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StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article

Why You Should Invest in Tech Stocks

We are currently surrounded by big technology stocks such as Amazon, Alphabet Inc, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple; with some of these stocks crossing the $1,000 per share mark, they can be (and very much are) an attractive investment opportunity. Given that technology is currently shaping our world and everything in it, big technology stocks are only going to increase in price and become more valuable as time goes by, meaning they have the potential to make those who invest in them very rich indeed. Although some of the major technology stocks have climbed to astronomical levels, their current values are only just the beginning.

In the broadest sense, this category of “tech stocks” includes any stocks which are involved in the research, development and distribution of technological goods, services and solutions. So, they include companies which produce everything from computer software and hardware, televisions and even mobile games such as Angry Birds. In 2017, technology stocks offered investors the highest return on investment at an average of 34.28%… not too shabby!

#1: High Returns Does Not Mean Low Risk

Just because there have been strong returns, this does not mean that there are zero risks involved. As we are well aware, technology can change at a rapid pace, often overnight, and companies which are currently leading the way can soon fall behind as new and innovative companies come along and take the top spot. In some cases, technology companies can be forced out of business by new entrants to the market. Although this is unlikely to happen with market leaders such as Amazon, it is not impossible, and this is something which should always be kept in mind.

In addition, investing in emerging companies may appear like an attractive investment opportunity, however, it is not unheard of for companies which were expected to perform well disappear overnight into the abyss.

Although technology is a very exciting investment space that includes everything from smartphones to blockchain, artificial intelligence to streaming services and more, there are inherent risks which you expose yourself to by ploughing your money into technology companies.

#2: Areas for Investment

As mentioned, technology investments are very varied and include a range of companies and products. Once upon a time, tech stocks would have been almost exclusive to computer hardware and software. These days, however, it includes all sorts. In fact, it is hardly accurate to call most tech companies which operate in the market computer companies (think Apple, IBM and Microsoft) because they operate in several other areas such as:

  • Artificial Intelligence where computers perform tasks which once would have only been possible by human beings. AI is one of the fastest growing and most prominent areas for investment, however, this technology still has a long way to go and it is far from perfect.
  • Smartphones, the industry of which is led by Apple and Samsung. There are a lot of other players within the smartphone market producing everything from software, mobile apps and physical mobile devices.
  • Blockchain, something which has gained a lot of publicity in the last couple of years. It is the technology which backs up Bitcoin and other industry-leading cryptocurrencies, however, it has applications to far more than just cryptocurrency.

These three areas demonstrate that the tech space is dominated by far more than just computers, and that there are several investment opportunities available to those who want to get involved. Given that there are so many possibilities, it can be difficult for new investors to get involved in the market.

#3: 4 Tech Stocks Worth Looking At

Although the market is huge and there are infinite investment possibilities, there are four major contenders which are worth looking at.

1. Apple

Apple is by far the world’s favorite consumer tech company, leading the way with their range of smartphone and laptop computer devices. Apple’s stocks usually rest around the couple-of-hundred dollars mark and given the insatiable appetite of consumers for Apple’s products then it is a stock which isn’t going to be decreasing in value soon.

2. Alphabet Inc. (Google)

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is also a very attractive investment opportunity. Google leads the way on the internet by providing several services which we all know and love such as Googlemail and YouTube. The main problem with investing in Alphabet is the fact that their shares sit at around the $1,100 mark. If you can afford it, though, it is worth going for, because this company is going to continue to grow as it focuses on new ventures.

3. Facebook

Facebook is a money-making machine and whilst the recent data scandal has harmed the social networking giant, it is not going to be shutting up shop any time soon and at around the $200-mark, Facebook’s stock is incredibly cheap. It is likely that we will see Facebook continue to grow strongly over time at a rapid pace.

4. Amazon

Amazon is an unstoppable company which is beginning to encroach on our lives in entirely new ways. From Amazon Key and drone delivery to AI solutions such as Amazon Alexa, the company is really pushing boundaries with its innovative technologies and desire to satisfy consumer demand at all levels. Amazon’s shares usually rest around the $1,900 mark which, again, whilst pricing some people out, it is worth spending your money on should you have enough to do it. Amazon’s share price exceeding the $3,000 mark is far from being a far-fetched idea; it is more a question of when this will happen.

