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Why I Said No to Being Called CEO

A company president rejects the troublesome title of “chief”.
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March 2, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When I started Seam Social Labs in 2018, my goal was to try and find a way to build a business as impactful to our culture as Amazon, but solely focused on community empowerment. It took me eighteen months of customer discovery to realize the solution would start as co:census, (i.e., our first portfolio product dedicated to making sure voices are heard through the lens of qualitative data). 
Now that that business is up and running, one question that I’ve gotten is about my title as company leader.
I am not the Chief Executive Officer, or “CEO”, of Seam Social Labs. I am the Head of Strategy. In fact, our company doesn’t have a CEO. I am every job description related to a Chief Executive Officer, but I specifically chose a different term because I wanted to think about the impact of titles in corporate structures. 
I self-identify as an Afro-Latina woman. This identity is not based on the indigenous heritage of America, but I understand how it feels to be oppressed and silenced.
Related: Entrepreneur Masters: How to break the paradigms of an industry?
History of the word “chief”
Over the past few years, I researched conflicting opinions on this term. From a city dropping “chief” from it’s job titles, to protests against the name of the Superbowl runner-up Kansas City Chiefs. Recently, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said, “the city will vote next week to remove the word ‘chief’ from city job titles so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.” 
When I chose the title of Head of Strategy, my stance was based on the word “chief” and the limited representation of indigenous communities, overall. 
From the website Native Circle: “[Chief] is a word that is commonly given as a nickname which incorrectly labels Native American men. The term ‘chief’ itself is incorrect. American Indian leaders were never ‘chiefs’, but headmen, or clan mothers, and so on. Not ‘chiefs’… Being called ‘chief’ carries with it the same insulting, belittling sting for a Native man as being called ‘boy’ does for African American men.”
Related: Taco Bell CEO Mark King on Tapping Into the Human Element of Operations
In a “Washington Post” opinion piece responding to the Mayor a reader wrote: “There is no reason to believe that this word was ever intended to mean anything other than its definition: ‘a leader or ruler of a people or clan.’  There is simply nothing offensive or marginalizing about the word. Its use goes back as far as around 1300, when in Old French, it meant pretty much the same thing as it does now.”
Historically this word has been used as one to define leadership, but it’s also been used as a slur against native leaders. As a business founder focused on community empowerment, anything that is still being decided upon by an entire community, is worth careful consideration. No title, brand name or symbol is worth the harm of negatively impacting a culture.  If 2020 has taught anyone anything, especially for those who did not work in the inclusion space, it is that you have to look at everything with new eyes. 
A title that reflects my territory
One of my biggest goals in creating this company is to show that we can decolonize the systems we’ve created. This requires conversation and challenging the assumptions that we have historically had. If you’re looking for the opportunity to work at a company that challenges these assumptions? Hey, we’ll be hiring in the next few months. 
As a sociologist, I am acutely aware of how much culture shifts, language changes and habits transform over time. My hope is that Seam Social Labs hires people who know they can bring their full culture and selves as added value to our business. 
Related: Sometimes, What Can’t Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

Plant-Based Foods Are Our Future, And Entrepreneurs Are Helping Us Make The Shift

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Employee-owned plant-based food company Aloha, recently became a B Corp and has differentiated … [+] itself with health and sustainability certifications such as non-GMO, organic and vegan. It’s products are gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free
ALOHA
The success of companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat has drawn attention to the plant-based protein sector. And recently Bill Gates said that because of the climate effects of beef production, wealthier countries should completely shift to plant-based synthetic beef. 
The plant-based movement signals a significant shift in the way people are eating and understanding the relationship between their food choices, their own health, and the health of the planet at-large. As we learn more about the impact our dietary choices have on the resources that sustain us – water, land, and climate – opportunities for companies that specialize in plant-based products have opened up.  In March 2020, over 9.7 Million Americans reported following plant-based diets, compared to just 290,000 in 2004. Since March 2020, over 2 million new shoppers in the plant-based category have created a massive demand for innovative products that speak to their needs – better-for-you, convenient, plant-based alternatives that fuel a healthy lifestyle.
Adopting a more plant-based lifestyle can lessen the impact of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions that result from food production. Furthermore, water usage decreases significantly; if the U.S. cut animal product consumption even by half, our food production would require 37 percent less water. What’s more, agriculture occupies 40 percent of Earth’s ice-free landmass, and animal products require a large environmental footprint on our croplands. In short, if Americans ate more plants and less beef, we would need 42 percent less cropland to produce our food.

I recently talked to one of the entrepreneurs that is leading this significant change in American diets, Brad Charron, CEO of ALOHA, an employee-owned plant-based food company that recently became a B Corporation. March is also B Corp Month and to commemorate this and their certification, Aloha is teaming up with Conscious Alliance, a national nonprofit committed to supporting communities in crisis through hunger relief and youth empowerment. Together, along with other like-minded companies they are filling a truck equaling 30 tons of food and delivering it to families in the Chicago Public Schools district. Brad asked me to share that if you’re a food brand that wants to join in, email care@aloha.com.
Below is a lightly edited version of our email discussion.  
With so many competitors in the plant-based protein category, what unique selling point differentiates your products?

