27
Apr

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1
Dec

Fast Pay USA.com Cash Loan Apply Today Now

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23
Apr

10 cool 3D Printing Startups

3D Printing Startups

3D Printing Startups

Credit: Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock

In recent years, 3D printing technology has gone from a cutting-edge novelty to a growing and popular industry for new startups. Entrepreneurs and consumers alike can use 3D printers to create useful products ranging from jewelry and light fixtures to replicas of human tissue.This revolutionary manufacturing process allows startups to create fast, affordable prototypes to attract investors and set ideas in motion. Here are 10 startups blazing the 3D printing trail.

1. Natural Machines

Natural Machines

Credit: Natural Machines

The Natural Machines Foodini creates, as the company says, “real food. 3D printed.” Foodini uses real, fresh ingredients that are prepared before printing, with the main idea of promoting cooking with fresh ingredients. The company hopes to encourage people to create homemade food, when they would otherwise be discouraged to do so because it can be difficult and time-consuming.Foodini connects to the internet and has a built-in touch screen that allows users to choose recipes. Once the recipe is chosen, Foodini will instruct what food to put in each capsule, and then the printing begins. While Foodini is not available to the public yet, you can sign up for email notifications about the company’s progress.

2. SOLS

SOLS

Credit: SOLS

SOLS uses 3D printing, computer vision and data mapping to measure and analyze feet to make returning shoes for size issues a thing of the past. The company developed a system called SIZERIGHT that matches customer’s unique anatomy to the perfect shoe.SOLS has teamed up with RYKA to design a custom fit insole for the RykaFit Professional, and they hope to work with even more companies in the future to collaborate and create custom insoles for customers using their MAPP3D technology. Interested customers can sign up for exclusive access to the company’s private beta.

3. Banneya London

Banneya London

Credit: Banneya (Allegra Hicks Olive Branch Collection)

Launched in January of 2016, Banneya is a contemporary, customizable, made-to-order jewelry company that uses 3D printing for precious metals.Banneya says it is creating the “retailer of the future” with its digital modeling technology because it allows designers to create unique jewelry pieces made to order for each customer. All pieces can be customized and feature design elements that are impossible to create with traditional fabrication methods.

4. Food Ink

Food Ink

Credit: Food Ink

You’ve never seen a restaurant kitchen like this one: Food Ink has created the world’s first 3D-printing restaurant, meaning that everything from the food you eat to the furniture you sit on has been created using a 3D printer.The restaurants are in the pop-up stage, and had been solely in Europe until this year. They are planning a world tour, with major cities in the U.S. making the list. The dates haven’t been announced yet, but you can be sure the experience will be worth the wait.

5. Makies

Makies

Credit: Makies

Ever wish your kid could have a doll that’s completely custom-made to their liking? Makies uses 3D printing and other nu-manufacturing techniques to deliver customized and unique toys on demand.As the company relocates its manufacturing process to the U.S., online orders are temporarily suspended, but when it’s back up and running, customers can name their dolls, pick out their clothes, and any unique features that are desired. The company advises checking its website or contacting its customer service department to find out when Makies will be available again.

6. Organovo

Organovo

Credit: Organovo.com

Based on San Diego, Organovo is a biotech startup focused on the development of 3D printed biological materials, particularly human tissues. Since the company’s founding in 2007, it has pioneered research in 3D bioprinting, creating synthetic tissues that function just like real human tissues.Materials printed at Organovo help researchers study diseases and allow them to test the effects of drugs on human tissue without putting anyone at risk. The company is also working on printing materials – like liver tissue – that can be used to medical implants or replacements.

7. Pirate 3D

Pirate 3D

Credit: Pirate3D.com

Another startup making waves in the 3D printing world is Pirate 3D, a Palo Alto-based company with dreams of bringing 3D printers into everyones’ home office.Another startup making waves in the 3D printing world is Pirate 3D, a Palo Alto-based company with dreams of bringing 3D printers into everyone’s home office.After a Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $1.5M, the company recently launched its Buccaneer desktop printer, which makes it easy for first-timers to print their first 3D project. With the Windows, Android or iOS app, users can print objects wirelessly via their home WiFi network.

