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5 Tips for Managing a Virtual Team

February 18, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The concept of working at home isn’t a new phenomenon. For many, work and home were the same thing ­– from seamstresses to shoemakers and bakers to blacksmiths. Before the Industrial Revolution, it was the norm when factories demanded people be on site. Then in the early 20th century, the availability of electricity and public transportation lured workers into offices. Now the pandemic has driven us back out.
What this means is that the current situation, then, is not “the new normal” as is being touted. It’s the old normal coming back around.
Even this new bout of remote working isn’t that new. IBM, a recognized early adopter, installed remote terminals in employees’ homes in the 1980s. By 2009, 40% of IBM’s global employees worked from home, once again highlighting the influential role of technology.
Even before the spread of the pandemic in 2020, remote working was growing. The pandemic forced our hand, pushing many out of their workplaces and locking the door behind them. We don’t know what happens next, but this hyper-growth in working at home is likely to have a long-term impact.
In the meantime, here are five tips to help your virtual team on the road to real success. 
Surround yourself with the right people
Let’s face it, working in a virtual team is not for everyone. Just as some individuals thrive in an office environment, others will take a shine to remote working. It is important, then, if you’re recruiting a virtual team, to put together a group of people who fall into the latter camp or who can, as a minimum, adapt to this different working style. Members of a virtual team need to have exceptional communication skills, the ability to work independently and technology capabilities. Like any job, a sense of humor helps, too.
Skyler Stein, President of Gladskin, a biotechnology-driven skincare brand, hasn’t met all of the people he works with in person. “We launched Gladskin into the U.S. market in January and, due to COVID, have built our team without the ability to for most people on our team to meet many of our team members in person. In the absence of the organic relationship building that happens from sharing the same office space every day, we prioritized building our team culture this past year by holding sessions where individuals share their personality types and how to work best with themselves. This way, everyone has a ‘cheat sheet’ on how to collaborate best with everyone else on the team. It’s been an invaluable part of our team building and something we will continue even after the pandemic is over.”     
Related: 7 Virtual Team-Building Ideas to Keep Your Team Connected 
Choose your technology wisely
There are a plethora of remote working tools on the market, from the Google and Microsoft suite of tools to Slack, Zoom, and Skype. Virbela provides a whole immersive virtual campus, complete with personalized avatars. Smartsheet provides personalized but collaborative workflow management. There are apps for time management, document sharing, project management, HR, meeting schedules. The list goes on.
It’s important to remember that these tools are just that ­– tools to enable work. If your virtual team struggles to use a tool, it may not be the right one for you. Once you find the technology balance, your virtual team’s communication and workflow should be smooth and productive. 
Implement training
Training doesn’t lose its importance just because your team works from home. There are still work processes that need to be learned and facilitated, not to mention all that technology. Given that the virtual team environment also breaks down geographical recruitment barriers, training in cross-cultural work practices may also be necessary.
Remember, too, that people learn in different ways, but most learn best through interaction and participation. Training should be more than a set of pre-recorded visuals with a multiple-choice test at the end. Interaction and group learning, where possible, should be included to facilitate subject mastery and start the team-building process. “At Gladskin, we established clear team norms, so everyone understands what is expected. What type of information is communicated via Email versus Slack versus Asana, and what types of response times are expected for each channel? These are all norms we have clearly defined to make sure everyone’s on the same page. For example, at Gladskin, if you get an internal email over the weekend, the expectation has been set that there is no need to respond until Monday.” 
Related: How to Get The Best Out of Virtual Teams 
Build a virtual team culture
Virtual teams need all the same things traditional teams do to perform well, including encouragement, recognition, and reward. German utility company E.On introduced a Buzz recognition program that encouraged personalized recognition via digital and physical thank you notes. Simple, but it worked, increasing staff motivation through people feeling valued.
Obviously, a team that builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication and increases collaboration has an increased chance of being successful. So, how can you do it? Along with providing communication mechanisms, encourage collaboration through work projects. Bring in team building activities, too – more and more virtual options are springing up with the increase in demand. Be careful with this, though. Choose activities that will make your team cheer rather than groan. I know a team that was none too excited about a Zoom work drinks get-together before Christmas, who was pleasantly surprised when a bottle of wine and a basket of local produce arrived on each of their doorsteps on the day in question. A little bit of effort goes a long way.
It may go without saying, too, but if it’s possible to meet in person on occasion, do so. Face-to-face meetings or events are known to contribute to relationship building.
Related: Smart Tips for Working With Your Virtual Team 
Be firm but flexible
Working in a virtual team is not the same as working in an office, and it probably never will be. One of the main advantages for employees is flexibility (along with the zero commute time). It’s important to recognize this and maintain a flexible work environment. By the same token, work needs to be done.
Establishing core hours in conjunction with task-oriented work scheduling can increase productivity. Core hours ensures team members can contact each other and anticipate responses, even across different time zones, while task-oriented productivity goals allow for individual flexibility in time management.


