Small Businesses Need No-Strings-Attached Access to Funds — Here’s a Smart Option

The pandemic has had a profound effect on small businesses across the country. Seven months after the onset, resilient businesses have slowly begun accepting customers back into their shops, but things are by no means back to normal. Fewer customers and tighter local restrictions means less sales, with three-quarters of small businesses reporting that COVID-19 has caused revenues to dip. The lack of normal sales activity is exacerbating the delicate cash flow balance small businesses must regularly strike — a balance that was already out of sync from regional lockdowns in spring.

Now more than ever, small businesses need easy access to money in a way that doesn’t incur debt. Business debit cards are a great option for small businesses to easily access funds while avoiding borrowing cash.

The Pros of a Business Debit Card

Business debit cards come with a host of advantages, particularly for small business owners who are trying to better manage their finances.

The first benefit business debit cards hold over credit cards is the ease in actually obtaining one. These types of cards are easy to qualify for, and the process for receiving approval is often more expedited than applying for a credit card, given that business debit cards do not require a personal credit history check.

Aside from the convenience factor, business debit cards can be a great tool to help you manage your budget more easily. That’s because, when making a purchase with a business debit card, the money is drawn directly from your account — meaning you can only spend funds that you have available and don’t have to worry about paying off a balance or accruing debt. This also means that you never have to worry about interest accruing on past purchases.

How Square Card Offers Even More Benefits

For businesses that use Square to process payments, Square Card takes the business debit card to the next level and represents a smart option for business owners seeking an easy, straightforward way to manage cash flow.

A business’s Square Card links directly to their Square Balance, where sales they process via Square are stored. This enables instant access to sales funds, rather than waiting a day or more for earnings to transfer to an external business checking account, at no extra cost. This is especially beneficial right now, as 91% of Main Street small businesses are interested in real-time settlement of their merchant funds to combat cash flow shortages brought about by current economic conditions.

Like a regular business debit card, Square Card only allows you to spend money you have. However, unlike typical business accounts, Square Card holders are able to easily and instantly add funds to their Square Balance using an outside debit card, making cash management more efficient while ensuring business owners can cover expenses regardless of their sales that day. For example, if you’re looking to make a bulk order of supplies or products but don’t have enough funds in your balance, simply use a separate debit card to add the difference to your Square Balance immediately. What’s more, Square Card holders can see all of their transactions–including sales, transfers, and business expenses purchased via their card–in one place, giving small business owners an easier, more holistic view of their finances.

Business owners can sign-up easily online for Square Card once they’ve signed up for Square Payments. As soon as a card is ordered,  it can be used digitally right away via Apple Pay or Google Wallet while the card is shipped in the mail. Another added perk: Square Card has no annual fees, minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, or any other recurring fees.

A Smart Choice Moving Forward

A Square Card can help business owners get an immediate grip on their cash flow and provide peace of mind when unexpected expenses arise — relief that many small businesses need right now. It’s also a smart option for the future, providing small businesses with an easy path toward keeping their personal and business finances separate. Ensuring that personal and business finances don’t intermingle will benefit business owners in the long run and make necessary tasks like tax filings and bookkeeping more seamless.

Image: Square


How Your Late Employees Improve Your Competitive Advantage

Guest post from Grace Pacie:

We’ve all heard the story that lateness costs the country billions in lost productivity  – it’s claimed that lateness costs American businesses more than $3 billion dollars a year, but can that figure be trusted?  Are late people a liability or an asset in the business world?

Punctuality issues are very often combined with a bundle of behaviours which I have christened “Timebending” in my new book ‘LATE! A Timebender’s guide to why we are late and how we can change’. Timebenders do not work in a linear way – they get deeply absorbed in their work and can lose all track of time, which can result in them being late. However, Timebenders are not always late – on the contrary, they are highly motivated by deadlines, and when facing a tight time limit on an important task, they are able to concentrate extremely effectively, and often produce their best work. On the other hand, employees who arrive early for work and meetings typically work at a steady pace, allow time for every eventuality, and lose the ability to think clearly when they are under deadline pressure.