Brad Charron, CEO at ALOHA
ALOHA
So what’s different about Aloha? Well, a lot, I guess. Being a small company, you can really get in the weeds with your consumers; there are no true barriers, no corporate protocols telling you what you can and cannot do. So I ask a lot of questions, mainly about the motivations of why people do what they do and, also, why they don’t do what they know they should do. If we can solve for the latter and really figure out how to allow people to do the things they know they ought to but, for some reason, have been unable or unmotivated, I think we can add a ton of value to people’s lives. Similarly, eating healthy isn’t always easy…but we know it can be easier with conscious planning and excellent products. I’m a big believer in self-determination and, it turns out, our consumers are too. If we can be a go-to option for people looking for something truly better, then our role in helping people live healthier, more nourishing and more fulfilling lives has real meaning. 
At Aloha, all we do is plant-based food. That’s it. Nothing else. When a friend of mine was looking for a new car and wanted to get an electric, I told him, “why don’t you get an electric car from people that only specialize in electric. They would have to be focused on being the best there as opposed to dabbling in various technologies.” It’s the same framework here. We only do plant-based, only high protein/low sugar, only USDA organic, Non-Gmo Project Verified, gluten and soy free, only premium ingredients, no sacrifices, no shortcuts, no trade-offs, no bullsh*t. From the ground up, this is a company constructed around good, healthy, plant-based food. We don’t cut corners and we don’t go for second best. I go through numerous iterations of each item we make, constantly working with our team to maximize flavor while never compromising on our macronutrient promise to consumers. And one of the reasons we have to go through some many variations of our food design is to solve for TASTE! If it doesn’t taste good, well, that blows up the entire consumer equation, right? This is my company, our company. It’s not a place for silver medals and unnecessary compromises. Taste, deliciousness, texture, seeing and understanding real ingredients, reading real, pronounceable words on the back of the pack; these are differentiators that lots of companies talk about but really can’t deliver on. We do that. 
Tell me about your commitment to plant-based protein, and why this is important for the planet?
We are fully committed to making plant-based products, specifically plant-based protein, because protein is the central building block our bodies need to function. We need it to create energy and live an active, healthy life. We all know the saying “you are what you eat,” and we believe our bodies perform best when fueled by organic plants. 100% Organic products are at the core of everything we make at Aloha because that is what is right for consumer’s health and for the planet. And, our products are meticulously designed with the optimal protein to sugar ratio of at least 3:1 to ensure we give your body what it needs to thrive. 
I’ve said this before and it’s totally true; it’s really tough to design food that checks all the boxes. Doesn’t it seem like a sacrifice is imminent when you’re scanning Amazon product pages or reading the back of a label in a grocery store? A common issue in our category is products that taste chalky or artificial, “earthy” or full of a “protein-y” after-taste. I can’t stand that. So, at Aloha, we iterate our food over and over and over again to ensure we get our products just right. No compromises. No way! For instance, one of our newer launches, the Chocolate Sea Salt protein drink, took 56 iterations to get just right. When developing that drink, I think I tasted different chocolates from every cafe and restaurant in NYC that made quality hot chocolate. I was on a mission to find a very specific profile that tasted like something I would want to drink each day. Really! As a small, independently owned company, we are able to do this and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Aloha’s products have to be as perfect as possible and taste amazing with a texture that consumers will keep coming back to—making it easy to make healthy eating a habit —or we aren’t doing our job right. Once someone tries our protein bars, for example, they get it. I think it’s why our newest item, a Coconut Chocolate Almond bar, was the #1 new release on Amazon in January, surpassing all other new protein bars on the market.  
Why did Aloha choose employee ownership as your business structure? What are the pros and cons of this approach?
Starting a brand, a business, isn’t for the faint of heart. I don’t think I slept for the first two years after joining the company. As I thought about how I wanted to grow Aloha and with whom I wanted to operate it, I yearned for people that would simply get what this journey of self-determination is all about. Being employee-owned truly is a key to our autonomy. It gives us all the ability, the agility, the motivation, and the promise (to ourselves, our fellow employees, and our consumers) to operate successfully. I know how unusual it is in the food industry to see this kind of model – I’m humbled to be in a community of makers that are striving to make better, more innovative food accessible to more people. But I have to tell you, I’m so damn proud of this small Aloha team of 15 people. All of us have the skin in the game to build the brand, the business, and to do it on our own terms.  
 Why did you become a B Corp? What did you learn as part of the process of certification?
When I joined Aloha, I was focused on running a business of good intentions, motivations, and process. That…and surviving to fight another day without having to close up shop. Not too long ago, a new colleague that had just joined our merry band introduced me to the B Corp Certification concept and explained what it meant to be truly of that community. It clicked! With her help (and that of EVERY employee and our Board), we pursued it with great determination and passion. As I learned more about B-Corp, we were already operating and making decisions aligned with their ethos. We realized we wouldn’t have to change the way we operated. Rather, we would be doubling down on the values we already had imbued in our brand and business now with a galvanizing call to action under the umbrella of this certification. I learned in the process that just four percent of companies that apply get certified. Qualifying is no joke – they were quite thorough. 
This whole process was really validating; the company was created with the B Corp mantras but without realizing it. Now, we have a set of well-rationed principles to anchor ourselves further as we grow. While you’re tested in multiple disciplines, the areas where we scored the highest were around our commitment to our workers, the environment, and then community. It’s the small steps that companies take to “walk the talk” that made the difference for us. For example, the remote nature of our team (even pre-pandemic) helped decrease our carbon footprint, we had already instituted paid time off for employees to volunteer, vote and provide service to their local communities. We were forward-thinking when it came to the diversity and independence of our Board, and I am proud to say that the majority of our employees are women, not even counting my three daughters that work pro-bono telling their Dad all the things he is doing wrong.  
If you look at the phenomenal brands that are B Corps certified, I have a really healthy degree of respect for all of them. It’s an intentionally difficult choice to operate this way for many reasons: cost, transparency, additional operational complexity due to the promises we make, and reporting accountability. We are proud to be among this small group of outstanding companies dedicated to doing good. Through the certification process we learned that even as a small company, we are held to the same standards of those as big and tenured as Patagonia, Toms, etc. This didn’t dismay us, it inspired us.
After working at a number of larger companies, why did you join Aloha?
In truth, I would describe myself as a “late stage entrepreneur.” You look at some people and you just know they innately have it in them to be a creator, a founder. That wasn’t me at first. I was a hockey player, a classics and history student, someone that only reluctantly went into the business world because, well, why not? I have to earn a living somehow. If I have to pinpoint the moment that I started to “get the entrepreneurial itch” however, it was when I moved to the Netherlands. I was the only American member of a 5-person team launching my favorite denim brand, Lucky, to Europe. Freedom to operate and creating new solutions to old problems became a passion…and that’s how the seed that ultimately led me to Aloha was planted.  
 Separately (but related), I’m fascinated by the concept of “better.” I’m no sociologist and certainly not a psychiatrist, but I was spending a lot of time working on primary order brands/products – and there is nothing more first order than food. Look, timing is everything. I had seen entrepreneurship first-hand at both Under Armour and Chobani. Having experienced those journeys, I was finally ready to strike out on my own and create a mission-driven company that aligned both with my personal and professional beliefs. It’s at that intersection that Aloha was born and, over the past 4 years, we have attracted an incredible peer group of individuals who share an innate passion for creating better-for-you food and drinks.

