How to Keep Your Business Partnership From Imploding

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Running a business on your own, especially if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, can be daunting. There’s so much to do . . . so many mistakes to be made . . .

So it’s understandable that you’d consider having a partner to share the decision-making and the risk.

I felt the same way. After running my content marketing firm on my own for 13 years, I decided to start a second business with a good friend.

Without going into the gnarly details, I’ll just say: it didn’t work out. At all.

If you’re considering taking on a partner, think carefully first: 70% of business partnerships fail. I’m not telling you that to scare you (much), but to open your eyes to the fact that, while it might seem like a good idea right now, you need to reflect on whether you will still feel that way in the future.

In retrospect, I look back and can learn some lessons from my failed attempt at working with a partner. May these lessons help you should you decide to partner with someone to start a business.

1. No amount of foresight helps when emotions are involved

When you care about someone in your personal life, it’s exceedingly difficult to keep emotions out of something you’re so passionate about as a business. Especially if you realize you have different visions for where you want to take the business. Whose vision is more valid? Which direction do you go?

It can be difficult to try to compromise two distinct views without emotions coming into play. Feelings will get hurt. Fair warning.

2. Be aligned—really, really aligned—in your vision

At first, it seemed we were aligned in what we wanted. But then I realized that my partner hadn’t been truly communicating what she wanted for the business . . . or else I steamrolled over what she said and believed we were aligned.

Even if you, like me, are itching to launch your business already, I urge you to take more time than you think you need in the planning phase. Talk, talk, talk about what you want and how you see the business growing. Listen to your partner. Really listen. Because you need to be 100% aligned before you start filing important paperwork and spending money.

3. Don’t let one person have complete control

The thing about business partnerships is that initially there is trust—and there should be. But once things fall apart, that trust is shattered. My partner controlled the web domain, design platform, event page, and money. When things fell apart, I had zero access to everything that I needed to continue the business on my own, so I had to start from scratch.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business

While you will both have different areas of responsibility in the business, you both need complete access to all accounts and tools. Both partners need administrative access to all platforms. Period.

4. Your friendship will likely suffer

I wish I could give you a happy-ish ending to this tale. But I am no longer friends with this person because our business partnership imploded. It’s sad.

You may have a great friend who you think, wouldn’t it be fun to start a business together? And maybe it would, and maybe it would work out well.

But before you partner, ask yourself how you would feel if your friendship suffered or was obliterated because of this business. Is it worth the risk? You might be better off finding a business partner you’re not personally close to than to risk jeopardizing a friendship you’ve built over the years.

5. Going solo isn’t so bad

I’m not suggesting that every entrepreneur go solo, by any means. I just want to stress that it’s not so terrible. I continued the business on my own, and while, yes, all the work falls to me (so does the profit!), there is freedom in being the only person who weighs in on decisions. I have enough experience running my marketing firm that it’s not completely scary to start this second business on my own.

You shouldn’t be scared, either. Nor do you have to go it alone. Even if you don’t have a business partner, you have a wealth of online resources to answer any question you have about running your business. You can also turn to SCORE and Small Business Development Centers for free help.

You don’t need to have a business partner to thrive. You just need the confidence to do it on your own, as well as resources to turn to should you need a little nudge in the right direction.

RELATED: Partners in Life and in Business: How Married Business Owners Make It Work

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The post How to Keep Your Business Partnership From Imploding appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Susan Guillory.

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How to Turn Your Side Hustle Idea Into a Real Business

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Do you dream of quitting your job and becoming your own boss? You’re not alone. According to a survey by YouGov and Volusion, more than half (52%) of Americans have spent time at work thinking or daydreaming about a job or career they would rather pursue; 84% of full-time workers would rather pursue a career tied to one of their passions than their current job. (In fact, 67% of Americans overall and 79% of millennials say that even after winning the lottery, they would still like to work—as long as it was something they’re passionate about.)

There is a way to pursue your passion without quitting your job: Start a side hustle. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of full-time workers in the survey say they want to start such a passion project in addition to their regular job. However, only 37% have actually done so.

Side hustle stumbling blocks

What’s holding the majority of people back from pursuing their passions? Starting a side business has several barriers to entry:

1. Some 37% of survey respondents say lack of money, startup capital, or resources is keeping them from starting a side hustle.

2. One-third (33%) say they don’t have enough time to start one.

3. One in five (20%) admit they are overwhelmed by the steps involved in launching a side business or simply don’t know where to start.

Fortunately, all of these issues are easy for most people to overcome. All you’ve got to do is put your mind to it.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

Starting a side hustle

How can you overcome common challenges and make your side hustle real? Let’s take a look at the obstacles one by one.

Obstacle 1: Lack of money/resources

There are more ways to start a business (especially a side business) on a shoestring than ever before. Look around and see what resources you have. For example, if you have a hobby you want to turn into a side hustle, do you have the equipment and materials you need to get started? Try starting with what you have and then putting your profits back into the business to keep growing. If you have a laptop, there are dozens of businesses you can start with that alone.

Also assess your skills, experience, and talents, and brainstorm ways you can turn these resources into a side hustle. (If your side hustle idea is related to your current job, make sure you aren’t breaking any noncompete clauses or other legal agreements you may have signed with your employer.)

Of course, even a shoestring startup still needs a little bit of startup capital. To find it, go over your budget to see where you can cut costs. Most likely, by reducing spending on “extras” such as streaming subscriptions, eating out, and retail therapy, you can quickly build up a sufficient startup fund. If that’s not enough, consider moving in with a roommate or even moving home with your parents. (Need inspiration? Check out this post on how to finance a startup on minimum wage.)

Obstacle 2: Lack of time

If you want to get your side hustle off the ground, you’ll have to make some sacrifices. Depending on your current job and life situation, that might mean getting up early or staying up late to work on your side business when your kids are asleep, cutting back on your social life and working on your side hustle instead of meeting friends for drinks, or devoting your weekends to your startup.

However, chances are you can find a couple of extra hours in each day simply by giving up social media, watching TV, or mindlessly surfing the internet. Put that time to better use by working on your side hustle instead.

Obstacle 3: Not knowing where to start

Starting a business—even a part-time side business—can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are lots of free and low-cost resources out there to help you. One of my favorites is SCORE.

SCORE is a nationwide network of experienced mentors who provide free advice, consulting and guidance to startup and existing small business owners. SCORE mentors offer services in person at your local SCORE office and host a wide range of events in the community. What makes SCORE ideal for someone starting a side hustle: they offer a full range of online services, including online/email consulting, live and recorded webinars, and online courses in every aspect of starting and running a business.

Other startup resources to check out include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network and the SBA.

What are you waiting for?

Almost half (47%) of Americans in the YouGov and Volusion survey say being their own boss would be worth taking a pay cut. Start a side hustle, and maybe you can have the best of both worlds.

(Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my business.)

RELATED: Do What You Love? Entrepreneurs Spill the Truth About Starting and Running Businesses

The post How to Turn Your Side Hustle Idea Into a Real Business appeared first on AllBusiness.com

The post How to Turn Your Side Hustle Idea Into a Real Business appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Rieva Lesonsky.

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Magic of React Suspense with concurrent react and React.lazy API

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Magical land of React Suspense, Concurrent React and React.lazy API

Dan Abramov in his talk “Beyond React 16” at JSConf Iceland 2018 said:

We’ve built a generic way to ensure that high-priority updates like user input don’t get blocked by rendering low-priority updates.

Let’s understand what this means and also get introduced to some of the new features coming to React, some of which have been released as part of the latest stable release and some of them are still in unstable mode and it’s quite possible that the implementation of the api might change over time.

Things we got introduced to in the talk:

  • Suspense
  • react-cache
  • Defer set state with scheduler
  • Concurrent React Mode
  • Code splitting with React.lazy

Suspense

React.Suspense in simple words means we can suspend the rendering of our component or components until some condition is met( for example data from an endpoint or a resource is loaded) and until then show a fallback(for-example a spinner)

Why do we need this?

If suspense is all about just showing a spinner till data loads, can we not do that today as well?

I mean we have been doing the same thing since a long time by keeping a loading state as true and till the data is not fetched we show a spinner and when data fetch is complete we set the loading state to false.

An example of how we have been currently doing it:

state = {
loading: true,
data: null
}

So the question is if it can be done even today then what is it that suspense is bringing into our codebase?

