New Articles

How Social Media Can Change The Whole Game For A New Business

social media

How Social Media Can Change The Whole Game For A New Business

To become a successful entrepreneur, the new business owner must find ways to reach customers. Social media can make that job easier.

The rise of social media as a marketing tool has had a major impact on businesses, particularly startups. Studies have shown that more people follow brands on social media than follow celebrities.

But while social media marketing can put a new business on the map, missteps can be made that are costly to the bottom line (and one’s reputation), says Deni Sciano (www.ScoreGameDayBag.com), an entrepreneur who founded Score! Designs, LLC, a women-owned designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas.

“There’s good and bad social media marketing,” says Sciano. “As an entrepreneur, few of us are good at it. We can play around with it and learn about it, or throw a little money at it here and there.

“Now that social media marketing is such a big business, you really have to find the right marketing company that fits you. Either way, through a company that focuses on it or doing your social media marketing in-house, it’s imperative to learn what to do, and what not to do, if you want social media to be an effective tool to attract and retain customers.”

Sciano suggests five ways to make social media work for your new business:

Know who and where your customers are. “Adopting social media tools must be a well-planned and researched step,” Sciano says. “It starts with determining who your target audience is – who would have a need for your product? – and their demographics. Then it’s vital to find out which platforms your potential customers are on before devising an appropriate strategy for each.”

Know what your message is. “This has to be specific,” Sciano says. “You need various angles in order to pull them into core message. There’s too much clutter and competition out there in social media for you to be general and bland about your product’s value. If you want to build more customers, you need to give them what they want and message it in a way they can relate to.”

Set goals on customer engagement. “The whole idea is creating curiosity in your product,” Sciano says. “How many responses should you expect in the early weeks, the third month, and so on? Is your message working or does it require tweaking? Setting a goal for number of responses is a metric you need to have.”

Find the right marketing company.  Social media marketing can be of utmost importance to entrepreneurs who do it themselves because they don’t have the large marketing budgets that more established companies have. But Sciano says those entrepreneurs who do hire social media marketing companies shouldn’t get aligned with a firm that has too many accounts to spend significant time with them. “Finding the right marketing team is easier said than done,” Sciano says. “They need to understand you and your message completely. They need to see your passion for the business and you must see their passion for getting your message out there effectively. The right marketing company becomes an integral member of your team, not just a vendor.”

Learn from failure. “This is often the best teacher,” Sciano says. “I fail every day but my company has come a long, long way. From losses come victories, creative solutions, more curiosity and optimism. All of that drives you and your company forward on various social media platforms.”

“Social media is a great way to create a buzz about your business,” Sciano says. “But it takes time, patience, flexibility and perseverance. And for many entrepreneurs, it’s become a daily part of their business model that they can’t do without.”

____________________________________________________________

Deni Sciano (www.ScoreGameDayBag.com) is the founder of Score! Designs, LLC, a women-owned designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas. A former teacher and marketing director, Sciano created her company and products with today’s heightened security issues at sports stadiums and arenas chiefly in mind. Her clear bags are sold in all 50 states.

recession

A 4-Step Business Plan That Will Have You Looking Forward to the Next Recession

The following is adapted from Rock the Recession: How Successful Leaders Prepare for, Thrive During, and Create Wealth After Downturns.

The highest-performing companies don’t fear recessions—they look forward to them.

The idea sounds counterintuitive, we know. What possible reason would a business leader have to want an economic downturn?

The answer is simple. A recession, properly planned for, can present opportunities for growth that would otherwise take a decade or more to pan out, like mass purchasing expensive assets for cheap, acquiring other companies, and convincing top-shelf talent to join your team.

By following the four steps outlined below, you can plan ahead and set your company up to not only survive the next recession, but use it to fuel your growth.

Create Uncontested Market Space

Rather than struggling to beat the competition and exploit existing demand during a recession, the more strategic route is to create uncontested market space (read the book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne for more on this topic). Doing so, of course, is easier said than done and requires creativity and drive, but if you can successfully pivot to a new market, the payoff of a less-crowded space will be worth it.

