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Business Incubator / What are the best practices for great partnerships?
« Last post by rakibul on July 18, 2019, 12:55:53 PM »
What are the best practices for great partnerships?
Obviously, this is not a quick, easy answer but we can outline the major conflicts that occur between startups and corporates during the incubation process. They are:

1.Speed of decision-making process
2.Evolving strategy on both sides
3.Misaligned expectations
4.Set goals

To manage these conflicts, it is a best practice for the corporation to set explicit and transparent long-term goals. The corporate should have an overriding consensus within their own company structure on the desired level of collaboration and incubation process and the objectives that must be achieved during incubation. Preferably set before the incubation process begins, this gives a clear set of corporate goals to both the startup and the incubation program. With this set of goals in mind, the three conflicts listed above can be avoided.

Grow the innovation ecosystem
A central objective of many incubation programs is the creation and maintenance of a local innovation ecosystem. The value of the ecosystem is ultimately regarded as an indicator of the incubation program’s success. By merging talent, investment, support, and guidance from corporates with young startups, the incubation program can further nurture the ecosystem to flourish and grow. In turn, the successful ecosystem attracts more corporates and more startups with successful paths to market.

Nurture the partnership
Business incubators and accelerators are facilitators of the fruitful collaboration between startups and corporations. The incubation programs that UBI Global works with are responsible for thousands of startups in over 70 countries around the world. Thanks to today’s technology, partnerships between startups, incubation programs and corporates can happen across the globe just as well as across the street. Incubation programs make sure a mutually beneficial relationship is established between startup and corporate.

Benchmark the Incubator
Through their own benchmarking system, the incubation program monitors key points in the progress of the relationship. What is important for both startups and corporates to remember is to look for incubation programs that offer value and engagement. An incubation program that only offers workspace without mentorship, guidance and resources is not a good value and will not contribute much to the success of the partnership.Corporates searching for an innovative startup partner need to work with UBI Global. We have done the work of gathering data, compiling benchmark studies and detailing the best practices of the top incubation programs in the world. By matching incubation programs with corporations hungry for innovation, UBI Global has been the catalyst of positive affiliations in almost every country.If your corporation is ready to lend their visibility and expertise in exchange for new, disruptive technology, UBI Global can guide you into the best incubation program and startup for your partnership in the innovation ecosystem.

Venture Capital / How Venture Capital Works
« Last post by rakibul on July 18, 2019, 12:02:54 PM »
How Venture Capital Works
Venture capital firms are without a doubt the muscle behind innovation as they support the company they may invest in, from the early stages, all the way to IPO — especially those with larger funds that have billions of dollars under management.

Defining the Roles at a VC
As described in my book, The Art of Startup Fundraising, VC firms have different types of individuals working at the firm.
The most junior people want to be analysts. These people are either MBA students in an internship or people that just graduated from school. The main role of analysts is to go to conferences and to scout deals that might be within the investment strategy of the fund that the VC firm is investing out of. Analysts are not able to make decisions, but they could be a good way to get your foot in the door and to have them introduce you to someone more senior within the firm. However, analysts are for the most part conducting research of the market and studying you and your competitors, so be careful with educating them too much.The most immediate position after the analyst is the associate. An associate could be either junior or senior. Associates tend to be people that come with a financial background and with powerful skills in building relationships. Associates do not make decisions in a firm but they can definitely warm up an introduction with individuals involved in the decision-making.

How The Second Chance Business Coalition Powers Second Chance Employment
Over associates, you will be able to find principals. They are senior people that can make decisions when it comes down to investments but they do not have full power in the execution of the overall strategy of the firm. A principal can get you inside the door and be your lead to help bring you through the entire process of receiving funding. Principals are those individuals that are close to making partner. They have power within the firm but cannot be considered the most senior within the firm.
The most senior people within a VC firm are above principals, and are called partners. Partners could be general partners or managing partners. The difference in the title varies depending on whether the individual just has the voice in investment decisions or may also have a say in operational decisions. In addition to investments, partners are also accountable for raising capital for the funds that the firm will be investing with.Lastly, venture partners are not involved in the day-to-day operations or investment decisions of the firm. Venture partners have a strategic role with the firm, mainly involving bringing new deal flow that they refer to other partners of the firm. Venture partners tend to be compensated via carry interest, which is a percentage of the returns that funds make once they cash out of investment opportunities.Another figure in a VC firm is the entrepreneur in residence (EIR). EIRs are mainly individuals that have a good relationship with the VC and perhaps have given the VC an exit, helping them earn cash. EIRs generally work for a year or so with the firm helping them to analyze deals that come in the door. Ultimately the goal of an EIR is to launch another start-up for positive investment.Investors of VC firms are called Limited Partners (LPs). LPs are the institutional or individual investors that have invested capital in the funds of the VC firm that they are investing off of. LPs include endowments, corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, wealthy families, and funds of funds.

