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Why Bartering Can Be Your Untapped Revenue Source


Many small- to medium-size business owners have begun to barter, trade and swap goods and services without any cash involved.

Take the city of Portland for example. Unsurprisingly, the culturally tight-knit and self-proclaimed weird city has given rise to a thriving underground bartering network. A recent Rolling Stone article showcased the colorful personalities and supportive business community that is Portland’s bartering economy. Some of them call themselves “swappers,” others simply identify as community-oriented business owners. All of them share a common bond of exchanging goods and services to help each other grow.

The trouble with traditional bartering like this is that it’s incredibly difficult to scale. The idea of a coffee shop exchanging beans for fresh food from a local grower is nice, but any business looking to expand can’t possibly expect that kind of barter to lead to scalable growth.

Related: 8 Lending Terms That Every Entrepreneur Must Know

That’s what gave Bob Bagga, CEO and founder of BizX, the idea to create a community that enables businesses to turn their excess capacity into potential capital. Bagga explains, “By using the BizX dollar, businesses are able to turn extra business capacity and assets into cash flow, which can, in turn, be spent at member businesses without any cash involved. The goal for us is to reduce waste, maximize member potential and help companies earn new customers.”

By creating a complementary currency to power commerce through the sharing of excess goods and services, Bagga and his team have given business owners a chance to create cash-free lines of capital for little more than their incremental cost of goods sold.

Cash-free capital

Most business owners have plenty of great ideas to grow, but lack the capital and cash resources needed for those growth initiatives. Take a restauranteur, for example. Expanding or upgrading the restaurant may be their desired path for generating increased revenue, but the cash required for such an undertaking might not be readily available.

Related: Warren Buffett’s Top Investing Secret Is Simpler Than You Think

What if that same restaurateur was able to exchange empty seats and excess food for a shared currency that they could then spend at other businesses in the network? While trading one meal with a contractor might not result in enough capital to exchange in return for a major overhaul, many units over time will eventually add up.

That’s precisely why business owners are looking for alternatives to traditional financing and venture capital raising. Those models, though effective, often edge out small- to medium-size businesses in favor of rapid growth SaaS companies or user-heavy business models. As a result, businesses looking at growing should explore growth opportunities that require little to no upfront investment. 

The future of B2B commerce

B2B companies often operate at less than their full potential. Bagga pointed out that small businesses in the United States, on average, only run at 80 percent capacity. In many cases, this is simply because connecting with new customers presents a real challenge.

Also, most B2B companies have excess business potential because they offer products or services that could field more customers at a small marginal cost of goods sold. As such, many can afford to accept an alternative form of payment, as long as they can use it for other practical applications.

Related: 6 Tips for Digging Your Small Business Out of Serious Debt

While traditional bartering usually doesn’t result in additional cash flow, companies that are able to exchange services based on a shared or complementary currency can determine when and how to spend their newfound capital. Many will use that for marketing, advertising and public relations services that would otherwise have been too costly.

Cash flow isn’t always confined to exchanged services either. In many cases, these unique partnerships result in cash business resulting from direct referrals from services rendered in exchange for other goods.



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The 3 Rules Disruptive Artists Follow


The art world has never played by the rules. Part of what makes art so necessary in today’s culture is that the artists behind great works don’t allow themselves to be boxed in by conventionality. They decide how to create, when to create and, ultimately, how to share their work with the world. I believe we’re all artists in our own right, some more creative than others.

Because the art comes first and the business comes second, artists don’t always receive credit for pushing the needle forward when it comes to marketing and sales. Many play by the “if you build it they will come” rule. And while that does work to an extent, many artists also realize that in order to survive as professional artists they have to focus on more than just their creative endeavors — they also have to find new ways to connect with audiences.

