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In fact, being able to function on as little sleep as possible is often glorified. Since sufficient sleep is related to sustainable success, that brings up some vital questions:. Any entrepreneur or small business owner looking for some balance between work and life should know the answers to most if not all of these questions. The continue success of their business or their endeavors may depend on it. Even if you may be out of commission, when you sleep your body is getting a lot done. While you are sleeping your body goes into maintenance-mode. It restores muscle tissue, removes harmful waste, and strengthens the memory of events that occurred during the day.
Lastly, sleep is an essential factor in regulating the so-called circadian rhythm. But there is a bell curve. Some people can truly function on less than 7 hours, while others may consistently need over 9 hours a night. Research shows that people who are chronically sleep deprived tend to have a number of negative effects:. The quality not just the quantity of your sleep can also impact how much a you need.
Someone who sleeps poorly can still feel tired even when he or she has technically been sleeping enough hours. In short, how you sleep can set the tone for the whole day. If you want to be successful, in business and in life, then this is one activity you should learn how to maximize. With rapid advances in technology, we are edging closer to the time when Artificial Intelligence AI will be able to perform many tasks and even whole jobs currently done by human workers. Though the full realization of this transformation is still far off , the affects of AI are already been seen and felt today, allowing companies to perform more effectively and efficiently and to do so a fraction of the cost.
Over the past few years, a lot of attention has been focused on the use of AI technology at big corporations, such as Amazon and Facebook. But many smaller businesses are reaping the benefits of AI, too. Nowadays, small businesses can plug an assortment of AI-ready tools into every part of their business operations. If a task involves data, then AI has their back. The result is that small businesses are already using sophisticated AI to help their employees do their jobs better, improve the customer experience, and make operations more efficient.
Plus, AI has meant great leaps and bounds in the area of data analysis, allowing small companies to instantly draw useful business insights and accurately predict customer behavior and fit. In short, as competition heats up in countless markets and industries across the globe, AI is giving small businesses a much needed competitive advantage. Since smaller companies are often working with limited resources, one of the keys to successfully introducing and implementing an AI solution in a small business is to prioritize the areas that will offer the biggest ROI. Here are five such uses of AI among small companies:.
Customer Service. Customer service has two aspects to it: one client-facing, the other back office. AI has been making a tremendous impact on both. In client-facing customer service, small businesses have been using automated chatbot systems on their websites to help scale and streamline their customer service experience. As natural language processing continues to advance, developers have made been leaps and bounds in the ability of a chatbot to answer more complex or detailed questions.
Unanswered customer inquiries are then fowarded to the appropriate person or department. Chatbots not only provide businesses with an around the clock virtual customer service representative, they also allow the small companies that use them to gather important data from their customers. This data in turn helps the business to improve various phases of the sales and support process.
While some customers may object to non-human support, chatbots at the same time create a less confrontational way for them to air their grievances and offer vital feedback to the business about the product, service, or customer experience.
CRM systems gather information about consumers across email, phone conversations, social media, and other channels. They then both present and analyze that data in a way that helps customer service and sales department representatives to take the most effective and efficient marketing and lead generation activities.
Market Research. Even if a small business has narrowed in on their ideal customers, often the market that is being served is greater than those core clients. Knowing which consumers are buying their products or services as well as how they are feeling about their purchases, can help business owners craft more effective marketing and sales strategies.
Up until now, collecting feedback from customers required sifting through written, verbal, video or image-based data to determine where and if there are any patterns. These days, small businesses can give AI platforms raw customer data in various forms and get categorized customer sentiments in return. Most small businesses take a hit or miss approach to their marketing.
Small businesses often have limited time and tools to invest in the oversight. With AI, much of the guess work is eliminated.
Some AI platforms are starting to collect, analyze, and learn from an assortment of customer data, and then assist marketers and sales team members by making effective suggestions. Best of all, this complex analysis is not only pretty accurate, but it is conducted in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. Competitive intelligence. Not only is a typical small business generating a tremendous amount of data, but so are their competitors.
Thus, staying on top of the movements of any competing companies can be practically impossible. This is a real goldmine for small businesses in particular, since these AI tools can not only recognize variables, such as price changes, PR activity, and online reputation, but they can make savvy suggestions, too. This helps small companies quickly adjust their business strategy and marketing tactics.
