Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

5 Types of Background Checks You Should Perform on Any Prospective New Hire

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

5 Types of Background Checks You Should Perform on Any Prospective New Hire

A Glassdoor survey reports that small businesses that take the time to invest in a good candidate screening process improve the quality of their hires by 70 percent. Small Business Trends spoke with  Leah Machado  the senior director of HR services at Paychex about the 5 background checks small business should perform on any new hire.

According to Machado, small businesses need to refine their hiring processes like never before.

“As the labor market has tightened and unemployment has gone down over the past several months, hiring has become a challenge for businesses of every size,” she says. “There are simply not enough qualified employees for the number of open positions.

She says that following background checks save businesses time, streamline and simplify complex activities, and allow these enterprises to compete against bigger companies for talent. She also notes the ones that work the best have a few layers.

“Employment screenings happen in a couple of phases and much of the difference has to do with compliance,” Machado says.

Types of Background Checks

Pre-offer screenings offer a first look and kind of higher level overview. These include:

Reference Checks 

This is one of the biggest foundations of the background screening process. Reference checks give small businesses a good idea of who they are considering since past performance often dictates future expectations.

Red flags include a reference the candidate asks you not to contact. Most states have laws governing what can and can’t be disclosed but job performance is on the table in many.

Machado says these checks serve an important social purpose.

“For industries like healthcare, education and childcare, home care, and fields that take on so much responsibility with vulnerable populations, these background checks can – and should – be stringent,” she says. 

Work and Education Verification 

Business owners want to be sure the information provided is truthful here, but they also need to be aware of the law. Small businesses need to be familiar with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other laws at the local, state or federal level that are designed to protect candidates.

The FCRA has a number of requirements including getting a signed consent from the candidate.

As far as education verification, contacting an Admissions and Records Office is a common route. Social media audits can also be included.

Pre-employment screenings drill down deeper into a candidate’s information.

Criminal Records 

There are a variety of circumstances where these are mandatory. They include past arrests as well as warrants and even pending charges. Medical organizations and government agencies as well as any business that handles lots of money will ask for one of these.

A criminal record check can also include identifying marks like tattoos.

Driver’s License Verification

If you’re a small business with employees that will be delivering or driving on business, verifying their driver’s license is valid is important. There’s a simple way to do just that– E-verify is a government agency that uses two part authentication.

Drug Testing  

Timing and sequence is everything when it comes to a complete background check.

“Employers can make an offer contingent on passing a drug test,” Machado says. “However, they can’t issue a request for that drug test until a conditional offer is actually made.”

Here’s an updated list of the labs that work specifically with drug testing that will be able to help you out.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Types of Background Checks You Should Perform on Any Prospective New Hire” was first published on Small Business Trends


Mobile Ecommerce Trends Caused by AI in 2018

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

AI Driven M-Commerce Trends

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workflow of small businesses has made them more efficient. And for e-commerce businesses with a mobile presence, the contribution of AI can transform your online business, this according to an infographic by Mofluid.

According to Mofluid, AI is expected to have an impact in almost every industry vertical, easily making it the next level of technological shifts. And by 2020 the technology is expected to manage 85% of customer support with intelligent automation.

For small business owners with an online presence, having an AI-based mobile Commerce platform will provide a number of different services without having to invest in additional human resources. And it will further close the gap a company has between e-commerce and mobile commerce.

In addressing this gap, Mofluid says, “Both platforms need continuous optimization in order to stay in the competition. More than the customer it is the technology which is bringing about transformation to the way online business is being run.”

As more people use mobile to make purchases, the optimization of this platform will be key for the long-term success of any online business.

AI Driven M-Commerce Trends

An important feature in today’s digital marketing is personalization. With AI, businesses can personalize their marketing with greater accuracy to increase their conversion rates. Mofluid reports some retailers have experienced an increase of 30% in their conversion rates.

Based on customer engagement on websites, AI can be used to recommend products and deliver millions of homepage variations from the data customers enter when they visit a site for a more personalized experience.

In order to deliver personalized and targeted ads, having a good customer experience (CE) is key. A good CE will result in more data being generated by the customer as they interact with your site, employees or chatbots.

