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4 Ways Startups Can Prepare to Survive Economic Tumult

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June 12, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The world is in a state of unprecedented tumult. Businesses and governments around the globe have been shaken to their cores by the COVID-19 coronavirus. This crisis has forced companies to ask their employees to work from home for their safety and improved productivity. In the startup world, though, many teams are already accustomed to remote work, and they can use this fact as a way to protect themselves from economic tumult. Here’s what we can learn from startups who have resisted economic crises in the past.   

1. Flexibility for the way people work

Around the world, the majority of large corporations still operate on inflexible, conservative management structures that care more about how long people are in the office than how productive they can be. The fear of being wrong or arriving late, rather than the urge to advance the company, rules most workers’ lives. Recent and current crises have shown that distributed, output-based companies like modern tech startups have a competitive advantage in survival over these larger corporations. 

At my firm, we encourage our startups to measure their employees’ work in outputs, rather than hours. If someone is more productive from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., then takes care of their kids during the day, and starts working again at night, it is counterproductive to expect them to be in an office from 9 to 5. This kind of flexibility also helps workers handle crises, since lost productivity during working hours can be made up at more convenient times. 

I have also personally found that creating a flexible work schedule encourages a more collaborative and less hierarchical work environment. It allows people to feel in control of their time, and they are more willing to dig deep for a project when required. Building an expectation that people can work however and whenever they feel most comfortable also means that productivity is less likely to decline.

Related: How the Coronavirus Has Changed the Future of Work

2. Work from home does work

As we are learning, many people who work in offices could do the majority of their job from just a laptop. Of course, this reality does not apply to many industries, including the service, entertainment, and travel industries, which rely heavily on in-person interactions. Startups in these industries also struggle when catastrophe hits but, for many startups, working from an office is more of a team-building exercise than a workplace necessity. 

Startups that are used to a flexible work situation where employees occasionally (or frequently) work from home have taken to social media lately to show other businesses how to follow in their footsteps and become more resilient to the current crisis. Others have spoken out about how to keep important data safe when working from a laptop at home, which might be less secure than office networks. Many startups who have experience working remotely and from home have an advantage in situations of crisis, allowing them to continue work without skipping a beat during complex times.

Related: During Uncertain Times, Your Startup Should be a Camel, Not a Unicorn. Here’s How to Be Prepared.

3. Solving problems quickly

Startups survive through rapid innovation, quick feedback loops and repeated trial-and-error. Changing plans is a part of growing quickly, and tech startups often outmaneuver their larger competitors by pivoting on a heel to test new business models and strategies. This mode of work means that startups can also react quickly to changing situations and look for opportunity in crisis.

Two event management startups, Rebus and InEvent, have looked for ways that event organizers can survive this period through online meetings, live broadcasts, and even a rewards system to benefit people who support their favorite artists through the crisis. Within days of the announcement for quarantine in Colombia, Rebus launched four new products to help manage essential board meetings, monetize online concerts, set up classes for small businesses, and organize drive-through coronavirus testing in four cities. InEvent, an end-to-end software for managing massive events, quickly launched a new platform to create virtual lobbies for conferences and meetings that can integrate with most video conferencing software. 

Mexican AI startup Roomie IT recognized the potential of its humanoid robot to help out health care workers. The company had its initial product prepared to market and sell to companies when the pandemic exploded. Using the model they had ready, they made adjustments so the robot can check patients’ temperature and oxygen levels and ask a few questions to determine whether a look by medical personnel is necessary. 

Colombian voice recognition startup Vozy is helping businesses automate their call centers. The company uses AI and machine learning technology to identify and learn regional Spanish accents and provide personalized virtual customer service. Demand for their services has skyrocketed since the pandemic outbreak.  

Related: 15 Work Apps That Can Help You Run Your Company Better

Colombian farm-to-restaurant platform Frubana was created to facilitate the food supply chain between producers and restaurants. However, with widespread lockdown measures in place, restaurant business has dropped off. In response, Frubana shifted its platform to provide online solutions for local neighborhood shops, which are serving as primary food sources for many people sheltering at home. 