Why Is Clubhouse Such an Unparalleled Platform?

Here are three ways the new social audio media app is impacting you, your business and society as a whole through transparency and education.

February 18, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As entrepreneurs, we’re knowledge-seekers and networkers by nature. When Twitter launched, we jumped at the opportunity to hear thoughts from mentors and start forming real-time conversations. When podcasts started gaining traction, we had a chance to hear advice and learn about the backgrounds of inspiring entrepreneurs.
Now, Clubhouse has entered the scene. For those who are unfamiliar, Clubhouse is an audio-based social network that’s invite-only for iPhone users (as of now). This new social network has combined the best parts of old-school talk radio and podcasts, bringing peer-to-peer, transparent conversations to the entrepreneurial world. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Related: How to Get Invited to Clubhouse
After a year of public demands for more transparent media, Clubhouse has found its niche as the solution to ultimately help democratize the mainstream media. Conversations taking place are transparent, conversational, knowledgeable and inspiring – making it the perfect platform for us knowledge-seekers to actively participate.
So, what does this mean for you personally, as a business owner, and your conversations in society as a whole? Let’s break it down.
Personal impact
I’ve always said that the most successful entrepreneurs naturally look for ways to grow personally to be our best selves for our teams, clients and customers. Clubhouse has given us a chance to peek behind the curtain and drop in on these growth-driven discussions in a much more organic, less demanding way than we ever could with written content, radio or even podcasts.
Now, we can listen in on real-time conversations happening with people who inspire us, while taking a break from the draining news cycle via traditional media. We can get back to discussing ideas and learning from each other. We have an insider’s look at thousands of experts’ thought processes – something we’ve never been able to hear live in the past aside from a short talk radio interview. Not only can we pull from their advice and thoughts personally, but these conversations can help us formulate ideas on how we can be better business owners as well.
Related: 10 Worthwhile Books Written by Self-Made Billionaires
Business impact
While the conversations happening on Clubhouse are helpful for our personal growth, it’s also a great place to do business. At any given moment, there are like-minded individuals on the platform. The app now gives us a chance to network, share expertise, combine knowledge, bounce ideas off one another, and so much more. Some of the best business ideas come from spit-balling thoughts or hearing someone else’s discussion – Clubhouse now gives us a way to do this in real-time.
Related: How Clubhouse Is Creating Unprecedented Opportunities and Access
In addition to giving us a way to brainstorm ideas, it also provides a way to learn more on a topic that’s essential to a business that isn’t a current area of expertise. For example, if you have a technical background, accounting or marketing may not be skillsets you’re particularly knowledgeable in. By listening in on a room specialized in a specific field (like Accounting.Club), it’ll be easier to pick up on the essentials and have a basic knowledge moving forward. It’s almost like learning a new language – Clubhouse provides a genuine, uncontrived space for immersing yourself in the industry in which you’d like to assimilate.
Societal impact
As a society, we’re craving a feeling of unity, transparency and privacy. We’ve seen the disenchantment with Facebook come about as privacy concerns and content from unverified sources continue to run rampant across the platform. Clubhouse is providing a way for us all to connect with like-minded individuals with expertise across a broad range of interests. Though we’re all still feeling the effects of isolation, communities now have more ways to connect in a safe manner.
Clubhouse also provides people another way to multitask. The key benefit to podcasts and audiobooks being read by our favorite entrepreneurs is that we’re able to soak in the while still being able to multitask around the house or in the office.
The platform currently has two million users and is valued at around $1 billion. We can see from Clubhouse’s fast growth that this social audio platform is serving a critical need that business owners needed to fill. At our core, we want to build community, educate ourselves, and create a product or service from our knowledge and experiences. Clubhouse is now a key player that we all need to keep our eyes (and ears) on.


Faith, Failure, Success is an Inspirational Weekend Read




An easy inspirational book for small business owners by small business owners.