This entails having an effective search and navigation tools powered by AI using voice. With natural language processing (NLP) a small business can have a voice search and navigation platform available 24/7 capable of narrowing and contextualizing search results.

To further assist your customers, you can create virtual shoppers to help customers find the items they need or even make recommendations based on previous interactions.

The Integration of AI

Integrating AI in your mobile commerce platform is just one more tool which will improve your online presence. Digital solutions take work and they have to be optimized according to the specific needs of your company. But once you have everything in place, they can deliver results which will make your company better.

You can look at the infographic below for the rest of the ways AI is being used in mobile commerce.

AI Driven M-Commerce Trends

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Mobile Ecommerce Trends Caused by AI in 2018” was first published on Small Business Trends


5 Social Engineering Scams Your Workforce Should Know!

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

5 Social Engineering Scams Your Workforce Should Know!

Employee awareness of social engineering is essential for ensuring corporate cybersecurity. If end users know the main characteristics of these attacks, it’s much more likely they can avoid falling for them. Today’s data threats don’t discriminate; businesses of all sizes are susceptible to attacks. However, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often less prepared to deal with security threats than their larger counterparts. The reasons for this vary from business to business, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that SMBs often have less resources to devote to cyber security efforts.

Here are a Few Social Engineering Scams to Know

  • Phishing: The leading tactic leveraged by today’s ransomware hackers, typically delivered in the form of an email, chat, web ad or website designed to impersonate a real system and organization. Often crafted to deliver a sense of urgency and importance, the message within these emails often appears to be from the government or a major corporation and can include logos and branding.
  • Baiting: Similar to phishing, baiting involves offering something enticing to an end user in exchange for private data. The “bait” comes in many forms, both digital, such as a music or movie download, and physical, such as a branded flash drive labeled “Executive Salary Summary Q3 2016” that is left out on a desk for an end user to find. Once the bait is taken, malicious software is delivered directly into the victim’s computer.
  • Quid Pro Quo: Similar to baiting, quid pro quo involves a request for the exchange of private data but for a service. For example, an employee might receive a phone call from the hacker posed as a technology expert offering free IT assistance in exchange for login credentials.
  • Pretexting: Is when a hacker creates a false sense of trust between themselves and the end user by impersonating a co-worker, professional colleague or a figure of authority within the company in order to gain access to private data. For example, a hacker may send an email or a chat message posing as the head of IT Support who needs private data in order to comply with a corporate audit – that isn’t real.
  • Tailgating: An unauthorized person physically follows an employee into a restricted corporate area or system. The most common example of this is when a hacker calls out to an employee to hold a door open for them as they’ve forgotten their RFID card. Another example of tailgating is when a hacker asks an employee to “borrow” a private laptop for a few minutes, during which the criminal is able to quickly steal data or install malicious software.

Play it Safe

Ensure all employees are wary of any email containing an attachment they aren’t expecting, especially if said attachment is a Microsoft Office file. Before clicking on anything, make sure they confirm with the sender (via phone, text, separate email) what it is before opening or clicking anything. Today’s employees are connected to the Internet all day every day, communicating with
colleagues and stakeholders, sharing critical information and jumping from site to site. With hacking, data breaches and ransomware attacks on the rise, it is essential for all companies to plan for the worst, with mandatory cyber security training for all employees and with the recommended solutions for mitigating the risks.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Social Engineering Scams Your Workforce Should Know!” was first published on Small Business Trends


How to Manage Shift Workers for Better Results

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Managing Shift Employees for Better Results
Do you have shift workers at your business? As our society increasingly wants everything “now,” 24/7 business schedules have become more common. From the construction and transportation industries to healthcare and hospitality, more and more businesses have employees working what’s commonly defined as “shift work,” that is, work outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Shift work may take place in the evening, the early morning or the middle of the night. Overtime or extra-long workdays are also considered shift work.

Shift workers’ schedules generally “rotate” around the clock. In other words, they might work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. for a week, switch to a midnight to 8 a.m. shift the next week, and then to a regular day shift the third week.

Dangers of Shift Work

While scheduling employees on shifts might help your business be more competitive, it can also backfire on both your business and your employees. A majority of night-shift workers (62%) get inadequate sleep, according to the National Safety Council, because they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

There’s even a recognized illness called shift work disorder, according to the National Sleep Foundation, that affects up to 10% of U.S. shift workers. Symptoms can include sleepiness, insomnia, headaches, depression, irritability and trouble concentrating. In the long term, shift work can contribute to chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and anxiety.