Related: How to Become a Millionaire by Age 30

Andrew Medal writes about Timmy Sneaks

Image credit: Courtesy Mark Brazil

 

My boy Mark Brazil is a lifelong entrepreneur based in Los Angeles and is scheduled to be on the next episode of my Entrepreneur show Action & Ambition. Starting in the fashion world, Brazil built his career around his passion for building brands. Most recently, he helped artists create and distribute their work. He quickly realized that artists in the fashion world faced the same challenges as artists creating paintings, sculptures and photography: with audiences moving online and becoming more dependent on mobile devices, artists and fashion brands alike needed to find new avenues to connect with consumers digitally without sacrificing artistic creativity.

In a direct response to this new age of immediacy and digital experiences, Brazil created Ikonick, an online art gallery, alongside his co-founder Jeff Cole. Despite contemporary artists’ willingness to push the envelope, galleries and art distributors have never been viewed as pioneers in the ecommerce space — and Brazil and his team sought to change that. With Ikonick, their goal is to make it easier for artists to connect with audiences and, conversely, for audiences to find and buy meaningful, and culturally relevant work from today’s artists.

Andrew Medal writes about Ikonick

Image credit: Courtesy Mark Brazil

 

Throughout his tenure as the co-founder of Ikonick and manager of popular artists Cole and Timmy Sneaks, Brazil has realized that it is possible to disrupt even the most traditional fields by following three simple rules:

1. Establish content segmentation.

Consumers are swamped by a deluge of content. Too many brands and artists think that producing higher volumes of content is the answer to getting on consumers’ radars. But sending out reams of inconsistent, irrelevant content only confuses audiences and clouds brand power.

Related: 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

When Brazil first began managing Jeff Cole in 2015, he only had 5,000 Instagram followers who tuned in to see pictures from his personal life. Brazil realized that by simply segmenting his social content, Cole had an opportunity to enhance his social footprint. Soon after, Cole began running a personal Instagram account: @jcolegraphix, as well as a professional Instagram account: @cole. Fans of the artists knew that by following @cole, they’d be treated to a stream of rich media content featuring Cole’s sneaker art. The segmentation strategy worked; today, Cole has more than 197,000 Instagram followers who flock to his account knowing that he is committed to posting images of his Sneaker Art.

Andrew Medal writes about Mark Brazil and Timmy Sneaks

Image credit: Courtesy Mark Brazil

 

2. Align wisely.

In today’s digital content environment, no single entity can expect to achieve success on his or her own. However, brands and artists alike need to be strategic regarding who or what they choose to associate themselves with. Brazil’s other client, Timmy Sneaks, has found success by making hard decisions when it comes to brand partnerships.

Related: I Started Saying ‘No’ to These 6 Things. My Life and My Business Got a Lot Better.

Early on, the two made a pact that no amount of money was worth polluting his personal brand. As a result, he passed on multiple five-figure brand deals to stay true to himself. Taking those deals would have likely lost fans and the opportunity at more prestigious brand deals down the line. By staying true to his art and his fans, Sneaks has built up a wholly original and authentic presence that has quickly gained notoriety in the Art Scene. 

Andrew Medal writes about Timmy Sneaks

Image credit: Courtesy Mark Brazil

 

3. Work hard and smart.

Talent only gets you so far. Anyone who has achieved any taste of success knows that work ethic is more staying power than natural ability and luck. However, simply killing yourself by working 24/7 is not the answer. As an artist trying to make a name for himself, Sneaks often had to devote 15 percent of his time to going into stores and shipping his pieces directly to buyers. Although he was happy to take on that task, it meant that he had to sacrifice precious work time. By trying to manage every aspect of his artistic brand, Sneaks was working hard, but he wasn’t necessarily working smart. Together, Brazil and Sneaks realized that his time was best spent doing what he does best: creating.

Andrew Medal writes about Ikonick

Image credit: Courtesy Mark Brazil

 

Sometimes it is hard for an entrepreneur to give up control, but in the end, the art of delegation is the most profitable skill one can acquire. And, as one of the most prolific artists of time said, “good artists copy, great artists steal.” So, heist these pieces of wisdom wisely.

