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Minimize Foreign Trade Risks with These 10 Tips

foreign

Minimize Foreign Trade Risks with These 10 Tips

Does your company follow a strategy to go global? International expansion brings endless opportunities. Statistics show that companies that export boost their productivity by 34% on average over the first year. They are also more likely to survive in the long term when compared to companies with a local focus. 

However, we must emphasize the fact that foreign trading comes with risks. Currency, credit, intellectual property, transport, logistics, ethics… you’ll be dealing with a lot throughout this journey. Being aware of these risks and taking steps to minimize them will ensure the success of your brand’s international trade management.

10 Tips on How to Minimize Foreign Trade Risks 

Make Sure Your Products Are Allowed for Distribution

This is the first thing you need to check: are you allowed to trade with your products in the respective country? For example, the EU has strict regulations that prevent many goods from China from being imported. Each country has its rules, which your business must respect. Otherwise, you would waste a lot of time and resources planning an impossible expansion project. 

You can get familiar with the rules by reading relevant laws and regulations or contacting the customs services.  

Focus on the Legal Aspects of Business Expansion

Each country has its own regulations regarding businesses from abroad. Legislators set the legal framework and conditions for FFcustomers, sales, and particularities regarding the industry. It’s important to be aware of all these details ahead of time. When designing your strategy and drafting the initial contracts, you should make sure you stay within the legal framework of the country where you expand the brand. In addition, you should be aware of potential legal disputes and their solutions. 

Most business owners hire lawyers in their respective countries. A lawyer from your own country can also make connections and give you the details you need.   

Get Shipping Insurance

Everything looks well on paper. You consider the costs of production, transport, marketing, sales, and everything else related to selling your goods abroad. But there’s a risk that business owners often forget: damage during shipping. Items may break or get lost during transport. Your shipment may become a subject of theft or even vandalism. Accidents and contamination happen during transport all the time. If you don’t get good insurance for your shipment, you risk losing a lot of money. 

Proper insurance is not cheap. You should talk to several agencies to get the best offer on international shipments. We recommend using the best finance apps to plan all costs, including insurance over a longer period of time. These apps will help you calculate a decent budget and determine a final price that won’t leave much space for losses. 

Consider All Currency-Related Things

When planning foreign trade financing, you’re guided by the official currency in your own country. You focus on evaluating the risks related to credit, but as most business owners, you might forget about one thing: currency conversions may initiate losses, too. 

The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t been kind in this aspect. In March 2020, emerging-market currencies faced losses of up to 30%. That’s something that nobody could have predicted. However, you can analyze the movement of relevant currencies and estimate potential losses. You might need to work with a financial expert to make these evaluations.  

Evaluate the Risk of Protectionism

Trade protectionism is a policy for protecting domestic industries from foreign invasion. If, for example, a particular country stimulates the domestic flour milling industry, it will impose import quotas, tariffs, and other handicaps on foreign traders. Governments do this because they don’t want foreign products to drop the market prices and get the domestic industries in trouble. 

If you plan for global exposure, you have to learn about these policies. You must take the additional expenses into consideration, so you’ll evaluate a realistic final price. Will it be acceptable for the living standard of the respective country?

Register the Corporate Names and Trademarks

When doing business abroad, you risk violating another brand’s intellectual property rights. You can avoid that by registering your brand’s names and trademarks. If that process goes undisturbed, you can feel free to offer the products on the respective market. 

Consider the Risk of a Changing Market Environment

No market situation is stable and rigid for all times. You will develop a general strategy, which will be based on solid international risk management. But no matter how well you predict potential risks and future circumstances, you cannot be 100% sure that you did it properly. 

In Deloitte’s Global Trade Management Survey, none of the Swiss chief financial officers who participated thought that the global trade environment would become less complex. Only 15% of them said they expected the conditions to remain the same. 

Your company must continuously review the strategy and make the needed adjustments as the market circumstances evolve.   

Evaluate Foreign Ethical Standard

When offering your products on a global market, you should think about the differing ethical standards that you’ll face. For example, Israel has a thriving vegan culture. It might not be a good idea to trade fur there before evaluating the risk of getting your brand dragged through discussions as an unethical one. 

Get well informed about the customs and social conditions in the country where you plan to expand. 

Invest Time and Resources on Collaboration

Business owners often neglect the need to get comprehensive advice through collaboration with foreign lawyers and governmental services. They want to save time and money, or they simply forget that getting insider information is crucial before international expansion. 

You need to talk to experts who will explain the laws and regulations. You might need finance experts from abroad as well. In addition, you have to collaborate with industry insiders who know the market and can help you build a solid network of connections.

Get Acquainted with Foreign Business Customs

You may be used to a direct, friendly approach with a bit of humor in the mix. But in a foreign country, such an approach may be considered unserious or even offensive. Intercultural differences are a major factor in foreign trading success. 

You have to get acquainted with business etiquette when entering a new market. You can find this information online, but it’s best to hire a business advisor from the country in question. You’ll get proper guidance from someone who knows the target region and the communication etiquette in the particular industry. 

