Category "Business"

How Your Ego Can Hurt Your Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

How Your ego can hurt your business by Adam KidanLet’s say that you’re a novice entrepreneur who gets lucky and makes it big.  Chances are that will go to your head.  I recently came across an article by the entrepreneur John Rampton, whose early success created an ego that damaged his later work.  While an ego can be a great confidence booster, it can also harm you.  He spoke of eight ways that his ego killed his business, which I’ve listed below:

You won’t realize you need to learn: A lot of leaders think they have every answer out there, and admitting they could improve by learning is a sign of weakness.  Don’t be afraid of being judged for asking stupid questions, and jump onto opportunities to learn from others.  

You’ll ignore opportunities: While you might think that ego makes you push towards greatness, but in reality it’s fairly complacent and resists change.  If you have a big ego, you don’t think you need to do anything new because you’re so great.  Yet this will prevent you from seizing innovative opportunities which could have helped your business move forward.  

You over-estimate your abilities: Business owners are expected to wear multiple hats, but nobody can wear every hat.  Self-confidence in your abilities is important, but you’re setting yourself up for disaster if you tell yourself that you’re a master at everything.  Learn enough to get started, but recognize when it’s necessary to hire a specialist.

You micromanage: Being the head honcho in charge is a lot of pressure, and you often feel like you have to control everything.  You want to care about the details regarding your business, but expectations won’t always be met.  Being overbearing and critical tells your team that you don’t trust them, which will hurt performance.

You won’t want to ask for help: Every great entrepreneur had assistance to get to where they are today.  You want to have a mentor that can teach you from their own experience.  Whether it’s bringing in a partner, seeking out a mentor or coach or polling your team, asking for help is essential for success.  

Every decision revolves around you: Your business should never be about you.  It’s about your customers and how you can enhance their lives.  If you aren’t thinking about your customers and what they want/need, they won’t continue to support your business.

You can’t back down: Your ego will always want you to be right, and if you get into a discussion, you won’t back down until you’ve gotten it your way.  True leaders understand when they’re wrong.  

You set impossible goals: Your ego will often lead to your setting impossible goals for yourself, and when you don’t reach those goals, you’ll just beat yourself up.  As a business owner, you need to set attainable and realistic goals.  You’ll accomplish less if your mind is crowded with unrealistic expectations.  

Sharapova’s Harvard Break

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Sharapova's harvard break by adam kidanAfter testing positive for the banned substance Meldonium at the Australian Open, tennis star Maria Sharapova received a ban set to last until Jan 26 2018.  Although Sharapova is in the midst of an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to shorten this ban, this isn’t the only thing she’s doing with her spare time.  Yesterday, she posted a photograph on social media of herself in front of a sign for Harvard Business School with a caption that read “can’t wait to start the program”.  According to Associated Press, this “program”, which takes place in the summer, is two weeks long and involves two courses.

This might not seem like much, but even a little bit of time at Harvard Business School can offer plenty of business insight.  Apart from her work as a tennis superstar and one of the highest-paid female athletes of 2016, Sharapova is the founder of the candy brand Sugarpova, so she may very well earn some valuable business skills to boost her company.  As of yet, it isn’t clear if Sharapova will earn any certification from the courses she takes, but adding the Harvard brand to her resume could help her re-enter the good graces of fans and companies; her doping scandal has already cost her promotional deals with both Nike and Porsche.  

Sharapova is hardly the first celebrity athlete to attend Harvard; in 2005 the school has developed a certificate program that’s geared towards professional football players to help them evaluate and learn potential business opportunities.  Some notable alumni include NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth and model Tyra Banks.  

Stricter Regulations?

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Stricter Regulations? By Adam KidanYesterday morning, regulators released long-awaited rules that are focused on restricting how financial institutions can pay their top executives.  The new limits on banker bonuses would make the highest-paid employees at the biggest banks wait for at least four years to receive parts of their annual pay.  If these proposals are completed in the upcoming months, then banks would also have to reclaim bonuses from bankers who take risks that in turn lead to major financial losses.

This is in response to an uproar of criticism over Wall Street’s pay practices after the biggest American banks had to take government bailout money back in 2008.  This public anger has been rekindled during the 2016 presidential campaign, pressuring regulators to put tighter restrictions on Wall Street.  New rules on executive pay grew out of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, although it has since taken years to put this in practice.  Although Obama has pushed regulators to complete them, in the waning hours of his administration time has been running out fast.

