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Retraining Your Body to Eat Less and Lose Weight

Wow! The holidays have been wrecking my weight stabilization plan, and the last big two for the year are not even here yet! I have been watching my weight creep up like a slow growing plant. I had not weighed myself for two months, and now I have seen that I have gained 25 pounds. … Continue reading “Retraining Your Body to Eat Less and Lose Weight”

Wow! The holidays have been wrecking my weight stabilization plan, and the last big two for the year are not even here yet! I have been watching my weight creep up like a slow growing plant. I had not weighed myself for two months, and now I have seen that I have gained 25 pounds. I thought I would be okay having a little sugar and milk in my coffee and eating a blueberry muffin for breakfast. I was piling on the carbs and backing off on the protein. Now I am drinking the best weight loss shakes and cutting back the calories.

It is a simple formula to lose weight. You either need to take in less calories than what you burn, or you need to burn more calories than what you take in. Technically, you could eat your daily calories in doughnuts and still lose weight. Being that it is sugar and fat, it may be much harder, and you would also be starving yourself of needed nutrients. However, if you burned 2000 calories a day and ate 1800 calories in doughnuts, you would eventually start to lose weight. Continue reading “Retraining Your Body to Eat Less and Lose Weight”

Brexit Will Affect Your Business – Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Brexit Will Affect Your Business – Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Brexit Will Affect Your Business - Here's Everything You Need to Know
You’re reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

They’re calling it the divorce of the century, and the most happening news coming out of Britain after the birth of Princess Charlotte last year. Britain has formally voted its favor to be excluded from the European Union, and though this will take months to follow through, we know the outcome now. Since the U.K. plays a huge role in world economics, the decision will leave an impacting role in every field, including business and entrepreneurs, regardless of which side you were on in the debate.  Politically, the move led to David Cameron’s resignation, even though he had pledged to keep running his office even voters voted against his stance on E.U. membership. But exiting from its largest trade partner will definitely cause changes for Britain. What does the change spell for entrepreneurs? Here’s what we know so far:

The pound is crashing.

Even though actually changes should have taken years to develop, the pound is already plummeting down as compared to the US dollar, especially in Asian countries: as much as 9 percent as of right now and 3 percent against the yen. Japan’s main stock market tumbled by almost 8 percent, the lowest it has been in nearly three decades. Within minutes of Friday’s results, markets across the world took a hit. The pound plunged to 31-year low while the rupee was down almost 96 paise. India’s benchmark Sensex took a big 1,058-point plunge in early trade immediately, eroding nearly Rs 4 lakh crore from the investors’ wealth held in stocks.

India’s trade ability might be easier with the U.K. but more difficult with the E.U.

The U.K. is a popular base for Indian operations and sales to the rest of the world. With the U.K. out of the E.U., Indian firms will have to re-think their strategy. As much as 33 percent of Indian investment in the U.K. is in the information technology and telecom sectors. If push comes to shove and it has to migrate to the continent along with other manufacturing firms, Indian investment into the UK will be diverted to the EU, with their own set of regulations and now differential taxes.

Manufacturing and automobile industries will feel the change.

Even though the U.K. automobile manufacturing industry isn’t powerful enough to dramatically change the global automobile industry, the impact would definitely be felt. Britain’s largest car manufacturer is the Jaguar Land Rover, owned by Tata Motors. According to a Reuters reports, Tata Motors could stand to lose as much as 1 billion pounds by the end of the decade because of the split. Almost three-quarters of the cars produced in England are exported, but with the exit there could be new tariffs that could make U.K.-made cars less competitive.

The global economy could be impacted.

England’s exist jeopardizes the way we planned for the world economy to recover. The U.K. accounts for 18 percent of the European Union GDP. The block could lose as much as one-sixth of its total economic output with the exit. After the United States and France, India is also the third biggest factor, with 800 companies doing their business in the U.K. What’ll happen to their trade remains to be seen.

What is clear right now is change is evident and global businesses now will ace different regulations and increased customs. Try importing or travelling into the U.K. via Europe and it’ll be a lot more complex. However, what remains to be seen is if different means good or bad.

Companies to Face Tighter EU Data Restrictions

Companies to Face Tighter EU Data Restrictions

Companies to Face Tighter EU Data Restrictions

 

The European Union agreed on a sweeping overhaul of fragmented data protection laws on Tuesday that will force companies to report data breaches and face huge fines for misusing personal data.

The new law enables EU national authorities to levy fines of up to 4 percent of revenues on firms breaking the law, which could mean billions of dollars for big tech companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc.

Member states and EU lawmakers have been negotiating since June to reach a compromise on the reform, which was proposed by the executive European Commission almost four years ago to replace a patchwork of national laws dating back to the 1990s.

Politicians hailed what they called a “breakthrough.”

“Today everything is digital so we need rules for an enormous amount of issues and those rules have to be applicable, they have to be sensitive, they have to understandable for every normal user,” said Felix Braz, minister of justice of Luxembourg, which holds the rotating EU presidency and therefore led the negotiations on behalf of member states.