The answer to that is yes it’s still possible to use loading state and play around with it to show/hide the spinner but as the application grows complex this becomes tedious to manage.

For example:-








{...}

In the above example we can have 4 api calls:
1) component making one api call for getting basic information about a Restaurant

2) api to fetch all the images of that Restaurant
3) api to fetch all reviews
4) api to fetch some details around those individual reviews like comments, likes etc.

The problem with the above code structure is that we need to somehow manage the loading state and data fetching states for all those api calls that are happening above.

So what is the solution?

For the above problem we have multiple solutions which can be as follows:

  • Delegate all api calling logic into the parent container and let all of them wait until all data fetching is complete and pass data to child components as props. The problem with this approach is now the parent needs to be aware of all api calls which are needed by child components and also maintain a complex state for all these api responses.
  • Make all the child components smart/stateful components and let each of them manage their own loading and data states. This is complex since converting a stateless component to a stateful component is not something we would want to do.
  • The third solution is using Suspense

With Suspense it works differently. How?

With suspense and react-cache, we can use our same functional component and still fetch data from it.

The difference here being instead of fetching data from a lifecycle method like componentDidMount we will fetch this data from inside of render .

How is this even possible?

This becomes possible using react-cache and suspense

Now a word of caution, react-cache is still unstable and it’s implementation or api might change over time.

An example of how to use react-cache to create a restaurant list fetching resource:-

react-cache

In the above code snippet we are using unstable_createResource and as the name suggests this is still unstable

unstable_createResource takes a function as one of its arguments and a hash function as the second argument which is used to create the key for the hash map which caches the data.

The whole suspense and suspended rendering magic comes into play with this unstable_createResource because this function throws a promise.

A layman implementation of what it might look like could be:

If you notice, it returns an object with a read function which takes key as a param which is usually the hash key of the hash map and if the data is not fetched yet then this read function will throw a promise as we see on line no 6.

The actual implementation of this function can be found here:-

https://github.com/facebook/react/blob/master/packages/react-cache/src/ReactCache.js#L142

Who will catch this promise?

Error Boundaries will catch this promise like how they used to catch the error thrown by React render.
More information on Error Boundaries can be found on reactjs.org:
https://reactjs.org/docs/error-boundaries.html

So now with unstable_createResource our RestaurantList component would look something like this:

Who will implement componentDidCatch?

This is where Suspense from react comes into play. React.Suspense has a componentDidCatch sort of mechanism which will catch this promise and show a fallback until the promise is resolved.

This concludes the topic of using React.Suspense to suspend rendering until data fetching is complete and until then show a fallback. We learnt about react-cache in this topic and how it can be used to throw a promise and suspend rendering.

Concurrent React

To take advantage of the asynchronous capabilities of concurrent React, We change the way we render our root  element.

Where we do this in standard React:

ReactDOM.render(, document.getElementById('root'));

We do this for concurrent React:

ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root')).render();

That is all that needs to be changed to enable Concurrent React.

This brings us with a new magical capability which is:-

  • maxDuration prop- this is the time in ms after which our fallback component will show up. This will avoid screen flickering issue which usually occurs on faster network where the loader shows up for few ms and then the data comes immediately. This will make sure that for faster networks Spinner will never show up thereby avoiding screen flickering.

React.StrictMode

If you are developing in React 16.6, what has been recommended is to wrap around so any unsupported features you may integrate will be prompted as warnings in your development console.

Wrap strict mode around your app like so:

ReactDOM.render(


, document.getElementById('root'));

Defer Mode in Concurrent React

We can defer certain setState calls and let it wait until some other important operations like data fetching finishes for example clicking on a restaurant card and not rendering the detail page until all the data for the detail page has been loaded.

This is the kind of stuff it allows you to do:

To use this we need another unstable api which is part of an npm package called as scheduler

import { unstable_scheduleCallback as defer } from "scheduler";

To defer a setState call we can do like the function below where I am delaying showing the detail page until the data for that page is loaded.

Defer is also able to somewhat catch the thrown promises, and only apply the state changes after all of the child async operations are completed.

Complete example with concurrent react, createResource, Suspense and defer mode can be found here
https://codesandbox.io/s/kwjjovx5wo

Here is what Dan had to say about this whole set state defer:

Code Splitting with React.lazy and React.Suspense

The React.lazy function lets you render a dynamic import as a regular component.

Before:

Note: In the above implementation the RestaurantListComponent will be part of your main bundle and will not be lazy-loaded.

After:

Note: With this approach, RestaurantListComponent will be a code splitted component loaded on demand.

Example of lazily loaded component in a chunk “1.chunk.js”

How to use these API’s?

  • React.Suspense with React.lazy is a stable API and can be installed from npm as the latest stable version of react and react-dom
npm install react react-dom
  • react-cache and scheduler are unstable. Here is how you can still use them:

Conclusion

To conclude, I am really excited about all these api’s to be stable soon.
What are your thoughts on these features? Let me know in the comments section! 😊

Here is the roadmap from the React team for the upcoming releases:
https://reactjs.org/blog/2018/11/27/react-16-roadmap.html

Resources

  • React lazy, Suspense and Concurrent React Breakdown with Examples
  • Beyond React 16: Time Slicing and Suspense API
  • Dan’s JSCONF talk
  • React Suspense: Async Rendering in React
  • What’s new in React — Presentation
  • Fresh Concurrent React
  • Twitter thread around this topic

Special thanks to Sara Vieira for reviewing this 😊


Magic of React Suspense with concurrent react and React.lazy API was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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What Can Freelancers Learn From Will Smith’s Mistakes?

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So, Will Smith made a bad call by turning down the leading role in the Matrix. I think that this interesting story involves more than meets the freelance eye. Here’s why.

Why Good Freelancers Choose Bad Projects?

It happens even to the best of actors and freelancers. They simply take the wrong turn and end up working on a bad movie or freelance project.

Why is it so easy to make a mistake?

Well, I can think of a handful of the most common reasons. I will use Will Smith’s story as the perfect illustration. He actually made more than just one mistake, which cost him this iconic role.

I’m Just Too Good For Some Projects

Just to clarify. I’m not saying that you should become a yes-man freelancer. You don’t have to accept every single project that comes along your freelance way. Respect any client and project no matter how small or less significant they may seem.

Will Smith judged the creative duo Wachowski quickly and unfairly. In his video, he’s painfully honest about it. He said something like, “who were they?” The same thing happens to freelancers who judge their potential clients by their initial budgets.

Sometimes The Gods Bless You In The Morning And Curse You In The Afternoon

This is a priceless quote from the movie Troy. I learned its true meaning the hard way. Before I launched a new freelance platform goLance, I used to be a freelancer myself. At one point, I was doing so good that I thought, I didn’t need any new clients. So, I turned down a couple of good projects. In less than a week, I lost some of my most important clients for the reasons I couldn’t possibly predict.

What happened to Will Smith? Instead of the Matrix universe, he decided to become a part of the Wild Wild West movie world. The rest is the poor box office history.

Movie Franchises and Long Term Freelance Hourly Projects Are The Same

Sometimes you can make lots of money from a single movie or a project. That’s a fact, but there’s a catch. Pay attention to the word I just used “sometimes.” You don’t get roles that are worth tens of millions of dollars as an actor and projects worth tens of thousands of dollars every single day.

A small movie franchise or a small freelance project with a modest budget, but a huge long-term potential can pay itself off big time. You have to be patient and smart enough to notice a big chance while it’s still in diapers.

The Big Budgets Don’t Guarantee Happiness

You can be perfectly unhappy while working on a seemingly perfect project. Very often the often the most important pieces of a freelancer’s portfolio are the smallest projects. The same applies to the actors. Some of them literally worked for peanuts to build their reputation. Some of the most critically acclaimed roles were poorly compensated, but they paved the way to the hefty paychecks.

I’ve witnessed it first-hand more than once how pro bono freelance work attracted many clients.

Don’t Feel Stressed Because You’re Actually Blessed

Will Smith is a great actor because he has made more good than bad calls in his career. Consider yourself to be a blessed freelancer if you have to make choices more than you want. You can’t always choose a good project to work on. So, relax and enjoy your freelance ride.

Your greatness is not how you behave while you’re winning, but rather how you deal with it while you’re losing. That’s why you have to admire Will Smith. He turned one of the biggest mistakes in his career into a funny story.