Related: 9 Steps to Increase the Value of Your Business



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Digital Marketing Channels are Flatlining. Here’s What to Do to Stay Afloat.


When was the last time you clicked on a banner ad? Was is it on purpose? As many as 60 percent of banner ad clicks are accidental. Only 9 percent of them are viewed for more than one second. Yet every day, experienced marketers waltz into the office with their latest banner ad idea. Or worse, autoplay video. This is partly why I’m building an AR company that helps make ads more interactive, but also a tell-tale sign that disruption is inevitable. 

Marketers are desperate to increase numbers and generate traffic using old-school techniques such as SEO, content, social, email, webinars and influencers. Of course, consumers sense these tactics and are feeling increasingly suffocated by belligerent ads while marketers aimlessly spin their wheels.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

After all, when the first banner ad was created by Joe McCambley in 1994 for AT&T, it spread like wildfire. “Banner ads didn’t always suck,” McCambley explained in his article for Harvard Business Review. “My children tell me that’s like inventing smallpox.”

What was once a novelty has become a digital disease, seeing aggressive pushback from browsers such as Safari’s feature that disables cross-site cookie tracking, and Google Chrome’s built-in ad-blockers coming 2018.

“Sure, digital was exploding not too long ago — the growth seemed unstoppable — insurmountable even,” explains Ryan Urban, CEO of BounceX. “But a lot of that growth was really just people first getting online. Not the beginning of an upward trend, just a one time bounce that is leveling off. Now, that market is nearly saturated.”

In March of this year, SmartInsights found that across all ad formats and placements ad click-through-rate is just 0.05 percent. Marketers are simply unable to increase digital revenue and spending more than ever trying to.

“We can’t even leverage the decreasing amount of traffic we are able to drive and identify,” Urban says. “We bludgeon with discounts and race our prices to the ground; we email prospects to death; we created apps that no one cared about; we poured resources into customer loyalty programs that never really took off; and all omnichannel has done is get us to invest in a terrible personalization software that hasn’t increased conversions.”

Related: 4 Ways to Market Your Business for Free

Urban shares his advice for what marketers have to do to save their digital revenue, marketing strategies and (perhaps most importantly) their jobs:  

1. Speed up your slow mobile website.

This will come as no surprise: If your website is slow, no one will stay on it. And if no one is on your website, no one is buying anything. Increasing site speed has to be a priority. Run, don’t walk, to your boss’s office and tell them that if you can improve your mobile site speed by 30 percent, you will grow your mobile revenue by 25 times.

2. Change your customer acquisition model.

Stop spending money on low intent prospects. Efforts should be poured into identifying who the best customers are — the ones who will spend the most consistently. That’s who marketers should be paying more to drive to our sites. Lifetime value for the win.

3. Start leveraging behavioral email.

Batch and blast emails are killing our prospect lists and aren’t helping our customers. The difference between a 0.3 percent and a 0.1 percent unsubscribe rate is death. Over the next three years, if you’re emailing at a 0.3 percent unsubscribe rate — you’re not going to have anyone left to email.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Start focusing on sending behavioral emails. Behavioral emails are the most relevant messages to specific people based on actions they’re actually taking in real-time. This includes cart abandonment, connecting them across their devices and understanding that on average it takes four to five visits for someone to purchase for the first time from your brand.

4. Unlock a new revenue channel.

People-based marketing is the future. We’re not marketing to cookies anymore, we’re marketing to actual human beings. The first step to this channel is through identification, figure out who is actually coming to your site and what they’re doing while they’re there.

Marketers who embrace change and return to a people-centric approach where humans take precedent will unlock incremental revenue across all current channels. Resuscitating their channels may not be simple, but will ultimately garner the right customers the right way.

Related: This 14-Year-Old Founder Explains How to Market to Teenagers on Social Media



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3 Growth Strategies From a Tech Company Trying to Disrupt a $325 Million Industry


Early stage startups are all searching for the same thing: growth strategies to excel their businesses and cultivate loyal customer followings. The influx of startup businesses looking to grow quickly has made the term “growth hacking” one of the top buzz phrases in the startup world. Growth hacking for startups refers to rapid experimentation across marketing channels, and most startups are game to try even the most out-of-the-box ideas to make their marks.