The Process of Getting Funded by a VC
First and foremost, identify the VC that might be investing within your vertical. There are plenty of tools you can use to identify who might be a fit. (You can use Crunchbase, Mattermark, CB Insights, or Venture Deal.)Once you have your list of targets, you will need to see who you have in common and close to you who would be in a position to make an introduction. The best introductions come from entrepreneurs that have given good returns to the VC. VCs use these introductions as social proof and the stamp of approval on the relationship. The better the introduction is, the more chances you have of getting funded.As a next step to receiving the introduction, and in the event there is a genuine show of interest from the VC, you will have a call. Ideally you would want to go straight to the partner to save time, or the goal would be to get an introduction to the partner ASAP. If you are already in communication with the partner after the first call, he or she will ask you to send a presentation (also known as pitch deck) if the call goes well and there is interest.In this regard, I recently covered the pitch deck template that was created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here).  I also provide a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).After the partner has reviewed the presentation, she will get back to you (or perhaps her assistant) in order to coordinate a time for you to go to the office and to meet face to face. During this meeting, you’ll want to connect on a personal level and to see if you have things in common. The partner will ask questions. If you are able to address every concern well and the partner is satisfied then you will be invited to present to the other partners.
The partners meeting is the last step to getting to the term sheet. All the decision-making partners will be in the same room with you. Ideally the partner you have been in communication with has spoken highly of you, unless there have been issues (which you’ve hopefully covered by this time).You’ll receive a term sheet if you were able to satisfy the concerns put forward at the partners meeting. Remember that term sheet is just a promise to give you financing. It does not mean that you will get the capital. It is a non-binding agreement. If you want to dig deeper into term sheets I recommend reviewing the Term Sheet Template piece that I recently published on Forbes.Following the term sheet, the due diligence process begins. It will typically take a VC one to three months to complete the due diligence. Unless there are no major red flags you should be good to go, and receive the funds in the bank once all the offering documents have been signed and executed.

How VCs Monetize
VCs make money on management fees and on carried interest. Management fees are generally a percentage of the amount of capital that they have under management. Management fees for the VC are typically around 2%.The other side of making money is the carried interest. To understand this concept, carried interest is basically a percentage of the profits. This is normally anywhere between 20% and 25%. It is normally in the largest range if the VC is a top tier firm such as Accel, Sequoia, or Kleiner Perkins.In order to cash out and receive the carried interest, the VC needs to have the portfolio of each one of the funds making an exit, which means that the company is acquired or will through an IPO where investors are able to sell their position.Normally exits take between five to seven years if the company has not run out of money or the founders have run out of energy. Typically VCs want to sell their position within eight to 10 years, especially if they are early stage investors.
Start-ups are a very risky type of asset class and nine out of 10 will end up failing. For that reason, VCs will go for those companies with the potential of giving them a 10x type of return so that it can help them with the losses of other companies inside their portfolios. If you are not able to project these kinds of returns, a VC might not be the route to follow for financing.

VC Involvement with Your Company
VCs would like to have a clear involvement with your company in order to stay close to their investment and to have a say in major decisions that could impact their returns in the long run.With this in mind, VCs will normally buy in equity between 15% to 45% of your company. Normally in earlier stage rounds, it tends to be on the higher end but VCs need to be mindful of the stake they leave with the entrepreneur so that they are still motivated enough to stick around and to continue focusing on the execution.VCs will request board involvement in return for the investment that they are making in your company. There are two types of board levels. One will be the board of director seat in which they participate in major decisions of the company. This is especially important when it comes to future rounds of financing or merger and acquisition transactions (also called M&A).The other level of board involvement is what is known as board observer, which means they will have an open invitation to attend meetings without a vote. In my experience they still have a lot of influence. Below is an image comparing directors vs. observers.Most VCs say the main reason why an entrepreneur should consider working with a VC is because of the value they can bring to the overall strategy and execution of the business. However, that is far from true.You will need to do the due diligence in order to really understand if a VC is going to add value in addition to capital. This value can be introductions for potential partnerships, their network of other successful founders, or the infrastructure the firm brings.The infrastructure could be the most attractive part. VCs like Andreessen Horowitz or First Round Capital have a dedicated team of marketers, recruiters and other resources to bring into a company they invest in. Ultimately this helps in fueling the growth of the business.