According to a YouGov survey, 19% of the US population are late for work at least once a week.  But does an employee who regularly arrives late, actually work fewer hours than one who arrives early?  Lateness tends to attracts universal condemnation, particularly from the ‘time anxious’ who are obsessive about punctuality.   Yet the people who arrive late for work are usually the last to leave, because they can get lost in their work, and are less focused on the clock.  Lateness for meetings also deserves closer examination.  While there is no doubt that someone who is late for meetings can hold everyone up, there is another side to the issue. People who arrive early for meetings and events are typically less productive than those who arrived a few minutes late, since the Timebenders are likely to have been working right up to the deadline on their previous task.

Is Time Management the Answer?

Time Management courses are designed to improve workplace efficiency -, typically advising employees to prioritise their tasks, schedule their time and avoid distractions.  However, these are only successful strategies in an environment which has a predictable and stable workflow.  In businesses which need to be responsive to client needs, and where priorities might need to change at short notice, a workforce of punctual timekeepers who work at a steady pace and cannot deal with interruptions will be a liability rather than an advantage.  Timebenders may often be five minutes late for work, but they are also flexible, not easily stressed, calm in a crisis, and will squeeze extra tasks into a tight time schedule.

The Time Management model fits a traditional manufacturing environment, but can be counter-productive in the new world of flexible working and responsiveness to client needs. 

Creative agencies and consultancies who need their staff to come up with original solutions to problems, often at short notice, know that timekeeping is a very low priority on the skills list. A deadline doesn’t just force Timebenders to get the job finished – it can stimulate them to perform certain tasks better. There are numerous examples of outstanding work achieved under pressure. Martin Luther King famously added the words “I have a dream” to his speech just as he was standing up to make his address. Bill Clinton, Lewis Carroll, Aaron Sorkin were all ground breakers and also famously for lateness. Did they unconsciously realize that the last minute was when they did their best work?

Punctuality Around the World

If you are working in international business, don’t assume that expectations of punctuality will be the same in every culture. In Germany, South Korea or Japan, if you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re seen as late, whereas in Saudi Arabia lateness is a mark of seniority, and it is highly offensive to consult your watch during a meeting.  In Russia and China, attitudes to punctuality match those of Brits and Americans, whereas Southern Europeans, South Americans, South-East Asians and Africans tend to work on the principal, “If everyone’s late then no-one’s late”. 

Where Are We Headed?

The concept of Time Management is now a century old, invented at a time when productivity and efficiency were keys to competitive advantage.  Today the world is a very different place- the future is less certain than it has ever been, and the Timebending traits of flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness will be vital weapons in the fight for economic security.  Maybe in this post-COVID world, your most effective employee might be the one who arrives 10 minutes late every morning, but is the last to leave at night. Perhaps ‘Sorry I’m late’ should be the words you most want to hear when your staff arrive at work tomorrow morning.

Grace Pacie is a strategic business consultant specializing in international buyer behavior.  She has a BA and MBA, and is qualified in Myers Briggs, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Technique, Hypnotherapy, and Marketing.  Her new book, LATE! A Timebender’s guide to why we are late and how to change’ is published as an ebook and Amazon paperback, and will shortly be released as an audiobook. 

A Measured Approach to Regulating Fast-Changing Tech

Executive Summary

Innovations driving what many refer to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution are as varied as the enterprises affected. Industries and their supply chains are already being revolutionized by several emerging technologies, including 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and advanced robotics, all of which make possible new products and services that are both better and cheaper than current offerings. Unfortunately, not every application of transformational technology is as obviously beneficial to individuals or society as a whole. But rather than panic, regulators will need to step back, and balance costs and benefits rationally.

Paul Taylor/Getty Images

Amid the economic upheaval caused by Covid-19, technology-driven disruption continues to transform nearly every business at an accelerating pace, from entertainment to shopping to how we work and go to school. Though the crisis may be temporary, many changes in consumer behavior are likely permanent.

