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This story originally appeared on Zacks

Ulta Beauty (ULTA) closed at $386.92 in the latest trading session, marking a +1.59% move from the prior day. This change outpaced the S&P 500’s 0.24% loss on the day.

– Zacks

Heading into today, shares of the beauty products retailer had gained 2.3% over the past month, outpacing the Retail-Wholesale sector’s loss of 5% and the S&P 500’s loss of 2.12% in that time.

Wall Street will be looking for positivity from ULTA as it approaches its next earnings report date. In that report, analysts expect ULTA to post earnings of $2.40 per share. This would mark year-over-year growth of 46.34%. Meanwhile, our latest consensus estimate is calling for revenue of $1.86 billion, up 19.61% from the prior-year quarter.

ULTA’s full-year Zacks Consensus Estimates are calling for earnings of $15.06 per share and revenue of $8.32 billion. These results would represent year-over-year changes of +223.18% and +35.19%, respectively.

Investors should also note any recent changes to analyst estimates for ULTA. These revisions help to show the ever-changing nature of near-term business trends. As such, positive estimate revisions reflect analyst optimism about the company’s business and profitability.

Research indicates that these estimate revisions are directly correlated with near-term share price momentum. We developed the Zacks Rank to capitalize on this phenomenon. Our system takes these estimate changes into account and delivers a clear, actionable rating model.

The Zacks Rank system ranges from #1 (Strong Buy) to #5 (Strong Sell). It has a remarkable, outside-audited track record of success, with #1 stocks delivering an average annual return of +25% since 1988. Within the past 30 days, our consensus EPS projection has moved 0.14% higher. ULTA is currently a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Investors should also note ULTA’s current valuation metrics, including its Forward P/E ratio of 25.29. This valuation marks a premium compared to its industry’s average Forward P/E of 12.45.

Meanwhile, ULTA’s PEG ratio is currently 1.95. This metric is used similarly to the famous P/E ratio, but the PEG ratio also takes into account the stock’s expected earnings growth rate. Retail – Miscellaneous stocks are, on average, holding a PEG ratio of 0.97 based on yesterday’s closing prices.

The Retail – Miscellaneous industry is part of the Retail-Wholesale sector. This industry currently has a Zacks Industry Rank of 108, which puts it in the top 43% of all 250+ industries.

The Zacks Industry Rank gauges the strength of our industry groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups. Our research shows that the top 50% rated industries outperform the bottom half by a factor of 2 to 1.

To follow ULTA in the coming trading sessions, be sure to utilize Zacks.com.

Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana

If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027.

After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%.

You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.

Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>

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Ulta Beauty Inc. (ULTA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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This story originally appeared on Zacks

Altria (MO) closed at $46.71 in the latest trading session, marking a -0.04% move from the prior day. This move was narrower than the S&P 500’s daily loss of 0.69%.

– Zacks

Heading into today, shares of the owner of Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette maker had lost 7.65% over the past month, lagging the Consumer Staples sector’s loss of 3.71% and the S&P 500’s loss of 2.58% in that time.

Investors will be hoping for strength from MO as it approaches its next earnings release, which is expected to be October 28, 2021. On that day, MO is projected to report earnings of $1.27 per share, which would represent year-over-year growth of 6.72%. Meanwhile, our latest consensus estimate is calling for revenue of $5.79 billion, up 1.92% from the prior-year quarter.

MO’s full-year Zacks Consensus Estimates are calling for earnings of $4.62 per share and revenue of $21.32 billion. These results would represent year-over-year changes of +5.96% and +2.3%, respectively.

It is also important to note the recent changes to analyst estimates for MO. Recent revisions tend to reflect the latest near-term business trends. As a result, we can interpret positive estimate revisions as a good sign for the company’s business outlook.

Research indicates that these estimate revisions are directly correlated with near-term share price momentum. We developed the Zacks Rank to capitalize on this phenomenon. Our system takes these estimate changes into account and delivers a clear, actionable rating model.

