How to Deliver More Authentic Customer Experiences

You may not be able to control what your customers say about you, but you can certainly influence it. October 18, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Every time someone from your company speaks with a customer, that customer receives an experience that falls somewhere between “exceptional” and “exceptionally awful.” Get it right, and customers will talk to their friends about you. Get it wrong, and they’ll talk even louder. Findings from Temkin Group discovered that consumers talk about both great and horrible customer experiences — but in every situation, they spread the bad more than the good. Even when customers stay silent, they’re more likely to keep a “very good” (34 percent) customer experience to themselves than a “very bad” one (27 percent). You may not be able to control what your customers say about you, but you can certainly influence it. The […]

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How Entrepreneurs Can Avoid Waste.

Startups need to keep up with the competition, but not all new innovations are a good fit. September 6, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Startups are the perfect customers for technology companies. They’re eager to grow, they need to keep up with their competitors and they’re open to new ways of doing things. Entrepreneurs themselves are often attracted to anything shiny and new; there’s not much convincing to be done. But therein lies the rub: They’re startups. Fledgling businesses often have a limited number of employees and an even more limited budget. That means that enterprise systems or big-budget packages are out of reach or impractical, no matter how appealing they may be. That sometimes doesn’t stop entrepreneurs from pulling the trigger. Research-and-advisory company Gartner predicts that IT spending will hit $3.8 trillion this year. If all of that technology was necessary, it would be […]

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4 Trends in Sales Tech That Will Determine Success in 2020

Don’t bother learning about what the tech can do until you have a firm grasp on what you really need done. July 18, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Everyone wants to sell more, but not everyone does succeeds. With so many new sales tools flooding the market, growing companies struggle to distinguish the genuinely helpful from the borderline useless. No company has unlimited time and money to test every tool to determine which ones work best. Instead of following the process of elimination, businesses should work to improve specific areas within their sales processes. Focusing on function helps sales leaders organize their priorities to determine which tools they need and which they can live without. Consider the following trends in sales technology and how your business could benefit from smarter tools: 1. Relevance beats variety. Why do sales technology companies insist on packing […]

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3 Ways Machine Learning Can Help Entrepreneurs

July 11, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Until a decade or so ago, artificial intelligence was — for most Americans — something that existed only in the movies. Now, Alexa and Google Home have moved into numerous households and live only to please. According to many reports, 2019 will be the year of AI. A recent McKinsey Global survey found that 47 percent of companies have implemented at least one AI capability into their business processes, more than doubling the 20 percent that reported using AI the previous year. Artificial intelligence can be the difference maker in an entrepreneur’s business, providing everything from customer support to automated supervision of assembly lines. AI never takes a break, never clocks out, never takes a day off. Still, the common belief that artificial intelligence will cheat people out of jobs or make some positions obsolete may be […]

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4 Things Leaders Misunderstand About Performance Reviews

Workers crave feedback, but feedback loops often go wrong. June 18, 2019 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Once a workplace staple, the performance review is on trial. From startups to large firms like Accenture, leaders are wondering whether formal performance reviews are worth it. The data doesn’t paint a rosy picture. When management research firm CEB studied the subject, it found just one in 20 managers was satisfied with how his company conducted performance reviews; only one in 10 HR executives believed performance reviews produced accurate information. The problem, though, isn’t with performance appraisals themselves. Almost universally, the people I’ve worked with want to know where they stand at work. For their part, companies want to help workers see their strengths and shore up their weaknesses. No, the problem is that company leaders often forget four important facts about them: 1. Role-specific skills are only part […]

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No One Knows It But These 3 Industries Now Depend on AI

AI is revolutionizing industries across the board, including ones nobody expected. But it’s a sign of the times — and the times to come. June 15, 2019 3 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Not every AI-loving company operates in logistics, marketing or healthcare. Artificial intelligence isn’t picky about which industries it revolutionizes, and many niches have already embraced automation. Given the global value of AI, it’s no surprise the tech is spreading. Statista estimates that worldwide AI revenue will hit $90 billion by 2025. With so much wealth to go around, no industry is safe from disruption. Sooner or later, artificial intelligence will be table stakes in every industry. A few sectors you might not expect are leading the way: Related: What Every Entrepreneur Must Know About Artificial Intelligence 1. Beauty and skincare. Consumers can’t seem to get enough of sustainability and personalization. In the beauty […]

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4 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Building an MVP

Every entrepreneur gets personally attached to his or her product. Only some of them, though, see how dangerous that is. June 10, 2019 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Every entrepreneur gets personally attached to his or her product. Only some of them, though, see how dangerous that is. Although minimum viable products do get concepts to market faster, that’s only part of their purpose. MVPs also serve as gut checks for entrepreneurs, preventing them from pouring money into their grand idea before giving the market so much as a peek. By minimizing entrepreneurs’ upfront investment and generating feedback, MVPs prevent costly, emotion-driven mistakes. But while “minimum viable product” might sound self-explanatory, too many entrepreneurs misunderstand or outright skip the MVP. And unless their investors are exceptionally forgiving, startups only get one shot. If they build a start-to-shelf product that flops, it’s too late to […]