Cutting Through the VC Noise
As a founder you want to ask the right questions, which will help you understand if the VC is truly interested in investing, or what style of partners you will be onboarding to your company after the financing round is closed.If the VC firm has not invested in more than 6 months in new companies, that indicates that the VC is having trouble closing their next fund or that they are in fundraising mode. If this is the case, move on to the next VC, otherwise the process will be put on hold. Closing a fund typically can take between 12 to 24 months. You always want to choose to work quickly. If you need a list of the most active VCs I recommend reading this other piece on Forbes that I recently published.Ask how they typically work with portfolio companies. Ask the VC to make an introduction to a few founders from companies that have gone out of business. These questions can provide a complete picture and see how they behave when they are on the other side of the mountain. During the dating phase everyone is happy without any worries so don‘t be mistaken as people change when there is money on the line.In addition, ask about allocations to the options pool for employees of companies your size. (This should be written out in the deal’s terms.) If you see they want to allocate over 20% on a seed round, or over 10% on a Series A, round of financing that could mean they may eventually want to replace the founding team.The deal flow funnel of a VC is typically what you will find represented on the image below. On average, out of 1,000 companies a partner ends up investing in 3 to 4 of them on a yearly basis. This means that only 0.2% companies receive VC financing.

Differences Between Venture Capital and Private Equity
There is confusion between these two types of investors. Venture capital firms tend to work throughout the life cycles of a company, all the way to the liquidity event, when the start-up either gets acquired or goes through an IPO.VCs are also very much involved in the operational structure. However, the main difference is that VCs invest in people with a greater degree of risk than a traditional private equity (PE) firm. PEs will go more for the numbers. They invest in businesses that are already formed, where the outcome is more predictable.PEs will often invest in growth stages and later rounds, so your start-up, if you are in the early stage, will most likely not be a fit. Wait until you are at a Series C or Series D round of financing before seeking funding from private equity.

Facebook / 10 Facebook Posting Tips to Improve Your Brand Awareness
« Last post by rakibul on July 15, 2019, 09:24:48 AM »
10 Facebook Posting Tips to Improve Your Brand Awareness

Every business knows that Facebook is integral to a successful marketing strategy. But creating a winning strategy on the platform takes more than tossing random piece of content onto your Page and hitting publish.The social network provides you with plenty of bells and whistles to help enhance your outreach strategy, but none of that matters if you don’t have a solid foundation to build upon. The content you publish sets the tone for your strategy, and without quality posts, you won’t be able to achieve your business objectives.While there’s no such thing as the perfect Facebook post, there are ways you can optimize your content for success. Here, we’re going to look at 10 Facebook posting tips to help you improve brand awareness:

1.Use Tags for Additional Reach
An excellent way to put your content in front of users is to tag others in your Facebook Post. This is perfect for cross promotion with business partners and collaborators. It’s also a chance for you to acknowledge individual fans or customers. User-generated content is huge. If you’re integrating it into your Facebook strategy, tagging the original poster in your re-post is a digital kudos.Now hold on just a minute. Doesn’t this encourage users to click through and visit other Profiles and Pages? Won’t it take valuable views away from your Page? It might seem that way on the surface, but tagging is a very smart strategy for Facebook marketers and here’s why: reach and engagement.Tagging other Pages puts your content in front of users that might not follow you, thus increasing your reach. If you tag another Page, there’s a chance that post will appear in the News Feed of someone who Likes the Page that’s being tagged. It also gives you an organic boost when it comes to Facebook’s algorithm, which is heavily influenced by social media engagement. A click on your post counts as engagement. So by users clicking the tagged Page in your post, they’re actually helping to deliver your content to more News Feeds.

2.Leverage Trends
Trending Topics on Facebook show you the topics that have recently become popular on the social network. Based on engagement and location, Trending Topics are a powerful way to connect people around a major event and help them to engage in meaningful conversations.Facebook posting tips like this will give you a glimpse of what’s being talked about and shared the most on the platform. One way you can get involved is by writing posts that are timely and include references—hashtags or keywords—to relevant trending topics.Influenced by real-time happenings around the globe, it can be difficult to know what’ll be trending from day to day. That and these topics will change depending on your. That said, there are some trends that are easy to predict. For example, the presidential debates, popular sporting events (such as the World Series) and awards shows are among some of the live events you can expect to see trending. You can even browse different Facebook Events to see what’s coming up.

