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Weekly Business News Roundup

News Roundup for SME Businesses & Startups

2018 was a great year for retail, 2019 is another story

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Retail Outlook, after 2018’s retail performance that negated the prevailing notion of a “retail apocalypse”, 2019 looks to be a year of transition in a time of economic and geopolitical uncertainty. Among the key takeaways from Deloitte’s study cited by the author is that “legacy retailers must ensure that their brand position is clear, their data yields value and their loyalty programs are effective”.

She then shares in-depth insights from Deloitte’s report, noting that e-commerce received little attention (specifically, Amazon), and including this direct quote: “Opportunity abounds for retailers and entrants to capture share in the upcoming year. 2019 will likely require retailers to differentiate themselves in their investment strategy; the upcoming one to two years are unlikely to be a tide that lifts all boats.”

We’re terrible at predicting time, so do these things instead

In this article, the author discusses “planning fallacy”, which describes our common tendency to underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a project or task. The term was first coined in 1977 by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, she says, and Kahneman later expanded on the idea in his 2011 book, Thinking Fast and Slow. In it, he contends that time estimation mistakes can usually be attributed to two factors: failing to consider how long it’s taken us to complete similar tasks in the past, and assuming that we won’t run into any complications that will cause delays.

So how do you prevent falling victim to planning fallacy? The author shares six time estimation techniques, from using historical data and having someone else estimate for you to estimating in ranges (or building in time for delays) and using three-point estimations (best case, worst case, and most likely scenario estimates).

How to Make Your Startup Safe From Scammers

No matter the size of your business, if you conduct any part of it online, you’ll need to take cybersecurity measures to protect your company from scammers. Here, the author discusses at length the predominate scams affecting businesses, as well as four cybersecurity practices to implement to minimize the threat. He further addresses “the human factor”, and how to educate your employees about cybersecurity.

The 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2019, According to Bill Gates

For the past 18 years, MIT Technology Review has published an annual list of the 10 breakthrough technologies that it believes will have the most significant long-term impacts on society. For its 2019 list, Bill Gates helped curate the selections, with his predictions falling into three categories — climate change mitigation, healthcare, and artificial intelligence – and the corresponding breakthrough technologies that range from those that are hitting the commercial market to ones still in the research phase. The author then discusses how entrepreneurs are leading the change, as “a slew of startups are already busy tackling some of these technologies.”

How entrepreneurs navigate the difficult moments they’ll inevitably face

Ever wonder how entrepreneurs get through the tough times in business? Here the author discusses three tips based on the fifth episode of his “The ‘Oh Shit’ Moment” series of podcast interviews with entrepreneurs: you need to be obsessed with your idea; you can combat sheer terror with focus; and, don’t go it alone.

Funding Alternatives Change as Your New Venture Grows

Noting that entrepreneurs need support as their venture grows, from developing the initial idea to an exit strategy, the author advises startups to use their support resources wisely to minimize costs and wasted time, as well as to maintain their credibility to support progress to the next stage. He states, “the challenge is finding and using qualified affordable support organizations for each stage.” So what are these stages? He describes them from a funding and support perspective: idea; early or embryonic; funding or rollout; and finally, the growth and exit stage.

Avoid Elon Musk-Style Firing Sprees by Having Hard Conversations Sooner

Citing Wired’s account of Elon Musk’s firing spree of December 2018, in which he fired 700 employees out of frustration with low productivity and failure to meet standards, the author says, “Musk’s behavior is the polar opposite of how most managers handle unproductive employees.” He contends that leaders who allow employees to break rules with impunity may be just as bad, as failing to address bad behavior tacitly endorses it, adding “that those who struggle with confrontation must learn to have harder conversations.”

He then discusses “passive-aggressive leadership pitfalls’, before launching into his four tips to make hard conversations easier: plan to have private, comfortable talks; respond appropriately to emotional reactions; specify the issues at hand; and lastly, plan follow-ups to implement change.

How Warren Buffett Uses an Ancient Communication Tactic to Get His Ideas Across

Aristotle, who wrote, “To be a master of metaphor is the greatest thing by far”, would approve of how Buffett uses metaphors to explain his big-picture strategy. The author states that using metaphors to help people understand abstract concepts is simply a matter of relating a concept to another thing that people are familiar with. Citing Buffet’s 2018 Berkshire annual letter to shareholders, the author says the metaphor Buffett used was one familiar to most of us: forest and trees.

Specifically, he cites Buffett as saying that the details of Berkshire’s massive business collection are trees, and range from twigs to redwoods. Buffett added, “A few of our trees are diseased and unlikely to be around a decade from now. Many others, though, are destined to grow in size and beauty”.

4 Must-Have Leadership Qualities

There’s no shortage of lists, reports, and other material about what makes for great leaders. In closely studying their descriptions, the author contends that there really are just four qualities that are true must-haves to be a great leader: vision; perseverance; pragmatism; and charisma.

 

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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