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Top 6 Business Trends Of 2017



Looking ahead into 2017, it’s important to not only be on top of new trends in the business world, but to incorporate them. Adopting trends is important for small business owners and entrepreneurs to be able to compete with big companies. You’re at an advantage because you can change your practices quicker than a large organization. Here’s what you can expect of small business trends in 2017:

1. Experts will be driving sales, not order-takers or salespeople

With widespread Internet access, consumers are now seeking out experts’ opinions before making a purchase. Gone are the days of trusting in-store salespeople to provide details on product performance or longevity.

Consumers are looking for experts who can provide information based on their personal experience and their professional opinion without being pushy to make the sale. Experts allow for greater customer experiences, providing deeper connections on relevant topics, increased trust and a superior identification of needs.

2. Crowdfunding over venture capital

This isn’t just for crazy ideas and millennials. Crowdfunding for startups is beginning to take off in the business world as companies begin to recognize its value. Not only are you raising money, the people who support you are validating your ideas and products before you put money into them.

Opening up about the products or services you want to offer can also lead to traction in your community, opening up a line of two-way communication between you and customers, and engaging them to provide feedback. If you’re looking to get started, or just curious, check out Kickstarter and Indiegogo for inspiration.

3. Customer interest will be harder to capture

This is the age of information overload. With the entire Internet in the palms of our hands and constant emails flooding in, more commonplace marketing techniques are becoming obsolete. This means traditional email marketing blasts to all your subscribers just won’t generate as much interest as they have in the past.

Try to personalize their experiences. Look to social media to open up a dialogue with consumers and share more interesting content like videos, which are proven to hold attention longer than other media. Listening to someone speak about the risks and challenges they may face with your product also seems a lot more friendly and unique than a generalized FAQ post.

4. Personalization is the new mass market

If you’re going to the doctor, you want a diagnosis that is right for all of the symptoms you have, not based on what the majority has, right? Think of your marketing and sales efforts in the same way. With more messages coming from other sources than ever before, it’s important to capture people’s attention for longer.

For example, Netflix and Amazon’s success is made from personalized offers and suggestions based on your history. Get to know your customers by tracking their shopping habits and create personalized marketing materials based on large segments of people who follow similar trends (i.e. shop on weekends).

5. Brick and mortar stores are losing their lustre

Retail isn’t just becoming crowded – it’s moving. Mall-style browsing is done with a mouse and keyboard, as outlets like Amazon provide such a large variety of products they could never all be offered in one store. You just can’t compete with that scale as a small business. As a result, the stores that stay alive are now highly specialized and provide excellent customer service.

Think about what you do better than everyone else in your community and focus on it so customers think of you as soon as they need that product or service. Plus, make sure you’re online so your customers can find you while Googling what they need. Get online and add your business to for free.

6. Recurring revenue

Major companies are going with a new pricing model and it’s likely here to stay. Instead of offering products at a fixed price, these large organizations are offering services for a recurring fee. Monthly Netflix subscriptions have replaced movie rentals and purchases, Apple Music and Spotify have replaced iTunes and CDs, and Amazon Prime is replacing express shipping fees and other types of media. There’s a reason for this.

Recurring revenues with a high renewal rate are more efficient in maintaining customers. This saves costs as it’s way more expensive to bring in new customers than it is to keep existing ones. You can also keep your finger on the pulse of the market. Look at when and why people are signing up or leaving month after month. If possible, look for ways to turn your business into a recurring revenue generating service, like offering unlimited tool rentals in a month for a flat fee. It’ll lead to greater profits in the long run based on current industry trends.

When looking ahead, keep these emerging business trends in mind. If you can, find ways to incorporate them into your business plan. Although they may just be taking off this year, they’re primed to stick around for the foreseeable future.


About the Author

This article was written by Michael Ozburn of, a platform dedicated to insights and tools to help businesses with big ideas— but limited budgets— market their products and services and reach their target audience. Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Queen’s University. He’s obsessed with everything marketing and devoted to helping entrepreneurs everywhere thrive.


