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Entrepreneurship

How an AI-enabled Workforce can Bridge The Skills Gap and Solve The Labor Shortage

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Even as fears grow about a looming recession, US workers continue to quit their jobs in record numbers — indicating no end to the Great Resignation.

Small business owners, particularly those in industries like field service that need workers with technical skills, face additional complications. Baby Boomers are moving into retirement and taking their hard-earned expertise with them, while younger workers are reluctant to even consider entering the field service industry. Those that are entering the industry face a growing skills gap that impacts costs and service.

Field service
photo credit: Tiger Lily / Pexels

Some of the industries experiencing the brunt of these challenges include manufacturing, engineering, logistics and any job that requires specialized knowledge and expertise required to perform specific tasks. The good news? There’s a lot that can be done across sectors to overcome these challenges and help is on the way — even the smallest of companies have the power to overcome these challenges and enable their workforce to work smarter (not harder).

It all starts with the power of AI.

Can Small Businesses Really Benefit from AI?

What many people don’t realize is that the same artificial intelligence that makes sense out of those piles of big data collected by large corporations is available to smaller organizations as well, helping to resolve persistent challenges and improve workflow across nearly every industry.

Take a look, for instance, at the field-service sector, where thousands of small businesses either contract with major manufacturers to provide repair-and-maintenance service or independently build their own base of customers. Field service requires dispatching workers or contractors to specific locations (typically the customer’s location) to install, repair, or maintain equipment or complex systems.The segment is growing by nearly 12 percent a year.

It’s a labor-intensive business, and owners of field-service companies find the mass retirement of veteran technicians or field service workers particularly worrisome. Many Baby Boomers now entering their retirement years have amassed decades of hard-earned industry expertise that extends far beyond the instructions in any service manual. They possess valuable skills, including the ability to make the right fix during the first visit, which has been passed from one generation to the next.

Field service management

But Where is The Next Generation?

Jobs in the skilled trades have proven difficult to fill in recent years, and available applicants are far and few between. A recent survey found only six percent of high school graduates hoped to find a career in repair-services or the skilled trades.

An analysis by Fortune Business Insights found the lack of skills among workers is directly restraining growth of the field-service industry.

Managers are increasingly facing challenges with the younger workforce and this is often due to the lack of resources to train them. Experienced technicians don’t have the time to train new employees the way they used to and machines are becoming more and more complex, which increases the amount of hours it takes to train. Making matters worse, employee dissatisfaction is increasing and frustrated workers are quitting, leading to openings that are hard to fill.

Nimble new software is playing an important role in bridging the skills gap among providers of field-repair services. Big-data analysis and artificial intelligence has the ability to capture technical expertise, share it with field-service workers across generations and help service organizations deliver higher customer satisfaction and improve workforce productivity.

My company, Aquant, for instance, used industry data when we developed our AI-powered appliance repair software, Service Hero. The initial success of Service Hero for Home Appliances encouraged us to widen our appliance repair apps to include Service Hero for Food Equipment, which supports the technicians who service equipment in commercial kitchens.

Essentially, our new repair app takes practical information and expert tips gathered from veteran technicians, combines that knowledge with information provided by appliance manufacturers, and stirs in the insights from technicians who report back the results after they’ve used Service Hero. Through the power of AI, technicians have the information they need right on their phones and no longer need to cull through a manual, search for a YouTube video, or call a more-experienced coworker for help.

The primary objective of the technology is to turn every service technician, even the newest apprentice, into an expert. Users of Service Hero report they are able to resolve issues more quickly, become more self-sufficient, and increase their first time fix rate. This, in turn, allows owners of field-service businesses to hire from a wider pool of less-experienced workers, allowing companies to scale up their operations at a faster pace.

Not only does this technology help fill the knowledge gap, it’s proven to be a useful tool for recruitment and retention of new technicians. Younger workers are accustomed to using apps and technology to solve problems – this software makes their job feel more relevant and less archaic, while giving them the confidence to complete tasks with minimal supervision. This in turn boosts their self esteem, minimizes frustration and ultimately, reduces turnover.

