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Weekly Business News Roundup

News Roundup for SME Businesses & Startups

Changing Needs of Coworking Space in 2018

Coworking office space has evolved from simply shared space at a cost-savings for entrepreneurs and business owners. Now, adapting to the changing needs of individuals and SME businesses, coworking space not only provides a sense of community, but flexible workspaces. Flexible workspace is a hybrid of coworking space that offers practical amenities, such as serviced office space with administrative support. The design of coworking space has evolved as well, with options beyond the open concept office space that include more coworking areas for those needing some degree of privacy to conduct their own business without distraction, while still feeling part of a community.

Your Industry Is Probably Ripe for Disruption. Here’s How to Take Advantage

The subtitle of this article, “How to transform your ‘unsexy’ industry before it’s too late”, sums the message. Digital transformation is a reality and “less sexy” industries are just as open to disruption as all the rest. So what is a business owner to do? In short, embrace the latest and greatest technology to hone your competitive edge. The author discusses how companies can challenge the status quo of their industry – even staid manufacturing businesses – by embracing disruption. He also advises businesses to “stay relevant or bust,” whatever the historically traditional industry they’re in, again by innovating with relevant technological advancements.

This Simple Email Tool Will Help You Sound More Confident

You’ve likely done this too: unintentionally use words that are apologetic in an email that undermines the point you’re trying to make. Now there’s a Chrome email plugin called “Just NOT Sorry” to keep you from qualifying your message and in so doing, diminishing your voice. Using the plugin, those words that often act as undermining qualifiers are underlined as you write your emails (the author uses the example of the word “just,” and what that infers). What’s more, when you hover over the word, you receive information describing how the word (or phrase) could be perceived by the intended recipient.

5 Accounting Challenges Startups Face and the Tools That Will Fix Them

Following accounting best practices is essential for the financial health of your business. Cash flow is the second most cited reason for startup failure after lack of market need for a product, according to CB Insights. The good news is that adhering to accounting best practices is no longer as time-consuming (and painful) as it once was. Here are five standout tools small businesses can use, centered around Quickbooks and apps that readily integrate with it:

1. Siftery: is a sophisticated expense-tracking service that makes it easy to calculate your monthly or annual spend on SaaS apps, and even negotiates discounts for its users up-front for SaaS apps.

2. Humanity: is an employee-scheduling and time-tracking solution for remote teams, with an intuitive, cloud-based interface that provides a calendar view.

3. Quickbooks: integrates seamlessly with your bank accounts, and boasts reporting and cash-flow management tools to give you an instant snapshot of your financials.

4. Expensify: streamlines the expense-reporting process for the self-employed, as well as managers and employees, and integrates with Quickbooks for tax season ease.

5. Fundbox: syncs with your Quickbooks (or other accounting software) to evaluate the credit-worthiness of your business, then offers funding options should your business need help with cash flow, with finance fees that are typically much lower than credit cards and without the hassle of getting a small business loan.

Companies should give freelancers the same onboarding as staff

According to the co-author of Deloitte’s “2018 Human Capital Trends” report, Erica Volini, while up to 37% of the more than 11,000 business and HR leaders surveyed indicate they anticipate a growth in contractors, freelancers, and gig workers by 2020, only 45% provide them with training, and only 54% offer formal onboarding. She says not properly orienting all staff member types with internal processes, expectations, and culture could pose a threat to your business.

Other staffing executives provide the following guidance: start with the basics; adjust according to the nature of the work; and always have an exit strategy for smoothly transitioning the workflow back in-house following the conclusion of a temporary assignment.

Mozilla’s Firefox aims to alert users if they’ve been hacked

According to password manager app Dashlane, internet users have on average 150 online accounts. With hackers regularly breaking into online sites and stealing usernames (usually email addresses) and passwords, many of us have been unwittingly “pwned” (translation: owned, in hacker lingo). Trying to help account owners is Mozilla, the nonprofit behind the Firefox web browser, which is introducing Firefox Monitor by teaming up with a database of breached sites called HaveIBeenPwned.com (HIBP).

The plan is to combine HIBP’s existing service, which allows users (of any web browser) to manually check if their email address belongs to hacked user accounts, with Mozilla’s in-development password manager, Firefox Lockbox, which automatically stores and fills in usernames and passwords for the websites you visit. The result, Monitor, will regularly check all these logins against the HIBP database to alert pwned users ASAP.

How Canadian-made artificial intelligence is helping Hollywood write better scripts

Some Canadian tech entrepreneurs believe the odds of making an original blockbuster movie could be greatly improved with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). According to the Kitchener, Ont.-based Greenlight Essentials’ CEO Jack Zhang, “Hollywood is using very primitive data analytics.” His company’s software analyzes movie plots, box office ticket sales and audience profiles to predict a film’s success, and helps identify the likely audience. Toronto-based Wattpad Studios’ Aron Levitz states, “We want to change the entire entertainment industry…We could put hundreds of millions of dollars back into the industry.”

Wattpad, a story-writing platform with 65 million users worldwide, uses AI to mine its readership data for insights into what’s popular. This has helped turn some of its self-publishing writers into bestselling authors. Now, its two-year-old offshoot, Wattpad Studios, is increasingly producing more TV series and movies.

10 Strategies for Rebounding from Startup Failures

“Thomas Edison called every failure an experiment (now it would be a pivot), and each one told him successfully what didn’t work,” writes the author. He continues, “Failures and pivots come in all shapes and sizes, but entrepreneurs need to adhere to a common set of principles for failing productively, leading to ultimate success.” He then shares ten strategies for rebounding from startup failures, from not allowing the same failure twice to practicing resilience as the best antidote to failure.

A Valuable Product Strategy You Might Not Have Considered

While bundling products for a discount may be a familiar strategy, there are product unbundling opportunities as well. The advantage of this product strategy is that you can give your customers exactly what they want, while creating new revenue streams. The author outlines five steps to discover product unbundling opportunities: inventory your offerings; consider your audience; evaluate your products for individual components; determine pricing; and lastly, analyze and experiment.

This AI helps find great startups before the world discovers them

Swedish VC firm EQT Ventures has developed a machine-learning (AI) system, Motherbrain, to find under-the-radar startups that have the highest probability of becoming good investments. The data-driven system is used during every stage of the investment process, even helping startups after EQT Ventures has invested in them because it has so much data about investors, competitors, emerging technologies and market trends. While EQT Ventures is not the only VC fund to use data analysis, it is notable both for the sophistication of the system and the size of the fund it helps to allocate.

About Laura Crest

With an educational background in journalism, Laura began her career as a professional writer and editor 35 years ago with an internship for a magazine while an undergraduate at Michigan State University. After the advent of the internet, Laura transferred her skills from print to digital with a small online consulting business specializing in SEO and content strategy. Since, she has also served as the blog writer, managing editor, and content curator for several small online businesses before joining Telsec Business Centres, where she continues to apply her expertise in content discovery and curation for small businesses.

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