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How This Entrepreneur Is Helping Keep Car Seats Bacteria-Free

February 23, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You might be doing everything in your power to keep the children in your life healthy. But have you thought about whether or not the car seat they are riding in is bacteria-free? CEO and Founder of BuckleBath Lauren Siclare created a service to help parents, caregivers and daycare centers solve this messy problem. She sat down with Jessica Abo to share her journey and her advice for other entrepreneurs.
Lauren, can you start by telling us what was going on in your own life when you came up with this idea for
Lauren Siclare: At my daughter’s school, when you do car line, one of the teachers takes her out. Our house is perfectly clean. She was dressed in an adorable pink dress; and as the teacher’s taking her out, crumbs are falling out, and I’m mortified. I’m saying, “How could this happen?” 
I had that “aha” moment, where I realized the crumbs were coming from the back of her car seat. I quickly went online and searched for a service that would come to my driveway and clean my daughter’s car seat, and nothing came up. I thought to myself, “How does this service not exist? There are millions of children.” And as I was actually looking for a company to clean my daughter’s car seat, what came up was the fact that children’s car seats have more germs than a toilet seat. So, we specialize in cleaning those car seats and making them look like new, but we follow car seat manufacturer guidelines to ensure that they are sanitized as well.
How does your company work?
Our appointments are made online through our website, You can schedule and pay for your appointment. The day of your appointment, the cleaning associate will text you a reminder, and an adorable pink van will pull in your driveway.
We have two offerings: One is our contactless service, which we’re doing more of during the pandemic. You leave your gear outside. Or we will clean in your car, so you don’t have to remove your car seat. That’s usually about a 40-minute service per car seat. At the end of the appointment, the cleaning associate will text the person who scheduled the appointment and say, “We’re all done. We’re all set.” In some cases, the parents come out and take a look and are amazed by what a great job the team did. In other cases, it’s busy parents that are inside working, and they’re like, “Thanks so much.” And they check it later.
What role did you play in getting this off the ground?
Let’s start with actually purchasing the commercial van. I took an Uber to the sales lot and knew that the only way home was by purchasing a commercial vehicle. I had called ahead to make sure they had the car that I wanted. And then I get on the highway. I’m driving this extremely large van thinking to myself, “This is it. I have to make this work. I’ve just purchased a commercial van.” And I knew there would be more commercial vans thereafter.
I think the key piece is figuring out the how. Once you have the van, you have to figure out, “How can I ensure I’m offering a service that’s convenient, and I have it fully equipped with everything I need.” At least five mechanics told me, “No, you cannot put a power source in a commercial van that will enable you to use three commercial-grade vacuums at the same time. You can’t do this. It’s not going to work.” So, when you’re creating a business or you’re creating a service, hearing “no” over and over and over again, I had learned, is very common. You just have to figure out a different way to do it.
The really fun part was, initially, when we launched, myself being out there with the cleaning associates rolling up my sleeves, cleaning other kids’ vomit, experiencing what it’s like to actually do this day in and day out, because that’s how you learn. If you’re not literally rolling up your own sleeves and taking care of the “figuring out” once you’re launched into market, you’re not going to learn as much.
How did you bring to market?
We decided to launch at a community event where we set up shop. Our app was ready to go to take appointments. And we had, within the first five minutes, a line of 15 parents who wanted to make appointments once they realized what we did. We booked all of our appointment slots within the first five minutes of being at a community event. Then, the same week, a mom who had our service posted on a Facebook page about Bucklebath, and there were 123 comments about how needed this service was and what a brilliant idea it was. So we knew very quickly that we were going to need to expand, grow our team and buy more vans.
What is next for you?
What’s next for us is to franchise and be able to have Bucklebath for all of the caretakers, parents, daycare centers that have already requested Bucklebath, but we’re not there yet.
How do you work with daycare centers?
We partner with daycare centers to offer our services on-site in their parking lots. So think about your daughter. You drop her off at daycare in the morning. You would leave her car seat there. We’re able to do a large-scale 30 to 50 car seats in a day at the daycare center. You come back to pick her up after work, and you get your car seat, and then you pick up your daughter.
What’s your number one piece of advice for someone out there who has an idea but they haven’t started doing the research, and they have no idea how they’re going to execute the concept that they have in their head?
The key three things to think about when you’re creating a new product or service is the target market. In our case, there’s 20 million children under the age of five in the U.S. That’s a lot of messy car seats. Then you think about longevity. How long can this business be? In our case, there’s always going to be children born and new moms and messy car seats. Then, you want to think about what problem it’s solving. In our case, we’re helping children to ride healthier in their car, but we’re also providing a service that is convenient for busy parents and caretakers.