4 Reasons Why Workers Should Welcome Artificial Intelligence In the Workplace

March 2, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In recent months, concerns about the economic impact of the pandemic have been closely tied with a spate of panicked automation headlines like, “Will Robots Take Our Jobs In A Socially Distanced Era??”.
But there’s a different reality that showcases the importance of having a robust digital transformation strategy.
Already we have seen that incorporating new technologies has led to a dramatic shift in the way industries operate worldwide. We are also witnessing a significant rise in interest for robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent automation and artificial intelligence among business leaders who realize that intelligent automation demonstrates strong transformative potential across all industries.
Business leaders are accelerating the adoption of technologies they view as crucial to digital transformation efforts – like intelligent and robotic process automation – to help them thrive in this tumultuous business environment and beyond.
Intelligent automation as a competitive differentiator
Businesses are constantly met with new restrictions and 63% of business decision makers feel they are struggling to meet customer demands. 93% of those decision makers believe intelligent automation will help solve this problem.
Intelligent automation offers a number of key benefits, from time and money savings to improved efficiency. By implementing all capabilities found in RPA and connecting previously silo’ed departments and improving communication, intelligent automation can help businesses focus on more strategic work. 
For example: One Michigan-based power company serving 2.2 million customers is using a digital workforce to halve the number of bills that need to be reviewed by human workers. By automating this process, and 35 others, the company is saving 250,000 man hours annually.
Related: How Artificial Intelligence Is Reshaping the Insurance Industry
Implementation is on the upswing
Business leaders are looking to intelligent automation to help reap the benefits of a lighter workload and reduced financial burden. In fact, at the start of 2020, 92% of business leaders already had plans to roll out intelligent automation across their organizations – this number will only go up as we continue to experience the lasting impact of the pandemic. 
Many companies have been building an automation-ready business culture and knowledge workers are ready to embrace their digital coworkers. Only 33% of employees still harbor fears about losing their jobs to automation and 81% have a strong understanding of the benefits intelligent automation can bring to their organizations. Overall, the past year has prepared leaders, and employees alike, to welcome technology that will make for a more agile and efficient hybrid workforce.
Related: Fintech Start-Ups Are Growing: What’s New To Look For In 2020
An adapting workforce
The past year has proved that our workforce is resilient, flexible and capable of adjusting to many challenges. As businesses around the globe embrace new work environments and technologies, we’ve seen a growing level of trust in automation as employees adapt to digital colleagues. They are excited about the opportunities intelligent automation creates, embracing benefits that allow them to focus more on creative, meaningful work. Businesses that provide employees with training and reassurance as these digital workers are introduced enable the smoothest transition. 
As the financial strain of the pandemic continues, investment management firms are applying intelligent automation to end-to-end processes for loan applications, getting funds to those in need as quickly as possible. Healthcare organizations are automating the patient diagnostic process, reducing clinical risk by ensuring the process is fast and accurate. 
As organizations in industries like healthcare and financial services introduce intelligent automation, they help their workforce adapt and upskill by retraining employees. In fact, 78% of organizations provide training opportunities when they introduce new technologies. Further 80% of knowledge workers feel comfortable reskilling, indicating a willingness to adapt alongside digital colleagues.
The coming robot apocalypse has been greatly exaggerated
What could the future hold with digital workers operating alongside human workers? Today’s intelligent automation is more sophisticated than ever and does not require the level of manual governance it once did. Businesses can train digital workers to do almost anything (payment processing, monitoring data integrity, management, etc.) freeing human workers to engage in more exciting roles.
Blue Prism intelligent digital workers are designed to be more accessible and intuitive to non-tech business users. By offering a no-code automation tool, business teams are empowered with agile operational automation capabilities. This vastly expands access and utilization of both in-house and third party technologies, allowing for business processes to become more easily repeatable, secure, auditable and scalable — ultimately resulting in higher customer satisfaction rates. 
How much more can you achieve with digital workers at your fingertips? 
Related: Shaping The Workforce Of The Future: How AI Contributes To The Workplace

Apple Opens All of Its Stores in the US, After Being Closed for a Year

With some restrictions, but the technology giant will already be able to receive its customers in physical stores.
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March 2, 2021 2 min read

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

A tunnel of hope looks a little closer. Apple opens all its stores in the United States, after being closed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they will be able to receive customers physically and be operating almost in a ” normal ” way.
This Monday, the technology giant reopened the last stores that remained closed in the United States. These are those corresponding to the state of Texas, giving a total of 271 locations in the northern country. However, some must operate under limitations such as capacity, in this way customers can only attend by appointment.
A year ago, Apple closed all of its stores except for China. Since then, it has had to open and close depending on the epidemiological status of each region.
The improvement in the north country
According to the BBC , the United States has seen a notable decrease in cases since the beginning of February. Hospitalizations were reduced to 16% and deaths to 3.5%. However, the country continues to be the one with the most deaths and infections from COVID-19.
The medium gives three factors that explain why a little light is already visible at the end of the tunnel. First, that they are no longer traveling like they did in the holidays, that means less exposure to the virus. Second, that many Americans were already infected, as of March 2, 28.7 million. But, as many infected did not perform a test or were asymptomatic, it is estimated that the number would multiply by four, that is, almost a third of the population.
Finally, the decrease in cases is attributed to the fact that a large number of people now use face masks. In addition, the accelerated vaccination process has prevented the coronavirus from spreading so easily.
So, these points have opened the door to various brands and businesses to re-present themselves to the public.

