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Category: business

There are 110 posts published under business.

Why Your Business Needs a Mobile Strategy

Your business needs a mobile strategy – it’s just that simple. If you don’t believe me then consider this – there are now more searches performed via mobile devices than desktops throughout the world.

Mobile devices accounted for 55% of traffic in the US at the start of last year and 47% of that was app-based. In addition, according to ComScore, the average user spends around 30 hours a month searching the web via mobile. Simply put, the web is changing. And if the web changes, your business also needs to change.

Mobile strategy for business

Image : thornleyfallis.ca

We consume information via apps on our phones, make purchases through the browser on our tablets, and read the news from a real-time updating widget. In fact, an average user checks his or her smartphone every 6 minutes.

Frankly, the whole way we interact with the Internet has changed. When you read a magazine, interact via social media, play games and even set your alarm to wake up, you do it through an app. We’ve moved far beyond browsing via search bar and inputting commands via keyboard. Therefore, your business needs to implement the right mobile strategy to target your increasingly mobile customers.

It’s not enough anymore to limit communications to websites and blogs, or for that matter even to utilise social media alone. Mobile strategy needs to be included, considered and adopted alongside and also independent of your desktop strategy.

So, what should you consider?

Optimisation Matters

Mobile devices come in a whole variety and range of sizes and styles. From low-res 3.2 inch screens to 4K 5.5 inch ones, and larger desktop screens, too. Your content should appear just right regardless of desktop or mobile access. This means implementing adaptive or responsive design.

These considerations don’t end with the website alone. Good design includes email marketing, social media campaigns and any content that appears on a screen.

Location Awareness

Often underutilised, location awareness is a very powerful tool that marketers can potentially use to provide tailor-fit and targeted information to mobile users depending on their location. Technologies such as GPS tracking, iBeacon and others allow businesses to deliver highly appropriate content that can be just the right fit for the individual’s context. With these, you can provide information on deals, products or services according to a consumer’s interests and proximity.

Mobile Coupons

Mobile coupons can be tied in with location awareness to provide customers with highly relevant coupons or offers in a certain place at a particular time. For example, through iBeacon, consumers can receive push notifications about offers or coupons when they walk within a close proximity to a product. Of course, there are dozens of other uses for this technology, but coupons are one of note.

Alternatively, loyalty apps can be used to seek out the nearest stores offering deals, offers or vouchers on a particular item. Both these examples have been shown to be a draw for businesses and also great for upselling.

Mobile Content

Needless to say, most mobile strategies are content driven. We consume so much of our content through mobile devices, and even otherwise rich and bandwidth-heavy resources like video are now being streamed to smartphones and tablets. There are few things as irritating as slow or non-loading sites or apps that freeze in the middle of loading content, because of unresponsive servers.

Given the need for unobtrusive user experience, it will be important to deliver such rich content without delays or hiccups. For best delivery results, you will want to consider running your application from a distributed infrastructure – otherwise known as a cloud-based setup – in order to better scale. Content delivery networks or CDNs will be essential in ensuring least latency when delivering cached content (such as videos, photos and other media).

If operating in a multi-server environment, performance is also to your choice of load balancing service, which can dynamically distribute traffic according to server load and capacity, as well as the content of the packets and transmission.

Traditionally, load balancing is done either through an on-premises appliance or with a DNS-based technology. However, these can either be expensive or too basic. A cloud-based approach to load balancing, would be ideal, in terms of scalability. Such platform as a service (PaaS) solution are also tend to be less costly, due to their economy-of-scale pricing models.

Mobile Advertising

Like desktop advertising, mobile advertising offers amazing opportunities for businesses to reach a larger audience and get more people to engage and convert. Using mobile advertising as part of your mobile strategy, such as through mobile advertising networks, can be a great way to reach out to more people.

Case in point: 58% of smartphone users prefer free apps with ads rather than shell out a nominal price for the premium version or pay for in-app content, according to a survey by Zogby Analytics. According to the same study, most smartphone users would prefer seeing mobile ads tailored to their specific interests.

Mobile and Productivity

Mobility has also ushered in plenty of new opportunities for employees to be more productive. Email is a fantastic form of communication, but is limited by itself. Productivity applications like Trello, Asana, Basecamp or even Google’s own enterprise tools have their own mobile apps that make collaboration far simpler and more intuitive. Cloud suites like Office 365 make content and document sharing, as well as virtual meetings and professional networking a lot easier, regardless of the device, OS or platform. In turn these greatly enhance productivity, allow ease of access on-the-go and facilitate work in the modern environment.

