5 Phases of Leadership Growth Lead To Company Success

start-grow-as-a-leaderMost of you aspiring entrepreneurs have no idea how dramatically your own role has to evolve as you develop a solution, start a business, and expect it to scale into a successful self-managed company. You may have a strong product development background, but typically have minimal experience in hiring and leading team members and groups, or managing financials.

Thus my job as a small business advisor really is really more about getting you developed than perfecting the business. I found that role validated and highlighted in a new book, “Scale or Fail,” by Allison Maslan, who has built ten successful companies from the ground up, and consulted with many more in her current role as founder and CEO of Pinnacle Global Network.

I’m a total believer in her five phases of growth and evolution required before the founder can enjoy a successful and self-managed company, rather than being constantly stressed out, in crisis mode, and having no fun at all. Here is an outline of the stages that we both see:

  1. Envision, implement, sell, and manage every step. At this stage, I typically find a solo entrepreneur who creates, manages projects, directs, and oversees every step in the process. Here I often find that you need to seek and work with a co-founder who can complement your technical skills with financial and marketing to start the business.

    For example, I knew Bill Gates back in the early startup days of Microsoft. In my view, Bill failed on an earlier project, despite being a technical visionary, before he teamed with Steve Ballmer, who was trained at Procter and Gamble on business and marketing.

  2. Recruit a bare-bones staff to follow your directions. You likely have hired a few helpers, such as an assistant, a social media coordinator, and a bookkeeper. You probably delegated a few things to keep these people earning their paychecks, but you are still reviewing and approving everything that comes in and out of your company.

    I see this happening all the time, and in reality it may be a necessary stage, while funding and other resources are in short supply. The challenge is knowing when to move on to the next stage, before you kill yourself physically or mentally with the growing workload.

  3. Build a lean team to complement your strengths. By the time your business has really taken root, and you are preparing to scale, you need to be at this stage. Your skill in collaboration with the team, and creating systems and processes, becomes critical. Your priorities must also include communicating the vision, and leading team meetings.

    If you require an investment for scaling, you need to attain this stage, with a prototype and an overall business plan, to assure credibility with investors. Be careful, as investors will also walk away if you spend too much money too early without the right discipline.

  4. Recruit the best talent and promote/train team managers. This is where you realize you need to start trusting others so you can remove yourself from the day-to-day tasks. You now need help, rather than helpers, who can not only do their job independently, but can teach you the finer points of sales or finance, which may not be your strong suite.

    In this phase of your personal and business transformation, your role must take on the strategy and challenges of scaling the business, including creating extended products, offering new services, or acquiring another company. The team must handle daily tasks.

  5. Lead and mentor team members to run all business areas. In this final stage, your business must scale successfully without you cloning or killing yourself. You must have superb leaders, as well as systems and processes that are efficient and constantly improving. All teams must be motivated and engaged by your leadership and mentoring.

    This is the stage you have always envisioned, where you can sit back more and enjoy the fruits of you labor, and see the dream come to reality. I often find that happy founders at this level are ready to move on to their next venture, or start investing in other startups.

In my experience, building and scaling your business will always turn into one of the wildest rides in your life, but will leave you with an incredible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, if you grow as the business grows. For these reasons, and despite the challenges, I find entrepreneurs to be among the happiest and healthiest workers on the planet. Feel free to join us.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on Inc.com on 12/20/2018 ***

What’s Your Frame of Reference for a Downturn?

A lot of people are predicting that 2018 was the peak and the beginning of a downturn / recession / whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

I’m not a predictor so I have no idea. I try not to pay attention to the macro (as I’ve said many times), but I do think it is important to have a frame of reference about it.

My frame of reference has a few components.

First, it’s going to be incredibly noisy out here on planet Earth. The year 2018, especially in the United States, was full of endless, chaotic noise that carried very little signal. It was either noise for noise’s sake (and page views), or misdirection (like in the movie Swordfish).

This isn’t just politics. It’s everything. And it’s going to get noisier. So, the search for signal gets harder, more complicated, and more important.