Apple regains first place in global smartphone sales after 5 years

The Cupertino-based company defeated Samsung in the fourth quarter of 2020.
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February 23, 2021 2 min read

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

Apple took the reign from Samsung in the worldwide sale of smartphones . In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Cupertino, California-based company regained first place in this marker after five years of being below the South Korean company and others in the market.
According to research and consulting firm Gartner , the launch of the iPhone 12, which introduced the firm’s 5G series, helped the apple company to record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.
This fact helped the firm led by Tim Cook to surpass Huawei, and Samsung in the list of world sales of smartphones. According to the consultancy, the last time that Apple managed to be the main supplier of smartphones was in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Despite the health and economic crisis, Apple managed to increase its sales by almost 14.9% year-on-year while Samsung decreased its sales by 11.8%. The company founded by Steve Jobs, managed to sell 79.9 million iPhones last year, 10 million more than in 2019. For its part, Samsung sold 62.1 million in 2020, approximately eight million less than in 2019, according to Gartner data.
Although according to IDC , another data analyst company, Apple managed to sell 90.1 million smartphones in the last three months of last year, while Samsung reached 73.9 million. The fact is that the Cupertino company managed to return to the first place in the market.

10 Protocols to Stay Open and Keep Your Employees Safe From COVID-19

February 23, 2021 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As an entrepreneur and a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your place of work safe. In these uncertain economic times with a raging worldwide pandemic, there are many things that are probably competing for your attention. Yet, one of the most critical things you can do is develop a business strategy to ensure the safety of your customers and employees. That will help keep your business running free of any disruptions from closures.
The question is: what can you do to ensure your workplace is safe so it can remain open?
A great place to start is by implementing standard precautions for infection control. Standard precautions are simply practices that manage the spread of disease (even under non-pandemic conditions).
Related: Bill Gates Warns That a Next Pandemic Could Be 10 times Worse
They’re generally effective in a variety of workplaces, so they can be standardized for a range of settings and individuals. The following items can be employed to stop the spread of COVID-19 for businesses and are recommended by the CDC. More information can be found here.
1. Proper Hand Hygiene
You’re probably aware by now, but hand hygiene is the most effective means of infection control, according to the CDC.
Per the CDC’s recommendations, cleaning your hands before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and after…
●   Touching an item or surface that is frequently touched by other people in a public place (handrails, counters, doorknobs/handles, etc.)
●   Removing personal protective equipment, or contact with infectious bodily fluids
To properly conduct hand hygiene, the CDC directs the use of plain or anti-bacterial soap and water. If hand washing isn’t possible, then an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is sufficient. To encourage hand hygiene, hand wash signs can be posted in restrooms.
2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The purpose of PPE is to create a barrier that protects the skin, clothing, mucous membranes, and respiratory tract from infectious agents.
General PPE includes items such as gloves, goggles, gowns, face shields or masks, and respiratory protection. The CDC states that the most effective PPE in public settings is a face covering that covers the nose and mouth. If you aren’t using a disposable face covering, you should wash it after use.
3. Respiratory Hygiene
COVID-19 is spread mainly by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Transmission occurs when these droplets are inhaled by or land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.
In a closed environment, these respiratory secretions can easily spread infection. The CDC’s respiratory hygiene, or cough etiquette, is designed to limit transmission of respiratory pathogens that spread via droplet or airborne routes. To practice respiratory hygiene, the CDC states:
●   Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing using a tissue or the crook of your elbow
●   Discard tissues after use helps preventing infections from contact
●   Wear a mask to contain respiratory droplets which carry the novel coronavirus
Related: Tension Between Remote Workers and Their Bosses Is About to Intensify
4. Clean and Disinfect Surfaces
Frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces/objects contributes to infection control by removing the presence of pathogens.
Cleaning first removes germs, dirt, and impurities. This helps prevent creating an environment conducive for infections to occur.
Disinfecting then kills microbes like bacteria and viruses from which infections occur. The CDC advises that routine cleaning schedules be kept up as normal with special care for common areas. 
The SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 does not survive long on surfaces and objects. It dies within hours to days. It can also be killed using any products that are recommended by the EPA, including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes.
5. Hazard Assessment
As part of your business reopening plans, you need to perform a workplace hazard assessment. This will help identify and recognize the hazards that are present or anticipated. Failure to do so is one of the main causes of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents involving all types of infections.
Hazard assessment identifies exposure to risk, classified as low, medium, high, or very high. Exposure potential varies from occupation to occupation. It all depends on the proximity and frequency of contact with people known to be or suspected of being infected.
For example, remote workers have a low exposure risk. Those having close contact with the general public face medium risk. Healthcare delivery and support staff are considered high risk and healthcare workers, extremely high risk.
6. Social Distancing
COVID-19 mainly spreads from person-to-person. As a result, the CDC has advised people to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others in shared spaces.
Modifying layouts of these spaces and installing physical barriers and guides to support social distancing may be appropriate for your business.
7. Daily Health Checks
Daily health checks can be performed to screen employees, independent contractors, and visitors. Asking for symptoms of COVID-19 infection in the form of a coronavirus screening questionnaire is one method. Doing daily temperature screenings is another effective way of preventing this infectious disease from spreading to other team members.
Make sure to conduct these checks safely and respectfully. Higher body temperatures and positive screening questions can help flag at-risk individuals. They help determine the risk of infection, exposure status, and the presence of symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, any COVID-19 testing for businesses must maintain confidentiality.
8. Workplace Protocol
You’re sure to be asked for the protocol in the case someone is exposed to or has symptoms of COVID-19. For example, older adults and people with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection.
Related: How to Obtain the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Under the Second Round of Covid Relief (Updated)
They may not be able to work in person or on-site. They might even be more likely to have a life-threatening situation requiring hospital care. It is a good idea to ensure there are telework options (if appropriate) for such high-risk or at-risk individuals.
It is a good idea to develop and implement policies that encourage employees to notify you if they or a family member have symptoms of an infection. Have them notify you if they test positive for COVID-19 infection. It is helpful to assure employees that they can stay at home without fear of reprisal.
You want your employees to notify you and to refrain from returning to work until they meet isolation criteria. The Public Health Recommendations for community-related Exposure is a good resource for ideas on infection control compliance and risk management.
Develop and maintain a relationship with a local coronavirus testing facility and share the list of testing sites with staff. Rapid coronavirus Testing, PCR Coronavirus tests, and COVID-19 Antibody Test results all have a role in making sure your business reopening plans don’t get derailed.
9. Educate Your Employees
Be sure to review coronavirus COVID-19 infection control precautions that will be implemented with employees. Educating employees on the infection process and the importance of practicing precautions will motivate adherence to them.
There’s currently no widely accepted therapeutic drug to fight infection from the novel coronavirus. Many types of vaccines are being developed to prevent COVID-19. Meanwhile, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Knowing how the virus spreads informs exposure avoidance.
10. Partner With an Urgent Care Clinic That Offers COVID-19 Testing for Businesses
Lastly, it is a good idea to partner with a facility that can see your employees quickly and perform the Rapid coronavirus Testing. An urgent care clinic — like Statcare Urgent & Walk-In Medical Care in New York City — that offers on-site COVID-19 testing for businesses.
Statcare helps customize a plan for onsite COVID-19 testing for medium and large-sized businesses. They also provide telehealth visits, and guidance to help your business stay compliant with all COVID-related protocols and mandates.
This includes recommending supplies for your business, such as:
●    Soap
●    Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
●    Paper towels/tissues
●    No-touch receptacles for PPE disposal
…and PPE, like masks and gloves for employees, plexiglass partitions (if appropriate), and more.
Additionally, employers should work with local and state health departments to ensure they’re following the appropriate and current protocols and guidelines.
Armed with these 10 steps, you can ensure that you remain open. Keeping your employees safe will help prevent callouts, illness, and business disruption from COVID-19. It will also provide you with more time to focus on things that will help the business survive the economic downturn.

Coronavirus Stimulus Checks: How Delaying Paying Your Taxes Could Help You Get More