Ensuring your business has the right mobile strategy is a necessity that can bring immediate and long term gains to customers, employees and your business as a whole.


5 Strategies for Strengthening Your CFO’s Connection to Business Metrics

This is a guest post by Asha Saxena of Future Technologies Inc.


If your CFO isn’t engaging with business metrics at a departmental level, she may be missing the bigger picture.

When you’ve got a great CFO, it’s tempting to keep her siloed in the “money corner,” slaving away in Excel and making projections. You rely on her to monitor cash flow and paint an accurate picture of your company’s financial health — now and in the future.

To most CFOs, business intelligence means being able to assess the company’s finances. But only looking at marketing metrics, sales numbers, etc., doesn’t mean they completely understand them.



Why You Should Work at a Startup

Startup communities are cropping up all over the world. Global News called 2014 ‘The Year of Startup Communities’. Almost every day, a new accelerator program is announced. We prefer the announcements and results coming out of existing accelerators than to hear another one has been born, but still - the spirit of the entrepreneur is spreading. Since anyone with a computer and an internet connection can start a company, and learning to code is becoming cooler than ever; the growth and unwavering hype around everything startups does not look like it’s going to slow anytime soon.


If you’re reading this you might already have an interest in startups. You might not have a ‘big idea’ right now, and might not be an innovation leader yet - but have you ever considered working for a startup? Your interest doesn’t need to be as a co-founder, and you don’t need to aspire to be the next Zuck - startups need good people and people need to do work they’re passionate about. You don’t even need to necessarily have experience - fresh grads and startups are a great match.


Here’s why we think YOU should consider working for a startup:


  1. Startups need good talent arguably more than large companies do. Lets face it, large companies have enough man power to get things done while they are busy looking for more staff. They’re going to get by. But for a startup, every day missing a key skill or knowledge can be crippling.
  2. Second-to-none experience to be gained. In large companies there are teams of people working on key tasks or objectives. You won’t always get a chance to try something new. Startups need confident and ready risk-takers. The best lessons and experiences come from diving in and having a go because there’s simply no time to waste! With your contract you’re handed a lot more responsibility at startups than you might find at established companies, which leads us to number 3…
  3. Maximum impact. Being with a company from its humble beginnings means you get to see your passion and hard work make real impact over time, influencing the outcome of the team’s work. Been chipping away at your established workplace for years, but not feeling fulfilled or like you’ve made an impact? Startups are everywhere and they’re ready for your influence. Alex Lynn of Real Ventures told MTL NewTech last month that people working for startups benefit from seeing the future before it happens - meaning these people are also shaping the future.
  4. Savvy graduates need not be just a number. Large companies are full of faces. Numbers, even. Fresh grads are often lured by well-known brand names and companies with impressive history. But will you be just another number? Choose a startup and you might just skip years of waiting for promotions, waiting to be noticed and waiting to make an impact - for your moment to shine. You can step into high-level positions right away, or maybe even just something closer to the job you really want; you don’t always have to spend years working towards that if you find the right fit at a startup.
  5. Increased flexibility. Although a lot of companies are switching it up to let you work remotely, (P&G major announcement last year, Work From Home Program) many startups don’t have offices yet and working from home or the nearest cafe with WIFI can often be the norm. Plus, if your startup hooks up with a local co-op space, you’ll experience a fresh and new kind of environment. These kinds of shared spaces can spark creativity and innovation just by being surrounded by people equally as passionate from other like-minded companies doing all kinds of different and amazing things.


Busbud CEO and Co-Founder LP Maurice, a leader in the Montreal startup community thinks you should work for a startup too. “I think that startups offer some of the most exciting career opportunities right now, partly because you can learn a lot very rapidly, partly because you can play an active role defining your work environment, but mostly because of the potential to have a big direct impact on society.”.