Under the new data protection regulation, companies will face tighter restrictions on how they reuse Europeans’ data, something that will be of concern particularly to tech companies that hold swathes of personal information and use it for advertising.

Privacy concerns over where data is stored and how it is used are rife in Europe, especially after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed how U.S. authorities harvested information directly from tech companies like Apple Inc and Microsoft.

Companies will have to report breaches that are likely to harm individuals to national authorities within 72 hours, something legal experts expect will reveal the true scale of data breaches in Europe.

Seeking to make operating across the 28-country EU easier for companies, the new law establishes a single regulator for multi-nationals in the country where they have their European headquarters, the so-called “one-stop shop.”

However, uncertainty over how national data protection authorities will be able to cooperate will lead to years of litigation, lawyers say.

“This will come, it cannot be avoided,” said Jörg Hladjk, a lawyer at Hunton & Williams.

Right to be forgotten

Businesses will have to get people’s “explicit” consent to use their data — something they have said is unwieldy when dealing with huge sets of data — and appoint a data-protection officer to oversee privacy issues.

The regulation also enshrines the “right to be forgotten” giving EU citizens the right to have obsolete information about them deleted from the web, an issue that generated heated debate last year when Google was ordered to scrub search results appearing under a person’s name.

Teenagers under 16 wishing to sign up for social networks like Facebook and Twitter Inc. will be able to do so only with their parents’ permission, unless individual countries opt out and lower the threshold to 13.

Tuesday’s agreement also includes a law protecting personal data shared between law enforcement authorities.

The agreement is subject to final endorsement by both the European Parliament and EU member states, expected by early next week.

(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Strasbourg, France; Editing by Barbara Lewis, Susan Thomas, Larry King and Lisa Shumaker)

The New EU General Data Protection Regulation: Big Data Protection Gets Personal

The New EU General Data Protection Regulation: Big Data Protection Gets Personal

The New EU General Data Protection Regulation: Big Data Protection Gets Personal
You’re reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The adoption by the European Parliament of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets the stage for profound repercussions to digital privacy on both sides of the Atlantic. The GDPR is a prominent example of new wave of global privacy regulations that is forcing business to rethink how they collect, manage and govern access to personal data. And unlike past generations of legislation, GDPR provides organizations ample motivation to perform; failure to comply could result in penalties as high as 4% of global revenue.

The regulation’s broader intention is to galvanize a new, integrated approach to data protection that drives transparency and puts privacy on an equal footing with information security. Transparency is not just an operational requirement — it also means that organizations will have to maintain intelligence into their use of private data, ensure usage compliance as well as regularly verify their data protection and privacy policies.

Getting Past Good Intentions

Many organizations have already initiated governance programs to manage how data about their customers and consumers is processed and accessed in anticipation of more stringent data privacy and data residency requirements (especially with advent of Privacy Shield and the demise of Safe Harbor). The implicit assumption in the GDPR provisions is that these incremental efforts won’t be sufficient. Doing your best with the current approach will not be enough.
Instead, GDPR exacts very specific requirements around how personal data is collected and processed. Rather than accumulate data with the expectation that at some point in the future it will help to drive insights into revenue generation opportunities or uncover potential operational efficiencies, the GDPR is structured on the assumption that organizations will know beforehand why they are collecting customer and consumer data.

At a point when many organizations have taken advantage of new technologies to amass literally petabytes of data about customer and consumer behavior, the GDPR mandates that organizations only process and collect the data needed to support a service. This requires new levels of understanding for what data is collected, where it resides and how it is consumed by applications and data scientists.

It also places greater focus on consent. The Regulation described a ‘purpose limitation’, which stipulates that “Only personal data necessary for each specific purpose of processing are processed”. In the language of the Regulation, any other operations on the data that are not consistent with the initial justification for collecting the data is referred to as an ‘incompatible purpose’, unless the data controller can show there is a legitimate interest. The GDPR stipulates
informed consent to collection of personal data, with the requirement for either “a statement or a clear affirmative action” — an emphatic shift away from the implied consent model.

Further complicating matters for privacy, compliance and risk officers is that all the new rules and requirements apply to a more rigorous definition of what is personal data. It has long been common practice for organizations to “de-identify” data before it is analyzed. However the threshold for successfully removing direct or indirect identifiers in data has in recent years proven to more challenging as researchers have shown an ability to re-identify previously assumed anonymous data. For this reason, under the new GDPR regime it will be critical for organizations to not only classify what is personal data accurately but also score the degree of identifiability to control how different data is shared and analyzed.

Operationalizing Privacy

It’s not entirely alarmist to speculate that the GDPR will force organizations to re-engineer their privacy practices for Big Data. Certainly, new technology and processes will be necessary to manage privacy and monitor compliance for GDPR before it becomes binding in two years’ time. Given the significant penalties for failing to do so however, the EU likely has the necessary stick to change corporate practices around privacy.

What is clear with the passage of GDPR is that organizations will now need to prioritize privacy like they previously did security. Modern business is built on personalized service. But with personalization comes an equal responsibility to ensure and document privacy protection. GDPR is a clarion call to business that personalization without privacy is not just bad, it’s illegal. Operationalizing privacy from data discovery through data governance will require new thinking around Big (personal) Data.