8. Spuni

Spuni

Credit: Spuni.com

No one has ever been accused of being born with a 3D-printed spoon in their mouth – until now. Spuni, the ergonomically designed baby spoon, was created by two MIT grads fed up with the mess that accompanies feeding a baby from a regular spoon.To make their Spuni dreams come true, the product’s creators used 3D printing to design and perfect a prototype that they could test on hungry babies. After a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2016, the company raised enough money to produce its first round of spoons, which can be ordered online and shipped to your doorstep.

9. XJet

XJet

Credit: XJET

XJet is an Israel-based 3D printing company focused on creating metal parts for manufacturing purposes by employing sealed cartridges of liquid material. Other metal printers rely on dust filings, which are loaded into the printer by hand, while XJet has pioneered the use of liquid metal as a more affordable alternative.The company’s vision is to revolutionize the manufacturing industry by replacing the current methods of printing metal parts, bringing more cost-effective components to the market. XJet first released its “Nanoparticle Jetting” technology in May 2016.

10. Shapeways

Shapeways

Credit: Shapeways.com

Founded in 2007, Shapeways is a virtual 3D printing marketplace for making, buying and selling 3D-printed creations. Shop owners- or anyone else with a 3D-printable idea- can build a virtual model of their product and have it printed by Shapeways.From sterling silver jewelry to the world’s tiniest Rubik’s cube, Shapeways has a host of beautiful- and weird- items for sale. When you order something from a shop, Shapeways prints it, ships it and compensates the shop owner.

This modern marketplace is popular with 3D enthusiasts all over the world and provides a great platform for designers that want to create innovative products or prototypes without spending all their money on manufacturing.

23
Apr

10 Fun (and Cheap!) Gifts for Your Boss

10 Fun (and Cheap!) Gifts for Your Boss

Gifts for your boss

Gifts for your boss

Credit: I wave/Shutterstock

Buying a gift for a boss any time of the year can be precarious. You don’t want to spend too much and appear to be pining to be the favorite. You don’t want to spend too little and come off as cheap either.

Patricia Rossi, a business etiquette coach says to remember not to purchase anything too personal, like perfume or lingerie.

“It should go without saying, but I have seen multiple instances of this,” she said.

“Thoughtfulness should always be in the forefront of your mind when purchasing gifts,” she said. “Always be kind. It will come back to you.”

Try these 10 gifts the next time you need to purchase one for your boss.

Make a charitable donation, $25 or more

Make a charitable donation, $25 or more

Credit: SmallToken.org

Sometimes giving no physical gift is the best one. By donating to a charity in need of the client’s choice, your company shows its willingness to take others into account. Make a donation directly to a nonprofit or use the app Small Token, which was created to make charitable giving easy, by allowing people to make charitable gifts on behalf of others and to any registered nonprofit in the US. Users can log in through the website or app – type in the organization, donation amount, and recipient information and click go. Small Token/Give Lively do not keep any of the proceeds, according to the site.

Rechargeable power cell power bank, $10

Rechargeable power cell power bank, $10

Credit: BedBathandBeyond.com

Everyone’s phone dies, and sometimes you’re not near an outlet to charge it. So give the gift of peace of mind on a busy workday. Reduce phone-battery stress with a power bank. This accessory is compatible with iPhones and Android phones, in addition to tablets, digital cameras and GPS units.

Wooden Earbuds with Microphone, $10

Wooden Earbuds with Microphone, $10

Credit: Amazon

Does your boss complain about not having headphones in the office? Outfit them with these stylish wooden ear buds with a microphone to answer calls on the fly. According to Amazon, the headphones are hi-performance and noise isolating ear tips eliminate ambient noise.

iTunes or Google Play gift card, $5-$15

iTunes or Google Play gift card, $5-$15

Credit: Shutterstock

Your boss can’t listen to music on new headphones without a great playlist. Gift them with the ability to purchase music and listen to what gets their wheels turning and the brainstorming going. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, just enough buy a few songs or an album of choice.