Time Management. The final area where AI is having the biggest impact on small companies is time management. In short, when it comes to small companies and the integration of AI-enabled tools, the possibilities are practically limitless. But how can cash-strapped small businesses make gathering marketing intelligence a priority, and where should they even begin? The typical business is sitting on a wealth of data.
Not only are many businesses maintaining an online presence, but most interactions with customers, vendors, employees, or partners are being recorded in some way. This is due to the fact that an increasing number of vital business tools, such as POS systems, accounting software, and CRM solutions are generating treasure troves of information that can be accessed, manipulated, and analyzed on demand. This goes hand in hand with the shear amount of information about the economy, market trends, and even the competing businesses in the industry that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.
This data, or market intelligence, is now being leveraged by businesses to spot trends and opportunities, confirm productivity and market reach, and improve operational efficiency. The short answer is not so much. According to a recent report by Market Intelligence company Crayon , unlike their big competitors, small companies struggle to invest in market intelligence in any form.
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Large enterprises, they found, actively invest in people, software, and services dedicated to market and competitive intelligence. It is probably safe to assume that this tiny percentage of small businesses are offering some cutting edge technology in a highly competitive industry that demands their ability to shift and evolve with changing market conditions. The Crayon report concludes that small companies will still struggle to invest in market and competitive intelligence in the near future. Not only are there a number of budget-friendly solutions in the market that cater to small businesses in particular, but there are a host of platforms that can make the gathering of market intelligence much more doable.
For example, instead of hiring a dedicated market intelligence team, small business owners could turn to freelance platforms, such as Fiverr and its alternatives. These platforms are host to many professional internet and market researchers who offer their services at a discount. And, precisely because their resources are limited, small businesses have to be much more focused than their bigger counter parts. That means each piece of market intelligence can be tied to a specific goal, such as using company websites and social media profiles to understand how competitors describe themselves and their products or services in order to gauge how current and potential customers respond that those messages.
In the end, armed with relevant market intelligence and the picture it paints, even the smallest companies will have the ability to compete, grow, and succeed today and tomorow. A few weeks ago, Google announced that it is going to be factoring in page loading times on mobile devices when it ranks websites for mobile search. That means you have about six months to figure out how to get your business website ready for the fast mobile web.
Ranking websites based on loading times is nothing new. Since , Google has been giving search rank priority to sites with faster load times. According to Google, more than 50 percent of global search queries are now being done on mobile devices versus a standard desktop computer. As mobile-based search and other transactions increase, Google wants to give mobile device users a better experience. The short answer is maybe yes… maybe no. We can think of the upcoming speed update as a heads up to developers and to those who hire them, that major changes are on the horizon.
In order to make it easy for site owners to get their websites up to speed, Google has been a major force behind the Accelerated Mobile Page AMP project. The AMP Project is an open-source initiative designed to make mobile pages load much faster. Fast loading times occur because the pages are designed for static, though enticingly clickable, content.
Since the AMP project is built with existing technology, adding it to your website is actually pretty painless. There are several tools that can help you see just how quickly your site loads on a mobile device. Usually, these platforms run a test and then offer not only a rundown of the results, but helpful suggestions for improvement. Some of the suggestions can be a bit technical, though. The two tools to start out with are:. Bottom line: the mobile web is only expected to growth in coming years. It is certainly the future of the internet, communications, and all kinds of commerce.
But, with this trend comes the need for quick loading, seamless, and well-designed content. After all, LinkedIn has been working hard over the past few years to make the business of locating and engaging potential candidates as easy and as cost-effective as possible. Recruiters, head hunters, and hiring managers are increasingly turning to LinkedIn in order to find potential candidates.
In fact, recent statistics indicate that over 90 percent of recruiters use the social network to vet candidates. They can then make a connection request or send potential candidates a message via InMail about a specific job opportunity. LinkedIn groups, which are typically centered around a common skill, interest, or industry, also gives recruiters and hiring professionals the ability to locate potential candidates and create connections. Small businesses tend to turn to LinkedIn for recruiting as a way to save time and money during the hiring process.