Even the PPLCONNECT Co-Founders Jenviev Azzolin and Denzil D’Sa left a large, Fortune 500 company to begin PPLCONNECT. Jenviev shares her view on the appeal of startups;


Startups offer very meaningful experience, especially for young graduates eager to learn quickly and accelerate their career. Typically, startups have very little to no hierarchy, which means you can gain a wide-breadth of experience and exposure to complex corporate challenges, which would otherwise be reserved for more senior employees. At the end of the day, you can have a major direct impact on your team, end-users and tackle a worldwide problem.


The trending keyword here seems to be ‘impact’. Having an impact in your daily work ultimately leads to fulfilling work. And the best part? The growth of startups means that supply of ready and willing startup employees is always low. If you find a startup you’re passionate about and you’re an intelligent person smart enough to know when to take risks, then the chance to shape the future is yours for the taking.



Zombie Apps: Mobilizing Lotus Notes

Some have pronounced Lotus Notes/Domino dead, a career killer, a zombie app. Lotus Notes is facing unprecedented user resistance due to perceptions that it is difficult to use and outdated with a tired user interface. In fact, this might also be one reason that IBM recently re-branded Lotus as IBM Collaboration Solutions. Despite these perceptions, CIOs should be wary of rip-and-replace strategies for Lotus Notes.

Lotus Notes and the Domino Server represent far more than just an email solution. True to their new branding, they are collaboration solutions used for many purposes like applications, databases, documents, sharing files, communication, calendars, and activities management. Huge investments have been made in the use of its reliable, full featured, and stable development platform which allows complex applications to be built that meet the exact needs of the business. Some may be surprised to learn that Lotus also supports both SaaS environments and offline use on demand.

At first glance, IT managers may decide that getting rid of Lotus is a good idea, but on further inspection some of the intricacies of this decision begin to lead former anti-Lotus crusaders to a change of heart. “Many migration projects have failed because IT managers underestimated the cost of moving away from Notes. In one case the business was trying to move Notes apps to SharePoint, but even after several years the migration remained incomplete, and had grown into a multi-team project across several countries, and users complained that the migrated apps lacked the functionality they had previously enjoyed,” says David Akka, Manager of UK and Nordics for Magic Software. “In another case, a migration away from Notes, initiated due to a merger, was cancelled because user requirements for apps were too difficult to meet with other systems.”

A migration project from Lotus Notes will often have hidden costs that eliminate the perceived savings. Unless a company is willing to abandon its significant investments in digital assets based in Domino servers, the savings in annual maintenance fees by switching to Outlook or Google for email are often surpassed by the expenses associated with converting Domino databases, applications and other assets within the Lotus realm. Many IT managers conducting the initial cost-benefit analysis of email migration have overlooked the costs of rewriting legacy Lotus Domino-based solutions.

Don’t worry zombie killers, we’re not making an argument that Notes should be retained as an email platform because it is just too hard to replace the related Lotus Domino apps. On the contrary, one can make the move from Notes and implement new collaboration solutions while leveraging the legacy Domino solutions in a coexistence model that will save hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. So why do we say you need to make a move from Lotus Notes?

As most users can tell you, the Lotus Notes client is a memory hog, bringing overall system performance to a crawl and the user interface is dreary and drab. Many users report bugs that have gone unresolved for far too long and system administrators complain that upgrades are too few and unreliable. They muddle on using workarounds for what should be ordinary tasks and suffer from a lack of integration options out-of-the-box.

But as implied in our title, we get to the real reason: Lotus Notes and Domino are not mobile friendly and they desperately need to be. Lotus users want to access underlying capabilities on their smartphones. The traditional desktop Notes interfaces does not transition to mobile well at all, requiring too many windows, too many clicks, and too much mouse and keyboard interaction. The ubiquity of smartphones in the workplace requires interfaces that leverage touch screens and single finger input for faster user experiences and greater convenience. The changing nature of mobile usage represent a context-shift that demands the redesign of collaboration workflows as well. These are the realities of dealing with a mobile workforce that is in need and on-the-go.

CIOs with good survival instincts are demanding solutions that leverage its stable environment for imports, legacy data and business logic. The solutions they are finding are process-based integration and multi-channel application development platforms. Application development and integration platforms with Lotus Notes and Domino adapters can be used to create modern feature-rich desktop, web and mobile apps with intuitive and optimized interfaces that match the needs of enterprise users regardless of whether they are connected via a mobile phone, tablet, web browser or desktop computer.

