Competitive Edge
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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Personal and Corporate Branding!

4 Mindset Changes Successful People Adopt For Unprecedented Success

4 Mindset Changes Successful People Adopt For Unprecedented Success | Competitive Edge |

Successful people adopt certain mindset changes that help them achieve unprecedented success.

Nowhere today is this more apparent than in the business world. New technologies are launched daily, business models have changed and continue to change, lean startup thinking has proliferated and the traditional business plan is not what it used to be. Who wants to read a 40-page business plan nowadays? I sure don’t.

Change often stems from external factors; things or events that are outside our control. And many people spend an unnecessary amount of time and energy focusing on them. Successful people accept that change has and will continue to happen for eternity. They adopt certain mindset changes, that makes them different and have helped, and continue to help them achieve unprecedented success. Here are four! Read more: click image or title.



FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Dave...I downloaded your business plan template...It is great!!!...My tax consultants say your plan is amazing. Thanks Dave!!!


Via Rami Kantari, massimo facchinetti
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

“Change is the only constant in life.”Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher.

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All 7 Shark Tank Stars Share Tips on How to Become a Millionaire

All 7 Shark Tank Stars Share Tips on How to Become a Millionaire | Competitive Edge |
Hard work, persistence and scrimping win the day, so say these millionaire and billionaire Sharks.

If there's one thing the stars of Shark Tank know, it's how to make money. 

Mark Cuban opened a bar before he was of legal drinking age. The brazen college campus venture lasted six short months. A scandalous snafu with a wet T-shirt contest led to the watering hole’s "sorry end." The former bartender's later business bets -- legal ones, of the tech-related kind -- fared exponentially better, eventually landing him in the millionaire club. Then, not long after, into the three commas club, the realm of billionaires.

Kevin O’Leary came into his first millions after spinning a $10,000 seed investment from his mother into an edtech startup. In not too long, Mattel scooped it up for $3.6 billion. Daymond John stitched a $100,000 seed investment from his mom (who mortgaged her house to give it to him) into FUBU. The fashion startup cleared hundreds of millions in sales within six years.

Chris Sacca’s path to millions -- and later to billions -- is tied to incredibly successful startups, too, though, interestingly, none of his own. He lucked out with some very early and very wise investments in Uber, Instagram, Twitter and Kickstarter, and that’s just the short list.

Lori Greiner spun her love of inventing solutions to everyday annoyances into a multi-million-dollar retail operation. Robert Herjavec, also a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, went from rags to astronomical riches within a few years of emigrating from Croatia to Canada in the pursuit of a better life. And, after failing at 22 jobs, former diner waitress Barbara Corcoran turned $1,000 she borrowed from a boyfriend into a $6 billion-dollar New York City real estate empire that's still going strong.

We recently caught up with all seven Shark Tank star investors on the Culver City, Calif., set of the hit show. There, from behind the scenes of Sony Pictures' Stage 30, they shared their advice on how to become a millionaire. Here’s what they told us: Read more: click image or title.



FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Dave...I downloaded your business plan template...It is great!!!...My tax consultants say your plan is amazing. Thanks Dave!!!

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some of these entrepreneurs talk about the same one thing you need to be successful.

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4 Things You Can Do Today to Make More Money Every Day

4 Things You Can Do Today to Make More Money Every Day | Competitive Edge |
If growth or income has stalled in your business, these four things can help you right away.

Money isn’t the only reason to start or grow a business but you better believe it’s important. If your business isn’t making money, all you have is a nice hobby. There are a lot of activities you can do that seem like they will lead to income but they won’t. Successful entrepreneurs avoid the time wasters and focus on what will help their business grow.

There are four things you could do today -- you could start right now if you’re not doing them -- that could lead to more income in your business. These are simple but overlooked strategies that have withstood the test of time and technology. Your business can experience explosive growth with the right focus. Read more: click image or title.



FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

True. This is good advice. Take a look.

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The 7 Qualities of People Who Are Highly Respected

The 7 Qualities of People Who Are Highly Respected | Competitive Edge |
Leaders are judged on their results and respected for how well they treat people.

Respect is something not automatically given. It must be earned. When you’re in a leadership position, it is imperative that the people with whom you work respect you. They might respect your work habits, your intelligence, or your ability to close a deal. Yet, there’s more to respect than that. If you can earn their respect as a person, then you’ve really won the game.

Here are some tips for earning more respect.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

You will get #respect when you give it. Results come according to what you put out first.

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How to Transform What You're 'Good at' into a Scalable Business

How to Transform What You're 'Good at' into a Scalable Business | Competitive Edge |
If side-hustling is one of your 2016 New Year's resolutions, here are five good questions to get you started.

It’s commonly said that if you do what you love, you’ll never "work" a day in your life. And, while that may not be absolutely true, much can be said for transforming your passions, interests and natural (or developed) talents into a scalable business.

Of course, running your own startup will take more than just passion, but it’s a good place to begin. So, how do you transform your talents into a scalable business?

Here are five important questions to ask yourself as you begin to hone your skills into a business that can thrive. Read more: click on your image or title.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This is a big issue for most people. Usually you don't really know what makes you unique until you start getting comments or opinions from others. Five excellent questions shed some light on this very important 'problem'.

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Technology in Business Today!

Facebook has given birth to a bunch of startups who want to change how Businesses use Tech

Facebook has given birth to a bunch of startups who want to change how Businesses use Tech | Competitive Edge |

Facebook makes nearly all of its money from ads. It's also begun investing in moonshot projects from virtual reality headsets to drones and laser communication systems.

One area it doesn't talk about: the $3.5 trillion enterprise tech market. That's how much money businesses spend on tech every year to run their companies and help employees do their jobs. 