Well before the pandemic, however, industries and their supply chains were already being revolutionized by several emerging technologies, including 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and advanced robotics, all of which make possible new products and services that are both better and cheaper than current offerings. That kind of “big bang” disruption can quickly and repeatedly rewrite the rules of engagement for incumbents and new entrants alike. But is the world changing too fast? And, if so, are governments capable of regulating the pace and trajectory of disruption?

The answers to those questions vary by industry, of course. That’s because the innovations driving what many refer to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution are as varied as the enterprises affected. In my recent book, Pivot to the Future, my co-authors and I identified ten transformative technologies with the greatest potential to generate new value for consumers, which is the only measure of progress that really matters.  They are: extended reality, cloud computing, 3D printing, advanced human-computer interactions, quantum computing, edge and fog computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, and smart robotics.

Some of these disruptors, such as blockchain, robotics, 3D printing and the Internet of things, are already in early commercial use. For others, the potential applications may be even more compelling, though the business cases for reaching them are less obvious. Today, for example, only the least risk-adverse investors are funding development in virtual reality, edge computing, and new user interface technologies that interpret and respond to brainwaves.

Complicating both investment and adoption of transformative technologies is the fact that the applications with the biggest potential to change the world will almost certainly be built on unanticipated combinations of several novel and mature innovations. Think of the way ride-sharing services require existing GPS services, mobile networks, and devices, or how video conferencing relies on home broadband networks and high-definition displays. Looking at just a few of the most exciting examples of things to come make clear just how unusual the next generation of disruptive combinations will be, and how widespread their potential impact on business-as-usual:

  • Health Care: Low-cost sensors and increasingly advanced 3D printing are revolutionizing artificial limbs, providing cost-effective, bespoke prosthetics that are improving outcomes for patients including wounded veterans, survivors of strokes, and injured athletes. In the long-term, customized replacement organs, skin, and other tissue may become commonplace.
  • Housing: The next-generation 5G mobile networks, sensors, and artificial intelligence that make up the Internet of Things will improve energy efficiency and security in communities of all sizes. In the home, the IoT is helping older populations age in place longer and more safely. Applications will remind seniors when to take medications, keep them connected to family, friends, and entertainment, and allow for remote health monitoring and treatment.
  • Agriculture: A combination of drones, robots, AI, advanced geolocation services, and cloud computing pushed to the edge of the network is expected to revolutionize farming, improving yields and reducing waste in fertilizer, water, and other key inputs. Farmers will soon have up-to-the-minute data analytics that evaluate soil conditions, animal health, weather patterns, and market changes, helping to feed growing global populations more affordably and sustainably.
  • Transportation: Self-driving cars and trucks will not only relieve the boredom and stress of traffic jams and road works, but, combined with Internet-connected roads, traffic lights, and other infrastructure, will save both time and fuel. The true potential of autonomous vehicle technology, however, is more profound. In the U.S. alone, nearly 40,000 people lose their lives each year in traffic fatalities, most caused by driver error. Learning algorithms in autonomous vehicles will soon overtake the abilities of most human operators, if they haven’t already. Safer roads and more predictable traffic flows will transform insurance, vehicle design and manufacturing, and public safety, to name just a few.

Regulating the Revolution

Unfortunately, not every application of transformational technology is as obviously beneficial to individuals or society as a whole. Every one of the emerging technologies we identified (and plenty of those already in mainstream use) come with potential negative side — effects that may, in some cases, outweigh the benefits. Often, these costs are both hard to predict and difficult to measure.

As disruption accelerates, so too does anxiety about its unintended consequences, feeding what futurist Alvin Toffler first referred to half a century ago as “Future Shock.” Tech boosters and critics alike are increasingly appealing to governments to intervene, both to promote the most promising innovations and, at the same time, to solve messy social and political conflicts aggravated by the technology revolution.

On the plus side, governments continue to support research and development of emerging technologies, serving as trial users of the most novel applications. The White House, for example, recently committed over $1 billion for continued exploration of leading-edge innovation in artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The Federal Communications Commission has just concluded one its most successful auctions yet for mobile radio frequencies, clearing bandwidth once considered useless for commercial use but now seen as central to nationwide 5G deployments. Palantir, a data analytics company that works closely with governments to assess terrorism and other complex risks, has just filed for a public offering that values the start-up at over $40 billion.