Next, the indicators are trailing, not leading. By the time people are prognosticating on the direction of things, the prices of crypto, interest rates, IPOs, the stock market, P/E multiples, and everything else, it’s too late – you have already missed the moment you are probably searching for. So, put all this stuff in the noise category. This is really difficult, especially given our natural human tendency to try to anticipate and react to things in order to win (or believe we are winning.)

The core of my frame of reference is that I’m playing a very long game. At 53, I’ve already been through a lot of downturns – both large and small ones. Some of the big ones impacted the things I was involved in directly (like the collapse of the Internet bubble) and were incredibly brutal to my world. Others, like the global financial crisis, were adjacent to my world. I didn’t even notice many others. But, in all cases, the downturn ended. And, with the benefit of hindsight, there were huge opportunities even in the downturn.

Ultimately, we all die. I’m currently reading Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul (I’m on January 31st – I read it in the bathroom.) One thing is clear when reading between the lines – the downturn doesn’t care about us.

The post What’s Your Frame of Reference for a Downturn? appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

How The Most Productive People Schedule Out Their Days

If you’re reading this article, then it’s safe to say that you want to become a more productive person. After all, it’s been found that 40 percent of the time we spend at work is unproductive.

For the other 60 percent, how are they able to be productive? Well, they follow a routine and have found their own habits and strategies to get more done in less time. And, they probably schedule their days like this….

Start with a morning ritual.

After studying the schedules of high-achievers, Laura Vanderkam writes in her book “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” that they all have a morning ritual.

Morning routines can vary from person to person. But here’s some examples of how the most successful people in the world spend their mornings:

  • Elon Musk spends 30-minutes going through “critical emails,” grabs a cup of coffee, showers, and heads into the office.
  • Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t wake-up too early. But, when he does, his routine involves working out or running, eating breakfast, getting dressed, and heading over to Facebook headquarters.
  • When Oprah wakes-up she brushes her teeth, walks her dogs, works out, meditates, eats a healthy breakfast, and goes over her schedule for the day.
  • Arianna Huffington doesn’t use an alarm clock. In fact, she doesn’t look at phone until she’s done practicing mindfulness for a couple of minutes.
  • Richard Branson rises at five am — gets in some cardio through tennis or running, and eats breakfast with his family. He then checks his emails and reads the news.
  • Tony Robbins doesn’t have a set wake-up time. But, when he does get up he jumps into a pool or into a cryotherapy tank. He then practices mindfulness and consumes a protein-heavy breakfast.
  • Jeff Bezos also doesn’t rely on alarm clocks. After waking-up naturally, he has breakfast with his wife and blocks out his schedule.

Creating a morning routine.

As you can see, there is no exact morning ritual that productive people follow. It’s all about starting your day on the right foot. However, it you’re looking to create your own morning routine here’s a couple of pointers to get started:

  • Wake-up before everyone else. This gives you a chance to email, read, write, meditate, or plan out your day without being distracted.
  • Exercise, meditate, and eat healthy. This should be common sense. But, laying in bed and eating donuts won’t give you the energy to make it through the day.
  • Set goals for the day. As noted in “The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People,” “People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50 percent more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals and 32 percent more likely to feel in control of their lives.”
  • Review your calendar. This way you know what to expect for the day. Also, it ensures that you can address any scheduling conflicts before it’s too late.
  • Spend time doing something you love. This could be eating breakfast, walking your dog, or working on a hobby. It puts things in perspective. It also puts you in a good mood.

Focus on three big tasks for the day — starting with your frog.

If you’re constantly putting out fires or working on smaller tasks, you’re not going to ever be able to work on your larger goals.

Whether you do this the night before or in the morning, list your three big and most important tasks for the day. These should be at the top of your to-do-list. You should base your schedule around these three tasks and eliminate all distractions.

For example, if you block out from 9am to 11am in your calendar to work on your first big task, then turn-off your phone and all notifications from email or social media. If you don’t have an office with a door, put on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. You may also want to work somewhere else like a coffee shop.

Not sure which task to start with? I suggest you start with eating the frog first.

This isn’t literally eating a frog. It’s actually the thing that you don’t want to do, but absolutely need to get done. You may not want to do this task because it’s challenging or unpleasant. But, if you don’t complete it, it will linger with you all day.