Related: 6 Ways You Are Holding Your Business Back — and What to Do About It

MonDevices is one startup that has shaken up its niche by applying growth hacking principles. Launched in 2015 via Kickstarter, MonDevices produces one of the most cost effective smart sleep monitor on the market. Their smart breathing and rollover monitor offers parents peace of mind (and sound sleep) because they know their little ones are being monitored through the night. I had the opportunity to speak to Lev Grzhonko, MonDevices CEO, to glean his insights on the most impactful growth strategies. 

1. Build a team that is invested in your mission.

An incredible team is the foundation of any growing business. Utilizing each team member’s strengths to match the company’s needs results in increased productivity and results. Grzhonko attributes MonDevice’s success to hiring people who are completely dedicated to the company’s ideas as well as one another.

“People see that our company has a huge social value. However, while we intend to save lives with our device, we think most businesses have social value that needs to be shared,” Grzhonko says.

Because of the nature of small teams, every individual has to pitch in. It’s fairly common for small, scrappy teams to maintain a transparent work environment where co-workers are comfortable with one another and aligned with company goals.

Related: 10 Simple Ways to Build a Collaborative, Successful Work Environment

But the startup world isn’t for everyone: people who need to be told what to do or can only thrive in highly structured environments typically don’t mesh with startup cultures. The ones who stay are the ones who feel impassioned by the work they do every day. Entrepreneurs know when they’ve curated the right team because every member has the capability of operating autonomously, and is committed to pursuing new initiatives to push the company forward.

2. Self-fund your business for slow and steady growth.

MonDevices emphasizes the importance of self-funding and maintaining a clear road to profitability. “It’s very tempting to take venture capitalists’ money,” Grzhonko says. “Millions of dollars could immediately resolve the company’s problems and give it a shot at big-time results. The issue is that it’s unlikely to work, especially for entrepreneurs.”

Finding your own funding sources through bootstrapping and bringing the company to at least prototype/early revenue stage can be a more stable way to create a profitable business. VCs’ goals are divergent from the goals of early investors and of founders. VCs have a large portfolio of companies, while founders typically focus on just one company — the one they founded and created.

Although it is tougher to make a billion-dollar company without VC support, the fulfillment of going it alone is incomparable.

3. Focus on perfecting your product.

Concentrate on your product and don’t listen to the white noise around you. You will always hear about a newer product and a smarter and more energetic entrepreneur. If you want to make it as an entrepreneur you have to get used to constant competition.

Related: 5 Tips to Help You Be the Sort of Leader Employees Love to Work For

There is a big premium on doing something well in any market. And if you can do it well while keeping it simple, reliable and economical, you don’t have to worry about the competition — customers will come to you. According to Grzhonko, when you forget about the noise and concentrate on your process and product, you put your company in the best possible position for success. 

“We went for the most straightforward technology that would bring most reliable results and remain inexpensive compared to all the competitors while setting off our overall vision to help those in need through wearable technology,” he says. “Are we looking to future technology? Absolutely. We are not resting on our laurels.”



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Apple’s Latest Augmented Reality Updates Will Shake Things Up for Brands


Let’s face it: every time Apple launches a new iPhone to the world (or any other product for that matter), people take immediate notice.

Its most recent releases, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, have many people talking about the future of augmented reality and the way it will change the world.

And we’re not just talking about consumers here. Brands big and small, spanning a variety of industries, must take notice of how these smartphones are changing the augmented reality game.

Related: The iPhone 8 Will Influence the Mobile Community for Years to Come

With the latest iPhones designed for augmented reality, brands must think about ways to develop augmented experiences. Those that do this with success will move to the front of their space. Those who ignore this will get left behind. This means one thing: the time for development is now.

