Category Archives: Market Trends

Building Personal Growth and Development

The New Year is well underway and here in Charlotte the past week actually feels like winter. The warm Spring-like weather that started the year is a fleeting memory. The beginning of the year is a good time to think warm thoughts of a beach somewhere or the fact that spring is coming. It is also a good time to think about some goals and steps to make 2019 a more productive year.

I am sure many of you have seen your fair share of articles on life hacks and ways to increase productivity to make 2019 the best year of your life on social media, another blog, or an online publication. I think the best way to move through these articles is to focus on some smaller changes that can be made to improve your outlook on life, productivity, and health. I might suggest you check out “Your Future Self”, Fast Company’s series on improvements that can be made, some simple and others more time intensive to improve your life.

These articles are worth exploring since they include topics that are relevant to growth across professional and personal skills. For the entrepreneurial spirit, might I suggest reading “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” by Lindsay Tigar. Tigar uses this article to highlight some specific monthly calls to action over the next 12 months from building your side hustle. For example, January begins the year long journey with a period of Self-Assessment. The beginning of the year should serve as a time to outline and consider what exactly having a side hustle means for you and how it will affect your loved ones, taxes, and full-time job. Having a side hustle is hard work but by following some self-evaluation during the first three months of the year this will help build the foundation for a new side hustle or improve your existing strategy before heading into April and Q2 with an improved idea and the right attitude to succeed.

The final article, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders outlines what steps to take to get more out of your time during 2019. While this sounds like a lofty concept, the steps to follow are quite simple. Saunders breaks down how to gain time into these categories quitting something, limiting something, pausing something, delegating something, adding something. I have chosen to limit my time on social media while filling that time with the addition of re-reading some of my favorite books to get a new perspective on them. I urge you to take a step back and see if there is an aspect of your life where you could add, delegate, limit, or pause tasks to make your overall week more rewarding and fulfilling.

As 2019 is already two weeks old which is hard to believe. In this New Year, taking a few minutes each day to focus on personal or professional development can reap many benefits. Instead of trying to stick to rigid resolutions see if making a few small changes will help improve your mindfulness and productivity going forward.

Reading List:

Tigar, Lindsay, “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/90279105/your-12-month-guide-to-building-your-side-hustle-this-year.  

Sounders, Elizabeth Grace, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 fromhttps://www.fastcompany.com/90280742/how-to-redesign-your-days-to-give-you-back-a-few-extra-hours-every-week.

“Your Future Self” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/section/your-future-self.

-Craig Oliver

WIMS, Inc.

The Power of Blockchain



I want to take some time and walk you through an interesting interactive project about Blockchain from the Reuters Graphics department with sponsorship from Barclays. This post is from June 2018 and I came across it while scrolling through a 2018 Reuters Graphics Best of List. This article shows where the news industry is heading, merging visual interactive content, with narratives to tell a story. The blockchain follows a story where information is shared on a shared ledger.

This article shows how to easily understand what the blockchain is and how the technology can be harnessed through words and infographics. The piece begins by discussing how the blockchain, at its core, is a database where no one entity holds ownership of the information, be it a banking record or information on the tracking of a tomato through a supply chain. This decentralizing of record keeping is the core of what the blockchain is. Since the information on the blockchain is held on a network that is shared changes are noticeable and it is difficult, not impossible, to distort the information.

For most of history information was controlled and distributed by organizations who could sway decisions and make a good sum of money through being the only forces involved in selling and distributing goods or services. When information is placed on the blockchain, the system is constantly scanned for any changes making sure that all copies of members on the blockchain have the same accurate information. This means as the scale of the blockchain network increases the necessity of scanning and accurately identifying the information across the system also grows and becomes more complex. While much of the media hype surrounding blockchain surrounds bitcoins and the changes in bitcoin prices other useful applications of blockchain range of monitoring food supply to helping make the energy grid smarter.

Now that the foundations of blockchain technology has been outlined the Reuters article walks through a scenario where blockchain can be used to track a transaction. The core of the blockchain, as alluded to earlier, is the database with information on it. This is implemented by having records added one after another to the chain.

