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6 min read

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The concept of data literacy didn’t exist when I started my career in marketing in the mid-1990s. We had few marketing channels, all of which were offline, and we had to track them manually in spreadsheets. We distributed leads to our sales team on a floppy disk. We sent coupons to prospects, and every day I had to go to the mailbox to see which coupons came back filled out. As scarce as it was, data was still extremely important back then. 

Today, marketers have access to a massive amount of data through multiple channels, both offline and online. New channels are constantly emerging, and each becomes its own data track. However, all of that data goes into different applications and systems, making it very difficult to get a complete picture of what is really going on. We are all striving to reach a real-time, 360-degree view of customers. This is the foundation for personalization, timing and relevance: How do you send the right offer to the right prospect at the right time?  

The more you can master the timing and the relevance, the greater impact you’re going to have with your marketing investments. With inaccurate or incomplete data, you get a skewed picture of potential consumers. If you create the wrong offers at the wrong time, all of your marketing will go to waste. Researchers Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart looked at more than $1 billion of marketing spend by 30 major corporations, and found that 47% of the advertising campaigns didn’t work. That’s 53% of marketing spend wasted.

So how do you reduce the waste and increase the return? It comes down to data literacy — how well you can read, work with, scrutinize and communicate with data. If you have access to all of the data, and the ability to analyze and make smart decisions based on it, then your marketing efforts will likely succeed.

Related: How to Use Real-Time Data to Fine-Tune Your Business Decisions

The challenge of fragmented data

In a recent survey, 36% of company leaders said that of all of their departments, sales/marketing showed the best performance in utilizing data-driven insights for strategic purposes.

But over the past two decades, marketers have faced an uphill battle in trying to be data-driven. A proliferation of marketing tools are now used to engage customers over complex customer journeys. Customers expect to have a seamless experience across an ever-expanding set of channels. And organizations face an explosion of data, all stored in silos, that need to be integrated in order to derive insight and smart decisions. 

All of these trends have created fragmented data, which is a major barrier to data-driven insights. In a 2020 report, 47% of executives surveyed said their top digital customer experience challenge was “siloed systems and/or fragmented customer data.” 

Thanks to recent developments in cloud and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, we’re finally entering an age of integrated data. We can now access and analyze all of the relevant data available to gain a complete view of customers and tie our marketing investments to business outcomes. This represents the biggest transformational moment for marketers since the birth of digital marketing in the 1990s. It’s a bigger step-change than social media. 

While technology tools in 2021 allow marketers to connect with customers and prospects with 10 times the precision and business impact, the art of applying these new tools is what separates good companies from great companies. Over the past five years, I’ve been able to use data to do things I couldn’t previously imagine. I’ve also had the opportunity to advise CMOs at customer organizations about how to use data to transform their marketing organizations and businesses. Here’s my advice to others:

Establish clear marketing objectives and metrics.

It’s important to create a strong foundation for all stakeholders to build upon. In marketing, that entails setting goals and tracking progress. One of our key objectives at Snowflake is to become the industry’s most insights-driven marketing team. We developed two key metrics to measure our results: predictable pipeline generation and growth efficiency. Our goal is to build scalable tools and models to drive efficient growth and proactive actions. To support this, we put a lot of work into predicting real-time return on investment to optimize our marketing programs and disrupt aged B2B marketing analytics practices.

Develop a complete picture of your customer

Tear down your data silos to understand your full range of customer data. Take DoorDash, which broke down data silos to generate a 360-degree view of all of their customers, powering their marketing analytics and allowing them to provide a more personalized experience. Prioritize access to the most strategic data sets available for your business. With real-time, granular insights into product sales and customer demographics, marketers can graduate from stale, weeks-old reports to instant intelligence on customers.

Related: The Insane Amounts of Data We’re Using Every Minute (Infographic)

Turn your love/hate relationship with IT into a winning partnership

To align objectives and priorities around being data-driven, marketing needs to establish close relationships with IT and business stakeholders. This needs to be a strategic objective, like a mandate. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. All teams need to follow a clear roadmap to drive the execution, and communicate regularly. At PepsiCo, IT took time to understand the objectives of marketing, then created an advertising ROI Engine which turned 60-plus data across marketing, sales and third-party entities into market insights and predictive models that could be shared frequently, internally and externally.

Become a master of the data

Marketers also need to know how to gain control of the data to amplify their own efforts. Marketing is a big investment, and marketers need to be able to demonstrate how that investment is turning into profit for the company. Success is based on how effectively you support the growth of your company, and the only way you can prove that is through data. So having the mastery of data in your skill set is vital for marketers.

Once you establish and track your objectives, eliminate data silos, bring all of your data together and develop the competencies needed to access it, analyze it and achieve insights, you can reach a holistic view of customers and deliver a tailored 360-degree customer experience. You can develop a clear picture of attribution and marketing spend ROI. You can activate data in real time to create highly targeted, effective campaigns. And eventually, you can unleash the power of data science products using machine learning and artificial intelligence to optimize your campaigns. At that point, your data literacy will become a data superpower.

Related: Why Data is the World’s Most Valuable Resource Today

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Biden has proposed to nearly double the capital gains rate to 39.6% for those earning more than $1 million.


