Five Courageous Business Moves To Help Your Company Survive

By Al Zdenek

Do you have the guts and the courage to have your business succeed? The government doubts it.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail within their first year of operation. 95% fail within the first five years. That is 19 out of every 20 small businesses in the country. If that sounds outrageous, that’s because it is!

The ugly truth is, many businesses on the failure side of these statistics could avoid this fate if the entrepreneurs who started them had the courage to make the strategic business moves necessary to ensure a higher probability of survival.

There are many reasons why businesses fail, to be sure. But in my experience working with business owners, I’ve found there are five top actions any entrepreneur can take to improve their fortunes when the outlook is dim. The common ingredient to all five? Courage.

  1. Know when to…

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Here’s Why British Firms Say Their Boards Lack Women. Prepare to Cringe.

by Amie Tsang, The New York Times

LONDON — “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else’s turn.”

“All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”

“Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”

Those were just a few of the worst explanations given to a British review investigating the lack of women on corporate boards in the country, the latest effort by British government officials to shame companies into addressing workplace gender disparities.

Read more here.

Follow Amie Tsang on Twitter: @amietsang.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: Here’s Why British Firms Say Their Boards Lack Women. Prepare to Cringe.. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Blockchain Technology – The Future of Business. What Should Your Lawyer Know?

According to Joshi,[1] “Blockchain is a technology that focuses on increasing transparency and introducing decentralization that will allow the technology to enable everyone on the network to view information stored on ledgers.”

Blockchain’s cryptography feature is often misunderstood. This means that storing information on a Blockchain network is secure and not anonymous. The Ledger is un-editable and therefore the records stored in a Blockchain unalterable. From a legal perspective to various business functions, this is both vital and positive.

According to Joshi[2] and McKenna[3], Blockchain can address common business issues more efficiently in the following ways:

  1. By eliminating failure to comply with contractual obligations. As Entrepreneurs we have often faced the eventuality where parties default in terms of payment or some other obligation, this happens even when we have the best Agreement in place. Besides creating a crucial and unalterable record, the technology records activity in real time and thereby enables the other party to make sound commercial decisions quicker than we were able to do prior.
  2. By tracking stock. It is crucial in manufacturing that products reach the Distributors and End Retailers on time. However, stock is often lost or misplaced for extended periods of time, which results in losses for Manufacturers. Here, again the application of Blockchain technology could address the issue of tracking he production of stock as well as its dispatch, the logistics and end destination.
  3. By increasing transparency-in web- based businesses the application of Blockchain technology increases transparency, keeps track of the incoming and outgoing products and makes management thereof more efficient.

Moreover according to McKenna,[4] some Industries have already seen the impact of Blockchain, such as:

“Entertainment — Founded by a singer-songwriter, Ujo Music tracks musician royalties as well as allowing them to create evidence of ownership of their work.

Insurance — AIG is piloting a smart contract system to oversee the creation of complex policies requiring international cooperation.

Recruitment — Blockchain-based CVs have now been developed which will streamline the selection process by verifying candidates’ qualifications and relevant experience.”

For the Legal Profession this is an interesting time where Practitioners will have to understand the technology to the required degree in order to advise Clients on the content and processes they intend to run on a Blockchain Network. Many aspects that have traditionally been time-consuming to investigate and accurately identify in order to remedy, will be addressed by the technology.

It is therefore vital that the manner in which this is implemented is done in compliance with the relevant regulations and latest best practices.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw, SchoemanLaw Inc, Cape Town, South Africa

Email :



Twitter: @NicoleneSL_Att and SchoemanLaw_Att


[1] : accessed 30 April 2018

[2] : accessed 30 April 2018

[3] : accessed 30 April 2018

[4] : accessed 30 April 2018

CWDI Report Shows Women Hold 21.4% of Board Positions on 200 Largest Companies Globally

For the first time since Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI), the research arm of the Global Summit of Women, began examining the composition of the Boards of Directors of companies in the Fortune Global 200 listing in 2004, the percentage of women directors crossed the 20% line in new research presented at the 2018 Summit in Sydney.  The current percentage of 21.4% doubles the percentage of women directors of these global powerhouses which stood at 10.4% in 2004.

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The increase has largely been driven by European companies in the listing whose percentage of women on boards has increased from 9.1% in 2004 to 32.1% at the start of 2018.  The surge of women directors in Europe has been due to national initiatives to accelerate women’s access to board positions, primarily through quotas.  Leading the way in Europe and globally are France and Italy, both of whom have legislative quotas which moved rapidly the numbers of women appointed to board seats.  From 2004 to the present, women on boards of French companies in the Fortune Global 200 have increased from 7.2% to 43.4%, while women holding board seats of Italian companies have increased from 1.8% to 34.8%.

Lagging behind Europe are the U.S. and other countries in the Americas. Since 2004, the percentage of women board directors on the American continent has increased only 0.5% per year, from 17% in 2004 to 24.5% in 2018.  Further behind Europe, but having shown some significant increases in certain countries, is the Asia-Pacific region. While the current percentage in the region is only 7.6%, this represents a major jump from its percentage in 2004 when it was a paltry 0.9%.

