4 Ways to Build Your Brand with Social Media

If you have a new business, you probably already know you need an online presence. Savvy business owners are almost guaranteed to maintain at least a formal business website, a facebook page, and a twitter. You don’t need anyone to tell you that social media is important to your business. But you may not know how to best use social media to push your platform. Here are some tips:

  1. Customize to the platform: Posting the same thing to every platform you have is only going to be so effective. Most of the most popular platforms allow you to post a huge variety of content–videos, pictures, text, links, and so forth. But some platforms are better suited to certain types of content than others. For instance, an individual photo is great for a Facebook post, but if you’re posting a lot of pictures, an Instagram account might be better. For succinct, in-the-moment reactions, post to Twitter, but if you have a lot of thoughts that you would like to share in a less ephemeral way, establish a blog. This way, the information that you want to get out will get out effectively, and people following you on multiple platforms won’t get spammed by the same status over and over again.
  2. Be active: There’s no point creating a platform if you’re not going to post on it. First of all, inactive platforms will not get very good search results, so casual browsers will be less likely to pick you up. Second, even people who do find you are less likely to follow you if they see you haven’t posted anything recently. After all, what’s the point of following an inactive account?
  3. Engage: Social media sites such as twitter and quora work best for those who are going to engage with other users. Reach out to people in your area, or in areas you would like to market your product to, to build a network of customers and resources with which you can advance your business. Likewise, respond to those who reach out to you. It builds rapport and improves your relationship with potential customers.
  4. Try new platforms: Some platforms have been around a while, and have proved their appeal to consumers. Others are just getting started. While you should invest most of your time in well-known, time-tested platforms, it’s also worthwhile to try out a newer, less popular platform, if you find one that really works for you and your business. Choose well, and you may even find yourself ahead of the curve if the site hits bit.

Salesmanship: Where Entrepreneurs Fail

So you’ve had a brilliant new idea for an entrepreneurial venture. Whether you’ve designed a must-have product, or conceptualized a service that satisfies a major need, you’re sure that your new business will find its audience.

But not so fast. Many fledgling entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming customers will come to them. But even if your product really is the solution to all ills, that still doesn’t mean people will find it without the proper marketing.

The problem is, while aspiring entrepreneurs often (though not always) have experience in some aspect of business, they rarely have experience in salesmanship. And even those that do their research may discover that much of the advice out there is directed at established businesses, not start-ups looking for recognition. Even when they begin making sales, start-ups often make mistakes in dealing with their first customers that they regret later. So let’s talk about some common sales mistakes made by entrepreneurs.

Some entrepreneurs assume they need to establish their brand fully before looking for customers, but the truth is, if you don’t have any customers, it’s difficult to properly establish your brand. Start talking to potential buyers on day one. Not only will it create interest, but it will help you find flaws in your product.

Which brings us to the second point. Even entrepreneurs that start getting their ideas out early sometimes fail to listen to feedback from potential buyers. They’re too concerned about proving themselves to these early prospects to take note of concerns. Or, they’re too attached to their project to admit its flaws to themselves. But these customers provide valuable critique that you can’t get anywhere else. Ignore your potential buyers at your own risk.

Of course, some customers’ feedback is more valuable than others. Some entrepreneurs begin by selling their products to family and friends. This can be satisfying in the short term, but in the long term, it’s not beneficial. Family and friends are not likely to give constructive feedback: their motivation in buying it is solely due to their relationship with you. Instead, seek out buyers who are likely to further your business by offering referrals, beta testing your product, or promising repeat business.

Finally, be aware of things that might be seen as weaknesses, and address them. No matter how well you plan, the smallness and newness of your start-up will cause it to be met with some suspicions. Do your best to assuage those doubts, by proving what your product is capable of and appealing to clients who can vouch for you.