Doodling for Dog People, $11

Doodling for Dog People, $11

Credit: Amazon

Does your boss have a creative side or would you like to help them relax by trying something new? Gift them a book that helps them doodle. According to Amazon, Doodling for Dog People is designed to appeal to seasoned artists and doodle enthusiasts alike. Packed with more than 50 fun and inspirational prompts, doodling exercises, and canine-related factoids. Not a dog person? Doodle your favorite feline floofs with Doodling for Cat People.

Gifts for fans, $6-$20

Gifts for fans, $6-$20

Credit: Etsy.com

Is your boss a Gilmore Girls die hard or maybe absolutely loves Batman? Search for unique and handcrafted items on Etsy. If they’re not huge into pop culture, you can always consider finding something related to their favorite sports team. Break away from the normal and give them something unique!

Buy a book, $5-$25

Buy a book, $5-$25

Credit: Barnes & Noble

Ever hear your boss talk about the latest release from his or her favorite author, or know of your boss’s favorite genre? Purchasing a book is thoughtful but not too personal. If you’re unsure of what your boss wants or if you know your supervisor would be disinterested in a coffee-table book, purchase a gift card from the local bookstore.

Royal Dansk® 32 oz. Danish Butter Cookies Tin, $5

Royal Dansk® 32 oz. Danish Butter Cookies Tin, $5

Credit: BedBathAndBeyond.com

Royal Dansk has a habit of coming around every holiday season. It’s a family events, friend’s parties and it doesn’t feel like the season without it. Sometimes during the rest of the year, we just want a little taste of those memories. Gift your boss with the sweet treat that will put them in a great mood.

Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, $6

Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, $6

Credit: Peets.com

It’s hard to resist coffee, it’s even harder to resist chocolate covered espresso beans from Peet’s Coffee. According to the site, the beans are the company’s own deep-roasted Costa Rica coffee beans lavished in premium dark chocolate. Give your boss a boost and satisfy their sweet tooth.

Mini Succulents, $16

Mini Succulents, $16

Credit: World Market

Spruce up your boss’s office with some plants, even if they’re faux (less maintenance). Gift your boss these tiny plants to brighten their desk or home office. They’re small enough to fit whatever space your boss may have and don’t need watering. According to the site, the plants are potted with gravel and nestled in shapely cement pots, the quartet are lifelike mini succulents cheers up windowsills and other surfaces in an assortment of styles and colors.

23
Apr

6 Ways to Win Over Startup Investors

6 Ways to Win Over Startup Investors

6 Ways to Win Over Startup Investors

Credit: Nito/Shutterstock

If you’re looking for startup investors, having a good business idea is only half the battle. You won’t convince them based on your idea alone. The person deciding whether your business is worthy of their investment requires a well-thought-out plan, with details about the business, its growth potential, target market and more.

Business News Daily spoke with Michael Mocatta, partner and COO of Neta Ventures, and Keri Gohman, president of online accounting software company Xero Americas, about investor pitch meetings and how to ensure the relationship is a win-win for you and your investors.

Benchmarks for raising venture capital have gone up over time as the cost of product development has decreased, said Gohman. Investors need to see a realistic business model and, in many cases, some initial traction. They also want to see how well the business has been thought out, an acute understanding of the business’s unit economics, and the lifetime value and cost of customer acquisition.

“Investors like to fund growth, rather than product development,” Gohman said. “A startup needs to be able to show an investor month-over-month growth over a certain period.”

Your team is what makes your idea happen, and potential investors are looking at the people behind the idea.

“When fundraising, it’s important for business owners to show that they’ve been able to recruit a team, inspire the team to develop a solid product, a small subset of people who like using the product, and that the product has grown toward product-market fit,” Gohman said.

Mocatta noted that a common mistake is presenting yourself to a potential investor with a missing link, such as when you’re still looking for the “tech guru.”

“You’ll stand out for the right reasons if the people on your team have experience as well as contacts,” he said. “A diverse team with complementary strengths is what will turn an idea into reality.”

Entrepreneurs who live and breathe details of innovation find it hard to distill a concept into a simple idea that grabs the imagination of investors. You need to condense the vision of the business into a clear benefit that is compelling and dramatic, said Mocatta. A tagline is even more succinct than an elevator pitch, he added, so have this worked out and memorized before presenting your vision to others.