However, if you just go ahead and eat the frog first thing in the morning the rest of the day will much easier and productive. Not only do you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, you also feel accomplished. And you can now use that momentum to cross-off the remaining two tasks you planned for the day.

Take the middle of the day off.

The world’s most productive persons — plan their work schedules around when they’re most productive. That means if you’re a night owl, then waking-up at dawn may be counterproductive. However, since most people are more productive in the morning, specifically a couple of hours after they’ve woken-up, it’s not a bad idea to take the middle of the day off.

Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter and Medium, workouts out during the middle of the day.

“I used to go to the gym first thing in the morning. Exercise is, of course, great for energy levels and I believe it makes me more productive no matter what. But energy and focus naturally ebb and flow throughout the day,” explains Williams.

“My focus is usually great first thing in the morning, so going to the gym first is a trade off of very productive time. Instead, I’ve started going mid-morning or late afternoon (especially on days I work late). It feels weird (at first) to leave the office in the middle of the day, but total time spent is nearly the same with higher energy and focus across the board.”

Business Insider’s Alexa Pipia also tried out exercising in the middle of the day. Pipa found that she was more productive in the morning, took fewer breaks throughout the day, and drank less coffee.

Schedule calls and meetings in the afternoon.

Thanks to our natural circadian rhythm, we all tend to experience afternoon brain fog.

Instead of trying to fight it, grab a snack and take a power nap if possible. Next, review your goals and the progress that you’ve already made so far. This can give you the motivation the get through the rest of the day.

Speaking of which. Because your energy is not at high in the afternoon, you should spend busy work instead of more creative and challenging work. This means working on soft tasks like returning calls and attending meetings. In fact, 3pm has been found to be the best time for meetings.

Follow the 52-17 rule.

We’re not robots! We all need to take frequent breaks throughout the day in order to stay fresh and operate at a high capacity. This is why so many people have embraced the Pomodoro Technique.

However, after tracking the habits of their top 10 percent most productive users, Desktop found that the ideal average for success is 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of rest.

Even if you don’t work for 52 minutes exactly, the idea is that you need breaks to recharge, refocus, and avoid burnout.

Create theme days.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, spends 8-hours per day at each company. How on Earth can he productive then?

“The only way to do this is to be very disciplined and very practiced and the way I found that works for me is I theme my days,” explains Dorsey.

“So on Monday at both companies I focus on management and running the company which is—we have our directional meeting at Square and we have our OpCom meeting at Twitter. I do all my management one-on-ones on that day,” he adds.

“Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships and Friday is focused on the company and the culture and recruiting.”

Dorsey takes Saturday off and goes hiking. He uses Sunday to reflect and plan for the upcoming week.

The reason why these theme days are so effective is because it keeps Dorsey focused. And, if he is interrupted, he can quickly deal with it and jump right back into what he was working-on.

Avoid decisions.

Have you wondered why Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs always wore the same outfits? It’s not because they were lazy or lacked fashion sense. They were simply reserving their mental energy.

It turns out that as the day goes on, the ability to make smart decisions decreases. By making fewer decisions on something like an outfit, productive people are preventing decision fatigue.

Productive people avoid decision fatigue by automating and streamlining as many non-essential decisions as possible. This could be laying out your clothes before bed, making all of your meals on Sunday, and using calendar software to automatically schedule meetings.

Batch tasks together.

I know that there are some people you can write a blog post while talking on the phone.

That’s incredibly impressive considering that multitasking reduces the quality of your work. The reason? Because you’re switching attention between tasks, you’re not giving 100 percent of your focus to each task. In fact, the University of Michigan found that productivity decreases by 40 percent when people attempted to do two or more things at once.

Additional research from Stanford also shows that multitaskers may be a price cognitively.

Instead of multitasking, try batching.

This is where you group similar tasks together and work on them during one chunk of time. For example, this could be making all of your phones in an hour block of time or cranking out all of your content in the same afternoon.

Keep your routine flexible.

While a schedule can keep you focused and organized, you don’t want to block out every since hour of the day. That’s why some productive and successful people opt to schedule in white space in their calendars. Begin scheduling in white space and see a whole new you.