Here’s why you might not want to file your taxes right away.
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February 23, 2021 3 min read
This story originally appeared on ValueWalk
Filing taxes early is always good, if you are expecting a refund, so that you can get it sooner rather than later. This year, however, some taxpayers may gain by delaying their tax filing. Specifically, delaying taxes this year could make some taxpayers eligible for more cash in the third round of coronavirus stimulus checks.
Income Limit Determines Your Check Amount
Most Americans would benefit by filing their 2020 return quickly, but this is not true for everyone. In fact, some might benefit by delaying their taxes. For some, filing 2020 taxes could make them ineligible for the stimulus checks, or reduce the amount they may get.
The third round of coronavirus stimulus checks, which are yet unannounced, are part of the $1.9 trillion plan put forward by the House Budget Committee last week. Congress is expected to vote on the proposal soon. If all goes as per the plan, the first checks could start going out sometime in the second week of March.
Similar to the first two rounds, the third round of stimulus checks would also have income limits. As per the proposal, the full $1,400 payment would go to those with AGI (adjusted gross income) of less than $75,000. On the other hand, those with AGI of more than $75,000 but less than $100,000 will get a reduced amount.
For married couples, the income limit is above $150,000 but under $200,000, while for Head-of-household filers the limit is higher than $112,500 but less than $150,000.
These income limits mean you won’t get any money if you are a single filer making $100,000 or more, or couples earning $200,000 or higher, or Heads of household with an income of $150,000 or more.
Coronavirus Stimulus Checks: How Does Delaying Taxes Help?
To determine your eligibility for the stimulus checks, the IRS would look at your most recent tax return. It is more likely that you witnessed a drop in earnings in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, you might qualify for a larger stimulus check on the basis of your 2020 tax return.
However, there will be some Americans who made more money in 2020 than in 2019. It could be because of gains in the stock market, high demand for essential businesses and more. If you belong to this group, then it is recommended that you delay your tax return for a few weeks.
Suppose you’re a single filer with AGI of $74,000 in 2019, but your AGI jumped to $102,000 in 2020. If you filed your 2020 tax return early, then you may not qualify for the stimulus check at all. But, if you delay your 2020 tax return, the IRS would refer to your 2019 tax filing to determine your eligibility, and thus, you would get the full $1,400.
So, we recommend that you hold off your 2020 tax filing until the agency sends you the stimulus payment.