3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Small businesses play a vital role in America’s economy given the fact that they make up 99.9% of all businesses according to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. However, the importance of small businesses has been diminished by President Biden’s capital gains tax proposal which, if passed, would make America’s rate nearly the highest in the world. With many small businesses still working to get back on their feet following the hardship created by the pandemic, this proposal could decimate small businesses across the U.S.

What’s being proposed?

Currently, the long-term capital gains tax rate is 20% for single households with more than $445,850 in taxable income in 2021. Biden has proposed to nearly double the capital gains rate to 39.6% for those earning more than $1 million. In addition to the new tax rate, businesses must pay a 3.8% Medicare surtax bringing the rate to 43.4% before local and states taxes are factored in.

Businesses lose big

So, what does this look like for business owners? For examples sake, let’s say a California business owner has a $100 million company that they’d like to sell keeping in mind that $11.7 million isn’t subject to estate tax. Under Biden’s proposal, the business owner would owe $43.3 million in federal income tax (capital gains and Obamacare tax), $13.3 million in state tax and $35.3 million in estate tax. In the end, this leaves this business owner with $8.1 million, effectively reducing their wealth by over 90% after taxes are paid.

Second-generation businesses will struggle to survive

In addition to increasing the capital gains tax, Biden has also proposed to remove the step-up in basis and instead carry over an asset’s tax basis from the decedent to the next generation. This means that if you own a business when you die, your inheritors must pay income taxes regardless of whether or not they sell the business, saddling them with a huge tax bill that currently doesn’t exist under today’s policies. For example, let’s say a parent owns a $10 million small business and passes it on to their child when they die. If Biden’s proposal is passed, the child would now owe nearly $4 million in capital gains taxes that they likely can’t afford as it’s nearly half of the value of the business. If they can’t afford the capital gains taxes they’ll have to sell, but who can afford to buy the business? Big corporations. So rather than the family business continuing on and passed on for generations, larger corporations win in the end.

Related: Cryptocurrency and Taxes: What You Need to Know

When it comes to initiatives posed in Biden’s tax proposals, big businesses continue to receive a majority of the benefits. Why is that the case? We’ll discuss why capital gains from real estate entrepreneurs and small businesses get hammered while big businesses can acquire companies without capital gains in my next article.

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Some say luck is all around us and all we have do is look. Those of us who are luckier than most understand that is true; however, we have to do more than look. We also have to work at it. When we hear the word “luck,” things that might come to mind could be winning the lottery, finding a $20 bill on the ground or even getting the first parking spot at the front of the full lot. 

If the definition of luck is “a form of success brought by chance,” then the above would, in fact, be correct examples of luck. That is one literal definition of luck: good fortune brought about by chance rather than one’s own actions. However, what if we had the ability to increase our chances and make better choices? Wouldn’t we be luckier? Yes, and because of that, there are two types of luck I have come to find in life: unreliable luck and reliable luck. 

Unreliable luck fits the traditional definition: success resulting from chance. But reliable luck involves increasing your chances by making strategic choices. 

Related: How You Can Learn to Have Lucky Genes

Here are three reliable choices I have found that have increased my luck over the years. 

Take more success-driven actions 

There are some people who believe when they focus and spend time envisioning a certain outcome or possession they desire, all they have to do is will it, and it will come to them. Then, there are some of us who know that when we increase our actions in a strategic way, we increase our chances of getting what we want.

You can think about getting a new job, or you can do something to get a new job. You can think about making more money, or you can do something that will make you more money. You can think about falling in love, or you can go out and put yourself out there more. I am not saying we get what we want every time we take action. I am saying we get luckier with every action we take. 

Build critical relationships 

Several people have told me who we surround ourselves with is who we become. I agree with this; however, we are in charge of who we spend time with and who we don’t. Who are three people you need to stop hanging out with? And more importantly, who are three people you need to start hanging out with that will better your chances for success?

When selecting these people, don’t confuse someone who is on the journey with you with someone who has already been where you want to go. Having support is necessary; having insight in terms of getting lucky is better! Spend time with people who have already finished the race you have set out to start. These people can give you insight, feedback and, more importantly, connections to get you to where you want to go faster. 

Related: How Cultivating Relationships Helps You (and Your Company) Thrive

Decrease the physical distance between you and your goals

While in New York City, I sat next to a stranger while eating lunch on a bench in Central Park. We both gave the smile of approval to sit beside each other as we ate our sandwiches, and after a bit, we started talking. She shared with me her big dream is to be on SNL one day as a cast member. I then found out she lives in a small town in the Midwest and travels to New York once a year to get a feel for the city and check out comedy clubs where she hopes to get lucky and be discovered.

When I explained that her odds of getting on SNL would be better if she moved to New York or a place where they scouted for new talent, her response was, “If it is supposed to happen, it will happen!” Maybe. But that’s unreliable luck! When it comes to my dream and desires, I would rather invest in reliable luck. Instead of thinking it will happen, make it happen. We can do that by being in a place that we can get the experience more often than once a year. If you want to be a tennis player, but are hanging out on a football field, it’s unlikely you’re going to be the best tennis player in the world.

Become luckier

There are some people who glance at my success and consider me lucky. I am lucky — very lucky — because I invest in reliable luck. I take actions every day toward the goals I have set. I build relationships with people who can take me to where I want to go. I put myself in places that help me excel in my profession. I am not waiting for things to happen. I am making things happen. I am increasing my chances. 