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I have found that I have to consciously discipline myself to clear my mind, hear my own inner voice and trust it. Every time I do, it rarely lets me down.  — Cynda Williams
With live events and business retreats off the table, entrepreneurs are yearning for an uplifting and motivational read.  If you find yourself in a whirlwind of firefighting and overwhelm, it’s probably time to take a step back, grab a deep breath of fresh air, and snuggle in with a good book.
That’s exactly what I did over the last few weeks when I received an ebook version of Faith, Failure, Success: Stories Along the Entrepreneurial Journey by Leonard Mogul, Olivia DeMoss, Pierre DeBois, Glenn R. Murray, Samantha Danielle, Mel Roberson. Foreword by Latresa Rice.

A Personal Connection in More Ways Than One
I have to admit that this isn’t a book that I would pick up on my own.  But, since Pierre DeBois, who you know as my book review partner here on Small Business Trends, was a co-author, you know I had to read it and review it.
When he’s not reviewing books here on Small Business Trends, Pierre DeBois is running his Analytics company, Zimana, writing books on technical topics or serving corporate clients. While I knew that Pierre was a reflective and thoughtful guy, I was pleasantly surprised to see how revealing and vulnerable he was in this book.
Here is a little background on the rest of the authors.
The entire project originated with Glenn Murray, whose publishing company issued the book. Glenn Murray is the founder of 220 Communications, the parent company to 220 Publishing and Food Wine and Spirit Ventures.  Through 220 Publishing, he has published more than 50 titles across all genres.
Samantha Danielle started her career as a Nurse and then quickly pivoted to business. Her goal of becoming a pediatric hospital administrator was deferred once she fell in love with wedding planning. While living in Durham, NC, she opened Bliss by Sam (BBS) Weddings & Occasions in 2005. She then moved herself and the firm to Chicago in 2012.
Mel Roberson is a four-time Amazon best-selling author. On three projects, he was a contributing author. His first solo project, 31 Amazing Life Lessons of Joshua Stokes, hit the Amazon best-seller rankings in several different categories.  Mel is a Chicago native and delivers professional development seminars for corporations and organizations across North America.
Olivia DeMoss is a life-long glass artist turned coach, author, and speaker with a calling to help push humanity forward, she helps her audience understand that a major source of discontentment comes from compromising our own truth.
Leonard Mogul is a community advocate, distinguished media personality, and market development director with Kontinent Media Group. Founder of Arts4Kids Foundation, he is a prolific advocate for his community with a focus on community advocacy, PR, market development, and philanthropy.
The Inspiration Behind the Book
Publisher Glenn Murray wanted a work that would combine experience with first-time authors in a way that allowed them to tell their authentic stories.  “I thought each author could speak to one or to all 3 concepts – Faith, Failure, and Success – effectively,” Murray explained in an email response to a few interview questions.  “As it turned out the sections and the contributions kind of fit perfectly as individual chapters.”
All of the authors wanted to show how faith and agency can work to provide a foundation for solving problems.
DeBois said that the practical side of this book complements what is happening with small businesses online; the need to develop coping skills, especially with a pandemic that has devastated sales in many industries and sectors in which small businesses operate.
Mel Roberson and Samantha Danielle’s inspiration were the desire to connect with small business owners and avoid the kinds of mistakes you make when you think you’re in it alone.
What to Expect from Faith, Failure and Success
Faith, Failure and Success is a collection of personal essays about entrepreneurial journeys from mostly Chicago-based entrepreneurs.
The book is organized into three sections: faith, failure, and success. Each section begins with some thoughts/quotes from Cynda Williams followed by two essays and a bonus section comprised of quotes from other thought leaders.
Expect to find connection and relatedness from entrepreneurs who are just like you.  These essays are honest, raw, and sometimes painful. And yet, you’ll feel like you’ve found folks you really understand what entrepreneurship feels like when no one is looking.
An Exercise in Courage and Vulnerability
“Failure is never our final destination; it’s one step in our process to obtaining our dreams. Everyone wants to be successful. To me, success means consistently doing the things that you love, while simultaneously being paid well and having the time to do them.” — —Latresa Rice, Spiritual Leader/Author Gate to Life; Fruit Circle 
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let’s just say that I was pleasantly surprised.
You see, I’m generally not a fan of “entrepreneur journey” stories — especially when they are written by famous people like Richard Branson or Elon Musk, etc.  They just seem too unrelatable.
But this book was different. The entrepreneurs who contributed stories in Faith, Failure, Success are people who are just like you and me. Their experiences, stories, and examples more accurately reflect what you’ve probably experienced yourself. You’ll love the level of vulnerability, shared weaknesses, and failures that ultimately evolved into a version of success that leaves you feeling somewhere between satisfied, comforted, and motivated.
Here’s just one example from the “Faith” section of the book.
“My Mask is My Smile: I’d lost my enthusiasm for securing new clientele and wasn’t inspired by anything they said about what they dreamed of for their wedding day. My creativity was gone, right along with my imagination. I went from having middle of the night epiphanies for event design to staring mindlessly at Shawn T’s Insanity Workout infomercials. “– Samantha Danielle 
At first, I thought this section would contain mostly spiritual or religious references. While you’ll find some, that isn’t really the message from this section.  What touched me about the stories contained here was that I had a glimpse about how “faith” played a role in each entrepreneur’s story. For some, it meant having faith in themselves, and for others it meant having faith in something far bigger.  As the reader, you get to explore how any of these stories and experiences play out in your life.
Why Connect Faith with Entrepreneurship
Many entrepreneurs are inspired and driven by their faith, but you don’t often see this represented in business books.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about discussing faith in a business context.  So, I reached out to Pierre DeBois, one of the authors and my book review partner here on Small Business Trends.
I wanted to find out why it was important to them to combine faith with entrepreneurship and success.
The best quote came from co-author, Glenn R. Murray who said, “Your faith can ‘fuel you’ or it can ‘fail you’.  Faith in a higher power, faith in yourself — they all play a part in your life achievements. You choose how that faith connects you to your goals but I don’t think there is a way to separate them.”
What Will You Find Inside Yourself
As entrepreneurs, we tend to get a little too wrapped up in putting out fires in our business.  Too often, it feels like being in a hamster wheel. And, somehow in this flurry of activity, we lose ourselves and forget who we are and why we are doing this.
If this is what the voice inside your head is saying, then Faith, Failure, Success might be exactly what you need. This is a short book, just 81 pages, but don’t expect to be spoon-fed. Each essay has some deep lessons in it that will require some thought and reflection on your end.
Image: Amazon