3 Cryptocurrency Stocks to Avoid

February 23, 2021 9 min read
This story originally appeared on StockNews
There is no investment hotter than Bitcoin right now as investors are buying cryptocurrencies to hedge against inflation and use them as a store of value, over precious metals. While the most popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin traded below $4,000 at the onset of the COVID-19 in March last year, the digital currency had hit an all-time high of $58,330.57 over the weekend to reach a $1 trillion market cap. However, the cryptocurrency tumbled as the working week began.
The sharp withdrawal of Bitcoin can be attributable to a tweet by the world’s richest man, Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, that the prices of Bitcoin “do seem high.” Consequently, Bitcoin dropped more than 16%, its largest daily drop in a month.
In recent weeks, Bitcoin received a boost by large strategic investments in it by companies like TSLA, Mastercard (MA), Bank of New York Mellon, and MicroStrategy (MSTR). Given the rapid pace of digitization, investors were enamored by the growth prospects and potential of the crypto space. This has sparked increased interest from players in different industries in expanding into Bitcoin mining operations.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a warning on Monday that bitcoin is an “extremely inefficient” way to conduct monetary transactions and the dangers that it poses both to investors and the public. Following this warning, the expected excessive regulation on cryptocurrencies might have added to the selling pressure.
Cryptocurrency players like Ebang International Holdings Inc. (EBON – Get Rating), CleanSpark, Inc. (CLSK – Get Rating), and The9 Limited (NCTY – Get Rating) have run too far too fast, and it appears from their current valuation multiples that a pullback is due for them. And Bitcoin’s correction could lead to a sell-off for these stocks. So, it’s better to avoid them for now.
Ebang International Holdings Inc. (EBON – Get Rating)
EBON is a blockchain technology company that manufactures and sells Bitcoin mining machines and telecommunication products in the People’s Republic of China, the United States, Hong Kong, and internationally. With strong application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip design capability, EBON is a leading mining machine producer in the global market with steady access to wafer foundry capacity.
On February 17, 2021, EBON launched its Bitcoin mining business. According to the company’s resolution, EBON plans to operate its Bitcoin mining business by adopting a combination of deploying self-manufactured mining machines and mining machines purchased from other manufacturers as well as leasing computing powers from other mining farms. At the same time, the company also expects to invest in data center constructions to provide support for Bitcoin mining activities. Additionally, EBON expects to commence public testing of its cryptocurrency exchange and officially launch the exchange in the first quarter of 2021. Currently, the company has completed the internal testing of its cryptocurrency exchange.
In the first six months of 2020, EBON sold 0.25 million Thash/s of total computing power, representing a year-over-year decrease of 86% from the comparable period in the prior year. Total net revenues during the period were US$11.04 million, falling 50.6% year-over-year. However, operating losses narrowed to $8.68 million from the year-ago loss of $27.47 million. Additionally, the company reported a loss of $0.06 per share, compared to the year-ago loss of $0.16 per share.
EBON is setting itself up for multiple revenue streams. However, the company is not making profits yet and its current valuations are not justified. In terms of trailing-twelve-month EV/Sales, EBON is currently trading at 17.18x, 259% higher than the industry average of 4.78x. In terms of the trailing-twelve-month P/S ratio as well, EBON is trading significantly higher than the industry average (12.65x vs 4.50x).
EBON’s move to enter into the mining business will contribute to its top-line and optimize its product offering structure. It will help the company’s transformation from a hardware manufacturer to a blockchain company with comprehensive involvements in its industry chain. However, Bitcoin mining is profitable as long as Bitcoin prices show strength. A high price movement will drive demand for EBON’s mining products. Hence, in line with the Bitcoin correction, the stock lost nearly 24% yesterday intraday to close the session at $8.41 with a year-to-date gain of 38.6%.
EBON’s POWR Ratings reflect this bleak outlook. The stock has an overall rating of D which translates to Sell in our POWR Ratings system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.
EBON has a grade of D for both Stability and Quality. It is ranked #36 of 43 stocks in the Technology – Electronics industry.
In total, we rate EBON on eight different levels. In addition to the POWR Ratings grades I’ve just highlighted, you can see the EBON’s ratings for Growth, Value, Momentum, and Sentiment here.
CleanSpark, Inc. (CLSK – Get Rating)
CLSK provides energy software and control technology solutions worldwide. It offers distributed energy systems and microgrids that allow customers to manage renewable energy generation, storage, and consumption. CLSK entered into the Bitcoin business with the acquisition of ATL Data Centers, a Mining as a Service (MaaS) company in December 2020.