Nutella Burgers And Other Crazy Fast Food Items From Around the World

Nutella Burgers And Other Crazy Fast Food Items From Around the World

McDonald’s Italy’s newest menu item is a sweet treat.
Nutella Burgers And Other Crazy Fast Food Items From Around the World

If you’re traveling abroad and need a taste of home, take note: from McDonald’s to KFC to Dunkin’ Donuts, fast food eateries from across the globe take a slightly different approach to their greasy cuisines.

Check out these 16 fast food items that will either make your mouth water and/or your jaw drop.

Nutella “burger,” McDonald’s, Italy

Image credit: McDonald’s | Facebook

In Italy, McDonald’s announced a new treat, called the “Sweety con Nutella.” It’s two sweet rolls with a helping of the chocolate hazelnut spread, which actually originates from Italy.

Cheese Katsu Burger, McDonald’s, Japan

Forget about a McDouble, McDonald’s in Japan is taking things up a notch with its new Cheese Katsu Burger. The item features traditional pork katsu — a breaded and deep fried patty — nested between two sesame buns.

But that’s not all — what would this McDonald’s item be without an American twist? We’re talking cheese, of course. The pork katsu cutlet is fried and oozing with cheese on the inside and also topped with cabbage and mayo.

Zinger Double Down, KFC, Korea

Forget about your typical Double Down, KFC in Korea has taken things to another level. The Zinger Double Down is a burger topped with bacon and cheese that sits between two fried chicken fillets drenched in barbecue and white pepper sauce.

If that won’t make your heart stop — we’re not sure what will.

Lobster Surf & Turf Burger, Wendy’s, Japan

Image credit: Kazuhiro Nogi | Getty Images

Wendy’s in Japan takes things up a notch by turning your fast food experience into fine dining.

For a limited time, Wendy’s Japan offered luxurious items such as a Lobster Surf & Turf Burger and the Premium Caviar & Lobster Sandwich.

In the past, the eatery’s menu also offered a Foie Gras Burger smothered in goose liver and truffles sauce. The item was only available for a year and later removed from the menu in 2012.

Gracoro Burger, McDonald’s, Japan

Image credit: McDonald’s Japan

Like Wendy’s, McDonald’s also likes to test funky products on the Japanese market.

McDonald’s Gracoro Burger — only available during winter — features a patty filled with macaroni, shrimp and white sauce with a breadcrumb crust. The patty is topped with cheese and “demi-glace” sauce and sandwiched between buns.

Chicken Tikka Masala, Taco Bell, India

Image credit: Taco Bell India

In India, many customers don’t go to Taco Bell for a Mexican-style Burrito. Instead, Taco Bell locations offer takes on the country’s traditional items, such as a Chicken Tikka Masala Burrito or rice bowls adorned with a variety of spices.

Kimchi Quesadilla, Taco Bell, South Korea

Since its release in June, this mashup has been a surprising hit at Taco Bells in Korea, making up some 10 percent of the restaurant’s sales in the country.

The Kimchi Quesadilla combines the traditional Korean dish with the Bell’s chicken and cheese Quesadilla.

Deep Fried Salmon, KFC, Japan

Image credit: KFC Japan

Move over fried chicken — at KFC, Deep Fried Salmon was a hot commodity. The name says it all: the dish is simple fried salmon with your favorite KFC dipping sauce.

Pork and Seaweed Donut, Dunkin’ Donuts, China

Image credit: Dunkin’ Donuts China

Forget about sprinkles and chocolate — in China, Dunkin’ Donuts takes a saltier approach: the Pork and Seaweed Donut is exactly what it sounds like.

Flying Fish Roe Salmon Cream Cheese Pizza, Pizza Hut, Hong Kong

Image credit: Pizza Hut Hong Kong

In America, we think Pizza Hut’s cheese-filled crusts are bizarre — but maybe this item will make us think twice.

In Hong Kong, Pizza Hut’s limited-edition Flying Fish Roe Salmon Cream Cheese Pizza is out-of-this-world whacky. The 2014 limited-time item featured crust filled with salmon flavored cream cheese and flying fish roe (fish eggs).

The pie was available in two flavors: Crayfish Seafood Deluxe (crayfish, scallops, shrimp, clams, cherry tomatoes, peppers, red onions and thousand island sauce) and Sausage, Pepperoni & Pomelo.

Double Down Dog, KFC, Philippines

Image credit: KFC Philippines

In January last year, KFC lovers hurried to try KFC’s craziest concoction. With only 50 served at participating stores in the Philippines, patrons clamored to get their hands on the Double Down Dog — a hot dog wrapped in a fried chicken bun.

Cheeseburger Pizza Crust, Pizza Hut, U.K.

Image credit: Pizza Hut UK

Here’s a solution to all you indecisive eaters.

Can’t decide between a pizza or a cheeseburger? At Pizza Huts in the U.K, you can order your pizza with a Cheeseburger Pizza Crust. The 2,000-plus calorie dish initially debuted in pizza huts in the Middle East and has since expanded north to the U.K.