The report makes the case for quotas and other national initiatives to move the needle.  “The ‘supply’ of board-ready women has been there for some time, but what quotas do is force the demand from companies within a specified timeline,” said CWDI Chair Irene Natividad.  “That’s why they are effective.”

For more key findings from the CWDI report, click here.                                               
For a Wall Street Journal news article on the CWDI Report, click here.

The Encore – Chubb: Social Engineering Fraud

As an employer, you seek smart, helpful, and trusting people with which to grow your business.

Unfortunately, this means you or one of your employees may be more susceptible to being targeted and tricked into releasing confidential information that could be used to hack into the company’s network by someone who has manipulated them into helping them commit fraud–otherwise known as social engineering fraud.

Think this couldn’t happen at your company?  Think again. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complain Center (IC3)*, exposed losses for U.S. companies totaled more than $960.7 million, and more than $3 billion worldwide between October 2013 and May 2016, through a social-engineering fraud called the business e-mail compromise. Victims ranged from small businesses to large corporations.

Chubb shares that by becoming more aware of the different types of encounters that could be socially engineered, as well as practical tips and preventative measures, you can make sure employees within your company are never unwittingly helping the wrong person.

*Source: FBI Public Service Announcement, June 14, 2016

Huffpost: Women Entrepreneurs Shape A Social Media Path

By: Jeremy Harris Lipschultz

The social media space is perfect for female entrepreneurs to use innovation in marketplace change. Amra and Elma Beganovich and their a & e digital marketing agency in New York, for example, have leveraged millions of followers in the beauty and travel social media area.

Founder Elma Beganovich and her sister mastered Google, Instagram and YouTube by identifying targeted Millennial audiences and offering quality content.

Beganovich was on a securities and financial regulation career path at Georgetown Law when taking photos of herself and posting them changed everything. As an early adopter in 2012 of Instagram and then Facebook pages, she and Amra (trained as an economist), began with low-cost do-it-yourself (DIY) beauty recipes and tips. The idea was to disrupt traditional lifestyle publications, such as Vogue magazine. “Most consumers don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in skin care, or millions of dollars in plastic surgery,” Beganovich says. The sisters also took time to learn computer coding, as they built a website. Bloggers helped attract more than 100,000 unique visitors in the first three months. Topics, such as ‘travel to Croatia on a budget,’ helped build a following and celebrity status by using video and remarkable photography. “Even those ‘vanity metrics’… you can essentially monetize,” Beganovich says. Brands also evaluate an influencer’s “healthy engagement” through comments and likes. Lifestyle influencers may target clothing as one way to attract brand interest. A “really clever” influencer develops an “online persona” to attract a target demographic, Beganovich says. The combination of mobile technologies and social media data has freed women entrepreneurs from the traditional boardroom and office, Beganovich says. The sisters completed a 2014 programming course, and they developed proprietary agency software.

“The software allows you to do a very quick search based on filters in Instagram and YouTube – so, for example, location, following number, and keywords (our main filters) – and so brands are able to quickly find the influencers they want to see.”

Beganovich says the launch this month of an influencer analytics platform is their next step. One strategy for clients is to match influencers with upcoming brand events. “They can quickly… get to those influencers, find them (rather than doing it manually), and then… “click on the influencers’ profile, and you’re able to see the engagement rate.”

A Millennial is likely to begin shopping on Instagram rather than at an upscale store. “We make them ‘explode digitally’…your digital footprint has become everything,” Beganovich says. “Basically, Instagram has become your store.”

“So, yeah, we are sort of matchmakers” between brands and social media influencers, Beganovich agrees.

Data Science

In Miami, Founder Anna Anisin’s boutique marketing firm incorporates data science in her entrepreneurship focused on digital and face-to-face experiences. “We specialize on servicing B2B enterprise clients,” Anisin says.

There remain a host of data problems, “so there’s a lot of opportunity still to be had in this market,” Anisin says. “The biggest thing right now is marketing and social media texts and segments… basically, taking all of your data… scraping data.” At the Data Science Salon in Los Angeles last month, media companies examined current issues.

New algorithms and models help social marketers dive “into those conversations and… patterns (what people are saying about your products)” because negative sentiment may adversely impact sales for large and small brands alike, Anisin says. At the same time, Anisin warns against falling for marketing buzzwords. In the end, the key techniques remain text mining and sentiment analysis, and human coders continue to have an edge over artificial intelligence (AI). “Contextual marketing,” Anisin says determines, “the right time to give you that ad, so it’s relevant.” Brand relationships imply the need for a steady stream of great content, as defined by social media communities. Media, such as Netflix, are at the cutting edge of developing predictive analytics through granular data. It’s no easy task.

“I don’t think everybody is meant to be an entrepreneur,” Anisin says. “You have to figure out if that’s really you… first, before you go out there and try to start a business.”

Despite the risks in new business development, many traditional companies also will fail in the ongoing digital shift. They could, however, learn to be agile by listening to a new generation of women entrepreneurs.