Today, tech stocks represent the most valuable of all investments, second perhaps only to gold and other timeless precious metals. As the world begins to demand more and more from technology and new developments occur, having a stake in some of the world’s foremost technology companies is likely to provide a sizeable return on investment in the future, especially if you buy into them now whilst their shares are still relatively low compared to what they could be.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

The Big Picture of Business – Entrepreneurs’ Guideposts to Real Business Success

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleThere are many romantic notions about entrepreneurship. There are many misconceptions.

People hear about entrepreneurism and think it is for them. They may not do much research or may think there are pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. They talk to other entrepreneurs and learn that it all about perseverance and building sweat-equity in companies.

The wise entrepreneurs have mentors, compensated for their advice, tenured in consulting and wise beyond reproach. Advisers are important to fitting the entrepreneurs to the right niche. Mentors draw out transferrable talents to apply to the appropriate entrepreneurial situation.

The corporate mindset does not necessarily transfer to small business. Just because someone took early retirement is not a reason to go into a startup business. People who worked for other people do not necessarily transfer to the entrepreneurial mode.

Those who have captained teams tend to make better collaborators and members of others’ teams. Entrepreneur is as entrepreneur does

Make an equitable blend of ambition and desire: Fine-tuning one’s career is an admirable and necessary process. It is quite illuminating. Imagine going back to reflect upon all you were taught. Along the way, you reapply old knowledge, find some new nuggets and create your own philosophies.

We were taught to be our best and have strong ambition to succeed. Unfortunately, we were not taught the best methods of working with others in achieving desired goals. We became a society of highly ambitious achievers without the full roster of resources to facilitate steady success.

Every company must and should put its best face forward for the public. Public perceptions are called “credence goods” by economists. Every organization must educate outside publics about what they do and how they do it. This premise also holds true for each corporate operating unit and department. The whole of the business and each sub-set must always educate corporate opinion makers on how it functions and the skill with which the company operates.

Gaining confidence among stakeholders is crucial. Business relationships with customers, collaborators and other professionals are established to be long-term in duration. Each organization or should determine and craft its own corporate culture, character and personality, seeking to differentiate itself from others.

Every business, company or organization goes through cycles in its life. At any point, each program or business unit is in a different phase from others. The astute organization assesses the status of each program and orients its team members to meet constant changes and fluctuations.

I’ve talked with many entrepreneurs and founders of companies which rapidly grew from the seed of an idea they had. Most admitted enjoying the founding phase but lost interest shortly after giving birth. Over and over, they said, “When it stops being fun, I move on.”

After the initial honeymoon, you speak with them and hear rumblings like, “It isn’t supposed to be this hard. Whatever happened to the old days? I’m ready to move on. This seems too much like running a business. I’m an idea person, and all this administrative stuff is a waste of my time. I should move on to other new projects.”

When they come to me, they want the business to transition smoothly and still make the founders some money. They ask, “Are you the one who comes in here and makes this into a real business?” I reply, “No. After the caretakers come in and apply the wrong approaches to making something of your business, I’m the one who cleans up after them and starts the business over again.” The reality is that I’m even better on the front end, helping business owners avoid the costly pitfalls attached to their losing interest and abdicating to the wrong people.

Entrepreneurial companies enjoy the early stage of success…and wish things would stay as in the beginning. When “the fun ends,” the hard work begins. There are no fast-forward buttons or skipping steps inn developing an effective organization, just as there are no shortcuts in formulating a career and Body of Work.

Questions to ask entrepreneurs:

  1. Do you have goals for the next year in writing?
  2. Are the long-range strategic planning and budgeting processes integrated?
  3. Are planning activities consolidated into a written organizational plan?
  4. Do you have a written analysis of organizational strengths and weaknesses?
  5. Do you have a detailed, written analysis of your market area?
  6. Do detailed action plans support each major strategy?
  7. Is there a Big Picture?

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article

How Credit Card Companies Make Their Money

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article
 
You’ve likely experienced a fair amount of credit card companies trying to entice you via offers in the mail. When you consider the fact that the United States’ total credit debt reached $1 trillion in 2017, it becomes clear why: these credit cards are a massive source of revenue.