CLSK has been targeted by short-sellers in recent weeks, with Culper Research accusing the company of fraudulent reports. According to the lawsuit’s allegations, CLSK has “fabricated key elements of its business, including purported customers and contract figures.” The company is also “rife with undisclosed related party transactions” concerning its February 2020 acquisition of p2k Labs, Inc. The Culper Research report shocked the market and shares of CLSK fell by approximately 9.2% on the report’s publication date last month.
CLSK has recently issued a 60-day post-acquisition update on its Bitcoin mining operations. The company pointed out that it has continued to procure and deploy mining equipment as part of its strategic growth initiative. It expects to have more than 315 PH/s of Bitcoin mining capacity deployed by the end of this month, representing a greater than 65% increase in capacity.
In its fiscal first quarter ended December 31, 2020, CLSK reported $2.25 million in revenues, surging 130% year-over-year. Strong service, software, and digital currency mining revenue drove the growth, and the Bitcoin mining segment generated $0.73 million, 32% of the total revenue. However, loss from operations doubled and CLSK reported a loss of $0.32 per share.
CLSK witnessed a massive run-up over the past year. The stock has returned a whopping 837% over this period. As a result, the stock is being perceived as severely overvalued by traditional measures. In terms of forward P/E, CLSK is currently trading at 279.31x, 751.7% higher than the industry average of 32.80x. In terms of trailing-twelve-month P/S also, CLSK’s 44.60x is significantly higher than the industry average of 4.50x. However, the stock 17.4% yesterday intraday to close the trading session at $29.98.
CLSK’s weak fundamentals are reflected in its POWR Ratings. The stock has an overall rating of F which translates to a Strong Sell in our POWR Ratings system. CLSK has a grade of F for both Value and Stability. In the D-rated, 108-stock Software – Application industry, it is ranked #103.
Beyond what we stated above, we also have given CLSK grades for Growth, Momentum, Sentiment, and Quality. Get all the CLSK ratings here.
The9 Limited (NCTY – Get Rating)
NCTY is an internet company that operates and develops online games in the People’s Republic of China. The company offers online games, including CrossFire New Mobile Game and Audition, and also provides technical consulting services. NCTY has recently stepped into blockchain-related business and aims to become a diversified high-tech internet company.
NCTY expanded its focus into the cryptocurrency realm in January this year by signing a cooperation and investment term sheet with several prominent investors in the crypto space to start this business. This group of investors includes Jianping Kong, the former co-chairman and director of Canaan (CAN), a mining machine manufacturer. Qifeng Sun, another former CAN director, is also part of this new investment deal for NCTY. This was soon followed by signing legally binding MOUs with five Bitcoin mining machine owners to purchase Bitcoin mining machines by the issuance of Class A ordinary shares. After the completion of the transaction, NCTY is expected to own 26,007 Bitcoin mining machines, with a total hash rate of approximately 549PH/S.
Earlier this month, NCTY signed another MOU with six unrelated Bitcoin mining machine owners to purchase Bitcoin mining machines by the issuance of its ordinary shares. This batch of mining machines includes different brands with a total number of 10,489 units and a total hash rate of approximately 251PH/S. Additionally, on February 16, NCTY signed a $10 million framework agreement mining equipment for Filecoin mining. Furthermore, the company acquired 70% equity in Hangzhou SuanLi Technology, a cryptocurrency cloud mining blockchain software-as-a-service company, yesterday in a $7 million deal.
In line with this series of developments, the stock is up a whopping 2,204.2% so far this year and we believe this run has been overdone. In terms of trailing-twelve-month EV/Sales, NCTY is currently trading at 9,502.27x, 327,624.5% higher than the industry average of 2.90x. In terms of the trailing-twelve-month P/S ratio as well, NCTY is trading significantly higher than the industry average (4,291.58x vs 1.82x).
The recent news does reflect NCTY’s potential to emerge as a solid player in the crypto space. However, the company has been venturing into other industries to stay afloat. NCTY entered into the electric vehicle manufacturing market in 2019 and now into Bitcoins when its core video gaming segment has been struggling for a while. The recent run has helped the company fare as it was facing the possibility of being delisted last year for not meeting the continued listing requirement of minimum Market Value of Listed Securities. However, with such valuations, it’s wise for investors to be skeptical.
It’s no surprise that NCTY has an overall rating of D which equates to Sell in our POWR Ratings system. NCTY also has a grade of D for Value and a C for Stability. In the D-rated, 86-stock China industry, it is ranked #68.
Click here to see the additional POWR Ratings for NCTY (Growth, Momentum, Sentiment, and Quality).
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Hold On to that Six Flags Stock, But Wait For More Thrills Before You Take the Plunge