But, herein lies the biggest challenge. Small businesses have fewer resources to confirm that the information provided in a given profile is in fact accurate. Consider a recent survey conducted by LendEDU which reported that 34 percent of respondents lie to some degree on their LinkedIn profile, with over 10 percent responding that their LinkedIn profile is completely made up! Another issue is the amount of noise and competition already happening on the platform. Long gone are the days when merely posting a sentence or two about a job opening would be enough to attract the attention of talented candidates.
Job titles and their descriptions must also be carefully optimized around the search phrases most likely to be used by potential candidates. One of the biggest factors to successful recruiting at LinkedIn lies in how businesses view the platform in the first place. Business owners and their managers should see LinkedIn as powerful tool in their recruiting toolbox. But, at the end of the day, it is nothing more than that- a tool that comes with its own set of limitations.
When recruiting efforts on LinkedIn are combined with responsible vetting techniques, such as writing a clear job description to attract the right people , checking references, conducting a smart interview, and being clear about the kinds of people you really want to bring on board , then good hiring decisions are much more likely to follow.
Skip to content Even with all the advances in telecommunications that have come our way over the past two decades, such as the prevalence of smart mobile devices, robust collaboration tools, webconferencing, and the rapidly growing field of virtual communication , there are still times when business travel is a must. Here are a few pro tips to consider: Connect to Wi-fi. When using an open Wi-fi connection, Likehacker offers a few things to keep in mind: Avoid connecting to or sending sensitive data, such as site credentials.
A VPN virtual private network provides encrypted links directly to private networks in other countries allowing your computer to behave as though it logged in from a different country In short, while business travelers have an assortment of sophisticated tools to keep them happy and productive on the road, an added level of planning is necessary to not only make the most of them, but to keep the data that they have access to safe and secure.
Here are four areas to seriously consider regardless of your business model: 1. Locate and contain the problem. Investigate the security breach and its impact Now the real detective work starts. You need to figure out what happened, and that addresses three things: What information was accessed?
What kind of attack occurred? For example, was it a virus, malware, or an unauthorized remote access? What weak point s the cyber criminals exploit in order to get into your system? Did someone click on a bad link? Did someone plug their own, infected device into the network? Did you neglect to update your security systems? Figure out what needs to be done There are two main paths that need to be taken care of.
Make public announcements and prepare for responses While it may not be a pleasant thing to do, your company may need to make the breach public- particularly where customer information may have been compromised. Learn from the experience. Internet Connectivity Sits at the Heart of Most Businesses After years of hearing about the advantages of cloud-based platforms and tools, smaller companies these days are increasingly relying on Internet access for practically every area of their business: operations, sales, marketing, payment processing, and customer service.
How Small Businesses Can Back Up their Internet Access There are a couple of cost-effective options for small companies looking to maintain an Internet connection in the face of an outage: The first is to set up two different land-based Internet connections, such as fiber line and a DSL connection. Thus, if one goes down the other one can take over. The problem with this strategy is that land-based services tend to share the same locations.
So, if a natural disaster is the cause the blackout, then both lines could be compromised. The other option is to rely on a satellite based connection, Wi-fi, that automatically takes over in the event of a disruption in service. This router detects an outage and then sends traffic from the primary connection to the Wi-fi connection. Once the primary connection is back online, the router then redirects traffic to it. Why Making Mistakes in Business Are a Good Thing On the surface, it would seem that making mistakes is something to avoid at all costs. Here is an example: In the late s, Christopher Gergen, co-founded an online tutoring platform for high school and college students called Smarthinking.
Here are a few points to keep in mind: Start with acceptance. It got me thinking… How often do we hear about the crazy hours entrepreneurs and small business owners put into their companies- especially at the beginning when the business is starting up or during a period of rapid growth?
Since sufficient sleep is related to sustainable success, that brings up some vital questions: How much sleep is enough? Should you be taking naps? When is the ideal time to go to sleep? Does sleep broken down into smaller chunks of time have the same benefits of sleeping straight through the night? Why Adequate Sleep is Important Even if you may be out of commission, when you sleep your body is getting a lot done.
It compromises cognitive performance, meaning individuals are less capable of making good decisions, display less creativity, and their physical reflexes are also impaired Sleep deprivation also leads to emotional negativity, lack of enthusiasm, and less productivity. Tips for Improving Sleep Quality The quality not just the quantity of your sleep can also impact how much a you need. Going to bed at the same time each night helps regulate your circadian rhythm mentioned above. Following an irregular sleep schedule will lead to poor sleep quality. Cut out electronics and electric lighting before going to bed.