If you can avoid bitterness then you can ensure happiness.

After all, Wild Wild West ain’t that bad. Right?

Follow me on LinkedIn and Quora to learn more about the ways freelancers and entrepreneurs can help and learn from each other.


What Can Freelancers Learn From Will Smith’s Mistakes? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Where do Outliers Live?

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Are you an outlier? You are going to love this blog

Are you here because you read and loved the book Outliers? Yes, I have read that too. Just setting the expectations right, this blog got nothing to do with the book Outliers.

I have been an outlier all my life. I felt left out of my gang in college due to my crazy passion for technology. Things didn’t change much even after I entered the workforce. The problem is that Tech-domain is not diverse. Most of the times it was just me and bunch of guys and the tech stuff in a meetup. I got used to this unfair reality over a period. It was hard to shove away the fact that I was an outlier.

The world portrays outliers as the ones who live on the extreme ends of a bell curve. As an outlier, you don’t have to see everything like the rest of the world does. So, where do we actually live?

When I saw myself as an outlier, I pretty much did the same. I felt distant from the crowd, and the distance was proportional to my passion. A lot of times I felt suffocated doing what I love the most. In my head the more I do what I love the more I got crunched towards the ends of the bell curve. One day, I changed my perspective of looking at it as a circle and I’m living in its center. In this blog, I am sharing three instances from my life that changed my perspective

1. Outliers — the center of attention

Outliers are easily noticeable in a crowd because they stand out. Duh. I felt the same way when I recently switched my job and joined a bigger team. The first few weeks I was not a crucial part of anything. I didn’t understand a thing that was happening around me. I was a non-working part of an intensely moving environment. But this time before freaking out, I took a step back and started observing my surroundings. I logged every new word I heard about the product, listened to all the discussions happening around me and how conversations flowed through the hierarchies and finally got implemented.

By continually doing this for a couple of days I no longer felt like I do not belong instead I was in the center of a super busy world.

2. All level of transparency

Once I saw this working I was wondering how it worked out when I was at my previous company. Back then I was not even a part of a big engineering team. We were 3 developers in the middle of 50 recruiters in a consulting firm trying to automate their redundant work using chatbots.

Instead of feeling left out, I heard their struggles before even starting to think about ways to solve them. Since it was a small team, I was there in every meeting. My end-users were sitting with me. I was into Design, Engineering, Management, sometimes even Marketing and Sales. There was complete transparency in decision making.

When you are an outlier, with bell curve visualization, you miss out on so many details around you, The moment you switch it and see yourself in the center you have transparency in layers of people around you. You understand why people behave the way they do or why things happen in a certain way and not the other.

3. A crowd is a person

I have mentioned “Feeling left out” quite a lot on this blog. But this final incident made me mentally commit to the fact that feeling that way is fine because you are forming a crowd without acknowledging it.

I was about to my bike from the parking lot, and my office has 2 exits to meet the main road. There was an “easy route” where you didn’t have to get stuck in traffic due to 2–10-minute signals But, is a one-way during the peak hours of the day, and other is where you go through everything mentioned above. Sometimes the traffic police ignore it when a lot of bikes take the route together.

That day, I badly wanted to take the easy route because it was less tiring. I was looking at every bike that went out of my office to see if they were taking the easy route. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

This incident changed my perspective of being an outlier completely. I realized that If just one person took the easy route that day, I would have followed him and together we would have attracted a few more people to join us.

It may look like you live in a crazy island all by yourself. The truth is you are the center of attraction. A lot of people are constantly watching you. The moment you produce positive results you attract more people towards you and your island gets crowded.

To Conclude,

The moment you picture yourself as an outlier living in the center, you become a magnet grabbing a lot of attention. Instead of shying away from it, we need to focus on understanding and expressing your thoughts to the world around you. When your force gets strong enough, you will have people joining you to take part in your mission.

Originally published at www.thegeekette.me on June 9, 2018.


Where do Outliers Live? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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How to Build a Documentation App With Gatsby and Cosmic JS

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Documentation?… Documentation. Let’s say for a second that you want to create a way to easily publish and read docs, err… documentation. By the end of this read you will be able to do just that, all with the power of Gatsby (a static site generator) and Cosmic JS (an easy to setup and use Content Management System). Grab some coffee, find a comfy chair and let’s build something cool.

TL:DR

Gatsby Documentation App Demo
Check out the codebase

1.0 — Introduction

What is Gatsby?

Gatsby is an easy to use framework for generating static web site files. It comes bundled with all sorts of hotness, like React JS for building web components, and GraphQL for handling our component state without the need to configure something like Redux to handle external data.

What about Cosmic JS?

Cosmic JS will handle our publishing and data storage. It’s easy to set up and easy to implement for apps like this, yet scalable enough to handle more complex projects across larger teams. We will use this to create and store our documentation content. This will allow us to focus on how our users interact with our app, and let Cosmic JS do all the heavy lifting.

Is that all?

Well no… we are going to convert our docs from markdown to html, since that’s what web Browsers like. To do this we are going to use a package called Showdown, that can handle parsing and converting markdown to and from HTML.

Any Requirements?

Oh yeah, you will need to have access to a terminal, a Cosmic JS account with abucket and a documentation object, and a recent(ish) version of Node JS installed on your machine in order to install the necessary software to make this app work. I’m going to be using yarn to run my build scripts but you can npm if you like. Just remember to choose one(npm or yarn) and stick with it as things can get little hairy when it’s time to deploy.

Let’s Build!!

1.1 — Setting up our Development Environment

To get started we will want to install Gatsby and install our dependencies. Easy peasy. Gatsby uses a handy command line interface (CLI) to build our initial project files. First we will want to install the CLI by installing it globally with npm:

$ npm install -g gatsby-cli

This gives us access to the `gatsby` command and allows us to initialize our project. Run the following script to create a new directory filled with a project template:

$ gatsby new gatsby-docs

Wait a second to allow the script to complete and you will notice a new directory created called `gatsby-docs`. Let’s see what’s inside by changing directories:

$ cd gatsby-docs

you should see a directory structure similar to this:

. 
├── node_modules
├── src
├── .gitignore
├── gatsby-browser.js
├── gatsby-config.js
├── gatsby-node.js
├── gatsby-ssr.js
├── LICENSE
├── package-lock.json
├── package.json
└── README.md

Much of this will look familiar if are used to creating Node applications but some of this will be a little new. You should be able to get a development server up and running by executing the start script:

$ yarn start

After a second you should see a success prompt letting you know that everything has compiled properly and your app is live.

Now you can open up your browser pointing to `localhost:8000` and see the compiled output. It should look something very similar to this:

Congrats! You have set up a working Gatsby site. But before we dig into what is going on under the covers let’s install the rest of our dependencies that will power our app:

$ yarn add cosmicjs showdown highlight.js dotenv node-sass gatsby-plugin-sass gatsby-source-graphql

Whoa… That’s a lot of newly installed packages, but each of these are super useful I swear.

  • cosmicjs will be used to add new content to our app.
  • showdown is the text parser I mentioned that will handle markdown and html conversion.
  • highlight.js is going to handle our syntax highlighting inside of our converted markdown text.
  • dotenv is an environment variable package that will make sure our sensitive tokens and/or runtime environment is configured from a `.env` file
  • node-sass and the gatsby-plugin-sass packages will allow to use .scss files to style our components.
  • gatsby-source-graphql will allow us to leverage GraphQL queries on external data (ie – use the Cosmic JS GraphQL api)

With all of that business out of the way we can look at our directory and configure our Gatsby source code to run properly.

2.0 — Configuring Gatsby

Now we can dig into our directory and make sure Gatsby is configured properly for using the technologies that will scalably and sensibly power our app.

The first file we will want to look into is gatsby-config.js. This file is used to configure high level plugins that allow any source code we write to be bundled properly when our static files are built. It also contains a little bit of metadata that describes our site site to users and can be queried in our React Components.

Here we will add our newly installed plugins to the default configuration you see before you. First we just need to add gatsby-plugin-sass to the plugins list, allowing us to import sass files and leverage sass to write sensible styling specs for each component.

Next up we will add an object to end of our plugins list for gatsby-source-graphql that will configure our external GraphQL API endpoint to allow us to fetch data from Cosmic JS. Here’s how things should look:

Now we are set to make GraphQL queries to the Cosmic JS GraphQL API! Next, Let’s talk for a second about Gatsby and how things are going to break down.