The company had to close its entire network of theme parks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, investors have been rewarded with a gain of nearly 270%.
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February 23, 2021 4 min read
This story originally appeared on MarketBeat
Six Flags (NYSE: SIX) reports earnings on February 24 and the news is not likely to be good. Analysts forecast negative earnings per share (EPS) of $1.02 on revenue of $87.04 million. The whisper number puts the EPS slightly lower at ($1.10). Does this signal that the company’s strong run is over?
Many investors would have seen Six Flags as an untouchable stock in 2020. The company had to close its entire network of theme parks in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, investors that bought SIX stock at the depth of the pandemic have been rewarded with a gain of nearly 270%. And the company’s leading competitor Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN) is up 256% in the same period.
This is not just a contrarian play. Six Flags successfully worked with its lenders to renegotiate key leverage covenants. This will ensure that the company can successfully reopen with some extra time to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Does a Template for Reopening Exist?
Some believe that Disney’s (NYSE: DIS) reopening of Walt Disney World in Florida can provide a template for Six Flags to reopen. Keep in mind, even as more people are vaccinated, public health experts are cautioning that many of the measures that were taken during the pandemic may still be required as the country reopens.
And the reality is that many potential customers will demand that theme parks take these measures even when the immediate threat of the pandemic is long gone.
Disney has largely been praised for the measures it has taken. And, although this is difficult to conclusively prove, there has been no direct evidence that the re-opening of Disney World has led to community spread.
The Easy Gains Are Gone
However, putting the debt issue aside, most of the stock’s gain is in anticipation that the company would be able to reopen its parks for the 2021 season. And the company is planning to do just that. However, with the stock up 270% from its pandemic lows, the easy gains may be gone.
To justify a further rise in the company’s stock price, investors will want to see how much traffic will return. If the analysts’ estimates are accurate, Six Flags will deliver full-year 2020 revenue of approximately $337 million. With the parks re-opening, the company is almost assured of seeing higher revenue numbers. But it’s unlikely that it will be able to approach the $1.48 billion that Six Flags posted in 2019.
And investors aren’t likely to start getting that data until the second quarter. Six Flags is a predictably seasonal business, and the first quarter is historically a weak quarter. That will be the same for this year because parks won’t be reopening until the spring.
 Wait For More Data Before Adding to Your Position
With the stock looking overbought, I think SIX stock is likely to drop post-earnings as investors look to take profits. The stock is nearly 30% below its high price for 2019 despite the fact that revenue is unlikely to approximate those levels.
However what should happen and what will happen are two different things. Although I believe the easy gains are gone, traders still hold bullish sentiment on SIX stock. The stock closed at a new 52-week high on February 22, but the relative strength indicator (RSI) suggests the stock is overbought. That bullish sentiment may change after the earnings report. Investors will want to hear more about the company’s guidance regarding reopening.
I’d be interested in the stock if it gets between its 20-day and 50-day simple moving average. That would put the stock about where it was to start.