Although Facebook did recently introduce an experiemental Facebook At Work service which lets teams use Facebook to communicate and share stuff, it's not much of a focus for the company.

All of which might make it seem as if Facebook has been completely absent from that that $3.5 trillion market.

But it hasn't. 

Facebook has actually helped cook up a whole bunch of startups that want to change the way enterprises use tech.

They were inspired by how Facebook uses technology to run its massive social network, often giving away the technology it invents for free, everything from data center hardware designs to databases.

Here's a look at some of the unusual enterprise startups from Facebook.Read more: click image or title.

Need funding?

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

"Hey Dave!
I bought one of your business planning templates and have been receiving your emails and videos for a few months now…
I just wanted to say thanks for cranking out such amazing work!
You're doing an incredible job, and I know entrepreneurs everywhere are benefiting from it!
Please, keep it up! Wishing you all the best!"
Colin Pape
President, Inc.

Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Facebook funds startups through its own corporate culture. Solutions were created for them and taken to another level. Great example of corporate funding.

Mzos Pune's curator insight, August 7, 2015 5:36 AM

MZOS News! IT and Business Trends as it happens. Read to get the latest updates. Click now:

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6 Practical Steps to Learning How to Build a Startup

6 Practical Steps to Learning How to Build a Startup | Competitive Edge |

Starting a new and innovative business is not a highly structured process, and finding time for structured learning is unlikely.

Despite the rush in every academic institution to offer more courses on entrepreneurship, I still haven’t found it to be something you can learn in school. Of course, you can pick up the basic principles this way, but the problem is that the practical rules for success are changing so fast that no academic can keep up. The best thing you can learn in school is how to learn.

The successful entrepreneurs I have met and worked with over the years all seem to share that passion for learning, and they see rapid market change not as a problem, but as an opportunity for them to move ahead of the crowd in changing the world. Making big money is usually the last thing on their mind, and most are happy living on Ramen noodles in a sparse apartment.

From a practical standpoint, there are many ways to learn about business change, and the opportunities that may spring up at any moment. Here are six steps that every aspiring entrepreneur should take full advantage of:  Click on title or image to read more.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

When you're underwater, and resource-constrained, like most startups, Growthink can be a valuable partner to help you progress in areas like organizing and developing the business plan and pursuing funding.
Their service can be a well-managed extension of your own human resources. The people at Growthink care about their work and are very "hands-on", which is required in this process.
We found Growthink to be strong not only with the assigned projects, but also the extra things needed to get a company off the ground, and not always specifically laid out in the assignment - networking for advisors, funding sources, potential partners. We used them for more than one of our startups.  
- Marc Junkunc, Principal

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Martin Zwilling hits the nail right on the head. There is no school to learn how to create startups or how to be an entrepreneur. Just learn how to learn, see opportunities, adapt, be flexible... Great article.

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Business Tips!

9 Ways to Fix a Bad First Impression

9 Ways to Fix a Bad First Impression | Competitive Edge |
Bungled that all important first meeting? All is not lost if you follow this advice.

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression," the old aphorism tells us, and both science and lived experience testify to the truth of this everyday wisdom. First impressions are quick, powerful and lasting, which is why it's so important to do everything you can to make a good one.

But sometimes, despite your best efforts to be charming, something goes wrong. Personalities clash, jokes fall flat, nerves get the best of you, or one party is simply having an off day, so a relationship starts with a fizzle rather than a bang. Is there anyway to bounce back from this sort of lousy first impression?

To the relief of entrepreneurs, job seekers, and anxious daters everywhere, experts agree that while changing a first impression can be difficult, it is often doable. Here are some of their top tips for turning things around.

1. Decide whether it's worth sweating

Not everyone gets along with everyone. That's OK. You don't have to please every Tom, Dick and Harriet you meet. So your first response to the sense that you and a new acquaintance didn't get off on the right foot is to assess whether it's worth worrying about in the first place.

"I'm all about building a confident first impression but sometimes people get too caught up in having to make a perfect first impression," leadership trainer and host of the Coaching for Leaders podcast Dr. Dave Stachowiak told the Art of Manliness (you'd have to assume this tip applies to the ladies as well). "Does it really matter to try to fix it? Is it really a big deal? If not, let it go."

2. Stop pretending

One common way to muck up an introduction is to stress yourself out pretending you're something you're not. Not only is this bound to make you awkward and unhappy, almost everyone can sniff out this kind of falseness and very few will respond positively to it. If your nerves got the better of you and you put on airs, the fix is simple, according to Tom Jaffee, a dating service CEO who has no doubt seen plenty of first meetings gone wrong. His solution: confess and stop.

"Your best hope is to be honest with the person," Jaffee told Real Simple. "Admit you were just trying to make a good impression." Follow that spoken honesty up by acting like yourself the next time you meet.

3. Apologize...

If you got off on the wrong foot because of a simple stumble on your part, own it and apologize. "Sometimes bad first impressions are caused by genuine mistakes. Perhaps you discussed a touchy subject unknowingly or mistook your new contact for someone else. Simply apologize for your mistake," advises career expert Heather R. Huhman.

4. ...but don't over-apologize

While admitting to to a misstep or to letting your nerves get the best of you can pay dividends, according to counselor and coach Susan Fee, you should nevertheless avoid over-apologizing for a dicey first meeting. "Saying you're sorry is important, but overdoing it can create another uncomfortable situation," she has written on her blog. "It puts the other person in the uncomfortable position of having to constantly reassure you."

5. Don't let your imagination run away with you

Fee also cautions against assuming your impressions of the meeting match up with those of the other party. Sometimes we think we screwed up far worse than we did. "Usually what we imagine is far worse than reality. Approach your apology by owning your feelings rather than telling others how you assume they feel. This gives you a chance to test their perceptions and get a real handle on the situation," advises Fee.

