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1 out of 5 New Businesses Don’t Make it Past 12 Months – Why?

Failure is a part of being an entrepreneur. People try new business ideas and experiment with different strategies. Sometimes plans pan out, leading to a successful business that can stand the test of time. Other plans fail, and the startup fizzles out within a year of launch. According to statistics, one in five new businesses is unable to survive a year.

The Small Business Association says that around 30% of businesses fail within two years. While these statistics may seem discouraging, don’t let them bring you down. Here are some common reasons why some businesses don’t make it very long:

  1. Little Demand for the Product

A product is only successful if there’s some legitimate demand for it, and the market conditions are suitable. According to a recent survey, around 42% of startups fail simply because there just isn’t enough demand in the market. When you come up with an idea, it is important to spend some time thinking about whether it fills a vacuum.

For example, when Uber was launched, people were frustrated by taxis denying rides or overcharging. There was a market opportunity, which provided a fruitful environment for companies like Uber and Lyft. That’s why these apps became such a notable success.

Think about how a product might impact your target market, conduct comprehensive market research, and surveys. The data will help you determine whether a product idea is worth your time or investment.

  1. Less Integrated Team

Startups typically don’t function like traditional, more established companies. They usually have smaller teams and limited resources, which means every team member wears many hats. Unfortunately, some people have a difficult time taking on a variety of roles. CEOs may stay in one lane, only focused on leading their company. CMOs may consider marketing their responsibility but they may not contribute anywhere else.

Startups have a more organic environment that requires a lot more collaboration. It’s common for CEOs to get their hands dirty on basic tasks just to get the job done. CMOs sometimes take over customer care or human resources as well. A successful startup is an excellent example of how collaboration can yield beneficial results.

  1. Burning Through Resources Quickly

New businesses have limited resources, even if they manage to get significant funding early on. Unless a business venture generates substantial, self-sustaining income, it is vulnerable to failure. Many startups fail because they burn through these initial funds quickly, often because they hire more staff than they need.

New companies must be conservative in their spending, making sure they invest every penny wisely. Sometimes ventures expand a little too rapidly, which spreads the resources thin. Make sure you have a solid foundation, a robust and streamlined team, and reasonable revenue before you focus on expanding. Let a business settle by getting its roots deep in the market first. That’s how business entities stick around for years and even decades or more.

  1. Low Finances

You need money to start a business. Begin looking for financial aid even before starting a business. Make sure you have a pool that will last until you have a steady cashflow. Cut corners and save wherever you can at first as stretching every dollar can help a business last longer.

If a venture can get through financially challenging times in the early months, it has a better chance of surviving.

  1. Bad Location and Internet Presence

Location and internet presence are some of the most influential aspects of most businesses. A shop located in the wrong place isn’t going to attract a lot of traffic. Companies must conduct a thorough location analysis to find a suitable location. They also need a robust online presence with well-developed websites, online reputations, and social media accounts, since a negative online reputation can break a business entirely.

These are some of the most common problems that challenge new businesses. It’s advisable to create strategies to avoid them and stay wary of falling into common traps. This can help improve your chances of success, especially in the early months of starting a business.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

 

5 Inspiring Things You Should Know About Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a fascinating person. He is the man behind Tesla, the company that introduced revolutionary electric cars into the market. He’s also the force behind SpaceX, which is a private organization that launches rockets into space and frequently collaborates with NASA.

Recently, Musk created special flamethrowers and sent a Tesla car into space. He’s a man who doesn’t hesitate to experiment and pushes the boundaries of tech innovation fearlessly. Here are some of the most inspiring things you should know about Elon Musk:

  1. He Amassed His Fortune Before the Age of 30

Elon Musk became a millionaire when he sold one of the first companies, an online media-services establishment, to Compaq for $307 million. He was 27 years old at the time and ready to keep moving. He founded X.com, which eventually became the highly successful PayPal. Musk sold that company to eBay for $1.5 billion and earned a profit of around $180 million from that sale. He was already a success story before he established his two most significant projects; Tesla and SpaceX.

  1. Both Tesla and SpaceX Were On The Verge of Failure

SpaceX and Tesla are both successful companies now, but they came close to failure just a few years ago. SpaceX tried to launch its flagship rocket three times and failed. He lost a considerable fortune during those six years and was down to his last $75 million.

It took around $90 million to build a rocket at that time, which means Musk could barely afford another launch. He was the sole owner of the company, so he didn’t have much support. Tesla was also in a rocky boat. Their first product, the $100,000 Roadster, had several quality issues and faced many recalls.