On the surface, credit cards may seem like simple and convenient money and nothing more. However, there are also aspects of credit cards that are somewhat deceptive – sometimes intentionally so. Often the upsides of the card are written in large print, while the downsides are written in a conveniently small font.

The ease of credit card use can spell trouble for more impulsive buyers, which highlights the importance of knowing yourself and the ways that you tend to deal with feelings like anxiety. We may think we are above the influence that stress has on our finances, but studies indicate the contrary. In fact, compulsive buying disorder impacts 5.8% of the US population and affects people of all ages.

High-Interest Rates

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article
 
Obviously, credit cards can allow you to pay for things when you don’t have money at that point in time, but this convenience also has a dark side. Thinking that this is “free money” is a mistake many credit card initiates make, particularly among a younger demographic. Unfortunately, this paves the way for young credit cardholders to dig themselves into a hole that may take years to free themselves from.

It’s important to remain aware that credit card interest rates are commonly in the 20% range. This puts an impetus on debtors to pay off the amount sooner rather than later at the peril of being slammed with penalties that are hard to deal with. In addition, keeping a balance of over 10% of your credit limit tends to weigh heavily on your credit score.

Another common tactic that credit companies employ is appealing to potential card holders with an initially low rate, which then balloons into a far more severe figure after the initial enlistment period ends.

For best practice, keep a low balance on the credit card as much as possible, and always pay off the required amount by the due date. If a large amount is spent on a credit card that can’t be paid off, taking out a loan to avoid the sky-high interest risk is generally the better course of action than taking the hit.

Charges To Merchants

Many times businesses enact a minimum cost for credit card charges. This is because companies charge an extra 2-3% on all purchases to merchants. In order to counteract this charge, businesses create a mandatory minimum.

This small percent may not seem like much, but in the scope of the billions of credit transactions that take place every day, this amount adds up. This rate becomes one of the biggest revenue streams for credit companies.

Cash Advances

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article
 
Apart from your total credit line, the cash credit line. The cash you take out from your credit card abides by a different set of rules than the regular use of the credit card. In other words, the interest rate is often higher and may begin amounting interest as soon as you withdraw it.

Differing Tactics According To Demographic

A person with less education tends to get specially designed advertisements showcasing more rewards than the advertisements aimed at more educated individuals. This effectively runs up debt more reliably than if they advertised the same way across the board.

On average, each credit account makes about $213 for the company per year. This is an area in which credit companies vary wildly based on the credit standing of the cardholder.

Fees

When someone has bad credit already, their credit lenders are known as “subprime issuers”. In these cases, the credit company usually makes more money from fees than interest rates. Some examples of these fees are outlined below.

  • Balance Transfer Fees – Transferring debt from one credit card to another with a lower interest rate often results in a fee of 3-5% of the amount moved.
  • Late Fees – If the minimum amount is not paid by the due date, late fees often result. In some more deceptive cases, the initial fee is waived only to deliver an unpleasant surprise the second time around.
  • Annual Fees – these are especially common on cards that promise higher rewards rates, as well as on cards issued to people with subpar credit.

Foreign Exchange Fees

One source of fees that catches many credit users off their guard arises when traveling in a foreign place. Many times these charges are made at the time of purchase, and generally amount to around 2.5% of the purchase price.

This fee may be a small price to pay generally speaking, but it still might be a reason to avoid making large purchases when traveling abroad, or opting to use cash if you do.

Commission From Selling Cardholder Names

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article
 
You may wonder how credit companies know who you are and where to send their advertisements to. One of the sneakier ways that credit card companies make money is by selling your name and info to other companies so they too can bombard you with advertisements.

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures Article

The Big Picture of Business – Pave and Refine the Company Way, Corporate Culture

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures ArticleI was at a service counter, and the clerk was bad-mouthing the customers. “I don’t know what their problem is,” he declared. “Every one of them has a problem today.” He then pointed to others standing in line, not yet having been served. He added that “every one of them has a problem.” No, he has the problem and is projecting it on the paying customers. Each clerk at that company makes their personal behaviors the norms at their desks, and this is one of the largest organizations in America.