Women on Top in Tech – Vidya Vellala, Founder and CEO of Faasthelp



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Vidya Vellala is the Founder and CEO of Faasthelp, a 24/7 (round the clock) customer support on any business application through Artificial intelligence powered products. It analyzes what the customer is asking using natural language processing, machine learning and processes that to give the accurate responses to the customers instantly. Vidya is an Entrepreneur with a passion for innovation and latest technologies, having 17 years of Technology Experience. She won the India’s Best Startup CTO by Dell EMC.

What makes you do what you do?
I believe technology can solve any problem. Innovations in technology can improve the quality of life and the quality of work people does.
I am grown with a mindset which says self-sympathy is the enemy of self and hard work consistently without expecting a result will open bigger pathways. What I am doing is the combination of all.
Being an entrepreneur is an eternal learning which I love and I enjoy playing with technology and challenges that is the reason why I am doing what I am doing today.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Updating myself with the latest technologies is a must. Having said that, that alone is not sufficient. Always thinking positively, fighting against the fears, perseverance, and working hard helps.
I am lucky to have a big support from my family. My sisters who are also into technology field, make my life more beautiful and meaningful, to share not only the personal but also technical matters with them.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
With the bigger goal of supporting the future generations, this is the beginning. It had to start somewhere. In the very long journey this is the first step that I took.
My current startup is Faasthelp. We build artificial intelligence products.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him?
There have been many mentors at all stages of my startup. A startup eco system has brought me too many friends and mentors who have been very helpful at every stage of my startup and I am thankful to all of them.
My primary mentors in my life are my parents. The spirit of entrepreneurship was ignited when I was a kid and my mother was managing her small industry. The strong value system, sense of service, and responsibility towards the society is instilled in me by my dad. The strong urge to do something by myself was driven by my parents. They are the role models and driving factors.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I take personal interest in grooming and nurturing talent. I have established processes that identify the potential talent and to groom. I play to the best of their strengths and encourage them to take risks. My business needs also drive me to develop new skills and grow them. I value emotional intelligence and so is the strength of my team.

Do you consciously or subconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously and subconsciously support diversity, this again I can say got from my parents, my dad always wanted all women to be empowered and my mother had more women in her work force.
I have mentored women entrepreneurs, especially in their technical initiatives as I come with a vast technical expertise. I have extended my entrepreneurial connections to other women entrepreneurs. Our organization has more women representation.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
To be a great leader, you have to be a good leader, for that you must be a good human being, driven by high values, honesty, and ethics with great empathy for the people around.
Motivating the team, being a good listener with persistent hard work is a general thumb rule. Now there might be several ways to implement these and depending on the industry the implementation might differ but the ground principles remain same.
Entrepreneurship is continuous learning and I encourage others to do the same. Aim high and work towards the set goals is a way to go. I believe mindset to do service is also a way to become a good leader.

Advice for others?
Always be positive and create a positive impact on everyone. Have your values defined and do not compromise on them at any cost. Each small step taken towards the big thing is important, value them and go ahead, you will succeed surely. Success is something which we define our self and it can be achieved from any field and anywhere, on the way keep helping others.
The present focus is to develop the startup which I have taken up and my next idea is to continue to innovate and create technology products which will improvise human life.

If you’d like to get in touch with Vidya Vellala, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about Faasthelp, please click here.

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Lessons Learnt from The Lean Startup



The Lean Startup book authored by Eric Ries has been sitting on my shelf for quite sometime now, so since I am currently contributing to the making of a startup I figured I’ll take a look into it.

The book is divided into 3 parts, after reading the first two I had my mind blown with the pragmatic and scientific approach to building startups that is described in the book.

In this post, I would like to share some important insights that I gained regarding building highly innovative businesses.