Businessman using big data platform

Big Data to The Rescue

Service Hero is just one of the ways that big-data and AI tools are impacting entrepreneurs and owners of growing small businesses.

Denver-based Veritone Inc., for example, helps owners of franchise locations improve their employee-recruitment processes with PandoLogic, a tool that increases the number of qualified applicants, decreases the time to find and hire, and replaces inefficient processes with AI-powered recruiting solutions.

PandoLogic’s AI tools have been adopted by owners of staffing agencies to reduce the headaches and inefficiencies involved with sorting through the hundreds of thousands of job boards where openings are posted these days.

Moveworks, a company headquartered in Silicon Valley, brings the power of AI to human resources functions. Its conversational chatbot provides answers to those routine questions that employees ask every day: Do we get the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday? How do I file an expense report?

By automating these conversations, Moveworks saves time and energy and reduces the tedium faced by HR professionals who are burnt out from answering the same questions again and again.

Labor shortages, skills gaps and other challenges over the past few years have made it significantly more challenging for entrepreneurs and small business owners to scale their businesses. But the good news is that technology is here to act as the driving force for positive change. Small business owners can feel more confident with the help of AI and machine learning tools that have the ability to derive higher level insights from big data and solve key challenges within their organization.

Those who leverage these tools will stay ahead of the competition and be recognized as a leading employer, subsequently impacting talent retention and overall workforce productivity – and those who don’t run the risk of getting left behind.

Entrepreneurship

Difference Between CFD and Shares

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Contracts for Difference (CFD) trading and share trading vary primarily in that when you trade a CFD, you speculate on a market’s price without acquiring ownership of the underlying asset, but when you trade shares, you must do so.

The main distinctions between a share and a CFD are ownership and leverage. You become the owner of the shares when you purchase shares. Investing in shares is equivalent to acquiring a modest ownership share in a business you support. You must pay the whole share price when purchasing stock shares.

CFDs vs shares

Contract for Difference is referred to as CFD. Without holding the underlying asset, you can speculate on the price of a security by engaging in online CFD trading. A stock, stock index, currency, commodity, or cryptocurrency might all be the underlying security for a CFD. With CFDs, you may join a trade with a lower initial investment because they trade on leverage.

Trading CFDs involves taking into consideration leverage and margin, fees and charges, instrument categories, going short, and asset ownership, which is one of the primary difference between CFD and share trading. Let me elaborate more.

What are Leverage and Margin?

Leverage and margin go hand in hand when trading CFDs. By using leverage, you may acquire exposure to an underlying asset without having to put down the whole amount of money needed to purchase and hold the real asset; instead, you just have to contribute a portion of the position’s overall worth.

The amount you must initially have available to begin a position, known as margin, fluctuates based on the contract size and the underlying asset you want to trade. Margin is not a cost. Based on the pre-determined leverage for the asset class, the first margin need is expressed as a percentage of the contract value. Risk is increased while trading on margin.

When you trade on the Invest trading platform, you must have the full asset value accessible, and you buy shares without applying leverage to your available funds.

Variety of Assets

You may trade on more than 2500 different assets on the Traders Union CFD platform, including shares, forex, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, and options. You may do this to diversify your portfolio and get exposure to major exchanges across the world.

The Invest trading platform is a marketplace where you may buy and sell stocks and ETFs (ETFs). You may purchase and hold shares of your favorite businesses or any listed ETF on the platform, as well as benefit from the newest IPOs when firms go public, thanks to your access to over 1200 equities and 90 ETFs.

Asset Ownership

You may acquire exposure to an underlying asset, such as Gold (XAU), Apple (AAPL), or EUR/USD, without really holding it by using a CFD. Due to changes in the underlying asset’s price, you will either gain or lose money. The goal of CFD trading is to bet on changes in an underlying asset’s price. The size of the stake and price changes determine any profit or loss.

In contrast, when you purchase a stock on the Invest trading platform, you become the owner of the physical asset and look for a potential longer-term rise in the asset’s value before selling it.