Mobile apps built on top of Lotus Notes and Domino perform efficiently, look cool, and scale to any number of users. CIOs can beat the zombie apocalypse by directing their organizations towards integrated mobile solutions that leverage their existing investments in Lotus applications. The benefits may be far more than mere ROI, they could mean CIO survival.



5 Keys to Keeping Your Developers Happy

Developers! Developers! Developers!

Steve Ballmer made this chant infamous, but the fact remains that developers are the lifeblood of software companies. This is especially true for web startups, where a good developer can be the difference between success and failure.

Most leaders understand this on an intellectual level. They know that good developers — especially those equipped for the startup world — are hard to find and even harder to keep. But in the day-to-day shuffle, it’s easy to take your developers for granted. This can be a fatal mistake.

Major companies like Google and Intuit (not to mention other startups) are always looking to poach rock-star developers, so it’s more important than ever to keep your developers satisfied.

Here’s how to keep them happy and make sure they’re productive:

1. Manage your expectations. Businesspeople often try to tell developers how long it takes to do things, but this approach doesn’t make any sense. It would be like developers telling you how long it should take you to raise your next capital round.

Understand that no one has ever built your exact requirements before — otherwise, you wouldn’t need to build anything. You will change your mind after the project begins (as you should), and things will come up that no one thought about before. That’s the reality of building complex software — and most custom software is complex.

Having unrealistic deadlines not only frustrates developers, but it has the potential to disappoint shareholders who might not realize how many unknowns there are when it comes to building software. Communicate with your developers throughout the project to stay on top of any obstacles or unforeseen circumstances that may require a shift in deadlines and expectations. Everyone is working toward the same goal; the road may just be longer than expected.

Work together with your developers to create mutually realistic estimates. Better yet, use Scrum agile methodology and build out your stories with complexity levels. Using an agile framework provides a continuous gauge on the anticipated completion dates based on the team’s actual “velocity” on the project. This “velocity” takes into account delays on feedback, internal politics, level of cooperation, and possible tool setbacks.

2. Pay them. Well, of course you’re paying your developers, but make sure you’re paying them enough. If your programmers feel like they’re not being paid what they’re worth, they won’t be as motivated to work hard. Pay them enough to take the money issue off the table entirely.

3. Challenge them. Programmers, especially the best ones, are driven, creative people always looking for the next interesting problem to solve. The best developers will get bored if they don’t have a challenge every now and then.

Let your programmers build something in a new framework or build out an internal tool to help your business operations. Intuit challenges all its employees to come up with game-changing ideas during its “unstructured time,” and Facebook has a long tradition of all-night hackathons, where the only rule is that developers must work on something different from their day jobs. You could even consider giving them free time on Fridays to build whatever they’d like — that’s how Google made Gmail, after all.

4. Let them make decisions. Good developers will be adults if you let them. If you create extremely tight policies and highly structured environments for developers to work within, you’ll limit innovation, creativity, and motivation. Like Daniel Pink wrote in “Drive,” “People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it).” So give them some autonomy.

You should also implement a framework in which developers can give input on the direction of a product. Make sure they have ownership of the idea or product. At Path, all employees have access to the social network’s source code, and they’re encouraged to make changes if something is broken or if they have an idea to improve the user experience.

5. Give them a direction. As the leader of your company, it’s your job to come up with the vision and communicate it to your employees. If they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, they won’t be as motivated. Give your developers a driving purpose that they can get excited about. For everyone to be in it together, everyone must know exactly what “it” is.

Implementing these key steps can help put your developers into a state of flow. You can do this by giving them meaningful projects, ensuring that they have the ability to set their own schedules around their peak performance times, allowing them to customize their working environment, and challenging them. Otherwise, you might want to start learning Ruby yourself.


Zach Ferres is the CEO of Ciplex, a full-service interactive agency that helps clients succeed online by creating award-winning digital solutions for online marketing, E-commerce and content management systems, and social network platforms. Follow them on Twitter.


How a BYOD Policy Frees Up IT Resources

More and more electronic devices are being integrated into the workforce. Whereas only the most elite business people owned smartphones in the early 2000s, nearly everyone has one in their pocket now. Accordingly to Business Insider Intelligence, 22 percent of the world’s population owns a smartphone, that’s nearly 1.4 billion smartphones, and the number is only growing. Those who don’t, usually have some kind of impassioned plea about resisting technology.