When we want to be luckier in life, we should look to increase our opportunities, not leave everything up to pure chance. Yes, there are some people who go from having nothing to having everything because of unreliable luck, or they believe they willed it to happen. We can sit around and wait for that unlikely turn of events to happen for us, or we can go out and make our chances increase. 

Related: The Secret of Entrepreneurial ‘Luck’ in 3 Simple Steps

When we invest in reliable luck by taking action, building better relationships and decreasing the physical distance between us and our goals, we will inevitably get luckier. Don’t leave reliable luck to chance, and chances are you will have more luck.

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In September of 2019, the PRB (Population Reference Bureau) announced that fertility in the United States was at it lowest level in recorded history. For the last 40 years, the fertility rate in the United States has hovered around two or just below it (two being an important benchmark as it is the level needed for a country’s population to remain stable). But in 2019, the average number of births per woman was 1.7. The continued decline of the fertility rate will have huge ramifications on the demographics and economics of the U.S.

Why are Americans choosing to have fewer children? For many, the obvious answer lies in the effects that rampant capitalism has had on our society.

If the measure of success for a species is population growth, then we, homo sapiens, are without a doubt the most successful species in Earth’s history. And it’s remarkable how fast we have grown in just the last few hundred years. In 1800, the world population was around 1 billion  it has since exploded to 7.7 billion in 2021. Indeed, the concern among policy experts and economists has traditionally been focused on overpopulation.

The conversation around declining fertility rate has shifted somewhat significantly in recent years. The fertility rate across the globe has been dropping considerably in the last 70 years, and it hasn’t been driven exclusively by developed countries either. The fertility rate in two of the world’s most populous nations  India and China — has decreased massively, showing that these population trends are also prevalent in developing nations.

Related: More People in the U.S. Are Dying Than Being Born, According to the CDC

Capitalism’s impact

The U.S. is one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. One would imagine that of all the countries a couple would like to have the opportunity to raise a child, the U.S. would be one of the most attractive options. And yet the data shows that Americans are choosing to have fewer children. The data shows a downward trend in fertility rates over the last several decades up until 2015  it actually excludes the most recent data points, which show a sharp tick lower to 1.7 in 2019, a significant drop from 1.87 in 2015.

Some think Americans are making this choice because of the unfettered rise of capitalism and its impacts on our society. Capitalism in 21st-century America has led to historic inequality, enormous healthcare costs and a culture that values work and productivity over personal leisure. 

The economic system in which we operate has created the highest levels of inequality that we have seen for generations. In 2018, the bottom 50% of Americans owned just 1% of the nation’s wealth, down from 3% in 1989. Joblessness and stagnating real wages have led many people in poorer communities to question if they can afford to have children. The costs of parenthood have risen so much that many people feel like they woudn’t be able to support several children financially. Many would rather devote their resources to one child so that they can give him or her the best opportunity to succeed in life. 

Related: 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Practice ‘Conscious Capitalism’

However, it is not just the cost of raising a child that’s so prohibitive, but also the cost of actually giving birth. The heavily privatized healthcare system in the U.S. has made us one of the most expensive places in the world to give birth. And it disproportionately impacts the poorest members of our society. According to a study in 2013, the average cost for an “uncomplicated” birth was $32,093. The costs rise significantly if there are complications. Insurance, if you have it, can cover a lot of these costs, but it still leaves families with thousands of dollars in hospital bills. 

A lack of work-life balance

The capitalist society has also contributed to a culture of “workism,” which has certainly impacted people’s desire to have children. In a working environment that discourages leisure time and vacation, it is no wonder that fewer people are ending up married. And even for those couples that have managed to balance a work and dating life, the prospect of having a child is often viewed through the lens of the negative impact that it would have on their careers, particularly for women.

Finally, it would be irresponsible to not mention capitalism’s impact on the planet and the environment. Climate change has been caused by humans’ greed and relentless pursuit of profit over anything else. In our capitalist society, the interests of large oil and gas companies have been given preference over the interests of the millions of Americans who warn about the damage we are doing to the planet. This has caused some adults to feel it is irresponsible and immoral to bear a child in the world that we as humans are actually destroying.

Related: What’s Missing From the Conversation About Work-Life Balance

In the 1960s, the typical nuclear family in America contained a working husband, a stay-at-home mom and three or four children. Today, that typical family is rapidly shrinking. Many will argue, quite justifiably, that it points to a vast improvement in women’s equality and freedom to choose their own destiny and career path. While this is certainly true, it masks many of the economic factors that are dissuading women from having children. 

The decline in the fertility rate is certainly not a predictor of guaranteed economic disaster, but with a rapidly aging population and fewer young workers to support them, it is a challenge that will be hard to overcome. 

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7 min read

This story appears in the
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At any point in time, one in three companies requires a turnaround. That’s what research by Boston Consulting Group has found. And while you may not be able to predict whether you’ll be one of those companies, you’ll surely recognize the signs of distress: If your long-running business model collapses, your leaders lose focus of the company’s mission, and your key talent starts to leave, then you’ll be facing an existential crisis. It’s turnaround time!