Cheetos Crunchwrap Slider, Taco Bell, Canada

Image credit: Taco Bell Canada

Although it has yet to make its way to the American market, Canadian Taco Bells recently released a Cheetos Crunchwrap Slider for a limited time.

A junk foodie’s dream, the new item comes in three flavors: Beefy Cheddar, Spicy Chicken and Supreme — all of which are infused with Cheetos, of course.

Green Peas Patty Sub, Subway, India

Image credit: Subway India

To replace meat for the country’s large population of vegetarians, Indian Subways offer a variety of alternatives — one of the most popular being the Green Peas Patty sub.

Aloo Patties (made with potatoes), Chatpana Chana Patties (made with chickpeas) and Hara Bhara Patties (made with potatoes and green vegetables) are also among the vegetarian offerings.

Guacamole and Salsa Loaded Fries, McDonald’s, Australia

Image credit: McDonald’s Australia

Now this one might get your mouth watering. McDonald’s famous fries just got even better. With the option to add toppings to “Loaded Fries,” customers can enjoy fries topped with cheese and bacon or guacamole and salsa.

Choco Marsh, Taco Bell, Spain

Image credit: Taco Bell Spain

If you have a sweet tooth, Taco Bell in Spain has the perfect thing: the Choco Marsh is a tortilla filled with chocolate and marshmallow.

Brexit Is Complicating Digital Marketing and EU Data Privacy

Brexit Is Complicating Digital Marketing and EU Data Privacy

Brexit Is Complicating Digital Marketing and EU Data Privacy

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union could have significant ramifications for domestic digital marketers doing business internationally. Every day, digital marketers in the U.S. come in contact with mountains of personal data. These can include customer email addresses, browsing habits, age, gender, geographic location and any other data Google, Facebook and other go-betweens allow U.S. marketers to collect.

Safe harbor.

Until late last year, U.S. marketing agencies were subject to the long-standing Safe Harbor agreement, which regulated the flow of personal data between the EU and the U.S.

Safe Harbor prohibited the transfer of data to a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) unless that country had adequate data protection measures in place. American agencies receiving EU citizens’ personal data could self-certify they complied with Safe Harbor. This basically attested their practices adhered to a range of European privacy standards. Although the agreement applied to any country outside the EEA, it primarily targeted the U.S. and American companies.

The Snowden effect.

Ever since former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked classified information, the EU has been exceedingly sensitive about the transfer of EU citizens’ personal data to the U.S. Truth be told, the EU long had regarded U.S. privacy laws as inadequate. The release of the Snowden documents only strengthened that position. In the wake of the leak, the European Court of Justice convened and re-examined the Safe Harbor agreement. The Court, which is tasked with ensuring EU law is applied equally across the EU, found U.S. compliance with Safe Harbor lacking. In October 2015, the Court invalidated the agreement. The decision was effective immediately.

In December 2015, the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to patch the gap. While the GDPR isn’t enforceable until 2018, most U.S. and international companies are using that framework as their guideline to satisfy the EU’s requirements for personal data transfer.

Privacy shield.

In February, the EU and the U.S. announced Privacy Shield, a new agreement to replace Safe Harbor. Privacy Shield represents a more rigid framework that creates stronger obligations for U.S. companies, stronger monitoring and enforcement from U.S. authorities and an annual review process to ensure new measures are implemented. European and U.S. officials worked throughout the spring to iron out details of the agreement and begin implementing its provisions.

The Brexit complication.

Negotiations surrounding data transfer have gotten only more complex since June 2016, when the U.K. voted to leave the EU. Brexit has raised a number of questions that have yet to be answered. Among them:

  • Will the Privacy Shield agreement need to be renegotiated?
  • Will the EU need to negotiate a new agreement with the U.K. similar to the one in place with the U.S.? If so, when would that happen?
  • Is there a chance the U.K. might find itself flagged by the EU as a jurisdiction with inadequate privacy laws?
  • Will data transfers between the U.K. and the U.S. have to undergo scrutiny from the EU because personal data from citizens of EU member states might be included?
  • Will Privacy Shield be put on hold while the EU and the U.K. negotiate the withdrawal? If so, what framework will govern transatlantic data transfers in the meantime?

The Brexit vote and the chaos that now surrounds Privacy Shield creates tremendous uncertainty for U.S.-based digital marketers who collect personal data from customers in the EU. In the short term, however, there is some good news. In the wake of the Safe Harbor invalidation, many U.S. companies — including marketing agencies — incorporated into their agreements “model contract clauses” and “binding corporate agreements.” Both instruments have been approved by EU courts. They allow for the collection and transfer of data from Europe to non-EU jurisdictions, and this practice likely will continue until more answers come into focus.

What comes next?

U.S. marketing agencies still must heed EU privacy laws when dealing with the U.K. Why? Two reasons. First, chances are good that the U.K. independently will adopt many of the same EU policies and procedures. Second, personal data obtained from U.K. sources likely will include information about members within the remaining EU nations.

