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If You Forget About Lead Gen, You Can Forget About Growth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you buy weak leads from a questionable source? New York City real estate broker Nathan Horne almost found out.

Horne’s employer, The Corcoran Group, focused on branding instead of strategic lead generation. So, when Horne called someone he thought was a hot lead, he got the surprise of his life. Instead of a potential buyer, the police detective who answered the phone made a veiled threat about having a gun and being willing to use it.

Fortunately, Horne received only a verbal scolding and not something more dangerous. It turns out there’s a whole underground world of companies that specialize in lead generation, but those in the broker business—like Horne—have discovered that these businesses not only provide poor leads, but also occasionally flirt with illegal activity (like lead dilution, acquiring leads by dubious means or, in Horne’s case, providing fake leads that can lead to irritated recipients).

En route, Horne learned a big lesson: If your company doesn’t have successful lead generation, you’re putting your business’s future at risk—not to mention leaving your team hesitant to pick up the phone and call an untested lead.

Move beyond your personal spider web

Why do so many companies fall into a trap that keeps them from focusing on their lead generation? Call it the spider web effect.

When founders begin their organizations, they work their own networks first. Eventually, they tap out these personal spiderwebs and neglect to move beyond them. Instead, they delve into everyday operations and forget to keep bringing new prospects in the door. And if someone brings up the notion of organized lead generation? A succinct “we aren’t ready for that yet” usually stops the conversation.

To outsiders, this may seem shocking. Yet it’s common, particularly among lifestyle businesses large enough to allow their owners to prosper just enough. Those types of organizations weren’t created to scale; they were created to provide an income for the entrepreneurial C-suite folks.

Is it any wonder that so many commercial establishments closed down after the founders retired?

You can get out of the “no lead gen” rut

Our own company started similarly 35 years ago. For 25 years, lead generation was a passing fancy. Customers came but weren’t wooed. And while we enjoyed growth in that time, little of it came through a solid lead generation strategy (because, to be frank, we didn’t have one).

Thus, a decade ago, we decided to align our lead generation and marketing tactics. And we’ve grown phenomenally ever since, like the 90 percent of other businesses that have made similar decisions, according to CSO Insights.

Of course, some companies ardently say they want to get bigger, but they’re not necessarily following a wise map, either. Far too many bring in outside salespeople to make cold calls. That’s not a lead-generation tactic; it’s a cold-calling one. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always a tough way to scale.

The best strategy? Hire amazing salespeople and supplement what they naturally do with a content-driven lead-generation protocol. Without this kind of commitment, even the most exciting organization with the highest potential can run the risk of not hitting revenue goals, frustrating the heck out of amazing sales professionals and not closing deals due to lack of appointments.

Stay ahead of the competition

Unless you like the idea of falling behind the competition, you owe it to your company to make lead generation a priority by developing a thorough content marketing campaign. Constant content creation and dissemination ensures you won’t be scrambling for prospective buyers.

The more consistent you are, the better your returns: Orbit Media says that nearly half of bloggers who put time and effort into blogging make money. HubSpot concurs, noting that busy blogs offering at least 16 posts every month can expect traffic to triple, as opposed to their barely there blogging counterparts.

Ready to begin? Here are the rules:

1. Go to your customers

Start at your heart by surveying your clients about what they want to know, what they read, how they think and where they hang out when they’re not buying your merchandise or services.

Their answers will help drive content. At the same time, ask your salespeople and customer service personnel what they’re constantly being asked. They’ll happily share everything they’ve heard, and you can turn their responses into content topics later. The more research you do up-front, the better your plan will be.

Although this should be an ongoing task, plan on about 30 days to get a head start. Evaluate the feedback to use the information innovatively. Ironically, that’s what SurveyMonkey did. It sent out surveys to users to make its brand more attractive. As a SurveyMonkey enthusiast, I’m pleased to see the company utilizing its own offerings to improve.

2. Devise your plan of attack

Open a Google Doc or grab a piece of paper. Then, clearly write down what you plan to do in terms of content creation. Just as you wouldn’t start a business without a proposal or route, don’t jump into speaking engagements, blogging, ebooks, webinars or any other content production without forethought.