"So, instead of starting out with, 'You must think I'm a total idiot.' speak for yourself, 'I'm uncomfortable with how I behaved yesterday because I realized I might have offended you. Did you feel the same way?'" she suggests. That way you'll avoid over-apologizing.

6. Pivot

If a straight apology doesn't seem to suit the situation, you can always try pivoting instead. "One of the best approaches for recovering from a bad first impression is to pivot by showing off a different and more favorable side of your personality. In other words, if you tried to crack a joke and it fell flat, then demonstrate sincerity. Or if you tried to be sincere and it rang hollow, then demonstrate compassion. Pivoting to focus on a different aspect of your personality may help to reshape the perception of your character and value," explains the Art of Manliness.

Huhman agrees. "If you're a generally shy person, that shyness may come off as being rude or inconsiderate. Similarly, a feisty personality may be perceived as overbearing and disrespectful. Whatever the case, try to adjust your responses to balance this personality trait. If you're shy, smile more and initiate conversation. If you're too outgoing, take a step back and listen," she advises.

7. Ask for advice

This tip comes from persuasion guru Robert Cialdini via a Dorie Clark Forbes post. If someone dislikes you, one way to put the relationship on a fresh footing is to ask the person for advice. Not only is this flattering to the person being asked, but also offers an opening for further positive interactions. Say you ask for a book recommendation. "Suddenly, you have the basis of an interaction, because now when you return it, you can return it with a book you think he or she might like," says Cialdini.

8. Be persistent...

If you're really determined to win someone over after a rough start, be warned that your efforts may take some time. "A Harvard study suggests that it will take eight subsequent positive encounters to change that person's negative opinion of you. In this context be persistent and patient," leadership specialist Roz Usheroff reports on LinkedIn.

9. ... and consistent

While a sustained effort over time may be required to change a bad first impression, it's not sufficient. You also need to be stable in your subsequent behavior, Fee cautions: "Overcoming a bad impression requires that all future behavior be consistent with how you want to be perceived."

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Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

I think 2 and 7 are my favorites. Be honest and don't pretend, that's the main one.

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Business Tips!

A list of great Startup Tools to ensure success for your new Business Startup

A list of great Startup Tools to ensure success for your new Business Startup | Competitive Edge |
Are you a startup owner then here are some startup tools for you to make your small business successful.

Job designation such as a “Startup Owner” may sound fantastic to many but actually it’s a 24/7 job that comes with  hectic situations and frustrations being caused by various reasons, which multiplies by 2x if you have an application as a product that helps users in some way. In this post we look at some startup tools that can help you on your way to success.

One of the main reasons why a startup owner may face tough situations could be due to the problems that may arise during the development phase of the application. Besides, there are financiers’ expectations and once the application is launched, you have to get your hands dirty with user experience, satisfaction and their expectations’ fulfillment.

In this tough and constantly challenging situation, it’s impossible for them to keep a track of everything unless they have some tools and apps that may assist them in managing and speeding up their work.

In the following article, I am going to list down the tools and apps that startup owners must have in order to keep track of everything and run the errands efficiently.

Pre-development Phase

Below is a list of applications that start up owners should have in order to stay ahead of everything in terms of managing a team, keeping oneself updated with industry news and more.

Not necessarily for the startup owners only, but feedly is a kind of tool that is helpful for anyone who frequently reads internet blogs, magazines and newspapers and wants to stay updated with  every news pertaining to  the industry.

For startup owners, it is important to stay up-to-date with all the new happenings in the app world as well as the niche that they are targeting and Feedly can help them do the same in minutes.

Before the application development phase, there is a complete round of crazy sessions including the idea development, brainstorming of ideas and more. In case you need to share these product development ideas as files over the Internet, it might turn out to be a little difficult sharing them on emails. This dropbox (alternate options could be box and Google Drive) utility can be very effective as this allows people to share one file with multiple users without sending emails, etc.

This is an amazing tool that cannot only be used in the pre-development phase but it can help one throughout the entire project. This tool helps you communicate with the team members who are either in-house or virtually working for you.

Under-Development Phase

In the following paragraphs, I am going to discuss the tools that you need when you are developing your application, a website for it and more.

This is a very important tool that almost every startup owner should use so that they can create multiple landing pages of their website and see which version is working well and which does not interact better with the audience.

Startup owners should have this tool so that they can gauge the performance of their marketing website in terms of how it is going to interact with the target audience and how they will respond to it.

Another tool that should be owned by the startup owners is Trello. This helps them divide the work amongst different departments and keep a track of it on real time basis.

This is actually an ideal tool for developers; however, if the startup owner is technically sound, s/he can double check if there are any security issues within the application.

Most of the applications are usually being launched without a proper check, and therefore, a number of security and code issues are detected in the later stage. This tool helps you get rid of all the problems before the actual application is being launched.

Beta Testing Phase

Google Analytics allows you to track the visitors of your website and learn more details about the web traffic that is visiting the website and the application itself.

This is an important tool for startup owners as this helps them understand the audience of the website, on the basis of which, they can perform tweaks and make other business decisions.

Cyfe is a marketing and CRM dashboard that allows startup owners to keep a track of the whole project under one roof.

Tout App is another important tool that not only helps you in the beta testing phase but it would also help the business once the application is being launched.

Tout App tells you what happens after you send the email to your preferred beta testing list. ToutApp also keeps you posted about details as in when people open your emails and click on the links. It helps you provide customized follow-up, either through another email or a phone call.

After the Final Launch

This is an email marketing tool that allows you to send customize email to your email list and see how they are interacting with the website and the application.

