, the AI market is set to grow at a rate of 52% by 2025.

But AI is not just transforming industries; it is also slowly and steadily leading to more efficient business processes. A report from Accenture states that, by 2035, AI has the power to increase productivity by 40 percent or more, for enterprises.

Here is how AI is boosting efficiency in business operations and transforming business processes one function at a time:

Marketing

With the advent of the digital medium marketers have to no longer rely on dicey focus groups to analyze what their customers want and run expensive TVC campaigns to engage with their customers. AI is further proving to be a bliss for the marketing function by helping them to optimize their campaigns for and communication for every penny that is spent.

Here is how AI is finding multiple applications in the marketing function:


  • Improved search functions – For almost everything consumers want their first point of looking for a product is via Google search. Google is continuously improving their search AI to come up with relevant results. Tools like Y Combinator-backed RankScience, use thousands of A/B tests to determine how best to positively influence search engine rankings. Technologies like Elastisearch are helping e-commerce players by populating the best possible results for a search query.

  • Customer segmentation – AI is improving the efficiency of the marketing function by helping them refine customer segmentation and reaching out to the right customers and understand them better. E.g. Companies such as AgilOne are helping marketers to improve and optimize email and website communications, by analyzing, continually learning from user behavior.

  • Recently IBM launched its new IBM Watson AI Marketing Suite aimed at improving marketing efforts by personalized targeting, improved programmatic buying and insightful campaign analytics. The suite contains three AI-based solutions – IBM Watson Ads Omni, IBM Media Optimizer, and Predictive Audiences.


HR and Recruitment

AI can be immensely useful in taking away a lot of burden of the HR team by helping them with tasks like scheduling meeting, filtering candidates, reducing attrition etc. Here are various AI-based tools that are helping the HR function:


  • HiringSolved – an AI-powered recruitment tool that enables diversity during selection.
  • Mya, an AI recruitment tool provides quick responses to applicants about their application and other information related to it and helps HRs building a positive communication with prospective employees and fasten the process at the same time.
  • IBM Watson is working towards building such a predictive model for companies that can predict attrition patterns amongst employees.


Customer service and customer engagement

According to Gartner, by 2020, 55% of all large enterprises will have deployed at least one bot or Chatbot to improve the efficiency of their interactions with the customers. However, one of the major drawback of the chatbots if the very fact that they are ‘bots’ and users seek human interaction while interacting with a brand. Enterprises are using bots which can work in tandem with their human counterparts.

Finance and Accounting

AI is helping enterprises not just improve the efficiency of the customer-facing functions but also the internal functions alike. One such function is the Finance and Accounting function. Some organizations are using AI to simplify their finance and Finance and accounting process are –


  • At Deloitte, auditors use AI tools with natural language processing capabilities to interpret thousands of contracts or deeds and hence fastening the pace of the process and also ensuring an error-free process.

  • At Crowe Horwath, data scientists have harnessed technology to tackle complex billing problems in the healthcare industry. The team used machine-based learning to sift through enormous but disparate billing systems of its healthcare clients to flag accounts with discrepancies.


In conclusion:

AI is slowly becoming one of the critical technologies that are not just transforming industries by pushing innovation but also has immense potential in improving the efficiency of operations and have a positive impact on the ROI of businesses. However like any other newbie technology AI also has its challenges, while the giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. are able to pump in monies to experiment using AI, the cost of adoption for smaller enterprises might be a challenge for smaller enterprises. Another impediment to the adoption of AI can be lack of resources, infrastructure etc.


However, as businesses work towards finding ways to deal with these challenges they remain bullish about the technology. And, with the potential AI has shown us, soon it will become as ubiquitous as electricity for people as well as businesses.




Source: https://www.business2community.com
Image Credit: (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

5 Business Intelligence Tools That Stand the Test of Time


Often times, we are told that “Data is the new gold mine” but I say it has become the norm for businesses which relieves them entirely and also of the headaches that go with them. However, I am not romanticizing data as it can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Yes, it has the potential to contribute to both the insight and the fog of visibility. The following post aims to offer a list comprising of BI (Business Intelligence) products available on the market.

Have you ever come across the term “Business Intelligence”? The concept is all about the delivery and integration of relevant and useful business information in an organization. The pace of change today is the fastest it’ll ever be. As a business executive, one needs to make use of business intelligence to detect significant events and identify/monitor business trends in order to adapt quickly to their changing environment. The 21st century is regarded as the age of innovations, the ability of using data and information in real time has become a key to succeed for any and every organization. With the dawn of internet era, business decisions are nothing but access to quick information. After big data, business intelligence has transformed the entire business landscape.

Do we really need BI?

The question really boils down to this: Why should you waste your time learning to use the tech in particular? I’ll give you five solid reasons.

#1 Get Insights- One of the best advantages of investing in a business intelligence software is that it allows you to get accurate insights and analyze the current consumer buying trends. The moment you understand all these basic aspects, information must be taken into account while developing products that match the current consumption trends and consequently improve your profitability since you will be able to attract valuable customers.

