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7 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business in 2014

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If your New Year’s resolutions include quitting your job and starting a business, you’re not alone. What could be more fulfilling than calling the shots, setting your own hours, and making things happen?

However, going off on your own is no easy feat, and many would-be entrepreneurs quickly become unsettled by the hard work and uncertainty of the lifestyle.

You can’t prepare yourself for every aspect of running your own business, but here are some key questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge.

1. How well do you work without a playbook?

Do you need constant guidance and motivation from others? How well do you manage your time if no one is looking over your shoulder or a boss doesn’t set a deadline?

Many people think that being the one in charge is going to make life so much easier, but that’s not always the case. It can be difficult to get started when there’s no clear indication of what you should be doing or where the starting line even is. Successful entrepreneurs are naturally independent, resourceful and don’t need someone to hold them accountable in order to be efficient and productive.

2. Are you an inventor or entrepreneur?

Kitchen Startup

A lot of successful startups are hatched from an amazing idea. However, a great product idea or invention isn’t necessarily enough to make a great business. Too many times, an “inventor” type stays focused on the product, the prototype, the patent, etc., ignoring the other aspects of developing a business. Just because you develop a great product doesn’t mean that customers will instantly flock to you door. Entrepreneurs get that.

Of course, if you consider yourself more of an inventor than an entrepreneur, this doesn’t necessarily preclude you from starting your own business. But perhaps you should look for a partner with complementary entrepreneurial skills and interests to help take your idea to the next level.

3. Does your business idea offer value to customers?

Maybe you’ve heard the saying “Love what you do and the money will follow.” While this sounds nice in theory, it doesn’t always work that way in real life. There’s no doubt that passion is an important key to success, but in order to build a profitable business, you need to offer something that others are looking for.

After all, the market doesn’t care that you’re fulfilling your lifelong dream. People spend money on products or services that fill a need or desire. If there is no customer need, the business will fail.

4. What is different about your business?

Is your business idea similar to other businesses already out there, or do you have something unique to offer? How crowded is your target marketplace? These are important questions to think about, but bear in mind that the key to success doesn’t always hinge off finding a completely empty field (and good luck finding one!). Rather, it depends on how you define your company and its place in the market. Starbucks was hardly the first company to sell coffee, and they won’t be the last.

In short, you don’t always have to come up with a brand new idea. Take a look at your target industry and see where there’s a void to be filled. Figure out the best possible way to fill that need and run with it. You don’t always have to forge a new trail, but you have to give customers a compelling reason to choose you over the competition.

5. Are you willing to wear multiple hats?

Print Cartridge

When you’re an employee within a company, there’s someone to call if the printer stops working or you want to coordinate a trade show booth. This isn’t the case when you’re just starting out.

Launching a business typically involves wearing many hats and, sometimes, all the hats. You can be tech support one hour and a salesperson the next. Before setting off on your own, make sure you’ll be comfortable performing a variety of functions, including the less-than-glamorous ones.

6. Do you have the financial foundation to start right now?

If you need to know exactly when your next check will arrive, working for yourself is going to be extremely stressful. Small businesses, including freelancers, have ebbs and flows in their income. And when you’re launching a product-based startup, your business may not be profitable for at least three to five years.

It’s important to be realistic about how you’ll support yourself and your business financially. In many cases, the best time to prepare for launching your own business is while you’re still working another job.

7. How do you handle rejection and disappointment?

When you’re deeply invested in what you do, it’s hard not to take each rejection personally. However, as an entrepreneur, you’re going to receive lots of bad news — maybe from an investor, lost sale or poor blog review. If you spend time dwelling on the rejection or feeling bitter, you’re not only wasting your time, you’re also not learning anything from the experience.

Final Thoughts

Asking yourself the tough questions ahead of time could mean the difference between success and failure. However, if one or two answers should give you pause, don’t let them scare you away from following your dreams altogether. It’s still more than possible to be a successful entrepreneur, but you may need to take some extra steps to address where you’re short.

Please leave your comments below. Thank you!

http://mashable.com/2013/12/11/new-business-questions/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

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Industry

THE FINTECH REVOLUTION IN INSURANCE

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Advancing technology has collided with longstanding customer issues to create a series of deep, lasting, systemic challenges for insurance. How will these trends impact insurers’ businesses and the industry overall?