Nestlé Prepares a Vegan KitKat for the End of This Year

The candy will be called KitKat V and was developed in York, United Kingdom.
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February 18, 2021 2 min read

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

Are you vegan, but you love KitKat? Nestlé announced that the vegan version of this chocolate is coming soon. The brand will launch the treat with the goal of “fulfilling the wishes of plant fans around the world.”
This idea came about because chocolate fans started asking for a vegan version of it. “One of the most common requests we see on social media is for a vegan KitKat, so we are delighted to be able to make that wish come true,” explains Alexander von Maillot, the company’s head of Confectionery , in a statement.

KitKat V was created by expert chocolatiers at the brand’s confectionery research and development center in York, UK. It will be launched on the market later this year in several countries. Although initially it will only be available through KitKat Chocolatory and some select retailers.
“Taste was a key factor in developing the plant-based chocolate for our new vegan KitKat. We used our ingredient expertise, coupled with a trial-and-learn approach, to create a delicious vegan alternative to our original KitKat chocolate,” he explained. Louise Barrett, director of Nestlé’s Center for Confectionery Technology in York.

61 Books Elon Musk Thinks You Should Read

The billionaire entrepreneur is also a prolific reader.
September 4, 2020 3 min read
Although his days are presumably filled with Tesla, SpaceX, cyber pigs and lots and lots of tweeting, it seems Elon Musk also finds the time to make reading part of his routine. The billionaire businessman is known for sharing (and oversharing) all his recommendations and thoughts on Twitter, so it’s no surprise that books are part of that. 
Most Recommended Books compiled a list of all the books Musk has commented on in the past several years, and you can see all 61 here. But if you’re short on time today, click through to see 11 of the most interesting picks from his list. 

Shopify Doubled In Size in 2020. Can It Maintain the Momentum in 2021?

