Innovation or Invention

There are a multitude of ingredients that go into the entrepreneurial mix and it’s important to discern each of them individually. Two ingredients in particular share a distinct parallel yet are commonly interpreted as one in the same: invention and innovation. On one hand, the similarities between the two involve critical thinking and development for solutions to unsolved problems; on the other hand, innovation can happen without inventing, but not the other way around. To invent something is to create a totally new product for its first debut generation. When we find ways to improve this new product with enhanced features, better design, or any number of progressive changes for subsequent generations, that’s innovation.

If innovation is about improving products and making them new again, shouldn’t that be considered inventing as well? Technically, no. Take a look at Apple’s new wireless headphones, AirPods. The new and highly innovative AirPods are a game changer for the way we listen to music, take phone calls, and even source information from Apple’s beloved AI, Siri. Imagine never having to untangle a wire or plug a cord into your phone again just to use your headphones. AirPods are practically our closest form of sorcery and, quite frankly, they have been a long time coming. Bluetooth technology was invented during the millennium and yet it has taken until 2016 for Bluetooth headphones to go mainstream. Wired headphones and microphones have been around for generations. What I’m trying to say is that while AirPods are a groundbreaking piece of technology, they are a product of immaculate innovation derived from a melting pot of previous inventions.

Innovation works in a market cycle where quarterly deadlines dictate product improvements that become available to the public. Improvement, however, is a questionable concept to product design because it would imply that solutions are being found for consumer problems. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? It’s not uncommon for companies to focus more on the exciting new product and its unlimited potential – leading to a “black hole” of addressing problems that don’t exist – instead of approaching innovation from a consumer standpoint. In an article from Innovation Management on critical approaches to successful innovation, Venkatakrishnan Balasubramanian developed the 5 Dimensions of Framework for Conceptualizing an Idea:

  1. Competitive advantage
  2. Business alignment
  3. Customers
  4. Execution
  5. Business value

These five dimensions share a mutual alignment between new inventions and innovations. Instilling a key element in your new creation or improvement that’s not on the market yet is a straightforward approach to getting ahead of your competition. Make sure your creation or improvement correlates with the direction of your company to paint a future perception. Understanding your customer and target market is one of the most critical values to discerning the future design of your products. Executing your idea with outstanding service to the market throughout production and distribution is a strategy that retains customer satisfaction and loyalty. Finally, mapping out a plan for revenues, market share profits and cost structure that complements the ethical image of your enterprise will be a reputable way to gain consumer trust.

Understanding the differences between invention and innovation and how that can apply to your ideas is a counterpoint to writing a business plan. Instead of exhausting all effort into a masterpiece idea, try taking it slow and build a business around a generational product. Invent something simplified and leave lots of room for improvement. Innovation can be applied from any angle you choose.

 


 

Source

Kelley, Tom. The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm. 1st Ed. New York: Currency/Doubleday, 2001.

Grasty, Tom. The Huffington Post. The Difference Between “Invention” and “Innovation.” 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-grasty/technological-inventions-and-innovation_b_1397085.html

Balasubramanian, Venkatakrishnan. Innovation Management. Five Dimensions to Conceptualize Your Idea to Make it a Successful Innovation. 2012. http://www.innovationmanagement.se/2012/01/23/how-to-build-a-framework-to-conceptualize-your-ideas-into-successful-innovations/

 


Trevor Ottaway is a rising entrepreneur and the sole proprietor of Sunsational Rentals, a vacation rental company for beach equipment and cottage needs on Topsail Island. He is also currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2016 by Trevor Ottaway.

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Establishing More Innovative Pieces to Police and Community Relations

Policing is so much more than arresting, and punishing violent offenders. Policing is a balance of establishing a connection with each and every person [regardless of the community], no matter how [prominent] destructive, or unfortunate. About eight years ago I challenged myself, in policing to build more positive functional relationships regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, poverty level, religious affiliation, or social, economic category. I made a conscious decision to the example to what a police officer should be a morally sound man.
As, I researched the beginning of where “community policing” began I found that according to Lewis (2011), Sir Robert Peel was the mind behind the beginning of Modern Law enforcement in 1829 by founding the Metropolitan London Police force. According to Nazemi (2009), Sir Robert Peel, while being classified the father of the modern law enforcement he was also set the foundation for the innovative “Peelian Principles” which consist of the following nine principles that police departments today still use and model their agencies foundation for community policing.
Peelian Principle 1 – “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”

Peelian Principle 2 – “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”

Peelian Principle 3 – “Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”

Peelian Principle 4 – “The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”

Peelian Principle 5 – “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”

Peelian Principle 6 – “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.”

Peelian Principle 7 – “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

Peelian Principle 8 – “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”

Peelian Principle 9 – “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”

While following these innovative principles by Sir Robert Peel, I also believe that we as a society, whether we are police officers, teachers, or the general public, we have to be empathetic to those communities that aren’t thriving and that are poverty ridden. In a quest to continue to be empathetic and balanced to each and every social community situation, we should look for a possible integration of the “The Beloved Community” concept that was a philosophy that was pushed by Dr. Martin Luther King. According to Spero (2017), there are “Six Steps to Nonviolent Social Change” which consist of the following.