The structure of executive pay packages before the financial crisis was blamed for encouraging bankers to take unnecessary risks.  Pay in some cases was set up in ways to motivate bankers to seek short-term gains even if their actions led to long-term losses.  The new rules, however, will force many banks to withhold pay for longer than in the past in an effort to ensure that top employees can be held accountable for the longer-term consequences of their risk-taking.  The proposals leave many financial firms, including large asset managers and hedge funds, shielded from the new restrictions because of how regulators defined who are subject to them.  Young Wall Street workers have already been decamping for less regulated corners of finance and corporate America.

For those people and institutions subject to rules, these new restrictions are broadly in line with changes that many banks have already been making since the 2008 recession.  For example, it’s already an industry standard to wait for three years to release stock-based bonuses, although new rules aim to push that to four years.

The regulators were supposed to propose the new rules within 90 days of Dodd-Frank’s passage.  Rather, the regulatory agencies delivered a first draft of the rules in 2011, although that was widely criticized for being too weak.  According to the previous draft, the largest banks had to hold back at least half of all incentive-based pay for three years; under the new proposals, the same banks will have to withhold 60 percent of that pay for four years.  It also applies the limits to a broader set of “material risk-takers” at big banks as opposed to just top executives.

Across the pond in Britain, banks are now forced to hold back some pay for at least seven years.  European countries have generally imposed stronger restrictions on executive compensation since the financial crisis, including some card caps on salary and bonuses.  These new American rules would only apply to incentive-based compensation that varies according to the performance of the bank and the individual executive.  Even without these rules, banks have faced pressure from regulators since the financial crisis to change how they pay their employees and make it more focused on long-term than short-term success.

Banks and other financial institutions have generally been cutting pay in recent years because of their lagging performance, and other parts of the Dodd-Frank legislation have limited their ability to take big risks and earn big profits that were common before the financial crisis.  If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

Stocks For Entrepreneurs

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Stocks For Entrepreneurs by Adam KidanSince the concept of trading stocks first took off in the Netherlands in the 17th century, it’s been viewed by many as a way to make quick money.  While trading stocks is nothing new, you do need to learn how to adapt if you want to make it work for you.  I recently came across an article that shared some tips for entrepreneurs who want to make money with stocks, listed below:

Don’t settle for a profession or corporate career: Plenty of people think that law, medicine or becoming an executive is the way to becoming a millionaire.  While you can definitely make a lot of money in these fields, they often have a limit to how much you can earn from your salary; if you really want unlimited income potential, then you need to think of non-traditional options, which is where stocks often come into play.

Be grateful for small profits: The author of the article spoke about how by taking a few thousand dollars in profits for every stock trade, he was able to gradually turn a small amount of money into millions.

Stock trading is equal opportunity: No matter your background, you can make a living trading so long as you take the time, put in the work and know what you’re doing.  Don’t worry if you’re too young or old to make money; such obstacles will only get in your way to ultimate success.

Try out various things: There isn’t a “set way” to become a millionaire through trading.  You need to test out different strategies and hypothesis before you find one you like, and then stick with that to see if it works.  When something doesn’t work, you need to be willing to abandon that, and when something does work, you need to be willing to bet bigger.

Utilize new technologies: Technology plays a huge part in the modern world of online trading.  Just 15 years ago, for instance, the Internet was new for financial research, but now is the center of the entire business.  Nowadays there are even more tools, apps and programs that can help you gain insight and make trading even easier.

Adapting to the environment: The stock market can be pretty volatile, and while that does seem scary, the key is to adapt to the market environment.

Goldman Downsizing?

- - Adam Kidan, Business
Lloyd Blankfein

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs

With chaos in the market, lowering oil prices and concerns about Deutsche Bank AG, shares for Goldman Sachs have begun to fall.  In response, the group’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein has signaled that the bank could end up cutting costs in the near future.  While speaking at the Credit Suisse financial services forum in Miami, Blankfein said that Goldman Sachs could possibly do a lot more “on the cost side” if it was necessary to deliver a return.  Saying that “necessity is the mother of invention”, he spoke about the need to take a concerted look at continued cost cuts.