Given how common this is, you might assume that most experienced entrepreneurs and CEOs are adept at managing it. That is, unfortunately, not the case. The same research highlights that 75 percent of turnaround attempts fail to improve performance over the long term.

Part of the problem is a lack of foresight. By the time a company’s leaders realize something has gone wrong, it is usually too late. That holds especially true for tech companies, which regularly deal with a winner-takes-all dynamic, where a competitor ends up dominating a whole industry versus just a part of it. But it can be true anywhere else, too. When you lose ground, it can be hard to regain it.

Related: These entrepreneurs had to change their business model in the middle of the pandemic. They did so successfully.

But there are solutions available, even when a situation looks dire. It starts with leadership. When attempting a turnaround, most leaders focus on their finances — viewing a troubled organization as a profit-and-loss sheet that needs to “lose fat,” for example. When these leaders spend, they often do it in the form of bonuses to incentivize their team’s better performance. That makes sense; when a leader focuses on finances, they’re hoping to find certainty in an otherwise uncertain situation. But they miss something in the process: culture.

When a leader plays the numbers game, they lose track of the culture of their business — ­and that blind spot can result in failure.

1. Learn from religion.

Turnarounds, at their core, are about establishing a new way of working. As a result, old ways of working are often criticized and rapidly abolished. That may be necessary, but leaders often forget how much it leaves key employees feeling vulnerable and ostracized. In my consulting practice, I’ve had C-level executives break down while describing how their teams push back against change programs. The teams may understand the logic of the change, but they’re angry and resistant to it anyway — and the executives can’t understand why.

The answer to this problem can be found in the history of religion. Most large religions, in their early days, start off as a small group of contrarians led by a charismatic leader. Such a group also includes a handful of influential people from the incumbent religion who convert to this new way of life publicly. Slowly but surely, the group becomes the face of the movement and each success of the group increases the religion’s following.

The same holds true for turnarounds. The protagonist of the turnaround cannot be a maverick CEO making dramatic moves — it must be the turnaround group that they put together to execute the change. The choice of whom to include in this key group can make or break a turnaround program. Leaders need a healthy mix of new and incumbent talent who all believe in the new mission. They can help inspire the entire organization to follow along.

2. Innovation is everyone’s problem.

Vision alone cannot save a company, of course. A turnaround team needs to tackle both bloated costs and shrinking revenues, usually simultaneously. Reducing costs is the easier of the two problems to solve; it’s a matter of dropping unprofitable clients and laying off redundant employees. The second problem, bringing revenue growth back, is a different beast. It requires a deep understanding of customer pain points as well as a coherent vision of where the industry is headed — which then justify the risk of creating new products, policies, and procedures. This process in a nutshell is called innovation.

Related: Small Business Adaptations That Will Likely Last Post-Pandemic

Innovation can be a hard problem to solve, especially for failing organizations, which are running short on both cash and inspiration. Perhaps that is why I’ve seen many CEOs make the same exact mistake: They treat innovation like a special, separate project.

Here’s how the error often happens. Once CEOs establish their turnaround group, they then create an entirely new team, often called the “product” or “innovation” team, to deal with declining revenues. This new team, with little empowerment or vision, ends up doing a smorgasbord of small experiments that do not move the needle on revenues or customer sentiment. Over time, the group disbands as senior management and team members lose interest, and the company continues to languish in mediocrity.

Innovation cannot be containerized like this. Boards and CEOs should strive to clearly understand and measure the problems plaguing their customers and then use scientific methods to build a vision of a future they want to aim toward. That vision should be repeatedly shared with the entire organization, with employees being empowered and rewarded to execute toward it. The turnaround group must be a big part of this, balancing their responsibilities between championing innovation and reducing costs.

3. Prevention is still the best medicine.

Turnarounds may not come naturally to most CEOs and entrepreneurs. After all, leaders are often celebrated for their long-term vision — and turnarounds come with tremendous short-term pressure. In my consulting practice, I have found that during a turnaround CEOs struggle to plan more than two years ahead.

As a result, almost all turnarounds end up with a promising start and a disappointing end. Costs decrease materially in the first year, and a new product or business model takes off by the second year. The company starts to feel like a newly renovated home, and financial results improve; as a result, leaders high-five each other on a job well done. Then, by the third year, the company’s change movement loses steam. Inertia starts creeping in. Soon the company needs another turnaround to make itself relevant again.

Related: 5 Businesses That Almost Failed and Showed Us Why It Pays to Keep Going

Top leaders and boards can prevent this — but once again, it requires focusing on the business’s culture instead of just the numbers. Everyone has to believe that a turnaround is not a short-term fix. It is instead a long-term change movement that must continue in spirit, if not in methods, long after a company improves.

In other words, a turnaround is not just a prescription for the current ailments plaguing a company. It’s also a preventive method through which future ailments can be avoided (or at least avoided for the same reasons that started the current one). Without this worldview, victory can be declared too soon — and have catastrophic results. Change must be knit into the very fabric of the newly reborn organization, and everything else must follow.

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6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


More often than not, loans are perceived negatively. The mention of debt is often accompanied by horror stories of bankruptcy and other theaters of financial distress. It’s no wonder, then, that people tend to consider loans as last-ditch efforts at paying for emergency expenses. But is this bad rep justified? After all, if a loan can save a dying business, and in turn, help secure a profit, it’s a savvy and often indispensable move. Of course, there are also instances in which borrowers are faced with not being able to pay off a loan, but as long as liabilities and forecasts are carefully planned, good debt can be a lifeline, and can be used additionally for investment organizing.

