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Pitching Fear To Your Advantage

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Prior to being the founder and CEO of one of the world’s largest suppliers of nonstick coatings – multibillion-dollar conglomerate, GMM Nonstick Coatings, Ravin Gandhi was once an aspiring entrepreneur yet a fearful one. In the beginning of the venture, his biggest fear was answering the question, “What if it fails?”

An older, more experienced friend in the same field persuaded him that something out there is better than never knowing, that you just have to seek it out. With that, young Gandhi had a change of perspective, enough to look at his fear under a new light to turn it into his advantage.

Gandhi shares the common fears many prospective CEOs have confided in him over the years and giving insight into how one can switch such weaknesses to his own favor.

1. Know Your Size

As a startup, it can be belittling to look at the size of your competition. For Gandhi, his GMM could tremble at the sight of DuPont and their iconic Teflon brand or other multibillion-dollar behemoths ran by thousands of employees.

Powered by his 24/7 work ethic focused on relentlessly getting sales, Gandhi had to wander around trade shows with a rolling suitcase, however, only to end up with a lack of meetings.

In one event, he had to show up without prior notice with a prospective, stone-faced client (who reluctantly took the meeting). After going the extra mile to lend an ear and solve problems at a faster rate than other existing suppliers, the same client turned out to be GMM’s first multimillion-dollar account a year later.

Know your size, exploit your speed, and maximize your perks to create an edge.

2. Low Margins Can Be Your Friends

On the brink of closing one of the largest clients in the market, making an eight-digit annual spending and recurring revenue, Gandhi is no stranger to the risks of losing money on one’s account, more so when the sourcing manager declared the pricing that would let him win the business.

Still, Gandhi’s knowledge of innovation, supply chain optimization, and economies of scale brought him confidence to push his costs down, thus making him accept the purchase order. A couple years later, the client became fairly profitable to GMM, although its prices are still significantly lower than the rivals.

Gandhi said, “Low margins can be your friend if you have a credible path to increasing them in ways that do not affect your quality.”

3. Let Money Come & Go Rightly

Although investing in affordable talents to get the job done may seem like the better option over highly skilled but pricey employees, GMM still made proactive investments in personnel that are well-versed in their craft, however, with the tradeoff of frowning on the monthly payroll. With time, GMM took off with profitable growth that in many cases, resulted from opportunities brought in by its top performers.

Never mistake micromanaging for remarkable leadership.

4. Know The Unknowable

No one’s ever fully-equipped with sufficient information to make critical decisions and it would sound quite unlikely for giants like Gandhi to doubt his adequacies, but he still does at times. He embraces uncertainties by simulating worst-case scenarios to evaluate, and once he deems himself willing to take on the perceived consequences based on the exercise, he pursues the calculated risk. Gandhi notes that nobody is fully certain, but anyone can be decisive.

5. Don’t Allow Business To Break Over Agreements

Having experienced an orchestrated sabotage on GMM’s client relationship by an aggressive competitor carrying a frivolous lawsuit, Gandhi realized the value of having qualified attorneys who’d pull no punches during litigations. In setting up a business, never make the fatal mistake of drafting faulty operating agreements or reviewing client or employment contracts with incompetent attorneys. When high stakes legal cases become part of the business, he advised, “Paying a lawyer $700/hour for a few hours is better than spending $1 million on a lawsuit.”

6. Don’t Skip The Financial Statements.      

From the outset, hire the best CFOs to produce coherent financials for your business to make possible, in the long run, requests for loans and to pass clients’ credit check. Understanding the financial levers of the undertaking is one of GMM’s many achievements after hiring their CFO who, years later, produced rock-solid financial reports that closed the multibillion-dollar Japanese conglomerate SDK’s buyout deal of GMM.

7. Swing Big.

If entrepreneurship wasn’t enough, Gandhi has invested in many early-stage start-ups, like KeyMe in 2012. It turns out that its CEO, a graduate student at Columbia University operating out of an empty classroom at the time, claimed to foresee building a billion-dollar business.

As a VC investor, Gandhi has stakes in KeyMe, Hester Biosciences, Ka-Pop Snacks, SenSanna, Apptronik, Amber Agriculture, Ampsy, Tred, and Lettrs.

8. Welcome Positivity.

Gandhi sees optimism as the “gasoline for leadership” since he noticed that speaking with passion and positivity encourages people to listen. Same should go for oneself – speak in ways that will make yourself believe your plans will work out and eventually, when worked on right, they will.

