Posts by: Adam Kidan

Business Tips: Goal-Setting

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Adam KidanRegardless of what type of business you own, setting reasonable goals is one of the most important steps you can take in ensuring that your business sees adequate growth. Many times business owners will set goals that are either too small or too big – for example, setting a goal that should take a year to reach in a one-month time span – which in turn hinders the success of their business. Here are a few ways you can make sure you are setting strategic goals appropriate for your own business’ well-being:

First, look at the hard evidence. Making adjustments to the way your business carries out certain strategies according to facts and results is the best way for your business to improve. According to an article published by Better Business Bureaus, “When things aren’t going well or as you had planned, take a step back and analyze why this may be happening. As soon as you realize that you need to make a change, consult with mentors and use the information you have to adjust,” (3 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Your Business). If you notice that certain actions result in failure to deliver a desired outcome, make the changes needed to ensure those actions do not repeat.

Next, finding a mentor to emulate is a great way to see your business take off. It’s usually best to choose an idol who is either in a similar realm of business as you or whose success rate is admirable enough for you to look into and imitate. Looking deeply into a mentor’s hard work ethic, education, habits, and whatever else it may be that has helped them reach a high level of success is a great way to give yourself and your employees a role model to look up to. This way, you can set goals that revolve around this mentor’s road to success and hope that your business can show some sort of improvement after imitating.Adam Kidan

Finally, set goals that avoid taking shortcuts. Taking shortcuts often means that a business is skipping chances for professional development, which will often lead to undesirable outcomes. According to Better Business Bureaus:

“Your business must be build on ethical business practices, knowledge of your product and company, a desire to improve via professional development, and a commitment to representing your company and serving customers to the best of your ability,” (3 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Your Business).

So, when you set business goals, be sure that they are always ethical and promote self-improvement and professional enhancement. Though it may take longer, when you reach these kinds of goals you will notice a strong, empowering change in your business’ success and the work ethics of your employees.

Staying Proactive at Work

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Let’s face it – we all get off-track at work sometimes. From unexpected client phone calls, to catching that unique strand of flu that comes out once a year, trying to meet a deadline can catch up on you. But luckily there are many ways to stay proactive at work so you can be on top of your game and show your boss how hard you truly work. Here are some tips for getting back in the work-groove, meeting deadlines, and being an overall great employee:

Adam KidanFirst, write down a to-do list, don’t just make one in your head. To-do lists are great because they allow you to see everything that should get done either daily, weekly, or monthly. Seeing the work that’s in front of you will give you a better grasp on which tasks you should prioritize, and which you can get away with spending less time on.

Next, once you’ve sorted out which tasks should be weighed more heavily over others, focus on those. There will be time to get the little things done later. In order to focus on your priorities, you must close out of all other screens, stop checking texts, and tune out whatever else it is that distracts you. An article published by Entrepreneur.com states:

“That email inbox on your phone/computer screen is like crack. Once you check on, you just can’t stop… or compulsive deleting kicks in… So minimized distractions by not even going there so you can focus on the things that you have deemed more important,” (Chan, 7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively).

Adam KidanIn addition, you should practice getting in the habit of putting your personal phone on airplane mode in the morning and only checking it at lunch. This will help immensely when it comes to distractions.

Last, stop overthinking things – just get them done. This may sound way more harsh than it actually is. Think about how many times you sat at work thinking about what you had to write or get done, gradually becoming more distracted as each minute went by. Just start writing, don’t think as much about it – there will be time for you to edit. Whether it is a 5 minute email that you’ve stretched to 30 minutes, or an hour-long report that you’ve taken all day to write – getting into the habit of just starting without thinking too much will help avoid future distractions so you can get more done and stay caught up at work.

If you need more advice on how to stay proactive at work and get what needs to be done, done – check out Entrepreneur.com’s article here.

Finish 2015 Strong! Five Important Business Tips

- - Adam Kidan, Business

As a approach the last several months of the year, it is a good time to reflect on where you are business wise and what you have accomplished. Have you reached your goals for the year? If not, what steps are you taking to to ensure you reach these goals by the end of the year?

I stumbled upon this article, that offers up some great tips for business success and I think they offer up some valuable lessons for those looking to meet and exceed the goals they have outlined for their business. Here are five tips from industry leading experts on how to make 2015 as successful as possible.