Your business also faces risks when employees work shifts. According to OSHA:

  • Worker accident and injury rates are 18% greater during evening shifts and 30% greater during night shifts than during day shifts.
  • Working 12 hours per day is associated with a 37% increased risk of injury.
  • Lost productivity related to fatigue costs employers more than $136 billion a year in productive work time.

Managing Shift Employees Safely

Unfortunately, sometimes shift work is unavoidable. How can you make it safer for both your employees and your business? Here are some tips.

  • Keep long work shifts and overtime to a minimum.
  • Keep consecutive night shifts to a minimum.
  • Don’t change shifts too quickly. Give employees at least 48 hours off between shifts.
  • Avoid alternating several days of work with several days off.
  • Rotating shifts clockwise gives employees more time to get used to new schedules. In other words, rotate from day shift to afternoon shift to night shift and back to day, as opposed to rotating from day shift to night shift to afternoon shift to night shift, etc.
  • Try to give shift workers weekends off so they have some time to spend with friends and family on a normal schedule.
  • Keep shift schedules predictable so workers can plan ahead. Don’t make sudden, surprise changes to the shifts. Encourage employees not to switch shifts.
  • Adjust shift length to the workload. For example, heavy physical labor, monotonous work, or intense mental work could be done in shorter shifts.
  • Keeping the environment cool and brightly lit helps employees stay awake during shift work.
  • Monotonous sounds (like machinery) or total quiet can put shift workers to sleep. Play upbeat music to keep them alert.
  • Provide plenty of breaks. If employees do repetitive physical work or heavy lifting, brief hourly rest breaks can help muscles recover. Other shift workers may benefit from enough time to take a quick walk outside or do some stretches or calisthenics.
  • Make shift work voluntary. Most shift workers never acclimate to the night shift because they revert to a daytime schedule during days off. You can entice employees to volunteer for night shifts by paying a premium for these hours.
  • Watch for signs of sleep deprivation in shift workers, since they generally won’t recognize the signs themselves. Warning signs may include:
    • Irritability or mood changes
    • Poor personal hygiene
    • Making more mistakes
    • Lapses in judgment
    • Dozing off

If a worker simply can’t acclimate to shift work, don’t force it. Otherwise, you could be putting both your employee and your business at risk.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Manage Shift Workers for Better Results” was first published on Small Business Trends


What is Visual Email and What are the Benefits for your Business?

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

The Benefits of Visual Voicemail: Improve Your Business Communication by Turning Voicemails to Emails

In addition to saving you money, one of the most compelling reasons to switch to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service is that it can provide your business with a wide range of features that a traditional phone system simply can’t offer. Many of these features, such as visual voicemail, work by utilizing the data from your phone calls in new ways — opening up a world of possibilities.

Of these features, visual voicemail is one of the most useful. When it’s activated, your voicemail messages will be automatically transcribed from audio files into text so that you can access them just as you would your email.

Though simple in concept, visual voicemail contains significant potential to improve business communications – but how?

The Benefits of Visual Voicemail

Take a closer look to see how visual voicemail can save time, streamline workflows, and more.

Increase productivity

With visual voicemail, you no longer have to dedicate time to listening to voicemails or taking notes while you listen. You’ll spend less time by reading instead of listening, and you can see the message in the same place as your emails, chats, and other communications.

Access messages from any location

When voicemails in your business voicemail inbox are transcribed and turned into emails, you don’t have to be at your desk phone to keep in touch. Visual voicemail allows you to check your voice messages consistently, no matter where you are. Even when you’re in a situation in which you can’t pick up the phone, you can be on the go and still stay in touch.

Maintain your privacy

This is a great reason to use visual voicemail. If you need to listen to a time-sensitive message containing potentially confidential information, you don’t want to be worried about someone else overhearing. Use visual voicemail to keep your private details private.

Forward messages with ease

If you receive a message by mistake that wasn’t meant for you, you can fix it easily with visual voicemail. Because this feature turns voice messages into text, you can simply forward the message along to the correct party as you would an email. No need to worry about taking notes or getting the details right; you can just forward it along.