This tool is great not only to see how your list is reacting to your emails but it also helps you interact with your team more efficiently.

This app   helps you schedule your social media messages and sends them at a time when your target audience is found to be active. Buffer also keeps a track of how your audience is interacting with your social messages.

Mention is another important tool for the startup owners once they launch the app. Mention keeps a check on the web and sends you an email if someone mentions your application with the name somewhere, so that you can respond to it accordingly.

There are several apps being available in the industry but the above-mentioned ones are a few that can help startup owners keep track of the whole project and allow them to stay up to date with everything during the entire development process.

Are you a startup owner? Are you using any other applications and tools that help you work more efficiently? Please share with us in the comments section.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent list with great tools.

BSN's curator insight, October 1, 2014 7:25 AM
Are you a startup owner then here are some startup tools for you to make your small business successful. #business #startup #tools
Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from digital marketing strategy!

Add Value or Someone Else Will

Add Value or Someone Else Will | Competitive Edge |

The lure of maximising profits at the cost of creating customer value can be devastating in the long term.

In 2006, I moved to Mumbai and as soon as I landed, I looked for a taxi. A smiling taxi driver came up to me and asked me where I wanted to go. When I told him my location, his smile vanished. He was almost leaving when he stopped and asked me if I would be willing to pay Rs350, the fare for a long distance (and more profitable for him) carriage.

‘But I will pay by the meter? That is why you have it? Isn’t it?’ I said, irritated at the attempt to hustle me. The cabbie left without even arguing. I took the next taxi and paid Rs350 when I should have paid Rs100.

Even afterwards, the taxi experience annoyed me. Faulty meters, smelly interiors, no air-conditioning, bad maintenance and a jerky ride that tossed you back and forth every time the brakes were applied.

Everyone wants to grow. Therefore, the taxi driver’s inclination to increase profit cannot be frowned upon. However, he should have known that increasing profits without increasing value is a short-term high and, much like narcotics, can be devastating in the long term. 

Short-term gain, long-term pain

While taxi drivers continued to increase their profit through various means, the value delivered to the customer diminished. The void between price charged and value delivered expanded.

Then, in 2007, a new taxi service came and happily filled the void. While, the fare was about 20% higher, the value delivered was vastly superior.

Proper meters, clean interiors, well maintained vehicles, effective air-conditioning and most importantly, the taxi never refused to go where you wanted to go. In fact, the system remembered your most-frequented destinations saving you time reciting addresses repeatedly.

All in all, you could book a taxi in an instant and get transported to your destination comfortably, in time, and without looking like a zoo animal.

If you are not providing value, someone else will. Today, the old taxi service is without options except to ask the government for concessions. The new tax service, meanwhile, continues to grow. Now, it operates thousands of taxis and has spread across many cities of India. This reminded me of a parable I used in a training program.

The coal merchant

There once lived a coal merchant who had a shop in a village. Every day, the coal merchant would purchase coal from his suppliers at Rs100 and sell at Rs150, making a profit of Rs50. He wanted to grow and was impatient to increase his profits.

One day, an old friend stopped at his shop and made him an extraordinary offer: ‘I will sell you coal at Rs50’, he said.

Unable to conceal his excitement, the merchant asked him ‘How will you do it? The market rate is Rs100, why are you selling at Rs50?’

The friend looked around to make sure that no one was listening, he bent closer to the merchant and whispered in his ears: ‘this coal is very low quality but your customers wouldn’t know. They are little black rocks after all’

After seeing his friend off and tempted at the additional profit that he could generate, the merchant turned to his father.

‘The objective of business is to make profit, isn’t it?’ he asked his father.

‘Sure’ his father answered.

‘…and to grow your business, you need to make more and more profit’ he said further.

‘Yes’ said the father.

‘My friend is going to supply me coal at half the price. It is low quality coal but it will double our profit’ said the son, ‘I am confused. Is it dishonesty to try and increase your profit? We are not here to do charity either, are we?’

‘No, you are right, we are not here to do charity. We run business and profit is our right. But, What is the customers right?’ asked his father.

‘To get coal’ said the son.

‘Not just that. It is to get the benefit of the coal. They pay so that they can burn this coal and use that energy to make their lunch’ said the father, ‘right now, you are extracting the price for the coal and delivering the benefit of the coal to the customer. If you buy the bad quality coal, you are still extracting the price but are you delivering the benefit? Will the customer, after buying the bad quality coal, get the energy that they paid for?’

‘That is dis-honesty son. Seeking to exert your right and ignoring the customer’s right. Seeking to create profits without delivering the benefits.'

The lesson from the story is simple. There is no right to profit greater than the obligation to provide value.

Companies must never forget that their customers are under no obligation to part with a greater amount of their spending, just so they can show up on the Fortune 500. Their growth must be with the customers, not despite them. The Mumbai taxi service is a case in point.

Add value

This could appear to be a fight between large corporate structures and small mom-and-pop structures. Seeing it like that is a fallacy.

Looking at the retail sector in India, the biggest organised retail chains have had to face defeat at the hands of small neighbourhood retailers in numerous cases. The reason: convenience and personalised service. The neighbourhood retailer knows you by name even though he ensures that you never have to travel to his shop. His delivery person comes every day to your house, sometimes even for small (unviable) orders. The retailer celebrates festivals with you, congratulates you on your achievements, and participates in your sorrow, makes small talk with you about the upcoming cricket match and gives you credit (without filling up a form!). Clearly, there is a relationship that is more valuable to the customer than the lower price or choice that a supermarket offers.

The only fight here is to create value for the customer, in some way, whatever way. Bigger is not better. Focussed is better. There is always some value that you can add. Where there is a will to create value, there are many ways, and not all require you to be a large corporation willing to make million dollar investments.  

