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You can understand your tenderloin! This collar translates your dog's barking using artificial intelligence

Scientists from South Korea are working on a collar capable of interpreting a dog’s emotions and expressing them to humans.
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January 18, 2021 3 min read

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

If you saw the Pixar movie ‘Up: a tall adventure’ , you might remember Dug , the dog who ‘spoke’ through a collar . Well, it seems that this imaginary technology, which converted the thoughts of the dog into a voice, could come true. A team of South Korean scientists presented a necklace that, using artificial intelligence (AI) , translates the barking of your tenderloin and interprets its emotions.
The startup Petpuls presented the ingenious necklace at the Consumer Electronics show (CES) 2021 . The creators explained that, in addition to tracking the physical activity and rest of the dogs, the accessory can detect five canine emotions. This is achieved by including microphones and a voice recognition technology , to monitor barking .
After the analysis, Petpuls informs the owner through a mobile app , if his furry is happy, relaxed, anxious, angry or sad .
“This device gives the dog a voice for humans to understand ,” Andrew Gil , global marketing director for Petpuls Lab , told Reuters.
How does the bark translator necklace work?
In 2017, Petpuls Lab began building a database with more than 10,000 barks from 50 breeds of dogs . Three years later, scientists managed to develop a proprietary algorithm , which analyzes the emotions of dogs.
According to the Seoul National University , which tested the device, the necklace has an average accuracy rate of 90% in emotional recognition .
The company began selling the interesting device in October 2020, through its online store . You can choose between five vibrant colors and its price is 99 dollars (about 1,960 Mexican pesos).

During the pandemic, in 2020, the adoption and purchase of pets increased. In particular, the world population of dogs grew 18% in the same year, going to 489 million dogs.
“More people started adopting dogs, but unfortunately some of them abandoned their dogs due to lack of communication,” Gil explained. “Petpuls may play an important role in the pandemic. It helps owners understand how dogs feel and increases their bond, “he concluded.

5 Inspiring Lessons from the Life of Oprah Winfrey

January 18, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Few people in history have been able to reach the same level of achievement as Oprah Winfrey. Best known for her multi-award-winning daytime talk show, Oprah has also created her own television network (OWN), earned the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, been nominated for an Oscar, and been recognized as the first Black female billionaire in the United States.
While Oprah is known for encouraging others to live their best possible lives, there are several valuable lessons we can learn from Oprah’s own life story. 
1. Your past doesn’t define you
Oprah’s success contrasts sharply with her upbringing. Born to an unwed teenage mother, Oprah spent the first few years of her life in extreme poverty on her maternal grandmother’s farm. She left the farm when she was six years old to join her mother, Vernita, in Milwaukee. Unfortunately living conditions there were not an improvement; while her mother was away at work, Oprah was repeatedly molested by male relatives and a family friend.
This abuse sent Oprah down a dangerous path, one that led to promiscuity and eventually, at age 14, to a pregnancy. After her son died soon after birth, Oprah moved to Nashville, Tennessee to live with her father, Vernon. 
The move to Tennessee proved to be a turning point in Oprah’s life. Guided by her father’s strict rules and his insistence that she work hard to reach her full potential, Oprah turned her life around. She became an honor student, earned awards for oratory and dramatic recitation and at age 17 won the title of Miss Black Tennessee.
Oprah didn’t let her past experiences define her. Instead of basing her identity on a previous life of poverty, abuse, and promiscuity, Oprah focused on her potential and started on a new path – one that led to success.
Related: 7 Billionaire Entrepreneurs Who Started Off Dirt-Poor
2. Education is the key to progress
Oprah has stated that her father’s love of learning was key to helping turn her life around. She believes that Improving a person’s circumstances alone won’t lead to a better life; the only way a person can truly grow is by changing their way of thinking.  
Oprah learned this lesson after a failed attempt at helping poverty-stricken families in the Chicago area. As Oprah describes in an article for O Magazine, “…I came up with the misguided idea of moving families out of the projects and into new homes. Trying to show people how to build successful lives was overwhelming—I had taken for granted that they understood what it means to go to work, be on time, and make sure their children go to school and do their homework. So I failed with that idea, but I learned something invaluable: In order to make meaningful changes, you have to transform the way people think.”
Regardless of your circumstances, you should never stop learning. The only way to improve your life is by changing your mind first, which happens through education.
Related: The Daily Schedules of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey and Other Famous Business Billionaires
3. Don’t be afraid to try something new 
Much of Oprah’s success can be attributed to the fact that she took risks and was willing to venture into new territory. She began her broadcasting career at a Nashville-area radio station soon after winning the Miss Black Tennessee title. She continued working there for several years until she was offered a newscasting job at a local television station. 
That was just the first of many opportunities that Oprah embraced. Other people in a similar situation might let the fear of failure prevent them from taking chances. But instead of being complacent, Oprah continued to learn and grow.
This willingness to take risks and explore new avenues has continued throughout her career. Even after the astounding success of The Oprah Winfrey Show, she refused to rest on her laurels. Instead, she launched a television network and published her own magazine, proving once again that success is earned when you push through fear and risk failure by trying something new.
4. Be authentic and intentional
When The Oprah Winfrey Show first began, it focused on sensational topics like most other daytime talk shows. But after taping a show where a woman found out on the air that her husband had been unfaithful, Oprah made a conscious decision to change the show’s format to align with her values.  
As Oprah explained in an article for O Magazine, “Right then I decided I’d never again be part of a show that demeans, embarrasses, or diminishes another human being. I replaced the ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ news philosophy with an intention that still guides me—to use the medium of television for its higher good.” 
From that point on, The Oprah Winfrey Show shifted its focus away from salacious topics towards self-improvement, spirituality and healthy living. For a daytime talk show, this was uncharted territory. 
Regardless of the risk, Oprah let her principles take the lead. As she explains, “Once the light bulb came on for me that day, my calling became to create shows that encourage and inspire as much as they entertain — television that leaves guests with their dignity and helps us all see our lives in a different way.”
The change in format proved to be beneficial; it led to even greater acclaim and popularity for the show, demonstrating that don’t have to compromise your values to become successful. On the contrary, making intentional, authentic choices can often lead to greater success.
Related: 5 Important Business Lessons You Can Learn From Billionaire Oprah Winfrey
5. Find success and significance through service
Oprah didn’t reach the heights of success by continuously pursuing it. Instead, her primary goal has been to fulfill her calling as a teacher and serve others. 
As Oprah stated in an article for O Magazine, “What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can’t make success your goal…the key is not to worry about being successful but to instead work toward being significant—and the success will naturally follow. How can you serve your way to greatness? When you shift your focus from success to service, your work as a teacher, clerk, doctor, or dot-comer will instantly have more meaning.”
Our culture tends to believe that success must be doggedly pursued at all costs. Oprah’s life demonstrates that you can create a meaningful existence and become successful simply by serving others.