#2 Improve efficiency- Improvement in efficiency is another crucial reason stating that one should invest in a business intelligence system. Sharing relevant information across different departments, will save time on reporting, processing and analyzing. This also eases in information sharing procedure which is more likely to reduce duplication of roles/duties within the organization and improve the accuracy and usefulness of the data generated by different departments.

#3 Smart decision making- Being a business owner, it is very important to have a firm grip on what your organization’s data is trying to convey. And all you require doing is convert your company’s information into structured, analyzable insight – in other words- time for strategic decision-making. For today’s customers, it is clear having up-to-date, data-driven intelligence at your fingertips not only leads to better business decisions but will ultimately contribute to a superior financial performance.

#4 A reduction in costs- Of course, there are certain costs associated with the implementation and operation, the reality is that the ROI is generally large enough to make up for those expenses. Making the most of BI tools will help in reducing/eliminating costs associated with data collection, report generation, and programming, and IT training. Always keep this in mind, added profit is likely to come only when the correct implementation is done.

#5 Universal platform compatibility– Businesses have started relying more and more on BYOD policies making easy for making easy for key decision makers to use mobile devices while working. From being accessible across any internet-enabled platform to allowing access to vital information, these Cloud-based BI tools feature such benefits which can be used whenever and wherever it is needed.


Best Business Intelligence Tools to Consider

Do you think business intelligence is a new concept? No! It is a comprehensive solution of data analysis mainly used by enterprises to make data-driven decisions. The entire process incorporates online analytical processing, data mining, process mining, business performance management, benchmarking, predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics, and the most important, reporting. Further below I would like to mention a few business intelligence software that can guide you in gaining insight, understanding customer behavior and grow business like never before.

Sisense– The king in the BI market and the award-winning software for 2016 from FinancesOnline. Sisense effectively simplifies complex data analyses and making big data insights pretty much accessible for startups as well as for fortune 500 companies. The tool has the capacity to collate data from multiple sources and that too without any pricey preparations. Sound’s interesting isn’t it! With the help of ElastiCube technology, the BI tool can import large sets of data and work with any CPU layout without compromising the quality of your results.

icCube– Being a SaaS end to end BI platform, IcCube specializes in deploying on premises, in the cloud and enjoy a short time to market for custom feature requests. Because of on-the-fly-authentication and authorization, icCube can integrate seamlessly with any application. In simple words, it has the ability to connect and combine any custom data source, direct access to Java and R, a web-based dashboard builder and the ability to graphically design widgets from scratch.

Clear Analytics– One of the most intuitive Excel-based solution that requires no training. Those who have basic knowledge in excel can learn the system at a fanatic pace, which also means businesses have the full potential to implement a fully-operational, self-service Business Intelligence system. And do you know what’s the best part; they have very little downtime and almost no learning curve. It may also interest you to know that clear analytics allows consolidation of data from multiple data sources and all within Excel.

Ducen– Running a successful business is no cake walk! Companies require keeping their eyes on every revenue-generating event and cost-saving opportunity while improving customer satisfaction and retention. Combining historical data with real-time operational data for analysis, business users can make more informed, proactive decisions.

Insightsquared– Last but certainly not the least, conducting a successful sales strategy can be only made if you are able to understand your valuable customer. Gathering information can be time-consuming and take staff away from the task of actually selling.

Conclusion

Reaping all the benefits of these business intelligence tools will ultimately result in improving performance skillfully, intelligently. Select the most competitive one that would work out for you!



Source: https://tweakyourbiz.com
Image Credit: DepositPhotos


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The 7 Best Ways to Find Hourly Workers For Your Business


Entrepreneurs and business owners are in a war for hourly workers. Hourly workers are a major driver of the economy in the United States. Seventy-eight million people, or 59 percent of the workforce, are hourly workers. However, hiring hourly workers is challenging. Hourly workers of restaurants, bars, stores and other local businesses change jobs frequently.

Today, turnover of hourly workers is one of the industry's biggest workforce problems. In a survey by Society of Human Resource Management, respondents reported that the average annual turnover for hourly workers is 49 percent, at an average cost of $4,969 per employee. In addition, this is increasing rapidly with an annual increase of 39 percent for hourly workers and a staggering 314 percent increase in turnover for managers.

In addition, with the growth of the gig economy with companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and more, there is increased competition with local businesses for hiring hourly workers. In October 2018, the number of job openings in America reached over 7 million, and will exceed the number of job seekers.



Here are share some strategies and techniques for hiring hourly workers.

1. Set up an employee referral program.
As with many industries and sectors, referrals work! One strategy for business owners is to create an incentive scheme for successful referrals which can take the form of a small cash bonus or other rewards. For example, whenever a new hourly worker is hired, immediately ask her or him for three introductions or names that can be introduced to the company. This is very helpful as you will be able to create leverage and reach more hourly workers who are of similar backgrounds that you like to hire.

2. Share on closed communities like Facebook Groups and Yelp.
There are many closed communities and trusted networks of people who may be looking for work. For example, there are many Facebook Groups in each local city, sectors and industries where Facebook users come together to offer support and advice for job seeking. Some examples of Facebook Groups could include "Uber drivers in San Francisco" or "Baristas in Boston." As this is a trusted network, potential hourly workers are more likely to respond to messages that are posted in the group or to respond to job postings.

