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3 Ways You Can Level the Playing Field Against Big Business

To gain ground against well-established rivals, focus on the three Cs: Competition, credit and connections….



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Too many small businesses are stuck at the bottom of the economic mountain, watching in frustration as larger competitors hog the top, snagging resources and reaping the benefits.

Bigger companies can afford to use quantity discounts to undercut prices. Banks are happy to accept small-business deposits but don’t build strong relationships with credit and loans for their smaller customers.

Even programs marketed for small businesses, such as vendor finance programs and dynamic discounting programs, often benefit the large company that takes the discount. Even government help seems to favor the well-connected. Just see what happened with the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

But there are ways small businesses can level the playing field. We can refer to them as the 3 Cs: Competition, credit and connections.

If the competition feels unfair, change the rules. This may seem daunting at first, but inventive and nimble thinking goes a long way. Consider this real-life example: A woman in Georgia who ran an on-site fueling business for heavy equipment operators found she was consistently undercut by established energy giant competitors. She finally acknowledged she’d never win contracts if she kept bidding for projects under the billing rules set by huge rivals, who could charge less. So she got creative. She offered to extend payment time to 30 days—a change from asking customers to pay every week—and levied a small surcharge.

Within a few weeks, she’d won every contract she’d submitted. Customers were happy to take advantage of the extended payment time because it allowed them to keep cash on their own balance sheets longer, despite the surcharge. This business owner changed the game on her competitors.

Make your bank pay attention or leave it. In our parents’ era, bankers were local members of the community who were truly trying to help the local farmer or the neighborhood shop grow their businesses.

But as the banks have become larger and more consolidated, their online lending platforms don’t know you. They don’t know your business. They don’t care what your business does. They care only about lending you $200,000 because they’re going to make a lot of money from that loan. Demoralizing, right? But remember: those banks are also required by federal law to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA, which encourages big financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities with which they do business. That includes low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

If you have a small business checking account with a big bank, ask a branch officer about CRA compliance — and how your business can help that bank meet CRA requirements via loans and lines of credit. More information here.

You can also visit a local credit union in your area or a CDFI. Both are not-for-profit and both may be able to provide more customized services to you and your business.

Get free advice from experts. Many government programs feel rigged against small business. Consider the recent $660 billion PPP loan program which was supposed to help small businesses squeezed by COVID-19 but instead delivered much money to the rich and politically connected, such as Kanye West, members of Congress, and large restaurant chains like P.F. Chang’s and TGI Fridays.

Yet many small business owners don’t realize the government also has free, valuable tools available and accessible around the country.

There are almost 1,000 Small Business Development Centers, or SBDCs, throughout the United States. These are partnerships between the Small Business Administration and local colleges or universities. Many SBDCs are staffed with retired executive entrepreneurs who have built and run successful companies, people who are happy to help small businesses find resources, build relationships, and figure out which specific capital tools are needed to grow a business.

SBDCs also can help business owners wade through confusing regulations to qualify for government contracts as a women-, minority-, or disadvantaged-business enterprise. More information is here.

If you need advice on taxes, capital, marketing, training, and networking, call or visit your local SBDC.

I’ve started and operated enough businesses to know some will always have an edge. A small business may not have the financial resources to outspend their larger rivals, but they can outsmart, outflank, and outhustle them.

Look for ways to rewrite the rules and keep the 3 Cs in mind.

Competition: Can you outmaneuver them by rethinking billing or other conventional practices?

Credit: Ask a bank officer how your business can help that bank meet Community Reinvestment Act requirements via loans and lines of credit.

Connection: Call or visit your local Small Business Development Center for help with everything from taxes to marketing and networking.

The playing field will likely never be tilted entirely in your favor. But the 3 Cs may help you knock some smug rivals off their perches at the top.




Tesla could include Apple Music and Amazon to its cars

Elon Musk’s company plans to introduce more and more fitness apps.



Elon Musk’s company plans to introduce more and more fitness apps.

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December 30, 2020 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

The rivalry of the company of Elon Musk , Tesla with Apple could reach a “deal” or something similar. According to reports on Twitter, the car company will include Apple Music to its entertainment service.

In Tesla vehicles, there is a central screen that is almost a computer, which can carry out multiple tasks.Spotify is already available in the system to entertain the crew.

Image: Depositphotos

However, thanks to an image posted on twitter by a user, Green (a hacker who analyzes the tesla system updates), it can be seen that Apple Music is among the options but still does not work.