5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Conquer Loneliness and Feel More Connected

Tony Hsieh, entrepreneur and founder of Zappos, seemingly had everything.
He was worth millions. He had a degree from Harvard, was surrounded by famous artists and entrepreneurs, and wrote a book, Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion and Purpose.
So when news that Hsieh had died on November 27, 2020 from complications of smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in the home of a friend where he was staying, it came as a shock to many. 
As news trickled out during the days following his death, it became apparent that he had been struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, depression, and loneliness for quite some time. Mentally, he was in a downward spiral, and the pandemic had exacerbated Hsieh’s isolation and loneliness. In a Forbes article about Hsieh, apparently his friends and family had tried to intervene, to no avail.
Although the fire is still under investigation, there’s some indication that his drug addiction and destructive behavior caused the fire or contributed to Hsieh’s inability to escape it.
Entrepreneurs Are a Lonely Bunch
Loneliness has become an epidemic in America. The global health service company Cigna recently released results from a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States and found that almost half of Americans report feeling lonely.
The problem of isolation is even worse for entrepreneurs. Starting and growing a business, it turns out, can be extremely lonely. A recent study found that entrepreneurs who experience occupational loneliness are more likely to burn out. Another study showed that half of CEOs report feelings of loneliness in their role. 
“We’re told things like ‘fake it till you make it’ and ‘just keep pushing and you’ll get there,’” says Jay Clouse, an entrepreneur who recently became SPI’s Community Experience Director. “But it’s a really, really tough road. And we fear sharing the challenges because people will think if it’s not successful, then ‘I’m not going to pay attention to it or invest in it.’”
“We’re afraid to let people into the reality of what’s going on because we don’t want to undermine our own efforts,” says Jay.
The need for connectedness is a basic ingredient for psychological growth and well-being. But there are many forces that contribute to entrepreneurial isolation, including:
Other People Don’t Understand Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are unique human beings. It takes a certain kind of person to take risks and chart their own path, and they may be constantly having to deal with the “doubters” and hand-wringing family members. Not everyone understands or condones their decisions. 
“Being an entrepreneur is not normal. It’s not what most people do,” says entrepreneur Jeff Gargas, who is the Co-Founder and COO of Team Better Team.  “Because of that, most people don’t understand what it is actually like running a business. Most people don’t understand how your brain works. And when most people don’t understand you, how you think, what you do, and how you feel, it’s lonely.” 
Entrepreneurs Have to Make the Final Decisions
For entrepreneur Heather Newton, founder of Protospiel Online, the thing that stirs up the strongest feelings of loneliness is “the pressure of being the one that makes the final decision for anything that needs to happen in my business. Although I can ask for input from my trusted circle of friends, I know that the decision is ultimately mine, and that can feel scary and lonely — especially when the decision is big and hairy.”
There’s added pressure when you know your decisions will affect your employees and family. There may be a lot of people depending on you to make the right decisions and succeed. When you have the sole responsibility of making decisions that will affect others’ lives and livelihood, there’s no one to turn to for support. It’s only you.  
Entrepreneurs Typically Work Alone
“I used to travel alone as an equine photographer,” says Olie Moss, founder of Equine Photo School. “I would live alone far from friends and family. Life as a traveling entrepreneur is tough. I could at least call home and chat with my parents who are also entrepreneurs who understand the stress and struggle.”
The pandemic has made this issue much worse. Studies have found an “alarming” increase in loneliness since the arrival of COVID-19. More and more people are working from home—alone.
“I spend so much of my day(s) at my computer, working on project tasks, organization, etc.,” says Jeff Gargas. “Even with a team, most of my days are just me. I love when I have meetings, or someone interrupts my day because so often I have almost no contact.” 
Entrepreneurs Face Long Hours and Hard Realities 
It’s common knowledge that being an entrepreneur can mean long hours. Bringing your vision to life takes time and commitment. Studies have shown that twenty-five percent of founders work over sixty hours a week, which affects their physical and mental health. 
And it goes without saying that working sixty hours a week leaves little time for relationships. Beyond long hours, the financial stress of starting a business, and waiting months or even years to become profitable, can take a toll on your partner and family, leaving you even more vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. 
Entrepreneurs often have to face hard realities as well. “A lot of entrepreneurs have teams,” says Jay. “They’re leaders of organizations and they often find that they have to shield some of the hard realities from their team in order to protect the team’s psychological well-being. Also, your family probably doesn’t have a lot of experience with it and doesn’t understand. So who do you talk to?”
5 Ways to Fight Loneliness as an Entrepreneur
So what’s the solution? Here are a few tips that will help to keep you connected, happy, and healthy.
#1: Seek Out Connections