Fortunately, both companies recovered. The fourth SpaceX launch was a success, which impressed NASA enough to give the company a multibillion-dollar contract. Tesla also managed to brave public distrust and launch successful products. The third-generation Tesla cars are a big hit. This goes to show that everyone faces ups and downs and need to be persistent.

  1. Musk Wants to Make Tesla Cars for the Masses

Tesla started with a premium product that most people couldn’t even dream of owning. They launched a fast Roadster with a price tag of $100,000, which put it firmly out of reach for most people. But Musk has a plan to create one luxury line, one mid-range line, and one mass consumption line. In 2016, Musk introduced the third generation Tesla vehicles with one model priced at $35,000.

Tesla has already made an impact on the automobile industry and has been a disruptive influence. Many other manufacturers are trying to follow in their footsteps and release their electric car models.

  1. His Work Ethic Is Not One To Be Rivaled

Musk works hard and has an unbelievably busy schedule. According to an interview, he has only taken two weeks off in almost 12 years. He also has 100-hour workweeks and only sleeps around 6 hours every night.

Of course, not everyone can or should follow this example, but people can get inspired by his commitment to his dreams. Musk has many goals in mind, and his current success is just a starting point.

  1. His Entrepreneurial Spirit Manifested Early

Elon Musk had a mind for business even before he was a teenager. At the age of 12, he developed and sold a game to a computer magazine for $500. That was big money for a child living in Africa back in 1984. It was a simple enough game named Blastar, and it wouldn’t get much attention now, but it shows that it is never too early to start. Ideas can come to you at any age.

 

4 Powerful Tips to Improve Communication at Work

Communication is one of key pillars for any relationship. It could be a personal relationship, a friendship or a business relationship. People sometimes think that rules for personal communication don´t apply to a work environment but this is not true.  Every human has needs, emotions, hopes, values and dreams. And each person faces situations in their personal life that may sometimes impact job performance.

Staff turnover is one of the main challenges many companies face.  While employees come and go, many are less likely to leave if they are in an environment where they feel respected, rewarded, safe and comfortable.  People tend to be happier in work environments where they are confident enough to speak to coworkers and managers about their lives – this includes work related topics and personal ones too.

This is why communication is so important in the work environment, both among employees in the office and for those that work remotely. While maintaining good communication with employees who work together in the same place each day may seem straightforward, it is sometimes less obvious how to improve communication with those working off site. As an agency that specializes in connecting nearshore technical talent with U.S. companies, we’ve got some worthwhile insights into this challenge. Follow along for helpful tips to improve work communication, including communication between onshore and offshore workers.

Four Helpful Tips To Help You Improve Communication At Work

1. Employees are human beings, not numbers or metrics.

Many companies focus on growth, revenue and developing new products/services or improving existing ones. Sometimes by doing this, employees start to feel more like numbers, or pawns in a game of chess. When dealing with human resources, emotions play an important role. Employees are much less likely to make sacrifices for companies that make them feel like a cog in a wheel. It is tough to go the extra mile for a boss that doesn’t seem to take interest or care about anything but the bottom line.

According to Dale Carnegie, author of the award-winning classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the main thing people care about in life is themselves. Every person wants to feel important, valued and appreciated.

Henry Ford surely recognized this back in 1914 when he started paying his employees $5 a day. (This was a big salary increase.) He also reduced shifts from 9 hours a day to 8. By doing this Ford quickly solved a high staff turnover problem that his company was experiencing. This led to notable increases in production.

If a company can make its employees feel important, feel that their job matters and that they are important assets for the company, they are far more likely to do the extra work needed to go from good to great, and to take care of the company as if it was their own. While a motivated employee will communicate better, it is an employer’s responsibility to make sure employees know they are free to express what is on their mind.

2. Body Language Matters.

Over 50% of the things we say are non-verbal. Given this, learning body language is an important part of developing more effective communication.

If you are a manager, it is essential that you practice your body language skills so that when you speak with your employees you can transmit your ideas in the best possible way and avoid any misunderstandings of what you are trying to convey.

Things like maintaining an upright posture, making eye contact during conversation and keeping your chin up will radiate confidence and those around you will see you with respect.

Besides using body language to communicate well at work, it’s also important to understand body language signals in others. This might be especially important when dealing with offshore employees that normally communicate through apps like Skype or Zoom.  Knowing how to identify body language signals like face and eye gestures and tone of voice will enable you to read between the lines of the message that a coworker wants to transmit.