3.Include Branded Hashtags, But Not Too Many
Hashtags play an important part in driving traffic to your Facebook Page. When used strategically within a post, they can also help you measure the reach and overall success of your marketing campaign. But while they certainly help with discover-ability, don’t go overboard.Research found that too many hashtags lower engagement, which can ultimately hurt your reach. In its study, posts with 1-2 hashtags averaged 593 interactions while posts with more than 10 hashtags averaged only 188 interactions.

4.Balance Stories & Promotions
Facebook is, without a doubt, a powerful marketing and sales tool, but not every post you publish needs to revolve around selling. Users want to see less promotional content and more stories from friends and Pages. A good content strategy will find a balance between promotional and non-promotional content.Your Facebook Page should be about your business and products, but when crafting your content strategy, remember the 80/20 rule—80% of your updates should be social in nature. Try to stay away from publishing posts that only push people to buy a product, enter a promotion or sweepstakes or that reuse the same content from ads.Instead, balance your promotional content with posts that are educational, entertaining or whimsical in nature. If you’re constantly selling, it doesn’t seem like you’re interested in building relationships or engaging in conversations with your customers.

5.Educate, Entertain & Repeat
Publishing posts for the sake of updating your Timeline isn’t a good approach when it comes to maintaining a successful content strategy. Instead, one of the better Facebook posting tips is to focus on creating content that fulfills your business objectives—remember those?The Facebook posts you publish should add value in some way. Aim for updates that are educational, entertaining or conversational. Once you’ve found a balance that works for you, repeat. Then you can monitor your posts and their performance to see if one particular type of content is resonating with viewers more than others.

6.Say More With Less
Consider this statistic for a second: The average adult’s attention span is only eight seconds, which is one second faster than a goldfish. Customers are inundated with messages and content on a daily basis. Ensuring your posts capture and hold the interest of viewers is crucial.On average, people read about 20-28% of the words in your post. When drafting your post, pay special attention to the first three to four words. Aside from any attached media you may have included, this is typically the first thing someone will notice about your update.Your Facebook Page isn’t your company blog. Although some people are warming up to long-form content on the social network, not everyone is. In fact, Facebook posts between 0-50 characters receive the most engagement. Another study found that posts with 40 characters or less perform the best in terms of engagement.Remember that you’re competing with updates from customers’ friends and families. Users will need a compelling reason to scroll past a friend’s update in favor of engaging with yours. Focus your energy on creating copy that’ll hook viewers and leave out unnecessary details.

7.Have More to Say? Use a Link
Not every message can be whittled down to a single sentence, and that’s okay. But you can’t assume that users will read through multiple paragraphs of text before reaching the call-to-action. Spoiler alert: they won’t. If you have a lot to say, then include a link in your Facebook post so people have the option of clicking through.Research by Quaintly found that links are the second most common type of content posted by Facebook Pages, accounting for 30% of posts worldwide. That percentage has likely shifted over time as photos, videos and links continue to compete for users’ attention. That said, Facebook is a consistent driver of referral traffic, responsible for about 40% of traffic sent to websites.

People are including links in posts in two ways:
In status updates where the link is the main focus of the post. In this case, the link appears with a large picture, a headline and some text that provides context on the link.

In the text captions above photos. When shared this way, the link appears as a URL without any context.Facebook found that people prefer to click links that are displayed in the link format rather than those included in link captions. The social network even prioritizes links displayed in the link-format within News Feed.The link format offers viewers additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which can influence whether someone wants to click through. As such, you must ensure that even your blog content is optimized for Facebook. Use strong headlines and leads.

8.Use Clear Calls-to-Action
You need to make it clear to users that you want them to do something and provide them with the necessary tools to do so. If your goal is to drive awareness and reach, then getting people to share your post should be a top priority. Creating compelling, high-quality content is the first step to meeting that objective. The second step is to tell viewers what you want.
In the case of shares, sometimes asking for what you want is the best approach. Posts that include the word “share” receive almost twice as many social actions (comments, likes and shares) compared to those that don’t.Just make sure that your call-to-action aligns with the copy included in your post. For example, if your post is all about the benefits that come from subscribing to your newsletter, your call-to-action shouldn’t encourage people to shop now or download an app. Every asset included in your post should support the main objective of that post.Here’s a great yet subtle example from Fitbit. This post is engaging because it appeals directly to viewers who feel like they need a little extra motivation or a challenge. It asks a direct question, provides a solution and links back to the campaign it’s promoting.