Even exposure to bright room lights before bed may negatively affect your sleep. Being repeatedly woken up. Waking up multiple times in the middle of the night can leave you feeling exhausted. But, at least do your part to ensure that you room and bed are as comfortable as can be. Sleeping in a quiet, darkened room, in a comfortable bed and at a comfortable temperature can help you sleep better. Learn about sleep cycles. The brain actually has a pattern of sleep. Each of these cycles lasts roughly 90 minutes, and you should pass through five or six of them during the night.
Waking up mid-cycle can leave you feeling exhausted. The goal is the time your wake up for the period between cycles. Here is one you can try. How AI is Being Used in Small Companies Since smaller companies are often working with limited resources, one of the keys to successfully introducing and implementing an AI solution in a small business is to prioritize the areas that will offer the biggest ROI.
Chris explains that you need to think about your passions and what other people are willing to spend money on. You will find your business idea where those two overlap. Starting a business is even more excited than Home Simpson appears to be in this picture.
What a guy. Freedom, money, skills, pride, passion—and uncertainty—all blur together to spawn excitement.
What is Market Intelligence?
Starting a business can get you pumped! Entrepreneurship amounts to an ever-changing challenge. A factor analysis study in the Journal of Small Business Management looked at why entrepreneurs kept going. Entrepreneurship is a race to overcome obstacles and a grand journey into uncharted territory and a jaunt to a crazy theme park whose rides you built. These are metaphors that describe starting a business, and we can learn a lot from the metaphors we use. Foundr is an entirely online business—and it works. The Internet is fertile soil for business growth.
Businesses can leverage the Internet to advertise, blog, poll customers, sell products, and reach a wider audience than ever before. Fortune sums up why the web is a mighty reason to start a company:. You can reach global markets, use technology to have smaller and smarter back office operations, and all the while, continue to be nimble and create innovative products and services. Yep, ecommerce has grown steadily. The Internet also offers a host of tools that make starting a business easier. Photo credit: KDVP. The beginning of this Huffington Post article really struck me:.
Have you had enough of the nine-to-five or should they call it the seven-to-seven? For many, the solution is to escape the rat race by starting their own business. This push factor is real. UK workers are more dissatisfied than workers in other European countries. Job satisfaction stands—no, lays wounded—at its lowest level in two decades. They enter entrepreneurship out of necessity , after getting dumped out by their jobs or fearing impending unemployment.
Meaning, or purpose, matters. It differs from happiness , which I talked a little bit about earlier, in that happiness is made of moment-to-moment pleasures, while meaning stems from an overarching sense of purpose. A purpose is like a path—it shows you where to go. Photo credit: Albert Bridge. Starting a business is a grand project. Commitment strengthens that sense of purpose, and ownership strengthens commitment.
In one neat experiment , researchers ran an experiment that divided the test subjects into two groups of people for a lottery. Members of one group was randomly assigned a number for the lottery, while members of the other group got to write down a number of their choice. That shows the power of ownership. It brings commitment. People who own their own business are committed to it, which strengthens their sense of purpose. Freedom and pride and excitement and commitment collide to make meaning—that sense of purpose, of drive, of overwhelming worth.
I think we can agree that a meaningful life is a desirable life. This information comes from an incredibly intriguing study in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Try living with meaning. A team of researchers looked at gene expression, which is when the information coded in a gene is used to make a protein or some other cellular product.
In a way, gene expression turns on certain genes. What the scientists found built on that understanding—and twisted it in new directions. When looking at the gene expression profiles of the adults in the study, the researchers saw that high levels of happiness, just like adversity, turned on inflammatory genes. The problem with that is huge, because they noted that this kind of undesirable inflammation can lead to heart disease, brain disease, and cancer. While self-indulgent happiness alone might spell bad news, the scientists found that high levels of meaning clamped down on inflammatory genes.
From Kitchen to Cubicle
Striding through life with purpose can boost your health. Innovation drives economies forward. It propels the engine of human advancement, bringing us new technology and new solutions. Many entrepreneurs have sprung into action due to a desire to innovate. Is this whole innovation thing nothing more than one buzzword and a pair of dice?