SIX STEPS OF NONVIOLENT SOCIAL CHANGE
The Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change are based on Dr. King’s nonviolent campaigns and teachings that emphasize love in action. Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence, as reviewed in the Six Principles of Nonviolence, guide these steps for social and interpersonal change.
1. INFORMATION GATHERING: To understand and articulate an issue, problem or injustice facing a person, community, or institution you must do research. You must investigate and gather all vital information from all sides of the argument or issue so as to increase your understanding of the problem. You must become an expert on your opponent’s position.
2. EDUCATION: It is essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.
3. PERSONAL COMMITMENT: Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Eliminate hidden motives and prepare yourself to accept suffering, if necessary, in your work for justice.
4. DISCUSSION/NEGOTIATION: Using grace, humor, and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices. Look for what is positive in every action and statement the opposition makes. Do not seek to humiliate the opponent but to call forth the good in the opponent.
5. DIRECT ACTION: These are actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. These actions impose a “creative tension” into the conflict, supplying moral pressure on your opponent to work with you in resolving the injustice.
6. RECONCILIATION: Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. Nonviolence is directed against evil systems, forces, oppressive policies, unjust acts, but not against persons. Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve the injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step closer to the “Beloved Community.”
It is clear that while we have, two great foundations presented above to integrate with each other. However, we as a society must continue to be empathetic to each other. I would like to believe that we all would have a better understanding of each other if we just mentally place ourselves in each other’s situation. As a police officer, I would say to my colleagues immerse yourselves in the communities you serve. By not just following the above steps, and principles but interacting in community events, attend the community church while on duty and off duty, speak to the people even if they don’t speak to you, and help as many people in the community you can. While doing all of these tasks you must remain consistent with your efforts, and I like to believe that, the fruits of your labor will replenish the community. However, you may or may not see the reaping what you sowed; it may be the next police officer, teacher, or any service worker.

In conclusion, the answer to our community’s challenges is staring us right in the face, we as a society, choose not to follow the innovative foundation that has already been set in place. The two presentations that were given above and the small acts of kindness I presented are quite the balance of what society should strive to be. Given our repeated mistakes and downward spirals in our social community relationships, I would say it is time to start following the direction of these two innovative men.

E. D. Poyner is the CEO and Co-founder of a small non-profit that deals with the service professionals social and emotional health.Eric has been a police officer for 19-years and is also currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Program at Western Carolina University.Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2016 by Eric Detron Poyner.

Resources:

Lewis, M.A.(2011, December 1), Perspective Peel’s Legacy.Retrieved from http://leb.fbi.gov/2011/december/perspective-peels-legacy.

Nazemi, S.(2017, February 1), Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principals of Policing. Retrieved from http://lacp.org/2009-Articles-Main/062609-Peels9Principals-SandyNazemi.htm

(2017,February 28), Retrieved from: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy

 

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Content Marketing for your Small Business

Posting great content is the key to marketing your business and engaging customers on social media.  Just having a profile on multiple Social Media sites isn’t enough to keep followers engaged or attract new customers. To get and hold people’s attention, you need to post new, trending and engaging content consistently.
You’ve probably heard that your social media content should NOT be all promotional for your product or service. Mix it up! Have a variety of different content about a wide range of subjects.  So, what do you talk about across your Social Media Channels, if you aren’t supposed to sell, sell, sell? Try these topics, put your twist on them.

1. Company: Give insight to your business. If people are coming to your pages to learn about who you are and what you do, then some background information is a great place to start. Give your audience a better sense of what’s going on with your business and why they should be your followers.

  1. Behind the Scenes Photos
  2. Staff Showcase
  3. Testimonials
  4. Product Photos and Videos
  5. Business awards and accomplishments
  6. Business News – what’s new?
  7. Product tutorials
  8. Music Playlist – do you play music in your office? Showcase what you are listening to so your followers can appreciate your taste in music.
  9. Company #tbt – Throw Back Thursdays are always fun! Share a photo from when your business was just getting started. Let your followers see how far you’ve come.

2. Audience Engagers: Social Media allows you to interact with a broad audience of customers and potential customers directly. Ask your followers to be engaged, start up a two-way conversation and let your customers know you are listening.

  1. Fill in the blanks: My favorite product is___________ or If I had a Million dollars I would ___________ (Be creative)
  2. Ask Questions
  3. Hold Contests
  4.  Either or Debate: Everyone loves to share their opinion. Get people to weigh in using an either-or debate. Ask them a question about your company (think this product over that product) or about something that’s trending.
  5. Audience Photos: Did your followers/customers attend a meeting/event, ask to see these types of pictures.

3. Business | Industry: Many people like to follow the 80-20 posting ratio. You should post about other stuff 80% of the time and only 20% about you. Show what you know and how your followers can learn from you.