Large corporations and entrepreneurs, all want to grow and increase their profits. However, trying to increase profits without increasing value delivered to the customers is not only unfair, it is just bad business.

Venugopal Gupta is the founder of The Business Parables, a firm that helps organisations communicate goals and outcomes using the power of short stories. You can follow him on Twitter @venugopal_gupta.

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Via Kenneth Mikkelsen, Pascale Mousset, malek
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Nice stories. Always keep 'adding value' in mind when running a business. It will pay off in the end.

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Next Generation Customers Will Test Every Business - Startup Professionals Musings

Next Generation Customers Will Test Every Business - Startup Professionals Musings | Competitive Edge |

If you think your business has weathered the storm, think again. In addition to obvious economic challenges, the emerging generation of customers is determined to radically change the rules for customer engagement. Their expectations of relationship and personalization are taxing businesses today, and their power through social media will kill those who can’t or won’t comply.

An eye-opening list of insights was just released in a new book, “Build for Change,” by Alan Trefler, Founder and CEO of Pegasystems. He makes a convincing argument that it’s time for every company to get prepared for the next customer generation, or your company is heading toward life support.

As a backdrop, he defines the evolution already in progress from current Gen Y customers to a more demanding and less tolerant state (Gen D) that will make them even quicker and more technologically able to demonize and destroy your business, if it won’t meet their norms of interaction, personalization, and purpose.

While I’m not so sure that I agree that these represent the ultimate apocalypse of customers, I do believe the solutions he recommends should be taken seriously by every entrepreneur. I summarize here my interpretation of his key points:

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

After posting the previous infographic about how one unhappy customer can be a disaster for your business, this is a more detailed and analytical approach to how to manage your business and deal with your clients in this rapidly changing business environment. Good stuff.

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Women in Business!

12 Business Questions You Should Ask Yourself Today

12 Business Questions You Should Ask Yourself Today | Competitive Edge |

What single business-related question should every young founder ask themselves tomorrow and why?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Via Alldens Lane
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some tough questions. Good to look over this list once in a while.

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What is - YouTube

Explanation of the concept of

The platform that helps connect the entrepreneurial world.

Grab your invitation here:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

I love this concept: linking entrepreneurs, providers, capital, business ideas, and resources. Take a look.

Here is a personal invitation:

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Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Technology in Business Today!

Things to Do Before Starting a Small Business

Things to Do Before Starting a Small Business | Competitive Edge |

The idea of starting a small business can be very intimidating. The pressures and pitfalls loom large, making one wonder if it is worth the effort. But with zeal, planning, and diligence you can deal with, if not avoid most of these pitfalls. The key here is a good foundation. So, without further ado, here are a few steps that will help you start your small business with every chance of success. Read more" click image or title.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Here are some basics to look at before starting a #business.

Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, August 3, 8:45 AM

Start with a simple #businessplan and make the foundation for good business practices.

Grimel's curator insight, August 3, 4:18 PM

Mi empresa, que considerar antes de un emprendimiento.

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6 Secrets of Radical Productivity, From an Entrepreneur Who Runs 4 Businesses

6 Secrets of Radical Productivity, From an Entrepreneur Who Runs 4 Businesses | Competitive Edge |
Emergency confetti is more important than you might think.


Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Swiss-born designer also known as Swiss Miss, runs four businesses with just 17 employees. And they're not small businesses. The one for which she is probably best-known, an event series called CreativeMornings, hosts monthly events in 100 cities. Tattly, another of her companies, makes temporary tattoos that have been sold by the Tate Modern. Her to-do list app, TeuxDeux, has fans such as Seth Godin and the blog Design Milk. And oh, she runs a co-working space in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood, called Friends. (An earlier version of this story said that Eisenberg had five employees. She clarified that CreativeMornings has five employees.)

How does she do it? At a breakfast hosted by podcast series Broadmic and co-working space LMHQ earlier this month, Eisenberg spoke with early-stage investor and startup advisor Kelly Hoey about her journey as an entrepreneur. Depending on your perspective, Eisenberg's keys to success are going to warm your heart or make your eyes roll: Fun. Love. Trust. And, of course, emergency confetti.

Here are a few of the maxims that Eisenberg says she, and her businesses, live by.  Read more: click image or title.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

First rule: No complaining. Either fix it or let it go!

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How to Survive Your First Year of Entrepreneurship

How to Survive Your First Year of Entrepreneurship | Competitive Edge |
Follow these tips in order to make it through the first year and beyond as a successful entrepreneur.

Most entrepreneurs bail in the first year.

Why? To be honest, it is hard. It’s not all glamor and glitz. You don’t rocket to stardom in a few short months, drive a McLaren, date Hollywood celebs and take baths in hundred-dollar bills.

In fact, you’re lucky if you survive at all.

Thankfully, there are some secrets to survival. Entrepreneurs survive by pursuing more than fast cars and lots of cash. Entrepreneurs survive by following these rules. Read more: click image or title.




Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Your BP template help me achieve the goals I've been trying for 5 years. The template led me to produce an effective tool to attract the investors I need.

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Neil Patel's tips for #entrepreneurs make sense and relate to real situations.

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400 Awesome Free Things for Entrepreneurs and Startups

400 Awesome Free Things for Entrepreneurs and Startups | Competitive Edge |
All the free tools to start and grow your startup and business.

Here is one more to help create your Business Plan:

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Via StartupYard
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Find some free #tools in this amazing pile of #resources. Freebies for #Business, #Marketing, #Design and #Code, #Productivity and #Learning.