What will your plan look like? That’s up to what you discover. Mine included a mission to produce only educational content, not promotional pieces. As the one spearheading everything, I worked during “off” hours on fulfillment to get traction. Now, our team is all on board because we’re able to track how effective our content is month over month.

3. Share your trade secrets

Don’t gasp at the thought of sharing your expertise. It’s not your grandmother’s famous cookie dough recipe, after all. If you don’t offer anything valuable through your content, you’re just sending out sales pitches. Instead of treating readers, viewers and listeners like droids, craft intriguing items that provide insider knowledge.

Through this approach, you’ll humanize your efforts. In the eyes of the public, you’ll be seen as a partner. This will lower readers’ defenses and promote honest engagement. In addition, you’ll set up your content creators to be thought leaders. For example, at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency we work with, CEO John Hall has made being honest his mantra with significant reputation-boosting and profit-generating results.

4. Create accountability for maximum results

Obviously, you’ll want to measure your success, to determine how well your lead generation is working. Why not start by developing a service-level agreement (SLA) between the sales and marketing departments? An SLA defines each team’s role in sharing and ensures important information won’t be lost in translation.

In addition, have key performance indicators in place. The KPIs can be tracked by spreadsheets and monitored routinely. At our company, we consistently investigate which content is bringing in the most leads. That’s an actionable approach and puts everyone on the same page.

The time is now

Wondering whether the time is right to strike on this type of lead gen venture? It is, hands down. As the old adage says, “A good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow.” The faster you get a process in place, the faster you’ll see those golden returns.

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Culver’s Hasn’t Closed a Store in 4 Years — And It’s All Thanks to One Smart Strategy

See where Culver’s ranks when our 45th Annual Franchise 500 list is released on January 16, 2024.

Started Franchising: 1988 | Total Units: 871 | Cost to Open: $2.3M-$5.8M

By one measure, Culver’s had a low-key year: The Wisconsin-based burger joint opened only approximately 55 locations in 2022, and it’s the smallest brand in the Top 10 in terms of total units. But by a uniquely telling measure, Culver’s excelled: It had zero terminations or closures between 2019 and 2022. That’s especially impressive given the challenging headwinds that fast-casual restaurants faced during those years — the pandemic, labor shortages, supply chain issues, inflation. For comparison, the average number of closures in 2021 for our list’s QSR category was eight. “Our focus has always been on opening one successful restaurant at a time rather than striving to reach an arbitrary number of openings,” says Rick Silva, president and CEO, who took over in 2021. That strategy has helped it land in our Top 10 for five consecutive years.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

To optimize for success, Culver’s focuses heavily on talent. The company offers a unique mentorship program and provides a strategic roadmap for any employee, including entry-level cashiers or line cooks, to work their way up to becoming a franchise owner. More than 200 employees have completed the program, which includes partnering with an existing franchisee to learn the business.

Culver’s also focuses on systems, and adapting them to every franchisee’s needs. For example, the brand invested in better drive-thru and online ordering systems based on increased customer demand for these services that intensified during the pandemic.

While Culver’s has global changes that it rolls out to every location, it also listens closely to its owner-operators and relies on their insight to determine together what those changes should look like. “Our operators know their local communities’ needs, so we encourage them to embrace whatever works best,” says Silva.

View the 2023 Franchise 500 Ranking Now

Culver’s also thought about supply chains a lot in 2022, just as most businesses had to. “We’ve worked to create an even higher level of collaboration, transparency, and trust with our suppliers,” Silva says. That included carefully adding suppliers, along with adding facilities from existing suppliers, to ensure less disruption.

As Culver’s looks ahead to 2023, it’s focused on making customers and franchisees even happier — including options for customers to order on the go, such as drive-thrus with two places to order, plus tablets and an enhanced online ordering experience.