Forbes: 15 Ways To Start A Conversation At A Conference (Without Feeling Weird)

By: Darrah Brustein

WPO Wed Blog.jpg

To your left, there’s a group of people talking in a tightly closed circle. Directly ahead of you, you see a smattering of people glued to their phones. To your right, there’s a line waiting to talk to the previous speaker. And there’s you: standing alone at a conference, feeling anxious because this event has an expiration date, knowing you “need to network”, but understandably feeling uncomfortable.

We’ve all been there. In a room full of people, but feeling really alone. It’s as if everyone else has no qualms talking to new people, but that’s rarely the case. While for some this might be their natural habitat, for most it’s not. They’ve simply learned strategies to overcome this challenge. And now, so can you.

Here are 15 of the best ways to start a conversation at a conference (without feeling weird or awkward):

1. Relax, everyone is there to connect

Easier said than done, right? It can really be that straightforward. Before you walk into the event, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that everyone is there to connect with new people, and that you’re doing them a favor by initiating a conversation.If it takes your saying something positive to yourself to pump yourself up, do it.

2. Talk to the person seated beside you

Fight the urge to get on your mobile device when you arrive at a session and take a seat. Instead, sit next to or near enough to someone who is alone and turn to talk to them. Ask them topical questions like, “Are you familiar with this speaker?”, or “I’m looking forward to _____ about this upcoming session. What compelled you to choose it?” Or, when the speaker has wrapped, say something like, “I really enjoyed that! What did you take away?”. Always keep it positive.

When it comes time to eat, do the same and broaden your questions to ask something like, “What’s been one of your favorite talks of the event so far?”. It will allow for your conversation partner to share, and give you a window into what matters to them, and from there, go deeper into the conversation.

3. Approach someone who asked a great question

Most of the crowd will do one of two things once a session ends: 1. exit or 2. form a line trying to talk to the speaker. Take this opportunity to connect with someone who asked a great question, or to approach the moderator if he or she said something that sparked your interest. In both cases, you’ll have a starting point for the conversation, which can even be as simple as, “I really loved that question you asked.”

4.  Ask a question yourself

Flip the script and know that if you ask a thoughtful question during a Q&A, others will likely resonate with and/or appreciate it. One or two may approach you throughout the conference and connect because of it. Making yourself more visible within a large crowd can be a useful strategy.

5. Pay attention to your body language

It’s understandable that when we’re uncomfortable, we tend to close off a bit, and our body language shows it. We cross our arms, fold into ourselves, and look away from people’ gazes. Be careful to showcase body language that is inviting rather than off-putting.

6. Hang out near the food or drink areas

Most people will take a moment to grab a refreshment. And often, you can say hello and connect with them when they’re grabbing a fruit plate or a drink.

7. Bathroom conversations don’t have to be off-limits

I’ve heard compelling stories from friends who have made some of their best new contacts simply by starting a light conversation while washing their hands or in line for the bathroom. Take advantage of these moments, too.

8. Sit in the lobby

If you have a conference badge or name tag on, hang out in the lobby of the hotel or convention center if you’re not interested in going to another session. Many folks will go there to work, take a call, or a breather. Finding a lower-key environment can allow for a less distracted conversation.

9. Don’t scan everyone’s badges

It can be creepy to be the person who doesn’t make eye contact, but instead, scans everyone badges looking for your target. If you want to do your research, look for a listing of attendees and do so before the event. If you happen upon said person, you can demonstrate that you know a bit about them and/or their company so long as you can play it cool and they feel comfortable, not targeted.

10. Get introduced

If there’s someone specific whom you’d like to meet, and for whatever reason, you feel uncomfortable approaching him or her, find a wingperson. Ideally, this is someone who knows that person, or has interacted with him or her. This person is in a position to be able to say, “Have you met my friend?” and create an opening for you.

11. Set up appointments

In the case of some conferences, you’ll get a list of attendees beforehand, or access to an app to which attendees subscribe. If there are people with whom you’d like to connect to collaborate (never to sell them something), reach out beforehand and ask if they’d like to connect one-on-one.

12. Utilize pre-planned networking time

Most conferences will organize happy hours or other designated time for ‘networking’. Everyone will be there to mix and mingle, so take advantage.

13. Post up

This one may be vulnerable, but I suggest finding a place where you can stand, perhaps with a coffee at a highboy table, and just be there (with no one else and nothing distracting you). When someone comes within eyesight, nod, smile, and make eye contact. Or better yet, say hello. Put yourself in a physical position to wrangle in new conversations.

14. Be open to everyone

Be friendly and open to everyone you encounter, whether it’s the person manning the bar, moving the chairs, or otherwise. Not only is it good practice, but you never know who might see you, what you might glean from that interaction, to whom they’re connected, or simply how much that might make their day.

15. Be yourself

There’s no way I can encourage you to start conversations with strangers without reminding you of the importance of being yourself. It may be tempting to try to be who you think someone else is looking to meet, but that won’t last. Even if it means you don’t truly connect with everyone, that’s okay. Ask questions and respond in ways that are authentic to who you are. Follow up and stay in touch with those with whom you connected, as yourself.

The whole point of these initial conversations in a manufactured conference environment is to grow them after the event ends. Doing that inauthentically from the start will do you, and them, no favors.