  1. Industry News: Post a link to a news article that is related to what you do. Set up Google Alerts using relevant keywords.
  2. Infographic: What do people share the most? Images, yes. Images are an effective social media content ideas –, especially regarding shares. Share some helpful information about your business, field, or industry by posting or creating your infographics.
  3. Books: Read any good books lately? Will these help your customers/followers? Share, they’ll probably love your reading list too.
  4. Share your LinkedIn Groups: Many groups on LinkedIn are a great source of industry/business related info. If you find interesting information share the link with your social media followers so they can join too.
  5. Weekly Roundup: Create a top 5 or top 10 list of business news, announcements and anything else you find to be awesome! Share this on a regular schedule will have your followers checking your pages’ week after week to get it. Think This week in……..
  6. Promote your Partner: Do you have other businesses or professionals that help you get business done? Someone that provides you parts or promotes your services? Plug them into your Social Media strategy by linking their websites or social channels. Ask others to promote your business too.

4. Re purposed Content: Already have content? Re purposing and promoting existing content is an excellent way to fill your news feeds and deliver your message to newer audiences.

  1. Blog Posts: Do you have a blog?
  2. Re-share an old post: Find a previous social media post that performed well, and re-share it. Chances are your new audience hasn’t seen it.
  3. Share Promotional Videos: If you’ve created and uploaded promotional videos on YouTube, share those on your social media channels.

5. Entertainment: Sometimes you just need to have a little fun to get your followers engaged.

  1. Memes: Everyone loves a good Meme (you know the funny images with text).
  2. Inspirational Quotes: We all can use a little more positivity in our lives. Humorous, inspiring or motivational quotes always perform well.
  3. Funny YouTube Videos: Find a video that makes you laugh, then share it with your followers, so that they can laugh too!
  4. Posts that show you’re human: Putting a personal face on a company helps people relate. Share occasional posts from your own, non-work life: cute photos from vacations, meals you ate, etc.
  5. Holiday Celebrations: Every day is a holiday! Help your followers enjoy each day!
  6. Support a Cause: Share what you is important to you, not only for business but in life too.
  7. Share a joke: Laughter is the best medicine, right? Share a laugh or an ecard with your fans.

Christina Williams is the owner of Savvy Tech Consulting, an Entrepreneur, a public speaker, Microsoft Office Specialist, Graduate School Student and a Social Media Enthusiast. Christina is a computer consultant/educator who trains small business owners to use Social Media to enhance their digital business footprint. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2016 by Christina M Williams, Savvy Tech Consulting

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Suggestions for Creating a More Organized and Productive Lifestyle

At the start of a new year it is often tradition to compile a list of resolutions. Some are simple things but others are personally challenging. For example, I am in the process of starting an in-home pet care business. I have been in the planning stages for several years but I’ve been afraid to actually put my ideas out there and finally start my business. Over the last year I realized that my daily habits, or lack-there-of, were the main reasons I wasn’t making my business happen. I’m really good at making lists of things I need to do and I am very aware of all the steps I need to take to make everything happen, I just haven’t been as organized or productive as I need to be. Perhaps resolutions should not be a once a year tradition but a year round lifestyle change to ensure organization and productivity.

Based on my personal life, here are a couple of my suggestions for creating a more organized and productive lifestyle. Instead of sleeping in on your days off, wake up and get ready as if you were going to work. Once you are awake and ready spend an hour or more working on completing tasks that need to be done, such as, clean or organize a room or space in your house or garage, plan out the coming weeks meals or even pre-prep meals, run errands that you may have been putting off, or work on projects for your work or business. This extra hour of work won’t take much time away from your day but you will notice how much more you can accomplish by making this a habit.

Another suggestion to ensure you work on your to do list is to get a planner or calendar and actually schedule or plan out everything you need to do in the next days, weeks or even months. This may mean that you write a task for a certain day, schedule a task for a certain time or plan out the order of everything you need to complete on a certain day. This will help keep you organized, stay focused and enable you to better prepare for upcoming tasks.

These suggestions are not major life changes but they will make a huge impact on your organization and productivity. For me, making these things a habit for the past few months has allowed me to finally get my business out of the planning phase and it is now open and growing. Had I not made these changes I may have continued to be in the planning phase for a few more years. I believe these suggestions can help anyone determined to follow through with their resolutions by creating a more organized and productive lifestyle.

 

Kristen Gaul, RVT, VTS(ECC) is the founder of My Pet’s Care, LLC and is an experienced Registered Veterinary Technician and a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care. Kristen is currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as the article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2017 by Kristen Gaul.

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Why Entrepreneurship is the Ideal Career Choice for Millennials

If you have ever taken a second to look at the founders and creators of your favorite businesses and brands, you will find that many are under the age of 34. Even in my local community, the entrepreneurial landscape is thriving with twenty and thirty-somethings all out to create a future for themselves. I plan to join the ranks of being an entrepreneur. When asked why I wish to do so, I have realized it was never really a choice for me, but a notion that was always there, a trait that was embedded within in somehow long before I knew it was there. This, then, begs the question; why are so many Millennials flocking to entrepreneurship as a career choice?

What is a Millennial?

To answer why Millennials are choosing a life in entrepreneurship, you first have to know what a Millennial is. There aren’t set start and end years for this generation, but the consensus typically places this group at being born in the 1980’s and 1990’s, coming to early adulthood in the early 2000’s. A business dictionary defines Millennials (or Generation Y) as such, adding that it consists of the offspring of the Baby boomers (Generation X, and that having access to technology at an early age has not only forced businesses to incorporate use and updates of technology at a faster rate, but also to update hiring strategies. So, how Millennials view the workplace and a career?