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10 Ways You Can Gain Trust Online

10 Ways You Can Gain Trust Online | Competitive Edge |
Build your reputation and credibility with these tested tactics.

Trust is one of the most challenging things to earn and the easiest to break. When you’re first starting to build your brand, gaining the trust of your prospective new clients and keeping the trust of your current clients is life or death for your business.

When you add the extra dimension of building trust online, with a person you’ve never actually met or spoken with, establishing trust can be even more difficult. So what are some of the best ways to go about building trust? You might think it’s just a matter of having integrity, but there is a lot more to the complex relationship of trust than simply being honest. In fact, honesty is something your clients implicitly expect, so you’ll have to go beyond that basic building block.

Here are 10 ways you can gain more trust with your clients online.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Trust and Reputation are major factors in good business.

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A Vision Beyond The Bottom Line - Heart Warming Insights From a Female CEO

A Vision Beyond The Bottom Line - Heart Warming Insights From a Female CEO | Competitive Edge |

I recently headed out to an industry conference and in between presentations and networking, I caught up with an old friend and respected CEO. At one point, I shared how I loved that my digital and social media consultancy had remained a “lifestyle business” – even though we continue to grow and thrive, our team spends their weekends with family and friends and pursues their passions instead of logging hours in the office. He looked stricken for me and expressed concern that I spend my time building a company culture when I could be devising a lucrative exit plan.

That conversation, along with innumerable discussions I’ve had with fellow CEOs, confirmed a suspicion I’ve fostered for a while – that when it comes to running a company, men and women take profoundly different approaches.

Read more: click image or title.

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Via Alldens Lane
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Women build relationships and have very different goals in business. Their businesses are structured differently, and decisions are made differently, every day. Read this very interesting article. Men might benefit from some of these concepts. It's about people, and creating sane businesses, not insane profits in the shortest time possible.

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14 Things You Should Give Up Chasing No Matter What Others Say

14 Things You Should Give Up Chasing No Matter What Others Say | Competitive Edge |
Find out why it's counterproductive to be chasing dreams, security, money, love and ten other surprising things others have told you to go for in life.

Whenever we chase after something, we take ourselves out of the present moment where life actually happens. The future doesn’t exist yet and the past is gone. The only really meaningful place to live is in the now and that’s generally where you’ll find what you’re looking for. Others may say you should be chasing these 14 things to be happy and successful, but take a deeper look and decide for yourself. You may think differently after you read this. Read more: click on title or image.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km
I appreciate beyond measure all the information you provide - so many inside tips, w/o which I wouldn't have access to. There is so much to consider, and I've passed this particular email along to others for their respective ideas, and the foundation on which they may be built.
I like the style of presentation, the breadth of information given, and the myriad ways to apply the information. Great stuff - thanks so much!!
TL Elliott

Via Sandra Brevett
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great weekend read. When choosing to build a business, do what you love to do, the money will follow. Don't try to find the business that brings the most money, it's the other way around. Do what comes natural to you.

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5 Ways To Build An Accidental Business Into An Empire

5 Ways To Build An Accidental Business Into An Empire | Competitive Edge |
Down and out in Beverly Hills, Meridith Baer parlayed her passion into a blockbuster business.

Baer shared with me five ways she has grown her business into a $25 million empire.

1. Do what you love
Baer had always loved fixing up her home, and doing what you love is one of the reasons American women entrepreneurs are among the happiest people in the world.  Now Baer could do this for others and get paid for doing it. What could be better?

Staging had another significant advantage for Baer. As a screenwriter, you work on a project for years. Someone finally buys your script then changes your vision for it and, worse, has someone else do the rewrites.

In staging, you complete your vision in a few days and get immediate feedback. Better still is when the home sells quickly—on average a staged property sells 80% faster and for 20% more than a non-staged one. Talk about instant gratification!

2. Dream big
In 2004, Baer hired her nephew Brett, who had an M.B.A.  At first his plans for growth terrified her—now, she’s pushing him. The business doubled from last year and is projected to generate $25 million in revenue in 2014. Meridith Baer Home employs approximately 140 people.

Meridith Baer Home’s clients include more than 300 billionaires and celebrities, including Christina Aguilera, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harrison Ford, Matthew Perry and Brad Pitt. Staged to Perfection, a TV series that aired in the U.S., followed her and her team of 18 designers as they transformed homes that were stalling on the market into the stuff real estate brokers dream of selling.

3. Expand your product lines
Baer works for the rich and famous. When Robert De Niro does a movie in Los Angeles, the studio rents him a home and Meridith Baer Home decorates with leased furniture. In fact, renting furniture has become its most profitable line of business.

Some clients purchase some or all of the furniture used in a staged home, which is common for wealthy, divorced men who are setting up house for themselves and their children. Others want Baer’s team to decorate the home they just purchased even when the company hadn’t staged it. Upscale developers also use Meridith Baer Home to decorate models.

While the demand was clearly there, Baer had a problem. She and her team couldn’t always find the furniture they wanted. Meridith Baer Home now manufactures furniture in China, Mexico and the U.S.

Meridith Baer Home has expanded geographically to Manhattan, the Hamptons and Connecticut. Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Florida, and San Francisco are on the horizon.

4. Learn to speak finance
Baer tried to get financing several times, then gave up. She didn’t know how to explain that she was reinvesting all of her profit into growing her business and therefore couldn’t show a favorable bottom line. Then she hired a Stanford MBA as CFO. On his first day, he was able to get the company a $3 million line of credit at a very low interest rate. Now banks are fighting to get her business.

Meridith Baer Home also spends about a half-million dollars on a corporate charge card per month, which she pays off at the end of the month. The benefits: Baer doesn’t have to pay interest on it for 30 days and earns an avalanche of miles, which she both uses and gifts to family members.