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How to Identify and Nurture the Leadership Potential of Your Employees

Your company’s future leaders are probably right under your nose. Here’s how to sniff them out — and help them grow into the role. May 24, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Think about the best leader you’ve ever had at any point in your life. It might be your current boss; it could be a volunteer coordinator from college. It might even be your high school football coach. He or she embraced the characteristics of a capable and inspiring leader, no matter his or her profession. The task of identifying leaders challenges every company. That’s why it’s important to encourage every member of your team to think like a leader, no matter what job title he carries. If you wait to coach someone on leadership until he eventually occupies a managerial position, you’ll be too late. You should be teaching your employees to be leaders from day one. […]

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How to Push Your Company to Digital Maturity

Starting a digital transformation is easy. Seeing it through to completion is a lot harder. Here’s how to navigate the circuitous voyage to digital maturity. April 25, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. What happens after digital transformation? If you play your cards right, you achieve digital maturity. And that’s an achievement worth pushing for: According to research from Deloitte, half of digitally mature organizations report higher net profit margins and increased revenue compared to the industry average. Clearly, there are advantages to nailing a tech-first approach. Digital transformation involves a series of steps that build on one another, as tech is adopted and implemented with the end goal of creating a digitally mature organization. The first step is to analyze whatever incidental assets might already be supporting digital transformation — using shared data or integrated communication platforms, for example. After that comes an […]

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3 Ways to Build the Rewards Program Customers Want

To earn your customers’ devotion, remember that loyalty is a two-way street. To get it, you’ve got to give it. April 18, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Every business aims for its customers’ loyalty, but how much loyalty do you show them back? It can take years of hard work to do that, but it’s well worth it. According to a recent report by Bain & Company, customer loyalty has a major impact on a company’s bottom line. The report states that in the financial services industry, for example, firms that retain just 5 percent of their customers increase their profits by 25 percent or more.        Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to lose that loyalty. Last year, InMoment’s annual “CX Trends Report” found that nearly a quarter of consumers get angry after a bad experience, and they’re four times more likely […]

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3 Ways to Discover a Business Idea That Works

A business idea doesn’t have to blow people’s minds, but it can’t make their eyes glaze over, either. Here are three ways to find your entrepreneurial sweet spot. April 1, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. There are plenty of good business ideas floating around, and not all of them are unique. In fact, new companies successfully go to market in saturated industries all the time, and most aren’t especially disruptive. Some just take advantage of a humongous market. Entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space, for instance, know that people will always be hungry and thirsty. Most consumers have countless options to choose from when they want to meet these basic needs, but if a new product stands out — whether because of superior taste, branding or nutrition — they’ll often reach for it. Or take the multibillion-dollar market for razors. Entrenched players […]

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5 Quick-Thinking Solutions That Saved Durable Businesses

No matter how well you plan or how far ahead you think, unexpected expenses and market shifts will catch you out. Then thinking on your feet alone will determine whether your company survives. March 20, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Emergencies and unexpected developments are part of being an entrepreneur. No matter how well you plan or how far ahead you think, you’ll eventually be forced to pay an unexpected expense, deal with an equipment malfunction, or face the consequences of a full-staff departure. There are always ways around these challenges, whether you take out a short-term loan or hire temporary workers. But how you respond to these challenges will define you and shape your business for years to come. Related: 5 Preventable Disasters That Have Ruined Countless Startups Take inspiration from these successful businesses, all of which were saved from a risky situation, […]

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4 Reasons LinkedIn Has Become Indispensable to Business Leaders

No longer just a place for professionals to connect, LinkedIn has really become the backbone of the global business community. March 15, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has come a long way. Originally little more than a Facebook for the working world, the professional social network now boasts more than 575 million members. Along the way, it’s become a top recruiting platform, a must-have for marketing, a networking platform and a saving grace for salespeople. But LinkedIn’s legacy isn’t written just yet. In fact, the social media platform’s future looks brighter than ever. Media consultancy 4C reported last August that the only social media platform to beat Instagram’s 204 percent year-over-year growth in ad spend was LinkedIn, which posted a 212 percent jump over the same period. For all other social platforms, 4C found that ad spend grew […]

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How to Look Beyond Your First Venture to Create Sustainable Success