What the Cable Loft Teaches us About Good Business Ideas

Kikkerland, a Dutch design company, hosts an annual Design Challenge, in which students compete to create a product to be sold. Although Kikkerland has a reputation for whimsy, with past products including maraca-shaped cocktail shakers and a barbecue grill that collapses into a suitcase, this year’s winner is surprisingly utilitarian. The Cable Loft is a charger cable organizer that can attach to the edge of a desk. It’s not the kind of design that turns heads, but it is a simple solution to a consumer need.

The lesson of the Cable Loft: good ideas can be boring. Too many entrepreneurs today, while looking for a need to fill, forget that many problems are best solved by simple solutions. Additionally, the Cable Loft is only one product in a long line of cable organizing products. But business ideas don’t need to fit into a new, never-before-conceived niche. Clever entrepreneurs can get the same payoff (if not the same attention) by presenting an improved solution to an already-explored problem. If you see an already-established company doing well despite consumer complaints, there might be a market for you with those peeved customers.

Some people shy away from boring business ideas, worried that they themselves will be bored. After all, why take the risk of entrepreneurship if you’re not going to be passionate about what you’re doing? But the truth is, just because an idea doesn’t make good conversation at cocktail parties doesn’t mean that it won’t be exciting to pursue it. Every start-up presents its founder with hundreds of new challenges and learning opportunities. Entrepreneurship is very rarely boring.

So how do you find (and bring to fruition) the perfect boring business idea? First, naturally, look for a problem to solve. This problem does not have to be huge, and neither does it have to be one that no one has ever tried to solve before. Rather, find one that falls within your personal interest and past experience. Are you passionate about music? Your family? Cooking? Healthcare? Think about the needs in your life that are not adequately satisfied by current products.

Then, develop a plan. Build your knowledge of the field. Make sure you have a strong understanding of finance. Failure to understand basic financial concepts has been the downfall of many entrepreneurial ventures. Think ahead. Be prepared.

Solid, successful businesses don’t need to start with bright ideas. They need to start with smart ones.

How to Stay Healthy as a CEO

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As CEO, your top priority is likely the health and well-being of your company, as opposed to your own. It is hard to imagine someone faulting you for your dedication; after all, you are working for the benefit of both employees and clients alike.

However, many CEOs often forget that their personal health is a major contributor to their company’s overall efficiency. Corporations rarely thrive beneath a CEO who is exhausted, stressed out, or even skipping meals, for these terrible habits are linked to a negative mood, poor judgment, reduced mental clarity, and obesity.

Seeing as you set the precedent for your employees, it is possible for your habits to become their habits — which could lead to detrimental results if you are not taking proper care of yourself. A recent study concluded that obese workers, or those suffering from chronic disorders like heart disease, collectively miss 450 million more days of work than their healthy counterparts.

In order to prevent yourself and your subordinates from falling victim to such a counterproductive and unhealthy lifestyle, try incorporating these habits into your daily routine:

Effort to Eat Healthier

It is time to put an end to “eating on the fly” and missing entire meals for productivity’s sake. It is no secret that healthy food provides our bodies with the physical and mental energy they require to conquer the day, so it is imperative to take your diet seriously — in spite of how restrictive your schedule is. This is where preparing your meals ahead of time may work to your advantage.

Whether you cook one large meal at the beginning of the week and divvy it up accordingly, or take the time each night to pack your meal for the next day, meal prepping is a popular method of saving time without abandoning your health goals.

Don’t Sacrifice Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults below the age of 65 need 7-9 hours of sleep in order to avoid increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. Furthermore, getting consistent amounts of sleep will improve daytime performance, leaving you feeling more alert, productive and creative than you ever did after a late night at the office.

Commit to a Fitness Regimen

While it may feel impossible to squeeze the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity into your schedule, it is absolutely doable — even if it means you have to treat this time like an appointment and write it into your schedule. Additionally, those 30 minutes spent exercising will grant you the opportunity to step back from your work-related obstacles and approach them with a fresher perspective.

