Archive for July, 2017

Starbucks’ Closing of Teavana Stores Could Be Small Business Opportunity

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Starbucks' Closing of Teavana Stores Could Be Small Business Opportunity

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) just announced that it’s closing all of the storefronts for its Teavana brand. And that could mean new opportunities for small businesses to break into the market.

Closing of Teavana Stores Opens Opportunities

Starbucks decided to close the once popular tea stores due to slow sales. But there’s still a fairly sizable market out there for tea businesses. And there are also trendy offerings on the upswing right now like bubble tea and matcha that could provide great differentiation opportunities for small businesses.

So with Teavana, which was one of the more recognizable tea brands in the country, exiting the space, it could be the perfect time for small businesses to jump in. You could do this by researching tea franchise opportunities or just opening your own independent shop.

The brand’s departure will also be another blow to business at the mall where most of the 379 Teavana stores were located. Teavan’s exit from malls follows the departure by other key brands like JCPenney and GameStop.

But here again the loss of big brands at the mall could be small business’s gain.  According to a report from the National Retail Federation, smaller malls may fail but larger ones are here to stay. And the departure of some big chains could be the perfect opportunity for the right small retailers at the mall.

So do some homework on the niches and opportunities out there and find a way to deliver your product to consumers where they actually shop. Then maybe you can make a name for yourself in this market where there’s suddenly a huge business opportunity.

Teavana Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Starbucks’ Closing of Teavana Stores Could Be Small Business Opportunity” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Bulgaria – World’s 1st Producer of Lavender Oil This Year

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Bulgaria is again the world’s first producer of lavender oil. This year’s oil yield is record – over 300 tons, according to the Leaderstoday.com

According to the producers, the large growth of lavender oil yield is due to the good climatic conditions during the season. The record quantity of essential oil is also due to the fact that in recent years the plantations have increased significantly in the different parts of the country. This year’s harvest is strongest in the Dobrich region and the Rose Valley.

More and more companies are beginning to use the oil to make the final product. Exports to China were also strong. In addition to China, there was an increased interest in Bulgarian oil from Germany, Spain and Turkey.

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CEZ Bulgaria: ‘Non-Consolidated Net Profit Rose to BGN 20.8M’ in the 1st Half of 2017

Monday, July 31st, 2017

CEZ Distribution Bulgaria, majority owned by Czech power utility group CEZ, said on Monday its non-consolidated net profit rose to BGN 20.8 million in the first half of 2017, from BGN 11.8 million in the like period of 2016, SEE News Reports.

Total revenues rose to BGN 216.6 million  in the January-June period, from BGN 195.6 million in the prior year, CEZ Distribution said in a bourse filing.

Bulgarian media reported In May that CEZ Group had invited four candidates interested in acquiring its assets in Bulgaria to submit binding bids and bank guarantees for their price offers.

CEZ Group assets in Bulgaria include CEZ Distribution Bulgaria, the public supplier of electricity and a licensed trader CEZ Electro Bulgaria, licensed electricity trader CEZ Trade Bulgaria and Varna thermal power plant. The operations of those companies are managed and coordinated by CEZ Bulgaria EAD.

CEZ Distribution Bulgaria is 67%-owned by CEZ Group. It operates in the Sofia region and parts of western and northern Bulgaria and is licensed for the transmission and distribution of electricity and the operation of the distribution grid.

CEZ Distribution Bulgaria shares were traded flat at BGN 235.0 in a volume of just 2 units as of 14:20 CET on the stock exchange in Sofia.

 

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Polish Artists Transform Walls of Bulgarian Village into Work of Art

Monday, July 31st, 2017

A group of young Polish artists on Friday brought street art to a sleepy Bulgarian village, decorating its walls of with large murals featuring world politicians, celebrities, and villagers sharing conversations, according to TRT World.

The Bulgarian village of Staro Zhelezare, some 180 kilometres from the country’s capital Sofia counts less than 500 inhabitants, five times less than its population before the collapse of communism in the Black Sea country in 1989.