Eliminate confusion

Have you ever gotten a voicemail that’s so hard to understand, you’ve had to listen multiple times to decipher what someone is saying? Visual voicemail can help you solve this problem. Messages are automatically transcribed for you, so you’ll only have to read once to get the message!

Prioritize accordingly

One great thing about visual voicemail is that it allows you to prioritize in a new way. Instead of having to listen to all the messages in your inbox in the order in which they were left (or having to go through all of them again to get back to the one you want), visual voicemail lets you skip all of that and choose your own order. You can see who left which messages before you read them and prioritize that way; alternatively, you can scan messages for urgent matters and attend to those first. Visual voicemail allows for much greater flexibility when it comes to responding to your voice messages.

Manage follow-ups better

Similarly, it’s much easier to respond in a timely manner when you have a visible record of the voicemails you need to follow up on. Visual voicemail creates the list for you, so you can treat your voicemails just like emails. This means that while you reduce the number of communication channels that you have to worry about, the people who prefer to call instead of email can continue to do so without worrying if you’ll get back to them.

Improve record-keeping

Importantly, visual voicemail helps you create an easily accessible record of all the voicemails you receive. You can delete the actual voicemails from your phone as needed, without worrying if you’ll be getting rid of important details that you’ll need to find later on. As with any communication channel, keeping thorough records with your voice messages can serve you well into the future. And with visual voicemail, the work is already done for you.

As it’s easy to see, using visual voicemail leads to an across-the-board increase in convenience. When your phone system more flexibility, so do you! Only VoIP-based services offer a rich variety of features, including visual voicemail, that can help everyone on your team work the way they want to (not to mention save you a significant amount of money in the process). If this sounds like something you’re interested in, contact Nextiva today to get a free estimate of what it would cost to switch your business to VoIP today.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What is Visual Email and What are the Benefits for your Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends


Avoid Holds On Your PayPal Money with Funds Now Feature

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

PayPal Funds Now Feature Avoid Holds On Your Money

PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) has just announced a new feature called Funds Now. As the name implies, it allows select businesses the ability to access the funds from completed sales right away.

By eliminating the holds, delays, and reserves, PayPal gives small businesses the cash flow they need to keep their operations going without having to wait.

PayPal Funds Now Program

The Funds Now program has been extended to small businesses in good standing at no extra cost, which now makes up more than one million companies.

Cash flow is a pressing issue for small business owners. With accounts receivables taking days or even weeks by some organizations, near instant availability can solve this problem.

On the company blog, PayPal Chief Operating Officer Bill Ready explained how getting rid of this particular pain point came about after hearing small businesses concerns regarding this issue. According to Ready, businesses said it was “Too difficult and too slow to get access to the funds from their completed sales.”

Ready added, “In the world of payments, funding delays of seven to 21 days for small businesses have been far too common. Those funding delays hinder the ability of small businesses to invest back into their businesses, pay their bills, and serve their customers.”

PayPal currently has more than 17 million businesses using its platform to process payments. The vast majority are small businesses looking to collect on the sales they make as soon as possible.

Any delays on their ability to collect on these funds can translate to everything from inventory shortage to payroll problems.

Funds Now

In order to qualify for Funds Now, businesses need 6 plus months of PayPal business account sales history, strong selling history with successful PayPal transactions, and a confirmed account information to keep your account secure.

With these requirements in place, the system essentially is automated. Anytime you make a sale through a marketplace, website, PayPal Here, or invoicing via PayPal, the money will be sent directly to your PayPal balance within seconds.

You can then transfer the funds to your bank account or use it from your PayPal balance.

The only time there may be a delay is if PayPal suspects the payment you received comes from a fraudulent buyer. In that case, the company said it will help you resolve the problem.

Funds Now is being rolled out to select businesses across the US, UK, and Australia. PayPal said it is going to expand the program to more businesses and more markets in the near future.

Image: PayPal

This article, “Avoid Holds On Your PayPal Money with Funds Now Feature” was first published on Small Business Trends


7 Phishing Attack Examples That Caused Businesses Major Harm

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

7 Phishing Attack Examples That Caused Businesses Major Harm

More scammers and hackers working the Internet are targeting your small business with phishing attacks. According to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report 2018, there was a 92% increase in the number of blocked phishing attacks reported.