The rise of fintech, changing consumer behavior, and advanced technologies are disrupting the insurance industry. Additionally, Insurtechs and technology startups continue to redefine customer experience through innovations such as risk-free underwriting, on-the-spot purchasing, activation, and claims processing.

The report from Deloitte Global examines forces that are disrupting the insurance industry and presents four possible scenarios for the future. We explore:

  • Changing the channel: Partnerships with product makers and distributors, and embedding insurance into other products and services may enable customers to select products that best fit their lifestyle.
  • Underwriting by machine: Technology advancements including AI innovations and algorithms will likely individualize risk selection and pricing, and customers can select products based on a wider range of price points.
  • Rise of the flexible product: Time-flexible, event-driven, modular and adjustable coverage may evolve to accommodate life stage, lifestyle, and wellness changes among consumers.
  • E-Z life insurance: Given the growth and shopping patterns in emerging markets, insurers who introduce flexible term products, and master digital distribution without compromising underwriting are likely to win in the marketplace.

Read the report to understand what the future holds for the insurance industry.

Key Contact

Neal Baumann

Neal Baumann

Global Insurance Leader

Neal leads Deloitte’s Global Insurance practice and is the US insurance consulting leader. He has 20 years of experience advising financial services and insurance company clients on corporate and comp… More

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Business

EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK RUNS BLOCKCHAIN HACKATHON

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A team from EY triumphed in a 48-hour European Investment Bank (EIB) hackathon designed to find ways to use blockchain technologies to redesign the transaction processing of commercial paper.

The EIB brought together 56 coders from 15 countries in 12 teams for the hackathon, run alongside the bank’s annual forum dedicated to treasury issues.

While the conference was running, the coders were locked in an adjacent room, trying to prove that blockchain tech can improve the transaction process of commercial paper – a short-term financing instrument that is used worldwide in treasury operations and still relies on an ‘archaic’ and complex process.

In the pitching session, the EY team won the contest with an effort that taps a combination of blockchain, robotics and business AI tools to optimise the issuance process and reduce the number of exchanges between the EIB and its counterparties while maintaining each one’s role within the ecosystem.

The EY team won a EUR5000 cash prize and a contract with the EIB to further develop its solution into a proof of concept.

Alexander Stubb, vice president, EIB, say: “There will be major gains from the use of new technologies such as blockchain, generated from the simplification and streamlining of existing financial processes. The new perspectives opened up by digitalisation and Distributed Ledger Technology must be assessed and we must all be ready to make use of them and embark on this new venture.

“As the EU’s financial arm, we decided to be on the active side, learn by experience and make things happen, to be a facilitator and join with our banking partners to pave the way for tomorrow’s financial industry.”

Separately, Barclays is planning a hackathon that will see coders use blockchain technology for post-trade processing of derivatives contracts. The event will take place over two days in September in London and New York, according to Coindesk.

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Industry

GOOGLE NEVER REALLY LEFT CHINA: A LOOK AT THE CHINESE WEBSITE GOOGLE’S BEEN QUIETLY RUNNING

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More information is leaking out about just how Google is planning to re-enter the Chinese market with a mobile search engine application that complies to the country’s censorship laws.

The Intercept first broke this story when a whistleblower provided them documentation detailing the secret censored search project (codenamed Dragonfly). According to them, an overlooked Google acquisition from 2008 — 265.com — has been quietly laying down the foundation for the endeavor.

In order to run a business in China, tech companies are required to obtain a Internet Content Provider license from the Chinese government. As it’s difficult for foreign businesses to obtain this license, Google has long partnered with Chinese IT company Ganji.com. Back in the early years of Google.cn, Google actually operated directly off of Ganji.com’s license, even claiming the Chinese company was temporarily running its search engine. Facing intense scrutiny from the Chinese government and the media over this license arrangement, in 2007 Google formed a legitimate joint venture company with Ganji.com — the Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co.

Because of the necessity of that license, Google has maintained that joint venture and has been operating in China under the name Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co. ever since. Even after the shut down of Google.cn, Google’s Chinese advertising enterprise has been operating under the joint venture company as well as, low and behold, 265.com. A whois search of the 265.com domain name, which provides a record of the current domain registrant information, pulls up Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co. as the registrant organization.

A significant number of Google employees are reportedly none too happy about Google’s project complying with Chinese censorship laws. This most recent news, that the company has long been collecting data for a moment just like this, surely won’t make morale among these workers any better.

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