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7 Tips for Getting the Information You Need Before Becoming a Franchisee

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You’ve done your research online and have a sense of the franchise that most interests you. You are drawn to what the business does, and you’ve had great conversations with the franchisor about how all the pieces of the business work together—operations, marketing, technology, real estate (if applicable) and overall brand management. You are chomping at the bit to ask franchisees what it’s really like to be an owner, and to learn if the lifestyle and income potential match your entrepreneurial dream.

Related: Crucial Steps Before Buying a Franchise

You’re on the right track: Speaking with current franchisees to validate everything you’ve learned about the franchise is the crux of your investigation. Your franchise representative will give you a clear signal when to reach out to franchisees.

Here are seven keys to successfully gathering the facts and figures you desire from validation:

1. Speak with five or more franchisees

As a franchise coach, I encourage franchise candidates to speak with a minimum of five current owners. If you are checking out multiple franchises at the same time, it’s a good idea to narrow your options to the two top contenders before validation. This will save you time and effort and make the deep dive into the details more manageable.

2. Respect the discovery process

Doesn’t it make sense to first understand the basics about the franchise, so that you know what the franchisees are talking about, and you can ask insightful questions? What a missed opportunity to have franchisees explain to you how it all works, when you could be asking them questions the franchisor can’t answer such as, “Did you find the training to be comprehensive, and did it allow you to be successful in an industry new to you?” You’ve heard about the training from the franchise development representative. Now you can hear what franchisees think about it, the support provided and all the other important aspects of the franchise.

3. Prepare your questions

A good franchise consultant helps you create a list of questions. A short list of 10-to-12 meaningful questions will aid you in validating the franchise’s training and support mechanisms, its operational processes and the viability of the business model and marketing strategy. Pro tip: Asking just this one question will shed lots of light on the opportunity: “What’s a day in the life of a franchisee like?”

Related: Best Franchises for Multiplayer-Unit Owners

4. Respect the fact that “time is money”

Since franchisees are volunteering to speak with you, be respectful of their time by being informed and well-prepared. It may be helpful to email your questions in advance of a scheduled phone appointment. Some franchises have regularly scheduled group validation conference calls, with a franchisee who volunteers to host the call. This makes validation efficient for everyone.

5. Look for trends

Avoid allowing the comments of one franchisee to outweigh valuable input from others. When you come across someone whose opinion is an outlier, whether positive or negative, ask questions to see if this individual is executing on what he or she was trained to do, and closely following the systems that minimize cost and drive revenue. Find out why this person’s results are not the norm. This will aid you in determining if there are issues you should investigate, either on the side of the franchisor or that of the franchisee.

Related: Review a Franchise Disclosure Document in 10 Minutes

6. Know your numbers

Franchisees are individuals with different skills, goals and motivations. Although everyone took the same training, expect variation on the part of franchisees when it comes to execution and to their financial results. Learn what key performance indicators they use to monitor their businesses. Spend time understanding what drives revenue and how long it takes to break even. Obviously, you want to learn what the income potential is as well as understand costs and operating expenses. After gathering financial information from a variety of franchisees, analyze it, then make your own projections based on what you want to achieve with your business.

7. Build bridges

If you are awarded a franchise, the people you connect with during validation will be your peers. They can be a wonderful resource to you and may play a valuable role in your success. Thank each franchisee for his or her time and wrap up all your validation calls in a timely manner so you can head into the final phase of the discovery process — attending a Discovery Day or a Meet the Team Day, as these events are sometimes called.

The quality of the facts and figures you gather during validation will play a vital role in helping you determine if a specific franchise is right for you. Following these seven tips will assist you in getting the best information possible when making that decision.

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The 6 Online Marketing Strategies Every Entrepreneur Needs

The internet has radically transformed how we build and promote businesses: We have access to far more resources and far more potential than ever before.

So, why do so many entrepreneurs neglect these fruitful opportunities by forgoing marketing or delaying it as an unnecessary expenditure?

The way I see it, there are a handful of online marketing strategies you need—as in, your startup won’t be able to thrive without them.

Criteria for “need”

What do I mean, you “need” these strategies? After all, isn’t marketing optional? Isn’t it possible to build a business even without an online presence? Technically, yes, but you’ll be missing out on enormous potential by doing so.