Ranging from #1 (Strong Buy) to #5 (Strong Sell), the Zacks Rank system has a proven, outside-audited track record of outperformance, with #1 stocks returning an average of +25% annually since 1988. Over the past month, the Zacks Consensus EPS estimate remained stagnant. MO is holding a Zacks Rank of #3 (Hold) right now.

Looking at its valuation, MO is holding a Forward P/E ratio of 10.13. Its industry sports an average Forward P/E of 10.13, so we one might conclude that MO is trading at a no noticeable deviation comparatively.

Investors should also note that MO has a PEG ratio of 2.53 right now. The PEG ratio is similar to the widely-used P/E ratio, but this metric also takes the company’s expected earnings growth rate into account. The Tobacco was holding an average PEG ratio of 1.93 at yesterday’s closing price.

The Tobacco industry is part of the Consumer Staples sector. This industry currently has a Zacks Industry Rank of 117, which puts it in the top 47% of all 250+ industries.

The Zacks Industry Rank gauges the strength of our industry groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups. Our research shows that the top 50% rated industries outperform the bottom half by a factor of 2 to 1.

To follow MO in the coming trading sessions, be sure to utilize Zacks.com.

Tech IPOs With Massive Profit Potential

In the past few years, many popular platforms and like Uber and Airbnb finally made their way to the public markets. But the biggest paydays came from lesser-known names.

For example, electric carmaker X Peng shot up +299.4% in just 2 months. Think of it this way…

If you had put $5,000 into XPEV at its IPO in September 2020, you could have cashed out with $19,970 in November.

With record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs and a record-setting stock market, this year’s lineup could be even more lucrative.

See Zacks Hottest Tech IPOs Now >>

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A few weeks ago, I thought I had a panic attack. I was stuck in traffic, which is saying a lot since I live in a town of 20,000 people. Road construction and tourists clogged the roads, and I was annoyed. I was late to pick up my son from golf practice, and I was still reeling from the horrifying images of people hanging on to airplanes in Afghanistan. As the CEO of a fast-growing company, my to-do was weighing on me and pangs of guilt flooded me.

I really should be working instead of fighting traffic, I thought. I was also worried about my employees in Reno who were suffering from smoke inhalation due to catastrophic fires. I got home and told my husband we needed to buy a generator and a food-growing dome in preparation for the end of the world.

He replied, “That’s not a terrible idea, but you need to take some breaths and stop reading the news.”

As I sat at my desk trying to work, I felt disoriented and upset. My eyes and brain wouldn’t focus on the board meeting agenda I was trying to create.

“Okay,” I said to myself. “Enough is enough. I’ve got to get my thoughts and emotions under control. Being constantly agitated isn’t sustainable, nor is it healthy. What can I do right now to help myself?”

When feeling anxious, which is pretty much the norm for most of us, you teach the body that living in constant stress is okay. But we all know that constant stress isn’t okay; it wreaks havoc on our physical and mental health, damages relationships and makes us less effective at our jobs.

So what do you do to relieve anxiety when you are a busy executive or entrepreneur? Here is what I did.

1. Remove at least one controllable source of stress

First, I asked myself, “What’s one stressor I am in control of that I can remove right now?” I deleted all news apps from my phone and committed to quit reading the news for at least a month. I don’t watch TV, so it was all about creating more discipline around my phone-reading habits. Quitting the news has been the biggest game-changer to date. It’s incredible how much better I feel when I am not cramming my brain with doom and gloom over which I have zero control. If you are still reading or watching the news, go cold turkey for a few days and see what happens.

Related: 9 Ways High-Performing Entrepreneurs Handle Stress

2. Move your body, outside

Second, I went for a walk and listened to relaxing, fun music that made me want to sing along. I tried to stay in the present moment, watching the clouds pass by in the sky, observing the birds and insects flittering about, and noticed the sun and breeze on my skin. I took big, deep breaths, exhaling loudly through my mouth, imagining stress escaping with each exhalation. The combination of moving my body, listening to music I love, being present in the fresh air and taking deep breaths calmed me quickly.  