To define a meaningful vision, Gohman advises going beyond the business’s day-to-day operations and think about the “why.”

“A business with a true vision empowers those involved, giving them a reason to wake up in the morning,” Gohman said. “A vision should be used as a north star, guiding an organization in everything it does: hiring, development, customer acquisition, [etc.].”

Having a plan and some initial traction for distributing your product or service is not a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have, said Gohman.

“An entrepreneur needs to have clarity on what they’re selling to their customer and how they’ll reach them,” she said.

Gohman suggested running a few test scenarios to understand how your distribution and demand work. Ideally you should have initial partners or contracts locked down to demonstrate that the business idea can get off the ground.

“I often suggest starting with a retail channel niche and then building the product backward,” added Mocatta. “Where do you want to sell your product? Answer that question and then build your product specifically for that market.”

Gohman said that one of the most important parts of being investor-ready is already having finances in order.

“Business owners should establish a relationship with a banker and an accountant so they have a clear understanding of where the business stands,” she said. “Using a platform that has deep integrations with banks allows business owners to simply and quickly compile high-integrity financial data and give investors a clear, up-to-date view on how the startup is tracking and the company’s true financial position.”

So how much should you ask for? Mocatta pushes startups to ask for only what they need, and change their pitches to focus on a very specific goal, such as getting past proof of concept. Later on, they can do a second round of fundraising, he said.

Investors typically look for equity in your company in exchange for their investment. As you go through multiple rounds of startup funding, your share of the company will be diluted – and this is a mistake you should avoid at all costs, said Mocatta.

“By the time you’ve grown, we see founders left with only 5 or 10 percent of their company,” he said. “In the end, the CEO doesn’t even have sufficient skin in the game to promote a brand’s success. If you don’t maintain a large stake in the company, your ‘voice’ will be diluted and other shareholders could outvote you.”

23
Apr

Cash In on Cannabis: Emerging Business Opportunities in the Industry

Cash In on Cannabis: Emerging Business Opportunities in the Industry

Cash In on Cannabis: Emerging Business Opportunities in the Industry

Credit: Lumppini/Shutterstock

The cannabis industry has exploded in size and scope as more states moved to legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis last year. In 2016 alone, the industry brought in $6.9 billion, which represented a 30 percent increase over the previous year, according to Arcview Market Research. That number is projected to increase to $21.6 billion by 2021.

So, is 2017 the year that you should get involved in the cannabis industry? Here’s a quick overview of the current market, along with tips and ideas from industry professionals to help get you started.

The cannabis industry seems unstoppably ascendant at the moment. Medicinal marijuana is now legal in 28 states plus D.C., while recreational marijuana is legal in eight states plus D.C., which opens the doors for a lot of new business opportunities.

“There is a lot more to happen as far as development in industry,” Ben Larson, co-founder of cannabis-focused accelerator Gateway, told Business News Daily. “Now is the time to get in.”

However, there are some question marks around regulation and enforcement. Federally, cannabis remains an illegal, Schedule 1 substance and enforcement practices are ultimately subject to the whims of the presiding administration.

Federal prohibition also presents some issues when it comes to banking, leading major institutions to often hesitate when cannabis businesses apply to open an account or seek financing. Moreover, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has historically expressed hostility toward legalized cannabis. That means there is some uncertainty on the horizon that should be considered before you commit to any large investments.

Currently, the Department of Justice’s Cole Memorandum is the guiding enforcement document, which essentially states that the federal government will defer to state law except in specific cases, such as selling cannabis to children or dealing with organized crime. Many within the industry believe that this will continue to be the standard by which federal prohibition is enforced.

“There’s been no action against folks since [the Cole Memorandum was issued],” David Feldman, partner at law firm DuaneMorris, said. “Congress has since added to the annual appropriations bill amendments directing no federal dollars be used to interfere with people complying with their state laws.”

And if the cannabis industry is allowed to grow unabated, there will be billions more up for grabs in the coming years. As the industry matures, getting started will become increasingly more difficult and cost prohibitive. A gamble now could potentially pay off later.