All the strategies I qualify as “necessary” exhibit the following traits:

  • Expected. People expect you to have these things in place; if you don’t, they may think less of your company.
  • Accessible. None of these strategies is particularly hard or complicated; there may be a bit of a learning curve, but on some level, these are accessible strategies.
  • Affordable. You won’t have to spend much money on any of these strategies, making them easy to pick up even for tight-budget startups.
  • Valuable. These strategies all offer high potential returns. The cost to you if you neglect them will be significant.
  • Time-sensitive. The more time you invest in these strategies, the more powerful they become. The sooner you get involved, the bigger the payoff you can potentially get.

It’s the combination of these factors that makes your work in these areas necessary. Below, these are the strategies I deem “necessary”:

1. Personal branding

Successful businesses can generate a ton of momentum from successful entrepreneurs who lead them. Branding yourself, before your company, gives you the opportunity to leverage a more trustworthy, personal image to promote your brand.

It also gives you more power to meet and network with others, form more partnerships, and lend a face to your otherwise faceless organization. And it’s free to do, from a monetary perspective, though you will need to invest a significant amount of time.

2. Content marketing

Content marketing takes a variety of forms and, depending on how you form your strategy, could accomplish a number of different goals. For example, you could use white papers, ebooks and other long-form content to attract downloads, signups and conversions, or you could use an on-site blog to attract more inbound traffic to your site.

You could even use content as a form of help and troubleshooting, or some combination of these applications. Content marketing is incredibly versatile and useful, and if it’s valuable, your customers will expect you to have at least some of it in place for them.

3. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of making your site more visible in search engines, so you get more traffic from people searching for the products or services you offer. Much of your organic search position ranking comes from the technical structure of your site and your ongoing content development strategy.

So, SEO is not much more of an investment if you’re already creating new content regularly—and it’s well worth that extra investment if for no other reason than to make sure your site is properly indexed.

4. Conversion optimization

Most of these strategies aim to get more people on your site, but what do those people do once they’re there? Conversion optimization helps you ensure you get more value out of each and every visitor by maximizing your rate of conversion.

Sometimes, this means including more conversion opportunities, and other times, improving the ones you already have.

5. Social media marketing

Social media marketing isn’t the get-rich-quick scheme you may have been promised—but there is significant potential in building and nurturing a social media audience. Again, content will come into play heavily here, as it will likely be the factor that attracts your audience to begin with. Here, you stand to gain greater brand visibility, a greater reputation and far more inbound traffic with your syndicated links.

6. Email marketing

Email marketing has astounding potential for ROI because it costs almost nothing to execute. Start collecting subscribers from your existing customer base, your social media followers and other new opportunities. From there, even a simple content newsletter can help you encourage repeat traffic to your site, facilitate more engagement with your brand and keep your brand top-of-mind with your audience.

Use a combination of strategies

As you may have noticed from these descriptions, there’s one other key advantage these strategies offer: They all work together.

While they can be pursued individually, each connects with and feeds into the others in some way. If you pursue them all, complementing your efforts across these multiple areas, you’ll see an even higher potential return.

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Why Successful People Engage in These 7 Types of Hobbies

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Not all hobbies are created equal. Over the last decade, I’ve obsessively studied success (and what successful people do) by reading a book/month on the topic, researching it (so I could write my own books on it) and being mentored by both CEOs and executive coaches. I’ve found nearly all successful people are intentional and deliberate about how they spend their time. When it comes to their hobbies, watching television or reading tabloids doesn’t rank high. Here’s what does.

Related: Every Entrepreneur Needs a Hobby Separate From the Company — Here’s Why

1. Creation, not consumption

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Mowing Down Barriers: Side Hustle Hits $3M Summer Surge

This Side Hustle Spotlight Q&A features GreenPal co-founder Gene Caballero. Founded in 2012, GreenPal is a Nashville-based online freelancing platform that connects landscapers to clients across the U.S., much like an “Uber for lawn care.”