The country’s culture, politics, and economy are also important. Learn as much as possible, so you can start and maintain a productive conversation with potential partners. 

Foreign Trade Is a Complex Endeavor

Yes, it will be a rewarding experience for you as a business owner. With the right approach, you’ll take your brand towards substantial growth. However, you have to conduct basic research regarding the risks you’ll face during the expansion. This is a process that requires thorough planning, so don’t rush through it.

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James Dorian is a technical copywriter. He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive. James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations.

small business

The Struggles of Small Business Don’t Bode Well for the Overall Economy

The year 2020 can’t end quickly enough for most small business owners.

Across the country, the pandemic forced many of them to close their operations temporarily – or permanently – and the continued economic uncertainty threatens to kill the ambitions of entrepreneurs who planned to launch businesses but now must put their dreams on hold.

None of that bodes well for the overall American economy, says Andi Gray, president of Strategy Leaders (www.strategyleaders.com), a business consulting firm.

“Small businesses make up 50 percent of the gross-domestic-product and also employ half the workforce,” she says. “What happens to them determines what happens to the overall economy. We as a country cannot afford to fail them.”

Gray points to the 2008-11 banking crisis as a disturbing example of how a national crisis can sabotage entrepreneurship. In 2008, for the first time, the number of business starts fell below the number of business closures.

“In other words, more businesses were killed off than were launched,” she says, ”and it wasn’t a one-time event. The problem continued on for years.”

The ripple effects? By 2009 small business contributions to GDP fell rather than grew. By 2010 the economic contribution gap between large and small businesses widened four-fold as small businesses struggled to keep up with their large corporate competitors. People lost their jobs, exports dropped, taxes fell and economic opportunity disappeared as entrepreneurs fought to recover. It took over five years for the small business community to get back on track, Gray says. But the damage was already done. By 2015, the U.S. was ranked 12th among developed nations in terms of startup activity.

She worries such lingering effects could happen again – and be significantly worse this time.

“Today’s COVID crisis is far larger and deeper than the 2008 crisis,” she says. “I would not be surprised if it takes far longer than five years for the small business community to get back to producing GDP and employment numbers we took for granted at the beginning of the year.”

In the meantime, small business owners hit hard by this latest recession must find ways to weather the storm. Gray offers a few suggestions for how they can do that:

Stay energized and focused. The single biggest determinant for survival of any small business is the commitment, ambition, and drive of the owner, Gray says. “If you are feeling worn out, take time off to recharge,” she says. “Keep your eye focused down the road, on what’s way ahead, and don’t waste too much energy and sweat trying to control what’s happening right in front of you day-to-day.”

Take care of the finances. If money is in short supply, investigate sources of capital. Put together a bankable plan that justifies increased investment and provides guidance on how best to use funding to recover, expand and weather future challenges, Gray says. “Talk to your banker, the SBA, reputable SBA lending consultants, and private investors to find out what kinds of capital might be available,” she says.

Figure out how to play the hand they were dealt. Small business owners need to get creative and innovative, Gray says. “Rebuild as you protect cash flow,” Gray says. “Find suppliers to replace the ones struggling to perform. Rethink your business model and evaluate customer viability.” In addition, look for new markets to add size and profits, implement processes to cut out waste, and transition more and more customers to internet communication and ecommerce buying solutions. “Decide what size business will be right for you in the future and layout a plan to get there,” Gray says.

Pay attention to employees. As scared as small business owners may be about what the future holds, many of their employees are even more frightened. “After all, you have the resources of your company to use to build solutions,” Gray says. “Employees who live paycheck to paycheck may be running out of options and wondering how long they can hold on – or how long you’ll be able to let them hold onto their much-needed jobs.”

“The good news is that small business owners are known for being nimble, flexible, and resourceful,” Gray says. “Many of them are finding new opportunities by solving problems that didn’t exist, or weren’t priorities, at the start of 2020.”

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Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders (www.strategyleaders.com), a business consulting firm. Gray’s career started in sales, marketing and new business development at Xerox, American Express and Contel. Gray earned an Executive MBA from Columbia University while conducting research on success and failure drivers for entrepreneurial businesses. Gray writes a weekly column called “Ask Andi” in which she provides practical advice to business owners. She also authors a monthly column in Chauffeur Driven Magazine. Gray is also the co-founder of the networking group BOHCA (Business Owners Hemp and Cannabis Association), where she helps industry-specific owners grow their business through strategic planning.

business plan

10 Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Many entrepreneurs and business owners make mistakes when they rush to start a business before considering important details.

A great business plan can help you anticipate important issues and possible challenges before you start your business.

In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who take the time to write a business plan are 2.5 times more likely to follow through and get their business off the ground.

Here are 10 tips to help you write a great business plan.

1. Learn from other entrepreneurs and business owners

Start by reading as many business plans as you can get your hands on.

-Search the tables of contents and consider which parts are relevant to your business.

-Flip to the index and see how well organized and granular it is.

-Check out any exhibits or charts and consider how your business plan could benefit from similar exhibits or charts.

Remember, you’re not reinventing the wheel here. For example, you can get a free business plan template for a traditional business plan and a one-page business plan.