Looks like more media sources are coming soon. Though it’s not quite there yet.
The icon in UI is wrong, but the correct on is already populated.

– green (@greentheonly) December 27, 2020

At the moment, there is still no official announcement regarding when the service will arrive to the vehicles. But Apple isn’t the only one about to be a part of Elon Musk’s board. Also in the crosshairs are Tidal, Amazon Music, and Audible , an audiobook service owned by Jeff Bezos’ company Amazon.

This is linked to the desire of tycoon Elon Musk to incorporate video games in Tesla cars in the future, and thus increase entertainment options. He has even said on his Twitter account “entertainment will be essential when cars drive themselves.”



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6 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude Through Hard Times

Hard times are part and parcel of entrepreneurship, but they don’t have to be miserable, lonely interludes between better days.



Hard times are part and parcel of entrepreneurship, but they don’t have to be miserable, lonely interludes between better days.

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December 7, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

No matter what’s going on at your business, practicing gratitude is a great way to make it more pleasant. When you remind yourself that, yes, you are lucky, hardships have a way of not seeming quite so hard.

Maybe your star employee left, but what about all the other talented team members surrounding you? How have they grown since that person’s departure?

In business, it’s all about your perspective. Here are six ways you can cultivate gratitude in the hard times so that you come out of them better than ever:

1. Embrace the suck

Hard times suck. There’s no way around it. But to get through and over hard times, you need to think about what positives have come out of them.

You may need to dig deep here, especially if the hard time you are going through is emotionally powerful. By writing down the positive outcomes that come from hard times and gratefully reflecting on those outcomes, you can bring yourself emotional closure.

Gratefully processing negative experiences can shift our memories to be more positive and to better fit our life story. Then, sharing our story with others can help us find connection and help others.

Know that we’re all going through these challenging times together. We will get through this, but we have to appreciate and share with each other our vulnerabilities.

Related: Entrepreneur Stories of Struggle and Success: 7 Founders Tell All

2. Give gratitude to clients who cancel

During Covid-19, we’ve seen a record number of businesses shut their doors for good due to a decrease in revenue. If a client is unable to pay, be empathetic to their situation. Thank them for their interest and loyalty through the years.

In the long run, so what if they can’t afford to pay you now? If you can keep your doors open long enough to withstand this downturn, that client might re-sign and even pay a premium for your services.

Why? Because you brought emotion, empathy and honesty into that relationship.

Gratitude cultivates trust and maintains connections. When you give gratitude to a client who cannot afford to pay you, you are strengthening that relationship, which will always be beneficial to you in the long run. Remember: People buy from people, not from companies.

Related: How to Calculate the Lifetime Value of a Customer

3. Give grace on missed deadlines

Remember Stacy and Bob, those colleagues of yours who sat down the hall? They never missed a deadline, hardly took a bathroom break and somehow always managed to bring the team donuts in the morning.

Well, now Stacy and Bob are like 42 percent of the American workforce: working from home, homeschooling 1.93 kids and still trying to keep your team afloat. They have a lot more on their plate than they did 8 months ago, so is it any surprise they failed to meet a deadline?

Just like you, your workers are experiencing all sorts of new challenges. Regardless of what struggles they’re facing outside of the workplace, thank them for continuing to work. Realize that, despite the fact that it seems like the world is ending, they’re continuing to wake up every single day and make an effort. That alone is worth your compassion.

Be empathetic. When someone fails to meet a deadline, step into their shoes and try to understand what they’re going through. Use that understanding to guide your reaction. Maybe it’s not as simple as giving them a lesser workload. But if you can give them tasks suited to their strengths, and give gratitude in the same serving, you’ll increase their productivity.

The best way to help struggling teammates achieve big goals is to encourage them to accomplish their small goals and celebrate those wins thoroughly.

Related: Forget Big Goals: Take Baby Steps for Small, Daily Wins.

4. Give gratitude to yourself

Maybe you are the kind of person who is always thanking others and feeling gratitude for the wonderful people you’re surrounded by. But are you feeling gratitude for who you are?

We all want to feel capable and competent. But in times like these, it can be tough to let ourselves off the hook.

By expressing gratitude to yourself, you can help build your confidence and self-esteem. In doing so, you’ll also decrease feelings of uncertainty, which will help not just you, but also those around you. Remember, how you treat yourself dictates how you treat others.