So with the abundance of smartphones and tablets, many corporations are starting to wonder why they should spend time and money on issuing company devices. With a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, companies can conserve an enormous amount of resources, which is why the trend is taking corporate America by storm.

What is a BYOD policy?

A BYOD policy allows workers to use their own personal smartphones, tablets and other tech gadgets for company use. While this method of doing business was previously shunned by IT professionals who had concerns about device security, the latest advancements in technology are quickly making BYOD programs the norm. Mobile communications leader BlackBerry has been offering BYOD programs for years, and now there are even more providers getting involved in the latest trend.

Although a BYOD policy is an added bonus for workers who don’t want the hassle of learning a new device, but here are a few ways it is an even bigger win for companies.

It’s a Money Saver

It’s no question that supplying smartphones, tablets and laptops to employees can add up quickly, and the cost for repairs and replacements can be relentless. Companies that allow workers to bring their own device eliminate this exorbitant cost, which automatically helps their bottom line, and frees up resources to be spent on other important IT items.

Though some companies do offer a stipend to individuals who use their own devices, the amount pales in comparison to what would be spent if employers were supplying the devices and their accessories. In addition, according to Good Technology, nearly 50 percent of companies who implemented BYOD are requiring employees to cover all costs, and the workers are going for it. It seems the convenience of using your own familiar tools has substantial worth.

Productivity Increases

It’s a fact of office life, there are precious minutes spent in boring trainings and meetings that we can never get back. With a BYOD policy, however, fewer minutes are spent on such things by IT professionals and new employees. By allowing workers to bring their own devices, companies eliminate the need for training sessions. Rather than host a training session every time there is a new hire, which can be often for large businesses, IT workers can simply send an email with instructions on which apps and programs to download and let the employees take it from there. This frees up time for the new employee to get to work, and gives IT additional time to spend on more important tasks.

Less Time on Repairs, More Time on Product Development

Though every company would love to outfit their employees with the very latest tech gadgets, it usually isn’t in the budget. Individuals, however, are more likely to have the latest versions of devices and software for their personal use. This means fewer complications, generally faster networks and the ability to take advantage of the latest apps and programs.

With a fleet of relatively newer models, IT will spend less time trying to repair items and more time researching and implementing the cutting-edge technology that companies need to thrive, and then passing it on to their employees.


The Internet of Things Has Arrived — Here’s How Your Company Can Succeed

 For success in a market that’s changing our everyday lives, you have to know how both sides of the Internet of Things must work together for users.

At its annual 2011 developer conference, Google announced it had developed Android@Home. The technology was designed to connect household appliances, making nearly everything in your home controllable by your smartphone. It made news — not because it was a new idea, but because it supported an old one: The Internet of Things was one step closer to becoming reality.

It turned out that Google’s initiative wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but it reinforced a desire people have had since the mid-20th century: smart devices that communicate with one another makes life easier.

This is the essence of the Internet of Things, and it’s quickly becoming reality. Just look at the success of Nest Labs and Amazon’s new shopping gadget, Dash. Some even say the future of machine-to-machine communication (M2M) is past due.

How to Succeed in the Internet of Things

The question then becomes how to ensure your company succeeds in this field. What does it take to become an integral part of a market that has the potential to change the way we live our day-to-day lives?

To even have a chance at success on the bleeding edge of connectivity, you need to know how M2M works and which components make up a successful consumer-facing product. There are essentially two sides to what we know as the Internet of Things: M2M and consumer.

M2M usually refers to the industrial side of machine communication, but it’s still essentially the term for machines — cars, washing machines, and refrigerators — that communicate with one another, usually on a network. The consumer side of the Internet of Things is what the everyday user will see and interact with.

For your product to be successful, these sides need to work together seamlessly to create a frictionless experience that users can adopt in their daily routines. Take Audi, for example. Rather than reinventing the wheel with its infotainment system, the car company chose to enhance the way people already live with technology, making it smarter, faster, and easier to use. As a result, Audi has won numerous awards and eased people into a new way of doing things.

The 5 Components of a Frictionless Connected Experience

To master this seamless experience, focus on these five components of a successful consumer-facing “smart” product.