9.Use Original Photos
Posting photos is a great way to get attention from fans and drive engagement. Images account for 87% of the content shared on Facebook. This shouldn’t be surprising because images are much easier to digest than text. But not all images are created equal. When it comes to dressing up your business’ Facebook Page, focus on using original pictures rather than stock images.Facebook posts that contain original photos feel more personal and organic. One of the reasons you’re using social media in the first place is to humanize your brand and help your customers learn about the people behind the logo. If you’re relying on generic images, you’re actually working against that objective.Almost every, if not every employee has a smartphone. Leverage this by asking them to take some real pictures within their departments or while attending company-related events. Add these photos to your Facebook Page and use them in posts throughout your content cycle.And when it comes to images of your products, the occasional standalone product shot is acceptable, but spice things up a bit by showing people actually engaging with your product. Reach out to customers for some user-generated content and create a more compelling story for viewers.

10.Target Your Posts
Depending on what your goals are, you might want to publish something that will interest people of specific ages or genders, or in specific locations. The easiest way to control who sees your content is through targeting. Facebook’s Audience Optimization tool, which replaced the older Interest Targeting feature, provides you with an organic way to reach and engage select segments of your target audience.This is really important, especially for local businesses who want to appeal to people in specific locations. Getting started is very easy. If you have more than 5,000 Likes, Audience Optimization features were automatically turned on for your Page.

Investment Process / Types of Business Financing
« Last post by rakibul on July 14, 2019, 04:39:55 PM »
Types of Business Financing[/color]
Business owners have many choices when it comes to funding a business. With so many things to consider as well as many rules and regulations to follow, financing a business can be overwhelming. Breaking down the financing options into three basic categories helps identify the type of financing a business seeks. From there, the business leaders can seek out the best type of financing in that category based on their size, funding needs and financing worthiness.

Equity Financing: Equity financing is when people have the opportunity to take an ownership interest in the company. Publicly traded companies sell shares in public marketplaces called stock exchanges. When a company does this, they are offering ownership so that they can raise money for the company in an equity financing deal.But publicly traded companies aren't the only ones who offer stocks to raise money. In fact, if you opened a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), you would issue a designated number of shares when registering with the secretary of state. The original business owner or initial partners own the company stock, but they can issue shares to investors who are willing to take on the risk. Investors can be silent partners who are merely waiting for the value of the company to increase, so that they can participate in profits, or they are active partners helping to build or turn a company around.

Debt Financing: Debt suggests that you owe money. Even publicly traded companies take loans out or have debt instruments, such as a bond issued to investors. For most small businesses, debt financing means taking out some type of loan. How this is done really depends on the business size, the creditworthiness of the company or its leaders, and how much is needed.Many small businesses are started with a loan from a family member. This is common, but it can complicate family holiday meals, if the business is struggling. Another way a small business might start is to have an owner take out an equity loan against his personal home to use in the business. In cases like this, the business owner should take the additional step to properly lend the money from his personal finances to his business, to prevent commingling of assets.
Ideally, a business is able to obtain a business loan from a bank. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a variety of loan programs with different qualification programs and protections offered to lenders, to encourage business financing. Some businesses are also able to finance a business venture, using a business line of credit or business credit cards. The SBA offers free consultations to review business plans, history and lending options for business owners. This helps the business owner address potential financing issues before going through the process with the bank and getting declined.

Lease Financing: This option for financing is most widely used for machinery, office equipment and business automobiles. Lease financing is similar to a loan, in that payments are made monthly to an agreed-upon contract balance. However, at the end of the contract, the item leased is returned to the leasing party, and the business must enter into a new contract for new equipment. This is a good option when a business wants to ensure that it has updated and current models of equipment and machinery. It also helps in overall cash flow, since leasing options are usually less expensive than borrowing options.Problems of business finance arise when you don't meet the requirements in these types mainstream options.

Strategy and Planning / How Business Planning Leads to Better Management
« Last post by rakibul on July 13, 2019, 10:41:42 AM »
How Business Planning Leads to Better Management

In my experience leading dozens of business planning workshops in countries all over the world, I'd say only about 10% to 15% of teams I've encountered have an effective business planning process. Sounds low, doesn’t it? What many business owners fail to understand is that good planning equals good management.Let me explain. Planning is about managing resources and priorities in an organized way. Management is related to leadership, and it’s related to productivity.Here are three steps to get you planning better and, in turn, improving your management.

1.Devise a plan: As the business owner, you start by writing important details down. You don't need to sweat every detail of creating a long document. Instead, jot down essential points as bullets, and tables, and bare explanations. The strategy element of planning is to focus on what you’re good at, what matters, which people are most important to you and what you can do for them. It’s about positioning, determining your target market and product focus.It's important to document these details in order to communicate your vision to employees. If you don't have a team, there's value in referring back to your original thoughts regarding the path for your business and comparing them to actual results.