Work on Your Work-Life Balance

Although there is nothing wrong with pulling the occasional all-nighter, consistently staying late at the office or answering work emails at home can easily cause you to burn out. Break these patterns by prioritizing your work by deadline and importance, as well as taking short breaks between projects, to ensure you do not feel overwhelmed or inclined to remain at work to check every item off of your to-do list.

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The Psychology of Unmanned Cars

Unmanned cars are not just the future of car technology, they are currently being made and operated in the present. In Pittsburgh, Uber released a fleet of self-driving cars in summer of 2016 that have already made their way to the streets. These cars may have the ability to drive by themselves, but there is always a human being in the driver’s seat, supervising the actions of the car. While it will probably take decades before unmanned cars overtake the roadways as the majority, the introduction of these vehicles has its own problem: us. According to a recent study taken March 2016, 75% of drivers fear riding in an unmanned car.

 

The car industry has made incredible strides in creating and implementing new technologies that take some of the control away from the driver. These features include cruise control and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that help the driver with complicated tasks like parallel parking or increases the safety of passengers and pedestrians by alerting the driver of possible threats. While these features are automated and, on the whole, safe, the control of the vehicle is always in the hands of the human being operating the car.

 

Driverless car manufacturers assure the safety of the passengers and even promise better fuel efficiency, but the success of these technologies will hinge on our ability to take a backseat and allow the car to do the driving. There is no doubt that the technology will be developed, but there is a significant doubt in whether or not people will be comfortable in letting the technology take them safety from point A to point B.

 

One major concern is how with a driverless car will react in a time of crisis. For humans, our reactions are oftentimes based on emotion, but how would a robot respond to a crisis situation where there are two outcomes: either the car will hit a pedestrian or the car will put the safety of the passengers in the car in jeopardy? An interesting article was published on Car and Driver, about the algorithm Mercedes Benz’s algorithm they programmed into their vehicles because it would make the safety of the passengers of utmost importance. Debates about these implications will inevitably arise about unmanned cars in the future because it’s unclear how exactly these cars should be programmed.

 

This technology has the opportunity to reshape the way our roads our constructed, allowing for better productivity and efficiency. How these technologies will be implemented remains to be seen, but how people think about unmanned cars and what they believe will ultimately decide whether these cars are successful or not.

Top Podcasts for Business-Minded Professionals

Podcasts have become increasingly popular in the era of Bluetooth and smartphones. The Cloud is making it easier to connect devices than ever before and people are tapping into this technology revolution. Many cars now have Bluetooth and can easily connect to your phone or computer. With this easy access to the internet, you can listen to podcasts from virtually anywhere. You can also find a podcast about nearly any topic and there are hundreds out there related to business. Whether you’re a seasoned podcast listener or only starting out, here are the top podcasts for professionals that are business-minded.

 

Entrepreneur on Fire

 

This podcast is incredibly popular in the business community and also as a podcast in general, so you might want to make it the first on your list. Each day, the host, John Lee Dumas, releases a new episode. Dumas addresses personal finance matters and also features some of the leading names in business for interviews and addresses many topics that relate to business.

 

This is Your Life

 

Michael Hyatt created this podcast about five years ago and has established himself as an author, mentor, and business expert. Hyatt talks about many different business topics, but dedicates his podcast to “intentional leadership.” He wants to help others work toward their goals, in business and personally, and hopes that his podcast can help listeners reach their own goals in their lives.

 

BBC Business Daily

 

The BBC is usually a great source for general news and current events, but this podcast focuses exclusively on business. As its name implies, a new episode is released each day and discusses global business issues and news. Some of it’s a bit more technical, but a lot of the podcast is geared toward helping people understand different events and concepts. The podcast also features a segment where BBC reporters offer updates on business news around the world.

 

EntreLeadership

 

This podcast is hosted by various business leaders, so you’re constantly getting a fresh perspective and information. You also receive a variety of topics, about managing employees, encouraging workplace productivity, and many other useful insights about business and related topics. Dave Ramsey is usually on the podcast and is known for writing incredibly successful books on business and is an expert in the business industry.