3. Pick two things you want to get done, do them and let the rest go

Third, I picked just two items off my to-do list, committing to get them done and saving the rest for the next day. After my walk, I felt more focused and completed the tasks. Then I smiled. I still accomplished two things while taking the pressure off of completing everything on my list, which was impossible anyway.

Related: Small Actions You Can Take to Decrease Stress at Home and Work

4. Get a good night’s sleep

Fourth, I committed to getting a good night’s sleep. After eating a healthy dinner, I took a bath, drank a mind-relaxing tea with ashwagandha instead of a glass of wine, listened to a guided mediation and turned the lights out by 9 p.m.

The next day, I felt better. I still wanted a growing dome, but I was good with forgoing the generator. I thought about looking at the news, but I realized it was just out of habit — something to do while waiting in line at the grocery store. I felt refreshed after sleeping for seven hours and working out in the morning. I picked up a book on meditation and natural healing, which has inspired me to let go of negative thought and emotion patterns and meditate more.

I still haven’t read the news; it’s going on three weeks, and I feel remarkably better. I meditate every day, read books instead of the news, and feel happier and more positive.

Simple doesn’t mean easy, but if you are successful for one day, you can build upon it and try it again the next day. Practicing is how you create new patterns and habits, and you might be surprised at how much better you start to feel.

Related: 8 Reasons Sleep Is Crucial for Entrepreneurs and Leaders

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These days, anyone can become an entrepreneur thanks to all the digital resources available at your fingertips. However, what many entrepreneurs soon learn after taking the leap into owning their own business is that it takes a special level of passion and drive to ride the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 20% of small businesses fail within the first year and 50% fail after 5 years.

So, how do you know that you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur?

1. You’re always striving for more

When I was 11 years old, I took on my first job as a paperboy for a 50-home route. I was thrilled to have my own money and was soon eager to find a way to make more. I thought about other products I could deliver to my customers and began offering cleaning products to my customers when I met with them twice a month. Looking back, I see now that this drive was a clear indication of my entrepreneurial spirit, even as a young boy. A hunger for more is something that I see in nearly every successful entrepreneur.

Related: Is Your Personality Permanent? New Research Says ‘No.’

2. You’re a problem solver

When creating a new business or product, I always recommend starting with a pain point. What’s missing in the industry you’d like to be in? Is there a process that can be simplified or solved with a product or service? After working in the insurance industry in the 90s, I began to consider how the industry could be improved. It’s notoriously slow and generally behind the times, so I knew there was a way to take it to the next level. With the internet and computer access more readily available at this time, I anticipated that there could be a way to merge these technological advancements with the slow-moving processes of the insurance industry. In 1993, I developed a laptop enrollment system to communicate core benefits and voluntary benefits 10 years before the industry considered digital methods. If identifying and creating solutions to pain points comes naturally to you, chances are you’d make a great entrepreneur.

Related: Personality Intelligence: What It Is, Why You Need It and How to Get It

3. You’re a self-starter

When it comes down to running your own business, the only person who can push you is you. Entrepreneurship is hard work and isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t have the motivation to lead your company, put in the long nights and make tough decisions, it’s likely your business will never get off the ground. True entrepreneurs know that their fate is in their own hands and use that as motivation to push themselves to be the best they can be for their business.

I’ve started multiple businesses in the last 40 years, and I’ve experienced firsthand how challenging entrepreneurship can be, but I’ve also experienced the rewards. If you’re an entrepreneur at heart, it’s time to harness your drive and creativity. You’ll be amazed at where it can take you.

Related: 10 Personality Traits of Legendary Entrepreneurs

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Every company in every industry has accounting needs, and those needs change dramatically as a company grows and expands. When a company has a true partnership with an accounting firm, it’s able to think multiple steps ahead and make sure there’s a plan in place.

While each company is unique, some general qualities tend to define a successful relationship with an accounting firm at each stage.

Companies engaging an accounting firm for the first time

If your company is reaching out to an accounting firm, it’s likely because you are reacting to a need such as tax compliance requirements or an arrangement that now requires a financial statement audit, review or compilation.