1. The Hardware: The hardware you create must improve what’s already out there and make people’s lives easier. Before development, consider what type of data you’ll need to collect, how to communicate that data, and how to process it into usable information after it’s received. Whether your device will rely on Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or a cellular network, make sure the hardware will fulfill the requirements.

2. The Software: Once you have a good piece of hardware, the next step is making sure the consumer can use it. It doesn’t matter how great a device is; if it’s hard to use, it’s sure to fail. Consider how your software will integrate with remote devices and how users will interact with the front-end interface.

3. Connectivity: Good connectivity is essential for connecting to the Internet of Things. In the U.S., competing networks and standards can make it more difficult for a product to achieve success if it only supports one network. Creating a single portal with multiple options for connectivity can help ensure a painless and seamless user experience.

For consumer-facing devices, the faster, the better. LTE is winning out in America, but HSPA+ and even WiMAX have support in certain parts of the world. Depending on your needs, different network evolutions like LTE and technologies such as GSM and CDMA can be beneficial, but they aren’t necessarily required. The more you can do to support these various network possibilities, the more effective and accessible your solution can be.

4. Certification: This isn’t the sexiest part of product development, but whether it’s wireless certification from the PTCRB or a security certification, these procedures are essential when it comes to lending credibility to your product and ensuring that it’s standards-friendly.

5. The Business Model: This should be obvious, but developing the right business model is a critical step startups often neglect. Your product may be amazing, but if you can’t reach the price point you need or can’t figure out how to turn a profit, everything else becomes moot.

With each passing year, the Internet of Things inches closer to becoming reality. If you’re looking to break into this field or are struggling to find a profitable foothold, focusing on these key components can help you achieve success and contribute to a movement that could change the world.



5 Trends Driving Business Communications

The intersection of mobility, cloud, and increasingly fast network speeds will continue to shape communications this year. As businesses seek to better compete, integrate decentralized workforces, and enhance client satisfaction, advanced cloud technologies will become a key enabler of business development.

The following is a list of the top trends in business communications that will shape the year ahead, in no particular order:


  1. The demand for managed Internet will increase significantly: As cloud-based phone service becomes the norm and usurps traditional landlines, the intersection between voice and data traffic becomes of critical importance. Businesses will come to demand managed Internet service to truly separate the two streams and deliver optimal performance. Private Internet will also see a sharp spike in demand as companies move to tighten security and protect data.


  1. BYOD will shift to JOC – Join Our Cloud: Despite devices growing ever more powerful, the world is becoming less device-centric. Companies will focus primarily on application, network, and content environments that drive and enable a truly connected workforce, and less on asserting control over specific device choices. Workers will find it increasingly simple to understand and follow expected company procedures, get up to speed on internal systems, and access shared resources.


  1. Working entirely via smartphone or tablet will become a viable option: Smartphones are capable of incredible feats, but depending on one as a primary workstation hasn’t been a real possibility for most workers. That may be changing. As LTE networks cover more of the globe, traditional barriers such as handling large files, quickly accessing needed resources, and tying into CRM systems are breaking down. For smartphone users making and receiving calls via hosted PBX apps, voice quality, and service availability are improving dramatically as 4G data networks spread. Even business software suites such as OpenOffice, traditionally the realm of desktop or laptop computers, are now available in mobile versions.


  1. Outsourcing will shift to decentralizing: More businesses will embrace geographically remote staffing solutions. However, a distinction will occur between the traditional concepts of “outsourcing” versus integrating staff that just happen to be physically distant. Remote workers, even those on different continents, will become truly and tightly integrated into company staff and empowered to deliver an identical customer experience. Talent knows no borders in this decentralized work environment.


  1. The cloud will make SMBs global and drive greater customer satisfaction: Related to #4, time zones will become nearly irrelevant. Cloud technologies will enable SMBs to become truly global operations, able to service clients 24/7 and offer a local presence in numerous countries with minimal capital expenditure.


Cloud technology has driven the idea of a more connected world for years, but it hasn’t yet been able to fully deliver on that exciting premise. The necessary supporting technologies are just around the corner, and the cloud, rather than being a vaguely understood concept, will become a core business process across nearly all industries. The results will be transformative for both businesses and the customers they serve.



Why Being Acquired Should Not Be Your Whole Goal

In a business landscape where having your own startup carries undeniable cachet, entrepreneurs are guided by many motivations.