Related: 5 Ways to Kick-start Your Business Planning

2.Define success: In order to chart your path, you'll need to define long-term goals. Think broadly about how you see your business in several years.From there, get specific. You'll want to establish milestones for when you want to accomplish certain goals, and know who you will want to carry them out. Go beyond sales, costs and expenses, and look at what really drives your business. It might be conversions, page views, clicks, meals, trips, presentations, seminars and other engagements.Then, establish a review schedule -- when you and your team review changed assumptions, track results and make changes as necessary.

Related: Are You a Goal-Getter?

3.Put it in motion: Can you see the management brewing? Tracking and analyzing numbers can help you manage the work behind the numbers. You'll be in a better place to recognize and highlight what’s working and what isn’t working for your business and your team.Suppose traffic is up, but conversions are down. You collect your data, review it with your team and develop a plan to make changes toward reaching your goals. That's management.Managing your business successfully requires more than just praise and pats on the back. Sometimes it means focusing attention on problems, helping people solve them if possible, discussing and embracing mistakes, and, in the worst case, weeding out people who don’t care about bad results. This can all be accomplished more efficiently when you have a plan in place.

Related: How to Become a Master Problem Solver

Strategy and Planning / 10 Basic Strategies for Growing Your Business
« Last post by rakibul on July 13, 2019, 10:32:22 AM »
10 Basic Strategies for Growing Your Business

It’s not uncommon for businesses to get a bit ahead of themselves when it comes to growth opportunities. But you need to have the basics covered before you can really experience success. The tips below include some insights from members of our small business community about some basic business strategies you may have overlooked.

Say Thanks and Build Engagement
Thanking your customers isn’t just good manners. It can also be a way for you to boost engagement. This Process Street post by Benjamin Brandall explains how you can use your company’s thank you page to boost engagement among website visitors.

Establish a Realistic Work Schedule
You need to establish a schedule that allows you to put your all into your business without burning yourself out. Take lunch breaks, for example. You need to take a long enough break to recharge your batteries, but not so long that your work suffers. You can share how long you normally take for your lunch break in the poll in this Small Business Trends post by Executive Editor Shawn Hessinger.

Write Persuasive Business Content
If you use content as part of your marketing strategy, you need to learn to be persuasive. In this Enchanting Marketing post, Henneke Duistermaat shares some power words you can use to spruce up your content. You can also see discussion surrounding the post over on BizSugar.

Make Sure Your Content Stays On Brand
Content marketing can be a great way to get the word out about your business. But if you want to create content that’s part of a strategy and doesn’t confuse your customers, you need to keep it on brand. Scott Pittman of Reef Digital shares thoughts on keeping content on brand in this post.

Simplify the Payroll Process
Payroll is essential if you’re running a business with employees. But the process doesn’t need to be overly complicated. In this CorpNet post, Charles Costa includes some tips you can use to simplify the process of setting up and managing your business’s payroll.

Avoid These Blogging Mistakes
Blogging has been a popular content marketing tactic for businesses for years. But plenty of bloggers and entrepreneurs still make mistakes when it comes to blogging. Here, Mike Brown of The Blogging Buddha lists some of the most common blogging mistakes made by experienced bloggers and entrepreneurs. And BizSugar members comment on the post here.

Get Started With CRO
CRO, or conversion rate optimization, is an important part of running an ecommerce business. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Even newbie business owners can get started with CRO using the tips in this Search Engine Journal post by Andrew Raso.

Avoid Offering Review Incentives
Positive online reviews can be very beneficial to your business. But that doesn’t mean you should offer incentives to your customers to leave them. As Mike Blumenthal points out in this GetFiveStars post, there can actually be several downfalls of seeking positive reviews with incentives.

Don’t Underestimate the Appeal of Snapchat
Social platforms like Snapchat can gain popularity really quickly. And in those cases, you don’t want to realize the viability of a platform too late. In this Better Than Success post, Ileane Smith shares why Snapchat’s appeal is spreading beyond just millennials. And BizSugar members discuss the post further here.

Use Employee Referral Incentives to Build Engagement
Building a great team is an essential part of running many types of businesses. And if you want to build a team that’s actually engaged with your business, you might consider utilizing employee referral programs. McKenzie Stephens of Marketing Innovators details how those programs can benefit businesses here.

How can countries take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution?