Millennials Behavior Towards Careers

Needy, entitled, arrogant, overly relaxed, are many of the terms you’ll find used to describe the Millennial generation, and in all fairness, they can be true, but what I think the more seasoned workforce veterans perceive as negative attributes could be a misunderstanding of what each generation is looking for in their lives and a career.

Jeff Fromm, Forbes contributor and author of “Millennials in the Workplace: They do not Need Trophies, but They Want Reinforcement” learned the average tenure for Millennials was only two years, while the average for Baby Boomers was seven, with Generation X decreasing that to about five years. In the same article, Fromm explains the cause for this low retention rate to Millennials putting the focus on growth. If growth does not seem evident to a Millennial, they have no problems changing jobs to get it.

Why Millennials Rather Forge Their Own Path

Fromm shares that Millennials growing up in an era where resources are virtually infinite, have gained and embraced an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to always be on the hunt for opportunities. MindTickle, exploring  the “10 Millennial Personality Traits HR Managers Can’t Ignore”, listed number one on their list Millennials’ need to find a job or career that has “meaning”, with a Fast Company article uncovering that to include: having the ability to share their gifts, making an impact on other’s lives, and living a life they desire. Millennials have also had the privilege of growing up with role models who are entrepreneurs, allowing the idea of starting a business the expected logical thing to do, rather than an exception. (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/269995).

Millennials Traits

So, what traits do Millennials have that makes entrepreneurship an appealing career choice and a successful one?

For starters Millennials are an open and collaborative bunch. I believe this is primarily from growth into adulthood with social media. Being willing to share and receive feedback from peers allows Millennials to naturally transition into a transformational leadership style that is key to successful innovation, a skill needed for corporations and entrepreneurs alike to thrive.

Jim Moffat, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting, in his article “The Seven Positive Qualities of Millennials That Can Help You Improve Your Business” found Millennials to be motivated, natural leaders and innovators, thinking of innovation as a science, while also noting our inherited entrepreneurial spirit aiding in our ability to build a business.

Will Millennials be the Best Entrepreneurs Yet?

It is hard to determine, but the tools and mindset of a Millennial might make it possible. With the focus being placed on growth and opportunity, and business role models fashioned after entrepreneurs the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs. Big ideas coupled with the impatience of a career to reach them is what drives a Millennial and what makes a career in entrepreneurship a perfect choice.

Darius Thompson is an aspiring entrepreneur, and one of the needy Millennials described above. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2017 by Darius S. Thompson

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Best Friends Forever: Working With Chinese Suppliers

Recently, I began a business specializing in toys and games. I had some great ideas on branding and product creation, but I had no idea where to start looking for someone to make my products. I can’t get anybody to play my games or be entertained by my toys if I have none, right? So I began some research through podcasts, blogs, and YouTube videos; focusing on small business owners who shared their journey from beginning to present. It is that I trust them more than a well-known magazine or website… I’m not a big fan of people faking information for financial gain. I learned many ways I could begin manufacturing my products and after weeks of negotiations, guess where I found a supplier? China!

The negotiation process is pretty straight forward: they offer you a price, you haggle because the price is too high, they say that’s their best offer, you say you’re walking away from the deal, then they come down on the price. Only, that’s the American way to negotiate. The one thing American business owners fail to realize is that Chinese culture is not the same as American culture. Working with a Chinese manufacturer is much like courting someone in a dating relationship. You start off with the preliminary “hello” and exchange of basic information. Later on you share information about yourself, but you also ask the other person many questions and learn more about their personality, interests, and aspirations. If things go well then you try a first date, and another, and so on, hopefully building a deep and lasting bond.  Perhaps this even leads to marriage (like the dating sites advertise).  The Chinese need to be nurtured in a similar way because they place much of their business risk in relationships, not price.

Claria Muriel Ruano writes a blog called Foreign Entrepreneurs in China. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics in Spain and an MBA in Europe and works in the export department for her company. She has 12 years’ experience in the field, where several years were spent in China. In her blog, there was an article posted called, “36 Tips on How to Deal or Negotiate with your Chinese Suppliers”, and I’d like to focus on two of those 36 tips. Number 14 states, “The best way to do business in China is face-to-face. Technology is great, but I do not think it is the way Chinese people are wired to work.” While going to China and meeting with a supplier is not always going to be an option, this illustrates how important personal relationships are to Chinese business partners. Number 36 reads, “… Your Chinese supplier sees the contract as the ‘beginning’ of the relationship.” This tip definitively informs the reader that business dealings are thought of as relationships, so treat your supplier in the same way you would treat those in your personal relationships.

In my experience so far, in dealing with Chinese suppliers, courtesy and respect are a must in every individual form of communication. A compliment, apology, formal salutation, thank you, or anything of that nature needs to be included in your communication… it will definitely be in theirs! The more active you are in getting to know your point of contact, the more willing they will be to just discount the price without you even having to ask. Here in America, when we are trying to sell something, we usually have two prices: “the price” and “the friend/family price.” If you treat your supplier like they are a real human being, and not like a computer haggling machine, you will find yourself getting the “friend price” more often than not.