Finding people you can talk to, and developing true connections, is key, says Jay Clouse. 
He actively seeks out people who “get it.” When he first started his business, he went to a bunch of local meetups in Columbus, where he lives, and built a local community. 
“I just think it’s really important to talk about it. And as hard as it is, you need to be able to confide in someone—it could be a partner, a friend, a business partner. You need to tell somebody if you’re feeling this way or it’s going to fester and get worse. And it seems to build up and get harder the more time that you let pass.” 
During a particularly hard time in his entrepreneurial journey, Jay reached out to a friend, who was going through a similar situation, and the two met up for dinner once a week. “We didn’t actually talk about our businesses that much. We just knew that we were both in it. There was something about that, that comradery and connection, knowing that this person gets it and that they’re not asking how the business is going, because they know that I don’t really want to talk about that because it is challenging.”
For Heather Newton, she finds that attending conventions and meetups with others in her industry is helpful. “When we’re not in a pandemic, I attend several local and out-of-state board game conventions and other meetups for entrepreneurs and various types of creatives. Whenever I start feeling lonely, it’s nice to have a date on the calendar that I can look forward to as a chance to be with like-minded people.” 
But during the pandemic, Heather says, she participates in peer mastermind video calls, and keeps up with what her favorite communities are doing through online groups. “I try to be choosy and only put my time into online spaces with an encouraging, fun, and hopeful tone.”
#2: Create “Water-Cooler” Moments
Another way to create connections is by building in water-cooler moments throughout your day. 
If you were a regular employee working in an office, you’d have several opportunities to connect with people in the lunchroom or water cooler. But as an entrepreneur you’ve probably left those corporate cubicle days behind, for good reason. 
So instead, set up a Zoom call for you and your friends and colleagues to check in and chat. This could be a virtual lunch, happy hour, or coffee break
At SPI Media, we sometimes have virtual happy hour on Friday afternoons to chat about different topics (like our vinyl record collections), or play games together. 
#3: Be Vulnerable
There’s a certain amount of confidence that entrepreneurs must possess, and showing vulnerability can feel like the kiss of death for anyone who’s attempting to “fake it until you make it.” 
But being vulnerable is key to combating loneliness. Sharing your struggles and fears with your spouse, a mentor, or a trusted friend will foster true connection. 
“It’s really easy to get your identity wrapped up in the business that you’re building. And so if you’re admitting that the business has problems, that can feel very personal,” says Jay. 
“If you haven’t done the self-work to understand that you are not what you do, you are not the business, that’s a hard chasm to cross. And it does take humility, especially from that position of having your identity so wrapped up in the business to, to ask for help or to share the challenges or to admit that things aren’t going as well as you’d like, because it feels like you’re admitting your own flaws or exposing your own weaknesses. And that’s not the case, but it’s really easy to feel like it is.” 
#4: Keep Mental and Physical Health a Priority
Of course, getting enough sleep and exercise is common advice to help fight depression, stress, and feelings of loneliness. And drinking enough water and eating a healthy diet can help too. 
Writing down your feelings in a journal is a good idea as well. It can help you to clarify what you’re feeling, and help you realize what you need to do to find a solution. Sometimes, feelings of loneliness can be subconscious. Maybe you’re feeling angry or sad, but at the core of those feelings is your isolation. Writing down your feelings and coming face to face with them can help you to sort it all out.
And reaching out to a mental health professional is always a good idea, especially if you find that you’re taking steps to feel connected, but it’s not working. 
#5: Join a Membership Community
Online communities are also a great way to find other like-minded people and help fight loneliness. They allow you to have a regular place to “hang out” online, and (pre-pandemic), meet up with local members as well.
When Jay was first starting out, he found communities like Tropical MBA. And then he started his own online community, the Unreal Collective, which recently joined forces with SPI Pro.  “If you can’t find the community you’re looking for, you can build your own,” he says.
Here at SPI Media, we knew our audience members were looking for connections. When surveyed, “connecting with other entrepreneurs” was at the top of their list of reasons for joining an online community. That’s why we’re are taking steps within SPI Pro to help entrepreneurs feel less lonely. 
“We are really focused on making the community about connection,” says Jay, “to the degree that we hold frequent events so that we can connect people in real time over video. We want each member to be able to find at least one other person who they can trust and connect with as quickly as possible. We’re not giving you a digital space and saying ‘good luck.’ We’re welcoming you into that space and helping you get connected to other people, whether it’s through our events, whether it’s through our mastermind program, so you can continuously meet with other people on a weekly or monthly basis. Those are really, really big aspects to the SPI Pro membership.”
If you’re looking to connect with other entrepreneurs, check out SPI Pro. Or, if want to start your own membership community, check out the live training workshop below. Let’s fight loneliness—together.