The first step is to explore if your need extends further than what prompted the initial call. For instance, it’s important to consider how tax compliance decisions being made for the business will impact the individual owners.  

Make sure that the firm you engage can move beyond that immediate need and help you get in front of the next challenge or question that is going to arise. Ideally, that firm will not just react to questions or problems, but help you structure your growth and guide decision making in a way that is best both for current operations and the future. 

Tax and compliance in growth mode 

As your company adds new product lines, enters into different types of agreements, starts selling into different states or holds inventory in multiple locations, the need to be proactive from a tax and compliance standpoint is amplified.

While you might be able to get away with a reactive approach to accounting early in a business, as you scale, the stakes just become too high. It can be a huge jolt if you find out you owe taxes in states you weren’t planning on paying, for example.

Growing companies also tend to enter into more complex agreements, whether that’s an equity, debt or revenue arrangement. These deals can have an unexpected impact on your financials, and you need to structure deals carefully to minimize tax exposure.

At this stage, your accounting firm can’t just be solving problems. It needs to be part of your decision and review process. In addition, certain regulatory requirements kick in as your company reaches growth milestones. When you reach more than 100 employees eligible to participate in your benefits plan, for example, you’re required to have an annual employee benefit plan audit. This is a somewhat specialized function not all accounting firms offer, so you may need to engage more than one firm.

Related: 4 Reasons Why It’s Time to Hire an Accountant for Your Small Business

Filling gaps as you enter the upper-middle market

Once a company reaches a certain size, it makes sense to expand the expertise of your internal team. At that level, the relationship with your accounting firm moves toward a higher level of technical problem-solving.

Your accounting firm should have a range of technical expertise to support your internal team. A tax partner from your accounting firm would work with your internal director of tax, while an audit partner would be more engaged with the CFO. 

Companies in the upper-middle market tend to rely on their accounting firms to support complex areas such as international expansion, mergers and acquisitions, stock compensation or even going public. The strategic relationship with the accounting firm is there to support the internal team and confirm the impact of these transactions.

Related: Every Entrepreneur Should Know Accounting

Ready for the unexpected

Throughout the pandemic, particularly during the early months in the spring of 2020, it was easy to see that companies of all sizes with the right accounting firm were better prepared to act quickly and decisively. 

Whether you’re answering questions about taking government assistance or temporarily shutting the business down, it’s best to have an established relationship to rely on. And the thing about those types of questions is that you rarely see them coming.

Related: Why Accounting Skills Are Indispensable for Entrepreneurs

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Some of our most constructive and creative thoughts come when we least expect them or when we’re simply taking our mind off our current challenges, if only for a brief moment.

Does simply putting one foot in front of the other help create ideas that might not have surfaced if it wasn’t for a simple walk?  

For me, it does. When walking, I often find myself coming up with solutions for situations I didn’t know I even needed to solve. It also gives me the space to think about something that was bothering me or needed to work on. Time and time again over the years, a good walk has helped me make an important decision or generate a creative solution to a troubling challenge. Movement and a bit of time to let thoughts come and go can be the best therapy there is.

Besides the obvious physical benefits, walking puts you in a “flow” zone that is hard to duplicate with any other activity. I love walking alone — but if I walk with a friend, my brainstorming kicks into high gear and ideas seem to pour out endlessly. Most of my ideas aren’t doable or practical, but that’s okay.

What I love about walking is that the only barrier besides having a decent pair of walking shoes is your discipline to walk every day, no matter what the circumstances are.

Related: This Simple Habit Could Be the Secret to Increasing Creativity

1. Walking is proven to boost creativity

A landmark study out of Stanford University found that creative output increased by a whopping 60% when participants were walking.

Through my own walking adventure, I created Walkitate, a platform honoring the role of walking in the creative process. I know that I’m a better “idea person” while I walk and in the moments after. It’s almost like the steps take away competing and conflicting thoughts and put me in a frame of mind that has clarity and compassion. I try to tap into that as much as I can, as I know it can be fleeting as the rest of the day starts to pile on with demands, frustrations and commitments.  