What were you doing before you started your side hustle, and why were you interested in entrepreneurship?

Before diving into the world of entrepreneurship with GreenPal, I was a sales manager at a Fortune 50 tech company. However, the allure of entrepreneurship was always there. Growing up in a family where everyone ran their own business, the desire to be my own boss was a natural inclination. This deep-rooted ambition, combined with my corporate experience, became the foundation upon which I built my side hustle, eventually transforming it into the successful platform it is today.

When did you start your side hustle, and where did you find the inspiration for it?

GreenPal started in 2012, sparked by the entrepreneurial spirit of my childhood friend, who had the largest landscaping business in our hometown. Witnessing his success and the potential for technological innovation in the landscaping industry inspired us to create a platform that would redefine how homeowners connect with lawn care professionals.

Related: 44 Side Hustle Ideas to Make Extra Money in 2023 | Entrepreneur

What were some of the first steps you took to get your side hustle off the ground?

To launch GreenPal, we hit the ground running — literally. We went door-to-door, signing up homeowners for our service, and devoted countless hours to cold-calling vendors to join our platform. We even set up a kiosk in the mall, engaging directly with the community to spread awareness about our service. Each step was a lesson in persistence and grassroots marketing.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while building your side hustle, and how did you navigate them?

The biggest hurdle we faced while building GreenPal was getting our website developed. We contracted a local firm, and after a lengthy process, they delivered a product that was nearly unusable. To make matters worse, they suddenly went out of business. This left us with a stark choice: give up or adapt. We chose to adapt. One of our co-founders took the initiative to attend software school, learning the ins and outs of web development. With determination and new-found expertise, he rebuilt our website from scratch, overcoming nearly two years of setbacks. This challenge taught us resilience and the critical importance of having in-house technical skills.

How long did it take you to see consistent monthly revenue, and at what point did the side hustle’s income surpass your full-time job?

It was 2017 before we saw consistent monthly revenue. 2021 was when my GreenPal income surpassed that of my full-time job.

Related: I Built My Multimillion-Dollar Side-Hustle While Working a Full-Time

You’ve turned your side hustle into a full-time business. How much average monthly or annual revenue does it bring in now?

Since GreenPal is very cyclical, our highest growing months are in the summer, and our revenues surpass $3 million per month.

What’s your advice for other side hustlers who hope to turn their ventures into successful full-time businesses?

My advice to those who want to go “all-in” on their side hustle is to know this: It’s going to be tougher and more time-consuming than your day job. Be ready to invest countless hours, often more than your regular employment. My full-time job was a breeze compared to starting something from scratch. Also, passion is key; it’ll fuel those long nights and early mornings. Hold onto your primary job as long as possible; it’s the financial backbone for your side hustle during those early, uncertain days. Use every bit of your vacation and paid time off to focus on your side business. Those hours are yours, earned for your dreams. This strategy gives you a safety net while building the foundation of your future business. Your passion, coupled with strategic use of time and resources, will be the engine driving your side hustle forward.

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Give Yourself the Gift of an Extra Screen with This Portable Monitor, Now $249.97

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Looking to buy yourself a gift this holiday season? As a busy entrepreneur, you definitely deserve it, so why not get yourself something that can improve your exhausting work week? Or maybe there’s someone on your list who could use some extra screen real estate. The Desklab Portable 4K Touchscreen Monitor is a great option for either, and it’s currently on sale ahead of the holidays for a very limited time.

Enjoy all the perks of an extra screen with this 4K portable monitor. If you act fast, you can get one for only $249.97 — $125 off the usual price — with no coupon required if you purchase before November 16.

Having an extra screen during your workday offers excellent benefits — whether you do a lot of coding or sketching or you often find yourself needing to keep multiple tabs open. This Desklab Portable 4K Touchscreen Monitor offers an extra screen that can tag along with you anywhere, thanks to its lightweight status, and it also gives you the ability to navigate it with touchscreen capabilities for extra convenience.