5. Don’t forget to protect yourself
In the beginning, Baer learned the hard way. Her second client, some hot-shot from the music industry, tried not to pay—he claimed selling his home was an opportunity for her to learn the business.

When Baer went to his home to remove her furniture, he had changed the locks. His broker and her attorney warned Baer not to mess with him. Little did she know that her attorney was sleeping with the music man! Baer would not be bullied, going back with her team to remove the furniture. She stood up for herself and got paid.

In another instance, one of Baer’s first hires tried stealing clients. Instead of handing out Meridith Baer Home cards, she handed out her own. Never wanting to repeat these mistakes, Baer now relies on contracts which, she says, “ really do hold up in court.”

How will you apply these lessons learned to your business?

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Via Deb Bailey, malek
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Very nice article and some excellent advice.

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The Main Reason Startups Don't Last

The Main Reason Startups Don't Last | Competitive Edge |
Innovate or fail? Which will be the path of your new entrepreneurial venture?

As a child I used to go to the local video store to rent movies to watch on the weekend. The store, part of the Potomac Video chain, was one of the last video stores in Washington, D.C. But after 33 years, the business suddenly shut its doors last spring. Why after so much success did the business shutter its operations?

The reason businesses don’t last is they fail to innovate.

Regardless of your past business model, if the market has changed, your business needs to change, too. Potomac Video didn’t latch onto the trend of streaming movies online or shipping videos straight to customers’ doors. It stuck with its old business plan, simply renting and selling videos from a store.

For that matter, remember how you used to love to stop by Blockbuster? You know, the place you’d stop by on the way home to pick up that new release on VHS? (Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010; yet even after Dish Network acquired its debt, Dish decided to close all retail stores, according to MarketWatch.)

Did you know that in 2000 Blockbuster had a chance to buy Netflix (now worth $28 billion) for a mere $50 million? And the company opted not to. Netflix was losing money at that point. Blockbuster was hesitant to gamble, not looking ahead, perhaps looking for a short-term profit rather than a disruption of the industry.

An entrepreneur who wants to experience continued success in business must stay on top of his or her industry and predict the future. Entrepreneurs Giovanni Mannella and Misha Mitsnefes have done just that with their startup Bmpur, whose social music network puts the power of music sharing and discovery into the hands of users. Mannella and Mitsnefes beta launched Bmpur this spring and fully launched Sept. 8.

Mitsnefes owns a music blog, Fist In The Air, and Mannella had owned a music-video curated website. "We both saw an opening in the market for this type of sharing and discovery platform and developed bmpur together, starting in fall 2011," Mannella wrote by email. After connecting with others in the industry, they noticed a shift in the market. People wanted to add value to others’ listening experiences.

Although other music blogs recommend songs, the Bmpur website enables anyone to recommend and “repost” music he or she is interested in, as Mitsnefes described on Fist In The Air:

"Post anything from YouTube, Soundcloud, blog links, Instagram links, etc. Then the community interacts by “bumping” posts, commenting, favoriting (like repost/retweet), and sharing the link!"

Mannella and Mitsnefes are taking a gamble with their new approach. They realize that Bmpur won’t last without innovation.

If you’re looking to change up your business model to make your startup last, use these three approaches:

1. Continue to build a brand.

Innovating with a startup doesn’t mean just changing the name of a business or overall brand. Instead use the leverage of an existing brand to draw attention to its evolution and innovation. Bmpur built excitement for its platform through its social media channels. Consider making ambiguous announcements to keep people on their feet.

2. Gather feedback.

The best way to see if a business will grow as a result of innovation is to see what others think. Before a new product launch or redesign, show family, friends, acquaintances and even die-hard customers. The team at Bmpur unveiled its new concept months before it was fully developed.

3. Connect with other industry leaders.

The key to a successful change in a business is ensuring that others know. Connect with other industry leaders to see if they have advice. If you have a blog, connect with other bloggers to see if they want to help promote your business shift. You could end up leading a whole industry swing.

Making a startup last is a challenge that every entrepreneur faces. Businesses often see a period of strong growth, hit a peak and then the business begins to dissolve. Ensure your business doesn’t peak by continuing to innovate. 

Correction: This piece has been updated to correct the date of Bmpur's start and details about its focus. Bmpur always provided a social music network, which beta launched this spring, although its founders started its development in 2011. One of the founders, Misha Mitsnefes, runs his own music

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Never stop innovating. A business thrives on change.

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Five Things To Check Before You Start Your Own Business

Five Things To Check Before You Start Your Own Business | Competitive Edge |
It's easier than ever to start a business, but not so easy to run one. Here are five items to check for yourself before you hang out your shingle.

For so many of us, being our own boss is a dream—perhaps the dream. Today, it’s easier than ever to put up a shingle.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years and have started three businesses. I’m in continual amazement at how cheaply and efficiently you can get a business going. It wasn’t that long ago that you needed to finance a phone system and servers as they were prohibitively expensive for a startup.  Now, just about everything that used to be labor and cost intensive – from marketing to bookkeeping – can be done inexpensively through technology and cloud computing.

No longer do you need to rent that fancy copier/fax/scanner, you can use a home office printer and TurboScan. Need a bookkeeper? Do it yourself by tracking your expenses through Expensify and managing invoices via FreshBooks. And that expensive phone system with its requisite landline? Instead, get a free business line using Google Voice or spiffy conference capabilities with Uber Conference. And there are a host of services for finding just the right talent for just the time you need it.   

It may seem that the barriers are so low that now anyone can run a business. However, getting a business off the ground isn’t the same as creating a profitable, ongoing enterprise. I spend a good amount of time with entrepreneurs in my work and volunteer time. I also teach in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership program helping coaches develop their entrepreneurial chops. 