Free On-Demand Webinar: Zoom CEO Shares How He Built the Explosively Popular Video Communications Platform

As we come upon a year of working in fully remote or hybrid environments, many organizations are realizing that the workplace will likely never look the same again. Fueled by lockdowns and social distancing, a new way of communicating and collaborating with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders emerged, with one platform that dramatically transformed how global enterprises and consumers communicate.
Since Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) dominated our daily lives in the pandemic (10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to more than 300 million by April 2020), Comparably co-founder/CEO Jason Nazar will host an hour-long fireside chat with its founder/CEO, Eric S. Yuan, for our next Leadership Lessons episode.
Under Yuan’s leadership, Zoom was one of the highest-performing tech IPOs of 2019 and is now valued at over $100B. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif. with more than 3,800 employees globally, the platform provides video meetings, voice, webinars, and chat across desktops, phones, mobile devices, and conference room systems.
Yuan will share the most valuable lessons he learned throughout his career, by pulling back the curtain on his time as an executive at Cisco and Webex to the launch and hyper-growth of Zoom.
Other topics include:
– The keys to delivering employee happiness
– 5 questions to ask before starting your own company
– Best practices for creating happy customers
– The future of work + effective leadership
– Maintaining great workplace culture at all stages of growth
Complete the registration form below to watch now!
About the Speakers
Eric S. Yuan founded Zoom in 2011 to deliver happiness and bring teams together in a frictionless video environment. Previously, he was corporate VP of engineering at Cisco and one of the founding engineers and VP of engineering at Webex. Between 1997 and 2011, he grew his team from 10 engineers to more than 800 worldwide and contributed to revenue growth from $0 to more than $800M. For the past two consecutive years, Eric was the #1 Best CEO of a large company by Comparably. He was also named one of the Most Powerful People in Enterprise Tech by Business Insider and EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Northern California (software category), and added to the Bloomberg 50 as a leader who changed the game in global business. Eric is a named inventor on 11 issued and 20 pending patents in real-time collaboration.
Jason Nazar brings 15 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, and advisor to his role as co-founder/CEO of Comparably, a leading workplace culture and compensation monitoring site. Previously, he was co-founder/CEO of Docstoc (acquired by Intuit in 2013), one of the most visited content sites in the world with the widest selection of professional documents and resources for small businesses. Often credited with building the Silicon Beach tech scene, Jason was creator and host of “Startups Uncensored” from 2008-2017, a monthly fireside chat series with prominent entrepreneurs. He was named one of the “Most Admired CEOs in L.A.” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and appointed “Entrepreneur in Residence for the City of Los Angeles” in 2016-2018 by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

How These Two Childhood Friends Created a Multi-Million Dollar Dentistry Business