The economy is in a restructuring process. Technology-led transformations are no longer limited to technology-related sectors and are beginning to affect structural sectors, including manufacturing, retailing, transportation and construction. Disruptions of business models are surging from a fragmented network of entrepreneurs and innovators. Cognitive skills are increasingly being replaced by technology-led productivity, affecting labor supply in both developing and developed countries. In turn, creativity and social skills are becoming more important and more valuable than ever before. This process has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Countries that are less prepared to adapt to these structural changes will suffer in their competitiveness. As much as 80 percent of the productivity gap between developed and emerging economies can be explained by the lag in transitioning to technology-led changes from previous economic restructuring processes (for example, the 18th-  and 20th-century industrial revolutions). Automation is reducing the cost of traditional labor-intense industries (reducing costs relative to labor by 40 percent to 50 percent since 1990), shifting the cost structures that benefited emerging economies. Trade is shifting increasingly to digital goods and services. Knowledge-intensive flows of trade are already growing about 30 percent faster than capital-  and labor-intensive trade flows. Jobs are also being affected, with routine cognitive functions being affected the most, while providers of intellectual and physical capital benefitting disproportionately.

There are also opportunities stemming from this widespread diffusion of technology and transformational changes. Entrepreneurship and innovation is becoming affordable and de-localized. The innovation model of large capital-intense laboratories (e.g., Bell Labs) is not the most effective one anymore. Instead, open innovation (the process whereby large firms co-create innovation with entrepreneurs and other actors, instead of having an internal process) and innovation emerging from startups are increasing. Tech startup ecosystems have emerged in cities worldwide, in both emerging and developed economies, disrupting traditional business and creating new industries. This results in local innovation and business models that can be appropriated by the domestic economies. These ecosystems also generate new sources of jobs emerging from the structural changes produced by technology.

In 2014, I wrote a working paper in which I described the signs of this economic transformation and the policy areas that countries can develop to take advantage of the forces stemming from this transformation:

1.Adapting education to provide practical skills for a predominantly knowledge-based economy,
2.Promoting the development of local innovation ecosystems,
3.Fostering entrepreneurship that creates new sectors and businesses, and
4.Creating innovation networks and collaborative environments (for example, innovation labs) that will help existing core and traditional industries to remain competitive.
These recommendations were based on a foresight analysis and the collection of emerging policies that were being applied by leading policymakers across the world at that point. Time has confirmed the validity of these recommendations.

These policy areas guided my work over the last two years supporting startup ecosystems, the absorption of startup innovation in local economies, and the provision of 21st-century technological skills. In future blog posts, I will explore some of this work with practical examples. I would welcome your comments and suggestions.
Startup / Challenges in the ecosystem
« Last post by sabbir on July 11, 2019, 10:43:54 AM »
Challenges in the ecosystem

As with all new communities, the startup community of Bangladesh has quite a few challenges to deal with. The following among them stand out:

Lack of Innovation: There is a conspicuous lack of useful innovations as most startups tend to mimic successful foreign startups without taking into consideration the differences in market dynamics. There is a tendency to replicate successful ideas instead of culturing an innovator’s mindset.
Knowledge gap: The education system is not built on greater analytical process, multidisciplinary thinking and creative methods of problem solving. Furthermore, potential innovators often lack technical expertise, knowledge of product development and multidisciplinary business approach. Participants in many accelerator programs have also complained about how the programs suffer from a lack of proper organization, procedural inefficiency and a lack of variety in the activities they run.
Information gap: There exists a lack of access to information at market access levels and a lack of linkage between academia and industry. An absence of network immersion into the problems faced by communities and testing prototypes result in unrealistic innovations.
Infrastructure gap: There is an absence of an integrated support system stemming from the lack of incubation and coordination between stakeholders in the ecosystem. There are also bureaucratic difficulties that often hinder proper execution of plans and thus fail to achieve the goals of the startup.
Financial gap: There is no financial support for testing ideas (early stage grants) and negligible access to seed, angel, and other investment support.
Stakeholder gap: While many institution and organizations are keen on supporting social innovations, they often operate in silos.
Leadership and cultural gap: The lack of empathetic role models and a cultural mindset that leans heavily towards the conventional, risk-averse careers discourage youth to pursue social entrepreneurship.
Mindset gap: What is often forgotten is that innovation is not only about doing something different; it also has to be scalable to have an actual impact. Most startups fail primarily because of how they don’t pay enough attention to this crucial aspect and quickly run out of resources. Hence, a number of short-term solutions exist but tangible growth remains invisible.

How can you contribute to the ecosystem?
Being a part of the community as an entrepreneur means that your responsibility is to contribute to the growth of a robust ecosystem that will in turn benefit all. The idea is that the whole ecosystem is always more than the sum of its individual parts, and the stronger it is, the more everyone gains.