Free Webinar
Start Your Own Membership Community
Join us for two free live training webinars with our friends from Circle.so.
During the two training videos, titled “How to Create Your Own Community on Circle: Our Simple 5-Part Framework Based on Real-Life Examples,” we’ll help take the guess-work out of creating your community and also take you behind the scenes of community-building with dozens of examples from Circle’s most successful communities.

The Truth About Money Management

January 18, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Money can be a terrifying topic. Even the word itself seems daunting, with all of its underlying connotations. Because of this, some turn away from dirtying their hands and gaining important, empirical knowledge in the world of money managing. Instead, they turn their faces from it, and turn their money management over to someone who knows better. 
The unfortunate truth is these types of people will never generate the wealth they want or need. Money knowledge (what to do with it, how to use it, where to invest it, how to make it work for you, etc.) is one of the most important instruments in the tool belts of the wealthy, and they wield it as a weapon.
I sat down with reputed money-management mentor Chris Naugle (who, full disclosure, is also a personal friend) to discuss this important topic, and he started off with this gem: “Money isn’t complicated. I’ve spoken with so many people who have held onto this common misconception that they’ve developed from an early age. This leads them to believe that you’re better off handing it over to someone who can do more with it, or understands it better, than you can.”
Related: Learn the Personal Finance Habits of Wealthy Entrepreneurs
And this misconception isn’t only reserved for a select few. Naugle admits he felt this same way before diving head-first into life as a financial advisor. However, after years of education, practic and even some failures, he’s learned some valuable lessons, like this one: 
“The truth is that money is simply a tool. A tool that has a right and a wrong way to use it. Unfortunately, most of what we are taught is the wrong way, and that’s where a majority of our money problems stem from. Trust me, I know it’s hard to hear — or believe — that everything you’ve ever been taught about money is flat-out wrong.”
Here is Naughle’s insider breakdown on optimal money management:
The down-low on privatized banking
If you’re not in control of your money, someone else is, and you can bet they’re using your money to get richer. So the idea is to put your money in your own hands.
You may have heard this concept before. It goes by many names: The Money Multiplier, Infinite Banking, Privatized Banking, etc. But the name isn’t what’s important; it’s the significance. This concept puts you in control of your money and makes you your own bank. You are able to use a specially designed, whole-life policy with a mutually owned insurance company that pays dividends and puts you in a position of power. 
The bottom line: It’s your money, and you need to be the one earning the interest on it. Your bank isn’t doing you any favors with that skimpy rate.
Why you shouldn’t be asking for money to fund your deals
I still get baffled looks at the mere mention of this nugget of truth. You may be wondering, “How on Earth is that even possible? Don’t they always tell you to ask until you find a ‘yes’?” That’s what most people say, but that information isn’t correct either. 
Instead of coming from a position of needing permission, try solving someone’s problem. That way you can approach them from a position of authority and power. 
As an example, let’s you spark a conversation with your neighbor, Jim. Both of you have exchanged many stories over the years, so this starts off just like any other conversation. Except this time, you’re listening to him differently so you can really tune into what problems Jim may be having that you can help solve. 
Jim tells you that everything is going great, he’s in good health, his kids are having kids and he’s now enjoying being a grandfather. Recently, he’s started looking at RVs that would be big enough for the whole family to enjoy on camping trips. But before he gets an RV, he wants to finish paying off his truck.
**Ding Ding Ding** 
Now, that’s a problem you can solve. You and Jim have been neighbors for 12 years, and it’s pretty safe to say he’s got some equity in his home. What if he could loan you $100,000 of that equity at 12% interest (enough to pay the interest he owes and enough money to pay off his truck)? Then, you could complete your deal and he could make money. That’s a win-win. He already knows and trusts you, which makes him far more likely to lend to you, and you both could make money on the deal. 
That’s it! We’re just trying to solve someone’s problem. Give them an offer they can’t refuse, and you’ll both come out ahead. (I will add here that Jim will only trust you if you’ve been a good, upstanding neighbor. Yes, relationships and how you treat people really do make you wealthy.)
Demystifying winning strategies with options trading
If I told you that, in less than 10 minutes a day, you could earn higher returns than your High Yield Savings account offers, would you think I was crazy? Well, regardless of what you think, it’s true. You can earn higher returns just by investing 10 minutes of your time, per day, in Options Trading. From there, the process can be repeated and simplified, so you may only need to spend 10 minutes a month to get the same, mind-blowing results.
So what does it take? The trick is finding the right strategy that fits your goals, and sticking with a method that works. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. There’s no need to overcomplicate it. 
Related: The 8 Most Common Areas of Overspending in Business
The bottom line is, without the proper knowledge and consistent application of that knowledge, you’re going to stay stuck in a place you don’t want to be. How many years of your life are you willing to give up control, simply because you’ve been given the wrong information about how money really works?
I’ve watched Naugle change the lives of thousands of people through this simple, and correct, money-management advice. The truth is, money doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to intimidate or scare you. And, most importantly, your money can work for you.
So, have your money make you more money. That’s managing wealth, intelligently.