3. Make Yourself Available to your Co-Workers.

One of the easiest ways to make yourself accessible to coworkers is to simply tell them that you are available. People want to know they can count on you and the only way they will know this is if you communicate it. People want to know that their colleagues are people that can listen to them and understand what is going on.

Sometimes it may be difficult for people to communicate issues directly, especially with a manager. In these times, it can be useful to have a way for people to anonymously ask questions or even express complaints. Having a channel of communication that enables people who are too uncomfortable or shy to speak directly to leaders is a great way for a company to stay informed about situations they may otherwise not know about.

4. Share Something in Common.

Many of the best managers are comfortable sharing something about their personal lives with their coworkers. They might participate in a fun office outing or simply take an interest in the lives of their employees. Something as simple as remembering a birthday can make an enormous difference to a person’s morale at work.

This type of leader tends to be one that can talk about any topic with employees, not just work-related things. Often these more informal conversations help to build trust and work satisfaction. They also improve overall communication by making people feel more comfortable and secure.

Take the time to develop relationships with your coworkers and create a trusting environment for people to open up to you. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by the results.

3 Secrets that Super Successful Companies Use for Fast Growth

What differentiates rich entrepreneurs from the average ones? Why do some businesses make their founders very wealthy while others make their founders struggle each month to make ends meet? Some people say its sheer luck — trying something at the right moment in the right place with the right people. And in part, there’s some truth to that.

However, there are some important things that average entrepreneurs ignore, and in the end this not only causes them stress but sometimes even their entire career trying to make a business successful.

As an agile software development company with decades of experience, we’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot by working with successful entrepreneurs. Here are three things we’ve noticed that successful companies tend to have in common.

3 Things Many Successful Companies Share

  1. A focus on the right type of growth.

According to Robert Kiyosaki there is a difference between being a self-employed business owner and super successful entrepreneur business owner. Kiyosaki explains that a self-employed business owner owns a job not a business.

Some examples are: the mechanic that opens at 9 am and some days has to stay until 10 or 11 pm working because he has many cars in line. Another example is the entrepreneur who starts a neighborhood market and becomes a slave to the business working 12 or more hours a day because he or she has to have everything under control. These types of entrepreneurs often end up getting burned out by their business.

These entrepreneurs tend to focus on internal growth. You hear these types of business owners saying: “this year our company grew 5%”. Their growth strategies focus on things like cost control, finding cheaper suppliers, or selling a little bit more.

Successful business owners with superfast growing companies tend to focus on external growth.

American businessman and author of “Your First 100 Million” Dan Peña is an expert in growing companies geometrically. According to Peña, there is no way that you can grow a company internally as fast as you can externally, and the only way to grow a company externally is through acquisitions.

Peña started Great Western Resources with a leased fax machine and an $820 investment in his newborn son’s bedroom. He quickly began making acquisition deals, buying other businesses in his same industry. After purchasing several smaller businesses and making a conglomerate he went public eventually making $450 million.

Look around at many of the big companies today. You’ll notice that initially many were start-ups that gained early traction by purchasing other businesses, finally becoming successful conglomerates.

Have your heard of Virgin Group? It’s a conglomerate with more than 38 companies inside. Owner Richard Branson clearly knows a thing or two about external growth.

Have you heard of Warren Buffett? One of the richest men in the world started buying stocks from different companies and now his own company Berkshire Hathaway is involved with nearly 100 companies.

Why would an entrepreneur want to grow 10% or 15% internally when it is possible to grow 100% or more externally?

  1. An Understanding of Compound Interest.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon and the richest man in the world with a net worth of over $100 billion collects a normal salary just like any other CEO.

Why would a person with $100 billion receive an annual salary of less than $100K? Because he understands the power of compound interest. High speed growth is often the outcome of reinvesting profits into a business. This reinvestment can include: developing new products or services, technological innovation, expanding operations to different countries, and focusing on growth.

Warren Buffett lives a similar simple and frugal life, with a focus on reinvesting his dividends in new stocks, acquiring more stocks from many different companies and developing the large conglomerate mentioned previously.

  1. An Ability to Harness the Power of Technology.

Remember the old cab companies that you had to either call or hail on the street? That is a thing of the past with technology companies like Uber transforming everything. Technology enables people across the world to request transportation in a convenient way, knowing who will come, what license plate and vehicle color/make/model to expect, etc.

