Digitization of Assets Is Altering Companies’ Competitive Advantages

And why frictionless payment methods have to become the norm. March 27, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Convenience has a new name: frictionless. Consumers are favoring companies that provide streamlined online buying experiences. Think Amazon’s one-click purchase (perhaps the world’s most frictionless checkout process) and Facebook’s proposed Libra non-sovereign currency. Digital, social and ecommerce are ushering an age of electronification of products and currencies. Of course there’s political resistance to some of these fintech innovations — incumbents are using entrenched lobbyists to slow the pace of change. But companies want to mazimize customer satisfaction, which is the no. 1 priority for businesses from a sales standpoint, according to Salesforce’s annual State of Sales report. The digitization of tangible things includes fungible (e.g. gold) and non-fungible goods (e.g. artwork). The transformation of real assets to tokens is disrupting many sectors, including the $2 trillion global payments industry. This makes […]

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Minimize the Financial Impact of COVID-19 Through Effective Negotiation

Managing at-risk contracts will take discipline, mindfulness and commitment to a vision that extends beyond this moment. March 19, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. As the world deals with the magnitude of the COVID-19 virus, we find our daily lives transformed in ways we never thought possible. Businesses are experiencing a period of growing uncertainty. All signed contracts seem to be at risk. Many organizations are restricting travel, limiting employee congregations and are even having their teams work from home. In an instant, a world that we thought couldn’t get more virtual did just that.  We’re being faced with the new challenge of running our businesses without any face-to-face interactions. How do we stay connected to our clients, suppliers and employees while distancing ourselves from each other for public and personal safety? How do we minimize damage to everything we’ve worked so hard to build? […]

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3 Ways Alternate Lending Is Driving the Future of Finance

It’s a gold mine that’s changing the rules of finance and opening up new opportunities. March 18, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Alternate finance is a rapidly growing industry, fueled by constant innovations in fintech and growing investment awareness. This is a marked departure from the past, when investment was the province of large financial institutions and wealthy individuals.  There are many forms of alternate finance, from peer-to-peer platforms to ones that are more akin to institutional lenders, but with much more flexibility. The lending formats are very diverse as well, ranging from mortgages and payday loans to loans disbursed in cryptocurrency. For entrepreneurs and investors, alternate lending is a gold mine that’s changing the rules of finance and opening up new opportunities, starting with these three. Profitable Investments The evolution of alternative lending has moved from the days when it was mostly dominated by peer-to-peer platforms […]

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6 Savvy Ways to Diversify Your Investment Portfolio

Follow these simple steps and you’ll reap financial success. March 12, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Anyone who has studied finance, even for just one day, could tell you that building a diversified investment portfolio is critical to success, primarily by minimizing risk and maximizing opportunity. Nevertheless, smart diversification is easier said than done. Your investment strategy now could determine your financial success for years to come. Making the wrong diversification choices can easily end up being just as risky as not diversifying at all. So how can you gear your portfolio toward financial success? These six tips might help. 1. Quality over quantity Simply claiming a large number of investments doesn’t necessarily mean your portfolio is properly diversified. If you typically focus on U.S.-based stocks located, you may want to expand outward into bonds and international opportunities. Two of the most important factors in building variety are value […]

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The 1 Reason You Should Never Buy Individual Stocks

In these volatile markets, it’s important to remember what your business really is. March 11, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. About 20 years ago, I bought some shares of a publicly held company. I will never do so again. Said company, which is still around, sells handheld point-of-sale scanners. They were a “hot pick” back then and caught my attention because of a few very positive articles. I’d never dabbled in individual stocks before, preferring instead to put my money into mutual funds, but this opportunity seemed too enticing to miss. This was a tech company. My company is a tech company! It sells to mostly small- and medium-sized customers. My company sells to mostly small- and medium-sized customers! I know these guys! They’re loved by the same experts that I love. Most importantly, the people in the know say this company was poised for […]

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How to Profit Without Venture Capital

As VC investors tighten their purse strings, your business can still be successful. March 2, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Just a few days ago, I was on the phone with a friend and fellow founder who runs a direct-to-consumer marketing platform and had spent quite aggressively on user acquisition over the past year. Casually, I suggested that he should work with a former colleague of mine who was a whiz at growth marketing and could probably lower his Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) by more than 25 percent. He didn’t hesitate for a moment before replying: “I don’t want to spend it. We need to focus on profitability — our core product — not growth.” “What do you mean? You have over two years of runway,” I said. “Surely, you can afford some marketing and experimentation.” “No,” he replied. “We’re really drilling down on our core product, […]