“I still believe the industry is going to continue to be one of the largest growth markets in the nation,” Matt Hawkins, founder and managing principal at private equity firm Adjacent Capital, said. “We’ll probably see some surprise states open up in the southeast, and in the next two or three years, we’ll see upwards of 40 plus states with some type of medicinal law in place.”

Launching a company that cultivates or sells cannabis can be quite expensive after navigating the licensing and regulatory landscapes, which can be discouraging to entrepreneurs wanting to enter the industry. However, like any other industry, there are plenty of ancillary businesses in the cannabis space that are essential to maintaining and improving the current industry standards.

Larson’s startup accelerator Gateway works mostly with these companies. Instead of working with “traditional” cannabis businesses like growers or dispensaries, Gateway works with companies like GrowX, an ag-tech company focused on delivering a high-efficiency, artificial intelligence-controlled aeroponics system.

J.P. Martin, co-founder and CEO of GrowX, believes that, long-term, the cannabis industry will be “a race to the bottom, where companies focused on efficiencies and margins will survive.” The endgame, Martin said, is to reduce waste in the growing process and monitor conditions with AI, enabling cultivators to deliver precisely the level of care needed at precisely the right time.

Not every business emerging in the space is so high-tech, though. Gateway also works with a company called Good Co-op, which is focused on delivering high-quality edible treats infused with cannabis.

Good Co-op sources the best ingredients they can find, just as if they were creating any other gourmet treat. The result is a low-dosage cannabis brownie treat that tastes like dessert and accommodates even the most tepid first-time user.

“In 2017, we expect 14 million people to try cannabis for the first time,” Peter Cervantes, co-founder and R&D chef, said. “All those individuals will want a low dose, because they aren’t sure what their tolerance is. We want something that is easily accessible, and not confusing or intimidating.”

GrowX and Good Co-op are both different degrees removed from the plant itself; Good Co-op uses cannabis directly in its product, while GrowX is entirely on the periphery, but neither actually grows or sells the plant itself. There’s a huge sea of possible businesses that occupy this arm’s-length space in the cannabis industry. Whether its software solutions, like “the Yelp of cannabis” Weedmaps, or something more simple like contracting or distribution companies specializing in the cannabis industry, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved.

According to Hawkins, who manages a cannabis fund invested in a dozen diverse companies, some sectors of the industry are lacking and ripe for newcomers to step in. One such area, he said, is distribution.

“One of the major opportunities in the space … is a pure distribution model,” Hawkins said. “Right now there’s really just wholesale and retail, without much in between.”

Larson agreed: “A company we’ve not yet been able to work with is someone actually doing the physical distribution; something like the FedEx of the industry.”

Another area that’s lacking in the industry at large is education. Whether its training employees on the proper protocols and the regulatory environment or educating consumers on cannabis itself, there is currently a void that needs filling.

“We’ll need something similar to the educational messaging you see for alcohol and tobacco,” Hawkins said.

For Feldman, there’s still plenty of time for aspirational startups in every sector to get in the game. The industry is still young and growing, meaning opportunities still exist and new ones will appear as it matures.

“We’re about two years away from being too late to get in early,” Feldman said. “It’s not too late to be a newcomer to this industry. What you want to do is, like in any other new business, learn about the industry as much as possible first.”

As time moves on, Larson said expect some consolidation in the industry. However, that shouldn’t discourage startups with innovative ideas in sectors like software, biotech and even hardware solutions like lighting or climate control systems.

“Most certainly there will be consolidation; in three to five years, we’ll see a lot of mid-sized companies wrapping up smaller companies,” he said. “And we get a lot of questions like ‘Am I too late to enter the industry? Are the good ideas done?’ We’re just at the beginning. If this is a baseball game, we’re in the second inning.”

If owning and investing doesn’t interest you, jobs within the legal cannabis industry are plentiful. Jobs in the industry are diverse and range from $12 per hour to more than $100,000 per year, and the growing demand for labor is expected to continue rising through 2020. A report from industry analyst New Frontier Data projects the cannabis industry will create 250,000 jobs by 2020. Jobs boards like 420Careers and WeedHire can help connect prospective cannabis industry workers with open positions.