2.1 Building our app with Gatsby

I’ve mentioned that Gatsby is a static site generator, but what does that mean? Gatsby takes all the fancy code we create and produces static files that are pre-configured using the config files we specify. By doing so we get increased performance for sites that may have lots of images, data to be fetched, and other assets that can slow down web applications.

Let’s now get some source code created. Our site is going to use just two ‘Pages’, one that will serve a home page to list the documentation we’ve created, and one for viewing a piece of documentation. But to fetch the content that we are going to display, we are going to use GraphQL, which we have recently configured. We will need to add some variables to our gatsby-node.js file in order to allow our static files to have the necessary parameters to make API calls.

Create a .env file and add your Cosmic JS environment variables

In your Cosmic JS Bucket > Basic Settings menu you will see fields for a bucket-slug and read and write keys down at the bottom. Copy all three of these things and add them to a .env file.

At your project root, type into your terminal:

$ touch .env

Now Create three lines:

We will use these with our dotenv package to allow our src files to access these variables when necessary.

Open up gatsby-node.js and add config variables to pages

We are now going to use Gatsby’s built in node API to give each page in our site access to the environment variable we just created. First we will import the variables from our .env file using dotenv, then we will explicitly set each variable in our page’s context. Your file should look like this:

Creating our first page

Now we are going to create our first page that will grab all of the documentation objects and display them at the root of our site, on index.js. First let’s create our list by creating a folder in the components directory titled docs – /src/components/docs/ and in that folder we will create a file titled index.js.

This will be our module that is first displayed when we render our page after fetching our docs. Here is the source code:

What’s going on here:

This page basically runs a big loop over our docs and returns some fancy jsx. We map through the docs array and produce a Link from Gatsby that contains the title, a date, and some content that uses a a description for the piece of documentation that was published.

Feel free to add any .scss files to this directory as well to get a styling that works for you for the given class names.

Update the ‘home’ page with our new components

Now we can open up our home page file at /pages/index.js and import the components we just created and add them to our returned jsx.

Now any docs created on Cosmic JS, will appear here on the home page!

Notice the exported query at the bottom of the file. It contains two string type variable that will be present because we set the context object in our gatsby-node configuration.

With our newly created home page working, let’s create our doc view that will display content from the documentation that we post.

Creating our doc display page

Instead of adding a new file to the pages directory in Gatsby, we are going to create a `templates` directory and make a template page that we can configure on build, so that each time a doc is created, a new page can be created when we fetch our Docs from Cosmic JS.

Start by creating a `templates` directory at your project root, and then creating a docPage.js file within.

. ├── _templates 
| ├── docPage.js

Now add the page template complete with exported query that will fetch a singular doc from Cosmic JS.

Nothing will happen with this template until we tell Gatsby that it needs to create a page using this template. We do this so that Gatsby has a chance to fetch our Documentation from Cosmic JS before it builds the page using the necessary parameters for each GraphQL query at the bottom of docPage.js. We are using static site files after all.

Update Gatsby Node to build template pages

Let’s go ahead and add an export function to gatsby-node.js so that we are building docPage template from our GraphQL data:

Now when Gatsby creates its pages, ie — the index page will fetch our docs and create a page for each doc that is retrieved and attach all the necessary params to the page Content of each page. This way our template component is rendered and our GraphQL query should succeed!

3.0 Deployment

Lastly we can talk about deployment and about how static sites work. Deploying this bad boy can be a little tricky since this site uses a static build that won’t have the necessary pages of newly created docs until the deployment service has a chance to rebuild.

My recommendation is to use netlify and link your source from GitHub or wherever you store your code. From there you can trigger buildhooks in order to rebuild your site whenever certain events happen. Cosmic JS will allow a post request to be fired off at an endpoint when objects are created, deleted, edited, etc. So you can easily link the two together to make some magic happen. Keep in mind, if you want to allow users to create Docs from within your UI: you will need to fire off a POST request manually to activate a buildhook whenever a doc is successfully created.

Anyway, that’s all for me folks! Happy hacking.

Originally published at cosmicjs.com.


How to Build a Documentation App With Gatsby and Cosmic JS was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Venmo, Strava, and Why They Haven’t Been Fined €20,000,000

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A feature for Advancing Women in Product.

Gordon’s new book, An American’s Guide to European Data Protection Law and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is available at Amazon and other fine retailers.

GDPR Article 25 mandates data protection “by design” and “by default.”

“By design” means that product managers should discuss the privacy and security of user data at every stage of the product development lifecycle. Technologies (such as pseudonymization) and principles (such as processing the least amount of data possible) should be considered, and such consideration documented.

“By default” means that the default settings only process the minimum amount of data to accomplish your product’s “specific purpose.”

(If you’re unfamiliar, “processing” is a broad concept that means everything you could possibly do with data: collecting, publishing, analyzing, storing, deleting, and so on.)

GDPR Article 83(4) imposes fines up to €10,000,000 on products that do not practice data protection by design and by default.

Since the GDPR became effective, Facebook and Google have been sued for €7 billion.

So, why haven’t Venmo and Strava been at least fined €10,000,000 each?

Venmo describes itself on Google as “a free digital wallet.” A Paypal subsidiary, it allows people to request and send payments through their phones. In Q1 2018, it transferred $12 billion in payments. People have told me they’ll “venmo me,” forcing me to join the platform. Nobody has ever said they would “square me” or “zelle me.” On the other hand, Venmo “doesn’t directly generate all that much revenue.”

Venmo’s distinguishing characteristic is that it shoves the financial activity of people you might possibly know in your face in real time. To achieve this feat, it:

  1. Defaults the privacy setting to “Public” on install. This violates data protection by default.
Note the tiny “Public” text and even tinier world clipart

2. Publishes incorrect instructions on how to make activity private (allegedly). If true, this violates data protection by design (because well-designed data protection means you understand how your product works.)

3. Hides the settings to make activity private behind a byzantine process (allegedly). Federal Trade Commission lawyers took 5 pages to document this process. If true, this violates both data protection by design and default.

(“Accomplishments” 2 and 3 may have been patched following Paypal’s recent settlement with the FTC.)

These “accomplishments” have had the following results:

  1. Venmo users may be data-mined to discover their habits, such as how often they gamble, how much money they gamble away, and with whom:

2. Venmo users experience “Venmo anxiety”:

“Seeing these transactions — even among people I have no desire to be hanging out with — creates a sense of emptiness and unease. It’s like, ‘S–t, everybody is doing something on Thursday night, and I’m sitting and reading my book. Am I a loser?’”

3. Venmo was fined under the GDPR. Wait, it hasn’t been. Why not?

Venmo hasn’t been fined because the GDPR only applies to data controllers and processors operating in the European Economic Area (EEA) or targeting people therein.

This is a common mistake American companies made right before the GDPR became effective. They would publish statements such as “this policy was updated to comply with the GDPR” or “our Data Protection Officer is Abradolf Lincler.”

Are you subjecting yourself to GDPR jurisdiction for no reason? Are you aware of the duties you owe to a Data Protection Officer?

If you are interested in a review of these or related matters, feel free to contact me.

Strava describes itself on Google as “Run and Cycling Tracking on the Social Network for Athletes.” It also publishes a Heatmap of aggregated, anonymous user activity:

In the third world, Strava’s Heatmap revealed secret locations, such as CIA safehouses and missile batteries:

Strava responded by — get this — refusing to take down its Heatmap and, according to one commentator, blaming its own users for not understanding its “7-step privacy protocol.” Indeed, Strava’s default privacy setting is still:

The basic level is to choose to not use any privacy controls and make your info available publicly, like it would be on Twitter, for example.

To my knowledge, no one’s been killed because they used Strava. One guy was arrested because he used Strava. But he had it coming.

Nonetheless, Strava created problems similar to Venmo and, by leaking worldwide information, lacks Venmo’s defense. So why hasn’t it been fined? Three potential reasons:

  1. Strava’s Heatmap arguably implements data protection by design! Recall that psuedonymization is an approved way to achieve data protection by design. Arguably, Strava’s Heatmap is better than psuedonymous: it’s anonymous! While the Heatmap reveals state secrets, it (arguably) does not reveal individual user secrets.
  2. Strava arguably implements data protection by default! Unlike Venmo, which bills itself as a “digital wallet” — and wallets don’t vomit your activity all over your social network — Strava actually calls itself a “social network.” So, to a certain extent, individual users (arguably) know they’re going to vomit their activity all over Strava’s network.
  3. The fines are coming. Indeed, Strava has been searching for a “part-time” Data Protection Officer.