With stunning 4K resolution, you’ll enjoy beautiful clarity as you work (or play). There’s minimal setup required, and it comes equipped with a USB-C, HDMI, and a 3.5mm auxiliary port, so it’s super versatile. Use it with your laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Or take a much-needed break from work, hook it up to your gaming console, and enjoy a bonus screen to play on.

Make your workday a little more convenient with this Desklab Portable 4K Touchscreen Monitor, now only $249.97 (reg. $375), ahead of the holiday season now through November 16 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Prices subject to change.

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A Dual-Camera Drone to Boost Your Business Potential for $70 Through November 16

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

In the modern digital age, maintaining a competitive edge often means adopting innovative technology. Drones, for instance, offer significant advantages for business owners and entrepreneurs seeking to advance their operations. This burgeoning significance is underscored by Statista’s findings, which show that the drone market value has soared to nearly $4 billion between 2018 and 2023, with expectations for continued expansion.

While many drones come with high-end price tags, this 4K dual-camera model with basic, user-friendly features is on sale for $69.97 (reg. $119) through November 16. If you are in marketing, agriculture, online content creation, or real estate, a drone gives you the potential to capture new types of photos and footage.

This drone has a 4K front camera with 90° adjustments using the remote control and a bottom camera with a wide angle of 120°. One especially useful feature is three-way obstacle avoidance with sensors that help the drone detect and avoid obstacles in real time, so you can fly your drone without worrying about collisions.

Advanced optical flow positioning keeps the drone in a fixed position above the ground. At the same time, precise locking height increases stability for capturing pictures and videos, whether it’s an aerial view of a property you’re listing on the market or footage to include in your latest vlog.

Other features that may be helpful for beginners, if not all users are hand gesture controls for taking photos and videos, one-key takeoff and landing, and FPV transmission up to 328 feet.

Pick up this 4K dual-camera drone with built-in intelligent obstacle avoidance for just $69.97 (reg. $119) through November 16 at 11:59 p.m. PT. No coupon is needed to claim this offer.

Prices subject to change.

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SoFi earnings knocks it out of the park, buying opportunity?

Sofi stock

Fintech provider SoFi Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SOFI) knocked the ball out of the stadium with its Q3 2023 earnings report. SoFi is an online personal finance company servicing college students, millennials and Gen-X-ers completely online through its digital platform. The company creates generational customers by providing student loan financing and expanding its suite of financial services as customers progress throughout their careers.

Digital banking, insurance and investing services

The company is a licensed FDIC insurance digital bank providing deposit and checking accounts, business services, credit cards, personal loans and mortgages. SoFi offers insurance services, including life, home and auto, through its partnerships with various providers, including Lemonade, Inc. (NASDAQ: LMND).

It also offers investing and wealth management services, which include commission-free stock, ETF, IPOs and cryptocurrency trading. They offer IRAs and retirement planning, robo advisors and even human-certified financial planners (CFPs). It’s a one-stop shop for personal finances, all conveniently accessible through its mobile app.

From a $2.50 target to Q4 GAAP profitability

It’s hard to imagine that the company received double downgrades in May by Wedbush dropping its rating to Underperform and lowering its price target to $2.50. Meanwhile, the company has been on a solid trajectory towards reaching GAAP profitability by Q4 2023, and its latest earnings leave little doubt it will.

The company is ushering in a new generation of customers acclimated to banking in the digital world without branches and office locations. The average annual income of SoFi customers is $112,000, with a median FICO credit score of 743 for its direct deposit portfolio.

Batter Up

On Oct. 30, 2023, SoFi reported its Q3 2023 adjusted earnings-per-share (EPS) loss of 3 cents, beating consensus analyst estimates for a loss of 8 cents by 3 cents. Adjusted EBITDA rose 121% YoY to $98 million. GAAP EPS loss was 29 cents, excluding the impact of 3 cents for a Goodwill Impairment charge. Total revenues rose 34.6% YoY to $564.2 million versus $511.3 million consensus analyst estimates.

Net revenues rose 27% YoY to $531 million. A higher volume of student loan originations came in the quarter than expected. SoFi grew quarterly membership by 47%, adding 717,000 to 6.9 million. The company had 1,047,000 new product ads, growing 45% YoY to more than 10.4 million. Total deposits grew 23% or $2.9 billion to $15.7 billion.