White space is just time that you set aside throughout the day where you reflect, meditate, or just catch your breath. I know what you’re thinking. “But, I don’t have any time in my hectic schedule to do nothing!”

One way around this is when you schedule a meeting that last for 30-minutes, block out 40-minutes in your calendar. This way you have 10 minutes before or after the meeting to whatever you like. It’s a tactic that’s been used by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Jeff Bezos.

Another option is keep entire days open. Tim Ferriss, for example, doesn’t plan much on Mondays and Fridays.

“I ask my assistants to avoid phone calls on Mondays and Fridays, in case I want to take a long weekend on either end, and I almost always allocate Mondays for general preparation and prioritizing for the week, then any administrative tasks that I need to handle (paperwork for accountants, lawyers, etc.),” writes Ferriss.

“I don’t have to do anything in this schedule. Instead Ferriss says, “I choose to do them because I like them.” He adds, “None of them are financially-driven or unpleasant obligations. If the chance to do something more fun comes up last-minute, I can cancel all of them.”

Relax in the evening.

Even though productive people have had a busy and fulfilling, they also tend to take the evenings off. The reason? It gives them a chance to recharge for tomorrow.

But, what exactly do they do when they’re not working? They relax and enjoy activities that reduce stress.

Via “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It:”

“According to the American Psychological Association, the most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports, praying or attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby. (The least effective strategies are gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching TV or movies for more than two hours.)”

After that, they go to bed at a set time and get plenty of sleep — usually 6-8 hours.

The post How The Most Productive People Schedule Out Their Days appeared first on KillerStartups.

The Art of “Why”

By Chris Pearson, Manager, Partnerships | IBM Digital Business Group

I’ve spent my fair share of time mentoring startups, and when we meet for the first time, I always begin by asking the founders a seemingly simple question: “Why are you doing this?” Answers to this question come in different forms, typically to the tune of “We’ve noticed a gap in ‘x’ market that we can expose,” or “We have an innovative product that can revolutionize the way ‘y’ business is done,” and of course the ever so original “We’re the Uber for ‘z.’” It’s always great to get a picture of the product these founders are developing and to witness their excitement about the potential impact it can make, but none of those really answer the question I’ve asked. They’re all telling me the what and how but not necessarily the why. The reason I specifically ask “Why?” is that this question requires the founders to defines their purpose—and I believe that understanding your purpose is the foundation on which companies can truly thrive.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” These wise words, written over a century ago by Friedrich Nietzsche, are just as true today as they were then. Circumstances change, markets shift, new innovations arise, all of which are uncontrollable factors that can impact what and how, but if you have firmly established your why, there will be very little you cannot overcome.

Determine Your “Why”

Simple questions don’t always yield simple answers. The purpose behind our actions, let alone our business, isn’t necessarily easy to define and oftentimes takes a bit of digging, but once you have it, the decision making process becomes significantly easier across the board. As a founder, you have to account for hundreds of decisions on a daily basis, each of which can potentially take you any one of a hundred directions. The benefit to understanding your purpose is that it acts as a compass in your decision making. Whatever answer or course of action aligns most closely with the central purpose you’ve identified is the decision you make, period.

For me personally, I decided years ago that my purpose was to help foster growth across the startup ecosystem. I’m not a founder myself, but I have recognized a pattern across history: civilizations tend to thrive—and reach their pinnacle—when they are focused on innovation. Creating solutions that make life and business more efficient and effective is a central theme in growing societies, and I believe that is just as true today as it’s ever been.

I developed this mission shortly after joining 500 Startups in a business development role after many years in corporate finance, and it was this idea that opened my eyes to a missing component in the startup ecosystem. I realized that enterprise companies play a critical role in the development and growth of startups and that the development of startups plays into the long-term success of enterprise companies. For the sake of time, I won’t dive deeply into the subject. Here is a reason so few large corporate entities survive, or at least maintain, a high level of success beyond three generations—and it revolves around their inability to accept and buy-in to innovation.