Here is a case study where the blockchain would be used across a supply chain. In this example a restaurant owner makes a deal for a restaurant company to purchase tomatoes from a large farm. The structure can be summed up as the record holds the information on the transaction.

If a restaurant wanted to track the location and quality of food through its supply chain the record would be the deals made with suppliers while the block is the collection of records involved and the chain is the link of the blocks. If a restaurant in North Carolina wanted to purchase an order of tomatoes, the order would be placed on the record showing that an exchange was initiated. This is followed by having the system go ahead and scan to ensure the record is authentic. This is followed by having accepted records added to a block which contains a unique hash as well as the prior hash in the system in a specific order.

With all this protection the tomatoes in the salad are ensured to be of high quality as they move along the system. The hash codes along the blockchain serve as an encryption where the information is not control by any one individual and a key is needed to access the information of the transaction. With possible uses from healthcare record keeping to tracking that diamonds are mined without blood diamond warlords and move through a supply chain without forced labor. The blockchain is much more than a cryptocurrency fad and should be something on your radar during 2019.

Sources

Arnold, Andrew, “How Blockchain Can Help Increase The Security Of Smart Grids” Forbes. Retrieved 4 January 2019 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewarnold/2018/04/16/how-blockchain-can-help-increase-the-security-of-smart-grids/#2ffea9a4b489

Murphy, Maryanne, “A Reuters Visual Guide: Blockchain Explained.” Reuters. Retrieved 3 January 2019 fromhttps://graphics.reuters.com/TECHNOLOGY-BLOCKCHAIN/010070MF1E7/index.html

Institute of Food Technologist (IFT), “The Potential of Blockchain Technology Application in the Food System.” Retrieved 4 January 2019 from http://www.ift.org/Knowledge-Center/Learn-About-Food-Science/Food-Facts/The-Potential-of-Blockchain-Technology-Application.aspx

2019 Perspectives



I might be a little late to the game, but I want to start off and wish everyone a Happy New Year! By now most of you will be back to work after what I am sure was some much-needed time with family and friends. Instead of the typical Resolutions or Trends for 2019 I want to share something different with you. A look at some perspectives of what will happen over the next 12-months with a focus on events ranging from local developments with an impact on the Charlotte area to national factors.

Instead of making predictions I want to outline a few important issues which I think will generate news throughout the year and define the year for countless households. These topics are by no means definitive and I think it will be interesting for me to look back at the end of the year to see how this post holds up after a year. Some of these includes events that will create economic impact in Charlotte including the hosting of the NBA All-Star Game. Financial topics are sure to be discussed often and I see student loans as a topic which will continue to impact the purchasing power and economic decisions of millions of Americans.

This is first year that I can remember when I will not be in a traditional classroom. After years of having classes through the winter months and spring I am now entrenched in the working world where January begins an exciting new year. In this aspect it is like how September begins a new and exciting chapter for students and teacher alike. My friends from college have graduated and are either continuing their education and working in research labs or beginning their careers. Not everyone has successfully found a career that uses their degrees and college skills.

The news shares many stories of how as the economy has grown many have been forced to work multiple part time jobs to make ends meet. A great deal of time, discussions, and stress is placed on how to payoff student loans among friends. Education is well worth the investment, but I do see some people left behind suffering from the student loans burden and stuck in situations where they face an uphill battle. I will leave the issue of student loans with the following question: Will this be the year when students loans take more of the headlines like the housing bubble did in 2008?

I want to continue with some trends that I think will be greatly talked about from the media to boardroom from a national perspective. One trend which I have increasingly seen is that people are taking a break from social media to start the year off with a different perspective and away from the clutter and mess of social media. I myself have decided to use social media less this year and allocate some of the time I would spend online away from screens and instead read. This brings up privacy and data security, issues which are increasingly important as 2018 progressed and I can only imagine will stay important into 2019. I will be interested in seeing how tech companies’ stocks will perform into 2019 and what this will mean for the stock market. No market predictions on my end but I imagine investors are in store for another roller coaster ride of a wild year. Some other terms that I think will continue to be in the lexicon include sports betting, increasing marketing for Generation Z, and digital detoxes.