March 2, 2021 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Emmet Scott and dentist Chad Evans believe if you want to be successful, you have to experience your business through your customer’s vantage point. They created Community Dental Partners and Smile Magic Dentistry and Braces to revolutionize the patient experience within healthcare.
Through Community Dental Partners, they help dentists who previously only had two options: grind it out day after day and hold on until it’s time to retire or partner with corporate dental and run the risk of losing individuality and freedom. By combining Scott’s business acumen with Dr. Evans’ clinical background, the childhood friends revolved their business model around the idea that dentists have two minds. The first mind is the clinical mind and it concerns all the activities dentists have learned in school. The second mindset deals with the business mind, which focuses on everything from staff management to an exit strategy.
In addition to partnering with dentists and dental practices in underserved areas, Scott hosts a podcast called DSO Secrets, and the two run www.MySmileMagic.com, which they call “a Chuck-E.-Cheese-like dental practice for kids.” The two sat down with Jessica Abo to share how they have created their business and how you can better serve your customers.
Let’s start by going back to the beginning. How do you know each other, and what made you want to go into business together?
Dr. Chad Evans: This is one of those stories where we actually grew up together. At two years old, our parents moved next door to each other. My dad and his mom knew each other from high school. Starting at two years old, we became best friends.
Emmet Scott: At nine years old, I moved away, and I said, “Don’t worry, buddy. Someday I’ll come back.” And of course, then life went on. 10 years ago or so we crossed paths again. Dr. Evans reached out and said, ‘I’m going to open my first dental practice, and I’d really love some help.’ At the time, I was hosting a radio show and doing some consulting around scaling businesses and looked at the opportunity and his vision. 
Dr. Evans: My dad was actually a lab technician, which means he makes crowns and bridges. At 11 years old, I went to work with him. He ignored all the child labor laws, and I went to work at that and became a pretty good lab technician. Eventually I went to dental school, but that experience and the time that I spent in the dental space gave me a lot of exposure and experience within the industry. I saw just so many different opportunities, so many different areas where I felt like the industry and the way dental offices are traditionally designed and the way they traditionally operate just wasn’t quite meeting the patient’s needs.
Scott: What made Dr. Evans unique is he wanted to serve patients a lot of clinicians and a lot of doctors don’t want to serve. He served a two-year mission in Chile. He was fluent in Spanish. He has seven kids. He said, “Hey, I want to help in the pediatric market underserved. I don’t care if it’s Medicaid, whatever.” And then we all looked at each other. I have five kids, and we said, “Well, what do kids really like?” It’s not the dentist in case you were wondering.
We said, “They like Disneyland. They liked Chuck E. Cheese. They like those types of experiences. What if you brought that into dentistry? What would that look like?”
Dr. Evans: Traditionally, moms are dragging crying children into the dental office, and I wanted the opposite. I wanted moms to have to drag their crying children out of the dental office because they didn’t want to leave.
Scott: We’ve designed the whole practice as if you were going through a story around Charlie the Chipmunk. We actually made the kids part of the experience. We call them back as prince or princess. We gave them gold coins along the way. As they finished their X-ray, they got a gold coin. As they finished their exam, they got a gold coin. And then at the end, they sat on a little throne and for their bravery in dentistry, we crown them as King or Queen of Smile Magic. They got a balloon, they got a sticker. Mom gets a sticker, because she’s always a little freaking out. And then we ask them if they have any money, they have their gold coins, they spend their gold coins. They of course get an electric toothbrush of some kind, right? And they’re going, “Mom, when do I get to come back?”
You’ve been at this for more than a decade. Can you walk me through the growth you have seen over the years?
Scott: We started supporting this dental practice, Smile Magic, that we created. Then along came a group of practices that needed support in underserved, rural towns. We set up Community Dental Partners as a dental support organization that would support any dental practice in underserved areas.
Dr. Evans: As we started having success and word was getting out, we had dentists approaching us that said, “I want to offer that kind of experience to my patient. I want to be able to do that. What do I have to do? Can you support us so that I can do that now?”
Scott: We went from one practice to supporting 60 practices, and I think we’ll have 250,000 or more patient visits this year in Texas.
Dr. Evans, what advice do you have for someone who is trying to put their patient or customer first? And they aren’t sure if they are doing a great job at doing that?
Dr. Evans: One of the things I always do myself, I put myself in their shoes and I ask myself if I were the patient, how would I want to be treated? What hours would I want to have availability? What days would I want to be able to come in? All those things that you would naturally ask yourself if you were in the other position. If you can answer honestly that you are providing care and service in a way that you would enjoy as the customer, then I think you’re probably doing it right.
What do you want to say to the entrepreneurs out there who have a product or are offering a service that might not be that sexy? You’re disrupting the dental industry, and most of the time when people are thinking about going to the dentist, they’re not running to the dentist by any means, let alone having children running to the dentist.
Scott: Our field is the one that has idioms, like, “Oh man, it’s like getting a root canal” or “it’s like pulling teeth.” If you’re feeling concerned about your industry, I understand. What I would say is focus on the customer. What are they most interested in? What’s the benefit? All of us can understand that oral health care is critical, that having bacteria in your mouth that transfers to somebody else is not something we want happening. If you can create parallel experiences that the customer really loves, then you can bring them your product and the benefits of your product.
Where do you hope to go from here?
Scott: We’ve launched National Dental Partners. And now we’re reaching out to more dentists who are looking for this level of support. We know that there are entrepreneur clinicians who say, “We can do this better”, and maybe they don’t want Charlie the Chipmunk in their office. They’re serving different patient avatars, and they need a support team to do that.

The 7 Steps To Finding An Expert Business Consultant

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A good consultant is easy to find, if you follow these steps.
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From time-to-time, you may need to find a consultant to help you with your business. Sometimes, those needs are high level, like setting strategies or marketing plans. And other times, those needs are more point solutions, like a pro in search engine optimization or product sourcing. Whatever your need may be, there is most likely a consultant out there that is immediately available to help you. The problem is finding them. This post will tell you how best to fill your consulting needs.
1. Be Clear on the Expertise You Are Looking For
Not all consultants are created equal. A business generalist will not have the depth of a domain expert, as an example. But on the flipside, maybe your business problems are so broad, that a jack-of-all-trades is well equipped to point you in the right direction to start, to then dig deeper with a different pro on that specific topic, once it is identified. And consultants that are well versed in solutions for enterprise scale companies, are most likely not the right consultants to help early stage startups, with much lower budgets. So, be very clear on exactly what is needed for your specific pain point and company size, and focus there during your consultant interview process.
2. Decide Length, Depth and Location of Engagement
Now you need to decide how long you think this consultant will be with you, and whether it is a full-time problem or a part-time problem. Some consultants prefer bigger, longer, full-time assignments. And other consultants prefer smaller, shorter, part-time assignments. So, depending on what your business need is, will dictate what type of consultant you will need, and more importantly, where to look for them. You will also need to decide if the work needs to be done on-site, in your office, or if the work can be done virtually from the consultant’s office. The advantage of virtual consultants: it opens up the world of potential talent to you, instead of simply finding someone willing to work in your home market. That said, some work simply needs to be done in the office working hand-in-hand with your team, for efficiency sake.

3. Leverage Your Networks
Like when hiring employees for your business, it is always best to start with someone you know and trust. If not for the work itself, for the introductions to potential consultants for you. So, maybe send an email to your fellow business colleagues or fellow CEO’s, asking if they have run into the same problem in the past, and if they are aware of any experts on that particular topic. Having that “stamp of approval” from someone you trust that has worked with the consultant in the past, should increase the odds of a successful outcome from the project.
4. Leverage Consulting Marketplaces
There are several websites out there that have built marketplaces to find consultants by topic, budget and location. Those include companies like Catalant (US focus), Graphite (US focus), Business Talent Group (US Focus), Talmix (EU focus) and Expert 360 (AU focus) where you can post your exact needs, and experts will bid their expertise and costs for you to choose from. LinkedIn also has a solution here called Pro Finder, but it is not as big as the other sites listed here, in terms of activity on that site. There are also sites like GLG and Coleman, where they have a network of thousands of specific domain experts, that you can get on the phone for an hour of their time, typically focused on enterprise scale companies. So, consider posting your needs on these sites and see how it goes.