 

The Broad Experience

 

Many people know Ashley Milne-Tyte, who hosts this podcast. She’s discussed the business world for decades and highlights the various ways men and women behave at work. She focuses on dynamics in business in ways that most people can understand. This podcast also occasionally focuses on the bigger picture and how listeners can align their actions with working toward it.

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Robots are Helping in the Fight Against Climate Change

Most people are aware of the large amounts of waste humans, especially those living in developed countries, produce each year. In the U.S., there are thousands of landfills, many of which secrete damaging methane gas that goes out into the environment and harms the atmosphere. Last year, 50 billion plastic water bottles were used in America and over 80 percent of those ended up in landfills instead of being recycled. Even when garbage is recycled, most plants don’t have the capability or money to use industrial spectrometers for sorting garbage and must rely on human labor, which is inefficient and costly.

What’s being done?

Currently, a few companies are working on developing robotic technology that makes this sorting process much easier. A company out of Finland, ZenRobotics, is “the world’s leading supplier of robotic waste separation technology.” This company uses robotic arms that utilize machine learning and computer vision to pick out recycled materials from conveyor lines. The AI quickly learns what types of materials it needs to pick out and can self-teach. They’ve even made a trailer and film that gives insight into this technology and what it can do. These robots function completely independently and require no human supervision or interference when sorting the recyclables.

 

Another company working on similar technology is Sadako Technologies, which is Spanish-based. They’ve also created a short video about their technology, which can be viewed on their website. Like ZenRobotics, the company works on AI garbage sorting technology, but on a smaller scale than ZenRobotics. Sadako’s website claims that their technology is already doing better than human workers and predicts that trash sorting will be a completely automatic process in a few years, as long as technology costs can be lowered.

 

A final company, AMP Robotics, has yet to release a video of their product, but they’re working on an inexpensive solution while using software and robotic technology that’s easier to access. AMP Robotics’s focus is on the U.S.’s trash industry, hoping to offer a solution for the large amount of recyclable materials that go to waste. Their goal is reducing the amount of trash that goes into landfills and offer a concrete solution that doesn’t depend on costs of hardware going down.

 

Once these companies streamline their technology, it’s estimated that significant amounts of money will be saved in the waste industry, allowing that money to be put toward other departments and projects.

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Innovative Watch Could Make Life Easier For Diabetics

The company, PKvitality, which specializes in wearables to be used for health and sport, recently revealed their K’Track Glucose wrist-worn tracker that can measure blood sugar and lactic acid levels without causing excessive blood or using large needles. This device could be useful for athletes, but also completely revolutionary for diabetics who need to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels. The device is no larger than a typical men’s watch and has a modern look so it can be worn at any time without appearing out of place. It can even be worn during exercise, which is a critical time when glucose levels can fluctuate. It even tracks steps and calories burned, making it multi-functional.

 

What is it?

This tracker is $149 andabsorbs fluid that contains [glucose and lactic acid] through the underside of the device”. Though the price tag may seem a bit expensive for a single tracker, it’ll save diabetics significant amounts of money because they won’t need to continuously purchase testing strips and other supplies that are needed to test glucose levels, while also worrying about cumbersome devices that are needed to test their glucose.

 

How does it work?

While K’Track Glucose is painless and uses significantly less supplies than traditional testing methods, needles are still used to test blood sugar levels. The difference is that these needles are less than half a millimeter in diameter and only penetrate the outer layer of skin. Fluid from immediately under that outer layer is absorbed into the tracker and it then gives accurate readings using the K’apsul unit, which can be viewed in K’Track’s app. The app will also show the levels of glucose over time. A single button needs to be pressed on the tracker in order to measure and display blood sugar levels. Check out this article for a diagram of how the process works.

 

Is it available?

Currently, PKvitality is awaiting approval from health regulators on whether or not it can actually sell this device to consumers, a process that could take a significant amount of time. Meanwhile, start saving up. In addition to the initial cost of the tracker, the K’apsul unit is around $100 and must be replaced every 30 days, though it may work out to be more cost effective (and definitely less of a hassle) than traditional ways to measure blood sugar. These prices do not account for any assistance insurance companies may provide.