I want to highlight a few local topics from the Charlotte area. Basketball is big in North Carolina and the NBA All-Star game is coming next month with expectations of economic impact that could cross $100 Million. While North Carolina lost out on Amazon to suburbs of Washington, D.C. and New York other important economic news made headlines to end 2018 including IBM’s purchase of Raleigh based Red Hat. November also saw news in Charlotte when Honeywell announced moving its world headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte which will eventually create 750 jobs. Charlotte is a great city to build and grow a company landing on Inc’s 50 Best Places to Start a Company at 22 with an emphasis on fintech growth.

I believe that companies will continue to invest in the Charlotte area as building projects through Uptown Charlotte and across the region continue to show the robust economy from new building to the continued need to build affordable housing for all the new employees moving into the area. Charlotte has a chance to show its new design to the world during the All-Star game and this year will see continued development and investment centered in Uptown Charlotte. Like across the country growth is focusing on major metro areas with access to universities and transportation which I believe will shape future investment in 2019 and beyond.

Growth and volatility are not often said in the same sentence but those are two words which I think are two words which will shape the next 12-months. Issues that have been under the surface for years will continue to impact the purchasing power of Americans including student loans and greater need for affordable housing. At the same time growth at companies and investment in education will continue across Charlotte and the nation. As privacy concerns continue Americans will decide to take control of their data which is one of the most marketable and valuable pieces of information they hold. The place social media has in our culture will likely be shaped by how it is used throughout the year.

Market Contraction

The Coming Market Contraction & What it Means for Your Business

After a nearly decade long recovery period, it’s starting to look and feel like the time for an economic contraction is on the horizon. It likely won’t come for another year or so yet (if we’re lucky), but based on the history of our country, it’s certainly inevitable at some point.

A lot of the experts, economists, and pundits are starting to sound the alarm already. Things like the student loan debt crisis, 2018 interest rate hikes, the collapse of retail, and the toxic political climate, are all going to come to a head and likely trigger it. Forbes, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Bloomberg, Seeking Alpha, and Newsmax are just a sampling of publications that have had a relatively recent article about it.

Now I’m very much an optimist, so I don’t want you to interpret my prediction of a market downturn as me being pessimistic. On the contrary, I think recessions can be an incredible opportunity for those who are prepared for them. Historically, a lot of fortunes were made in the years during and shortly after economic recessions. Not to mention, regardless of whether the stock market goes up or down, someone is always making a lot of money.

While I’m no economist, I am fortunate to be able to work with a lot of people with brilliant business minds and insight into the mysterious world of macro market forces. My suggestion (if you made it this far I’m guessing you care enough to read it) is to keep an open mind to start being proactive before it’s too late. I know a lot of you might be a bit too young to really remember 2008, but if you think back to past recessions they always seem to abruptly appear to come out of nowhere and catch people off guard. One day everyone is riding high with exuberance and the next day the bottom falls out. Clearly, it’s possible and likely that it happens this way again.

I’m not saying to run around being worried or dwelling on this. I’m simply recommending that you start tightening your belt a bit now while you can. Rein in those spending habits that may have gotten a little out of control lately. Perhaps consider cashing out on a few things while values are high and take some chips off the table. Otherwise, you could end up falling into the preventable trap of being forced to sell assets at the bottom.

Simultaneously you should also be going all-in on growing your business too. I know that may sound contradictory but investing in revenue/income generating activities is and always will be a wise move. A lot of people will be out of the game when the day comes and being able to perform a land grab because your business is dialed in can be a life changing opportunity.

Start thinking strategically about the next 1-3 years and what they could mean for you and your business. Instead of hiring several full-time employees consider leveraging a consulting firm so you have more flexibility. Make the commitment to increase your emphasis on sales and marketing even more. It’s tax season right now, so it’s a great time to really look at your numbers and analyze your financial data to identify weak spots or areas for improvement.

Hey, perhaps myself and others will end up being wrong about the timing of it. Maybe the next recession doesn’t come for another 3 to 5 years instead. Either way, would your business not be better off be taking those steps sooner rather than later?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject! If you agree with me I’d be interested to hear what steps you’re currently taking. And if you think I’m crazy, I’d still like to hear why you think we have nothing but blue skies ahead.

Entrepreneurs Zoho CRM

Entrepreneurs! Are You Aware of the Latest Offerings from Zoho CRM?