Research shows that “companies that successfully adapt can emerge stronger than ever,” while those that do not “face a Darwinist reality” (Journal of Business Research). Why fight the competition when you can make them irrelevant?

The best way to create uncontested market space is to adopt new technology and use it to differentiate your service from your competitors’ before they get the chance to do the same. Find a way to solve a problem for your customers that no one else has solved. Embrace technology as a way to both create a better user experience on your clients’ end and to save labor on yours.

You’ll be able to integrate new tech into your company with fewer hiccups if you follow the next step and look ahead to your end goal.

Begin With the End in Mind

Look at your business goals from a strategic perspective by beginning with the end in mind. In other words, look ahead to what would happen in an exit situation.

Consider, for example, how an acquirer might pay seven to eight times earnings for an annuity service business, but they would only pay book value, or at most two to three times earnings, for a one-off project business. Use these predictions to plan how you want to diversify or grow your business to maximize its value.

Growing your company in a good economy will make you more likely to survive a recession because, in general, bigger companies tend to fare better. By looking ahead, you’ll know where to invest your money and efforts to reach the goals you have in mind.

This step naturally ties into the next, which involves bridging the gap between your beginning and end states.

Bridge the Gap

Once you have an end goal in mind, you need a plan to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to go.

For example, if you aim to go from $25 million to $100 million in revenue, and want to enter different markets, but don’t have the in-house talent to do it, then what you have is a “talent gap.” One way to close that gap could be through acquisitions.

Similarly, if you want to adopt continuous improvement practices within your company but don’t have anyone on your team who is an expert—that would also be a talent gap. Hire a “lean” expert.

Identify your gaps and come up with a timely, actionable plan to fill them.

Create Your “To-Buy” List

You have your market, your goal, and your plan. Now you just need to seize the opportunity created by a recession and acquire assets while the price is low.

As a general rule, everything is cheaper in a recession. Talent is cheaper. So is the competitor you want to acquire. And when banks are looking to dump assets that they’ve already written off—assets they just want to get off their books—that’s when you can score some of the best deals.

By planning out what you want to acquire—and maintaining enough liquidity to buy it—you can strike as soon as the recession hits, giving you first pick of assets while your competitors scramble to find the capital. 

Hopefully, being armed with this four-step plan will turn your recession fears into anticipation. Start creating market space, setting goals, laying out actions to make them happen, and writing your to-buy list, and you’ll be well positioned to experience enormous growth when the recession finally hits.

For more advice on recession planning, you can find Rock the Recession on Amazon.

____________________________________________________________-

Jonathan Slain and Paul Belair founded Recession.com to give entrepreneurs a free tool to assess their recession readiness at Recession.com/Ready.

Jonathan Slain spent the Great Recession huddled in the fetal position on the floor of his office. He borrowed $250,000 from his mother-in-law to survive. Jonathan paid his mother-in-law back and is now a highly sought-after consultant (and, yes, he’s still married!). Jonathan leverages his experience in investment banking and as an entrepreneur on the keynote speaking circuit because he doesn’t want anyone else to have to borrow money from their mother-in-law in the next recession.

Paul Belair wasn’t scared when the Great Recession hit. He invested $1 million to purchase a business and just five years later sold it for over $70 million dollars. He achieved an American dream exit by using the Recession Gearbox model outlined in this book to create an intentional recession preparation plan. Paul is a CPA and an MBA, and currently serves as chair of the Young Presidents’ Organization Construction Industry Network.