There have been many who did this before you and you can benefit from their experience and expertise.

2. Be prepared and do your homework

Don’t mess around – research everything.

Thoroughly.

If you expect to be the market leader in 2 years, you need to demonstrate why this is possible and how you’ll meet this goal.

If you say your product will be viral, you have to support this statement with facts.

If you say your management team is experienced and qualified to help the business succeed, you have to support that claim with resumes that demonstrate the experience.

It’s easy to lose credibility – and investors – if you’re making claims you can’t fully support.

Need specific insights on how to write a great business plan?

Read this definitive guide on how to write a business plan. You’ll learn about each section of the business plan, from the executive summary to the appendix, and you’ll be able to download free business plan templates for a simple one-page business plan and a traditional plan, and other important templates, including a SWOT analysis template, sales forecast template, profit and loss template, cash flow template, and a balance sheet template.

3. Know your market and your competition

Some business owners avoid talking about potential competitors.

This is a mistake.

Unless you’re creating a new industry, you will have competitors. And you’ll need to figure out how to beat them or at least to compete with them.

To understand your competitors and the industry, you’ll need to do market research.

Invest some time and effort and do it correctly. A business can’t succeed if the owners don’t understand their industry, target customers, or the competition.

4. The table of contents is your friend

The TOC is your outline for the plan.

Take your time with it; make sure you are including all of the relevant topics.

At a minimum, your plan should include sections on the company you are forming, your marketing plan, financial information, and your go-to-market and growth strategy.

Look to other business plans for inspiration.

5. Don’t give away your secrets when sharing your business plan

If you plan to share your business plan with potential investors, bankers, or others, require confidentiality.

And make sure you cover yourself with a strong disclaimer. The last thing you want is for a potential investor or partner to claim that your business plan misrepresented your business.

6. Write a strong executive summary

People are busy. Few read 50-page business plans. Even fewer read 100-page business plans.

Most will read only the executive summary and flip through other sections of your business plan.

This creates both a challenge and an opportunity.

If your executive summary is strong, you increase the prospects to have a further conversation with a potential investor or partner to make your pitch in person.

Bottom of Form

7. Know your audience

Who will be reading your plan?

Is it written for investors? For potential partners or board members? For a bank to get a small business loan?

Anticipate the kinds of questions those people will want to be answered and answer those questions. For example, if your audience includes bankers, think like a banker and write what they would need to see to fund your business.

A great business plan will show that you have thought through your business idea clearly and have developed a plan to develop the idea into a sustainable and profitable business.

8. Make the business plan readable

A great business plan should be compelling, interesting, informative, and exciting.

Make sure that you include detail, but not so much that people are overwhelmed.

Use appendices for the details and anything else (like resumes) that would bog down the body of the plan.

Do a careful edit for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and voice.

Get a second (and third) set of eyes to give you constructive feedback.

Do not be stingy with charts, graphics, illustrations, and tables. They are great ways to present detailed information in a digestible form.

9. Use Pro-formas wisely

People interested in your business plan will want to see projections of your performance, your costs, and your anticipated growth.

But, they are sophisticated enough to recognize when those numbers have been arrived at based on real data compared to when you simply make up the numbers.

So, be conservative in all financial estimates and projections. If you think you’ll get a 25% share of your market in 2 years, hint at those numbers but assume you’ll get only a 5% share for purposes of your financial projections.

One good approach is to show the best, worst, and most likely scenarios for sales and growth.

10. Keep it simple

Keep your language simple and use readable fonts and a clean layout.

And, let your personality show. If you believe in what you’re writing, your passion will show in the final product.

And at the end of the day, remember that most people don’t invest in a business plan.

Most people invest in a person.

You.

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Ross Kimbarovsky is founder and CEO at crowdspring, where more than 220,000 experienced freelancers help agencies, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-profits with high-quality custom logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. Ross mentors entrepreneurs through TechStars and Founder Institute, was honored as one of Techweek100′s top technology leaders and business visionaries, and enjoys wearing shorts to work after a successful 13-year career as a trial lawyer. Ross has founded numerous other startups, including Startup Foundry, Quickly Legal, and Respect.

transformation

5 Tips To Focus Your Company’s Transformation As COVID Forces Change

While the recession caused by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses of all sizes and industries, some are finding new ways to run daily operations, reach customers, re-shape their business, and stay relevant.

But others are still trying to figure out how to transform, and an expert in the field says that launching a transformation begins with setting the right scope.

“Over the years, I have seen an ill-defined program scope cause serious problems,” says Edwin Bosso (www.myrtlegroup.com), founder and CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey.

“For example, the scope may drift from the originally defined target. The scope is the description of the transformation’s area of focus, and in most cases, the scope is defined as a combination of categories. Examples are functional – sales, logistics, production, operations – and organizational – leadership, technology, processes, management systems. It’s most important that the scope is defined to address the challenges at hand and avoid distractions or wasted resources.”