At the same time, a regulatory backlash against technology continues to gain momentum, with concerns about surveillance, the digital divide, privacy, and disinformation leading lawmakers to consider restricting or even banning some of the most popular applications. And the increasingly strategic importance of continued innovation to global competitiveness and national security has fueled increasingly nasty trade disputes, including some between the U.S., China, and the European Union.

Together with on-going antitrust inquiries into the competitive behavior of leading technology providers, these negative reactions underscore what author Adam Thierer sees as the growing prevalence of “techno-panics” — generalized fears about personal autonomy, the fate of democratic government, and perhaps even apocalyptic outcomes from letting some emerging technologies run free.

Disruptive innovation is not a panacea, but nor is it a poison. As technology transforms more industries and becomes the dominant driver of the global economy, it is inevitable both that users will grow more ambivalent, and, as a result, that regulators will become more involved. If, as a popular metaphor of the 1990’s had it, the digital economy began as a lawless frontier akin to the American West, it’s no surprise that as settlements grow socially complex and economically powerful, the law will continue to play catch up, likely for better and for worse.

But rather than panic, regulators need to step back, and balance costs and benefits rationally. That’s the only way we’ll achieve the exciting promise of today’s transformational technologies, but still avoid the dystopias.

Best 3D Printer for Your Business

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The one thing 3D printing has accomplished is democratize the manufacturing process so even the smallest business or individual can start making things. Whether it is making a part for a device or designing and making an entire product, a 3D printer makes it possible.

However, finding the right printer can be a task in itself because the market is full of 3D printers. By first identifying your industry, materials, size, and production capacity, you can start choosing the right printer.

This list has the best 3D printer for your business across the very same criteria mentioned above.



Best 3D Printer for Your Business

MakerGear M2

MakerGear M2 Desktop 3D Printer

Top Pick: With a large build volume MakerGear is made from CNC-machined precision hardware on a rigid fabricated steel frame. It has the capability to print items from ABS, PLA, PET, flexible and other filaments through an SD card reader and USB port. And it also comes with open-source electronics and firmware. It has an 80 – 200 mm/sec printing speed with 450 mm/sec max and 50 microns to 0.25mm with a 0.35mm nozzle.

MakerGear M2 Desktop 3D Printer

Buy on Amazon

 

Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer

Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer

Runner Up: This printer has much newer versions so take that into consideration if you buy this brand. The print quality on this printer is high with print nozzles at 0.25, 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 mm. It supports PLA, ABS, and CPE filament with travel speeds of 30 mm/s – 300 mm/s. The type of file types it supports are STL, OBJ, DAE.

Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer

Buy on Amazon

FlashForge 3D Printer

FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro

Best Value: The price of this 3D printer is lower, but it still delivers great value. First, the company offers a full manufactures warranty, which is not always the case. A metal frame and platform ensure steady printing with PLA, ABS, PLA Color Change, Pearl, ABS Pro, Elastic, PVA, HIPS, as well as wood and other filaments.

FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform

Buy on Amazon

MakerBot Replicator + 3D Printer

MakerBot Replicator + 3D Printer

MakerBot is an innovator in the industry. This particular printer works with PLA as well as other materials such as bronze-fill, copper-fill, and wood- fill. The software side provides from WIFI connectivity to an onboard streaming camera, smart sensors in the extruder, and an automated Z-homing build plate with cloud-enabled management. The MakerBot extruder is tested for 16,000 cumulative hours.

MakerBot Replicator + 3D Printer, with swappable Smart Extruder+,

Buy on Amazon

Dremel DigiLab 3D45

Dremel DigiLab 3D45 Award Winning 3D Printer w,Filament

This Dremel printer is internally tested by Bosch for 800+ hours for safety and performance and 3rd party tested by UL. You can use PLA, PETG, ECO-ABS and Nylon filaments on an automated 9-point leveling system. A built-in HD camera lets you or your customers see the process and the cloud-based software supports multiple platforms. The connectivity includes Wi-Fi, Ethernet.