5 Things Investors Look for in Your Pitch

January 18, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Today’s investors are looking for a lot more than just a clear and present pitch. Apart from the executive team and business plan—prospective players want to be assured their investment is sound while the company has real plans for growth. 
Badal Shah is a multiple-exit entrepreneur with experience in chemical manufacturing, real estate software and healthcare technology. He currently serves as the CEO for his own start up, The Anthos Group, while also being on the board of directors at The Federal Savings Bank and Cabrera Capital Holdings. Herein the active angel investor shares some of the key characteristics he looks for in promising start-ups…
People plus passion
Active investors have heard hundreds of promises regarding the “next big thing”. What pitches often miss, however, is the “wow factor”. It is essential to highlight actual passion for the project in question.
“I am inspired by people,” says Shah. “Those that have tested new concepts, pivoted from their first love and created something that the public is willing to make part of their lives.”Real passion must always radiate from the actual pitch.
Related: AAPL: Why Apple Stock Will Continue to Outperform in 2021
Thesis and fit
Start up companies and investors play a lot of matchmaking. In many cases, new businesses bypass an investment because the chemistry just wasn’t there. It is important to identify this early on because neither side wants to be micro-managed, or deal with extra stress, in an already high-stress situation.”It’s always difficult to balance being humble with being direct about why your company is the best and most investable opportunity,” says Shah. Building relationships, accommodating to the investor’s schedule, and presenting in ways they prefer are important factors that go beyond the actual pitch.
Transparency
When a company asks for a large sum of money, honesty is expected by an investor. As the founders build a relationship with an interested party, it is imperative that they are transparent about all areas of their lives so that the same trust can carry on through the relationship.”I need to understand the founders philosophies, family life and hobbies,” says Shah “These are important attributes to understand if they can handle the marathon in front of them.”An investor looks at the big picture, so it is important to share all of the details.”They can have great concepts, but what is their support structure like?” asks Shah. “If it is not intact, the investment can be risky.” 
Related: These are the Top Venture Capital Firms of 2020
Strategic raise
Remember that founders are always in capital raise mode. It may not necessarily be in a formal presentation, but you are constantly being evaluated as you share your ideas with new contacts. The company and your coworkers rely on you for the well-being of this venture.”A great founder should always be raising capital from strategic investors,” says Shah. “The greatest time to raise capital is when the company does not need it.” 
Listening skills
“Is the CEO an active listener?” asks Shah. “If they are listening, and willing to continuously learn, you have someone that is going to succeed.”The open mind can reach new levels while a closed one misses opportunities. Every entrepreneur can identify certain advice that changed their course. While founders may be the technical experts, they should always be open to ideas and guidance.
“If they are not actively listening?” adds Shah. “It is a dangerous sign and my check is off the table.”
When owners are pitching, they are being evaluated far beyond whatever their concept might be. Relationship building, synchronization and transparency will cultivate your meet-and-greets with investors and, as a result, put your business in a great position to succeed.
Related: What Startup Funding Will Look Like in a Post-Covid-19 World

Businesses Can Seize Online Growth by Pivoting Towards New Shopper Behaviors

January 18, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Success begets more success, but the current business and pandemic environment is also fraught with risks.
In Q2 of 2020, Amazon reported skyrocketing growth of $88.9 billion in revenue, while online grocery sales tripled year-over-year. But the Jeff Bezos-led company also said in early October that a staggering 20,000 workers got infected by Covid.
Almost twice as many employees now work from home than at the office, according to a June 2020 analysis by Stanford University. Charlie Munger, billionaire and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a public forum that life brings one or two extraordinary opportunities that one should fight hard for. 
Ecommerce sites, online retailers and digital service providers can exploit the pandemic as a rare opportunity to capture significant, life-changing sales growth. Here are three tips for doing so in the new normal.
Related: What Really Drives Sales Growth and Repeat Business?
1. Offer more SKUs
More Stock Keeping Units, or SKUs, can complicate operations and lower margins. However, extra SKUs can always be discontinued if sell-through is low. Even if you sell merchandise at a break-even pace, a visitor may purchase other items that have attractive margins and thus, improve the bottom line. That’s why 7-Eleven and gas stations sell lottery tickets, which is a low-margin product. Gamblers and those who purchase lottery tickets tend to also buy milk, cigarettes and snacks.
Ecommerce businesses should reinvest part of newfound profits by offering more SKUs. Particularly work from home (WFH) products that are in high demand. This accomplishes a few business objectives by gaining market share and becoming a one-stop-shop in your niche. Getting entrenched also makes it difficult for competitors to dislodge your position.
With the ongoing pandemic, consumers have shifted to ecommerce when purchasing everyday goods and services. Businesses should examine what this means for their operations, as well as regulatory compliance.
There are age verification tools like AgeChecker.net that help retailers increase the sales of products like tobacco and alcohol, while keeping these out of the hands of children and/or unauthorized buyers. By requiring self-verification, the site prevents minors from buying cigarettes from your web store, so your business can comply with local laws.
2. Sell trending WFH products
The more things change, the more they stay the same. A timeless objective of any business is to understand what the customer wants and to deliver it profitably at a sensible cost.
To ride the wave of online demand, a business can seek and sell viral WFH products, as well as health-related supplies. For example, demand for DIY haircuts is up 766% and online church is up 544%, according to trends-tracker Glimpse. Other in-demand goods include home-gym equipment like resistance bands (512%), nail kits (431%) and TikTok lights (531%).
Managers and entrepreneurs must always keep in mind it’s all about giving what the customer wants based on today’s new circumstances.
Adapt to new shopper behaviors
According to McKinsey’s Covid-19 Global Consumer Sentiment survey, 75% of consumers have changed shopping behaviors because of the pandemic.
“Value, availability and quality or organic products were the main drivers for consumers trying a different brand,” the McKinsey study authors said. “Consumers intend to shift their spending largely to essentials, such as grocery and household supplies, and cut back on discretionary categories.”
Related: 3 Major Opportunities That Will Come From This Pandemic
What goods can your business offer that are considered great bargains? Do you offer free shipping to regular customers? Is your website optimized for mobile devices? 
According to Adobe’s August 2020 Digital Economy Index, smartphones would be responsible for 50% of online spending by September 2020. And buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) in August saw 259% growth year-over-year. Does it make sense for your business to offer curbside pickup, in-store pickup and/or home delivery?
These days, consumers are mindful of their money, therefore, they’re trading down to acquire more value. Companies that seize the wave of WFH demand can drastically grow in revenue and profitability while reducing enterprise risk.