3. Post on Craigslist and Indeed.com every day in the early morning.
Online job postings on Craigslist, Indeed.com and other job boards remain some of the best ways to reach out to hourly workers. However, the key is to be persistent and to re-post these job ads every morning, in order for the job postings to appear at the top of the job boards. In addition, it is important to structure the job postings to be attractive, including highlighting monetary compensation, strong culture or flexible working hours. It is important to engage with potential job hourly workers with your online job ads and differentiate yourself from the thousands of other employers who are also trying to hire in today's competitive market.

4. Organize a jobs fair or event.
Host a fun job fair! Offer free food, coffee or free company products to potential applicants who take the time to show up at your job fair. It is very helpful for potential hourly workers to meet you and your managers in person, and to understand your brand, culture and product better. In addition, one of the key things you should do that will help in organizing a job fair is to build up an internal database of candidates. You can host periodic career fairs or events, and send out messages to these potential applicants for the event.

5. Put up job posters in your neighborhood and in your stores.
You need to find hourly workers where they are. Put up attractive job posters where hourly workers can text to apply easily from their mobile phones. The best places to put up job posters can be your own physical stores, or local coffee shops, supermarkets, churches and coworking spaces. There are often bulletin boards at these locations where you can put up marketing materials for free and attract potential hourly workers.

6. Put advertisements in local newspapers and magazines.
Offline channels can be extremely effective for hiring hourly workers. Local newspapers and magazines are still widely read by potential job applicants who are looking for hourly work. You can look for local newspaper and magazines that are distributed among different ethnic groups or languages that could also help you to broaden your reach into more communities.

7. Partner with local community colleges and schools.
There are many students at local community colleges who have recently finished high school and are eager to get their first working experiences. All of these community colleges have career centers and career fairs, and employers can often sign up or connect with them to access potential job applicants. Another strategy is to get to know the instructors in the fields that you are looking to hire, for example at culinary schools, as the instructors may be able to make recommendations.

Hourly recruiting is similar to the positions one is hiring for -- it is hands-on, difficult and sometimes it can be grinding and laborious work. However, hourly workers play a significant role in many companies today. From technology companies like Amazon to retail companies like Walmart, Starbucks and more, hourly workers are the heartbeat of millions of companies that is transforming the economy today. Hiring hourly workers is indeed a very different process than hiring white-collar workers. Therefore, it is important for us to recognize the different techniques to engage with hourly workers, and to connect with them in those channels.




Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com
Image Credit: fstop123 | Getty Images



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Write the Book, Get the Business. 3 Ways to Do it


There are no shortcuts on the road to success. That is undeniable.

But there are ways to beat your competition to the finish line.

One way is through the intentional establishment of authority. The perception of authority means that more people will listen to your message. And trust you. And hire you.

And one fast-track to authority is authorship – sharing your knowledge, your experiences, your insight. Most people look at authors of books as authorities. Right or wrong, there is a perception that if you have enough knowledge to write a book, you must know more than most people.

That perception of authority leads to the reality of increased business. In a Bloomberg study, 96% of the business book authors surveyed said they realized a significant positive impact on their businesses from writing a book and would recommend the practice.

Simply put, people who write the book, get the business.

It’s been estimated that 81% of Americans – approximately 200 million people – feel they have a book inside them. But less than a fraction of 1 percent ever writes one. Here’s some general advice as to how to become part of that 1 percent.

WHAT DO I WRITE ABOUT?

Bait the hook to suit the fish, not the fisherman. Many authors make this mistake. They write the book that they want to write and then hope there’s an audience that cares enough to read it. Instead, authors should ask, “What is the yearning, burning problem that my target customer is grappling with?” Then write a book that addresses that.

What you write about has to be of importance to people who have the capacity and the desire to give your business money. What we mean by that is, a lot of people write a book for the masses. The truth is, if you’re writing for everybody, you’re really writing for nobody.

HOW DO I GET MY BOOK WRITTEN?

Many good writers never complete a book. Not because they’re not passionate about it. Writing a book takes a lot of time and commitment and that can be paralyzing.

It takes, on average, more than three years for a business person to write his or her own book.

Plus many successful business people are better at verbalizing ideas than they are at writing them down.

So maybe you shouldn’t write the book yourself.

Consider working with someone who has writing experience and can help you through the process. Working with a third party to create your book enables you to finish the process in as little as six months.

HOW DO I PUBLISH MY BOOK?

The good news is that it has never been easier to get a book published. The not-so-good news is, because it’s never been easier, it’s never been more important that the book be done correctly.

There are three avenues you can take: self-publishing, traditional publishing, or hybrid publishing.

Self-publishing is pretty simple; you do it all yourself. You reap all the benefits and maintain full control. You also have to figure everything out on your own.

The big problem is that 90 percent of books that are self-published look like they’re self-published. If the image your book creates in the minds of your audience is not congruent with the quality you provide, it will do you more harm than good.