6 Ways Brands Can Use Social Selling to Win Customers

Most of us are spending far more time at home in the wake of the pandemic. 
While some of us are tackling projects around the house, homeschooling kids, and trying to work a full-time job, there’s one other activity that takes up a good portion of our time these days — and it’s social media. 
According to a recent study, social media usage grew by 50 percent in early March, when most states first enacted their stay at home orders. 
Social media usage is at an all-time high, with sites like Facebook and Instagram reporting more than a billion users each. 
That makes now the best time to leverage social selling to drive sales and brand awareness. 

What is Social Selling and Why Does it Matter? 
Social selling is the practice of using social media to find, understand, and connect with prospective customers or clients. It is a modern way for brands to build meaningful relationships with potential customers so that your brand stays top of mind. 
For many businesses, it is far more effective than cold calling and email outreach, and can be used to move customers into their sales funnel, even those created using automated sales tools. 
Unlike cold calling, social selling is more authentic — which can be incredibly valuable during downtimes, such as curing the COVID-19 crisis.  
Social selling is a term for things you are likely already doing. For example, adding social sharing buttons to content on your blog like the one at the end of this post on chat acronyms by Preply.
Another way to use social selling is by promoting product landing pages through Facebook ads, or even using social media to promote content related to your Amazon store. 
Pretty much any time you use social media to promote a product or services, it’s social selling!
Let’s look at a few ways brands can use social selling to drive connections and sales to win more customers. 
1. Leverage User-Generated Content 
People don’t trust brands — they trust other people, which is one reason why user-generated content is so powerful at driving social sales. 
User-generated content will have a natural tone that speaks to your customers naturally. Look at how StuDocu uses their Twitter account to retweet relatable memes from other accounts in their niche.
Although they’re not selling anything in such posts, it contributes to their overall brand image and tone. Sometimes your audience just wants to be entertained without being pitched to.
2. Partner with Social Media Influencers
Selling products right now is tough — you don’t want to come across as insensitive — promoting your brand when people are struggling to pay their bills. Instead of directly promoting your products, consider partnering with social media influencers. 
Kimberly Brook, a producer and business consultant who wed James Van Der Beek in 2010, users her social platform to promote brands related to sustainability and natural ingredients, as in this post.
Not sure where to find the most effective social media influencers for your brand? Look for smaller influencers who have a solid following but not quite celebrity status. Ninety-two percent of users trust influencers more than celebrities like the Kardashians. 
Another prime example of this is how Runners Athletics runs their Instagram page. If you look on their homepage, you’ll see a section synced to their Instagram account. This not only encourages visitors to follow Runners’ social media, but also allows them to trust the brand more. How exactly, you ask?
Runners Athletics uses partners with smaller social media influencers who use their sunglasses. This builds deeper trust and connection between because visitors just don’t see a brand and a product. They see an actual person who enjoys using their product.
3. Combine Social Selling and SEO 
When it comes to social selling, SEO (search engine optimization) might not be at the forefront of your worries. They are vastly different approaches, after all. However, combining the two strategies can be very powerful. 
For example, posting on LinkedIn can improve your SEO and also drive sales. Joe Pulizzi, the cofounder of the Content Marketing Institute, uses LinkedIn to connect with customers and colleagues and to sell a newly-released novel. 
Don’t forget about more niche social sites like LinkedIn, Reddit, or Slideshare — they can be just as valuable as Facebook and Instagram for some brands. 
4. Tie Podcast Promotion and Social Selling 
When was the last time you listened to a podcast? If you are like the majority of Americans, it was sometime in the last month. It is a powerful platform, and social media can help get the word out with your audience. 
In fact, in January 2021, there were over 72 million monthly podcast downloads on Buzzsprout, from 91,000 active podcasts.
Tun Myaing, the founder and producer of Art of the Grind Podcast, shared this tip about using social selling to promote their podcast: 
 “We have mostly used word of mouth to spread our podcast. Some of our guests have huge social media followings so we use their fans to get more listeners.”
Get creative. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re engaging and interacting with your customers through your podcasts as well. 
Whether it’s a small mention to a regular listener who commented on your Facebook post or creating an entire series your audience wanted, it’s important to listen to your customers and make them feel part of the group.
5. Combine Social With Email Marketing 
For most businesses, their email list is the most valuable asset they have. According to Oberlo, more than 3.9 million people use email worldwide, and that number may reach 4.3 billion by 2023. 
Combining the power of social media and email marketing is a one-two punch that your business can’t afford to ignore. 
Here are a few strategies to combine social selling and email marketing: 
Use your email signature in Gmail templates to promote your social channels. 
Share an “exclusive content” tease to social media that can only be accessed by signing up for an email list. 
Add an email sign up form to your Facebook page.
6. Make it Easy to Buy On Social 
If you want to sell more, you have to make it easier for customers to complete their purchase.  Just one extra click (from five to six) in the checkout process can reduce your sales by 10 percent. 
Reduce friction by tying your Facebook category with your inventory, which makes it easier for customers to buy directly from their social feed, without dealing with multiple sites or signing in to other platforms. 
Final Thoughts on Social Selling to Win Over Your Customers 
Selling during a pandemic is no easy task. You want to be sensitive to the changing world, but cutting marketing entirely could be a death sentence for your business. In fact, more than half of all small businesses say they may not survive the next six months of the pandemic without filing bankruptcy. 
Using social selling helps brands walk the line between going quiet and pushing on as if nothing happened. 
The thing is — your clients are already on social media, and they are buying. The question is — will they see you there? 
Image: Depositphotos