Some want to be their own bosses, otherswant to turn their personal passion into a career, and still others are inspired to answer a need in the marketplace. Yet it’s undeniable that many also have their eyes on a different prize – being acquired.


This isn’t a surprise. The business pages are splashed with stories of billion-dollar acquisitions. From Snapchat rejecting a $3 billion offer from Facebook to Yahoo’s $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr, it’s easy to understand why so many confident new business owners see a goldmine in their startups.


Let me be clear. There’s nothing wrong with making piles of money from being acquired. But those staggering sums that make media headlines are the exception, not the rule,  and if you build a company for the sole purpose of being acquired, you’ll be making a grave mistake. Here’s a look at how to avoid doing so.


View Your Business Through the Right Lens


There are reasons why businesses succeed and reasons why businesses get acquired; they aren’t always the same ones. In fact, sometimes they run  in direct opposition toeach other. Take Instagram, for example. A billion people were using the service but they weren’t generating any real revenue. While that would never be a good business strategy, it worked for getting acquired.


Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs look at that kind of acquisition and decide that revenue won’t need to be a priority for them. This is exactly why so many startups fail: Because their focus is misplaced. Revenue is the life-blood of a successful company. If you disregard that element and fail to be acquired, you’ll be left with a starving company that can’t function. In your company’s existence, an acquisition might happen later than you predicted, or never at all.


Launching a startup requires an immense amount of energy and resources. You don’t want to walk away from the experience without a dime to show for it. Focus on generating revenue to keep your business alive and thriving. Remember the saying “pay yourself first?” Instead of dreaming about your future windfall, make a point to drive actual revenue here and now. Your business will be stronger, you’ll be compensated for all your hard work, and your startup will be that much more attractive.


Build Your Company On a Solid Foundation


Ambitious entrepreneurs with dollar signs in their eyes tend to live in the future – who might acquire them, how much they’ll be paid, the projects they’ll start after that payday. That kind of fantasy is natural to indulge in once in a while, but ultimately you’ll need to focus on the present.


The fundamentals of launching a strong business haven’t changed much, and that means developing a solid business plan. Sure, you want your company to be a success, but you’ve got to draft the roadmap toget there. After all, the business world is full of competitors. How will you attract eyeballs, get attention, engage customers? How will you stand out? What’s your potential market growth and what kind of metrics, leads, prospects, or sales ,will you use to measure your success? What goals do you want to hit a year from now?


The idea is to build your startup as if it’s a big public company that won’t be acquired. Determine the actions you need to take to get there. Yes, you’ll still be a startup, with a startup culture and startup challenges, but you’ll grow your business by following the path to big company status. Don’t get me wrong; you won’t always have all the answers on targeting customers or making all your plans fall into place. No one ever does. But you should always be proceeding toward some sort of a revenue mark.


Consider how you’d pitch and sell your company to a venture capitalist. Obviously you’d present a very positive picture that demonstrates the ways and reasons your business will make money. No VC will invest in a startup that’s being built solely for an acquisition Instead, he or she will expect to see a promising product backed by a solid business plan and a reasonable revenue pathways. Your job is to build the company you’re pitching to investors.


Keep Your Eyes On the Long-term Vision


Here’s an uncomfortable question many entrepreneurs are afraid to ask themselves: Five years from now, what does your business look like if you haven’t been acquired?


Answer honestly. That answer will tell you whether or not you’re building the right business. If you see a future where your business had the funds to be self-sustaining five years down the road, you’re probably on the right track. But if you see your business closing its doors after a certain point, or felt a sense of dread at being trapped in the same startup for an indefinite number of years, you may need to rethink your plans.


To share my own experience here, I’ll admit that I started my company MyCase, a legal practice management software business, with the idea of a possible acquisition at some point. However, I also positioned the company to generate enough revenue that we could keep running it on our own if that’s what we ultimately decided to do. Our decisions and growth were never guided by thoughts of an acquisition, but rather the plan to build long-term success. Trust me – if you do that, everything else will fall into place.


To summarize my advice bluntly, getting acquired should be a want, not a need. If your startup and your professional future hinge on an acquisition, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Instead, build a strong company on a foundation of intelligent planning and design a strategy that can take you into a profitable future. Maybe you’ll hit the acquisition jackpot, maybe you won’t. Either way, you and your career will land in an enviable place.