Should you throw your paycheck aside and make the jump? When is the right time? While the answers aren’t straightforward, here’s some advice I can provide.  

1. Expect to invest upfront.

Yes, startup infrastructure can be cheap or even free. But you still need to consider the implications of brand. To get started, you need to pay for a quality logo and website, legal and professional fees, as well as for some technology. While incrementally inexpensive, the costs can add up.

There’s also a rub about the cheap alternatives – sometimes they look like it. As a new business, you need to show an enduring and professional image, and you can’t look like you’re operating on a shoe string even when you are. For example, the do-it-yourself websites can be visually unappealing and awkward to navigate — and even damage your brand.   

This is where a good business plan comes into play. Knowing all of your startup costs upfront will tell you if you’re prepared financially to cast out on your own. I typically advise setting aside 5-10K for startup costs as a benchmark for services firms. You may find it wise to do much of the setup work while you still have a paycheck to finance it.  

2. Realize that it takes 2-3 years to establish a good book of business.

I have learned this lesson several times over. You may in fact have clients right away, which is a great way to start. Still, it takes time for word of mouth and referral business to kick in. Patience—and a lot of hard work to establish a solid reputation—are key here.

Part of that work entails the basic block and tackle of mining your network for business. But eventually you’ll need to create ways of generating business beyond your immediate circle, which requires marketing. Start this in the beginning, and as you establish your brand, consider how you might incorporate an email newsletter, blogging, social media or even traditional PR.

3. Prepare to sell yourself—and for that to be the status quo.

I know many entrepreneurs who say they just want to do the work, and aren’t interested in being in sales. My advice: if you don’t want to devote a good portion of your time to sales, then don’t go into business for yourself. You’ll never be able to fully outsource this part of owning your own business. Clients come and clients go so you must always be developing new prospects.  

That doesn’t mean you have to be a natural salesperson or an extreme extrovert to close business. In fact, a meta-analysis of 35 studies of nearly 4,000 salespeople found that the correlation between extroversion and sales performance was pretty much zero. In reality, ambiverts, those people that tow the line between extroverts and introverts, tend to be the most successful salespeople. The good news is that the majority of people are ambiverts, so most of us can be effective salespeople and learn to sell on our own terms.  

4. Be open to evolving.

Most businesses change over time, and what you set out to do may not be what you end up focusing on. To be a good entrepreneur is to see uncertainty as opportunity.

Embracing evolution means being open to risk. A Copyblogger post by Johnny B. Truant makes a persuasive case that the ability to evolve is the top skill that makes an entrepreneur succeed: “You’ve got to learn to be uncertain and take risks. If you stay within what’s known and safe, you will never be truly successful. Doing what’s uncertain and risky isn’t easy, and that’s why the people who dare to do it are rewarded.”

Google started out as a simple search engine, and see how that’s going.

5. People who are interested in multiple business functions have it easiest.  

Entrepreneurs have to do a little bit of everything, especially in the beginning. It doesn’t mean that you have to love each function equally, but it certainly helps if the important ones can hold your interest.

If you can’t imagine dabbling in finance, sales, marketing, product/service development, and delivery, then entrepreneurship may not be the right fit for you. Entrepreneurship is not only the act of wearing many hats, but also the act of prioritizing which hats take precedent over others. It’s a classic mistake of entrepreneurs to spend too much time on the functions they like best, i.e. delivery, and forsake those that the business needs, i.e. finance.

This also means that you have to be your primary motivator. No one else is going to tell you to sit down and run cash flow projections when you’d rather be creating fun client programs.

Now, back to the great news. If you have passion for what you do, you may find that all of the pieces of advice above are merely steps in your bigger plan. And if that’s the case, you can now get your business launched in a few weeks – or even days — and begin making your dream your daily reality.

And to me, it is supremely cool to see so many entrepreneurs joining the party.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. She blogs at

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What do you think it takes to start a business?

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The Cost of Unhappy Customers to your Business

The Cost of Unhappy Customers to your Business | Competitive Edge |
An infographic The Cost of Unhappy Customers to your Business
A great infographic outlining the Cost of Unhappy Customers to your Business

Do you know the cost of unhappy customers to your company? We are living in the age of the empowered customer—a time when a single Facebook post or tweet can dramatically impact a company. While positive customer experiences broadcasted online can reach more people than a Super Bowl ad, negative customer experiences spread even faster and more broadly, with possibly devastating effects on your business. The reality is that unhappy customers are costly—but they don’t have to be if your company takes the right approach. Engage with your empowered customers through continuous, long-term collaboration and unlock their potential as valuable assets to your company!

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Reading the story of the musician who was treated badly by United Airlines does not surprise me. Just about every contact I've had in the last few years flying on United (which I now totally avoid), has been terrible. From grumpy employees, to stupid rules and 'creative' fees.

In my opinion: the worst airline in the world.

I should be totally honest though: I met a few nice and helpful employees, trying to clean up the company's mess.

Progressive training's curator insight, June 13, 2014 11:37 AM

The Cost of Unhappy Customers to your Business 


#sales #management 

Training in Business's curator insight, June 13, 2014 11:49 AM

The Cost of Unhappy Customers to your Business


#business #management 

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7 Tips to Increase Your Service Business Bottom Line

7 Tips to Increase Your Service Business Bottom Line | Competitive Edge |
Your service workflow should be digitized so that when a service call comes in, it’s captured electronically. Computer-based scheduling tools streamline the process of capturing and dispatching service requests, saving as much as 80% over the effort of a paper-based process. If your company is not leveraging smartphone technology, you’re missing a golden opportunity.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Using technology and common sense will increase your sales, efficiency and the respect you get from your clients. Great article.

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