2. Some of the greatest thinkers were walkers

If you walk for inspiration, you’re in good company. Charles Dickens stated that he walked about 30 miles per day while thinking about his writing; Charles Darwin, Steve Jobs and Winston Churchill were all also avid strollers. The wonder of walking even dates back to ancient Greece, when Aristotle created the Walking School (Peripatetic School). The famous philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, sums it up best, saying, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

Related: Steve Jobs Systematically Cultivated His Creativity. You Can Too.

3. Walking eliminates distractions

One of the biggest challenges of being creative for your work or business is actually getting yourself into a creative mindset. When we walk, we feel better physically and start to see our thoughts more clearly. Be sure to silence your devices to get the full experience of the walk. Once external distractions are eliminated, stress and anxiety start to fade and our minds can relax. This relaxed state is where the magic tends to happen.

We spend most of our time connected to devices, whether it be the computer or laptop for working hours or smartphones for “leisure time”. But are we ever really relaxing or truly unplugging if we hop on to another device after we spent the whole day on another? 

To access the brilliance inside of ourselves, we need to spend time contemplating our ideas, understanding our emotions and motivations and aligning ourselves with our real, true selves. Walking facilitates this process, and in turn those results will show in our work. By the time you end your walk, take a few seconds to take stock of your creative thoughts and how far you came from when you began your walk to when you ended it.

That time spent alone or with a fellow walker can be invaluable, life-changing and so important for you, your ideas and everyone in your world. I honestly can’t imagine a life without lacing up my walking shoes and letting the creative thoughts begin.

Related: 3 Ways Walking Away from Your Desk Makes You Smarter

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Perhaps one of the greatest unsolved murder mysteries is that of the identity of the Zodiac Killer, a serial killer who was connected to at least five known murders between 1968 and 1969 in San Francisco.

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The killer, who has remained unidentified, became infamous and an almost pop-culture phenomenon for the signature cryptic and coded letters and messages he or she would send to police and press after each killing.

But one cold-case investigative squad claims that over 50 years later, they’ve uncovered his identity.

The Case Breakers, an independent investigative team made up of former police officers, journalists and military intelligence, have identified the killer as Gary Francis Poste, a man who passed away in 2018.

The team reports that they’ve uncovered new evidence and photos from Poste’s darkroom (without going into specific detail) and cite scars on Poste’s forehead that are nearly identical to those on the proposed police sketch of the Zodiac Killer.

Former Army counterintelligence agent Jen Bucholtz also revealed that in one of the killer’s coded letters, removing Poste’s full name changes the code to reveal an “alternate message.”

“You’ve got to know Gary’s full name in order to decipher these anagrams,” Bucholtz told Fox News. “I just don’t think there’s any other way anybody would have figured it out.”

The Vallejo Police Department and the FBI had not yet responded to Fox News for comment.

The investigation of the Zodiac Killer still remains ongoing.

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When the global pandemic of 2020 struck, it changed everything. Business models established decades ago collapsed. Novel demand segments were born overnight. The transition into a hybrid and digital world of work accelerated at an unprecedented pace. As did the need for better work-life balance. 

A lack of work-life balance is not a new problem for organizations; we’ve been struggling with it for decades. We’ve put yoga rooms in offices. We’re on top of employee healthcare perks. We’ve even reimbursed team members for ergonomic chairs for their home offices. But has this been enough? 

Despite all that you might have done as a leader, I’m almost certain that much of your organization still struggles with work-induced anxiety and leading a well-rounded life. Perhaps you struggle with it yourself. I know what you’re probably thinking. As a senior executive or entrepreneur, you are responsible for both: the dividends of your shareholders and the wellbeing of your teams. This duality is fairly incongruous and not one easily resolved. I understand because I’ve been in your shoes. To make matters worse, given the recent economic turmoil, you need to get your numbers out of the red while helping your employees thrive. You’ve tried having Zoom meetings early in the morning to motivate your teams. You’ve asked for timesheets to be filled in after office hours so that work isn’t interrupted. But none of this is really helping.