When you “leverage” debt to maximize a return on an investment, you are, put succinctly, using borrowings at a lower rate to fuel a return at a higher rate. Though there is a risk of losing capital, using debt to gain profit is an often underrated means of making money. Once you review your risk appetite and perhaps change preconceived notions regarding loans, it’s possible to turn debt into profit-making investment instruments.
Five relatively safe ideas to get you started:

Related: What Does ROI Really Mean To Entrepreneurs?

1. Flip a House

A tactic that typically applies to the buying and selling of homes, flipping can also be done with rented units. The idea is simple: find apartments below market rate, make improvements and sublet them at a higher rate, and the difference between the rent and the sublet price becomes profit. If you find the perfect apartment to flip but need urgent funds to seal the deal, it can make sense to get a loan.

You can, of course, apply for one at a retail banking institution, but that process can be tedious and time consuming. A quicker alternative can be a home improvement loan from an online lender. With these funds, you can do everything from whole-unit renovations, to repurposing an existing unused space or a spare bedroom in your apartment (then sublet it), to turning your garage into a rentable music studio or co-working space. You could also use a quick loan to buy furniture and other essentials that might be on limited-time discount. The goal is making money from the sublet sooner, which offsets interest paid on the loan.

Related: #10 Simple Steps to Get a Business Loan

2. Invest in Precious Metals

Prices of commodities like gold and silver typically fluctuate according to the economy, and are frequently directly proportional to it. For example, mid-2020 gold prices reached record highs due to economic uncertainties, even though the stock markets were crashing. This is, in part, why gold and silver are considered reliable investments. The trick, not surprisingly, is to buy on a dip and sell atop a surge. Based on past evidence, a post-dip turnaround typically takes just a few months, and those who routinely invest in precious metals for profit are quickly able to predict changes with a good level of accuracy.

Given this investment’s inherent time sensitivity, you need to have money ready for deployment. In this case, depending on how much profit you expect, it might be a good idea to get a quick (preferably same-day) loan and pounce on an opportunity. Delay can cost you substantially, eating away profit and defeating the whole purpose of the loan.

3. Buy Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin, Binance, Ethereum, Dogecoin and many more cryptocurrencies are competing for investors’ attention and money — offering occasionally head-spinning (if wildly unpredictable) profit margins in the bargain. Again, the principle remains the same: buy low and sell high. If you’ve been good at investing in the stock market, predicting how geopolitical events will affect the economy or simply identifying trends, you can apply corollary skills to trade cryptocurrency effectively.

This, too, is a time-sensitive affair, with the slightest delays amounting to massive declines in profit. So, a loan at the right time can propel a bank balance like few other investments of the moment. That said, retail banks might not be the right channel to get loans for this purpose, due to the urgent nature of the investment and the inherent caution with which they analyze it. But, a credible lender that can process short-term loans quickly might be the difference between a massive profit or an underwhelming transaction.

Similar to cryptocurrency trading, you could also invest loan funds into forex trading or stock trading.

Related: Learn Profitable Stock Trading Strategies in Just Two Hours

4. Grow Your Company

If you are a small business owner, you know this all too well: to make money, you need to invest in the enterprise. To grow at scale, reach more customers and sell more products or services, your company might need a quick and well-timed cash-induced boost. This injection could be used to hire better talent, change brand identity, go digital, expand office space or double down on a marketing effort.

Most of these actions are short-term, in that they will yield results fairly quickly. Such limited-impact, short-term actions can benefit from small business loans from traditional banking or finance institutions, government bodies that promote small businesses or legitimate online lenders. A suitable percentage increase in sales or employee output can pay for itself in a few months, making the loan a profit-making undertaking.

Related: 5 Best and Fast Small-Business Loans (Some of Which You’ve Never Heard of)

5. Learn a Skill

One of the most underrated investments is up-skilling yourself. The job market is volatile, and requirements keep changing. To keep relevant, broadening skillsets is essential. Now, getting a loan to learn a new skill might not sound appealing at first, but such a move can open avenues for a higher paying job or promotion at a current one — a relatively quick and enduring return on investment.

The key is to learn skills that are of genuine interest. When you truly enjoy doing something, you are more likely to become good at it, then monetize it. Though computer programming might be a lucrative career choice, if you don’t enjoy it, you will be miserable, impacting productivity in the process.

You could also use this trick to start a side gig — freelance projects like selling art or handicrafts from home. For instance, you could learn to crochet or whittle, then make unique and financially viable products in your free time.

In all these scenarios, take care to learn all loan terms and conditions, only borrow from a trusted source, have realistic expectations when it comes to profit and plan for a worst-case scenario; even if you are unable to make a profit, you should still be able to repay the loan.

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Women hold less than 5% of CEO positions in the U.S. and Europe, according to Financial Times, and over 2 million women left the workforce in 2020. Many factors contribute to these realities, which leave women feeling tired, disempowered and unmotivated, sometimes to the point of self-sabotage. The term “glass ceiling” was created by Marilyn Loden; the phrase is a metaphor for the invisible barrier that prevents women from achieving elevated professional success. 