Trader doing CFD trading

A Little More About How CFDs Can Differ From Investing

If your position remains open overnight while trading CFDs, you will be charged an overnight fee. While CFD trading is frequently utilized to speculate on near-term events like earnings announcements or the release of U.S. data reports, stock trading is typically favored for constructing portfolios.

In summary, both CFD and share stock trading offer benefits and drawbacks, and both let you profit from price changes that might result in either a gain or a loss. You should be able to choose which Traders Union platform best matches your trading preferences after you have an understanding of your trading goals. Which trading platform—CFD or Invest—does best for you?

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Entrepreneurship

Eight Types of Company Missions These Entrepreneurs Think Are Vastly Overrated

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What’s one example of a common company mission that you think is overrated, and why? What should replace it?

Company mission

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Statements That Mention Being the ‘Best’

The missions that correspond to being the “best” are generic and overrated. Being the best there is at what you do is the pinnacle of success. If you get there, what’s next? Businesses don’t grow when they pursue excellence. They grow by making mistakes, learning from experiences and doing better next time. So, seeking continuous improvement can be a good replacement.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

2. Missions That Aren’t Measurable

Generally speaking, any mission statement that isn’t measurable can cause problems for your business. If you can’t track your progress, your statement is nothing more than words on paper (or a screen). People are more willing to get behind mission statements that focus on tangible long-term goals or aspirations.

John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

3. Statements That Could Apply to Any Company

Many mission statements contain generic terms that could apply to almost anyone. A common example is “We provide the highest quality service,” which is an admirable goal but doesn’t really tell you anything about what they stand for or how they deliver it. Terms such as “integrity,” “excellence” and “industry leaders” are similar. It’s better to pinpoint something more specific that you deliver.

Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

4. Phrases About Pursuing Excellence

“We pursue excellence” is generic and overrated — not to mention, the definition of achieving excellence may vary from one person to another. What will be the metric for achieving excellence? No one knows, as not everyone in your company is on the same page. So, replacing this mission with measurable indicators like sign-ups, conversions and other growth metrics would be a good idea.

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

Developing mission statement

5. Missions That Mention ‘Social Impact’

Many companies use the phrase “social impact” in their mission statement, but the impact is rarely evident. For example, a clothing store may mention that it is committed to helping women in poverty, but it will still charge the same amount for its T-shirts. Instead of writing a mission statement, a company should inform customers about how they are helping the world.

Vikas Agrawal, Infobrandz

6. Missions That Call for Perfection

Nothing is perfect! I’d rather see a mission that pushes others to embrace imperfection and to strive harder to be better every day, knowing that there is such a thing as a bad day. The best thing we can do is to stop aiming for perfection and just be better than yesterday.

Daisy Jing, Banish

7. Statements That Don’t Mention Your Industry or Purpose

I think mission statements that don’t directly mention your industry or what your business does can do more harm than good. Failure to mention these details makes your message seem more like a fluff piece than an actual long-term goal for your brand. Instead, brand leaders should focus specifically on how their company will help the industry evolve.

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

8. Missions That Lack Connection

Companies should be able to use their mission statement to connect with their target audience. However, I have seen a lot of companies create mission statements that are too broad and generic. For example, “Helping businesses grow” is far too generic and does not connect with anyone. However, if it was “Helping small businesses grow with our marketing services,” it would connect better.

Sujay Pawar, Astra

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Entrepreneurship

Want to Start a Business? Read This First for a Reality Check!

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Are you going to start a business and looking for some ideas and tips? Well, you are reading the right blog post, as I will tell you what you might not want to hear, but at the same time, I will give you some reasons why you want to start a business you love – with the right mindset.

Thinking entrepreneur

I’ve heard some cynical comments about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship; one comment says that entrepreneurs are, well, becoming one because they simply can’t get a real job. Another one says that entrepreneurs are a group of people who use their parents and/or everyone else’s money to start a business and have fun with it without thinking of returning any of it.

Some say that entrepreneurship is easy – just get a product people want and sell it for a profit. Right. Some say that entrepreneurship is overrated – you won’t make more than a decent paid job. Right.