idea

When The Creative Light Bulb Flips On, Here’s How To Make Your Idea Take Off

Smart business ideas can pop into someone’s head just about any time and anywhere: While walking or jogging, when driving, before going to bed, while doing housework, or during a brainstorming session.
The idea is usually triggered when the person notices a problem or need. The exciting moment the idea springs to life may seem like an epiphany, akin to a light bulb flipping on brightly in the brain. But that doesn’t mean it’s always a good, viable business idea, and discerning whether it will work doesn’t happen nearly as easily as the idea originally came.
“Getting a business idea from zero to reality requires numerous steps, lots of important details, and diligence,” says Deni Sciano (www.ScoreGameDayBag.com), the founder of Score! Designs, LLC, a women-owned designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas.
Sciano got her business idea to design clear handbags when waiting in a long security line at a professional sports event. Her products are now sold in 100 stores across the U.S.
“When you have that ‘a-ha!’ moment of discovery, your passion for your idea can take over, but that passion doesn’t give you the pragmatic side of business that you’ll need to properly investigate its potential and make it work. Having said that, by taking the right steps, being persistent and figuring it out, your idea might really take off.”
Sciano offers five ways to turn your idea into a business reality:
Do your homework. “The idea person who’s basically new to marketing and selling really needs to self-educate as much as possible,” Sciano says. “Read books on sales and marketing. Learn the importance of trade shows and networking as well as online marketing. Research the market; you need to carry out a full analysis of your idea by investigating the target audience and its demographics.”
Plan to spend money. The dream-big side of a new idea is countered by — and sometimes ended by — the reality-check side of having enough money to invest in the project. “You have to ask yourself early-on, ‘Can I afford this?’ ” Sciano says. “That’s the No. 1 thing that can stop you. There are many money factors to consider — for a lawyer, an accountant, to hire staff, to get trademarks, do the marketing, etc. There’s a lot that goes toward building your brand and your market.”
Find mentors. “It’s crucial to form relationships with entrepreneurs who had an idea, believed in it, and made it happen,” Sciano says. “You need the knowledge and inspiration gained from them and their successful experience.”
Keep the faith. “The grinding day-after-day part of pursuing your idea and turning it into a business reality can be drudgery, overwhelming, and discouraging at times,” Sciano says. “Fear is a huge factor that stops people from following through. It’s like a chain on your ankle. But let your adventurous spirit and your continuing curiosity shine through. Keep the faith in yourself and your product.”
Learn how to juggle. Sciano says that if it’s done properly, dedicating oneself to a product investigation and launch is extremely time-consuming. The person with the idea needs to weigh whether following through on it is worth the personal sacrifices they must make. “You have to go all-out, and the first couple of years you have to give up some of those things you enjoy — spending time with friends, hobbies, etc.,” Sciano says. “Figure out what kind of work-life balance you need.”
“After you come up with a great idea, trying to make it work can seem like hitting a wall over and over again,” Sciano says. “You learn how to go over the wall, and going for it is worth it.”
________________________________________________________________-
Deni Sciano (www.ScoreGameDayBag.com) is the founder of Score! Designs, LLC, a women-owned designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas. A former teacher and marketing director, Sciano’s created her company and products with today’s heightened security issues at sports stadiums and arenas chiefly in mind.

What Is Your Definition Of Success? 5 Tips To Find It.

While building and maintaining a thriving business may not be easy, experts in entrepreneurial endeavors say that building a personal brand first is key. In fact, some studies show that today’s consumers trust big brands less and prefer buying from a person they view as authentic and relatable. But before building a personal brand, it’s important for an entrepreneur to define what constitutes their own brand of success, says Ngan Nguyen (www.nganhnguyen.com), an intuitive strategist and author of Self-Defined Success: You Have Everything It Takes.

“Fulfillment and extraordinary results only come when you strive to achieve your authentic success,” Nguyen says. “The key is figuring out what that is and navigating that path. The good news is that we each already have everything it takes to navigate that path. It is essential, because we each have unique gifts, passions, and talents that can create amazing impact in the world and differentiate ourselves and our businesses.”

Nguyen offers five ways to define your own brand of success that can lead to running a successful business:

Get unstuck by unleashing your inner self. “We feel stuck when there is a lack of clarity and the path in front of us is not aligned with our authenticity,” Nguyen says. “Stagnancy and negative happenings force us to look inside ourselves at who we really are and what we really want. Detail those things, and now you’ll have the blueprint to create change and growth. Getting clear on this enables us to lead ourselves and our business to forge ahead on a new path.”

Act on your new authenticity. “Our full potential comes out when we are fully committed to creating a result that fully expresses who we are and what we love,” Nguyen says. “Without that clarity and without acting upon our newly discovered authentic selves, there will always be a bit of reservation. And with that reservation comes lackluster results that are not a reflection of our true potential.”