The other side of the coin is traditional publishing. Yes, there’s prestige, distribution networks and validation, but this may not be a realistic option for most people. There are fewer traditional publishers and most are raising the bar on what they will accept. Most authors who get those contracts already have an established track record in their platforms.

Other challenges: it takes an average of twelve to eighteen months to get published, the publisher owns the rights to the book, you lose creative control, and there’s a lack of significant marketing help.

Then there’s hybrid publishing. Publisher’s Weekly calls it the ‘third option’ – the gray area between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Hybrid-publishing houses charge a fee to have books written, designed and sold, connecting authors with in-house professional writers, editors and designers.

If you go this route, however, you have to understand that the aim of hybrid publishing is not to sell books. The benefits don’t come from royalties. The goal is to use your book as a marketing tool – as the ultimate professional calling card. The book serves as the foundation for generating leads, attracting media and booking speaking engagements.


If done right, creating a book is an investment with exponential returns as long as you go in with your eyes wide open.


Source: https://www.business2community.com


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Is it a Good Idea to Finance a Business With a Credit Card?


Financing your small business is never a process anyone would define as “fun.” Even if you’ve gotten lucky with a good loan at a fantastic interest rate, you still probably hate seeing money go out the door every month to make repayments. And if you have a not-so-great loan—or even more frustrating, no loan approval at all—then you might feel even more frustrated.

If you can relate to the latter, you’re not alone. Only 26.5% of small business loan applications get approved. That leaves everyone else with only a few financing options at their disposal; one of which being a business credit card. Business credit cards are often easier to get, require less financial history than loans, and let you pay for a lot of the same things a business loan would.

As with personal credit cards, business credit cards offer the lure of quick access to funds—albeit at steep interest rates. Charge more to your card than you can pay off every cycle, and you’re likely to be on the receiving end of some pretty hefty interest charges. Miss payments altogether, and you’ll start to see your business credit score (and sometimes your personal score!) plummet. So when does it make sense to pull out your plastic to fund your business?

The Short Answer? It Depends

Small business loans are usually your best answer in almost every scenario. They avail you to more money and typically charge less interest than a credit card account. Loans provide you with a lump sum of cash after approval, and you pay off what you’ve borrowed steadily during a set period.

Business loans are harder to get than business credit cards, however. Most lenders only want to work with companies that have a long business track record, a good credit history, and who can demonstrate their ability to pay the loan back. Some loans, such as Small Business Association (SBA) loans, require much more information than that. It’s not always possible for every small business to provide all of these details, or for this information to have enough detail to make them suitable loan candidates. Especially if you’re just starting out. In this case, credit cards might be your best option—if not one of your only ones.

When To Finance a Business With a Credit Card

Financing your business with a credit card isn’t typically your best option. In fact, it’s usually your option of last resort. But there are moments where using a credit card for financing so makes sense. Here’s when you might want to consider using a credit card to finance your business, and when you should run for the hills.

If You Need Fast Cash

Credit cards are a wonderful option if you only need to make minor purchases, or have one-off expenses that require you to have quick access to cash. These examples may not feel like they’re under the business financing umbrella, but credit accounts are still a loan, strictly speaking. Your card company fronts you the money for your purchases, and you pay them back every statement cycle. So in this case, you’re taking out small loans every time you’re charging something to your card. If you’re occasionally low on cash, then credit cards might work for you.

If You’re Approved for a 0% APR Card

You can essentially use your credit card as an interest-free loan if you’re lucky enough to qualify for a card with a promotional 0% APR. These cards offer you a set number of months without interest on your purchases, which means that you can carry a balance across several statement cycles without owing a single penny in interest. So long as you pay off your balance before the introductory period ends, that is.

Bear in mind that these cards usually go to applicants with stellar credit, as well as a substantive business credit history. If you’ve got both of these qualifications covered, you’re probably a good candidate for a conventional business loan, which might be a better long-term financing solution for you.


If You’re Out of Options

Odds are that you’re considering financing your business with a credit card if you’ve exhausted your other loan options. Sure, you may balk at the substantial interest rate that comes with your credit account, but sometimes it’s better to suck it up than have no financing at all. You’ll build a credit history while you make steady payments, which still helps you build up the kind of track record lenders want to see when they review your loan applications down the line.

When Not to Finance a Business With a Credit Card

If you’re considering financing your business with a credit card, it’s probably not your ideal choice. Nor is it your first. That’s for good reason: financing with a credit card is a risky proposition and is almost always a worse option than getting a business loan. The list of reasons why you’d want to avoid using a credit card to finance your business is long; here are a few of the main reasons.


When You Have Other Options

If you have other loan options aside from a credit card, use them. You’ll save a fortune in interest, save yourself from the uncertainty of fluctuating monthly payments, and build your credit history all the while. Small business loans also provide you with more money than credit cards, which is ideal if you need to make major capital investments. Even the steep interest rates that come with short-term loans are usually smaller than a credit card’s APR, making them a relative bargain. Basically, if you’ve got another option out there, explore it before you commit to financing with a credit card.