An individual is said to be boot strapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from personal finances or from the operating revenues of the new company. Besides letting you avoid loans and begging, bootstrapping gives you independence. Bootstrapping constitutes a reason to start a business because, along with the Internet, it lowers the barrier of entry. Photo credit: contemplativechristian. One great reason to start a business is that it could help you get money that you can use to do good in the world. We live on a globe rife with problems, and often, a lack of funding causes those problems.
A successful business would put you in a place to do something about that. Many entrepreneurs do this. Each year, the organization pours billions of dollars into fighting HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria; creating clean sanitation in the developing world; working to decrease maternal mortality and boost healthy childbirth worldwide; and supporting public libraries around the globe.
Fair enough. Starting a business can be that first step. If you embrace the idea of doing good through business, but want to focus even more exclusively on that, then social entrepreneurship may be right for you. Duke University professor J. Gregory Dees explained what social entrepreneurship tries to do:. Photo credit: Trinity College Dublin. Social entrepreneurship is a term that means different things to different people, but I like to take a broad view of it. The kinds of businesses and organizations that social entrepreneurs form, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, range from purely social efforts to ventures that mix social and commercial motives to simultaneously running social and commercial organizations that have complementing goals.
Does this kind of business pique your interest? Here are a few examples, with links to articles that explain more:. A new wave of businesses has invigorated the social sector with new life, and if that excites you, then you might have reason enough to consider starting this different kind of business. If you want to launch your own social enterprise, be creative and think widely. The range of goals that fall between those two is impressive. Then there are differences in who social enterprises are trying to help. The percentages add up to more than because many organizations are aiming to benefit people who fit into more than one group.
For instance, a nonprofit aiming to help disabled youth and their families would fit into three of the above categories. Bootstrapping not going to work for your idea? No problem: another great reason to start a business is that we live in an age of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a relatively recent innovation in how businesses can raise money to get started. It occurs when a large number of people donate to a business project, with each person giving a small amount of money. It happens on websites like Kickstarter , Indiegogo , and ArtistShare. Instead of relying on a few big investors, you can go straight to the market and ask mass numbers of people to breathe life into your idea.
Crowdfunding helps businesses hop over that initial financial hurdle. For many businesses, it works. Crowdfunding is also a good reason to start a business because you can choose a crowdfunding platform that fits your needs. While all crowdfunding sites share the same core idea, they do differ. Photo credit: Wing-Chi Poon. Some will grow big, and some will stay small. Some will become a new career, and some will remain a side gig. Some will push the boundaries of entrepreneurial innovation, and some will quietly do conventional things in ways that make a difference.
To start a business is to enter a maze. And here are the important bits:. Just look at Nathan Chan, the founder and publisher of Foundr Magazine. Many entrepreneurs sacrifice a lot of free time and social time in the early days of their startup.
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When reading the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development study of established entrepreneurs in New York City , I saw an illuminating quote from one of the business owners interviewed:. Make sure that you research every aspect of your prospective investment. Also, be ready to put in major effort. You need to make sure you have the will it takes to get the job done correctly and effectively, and if that means working a 12 hour day to get something done, there is no way around it.
Starting a business is hard. The top three things to do are:. Advice can help. The challenges of starting a business are not insurmountable, and they can in fact be satisfying to beat. Scared of failing? Everyone is. You might think that nobody will ever buy from you. You might think that if you try to start a business, it will shatter into a million pieces, getting you nowhere. Starting a business means plunging into uncertainty.
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of variables decide whether a new venture will fall flat or climb to the top.
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The only way to guarantee failure is to do nothing. If you have an idea for a business, you should get started. A paper in the Human Resources Management Journal put it well:. Maybe, as you read this post, you drafted your own list, a little screed offering 21 reasons against starting a business. Maybe not. Either way is fine, because whether or not you start a business is your own decision. The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it lets you seize on the freedom to make your own decisions and control your own destiny in a way that conventional jobs do not. And in making your own decisions, you can make your own reasons.
What are your reasons for starting a business? Did any of the ideas I listed click with you? Do you have additions of your own? Please let me know in the comments below! About Andrew Urevig. Andrew is a freelance writer for hire , and works as a regular contributor for Foundr Magazine. This article is way better than almost all other articles on better search listing.