The surge in revenue is due to both an increase in merchants and an increase in shoppers that are not expected to abate.
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February 18, 2021 3 min read
This story originally appeared on MarketBeat
If you doubt the impact of the pandemic on eCommerce and its importance to business today look no further than Shopify (NYSE:SHOP). Shopify is a cloud-based platform for merchants and retailers connecting them with the services and clientele they need. The platform is essentially a white-label service that enables merchants to build out an entire eCommerce channel without the need of hiring tech specialists or buying their own hardware. Although shares are down in the wake of the report the outlook for 2021 is very positive. Investors looking for exposure to one of the fastest-growing trends in the market may want to consider using this weakness as their point of entry.
Shopify was expected to see significant growth in the 2020 period but it was not expected to double in size. The Q4 revenue of $977.74 million is not only up 93.6% from last year but up 26% sequentially and it beat the consensus by 700 basis points. The surge in revenue is due to both an increase in merchants and an increase in shoppers that are not expected to abate.
The company’s two operating segments, Subscription Services, and Merchant Services both saw substantial increases with Merchant Services outpacing by a wide margin. The monthly recurring revenue associated with these services is up 10% sequentially and 53% YOY.
In terms of merchandise volume, the company’s Gross Merchandise Volume increased 99% under the combined impact of new merchants and new shoppers with Gross Payment Volume up as well. Gross Payment Volume, the amount of merchandise volume handled by the company’s own payment processing system, grew to $19.1 billion or 46% of sales.
The only negative in the report is the companies guidance which is more of a caution than an outlook for results. According to the CFO, the Q1 2021 period will likely be the weakest in terms of growth, and that results will likely be spread more evenly across the four quarters of the year. Along with that, the company sees the possibility of retail sales shifting away from eCommerce in the second half as vaccinations become more widespread. The takeaway is that robust growth is still expected, if at a slightly slower pace than in 2020, and trends within the economy will continue to support that growth long into the future.
“Our outlook coming into 2021 assumes that as countries roll out vaccines in 2021 and populations are able to move about more freely, the overall economic environment will likely improve, some consumer spending will likely rotate back to offline retail and services, and the ongoing shift to eCommerce, which accelerated in 2020, will likely resume a more normalized pace of growth.”
The technical outlook
Shares of Shopify fell in the wake of the report but there are already signs of buying within the market. The near-term outlook remains bearish with shares moving lower in early action again but the uptrend is still intact. The price action may fall as much as another 20% before hitting firm support at the up trend-line. In that scenario, confirmation of the trend should be viewed as a strong entry signal. In the interim, there is a possibility that support could kick in at the short-term 30-day EMA. If the 30-day EMA is confirmed as support it should also be viewed as an entry point. Longer-term, convergences in the MACD suggest this stock will retest the recently set all-time highs at least.

Walmart to Raise Wages for Some Workers After Earnings Miss

After falling short of fourth-quarter earnings, Walmart still plans to increase wages for their employees.
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February 18, 2021 3 min read
This story originally appeared on ValueWalk
Walmart announced it would raise wages for 425,000 U.S. employees, which amounts to over 25% of its workforce. The big-box retailer will boost their wages to at least $13 an hour, bringing its average hourly wage to over $15 an hour.
Walmart announces plans to raise wages
Walmart is the biggest private employer in the U.S., and it will raise wages for hourly workers who stock shelves and fulfill delivery and curbside pickup orders in stores. The starting rate for those positions will be between $13 and $19 an hour, based on where the store is located and what market it is in. The higher wage goes into effect on Mar. 13.
Although Walmart’s average wage will be more than $15 an hour after the increase, its minimum wage will remain at $11 an hour. The retailer still lags behind competitors in wages. Amazon boosted its minimum starting wage to $15 an hour in 2018, and Best Buy and Target raised their minimum wages to $15 in 2020.
The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, just as it has since 2009. However, President Joe Biden is trying to bump the minimum wage up to $15 per hour as part of his $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal. Lawmakers could vote on the legislation as early as next week. It would hike the federal minimum wage in stages until it reaches $15 an hour in 2025.
Strong holiday sales
Walmart reported its fourth-quarter earnings this morning, and the numbers came up short of consensus estimates, although the company reported strong holiday sales. Comparable sales from U.S. stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months increased 8.6% for the quarter that ended on Jan. 29.
That marks an acceleration from the third quarter’s 6.4% increase. The fourth-quarter comparable sales were higher than what analysts had been expecting. U.S. online sales soared 69% year over year. Walmart benefited from the pandemic, which caused Americans to shop more online and buy more groceries and cleaning products.
The retailer also received a boost during the fourth quarter because customers had stimulus checks to spend. However, the pandemic also increased Walmart’s costs. COVID-related expenses alone reached $1.1 billion during the quarter.
Walmart is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the biggest publicly traded companies still managed by their founders or the families of their founders. Sam Walton’s family is still very involved in the big-box retailer’s day-to-day operations, which is why it made the list. Walmart shares declined by about 6% after this morning’s earnings report.