5. Leverage Social Media
Social media is also a good place to look. Most people on LinkedIn have been recommended by their peers as experts on specific topics. For example, my LinkedIn network has tagged me as an expert in startups, entrepreneurship, business development, e-commerce, online marketing and venture capital, to name a few. So, search for people with the keyword topics you need to solve your pain point, and ask them to point you in the right direction. Someone with 99+ recommendations around the key term “fundraising”, is probably a pretty good fundraiser. Same thing on Twitter. Many people on Twitter add hashtags to their profile description with skills that they want to be known for, so search for those Twitter users (e.g., #BusinessCoach). The problem with Twitter vs. LinkedIn, in Twitter’s case, people are attaching tags to themselves, so you don’t really know if they are really a pro on that topic, or not. Whereas on LinkedIn, the tags have been made by third party individuals, which adds materially more credibility to their expertise.
6. Leverage Freelancer Marketplaces
If you are looking for very specific point solutions, the freelancer websites could be the way to go. For example, the other day I needed an expert on the cloud ERP technology Odoo, and I went to freelancer sites like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, or Guru, where you can type in keywords of what you need, and their search engine will bring back the various talent in their database that should fit the bill. There are many other freelancer communities based on your specific skillset needed, but the ones I listed above are the big one-stop portal sites that have a little bit of everything. What I like about the freelancer sites, is you can see how busy/engaged these freelance consultants have been to date, and what their past client reviews have been. So, again, the importance of third party validation to make sure you are making a smart engagement.
7. Decide Between Consultant Firms or Individuals
Most of the above is talking about finding specific individuals that can help you with your consulting needs. You could also consider engaging consulting firms that specialize in your particular pain point. And, no not the big firms like McKinsey, Bain or BCG, as they work on huge budget projects for huge enterprise companies. I am talking about the boutique firms you never heard of, like Maddock Douglas, whose expertise is around business innovation and are willing to work with early stage businesses in their target industries. You can throw Red Rocket in this bucket for your growth strategy needs. So, do a little digging on Google (e.g., “Chicago Brand Strategy Firm”) and see what you stumble on in the Google results. Then, ask to speak to their references before engaging them.
Concluding Thoughts
Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding around how to find a consultant for your business and your specific pain point. It is very important you do your homework on that person or firm, to make sure they are the right person to solve your exact situation. The worst thing you can do is try to force a square peg into a circular hole, as all that will do is result in you wasting valuable time, energy and money to only end up in exactly the same place you started . . . stumped!!

George Deeb is a Partner at Red Rocket Ventures and author of 101 Startup Lessons-An Entrepreneur’s Handbook. For future posts from George, please follow him here or on Twitter at @georgedeeb or @redrocketvc.

Are Facebook's Best Days Behind It?

March 2, 2021 7 min read
This story originally appeared on StockNews
In Hinduism and Buddhism, karma is the concept that a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence determine their fate in future existences. In his lifetime, Mark Zuckerberg, the 36-year-old Facebook (FB – Get Rating) “founder,” could be the victim of karma over the coming months and years. Mr. Zuckerberg is a billionaire and the world’s fifth wealthiest person with an over $100 billion net worth.
The 2010 film, The Social Network, raised questions if Mr. Zuckerberg was indeed the real innovator behind Facebook (FB). Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea for the social network platform while the trio was at Harvard. The twins later won a $65 million settlement from Facebook and have become Bitcoin billionaires. However, the Winklevoss pair have achieved nowhere near Zuckerberg’s success.
Mark Zuckerberg is far from a shooting star in the corporate world. He navigated Facebook brilliantly over the past years. In 2021, he may have pushed a bit too hard, and karma could be paying him and FB a visit if he is not careful.
Facebook took on Tim Cook and Apple a few weeks ago
Since August 2020, FB and Apple (APPL) have been at odds after Apple announced plans to force iPhone apps to ask users for consent before trading them for advertising purposes.
The privacy update was scheduled to roll out with Apple’s iOS 14 in September, but AAPL delayed it after FB protested, arguing the update would destroy FB’s and other developers’ advertising revenue. In his latest earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg attacked Apple, accusing the iPhone giant of making “misleading” promises about privacy practices. FB is preparing an anti-trust lawsuit against AAPL over its App Store rules for third-party developers.
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, fired back at Facebook, saying, “If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.”
The fight between Zuckerberg and Cook will continue in the courts over the coming months.
FB versus Australia and Canada
The Australian government had been working on legislation that would force technology platforms to pay publishers for news content. The bill’s initial version would have allowed media outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG) and to enter binding arbitration if the parties could not agree. FB decided to bar Australians from finding or sharing news on its service in response to the issue. The move caused pages of media organizations and some services to go dark.
Australia backed down, and FB restored the pages after the government amended the code to include a provision that “must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with new media businesses.” The bottom line is that FB will not automatically be forced into negotiation. FB and GOOG are partnering with media outlets. GOOG did a deal with News Corp and FB with Seven West Media. The partnerships change the equation.
Last week, Canada became the next country to make FB pay for news content. The Canadian government has been collecting media allies, vowing not to back down if Mr. Zuckerberg decides to shut down Canada’s news as it did in Australia. Canada is working with France, Australia, Germany, and Finland to ensure fair compensation for web content. Many governments believe that FB holds a monopoly. While Australia backed down as FB and GOOG arranged for partnerships, the issue is likely to continue to cause problems for the companies. Legislators worldwide have expressed concerns about FB and GOOG’s dominance, which is likely to lead to regulation sooner rather than later. Apple’s Tim Cook is cheering on the governments.
FB could be biting off more than the company can chew
FB has grown into a global advertising monopoly, given its control of private data. The data makes advertising far more effective. A simple search for a product or service now leads to a tidal wave of advertisements for similar products or services. The technique has been highly effective, making Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire with a twelve-figure net worth.
Ironically, the tech giants have said they embrace increased regulation. However, with the writing on the wall, some of the leading companies have been working to make nice with the US government over the past months. Amazon.com (AMZN) reached out to the Biden administration to leverage its operations to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Facebook is using an independent board to vet contributions, calling it Facebook’s “Supreme Court.”
FB, GOOG, AMZN, and other tech giants could be betting that the “right” kind of regulations could wind up supporting their earnings by making barriers to entry even higher for competitors. The last significant anti-trust period in the US was in the early 1900s when Teddy Roosevelt earned his reputation as a trustbuster when he led the charge against monopolistic practices. The success of the leading tech companies has made them natural monopolies. The founders and CEOs have become modern-day oligarchs. Zuckerberg, Bezos, Musk, and a handful of others have become the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Fords, Rockefellers, and other “robber barons” in the eyes of many.
Mark Zuckerberg has been the poster boy for the issues facing big tech. The rise of the progressive left in the US is likely to be a nemesis for FB’s chief. The left’s leader, Senator Bernie Sanders, is on record saying, “There should be no billionaires. We are going to tax their extreme wealth and invest in working people.”
Recent weak action in FB shares
FB went public on May 18, 2012, at $38 per share.