As customers, we smile and give positive strokes to those serving us. When you say to a clerk what a beautiful day it is, the lazy ones will reply, “Yes, I can hardly wait to get out of here and enjoy it.” The better response would be: “It is a glorious day because customers like you choose to visit us.”

Customer service must be constantly addressed and improved. Above that, Customer Focused Management needs to be implemented, meaning that all actions and decisions should be tied to customer outcomes. Above that, corporate cultures need to be fine-tuned, in order to avoid situations where customers are put on the defensive or made angry.

Corporate cultures are rarely nurtured. They evolve, meander and veer off course. Biggest cause of the problem is where individuals bring certain demeanors and behaviors to the company, and these traits often erode the positive and pro-active actions.

Warning signs for sluggish corporate cultures:

  • Where people take on negative attitudes.
  • Where employees spend too much time on what is best for them, instead of the customers.
  • Where mid-managers buy the hype of the marketing slogans but stonewall the progress that would enable the company to live up to its claims.

A company’s way is built, nurtured, recognized and implemented. In steering company cultures back on course, I recommend several steps in the process:

  • Discourage street talk, slang and trite phrases out of the mouths of your staff when interfacing with customers.
  • Write your company’s own service lines. Do not harass customers with tired questions like “are you finding everything.” Instead thank them more often and early in the transactions.
  • Declare personal cell phones, on-line shopping and the like to be off-limits in locations where customers are. They cannot see distracted employees, nor should your company tolerate it.
  • Hold training about personal demeanor.
  • Show individuals how they embody the whole of the organization.
  • Cut the weeds who will bring down the standards of the company and cast doubts on your team.
  • Celebrate great customer outcomes.
  • Honor the employees, who in turn honor the organization.
  • Since 92% of all problems in companies stem from poor management decisions, do a better job of training managers to be leaders.
  • Always recognize the Big Picture aspect to all business decisions. Each one influences the other and the whole of the enterprise.
  • Always remember and trust that the customer is king.

Everything we are in business stems from what we’ve been taught or not taught to date. A career is all about devoting resources to amplifying talents and abilities, with relevancy toward a viable end result.

Business evolution is an amalgamation of thoughts, technologies, approaches and commitment of the people, asking such insightful questions as:

  1. What would you like for you and your organization to become?
  2. How important is it to build an organization well, rather than constantly spend time in managing conflict?
  3. Who are the customers?
  4. Do successful corporations operate without a strategy-vision?
  5. Do you and your organization presently have a strategy-vision?
  6. Are businesses really looking for creative ideas? Why?
  7. If no change occurs, is the research and self-reflection worth anything?

Failure to prepare for the future spells certain death for businesses and industries in which they function. The same analogies apply to personal lives, careers and Body of Work. Greater business awareness and heightened self-awareness are compatible and part of a holistic journey of growth.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

StrategyDriven Big Picture of Business Article

The Big Picture of Business – How Business Advice Turns Into Company Strategy

StrategyDriven Big Picture of Business ArticleWithin every corporate and organizational structure, there is a stair-step ladder. One enters the ladder at some level and is considered valuable for the category of services for which they have expertise. This ladder holds true for managers and employees within the organization, as well as outside consultants brought in.

Each rung on the ladder is important. At whatever level one enters the ladder, he-she is trained, measured for performance and fits into the organization’s overall Big Picture. One rarely advances more than one rung on the ladder during the course of service to the organization in question.

  1. Resource: equipment, tools, materials, schedules.
  2. Skills and Tasks: duties, activities, tasks, behaviors, attitudes, contracting, project fulfillment.
  3. Role and Job: assignments, responsibilities, functions, relationships, follow-through, accountability.
  4. Systems and Processes: structure, hiring, control, work design, supervision, decisions
  5. Strategy: planning, tactics, organizational development.
  6. Culture and Mission: values, customs, beliefs, goals, objectives, benchmarking.
  7. Philosophy: purpose, vision, quality of life, ethics, long-term growth.