Bosso has five tips for companies to set the right scope for their transformation:

Articulate the problem. Which problem are you trying to solve? Bosso says that question is at the heart of a company transformation. “Defining the specific problem may take numerous discussions and disagreements,” Bosso says. “The human brain has a natural tendency to drift. Blurry lines sometimes separate root causes and symptoms. This step is generally completed with a well-crafted statement of the problem that the organization is setting up to solve.”

List the ways. “When properly conducted,” Bosso says, “this step helps in visualizing the solution. Listing possible solutions is a way of testing the definition of the problem. This step calls for honest questions and thorough analysis to identify the solution options.”

Identify the means. “This is the stage where you test the capabilities of the organization against solution options by identifying necessary means,” Bosso says. “It comes down to understanding internal means, or levers that would need to be pulled to solve the problem. Potential means available might include people, office space, computer systems, or technical expertise in sales, R&D, inventory management and procurement. The process allows organizations to match the correct means to solutions.”

Capture the enablers. Examples of enablers key to the transformation process are those in program management and data science. Enablers cannot operate on their own to make something happen,” Bosso says. “They are, however, necessary or simply useful for that same thing to happen. For example, change management cannot improve the performance of the sales organization without some level of sales expertise. Once enablers are defined, it is important to capture the various ways in which each enabler supports the transformation program.”

Explore synergies and interdependencies. This step focuses on understanding the overlaps, synergy opportunities, and constraints caused by ongoing initiatives. “Start with a list of all current initiatives that the organization is running,” Bosso says. “The finance department is typically a good source for the information. Meetings should be held with each team, and it’s important to understand that each may be protective of its objective, ways, and means. This could set up turf battles and heated discussions, so explicitly setting the objective of the meetings to understand synergies can help alleviate disagreements and fears.”

“Undergoing a major transformation is really the best hope for struggling businesses to survive in these difficult times,” Bosso says. “There is no time to waste. There are no resources to waste. To get your transformation on target, setting the right scope is critical from the outset.”

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Edwin Bosso, the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey, is the founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group (www.myrtlegroup.com). Bosso specializes in operations improvement and change management, and his project history includes work for major brands such as Heineken, Texas Petrochemicals, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, Rohm and Haas, Campbells Soup Company, Kellogg’s and Morton Salt. A wide range of assignments have taken him throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. He completed his undergraduate education at The Hague Polytechnic in the Netherlands and earned an MBA from Rice University in Houston.

relevant

How Businesses Can Avoid Becoming Irrelevant In A Changing World

The business world has produced a veritable graveyard of once magnificently successful companies that came, conquered and thrived – but ultimately perished.

In many cases, those businesses share a common reason for their demise: Times changed. They didn’t.

“I’ve always been fond of the saying that if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less,” says Adam Witty, a successful entrepreneur and the ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Over the years, many businesses discovered they didn’t change quickly enough, much to their chagrin. Others realized their old business model no longer applied, and they did adapt.”

In the last decade or so, media companies especially have had to navigate their way through an extraordinary disruption of their business models, says Witty, who also is the founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com).

“Reading habits and advertising habits shifted,” he says. “This meant media companies needed to diversify and be innovative if they wanted to continue to thrive.”

Witty was involved in such a diversification recently when his company announced a partnership with American City Business Journals, the publisher of 44 weekly Business Journals in cities across the U.S. Through the partnership, American City Business Journals is branching out into the book-publishing field with the creation of Business Journals Books, an enterprise that will be operated jointly with Witty’s company.

“This is an exciting new way for them to be creative and create a new revenue stream for their business,” Witty says.

With COVID-19 and the 2020 recession forcing companies to navigate their way through even more changes, Witty says businesses that want to avoid tumbling into irrelevance need to:

Review and rank their products. A few years ago when Witty’s company did such a ranking, he realized one product line the business had offered for years didn’t measure up and needed to go. “It was hard to deliver, had low gross margins, was extremely people intensive, and had very limited scalability,” he says. “The time, energy, effort and capital we were investing in this product line were taking away our ability to invest in new products that would be more scalable and more profitable.”

Always be on the lookout for new ideas. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, so savvy business leaders are always open to new ideas for bringing in revenue, Witty says. “You should also encourage employees to suggest ideas,” he says. “Maybe a lot of those won’t work. But the more ideas that get tossed around, the better the odds something will prove a winner.”

Favor facts and data over opinions. No matter how much an entrepreneur loves the business plan they used originally to launch their business, they need to make decisions about the future based on facts and data, Witty says. “You must deal with the way things are, rather than the way you want them to be,” he says. “Facts and data will tell you the way things are.”

“Because of COVID-19 and the recession, a willingness to adapt to changing consumer habits and ways of doing business is probably more important than ever,” Witty says. “The businesses most likely to thrive coming out of this are those that have a plan, but also remain flexible and are willing to change that plan as the circumstances around them change.”

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Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.

business

Leading a Small Business Through COVID and Other Troubling Times

With the coronavirus shaking up the economy and upending the day-to-day operations of businesses, it’s perhaps more critical than ever that corporate CEOs and small business owners summon up all their leadership skills.

Employees who usually are just down the hall are now working remotely from home. The supply chain is disrupted. And customers and clients may be changing their spending habits.