23
Apr

Email Smarter With These Gmail and Outlook Plugins

Email Smarter With These Gmail and Outlook Plugins

Email Smarter With These Gmail and Outlook Plugins

Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Despite all the predictions that email would eventually be replaced by something better, that just doesn’t seem to be happening. No matter how hard companies like Slack and others try to kill it off, email keeps winning.

The best way to manage the daily deluge is to get some digital elves to assist in powering through those tasks. With third-party inbox plugins, you can get some help with writing better emails, creating a better system to keep in touch with your contacts, and saving those essential messages for quick retrieval.

Popular business email clients Gmail and Outlook have an extensive inventory of plugins that are ready to jump right in and get to work. If you want to email smarter and spend less time at it, here are five solid options to check out.

Boomerang is common among both Gmail and Outlook users because of how much data it can give about your inbox and those who respond to (or just ignore) your messages. This plugin lets you schedule emails, snooze them for later, get those all-important read receipts, and create follow-up reminders for those who put your emails on snooze.

The free tier gives you the basic feature set, but the real essentials like mobile tools and advanced machine learning require one of the premium subscriptions that start at $4.99 monthly.

This one’s exclusively for Gmail, and it offers a 21st century version of what was once known as a tickler file – a file folder where you put the stuff that you needed to get back to. FollowUp.cc will pull up previous messages, let you add in notes about contacts, and schedule nudges to keep in touch with others.

After the 14-day trial, you’ll need to pony up for a subscription plan starting at $18 per month. There’s also an edition that integrates with Salesforce data, though that’s priced at $40 monthly. There’s a deep amount of integration with the popular CRM software, so if your company is a heavy user of Salesforce services, it may be worth looking at.

The world of business requires that you use confident language, even if that’s not exactly how you’re feeling. This handy Chrome extension (Gmail only) called Just Not Sorry aims to help you do that. Phrases like “I just wanted to know” and “sorry about that” are flagged so you can avoid using them in your messages. You might be surprised at how often such phrases can creep into your language, and this app helps you banish them.

Evernote remains a popular organizational tool that also includes several collaboration features. Given how much information comes across via email, a one-click way to save something into Evernote can be very valuable.

Evernote makes a plugin for Outlook, and another for Chrome that will perform this same function with Gmail. Once you save a message, you can add it to a notebook, tag it and throw in a few notes for yourself.

The process of printing out, scanning and returning a document that needs to be signed feels like it belongs in the last decade. DocuSign is a workable solution. There’s a plugin for both Gmail and Outlook that allows you to add your digital signature to a document without the need to fire up the printer.

The plugins streamline the process so you can both send and receive such file types. Sending out files will require one of the company’s monthly plans, but it could be a worthwhile value for those in real estate or other industries that require a lot of authorization.

23
Apr

Best Dell Business Laptops 2017

Best Dell Business Laptops 2017

Best Dell Business Laptops 2017

As the third largest laptop manufacturer in the world, Dell commands 15 percent market share. Many business owners choose Dell over other brands because of the company’s comprehensive warranties, business-focused designs and accessible entry-level price points. When we set out to recommend our five favorite Dell laptops to our business readers, we wanted to cover as many bases as possible. We know that every business is different, so we segmented our selection to appeal to casual emailers, multitasking professionals, hardcore power users and everyone in between.

 

 

Dell XPS 13 (2017)

The XPS 13 is, hands down, the best Dell business laptop on the market. It’s not only one of the nicest-looking machines that the manufacturer has produced in the last several years, but it’s one of the most versatile and affordable as well. You can purchase the XPS 13 in a touch or non-touch model, but either way, you’re sure to be taken with the dazzling InfinityEdge display, great resolution (1920 x 1080), long battery life (13 hours, 49 minutes) and fast processing capabilities. The no-frills starting price is surprisingly low at just $799.99, but upgrading to Windows 10 Pro and an i5 core, which we recommend, will cost you a little extra.

 

 

Dell Latitude 7280

The New Latitude 7280 is an unmistakable workhorse of a machine, and it’s the clear choice for Dell users who require power and durability in equal measure. Don’t be tricked into the starting price of $1,029 on the Dell Latitude 7280. Most professionals would do well to upgrade to the pricier $1,830 model that we tested, which includes an Intel Core i7 and Windows 10 Pro. The New Latitude makes multitasking a breeze and offers a variety of docking options, which is perfect for professionals who want a specific workstation setup. It also boasts business-grade service options such as ProSupport Plus, ProDeploy Plus and Accidental Damage Service.