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Development

How To Nurture & Grow Your Business In 2020

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Do you know that growing a business is much like losing weight? Yes, it’s that difficult but it’s also that much rewarding. See it like this, when you start your business, just as with trying to lose weight, you have a lot of focus and many goals. You start off really strong. However, as you go along, you experience frustration because of the challenging process. Then comes a plateau where you go back to old habits. Soon enough, when you don’t meet your goals, you panic and lose focus altogether. 

Don’t wait for a magic pill – both for your business and losing weight – because there isn’t any. What you need is a systematic process that will make it easier for you to identify the cracks in the system. You can then create the pathways where you can progress. With informed decisions, you can take more aggressive steps so you can achieve bigger successes. Here are the key steps on how you can nurture and grow your business this year. 

Make Honest Assessments

As an entrepreneur, you need to focus your energy on getting nearer to achieving your primary goals. To do this, you should first outline what your biggest priorities are as well as the impact that you expect from them. After that, assess where you are spending much of your time on. 

Are you working on projects that truly align with these primary goals that you’ve set? If you can examine this part honestly, you’ll be able to see where things are not aligned. You can then begin to build a more effective strategy. 

Work on Your Strengths

Too often, when entrepreneurs assess their businesses, they look at the weak points. However, it may not always be in the best interest of the company to do this. What you can do instead is to look at where you’re great at. What are the opportunities for growth on the parts that you’re succeeding? 

While it may be tempting to focus on getting new clients, you can focus on the clients that you already have. This may be where the future growth of your business lies. So, don’t spend all of your time, effort, and resources on client acquisition. Instead, work on deepening your relationships with your current customers. 

Take Risks

It may be tempting to be on the safe side and try to avoid failure as much as possible. This move is a logical one and many entrepreneurs prefer to take this route. It’s hard to keep a business afloat with failure being highly likely. 

But instead of being governed by fear, change your perspective. Whether you take risks or play it say, the odds are still going to be against you. So, make the move and take bigger risks. You’ll find that the odds are not any worse really. But the rewards you may gain can be exponentially higher. 

Strike the balance between being a risk-taker and being financially responsible. Trust your gut while examining all the available data that you have to make an informed decision. It’s the best way that you can create avenues for success in your business. 

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Year In Search 2019: Google Guide’s Top Travel Trends

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Thanks to the internet, traveling has never been easier. Whether you’re listing down your top travel destination or looking out for the next place to visit, you can have all your options with just one click of a search button. 

In fact, the world’s leading search engine has released its most searched travel destination for 2019. Google’s algorithm works by identifying the changes in travel searches every year. In this way, they were able to identify the top trending destination. 

So what made it into the top five trending places for this year? 

  • Maldives

What makes the Maldives so enticing is that it gives you a sense of sweet escape. Whether you might want to run off and trade cold winters for a warm and sunny holiday or simply looking for a place to get away from stress, this small Asian nation is known for its relaxed tropical vibe. A trip to the island is about being able to take a step back and enjoy the calm and serenity of its azure waters and white sandy beaches. 

However, the island’s warm and peaceful vibe might not come as cheap. In fact, a night at the Conrad Maldives Rangali which boasts the world’s first over-water villa and underwater bedroom can cost as much $38,000. Even its low-season bed and breakfast daily rate would be around $10,000- making it pretty much a steal. 

For this year, the top searches in terms of accommodation go to the Kudadoo Maldives and Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. 

  • Japan

Whether you might be looking for a gastronomic journey in Tokyo or exploring its soft side with street-filled cherry blossoms and quiet temples, Japan is surely gaining a lot of attraction. 

In fact, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has announced last September that the country hosts the second-highest growth in international tourism receipts. 

  • Bora-Bora 

If you’re looking to swim with sharks, rays and an occasional whale sighting, Bora-bora should top off the list. Known for its beautiful diving spots, the French Polynesian island sits on the heart of an extinct volcano known as Mt Otemanu.

Indeed, the island had sprung back from the drop of tourist arrivals in the early 2000s. With its sudden tourism boom, prices for accommodation can range between luxury rooms at $1,000 to grass-thatched villas at $300 dollars a night. Plus if you feel more like exploring the island, you can also hop on a cruise aboard Paul Gaugin, a vessel named after the iconic artist. 

On the other hand, most searches include “all-inclusive” resorts, while Four Seasons and St. Regis tops off the list of the most searched hotel. 

  • Las Vegas

While the desert city is known for its bright lights, crazy performances, wild clubs, and pre-wedding mayhem, it actually attracts a more diverse group of people. Whether it might be young families or a group of friends out for an unforgettable bachelorette party, the city attracts both saints and sinners. 

Oftentimes, most people would search for hotels, flights, shows, and even Craiglist listing (just proceed with utmost caution). 