It all boils down to respect and integrity. We’ve all heard that Americans have a bad reputation across the globe. This is because our culture is vastly different than many other cultures in the world. We aren’t rude, we’re just American. Be conscious of this when dealing with Chinese suppliers, respect their culture, and your worries about dealing with Chinese suppliers may be reduced drastically!

Ruano, Clara Muriel. “36 Tips on How to Deal or Negotiate you’re your Chinese Suppliers.” ForeignEntrepreneursInChina, 11 Feb. 2011, http://www.foreignentrepreneursinchina.com/2011/02/36-tips-on-how-to-deal-or-negotiate-with-your-chinese-suppliers-2/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2017.

Phillip Wiseman is a Management Trainee at one of the largest automotive retailers in the world and earned that position due to his undergraduate studies in Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also currently enrolled in the Master of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2016 by Phillip Wiseman. http://www.vehiconomy.com

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Which Are Better, Banks or Credit Unions?

by: M. Afsheen Noorbakhsh

People have always asked the question: Which is better, a bank or credit union? In this article, I will attempt to differentiate between the two in an objective manner. Naturally, there are pros and cons to each, and the final decision is simply a personal one. Either way, there are significant differences you should know as to whom you should use as a primary financial institution. This will be a simple overview.

A major difference between a bank and a credit union is the business structure. The larger banks, such as Wells Fargo or Bank of America, are some of the biggest companies in the world and are leaders in the financial sector. Banks have incredible reach, with thousands of branch locations across the nation. For example, Wells Fargo has over 8,700 branches and 13,000 ATMs across the country.

Credit unions are significantly smaller in size and are structured to serve a particular region, city or group, such as members of the military (e.g., PenFed), or employees of a particular state (e.g., NCSECU). Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) has only 12 branches in North Carolina. However, just because most credit unions have fewer branches does not mean they cannot have a similar reach as the big banks. Many credit unions join a network designed to expand the reach of credit union ATMs. For example, Navy Federal Credit Union members have access to over 52,000 ATMs nationwide.

Another difference is that banks are in business to make profits for their shareholders. A shareholder’s voting power is based on how many shares held; therefore, the largest shareholders have the most power.

Conversely, credit unions are nonprofit entities, and customers are considered members. A member’s voting ability is not based on how much money is deposited. Each member gets an equal vote, which can directly impact the leadership of the credit union. Some credit unions are also very specific on who can apply for membership. Others have an open membership that requires a membership fee.

When comparing the two structures, most consumers are under the impression that credit unions cannot service the public like a bank. Banks have more locations, which is good for customers who like in-person service by visiting any branch location in the nation. Credit unions have considerably fewer locations than most banks, but branches are located in close proximity to most members.
Banks are beneficial for consumers looking for a financial institution that offers a wide variety of products and services. Banking clients are not as concerned with low fees and rates but are more concerned with the convenience of nationwide branches and more advanced online and mobile technology.

Credit unions are for consumers looking for a financial institution with basic banking products and services. But with less variety. Credit Unions are for individuals where lower fees and lower interest rates are a high priority, and the overall number of branches is not a primary concern. Also, credit union members typically experience more personalized customer service when visiting a branch where the employees know their name.

So, which is better? The answer falls in the eyes of the beholder. As a consumer, one must evaluate his or her needs and decide which financial institution is the best choice for various services. One can also consider having certain types of accounts at a bank, and other types of accounts at a credit union.

Sometimes the answer isn’t about financial products as much as social responsibility. There is a clear difference between a not-for-profit, membership driven organization, and a for-profit entity. However, deciding upon the best option(s) is entirely a matter of your personal needs and preferences in relation to the financial services that may be available to you.

Mohammad “Afsheen” Noorbakhsh is a Financial Service Officer at Latino Community Credit Union, Entrepreneur, and family man.  Afsheen is also currently enrolled in the Master of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University.  Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact.  Copyright 2017 by Mohammad Afsheen Noorbakhsh.

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Struggling Readers

I often hear on the news and in discussions with other educators that we are approaching a reading crisis among our young students in America… or maybe the crisis is already here! I recently read an article from the National Center for Education Statistics that said in 2013 sixty-five percent of fourth graders in the United States read at or below the basic reading level and that almost fifty percent of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students read below the basic level. This same article also emphasized that “summer is a critical time when students either leap ahead or fall behind.” I fear the fall behind group is the larger of the two and if we do not take care of this problem now, it will only get worse.

I feel that a great need for a business / program, would be a non-profit group that works with underprivileged children K – 3 that struggle with reading. Schools have pull out groups for reading, but some of the things that they read in these groups are boring or don’t make sense to a struggling reader. I would like to develop a business that focuses on the needs of these struggling readers and provides them multiple resources to help develop a love for reading.