But, as important as business savvy and financial expertise can be in riding out all the economic effects of the pandemic, other traits also come into play and may be just as essential, says Marsha Friedman, a successful entrepreneur who still leads a business she launched three decades ago.

“One of those essential traits is courage,” says Friedman, founder and president of News & Experts (www.newsandexperts.com), a national PR firm. “Thirty years ago when I started my company, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but without it, I assure you, you’ll fail.”

Friedman, who is also the ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, understands this first-hand. Her firm, like many businesses, endured tough economic times after the 9/11 attacks. Revenue dropped and bankruptcy loomed as a real possibility.

“I had to figure out how to turn my company around,” she says. “It took courage, endurance, and perseverance, but I knew I could not go back, so I had no choice but to go forward.” 

Courage is just one of what Friedman calls the 5 C’s for building and maintaining a successful business through the good times and bad. “They’re the guiding principles I’ve learned through the ups and downs and all the mistakes,” she says. “They can work during the difficulties we now face as well.”

In addition to courage, Friedman’s other C’s are:

Caring . First, care enough about yourself and your dreams to believe you can achieve success even in these daunting times, Friedman says. “Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them despite the troubles we face,” she says. “Be supportive of them throughout this situation that is bringing additional stress to everyone’s lives.” Finally, a good business leader cares about customers, Friedman says. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.

Confidence. Most people have faced and overcome challenges in life. The confidence that allowed them to prevail over those challenges needs to be brought into play in business more than ever right now, Friedman says. “Believing you can reach for and achieve your short-term and long-term goals is essential to getting you there,” she says. “Maintaining your confidence is important to get through these unsettling times.”

Competence. It’s critical to stay up on the disruptions in your industry that the coronavirus is causing. “If you’re forced to downsize, this may be the time to reorganize and tap into the skills and abilities of your remaining team that are different from the roles you hired them for,” Friedman says. “That’s why it’s always important to have hired competent people who you can rely on no matter what the situation.”

Commitment . Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes during these challenging conditions. Friedman says there may be times when this will be not only difficult, but downright painful. That was the case for her during those tough times after the 9/11 attacks. “I had to make drastic cuts, including letting go beloved employees.” she says. “But I never wanted to suffer a failure, and so I stayed committed to the goal and succeeded in pulling the business through those rough times.” 

“As we face the current challenges, you have to stay the course, remain positive and show caring for everyone related to your business,” Friedman says. “Most of all, no matter how dismal it seems right now, you need to have confidence that you are going to get through it.”

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Marsha Friedman, ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, is a successful entrepreneur and public relations expert with nearly 30 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and professionals in the field of business, health and finance.  Using the proprietary system she created as founder and President of News & Experts (www.newsandexperts.com), an award-winning national public relations agency, her firm secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for its clients.  The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies, who shares her knowledge both as a popular speaker around the country and in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself.

orange economy

THE ORANGE ECONOMY – WHERE CREATIVITY IS AN ECONOMIC ASSET

Our economic potential is limited only by our collective imaginations – the right hemisphere of our brains applied to both creative and quantitative endeavors.

Orange, the Color of Creativity

You’ve heard of the green economy and the blue economy. Now, researchers are taking a closer look at the so-called “orange economy”. With no set definition, the core of the orange economy encompasses a wide array of cultural and creative goods and services from architectural design and performing arts to film, games, fashion, music and video games.

Creative goods and services include art you can hang on your wall, print newspapers and crafts, but also works that are “experienced” such as gastronomy and live music. Beyond the physical realm, they include gaming apps on your phone, advertising on TV, and streamed movies. The infrastructure that supports our interaction with creative goods and services are also part of the orange economy, such as stadiums, fiber-optic networks and museums.

Capturing the Value of Creative Output

A 2015 analysis by Ernst & Young presented in their report, Cultural times, attempts to quantify the value generated by cultural and creative industries in the orange economy. It suggests the global industry generated $2.25 billion in revenue, supporting 29.5 million jobs in 2013. At the time, the creative economy exceeded the value of the global telecoms services industry and the entire GDP of India – and this was before the digital streaming boom.

Value of Creative Industries
The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than one-third of global sales and 43 percent of jobs associated with cultural and creative industries. Visual arts and television broadcasts accounted for nearly 40 percent of the value generated by the industry and 35 percent of jobs. Other parts of the industry such as newspapers and book publishing employ more people but generate less revenue.

The report credits cultural and creative output as driving the online economy’s rapid growth. Sales of e-books, music, videos and games generated $66 billion in 2013. Content sales in turn drove sales of digital devices and subscriptions to online media and streaming platforms and the advertising on them. Ernst & Young estimates creative content yielded $22 billion in advertising revenues in 2013 for online media and free streaming websites such as YouTube.

These figures have probably grown exponentially in subsequent years. Consumer appetite for greater bandwidth and faster networks available on smart, portable devices appears insatiable, and the figures do not include billions in online ticket sales for performances, or all the additional revenue and jobs accruing to creative professional service providers such as digital advertising and media agencies.