Like its peers on Wall Street, Goldman has been struggling with low interest rates and strict regulations in the aftermath of 2008, which have lowered profits in areas like fixed income trading, which had previously been a wildly profitable venture.  Blankfein has said that the bank has already taken measures to cut headcount, which it has reduced 10 percent in its fixed income businesses since 2012.  During that time, Goldman has increased 11 percent overall in an effort to meet regulatory and compliance needs.

Currently, about 25 percent of Goldman’s employees are in lower-cost places, such as Bengaluru in India and Salt Lake City and Dallas out west.  In addition, Goldman has been looking to develop more open source software to reduce payments to outside vendors.  So far this year, shares of Goldman have declined 17 percent, which has raised a red flag to some.  Nonetheless, Blankfein is optimistic, believing that the global markets will improve, but hasn’t spoken about how that’s going to happen.

If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

Signs You Shouldn’t Take a Job

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Scary job interviewLooking for a job is a lot like modern-day dating: most of it is done online, reaching out to find the right one is always awkward and if you’re not careful you could end up with a bad one.  Being unemployed isn’t fun, but neither is spending eight hours of day at a miserable place you hate.  But don’t let that happen to you!  When you’re at an interview, you should keep your eye out for any “red flags”.  Scope out the office for any telltale signs of a bad boss and burnt-out employees.  In case you’re bad at figuring out the truth, I recently found an infographic that shares ten different red flags that could spell trouble.  Some of the points made are listed below:

High turn rate: Imagine you’re at a company that’s been around for a long time, but everybody who works there seems to be new.  A high turnover rate for employees is always troublesome.

A trash-talking boss: If an interviewer complains about their current staff during the interview, you should watch out.  Already bad-mouthing prospective co-workers to a potential employee is a sign of a domineering boss; if they talk like that about their current employees so freely, who knows what they’ll say about their future employees?

Vague words: Random buzzwords and vague phrases are hardly a good thing.  They suggest a company without any clear idea about how to utilize you, and might imagine you filling several roles simultaneously.  If you like the startup life, this could be what you’re looking for, but it could also be a sign of a dangerously disorganized company.

Overselling: Overselling a job means that it’s usually too good to be true, especially when the job description is vague and they haven’t asked you if you have relevant experience.

Nobody’s touching it: If you keep seeing that the same job is being advertised over and over again, that most likely means something bad.

No clear career path: Nothing is worse than a dead-end job.  You don’t want to be stuck somewhere where there’s no mention of a path for career progression.

Honesty: Ask any prospective co-workers what the best and worst thing about their jobs are.  If the boss isn’t around, they can be really honest.

They want your money: No company that wants money from you to being working there is going to be anywhere good.  A good job only wants your time and service, not any of your money.

Employees react badly to their boss: Take a look at how employees act when their boss is speaking.  If they’re looking at the floor and act like they don’t want to be there, this boss could either be domineering or embarrassing as a leader.

Bad body language: Look at the people you pass in the office and see what their expressions and body language look like.  If it looks like they don’t want to be there, then there’s a good chance you won’t want to be either.

The Top Cities For Startups

- - Adam Kidan, Business

The Brighton School of Business and Management recently released an infographic that reveals the top 10 places to launch your startup, which was published in the Swiss company Seedstars World.  I recently found an article where a writer in Forbes interviewed the founder of Seedstars to get her take on why each of these cities is such a good place for a startup.  Below are the cities listed in the infographic, and what incentives they have to offer:

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur: The cost of living in Malaysia is a lot cheaper than in neighboring Singapore, so there’s been a trend of startups that are incorporated in Singapore but based in Thailand or Malaysia.  Malaysia is also a good test market with three different nationalities present.  So theoretically, if you can make it in Malaysia then you’ll have a shot at making it in the Chinese, Malay/Indonesian and Indian markets.

Beijing

Beijing: Although Chinese culture doesn’t foster entrepreneurship, this is changing fast and success stories are making it a more and more valued career path.  China has also been focusing on higher-end and more advanced manufacturing.  China has a tax relief program for startups that have been established by previously unemployed workers and recent college graduates.  Earlier this year, China set up a USD 6.5B VC fund for startups, with a particular emphasis on seed stage startups.  The country now runs at least 1,500 incubators.

City of Warsaw

Warsaw: Due to its bigger internal market and strong history of entrepreneurship, Poland is considered a much better entrepreneurial market than its Czech and Slovak neighbors to the south.  They already have a few success stories under their belt, and have been attracting some of the top tech companies around the world, including Google.  Apart from Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Wroclaw are all becoming major startup hubs in Poland.