This is why Bill Gates is not interested in the space race

According to the Microsoft co-founder, there are problems here on Earth that need more attention.
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February 18, 2021 2 min read

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

“I’m not a Martian,” declared Bill Gates in an episode of ” Swa y”, a podcast fromThe New York Times , where he explains why he is not interested in the space race like other of his colleagues in the business world.
The tycoon says that he prefers to focus on the problems that exist on Earth and that he does not believe that rockets are the solution, but that he may be missing something. “I am not going to spend a thousand dollars (in the space race) because my foundation can buy vaccines against measles and save lives,” he explains.
Gates, who just released his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, said that we should focus on important aspects of climate change here on our planet.
Image: Bill Gates via YouTube
On the other hand, he commented that Elon Musk is making one of the great contributions against climate change and added that it is not a good idea to underestimate it, but that you have to work with larger industries if you want to make a big difference.
The Microsoft co-founder explained that electricity and cars are only a third of the problem so you have to look at tough things like the steel, meat and cement industries.

How the CEO of Prezi Built a Business That Went From 1 Million to 100 Million Users

February 18, 2021 5 min read
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
I am Jim Szafranski, CEO of Prezi, which makes a virtual presentation software app that is the most engaging way to share information with remote audiences. Our anchor product Prezi Video lets you bring any content onto the video screen with you during a video conference or recorded video, like a newscaster or weather person. We plug into Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, Google Meet and Slack, and are being used by more than 20,000 companies, 100+ of the Fortune 500 and the majority of US school districts. 
Related: How This 18-Year-Old High School Student Built a 6-Figure Social Media Consulting Business
What inspired you to create this product? What was your “aha moment”?
Prezi’s first investor was TED Conferences, so we’ve been used frequently over the years by TED presenters, and our “aha” moment came when a presenter needed to “beam himself and his content” from Stanford to the main stage of the TED Conference in Vancouver.  We developed an AR prototype and his presentation content appeared on stage in a very lifelike way (almost like Star Trek). 
From there, we focused on building something that would let you have a presence among your content so that you could interact with the content and bring the audience in deeper. We launched Prezi Video in November of 2019 and had no idea how soon the world would go full virtual just months later.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
Look as close to your network as possible. Your credibility and passion are so important, so anything to improve the chances of you coming across as credible and a known quantity will help. 
Look for investor teams who have a passion for your area. They have a better chance of intrinsically understanding your idea, which reduces uncertainty — the key friction that keeps people from investing.
The holy grail is with your early customers. Getting them to fund the seed stage puts you in a great position to raise institutional money and at better terms because you have de-risked the idea.
Related: This Entrepreneur Is Working to Create a Simple Answer to a Tough Question We All Must Face
Any advice for preparing for a pitch?
The VC isn’t looking to just give you money. They are looking to partner with you and spend a lot of time working together on solving problems and making key decisions. So, your pitch is a good opportunity to explore that connection together. Don’t just present the logic and the opportunity. Also, work to create an emotional connection with the idea. Relate the product and service to their lives. Imagery, interactivity or a unique conversational experience, helps.
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you pivot to overcome it?
Staying in connection with the team, in particular in Europe (8 time zones apart from my location). Part of my solution was mechanical – I shifted my workday earlier and engaged in more proactive communications — posting updates weekly on our internal wiki, increased our all-hands frequency from bi-weekly to weekly. Overall, I had to replace all the information and hallway conversations through deliberate practice. 
The big epiphany has been asynchronous video, i.e. sending recorded videos that don’t require coordinating a live meeting. It cuts down on time spent in live video calls, lets more introverted team members contribute on their own timeline, and overall encourages people to own their schedules while still empowering them to give full virtual presentations at any time. We still do video calls for brainstorms, all hands and planning meetings, but we keep meetings async where it’s just giving updates or sharing feedback.
Related: Aha Moments Are a Dime a Dozen — What Matters Is Taking a Big Chance, According to This Entrepreneur
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
Someone who so badly wants to bring their idea to the market and improve the lives of their customers, that they push against all the odds and immense challenges to actually do it.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation? 
My motivation is largely intrinsic and based on my appreciation for my parents and their parents and all the hard work and sacrifices that everyone before me has made to ensure that I have amazing opportunities in life. I want to make the most of this opportunity. Where I most often look for inspiration is in how to act. One really simple saying, that I learned 17 years ago from a manager, that has helped me act is the idea of “seven different ways, seven different times”. It’s known as the 7×7 Rule for communications. Reminding me that I need to share my messages seven different ways and seven different times to ensure that I’m doing a good job communicating, giving my intended audience a chance to understand and connect with me. I think as entrepreneurs that we all can benefit from this reminder and take courage from it to share our ideas broadly and often to help bring about the change we seek.