This adaptability, which startups employ every day to solve problems affecting their growth, helps tech companies thrive even in the face of adversity.

4. Tech companies still struggle in crisis

Not all tech startups survive crises, however. During periods of uncertainty, investors tend to become more averse to risk, preferring to wait on new investments until times become more predictable. Enterprise startups may also struggle to find new clients as large businesses struggle to manage drops in sales and look to cut costs rather than taking on new software. Startups in the travel, restaurant, event, and service industries are facing the same challenges as their established competitors, but with smaller margins and less cash flow to bolster their survival. 

Although startups may have some advantages, hard times are hard for everyone. Economic shocks affect businesses of all sizes. The current global crisis will undoubtedly have an impact on the tech industry through a drop in investments, resistance to spending on innovation and a potential for a long period of time without significant revenue. However, crises can also be an opportunity for startups to flourish as they innovate quickly to provide solutions for struggling companies and individuals, from credit lines to virtual concerts.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/entrepreneur/latest/~3/9QmGQu6h6fc/349624

Entrepreneur

If You’re Not Using a CRM System for Your Small Business, You’re Wasting Time and Money

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4 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

If you run a business that sells anything—whether it’s home appliances, web design, hand-knit sweaters, pool cleaning, books, dance lessons, you name it—one of the most important things you have to do is generate leads, convert them into actual customers, and then keep them coming back for more. However, when you’re busy with all the other things your business requires, the last thing you need to be doing is manually entering customer information into a database, manually sending followup emails to leads and clients, manually recording customers sales and interactions, manually creating invoices, or manually booking appointments.

Luckily, we have technology to make all that easier. With a robust all-in-one CRM platform like Keap, you can automate all sorts of essential data management, sales, and marketing tasks, so you can grow your business without having to waste precious time on tedious data entry.

What is CRM?

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Customer relationship management, or CRM, is a system that businesses use to manage contacts, foster relationships with customers or potential customers, engage in successful marketing, and track leads through the sales pipeline.

The idea behind CRM has its origins in the 1970s and 1980s, when companies first started conducting surveys, collecting customer data, and analyzing it to help improve sales. By the early 1990s, software companies began developing dedicated CRM applications that automated the collection and sorting of customer data, as well as a number of other tasks. These applications became more advanced as technology improved. But because they required a lot of in-house computing power, they were only available to larger, more established businesses . 

Luckily, today those technological limitations no longer exist. Instead of buying copies of a program and installing it on an office full of computers, we buy subscriptions to powerful cloud-based apps that can run on a single laptop, tablet, or smartphone from anywhere. As a result, now even small businesses and startups can afford cutting edge CRM tools that can kickstart exponential growth. 

Today’s CRM platforms can do more than anyone had ever dreamed. And that brings us to Keap. 

Keap CRM, sales, and marketing automation.

keap crm

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The Keap platform was designed to automate customer relationship management, sales, and marketing, so you can get more done in less time. 

With Keap, you can automatically add and update contacts, and automatically record every communication and interaction so you know exactly where customers or potential customers are in the sales pipeline. You can also see customer details and easily call up a history of all meetings, payment, quotes, conversations, and emails. Plus contact segmentation lets you apply tags to contacts so you can sort customers and create custom demographics. 

Keap also lets you automate sales and marketing communications so nothing slips through the cracks. By using Keap’s simple “when/then” templates, you can generate automatic responses when someone sends an email, fills out a form, or schedules an appointment. You can also create more complicated sequences of automatic email messages that get sent based on time triggers or client interactions. 

Need an easy way to create web forms or landing pages and generate automatic quotes and invoices? Looking for online appointment scheduling? Want to create an email marketing campaign to nurture new leads or drive clients to specific promotions, products, or services? Keap can do it all. They send over a billion marketing emails a month with a 20-percent open rate and 13-percent click rate, both of which surpass industry standards. Keap also integrates with other business tools, like social media marketing apps, so everything stays connected. And it comes with a phone line and SMS messaging, so you can connect with clients via text, too. 

Go ahead, take a test drive.

keap

Keap
Keap offers three different plans at three different price points. And right now, all three are 50-percent off for the first three months. And if you want, you can even try before you buy, because Keap offers a free 14-day trial.