Phishing Attack Examples

Here’s a rundown of some of those attacks, what’s been happening and the cost to the companies that got attacked.

Ryuk and Convenience Stores

Ransomware is still a threat to businesses everywhere, but there’s a variation that’s emerged on the scene in September that’s even trickier to deal with.  Ryuk is a variation on the first Ransomware called Hermes. A recent security alert details how at least three American organizations were hit by the malware in phishing attacks that delete backup files.

Law firms, convenience store chains and even medical facilities have been reportedly attacked. This ransomware has even netted up to $640,000 according to the report.

State-Sponsored Phishing Attacks

The origins of these phishing attacks are causing more alarm in all business communities. That’s because more and more of them appeared to be state-sponsored. Google even published a security blog last month warning businesses that use G-suite to be vigilant for hackers looking to steal their passwords.

Deloitte has done a study and they report most of the costs aren’t apparent until some time after the attack.

Facebook Email Scam

One of the things that most insidious about this phishing scam is the hackers have copied the formatting and colors of a legitimate Facebook email almost perfectly. If you or one of your employees clicks through, you’ll be sent to another website that’s downloading malware for the time you’re on it.

Remember, the domain can be a giveaway if it’s not the legitimate variety.

Phishing FedEx Scam

This is a business phishing scam that popped up last month and can do some damage to your business if you’re not careful. It might look like an innocent enough email telling you there’s a message waiting for you to click on the link, but of course you shouldn’t.

It’s important to keep in mind the projected cost for these kind of phishing scams and other malware is $6 trillion by 2021, according to experts. That’s the numbers for small businesses specifically.

Bank of America Scam

Small Businesses need to know the lending institutions they deal with are secure. This is another phishing scam.  The realistic looking email says there’s an update required. Click on the link and you’ll wind up at an even more convincing website.

TechCo says that when you try the links they don’t go anywhere and that’s a dead giveaway. What’s more, the url is garbled.

There’s even more information this scam has migrated to attack other banks as hackers try and take over your personal and small business information too.

Fake SEO Services

Everyone who has a small business understands the importance of getting a good ranking on Google. However, there’s another scam out there and that’s fake SEO services. These can generally promise you a number one ranking you won’t get. Some even go so far as to threaten your company with a negative attack if you don’t keep the payments up.

Fake Invoicing

Some of these scams are things you need to watch out for all year. Fake invoicing has been around for a while. It’s even drawn the attention of the Federal Trade Commission. They warn small businesses on their website that one of the most common scams appear to come from ISPs. These hackers and scammers know small business is likely to pay quickly if they think their business website might be shut down. highlights the scary fact that many of these fake invoices get paid but never reported.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “7 Phishing Attack Examples That Caused Businesses Major Harm” was first published on Small Business Trends


New Discover it Business Credit Card Tracks Expenses and Has Cash Back Match

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

New Discover it Business Credit Card Tracks Expenses and Has Cash Back Match

The new Discover it Business Card is going to give small business owners unlimited 1.5% cashback on all purchases with a dollar-for-dollar match.

Discover it Business Credit Card

In addition to the cashback offer, Discover (NYSE: DFS) is also providing free business and security features while at the same time getting rid of the annual fee for the first 12 months. The company also said the benefits it provides to other cardmembers will be available to businesses.

For small business owners, the benefits Discover is providing with this new card will add more money for their company at the end of each year. But the business and security features could prove to be more useful for owners who want an integrated solution for keeping track of their expenses and ensuring their card is protected at all times.

In an emailed press release to Small Business Trends, Andrew Hopkins, senior vice president of marketing at Discover, explained all of the features the company has put into the new card.

Hopkins said, “We’re looking forward to providing Discover’s unparalleled customer experience—from rewards, to security and customer service—to business owners so they can focus on the things that matter most, like serving their customers and growing their businesses.”

The Offer

The Discover it Business card will allow your small business to earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. And for the first year, you will get 0% APR and an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all cash back earned at the end of the first year. Discover says this is the only business credit card with Cashback Match.