Best Value in a Dell Business LaptopDell Latitude 15 3570

Starting at just $439, the Latitude 15 3570 offers solid performance for the business professional who needs a reliable machine that won’t break the bank. The 15.6-inch screen is ideal for all-day work usage despite being fairly low-resolution (1366 x 768). The variety of ports, including an SD card slot, HDMI and multiple USB ports, make the Latitude 15 3570 surprisingly versatile. While bulkier and heavier (4.54 pounds) than Dell’s higher-end machines, the Latitude 15 3570 gets the job done, and the optional six-cell battery extends the battery life to an impressive 10 hours. If you opt for the Latitude 15 3570, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the $659 version so you can enjoy the benefit of Windows 7 Pro, a license for Windows 10 Pro and an i5 Core.

 

 

Dell Chromebook 13

If you’re looking to make the switch to a Chromebook for work, the Dell Chromebook 13 is a great choice. The 13.3-inch HD display, comfortable keyboard and ridiculously long battery life (more than 13 hours) combine to make it ideal for working in the office or on the go. With a low $449 starting price point and an attractive aluminum and carbon chassis, it’s got the stylish good looks you want in a professional-grade Chromebook at a price that allows for some add-ons.

 

 

Dell Precision 5510

If you need a high-performance workstation, the Dell Precision 5510 has you covered. The starting price is a little higher than other models on our list ($1,279), but the super-fast SSD, spectacular display (1920 x 1080) with miniscule bezel, and powerful dual speakers make it well worth the money. The Dell Precision 5510 can handle all the heavy graphics work you throw at it and multitask like a champ. The battery life is just under seven hours, but for a sleek workstation with this much horsepower (the starting model comes with an i5 Core but can be upgraded to a Xeon Quad), that’s not bad.

23
Apr

Small Business Snapshot: Kenway Consulting

Small Business Snapshot: Kenway Consulting

Small Business Snapshot: Kenway Consulting Credit: Kenway Consulting

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Brian King, president and CEO of Kenway Consulting, explains how this image represents his business.

In 2004, after nine years of working for one of the consulting industry’s global giants, I decided it was time to go out on my own and start the company for which I always wanted to work. Kenway Consulting, a Chicago-based management and technology consulting firm, was born.

At Kenway, we operate under the general philosophy of “always doing, under all circumstances, what is right” and believe that the means to success is actually more important than success itself. Each employee promises to uphold a set of Guiding Principles, oaths, if you will, that focus on integrity, quality, value and respect. It’s these Guiding Principles that continue to inspire and motivate us to find new and innovative ways to support our community.

I started Kenway because I believed there was an alternative to what I was seeing in the consulting landscape. I believed there was a way to focus on delivery, and let sales and growth be by-products of being good and spreading the word. I believed there was a way to focus on always doing right, even if that meant dips in revenue, believing that in the long run, growth would result from the integrity and good will that permeated. I believed there was a way to hire and retain talented personnel by focusing less on corporate goals, and more on the unique personal and professional goals of each employee. These were the attributes of the company for which I always wanted to work, and I knew that leading with culture was the best—and right—way to run a business. I was one person. I found one client. And I hoped that doing right would lead to more. And it has.

This photo symbolizes much of what Kenway represents as a company. We’ve hosted a golf outing each of the past seven years to raise money for a local charity, and this picture was taken at our 2016 event.  Kenway’s Shara Scheibe, who at the time had been an employee for only 4 months, is featured with her husband, Adam. Neither of them plays golf and employee attendance was not required. Despite these facts, Shara, her husband, and 90 percent of the Kenway team elected to come out that (rainy) Saturday to volunteer for Alive Rescue, a Chicago non-profit that serves as a rescue and safe haven for animals.  We raised $30,000 helping Phinney, the adult dog in the photograph who had been rescued from a Puppy Mill and sheltered by Alive Rescue, find his forever home.