It’s sad, really… those naysayer just don’t realise that entrepreneurs and small business are two of the most prominent factors that make the economy moving. Just ask the mentors and experts about what a community could do if small business is not supported by the Government: Crippled. Then the butterfly effect kicks in, and eventually the whole economy of a nation is brought down just because investors, entrepreneurs and business owners are not well-supported.

Yet successful entrepreneurs thrive despite all the unfavourable policies, the naysayer’s boos and jeers, and the non-supportive friends and family, who laugh at their ideas of starting a business out of their garage.

If you are considering entrepreneurship, are you ready for such pressure? You will somehow face people who question your decision jumping into the entrepreneurship bandwagon. The worse part is, those who doubt you often your closest ones – your spouse, your parents, your friends…

Are you ready?

Startups are not for the faint-hearted

We can’t deny the fact that many startups are bound to fail. Well, did you know why many startups fail? There are thousands of reasons, but one of the reasons that I think as the main cause of startup failures is false hopes.

If you are thinking of running a business as traveling all over the world at will, riding a limo sipping champagne, or doing whatever you like in your pajamas or swimming suit – I apologise, but I need to pop your balloon.

Stop dreaming. Start looking into the reality. Entrepreneurship is not easy and if you don’t have what it takes to get a business launched and navigate your vessel through the storm, you’d better get a job.

Entrepreneurship requires to be able to juggle and decide on many things: Balancing your work-life; deciding from many strategic options; choosing between a list of suppliers; and so on. Initially, you need to be able to wear many “hats” – bookkeeping/administrative, marketing, development, production, procurement, and so on.

You need to be open-minded and be prepared for open-ended outcome of your decisions; you need to be ready for any circumstances requiring you to re-focus and re-strategise in the middle of your plan.

And those perks you are having while working for a boss, you don’t have them when you are an entrepreneur: Paid leave, managed retirement planning, and so on. You are literally on your own, supporting yourself with your own resources.

Whether you are a solopreneur or the owner of multi-business ventures employing thousands of staffs while running yours while having fun doing so (like what Sir Branson is doing,) “hard work,” “perseverance” and “delayed gratification” are three of the main “keywords” defining all what entrepreneurs are doing.

Indeed, entrepreneurs are hard worker and passionate about their business. What keep them going is their passion for what they do and their love for everything entrepreneurship, starting up and business ownership.

Entrepreneur dealing with self-doubt
photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

If startup is so difficult, why people are doing it?

Yes, this question is asked by many who are interested in entrepreneurship. This question might be your question.

It’s a fair question: With all the hurdles you need to take on if you are plunging yourself into entrepreneurship, why bother starting up?

There are many answers, but if you asked me, my answer would be this: I love this game.

I love the search of business ideas. I love the many sleepless nights working on my business to see it grows steadily. I love the possibility for me to create something useful for the community – while giving me the lifestyle and financial independent I want for my family. I love the ups and downs of running a business – sure, failing sucks, but I can learn a great deal from it personally and professionally.

I wouldn’t trade what I am doing right now (work at home, surrounded by the people I love) with any high-paying jobs requiring me to work 12 hours a day or more; I love the freedom money can’t buy. I love a business that is built around my lifestyle, not the other way around.

Of course, I don’t love ALL aspects of my business: I don’t fancy the back office operations – bookkeeping, administrative and so on – but you can always hire someone competent to do those for you 🙂

Takeaway

Indeed, entrepreneurship is one of the most risky careers of all. Well, if you want safety and security, just get a job. But if you love the unknowns and embrace risks, entrepreneurship is a path worth walking; it’s rewarding in every sense – financially and emotionally.

So, now you know some facts about entrepreneurship. I do hope you can start a business with the right mindset; I also hope you start your journey with humility; being passionate without arrogance; taking calculated risks, not gambling; eagerness to help others when you have finally reached the top; acknowledging the fact that without God and those people around you – friends, family, fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, etc. – you won’t go far.

Dream big. Start small. Just do it, seriously!

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