But the paintings on its walls, including portraits of US President Donald Trump, former US President Barack Obama, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron could lure tourists with an economic revival in the village.

(Plovdiv 2019? @Plovdiv2019 #together with the International @StaroZhelezareStreetArtFestival #Bulgaria and @PLISofia #Poland #Plovdiv2019 #ECOC; file photo: Twitter)

 

“We want this village to become an art object,” said Katarzyna Piriankov, the project leader from Poland.

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Does Your Small Business Really Need AI?

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Does Your Small Business Really Need AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be intimidating to small businesses. In fact, a survey commissioned by Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) last year found 61 percent of small business owners felt they weren’t ready to adopt it. They felt AI was too complicated for what they needed.

Salesforce wants to change that perception with its AI platform, called Einstein.

Does a Small Business Really Need AI?

Small Business Trends spoke with Tony Rodoni, Executive Vice President for SMB sales at Salesforce, about AI and what it can do for small businesses.

The Big Brands Are Already Using It

Whether small businesses are ready or not, big brands are already using AI to stake out huge territory, says Rodoni.

“Apple’s Siri uses natural language processing to recognize voice commands. And companies like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify are using machine learning to understand how items in their catalogs relate to one another and their customer’s preferences,” he says.

AI Adoption by Small Businesses

Small businesses can do the same. But the pace of technology adoption by small businesses isn’t always fast.  Salesforce’s 2016 Connected Small Business Report notes only 21 percent of small businesses are using features like business intelligence software and analytics.

Rodoni explains what they’re missing by not adopting AI.

“AI has the potential to make every company and every employee smarter, faster, more operationally efficient and more productive,” he says.  “For small businesses with limited time and resources, the ability to work smarter and automate basic tasks can be a life-saver. That’s why we launched Einstein.”

In fact, small businesses that are early to adopt new technologies look bigger than they are. Rodoni has called this the blowfish effect.

The Benefits of AI

Maximizing resources and prioritizing time are just two of the benefits of artificial intelligence.

With AI, you can predict customer service issues before they happen. AI can help you identify the prospects that are most likely to buy your goods and services. Your marketing efforts become more personalized because you have more information about customer preferences to work with.

The benefits of AI include the ability to help your business:

  • Automate the send-time for your marketing emails to arrive when they will most likely be read.
  • Figure out which segments of your audience to target with the greatest expectation of return on investment.
  • Predict the amount of sales in your pipeline — even before the results come in.
  • Predict your most important sales leads.

Spending hours sorting through spreadsheets, hunting down leads or tweaking marketing campaigns manually can be things of the past.

It’s Good for Growth

Rodoni draws a connection between AI and success for startups.

“I believe that AI is a necessity to growth,” Rodoni says.  “Behind every deal, every order and every opportunity is a customer. AI marries human interaction and machine intelligence in a way that enables companies to better connect with their customers.”

Artificial intelligence works to scale, another win for the smaller shop.  Not only that, it leads you to the right customers and helps you to engage them. At the same time, it automates tasks across marketing, service and sales.

Choose Vendors That Incorporate AI into Products

Once small businesses have gotten over their initial apprehension, integrating AI into their businesses is easier than might be expected. You don’t have to master the technology underlying artificial intelligence. You just have to find the vendors that have mastered AI and incorporated it into their product offerings.

In Einstein’s case, it’s an add-on to the Salesforce platform.

“The beauty of Einstein is that it’s embedded directly into the Salesforce platform. Customers don’t need to do anything to start using it or seeing the benefits – it just works,” Rodoni says.

Image: Salesforce

This article, “Does Your Small Business Really Need AI?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Kabul Attack: Gun Battle and Suicide Bombing in Afghan Capital

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Afghan security forces battled gunmen following a suicide attack outside the Iraqi embassy in the capital, Kabul, BBC reports.
A bomber blew himself up at the gate of the embassy in the central Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood, then three other attackers entered the compound, the Afghan interior ministry said.