If You Can Borrow from Friends, Family, or Investors

Not all financing has to come from a bank. The best alternative financing source is often your loved ones, with whom you can work out specific repayment terms. You won’t have to undergo credit checks, piles of paperwork, or any of the other procedures that come with conventional borrowing (unless your Uncle Sal asks you for a background check, of course). Alternatively, investors may also be a good option for you if you’re willing to give up equity in exchange for cash. Be sure that you’re comfortable giving up shares of your business in the early stages, as a 2% stake of a $100,000 company is far different than a 2% interest in a company that grows to $2,000,000 over time.

If You Can Find Alternatives to Loans

Loans might seem like the go-to option when you need small business financing, but there are other sources of cash to help you get your business off the ground. Many municipalities offer small business grants to help promote growth within their towns and cities. Other groups offer grants to women and minority entrepreneurs to help them build their companies, which could be another avenue worth exploring.

***

There are several ways to finance a business—each offers its benefits and drawbacks. Term loans, lines of credit, and SBA loans are great options if you qualify. Credit cards are a good option when there are no other options left. So long as you’ve thought about every option available to you, you’re equipped to make the right decision for your business. The key here is to do your homework, choose wisely, and only borrow what you can afford to pay back.



Source: https://www.business2community.com
Image Credit: mastersenaiper / Pixabay


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Do You Need a Business Partner?


Anyone who has ever started a business knows how much work there is to it. Going from an idea in your head to an actual business structure that profits takes a lot of work and determination. For one person, it’s overwhelming at times.

So the idea of a business partner is extremely appealing. Someone to share all the work with? Sounds great! Plus, business partners can be there for each other on the emotional side of things. It’s just plain nice to have someone in the wild world of small business with you.

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of a business partner, and if it’s something you should consider for your own business.

Pros of a Business Partner

There are many, many pros to having a business partner. We’ve listed them out to make it easier to digest.

-Double your work output

-Someone to bounce ideas off of

-Share the emotional journey together

-Find someone who has different skills, and cover more ground

-Potentially more start up capital, as you can both bring funds


Cons of a Business Partner

But of course, not everything is sunshine and roses with a business partner. Here’s a few reasons you might not want one.

-Split the profits in half

–Much higher potential for arguments

-Should have much stricter legal contracts and documents for business structure

-Possibility of things not working out and ruining a relationship with them


Do You Need a Business Partner?

This is what is boils down to; does your business need a partner? We think that they can be an incredible boost, especially to businesses that are self funded.

If you’re starting a business to fix a large scale societal problem, or to fill a hole in the market, a business partner is a great idea. For these businesses, they tend to be less personal, require more work, and a business partner can be a crucial asset.

If you’re starting a business because you want to turn a passion into something that makes money, you might not need a partner. Businesses like these tend to be smaller, stem from a personal interest, and come with workloads that can be carried by one person.

Before you start any business, it’s crucial to write a business plan. This helps you understand what you’re trying to do as a business, where your revenue will come from, and how you want to move forward. Once you’ve done the business plan, it should become clear if a business partner is something you’ll benefit from at all.



Source: https://www.business2community.com
Image Credit: rawpixel / Pixabay

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Strategic Planning: Act Now and Jumpstart Business in 2019


If you expect to jumpstart business in the new year, you have the next three weeks, period, to plan and strategize.

But it’s barely November, you’re thinking; there’s plenty of time for strategic planning. Right? Wrong.

In 21 days we will be knee-deep in Thanksgiving festivities. Depending on your traditions, this may mean massive grocery shopping, defrosting a turkey, a whirlwind house cleaning, fall decorations, the big dinner itself, cleaning once again, and the start of serious shopping, with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Then, December and party season strike, with gatherings of your business associates, co-workers, vendors, clients, distant relatives, neighbors, friends and probably even some people you don’t know very well. There are kids’ recitals and pageants, special concerts and television specials. And more shopping, wrapping and decorating.

This flurry of activity flows seamlessly into Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and after Christmas sales, followed by New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day with its football extravaganzas, more parties and more food.

Before you blink, it’s mid-January or possibly almost Valentine’s Day, and you’re scrambling to set a strategic plan, which you probably won’t be able to launch until March at the earliest. And one sixth to one quarter of the year has been lost.

Don’t be left behind.

Set aside time now, to think and plan. You may believe you can’t spare the time, but indeed, this brief window is your best opportunity.



7 Steps to Jumpstart Business in 2019:

  • Start now. You don’t have time to procrastinate.
  • Review the past year. What has worked well? What was a disappointment? Take an inventory of wins and losses.
  • Consider trends. What has changed, and what changes do you foresee for the future? What can you do to take advantage of these?
  • Set goals. What exactly do you want to accomplish in the new year? Know where you want to be at this time, next year.
  • What are your assets? What can you use to reach your goals? What else do you need? How will you acquire the things you need?
  • Set specific tasks which will take you from where you are to where you want to be. Set deadlines, and make a commitment to meeting them.
  • Take action. You don’t have to wait until January; anything you do now will put you further ahead of the game!

Take a deep breath, focus, and set your sights on your 2019 goals. Get ahead of the competition. Make your plans, set strategies and tasks, and move to jumpstart business on January 2nd!

Source: https://www.business2community.com



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How to Save Your Business Money with WiFi Calling

As mobile phones became a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, managing minutes kept costs under control.