Why are we unable to help our colleagues with better work-life balance and better lifestyles? Why do we keep advocating “smart” work and yet keep expecting them to work harder? Where are we going wrong? With such extraordinary innovation possible with tech, do we need to entirely reimagine the world of work for the new digital age?

Our journey at Fluid began with such questions. It began by trying to zero in on the problem and with a deep dive into the current landscape of digital work and project management. 

Related: Is Work-Life Balance Even Possible?

The problem: many tools, many gaps 

I was always cognizant of doing all I could to help my colleagues work smart. I ensured I was on top of the best project management, productivity and communication tools available and I found no dearth of fantastic applications. We had Microsoft Projects to write our plans on. We had Excel to build and track revenue projections. We had Asana to create milestones and delegate work. And Trello to make various project boards. We used Zoom and Loom to communicate. And of course, there was PowerPoint for all those pitch decks and investor updates. 

The issue? All our tools for creating, delegating, and managing projects across teams were disparate and siloed. There were files scattered across laptops, different programs being used for different purposes by different teams, and our managers were trying to stay on top of it all while finding ways to justify where all their team’s time was going. It was disheartening to see that more often than not, the firm’s focus was on managing items of work rather than the actual work that would drive us forward. 

I understood the problem: Despite the abundance of programs from the strongest players in the industry, the solutions couldn’t speak to each other, and work still hadn’t become easier, faster, or better. Until this could happen, until work could become truly smarter, a better work-life balance could not be achieved. We now knew exactly what Fluid would do.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s possible that you think you’ve identified a problem for which you can design a solution. Or if you’re a decision-maker at a large organization, it’s likely that your team comes to you with managerial or productivity problems every day. In either case, from my experience, one more tool or standalone application is never the answer. At best, it’s a short-term fix. You want to dig in and get to the root of the matter. You want to think holistically. Why are people struggling? Is there one problem, or several inter-related ones? Is there a systemic flaw? Before you can arrive at designing or investing in any solution, you want to first ensure you’ve really understood the crux of your problem. 

Related: Defining Problems: The Most Important Business Skill You’ve Never Been Taught

The solution: one all-encompassing and transparent work ecosystem 

In building Fluid, we were very clear about the value we wanted to offer. We wanted to leverage tech to create a platform onto which an entire organization could log on, and never have to leave. We’d give them everything they would need in one place. Fluid provides users space to work on projects, collaborate and communicate with colleagues, and attend meetings. It equips project managers with a top-down view. No more manual PowerPoint reports for meetings. No more running around finding the agenda. No more writing minutes. Everything’s automated. Everything’s seamless. Everyone can focus on their work as opposed to their administrative tasks.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my journey is that for any entrepreneur or innovator, maintaining an obsessive focus on providing value is crucial. It keeps you from thinking in terms of expenses, revenue models, competitors, and investors, and focused on the real answers for the real problem. It encourages you to reiterate till you have something truly innovative. It prevents you from finding solutions that are divorced from the actual gap in the market. Always maintain value for clients as your north star, and you won’t be lost.

Related: Four Ways To Give Your Customers Value

Building a people-first approach changes everything 

Any entrepreneur’s or leader’s foremost responsibility is to take care of his or her people. There are many ways to do this, but the best way is to promote transparency. Involve all your team members in business-level updates. Let them know they’re a part of a larger vision. Talk to them about their dreams and the emotions that go with them. Ask for feedback and truly listen. No matter how glaring the gap in the market and how innovative your solution, putting people first (and encouraging them to put clients first) will take you to far greater heights, than putting your product first will ever do. Think about the waves you could help make by truly putting your people first, working a better day, and living a better life.

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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are suffering the longest of their service interruptions on record, a drop that would be affecting millions of users around the world.

Depositphoto.com

Why did Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger go down?

It’s not uncommon for Facebook to have localized outages, but with nearly 3 billion monthly users, it is strange that it has global “blackouts.”