Marketers target specific demographics on behalf of clients and brands. As the internet has made the world more interconnected, it’s impossible for domestic marketing agencies to simply ignore the data protection measures put in place by countries outside the U.S. Complying with the wishes of these countries makes sound business sense. It enables companies to access some of the world’s largest markets and protects agencies from exposure to international violations and liability.

The impact on marketers.

The many obstacles and headaches associated with international data protection compliance may seem onerous to domestic agencies, but doing nothing could present greater problems. Even if U.S. agencies choose to deal solely with domestic companies for the exchange of personal data such as email lists and demographic data, there’s no realistic way to sort out which information is outside the EU and which is inside. Companies still have to hash out the names and/or emails on such lists, making it impossible to know which is which and who is who. A single email address belonging to a citizen of the EU in a 5,000-name list obtained by a U.S. marketer is enough to expose all parties involved to a potential violation.

For now, not too much has changed in the wake of Brexit. Every aspect of data collection has the potential to be renegotiated. Privacy Shield has not yet gone into effect, so most companies are using the EU’s GDPR framework to govern their transatlantic personal data transfers.

It’s good for third-party marketing vendors to get in the habit of protecting information via hashing — the process of obfuscating all or part of the digital data. It’s an extra reassurance for third parties who might not have requested personal data from the EU but unwittingly received it, all the the same. Hashing is a solid way to protect data and also can make the retrieval process easier.

The takeaway.

With so many uncertainties, U.S. marketing agencies can be sure of one thing: Brexit means it almost certainly will cost more to comply with new rules for collecting personal data. Legal fees, compliance initiatives and added layers of security all will be factors. No matter how the future unfolds for the U.K. and the EU, there will be new challenges — and that means new expenditures.

The good news, of course, is that the U.K.’s departure from the EU could take several years to sort out. For domestic digital marketers, this means continuing to safeguard the personal data they obtain and familiarizing themselves with the GDPR.

4 Ways to Reach Customers with Coupons in a Digital Age

4 Ways to Reach Customers with Coupons in a Digital Age

4 Ways to Reach Customers with Coupons in a Digital Age

Everyone loves a deal. Realizing this, businesses have long used print-based discount offers such as coupons in newspapers to sell products. But, as consumers have increasingly obtained information online, businesses have seen an increase in consumers’ demand that these businesses shift all their marketing strategies to digital.

While there are still customers who clip paper coupons before heading out to shop at a brick-and-mortar, many more prefer to save while purchasing online. This has driven a gradual shift in the way businesses reach customers. Here are a few ways businesses use the internet to attract consumers looking for a deal.

Coupon codes

Online customers can’t present a paper coupon to a cashier at checkout, which drives the need for a way they can get the deal virtually. This is done through issuing exclusive “coupon codes,” which customers then paste into a field before entering their payment information. As a result, coupon code sites have emerged that allow customers to share coupon codes with anyone else visiting the site.

While some big brands may fight the public sharing of coupon codes, these sites can actually be great allies. Deal-seeking customers frequently search these sites for coupon codes they can use to get a great deal. Consider creating a generic coupon code with a longer expiration date that customers can share online, making your customers-only deals slightly more lucrative but with a shorter turnaround time.

Deal sites

Now that 81 percent of all customers research online before making a purchase, businesses can’t afford to be invisible online. Not only should retailers have their deals clearly visible on their websites, but they must find a way to make sure they show up on the deal sites customers use every day. The savviest of couponers usually have some of the most popular deal sites bookmarked, visiting them on a regular basis.

Look for deal sites that have a large follower base, along with regularly posted deals from major brands. The best sites also let customers sign up to receive deals in their inboxes on a regular basis, since this will capture those consumers who forget to check the site every day. Once you’re listed on deal sites, make sure your coupon codes remain active so you can avoid being reported and removed.

Loyalty cards

The value of loyalty cards goes beyond offering your customers a way to save money. The biggest benefit is that you’ll be able to collect data on each member’s habits. You’ll know exactly what those customers bought, which can be connected to whatever demographic information you collected at signup. In the end, you can use that data to inform your business decisions.

Loyalty cards can also generate an incentive for customers to choose your business over the competition. This is especially true if you have a points-based reward system. When customers know that each purchase helps them accrue points toward a future reward of some type, they’ll be more likely to choose to have lunch at your restaurant or buy from your online shop.

Group coupon sites

Group coupon sites seemed like an ingenious concept, at first. The goal was to require a minimum number of customers to “buy into” a deal before it could go live. This encouraged participants to forward the offer to their friends and family members on social media, which boosted the offering company’s exposure.

Over time, however, many brands found group coupon sites problematic, since they didn’t generate repeat business. If a customer participates solely to take advantage of a great deal, the business rarely sees a profit from that particular sale, and sometimes even experiences an accumulative loss. Group coupon sites can be a way to introduce your business to a wider customer base, but make sure your deal is set to allow you to make at least a small profit.

Coupons remain a great way to get the word out about your brand, whether you’re an online-only business or you have a local presence. It’s important to learn as much as possible about each option and choose the one that best fits your own business goals. Search for a route that will yield the most long-term customers at a minimal temporary loss to your business.