Keep the vision in mind. Nguyen says much of our untapped potential lies in unused intelligence. “Leaders who leverage their vision can effectively navigate a path to success in a competitive marketplace,” Nguyen says. “Any vision that we can imagine, this infinite intelligence knows how to bring about. The question is how we go about influencing our subconscious in the right way so that it serves us. We do this by holding and keeping an image of a life we desire, and feeding it through repetition long enough that our mind goes to work to aid us in creating it.”

Make your passion your fuel. “The power to create extraordinary results requires this critical ingredient,” Nguyen says. “Passion is contagious, ignites the heart, and motivates the team. It energizes and sparks the pull forward through all barriers, uncertainty, and challenges.”

Have the will to make decisions that move toward your dream. Nguyen says the difference between those who make their dreams happen and those who don’t isn’t always a matter of intelligence but often is a matter of consistent will in decision-making.

“You must have the intention to keep moving forward,” Nguyen says. “There is an energy shift that is experienced in the decision-making process, where a desire goes from wanting to being because you’ve concluded that the dream must come true no matter what.”

_______________________________________________________________

Ngan Nguyen (www.nganhnguyen.com) is the author of Self-Defined Success: You Have Everything It Takes, and the founder/CEO of Cintamani Group, an executive coaching and consulting firm. Nguyen coaches on leadership and empowers entrepreneurs as an intuitive strategist. With over a decade of business strategy experience as an advisor to Fortune 100 companies, Nguyen is also a certified master-level intelligent leadership executive coach with John Mattone and was an analyst for McKinsey & Company. Nguyen graduated with a double honors degree in biochemistry-biophysics and bioengineering from Oregon State University and completed a research fellowship at MIT in nanotechnology.

professionals

5 Ways Professionals Can Succeed As New Entrepreneurs

It’s been a common occurrence in recent years: Company downsizing or restructuring has left skilled professionals looking for a job. Or, feeling constrained, they jump to a better growth opportunity.

But, with the era of lifetime jobs at a single firm or company long gone, many doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professionals also are opting to work for themselves, becoming entrepreneurs and launching their own start-ups.

Some who already started small practices have expanded into several locations. As dentists and business partners Dr. Seth Newman and Dr. Efstathios Giannoutsos can attest, the learning curve of running and growing a business in multiple offices — while still practicing their profession — can be challenging but also rewarding.

“It was never my plan to run a practice, or even co-run one,” says Giannoutsos,  (www.asktheorthos.com), an orthodontist and co-author, with Newman of Giving It To You Straight: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Orthodontics But Were Afraid To Ask. “But then the financial crisis of 2008 happened, and a lot of the opportunities that had been available before were now gone.

“But we were able to flip those circumstances on their heads and use them to our advantage.”

“The biggest challenge initially was finding clients,” Newman says. “But we learned to use different resources and educate ourselves in the business side as we did in our chosen career.”  

Newman and Giannoutsos offer five tips for professionals transitioning to running their own business:

Be passionate. Entrepreneurs tend to be extremely passionate about their work. They need to incorporate the same passion for running a business. “Think about how running your own business could transform your career, send it soaring,” Newman says. “That kind of spirit energizes you and all those around you.”

Be bothered by inefficiency. Entrepreneurs don’t have a high tolerance for inefficiency, and the bonus is they don’t have corporate red tape to cut through. “You can fix problems that come up quickly because of your expertise and the freedom of not running into typical corporate obstacles,” Giannoutsos says. “If you or your business partner are mired in work processes that are too slow, analyze the inefficiencies and consider the places you could implement solutions.”

Don’t be afraid to take on more risk. One thing that sets many entrepreneurs apart from the average professional is their appetite for risk. “A business owner knows the risk-reward possibilities, and by taking well-calculated shots, bigger rewards can come,” Newman says. “Set aside time to strategize, and listen to the best-qualified people working for you to develop a precise plan.”