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What You Need to Know

This year, for the first time, federal tax forms ask about your bitcoin and other cryptocurrency activities. Here’s a look at the implications for your income taxes. February 26, 2020 7 min read This story originally appeared on PC Mag Cryptocurrency is digital currency, or a “digital representation of value,” as the IRS puts it. You can’t see it, hold it in your hand, or put it in your wallet. It’s been in use for over a decade and has grown in popularity over the last few years. Instead of using a bank to create, transfer, and exchange funds, cryptocurrency employs a distributed, encrypted blockchain network to process transactions. No bank or government authority controls it as they do with traditional currencies. So, if you have used cryptocurrency this year, what are the implications for when you file your taxes? A Cryptocurrency Primer First of all, let’s make sure we’re all […]

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W-9s and Four Other Business Tax Forms Entrepreneurs Need to Know About

How to make sure you’re prepared this tax season. February 25, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Tax preparation is complex and often confusing, even when you’re filing individual income tax as an employee with a single source of income. When you’re a first-time entrepreneur, however, the complexity increases exponentially.  With so many income tax forms published by the Internal Revenue Service, and so much riding on getting your tax returns right, it’s important to understand what forms you’ll most often need and when to use them.  Related: 3 Ways Inventory Management Software Makes Tax Time Less Painful From W-9s to 8829s, let’s look at a few of the major tax forms U.S.-based entrepreneurs need to be familiar with and use on a regular basis.  The W-9: Getting information from independent contractors One of the best ways to get the specialized help you need for […]

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Why Does Warren Buffett Always Pay In Cash?

The answer is both simple and important for your company’s future. February 17, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. If Warren Buffett ever walks into your store or restaurant, he’s likely to pay for his purchases in cash. “I’ve got an American Express card which I got in 1964,” Buffett, who’s worth more than $88 billion, told Yahoo Finance last year. “But I pay cash 98 percent of the time. If I’m in a restaurant, I always pay cash.” That’s right. Warren Buffett — one of the richest guys in the world — prefers to pay in cash. In fact, he says that he pretty much always carries around about $400 with him. Is it because he’s afraid of credit cards? Does he have security concerns? Is he avoiding those annoying late fees and penalties in case he doesn’t pay off his balance? Actually, it’s […]

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How America’s Retirement Dream Became a Nightmare

It’s not too late to protect yourself from being left out in the cold. February 12, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) makes it clear: The 401(k) plans Americans rely upon for retirement income are “inadequate and unequal,” and have increased gaps in retirement preparedness based on income, race, ethnicity, education and marital status. Moreover, the net worth of households approaching retirement fell by half in wake of the Great Recession and has only slightly improved since then. The report states unequivocally that 401(k) plans have “proven to be a disaster” since the government authorized them 42 years ago, underscoring something I’ve been saying for years: For many participants, government-sponsored plans have turned out to be less effective than stuffing cash in a mattress. As the EPI report explains in detail, “The shift from pensions to account-type savings plans has been […]

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A Beginner’s Guide to Qualifying for an SBA Loan

Know what you’re getting into before you start the process. February 6, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. If you’re looking for financing for your business, loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) can be a good place to start. However, it can be daunting with so many different types of SBA loans. It’s worth it to dive into the details of each program in order to understand what program and lender are right for you. In this article, we’ll cover the basics you can take action on now to improve your chances of qualifying for funding through an SBA-approved lender. 1. Improve your personal credit scores According to the SBA website, even individuals with bad credit may qualify for funding. Having great credit scores, however, will significantly increase your chances of approval. Remember that SBA-approved lenders can add certain qualification requirements to […]

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7 Helpful Financing Options for LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs

Discrimination and disadvantages have been the norm, but that is beginning to change. February 4, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Are you a business owner who identifies as LGBTQ+? If so, then you know that discrimination can run rampant, and there aren’t always legal protections. Part and parcel, the LGBTQ+ community also struggles with financial instability, experiencing particularly high rates of poverty and homelessness and commanding lower incomes than the general population.   Nevertheless, you can still succeed as an LGBTQ+ business owner, and here are seven helpful financing options to get you started. 1. Join the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is a national organization serving as the voice of over one million American LGBTQ+ business owners, and it offers a certification program to majority-LGBTQ+-owned businesses. The NGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative (SDI) is a tool for businesses to connect with top […]

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How to Effectively Assess Property Value for Investment

Big data and other tech innovations have made it easier to put your money into a diverse range of real estate. January 31, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Real estate investment retains the twin traditional appeals of stability and an almost guaranteed return, but there have been a lot of innovations in recent times that have made it even more worthwhile. The ability to access and analyze data more comprehensively makes it easier to make informed decisions and invest in a diverse range of vehicles. Whichever investment method you choose, however, one constant is that you’ll need to value properties as you work to decide where to put your money. Here are the best ways you can do that efficiently and accurately. The Sales Comparison Approach This is the most common approach adopted by real estate investors, and it essentially means comparing the sales prices of similar properties […]

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5 Questions Entrepreneurs Should Ask Their CPAs to Reduce Audit Risk