Raising the Bar Again

SoFi raised its revenue guidance for full-year 2023 to $2.045 billion to $2.065 billion, up from $1.974 billion to $2.034 billion versus $2.03 billion consensus analyst estimates. SoFi expects GAAP profits in Q4 2023.

CEO Insights

SoFi CEO Anthony Noto presented some impressive metrics for the quarter. Over 77% of adjusted net revenue in the Lending segment was net interest income. It grew 90% YoY to $265 million. Net interest income is 2X greater than its expenses. Segment contribution margin rose 300 bps sequentially to 60%. Student loan originations saw their highest originations since Q1 2022 ahead of repayments. Home loan originations rose 64% YoY despite high interest rates for purchase and refi.

Over 65% of their loans were funded by deposits. Lending capacity is robust, with over $27 billion in capacity, which includes $15.7 billion in deposits, $3 billion of equity capital and $8.4 billion of warehouse capacity. The company has expanded its buy now pay later offering, enabling lenders to provide it as working capital loans to small businesses.

Cross-Buying Product Synergies Accelerating

A key part of the SoFi strategy is to promote synergistic cross-buying of products on its platform. This was demonstrated beautifully in the quarter from customers in its SoFi Money banking and investing services to its lending and financial services. Over 50% of newly funded SoFi Money accounts set up direct deposit by day 30. This resulted in debit spending exceeding $1 billion in quarterly debit transaction volume, up 3.2X YoY. This represents over $5 billion in annualized debit transaction volume. The average FICO score for new direct deposit accounts opening in Q3 2023 was 743.

$2 Million FDIC insurance

The company has nearly 98% of its deposits insured at the end of the quarter. The company launched its expanded FDIC insurance of $2 million in Q1 2023. This is done by sweeping deposits into eight different banks overnight and collecting $250,000 of FDIC insurance from each bank, thereby adding up to $2 million total insured.

The “high quality” of deposits has helped lower funding costs for its loans, increasing its flexibility to capture additional net interest margin to optimize returns. SoFi Bank. N.A. generated $84.8 million of GAAP net income at a 19% margin. SoFi will place $375 million in personal loan securitization exclusively with BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK). SoFi has sold over $14.5 billion in loans and securitized over $13.7 billion.

Analyst Actions

On Oct. 31, 2023, Morgan Stanley made a bold call to upgrade SoFi to Equalweight from Underweight. Analyst Adelson was more positive upon seeing net interest income rise faster than expected on loan growth, higher student loan originations, and the ability to originate at higher loan yields thanks to strong deposit flows. The potential for higher Q4 loan sales lowers the risk of a potential capital raise in the near term.

SoFi Technologies analyst ratings and price targets can be found on MarketBeat. SoFi Technologies peers and competitor stocks can be found with the MarketBeat stock screener.

SoFi stock chart

Daily Descending Triangle Breakout

The daily candlestick chart on SOFI was in a descending triangle pattern comprised of a descending trendline that commenced on Oct. 11, 2023, after peaking at $8.75. Consecutive lower highs formed the descending trendline as it fell under the daily 200-period moving average (MA) to bottom at $6.68.

The daily market structure low (MSL) trigger formed at $7.57. The daily relative strength index (RSI) bounced off the 30-band, rising to the 60-band as SOFI broke out through the descending triangle and the 200-period MA at $7.33, powered by strong Q3 2023 earnings. Pullback supports are at $7.33 daily 200-period MA, $6.97, $6.68 flat-bottom trendline, $6.10 and $5.59.

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About 20 Million Americans Work Part-Time During the Holidays. Here’s How You Can Set Them Up For Success.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the holiday season right around the corner, businesses across the economy are already making plans to bring in temporary workers. In many cases, these workers will be completely new to the businesses that hire them. Yet they won’t just be working a few shifts — they’ll also be auditioning for more opportunities, including permanent positions.