Today, we are less concerned with using minutes, and more concerned about data usage.

As a result, mobile users and providers must track data usage with the same diligence used for tracking minutes.

Before we get too far, what exactly is data usage?

Data usage is any activity that requires the mobile network (aside from calls) to transmit or access information.

This includes using your phone’s web browser along with streaming services. The streaming services are responsible for the lion’s share of data usage.

This is why many users end up with data overages.

We all know that today’s mobile phones are equipped with WiFi technology; therefore, a natural solution for mitigating data usage and overages is connecting to WiFi whenever — and wherever — possible.

WiFi is much faster connection than 4G — the mobile network used by most carriers.

Since WiFi connects to broadband, most broadband plans allow for data transmissions exceeding 100 GB. Businesses often have larger broadband data caps.

Now that you know more about the technical details, one of the most important questions related to WiFi calling is:


Does WiFi Calling Use Data?


The answer from nearly every prominent mobile phone provider is no.

So, without further adeu, here are some tips on how to make WiFi calls.


How to Make WiFi Calls


Making WiFi calls is extremely easy. For nearly every phone type, simply go to the Settings menu, then Phone, and toggle the WiFi Calling option to “On.”

Because many different carriers are enabling WiFi calling on various devices, and not counting WiFi calls against data plans, users can easily set their phones and devices to automatically connect with any available WiFi networks when in range. This will help you to manage your data effectively.

WiFi calling is also an easy way to keep your data usage low while getting better service.


How to Track Data and WiFi


If you use WiFi often, then your mobile data usage is probably quite low. However, it is still important to track your mobile data, and here are some reasons why:


How Data is Used


Many phones and devices break down the different types of data usage. This allows you to not only make WiFi calls, but also perform other activities, such as stream media but use less data.

The average call uses roughly 4MB. High-definition video uses a lot more data. In fact, an hour of streaming video in high-def can cost you up to 1 GB of data!

There are several ways to track your data. Mobile phone services make it easy because data is critical for any mobile plan today. Again, you can easily make it a habit to track data by opening up your service provider’s app and clicking on data. You’ll see how much data you have used and how much is left for the month, or billing period.

Using WiFi service as much as possible lowers your mobile data usage tremendously. If you’re looking for a deeper dive, there are many apps that break down data usage by type. This is helpful for managing data when WiFi is not readily available.


The Right Plan


Having a plan with limited or little data can be very costly. Conversely, a plan with a great deal of unused data is essentially giving away money.

Monitoring your data allows you to average your monthly usage and select a plan that is the best possible fit for your needs.




WiFi Calling for Businesses


Businesses appreciate the convenience of WiFi calling in order to keep costs down. Larger businesses may have employees on mobile business plans with pooled data. WiFi calling is preferred because saving data is paramount.

Many businesses have shifted to VoIP systems due to convenience. But how does that help executives and team members on the go? Nextiva shows how a WiFi network provides the same experience as a VoIP setting.

As detailed in this blog, the increased functionality provided by WiFi gives professionals greater flexibility. Connecting to WiFi provides a sense of professionalism with clear, high-quality calls that don’t drop.

Furthermore, a great VoIP network over WiFi increases productivity and efficiency, which have a direct impact on bottom line.


Voice Packets vs. Data Packets


Today’s best VoIP systems implemented over WiFi prioritize the transmission of voice packets over data packets.

What does this mean? Consider an example…

Think about standing in a line to board an airplane. In most cases, VIP and first-class passengers board first. Then, the economy or coach passengers board next.

Voice packets are the VIP/first-class passengers, and data packets are the economy passengers.

Prioritizing information transmission in this order ensures higher quality calls. The data arrives at its destination without any disruption or noticeable delay.

The needs of a voice call – clarity, reliability, and immediate connection upon dialing – get lost in the shuffle, if this prioritization is not in place.


Why WiFi Calling is the Answer


All in all, WiFi calling is clearly more cost effective than data availability and usage. Furthermore, WiFi calls are often clearer, higher quality, and are more reliable than similar calls on mobile networks.

Therefore, adopting and implementing a VoIP solution and WiFi network for calling is a great way for business to cut costs while also increase quality.




Source: https://smallbiztrends.com/
Image Credit: Shutterstock



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Top 14 Proven Growth Hacks to Grow Your Small Business


The owner of a small business must successfully manage a lot of tasks simultaneously. As an entrepreneur, you must overcome resource restraints and at the same time focus on growth.

Statistics indicate that growing your business at the initial stage is not easy. Nearly 20% of businesses do not last for a year and 50% of them don’t make it to the fifth year.

 It is a bit tricky to fight a battle on every front at the same time. You need help to boost sales and grow your business. That’s where growth-hacking comes in.

In the piece, we will see what growth hacking actually is and how it is useful for small businesses.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking involves quick experimentation across various areas of your business to identify the most efficient methods for achieving growth. The term was coined by the CEO of GrowthHackers.com, Sean Ellis after he found the absence of focus on growth in traditional marketers. In Ellis’s own words, “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”

The use of word “hacking” in the term suggests that it’s a clever way of producing higher growth results through a few shortcuts. The main aim of an ideal growth hacking strategy is to increase your customer base by keeping investment to a minimum.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the proven growth hacking tactics that every small business owner should know to grow their business.