Related: 12 Ways to Stop Undermining Your Self Esteem

5. Switch up and systematize your outreach

Hard times have all sorts of silver linings. One of them is that they encourage you to talk to people you might not have spoken to in a long time.

Chaos is an opportunity to make changes. Start by changing up who you connect with and reach out to. Resist the temptation to turn inward.

Think to yourself: Who would you never think to give credit or thanks to? Now, go out and thank the people who come to mind.

My favorite app to remind me who I haven’t thanked in a while is the newly launched LoveBomb App. It literally sends me daily reminders of who is long overdue.

We physically and psychologically need social gratification to help us get through the hard times. The hard times become significantly easier when we reconnect with loved ones. When we reach out and express gratitude to people in our past, we not only help ourselves but also help others.

This applies to both your personal and professional lives. Take these hard times as opportunities to reach out to coworkers, clients and customers. If you build a relationship during a difficult time, it will be more likely to last in the long run.

Now is the time to forge foundational relationships in your work life. Connect authentically over the difficulties you’re facing. And be sure to thank the people you reach out to.

6. Don’t say “at least”

If you’re struggling to find something positive to say to someone, what do you do? You couch your compliment in a phrase like “at least.”

Gratitude is not a comparison. You shouldn’t be grateful because “at least” it’s not the alternative. You should have gratitude in order to celebrate the positive consequences that have occurred from a life event, whether positive or negative.

Even when it’s hard, try to genuinely appreciate any small amount of good that has come out of the bad. By doing so, you will build a mindset rooted in positivity, not comparison.

Related: 4 Communication Habits That Will Make You and Others Feel Good

As entrepreneurs, we have the opportunity and resources to use hard times to better ourselves. We can shrug our shoulders and say “This sucks,” or we can turn the hard times around through gratitude.

Stop simply waiting out the bad times. Be proactive and see just how much your business and your life improve.

You may need to dig deep here, especially if the hard time you are going through is emotionally powerful. By writing down the positive outcomes that come from hard times and gratefully reflecting on those outcomes, you can bring yourself emotional closure.



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Storytelling for the vaccine: the story that can save your life

Up to 50% of the population say they would not get the COVID vaccine. A theory explains this paradox and storytelling plays an essential role in it.



Up to 50% of the population say they would not get the COVID vaccine. A theory explains this paradox and storytelling plays an essential role in it.

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December 30, 2020 10 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

  • The story of someone you trust can save your life or quarantine you for many months.
  • If your friend who has already been vaccinated tells you that the medicine works, you will go for the vaccination.
  • There are ideological currents that, out of ignorance, slander or look for conspiracy theories where there is none. Better listen to the doctor.

These days many countries have started their vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 . I am happy. First, because many lives will be saved. Second, because at last we have something that can return us to the longed for normality. And third, because humanity has shown that, when it wants, it can cooperate to overcome great challenges.

The saving vaccine paradox

We should be optimistic. But half of my friends and family are fearful or mistrustful. Some tell me they don’t want to be among the first to receive treatment. Others, who will not be vaccinated under any circumstances. We are faced with a paradox: having already the cure, there are those who fear it as much or more than the disease itself.

Maybe you know people like that in your environment. For what it’s worth, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. In September, the Pew Research Center found that 49% of the US population was unwilling to get the vaccine right away. And in Spain, the Sociological Research Center calculated that the proportion of these people grew from 40.3%, in September, to 47%, in November.

The truth is that in many democratic countries vaccination is not compulsory, so for the campaign to be effective, people must want to be vaccinated. And the less we take to convince ourselves, the faster we will achieve “herd immunity” . So what can we do to combat fear and rejection from these people?

Rogers theory

The answer to the question has to do with an already classic theory and with social storytelling. In the 1950s, the sociologist Everett M. Rogers studied the agricultural industry in the United States and discovered that there were innovations that local producers adopted more quickly than others. In 1962, he published a theory that went around the world: that of the “Diffusion of Innovations .”

It goes more or less like this: whenever an innovation appears in a society of well-communicated people, five attitudes can be expected that will manifest themselves successively and over time. These are:

  • That of innovative or pioneering people . They are the ones who, without hesitation, will embrace innovation the minute it becomes available.
  • That of the first followers . They are the group of those who could not be pioneers, but who will readily accept that they can.
  • That of the precocious majority . A massive group waiting to see how the previous two groups are doing with innovation.
  • That of the late majority . Another massive group, but reluctant (or without access) to innovation.
  • That of the laggards . People who will not accept innovation for fear of change or mistrust.