This program would be especially beneficial during the summer when school is out. I would have a different approach with it though. Rather than having them think of it as school, I would turn it around and make it fun. For example, I would have them read a book that is also a movie. Once the book is completed we could either go to the movies and watch it or have a movie day at the facility where this program will take place. I would also deck the facility out with character clothing and a small stage so that students could act out the stories they read.

I also think it’s important to read aloud to the kids. Even my middle school students still love the idea of being read to and per Karen Tangersley, in her book, Literacy Strategies for Grades K-8, children who were read to when they were younger have visually seen and heard more words than students who were not as fortunate to have someone read to them.

“It is certainly no surprise, given their years of frustration, that struggling readers typically are anxious about school (Tangersley, 2005). They tend not to be very motivated, and often lack self-confidence regarding their ability to read (Kos, 1991).” Motivation is a big part of the process that these struggling students lack and if I can help motivate them, I can help possibly turn things around for them.

I feel that this program would have to have multiple varieties of books, computers, tablets for audiobooks. I also believe some students are turned off because they can’t read the books of their choice. That wouldn’t be a requirement for me. These children would pick what they want to read without feeling the pressure of a classroom reading class. It would be a pure learning / development environment, but a learning environment that lacks the focus of testing. I feel that a program like this would be beneficial to all counties and could help decrease the gap for these struggling students.

 Works Cited
Tankersley, Karen. Literacy Strategies for Grades 4-12 Reinforcing the Threads of Reading. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005. Print.

Jann G Haynes is a 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. Jann  is also currently enrolled in the Masters of Education Special Education (Gifted, Creative, and Innovative Education) at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2017 by Jann G Haynes.
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Crowdfunding and the Gender Gap: Democratizing Entrepreneurship

The gender gap is alive and well in nearly every realm of the business world, with fewer women in leadership positions than men, inequities in venture capital funding for and investment, and persistent and pesky stereotypes that persist within the industry. According to Access to Capital by High-Growth Women-Owned Businesses, research commissioned by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), female entrepreneurs start companies with 50% less capital than male entrepreneurs.

Why is this a problem? Besides the fact that gender equality should be a given in a modern democracy, women start business at twice the rate of men. Because of these astonishing numbers, organizations such as the World Economic Forum identified women entrepreneurs as “the way forward” at their annual meeting, while Saskia Vossenberg, of The Maastricht School of Management describes women entrepreneurs as the New Women’s Movement, asserting, “Forget aid, focus on foreign investment in women entrepreneurs as key drivers for growth and development.”

Amid this dreary outlook for women, crowdfunding is a bright spot. Fundraising through online platforms skyrocketed to $16.2 billion in 2015, a whopping 167% increase from the previous year, according to Massolution’s 2015 Crowdfunding Industry Report. Female entrepreneurs are almost ten times more successful in raising capital with online platforms than with conventional banks, according to CircleUp. Not only do women make up 44% of businesspersons on Kickstarter, but the Wall Street Journal found that 37% of female-led projects on Kickstarter were successful in reaching their funding goal compared to just 32% for male-led projects.

The reasons for female success on these platforms are not clear, though academics have theories as to how the gender gap is closing online. According to Andrea Gorbatai, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Management, “women are better at telling a story that resonates with potential crowdfunding investors.” In part, this has to do with the unique writing styles and social constructed roles between the genders. Women are more often willing and able to express themselves emotionally and write about their personal lives, including relationships; this approach is generally more successful in persuading readers to donate to a project than what men write. Gorbatai, along with her co-author Laura Nelson from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, found that female-created pitches were less likely to use dry, impersonal business language and more likely to convey positive feelings, inclusiveness, and liveliness.

Jason Greenberg of New York University and Ethan Mollick of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School have a different explanation for female success with crowdfunding. They believe the key is unconscious gender bias: men are more likely to associate with men, and women with women. While this dynamic is problematic in the conventional financial arena of banks, venture capitalists and angel investors, most of whom are male, online crowdfunding platforms are open to any and all people, vastly increasing the number of women who can help fund fellow females.

However, the news is not all positive. Only 22.5 percent of male investors’ funds went toward women-run projects, which seems to reinforce Greenberg and Mollick’s claim of gender bias. Moreover, while women did have more success than men in meeting their fundraising goals, this could be because females set their goals thousands of dollars lower than men. Female-led projects had a mean of $6,890.50 while men-led goals had a mean of $12,175.90.

Crowdfunding has become an intriguing way to potentially democratize the field of entrepreneurship. However, it is not a silver bullet for fixing the deeply engrained and institutionalized gender biases that exist in the business world.

 

Margaret McAlister is completing her doctorate in business degree this May, a management and health professor, and a researcher. She is also currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact.  Copyright 2017 by Margaret McAlister.

 

 

 

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Attention Deficit Disorder; Can It Be Used As An Asset For Entrepreneurs?