Entrepreneurs should also be educators to effect the sort of cultural change that creates change-makers, and for this, they themselves must possess an innovator’s mindset. In his book about the Innovator’s mindset, George Couros lays out 8 salient traits, including being empathetic and reflective, that are important to excel as educators and innovators.

As most high-achievers in universities aim to work at MNCs or high paying jobs, partnerships with universities can be formed to groom and attract young talents who can address this recruitment issue that most Bangladeshi startups face.

Corporations / 8 Pros and Cons of Corporations
« Last post by rakibul on July 11, 2019, 10:37:59 AM »
8 Pros and Cons of Corporations

In forming a business, there are several things to consider, such as capital, target market and location. Apart from these, an aspiring entrepreneur has to make one important decision. What business form does he have in mind?There are three choices: single proprietorship, partnership and corporation. In this particular discussion, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of a corporation. While all forms of business have advantages and disadvantages, corporations tend to be more complicated and it will help to know the positive and negative views of supporters and critics.

List of Pros of Corporations
1.Security of Personal Assets
Advocates for corporations posit that this is the safest and most effective business form in terms of protecting your personal assets and properties. This is because if and when a corporation goes bankrupt, the personal savings and other finances of the owners will not be affected. If the business owes money, creditors will go after the business.

2.Business Continuity
Business people who prefer corporations say that even if the owner or owners and shareholders leave the corporation or if owners die and the business is going great, it can still continue to be in operation except for some documents that need to be filed. Other than that, corporations will still continue to exist.

Corporations have the potential to grow and expand because of the presence of investors who will join the company with their money and skills. Moreover, corporations are more likely to attract more potential investors. The more investors are there, the more credibility a corporation has.

4.Stock Options
Larger corporations give options to employees to own stocks and this can motivate more potential high performing employees to apply and join the these corporations.

List of Cons of Corporations
1.More Complicated
Unlike Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships where owners are limited, corporations require more people and the process is more complex, in terms of requirements, documentations and operations. Articles of Incorporation should be prepared, investors should be convinced and lawyers should be hired. Corporations are also more expensive to set-up and bigger capital is needed to run these company.

2.Tax Liabilities
Another disadvantage of corporations is in terms of tax liabilities. Larger corporations have shareholders need to pay taxes for any earnings they receive and the profits from sales will be taxed. That said, taxes will be higher and investors will end up paying more taxes as opposed to sole proprietors and partners who are receiving salaries instead of dividends. This is on top of having to get professional help from experts like lawyers and accountants.

3.Government Regulations
Compared to Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships, corporations have to comply with more regulations of different government agencies. These requirements include environmental compliance, tax regulations, and insurance policies. Moreover, larger corporations have many employees. This means that there will be more risks for potential legal problems related to work as well as insurance claims.

4.Too Many Decision-makers
Corporations have many people involved, such as directors, presidents, investors and shareholders. When it comes to making decisions, the process might be long since there are many people to decide.Corporations offer benefits but there is also a flipside to this. It may work on some businesses but may not be advisable to some. Potential business owners should research and look at the pros and cons of setting up a corporation before deciding on it.


Startup / What does the Bangladeshi startup ecosystem look like?
« Last post by sabbir on July 11, 2019, 10:36:27 AM »
What does the Bangladeshi startup ecosystem look like?

Techinasia estimates put the number of startups in Bangladesh at about 280, an overwhelming majority of which are Dhaka-based. There is a predominance of software development and ecommerce startups, the former reinforced by the popularity of engineering degrees in the country, and the drive towards ICT and greater digitization in the form of the highly publicized projects like Digital Bangladesh. Consumer base in the country comprises of a growing middle class and a demographic that prefers the convenience of online shopping, explaining the popularity of ecommerce startups.

Despite the glut of the above mentioned startups, there are also more innovative ones with interesting offerings. Examples include startups like Maya Apa, a service that aims to provide accessible healthcare information to women, and 10 Minute School, an online education platform that is providing free classes on subjects ranging from standard 1 to University to anyone with an internet connection.

The novelty of the idea of a startup community in Bangladesh means that the ecosystem has not yet developed into the more complex symbiotic inter-web that more evolved startup ecosystems have. There are, however, quite a few mentors and experts currently operating in the community. There is also a growing network of venture capitalist firms, and accelerator programs to support startups. The government has also launched initiatives like the Digital World in 2014, which aims to facilitate economic growth through technology, and the iDEA Project, that provides working space and other forms of assistance to selected startups.

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