Launching your Career in an Uncertain Economy

Prospects may look bleak for those entering the job market during the current health and economic crisis. Here are seven tips to steer you through.

January 18, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The current health and economic crisis has affected everyone, but it can be exceptionally daunting for post-secondary graduates and other young adults just starting their careers. The high unemployment rates and a tough job market only increases the pressure and financial worries. Don’t lose hope!
Here are seven tips to help you navigate the uncertainty surrounding your next career steps. 
1. Align your expectations and be realistic
The job market is uncertain right now. Many companies have had to downsize, freeze hiring, and cut internships and entry-level programs. It is vital to acknowledge these circumstances while searching for work and not let that discourage you on your career path. These are anything but normal times, but things will eventually pick up again. It is entirely understandable if you are struggling to find a position in your field. Allow yourself time to find your perfect job by taking a temporary job to pay the bills until the right opportunity comes along. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
2. Utilize your network
Some companies will bootstrap their hiring practices in an economic downturn and not use recruiters or paid job boards. This increases the importance of your own network to get the word out that you are looking for work. Many jobs are never publicly posted and are instead filled through referrals. One of your industry connections could catch wind of an opening that you would be perfect for. Reflect on who you know with connections in your industry and consider reaching out to them, asking that they keep you in mind for any future opportunities they hear about. Always be professional and courteous. While directly asking for a job may not be well received, writing a friendly e-mail explaining where you are in your job search, followed by a kind request to keep you in mind if anything comes up, could gain you a considerable ally in your search.    
3. Volunteer
Getting a foot in the door can go a long way when starting your career. If you are in a financial situation that allows you to offer to volunteer, it can open a world of possibilities. Many small- to medium-sized companies have a less concrete structure and could genuinely benefit from an extra set of hands during this difficult time. Volunteering can lead to industry contacts, enhance your résumé and even result in a full-time position once the company can afford it. Think of the opportunity as an extended working interview.
Related: Why You Should Volunteer Before Launching Your Career
4. Tap into your career resources
Universities, colleges and professional affiliations offer many services that can assist in your job search. Some even have job boards with opportunities that are exclusive to your school. Others connect employers with government funding opportunities for young adults or people reentering the job market. Research what career services and contact personnel these institutions can provide to you.
Related: 40 Online Resources All Women in Tech Careers Should Know About
5. Check job boards daily
The job market is extremely competitive right now. Some postings state they will remain open until a specified date but close earlier due to many applicants. It’s common for smaller companies to begin pre-screens or interviews within a few days of posting the position. The number of applicants competing for publicly posted jobs is substantially larger than it was pre-pandemic, so the quicker you apply, the better your chances. Any advantage helps. 
6. Explore part-time opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures
Even seasoned industry professionals are struggling to find work in this market, so if you can’t seem to land a job in your field, there are other ways to use your time productively. Consider taking a part-time opportunity that may lead to full time, and spend your extra time taking online classes to learn a new, in-demand skill such as computer programming or digital marketing. Also, consider starting a venture such as lawn care, tutoring or dog walking, or return to a previous field such as fitness, retail or hospitality. Meanwhile, you can continue your search and enhance your skill set. 
7. Stay positive
It can be discouraging to be out of work, but remember, you are not alone. Millions worldwide are experiencing these same struggles, and resilience is a crucial skill to build. It is vital to ensure your mental health is not compromised and your confidence is not shaken. Remember, how you spend your time now to prepare for the future is time and energy wisely invested.
Related: How to Strengthen Your Personal Resilience

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4 Ways for Service Professionals to Acquire New Clients