The hardest thing for entrepreneurs isn’t finding success — it’s holding on to it. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. When we start on our entrepreneurial journey, most of us don’t see past the first business. We just see what’s in front of us. That’s not a bad thing. You should be intently focused on making your first venture work. There’s always the distraction of new technologies, new industries and new tactics to reach consumers. The idea you start your journey with is rarely the same idea you implement when you reach your destination. You see people thriving in areas like AI and blockchain, and it’s easy to want to jump on those trends, too. But the hardest thing for entrepreneurs isn’t finding success — it’s holding on to it. Consumers change, technology changes, our culture changes. Motorola had a great idea and the hottest phone in 2006 […]

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3 Essentials for Building a Loyal Customer Base

Contrary to popular belief, brand loyalty is alive and well — but you do have to earn it first. January 20, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. With consumers having the ability to research, compare and purchase products and services on the fly, it’s easy to believe that brand loyalty is an ancient concept. Yet according to a recent survey of consumers, more than 90 percent of them consider themselves highly loyal to their preferred brands. Not surprisingly, the quality of products and services was the leading factor in that loyalty. Consumers won’t repeatedly purchase products or rely on services from a company that keeps letting them down. Good deals and customer service also contributed, but consumers’ level of interaction with a brand outside of sales also weighs heavily in their loyalty. In the survey, 80 percent of consumers considered themselves loyal after just […]

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Here’s How to Know When You Should Outsource

Sure, outsourcing can help you cut costs, but smart companies are asking it to do more. January 2, 2019 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. These days, outsourcing helps companies of all sizes shore up skills gaps in their teams, boost efficiency and sharpen their focus. And companies that opt to outsource won’t be at a loss for qualified candidates. More than one in three workers in the U.S. freelance, according to Betterment’s 2018 “Gig Economy and the Future of Retirement” report, and that number is predicted to reach 40 percent by 2020. In addition, because freelancers can complete projects from anywhere on the planet, business leaders don’t need to shell out a lofty sum for travel and expenses. Thanks to technology, outsourcing has become an affordable option — especially for smaller companies and entrepreneurs with little capital to burn. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll […]

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5 Business Trends That Will Continue to Rise in 2019

As 2019 approaches, entrepreneurs are wondering: Do New Year’s resolutions have a role in business? December 26, 2018 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. On one hand, year-on-year improvements are what makes companies great; on the other, firms can’t control many of the factors that dictate whether, say, revenue rises or not. The efforts of one person (or even one company) can’t counter 2019’s industry trends or the broader overall economic picture. Related: 4 Offline Revenue Opportunities to Pursue in the New Year At present, however, it seems safe to make those resolutions: According to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest forecast, the national gross domestic product will grow by 2.5 percent in 2019, with inflation decreasing a tenth of a point to an even 2 percent. The only obvious challenge for growing firms is the dropping unemployment rate, which may hit a record 3.5 percent […]

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What Businesses With a Nontraditional Approach Must Do Differently When Expanding

Nontraditional brands looking to move abroad have to consider the uniqueness of the market they’re entering — as well as the uniqueness of what they can offer. December 26, 2018 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Global expansion is scary for a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses. However, for the right company and industry, it’s a must to impact the highest number of people and build a successful company — or survive. I’ve looked at hundreds of different companies, from startups to Fortune 500s, to learn which approaches work best for a company tackling global expansion. A successful example I saw recently came from an event discovery platform called Surkus. I’ve put on some bigger events, and the most frustrating problem I’ve encountered is the list of no-shows: Rates can range between 10 percent and 50 percent, according to most experts. Surkus aims to connect […]

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Successful Leaders Embrace the Evolution of the Industries

Business agility is the future. Here’s how to stop living in the past. November 28, 2018 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Organizations are taking a closer look at agility these days, and I’m not talking about the Lakers, Celtics or Spurs. Agile companies are at a distinct advantage in almost every industry because they can react to the only constant in business — change. The experts at McKinsey agree, declaring in a summary to an October 2018 report that “surviving and thriving in today’s environment depends on making a fundamental transformation to become more agile.” Agile companies are the ones embracing the Darwinian principle “adapt or die.” In today’s disruptive business climate, agility is absolutely essential. Entire markets are changing rapidly, and for a company to have any hope of keeping up or getting ahead, the conventional bureaucratic structure isn’t going to cut it. […]

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5 Ways Ecommerce Brands Create Strong Communities

Consumers have their pick of online retail sites. Make yours irresistible to even the most skeptical of the bunch by forging a tight-knit community of brand supporters. November 20, 2018 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. If survey research by Forrester is any indication, brands have to make up some serious ground with skeptical customers. Consumers show an increased reluctance to give loyalty to companies. In fact, they’re being downright stingy when it comes to offering repeat business and referrals, and online businesses are granted no exception. Fortunately, retail businesses don’t have to take it on the chin, especially when the National Retail Federation predicts that holiday shoppers are ready to spend 4.1 percent more than last year. So how can ecommerce retailers drum up more business this season? Brands that are laser-focused on winning customers and influencing prospects have a secret weapon. It’s called […]

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