Forget what you think you know about CRM programs. It’s time for you to rethink the entire idea that you’ve been holding onto for years now. You know, that they’re too expensive, too complicated, and not useful enough to justify tackling those challenges. It’s just not true anymore. I understand why you think that way, but until you’ve seen the latest software package that Zoho CRM has been rolling out it’s simply misguided. Allow me to enlighten you a bit.

While I remain a raving Salesforce fan, I’m not going to suggest you take on a CRM program of that magnitude (unless your enterprise fits a certain set of criteria). I still love HubSpot as well but will save that for another post. Right now, I’m here to inform you about the crazy new suite from Zoho that you must at least take a few minutes to check out. If you’re a solo entrepreneur/freelancer, or you have all the way up to 25 employees it will help revolutionize and scale your business like crazy.

Now I was already geeking out a couple months ago when they launched Zoho One. But then they went ahead and added too more applications the other day which literally blew my mind. Zoho Flow “automates business workflows by connecting your apps. You can build smart integrations to break the information silos in your business.” This works for both internal Zoho apps and external ones as well, think Zapier or IFTTT. The other is Zoho PageSense, which is “the Complete A/B Testing and Website Optimization Software. Get ready to increase website conversions and skyrocket your revenue.”

Now, for transparency purposes I must inform you that a large part of my business is built around assisting companies of all sizes and industries to build and implement CRM programs like these. BUT, I legitimately use this one for my own business. It not only has helped me to get better organized with project management and more efficient and streamlined from an operations perspective but leveraging it has tangibly helped me to grow the revenue of my business significantly as well. I’m all about automating as much as possible and these new features allow you to do just that.

If you want to explore what incorporating a CRM program would look like for your business, reach out to me and I’d be thrilled to assist. Whether it’s Zoho or one of the many other incredible programs out there, we can certainly get you on the right track to implementing it correctly to start demonstrating ROI asap.

Before moving forward, to get a better idea of what all they have to offer, take a look at how they articulate it:

Zoho One is a revolutionary all-in-one suite to run your entire business—an unprecedented 35+ integrated applications on one account, with complete administrative control—for a price that will change the way you think about buying software.

Zoho One includes applications with complementary mobile apps so you can run your entire business on one suite. This is the real deal here: You’re getting full-featured, enterprise editions of the entire Zoho suite. That means being able to reach customers, grow sales, balance your books, and work in productive and collaborative ways from any device—all with a single login and password.

Zoho One connects your sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, and more, while also giving you contextual integrations to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, customers, and vendors. With an integrated suite like Zoho One, you’ll always have the right information in the right places, empowering your employees to do great work. Traditionally, this has required an astronomical IT budget and an army of consultants to force everything together. Zoho One makes all that cost and complexity a thing of the past.

Zoho One is enhanced by Zoho’s growing developer ecosystem, marketplace extensions, and global partner network. We’ve made Zoho One extendable so our technology partners can customize our applications to meet your unique needs, across a broad set of industries. These custom apps and extensions of our already powerful applications are made available to you through our Marketplace. Meanwhile, our 1,000+ implementation and training partners are available to help you locally as needs arise.

GNEISS

WIMS Client Spotlight: GNEISS 2017 Year in Review & What’s to Come in 2018: Reinventing the Financial Wheel

“The GNEISS team truly had an incredible year in 2017. It was filled with many milestones and growth as a company and platform. Our goal is to help our users unlock the power of the blockchain to take control of their financial freedom. We’re doing this by building the World’s 1st P2P Ethereum Blockchain Platform. More specifically, GNEISS is a business development and free market platform that uses blockchain technology to enable peer to peer financial transactions.

Clearly the explosion of the cryptocurrency market and popularity of Bitcoin and Ethereum has played a tremendous role in propelling us forward. The awareness and branding/marketing of the industry created a headwind which we have been able to leverage to our advantage.