Partners for Innovation

It was this revelation that led me to take a role at SoftLayer, which ultimately fully migrated into IBM, where I’ve worked to become a key figure in the development and execution of our startup program Startup With IBM. Our objective is to manage a program that not only provides startups access to our technology through credits and more importantly positions those companies that work with us to reach our global network of clients and partners in order to help them find customers and generate revenue. We want to leverage the strength of what IBM is today to create meaningful value for the growth and development of these startups who will ultimately determine what IBM becomes in the future. If we can serve these startups well, helping them grow and scale on our cloud, as more than just as technology providers but also as a business partner, then we have the opportunity to become a core piece in the success of the next generation of these companies. By design, our program is only successful when startups are successful first. The goal is to create a structure that serves and supports founders by leveraging IBM’s core competencies to give them the tools and resources they need to do what they do best: innovate.

It’s yet to be seen whether or not our complete vision will come to fruition in the end. What we do know is the why behind what we’re doing, and every decision we make for this program will be to serve that ultimate purpose as we go forward.

***

Learn more about how Techstars partners with corporations to promote innovation—within corporations and for startups.

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How Blockchain Is Changing the Digital Marketing Industry

Cryptocurrencies have been a hot topic lately to say the least.

You probably heard about Bitcoin years ago—the most popular cryptocurrency with the most media coverage. In the early days, it was primarily used for transactions on the dark web.

But today, cryptocurrencies have evolved and are starting to gain traction.

Everyone knows someone with a cryptocurrency story. Either a friend, family member, or a friend of a friend invested in Bitcoin years ago and made a fortune off it.

Or maybe you’ve talked to someone who regrets selling too early before some of the most recent surges took place.

That said, I didn’t create this guide to spark a cryptocurrency debate. Everyone has an opinion on this method of payment, and I don’t want to get into all the pros and cons.

Instead, I want to focus on one specific area that makes this technology work.

Blockchain.

On the surface level, people associate blockchain with buying and selling cryptocurrencies, but it’s much more than that.

As a marketer, you need to recognize the latest trends and understand how blockchain technology works.

It will potentially impact your business today and in the future. It’s in your best interest to start educating yourself now.

Even if you’re not planning to implement cryptocurrency as a payment method just yet, knowing the concepts of blockchain is still important because it’s changing the digital marketing industry.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is blockchain?

Let’s start with the basics.

Blockchain technology can be compared to a shared ledger or an open record system.

These records are used to keep track of different transactions. There are multiple uses for the records on file.

As I said before, cryptocurrency is what comes to mind first. But blockchain can also be used to keep track of data such as home records, voting records, and medical information.

Each transaction is segmented by blocks, hence the name.

These blocks get verified by other users within the system. Blocks cannot be changed once they are verified.

The permanent blocks become added to a chain of other blocks that have already been validated as well.

It may sound a bit confusing, but here’s a great visual representation of the way blockchain works:

how does blockchain work

Right now, people are constantly buying and selling goods on the web. You might be one of those people.

But let’s look at third-party marketplace websites such as eBay.

Marketplaces turn a profit by charging buyers and sellers fees to use their platforms. If you buy something on eBay, the platform will use your bank and the seller’s bank to verify the transaction.

They will also confirm that the buyer and product actually exist.

Blockchain technology allows buyers and sellers to cut out these middlemen. This makes it possible to process transactions without the need of a third-party marketplace.

There won’t be any banks involved or transaction fees associated with the purchase either. Neither party will have to worry about exchange rates, even for international purchases.

It’s supposed to be a safe and fast way to make transactions. Blockchain is the backbone behind peer-to-peer electronic payments.

The first blockchain was created when the first cryptocurrency was created.

The software is open-source, allowing anyone to see the coding and make modifications to it. Next, different people and companies came out with different versions of blockchain without using the original coding.

Any user can see transactions made with blockchain.

They are visible to everyone, even when completed between two people. While the blockchains are visible to anyone, the identities of the users can remain anonymous:

annonymous

Instead of having a name, each user in the system has a public address.

Algorithms can be written to automate the transactions. This is similar to the way you pay a Spotify subscription each month with your credit card.

Now that you understand the basics of how blockchain works, I’ll show you how this technology is being used to revolutionize the digital marketing industry.