Although the ministry said the siege had ended, reports of gunfire continued.

So-called Islamic State (IS) said it carried out the attack.

Kabul has seen a number of deadly assaults this year blamed on either IS or the Taliban.

Correspondents say this is the first attack on the city’s Iraqi embassy. It comes two weeks after the embassy held a news conference to celebrate the defeat of IS in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

After a gunfight lasting several hours, the Afghan interior minister said the attack was over and all the assailants had been killed. However, Afghan TV quoted sources as saying that one was still alive inside the embassy and exchanging fire with security forces.

Meanwhile, full casualty figures are unclear. The Afghan ministry said one Afghan policeman was injured but all embassy staff were safely evacuated.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said that although its top diplomat in Kabul had been taken safely to the Egyptian embassy, attempts were under way to remove two other embassy employees. It added that two Afghan guards of the embassy were dead.

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan has seen at least 1,662 civilian deaths in the first half of the year, with about 20% of those in the capital.

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Prime Minister Boyko Borisov Talked About NATO’s Good Defense Partnership with US Congressmen

Monday, July 31st, 2017

NATO’s good defense partnership, as well as the benefits of joint exercises in this area, were part of the topics that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov discussed during his meeting with a delegation from the US Congress, according to BGNES. 

 Security in the energy sector was also among the topics discussed during the conversation. Emphasis was placed on the development of the project for the construction of a European gas distribution hub “Balkan”, as well as the study of energy resources in the Black Sea.

The Prime Minister spoke with Joe Wilson, Madeleine Bordalo, Paul Cook, John Garamendi and Jackie Valorski, who are in Sofia in connection with their tour in Eastern Europe, the government’s press service said.

 Congressmen stressed the importance of stability and security in the region as well as cooperation on these issues.

The main macroeconomic indicators of Bulgaria were also discussed. Prime Minister Borisov noted that economic growth accelerated to 3.9% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period of the previous year.

The cultural subject related to the implementation of the “European Capital of Culture 2019″ initiative in Bulgaria was also among the main topics.

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Diesel prices in Europe rise after Rotterdam refinery blaze

Monday, July 31st, 2017

ICE contract moves to five-month high above $500 a tonne amid robust demand

These Sales Best Practices Will Help Your Company Reach Its Goals

Monday, July 31st, 2017

These Sales Best Practices Will Help Your Company Reach Its Goals

An effective sales strategy should be a priority of every business driven by a culture of sales. Put bluntly, the right sales practices will help a company achieve its goals and thrive. The trick is knowing what the best sales practices are and then applying them to your day-to-day business operations.

Sales Best Practices

Fortunately help is at hand with the following 20 sales best practices that will help your company reach its goals.

Set Sales Targets High

Setting sales targets at easily reachable and attainable levels is not conducive with nurturing an ambitious sales environment. Set sales targets high and give sales teams all the encouragement and support needed to achieve them.

Carefully Plan Quarterly, Monthly, Weekly — Even Daily Schedule

Plan for the bigger picture. Planning daily sales schedules will give everyone involved a clear understanding about what is expected. However, schedules shouldn’t be confined to the day or even week ahead. Plan for the bigger picture by creating schedules for the forthcoming month or even quarter.

Start Every Call with an Objective in Mind

Ensure sales teams have an objective in mind when they begin every call. Knowing what you want to achieve when you make the call will put you in a much better position to accomplish your objective.

Be a Good Listener

Sales isn’t just about you doing the talking and your prospective customer doing the listening. When carrying out a sales pitch be sure to listen to the potential customer. Take stock of what they say and what their own objectives are. Then aim to funnel their objectives into the sale to help achieve your own targets and goals.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Challenging Questions

Instead of opting for feeble questions that don’t require customers to think, probe into the mind of the customer by asking testing questions. The top performing sales teams aren’t afraid to dig deep and make their prospective think.