  • Mexico 

With its tequila tours and delicious food, Mexico is not one of the most widely searched destinations for Americans, it is also the one they are most likely to head off to. And why not? 

It’s close and offers a warm tropical alternative to the cold winters in the U.S.-plus didn’t we mention its also relatively cheap? What’ even more surprising is that a lot of Americans are also settling into the city, as the U.S embassy notes that 1.5 million American citizens have chosen to live there. 

Based on the searches, Google says that more people are interested to fly over international shores. These searches might not be far from reality, with the increasing number of passport holders- surely the tourism industry might expect a busy year ahead. 

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With The Rise Of Online Food Delivery, Are Restaurants Flinching?

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In a 2011 Cornell survey of 372 U.S. restaurant operators, less than 10% of takeout or delivery orders were shown to be done online. Technomic said that this makes third-party delivery aggregators, like DoorDash and Uber Eats, scale the size of the fifth-largest U.S. restaurant chain, with $10.2 billion-worth of ordered meals in 2018.

Restaurant consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates CEO Aaron Allen said, “The consumer migrated towards having this expectation of things being at our fingertips, from other industries — the Amazon effect, you could argue, contributed to some of this.”

Restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Chipotle Mexican Grill are among those who have already partnered with delivery services to adapt to the foodservice game’s change in the landscape. However, for some, this also means that the extra sales made from delivery also hint lower profit margins and major operational changes. This is evident in cases like Chipotle’s wherein second kitchen lines were added to locations in 2016 to manage and speed up the service of online orders. Increased delivery costs then sprung up in Chipotle’s profits during the third quarter.

 “We see this a lot more in the sophisticated restaurant chains that are beginning to really embrace off-premise and delivery,” claimed Trevor Boomstra, director of AlixPartners’ restaurants, leisure and hospitality practice. “They’re adapting their physical presence and their layouts.”

This food delivery trend was given birth to by startup aggregators partnering with independent restaurants. These were Postmates in 2011, DoorDash in Palo Alto, California two years later, and Uber, in 2014. The game-changer, according to Technomic principal Melissa Wilson, was the exclusive partnership of the largest U.S. restaurant chain by sales, McDonald’s, with Uber Eats in 2017 to offer delivery. This, though, wasn’t a very good arrangement for its U.S. franchisees as complaints about the high delivery fees per order surfaced, entailing 15% to 30% charge on every restaurant-fulfilled order. In part, commission fees have been decreasing due to competition.

This year, McDonald’s’ renegotiated Uber-Eats-contract reported a push for lower commission fees and an end to its exclusivity. Its partnership with DoorDash and GrubHub was later reported, and a forecast of its $4 billion global delivery sales launched in 2019.

This intensity in the delivery market has put Chinese restaurants and pizzerias – the two types of eateries that typically offer delivery services for their food – at a competitive space. Domino’s, for example, bet that the business models of delivery providers are short-lived, with GrubHub reporting its $1 million third-quarter net income, down from $23 million last year.

GrubHub, the only profitable delivery provider, has a stock market value of $3.7 billion – up 17% since its public entrance in 2014. In 2017, it hit an all-time high trade with $149.35 a share, although its about-$40 per share now sounds devastating.

Delivery apps DoorDash, GrubHub, and Postmates are still looking to go public next year, even with such questionable profitability and crackdown possibilities, zero in on The District of Columbia’s lawsuit against DoorDash for its former tipping policy that led the New York City Council to soon consider legislation that would focus on commission rates.

In an effort to boost market share while cutting costs and combining resources, companies DoorDash and Amazon announced their purchase of Square’s Caviar and their stake in U.K. delivery company Deliveroo, respectively.

“It’s important for the restaurants to be thinking about and know how to select the right partner, knowing that there’s going to be consolidation likely going to happen,” AlixPartners’ Boomstra said.

Another change to be anticipated in the delivery market is the improvement in food quality that won’t be met by letting meals travel over long distances. Some restaurants and venture capitalists are already exploring the use of ghost kitchens, like Kitchen United and Zuul Kitchens, and offsite locations exclusively for delivery orders to address this challenge. 

“A lot of this is a means of improving productivity for a decades-old business model that needed to be reinvented — the labor model, the cost of building out restaurants, where to put them,” consultant Allen said.

Restaurants, though, shouldn’t be all-out when it comes to this delivery puff, for economic downturns could very likely produce less disposable income for the consumers’ delivery expenditures. Although successful at present, the food and beverage industry, like all industries, still have bigger changes to go through.

 “Two and a half years ago, some of the largest delivery companies in the world were still trying to convince chain operators of the merits of it,” Allen said.

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