A (not so) long time coming

Apple introduced ARKit at WWDC earlier this year and it was one of the first indications that Cupertino would be putting a lot of time, money and resources into developing an “out of this world” augmented reality platform.

At the time, Apple described ARKit as follows: “ARKit provides a cutting-edge platform for developing augmented reality (AR) apps for iPhone and iPad.”

While waiting around for Apple to make its next move, many companies, including Google with its ARCore platform, jumped in on the action.

Of course, Apple has long had something up its sleeve. And that something was the release of the newest iPhones. The company announced that all of its new iPhones — with the assumption that this will include future releases beyond the iPhone 8 and iPhone X — will be designed to be augmented reality ready.

To the average iPhone user, the thought of their device being augmented reality ready may not mean that much. However, to those who have been waiting on this, including brands that want to develop an augmented reality mobile or web platform, it’s among the best things they could have heard.

Related: 10 Marketing Lessons From Apple (Infographic)

According to Apple’s Phil Schiller, the cameras in the new iPhones are calibrated for augmented reality, meaning that they are fully capable of handling 60 fps video, which is the perfect environment for an augmented reality application.

Just as important is the implementation of a new accelerometer and gyroscope, which is key to accurate motion tracking. Its features such as this that can make or break a device in regards to the augmented reality experience it provides.

Brands are already making major moves

Augmented reality development isn’t simple, but Apple has gone a long way in making this more accessible to a larger number of developers. For example, Major League Baseball (MLB) is getting in on the action.

The MLB at-bat app will now have augmented reality capabilities on the iPhone 8, giving baseball fans access to more action, data and stats than ever before.

Here’s how it will work: by pointing your iPhone 8 toward the field during an MLB game, users will be able to see information and stats for each player. Forget about searching online for how many homeruns Aaron Judge has hit this season. You can use the iPhone to collect this information in the fastest and most efficient manner possible.

What are brands doing to prepare?

Augmented reality is a trillion-dollar industry that has growth potential unlike anything we’ve seen over the past several decades. Think about this in the same light as when televisions first made their way to the mass market.

Related: Why This Cybersecurity Expert Wants You to Rethink What You Keep Secret

Over the next few years, thanks to companies such as Apple pushing augmented reality to the public, this technology will change the way that people shop, work and entertain themselves.

Brands are looking for ways to use augmented reality to not only attract new consumers, but to also boost sales and profits. For some, this means adding something to the real world (see the MLB example above) that really doesn’t exist. For others, this could also mean taking something away, such as allowing consumers to only see items in a store that suit their personal tastes.

The days of thinking of augmented reality as nothing more than a pipedream are gone. Apple, among many other companies, are making sure augmented reality technology continues to push forward, one big step at a time.



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Uber’s Biggest Problems Are Not in the Headlines


It has been several weeks since Dara Khosrowshahi succeeded Travis Kalanick as Uber’s CEO. In that time, the deluge of negative headlines has not stopped. More lawsuits have been filed, as well as more accusations of discrimination and misogyny. Even if Khosrowshahi has an overblown hero complex, he must be wondering what he signed up for.

Uber is in chaos to a degree that few companies ever find themselves. It is the largest privately held tech company, with a brand that is internationally recognizable, and because it has become part of global culture, their consumers care about the headlines. It does not help that the vultures are circling — Lyft is actively working to grab jaded Uber customers, and reporters are scrambling to break the next Uber scandal.

But Uber’s biggest problem is not one that consumes the headlines. Uber has a culture problem.

Related: Uber’s New CEO Takes a New Approach, Apologizing for the Company’s Past Mistakes

“Corporate culture is indelibly linked to an organization’s brand,” Deb Gabor writes for Fortune. She goes on to say, “When your culture is in distress, so is your brand. It’s been well acknowledged that Uber has a sick corporate culture that’s persisted unchecked by leadership for many years.”

A sick corporate culture can become malignant when under constant pressure, as Uber has been for the last year. Resurrecting the organization from its tailspin will require visionary leadership that firmly grasps how to invigorate teams of people far from headquarters and redirect attention to the future.