Brainstorm more. Constant innovation is crucial to a business’ long-term success, so entrepreneurs have to take time to let their minds be loose and creative. “Set aside time each week for brainstorming sessions with your staff — and remember to have fun doing it,” Giannoutsos says.

Don’t limit your dreams. “The most important aspect of the entrepreneurial spirit is being limitless – the sky’s the limit,” Newman says. “Many people are conditioned in the workforce to be realistic and practical, but dreaming big sets the mission for your company, and it’s why you became a business owner.”

“It can be daunting at first, performing the myriad tasks of a business owner,” Giannoutsos says, “but if you believe in what you do and those you’ve hired around you, it’s so worth the effort.”

Dr. Seth Newman (www.asktheorthos.com) is an orthodontist and co-author, with Dr. Steve Giannoutsos, of Giving It To You Straight: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Orthodontics But Were Afraid To Ask. He owns orthodontic practices in the New York City area. Dr. Newman completed his dental training at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, where he was a member of the National Dental Honor Society. He was a clinical instructor of the Invisalign system at the NYU School of Dentistry.

Dr. Efstathios Giannoutsos, or “Dr. G.” as he is commonly called, was born in Astoria, Queens, just outside of New York City. He graduated from St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens, with high honors and a BS in Biology.  He is also the co-author with  Dr. Seth Newman of Giving It To You Straight: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Orthodontics But Were Afraid to Ask (AskTheOrthos.com). He completed his dental training at NYU, where he graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. He was also accepted into NYU’s highly competitive orthodontic residency program. During that time, he also discovered a passion for treating children and adults with facial deformities. Coinciding his passion, his research thesis to attain specialty certification involved children with cleft deformities.

european

Doing Business in the US: Challenges and Experiences of European Companies

European companies open branches in the United States for a host of reasons. For starters, the US gives these businesses a completely new base of customers; a chance to step out from the almost saturated European market and stand out from the crowd. Secondly, there are many government incentives in the US, making the business environment incredibly favorable. Last but not least, it gives them more brand recognition and a chance to reinvent their products in a hungry, welcoming market. 

Starting a business or moving an existing business from Europe to the US can, indeed, be an exciting time for an entrepreneur. However, that is not to mean that aren’t any thorny experiences and business-threatening challenges to contend with while there. Nevertheless, before commencing your business transition to the USA, you must be sure to acquire the necessary visa, so that you do not do anything illegally which might cause problems later on. 

Apart from the UK-based businesses, those coming from other parts of Europe may have to hire a translation company to translate their content for localization purposes. That would mean higher initial and overall running costs. Besides that, here are some of the other challenges and experiences that European companies encounter when doing business in the US:

Strong multicultural influence

The US is a country founded on the pillar of unity in diversity; there are too many ethnic groupings in the country, each with their own unique culture and needs, yet they all expect outsiders to see them as one inseparable people. The multiculturalism in this country is on another level; you will have to contend with it in government offices and in the business setup. 

How you handle the employees is also affected by this cultural influence as there are some historical injustices that plague the labor market up to today. That is not particularly the case in Europe as most countries in the region have a homogenous culture. Your success or failure might be tied on this seemingly inconsequential factor.

Complexity in the taxing system

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)- revenue service of the United States federal government- is very strict with its enforcement of the federal taxes, sometimes to the point of scaring off investors who come from jurisdictions with lenient tax laws. And as if that is not enough, you will also have to deal with tax collection authorities both at the state and local levels. 

Even though the government is in the process of lowering the transition tax to about 8-15% and the corporate tax from 35% to 21%, there still are some vital teething issues that would demand a skeptical approach to America’s taxation framework.

The financial sector’s influence

Wall Street, arguably the most influential financial sector in the world, is keener on short-term profits and high stock values and not the traditional long-term value opportunities. The hedge funds and investment firms on Wall Street have become so powerful that without their blessings, you may be forced to sacrifice your brand’s reputation just to impress them.

High competition from multinational corporations

America is home to some of the biggest multinational corporations. While you will greatly benefit from their existence in terms of benchmarking on their success, sometimes the competition they bring forth can be unbeatable. To make matters worse, these corporations have political connections and friends in the highest places in the demand and supply chain, so they often get the lion’s share of government incentives.