5 Steps to Build Your Global Ecommerce Site

5 Steps to Build Your Global Ecommerce Site

5 Steps to Build Your Global Ecommerce Site

Is your company ready to go global with ecommerce? Maybe it should be. Opportunities to sell globally are substantial and growing. While ecommerce retail sales in the United States are rising — expected to reach $523 billion in the next five years — that number is growing even more rapidly worldwide.

Globally, business-to-consumer (B2C) online sales is on pace to exceed $2 trillion by 2017. E-sales in Asia Pacific will surpass those in North America during that same year. The increased use of mobile devices in those regions, plus better payment systems and advanced shipping methods, are contributing to this trend. Consumers in many overseas markets can’t get the products they want in local markets. This presents a huge opportunity for U.S. retailers.

But launching overseas isn’t easy. If you think you’re ready to expand your online retail footprint across borders, you need to consider some important factors.

1. Assess supply and demand.

To get a clearer picture of your probability for success in other markets, first assess your business from the local point of view in your product’s new space. Conduct a regional analysis around local competitors, product demand, pricing and consumer behavior.

According to ecommerce provider Pitney Bowes, organizations “need to make sure they have a full understanding of what they’re selling today and the current demand” in international markets. This knowledge will help you home in on the size of the market that exists, the supply-and-demand dynamic for your product and the price at which it can be sold.

For example, McKinsey found that most online spending in China can be attributed to just a handful of online retail segments: apparel, recreation, education and household products. This presents an undeniable opportunity within these markets. Similarly, another study discovered that Australia is one of the strongest markets for U.S.-based online retail. The duty threshold and minimal local supply allow goods to move across borders at an affordable cost. These early learnings either enable ecommerce operations to succeed abroad or doom them to fail in far-flung places.

2. Localize your product.

Businesses that launch physical products in international markets usually need to augment or adapt their solutions to support local preferences. Many U.S.-based businesses have failed to bring existing products to new markets because company leaders think that aggressive marketing or pricing can change entrenched cultural appetites.

One of the most famous examples is Mattel, the toy powerhouse. It failed to launch Barbie in China several years ago due to just such a disconnect. According to reports, Barbie’s look wasn’t attractive to Chinese women. Mattel disregarded local consumer tastes, including the “cutesy … pink clothes” aesthetic popularized by Hello Kitty. The “sexy” Western Barbie was simply off-putting. Mattel poured resources into the market, and Barbie has since rebounded in China. However, this type of mistake would be insurmountable for smaller companies.

3. Localize your site.

Authentic localization is a crucial driver for regionalized sales. Your ecommerce site experience should reflect the time and care you spent customizing the product itself. Consumers won’t make a purchase if they don’t understand your product or can’t tune in to your message. In fact, 87 percent of consumers who can’t read English won’t purchase products or services from an English-language website, while 60 percent of global customers rarely buy on English-language sites.

Believe it or not, some companies rely on Google translate to approximate different languages when expanding internationally. According to Russell Goldsmith, Director at U.K. translation company Conversis, this type of website shortcut is a mistake.

“If you care about your audience in that local territory, you could end up making things worse for yourself because anyone who speaks that language will see that it’s been automated, and that it’s not perfect for their language,” Goldsmith says.

Recruit a local team to help your ecommerce experience adapt to a new market. Make certain your message translates to appeal to consumers in terms of language, style, tone, shopping habits and terminology. It’s also a good idea to include a glossary of terms for translators to keep your brand’s messaging intact.

4. Set prices accordingly.

When you enter a new market, you must price based on local currency. But price points that work in the United States don’t always work elsewhere. Competitive pricing is important in any market — and it’s determined by the local environment. More than half of consumers give more attention to an ecommerce site that has goods at local prices.

Many factors contribute to local pricing in global markets. These include:

  • Cost to manufacture the product
  • Fluctuations in foreign currencies
  • Price an international customer will pay
  • Your competitors’ pricing
  • Local regulatory or tax environment

It’s also important to support each region’s preferred payment method. While it’s exhausting to track so many purchasing habits, it can positively affect how your product sells. According to Ontraport, 50 percent of Germans prefer paying with bank transfers, while many Chinese customers favor the international payment platform Alipay.

If a customer tries to buy an international product and doesn’t see a preferred payment option, she or he probably will leave your site and look elsewhere. Offering a wide range of payment tools increases your product’s global reach.

5. Focus on privacy and customer data.

If you’re building a global ecommerce site, you must understand how privacy and customer data pertains to overseas consumers. Customers want to know their privacy is being protected. They need reassurance their personal information won’t be used for unrelated business without their consent.

Cyber safety is a huge problem plaguing modern ecommerce. According to a Norton study, 40 percent of mobile shoppers in the Middle East and North Africa have been victims of cyber crimes. And 71 percent reported observing digital attacks in their region. Alternatively, European consumers are notoriously protective about their privacy online.

Put privacy front-and-center in messaging across your site experience to allay these fears. And back up those words by investing in the technology to keep customers’ private information, private. You’ll want a team in place to manage compliance and other security and privacy-related costs. An EU study points out two of the biggest challenges in cross-border trade: (1) the expenses synonymous with consumer-protection rules and contract law and (2) the costs of fraud and non-payment.