Despite making up 50.8% of the U.S. population and 58.2% of the civil labor force according to the U.S. Census, women are staggeringly absent from upper-level leadership positions in the American workforce.

Efforts to shatter glass ceilings in the workplace and life are still underway. Over the years, I’ve seen women still hesitating, hiding and holding back — allowing limiting beliefs, situations and circumstances to take over. Shattering inner and outer glass ceilings is critical for change to occur. Transformational work always starts with the inner work, which creates larger impact and influence. 

Related: Smashing the Glass Ceiling in VC Funding and the Workplace

Here are seven ways to shatter your own glass ceilings that may be holding you back.

1. Release and redefine

Think about a belief or behavior that may be blocking you currently: What meaning are you giving it? Where did those thoughts and stories originate? Once you identify what is holding you back, write it on a piece of paper and then go bury, burn or release it. Then, redefine what it is that you desire. Come up with a new thought, belief, story or behavior that you want to adopt. In every moment, you have a choice to see and create differently. What will you release and redefine today?

2. Break out of the “good girl” mentality

Growing up, girls are praised for being a “good girl” via messages reinforced by society, media, parents, teachers and other influences. It is your responsibility to break free from the programmed “good girl” messages. One way of doing this is to take more risks, assert your ideas and express yourself authentically. Breaking free from what you are expected to do is the key to following your heart and your joy, which honors yourself and your truth.

3. Use your voice

A recent survey of 1,100 U.S. working adults conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit that works to increase women in leadership, found that 45% of women business leaders say it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings. One in five say they’ve felt ignored or overlooked by colleagues during video calls. While this happens in business and in the virtual world, this also happens in everyday life.

Related: Why Working Women Need to Mentor Other Women

Women are not owning their full power or utilizing their voice because they fear others’ judgments and risk ruining their reputation. One way of strengthening this muscle is by leaning into the uncomfortable and taking imperfect action. Every time you use your voice, it makes it easier to make it a habit. Where can you start to use your voice more, regardless of how you feel? Don’t worry about what you sound like or who is judging you. 

4. Find or hire a mentor, coach or advocate

Olympians, actors, actresses and the majority of highly successful people all have one thing in common: They have mentors and coaches to support them, guide them, hold them accountable, challenge and push them. Personal blind spots can occur, and a third party can help you shift and show you different ways of looking at things that you may have never thought about before.

5. Praise and promote yourself

Know your worth. A study done by KPMG found that 75% of female executives across industries have experienced imposter syndrome in their careers. Imposter syndrome involves persistent feelings of inadequacy, chronic self-doubt and feeling like a phony despite past and current accomplishments and successes. How can imposter syndrome be eliminated? It starts by celebrating ourselves and each other.

The first step is to remember and own all of your past successes, achievements and accomplishments. You can set aside some time and list out every single success, achievement and accomplishment as far back as you can remember. Praise yourself every day, write yourself a note, look in the mirror and speak to yourself — then celebrate all of your blessings. Finally, take action and get yourself out there. Promote yourself, connect with someone new or send that email. It doesn’t matter how you do it; it matters that you do it. 

6. Ask for what you want

Do you ask for what you want? Do you ask for help and support? Asking requires vulnerability and getting over the fear of rejection. First, get clear about what the ask needs to be: What do you want and need? Then, take action because every time you take action, your confidence increases. Remember, if you never ask, the answer is always no. 

Related: Why You Should Ask for Help at Work Instead of Giving It

7. Find a support system 

Find a strong circle of support. Your environment can either make you, break you or keep you stagnant and stuck. We are truly the average of our environments, and if someone or something isn’t making you stronger, he or she is making you weaker. Breaking the glass ceiling and finding an environment that is going to challenge you will change your life. Research different online groups; ask friends, mentors and people who have what you want. Success leaves clues.

Every action you take creates a legacy for the next generations to come.

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6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When you have a disability, there are certain qualities that you develop in your everyday life. This can come from the exhaustion of having to be more reliant on others or the frustration of navigating an unpredictable limitation. Some of these characteristics can be especially beneficial as a business leader.

These four instincts of an entrepreneur with a disability inspire teams and stimulate productivity.

1. Maintaining patience

When living with a disability, you recognize that certain tasks that may seem simple to someone else will actually take you longer, or could easily go sideways. This might mean you have to be diligent, such as calling places ahead of time to see if they have accommodations, like elevators. You might even have to wake up extra early every day so you have enough time to get ready, which can quickly become tiring. These preparations naturally lead to becoming more patient.

As a business leader with a disability, tolerance is a key factor in being an inspiring boss. When you are understanding about projects taking more time than anticipated or are willing to push back deadlines when needed, it is refreshing to employees. Your staff will feel encouraged to put forth their best work because you have shown trust and empathy towards them.

Being patient also stimulates productivity. As someone with a disability, you have learned that getting frustrated when your ride is late, or that you are unable to read something independently, is more tiring than going with the flow. In business, when you calmly communicate with your team and are flexible, bumps in the road don’t affect you as much. This creates a positive work environment where everyone will be motivated to complete assignments to the best of his or her abilities.