As a product manager, these are the types of questions you should ask, research, and document as you fulfill your obligation of data protection by design and by default. It does not mean blindly adhering to the GDPR, or ignoring it, either. It means making intelligent choices to maximize both.

Oh, and if you are located in the European Union and interested in filing a complaint against Strava, feel free to get in touch with me. It’ll be fun.

Gordon’s new book, An American’s Guide to European Data Protection Law and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is available at Amazon and wherever good books are sold.


Venmo, Strava, and Why They Haven’t Been Fined €20,000,000 was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Complete Guide (2019)

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This is the most complete guide online on how to start a business in 2019.

You should know that about two-thirds of businesses with employees survive 2 years and about half survive only five years.

Businesses that survive and thrive have an unfair advantage.

They’re started and run by people who are prepared for what’s ahead of them.

If you want an unfair advantage, we’re here to help you get started.

Here’s an 11 step complete guide on how to start a business.

  1. Develop and refine your idea
  2. Write a business plan
  3. Decide your legal business structure
  4. Purchase business insurance
  5. Crunch the numbers
  6. Create a strong brand identity
  7. Build a web presence
  8. Create a sales plan
  9. Find partners or investors
  10. Build your team
  11. Grow your business

1. Develop and refine your idea

If you want to start your own business, you need to consider your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

You probably already have some idea of what kind of business you’d like to start.

It’s important to evaluate existing businesses in the market niche of your choice.

That way, you can learn what they are doing well, and come up with a plan for how you can do it better.

Think about how you can integrate your natural skillset into your business so that you can stand apart from your competition. Ask yourself the following questions, and take time to reflect on the answers:

  • What skills set me apart?
  • What is the purpose of my business?
  • Who am I providing a service or product to?
  • What is the maximum figure I can safely spend on this business?
  • Do I need outside capital? How much?
  • What kind of work/life balance am I looking to achieve?
  • What are my expectations of being an entrepreneur?

Find a niche

You’ll also want to consider what specific niche is right for your business.

Is your product or service explicitly geared toward men, women, or children?

Are you looking to attract a particular demographic of any kind?

Don’t make the expensive mistake of trying to create a business geared toward too broad an audience.

Make sure you build your business to meet the needs of a specific niche to avoid overspending and underwhelming all of your potential customers.

You’re more likely to succeed if you start your business with a specific product or service designed for a particular group of people.

Here are some niches to consider:

  • Restaurants – Are you thinking of opening a cafe? A diner? A trendy fusion sushi bar? Whatever you choose, narrow your focus with specific patrons in mind.
  • Clothing brand – With so many different kinds of apparel, make your business stand out by making the best women’s sleepwear. Or, by designing the most durable children’s activewear. Maybe you have the widest selection of specialty socks! If you’re interested in the apparel industry, we have a terrific guide on how to start a clothing brand.
  • Real Estate – Are you a brokerage catering to retirees? Are you selling vacation homes? Are you an expert in short sales? With real estate firms in widespread competition with each other, make yourself the go-to business in your niche.
  • Retail – Are you selling novelty toys? Rare automobiles? All natural candles? Vintage candy? Find a way to break out of too broad an area with a focused starting place.
  • Legal – With so many areas of law to practice, it’s helpful to position yourself as an expert in a specific field. Consider branding yourself as an expert in real estate, personal injury, family law, intellectual property, or even admiralty law. There are many areas to choose from to give your practice a chance to stand out.
  • Landscaping – Are you more of a mow and go company, or are you catering toward elaborate garden design? Maybe you work extensively with patio building. Pick an area and play it up.
  • Consulting – Do you have a ton of expertise in an area and want to help others? Consulting may be your path to success. We have a detailed, complete guide on how to start a successful consulting business.

Whatever niche you choose, make sure you’re passionate about it. That passion will come through in everything you do, and your customers will appreciate and embrace the authenticity of your brand.


NOT SATISFIED WITH THE GROWTH OF YOUR BUSINESS?

New and existing companies can grow faster and get a better return on their investment by building a strong brand.

Learn:

  • How to clearly articulate your brand identity.
  • How to define your brand personality.
  • How to set your brand voice.
  • How to identfy your brand’s audience, and more!

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Learn:

  • How to clearly articulate your brand identity.
  • How to define your brand personality.
  • How to set your brand voice.
  • How to identfy your brand’s audience, and more!

2. Write a business plan

Although a business plan isn’t mandatory, it can help you to crystallize your ideas. Toby Nwazor advocates for creating a business plan:

Any experienced entrepreneur knows a company without a business plan is like a fish without water. The plan does not need to be lengthy at first. Rather, it should be one or two pages, identifying the key elements of the clothing line’s business strategy.

A business plan is a document that outlines the financial and operational goals of your business. It defines the objectives of your company and then provides specific information that shows how your company will reach those goals.

A business plan a vital part of any new venture.

Your business plan doesn’t need to be 100 pages long. Keep it short and concise and focus on the key details.

Studies show that entrepreneurs who take the time to write a business plan are 2.5 times more likely to follow through and get their business off the ground. The work that goes into creating a business plan also helps new entrepreneurs build skills that will be invaluable later.

Traditional business plans have the following sections:

  • An executive summary. This section summaries the entire plan, so it is generally written last. Anyone reading your plan will read this first, so it’s an important element.
  • An industry overview. This section gives a brief overview of the industry sector your business will operate in. It includes key players, industry trends, and estimates of industry sales.
  • Market analysis. This looks at the target market for your product or service. It has a breakdown of your market segments, their geographic location, and what their needs are. This section shows anyone reading that you have a thorough understanding of the people you plan to sell to or serve.
  • Competitive analysis. Who are your direct and indirect competitors? How do they currently meet your target market’s needs, and how will you differentiate your product or services?
  • Sales and marketing plan. What is your unique selling proposition? How are you going to promote your business and persuade your target audience to buy? This section goes into detail on questions like these. 
  • Management plan. This section outlines your legal and management structure. It shows who your leadership team is and what your staffing needs will be. If you plan to seek funding, you should describe your advisory board here, as well.
  • Operating plan. Your business location, facilities, equipment, and what kind of employees you’ll need are in this section. Any suppliers, manufacturing processes, and any other operating details also appear here.
  • Financial plan. This section is for all things financial. There are three key financial documents of any business that go here: an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement.
  • Appendices and Exhibits. Any information that helps support your business idea goes here, including market studies, legal agreements, photos of your products, and more.

For more information about how to create a business plan, the Small Business Administration has you covered. Click here to see their complete guide to writing a business plan.

Do market research

Before you dive into your business plan, it’s important to know the market you’re entering.

Who is the direct competition? Is someone else already doing what you want to do? If not, is there a reason why that is?

A lot of the work to come relies on information gleaned from market research. It’s crucial that you don’t skip this stage, so you have the data you need to make informed decisions.

There are two major types of market research: primary and secondary.

Primary research answers a number of key questions, such as:

  • What factors do your potential customers consider when purchasing similar products or services?
  • What do they think is working and what needs improvement in their current choices?
  • What do they like and dislike about the options currently available to them?
  • What price do they pay? Do they feel it’s reasonable and provides good value?

You answer these questions by talking to potential customers. Surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and questionnaires are the tools of choice for primary research.

Secondary research is information pulled from existing sources.

You can identify competitors and define your market segments or demographics using currently available data. Key attributes like age range, lifestyle, and behavioral patterns are some of the data points used to divide your target customers into segments.

Once you have this information, you’ll refer back to it repeatedly as you build and launch your business. Make sure you spent a decent amount of time collecting data, so the decisions you make are based on solid research.

Plan for all of the necessary legal and logistical business considerations, and you’ll create a strong foundation for your brand’s successful future.

3. Decide your legal business structure

There are many different types of legal structures for various business entities. For new business owners, choosing the best one for your business can feel overwhelming.

Don’t rush yourself into making a decision.