Beyond the numbers, nurturing talent in the cultural and creative sector is important to economic development and growth. The industry is characterized by relatively fewer barriers to entry and digital opportunities now abound for creators to grow their business by acquiring a global reputation and audience. Cultural and creative industries tend to employ more youth and women and can offer more flexible work environments.

For example, American artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed than U.S. workers overall. On the downside, many of the associated jobs are gigs – or temporary work – and remuneration might rely heavily on acquiring and asserting intellectual property rights. Without sustained work that is well compensated, creative and cultural work may fail to provide a source of reliable and adequate income.

A Culture of Trading

The beauty of trade in creative goods and services is the ability to enjoy tremendous cultural diversity, ingenuity, and have shared experiences as a global community. When K-pop and K-beauty burst on the scene, everyone could dance Gangnam-style or slather snail slime on their face. Beyond the cultural enrichment, policymakers have noticed the boost to the GDP bottom line of exporting cultural and creative offerings.

The UK is known for world-famous video games. One of its most notable exports is Grand Theft Auto 5, the fastest-selling video game of all time, which grossed $1 billion worldwide in its first three days. The UK government launched a $6.2 million Prototype Fund to help video game start-ups and pledged another $6 million to support a Skills Investment Fund for training in this and other creative sectors.

Canada has long offered tax credits to attract film and video production. An Ontario Music Fund provides grants to address investment gaps in its live and recorded music industry.

Latin telenovelas and music attract global audiences. The many World Heritage sites in Latin America built upon ancient Inca, Maya or Aztec civilizations are magnets for tourism exports (when visitors spend money in your country), supporting both local and national economic development while sharing the region’s rich cultural history.

Orange stroke of paint

Modern and traditional African art, sculpture and music hold wide appeal and are featured in global concerts and festivals. Nigeria’s government supports its film industry (“Nollywood”) which has become the country’s second-largest employer, generating export earnings and tax revenues.

Deploying a different model, Dubai in the UAE has created a cottage industry of hosting international cultural events, boasting the region’s largest indoor exhibition space. The UAE also opened the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2016 to serve as a focal point for contemporary art in the Middle East and invested $136 million in the Museum of the Future, which showcases futuristic inventions but is also positioned as an incubator for global design innovation.

Colombian President Iván Duque even campaigned on supporting growth of creative industries and set a goal of expanding production and exports to grow Colombia’s orange economy from 3.3 percent to 10 percent of Colombia’s GDP, putting it roughly on par with the manufacturing industry. He held an auction during which more than 320 investors bid on $124 million of “orange bonds” issued by Bancóldex backed by a triple-A rating.

Getting Paid for Creativity in the Orange Economy

To enable these industries to thrive, governments must shore up their legal frameworks to protect cultural and creative intellectual property from theft. Goods and services in the creative economy usually hold a distinct intellectual property claim, so that when an author or creator exports it, they retain some form of ownership on which to compensate them for use or enjoyment of the work. A developer in the Ukraine or Colombia, for example, would be entitled to receive a royalty each time their copyright-protected and licensed software is downloaded anywhere in the world.

Simply having appropriate intellectual property laws on the books, however, will not be sufficient to protect many creative works. In a survey by the Inter-American Bank, just 34.8 percent of creative entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean had made some effort to register their rights to intellectual property or obtain a copyright. Of the total of entrepreneurs, 17.4 percent responded they had not done so because they considered it “very expensive,” and another 16.4 percent said they did not know the procedures for getting the registration.

Although the survey was limited to one region, this is likely a familiar refrain globally, including in the United States where creators are familiar with rights available to pursue but find it too costly to obtain representation and navigate complex intellectual property laws. In some industries, creator organizations such as collective management organizations (CMOs) in the music industry, help overcome such challenges by manage licensing and distribution of royalties and remuneration to its member artists. More could be done by governments to help their creators avail themselves of intellectual property protections.

IP in LA for Creatives

An Infinite Economic Asset

Protecting author and creator rights is critical to fuel industry growth and provide returns to authors and creators, particularly as digital platforms expand. Although such platforms enable them to reach global audiences, creators must adopt new business models and strategies to monetize amidst a sea of free content on internet intermediary platforms. Another challenge is that such platforms remain immune from liability despite hosting entities that traffic in products that violate copyright and other intellectual property rights protecting their creative goods and services.

It should also be mentioned that when it comes to cultural and creative experiences, digital and virtual are not forcing the extinction of an analog experience. Before COVID-19, New York City’s Broadway was achieving record sales. World class museums like the Guggenheim and cultural zones like West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong attracted their share of visitors. The Comic Market in Tokyo still drew global fans of Japanese manga and anime.

my visual

Put On Your Thinking Cap

Creativity is rapidly becoming a condition for competing in the globalized economy. It has become among the top ten skills sought by employers. The application of creativity is not limited to cultural goods and services. Scientific creativity drives the pursuit of new ways to study, experiment and resolve societal problems. Creative thinking is applied to design new products, new production processes and commercial practices.

Ernst & Young analysts point out that the world is young – and that young population is increasingly literate, has more means and a global outlook. If policymakers view creativity as a significant economic asset, and nurture and protect it as such, countries can leverage creative output to support jobs and growth.