7 Levels of Authority Figure

  1. Self Appointed. Flash in the Pan. What they were doing five years ago has no relationship to what they’re now marketing. They reap temporary rewards from momentary trends. They’re here today, weren’t an authority figure yesterday and likely won’t be tomorrow. Yet, today, they’re demanding your complete trust, respect and allegiance.
  2. Temporary Caretakers of an Office. Public officials. Appointed agency heads in a government bureaucracy. Respect is shown to the temporary trust they hold.
  3. Those Who We Think Control Our Destiny… for the Time Being. Caretakers of corporate bureaucracies, departmental supervisors, short-term clients, referral sources for business development and those who dangle carrots under people’s noses.
  4. Those Who Remain Through the Peter Principle. Supervisors and public servants who made fiefdoms by outlasting up-and-comers. Longevity is due to keeping their heads down and noses clean, rather than excelling via special talents-achievements. Still living on past laurels.
  5. Those Who Really Empower People. These are a rare breed… the backbone of well-run organizations. Some do what they do very well in poorly-run organizations. They may not be department heads, but they set exemplary standards and inspire others toward positive accomplishments. Category 2, 3 and 4 authority figures either resent them and try to claim credit for what they do… or are smart enough to place them in effective, visible roles. Some advance into management and encounter similar situations there too.
  6. Have Truly Earned Their Position-Respect. Also a rare breed. Those who excelled at every assignment given and each stage of their career. Never were too busy to set good examples, share ideas with others and help build the teams on which they played.
  7. Never Stop Paying Dues, Learning, Sharing Knowledge. The rarest breed of all. Distance runners who created knowledge, rather than conveyed that of other people. Though they could coast on past laurels, for them, the best is yet to come.

7 Levels of Advice Given

  1. Answers to Questions. There are 7 levels of answers which may be given, depending upon how extensive one wants: Easy and Obvious Ones, Knee-Jerk Reactions, Politically Correct, What People Want to Hear, Factual and Complete Explanations, Answers That Get Them Thinking Further and Deep Wisdom.
  2. Observations on Situations. These take the forms of “When this happened to me, I did X,” or “If this occurred with me, I would Y.” It’s often good to see things through someone else’s perspective.
  3. Subjective Viewpoint. Friends want what is best for you. This level of advice is usually pro-active and is influenced by the advisor’s experiences with comparable situations.
  4. Informed Opinion. Experts have core-business backgrounds upon which to draw. Advisors bring facts, analysis and methodologies of applying their solutions to your case. Niche consultants provide quality viewpoints… as it relates to their talents and skills. Carefully consider the sources.
  5. Researched Options. Investments in research (formal, informal, attitudinal, demographic, sociological) will avert unnecessary band aid surgery expenses later. Research leads to planning, which is the best way to accomplish tasks and benchmark success.
  6. Discussion of Outcomes-Consequences. Most actions and decisions in an organization affect many others. At this level, advisors recommend that sufficient planning be conducted… please take their advice. The more strategic and Big Picture in scope, then planning reaps long-term rewards.
  7. Inspiring Directions. This gets into Visioning. Planning and going to new heights are stimulating. The mannerisms and substance by which any organization achieves its Vision requires sophisticated advice, deep insights and creative ideas.

7 Levels-Tiers of Qualifying Consultants

  1. Wanna-be consultants. Vendors selling services. Subcontractors. Out-of-work people who hang out “consulting” shingles in between jobs. Freelancers and moonlighters, whose consultancy may or may not relate to their day jobs. (26%)
  2. Entry-level consultants. Those who were downsized, out-placed, retired or changed careers, launching a consulting practice. Prior experience in company environment. (19.5%)
  3. Grinders. Those who do the bulk of project work. Conduct programs designed by others. 1-10 years’ consulting experience. (35.49%)
  4. Minders. Mid-level consultants. Those with specific niche or industry expertise, starting to build a track record. 10-20 years’ consulting experience. (13.5%)
  5. Finders. Firms which package and market services. Most claim they have all expertise in-house. The more sophisticated ones are skilled at building and utilizing collaborations of outside experts and joint ventures. (3.5%)
  6. Senior level. Veteran consultants (20 years+) who were trained for and have a track record in consulting. That’s what they have done for most of their careers. (2%)
  7. Beyond the strata of consultant. Senior advisor, routinely producing original knowledge. Strategic overview, vision expeditor. Creativity-insight not available elsewhere.

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.