According to the Ars Technica site, significant DNS flaws were found on Facebook. The Domain Name System is the service that translates human-readable host names (like Entrepreneur.com) to raw numeric IP addresses (like 19.223.456.245). Without a functional DNS, a computer basically does not know how to reach the servers that host the website it is looking for. However, the site mentions, Instagram also went down and its DNS services, which are hosted on Amazon. So at the moment we only have many theories and few answers.

This is what we know so far:

+ Since 11 in the morning in the American continent, WhatsApp users on both iPhone and Android have not been able to communicate through messages, calls or video conferences.

+ The technology reporter of the New York Times , Sheera Frenkel, reported that some Facebook employees have not been able to enter the buildings of the social network due to an interruption in internal services.

+ When trying to access Facebook through the browser, users receive a domain error message, while Instagram and WhatsApp do not load new posts or allow new searches.

+ Facebook posted a message to users using another social media platform, Twitter, at 12:22 p.m. on Monday.

“We are aware that some people have problems accessing our applications and products,” the company wrote from its official account. “We are working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

+ The Instagram PR team posted a similar message on the official Instagram Comms Twitter account.

“Instagram and your friends are having a bit of a difficult time right now, and you may have trouble using them,” the tweet read. “Bear with us, we’re on it! #Instagramdown.”

+ The site for detecting service interruptions in web pages Downdetector.com detected interruptions in densely populated areas such as Mexico City, Los Angeles, London and Paris.

Image: Downdetector.com

+ According to Euronews , Internet users who use their Facebook credentials to access third-party services, such as Pokemon Go, have also not been able to access due to lack of connection.

+ On September 13, the Wall Street Journal published a series of stories in which it revealed that Facebook was ‘aware’ of the problems that its products caused, such as the damage of Instagram to the mental health of adolescents and misinformation on topics such as the Covid-19 or the riots presented in the United States Capitol in early 2021.

+ Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product engineer, came out this morning as the insider leaked numerous internal documents last week. He accused the company of “choosing profit over safety.”

+ On Wall Street, Facebook’s stock price fell nearly 6 percent to cut its value by $ 50 billion. For this reason, in just a few hours, Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth was reduced by almost $ 7 billion .

In a moment more information …



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You’re reading Entrepreneur United States, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

In 2021, what you can’t afford as an entrepreneur is not having a presence online. In particular, what you must have is a professional website. 

This might sound silly and obvious, yet, there are many entrepreneurs and businesses out there who either don’t have a website or don’t take care of their online presence, they developed their website ten years ago and it hasn’t been upgraded since then.

Even if you do have a website, you need to make it visible and authoritative, it needs to attract customers and, ideally, also do better than the websites of your competitors.

To give you a real-life analogy, ranking on search engines has the same effect as the location of a physical store in a town. Even if you do have the best window display imaginable, if nobody is going past your shop, they are never going to know about you. Where your website is concerned, think more “high street” than “side street.”

Your website has one major thing in common with a successful store, they both need lots of traffic (visitors).

So, how do you get to improve your ranking on the likes of Google, Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, etc.? The first step is to understand what the most important search engine ranking factors are.

The Most Important Ranking Factors:

  • Backlinks: the number of links you have from other websites. In particular, what actually influences how your website ranks is the number of domains pointing to it.
  • On-Page SEO: as Moz explains, on-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.
  • The Quality of Your Content: high-quality content provides a better user experience, and this is why it ranks better on Google. Did you know that the longer a person stays on a web page, the higher your website will rank? Google reckons that the longer someone stays on a website, the better the website must be, and it is trying desperately to provide quality search engine results.
  • Page Speed: how quickly a page loads to users.

Once you know how ranking works, you can start working on optimizing your website.

What follows are the things you can do to increase your visibility online and attract more clients.

Start Blogging

The best thing you can do to attract traffic  — and potential clients —  to your website is consistently putting out high-quality articles.

Show your expertise in your field through your content, show your potential customers you can solve their problem and make your content visible. They will eventually knock on your door.

Do Keyword Research

In order to increase your visibility, you need to know which are the most common terms used to search for products or services that you offer. If your article ranks high for one or more popular keywords, you will receive increased organic (natural, not forced) traffic.

To find the most popular keywords around the topics you know about, you can use several tools. 

