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5 Steps Entrepreneurs Can Take to Adapt During Difficult Times

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June 12, 2020 7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Proof that pandemics can accelerate innovation can be found as far back as the Black Death in Europe during the 1300s. The Plague eventually forced the people of the Late Middle Ages to reassess their medical practices — which were previously rooted in religion — and adapt them in favor of a more scientific approach, thereby moving the world towards modern medicine. 

Of course, the medical field is ripe for innovative ideas and tools to combat the novel coronavirus. It’s why we’re already seeing tech startups leverage AI as an effective tool during the pandemic. 

One of the earliest examples of this came on Dec. 31, when BluDot, a company tracking the spread of infectious diseases using artificial intelligence, informed their clients of a collection of pneumonia-related cases in Wuhan, China, a week before the World Health Organization announced the discovery of the novel coronavirus.

Perhaps one of the best ways AI can combat COVID-19 might be in its ability to help researchers predict the evolution of the virus. This could come in the form of learning algorithms that simulate the different ways the virus can evolve, allowing researchers to add potential vaccines to the algorithm to test against each mutation. It’s an idea already posited by Ahmer Inam, Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer at Pactera Edge, and it speaks to AI’s potential to help the medical field get ahead of the virus as it continues to evolve. Then there is India’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing App, which uses a phone’s Bluetooth and GPS systems to alert any app user in the country who has come in the vicinity of a COVID-19 infected person. 

In addition to these, there is the PACT project at MIT, which performs contact tracing while preserving individual privacy. More great minds are adding possible solutions to the world. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Human Vaccines Project announced the Human Immunomics Initiative that will use A.I. models to accelerate vaccine development. And, as always, we can look to Slovenia for innovation. There, Telekom Slovenije upgraded its existing telemedicine solution to help healthcare professionals remotely monitor COVID-19 patients continuously and round the clock.

These examples of AI solutions already being applied to the coronavirus aren’t to suggest tech and AI startups don’t have challenges they must overcome to avoid ending up in the startup cemetery. Some of those challenges are all too familiar, including the usual difficulties companies face in integrating new technology and the challenges start-ups face in predicting time-to-market or time-to-ROI. 

Further, many of these companies will face internal challenges rooted in either cultural barriers that slow adoption within enterprises, or in selling their efforts to their C-suite and getting full leadership buy-in, a necessary step for the proper allocation of resources needed to support innovation and new technological endeavors.

Related: 3 Tips to Find a Good AI Partner for Your Recovery

What can we learn from the entrepreneurs already adjusting to COVID-19?

There are steps AI-centered entrepreneurs can take to pivot now and come out on the other end of this pandemic stronger, more viable, and ahead of their peers. Here are five ways you can position your company to be the one your clients turn to a crisis.

1. Aim for less integration, data access and onboarding.

Overcoming deployment challenges should be a primary focus for entrepreneurs in the immediate future. Entrepreneurs will need to determine how they can rely on less access to data and require less integration but get the same or better results for their clients. The speed-bumps of internal bureaucracy can slow companies. Certainly, larger corporations face these impediments.

However, successful tech start-ups and AI entrepreneurs can streamline the onboarding process for their clients. One way to do that is to explore what data is most similar across clients and focus on streamlining that area. Once you remove the friction inherent in the integration and automation of key business processes with your clients, you’ll be able to push more quickly for the adoption of new technological practices and tools.

2. Listen for the core issues, then define the new normal.

You can outsource ideas for innovation by relying on your customers. After all, the products and services you innovate will inevitably be developed to fill a need for your clients. 

Talk to your customers to find out what problems they’re most concerned about as well as what they feel their new normal looks like. Do they feel like the economy is going to rebound? Your clients have been told they’re living in “unprecedented times” with an “uncertain future.” Those are empty phrases, and your clients are still left worrying about the health and wealth of their families, teams and businesses. By reviewing existing pipelines on a person-to-person level, you truly listen to your customers, receive their worries and better determine where AI solutions can help to address those concerns.

As your customers define the new normal, you can change your value propositions to match the priorities of the market they’re describing, ultimately allowing you to add value where opportunities present themselves.

Related: 4 Ways AI Is Making the World a Safer Place

3. Don’t be a savior — focus on one problem at a time.

Of course, your clients will not run short on potential problems worth worrying about. Still, don’t adopt a savior mentality and attempt to address all of your clients’ concerns with one or multiple AI solutions concurrently. Adding more to the equation works against streamlining integration, ultimately keeping you from employing new solutions quicker.

Instead, start by identifying a single, meaningful problem you can solve for your client. And be sure to have COVID-19 in mind to be sensitive when pitching these solutions. Then, take this same approach with each client – employing this strategy across your clientele. That’s not to say you offer a boilerplate approach to each customer, nor should you fall into the trap of promoting AI-based solutions as a way to intrigue your client or raise the price of doing business. Don’t lose sight of the goal, which is to provide solutions swiftly and present the value of your AI solutions to your customers.

4. Use your entrepreneurial skills to help the most vulnerable.

You can help save the world during a time like this. According to the World Economic Forum, social entrepreneurs have helped nearly 622 million people over the past 20-plus years, improving lives by providing innovative solutions to ever-present issues such as providing improved access to health, sanitation, education and energy. What are the issues you see facing our most vulnerable? Of these issues, which ones will not be solved through governmental response? Focus on those, and you will make a true difference in lives. 

5. Lastly, but mostly, be proactive and resilient.

The AI solutions you’ve already seen implemented in response to COVID-19 illustrate why entrepreneurs are well-positioned to be the most resilient players during the pandemic. Still, those who thrive post-pandemic will embrace a proactive and resilient — as opposed to reactive — approach. Entrepreneurs, large enterprises and the world at large can’t afford to use current insecurities about an unknown future as an excuse to be reactive.

So, dwell less on the immediate inhibitors to production like disrupted supply chains and cash flow, and instead, find opportunities for your next competitive advantage without losing sight of potential long-term wins. And remember that a proactive, entrepreneurial mindset means looking for new ways to operate and innovate in these “challenging times.” 

Those who can innovate are more likely to find success.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/entrepreneur/latest/~3/mdwzTQCfxoQ/350599

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?

Keap 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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