Most multinationals have their planning and thinking inclined to global markets which, apparently, greatly affect the nation’s job market. They will hire the best talents in the country and proceed to outsource and offshore manufacturing jobs to other countries overseas. That means that they will enjoy both the benefits of hiring cheap outsourced labor and highly-qualified American professionals. Also, competing with a country that outsources cheap manufacturing services can be a daunting task. 

Complicated electricity and construction rules

If you wish to acquire property in the US, probably your main offices, you will have to pass through more than 10 bureaucratic steps before you get the legal permits to register it under your company name. Environmental inspections and reviews, for example, can take weeks if not months. In big cities such as Los Angeles and New York, you may have to wait for more than 2 months to have your electricity turned on. And if you need additional constructions in the property, that can cost you anywhere between 3,000 to 6,000 USD $ in terms of building plan check and permit.

______________________________________________________________

George Foster is a marketing manager at Day Translations.

communication

Your Business Has 99 Problems and Communication is All Of Them.

Businesses face a multitude of vexing situations every day.

Sometimes these are quickly remedied, such as a missed phone call that must be rescheduled, or an unhappy customer who needs to be soothed. At other times, there’s a total breakdown and turmoil erupts, as in the recent GM strike where 50,000 auto workers walked out, venting their anger over a number of decisions by the company.

But, small or large, of minor importance or potentially ruinous, every cause for concern that a business encounters originates from the same place.

“All problems are communication problems,” says Bill Higgs (culturecodechampionspodcast.com), an authority on corporate culture and author of the upcoming book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. 

“How well you communicate is tied to your organization’s culture, which raises the question: What is your current culture costing you?”

Higgs says it’s common in the business world to be in a situation where someone asks or tells you to do something, you think you understand what they want, but when it’s done, it’s not right.

“When you both review what happened, you realize there was a communication breakdown at the outset,” he says.

Higgs recommends a few ways businesses can improve communications – and in the process avoid everything from minor mishaps to major disputes:

Seek and value input from everyone. A lot of rework could be avoided if leaders in an organization would empower their people to speak up if they see a problem, Higgs says. “Often, people remain silent even when they see something that does not seem right,” he says. “Why is that? I believe these problems happen because a person might notice something seems wrong, but he or she isn’t comfortable challenging someone who they see as more expert on the subject than them or who has more authority.” That’s why it’s important to foster an organization-wide culture where people feel comfortable challenging things, no matter who they are or who they are challenging. That way you increase the odds that things will be done right the first time.

Cross-train people so they better understand what others do. When employees have no idea about their co-workers’ areas of expertise, work slows down, as though everyone on the team is speaking a different language. “You want to get your people to broaden their knowledge and expand the scope of what they normally do in their own jobs,” Higgs says. As people learn more, they become more efficient and, for example, could handle questions from a vendor without bringing in other members of the team, saving everyone’s time. Higgs says cross-training often can take place when people have downtime, but if that’s not possible, it may be necessary to schedule time to make it happen.

Bust silos. Many organizations group people together by function. Marketing people work in the marketing department, finance people in the finance department, and so forth. Departments also are often separated physically. “This can create a number of problems and inefficiencies,” Higgs says. “For example, it can lead to lots of rework because silos are not conducive to communication.” Other problems silos cause include competition rather than collaboration among teams, and finger-pointing and blame-shifting when things go awry. He suggests that, instead of separating people by their functions, group them together in teams that are working on the same projects.

“Don’t let your people shut themselves off in their offices or workspaces, and don’t create such a hierarchy that people can communicate only through pre-approved channels,” Higgs says. “Effective teamwork requires good communication – and lots of it.”

___________________________________________________________

Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the author of the upcoming book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (culturecodechampionspodcast.com). Higgs is also retired CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc., which he and two partners started in Houston, Texas in 1987 to design and build offshore oil platforms. Over the next 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide; since then, it has grown to a $2 billion company with more than 12,000 people. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship.

 

visionary

Are You A Visionary? 6 Traits Every Strong Vision Shares.