1. Treat customers like guests in your home

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“While there will always be customers who have decreased attention, are in a hurry, or appear to be frazzled, you want to still aim to deliver strong customer care despite customer scenarios. One way to do this is to treat customers as if they are guests in your home.” – Kirt Manecke, customer service expert and author of the book “Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service”

By treating customers with amazing customer service you are positioning yourself to turn these people into repeat customers. Also, a customer who is treated well by a company will be more likely to recommend the business to a friend or family member.

2. Belong to at least three professional organizations

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“I always suggest to business owners that they belong to at least three professional associations. First, you should belong to your local Chamber of Commerce or downtown business association. That is where you business is and where your employees often live. Moreover, you should belong to your specific industry trade association. And last, you should belong to a statewide association because most legislation happens at state level, and you need eyes and ears looking out for you business. In most cases, a retail association will fill that role.” – Curtis Picard, Executive Director of the Retail Association of Maine

Professional organizations are an amazing place to network and grow partnerships within the community. Not to mention, you can learn a great deal from other business owners in the area as well. Joining professional organizations truly is a great way to help you better manage and grow your business.

3. Participate in e-commerce

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“The future of e-commerce belongs to small businesses. This is the biggest opportunity for retailers since farmer’s markets began hundreds of years ago. People often believe setting up an online store is expensive and difficult, but this is not the case.” – Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer at Shopify.com

Opening an online store will open you up to markets that you were previously unable to reach or maybe did not even think would be interested in your product. In today’s modern world, more people are choosing to make purchases in the comfort of their own home, so it is important to be able to cater to these individuals as well. If your business is not based on retail, consider building a website to inform potential customers about your service and market to them online as well.

4. Introduce commerce and charity

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“Research shows that 83 percent of customers want to buy products that benefit a cause. Combining your business with a charity of your choice is a great way to gain consumer attention while increasing sales.” – Dan McCabe, Director of SixDegrees.org

If you can own your business and give back to the community or a group in need, that is truly a remarkable feat. Consider partnering with a local organization, not only will you giving a helping hand to those who really need it but you will build a better relationship with the community as a whole.

5. Embrace the cloud

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“The cloud is here to stay and Windows is dead. Over the next three to five years, the cloud will really come of age for small businesses, and Windows-based POS (point of sale) and other operations will disappear. Retailers and small businesses must think about upgrading their technology – with cloud being the obvious choice.” – Jason Richelson, founder and CEO of ShopKeep POS

Cloud technology is not only affordable (or free), with options such as Google Drive, but it also gives you the flexibility to access your work documents from anywhere at anytime. The cloud also makes collaboration between coworkers extremely easy helping to boost productivity.

The Importance of Transparency in Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Transparency is a key element to successful businesses that is often overlooked. Everyone who plays a role in a company should know the who, what, when, how, and why of big decisions so that they can continue to feel important, because the truth is – they are. When employees and others involved with certain business endeavors feel like they are not being included when important decisions are made (or not made), they are less productive. Clarity leads to productivity, and nobody likes to feel like they are being left in the dark.

Adam Kidan

Being transparent is vital to running a company – no matter how big or small. Your customers will also immensely appreciate honesty. An article written by Chuck Cohn and published by AmericanExpress.com created a great analogy; he states:

“Think about the last time you went online to book a plane ticket. Was it annoying to arrive at the last page and then discover all the extra fees that were added on to your final price? It would be simple to put that information at the beginning of the process so the customer feels less ambushed,” (4 Ways Transparency Can Boost Your Business).

That being said, transparency should not be limited to in-house operations (meaning, what goes on internally), extend your business’ transparency to all those who are involved – customers, investors, etc., and your business will sure to have a positive improvement.

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In addition, in order to run a strong business, make transparency one of the company’s biggest priorities. According to Chuck Cohn, “Communicate that the more everyone knows, the better you can work as a team. Line up goals with your vision of the company and let everyone see it,” (4 Ways Transparency Can Boost Your Business). This is especially important from a CEO’s perspective so that all employees – new and old – can be on the same page and know that they are working for a singular vision. Transparency creates unity, and vice-versa, so make sure everyone knows they are on the same team, working for the same goals.

For more information on why transparency is a key aspect for running any successful business, please read Chuck Cohn’s article on AmericanExpress.com here.