You don’t need to approach this spring in fear of the IRS. January 29, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. To help reduce your fears of a government audit, February is the best time of year to meet with your CPA to review your tax strategy, review your documentation requirements and ask key questions about how to reduce your chances of an audit. What’s clear from my 35 years of experience as a CPA is that people fear a government tax audit more than death and public speaking combined.  The good news is you can sleep at night by being more proactive. The number one thing the government wants is compliance, so your job is to make sure you’re following the rules. Schedule a meeting with your CPA early this year, and ask these five direct questions to reduce your anxiety. 1. Are you afraid of […]

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4 Ways to Smartly Invest in Cryptocurrencies

The worst thing you can do is put your money into options you know little or nothing about. January 27, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Investing in cryptocurrency is one of many options for investing your money today. In fact, it’s pretty hard to avoid hearing about the crypto market and its opportunities. Still, all this buzz doesn’t mean it’s the safest way to invest your money; it’s just an option.  Last week, I was completely knocked out by a friend’s reaction when I simply asked, “How much do you have in your bitcoin wallet?” He suddenly wore a disdainful look. What happened? He replied, “It’s a long story. I heard glowing reviews on how cryptocurrencies have turned many into millionaires overnight, so I thought it wise to invest all I had on November 27, 2017. Little did I know I was throwing debt a welcome […]

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The Best Way to Borrow From Friends and Family to Grow Your Business? Here’s How to Do It Right

Getting a loan from loved ones can pay off — with some parameters. January 10, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The first time I borrowed money from family to start a business, I made a complete fool of myself. I asked my dad for $2,000 to secure a position in a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme that was sure to earn me millions. I was young and naive, but he trusted me and agreed to help me out. Sorry, Dad. How was I to know that hawking magnets with magical healing properties wouldn’t make me rich?  A few years later, I founded a legitimate business repairing commercial signs. I had some success, but my complete lack of credit history meant I couldn’t secure the financing needed to take it to the next level. Once again I went to my dad, and once again he came […]

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Learn How to Tell Your Business’ Financial Story

If you’re a CFO or in a position where you need to effectively communicate beyond the profit and loss of a business, this webinar will give you the direction you need to be more successful. January 6, 2020 2 min read Your business has a financial story—one that goes beyond the data, P&L statements, and the predictions and forecasts. Your business has a financial story that has the potential to create momentum, inspire loyalty, and drive change. Do you know if you’re telling the best version of that story, to the right audience, at the right time? Do you have the right tools in place to help communicate the facts, figures, and data that are integral to your story? Do you have real-time access to information that allows you to confidently lead and manage your business? Join us for Learn How to Tell Your Business’ Financial Story, a free webinar […]

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The 12 Tax Days of Christmas: Day 12

Charitable taxpayers are rewarded with powerful incentives, but there are lots of options and rules to keep in mind. December 29, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Rather than your true love sending you a partridge in a pear tree, wouldn’t you appreciate some money-saving tax tips? For my year-ending 12 Tax Days of Christmas series, I’ll dig back into the archives of previous topical columns to reiterate understandable, realistic and legitimate tax strategies that you need to implement now in order to have a much smaller tax bill come April 15. For this 12th and final tax day of Christmas, it feels appropriate to remember that it is ultimately the season for giving. But it’s just as importanbt to bear in ind that the deadline for last-minute charitable deductions is December 31, and there are myriad options and rules to keep in mind. Now, […]

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The 12 Tax Days of Christmas: Day 11

FSAs may be more common for bigger businesses, but the savings don’t have to be small. December 28, 2019 1 min read Rather than your true love sending you a partridge in a pear tree, wouldn’t you appreciate some money-saving tax tips? For my year-ending 12 Tax Days of Christmas series, I’ll dig back into the archives of previous topical columns to reiterate understandable, realistic and legitimate tax strategies that you need to implement now in order to have a much smaller tax bill come April 15. Related: The 12 Tax Days of Christmas: Day 10 For the 11th tax day of Christmas, we’re going to break down a year-end tax-savings strategy that’s typically more applicable in a corporate enviornmnent than among smaller businesses. Nevertheless, Flexible Spending Accounts, or FSAs, can be a great way to get reimbursed for expenses related to the job that shouldn’t have to come directly out […]

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The 12 Tax Days of Christmas: Day 10

Clearing up confusion about RMDs. December 27, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Rather than your true love sending you a partridge in a pear tree, wouldn’t you appreciate some money-saving tax tips? For my year-ending 12 Tax Days of Christmas series, I’ll dig back into the archives of previous topical columns to reiterate understandable, realistic and legitimate tax strategies that you need to implement now in order to have a much smaller tax bill come April 15. For the 10th tax day of Christmas, let’s turn our focus to those over 70 1/2 with traditional IRAs, or those who have inherited an IRA. Anyone in either of those two groups is required to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from their account each year. The deadline for RMDs is December 31. If you miss the deadline and don’t follow the rules, there is a hefty penalty of 50 percent on […]

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