Know When to Move On

The same rules apply to sales practices as they do with networking follow-ups. Be respectful of people’s time and ‘define and refine’ who is worth your time. Determine who is worth pitching too and know when it’s time to step away and move on.

Make Sure You Prioritize

Without sufficient prioritization, it is difficult to be productive and achieve sales targets and wider company goals. At the end of each day, sit down and prioritize the activities for the next day. This way, less time and effort is wasted on unimportant issues.

Regularly Evaluate Progress

Evaluations are a vital component of working environments driven by sales. Conducting regular evaluations of a sales force will mean sales managers and teams can recognize gaps and weaknesses and make the required improvements.

Clarify Issues with Customers

Don’t be afraid to ask a potential customer what they mean if you are unsure about an issue they have raised. Top performing sales people always ask for clarification so they can fully understand the prospects’ queries, concerns and objectives.

Adapt Sales Presentations If Necessary

You may have a sales presentation meticulously planned. Be prepared to make some changes or adaptations to the presentation if the prospect’s objectives or situation has changed.

Be Respectful and Mindful

A cornerstone of every successful business is respect and humility. Think about how your sales techniques will paint your company as a whole. Always show customers the respect and humility you would expect to receive.

Don’t Forget to HEAR

When involved in sales pitches, always remember the HEAR model. With HEAR, you practice Humility, Engagement, Authenticity and Responding whenever possible.

Be Prepared for Objections

Not all sales presentations and pitches run smoothly. Anticipate quips and objectives will rear their head and plan your response to such grievances well in advance.

Use Social Media to Learn More About Customers

Part of your sales preparation could be using social media to learn more about your customers. Take a look at what your customers and prospective customers like the most of Facebook. Check the most frequent hashtags they use on Twitter and which posts are getting the most engagement. Apply such findings to sales pitches to help reach out to customers more effectively and ultimately achieve sales goals.

Use Repeat Engagement

Returning customers are leading revenue generators. An essential sales practice for generating revenue and reaching business goals is to actively re-engage with existing customers. ‘Check-in’ with customers via email, telephone or other communication methods, to see how they are getting on with a service or product and if they require anything else.

Don’t Set Unachievable Goals

It might be essential to set high targets and goals, but making them unachievable will simply put sales teams off. Always set high but realistic goals, as unachievable targets can be more discouraging instead of encouraging.

Align Personal and Professional Goals

Don’t be afraid to align your personal and professional aims. The more personally involved with goals you are, the more likely it will be to achieve them and help the company reach its goals.

Always Focus on the Prospect

In a sales presentation or pitch, always put your focus on the potential client or customer. It can be easy to focus the pitch on the product or the service. A more effective sales practice is to funnel the sales pitch so it focuses on the prospect and how the product or service will benefit them. This way, the prospect is less likely to turn the product or service down.

Always Communicate with the Decision-Maker

Don’t waste time communicating or pitching to people who are not in a position to make decisions. Always strive to connect and sell to the decision-maker who is able to close the deal.

Read Sales Bibles

There’s a myriad of literature related to sales mastery available. Take advantage of such books and publications to help improve sales practices and reach your own business’s goals.

For example, reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource could be an invaluable investment of time to help sales teams improve their performance and meet individual, team and business goals.

Follow these 20 sales best practices and you’ll be in a superior position to create a thriving sales environment and achieve your business goals.

Reaching Goal Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “These Sales Best Practices Will Help Your Company Reach Its Goals” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Mike Pence: ‘Russian Aggression Greatest Threat to Baltic States’

Monday, July 31st, 2017

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Monday there is no larger threat to Baltic states than the “specter of aggression” by Russia, as he pledged support for NATO allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, reported Voice of America

“At this very moment, Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, undermine democracies of sovereign nations and divide the free nations of Europe one against another,” Pence said. “Under President Donald Trump, the United states of America rejects any attempt to use force, threats, intimidation or malign influence in the Baltic states or against any of our treaty allies.”

Pence spoke in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, after meeting with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Latvian President Raimonds V?jonis and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskait?.

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