Aviv Shahar, founder, and CEO of Aviv Consulting, described the tailspin problem in terms of winning and losing to me over a chat in my Facebook group for entrepreneurs. “Uber has a winning problem. Yes, they are still the number one ridesharing company in the world, but the Uber team has been rocked by successive scandals for so long that it will need help getting its mojo back. You act differently when you’re winning, and it is time for Uber to start winning again. Today’s shape-shifting environment is so competitive that no company is secure at the top. An industry leader that loses the wind in its sails can only coast for so long before it loses its grip on the market. Khosrowshahi needs a plan to score some early wins.”

Kalanick, for all his faults, was a winner. In five short years, he built a global empire, conquered adversaries, advanced new technologies and is credited for jump-starting a whole new kind of economy — the sharing economy. But Uber is short on wins right now. Even its initiatives such sa self-driving cars and Uber Rush are falling on hard times.

Related: The Guy at the Center of Uber and Google’s Legal Battle Created a Church That Worships AI

Khosrowshahi, if he is to be successful, needs to pull off a miracle. Is that a reasonable expectation? Actually, yes it is, and the best CEOs do it all the time. Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and released the iMac in 1998. Dan Hesse introduced “Simplify Everything” to save Sprint in 2008. Henry Ford, one of the original American business titans, doubled salaries in 1914, ignoring critics who said the move would bankrupt the company. In moments of crisis, good executives know how to create a win and change the narrative.

It goes without saying that your average executive would rather face a sales problem or a branding problem than the “raging dumpster fire” that is Uber right now. Solving the problems of culture and morale require finesse and thoughtful listening. It will also require taking calculated risks because Uber cannot afford to become a muted bureaucracy right now either.

“The new CEO will not succeed if the impending culture changes denude its startup mentality,” Shahar asserts. “The new leadership team must be comfortable playing at the edge, making calculated tweaks to make Uber a more inclusive workplace as well as one that embraces independence, initiative and innovation. It is not the only tech company navigating that minefield. Succeeding will necessarily include changing the conversation and casting a vision for a new future that the whole team can create together.”

Related: 17 Things You Need to Know About Uber’s New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

Uber’s biggest problems are internal, but it does not have long to set those issues straight. Its external problems cannot wait forever, and those are not just the lawsuits and PR scandals. Uber is facing stiffer competition from rival companies at home and abroad, tighter regulations in Europe, and even revamped taxi companies trying to win back market share. Investors are not as bullish as they were a year ago and want to know what the exit might look like. Worst of all, the arms race to launch a self-driving fleet could bankrupt whoever comes in second place almost overnight.

It goes without saying that Uber will face those challenges with more agility and confidence if Khosrowshahi can first succeed in revamping the company’s culture.



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Science Says You Don’t Have to Wake Up at 5 A.M. to Get Ahead


You’ve probably read a dozen articles about entrepreneurs and famous business leaders who do yoga, go for a run and invent something, all before 6 a.m. You’ve read about how a morning routine can help you get the day started right and have decided that you need to start getting up before the sun.

But, simple math tells us that going to bed at midnight and waking up at 7 a.m. gives you as many hours of sleep as going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 5 a.m. Either way, you’re getting seven hours of sleep. That’s why Entrepreneur Network partner Andrew Medal encourages people to forget about the 5 a.m. myth and find the hours that work best for them.

We’re not all morning people, after all, and we shouldn’t force ourselves to be something we’re not.

Related: 3 Great Tips to Engage Your Audience and Build Your Brand With Content Marketing

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Hold Up, Not Everyone Wants a Robo Advisor (Ahem, Millionaires)


Is the world getting more automated and impersonal? I don’t know, ask Siri.

The insidious creep of technology has been accepted almost without question, including in our finances. I know the space all too well, as I build software for small and big companies alike.