Most Creative People in Business: Written Word Edition

- - Business

Here at the blog, I write a lot about entrepreneurship and business. But even if you’ve got all the tips and suggestions in the world, the best lessons still come from people who are out there putting it into action. Creativity is an integral component to success in business and, lucky for us, Fast Company realized this in their list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2015. Check out some of the honorees below, and learn about some great habits of the successful. I’ll be doing several posts of coverage, but first up are some standout from the writing and publishing crowd.

For these individuals, the pen is truly more powerful than the sword. With their creative minds, they have been able to build entire empires and drive businesses that fight injustice, create a more informed public, or fight pain with humor.

Dao Nguyen (Publisher, Buzzfeed)

Under the data-driven leadership of Nguyen, Buzzfeed has boomed. The viral platform demonstrated an amazing ability to actually listen to the data in order to make their user experience as enjoyable as it could be. Nguyen’s primary responsibility is growth, and so far the results have been of home-run caliber: After realizing that email was a valuable referral tool, an overhaul of their system doubled email sharing; she has led the distinct Buzzfeed style into Tumblr, Vine, and Snapchat; and Buzzfeed has now grown to an $850M valuation. Oh, and the rumor mill has been churning talk of an upcoming IPO.

Jermaine Affonso (Editor, Clickbait)

If you’re an active member of the internet community, there’s no chance that you’ve missed Clickhole. The Buzzfeed spinoff, which on the surface is a parody of viral news sites (here’s looking at you, Buzzfeed), has become a staple of internet humor. So, how does he create, curate, and organize so much information? Deadlines. Affonso admits that they are the only way that he can get anything done. It’s a classic example of ideas needing action. Waiting around for the perfect opportunity is never worth it, because something will always come up.

Kelly Sue DeConnick (Comic Book Writer)

In a world where the archetypal comic book geek is a man, Kelly Sue DeConnick is looking to shake things up. Her most well-received project is running a Captain Marvel comic series. Captain Marvel, a female super heroine, has disrupted the male-dominated comic book landscape to such an extent that there is now a film in development. And if we’ve learned anything from the past decade, it’s that superhero films really bring in the revenue! For inspiration, she turns to “things I feel very passionately about and things I have incredibly mixed feelings about.” DeConnick is also a morning person: she rises each morning between 3am and 5am.

Megan Amram (Writer, Parks and Recreation; Science… For Her!)

After spending years writing for the acclaimed NBC show Parks and Recreation, Megan Amram turned her attention to the destruction of stereotypes. Tired of gossipy and gimmicky magazines like Cosmopolitan, she set to work on her own masterpiece– a parodic textbook titled “Science… For Her!” It has been well received, and is a perfect example of using your creative tendencies and business acumen to understand your market, deliver sharp humor and wit, and advance a positive change. She stays well caffeinated, and maintains many lists with small, doable tasks. As a extrovert, she seeks “sensory overload” in a crowded space when she needs to be refreshed.

Happy Birthday, Registered Trademark

- - Adam Kidan
Adam Kidan Happy Birthday

A 1922 songbook featuring “Happy Birthday”

“Happy Birthday” is one of the most well-recognized songs in the world, translated in numerous languages and sung at just about every birthday party out there.  While it might be sung for an estimated 19 million different birthdays every day, “Happy Birthday” is actually private property.  However, a federal lawsuit filed by a group of independent artists is looking to change that.  In a filing last week, lawyers in the case found evidence in a nearly 100 year-old songbook that proves the song’s 1935 copyright is no longer valid.

A judge may have a rulin in the case in coming weeks.  If the song does become part of the public domain then it would cost the Warner Music Group, who holds the rights, millions of dollars in lost licensing fees.  While it’s survived anybody involved in its creation, the “Happy Birthday” song is still owned by a corporation that charges for its use.  By this point, the song is almost like a folk song, probably the first song you ever heard as a child that feels like it should have no owner.

The case over this classic tune highlights the centrality of copyright claims to media businesses, including the music industry, where the issue of who owns a song is worth millions.  Back in March, a jury verdict in a case involving Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” rattled the music industry and ruined a one-hit wonder’s one hit after finding that it copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 “Got to Give It Up”.  Part of the dispute over “Happy Birthday” derives from its old publishing history; its familiar melody was first published by a kindergarten teacher in 1893 as “Good Morning to All”.  In the 1900s, birthday-themed variations began to appear, so that by the 1930s the song “Happy Birthday to You” had become a phenomenon.