Validating Value Proposition And Growth Strategy Is The Priority

Usually, a highly innovative startup company is working in its most early stage at building a product or a service that will create a new market.

Consumers or businesses have not been yet exposed to something similar to what is going to be built by the startup. Therefore the absolute priority for startups in early stage is to validated their value proposition i.e. to get real data about eventual customers interest regarding their product/service.

The other priority is to validate that the growth strategy that is going to be executed is, in fact, effective.

The growth strategy of a startup is its plan to acquire more and more customers in the long term and in a sustainable fashion.

Three kinds of growth strategies are described in the book:

  • paid growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to be charged for the product or service, the cash earned from early users is reinvested in acquiring new users via advertising for example
  • viral growth in which you rely on the fact that customers are going to bring customers as a side effect of using the product/service
  • sticky growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to use the service in some regular fashion, paying for the service each time (via subscription for example).

These growth strategies are sustainable in the sense that they do not require continuous large capital investments or publicity stunts.

It is important to know as soon as possible which strategy or combination of strategies is the most effective at driving growth.

Applying The Scientific Method

The scientific method is a set of techniques that helps us figure out correct stuff. After making some observations regarding a phenomenon, you formulate a hypothesis about that phenomenon.

The hypothesis is an assumption that needs to be proven correct or incorrect. You then design experimentations that are going to challenge the assumption.

The results of the experimentations makes the correctness or incorrectness of the hypothesisclear allowing us to make judgments about its validity.

In the lean startup methodology, your job as an entrepreneur is to formulate two hypothesis:

  • hypothesis of value (assumptions about your value proposition)
  • hypothesis of growth (assumptions about the effectiveness of the growth strategy)

These hypothesis are then validated/invalidated through experimentation. Following the precepts of lean manufacturing, the lean startup methodology prescribes to make experimentations while minimizing/eliminating waste.

In other words, you have to burn minimum cash, effort and time when running experiments.

An experimentation in the lean startup sense is usually an actual product/service and helps startups in early stage learn invaluable things about their eventual future market.

Sometimes startups learn that nobody wants their product/service, imagine spending 8 months worth of engineering, design and promotion work (not to mention cash) in a product/service only to discover that it does not provide value to anyone.

Minimum Viable Products And Feedback

As we pointed out earlier, an experimentation can be an actual product or service and is called the minimum viable product(MVP).

The MVP is built to contain just enough features to validate the value and growth hypotheses, effectively requiring minimum time, effort and cash.

By getting the MVP launched and in front of real users, entrepreneurs can get concrete feedback from them either directly by asking them (in focus groups for example) or via usage analytics.

Analytics scales better then directly talking to customers but the latter is nonetheless used to cross validate results from the former.

It is crucial to focus on metrics that creates fine grained visibility about the performance of the business when building(or using) a usage analytics system. These metrics are called actionable metrics because they can link causes and effects clearly allowing entrepreneurs to understand the consequences of ideally each action executed. Cohort analysis is an example of a analytics strategy that focuses on actionable metrics.

The bad kind of metrics are called vanity metrics, these tend to hide how the business is performing, gross numbers like total users count are an example of vanity metrics.

The author cites several examples of different startups that managed to validate or debunk their early assumption by building stripped down and non scalable MVPs and even sometimes by not building software at all.

You would be surprised to hear for example how the Dropbox folks in their early stage managed to created a ~4 minute video demonstrating their product while it was still in development. The video allowed them to get more people signed up in their beta waiting list and raise capital more easily.

Closing Thoughts

In the first two parts of the book, the author talks also about how employees inside big companies working on highly innovative products and services can benefit greatly from the lean startup approach, although very interesting this is not very useful for me right now.

The third part, talks about the challenges that arises when the startup gets big and starts to stabilize and how to address them. Basically it revolves around not loosing the innovative spirit of the early days, again, this is not very useful for me so maybe for good future reading.


About the Author

This article was produced by Tech Dominator. see more.

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