Competitive Edge
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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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Use These 24 Tools to Run Your Business From Anywhere in the World

Use These 24 Tools to Run Your Business From Anywhere in the World | Competitive Edge |

If you're one of the lucky few that enjoys the ability to work from anywhere you like, the following tools will help keep you productive -- no matter where you are.

Read more: click image or title.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great tools for travelers and independent #entrepreneurs to operate from anywhere.

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Why You Shouldn't Envy The Lives Of Some Billionaires

Why You Shouldn't Envy The Lives Of Some Billionaires | Competitive Edge |
Money can take all the serendipity out of life.

Poor Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg. They're worth billions of dollars, and that makes life hard.

Actually, it kind of does, and Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham explains why. Graham's startup accelerator program yielded a few billionaire founders of its own, including Dropbox's Drew Houston and the founders of Airbnb.

Graham points out that Google and Facebook run Page and Zuckerberg as much as they run their companies. They can never enjoy regular activities or do things spontaneously the way the rest of us can.

"Mark Zuckerberg will never get to bum around a foreign country," Graham writes. "He can do other things most people can't, like charter jets to fly him to foreign countries. But success has taken a lot of the serendipity out of his life."

What adds to the stress: billionaires can never publicly complain about how tough their money-filled lives sometimes are, because everyone else will freak out.

In a Stanford talk about how tough it is to be an entrepreneur, Graham says how all-consuming running a startup — even once it becomes a multi-billion-dollar company, can be. Here's an excerpt:

Larry Page may seem to have an enviable life, but there are aspects of it that are unenviable. Basically at 25 he started running as fast as he could and it must seem to him that he hasn't stopped to catch his breath since. Every day new shit happens in the Google empire that only the CEO can deal with, and he, as CEO, has to deal with it.

If he goes on vacation for even a week, a whole week's backlog of shit accumulates. And he has to bear this uncomplainingly, partly because as the company's daddy he can never show fear or weakness, and partly because billionaires get less than zero sympathy if they talk about having difficult lives. Which has the strange side effect that the difficulty of being a successful startup founder is concealed from almost everyone except those who've done it.

...Mark Zuckerberg will never get to bum around a foreign country. He can do other things most people can't, like charter jets to fly him to foreign countries. But success has taken a lot of the serendipity out of his life. Facebook is running him as much as he's running Facebook. And while it can be very cool to be in the grip of a project you consider your life's work, there are advantages to serendipity too, especially early in life. Among other things it gives you more options to choose your life's work from.

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Box, Dropbox and Hightail Pivot to New Business Models

Box, Dropbox and Hightail Pivot to New Business Models | Competitive Edge |

Box, Dropbox and Hightail are rethinking their core business models, focusing on specific industries or bolstering customer service.

SAN FRANCISCO — Nothing concentrates minds at a tech start-up like living in the middle of a price war between Amazon and Google.

Just ask executives at companies like Box, Dropbox and Hightail. They pioneered a new kind of Internet service that allows people and companies to store all kinds of electronic files in an easy-to-use online locker. But as often happens, the much bigger companies liked the idea so much they decided to do the same thing — at a much lower price.

“These guys will drive prices to zero,” said Aaron Levie, co-founder and chief executive of Box. “You do not want to wait for Google or Amazon to keep cutting prices on you. ‘Free’ is not a business model.”

So how do you avoid free? Box is trying to cater to special data storage needs, like digital versions of X-rays for health care companies and other tasks specific to different kinds of customers. Hightail is trying to do something similar for customers like law firms. And Dropbox? It is trying to make sure that its consumer-minded service stays easier to use than what the big guys provide.

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“It’s very tough just to be in the storage business,” said Brad Garlinghouse, the chief executive of Hightail. “We don’t think that is what we’re selling anymore.”

In the tech industry, they call this sort of reinvention of the core business model a “pivot.” Another way to describe it is a fight for survival.

Box, founded in 2005, has attracted $512 million in investment, and in March it filed papers for an initial public offering of stock. In July, the company said it had 39,000 businesses paying $15 to $35 a month a user. It is hard to know how many people that is, since some businesses have just a couple of people, and others include General Electric and Eli Lilly.

Dropbox has 300 million customers worldwide and actually runs inside Amazon Web Services, as do parts of Box. Many Dropbox customers pay nothing and get two gigabytes of storage capacity a month, the equivalent of 1,000 books or seven minutes of high-definition television. A version for $10 a month offers 100 gigabytes.

Hightail, which used to be called YouSendIt, says it has over a half-million business customers paying $25 a month or more, depending on the features chosen.

“There’s a place for all of them,” said Amita Potnis, an analyst at IDC. “Amazon’s focus is really computing itself. The smaller ones have to focus on ways businesses actually use it.” For example, she said, the services can help companies collaborate with each other online instead of sending emails back and forth with attachments.