The song was copyrighted in 1935, and in 1988 Warner acquired it after buying the owner, Birchtree Ltd.  According to some estimates, the song now generates around $2 million in licensing income every year, mostly through its use in television and film.  While it’s widely sung at private gatherings, its copyright status requires some peculiar workarounds in public settings.  Restaurants often substitute public-domain songs such as “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to avoid licensing fees, and on live television impromptu performances are often silenced by producers.  The song has been a prime target for critics of copyright law for a long time; thanks to an extension made under the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, the song remains under protection until 2030.  However, the song’s copyright may not have been properly renewed when its initial term expired in 1963.  However, the situation has been complicated by a 1922 songbook containing “Happy Birthday”, which predates the 1935 copyright, that appears through “special permission”.  Under the 1998 law, anything published before 1923 is considered to be part of the public domain.

The Importance Of Trust In Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

handshake-220233_640When discussing business leaders, often times you will hear the words passion, hard work or determination as the keys drivers for success. But maybe the most important factors of all, is slowly become overlooked. These factor are ethics and trust.

As Arthur Gensler discusses in a Fortune article, the lack of a clear sense of ethics in a business leader from employees, clients, or the community at large can send the signal that you may only care about money. A business leader that is able to create authentic trust with others will likely be more successful down the road.

Ethics refer to the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior. There are no shortcuts when it comes to being ethical. Either you do the right thing or you don’t. As the former CEO of General Electric puts it, “Can you look in the mirror in the morning and be proud of what you’re doing.” If you make decisions based on this principle, other people will take note and be inspired to make the same types of ethical decisions themselves. This will eventually lead to a more ethical business practice as a whole.

The biggest responsibility of a leader is to educate their teams about the firm or group’s ethical code, it’s values, and provide examples of how to assess and react to difficult situations. Promoting transparent and ethical operations procedures begins with the leader, and will only lead to a more cohesive and committed group.

When employees firmly believes that the business leaders are practicing ethical business themselves, they will be more inspired to think positively about their work and will exhibit more trust and confidence towards both leadership and co-workers. Employees will be inspired to act honorably to fulfill their defined duties in accordance to the shared company values.

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Building trust within the company itself will inevitably spill over to the clients side as well. When a client knows that you are honest and direct with them, they will be more willing to work through challenges and they will serve as a referral source for future business. When clients hear a genuine and uniform attitude from company employees they will understand and believe for themselves that the company operates under ethical principles.

A truly successful business leader understands the importance of leading by example and how it will positively impact their employees and the clients they serve.

Gold Nosedives

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Yesterday gold prices plunged to their lowest in more than five years, at one point Adam Kidan goldfalling 4 percent on aggressive selling out of China.  On the other side of the coin, the US dollar hit a three-month high on expectations for higher US interest rates.  Equity markets posted small gains, while focus remained on earnings season.  This dramatic gold sell-of came about in Shanghai in a remarkably short time; roughly $1.3 billion in gold was traded in just two minutes.

The exact reason for this mass selling remains unclear.  Recent strength in the US currency, in addition to expectations for higher US rates, have undermined the case for holding gold and other precious metals.  Analysts have also noted that China imported a record volume of gold in 2013, creating an oversupply situation in the process.  Nonetheless, the unnatural speed of this decline proved a shock to traders, resulting in two separate trade halts in US gold futures.  The spot price for gold XAU= was $1,094.5 an ounce, after hitting a low of $1,088.50 overnight.

According to Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar, we have breached significant support levels, and know that US rate hikes are coming, while there is no inflation nor catalyst to hold gold when other markets are doing better.  And gold isn’t the only commodity that’s been sinking; US crude oil fell 93 cents to $49.96, the first time it’s been below $50 since April.  And Brent crude was last down 59 cents a barrel at $56.51.  The dollar might have jumped to its highest since April 23 against a basket of major currencies, but was then flat on the day.  The greenback ended up posting its best weekly performance in about two months last week after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that US interest rates will most likely rise later in the year.

Global equity markets held close to last Friday’s three-week highs, and European shares approached seven-week peaks as fears over the situation in Greece have continued to recede; the country’s banks reopened for the first time in three weeks in the aftermath of a deal to start talks on a new bailout.  This caused the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index to rise .3 percent to its highest since late May.