That’s because the holidays are a great time to “try before you buy” in the labor market. Businesses that staff up to fill seasonal needs have a unique opportunity to see how candidates perform, not just in an interview but actually in the workplace.

Close to 20 million people will work part-time during the holidays. So how can managers set their new co-workers up for success?

Related: 4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Staffing Blunders

Step 1: Onboarding

Onboarding is the most critical step toward success with temporary workers, both for getting to know their preferences and for aligning expectations. People who work on a temporary or flexible basis have diverse motivations. Most of them are working to pay for essentials, so earning money is certainly at the top of the list. After that, things get a little more complicated.

Some workers are looking for shifts primarily to fit around their other responsibilities. Whether it’s because of caring for loved ones, education or another job, these workers generally want to work at the same time every week with a reasonable expectation that their shifts won’t be canceled. They still need some flexibility, though, in case something unforeseen comes up, like a child home from school, a big exam or overtime in another workplace.

Other workers are more interested in personal autonomy and growth. They want to set their own schedules, which could be different every week, and they want to pick up new skills to give themselves more options in the labor market. They may want to try out a variety of roles, and they can bring new ideas into the workplace.

The time to find out workers’ preferences is during onboarding. Ask what sort of schedule would work best. Find out whether they want to hone their skills in one position or try out several. See if they can be “on call” to work on demand. Talk about whether a permanent position could be a realistic goal for both sides.

Step 2: Training

Businesses don’t want to invest a lot of time or money in training if a worker is simply going to move on a couple of weeks later. So it’s crucial to use what you’ve learned during onboarding to assign training in the most efficient way.

If a worker wants to try for a permanent position, then there’s a greater chance they’ll be staying with you and more reason to train them. The same is true if they want to stay with one role during their time in your workplace. By contrast, workers who are just looking for a little extra money may not want to pursue these opportunities. Calibrate your investment according to the expectations that you’ve already set.

Related: Hiring This Type of Employee Can Protect Your Business From a Volatile Market

Step 3: Scheduling

When it comes time to set a schedule, the information you collected at onboarding comes front and center again. Even if you’re only looking for extra labor during the holiday season, you probably want consistency in the workers who show up from day to day. It means only having to train people once, as well as higher productivity as they gain experience.

To start, identify the workers who can work on the most consistent basis, and assign them shifts first. Try to place the same workers together as much as possible, so they get used to each other’s rhythms. Assigning the bulk of shifts in this way will also cut down on bureaucracy since the same workers will be involved most of the time.

Workers want consistency, too. One of Instawork’s recent surveys showed that 86% of workers on our platform wanted to work at least two to four shifts per week at the same business, and 55% wanted a whole week of shifts or more. Another one of our surveys suggested that more than 70% of these workers could commit to five days a week of shifts for a month or more.

Step 4: Retention

Some businesses will want to make permanent hires as soon as the holiday season is over. But in other cases, a few brief and frenetic weeks may not be enough to make a decision. Here it’s important to offer an intermediate stage, like a long-term assignment, to avoid losing the relationship. When employers show commitment, workers are more likely to reciprocate.

Even for businesses that aren’t considering workers for permanent positions, holiday hiring isn’t just a one-shot deal. Most of them will need people in the years to come, and bringing the same people back will save time and money. In these situations, it’s important to offer workers an incentive — a bonus for returning, a promise of more training, a higher-level position, etc. For example, the best front-line workers this year might be your peak-time supervisors next year.

You can keep the relationships with temporary workers alive using small gestures during the year — a photo from the holidays, a birthday card or a reminder that you’ll be hoping to work with them again. These gestures don’t cost much, but they can save you thousands in recruiting and training.

Related: 5 Tips to Ace the Busy Holiday Season With Flexible Work

All of these things come in addition to the basics that workers truly appreciate: helpful and upbeat co-workers, a clean, safe workplace and prompt payment for their time. Especially around the holidays, when shifts can be non-stop and intense, keeping a positive attitude and a touch of the festive spirit can go a long way to support morale. Just like in a family, there are some people you might only see for a few days a year — make that time count.

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