Big data isn’t just for big business anymore, thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Now medium to small-scale businesses can leverage big data solutions to make better informed decisions and achieve greater operational efficiency. Here’s an overview of eight ways your business can reap the benefits of AI and IoT, from empowering business management teams and increasing staff efficiency to formulating low-risk, data-driven action plans and identifying business opportunities.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), legislation that was recently enacted by the European Union (EU) last month, provides guidance on how to prevent, prepare for, and handle data breaches for EU citizens. But as the author explains in this article, it represents a new international paradigm in digital commerce that even small businesses, no matter their geographic location, should adjust to – even if they don’t intend to do business with those in the EU. While it may not seem important now, it’s more than likely that a blanket set of standards will be adopted in the future with the steady increase in globalization and its attendant data security issues.
In this narrative, the author lays out her practical strategy for dreaming that’s neither too big or too small, but (you guessed it) for dreaming that’s “just right” in terms of projecting where you want your business to be in X time. Drawing on the premise that in any company, the CEO should be strategizing three to five years out but executing one year in, she relates that she’d regularly have a “strategy date” with herself where she’d methodically answer critical questions (she enumerates eight), then chart her answers on a spreadsheet. She advises being as specific as possible with your answers, using numbers whenever it makes sense or highly descriptive words, to force yourself to be clear on where you’re trying to go. Rather than starting with today, she encourages business owners to “dream big first” with where you’d like to be five years’ out, then go backwards in time to where you need to be in four years, progressing down to six months, three months, then today, to achieve your five-year goal.
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you take out a business loan and find yourself in the enviable position of being able to pay it down or pay it off completely before the date outlined in your contract, you may find yourself subject to a prepayment penalty. Why? Because, in such instances, the lender will lose out on the interest they were expecting to charge for the full term of the loan. The most typical instance of this kind of loan structure is the traditional term loan, which usually come with fixed interest rates and monthly payments, and the longest repayment terms available. There’s also different prepayment penalties attached to this kind of loan: flat rate, straightforward penalty, and sliding scale penalty.
Besides these factors, there are other pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about paying off your business loan early. Regardless, the best advice is to read the proverbial fine print before entering into an agreement with your lender, and also ask about their policies on prepayment penalties to allow you the greatest flexibility for loan repayment.
Once your business starts to grow, inefficiencies can creep into its day-to-day operations. According to the market research firm IDC, companies lose 20 to 30% of their revenue to inefficiencies every year. To combat inefficiencies, here are four tips to optimize your internal processes and create scalable workflows: streamline common HR processes with software (the author suggests a couple of products); invest in leaders, then trust them; provide much-needed backup to your customer service team, such as AI-powered chatbots for the run-of-the-mill-questions; and lastly, hold fewer meetings, then make them shorter.
CRM software is an important tool for businesses to manage new and existing customer contact details, and much more: a CRM system is a one-man army for your business to manage the entire operations of the sales, marketing and customer service departments. There are common sense considerations to weigh when choosing a CRM system, such as the size of your business, as well as financial ones around costs and subscription pricing models. You’ll want to invest in a CRM solution which is compatible with third-party applications, and is scalable for future needs.
What is “EQ”? It stands for emotional intelligence, and the author states that having a high degree of it makes or breaks a person’s success in business rather than their IQ. He advances three facts “that every successful person seems to remember”: EQ trumps IQ (“People buy emotions, not products. Teams rally around missions, not directives. Entrepreneurs take on incredible challenges because of passion, not logic.”); a sense of humility goes a long way; and perhaps most importantly, that it all comes down to grit, which he defines as resilience and strength of character.
An old industrial building in downtown Toronto is set to become the first mixed-use light manufacturing and residential development in North America. Spanning 390 – 440 Dufferin, the site is slated to be developed into three distinctive buildings, two for rental apartments and retail, and the third for 60,000 sq. ft. of light-manufacturing space. Of that, 14,500 sq. ft. will be dedicated to a light-manufacturing incubator providing a supportive and affordable space for entrepreneurs seeking to establish businesses in Toronto. The City has issued a request-for-proposals for not-for-profit or post-secondary institutions interested in establishing and operating the incubator, backed by a range of benefits to potential supporters.
With the increases in hacking and internal data breaches, USB security has become increasingly important, and businesses are turning to USB port blocker software for protection. USBs can transfer data that can harm your organization’s files, or can be used to steal your data. USB port blocker software can prevent this from occurring. Encrypted USB devices won’t fully secure your network, but limiting them based on your domain membership and workgroups should keep your data safe.
If you’re looking into technology for your business, be sure it’s not only a good fit for your business needs, but also that you fully understand the risks and rewards. So how do you choose tech advancements to move your startup forward? Here are four tips to use as a starting point: if you already monitor your rivals, see what technology they’re leveraging; think it over carefully to see that the tech you’re considering is right for your clients/customers; do your due diligence in weighing the benefits and costs when investing in one tech over another; and don’t rely on your technology overmuch, but balance it with a human component. The best strategy for business growth is to bring technology and human capabilities together to meet consumer needs.