As for the features which will make it easier to manage the expenses of your business, the card allows you to download transactions directly into QuickBooks, Quicken, and Excel. This means less time tracking your expenses and more time running your company.

If you want to give your employees expense accounts, Business it Card offers free cards for your staff. You can set the spending limit and all the purchases on their cards can also earn rewards.

The other benefits, which are part of Discover’s it cards include free Social Security number alerts, FICO Credit Scores for free through Credit Scorecard, and no foreign transaction fees or late fee on the first late payment.

Discover it cardmembers are protected with $0 fraud liability guarantee. And if you suspect your card has fallen into the wrong hands, the Freeze it feature on the Discover mobile app or website can prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers by letting you freeze your account.

You can get more information and apply for the Discover it Business card here

Image: Discover

This article, “New Discover it Business Credit Card Tracks Expenses and Has Cash Back Match” was first published on Small Business Trends


Spotlight: Affinity Uses New Tech to Take a Different Approach to CRM

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Spotlight: Affinity CRM Uses New Tech to Take a Different Approach Relationship Management

Marketing and selling to customers is really all about relationships. So you need a system for effectively nurturing those relationships. Affinity is a new kind of CRM platform that uses machine learning and natural language processing to intelligently grow relationships.

Read more about the company and its new approach to CRM in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers an easy CRM platform for businesses.

VP of Marketing for Affinity Anne Gherini told Small Business Trends, “We offer a relationship intelligence platform that uses powerful, patent-pending technology to help users build, nurture and grow their professional relationships, all with a minimum amount of effort. It enables people to identify who is best suited to make a warm introduction to another person or company by using Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to scan the communication streams hidden in their network and determine the relationship strength of one person to another. At the same time, our platform automates the relationship management process to eliminate the manual work involved in CRM workflows or managing some type of pipeline; gone are the days of manual data entry to manage your prospects, customers, and deals. We also offer prioritization support by surfacing data points like missed emails or cold relationships to make sure that users don’t drop the ball on important relationships.”

Business Niche

Using proprietary technology to access relationship intelligence.

Gherini says, “Our patent-pending algorithms uncovers hidden opportunities sitting in user’s networks. Since Affinity first focused on solving the problem of structuring large stacks of data, like communication streams, we have become the best-in-class platform for auto-population and the easiest way to manage high-touch relationships.”

How the Business Got Started

After an important realization.

Gherini explains, “Two of the company’s three co-founders — Ray Zhou and Shubham Goel — were roommates at Stanford and working together in an incubator program called “The Garage.” At the time, they had talked about starting a business together but they didn’t really know what type of business they wanted to run. So they set out to talk to as many different types of working professionals, in a variety of roles from a variety of fields, as they could, in order to understand what they did. After dozens upon dozens of interviews, Ray and Shubham realized that all professionals — whether lawyers or accountants, investors or entrepreneurs — essentially do the same thing in order to be successful: they manage relationships with other people. At the same time, the roommates realized that there was no good technology tools available to help people build and manage those relationships. So they set out to create something that would empower people to do exactly that. They built an early prototype and shared it with Joe Lonsdale, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent entrepreneurs and investors. Joe was immediately impressed with the product and signed on as the third co-founder to help the two budding entrepreneurs turn their platform into a successful business.”

Biggest Win

Getting their first paying customer.

Gherini says, “Even with exceptional growth in our first year, as well as signing Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s best VC firms, that first client proved just how valuable our product really is and how it immediately improved the client’s relationships.”

Biggest Risk

Starting the business right out of college.

Gherini adds, “The co-founders worried they didn’t have enough experience, but it has turned out that their passion, focus and perseverance more than made up for their lack of experience — that, and having an industry veteran like Joe Lonsdale on board didn’t hurt either.”


How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Building the platform.

Gherini explains, “We’ve put the bulk of our funding into engineering resources so that we can continue to build the most powerful and feature-rich relationship management platform on the planet. If we had another $100,000, we’d do the same. We continue to hire the best playmakers over all departments that want to roll their sleeves up in order to build this together.”