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, your time is extremely valuable. Don’t spend it doing things that algorithms can do faster and more efficiently. So take a look at Keap today, and see how their CRM, sales, and marketing automation tools can help grow your business. Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/357920

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It’s Time for You to Rise Up!

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The founder of the Wake Up Warrior movement discusses the obstacles men are facing and what they can do to overcome them.

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1 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Garrett J. White is the founder of Wake Up Warrior, a series of self-help programs for men, including the Warrior Week boot camps. He is also the author of Warrior Book and the host of the podcasts Warrior on FireWarrior Wealth and Date Your Wife. These related projects aim to help men achieve success, balance and happiness physically, spiritually, in family and business. In this episode of Leaders Create Leaders, White discusses with host Gerard Adams how he has scaled his business to transform thousands of men’s lives and create a global movement. 

White talks about the current state of culture, the importance of certainty compared to information and generational leadership tools. He explains how to face facts, flip the script and play the “Impossible Game.” He also gives tips for becoming a successful speaker and teacher.

Related: How to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Online Business with BossBabe

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/video/357952

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This CEO Doesn’t Look at Resumes When Hiring

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Working in software engineering, Aline Lerner saw firms overlook promising candidates who didn’t have fancy schools or top companies on their resumes. Her company, Interviewing.io, helps them get a foot in the door.

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4 min read

This story originally appeared on PC Mag

Ivy League degrees and stints at top firms don’t necessarily impress Aline Lerner.

Lerner, the co-founder and CEO of Interviewing.io, started her company after becoming frustrated by the lack of a meritocracy in software engineering. Resumes don’t tell the whole story, she found, and more candidates deserve a shot at the interview table.

Just look at Lerner’s own path. After studying brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, she decided to become a chef. “After spending some time in professional kitchens, I got exposed to how hiring in those kitchens happens, and it’s very, very different from what you might expect,” she says. “It’s extremely meritocratic. Basically, you come in in the morning with your knives, and then they teach you how to do the dishes that you’re responsible for. They also watch you chop stuff and watch you multitask, and if at the end of the night you did a good job, they hire you.”

When Lerner returned to software engineering, she soon realized it was nothing like working in a kitchen. “It wasn’t meritocratic at all,” she says. Companies fixated on where people had gone to school, or where they had worked previously, instead of what they could actually do. 

This annoyed Lerner so much that after four years working as the first female software developer at her company, she went into recruiting and eventually founded Interviewing.io, which allows people to anonymously practice their technical interview skills with senior engineers from companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and more.

“Our goal is to make hiring fair and more about what you can do than how you look on paper,” Lerner says.

How They Do It

First are mock interviews, which are a bit more academic than the work software engineers do every day. If people do well in the practice interviews, they unlock interviews with real companies, bypassing the resume review altogether. 

“Let’s say you want to interview at Twitter,” Lerner says. “You can do that as early as tomorrow if you’re one of our top performers, even if you didn’t go to a top school and even if your resume doesn’t look very good. No one’s going to look at it.”

Forty percent of Interviewing.io’s top performers are nontraditional, meaning they took an alternate route to get to software engineering. Many have been rejected by a company only to be hired by the same firm after rigorous interview prep with Interviewing.io, Lerner says.

On Imposter Syndrome and Hiring Internally

Lerner is proud of the work she does, but she still struggles with an issue many women in tech face: imposter syndrome, or feeling like a fraud.

“I don’t think it ever really goes away.” she says. “What helps is one, being so busy that you don’t have time to doubt yourself. And two is repetition and proving to yourself and others that you belong. There’s no shortcut, I think.”

Lerner saw a lack of gender diversity in her time at MIT and while working at companies like TrialPay and Clicktime.com. Now that she’s CEO of her own company, she gets to set the culture for 10 employees and hundreds of contractors. 

One of the things she’s most proud of is hiring internally. “I just don’t look at resumes,” Lerner says. “Until it comes up in conversation much later, I generally don’t know what school my employees have attended. We try to interview people based on their ability, and try to make interviews very practical.” 

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/358105

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