All of the following people have something in common; Sir Richard Branson owner of Virgin Airlines, David Neeleman owner of JetBlue, and Paul Orfalea founder of Kinko’s and a serial entrepreneur. They all have some form of ADD/ADHD. A few other entrepreneurs have another learning disability, dyslexia, and find ways to overcome; Charles Schwab and Alan Meckler of WebMediaBrands. But not everyone has successful results. About 4% of Americans have Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Disorder Hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD). Many in the general public think this disorder revolves around being lazy or having no get up and go, but this could not be further from the truth. This disease is a real disorder and can be paralyzing if the individual does not learn some coping strategies. For someone with ADD/ADHD, everything is a distraction! It is like being the crazy chef in the kitchen with every burner and cooking device being used or having 30 sessions open on your browser. From the ticking of a clock, the cell phone notification noises, the sound of your partner chewing, a bird flying by, a sound of something falling from upstairs, television from the family room, family discussion, laughter, all while trying to write a research paper – yes, this is where I live!

If I shared with you the amount of money I have invested in planners and online planning systems, it would make you blush. All purchases were made with good intentions because I want to be organized. But the systems usually break down within the month with more money wasted.

I have been told I have a lot of energy and that is what people love about me but harnessing that power and putting into production is what I need to be doing. I talk with my hands, and I am very animated. I am also a toe tapper, finger roller and noise maker.

Ask the ones who actually know me and love me, I will be telling a story and right in the middle of it forget why I am even telling the story. Now put that in the perspective of giving a sales pitch or board room presentation, would you really want this person to be the one ‘working’ with your company?

There is treatment in helping you focus on tasks at hand, but sometimes this can turn into what is referred to as hyper-focus. This is dangerous for me! When I am working on a project and getting into this mode, granted I should be in bed each night at 9:30-10 pm so I can wake up at 3:45 am, but the next time I look at my watch, it’s midnight, and I am only going to get 3 hours of sleep. Or a family member comes into the study area and asks why you are awake and do you know what time it is?

I have had this learning disability all my life, but back when I was in elementary school, I was told I was slow and behind my classmates. Hum, how did I go from doing 5th-grade work in 3rd grade while I lived in Virginia to being put a level behind when I moved to Georgia? It was ADHD and dyslexia. But instead of learning coping skills, I became the class clown and entertained everyone! At one point in college, I was ready to quit, and my sister explained, “…sometimes a C is okay – it means average, you can’t be excellent in everything!” That is where I started taking pressure off myself, and by my senior year, last semester, I was making A’s. I bought a voice recorder, and it came to class with me every day. Each night, I had to review my notes with the recorder while everyone else went out to socialize, but I learned and retained the material.

Sometimes we forget details, have anxiety and may seem like a terrible friend. These will be all the thoughts you have about our friendship, but because we are friends, you snicker and love us anyway. We might need your extra set of eyes to review our idea or project. A mind buzzing with activity can start to think negatively and next thing you know, we are in a downward spiral and anxious over something that probably won’t even come true. And as your friend, our minds will drift while you are talking and we will forget about lunch dates or appointment times we set up but just know we will feel awful about it!

I have used some of the following tips to avoid killing my productivity and getting tasks done;

I can only ‘control’ my thoughts, my energy, and actions into being the best that I can be. Trying to please others can be exhausting.

I have to take breaks to trick my brain and reward it for staying engaged! I am always playing a game of 30 minutes of focus and then 15 minutes of reward. Varying the tasks is an excellent way to keep my brain engaged while giving me something to look forward to.

I try to focus on the task at hand and know eventually; I will be able to work on another task. I try not to allow the current or future task to become a distraction from the current project.

I try and let colleagues know how to best communicate with me. I hate email and do not want to get stuck in the email zone – it is boring and disengaging. Calling or sending me an app message allows me to respond quicker getting through the task individually or as a responsible team member (my text message service reads it to me).

I have tried to stop being Wonder Woman. I try to not set myself up for disappointment by thinking every task on my list will be completed, or the project I have envisioned will turn out exactly as I pictured it. Tomorrow is another day. I try and stay focus on the ‘must accomplish today’ items. When completing the task, the sense of accomplishment decreases stress and releases all types of good endorphins and hormones into the body.

When I have a large project, I have to make a plan; putting so many 30-minute focus task blocks down per day, then piecing the days available for that type of work. If I do not accomplish what is on the daily and weekly schedule, I reschedule and try again. Each day gets me closer to completing the task. Easier said than done for someone with ADD but tomorrow is coming, and you need to be ready.

I try not to get lost in the details and try and re-evaluate every 15 minutes (half of my 30-minute timer). Perfection is great if you have the time, but I usually do not. When I really need to get things accomplished, I always work with a timer.

The last point is a perfect lead-in for trying not to become, what I call, a perfectionist procrastinator – both keep you from completing your work. To get a task started, I come up with a simple outline plan and then add details. If I get worried about the project not being sound or possible failure, I try and run it past my inner circle (one of the reasons I am late with this assignment).

I catch myself talking about a project, a form of procrastination, when all I really need to do is take action on a project, even if for just for 10-15 minutes. I find when I get started, the whole anxiety of getting started starts to go away.

I need to avoid big, long to-do lists. They only get bigger and make me feel depressed. I try and put things on my calendar, and if it has to get done that day, that’s right, it get’s put on a timer! I drive my family crazy at times, but they know these strategies work for me.