Digger D3 terminates active landmines.

4 Ways Robots are Making the World a Better Place

When some people think of robots, visions of Terminator and The Matrix might come to mind, but the truth is, robots are making positive changes in our society every day. The fear that is associated with robots overtaking and destroying humans one day is outweighed by the fact that robots are saving lives and offering help to people today.

Military

The armed forces were one the first groups to adopt robots to protect soldiers. Countries that experienced wars have an untold number of landmines buried just beneath the surface. At this time, there are millions of landmines around the world that are unaccounted for. These landmines get more dangerous the older they are and being near them poses an extremely dangerous situation for soldiers. The Digger D-3 is a remote controlled robot that looks more like a tank than a robot, and it takes away some of the risk by detonating them away from humans. There is a large chain attachment on the front of the Digger D-3 that pummels the ground. When a landmine is found, the robot takes the brunt of the explosion with little to no damage to itself.

Medical

The Da Vinci Surgical System performs minimally invasive surgeries on patients every single day, which translates into over 3 million surgeries since it was created. A surgeon controls the movements of the robot by simulating the surgical procedure, which the Da Vinci replicates the movements but they are more calculated. The robot is controlled by the surgeon at all times, but it probably won’t be too long until we see these robots performing surgery independently.

Clean Up of the Oceans

There are many problems facing our oceans like garbage, oil spills, and radioactivity. A self-steering robot called Protei is currently being designed to help clean up our oceans. The design for the small ships that are a few feet long, have a tail attached to the end that absorbs the oil and radioactivity in the water. These ships are unsinkable and react to the changes in the water.

Radiation

Speaking of radiation, robots were used after the Fukishima-Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown in March 2011. During and after the meltdown, additional work needed to be done as far as clean up so the situation wouldn’t spread or escalate. The radiation levels were too extreme for any human to go in safely, so robots that look like RC cars were used to keep the situation from getting worse.

 

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Robots and Humans in the Workplace

The days where humans and robots regularly work alongside each other are becoming closer everyday, and for some places it’s already a day to day occurrence. It’s definitely a major concern for many people that their job will be replaced by a machine sooner or later, but it certainly doesn’t seem like that’s the case for most industries. What seems most impressive are the workplaces where employees are working alongside these new robots. There are several companies and industries that utilize robots, but also still rely on the invaluable services of a human being.

Hospitals and medical facilities are currently taking advantage of new technologies in robotics that allow for better service and care for their patients. At this time, the daVinci robot performs minimally invasive surgery on more than 3 million people worldwide. The da Vinci robot is able to perform surgery on delicate tissues without the human error associated with a human doctor. The robot is not affected by lack of sleep or a poor diet, and their ability to execute a surgery with the skill of a seasoned surgeon.


Staying in the healthcare industry,an autonomous medical robot named TUG has been released by the thousands in hospitals nationwide. TUG delivers linens, medicines, and meals to hospital patients and has sensors around it doesn’t run into unsuspecting hospital visitors.

In Tokyo, over 140 human-like robots named Pepper are in mobile Soft Bank locations. These robots are used to greet visitors and explain new services being offered by SoftBank. One of the defining characteristics of Pepper is his ability to perceive and react to human emotions. Depending on how the person greets Pepper, he will adjust his response accordingly instead of having the same exact greeting for everyone who enters the establishment.

When it comes to robots in the industrial industry, they typically do not work alongside people because of the danger that goes with large, heavy robots moving at high speeds. Most industrial robots are large, move very quickly, and have the potential to seriously harm or even kill a person. For this reason, they are normally kept behind cages. Recently, there is a growing need for robots who have the ability to collaborate with humans, or co-bots. Co-bots, like Baxter, are designed to be an assistant to the human in a safe, controlled way. They aren’t able to do the intense work of an industrial robot, but they are able to stand alongside humans without being in cages.

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