Rogers estimated the percentage of the population for each attitude (see graph below) and subsequent studies showed that the same pattern was common in settings, industries, and countries around the world.

Theory of Diffusion of Innovations by Rogers (1962) and critical leap by Moore (1991) / De Plc.gif: Original creator Vvdberg at nl.wikipedia. Derivative work: Osado – Plc.gif, CC BY-SA 3.0

A theory with limitations and critics

Nowadays, academics from economics, sociology, or marketing accept the model and apply it to demographic and market studies. Popular culture has accepted it too, as a famous video by Simon Sinek shows .

As a theory, it has not been definitively proven or refuted. In fact, it has been proven that it cannot be applied to certain systems and that it is not enough to explain how some commercial products succeed (the iPhone, for example) and others fail ( the DeLorean , for example). But in 1991, Geoffrey Moore backed up the idea by developing an explanation of why it doesn’t always work and how to overcome the limitation.

I believe that Rogers theory is applicable to the case of vaccines. And that summarizes why almost half of the people in many countries say that they do not want to be the first: it is because they are part of the “late majority” and the “laggards” that, as the previous graph shows, account for 50% of people.

The theory in practice

In democratic countries, where (I insist) getting vaccinated is not mandatory, Rogers’ model predicts that 2.5% of the population will naturally feel “pioneer” and will volunteer within hours of starting the vaccination campaign. They are people who will ask their doctor where they can be treated, even before the first doses arrive in the country. They will do it because they are brave, or because they feel responsible for themselves and others. There will also be those who like to be up to date with everything.

But when the pioneers show that they are still healthy and that the vaccine did not harm them, the “first followers” will arrive. They will not have to be called: they will also volunteer themselves, or ask everywhere when it is their turn. They will line up quite long and offer money (or time) to be vaccinated. And when they do, another 13.5% more of the population will be added to the list of those vaccinated.

Now, what makes an innovation succeed or fail?

This is where the Rogers theory (and the vaccination campaign) comes into play. Earlier I mentioned Geoffrey Moore. He discovered that the success or failure of disruptive innovations (the vaccine is) is determined at a critical point: that of the leap from the “first followers” to the “early majority.”

If the latter accept the innovation, then the vaccine will reach 50% of the population and success will be practically certain. But if not, failure will inevitably follow. Well, what makes the early majority adopt innovation?

Very simple: storytelling! In other words, the story that the “first followers” will tell others about how the experience was for them. That will make the early majorities believe (or not) that the vaccine works.

So forget what the politician or the TV news says. If your brother and friend who have already been vaccinated tell you that the medicine works, you will go to get vaccinated. Because you will see that it works for them and you will not want to be different.

The other way around: if your vaccinated friend tells you that the treatment is not working for him, or that he was treated poorly, or that the substance caused him serious pain, you will not accept the medicine. As simple (and complex) as this: the story of someone you trust can save your life or keep you in quarantine for many months .

What’s the lesson in terms of storytelling?

When getting vaccinated is a voluntary option and it is necessary for people to quickly convince themselves to do so, it is essential to build stories that give confidence. Especially to motivate the “pioneers” and the “first followers” to try.

But then, in the interest of all, we must facilitate communication between these two groups and those who have misgivings. And, in this, I think that we all play a critical role: political authorities, scientists, media and producers of the vaccine. But also you and me, as citizens.

When the authorities, the scientific community and the media spread the success stories and normalize the image of the vaccine, they do a great job. Manufacturers who report favorable and certified results for their products do well too. In Spain, the percentage of people who say they would not take the vaccine decreased to 28% in December. And that is a success.

But you and I also have a role. You should know that every time you share a joke, a cartoon or a meme about the vaccine on your social networks, or that you send cynical comments without having the slightest idea of what you are saying, you contribute to making the “precocious majority” feel less confident and it takes longer to get vaccinated. You are helping the virus to last.

You should also know that there are political groups, lobbies and ideological currents that, from absolute ignorance, slander or seek conspiracy theories where there is none. Their interests are evil and they pursue power and influence, if not evil for evil’s sake.

Better ignore them. Better still if you don’t give them any space in your conversations. Rather listen to your doctor first.



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