So why do I share these things? Psychiatrist Ned Hallowell has written that people with ADHD are “natural entrepreneurs.” He has said he sees the condition not as a disorder, but “as an advantage. The reason: Individuals with ADHD possess innate energy, grit, creativity, originality, insight and interpersonal skills. And these are the ingredients of entrepreneurship.”

“The most important skill successful entrepreneurs learn—by instinct, consultation, education, experience or practice—is the skill of maximizing the benefits of their assets while minimizing the internal damage. I’ve learned that what separates successful from frustrated entrepreneurs is their ability—or inability—to capitalize on this. The great entrepreneur learns how to harness and direct mental power, while the frustrated entrepreneur spends life trying to learn how. Entrepreneurs and those with ADHD who find the pot of gold are the ones who learn how to master their minds, rather than letting their minds misdirect.” Dr. Hallowell goes on to explain, and I have experienced, that the mind of someone with ADD/ADHD, the brain is always in go-mode. It’s hard to ‘put on the brakes’ or ‘keep the filter in place’ with the mind going in 15 different directions. The ADD/ADHD entrepreneur must learn to slow down, focus and set up a plan. Easier said than done!

I actually hired Heather MacMillian, an ADD/ADHD coach, and worked with her from January 2016 through April 2016. She also worked with my daughter and my husband (my daughter has ADD and my husband PTSD/traumatic brain injury)! She taught me that the brain can be retrained and will believe what you tell it and what it sees. For instance, when you are watching a movie or playing a video game, and the video image comes to the edge of a tall building, you start to get feelings of scared, queasy, or an adrenaline type rush in your body. Why? The brain does not know the difference in the image and reality. If you stop and think about it, there is no danger, why does our body react this way? Our brain’s primary goal is to protect us, so we have to ensure that the brain has all the facts and keep the misperceptions to a minimum. Heather taught me some tactics of helping my brain retrain the way it perceives threats and rewards that drive my behavior. She explained to me our reaction patterns using the SCARF model. Dr. David Rock describes the SCARF model in a video link listed in the sources section below, and I have put together this brief write up about each of the items.

S (status) – Status is your perception of where you are in relation to those around us. If a person feels a drop in status, the brain activates the same circuit as if experiencing pain. Feedback can be perceived as a threat especially if negative.  And an increase in status activates a reward circuitry, almost the same as receiving a monetary reward

C (certainty) – ambiguity of any kind sets up a threat response. Providing information, details, dates can provide clarity and help lower a threat response perception

A (autonomy) – People need to know they have choices. When a person experience stress but has choices, this increases one’s leave of autonomy. And vice versa, a lower level of autonomy when you feel you have no choices

R (relatedness) – brain perceives those we do not know as threat (foe vs. friend) so when working in team created a common bond

F (fairness) – A fair exchange activates the reward circuitry, and an unfair exchange activates a danger response

Brain research explains the brain is looking to minimize danger and maximize reward. So when a threat response is perceived by the mind (sometimes we are aware, and sometimes we are not aware) the amygdala (emotional brain) sends a message, and the limbic system gets triggered into a Flight, Fight, or Freeze mode. The pre-frontal cortex shrinks because the body is now in protection mode and is sending blood away from the brain and to the limbs. Our executive functioning ability lessens, leading to poor decision making (which is a limited resource to begin with). As opposed to when someone makes us feels good (Status), we know the task and what to do (have Certainty). We can then think about the options and make our own choices (Autonomy), feel connected with individuals or a team (Relatedness) and feel treated fairly (Fairness).

Some tools to use when you notice a threat response (i.e. overwhelmed and can’t make a decision, feel threatened, want to ‘escape’ watch TV, have a list but are not working):

1)  Label it – say it out loud if appropriate – I am really overwhelmed/stressed/exhausted/feel hurt or demeaned etc

2) Take a few deep breaths and attempt to bring corners of mouth up in a slight smile (even if angry) because a smile sends a signal to the brain that everything will be okay.

3) Reframe the thought or statement or tell your brain even though I am overwhelmed, I am okay (no tiger charging at me – I am safe).

4) Ask yourself, what is one simple thing I can do right now, just one thing and take action.

5) FOCUS and get yourself in action to do that one thing.

6) Tell yourself, this is my brain, not me, and I can manage my ADD/ADHD.

Entrepreneurs – if this resonated with you, I challenge you to make an appointment with yourself once per day for a 30-minute focus session. Pull out your timers, stay focused and you will not believe after a week, how much work you have accomplished on your project.

I would love to get your feedback! 

Tabitha Myler is currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. She has owned multiple businesses and been employed in a variety of industries; finance, marketing & advertising in destination marketing, insurance, and athletics. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2017 by Tabitha M Myler. Speaking engagements requests and contact information can be found at http://edupreneurships.com

SOURCES;

Dr. Ned Hallowell. Success. July 18, 2014. February 17, 2016 (date of access).  <http://www.success.com/article/do-all-entrepreneurs-have-adhd >

Neil Patel. Entrepreneur. January 13, 2016. February 17, 2016 (date of access). <https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252231 >

Heather MacMillan. ADD/ADHD Life Coach. hmaccillan@upei.ca email address. Resource shared during coaching session; SCARF MODEL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isiSOeMVJQk by Dr. David Rock

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