Instead, spend some time reading about each possible entity your business might fit into. Consider which structure is most advantageous for your business, and how each structure can help you accomplish your professional and personal goals.

Here are some of the major business entities you should look into:

  • Sole proprietorship – this is the most basic business entity. A sole proprietorship means that one person is solely responsible for a business’ profits and debts.
  • Partnership – A partnership is a shared responsibility between two or more people who both hold personal liability for a business.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – a structure that permits owners, partners or shareholders to limit personal liability, but still includes tax and flexibility benefits associated with a partnership.
  • Corporation – this is an entity legally considered separate from its owners. That means that corporations are permitted to own property, can be held liable, must pay taxes, and may enter contracts.

Be sure to look at which entity will work best for your current needs while still considering any future business goals. For more information, the Small Business Administration is a great resource.

Once you decide on your legal business structure, be sure to register with the government (typically your state and sometimes, your municipality) and the IRS.

The forms you need and where you have to register, are determined by your business structure.

You can find a full list of the forms for each type of entity on the SBA website. You can also find state-specific tax obligations on the same site.

In some cases, you may need federal, state, or local licenses and permits to operate. The SBA’s database lets you search for licensing requirements by state and business type. And remember to contact your municipality to see if there are any local licensing or registration requirements.

You may also need to get an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS.

If you’re a sole owner and don’t have employees, this is not required. But you might want to get an EIN anyway to keep your personal and business taxes separate and to be sure that you can quickly hire when the time comes to expand your business.

The IRS has a useful checklist to help you decide whether you will need an EIN to run your business.

If you do need an EIN, you can register online for free.

For more on different business structures and other legal mistakes that small business owners commonly make, take a look at the following video.

4. Purchase business insurance

You’d be surprised how many new business owners forget to protect themselves and their business by purchasing insurance before they start their business.

It doesn’t help you to buy insurance after you started your business and incurred claims against you or your business.

Insurance can cover property damage, theft, intellectual property lawsuits, and other incidents. Those can be very costly to small businesses and you need to properly protect yourself and your new business.

And if you will employ people, you’ll need to have workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Coverage varies by location, and many general liability (GL) policies will cover at least workers’ compensation.

If you provide services, you’ll want to have professional liability insurance so that you’re protected against possible claims.

Here’s a good read on the different types of insurance you should consider as a business owner.

5. Crunch the numbers

When you start a new business, understanding the numbers involved is crucial.

These numbers include being able to track your sales and profits – but a smart business will need to account for much more than sales alone.

To start a new business, your costs may include:

  • your brand design (logo, business cards, and website)
  • any license or permit fees
  • deposits and rent for a physical work location if you plan to lease your own workspace
  • basic infrastructural costs like phone and internet service, invoicing software, etc…
  • marketing and advertising costs
  • manufacturing costs
  • salaries or wages for any employees

Once you know how much it will cost to get you started, compare that with the funds you have. Then plan how you’ll make up any difference.

Run smart calculations to determine how much it will cost to create your business will allow you to plan and think about pricing.

6. Create a strong brand identity

A strong brand identity is the most effective way your new business can gain a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

As we’ve previously discussed,

…your brand is your company’s public identity. Ideally, your brand should embody the best (and most essential) attributes of your company.

A brand represents how people know you (or your business), and how they perceive your reputation or the reputation of your company.

In today’s noisy world, a strong brand is more important than it has ever been.

Ask yourself these important questions:

  • What identity/personality do I want my business brand to project?
  • Who will want or need my products or services?
  • What can customers get from my products or services that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • What can customers get from working with me that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • What are my brand values?
  • What is the most important part of my customers’ experience?

Your answers to these questions (and others like them) will build the core of your brand. All of your future branding decisions should expand on these ideas. Your company name, your company logo, and your website design should all grow from the concepts you laid out here.

Remember that your business name plays a role in almost every aspect of your business.

Here’s a short video that will help you find the perfect name for your business.

You can learn more about the nuts and bolts of establishing and maintaining consistent brand identity in Grow Your Small Business with Consistent Branding.

7. Build a web presence

Your website is one of your new business’ most important ambassadors and a crucial component of your marketing and branding strategy.

As we explained previously:

Today, it’s impossible to reach most customers without a website. This is especially true for new small businesses and startups trying to compete in an increasingly noisy world. but it’s also true for even established companies.

Don’t believe us? A recent study shows that 97% of consumers research their purchases online before they buy something.

Start by ensuring that your website design truly embodies your brand. Visitors should be able to understand who you are and what your brand is about as soon as they arrive.

Your website’s visual design and marketing copy should project your brand’s voice and identity. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use your brand’s colors.
  • Prominently feature your logo.
  • Write copy with your target audience in mind.

In addition to serving as a brand ambassador, your website is also an excellent venue for showing off your products or services to a wide audience.

Aim to create a site that builds your brand and communicates your business’ value proposition. Companies talk about building an MVP–- a “minimal viable product”– and the first version of your business’ website should be that, too.

The initial version of your website should clearly express your brand, who you are, and what you do (or what you sell).

Finally, a strong website design will lend credibility and legitimacy to your business. To learn more about great website design, check out Grow Your Small Business With These 7 Website Design Best Practices and 7 Modern Web Design Trends for 2019.

8. Create a sales plan

Never forget the power of good old fashioned market research when you’re ready to open your business.

Not every option will be cost-effective or practical, and you should understand what choices will work best for your business.

How will you sell your products or services?

Running an online store is both less expensive and less labor-intensive than setting up a physical store. There’s no monthly rent, mortgage or property taxes to pay, and no fancy light fixtures to buy. It has become incredibly easy to create an e-commerce presence without a lot of technical knowledge, making a digital presence an attractive option for beginning businesses.

Most template-based web design services offer some form of e-commerce functionality. And some, like Shopify, are catered specifically toward e-commerce small businesses.

However, be sure to carefully consider all of the pros and cons before using a template-based service like Shopify.

Remember how important your unique branding is? The templates on those e-commerce sites are available for every other new business brand to use, as well. As we mentioned previously,

It’s not enough to have a website… You also want to be sure that your site’s design is unique and that it showcases your products and you.

Just like your logo, your web design should start with your personal brand. A well-designed website will expand upon and support the values and personality traits that you’ve identified as being core to your business. If web design is not among your many DIY skills, know that there’s help available.

There are self-hosted open-source e-commerce services available that allow you to use your own uniquely branded website with their e-commerce functionality.

Check out services like WooCommerce, Magento, and Open Cart. Not only can you use your own original web design, but they also scale easily alongside your business as it grows.

And if you want to stay up to date on the latest in small business marketing, take a look at these 16 best small business marketing blogs of 2019.

9. Find partners or investors

One of the biggest challenges for every new business is saving enough capital to sustain and grow the business.

In a perfect world, we could all fund our own business ventures without any outside help. But, the truth is that most people can’t do it alone.

This is where business partners or outside investors can make a real difference.

As with any aspect of your business, start by giving the matter some serious thought. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What do I want to gain from this partnership or investor?
  • How involved do I want them to be in the decision-making processes?
  • Am I looking for a long-term or a short-term relationship?

As with any relationship, it’s important to know what your goals and expectations are. Are you more interested in raising capital? Or are you looking for someone that can help you grow your business?

Once you’ve thought through what you want, and where you want things to go, it’s time to evaluate your options. Things used to be more straightforward: venture capitalists and angel investors were the most common options. But they were rarely good options for most small businesses.

Now there are more avenues for you to explore. Here are a few to consider:

Crowdfunding

Raising funds from a group of people genuinely interested in your business and its offerings can be a great way to start.

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have made it easy to connect with potential customers and build capital that way. The challenge is finding enough people interested in what you have to offer, and then following through on your promises.

As we pointed out,

Reports have shown a consistent increase in crowdfunded investments since the great recession in 2008. In a recent study on the Crowdfunding Industry, World Bank predicted that the crowdfunding market could increase to between $90 and $96 billion, which is approximately 1.8 times the size of the global venture capital industry today.

Don’t look to crowdfunding if you want a true business partnership.

If, on the other hand, you want to gauge consumer interest and form a direct relationship with people who believe in your business, you might want to give crowdfunding a try.

Check out Design Tips From the World’s Most Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns.

Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists

Angel investors and venture capitalists provide a more traditional route to raise funds. You’ll need to sell these investors on the financial viability of your business.