Source: Barchart
The long-term chart shows that FB shares opened in May 2012 at $42.05 and moved to the latest all-time high of $304.67 in August 2020. Since then, the stock has made lower highs and lower lows.

Source: Barchart
Since the August 2020 high, FB shares have been trending lower. At the end of last week, the stock was trading at the $257.62 level, over 15.4% below the August peak. The most recent low was on January 14 at $244.61. The stock was trading closer to the mid-January low than the August high as of the end of February 2021.
FB’s best days could be behind the company
Looking in the rearview mirror, FB has been an earnings machine.

Source: Yahoo Finance
The chart shows that FB beat consensus EPS forecasts in three of the past four quarters. In Q4 2020, the company beat estimates by 66 cents, reporting earnings of $3.88 per share.

Source: Yahoo Finance
Revenue and earnings growth have been impressive from 2017 through 2020. A survey of forty-six analysts on Yahoo Finance has an average price target of $338.42 for FB shares, with forecasts ranging from $220 to $418.
Wall Street loves Mr. Zuckerberg’s company:

Source: Yahoo Finance
The latest ratings are all buys and outperform. All disclosure documents state that “past performance is not indicative of future results.” When it comes to FB, the company’s future may be more in the hands of regulators and legislators than its technological moxie. By taking on Tim Cook, Australia, Canada, and other influential people and governments, Mr. Zuckerberg could be inviting karma.
The current environment makes “billionaires” with dominant businesses vulnerable. Mark Zuckerberg’s enemy list seems to be growing at a time when the CEO and founder of the world’s leading social media platform need friends a lot more than foes.

Motorsport Games vs. Activision Blizzard: Which E-Sports Company is a Better Buy?

March 2, 2021 5 min read
This story originally appeared on StockNews
Motorsport Games Inc. (MSGM – Get Rating) and Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ATVI – Get Rating) are household names regarding e-sports and gaming. MSGM develops video games for iconic motorsport racing series and is an e-sports partner of choice for NASCAR, Formula E, and other racing series. ATVI develops content and services for video game consoles, computers and mobile devices. It also operates e-sports leagues and offers digital advertising content.
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic helped the e-sports industry gain considerable traction as gamers on lockdown found home entertainment to be more or less their only option.  In fact, a spike in interest from traditional sports organizations has also pushed e-sports further into the mainstream and brought it to the attention of a wider audience. This has prompted major gaming and e-sports players like MSGM and ATVI to diversify their product portfolios and expand their presence across multiple platforms to fuel further growth this year and beyond.
In terms of their past month’s performance, ATVI is the clear winner, with 8% gains versus MSGM’s negative returns. But which of these stocks is a better pick now? Let’s find out.
Latest movements
Last month, MSGM launched Traxion, a new content platform that delivers users the latest news, reviews and opinions from the world of virtual racing. This is the third vertical to the company’s product portfolio, and the company expects that it will soon become the go-to destination for the best racing games and e-sports content.
Also in February, MSGM entered an agreement to acquire the assets and the business of KartKraft, a PC kart racing simulator, to diversify its gaming portfolio. MSGM believes that this will help expand the company’s content development, digital product sales capabilities, and esports ecosystem.
Last month, Blizzard Entertainment, a division of ATVI, unveiled a slew of news and games for a global online audience of fans and enthusiasts on the BlizzConline platform. Later this year, the company is  set to roll out new games, such as  Hearthstone Mercenaries, Chains of Domination, and Rogue.
In December, ATVI ’s Call of Duty series hit a new record by surpassing  $3 billion in net bookings over the last 12 months. This is a significant milestone for the company, which is  focused on building a diverse pipeline featuring a large amount of free, post-launch content and events across the franchise.
Recent Financial Results
MSGM’s total revenue increased 68.4% year-over-year to $16.11 million in the nine-months ended September 30, 2020. Its gross profit grew 87.4% from its year-ago value to $10.85 million. The company reported net earnings of $875,419 compared to a net loss of $2.95 million in the prior-year quarter. It generated an adjusted EBITDA of $3.28 million compared to adjusted EBITDA loss of $3.54 million.
ATVI’s net revenues have increased 21.5% year-over-year to $2.41 billion in the fourth quarter, ended December 31, 2020. Its non-GAAP EPS rose 22.6% from the year-ago value to $0.76, while its net bookings have grown 12.5% over the same period to $3.05 billion. The company’s operating income increased 30.8% year-over-year to $594 million over this period.
Expected Financial Performance
Analysts expect MSGM’s revenue to increase 23.7% in the current year.
In contrast, ATVI’s revenue is expected to increase17.2% in the current quarter, and 1.3% in the current year.
Profitability      
ATVI’s trailing-12-month revenue is significantly higher than  MSGM’s. Also, ATVI is more profitable with a gross profit margin of 72.1% versus MSGM’s 67.9%.
In fact, ATVI’s net income margin of 27.2% compares favorably with MSGM’s 1.4%.
Valuation
In terms of trailing-12-month ev/sales, MSGM is currently trading at 26.20x, 206.4% higher than ATVI’s 8.55x. Also, in terms of trailing-12-month price/cash flow, the company is currently trading at 835.41x, which is significantly higher than ATVI’s 33.96x.
So, ATVI is the more affordable stock.
POWR Ratings
MSGM has an overall rating of C, which translates to a Neutral in our proprietary POWR Ratings system. However, ATVI has an overall rating of B, which represents a Buy. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.
ATVI has a Momentum Grade of B, which is consistent with its price returns over the past month. MSGM also has a Momentum Grade of B.
In terms of Quality Grade, ATVI has a B grade given its higher profitability. In comparison, MSGM has a Quality Grade of D, reflective of its lower profitability.
Both ATVI and MSGM have a Sentiment Grades of B, which is consistent with analysts’ expectation about their revenue growth potential.
Of the 24 stocks in the B-rated Entertainment – Toys & Video Games industry, ATVI is ranked #6 while MSGM is ranked #19.
Our POWR Ratings system has also rated both ATVI and MSGM for Growth, Stability, and Value. Get all ATVI’s ratings here.  Click here to see the additional POWR Ratings for MSGM.
The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.
The Winner
While both ATVI and MSGM can be considered good long-term investments given their strong investments in premium content and the huge growth potential of the e-sports and gaming industry, ATVI appears to be a better buy based on the factors discussed here.
ATVI is a relatively cheaper and more profitable gaming franchise option on which to bet. Moreover, it is a proven winner, and the accelerating growth in demand for e-sports and video gaming could help the company maintain its leadership position over the long run.