This Is How You Close the Black Entrepreneurship Gap

Vice Media Group and The National Urban League have launched Black+, a new initiative dedicated to supporting Black entrepreneurs.
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February 23, 2021 4 min read
Attention aspiring Black entrepreneurs: Vice Media Group and The National Urban League have teamed up to launch Black+, an initiative dedicated to supporting Black-owned businesses and closing the Black entrepreneurship gap. You can apply here for the chance to be one of the 12 businesses that Black+ awards free marketing, creative services, mentorship and business consultation. 
Nadja Bellan-White, Global CMO of VICE Media Group, and Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, explained the program to Entrepreneur and shared why its mission is so vital.Why is supporting Black entrepreneurs important now and how did this all come together?Nadja Bellan-White: African-American-owned businesses have always – and still – face undeniable and systematic challenges in building and growing their businesses. Elevating these businesses is something that should always be a priority and even more so now, recognizing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had, with many struggling to continue their daily operations. We saw this as a vital time to show our continued commitment to our DEI practice not only internally at VICE Media Group, but in the communities that we touch. As such, we reached out to Marc Morial and the National Urban League team to partner with us on this program in an effort to close the racial wealth gap by supporting African-American entrepreneurs.
Related: How Can You Truly Make a Difference for Black History Month?What are you looking for from small businesses?
Marc Morial: We are looking for small businesses that can really benefit from the opportunity, the mentorship and the consulting expertise we can offer through the program. We hope the initiative will not just help the selected businesses generate sales and income, but also have a positive impact in their community.A few requirements we have for the program are that the business must be at least 51% Black-owned; that it’s for-profit and has been operational for more than six months. They must also have a shoppable website and the ability to sell and/or distribute its products and/or services throughout the United States.What are the top five things you are looking for?  Nadja Bellan-White: We encourage applicants to explain why they want to be part of the program and how they believe participating in this program will support not only their business but perhaps other entrepreneurs like them. We are looking for companies who are innovative and who are finding unique solutions to problems.What will winners receive?
Nadja Bellan-White: VICE Media Group and the National Urban League will provide pro-bono marketing, creative services, consulting, mentorship, and business consultation to the 12 selected African-American-owned businesses. VICE Media Group in particular will provide free advertising across its owned and operated websites including VICE, Refinery29 and i-D. Vice Media Group and its creative agency Virtue will also consult with each business on creative services such as, but not limited to, marketing material creation, branding, and social media.
Related: 21 Inspiring Quotes From Black Leaders From Throughout American History
Marc Morial: The National Urban League will use its reach and network of Black-owned businesses to help provide mentorship and consulting for the selected companies. We will also help with the selection processes and structure of the program.How can people apply?
Nadja Bellan-White: You can apply by going to the website to learn more about the program and fill out the application. Black+ is part of an annual and on-going partnership with the National Urban League and long-term commitment to the African-American community.  If you can give one general piece of advice to Black entrepreneurs what would it be?
Marc Morial: I think being resourceful is the best piece of advice I would give young Black entrepreneurs. We know that Black-owned businesses often do not get the same opportunities afforded to others. You may not get the same loans or the same funding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your goals. Whether it is free online classes, hiring interns, asking for advice from mentors or other business owners, you have to take advantage of all the different types of opportunities that can offset any deficiency you might have in your own business. It’s why programs like this are so important to have in the Black community.