Expanding into the global ecommerce arena can be a challenging yet profitable new step for established and emerging brands alike. Keep the right priorities in mind to minimize the bumps, and you’ll accelerate your success in a new corner of the international online marketplace.

9 Things True Thought Leaders Always Do

9 Things True Thought Leaders Always Do

9 Things True Thought Leaders Always Do

Thought leadership is a form of influence and marketing. In today’s growth-hacking startup culture, thought leaders are more respected and recognized than ever before.

Entrepreneurs are movers, shakers, innovators, disrupters and creators. They don’t follow the beaten path; they blaze their own trail. With this kind of chutzpah, entrepreneurs possess the character and persona to become thought leaders — good ones.

Here’s what entrepreneurs need to know before assuming the mantle of “thought leader.” These are the nine things that true thought leaders always do.

1. Stay current on social media.

Thought leaders need to keep a pulse on the culture generally, and the tenor of their niche particularly.

A thought leader, for example, is going to know what #thedress is all about, and will probably even toss in a tweet or two for good measure.

Beyond the cultural flash-in-the-pan, however, a thought leader understands how to leverage the technology of social media to enhance her thought leadership influence. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ — all of these can push the thoughts of a thought leader farther, as long as she knows how to use them effectively.

2. Maintain a blog.

Ah, the blog. As an inveterate decade-long blogger, I have a hard time not singing the praises and virtues of blogging. It’s been my method for building business, spreading the word, and, I hope, becoming a force for good.

I know of very few thought leaders who do not actively maintain a blog. There are some very influential entrepreneurs without one. In spite of their leadership, however, they don’t necessarily purport to be thought leaders.

A true thought leader must have a platform for broadcasting those thoughts. The best platform for that purpose is a blog.

If you aspire to thought leadership, I recommend as a first step that you secure your spot on the web — yourname.com is best, but you can go for a variation of your name if you have a common name (Example: DaveSmithTheActor.com). One of the simplest online publishing tools to use is WordPress.

3. Voice their opinions.

One of the terms for “thought leaders” is “opinion leadership.” Thoughts and opinions go hand-in-hand.

This means that you must voice your opinions. Second, that your thoughts should influence others’ opinions on a given topic.

Being opinionated is often seen as the domain of rude or arrogant people. In reality, it is possible to be kind, generous and gentle, and still hold very strong opinions.

4. Say quotable stuff.

One of the reasons why thought leaders are so well known is because they say things that are jaw-droppingly true, strikingly clear, and oh-so quotable.

Guy Kawasaki, for example, has several powerful one-liners. People like to quote him because he speaks truth with a sizzle. Take this one:

“You can’t sit by the side of a river and expect a roast duck to fly into your mouth.”

And this one:

“Great companies start because the founders want to change the world…not make a fast buck.”

Such powerful and pithy quotations are powerful tools for spreading thought better and faster than you thought possible.

5. Possess a track record.

One does not become a thought leader out of nowhere. Such leadership must grow from the soil of hard work, true experience and moderate success.

You don’t have to found Google or publish a bestseller in order to join the ranks of thought leaders, but you do have to have some respect. Where does such respect come from?

It comes from doing the very thing for which you want to be a thought leader. For example, if you want to be a thought leader among social-media entrepreneurs, then you should have some experience starting a social-media company.

The moment you step onto the pedestal, people will start examining the base of the pedestal, asking, “How did you get there? What are your qualifications?”

Make sure that they see something true, worthy and respectable.

6. Speak at events.

The best thought leaders are well known for their excellent performance at big venues and other major industry events.

Such speaking events are invitation-only, but you can start small. Less popular speaking events are accessible to entry-level thought leaders. Local meetups, community colleges, and Google+ hangouts are excellent places to sharpen your speaking ability and build your speaker’s portfolio.

7. Have a personal branding strategy.

Thought leaders understand the value of personal branding. For them, they engage in personal branding for a specific purpose — not just to get an narcissistic kick out of life.

Their purpose is streamlined and intentional. Thought leaders use their personal branding to build entire businesses from scratch. A personal brand becomes more important than just a personal platform. It is a position of influence in order to back up their position of thought leadership.

Second, they engage in personal branding like it matters. True personal branding requires significant amounts of time and effort. It’s not some haphazard, second-thought, tweet-if-you-have-time approach.

Personal branding takes the same amount of time, cost and effort as it does to brand a business. And it’s just as important.

8. Have influential friends.

It’s hard to say whether having powerful friends makes thought leaders, or is an effect of being a thought leader. Chances are it’s both.

Make friends with people who will help you to become a better person. But don’t just leech off them. Give to them.

Friendship is a two-way street, and you have to do your part to prove that such a relationship is beneficial.

9. Think strategically.

“Strategy” is a word that’s often bandied about, but seldom truly understood, especially when it applies to thought leadership.

Many people want to be a thought leader, but do not understand its significance — what it requires of them, and what leadership in their context truly means.

In order to be effective as a strategy, thought leaders must be intentional about why they are engaging in thought leadership.

The answer to the why will influence the practice of the how.