Related: Employing Individuals with Disabilities May Solve Your Talent Crisis

2. Demonstrating resourcefulness

Analyzing what available assets there are to help with a limitation is a skill that is instinctual for you when you have an impairment. In life, your disability might require resources that are expensive or difficult to find. This can leave you feeling frustrated, causing you to look into government-funded aids or go through the process of hiring a caregiver. Doing your research to find support naturally makes you more alert and perceptive to what assistance is out there. When you are running your own company with an ailment, this resourcefulness leads to efficiency. Your instinct to evaluate further comes into play when you consider how to spend your business budget or how to best utilize your time. This allows you to have a firm grasp on all elements of your organization, ensuring that tasks run smoothly.

Providing your employees with ample tools, or simply the awareness that resources can be made available, will also foster inspiration. People are energized when they know their work matters and that they are being supported. That is why it is valuable to demonstrate your resourcefulness and encourage your staff to seek out the mentorship, means or assistance to accomplish projects.

Related: 6 Characteristics of Resourceful People That Bring Them Success

3. Effective delegation

Using your natural instinct to seek help or extra information in your daily life is how you can efficiently assign responsibilities. When you have a limitation, you might be used to needing someone else to open doors or read a menu, and you never hesitate to ask. There are always going to be gaps between what you are capable of and what you struggle to do. Instinctually understanding that you need people on your team to fill in these gaps will make projects or transactions easier. You might need to find an accountant or web designer who understands your limitations, and who you can communicate your needs to. When you delegate tasks to team members who can complete them faster, it is inspiring to them because it shows that you are confident in their abilities.

Perhaps you take on more of a managerial role instead of constantly trying to do everything yourself. Enthusiastically giving over duties makes everyone on your staff more efficient, and allows each person to shine in his or her own way. When you are more willing to lean on others, you build a productive environment where everyone contributes to carry out the company’s vision.

Related: The Art and Science of Delegation (Infographic)

4. Skillful time management

Instinctually, as a person with an ailment, you are a planner because you have to be on top of your medications, appointments, transportation and more. Without preparing for the day or week ahead, you can feel overwhelmed and confused when things take longer or go wrong. Your disability makes you organize your to-do items and outline your schedule. This organizational skill plays an important role when it comes to time management and how you run your team. When you are intentional with deadlines and give employees the freedom to work on their own, they will feel inspired by the synergy and trust between you. This also gives your staff the space to thrive while still being anchored by a time frame.

Conveying what hours you will be available at the start of each week will improve efficiency. It is typically easier for managers with limitations to do this since they tend to plan ahead. Sharing your availability ahead of time also benefits your workers, as they can make sure they finish tasks or come up with questions to align with your schedule. Organizing and detailing what you hope to accomplish each day will make you and your personnel far more efficient.

When you leverage the instinctual qualities that come with having a disability, you can manage your business in a way that motivates your team and creates productive results. Being patient when an employee needs more time to finish a project demonstrates compassion, which will be remembered and appreciated. Resourcefulness is the key to utilizing available tools so that your business may grow. Effective delegation creates an environment where everyone feels needed and you can accomplish more. Skillful time management relieves the stress of feeling overwhelmed and inspires staff to produce their best work.

While it may seem like having a limitation is hindering, you can utilize these natural talents and be a leader that empowers your team to achieve measurable results.

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Design your coding education online and work at your own pace.


2 min read

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In an increasingly digital world, it’s possible to be a non-technical founder of a tech company, but it’s always easier to run your tech business if you understand the tech behind your product or service. To that end, learning to code is a smart decision for any entrepreneur in 2021 and beyond. But nobody has time to go to night school or take college courses and run a company. Similarly, it’s hard to identify what you really need to learn. Fortunately, with Build a Bundle: The 2021 Ultimate Learn to Code Training you can design your own online curriculum that you can study in your own time.

This comprehensive program offers 25 hands-on courses covering a huge array of coding topics. Whether you want to learn web development, mobile app development, game development, software engineering, data visualization, cloud management, or something else, you can create your own curriculum from scratch. Each course is offered by Mammoth Interactive founder John Bura, a best-selling instructor and app developer who has contributed to more than 40 commercial games available in the App Store.

No matter what your business focus is, you can build a bundle that makes sense for the knowledge you need. Each course is packed with helpful materials and is created for complete beginners so you can build a strong foundation from the ground up.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a pricing option.
  2. Pick the courses you want to take.
  3. Redeem and access the course materials at your own convenience!

All you have to do is pick how many courses you want to choose and what you want to pay:

Prices subject to change.

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8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Much has been written about creative agencies needing a toe tag. For years, article after article and expert after expert have predicted a dim future for the model that inspired the three martini lunch. Most notably was when Procter & Gamble CBO Marc Pritchard called for the end of the “archaic Mad Men model.”

But let’s face it — creative agencies aren’t going to change. Whether traditional or digital, their core structure and legacy approach to solving marketing and advertising problems is simply too ingrained to switch direction.

That said, I’m going to disagree with Pritchard and say that, in my opinion, the current agency model shouldn’t go away. It could use some further adjustments and a refocusing of its priorities, but I don’t think we should flush it down the drain for good. The structure, the process, the red tape and even the complexity has relevance today. Less relevance than a decade ago, for sure, but it is far from irrelevant.