Millions of Americans now use services that track their finances, give tax advice and handle their investments. Millennials might be buying into low-cost technology to manage their finances, but those with growing wealth are hesitant to give up the traditional “human touch” of complete and personalized financial services.

Related: The $250,000 Tax Credit You Could Be Using for Your Business

The number of people who might fit that profile is growing by leaps and bounds. Millionaires are being minted at a rate never seen before in history. CNBC reported that in 2016 another 400,000 individuals crossed the million-dollar threshold. From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, thousands of people are stumbling into fortunes and someone needs to manage their wealth. The question is: Who?

Family offices hold a firm grasp on the upper levels of the financial industry. But that model is only viable for ultra-wealthy individuals, not your average single or low double-digit millionaire. “With bonuses, which can account for half of total pay, the average pay for a North American family office CEO totaled $631,000, the highest among geographic regions,” writes Simone Foxman for Wealth Management. “European family office CEOs made $497,000.”

These are three ways that financial services are changing to accommodate the influx of well off, but not ultra-wealthy Americans.

Wealth, tax and investing packaging is critical.

Whereas a millennial might use Mint to track their expenses and H&R Block’s online portal to file their taxes, wealthier individuals are looking to get those services under one roof. Finding a way to manage investments, taxes and assets require more than an app on a phone — in fact, it requires more than one type of highly trained professional.

“Wealthy individuals need specialized service, which can be challenging to deliver as a single CPA or financial advisor,” explains David Miller, founder and CEO of PeachCap. “Wealthy clients expect a broad range of services in one place, and they expect them to be executed in a single, cohesive strategy. The financial industry’s response to the growing population of wealthy individuals should be to increase the availability of quality services, not force clients to choose between quality and affordability.”

Related: 13 Easy Investing Apps and Websites for Millennials

Combining services in one place allows for increased coordination, which results in better outcomes. And when the amount at stake is millions of dollars, a few percentage points matter.

White glove treatment still counts.

Managing wealth is no simple task. And for the new crop of millionaires, having someone to personally walk them through complicated tax laws or investment strategies goes a long way. Claer Barret, writing for Financial Times, explains that “a personal relationship with a manager, who gets to know you and your financial priorities over many years and can anticipate your needs, is something that’s hard to put a price on.”

A recent Bloomberg study found that 210 new billionaires joined the ranks of the world’s most affluent people in 2015, and their preferred financial service providers are family offices. This is for numerous reasons, including the coordination of resources, but also because of the human touch matters. Familiarity breeds trust and trust creates assurance and peace of mind. And when you are looking to protect large sums of money, peace of mind can be hard to come by. So what is being done to offer that level of assurance to entry-level millionaires?

“The traditional family office model can be retooled to make it more accessible to more people,” Miller says. “By centralizing back office support and empowering CPAs and financial advisors with the tools they need to manage more complex tax, accounting and wealth management strategies, top-shelf financial and tax services become available to more people.”

Scaling out top-shelf financial services without sacrificing quality is no easy accomplishment. As this trend looks to gain momentum it will need to win over the confidence of CPAs and financial advisors who would partner with companies offering back office support.

A family office, but affordable.

The new sector is yet to be branded as anything in particular. It resides somewhere below the family or multi-family office, but above the traditional wealth management services and fintech applications. This trend is the democratization of top-shelf services.

Related: The Best Blogs to Help Entrepreneurs Boost Their Personal and Business Finances

Most importantly, and if it is to succeed, it needs to be affordable. Of course, affordable means different things to different people, and in this case, the standard is high. Retaining a traditional family office can cost more than $1 million annually. As such, the new sector is aiming to reduce that barrier to entry significantly.

But if trends elsewhere are any indicator, it has a chance of succeeding. Products and services available to the wealthiest people eventually trickle down to the rest of the economy. Car phones eventually became cell phones in everyone’s pockets. The same goes for private town cars (Uber), grocery delivery (Amazon Fresh) and a long list of other things. Making the family office available to less wealthy individuals is just the first step in the journey towards radically reshaping financial services for everyone.