January 18, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Service providers in certain industries — like travel and leisure, for example — have been hit hard by the pandemic. According to an August 2020 survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, 21% of business owners say they’ll permanently shut down if the economy doesn’t improve within the next six months.
Regardless of industry, service professionals need to acquire multiple revenue streams to weaken the financial risk, given today’s economy. It’s also critical to operate with the right mindset about one’s work.
Whether you’re an employee, consultant or gig worker, see yourself as the owner of your own professional services firm. Because whatever one’s work classification (W-2 or 1099), service professionals are absolutely proprietors of their own labor.
Your name, reputation and brand are inseparably tied to service quality and professionalism. As CEO of You, Inc., the following are four quick, yet effective ways to acquire new clients:
1. Connect to a hidden job market
Gig workers, job candidates and other independent professionals who randomly send introduction letters are at a huge disadvantage. Recruiters and hiring managers have little time for them, opting to merely discard the majority of the all-too-popular time-wasters in a digital (or literal) trash can.
A better approach is to tap into undisclosed open projects by instead speaking with social-media contacts, business associates, friends, family members and people who are already in your existing personal and professional circles. Networking is a powerful tool for finding new business opportunities.
The hidden job market is a huge part of the economy. In fact, an August 2020 LinkedIn poll found that 36 percent of recruiters say unposted jobs comprise 51 to 75% of the economy, while 29% say it’s between 26 and 50%.
Furthermore, according to career coach Adele Leah, “Advertised jobs only make up 20 to 25% of roles that are actually available. That means 75 to 80% of jobs aren’t advertised.” Leveraging the hidden job market makes it more likely you’ll find a better opportunity that matches your skillset.
Related: Selling In a Pandemic: How to Communicate With Your Customers Amid COVID-19
2. Touch base with past clients
If you’re like most small businesses, the bulk of revenue comes from a few clients while the rest only provide infrequent work or one-off projects. The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the effects (i.e., revenue) come from 20% of causes (customers).
Because of this, there’s a natural temptation to ignore past clients who didn’t previously provide consistent cash flow. However, times and circumstances change. Remember, decision-makers are also routinely replaced.
In marketing, there’s a popular saying: “The money is in the list.” That is an email list.
Do some digging in your inbox and create a mailing list that allows you to touch base with former clients and associates. Remind them of who you are and what services you offer. It only takes one or two resurrected accounts — in addition to current clients, of course — to create a new pipeline of work that’ll keep you busy year-round.
When reaching out, personalize your email (or letter, if you’re old-fashioned) and show what you’ve done for similar clients in the past. Since former customers have paid you once, assuming they had a positive experience, they’ll be more likely to pay you for your services again.
Related: Sales Tactics to Survive the Extended Effects of the Pandemic
3. Fight for strategic accounts
It’s a good idea to separate regular prospects from potential high-value clients. High-value targets are ones that make you very profitable, have many projects and are easy to work with.
In contrast, struggling solopreneurs work with low-margin accounts which often supply more in the way of migraines than actual revenue. Bad customers imprison service professionals in a cycle of paycheck-to-paycheck dependency, as they’re unable to devote enough time to landing more lucrative accounts.
“To have a sustainable service business, you’ve got to fight for and retain high-value clients, since these drive growth and profitability,” said Luke Acree, President of Reminder Media, a Pennsylvania-based content agency, during a recent phone conversation.
“You get these clients through old-fashioned networking, as well as by having an effective website, great content, a stand-out reputation and competitive pricing,” says Acree. “Providers should prioritize client relationships, over-deliver on expectations and improve cycle times. You get recurring profits from big-budget managers who want to continue working with you.”
This leads to our next (and final) tip.
4. Stay connected with decision-makers
In many cases, it’s a matter of timing. You may have a shot at landing a lucrative gig but just not right now. Hiring managers routinely go on maternity (or paternity) leave or vacations, attend weddings or come down with an untimely illness — any number of things, really. By constantly networking with decision-makers, you can be first in line when new projects do come up.
With social media, connecting with decision-makers is more convenient than ever. It’s never a bad idea to become well-acquainted with popular networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, which allow users to connect with high-value prospects, as well as join relevant industry groups.
For example, if you’re a copywriter or digital marketer, don’t only join advertising-driven groups on LinkedIn, but make your voice heard — be an active participant and provide regular value. The more colleagues, fellow entrepreneurs or talent scouts within your industry view your profile and the expertise you readily share, the greater the chance you’ll be considered for new work. 
Yes, putting in the effort to be top-of-mind can seem daunting, but not everything you do has to have an immediate return. Being predominant with decision-makers can lead to securing a contract when a business or online acquaintance is suddenly in need of a particular service you offer, even if your relationship may not seem very strong at the time.
Will each of the above methods immediately lead to a constant influx of new, exciting work? If that’s your expectation, prepare for a letdown. What is likely, however, is that one or two of them at least give you a shot with a new client. From there, it’s your job to keep your new client satisfied. Fortunately, your growing bank balance will be proof of the right, targeted effort.

Elon Musk Responds To a Request From a Tweeter Who Sent Him the Same Message 154 Times

A developer asked the businessman for permission to create a video game about SpaceX and finally received a response from Elon Musk.
Entrepreneur’s New Year’s Guide
Let the business resources in our guide inspire you and help you achieve your goals in 2021.

January 18, 2021 2 min read

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

There is no doubt that perseverance does pay off. A video game creator set out to get Elon Musk’s attention and he succeeded! After 154 attempts to reach the CEO of SpaceX via Twitter , the enthusiastic programmer got a response.
The independent developer Lyubomir Vladimirov , promised to publish the same message for the daily businessman for a year. His intention was to ask Musk for permission to develop a game inspired by SpaceX , his space exploration company.
Dear Elon. I am a game developer and I am making a game about the colonization of Mars with you and SpaceX. If you think it’s cool, all I need is a ‘go ahead’ to use your name and logos. I will post this every day for a year or until I get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. 154/365 ” , says the video game creator’s post.
After 22 weeks of prodding, the CEO of Tesla finally heeded him and answered Vladimirov’s request.
“You can steal our name / logos and we probably won’t sue you ,” the Space CEO replied from his Twitter account.