And – if we can manage to protect freedom of expression and the ability to trade in cultural and creative works – we can simultaneously promote cross-cultural experiences, preserve traditions and heritage, and celebrate diverse aesthetics, which might just make our world more civilized.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

world

Team Leadership in the COVID-19 World

In 1933, when FDR delivered his first inaugural address, U.S. unemployment stood at 25%, and 7,000 banks had folded in three years. Even as he cautioned his fellow Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he also conceded that “only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.” The realities of that moment still appear at this instant to be grimmer than those of the current one. Yet with a staggering 26 Million American filing for unemployment over the last five weeks, it’s challenging to dismiss projections of jobless rates reaching or even eclipsing the Depression-era peak that confronted FDR on that very first day of his presidency.

Today’s Americans may not emerge from the coronavirus siege embracing anything approaching the extreme of those directly impacted by the Great Depression, and no reduction in federal responsibilities in the current situation is likely to take the country back to pre-New Deal mode. However, it would be unwise to assume that the severe jolt to our sense of physical as well as material well-being inflicted by this crisis will leave no mark on our human behaviors going forward.

Obvious ones that may never return include handshaking (a tradition long gone in Japan), full-service toll booths, buffets, and sadly free samples at Costco. However, as we dig deeper into the business world, there are less obvious ones that can transition into new ways of doing business. This article seeks to highlight letting go of the past and what to look for in the new COVID-19 World.

We have often heard two widely accepted quotes that seem to contradict each other. The first describes a stonecutter who strikes the rock 100 times with no result. However, on the 101st blow, he sees the rock split. In short, it was not the 101st blow alone that split the stone, but the 100 that went before reinforcing the message of persistence and “staying the course.”

However, the second quote is that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing again and again and expecting different results. The message here is if what you are doing is not working, change what you are doing.

In this COVID-19 World, the question the entrepreneur faces is when to persist and when to change course. The answer depends on the circumstances. To be successful in business in today’s world or any other endeavor, you must be willing to persist when times are tough.

Like the stonecutter, you must be willing to continue working hard through patches where there are no visible results. At the same time, success also requires that you be ready to change course when the current path is not getting you where you want to go, especially during a pandemic. Pivoting now and reinventing yourself may help you thrive later.

Depending on the type of business, we see shifts and pivots in commercialization strategies to help organizations recapture, maintain, and ultimately grow revenue. Obvious ones include storefronts to Direct to Consumer or “you come to us” vs. “we come to you,” adding guaranteed supply of hard to get essentials into unique offerings. Less visible but impactful pivots for CFOs include choosing profitability overgrowth. Government Subsidies, forgivable loans, and grants are the preferred option during these times vs. dilutive funding, and traditional bank business loans or lines of credit.

Looking inside and redefining, your organization should include using this crisis to define a new mission. Instead of ducking from the crisis, refine your company, and embrace it. Externally getting to know your clients better and looking at your client’s challenges from an outside perspective is essential. From a business development standpoint, look ahead at tomorrow’s needs. Ask the question: “What’s my unique selling proposition, and what should it be?” This will allow your organization to pivot and redefine itself appropriately.

Most importantly, believe in your business! See the light at the end of the tunnel. The changes you make to your business model will eventually add to the bottom line and improve profitability. When you believe your business can make it now, you will be a stronger, more resilient, less vulnerable company for the future.

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By Frank Orlowski, Founder and President Ation Advisory Group| frank@ationadvisory.com | New York, NY USA

change

5 Reasons Company Leaders Resist Needed Change – Even During This Crisis

The thought of change can be scary, even more so during the type of crisis we’re experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there are business leaders who are already implementing change in response to the challenging economic and operational landscape, many others are not.

“Sometimes the writing is on the wall and organizations are triggered to change,” says Edwin Bosso, Founder and CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey. “In fact, members of the organization often are keenly aware that something needs to be done. However, despite that, management does not act, and the cost of inertia can be high.”

According to Bosso, there are five reasons why leaders resist change and, as a consequence, struggle to move their company forward:

They confuse important versus urgent. Leaders sometimes confuse the terms important and urgent. “Important issues are those that do not necessarily have an explicit deadline, like urgent issues, but can effectively have some impact, large or small, on a business,” Bosso says. “The confusion sets in when owners and managers spend too much time putting out fires rather than planning. For example, the company may know that it is important to upgrade its operations. But it doesn’t become urgent until later on when the company looks at the output of its competitors that have completed transformation projects and have become a lot more cost-competitive.”

They lack courage/leadership abilities. Successfully initiating and executing a change process involves numerous leadership skills. “It can be intimidating taking on such a challenge that, to some leaders, may seem like moving a mountain,” Bosso says. “Others are better prepared to take risks, confront reality, envision a better way, make plans, and then act on those plans to lead a change.”

They misalign the incentives. The incentive to change or transform organizations can be misaligned with the incentives of people who are in charge of leading those transformations. “Misalignment of personal incentives can cause us not to act, even when we know it’s the best thing for the company,” Bosso says. “When we are in line for a promotion and higher pay, we certainly don’t want to take on risks that can potentially work against us.”