Some of the key milestones we hit this year are included below:

  • Reached beta stage of development.
  • Enabled Secure Wallets via Segwit/Multi Sig (for bitcoin); we’ve incorporated all the features of Bitcoin and Ethereum onto our platform.
  • Established Fiat Currency Tethers (we were the first platform to do this!).
    • Including: USD, EUR, CNY, GBP, CAD, AUD.
  • Our GNEISS coin is now listed on the Ether Delta Exchange and being publicly traded, it will soon be on Bancor and others as well.
  • 140+ users and climbing.
  • Launched our online forum/blog: forum.gneiss.io.
  • We’ve grown our social media presence on multiple platforms and have released multiple videos to our YouTube channel.

 

What’s to Come in 2018

The market for peer-to-peer lending is growing annually, potentially reaching $490B by 2020 [1] Our aim is to bring borrowers and lenders on a single platform where those with access to finance can connect with those in need of finance, and reach mutually beneficial terms and conditions that are transparent and immutable. Through GNEISS, loans can be achieved using a legally verified smart contract and secured using crypto-currency. The smart contract is executed on the Ethereum platform, facilitating a peer to peer interaction, with the transaction details recorded on the Blockchain.

This enables individuals or companies who have digital assets to borrow against them, to generate immediate cashflow, without compromising the position of their assets. Borrowers can use their crypto-currencies as collateral on a safe, efficient, and cost saving platform. Similarly, lenders who have reserved digital funds can provide loans based on their risk tolerance and achieve higher returns than typical bank deposits.

By creating a win-win situation, on a decentralized and transparent platform, GNEISS is creating opportunities which have not existed in the cryptocurrency space. In short, GNEISS enables frictionless access to credit in a secure and scalable way.

1https://lending-times.com/2017/07/24/alternative-lending-and-cryptocurrencies/

In addition, the following are some of the highlights of what else is on the horizon:

  • Full platform launch set for later this year.
  • Ability to tokenize any asset in the free market that has value (everything has value and you will be able to assign a price to it).
  • We will continue to pursue getting listed on the Bittrex and Poloniex exchanges.
  • Improve our money/wallet management system.
  • Enhance user management and interface functionality.
  • Release new features, such as:
    • Create, transfer, mint, burn, exchange, tax, or pay dividends to any crypto-asset or smart contract on our decentralized blockchain-powered trading platform.
    • Ability to exchange tokens.
    • Ability to create new tokenized assets.
  • Mobile application launch.”

Stay tuned!

Judging the YLAI Pitch Competition: A New Entrepreneurial Perspective

Last week I was fortunate enough to be 1 of 6 judges from the Charlotte entrepreneurial community to take part in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Charlotte Pitch Competition. In partnership with International House Charlotte, Meridian International Center, and the U.S. Department of State they’ve been hosting 9 incredible startup entrepreneurs (aka “Fellows”) from across Latin America. They started their trip in Atlanta before heading to Charlotte, and are currently finishing up in Washington D.C. before heading home.

We were asked to simply listen to each of them tell us about their business. They had 3 minutes to do so along with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation. We were given a scoring rubric with which to judge them on, and we were also given 3 minutes for follow up questions. After they all went the judges deliberated and had to select the top 3. Afterwards the judges were given a certificate with “The title of Citizen Diplomat, in recognition of outstanding efforts in fostering cross cultural understanding.” Very cool, but the real takeaway was the education I received from this experience.

The creativity and resourcefulness shown by each of them was profoundly inspiring from an entrepreneurial perspective. The fact that they are building businesses with far less resources and infrastructure than we have here was mind blowing. Not to mention, their target markets aren’t as neatly defined or as accessible as they here either. Yet these people relentlessly march on, finding unique ways to monetize and scale their businesses despite the odds being against them. But what stuck out the most was their sheer passion for doing whatever they can to make their communities and countries a better place to live and work.

They knew all the buzz words and latest business trends, what business models work well, how to leverage social media and the internet to promote their business, etc. Even though each country has differing laws, tax structures, governmental support, and macroeconomic circumstances they all seemed to know how to play the game well in their respective countries too. It reinforced the fact that there is simply no excuse or justification for not doing whatever it takes to succeed in business.

I don’t mean to imply that these things are negative, on the contrary I think it presents a tremendous opportunity. The potential for further global growth is seemingly infinite, and the entrepreneurial spirit is spreading to every corner of the globe.

In case you’re interested in looking any of these entrepreneurial people and their businesses up (they would greatly appreciate any support, even if it’s simply offering feedback to help them improve) I’ve provided a list below.