How was Uber able to grow from being a simple cab concept to a $70+ billion company? The company leveraged the power of technology. Every business, regardless of the industry, should consider how to grow leveraging technology as an advantage.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

 

10 Agile Project Management Terms You Should Know

Whether you’re planning on managing a project the agile way, or just want to stay up to date on the latest developments in the field, here are 10 agile project management terms you should know:

1. Agile Manifesto

The agile manifesto is a great starting point for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the agile methodology. The manifesto outlines the 4 values and 12 principles of agile software development and was actually created by a group of software developers in an effort to provide a clear and alternative set of processes for developing software. The agile way of doing things prioritizes individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan. 

2. Scrum

A scrum is a daily stand up meeting with the sole focus being to review each team member’s progress on any given project. Scrums help to keep everyone accountable and on the same page, ensuring no one falls too behind or gets too far ahead in the development of a project.

3. Scrum Master

A scrum master oversees the development process and acts as a problem solver for the team; preventing roadblocks and enforcing the agile way of doing things.

4. Stakeholder

A stakeholder refers to anyone with a vested interest in the product. This can be the client, the end user, sales people, legal representatives etc. Stakeholders have an informative role in the development phase, and are critical in defining the project’s requirements.

5. Backlog

The backlog is the ever changing list of the software’s requirements. It’s not to be seen as a to do list so much as a prioritized list of desired features of the product provided by the stakeholders.

6. Story

The story tells the software system’s requirements from the consumer’s point of view. For example, as “a <type of user>, I want to <perform some task> so I can <achieve some goal.>”

7. Burndown & Burnup Charts

A burndown chart visually measures the progress of a project over time (the vertical axis is made up of the backlog while the horizontal axis represents time). A burnup chart displays completed work (the vertical axis shows the amount done over the horizontal axis, time). These charts are essential to inspiring the team as they work and help provide a realistic time frame for the project’s completion as well as a working scale of the project.

8. Feature Creep

While changes are expected, and certainly embraced in the agile way of doing things, the phrase “feature creep” refers to features that are added after development has begun. Adding too many features during the development phase can result in feature creep and software that is too complicated or difficult to use.

9. Timeboxing

Timeboxing is kind of like time blocking in that it assigns a specific time frame to accomplish a goal. The definitive feature of timeboxing however, is that the work stops at the end of the timebox, instead of when the work is complete. This is extremely helpful in terms of productivity, and controlling the scale of a project.

10. Sprint

A sprint is a short development phase usually lasting anywhere from 1 week to a month. Sprints help prevent projects from feeling overwhelming and allows feedback to be given at appropriate junctures.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at(502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

5 Things You May Not Know About Jeff Bezos

Amazon is the leader of e-commerce as we know it, and no doubt a household name. It’s CEO and founder Jeff Bezos however, has just recently begun to make headlines.

The richest person in the world, Bezos is said to have a net worth of 112 billion. After graduating from Princeton with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, he worked for an investment bank. In 1994 he launched Amazon out of his garage. What would become a multi-national tech company began as a virtual bookstore. Bezos sold his first book in 1995, a copy of Douglas Hofstadter’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

Amazon has since grown to develop and offer many products and services ranging from the Kindle, movies and television shows under Amazon Studios, as well as the cloud-computing service known as Amazon Web Services. As a result, Amazon has catapulted Bezos into the spotlight. For those interested in learning more about the serial entrepreneur, here are 5 things you may not know about Jeff Bezos:

1. He originally wanted to name Amazon “Cadabra.”

As in “abracadabra.” Bezos wanted to convey something magical about the convenience of shopping online. However, his advisers convinced him otherwise. Bezos instead chose the name Amazon because it began with the first letter of the alphabet. It also represented the earth’s largest river and he was aiming for opening the world’s largest bookstore.

2. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

The tech savvy entrepreneur purchased the newspaper in October of 2013 for $250 million after being approached by publisher Donald Graham. Under Bezos’s leadership the paper has adapted to the digital age. After reinventing itself as a media company, it has doubled it’s web traffic and even turned a profit. No small feat in today’s world of online journalism.

3. He owns a private space company.

In 2000, Bezos founded the aerospace company Blue Origin. The space flight operator is supposedly launching a crewed space tourism flight before the end of this year. Bezos’s long-term goal is to eventually aid in the colonization of space. The company is the first to invent reusable rockets. No other rocket in the history of spacecraft has been used twice. The ability to successfully launch and land a rocket multiple times will help to significantly lower the cost of access to space.

4. He’s a huge Star Trek Fan.

Bezos has reportably admitted that both the smart speaker Amazon Echo and it’s virtual assistant Alexa were inspired from the Star Trek computer. In 2016, he begged Paramount to let him have a cameo in the movie Star Trek Beyond. While his scene only lasted 8 seconds, he did have a speaking part.