Best and proven techniques to growth hack your small business


  • Prioritizing content marketing

Content marketing is one of the most valuable marketing strategies for businesses. Statistics cite that it’s 62% cheaper than traditional marketing and generates three times more leads.

Create a blog with content that is properly optimized with trending, high-volume, and low-competition keywords to present your business as an expert in the industry. These blogs generate heavy traffic on your website and produce more conversions.

Blog posts and other informative content is meant to educate readers with high-quality information. Users visit your website to gain important, helpful knowledge, which helps in building credibility and enhances brand awareness.


  • Online reviews matter

Online reviews are essential when it comes to building brand credibility. According to a survey, 84% of users trust online reviews and testimonials when considering purchasing a product or service.

Make it easy for users to view and react to all the praise you have received online. Present the top quotes and testimonials on your homepage as comments from satisfied customers. It is helpful in encouraging your prospects to make the purchase.


  • Integrating calls-to-action with your social media platforms

In order to boost growth, you need to encourage your prospects to take a specified action. Integrating your calls-to-action across various social media platforms is the best way to motivate your customers to take action.

Ask users to sign up for your product or share or like your posts. Ensure that your call-to-action is precise, clear and easy for customers to understand and take action.


  • Requesting feedback

Listening to your customers is the best way for any brand to grow further. Ask users for their feedback on their experience your product or service. Improve your business accordingly to present a best-in-class user experience, which ultimately is helpful in boosting sales.

For better interactivity, use popups to ask for users’ comments after making a purchase. The aim is to capture insight and feedback from customers so you can improve the customer experience.


  • Offer freebies

Offering free downloadable or viewable assets is one of the most effective ways of growing your email list quickly. You may try offering a free ebook in exchange for the user’s email address.

Ensure the freebies you are offering are aligned with your marketing strategy and the theme of the product.


  • Use customer retargeting

Retargeting simply means bringing your customers back to your website in an attempt to sell to them again. The best way to do it is by showing targeted ads to customers who have been to your website previously.

Google and Facebook retargeting contains optimizations, which show targeted ads to your previous customers and encourage them to make the purchase.



  • Offer discount coupons

Another effective way to build your email list is distributing discount coupons, which also encourages users to make the purchase. Adding the feeling of urgency in your deal also helps boost conversions as users don’t want to miss interesting deals.

You can use exit intent pop-ups containing information about your coupons. The system detects a visitor, who is about to leave your website.

Use pop-up creator tools to create best-in-class customized pop-ups, which instantly catches customers’ attention.



Implement organic SEO strategies
Using organic SEO techniques is an effective strategy for engaging prospects. Data suggest that 70-80% of users ignore paid ads altogether. Moreover, organic traffic is the most effective way to drive traffic to your website.

Upgrade your SEO strategies and go organic as much as you can. Pure SEO techniques help you bring more traffic than social media outreach and helps in increasing conversions.


  • Create an app

Having an app gives you a significant competitive edge over the competition. Mobile apps are becoming extremely popular as apps account for a whopping 89% of mobile media time.

Build an app with advanced capabilities with the help of a popular app building service in order to bring more visitors to your site.


  • Take mobile optimization seriously

As 48% of users use mobiles to search on the internet, it’s extremely important that you optimize your website for mobile devices. 61% of mobile users won’t be visiting your website again if they have trouble accessing it. Considering its importance, Google also emphasizes making your website mobile friendly.

Ensure that your website and marketing emails are fully compatible with mobile screens to get the most out of mobile traffic.


  • Gamify the onboarding experience

Gamification is used by various businesses as it makes the whole customer journey interesting. Gamifying the onboarding experience involves rewarding new users for using the product and referring it to friends and colleagues.

Incentivise users as they refer your brand to their friends and colleagues in order to increase your user base. Offer various milestones as the customers use your product.

Gamification helps to make the whole customer experience interactive and encourages to the customers to use and recommend your service or product.


  • Use deep analytics for decision making

Data and analytics are at the heart of every business. Measured data helps in maintaining complete insight into the results of your business.

You can use data to trim all your unnecessary expenses, identify areas which need improvement and the places where you are committing resources without any results. Measure and use the data for intelligent decision making.


  • Make freemium products

People like to use free products. Making a freemium product helps you attract a lot of attention from potential reviewers as they don’t need to buy the product to review it.

However, freemium does not mean the product lacks best-in-class features. A freemium product with amazing features is what you are looking for.

You can then encourage the users to go for the paid version of the product for more seamless support, additional features, and unlimited integrations.


  • Keep experimenting

Experimentation is a scary topic for small businesses. Usually, small businesses don’t have enough room to experiment considering budget limitations.

However, experimenting opens new doors for new growth opportunities so that you can bring in more customers.

Sometimes, your strategies may fail but in the long run, your gains could be much higher and worth the time and amount you are investing into it.