What’s next for Kenway? Undoubtedly, some challenges still stand before us, not the least of which is being viewed with similar street credentials as those same industry giants that inspired me to start Kenway.  But from our modest means and thanks to our 40-plus employees’ efforts, we are on pace to achieve our five-year plan targeted for completion in 2020. In terms of culture, size, impact and location, Kenway’s employees are marching our company towards a shared vision that despite its documented outcomes, is focused squarely on the means to get there. We view our past with learnings, and look to our future with excitement, and hope to find some furry forever homes along the way.

23
Apr

Closing the Wage Gap: Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

Closing the Wage Gap: Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

Closing the Wage Gap: Salary Negotiation Tips for Women

Credit: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Most professionals have been asked about their current salary during a job interview. This question allows companies to base your new salary offer on your company’s identification of your worth, rather than what your actual market worth.

Because of this discrepancy, the salary question makes it easier for employers to perpetuate the gender pay gap. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, in 2015, based on median hourly earnings, women earned 83 percent of what men earned in both full- and part-time positions. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 44 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2015.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to bar employers from asking about applicants’ salaries before offering them a job, the New York Times reported last year.

The law, which is set to go into effect in July 2018, will require hiring managers to state a compensation figure upfront — based on what an applicant’s worth is to the company, rather than on what he or she made in a previous position.

“Professionals should be paid based upon their skills, experience and the value they bring to a position, not by their negotiation skills or salary history,” said Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume. “The [Massachusetts law] is an important step to closing the wage gap between men and women of equal talents and abilities.”

New York City is following suit. As of April 5, the city approved a measure that will prohibit companies from asking job applicants about their previous salary history.

“Proponents of the law champion it as a way to eliminate the pay gap, arguing that an employer’s use of an applicant’s previous salary history could lead to gender-based wage discrimination,” Christine Hendrickson, co-chair of Seyfarth Shaw’s Pay Equity Group and senior counsel, said in a statement. “The theory is that applicants would be paid based on their past earnings, rather than what they would be offered if judged on a blank slate.”

Hendrickson notes there is criticism of the bill because it’s believed that it will not eliminate any wage gap, but will instead create greater reliance on salary negotiation.

To further crack down on this initiative, the New York City Commission on Human Rights will be enforcing the new law, the statement said. The commission will impose a civil penalty of up to $125 for an unintentional violation, and up to $250,000 for an “intentional malicious violation.”

Though closing the gap through legislation is the first step, women have the power to demand change in their pay. However, according to Augustine, women are less likely to negotiate a job offer, setting themselves up to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their careers.

“Many women are scared to negotiate because they’re afraid of being considered too pushy,” Augustine said. “There is a fear that if they demand more money, the job offer will be revoked. They’re overly concerned about being polite, often to the detriment of their paychecks.”

In addition, Augustine said women often feel they need to prove their value before they can ask for more money. Men, on the other hand, often enter these conversations expecting to ask for, and receive, a better job offer.

“The fact of the matter is, if you don’t ask for what you want, you won’t get it,” Augustine said. “You have to negotiate.”

Regardless of gender, here are four tips from Augustine to help you negotiate the compensation package you deserve:

Do your homework. If you’re going to negotiate confidently, you need to be prepared. Research the market rate for your position by visiting Glassdoor.com, Salary.com and PayScale.com, accounting for the company’s location, size and industry.

Focus on your current and future value. What do you bring to the table? Make a list of your major contributions and accomplishments, quantifying them whenever possible. How have you (or will you be able to) cut costs, increase revenue, streamline efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, etc.?

Remember, it’s not personal. Negotiation isn’t about one person winning and the other losing. It’s about each party giving a little to keep or get what they want most. Leave emotions at the door. If you feel your emotions rising, hold off negotiating until you can pull it together.

Fake it till you make it. Confidence is essential to being a strong negotiator. You must exude self-assurance, even if you insecure or uncertain. Don’t apologize for negotiating – own it. Women often apologize when they’ve done nothing wrong and may be viewed as being weak or lacking conviction. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.

“Not every great employee is a great negotiator,” Augustine told Business News Daily. “If [you don’t] possess stellar negotiation skills, there’s no reason why you should tolerate earning less money than an equally qualified candidate who does.”