5. Bezos makes $2,489 per second.

According to Business Insider, “Bezos makes more than twice what the median US worker makes in one week. That’s $149,353 per minute.” He is also “nearly 38% richer than the British monarchy.” And to think he once was a McDonald’s fry cook…

 

How to Develop the Digital Skills Necessary for Remote Work

Remote work can offer an employee the flexibility needed to be a caregiver, world traveler or student; making it an ideal form of work for most of the population. For an older employee however, the idea of working from home can seem overwhelming and fraught with technological difficulties.

Luckily, many of the skills needed to succeed in the office translate quite easily to working from home. Time management, self-sufficiency, communication and teamwork for example are all key remote work skills. And chances are, anyone whose had office experience, is familiar with a computer. However, there is a level of tech savviness required to operate out of the office full time.

For those looking to make the transition to remote work for the first time, but are afraid of getting left behind in this new digital age, here are some of the most popular web applications to get up to speed on before you apply for the job.

It’s worth noting that many of these applications have free tutorials, videos, and training available as well as free versions to help you get your feet wet.

File Storage & Sharing Platforms

When you’re working on the go, you can’t be tied down to your desktop. Instead it’s common for remote workers to operate exclusively from online or cloud based platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Apple iCloud. These make it easy to access your work files no matter where you are or what device you’re on. As long as you have the app downloaded, you can work from anywhere.

Long gone are the days of losing your work because your computer crashed. These applications automatically save and sync everything as you go. Not to mention, you can effortlessly share files with others by giving them access via a link or email address. Google even offers a full suite of applications including word documents, slide shows and spreadsheets well suited for every field of work.

Video Conferencing

Unfortunately, even remote workers can’t escape meetings. Zoom and Skype are popular video conferencing options for meeting outside of the office.  Zoom offers free video calls with up to 50 people as long as you don’t talk for more than 40 minutes and Skype is free as long as both parties are using the app. Both of these applications (and many others) offer chat options, screen sharing and recorded calls. Just make sure you’re well equipped with the right headset for the job.

Collaborative Applications

While email is everyone’s go to in-office communication platform, remote workers often utilize project management software to stay in touch virtually. Both Trello and Slack are excellent examples and offer many collaborative features for working with a team remotely. These shared applications make it easy to generate a task list and delegate the workload. They also show each member’s progress as well as what stage any given project is in and give the option to offer feedback to one another. Additionally shared calendars ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to meetings and out of office time periods.

At Number8, we provide high quality technical talent to businesses of all sizes and sectors. We specialize in application development, custom software, website development, mobile solutions, database design, client/server, web application development and Q/A testing. Learn more about what we do and how to get started with Number8 by calling 502-890-7665 today!

5 Must Read Career Books

We all face challenges in our careers at some point or another, and the truth is, we spend most of our lives at work. So why not make the most of it? Whether you’re feeling stuck in your current position and need a boost or are transitioning to a new role, we are firm believers that even in this age of technology, some of the best answers can be found in a book!

To help give you a leg up, we’ve compiled a list of must read career books chalked full of advice and tools to help you tackle everything and anything.

1. Master Your Next Move by Michael Watkins

Experiencing a lot of change in your career? Master Your Next Move offers insight into some of the most important transitions that occur within our careers. From overseas assignments and on-boarding at a new company, to getting promoted and having to lead former peers, sometimes even a good career move can be challenging. In his latest book, Michael Watkins lends a helping hand to those in leadership positions looking to excel as they climb the ladder.

2. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

Looking for more fulfillment at work or in general? Designing Your Life suggests that in order to live a life of fulfillment, one should apply the concepts of design to both their personal life and career. After all, every design begins by solving a problem. If you want to rework your career, start by rethinking your approach.

3. Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness by Kerry Hannon

Hate your job? According to a recent Gallup Poll, 85% of people do. Kerry Hannon’s Love Your Job explains how you can make the most of your current position by changing your perspective. Hannon offers tips on developing positive thought patters and habits that will reinvigorate you and give you a new found purpose at work no matter what stage of your career you are in.

4. Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin

We all know that in this new age of the workforce, innovation is key to staying relevant. Seth Godin’s Linchpin paves the way for anyone looking to make a lasting impact. The book begins by posing the following questions, “Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable.”

5. The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle

Anyone who has ever been in business, knows about failure. For those who have recently experienced a set back at work, Megan McArdle’s The Up Side of Down is an inspirational guide to reinventing yourself in the face of failure by learning from the experience instead of allowing it to debilitate you.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!