Red Square Moscow

Moscow: Although failure is feared and condemned, Russia still places a strong value on entrepreneurship.  The legacy of the Soviet Union means that there’s a large number of both quality engineers and hardware companies.  However, political tension and currency devaluation has meant there’s a clear brain drain.

Bangalore India

Bangalore: In cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Chennai, entrepreneurship is strong.  There’s a huge market, and the number of engineers that graduate every year is impressive.  Bangalore’s startup scene is traditionally focused on engineering and tech development, which means it can be difficult for founders to find good business development or design counterparts.  Although there aren’t any incentives for startups and it can take several months to set up a business, the cost isn’t too high.  In the city itself, there are at least 10 startup events happening every week, which fosters a strong startup culture.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney: Being an entrepreneur in Sydney is well-respected, although most people still tend to seek the comfort of corporate employment.  Most startups are still focusing on their local market, although there has been a shift in mindset where they start to think more globally.  Unfortunately, the government doesn’t tend to allow for any special tax incentives for entrepreneurs.

Tunis

Tunis: The recent Arab Spring served as a turning point for the entrepreneurial spirit of this small North African city, and things are still very very new here.  One of the most pioneering startups here is Tunisia Live, an English-language news portal that was originally set up to transmit live images and report breaking news during the Arab Spring.  Startups here tend to use and create tech products to mobilize communities, often engaging them in political discussions and working for the collective good.  To better support the local entrepreneurship market, policy makers have started to implement new strategies and programs to boost incubators, accelerators and education programs.

London

London: In the first quarter of 2015, investors pumped a record-breaking £459m of venture capitalist funds into London’s digital sector.  This is augmented by seed enterprise investment schemes (SEIS), the British Business Bank, R&D tax breaks and government startup loans.  Tech is now regarded as the lifeblood to powering Britain’s economic recovery, with Britain’s fintech players being worth an estimated £20bn in annual revenues collectively.

Cairo pyramids

Cairo: A mass of young and educated graduates in Egypt means that a whole bunch of startups have been popping up.  Entrepreneurs have been fighting setbacks to exploit the birth of various new accelerators and crowdfunding campaigns.  Thanks to the quality of local universities, Cairo is also home to some of the best engineering talent in the area.

Sofia Bulgaria
Sofia: Although it isn’t a well-known fact, Sofia has one of the lowest income taxes (10%) and one of the fastest internet speeds in the world.  There are some very successful companies coming out of the scene here, and Sofia has become a strong regional hub by accessing the EU’s structural funds to create three separate funds: LAUNCHub, Eleven Startup Accelerator and Neveq.

Fighting the “Entrepreneur Blues”

- - Adam Kidan, Business

It’s a situation that happens with every entrepreneur: they’ve got a great idea, they’re setting out, thinking that it will make them rich and fulfill their biggest dream.  Yet being an entrepreneur isn’t all fun and games, and the pressure and stress that comes from managing the unknown day after day provides no shortage of stress.  Yet there are ways for you to manage that stress; I recently came across an article that features six ways to stay optimistic when facing the “entrepreneur blues”, listed below:

Monty Python Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

In Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”, the title character is told to “always look on the bright side of life”.

1. Be thankful: The author of the article advises entrepreneurs to write down three things every day for which they are thankful, but these need to be new things each time, so nothing can be repeated.  This trains your brain to constantly search for positive angles, because after a while finding three new things to be thankful for every day can be tough.

2. Surround yourself with good people: It’s only natural to adopt the attitudes of people around us, and optimism is contagious.  We’ve all got those friends we just enjoy being around, since they emit positivity.  Of course, the opposite is also true.  Avoid those kind of people as much as you can.

3. Be mindful: All sorts of health practitioners, coaches and organizations are boosting mindfulness as a way to boost employee engagement and productivity.

4. Consistently exercise: Studies show that exercise releases chemicals that reverse the effects of stress.  Try working out for 20 minutes three times a week for a month, and chances are you’ll feel better at the end of it.

5. Set and achieve small goals: Setting goals is a great way to boost your self-efficacy; achieving goals allows you to tap into an unknown part of your character, bringing all sorts of new potential into the game.  Yet goals need to challenge you; something that you write down and check off is a to-do item.