Eolian is Solving Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality’s Greatest Barriers to Mass Adoption

There has been significant traction and growth in the augmented reality and virtual reality industry over the past few years, that’s undeniable and obvious. However, neither has yet to make that inevitable quantum leap to mass adoption by individuals and enterprises. At Eolian, we believe that augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality, are the next wave of computing, and will have an impact that far exceeds even that of the mobile one that we’re currently in. Some of the challenges that have been holding the industry back from that type of breakthrough are being overcome rapidly and as a company we are at the forefront of leading the charge.

VR Applications from the User Perspective

Three of the most common barriers to entry that cause hesitation with VR adoption from a user perspective are:

  1. The uneasiness/motion sickness that can occur from too much “teleportation.”
  2. The inaccurate destination area while teleporting with the current controller method is also a little cumbersome and frustrating at times when it sends you somewhere that you weren’t looking to go.
  3. The controllers themselves can be a burden as well, not to mention having your actual hands mimic real-life movements in a realistic fashion is what you’re training someone to do via the educational use-case.

To fix these issues we partnered with a company called Leap Motion which developed a hand tracking sensor that eliminates these issues and allows you to more seamlessly embrace the VR world.

The Constant Evolution of Hardware

A lot of businesses don’t want to invest a significant amount of resources into a project if by the time it’s completed there is already another better piece of hardware coming out. This could render a project obsolete, or require significant and expensive updates late in the game to make sure the application is compatible. In some cases, companies simply refrain from even trying to build something altogether rather than make that type of mistake. They’d rather wait it out to see which piece of hardware “wins” before diving in. That could be a big mistake if/when their competitors get a head start.

Even a six-month to one-year long software development project could experience multiple hardware changes, so agility and adaptability are crucial. This shouldn’t be seen or approached as a burden, but rather an opportunity. A great Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality company shouldn’t need to react or be caught off guard either, they should anticipate these changes and plan accordingly. Build with the next version in mind at all times, without breaking what was built for the previous hardware in case delays in that next thing happen (which is also just as inevitable).

We’re already able to create applications that can sync with multiple pieces of hardware, and even from various manufacturers too. While we have our preferences, there’s no room for romanticism in this business. You don’t have time to wait to see what users adopt and then start building for that. By the time you do they’re likely on to the next thing.

Supply Chain Disruption

When working with cutting-edge technologies supply chain issues can arise leading to unpredictability and volatility. We’ve already experienced them too many times, so we now work with various forms of hardware in conjunction to mitigate these macro level issues that can arise while implementing an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality initiative at the enterprise level. It won’t always be perfect (even Apple must outsource some of their parts to Samsung after all) so planning ahead to make sure you have all the right components is crucial.

Would Companies Really Use AR/VR to Train Their Employees?!

Yes. They would, do, and will continue to do so even more so. One of the most widely used, and highest revenue grossing VR application’s right now is “Job Simulator.” Think about that for a second, kids and adults are going out of their way to pay for a game that simulates what it’s like to have a job rather than getting an actual job and getting paid to do it. Quite the contradiction, no?

Not only are they using this application, but it’s now the “most popular VR title to date” after surpassing $3 million in sales. So anyone that says, “but our employees would never want to receive virtual reality training…” you may want to re-evaluate your stance on the matter.

 

The Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality industry is still in the wild, wild, west phase but the opportunities and use-case applications are astounding. You may have dismissed it altogether after trying one silly headset and phone application, but we’d urge you to give it another look and keep an open mind as that’s not what Augmented Reality  and Virtual Reality are truly meant to be. But don’t just take my word for it, soon enough this technology will have infiltrated just about every aspect of your life as it is so don’t miss the opportunity to be an early adopter.

The Most Epic Entrepreneur Resource Guide of All Time

As the title says, I’ve set out to build “The Most Epic Entrepreneur Resource Guide of All Time.” I’ve seen and read most of them throughout the past five years plus while researching all things related to being an entrepreneur, and while there are plenty of good, even great, ones I’m working on building a better one.

The amount of time I’ve spent doing research is incredible, so hopefully I can save you a little time while on your own journey. Being an entrepreneur is hard enough as it is, so if I can make it a little easier for you I can’t ask for much more than that.