Should You Start With PR or Marketing First?

With five startups under my belt, this is what I’ve found works best.
Free Book Preview Winfluence
Get a glimpse of how to influence your audience’s buying habits using traditional and unconventional influencer marketing techniques.

March 2, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Even if you’ve got a fantastic product or service as an entrepreneur, guess what — you still have to connect with customers and get some sales under your belt. There’s debate, though, about whether you should focus on public relations or marketing first. In most cases, it’s wise to concentrate initially on public relations.
Related: Want to Do a Public Relations Push? Focus on Social Media First.
The big difference between PR and marketing
Public relations and marketing are two very different animals. PR is all about building relationships with people and establishing your brand image. Basically, you want to get word of mouth going so people realize you’re available to do business with.
In contrast, marketing is about promotion. It’s a natural step after PR to effectively deliver your products or services to the people who have heard about you through your PR efforts. It stays consistent with the brand image you’ve established and entices customers to buy.
Why PR wins out
Looking at the distinction between PR and marketing, in the first year or so of business, it’s unlikely that readers will recognize who you are. Since you’re an unknown company that hasn’t earned their trust yet, getting them to complete a transaction is going to be a serious uphill battle. 
Considering that you’re a startup, you probably don’t have a ton of cash in your back pocket. You have to spend every dollar wisely and not be wasteful. So, if you throw a bunch of money into marketing before customers have a sense of who you are, you’re essentially throwing money away by increasing the price it takes per customer to close a sale. Think about it: customers are really savvy these days. A quick pan through a search engine tells them a lot about your brand. Shelling out for marketing off the bat via paid promotions doesn’t work well if your reputation isn’t there to back you up. And if you’re looking for a certain number of sales to please your investors, they might end up disappointed. That doesn’t bode well for continued funding.
How to make PR work for you
Let’s assume you’ve made the decision to use your money on PR instead. Where do you start? Is there a basic plan of action that’s proven successful?
In most cases, your first step is to get people referring you right away. For example, you can ask people if they know of anyone who might be interested in what you have to offer. Alternatively, if you do a demo, you might give the attendees a few extra samples of your product to share. The idea here is that even if some prospective customers don’t have your trust yet, they will trust their friends and family. Use that to your advantage.
Second, create great online articles. These can be on your blog or submitted to other sites, but they should get everybody familiar with your concepts. If you don’t feel comfortable creating this content on your own, then hire a great PR agency — even if just for a year or so. They can ensure a large quantity of higher-quality articles that all have a consistent voice while feeding potential clients the information you want. Agencies also usually have good connections to pitch the articles to.
Third, be your own evangelist and make yourself visible in as many areas as you can. For instance, see if you can be a guest on the radio, a podcast, a webinar or another program. Participate in panels. Get involved in community events, or create your own. All of these venues let you interact with customers more directly, and people hearing your voice or seeing your face can do a lot to humanize your business.
If you address all of these points, then there’s really no reason why you should have to resort to paying hundreds of dollars for a lead via marketing. But what’s really important is that you work through all these paths to get people aligned and out of their old ways of thinking. You have to be prepared to stare straight into the teeth of existing wisdom so that people come to understand the benefits of your innovations and get behind them. Working hand in hand with a PR agency is the best way to do that.
After you’ve survived that first PR-based year, you’ll likely be ready to transition more into marketing. Start with some low-grade campaigns, such as white papers, that you can nurture into high-quality leads. 
Related: Marketing Lessons I Learned From Fortune 500 Companies
A reliable strategy for any venture
PR and marketing are both essential components of establishing and maintaining good back-and -forth with customers. But because you can’t sell to people who don’t trust you, your initial funds should go to PR. Take about a year to grow your relationships and then ease into serious marketing. No matter the industry, product or service, it’s a sequence you can consistently lean on to win.