6. Choose your words carefully: Positive self-talk has got no shortage of power; replace negative words like “can’t”, “need to” or “have to” with ones like “am”, “choose” or “being”.  Adopting such a mindset can take a big mental shift, but once you can you’ll feel a lot stronger.

Why Proper Goal Setting Is The Key To Success

- - Adam Kidan, Business

There is plenty of advice out there that can help motivate you or increase your productivity at work. While this advice is certainly important and can provide a real impact on your work life, if you are focused on achieving success, there is no substitution for goal setting. As this article points out, if you want to achieve business success then it is important to set goals for yourself and build your life around these goals. Here is a list of some important tactics that you should incorporate in order to reach your goals and the success that you desire.

1) Review Your Goals Every Day

Plenty of people have ideas or dreams for what they want to accomplish. What separates those that simply dream from those that achieve success, is that successful people take action on their ideas. One of the major obstacles for dreamers is that life goals can appear overwhelming and unattainable. However, if you break down your goals into a series of small, achievable tasks then overtime you can make real progress and eventually you will accomplish these dreams. At the end of each day, review what steps you took that helped position you to accomplish your goal.

2) Evaluate Your Goals Regularly

It is important to evaluate your goals regularly so that you can focus on what is actually important to you. Sometimes your goals may be different than what you are actually trying to accomplish. Evaluating your goals helps you determine if you are taking the right path. Suppose your goal is to run 10 miles a day but you have knee problems. You should ask yourself if your goal to run 10 miles a day is actually your goal or if you are simply trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle. By evaluating your goals, it provides you the opportunity to take a step back and examine the bigger picture.

3) Zig Zag Your Way To The Top

You will be tempted to want to rush toward your goal as fast as possible. But on your path to success, you will inevitably encounter unexpected obstacles. These obstacles can provide an opportunity to take different courses of action that you may have never considered. These obstacles may be frustrating but at the end of the day, your business will be more stable because of your ability to adapt. Zigzagging requires you to be flexible and forces you to take advantage of different opportunities. When you encounter a roadblock, evaluate your goals and determine whether it may be more beneficial to pivot from your current model.

Healthy Habits to Increase Productivity at Work

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Adam KidanA productive work week is always reflected by how you choose to prepare, and starts with the development of healthy habits. Entrepreneurs especially tend to have a jam-packed work week and often forget the power that maintaining a healthy lifestyle has on their bodies and minds. Here are some tips to make sure that you have as productive a day as possible so you can effectively lead and grow as an entrepreneur:

First, make sure you prepare for the coming day the night before. This means knowing what’s on your calendar. If you have important meetings or any calls the next day, be sure you have your notes ready and have done your research for how you want to lead the call or meeting before you tune out for the night. This does not have to be done in depth, because you should have time at work the next day to prepare, but it just gives you more notice of what you expect your schedule to be like the next day.

In addition, you should prepare what you need for the morning so you don’t leave anything important at home. And yes, this includes your lunch. Make a healthy lunch the night before so that you have food to fuel you throughout the day and so that you don’t rely on the office vending machine to cure your 11 am hunger.

Adam KidanSleep plays an important role in determining your productivity for the day. As you probably already know, when you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, your brain tends to be foggy and you most likely won’t be as productive as you would be after a good night’s sleep. In order to ensure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, turn off your electronic devices that can be extremely distracting before bed. We all know that Netflix can be addicting, especially if you’re in the middle of a great show. But turn it off, it’s not worth the fatigue the next day.

Another great way to start your day off right is by getting up and moving – this could mean working out, walking your dog, or even stretching in your living room. According to an article published on Entrepreneur.com, “Getting out of bed and making your body move gets the blood flowing and the brain synapses connecting again. If you aren’t in the habit of moving first thing when you get up, this may feel a little strange at first but trust me, it works,” (7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day). You will notice a near automatic surge in energy and a clearer head if you start moving first thing after you wake up.

Last, learn to tame your brain. As an entrepreneur, you will probably experience increased levels of stress and feel that you are overwhelmed at certain points throughout your week. To stay healthy and happy, learn to meditate. Meditating is scientifically proven to help people deal with stress and improve mind fluidity, allowing your brain to become more adaptable.

Overall, staying healthy is the most beneficial thing you can do in order to increase your productivity rate throughout the workday. Make sure you are eating right, sleeping well, and getting enough exercise each day so that you can feel well-nourished and balanced for your brain to function properly.