You can steal our name / logos & we probably won’t sue you
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 13, 2021
After receiving the long-awaited response from Elon Musk , the tweeter promised that a good part of the video game’s profits would go to SpaceX .
“I want to give 80% of the profits from the game to SpaceX. In that way, the game will not only serve the important purpose of entertaining people and arousing their interest in Mars, but will also help Elon Musk and SpaceX to achieve this, ” wrote the programmer, who promised to show more progress soon.
Vladimirov has shown that he wasted no time while waiting for Musk’s permission. In his profile you can find several videos showing the interface of the game.

Btw it doesn’t always go as planned: DI recorded in full screen for better quality of the fail.More fails coming soon: D pic.twitter.com/0H4UdkC96e
– Lyubomir Vladimirov (@lvladimirovBG) January 17, 2021

5 Important Hiring Tips When Building Your Company

January 18, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As an entrepreneur, time is not on your side. Yet spending those tedious hours to identify and vet the optimal candidates for your growing company is crucial. 
When your team needs to expand rapidly to meet organizational demands and challenges, it’s quite easy to hire the first person who looks good on paper. But making the wrong hire costs about 30% of the individual’s first-year expected earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  
I can also tell you from experience that the wrong hire doesn’t just constitute monetary repercussions; it can permeate throughout your organization. It can have a detrimental impact on team morale and cause employees to question your leadership and decision-making abilities. The wrong hire consumes more resources than if you spent the time and due diligence to identify the right employee from the onset. With one wrong move, you’re consulting with employment lawyers, combing over your hastily created HR policies, trying to define how to handle coaching and development, and more. 
With a non-profit leadership background, one of my non-negotiables has always been a stubborn focus on the organization’s most important stakeholder — the people. Not only how we can support people as our mission, but how we can develop, foster, and sustain a culture where employees thrive and drive your objectives. 
Here’s what I’ve learned about making the right hire.  
1. Make sure your new teammates believe in the mission as much as you do. 
Hiring people who are passionate about what it is that you and they do is critical. Maybe you’re creating life-saving heart technology or making IT’s job easier with impactful integration tools — whatever the case, this is the first clue you might have identified the right hire. 
People want to be part of something that gives them a sense of purpose and pride. There is also an efficacious bottom-line impact. PwC research found 33% of C-suite-level candidates will take a pay cut to work for a mission-driven company. More so, engaged employees perform better according to Gallup: they have higher productivity, higher customer ratings, and result in fewer turnovers.  
You’ll notice the employee’s belief was first on my list, not the hard skills needed. While your new teammate should understand their job role and what’s required to accomplish it, passion and enthusiasm for the role and work are paramount. In the long run, someone who is excellent at their job, but not passionate about the business, won’t bring as much to your company as someone who is but may need to learn some hard skills needed on the job.  
2. Ask the candidate to complete a work sample. 
While it takes more time for you to review, asking for a work sample on a contextualized business case or challenge is critical. You want to assess how your new teammate conceptualizes and executes a specified, informed task. 
The key here isn’t that they’ve developed a flawless plan or sample — it’s more about how they’re thinking about the position and your company. 
Hiring based on what’s on paper is an easy way to overlook great job applicants, specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) candidates. Companies with a diverse workforce are 45% more likely to report significant growth in market share year over year, and 70% more likely to capture a new market, according to think tank, Coqual. 
Related: 6 Tips for Hiring the Right People 
3. Look at how the candidate presents data, content, and ideas vs. what’s on paper. 
While you need to evaluate the work sample for what it is, how the person presents the data, content, and thoughts about its execution are just as important, if not more so. 
How do they present themselves? Their enthusiasm in the topic? What life and previous experiences are they projecting and incorporating? You should encourage them to incorporate both. And a cardinal thought that I urge you to remember is that BIPoC professionals are often pigeon-holed into mainstream notions of White dominant professionalism. 
Create an environment where he/she/they can present themselves authentically, beginning at your very first interaction with the candidate. The person you are hiring should be a culture add to your organization — and their diversity matters. 
Related: How Covid-19 Changed the Way We Look at Hiring 
4. The hiring team should comprise team members from across the business.
When you’re making a hire, especially one reporting directly to you, make sure you’re not the only person facilitating the hiring. You should bring in people from across the business, on all levels and layers to meet with them and review their work sample. For instance, if you’re hiring for a partnership position, bring in someone from the development team and account management. 
Everyone in your business has a different perspective, background, and organizational charge. They’ll evaluate the candidate with their different methods of thinking and unique lens, and you’ll gain a clearer picture of how this person slots into the organization. 
Related: This CEO Doesn’t Look at Resumes When Hiring 
5. Develop a uniformed rubric when hiring to help consolidate everyone’s feedback. 
It’s important to have multiple perspectives, and we know that biases have a way of creeping into our hiring processes. When evaluating a candidate, develop a dynamic rubric, so everyone assesses the candidate on what you find most important; this should be specific to the role and your organization. 
Not only will this help eliminate biases, but it will also make it easier for you to take a comprehensive look at the candidate instead of a one-dimensional view. 
You must spend the necessary time engaging in the process of hiring your most important stakeholders. Ideally, they’ll be part of your business for years, and you want them to be a culture add. They should bring a diversity of thought — in addition to other aspects of diversity — while bolstering your all-important mission.  
While it can be easy to rush through hiring for a position, make sure you don’t. 
Instead, thoughtfully set aside time to bring the right teammates into your business. Your company, employees, the candidate, and you benefit from the time and effort you exert in this oh-so-important process. 
Now go and build your amazing company!
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