Conclusion

Growth hacking is all about finding new shortcuts to grow your business and bring in more consumers. It is a completely ethical and efficient practice. Small businesses must try innovative ideas to make growth-hacking simple and easy.


Follow the tips above and get the most from your growth-hacking strategy. This will help in taking your business to the next level.


Source: https://www.business2community.com


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, November 16, 2018

6 Steps to Leverage Online Events to Start and Grow Your Business


What empowers an aspiring entrepreneur to become a leader? Experience, understanding and knowledge of business foundations and practices are essential. Even so, there's no way to overstate the impact an entrepreneur's network of like-minded peers, mentors and customers can have on the big picture and the small details, too.

No surprise, then, that making yourself available and visible is one of the best ways to connect with leaders. You can leverage your time at conferences and networking events, or you can reach out directly via email, messaging apps and a personal phone call. 

But how do you go from striking up a conversation to building a relationship without wasting anyone’s time -- including your own? Over a recent two-week span, I organized an online event that enabled me to connect with more than 100 business leaders and draw nearly 6,000 participants. 

Never hosted an online event? No problem. These strategies can help you across a variety of business-need categories:


  • If you're beginning your entrepreneurial journey, you might seek mentorship, feedback or validation to help "presell" an idea.
  • If you're working to take your company to higher level, you may need promotional partnerships, new clients or publicity.
You can follow a few key steps to launch a successful experience around your idea, with little to no budget.

1. Define a topic.
Your event's topic should be relevant to your industry, category or interest group. That's the no-brainer. A carefully designed event will build lasting relationships with leaders in your space. It also can help grow an audience of people who can provide feedback on your ideas, buy your products and refer you to other leads.

The potential is huge, so it's crucial to make sure the subject will resonate with your target participants. Because my focus is on providing entrepreneurs with resources to help them bootstrap their ventures, I launched the Bootstrapping Summit.

First, though, I needed to learn whether such an event would find its mark. I floated the idea by emailing a sample group of subscribers from my larger newsletter list and asking for their feedback.  If you don’t have a newsletter or customer base, post your idea in online communities and groups. This is also a great way to build a group of ambassadors who can help you promote the event when it’s live.

2. List 100 potential speakers.
Once you define the topic, your search for speakers becomes straightforward. Google search and tools such as Buzzsumo and SparkToro can help you create a list of top influencers within a few hours. Speed up the process even more by identifying the Top 5 podcasts in your industry, then use keywords in the search box to narrow the list of guests. Anyone who's been invited to the best podcasts should be regarded as a credible voice in your market.

3. Reach out for an interview.
Experts like to be treated like experts. For the Bootstrapping Summit, I made my pitch to 250 successful entrepreneurs, and 163 of them answered. I aimed for 100 speakers, but your goal might be much different. 

Timing and relevance are two key factors to influencers’ willingness to respond and be part of any event. If you scoured top podcasts to generate your list of potential speakers, you can review the most recent interviews and reach out with a note about the episode. Demonstrate your genuine interest by including a few follow-up questions that expand on the previous segment and preview the expertise you hope they'll share at your event. You'll elicit far more responses from recent podcast interviewees than those whose episodes published a year ago.

Podcasts aren't your only channel for free resources. You can search for recent articles, YouTube videos or speaking engagements and follow the same model. To locate email addresses, consider a tool such as Voila Norbert.




4. Ask them to promote the event.
Getting industry leaders to dedicate 30 or 45 minutes for your online event is only one part of the success equation. The most effective way to spread awareness and drive registrations is to provide each of your experts with a compelling reason to become your advocate.  

There's no one-approach-fits-all answer to convince influencers to promote your event to their audiences. There are some best practices, however. First, inquire about their needs and short-term objectives. Spend some time thinking about their goals and then propose meaningful ways you could help. Offer them something of value.  

As I prepared for the Bootstrapping Summit, I asked one of these simple questions: "What's your short-term goal?" I learned some speakers were looking for ambassadors to help market their own upcoming launches, so I proposed to be one. Other speakers were looking for referrals, so I made sure I connected them with the right people. I discovered that most speakers were happy to share "just because" -- and because being part of a closed group of experts brings big branding value.

5. Recruit promotional partners.
Before pitching my event to potential partner companies such as RightMessage, ClickMeter, Rebrandly, Zenkit, Bubble and FreeeUp, I was careful to recruit enough known speakers to grab their attention. I asked each promo partner to email the company's membership list about the event. My 14 partners brought me nearly 2,000 additional participants I likely wouldn't have reached otherwise. 

6. Be different.
To differentiate your event, you might prepare and share supplemental material, create extra lessons, link to discounts from promotional partner companies or offer an hour of your time to a few winners randomly selected from the participant group. 

I set apart my Bootstrapping Summit by organizing six, one-hour, live Q&A sessions with selected speakers. Participants had the chance to ask questions in real time -- getting valuable input from leaders who typically charge $500 an hour. 

Entrepreneurs often spend too much time trying to solve the wrong problem. Learning from the best while building longlasting relationships is the best way to shortcut your path to success and cultivate a community of people to share feedback and invest in your products and services. 




Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com
Image credit: Westend61 | Getty Images


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!