Today’s marketers need alternatives to the traditional agency

The problem today isn’t the traditional model; it’s the lack of credible alternative models. Today’s marketers don’t have one-size-fits-all needs, so they shouldn’t be forced to deal with a one-model-fits-all solution.

Let’s be honest, marketers — usually big, complex ones — often need the weighty infrastructure necessary to handle the daily, even hourly, grind of their needs. These needs require a traditional agency and its multi-disciplined resources — project and account management, strategy, research, creative, etc. This legacy structure and process might not be the only way to handle such a grind, but I’d argue that it’s the best because it’s been built for it.

Take, for example, AXE and all of its branded products — I can speak to this because I spent many years working with AXE inside the four walls of a traditional agency and helped launch some of their products. To state the obvious, AXE is a behemoth. It has many elements on the burner simultaneously — creative, strategic, research, production and more. In addition, each Unilever brand has marketing managers, brand managers, assistant brand managers and the eyes and ears of a chain of upper management. And all of that needs constant attention.

Related: The 7 Steps to Managing Your Ad Agency

As such, until Unilever is prepared, internally, to help solve this burden of high-maintenance, AXE needs the resources and structure of its traditional agency. I believe a beast like AXE would crush a smaller, streamlined and nimbler model.

However, there are smaller brands and startups, as well as contained projects within these big brands, that work differently and don’t always require this kind of all-hands-on-deck firepower. These are projects with a well-defined beginning and end. They don’t need the same kind of hourly hand holding. More and more, established businesses and start-ups have projects, large and small, where they already know what they need and simply want to work directly with the creative people who will develop and execute their solution — no need to build a strategy that’s already built, and no need for middlemen running interference, blocking or interpreting feedback.

Not that long ago, I was the head agency creative person sitting in a conference room with eight other people from different disciplines within the agency. Our client walked in, sat down next to me, leaned over and whispered, “Why are all these people here? Am I paying for this? I know what I want and all I need is you to help me get it.” And in that particular instance, he was right.

But therein lies the problem: A lot of that creative talent is locked up inside of these full-service agencies. To access it, marketers need to put up with, and pay for, the rest of the slow, bloated, soup-to-nuts system. Agencies will argue that their creative people can’t possibly begin working until several time-consuming and costly steps are completed. Not because it’s true, but because it’s legacy.

Another problem is the speed that many creative ideas need to move ar today. The traditional agency model has a built-in delay that comes from things like the up-front, strategic-preparation and briefing process. The “everybody gets to review and be heard” process, as well as outsourcing the production of ideas. These things, and others, add time, cost, inefficiency and, frankly, overkill to some creative projects that require speed. This is simply another aspect of the current model agencies aren’t willing to change. Believe me, when I was inside of those agencies I tried.

What marketers truly need are options. Not options of which shade of blue they want, but a blue option, a yellow option and a green polka-dot one. Businesses need alternatives that give them the ability to pick from entirely different models depending on the needs of the project.

New alternatives to the traditional model are out there

There’s the opportunity: A creative-only model — creative development and production in a single, fast-paced, efficient model.

That’s the premise here. Put the kind of creative problem solving talent you find in traditional agencies with world-class executional talent. Get everyone else out of the way and set them free on projects, beginning to end, that don’t need the full-agency treatment. Not as a replacement to the current full-service structure, but as another, stand-alone option for marketers to tap into.

The good news for brands of all sizes, including startups, is that this model has already emerged — you just may not know about it. Not surprisingly, it hasn’t emerged from the agency side (with some exceptions) but rather from resilient, resourceful and intrepid creative people who see beyond the complacency.

Related: Gain Financial Freedom With Your Own Ad Agency

Many of these creative front-runners are developing deep relationships with production companies to give brands, large and small, access to the kinds of ideas and execution that can change their brand fortunes without draining their bank account fortunes. Clients get direct access to the talent that generates the creative solutions they need.

Notable new models, like Mischief, are an excellent example of streamlining creativity and putting it front and center. It takes great creative talent out from behind their corporate desk and puts their creativity to paper again. Shops like Mischief are less structure-forward and more idea-forward. They value big, platform-agnostic ideas and don’t have the same massive infrastructure that needs to be fed a steady diet of dollars.

This idea-forward model is being housed inside of production companies as well. Where production companies used to only execute pre-determined ideas (usually developed inside of creative agencies), now they have built the internal capabilities to develop the ideas themselves. They aren’t building the same full-service capabilities as traditional agencies, so they’re limited in the kinds of projects they can accommodate. But they are building fast, efficient and highly-experienced creative capabilities that deliver excellent creative products.

Tool of North America is a good example of this way of working. They have internal creative talent that is not only capable of executing ideas, but also the talent and experience to develop them from scratch. In addition, many of these production houses are creating relationships with some of the world’s best independent creative talent on the outside that they can bring in when needed.

And this is awesome for today’s marketing needs because it provides brands with an alternative. Product marketing teams, brand teams, content teams and even sales teams can now, in some instances, bypass the legacy approach to problem solving that can act like an anchor tied to the bumper of a Ferrari and simply go straight to creative solutions.

A variety of options creates new opportunities for all brands

Bottom line, I believe creative agencies have been looking at maintaining their relevance all wrong. They try to accommodate the changes taking place in marketing today by looking inward and tweaking their core structure. In reality, they should be looking at what marketers need today and making decisions that create new options.

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