Personally, to do keyword research the only tools I use are Google Trends and the Ubersuggest Chrome Extension. They are free and very easy to use.

If I see that a keyword is popular and the SD (SEO difficulty) is not too high, I write an article around it and optimize it. The SD is a metric that tells you from 1 to 100 how difficult it is to compete for a certain keyword.

If you use WordPress, make sure to install the free version of the Yoast plugin, as it helps you optimize your content around your chosen keywords and improve its readability.

Use keywords naturally in the content and don’t try to overload the text with the keyword(s) — search engines no longer use density of keyword use as a metric. The best places to put keywords are in the main heading of the article, in a few of the paragraph headings, and just a sprinkling throughout the actual text.

Create a Plan

In order to have more visibility, you need to have a content plan. For example, if you are a personal development coach, you need to find keywords with a high-volume search around these topics that will interest your potential clients, and then create interesting, easily read articles that target those keywords (800 words is a good length for a blog post).

In other words, the keywords you target should be the phrases your potential clients will use to search on Google.

You can also target a group of keywords with one single post. I use Excel, as it’s the best tool to annotate everything you need, to organize a blog post around a group of keywords.

Focus on On-page SEO

Once you have written one or more articles, you have to make sure they are all well optimized to appear in search results.

Here’s a quick reminder of what you should check has been done before publishing a post:

  • The keyword you chose should be included in the URL, better if the slug corresponds to the keyword. For example, if the keyword is how to be confident, the URL should be something like: yourwebsite.com/how-to-be-confident
  • Make sure the keyword appears in the first paragraph of the article;
  • It should also be included in the title, better if you include it at the beginning;
  • The keyword should be included in some of the subheadings;
  • Make sure the keyword is included in the alt text of the featured image.

If you have the Yoast plugin, you will automatically see a checklist at the end of your article.

Build Backlinks

When people link to your webpages, these will be more likely to rank high on search engines.

To build backlinks, the best things you can do are writing high-quality content, so that people want to link to it, and guest blogging.

Guest blogging on authoritative websites is the best form of building backlinks to start receiving more traffic on your own website.

For example, my website is about personal development and relationships, and I have guest posts on platforms such as Thrive Global and Plenty of Fish. 

This helped some of my articles rank on the first page of Google for several popular keywords, and all this happened just a few months after launching my website.

Avoid Black-Hat SEO Like the Plague

While white-hat SEO practices — such as guest blogging, keyword optimization and actively participating in forums without spamming other users — are completely legitimate, black-hat techniques aren’t.

Black-hat SEO practices may work really well to rank higher. With one caveat, they only work in the short term as they go against the Google Webmaster Guidelines. 

In the long term they may damage the credibility and authority of your website, because Google has several algorithms which are designed to detect black-hat methods and penalize the websites that engage in those practices.

Now you might ask: “Ok Sira, but what are some examples of black-hat SEO?”

Here are a few examples of black-hat practices: 

  • Buying backlinks;
  • Keyword stuffing, that is filling your content with your target keyword so that the text sounds unnatural;
  • Auto-generated or spun content with backlinks pointing to your site;
  • Spamming forums with backlinks pointing to your website.

WARNING — If Google does catch you using black-hat techniques to improve your website ranking, it will penalize you by dropping your ranking way down and, no matter how much you then try to improve your ranking, it won’t make any difference. Many businesses have been ruined by using black hat SEO.

Convert Your Readers Into Clients

The most important step is to convert your readers into clients. That’s why you started to create content, right?

There are several ways you can do this. In particular, some of the most common  — and effective  — methods are the following:

  • Add a call to action at the end of your article, for example inviting the reader to schedule a call with you;
  • Create a pop up to collect your readers email, and then promote your product or service though a newsletter;
  • Promote your products or services in the sidebars or throughout the article.

Attracting organic traffic to your website and converting users to clients is not easy, and it’s a long-term journey. You need a lot of patience. However, if you do it the right way, with love and a lot of dedication, you can definitely outsmart your competitors and really grow your little empire into a massive one.

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