But know that this is a very tough path to raising funding for most small businesses. Venture capitalists and angels are looking for billion-dollar exits and most small businesses aren’t tackling problems big enough that justify such exists.

If you have an idea that could potentially interest a VC or angel investor, it’s essential to walk into your pitch meeting knowing what you’re looking for and how you’re going to get there. No one wants to invest in someone who doesn’t understand their own business.

Be prepared for investors to want a greater role in your business.

Investors are investing their money in your business in the hopes that they will make a return on their investment. They want to be sure that you’re running your business in a way that is likely to ensure that return.

Partnerships

Business partners can come in many forms. A real business partnership occurs when both parties invest equally in the success of the business. Both partners devote comparable finances, resources, and labor into making the business work.

If you don’t already have an equal partner by your side, you can also establish more casual or temporary partnerships with existing brands, businesses, or retailers.

Look for companies that are complementary to your business. Make sure that you share the same goals.

There are many other creative ways to partner with an existing company. As long as you and your partner have the same goals, you’ll be motivated to work together to achieve them.

10. Build your team

There’s a time in almost every entrepreneur’s career when you feel like you’re going it alone.

When you first start your business, there’s a good chance that you will be.

For your business to scale and grow, however, you’ll need help.

If all goes well, you’ll hire many employees. But employees must be paid.

At first, you should only hire for positions that provide the most immediate benefit to your business.

There’s no one right answer for what those positions might be – every business is different. As you plan what positions to hire, consider what aspects of the company pose the greatest challenge. It’s also crucial to consider your own limitations.

Hire an employee who is an expert in areas your business lacks expertise. Build a strong, well-rounded team to create a stable foundation for your business.

With all of that in mind, where should you start?

You may want your first hire to be a part-time assistant. Look for someone who is a jack-of-all-trades, eager to learn new skills, with a strong work ethic. You’ll sleep better if you have someone in the trenches with you that you can rely on.

If you’re new to marketing, a marketer can help you strategize your business.

If you’re not confident with the manufacturing process, hire a manufacturing liaison. If you’re finding it a challenge to keep up with orders, a fulfillment manager might be just what you need.

The Legal Stuff

Of course, hiring staff for your apparel business means that you’ll have to deal with all sorts of legalities and paperwork. Hiring isn’t an area where you should “wing it.”

To help you with some of the legal issues to consider we went straight to the source. The hiring experts at Indeed recommend that you:

  • Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) by applying on the IRS website (you’ll get your number immediately after applying!).
  • Register with your state’s labor department.
  • Fill out paperwork to withhold federal taxes from your employee’s wages.
  • Set up workers’ compensation insurance if it is required in your state.

You’ll also need to decide whether you’re hiring full or part-time employees.

Part-time employees cost less. This cost-savings can be an advantage when you first get started. As your business grows and you can afford it, you can expand their hours.

Full-time employees also require more paperwork to get set up. To gain more complete insight into the hiring process, read Indeed’s step-by-step guide, “How to Hire Employees.”

And if you need help with employment or contractor agreements or agreements with your vendors, take a look at Quickly Legal, which offers entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups an easy and inexpensive way to create, sign and manage legal contracts and agreements, with many agreements that you can start using right away.

11. Grow your business

You have your business ready to go – your brand is a masterpiece of consistency and charm, your legal and business plans are all squared away, and you have a solid team standing behind your business.

Here comes the fun part – introducing your business to customers!

Look into area newspapers, radio stations, and local events where you can bring your brand to the people. Any outlet that makes sense for your business is one you should be seeking out.

Have early customers post their rave reviews everywhere that matters – your website, your social media platforms, and anywhere else where other potential customers will see them.

Reward those early fans with special treats – access to special events, promotions, or discounts are always great, but even a handwritten thank you card can go a long way in turning a fan into a lifelong follower.

Another valuable (and easy to overlook!) marketing tool for your business are supporting photos, videos, and other visual evidence of your product or service in action.

Let your target market experience as intimately as possible what it is you’re offering – give them a reason to remember your brand and seek you out.

This means you’ll need to put substantial care and effort into all of your branding materials because these images are often used on your website, social media marketing, and advertisements.

Make sure you focus your efforts with your brand and target customer in mind with any marketing materials you create.

Make sure that your photography, videos, and printed materials are professional, and that everything you put out represents your brand in an attractive, engaging light.

That doesn’t mean you need generic, overly stylized images – on the contrary; the more authentic the photos appear, the more likely it is they will engender trust in consumers. For tips on how to take well-composed photos for your business, read these 7 tips from Entrepreneur here.

As a new, up-and-coming business owner, social media is an inexpensive and easy outlet for terrific exposure for all of the beautiful material you’re creating. As we previously explained,

Social media gives you the ability to easily keep customers up-to-date on new products, store policies or sales. It also enables you to build a social rapport with current customers, while building low-pressure relationships with future buyers.

Maintaining Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook presences are important tools to build a following and connect with your market niche. With the advent of micro-influencers, the potential reach a new business now has is truly massive.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to think about when you’re starting your own small business. These 11 steps will give you an unfair advantage and will help get you started on the road to owning a successful business of your very own.

 

The post How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Complete Guide (2019) appeared first on bitcoin binary options.

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Companies Typically Underinvest In Managers. Here Are 12 Ways To Invest In Yourself. 

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by David Deacon, author of “The Self Determined Manager: A Manifesto for Exceptional People Managers“

We all know managers do crucial work. They shape culture, improve employee performance, drive creativity and innovation. And yet, fewer training dollars are typically earmarked for managers than for people at other levels. You’re right: This makes little sense.

But don’t despair. There’s a LOT you, the individual manager, can do to improve your impact on those you lead and on the company as a whole.

I’m not saying you don’t need training in the technical skills of management. Of course you do. But what makes a great manager has far more to do with your attitude than anything else.

While you may not get to choose the training your company invests in, you can choose your attitude. You can choose your intention. In this way, you invest in yourself.

Attitude and intention. Deacon says they are the cornerstones of becoming what he calls a self-determined manager — one who constantly and intentionally creates environments of over-achievement, where people thrive and produce great work.

Bad managers are so focused on their own needs, or their own fears, or their own performance that they lose sight of the negative, unproductive, demotivating, or destructive environment they are creating. It’s like they think it happens accidentally. On the other hand, the best managers intentionally choose the environment they hope to create.

 Making this deliberate and intentional choice is the most powerful thing you can do to become an exceptional manager. Everything else you do will flow from this decision, and, without question, you’ll be a better manager regardless of any skills training your company may or may not offer.

That said, here are a few pieces of advice.

1. Get hyper-focused on the power of amplification.

By virtue of being a manager, your words and actions are amplified. (You cannot stop this, because it is inherent in the way organizations are shaped.) Every pronouncement you make may be repeated many times by your direct reports, every action you take may be emulated many times, and every expectation you set will be reflected in the work of your team. Amplification can be good or bad, so make sure that you remain aware of how anything you are “putting out there” is being received and interpreted.

2. Set your own standards (and make them high!).

Self-determined managers never look outside themselves for the standards of their work. So, set your own very high standards and strive to live up to them as far as possible. You are the one who defines professionalism and sets benchmarks — and when you do this, you will be recognized as a role model for others. Remember, however, that recognition is a by-product, not a goal. Your intention should be to do a great job because that is the point.

3. If you need training in a certain area, ask for it.

There are certain things all managers need to be able to do: give feedback, coach employees, hold tough conversations, communicate clearly, manage time and tasks, and so forth. If you’re lacking in a critical area — and, yes, you’re most likely aware of this — ask for training. If your company can’t or won’t provide it, you must seek it out yourself. Be proactive about developing the skills that will help you create the best environment possible for your team.

4. Start treating employees like adults.

Work is not school. Adults do their best work when they are treated as adults. Therefore, great managers don’t bully, shout, patronize, belittle, name-call, behave aggressively, or condescend. To generate trust and respect, you must create an environment where adults can do great things.

5. Stop playing favorites.

Some managers give certain people time and attention, but offer little contact or guidance to others, based on personal preferences rather than business or project reasons. Those in favor can do no wrong regardless of how much (or little) they do or the quality of their work. Those out of favor learn to moderate their efforts and simply do enough to stay out of trouble. The result? People direct their efforts toward staying in favor; there is no focus on performing well. Resist any urge to have favorites among your team.