Favorite Quote

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: Affinity, Co-founder Joe Lonsdale addressing the team

This article, “Spotlight: Affinity Uses New Tech to Take a Different Approach to CRM” was first published on Small Business Trends


6 Empowering Lessons We Can Teach Our Kids

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Empowering Kids: 6 Lessons We Can Teach Children

With the start of another school year, anxious parents resume worrying about how they can help their kids survive socially and thrive academically. With four kids spanning 1st grade to junior year, I have definitely spent a fair share of time trying to figure out the best way to raise my children to live happy, well-balanced and productive lives. 

As a long-time entrepreneur, I’d love for my kids to discover that business ownership is their calling. But, it’s far more important to me that each child follows his or her passion and finds a career or purpose that’s personally fulfilling. And, I want to make sure that my husband and I are sowing the right seeds today for future success and happiness in whatever career they choose. 

Empowering Kids

Throughout the school year, there are opportunities to cultivate soft skills and habits that will last a lifetime. Here are six skills that can be helpful in school today, as well as transfer to their chosen career in years (or decades) to come: 

1. Teach and show them that it’s okay to fail

A high-pressure environment like school can place too much emphasis on success, perfection and A’s. Any kind of disappointment or perceived failure can be devastating for kids. This can be particularly true for girls, as evidence shows that girls are often socialized to be perfect. As parents, it’s up to us to help our children understand that failure is not such a bad thing. It’s a natural part of life.

Experiencing failure helps children develop coping skills and resolve – skills that are certainly needed in the business world. When kids experience defeat, they can build resilience and be more willing to put themselves out there and attempt something challenging. 

As a parent, resist the need to rescue your child. Jumping in to help all the time sends the message that you don’t trust your child. Encourage your kids to try new things and take risks, academically and extracurricularly, regardless of the outcome. I love the words from Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani “be brave, not perfect.” 

2. Grow their communications skills

Verbal and written communication is the key to building relationships and business success. Encouraging your kids to flex their communication muscles will pay dividends in their future careers. With the prevalence of electronic devices today, it’s all the more important to make sure young people can carry on a face-to-face conversation – maintaining eye contact, asking questions and listening. 

For younger kids, story chains are a great activity while driving in the car or at the dinner table…begin the story and have everyone take turns adding to the story as the plot takes twist and turns with each contribution. For older kids, you can help develop their presentation skills, by encouraging them to speak in public whenever possible – and even have them pitch you ideas. 

3. Help them seek their passion

One of my all time favorite quotes comes from Mark Twain: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”  I always tell clients that it’s never too late for them to follow their passion. And it’s never too early for my children as well. 

I try to lead by example, always communicating how fortunate I am that my career is my passion. Launching businesses, particularly the second time around, has been less about chasing money and more about helping others get their own dreams off the ground. I don’t think it’s possible that all kids will know their passion at the end of high school – but I want my children to understand the importance of passion and doing what you love.  

4. Encourage them to try everything

When we talk about passion, we often picturing an ultra-passionate artist or businessperson who is wholly consumed by a single passion to the exclusion of everything else. I have a daughter who loves to dance and a son who loves sports… and they would both probably be very happy spending every waking hour on those activities. But, school is the time to explore, dabble, and develop a well-balanced set of skills and interests. So, my husband and I stress the importance of reading and writing to our son who would rather focus on engineering. 

5. Help them learn to say No

We want our kids to stand firm and make their dreams happen. But in a bid to please others (parents, teachers, coaches, friends…), kids lose their unique identities, convictions and strength. It took me decades of people pleasing to realize how much overcommitting was hurting my career, family, and health. It’s never too early to help your kids understand that’s it’s okay to say no. Instead of basing their decisions on the desires of others, kids should be encouraged to make decisions based on their own wants, needs, and experiences. This crucial development step builds self-confidence and will help them set their own priorities and path in the real world.   

6. Take care of yourself

Emotions are contagious. We all are vulnerable to “catching” someone else’s emotions and this is certainly true with parents and children. Simply put, if you are stressed, your kids will probably be impacted. Some research has found that parental stress is related to behavioral and emotional problems, even lower math scores, in their children.

In short, take care of yourself, so you can take care of your family. Make time for your own activities, hobbies, exercise, relaxation techniques…and don’t feel guilty about it. People thrive when they are happy and less stressed, and this is true for adults, parents and kids! 

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This article, “6 Empowering Lessons We Can Teach Our Kids” was first published on Small Business Trends