While devices and apps get most of the attention, data storage is every bit as important, particularly as objects like phones, tablets, cars and thermostats become appendages of the Internet. Throw in trends like collaboration and big data analysis, and all those bits of data become more dynamic than something in a file cabinet. They are fluid and being entered and retrieved from many points.

Managing all that data should be a good business.

The problem for everyone is price. Amazon and Google have for years decimated competition in their respective fields of Internet advertising and retail. As the two companies move to dominate cloud computing, including online storage, they are turning that relentlessness on each other.

In March, Google celebrated the unification of several cloud computing services with price cuts of 68 percent for most customers, to 2.6 cents a gigabyte a month, about one-quarter the price of Dropbox’s premium consumer service.

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Amazon’s Web Services, which had cut prices at least four times since 2008, responded with cuts of its own, including one cut to 2.75 cents a gigabyte for large amounts of storage, and just a penny a month for data used less frequently. It has made further price cuts on other types of storage since then. Many expect Microsoft, which runs its own big cloud business, called Azure, to follow with similar cuts.

Even by the standards of computing, where services seem almost invariably to become cheaper and faster, storage prices have had an exceptional fall. The first gigabyte storage device in 1980 typically cost $120,000 and weighed 550 pounds. Amazon’s cloud-based storage might cost 12 cents a year.

None of the smaller online storage companies doubt that Amazon and Google can make seemingly impossible pricing moves. Both companies also have a scale that means even the tiniest profit can be huge. A.W.S. brags that almost all of Netflix, and Amazon itself, is inside its cloud, along with hundreds of other substantial companies.

Apple’s iCloud storage service and other parts of Apple, along with operations at several large banks, run inside A.W.S., say people familiar with the service who spoke on the condition they not be named so they could sustain relations with the powerful cloud company.

Amazon would not comment on confidential customer agreements. An Apple spokesman noted that Apple had its own data centers in four locations in the United States and said that “the vast majority” of data in services like iTunes, Maps and the App Store ran on its own computers. Apple uses other facilities as well, he said.

Google does not have anything like the Amazon customer list, but its computer network is probably the largest corporate network in the world. It includes custom-made computing and power systems and several thousand engineers to keep it running. According to one person with knowledge of the system, Google spends about $2 billion a quarter on its computing infrastructure.

Google would not comment on its costs. In an email, Tom Kershaw, a product manager for Google’s cloud service, predicted more cost-cutting. “As more customers store more information, for longer, we’re able to make gains in efficiency and pass these savings along to the customer.”

Both Box and Hightail now say they assume that they will offer customers unlimited storage free and push their costs into the prices they charge for other services. “At this point, it’s better just to say ‘unlimited,’ ” Mr. Levie said. “The thing to do is take into account why someone is storing something online and what their needs are.”

Box has hired people with specialties in health care, media and entertainment, hospitality and retailing. Dropbox still has supposed limits on storage in its business offering, but they start at a terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, and customers can upgrade from there with seemingly no fee.

This niche approach could work, provided the big companies do not go after these industry-specific storage markets or build more consumer-focused service offerings. Mr. Levie said he thought that was unlikely. “No one is going to build Google Health Care,” he said.

Google’s Mr. Kershaw differed. “Industry-specific solutions are the wave of the future and a key part of what Google is building for our customers,” he said.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Coming up with a great idea in the tech world and putting it out is not a direct road to success anymore. Companies, even successful ones, need to adjust, pivot, and compete with corporations like Google and Amazon. Not an easy task. Complex world.

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10 Tools for Smoothing the Startup Process

10 Tools for Smoothing the Startup Process | Competitive Edge |

From legal to branding, there is a long check list of basics for starting up but affordable tools are available every step of the way.

Getting your startup idea out of the gates can be tough and intimidating. The first steps, however, are actually much easier and more affordable than many entrepreneurs believe, especially with the slew of useful tools available online.

Here are 10 free or very affordable, and easy-to-use tools to help you take action and get started. Read more:

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"Our work with Growthink was very helpful for creating a business plan to focus our efforts in the short term and increase our value over the long term."
Jack Bergstrand, CEO
Brand Velocity, Inc.

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Basic information to get you started right. Great for small businesses.

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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.

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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
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10 Lesser-known But Awesome Apps Every Entrepreneur Should Use |

10 Lesser-known But Awesome Apps Every Entrepreneur Should Use | | Competitive Edge |

Tablets and smartphones are gradually becoming basic necessities for most entrepreneurs.  Your ability to stay on top of everything can greatly be enhanced with the right app on your mobile device. There are now millions of apps for your everyday routines, from managing your personal daily activities to working productively in or out of the office.

Most business professionals are now used to popular apps like Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote, Pocket, Yammer, Asana and HootSuite. We want to focus on useful but very little-known tools and apps you may not be using. This list might not be of much value to you if we focus on the usual suspects.

In no particular order, these are some of the most useful and less known awesome apps that will make you a better entrepreneur. In fact, this list isn’t just useful to entrepreneurs, but to anyone looking to be more productive and recover from information overload.

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

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great apps for you smartphone or tablet.

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