Middlemen in digital marketing can be eliminated

Blockchain technology makes it possible for advertisers to avoid middlemen.

Right now, marketers go through third parties to handle their advertisements.

Let’s go through an example.

Let’s say a company wants to offer banner advertisements on its website. But it doesn’t want to sell its ad space to just anyone.

Ads linking to low authority or sketchy businesses won’t add credibility to your website.

How does this company proceed? It goes through a platform such as Google. In this case, Google will act as the middleman.

By participating in Google Adsense, the company is assured that it will be connected only with credible businesses that want to buy advertising space.

This process makes both parties feel secure about the ads.

The site selling the space knows it won’t have any malicious content from unreputable brands being displayed on its pages. Furthermore, the company buying the advertisement knows that its ads will be run on legitimate sites.

Google processes the transaction and charges a fee for its part in the deal.

That’s the current system that marketers are using without blockchain technology:

without blockchain

Now, let’s apply the blockchain concepts to this example.

Companies won’t have the need to go through a third-party platform such as Google with the blockchain structure.

That’s because blockchain users can be verified through its networks. People would know they’re getting what they’re paying for as opposed to potentially paying for clicks that aren’t genuine.

It’s still a safe and secure way to process each transaction.

Blockchain, ultimately, eliminates the need for intermediaries in the procedure:

with blockchain

Don’t get me wrong.

Google and its advertising platform aren’t going anywhere just yet. That’s not what I’m saying. It’s still arguably the biggest powerhouse in the marketing industry.

I’m not telling you to ditch your Google AdSense strategy either.

All I’m saying is the concepts behind blockchain technology will make it possible for companies to avoid these types of third-party platforms.

Ditching the middleman will make advertisements more profitable since marketers won’t have to pay additional fees for the transactions.

Consumers can control content

As a marketer, you don’t want to hear this, but consumers don’t want to see ads all the time.

That’s why ad blocking penetration continues to rise each year in the United States:

ad blocking penetration

People have different reasons for using ad blockers.

According to a recent study, 51% of people justify their use of ad blockers because it’s their Internet experience and they want to be in complete control of it.

Other top results from the survey include convenience and wanting on-demand content without waiting for an ad to load.

In some instances, it seems ads have grown out of control. But that’s the nature of the modern digital world.

Ad targeting has become much better with new technology. The ability, for example, to use lifetime value to create Facebook audiences that convert makes it much easier for businesses to reach their target markets.

Sometimes when a customer makes a transaction or gives out their information to one party, they receive advertisements even when they never opted in to it.

Blockchain technology can give consumers the right to charge companies for their contact information.

If a company wants a consumer to subscribe to their newsletter, the customer can reply with their price to receive that content.

For example, each consumer who reads an email could cost brands fractions of a cent. Transactions would be processed through cryptocurrencies automatically.

This concept gives consumers complete control over who has their information.

It will also make it more challenging for marketers to showcase their relevance and level of importance to the consumer. Brands will need to learn how to create a highly effective value proposition in these instances.

Transparency and accountability will build trust

It’s not always easy for brands to gain the trust of their consumers. This is especially true for smaller, less-known businesses.

With so much information out there, people have become skeptical about what they’re being told and which brands are telling the truth.

People want answers.

They want to know where their food is coming from.

They want to make sure their clothes are coming from factories with appropriate working conditions for the employees.

Trust has a major impact on purchasing decisions:

trust

Blockchain will force businesses to become more transparent about their operations.

That’s because every step and record can be verified and documented for everyone to see on these open source networks.

Consumers can have complete access to the supply chain of a retailer or distributor.

This type of information will show everyone exactly how and where their products are being manufactured. Each step of the process is tracked with blockchain.

Since this information will become public record, companies will be held more accountable for their actions.

They can’t claim their goods were manufactured in a factory with good health conditions if that’s not true. Otherwise, it won’t be verified in the blockchain.

Do you think this sounds crazy? Too good to be true?

Think again. Companies have already started doing this.

I recently read a case study on this subject, involving IBM and Walmart. It covers the supply chain process with blockchain technology:

IBM walmart

Technology was used to track where the products were coming from.