6. Be more restless. Each week ask yourself and your team: What can we do better?

The best managers have impatience (if something is worth doing, why wait?), an instinct for continuous improvement (good enough is never good enough), and a lingering sense of constructive dissatisfaction (how can we do this better next time?). They set themselves and others very high standards of performance and conduct.

This demanding impatience for ever-greater impact and ever-higher standards can make self-determined managers very difficult to work for. Just be sure to always balance the high expectations with encouragement and a positive approach.

7. Have a plan in mind for your people. 

The best managers have a good sense of where they believe each of their people should be headed. For each employee, look forward and ponder three thoughts:

  1. Where might they be in a few years’ time: perhaps a bigger job, a different role, or a larger team?
  2. Do you have a clear view of what they need to learn now and what they need to learn next that will support their future growth?
  3. Do you have a sense of responsibility and accountability for helping them make that progress?

With great managers, the plan is mainly in their heads, and they can tell you instantly what it is. Not in the language of career frameworks and competency models, but in words that show what they see and appreciate and hope for and worry about for each of their people.

8. Manage your own energy.

Self-determined managers know that maintaining their energy and enthusiasm is their own responsibility. Pay attention to your energy levels and develop habits that help you sustain them. Focus on fitness, nutrition, and stress management and be alert to signs of burnout, to taking on too much (or too little), and to giving yourself breaks.

Remember, one of the most powerful outcomes of maintaining your energy is how it enables you to be positive. If you feel good, you will show it and transmit it!

9. Learn something new. Take a class, master a new skill, even take up a new hobby outside work.

The best managers are interested, curious, open, and alert. They are forever seeking knowledge. This extends far beyond their professional work and reflects their interests, passions, pastimes, and preoccupations.

First, thinking ‘widely’ opens possibilities by helping you foster connections, recognize new opportunities, and find better ways to do things. Secondly, broad knowledge and curiosity make you adaptable; a key part of career success is about applying what you have learned in new situations.

10. Learn to like the people you work with (yes, even the unlikeable ones).

If you deal with someone who is unlikeable, find something to appreciate about them. First, it changes the nature of all interactions and maximizes the chance that you’ll be successful. You get a less cooperative, less inventive, and less engaged relationship with someone you do not like. Secondly, it furthers the chance that your team members will overlook your unlikeable qualities and focus on your best traits as well. Finally, everyone responds well to being treated well.

11. Figure out why the work of the team matters and articulate this to them.

Without this sense of purpose, it’s hard for people to make a greater effort, direct their energies, and self-correct. Further, they will struggle to relate their actions to their employer’s performance, substituting instead other purposes, such as pleasing their boss or doing only work that interests them.

12. Don’t expect perfection, but do keep working toward it.

It’s virtually impossible to be self-determined 24/7, especially when you lose your focus because other things get in the way. Maybe your boss makes an unreasonable request or creates a firestorm you must pay attention to, or the CEO is creating a negative environment, or you have a problem in your personal life. These kinds of things happen to everyone — even self-determined managers. During these times, it’s important to stay conscious and determined, catch people doing things right, articulate clearly, and find meaning and purpose to transmit to your people.

Until you believe that you are worth investing in, you can’t be a self-determined manager. Decide right now that you not only deserve to become the best manager you can possibly be, but that you are capable of reaching this achievement on your own. Once you do this, you’ll be unstoppable.

 

David Deacon is the author of “The Self Determined Manager: A Manifesto for Exceptional People Managers“. He has been a human resources professional for over thirty years and passionate about how managers manage for almost as long. He has worked for a variety of the world’s leading companies, including Credit Suisse and MasterCard, and has lived and worked in the US, the UK, and Asia.

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Healthcare Learning Management Systems Comparison – Why Use Healthcare LMS Vendors?

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In an increasingly connected world, it has become increasingly easier to ensure that all healthcare organizations are following proper clinical guidelines and best practice procedures.  Regulatory bodies want to ensure that staff are up to date on all mandatory trainings and certifications, and what better way to meet their needs than to utilize a healthcare learning management system vendor?

With a healthcare learning management system vendor, you can create dynamic certification trainings online for internal use within your healthcare organization, and for external use to sell to other healthcare professionals looking to earn continuing medical education credits online that go toward license renewals. Delivering mandatory certifications online allows training administrators to track healthcare professionals’ certificates in one centralized location for easy access by regulatory bodies.

There are thousands of healthcare LMSs to choose from, and choosing the best healthcare learning management system vendor for your training needs can be an overwhelming process. Thankfully, there are many online tools at your disposal to make this process a lot simpler.

One effective way to choose the best healthcare LMS for your organization’s needs is to read articles comparing prominent learning management system vendors in the healthcare space.  Below, you will find a comparison of healthcare LMS vendors – which hopefully helps you decide the proper healthcare LMS for you and your organization.

1. CertCentral.

CertCentral’s healthcare LMS is optimal for creating scalable continuing education and certificate training programs. Specifically designed for continuing education, CertCentral.com is the most intuitive CE interface of all the healthcare learning management system vendors on this list.

Pros of CertCentral:

  1. CertCentral offers necessary features to streamline healthcare industry continuing education such as  top-notch security for your data, built-in reports, automated certificate generation and storage, easy tracking of training completion, and so much more.
  2. CertCentral is a cloud-based LMS that is highly affordable, plans start as low as $29 per month. Additionally, it is seamless to upgrade plans as your training needs grow.
  3. CertCentral’s tech staff is highly responsive, offering phone and email support to training administrators and students.  
  4. CertCentral integrates with Stripe, allowing you the option to sell your CME training courses seamlessly if you so choose.   

Cons of CertCentral:

  1. CertCentral does not support gamification features.  
  2. Whitelabeling is only available in Enterprise Plans.

Bottomline:

As a healthcare LMS vendor, CertCentral’s vast features combined with its affordability make it a quality choice for healthcare providers.  This is a great software to investigate allowing you to offer online certification courses and continuing education credits online.

2. Relias.

Relias is a healthcare LMS vendor specializing in performance management solutions. Relias combines analytics, assessments, and learning tools to help your organization better conduct trainings and training needs analyses.  Some organizations that relias supports include, but are not limited to, hospitals and health systems payers, hospice and palliative care practices, and practices focusing on mental health, addiction, and substance abuse.

Pros of Relias:

  1. Relias is a healthcare lms vendor that supports webinar features for online CE training sessions.
  2. The course library allows training administrators to choose from a wide variety of training courses to deliver to staff. This software even offers interactive videos on topics such as safety and ethics, among others.
  3. This healthcare lms vendor also provides alerts for a several human resources activities.

Cons of Relias:

  1. Customer support is fairly lacking.
  2. Courses in their course library are still using flash content–which is unfortunately disabled in most browsers.

Bottomline:  

Relias’s course library and webinar features reduce the time it takes to set up intensive online-programs,  however the lack of customer support raises concerns about encountering bugs that might hinder overall online training efficiency.

3. Medical Lab LMS.

Medical Lab LMS by MediaLab serves a different purpose than the prior mentioned softwares in this healthcare learning management systems comparison.  This LMS is aimed at providing safety training and P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education, and custom courses specifically for laboratory settings. These laboratories include, but are not limited to, genetics laboratories, reference laboratories, and physician’s office laboratories.

Pros of Medical Lab LMS:

  1. Powerful document features allow for full document control for all of your lab’s procedure manuals, and eliminates the need for cumbersome writing and filling out forms in-person.
  2. New CE courses are added annually, about 12 hours worth of online credits per year in fact! These are enough credit hours for medical laboratory professionals to meet recurring ASCP and AMT certification requirements.
  3. Simulation features are supported to enhance laboratory skills with critical machinery.  

Cons of Medical Lab LMS:

  1. The time it took to upload organizational standard operational procedures was seen as too large of an initial time investment for customers.
  2. Required courses purchased in the CE package can be updated by Medical Lab LMS and change without subscriber permission.
  3. The vast amount of features can be overwhelming and not directly necessary for continuing education purposes.  This bloated interface can make the software difficult to use for administrators.

Bottomline:

Medical Lab LMS wonderfully saves time and resources regarding documentation management and CE credit delivery within lab settings. Despite some customer dissatisfaction with the built-in authoring tools, this appears to be a relatively efficient solution specifically for laboratory settings.  

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