Dremel DigiLab 3D45 Award Winning 3D Printer w/Filament

Buy on Amazon

QIDI TECH

QIDI TECH Large Size Intelligent Industrial Grade 3D Printer New Model, X-max

The full metal support this printer provides ensures a steady surface with a double Z-axis to print PLA, ABS, TPU, along with Nylon, Carbon fiber, PC and other materials. A 5” touch screen allows you to carry out precision printing with two sets of the Qidi Tech third-generation extruder assembly.

QIDI TECH Large Size Intelligent Industrial Grade 3D Printer

Buy on Amazon

BIBO 3D Printer

BIBO 3D Printer Dual Extruder Sturdy Frame

The BIBO printer is known for its ease of use by beginners and its reliability. This unit comes with a touch screen to control the functions and dual extruders to print two projects at the same time along with two-color printing. The filaments it supports include ABS, PLA, Dissolvable filament (HIPS), Flexible filament (TPU), PETG, Nylon, PC, Carbon fiber, and more. And the connectivity includes SD card, USB drive, USB, WiFi.

BIBO 3D Printer Dual Extruder Sturdy Frame WiFi Touch Screen Cut Printing

Buy on Amazon

Features to Consider When Buying a 3D Printer

  • Print Quality: The quality of the output from your printer will determine what you can print. This is especially the case for detailed and custom parts.
  • Speed: The speed of printers varies greatly. And if time is of the essence, find out how long it takes to fully print products of different sizes and intricacies. Try to find printers with a speed of 50mm/sec.
  • Size: The size of the printer is going to dictate how big the output will be. Consider the specs in its entirety to see the limitations.
  • Materials: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) are the go-to filaments. However, now you can get everything from food to metals.
  • Reliability: 3D printers work many hours, so reliability is absolutely essential. Find out the type of warranty the company provides along with return policies.
  • Software: A 3D printer requires software, this includes third-party applications to design, share and even print. Find out the kind of updates the company provides.

Small businesses now have more opportunities than ever to prototype and create new products or improve on an old design in their office because of 3D printing. The price, quality and technology of these devices run the gamut, so take your time and choose carefully.

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Images: Amazon.com


How A $4 Billion Investment Doomed WeWork

Not too long ago, many people regarded WeWork as another “unicorn” success story like Google, Facebook and Instagram. But the company’s failed effort to go public and related departure of CEO, Adam Neumann, resulted instead in a historic business implosion.

On the Small Business Radio Show this week, Reeves Wiedeman who is a contributing editor at New York magazine, reveals what really happened in his new book, “Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Raise and Fall of WeWork”.

Big Investment Doomed WeWork

According to Reeves, in the early days of the company promised to make the American workplace “cool”. Adam Neumann, an immigrant, pushed the idea of repurposing surplus New York office space after the Great Recession of 2018 for the growing freelance class who needed a flexible work area and real community. Over the course of ten years, WeWork attracted billions of dollars from the largest investors in the world. Reeves says that Neumann spent the money to build a global real estate empire that the CEO insisted was much more than what it already was. He aspired to “elevate the world’s consciousness, become the first trillionaire and be the first President of the World!” In fact, Reeves started reporting about WeWork in early 2019 as a success story, not the failure it became.

But as Neumann grew the company at a record pace, Reeves said they started getting out of control. The CEO started to leverage his relation with Masayoshi Son of Softbank whose $4 billion investment in 2017 fueled We Work’s chaotic expansion into everything from apartment buildings to elementary schools. As Reeves says, “it’s hard to turn down that type of money and even harder to spend it!”. Unfortunately, they lost $2 billion in 2018. He says this put “a dent in the always sunny WeWork narrative.”

Reeves recounts the five weeks leading up to WeWork’s failed IPO and Neumann’s dramatic ouster. He discusses the CEO’s desperate attempt to secure the funding it needed in these final moments in a “decade defined by excess.”

Listen to the entire interview on the Small Business Radio Show.

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Image: Depositphotos.com