There’s a reason many of the most successful businesses in America – Apple, Amazon and others – had a visionary leader behind them, propelling them to achieve their goals at the highest level.

“A vision pushes people not just to do more, but to do more than they think they are capable of,” says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

Yet, even though everyone does a lot of talking about the importance of vision, he says, it’s not easy to fully grasp just what it is.

“I’ve discussed vision with CEOs of big companies, serial entrepreneurs, creators of unique software, and many others,” Konovalov says. “Every single person with whom I have spoken viewed vision differently. But in the course of all these discussions I discovered that there were some properties of a strong vision that remained constant.”

Vision reflects the highest purpose of leadership. A leader’s vision should include actual benefits for those affected by the vision, such as employees, customers, the leaders themselves, employees’ families and society at large. “A main stimulus of vision is people and the care of their needs,” he says. “If a vision is not formed around people and their needs, then it is not vision but personal ambition.”

Vision doesn’t lead to dead ends. A vision is always scalable and should show multiple potentials for expansion, Konovalov says. “But to be able to scale the vision you should maintain an appropriate cognitive distance from it,” he says. “This allows you to see the broader picture while keeping the important details in sight. Stand too close and you see the details, but lose the whole picture. Stand too far away and you lose the important details from which the vision is created.”

Vision reveals a path to success. As you pursue your vision, watch for the signs and clues that will help lead you to success. “They will be easy to follow if the vision is strong,” Konovalov says. “Those signs are always around in different forms – words of encouragement, expressions of real need from strangers, and answers to critical questions coming from unexpected perspectives.” Paying attention to such signs helps people spot opportunities while crafting the most effective path to success, he says.

Vision means taking on responsibility. If you’re the person with a vision, you are taking on a responsibility that will have an impact on people’s lives.  “And the greater the vision is, the greater the responsibility,” Konovalov says. “But this huge responsibility also comes with incredible opportunities, the kind of opportunities available only to pioneers. It may be intimidating to take on all that responsibility, but it will reward you in return.”

Vision should be easy to understand. “Vision involves elegant thinking about complicated things,” Konovalov says. But that doesn’t mean the vision itself should be so complex that everyone is left puzzling over what you’re saying. Just the opposite. “Great vision is genuinely easy to understand,” he says. “The simpler the vision is in its core meaning, the easier it can be shared with employees, customers, and partners.”

Vision generates excitement. A person with a vision isn’t nonchalant about it. Strong vision is always accompanied by excitement. “Actually, vision is a strong emotion itself,” Konovalov says. “If someone tells you about his great vision and he sounds ho-hum about it, then most likely he is lying to himself and others. Such a person might have a goal, but they don’t have a vision.”

Vision is a great leadership ability and success instrument, Konovalov says.

“Vision defines and explains why and where effort should be focused,” he says. “And while vision is normally created by a single person, it quickly becomes the property of many, and that’s important.

“No one can accomplish something great on his or her own. Vision is what attracts the people needed to take what you want to accomplish and turn it into a reality.”

_____________________________________________________

Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate Superpower, Organisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.

 

ENTREPRENEURS

ENTREPRENEURS ALLEGE AMAZON’S “UNSCRUPULOUS BUSINESS PRACTICES” FORCED CLOSED BUSINESSES

A group of companies in Los Angeles and surrounding areas that were part of Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner Program are suing the e-commerce giant, it was announced Aug. 5. 

Plaintiffs the Hubper Group Companies and their affiliates allege Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Breach of Implied Contract, Estoppel, Fraudulent Concealment, Unfair Business Practices and Intentional Interference with Business Relationship in the complaint filed in the Superior Court of Los Angeles by the Newport Beach, California-based law firm WHGC, P.L.C. 

They seek an unspecified amount in compensatory damages, disgorgement, plus exemplary and punitive damages from Amazon Logistics, which is accused of “wrongfully and without cause” terminating the plaintiffs’ Delivery Service Partner relationship this past April. That was after the Hubper Group Companies claims to have invested about $4.5 million into continuing its exclusive operations for Amazon, which included employing about 600 people to deliver good from nine stations covering 300 routes. 