First, a disclosure, please pardon our dust while this remains under construction. But as the great Reid Hoffman says:

“If You’re Not Embarrassed By The First Version Of Your Product, You’ve Launched Too Late.”

Updates will be coming fast and furiously throughout September, with function being prioritized over form (for now). That of course is in development as well.

Everything will be broken down into sections based on specific topics related to your business, along with location specific pages for the cities that WIMS Consulting operates in for now (Charlotte, Miami, New York, San Diego/LA to start). There will be an index to help assist with where everything is located as well.

To give you an idea, so far the following pages are live despite not being complete yet.

Topics in the pipeline include (among many others):

  • Startup/New Business
  • Business Development, Lead Generation, Sales
  • Creative
  • Software/Platforms
  • Training/Education
  • Legal

In the mean time, make sure to bookmark this page and check back often.

Also, if there are topics/resources/service providers/vendors missing that you’d like me to add, please let me know!

The Potential ROI of Social Media

By now I shouldn’t have to articulate the value or justify the need for a social media strategy for your business. There are literally thousands of articles, white papers, and studies that have been written and distributed highlighting facts, figures, and metrics galore. Rather, I wanted to share a couple recent social media success stories and provide some tangible action steps for you to implement because that’s what this blog is for. As I’ve mentioned publicly, the new mantra is: Add Value.

LinkedIn Is Still King (depending on your target market)

I get referrals on LinkedIn all day long, but then again, I’m fairly active and present on the network. It’s my obvious preference with regard to the long game of business development. Every time I meet a new person at a networking event, or get introduced to a prospect or potential COI (center of influence/referral source) via email my first follow up step is to connect with them here. It just works and compounds.

Another tip: if someone asks you to introduce them to someone you’re connected to: do it. What do you have to lose? Sure, there are exceptions to this, but if you’re not comfortable with that then why are you connected to them in the first place? Even if I don’t know them all that well, I just disclose that fact in the intro and let that person make the call to follow up or not. This simple act often leads them to reciprocate when needed, and is a good reason to reach out to the other person too. Try this: “Hey I know it’s been a while, but so and so reached out to me and asked if I’d make an introduction, figured was a great reason for me to follow up with you too.” The answer is always no if you never ask.

However, you can’t neglect the others such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Sometimes you spend days and weeks shouting into an empty vacuum of time and space. The social media vortex swallows your content and garners little more than a like or two, and maybe a share or a re-tweet. You have great content but no one is really seeing it, so you get discouraged and post less frequently or stop altogether. BAD MOVE.

Now these results aren’t typical, but in addition to managing my company’s social media accounts along with a few clients, I also do it for some of my joint ventures. Recently, a life-altering event occurred when we received an inbound lead worth well into the high six/low seven figures. And this deal came in from a single TWITTER post. No joke, you read that right. Even if I never get another lead from Twitter again, that one tweet will pay for a life time of tweeting. The point is keep sharing, and sharing, and sharing.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Make sure to be very specific about what you’re looking for. When asking for a general referral, it’s often answered with crickets. It’s not that people don’t WANT to help, rather they just don’t know exactly how, or even what you have to offer. If they have to think too hard about it, you’ve lost them. Therefore, its best to keep things simple and specific.

For example, I recently posted that I was looking for a referral to accounting firms with annual revenue over $5 million. I have an abundance of experience in that space and currently have a gap in my client portfolio. Literally within 3(!) minutes of posting it on Facebook I was introduced to a dream prospect that would be a perfect fit for my business. And 10 minutes after that I was introduced to another one equally as good.

Action Keeps You Top of Mind

Even if you do nothing but share existing content from sources such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and others that regularly post timely business-oriented content online you could still see ROI. Take it a step further and curate it with a nugget of commentary and context and over time that’s enough to garner goodwill and establish yourself as a thought leader and resource. This really adds up and pays dividends over the long-haul. People in your network will appreciate your contribution to enhancing their education along the journey.

As always, if there’s anything I can ever do to assist you along your social media journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out! And don’t forget to check out the WIMS Blast Off Bundle: 10Kto10X if you haven’t yet.