In this case, it was tracking food. The idea was to trace the source and supply chain of pork products through each step of the supply chain.

It started all the way back in China—the world’s largest pork producer.

Blockchain holds companies accountable and builds trust between the brand and its customers. This is a brand’s way of showing everyone it has nothing to hide.

With blockchain technology, the public can see digital contracts between two parties.

This forces everyone involved to keep up their end of the deal.

Security must be a priority

With this technology becoming part of our lives fast, businesses need to prioritize security more than ever.

Don’t get me wrong, businesses always needed to emphasize website security and protecting customer information.

However, since blockchain can be used to process transactions, malicious advertisements could potentially become an issue.

People are already concerned about malicious malware and viruses when it comes to their privacy and ads:

security

As a result of these concerns, we should see a growth in the fraud verification industry.

They will implement blockchain technology.

The verifications required to add blocks in this system can prevent criminals and bots from stealing precious information.

Businesses will accept more alternative payment methods

Right now, you probably can’t walk into your local coffee shop and buy something with Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.

But we may not be too far from those days.

Some companies are already preparing to adapt to alternative payment types:

alternative payment

Only about 9% of businesses plan to accept Bitcoin within the next three years.

It hasn’t penetrated the mass consumer market yet, but this could be approaching us faster than you might think.

Blockchain technology is making this possible.

As a business owner, you need to recognize this and at least prepare yourself to adapt when these types of payments gain more traction at the mass consumer level.

Conclusion

Blockchain is almost always associated with processing cryptocurrency payments.

However, this technology can be used for much more than that. Its applications have the ability to change the digital marketing world as we know it.

Blockchain gives marketers the ability to cut out middlemen when buying or selling advertisements, e.g., for a PPC campaign.

Consumers will have more control over which companies can send them information.

Since blockchain transactions are an open ledger for anyone to see, businesses will be held accountable for their actions and forced to be more transparent.

Your business might not be ready to accept cryptocurrency just yet, and I’m not saying it should be. But it should keep an eye on this emerging trend in the coming years.

How is your company preparing for digital marketing changes associated with blockchain technology?

How to Combine a Paper Planner With an Online Calendar

Although I run an online business, I’m still a little old school. This means I like to have a paper planner in addition to my online calendar. The reasoning is simple – I move really fast and sometimes I just need a place to jot notes down very quickly.

Of course, your need for a paper planner depends on you. I have a friend who refuses to use one and does all of his scheduling online. I just so happen to like putting pen to paper. If you happen to be the same way, here is how to combine a paper planner with an online calendar.

Know the role of each calendar.

My online calendar is for scheduling consultations, podcasts, and blocking out time for meetings and tasks. It also keeps my team in the loop of what is going on. In other words, this is to digitize appointments, streamline processes and keep people in the loop.

My planner is more about jotting down notes, reminders, planning ahead and personal stuff.  That means it’s more for me than it is for anyone else. For example, I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t jotted down a reminder to call my dentist, that it wouldn’t have happened.  For some reason, putting personal stuff in an online calendar never works for me.

Know what works best for you.

The key to combining an online calendar with a planner is to know what works for you and what doesn’t. For example, I know it’s useless to put personal stuff on my online calendar unless my team needs to know I’m going to be out of the office.

Furthermore, as I mentioned, I like to write stuff down. It feels good. Research also shows that the act of physically writing something down is linked to improved memory recall due to certain processes in the brain. That’s why putting reminders to call my dentist in an online calendar never worked for me – because I always forgot.

Whether it’s ideas, reminders, or notes having to do with running my business, I need a place where I can easily find all of my notes. I also need it for memory recall and renewed commitment.

Use data from your online calendar to inform your planner.

Here is where some online calendars far surpass paper planners: They gather data for you. For example, some online calendars collect data on the most important tasks, how long they take, etc. They can also automatically re-arrange your schedule when things change. A paper planner can’t do these things.

However, you can use the data from your online calendar to help you organize your planner. For example, since I know how much time a specific task is going to take, then I know where to put it in my planner as I plan out the week ahead.

Final Thoughts

I personally believe the debate between online calendars and paper planners is useless. There is room for both in your life depending on what works best for you.

 

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