Further, once Hubper Group Companies was put out of business, Amazon contacted the plaintiffs’ former drivers, offering employment as independent contractors utilizing the same delivery routes, according to the lawsuit.

“This is a clear-cut story of a corporate giant knowingly and deceitfully putting a group of local entrepreneurs out of business,” says a member of the plaintiffs’ legal team. “Amazon Logistics convinced these hard-working entrepreneurs to invest in a business that they knew would soon render worthless, a practice that is immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous and substantially injurious to consumers overall.”

Will Facebook’s Libra Help Bring Cryptocurrency To The Masses?

When Facebook announced plans for a stablecoin called Libra, the reaction from the cryptocurrency world ranged somewhere between skeptical and cautiously optimistic.

But, regardless of any specific merits of Facebook’s version of a digital coin, the social-media giant’s move could help speed the adoption of cryptocurrency to a larger audience, says Kirill Bensonoff (www.kirillbensonoff.com), a serial entrepreneur and an expert in blockchain.

The biggest issue now is that most people are not familiar with crypto; they think it’s difficult to use, and they may not trust it,” Bensonoff says. “Facebook will put a digital wallet on many phones and computers, and sending payments with crypto will become commonplace.”

Facebook’s Libra is proposed as a stablecoin, which is a form of cryptocurrency. Using Libra, people would be able to buy things or send money to others while paying, at most, minor fees. Unlike other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, the value of stablecoins is tied to an asset such as gold, the U.S. dollar, the Euro or other currencies.

Facebook won’t have complete control of Libra. It’s just part of a bigger group of partners that’s creating the stablecoin.

What might all this mean for the future of cryptocurrencies – and for the average person who still knows little about them? Bensonoff says a few things worth knowing about Libra in particular and stablecoins in general include:

-Bringing stability to cryptocurrency. As the name implies, the idea of stablecoins is to bring more stability – and more peace of mind for wary investors – to the world of cryptocurrency. “I don’t think Facebook will bring stability immediately,” Bensonoff says. “I believe it’s going to take a lot more in terms of mass adoption, but Libra could be a step in the right direction.”

-The SEC’s view. Regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission have been eyeing stablecoins with the possibility that some of them could be classified as securities. “That could put stablecoins in the same category as stocks, subject to the registration, disclosures, and accreditation of investors that demands,” Bensonoff says.

-Will Libra replace PayPal? Maybe not, considering that PayPay is one of the founding members of Libra, Bensonoff says. “I think they will have some influence on the direction,” he says. “However, crypto in general is a threat to all existing payment processors, including PayPal. I believe PayPal is smart and will adopt and accept crypto payments, and they will figure out a way to monetize it. The downside for them is they won’t be able to charge nearly as much as they do now.”

“I believe Libra is going to have a positive impact in terms of awareness, adoption and interest in cryptocurrency from both businesses and consumers,” Bensonoff says. “But at the same time, with that could come more regulatory scrutiny.”

About Kirill Bensonoff

Kirill Bensonoff (www.kirillbensonoff.com) has over 20 years experience in entrepreneurship, technology and innovation as a founder, advisor and investor in over 30 companies. He’s the CEO of OpenLTV, which gives investors across the world access to passive income, collateralized by real estate, powered by blockchain. In the information technology and cloud services space, Kirill founded U.S. Web Hosting while still in college, was co-founder of ComputerSupport.com in 2006, and launched Unigma in 2015. All three companies had a successful exit.

As an innovator in the blockchain and DLT space, Kirill launched the crypto startup Caviar in 2017 and has worked to build the blockchain community in Boston by hosting the Boston Blockchain, Fintech and Innovation Meetup. He is also the producer and host of The Exchange with KB podcast and leads the Blockchain + AI Rising Angel.co syndicate. Kirill earned a B.S. degree from Connecticut State University, is a graduate of the EO Entrepreneurial Masters at MIT, and holds a number of technical certifications. He has been published or quoted in Inc., Hacker Noon, The Street, Forbes, Huffington Post, Bitcoin Magazine and Cointelegraph and many others.