Conclusion:  Thought leaders are generous.

In this article, I’ve focused on the characteristics of thought leaders that help to build and establish a brand and reputation. In so doing, I’ve left out a crucial component. Now is the time where I want to insist on a final trait that you will observe in every respected thought leader.

Thought leaderships are generous and giving people. They are generous with their time, their talents, their money and their advice.

I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as a respected leader who is rude and stingy. Leaders give intentionally and strategically, making sure that their generosity does not compromise their integrity nor denigrate the recipient.

If you aren’t yet generous, that probably needs to change before you can gain the respect of others.

What trait have you observed in thought leaders?

5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

Your personal brand is how you appear to the world. Therefore, it serves to reason that a strong brand is preferable to one that is unpolished and uninteresting.

Once people know who you are and begin to identify you with a specific area of understanding or expertise, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the go-to person in your niche or industry.

The question is, how do you become more recognized? How do you build your authority and your following?

If you’re looking to build your personal brand, here are five ways to go about it.

1. Understand and be your authentic self.

Imagine how hard it would be to build a brand around your “fake” self. You would have to act a certain way, appear a certain way, and say certain things, regardless of how you felt about it. Some professionals suggest going about building a personal brand by shaping and molding what others see, but this is exhausting to maintain in the long run.

Your brand should be a reflection of who you are. Do you know what you believe? What you stand for? What your strengths and weaknesses are?

Never forget — people connect with other people. If you don’t appear to be a real person, or if it just looks like you’re faking it, how likely do you think others are to trust you? Even if they do buy into your fake persona for a while, the slightest bit of inconsistency could prove problematic.

Building a personal brand is first and foremost developing an understanding of your true self, and then sharing that with the world. Take your masks off and don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.

2. Speaking engagements.

If you’re looking to build your brand, then you should be speaking on a regular basis. Naturally, this will mean developing your communication skills. If you speak in exactly the same manner others do, you will never stand out from the crowd.

Speak from a place of knowledge and power. Show that you know what you’re talking about, and answer questions in a way that serves your audience.

Show that you are confident. Some may criticize or disagree with you. The important thing is to remain open to feedback. Thank others for sharing their views, and if the points they raised were legitimate, determine how you can improve and do better next time.

Speaking engagements are opportunities to be seen and heard. Start small, and keep building. You may not land high-quality speaking engagements off the bat, but if you keep swinging, you’ll build your following and get invited to speak at bigger, more notable events and conferences. Buckle down and offer the greatest amount of value you possibly can everywhere you go.

3. Write thought leadership articles and participate in interviews.

Thought leadership articles and interviews establish your credibility. As with speaking engagements, landing the best opportunities takes time and effort, but if you remain open to what comes your way, pretty soon you’ll be showing up everywhere.

Take a look at the press coverage we’ve received to date. Anybody who regularly hangs out online should be aware of many of the brands listed there, but even if they aren’t, they probably know about publications and media outlets like Fox News and Time. This shows that others see you as an authority.

In addition to that, here’s an example of an interview I’ve done, covering one of the topics FE International is most known for; selling websites.

Getting an “in” with the media, online publishers and publications can prove challenging. However, it is a powerful way to show that you know what you’re talking about. Every outlet you build a connection with increases your brand authority.

4. Build your online presence.

Do you know how you’re appearing and coming across online? This is something you’re going to want to monitor on an ongoing basis, and improve upon whenever and wherever possible.

Do you have social media profiles? If so, are they fully fleshed out with all of your information? Do they present you in the best light possible, and make you look professional? Are you using high-quality professional photography? Are you interacting with others and sharing their content?

Do you have a website for your personal brand? One of the best ways to rank in search for your name is to build a website. This gives you considerably more control over your online presence than social media. It can’t hurt to add new content to your site on a regular basis, either. You can get a domain with this GoDaddy coupon for just 99 cents – so there’s no excuse to delay. Try to buy your own name if you can.

Don’t forget to Google yourself regularly to see how you’re coming across, how others might be perceiving you, and what they’re saying about you. You’ll have a tough time building a great personal brand without making a real effort to monitor and tweak it.

5. Remain a student of your industry.

No matter how well you know your industry or area of expertise, it would be wise to remember that things are changing at a faster rate than ever before, and you have to stay up-to-date with the latest changes and trends.

It takes time to build your personal brand. If you fail to stay relevant, all of your effort will be wasted. If you don’t want to be discredited, then you’ll want to keep a steady supply of articles, trade journals, blogs, and books on hand.

It also pays to learn new things, develop new skills, and to expand your knowledge. If you’re not growing, then you’re stagnating, and that’s the last thing you want to do as an entrepreneur.

Odds are you already know how important it is to stay on top of your game, but a friendly reminder never hurt anyone.

As you begin to sharpen your personal brand, the right opportunities will start coming your way. People will begin to see that you’re know what you’re taking about, and they’ll invite you to be a part of their stories or news pieces.

However, don’t forget how important it is for you to have accomplished something yourself. You can’t talk about what you haven’t done, because that will take away from your personal brand. Be open about your shortcomings and weaknesses. This will make you all the more human and relatable.