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My Amazing and Inspirational Trip to Barcelona


Barcelona is an exciting cosmopolitan city, which offers unusual and well-known buildings of Spain’s most famous architect Antoni Gaudi.

Maybe you don’t know about Gaudi or architecture, but once you start walking the streets of Barcelona you will identify a Gaudí building, as they are distinctively apparent. Antoni Gaudi was an architect from Reus, Catalonia, Spain. He was a practitioner of Catalan Modernism and his style was very individualized, distinctive and dramatic. Gaudi was a true entrepreneur and kept true to his aesthetic style.

Casa Vicens is Gaudí’s first important building, as it was a summer home commissioned by a prominent Barcelona family. This imaginative home has Islamic architecture influences in its façade and some of its rooms. Gaudi liked to use a technique called trencadis, which is a type of mosaic used in Catalan Modernism. Trencadis is created from broken tile shards and is evidenced in the beautiful facade of Casa Vicens. A highlight of walking the streets of Barcelona are the glimpses of Catalan Modernism and Gaudi’s whimsical, wonderful creations.

Related: 10 Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Your Life



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3 Brands’ Different Approaches to Augmented Reality


As platforms and technology have grown increasingly sophisticated, brands have more tools to create compelling stories. But more resources and customer touch points also mean that cutting through the noise is more challenging than ever.

Luckily, we are on the brink of a new age of digital storytelling, one that will be steeped in augmented and virtual reality experiences. Augmented reality is changing the game for good, because it enables organizations to bring consumers into their stories, rather than simply producing content for viewers to passively consume. With the recent rollout of Apple’s ARKit, which enables developers to build their own augmented platforms and experiences, 2018 is poised to be the year that augmented reality is no longer viewed as a novelty, but as a pillar of digital content.

Related: Expecting Revolutionary Innovation From Apple’s Reveal Event? You’re Missing the Point.

Some brands are ahead of the curve and have already experimented with augmented campaigns and physical experiences to immerse customers in more compelling stories. If you’re planning to explore ways in which your brand can jump on the augmented bandwagon, take a page out of these brand’s books.

MTV

The MTV VMA’s are used to raising the stakes. But historically, the production has relied on live performances and candid moments to hook viewers. This year, however, MTV decided not to rest on its laurels, and instead launched an aggressive augmented-reality based campaign to entice viewers before the big night. The network turned its iconic Moonman logo into an augmented effect that allowed fans to place images of themselves in the Moonman on Facebook.

Related: Why Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Will be Important for Your Business

National Geographic

National Geographic has built a media powerhouse by bringing every corner of the Earth to life through bold, lifelike photography and videos. With augmented reality, National Geographic can take that one step further. The media company dipped its foot into augmented waters at the 2017 SXSW festival to promote its scripted Albert Einstein series, Genius.

This new phase of the company’s life presents an interesting challenge, because the scripted television landscape is already overcrowded with quality narratives. To break through the noise and establish itself as a force out of the gate, National Geographic knew it had to make bold marketing plays. The augmented reality installation allowed festival-goers to essentially go into the mind of Albert Einstein by building out Einstein’s mathematical theories virtually and mapping them to physical objects in the room, ultimately enabling visitors to interact with Einstein’s ideas.

Related: Don’t Get Too Fancy in Your Marketing — Authenticity Always Wins

Adobe

Adobe’s recent venture into the realm of augmented reality proves that this technology is more than a gimmick — it has the potential to instill real value for consumers and businesses alike. Adobe’s HoloLens developments showcased the ways in which augmented visualizations can overlay actual in-store settings to offer more insight into who shoppers are and how they behave. The applications include data paths hovering above a store layout to illuminate common traffic routes and smart mirrors that instantly relay insights about which items are being tried on and which are being purchased.

These brands prove that there’s no right way to implement an augmented strategy. Tapping into augmented reality development platforms gives brands the agency to determine how to best bring experiences and stories to life for specific audiences.

Related video: Why You Shouldn’t Try to Be the Next Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg



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