Across the ocean on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.96 points (.08 percent) to 18,100.41, the S&P 500 gained 1.64 points (.08 percent) to 2,128.28 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.72 points (.17 percent) to 5,218.86.  The euro fell to its lowest since May on the EBS trading platform, but last traded up .06 percent at $1.0838.  The yen dropped .2 percent to 124.38 to the dollar.  The yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond rose 2.377 percent, as the price fell 6/32 of a point.

Amazon Prime Day Looks To Protect Dominance Over Online Marketplace

- - Business

Amazon, an electronic commerce company, is the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States. The company which once begun has an online bookstore, has since grown into a consumer goods powerhouse that continually changes the way we buy consumer goods.

This Wednesday the e-commerce giant is holding Amazon Prime Day, a day that will offer shoppers “more deals than Black Friday.”

While shopping on Amazon is available to anyone, in order to have access to the special deals on Prime Day, you need to be an Amazon Prime member. The membership, which costs $99 per year, includes a number of great benefits, including free two-day shipping on a large list of eligible products, free music and video streaming, unlimited photo storage, and the ability to borrow Kindle books.

Amazon Prime Day hopes to attract more shoppers to sign up for the service. For those that currently do not have a Prime membership, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of the deals.

The move to hold Prime Day appears to be in response to the emergence of numerous potential competitors who continue to take aim at Amazon’s dominance over the online marketplace.

ShopRunner costs $79 per year and also includes free two-day shipping at hundreds of retailers, including the likes of Toys R Us, PetSmart and Lords & Taylor. Walmart is also gearing up to launch its own version of Prime as well, called ShippingPass, which will give consumers unlimited three-day shipping on all purchases for only $50 per year. Furthermore, another online shopping club is launching soon. The company, known as Jet, will offer a wide variety of products at bargain prices. There annual membership fee is expected to be about half the price of a Prime membership.

Prime Day could end up proving to be extremely effective tool for Amazon as they look to brush off these encroaching companies. While it is still unclear which company will prove to be the winner within the online marketplace down the road, right now the clear winner is the consumer, who has access to deals unlike ever before.

You can learn more about Amazon Prime Day here.

The Benefits of Living in DC

Adam Kidan - dcLiving in the nation’s capital has many advantages along with disadvantages. Though traffic into the capital is almost always brutal, DC’s advantages undoubtedly outweigh its disadvantages (there’s a reason for all that traffic). Not only is it the home of the President of the United States, but there are many other perks of living in DC. Here are just a few of the benefits:

First, being comfortable in a city has a lot to do with the environment, and DC is known to have one of the best climates out of any other city in the states. Because of its location, DC still has four seasons but the weather tends to be much more mild than it is up north in places like New York City. You can enjoy both warm summers and snowy winters, along with the undeniable beauty of fall and spring – spring being a favorite time of year to most residents as the cherry blossoms bloom along the Potomac, creating a picturesque landscape that photographers dream of.

Along with great weather, DC is in close proximity to three major airports, two in Northern Virginia (IAD and DCA) and one in Maryland (BWI). Being close to so many airports means you have the opportunity to travel to wherever you’d like, most likely. Also, cities close to airports usually have more tourists visiting those cities, which provides a good boost for the economy. Amtrak and MARC rail station also stop through DC, enabling you to visit many other major cities like NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia.

Entertainment is another huge benefit of living in DC. With 19 art museums and galleries, including the Smithsonian, you won’t run out of beautiful art to study and admire. Along with it’s flourishing art scene, DC is home to the Kennedy Center, which offers free performances each day at 6 PM, and the American Art Museum, which hosts free live jazz every third Thursday of the month. Washington DC is known for having a wide array of free events to enjoy, regardless of your age. The National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution is always free to get into. As a thriving, cultural city, DC will always have plenty of entertainment, shopping, music festivals, bars, and restaurants.

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In addition, though rent prices are quite high in DC, the cost of living is relatively cheap, especially if you have a decent salary. With all of the free amenities DC has to offer, living is affordable – unlike in places like New York City, where rent and the cost of living are extremely high.

Lastly, Washington DC is home to the United States government, which means there are many jobs that offer government contracts. There will always be employment due to this; and if you have any interest in politics at all – DC is the right city for you. The federal government is constantly in motion to keep Washington DC one of the best cities for people to live for years to come. For more information regarding the benefits to living in Washington DC, read this article published on Living-in-WashingtonDC.com.