They lack support and/or resources. Not being afforded the requisite tools or the consensus for necessary transformation can leave a leader feeling powerless. “This is a set of obstacles that many leaders run into,” Bosso says. “The powerlessness can come from the lack of company means, organizational backing, human capital and resources to support the cost of a transformation. After a while, they run out of energy, or time, to make the case.”

They lack a method. It’s not uncommon for leaders to know the difference between where their company is and where it could be, but they don’t know how to proceed. “In such situations, leaders often freeze up and put off the impending need to change, or they approach it through trial and error,” Bosso says. “Having a methodology is beneficial when taking on such an effort. Some leaders take the time and effort to learn what needs to be done, while others bring in experienced people to provide a method for leading a smooth and successful transformation.”

According to Bosso, leaders must understand that there will never be a perfect time for change, but also that often the right change only happens if they force the issue.

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Edwin Bosso, the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey, is the founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group (www.myrtlegroup.com). Bosso specializes in operations improvement and change management, and his project history includes work for major brands such as Heineken, Texas Petrochemicals, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, Rohm and Haas, Campbells Soup Company, Kellogg’s and Morton Salt. A wide range of assignments has taken him throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. He completed his undergraduate education at The Hague Polytechnic in the Netherlands and earned an MBA from Rice University in Houston.

Successful Entrepreneurs

10 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Many aspiring entrepreneurs see business ownership as an avenue to quick riches, a path to becoming “that boss” and creating jobs for the less fortunate, as a ticket to the freedom of working how and when they feel like; as they please! But owning a business is not that easy and convenient. If it was, everyone would succeed at it. The truth is that entrepreneurship can be your ticket to wealth, but it definitely is not your ticket to freedom. If anything, it calls for you to work harder than you ever did before, take huge risks, and fail at so many things without giving up. That is the entrepreneurial spirit.

There are many traits that define successful entrepreneurs. Here are 10 of those:

1. They network

Regardless of the niche they are in, or the success they’ve achieved already, successful entrepreneurs never stop networking. They work with influencers on social media, reach out to potential investors via emails, and generate leads by all means necessary. You will find seasoned entrepreneurs networking with freelancers in a coworking space in Chicago or using a shared workspace to get inspiration for business ideas from likeminded individuals. They regularly host events that create an engaging, exciting, and inspirational platform for their employees, clients, and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and challenge the status quo. That helps them to grow and compete more effectively.

2. They are disciplined

Successful entrepreneurs have clear goals and timelines, and data-inspired tactics to accomplish them. They are always ready to cut out anything that weighs them down in order to only focus on things that make their businesses work. They are disciplined enough not to deviate from that path.

3. They are passionate and motivated

They know the problem they want to solve within their niche, and their main motivation is passion; not money. They derive joy in seeing their target clients happy and satisfied. They wake up every morning eager to learn new things; to perfect their skill in order to change the world in a positive way.

4. They are creative

You need a unique, original business idea in order to cut a niche for yourself within a crowded marketplace. And because your fresh idea will always be challenged by newer ideas every single day, you must constantly figure out ways of doing everything better than it’s been done elsewhere. If you wish to remain at the top, you have to challenge the status quo and think outside the box even when you feel like you have the best ideas and strategies. That is why you need to be creative.

5. They are flexible

Flexibility helps entrepreneurs to adjust fast whenever things don’t go as planned, or when new and better opportunities present themselves. Successful entrepreneurs are quick to acknowledge a good idea even when it comes from a competitor. They are always open to their ideas being challenged, and they change tact as soon as they realize things aren’t working as they should.

6. They are persuasive

Entrepreneurs negotiate with stakeholders all the time. You have to persuade the best talents to work for you, clients to trust in your services and/or products, potential investors to buy into your ideas, and your employees to help you actualize your vision. That is why you need to be a persuasive person.

7. They work hard

Entrepreneurs have to work harder than their employees in order to set a good example, and for the fact that they own the vision of their establishments. As much as you can hire department heads to help you manage your business, you must be willing to be the overall supervisor in order to ensure that everything is done as per your directives. Sometimes you will have to work overtime and through weekends in order to catch up with all departments.

8. They are decisive

Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with questions and dilemmas that can make or break their business. Being decisive helps them to make sound judgment under immense pressure.

9. They are futuristic

Future-oriented entrepreneurs know exactly how they want the future of their business to be. They have a plan. They set their goals around a strong vision. They know how to read market trends and predict how those trends will affect their strategies in future.

10. They take risks

You cannot be successful if you aren’t willing to take risks. New marketing strategies, new technologies, and new investment opportunities are all risks that can make or break your business. Some risks are harmful, others are beneficial. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must know how to distinguish between those two types of risks, when to take the beneficial risks, and how to create a plan B in case plan A backfires.

Conclusion

Entrepreneurship is an art that you have to master. Some of the qualities discussed above are inborn, others have to be developed.  But even as much as some of them come naturally to you, you must identify and perfect them if you are to be the best.