Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The 1993 book Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants explored the oft-stated theory that the real catalyst behind the industrial revolution was caffeine — specifically the kind you get from guzzling coffee. Author Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s premise is that when 18th-century families ditched cold brews (yes back then it was a beverage for the whole clan, regardless of age or heavy machinery usage) for hot cups of Joe, western civilization went into hyper-productive mode.
Related: 5 Ways That Coffee Affects Productivity
A billion tall, non-fat, half-caff, caramel drizzle lattes later, we took a jittery-eyed look at several highly-effective entrepreneurs’ java ingestion. How does yours match up?
Elon Musk, two cups a day
The insanely busy Tesla and SpaceX founder drinks just two cups per day. But Elon Musk’s mocha moderation wasn’t always so. The CEO has said that his caffeine intake included an unhealthy amount of Diet Coke back in the day, but nowadays he’s canned the Diet Coke cans altogether.
Related: 5 Habits That Made Elon Musk an Innovator
David Lynch, seven cups a day (when brainstorming)
The awesomely odd auteur’s caffeinated characters who populate his fictionalized town of Twin Peaks made a “damn good cup of coffee” cool way before Starbucks became STARBUCKS™.
Said the celluloid scientist of his secret sauce in a past interview, “I [used to eat] at Bob’s Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee — with lots of sugar. And there’s lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It’s a thick shake. In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob’s.”
Peaks Freaks can take what they will from the fact that Lynch wrote at a restaurant called “Bob’s.”
Related: Waco’s Twin Peaks Loses Franchise Rights After Biker Gang Gun Fight
Richard Branson, 20 cups (of tea)
When you routinely wake up at 5:30 a.m. to go kiteboarding, you need a little something to get you through the day. And according to Virgin.com, Sir Richard Branson’s “little something” is upwards of 20 cups of tea, white with no sugar.
Related: ‘Screw It, Just Do It’: Exclusive Video Interview With Richard Branson
Heidi Klum, 1 morning latte
Jeff Kravitz | Getty Images
Modeling icon and TV host Heidi Klum told SHAPE, “We busy ladies need our coffee fix in the morning. My day doesn’t really start until I’ve had my Starbucks latte.”
Ludwig van Beethoven, exactly 60 beans per cup
Ludwig van Beethoven may have hard of hearing, but he was never hard up when it came to his favorite upper. The greatest composer of all time was as precise with his coffee beans per cup (60) as he was with his numerically titled symphonies (9).
Not to be outdone, Ludwig’s (kinda) contemporary, Johann Sebastian Bach, turned a popular poem making fun of the Vienna coffeehouse scene into one of the German genius’s lesser-known jams titled “The Coffee Cantata” in 1732. (That was, like, NWA-level rebellious back then!)
Related: From Beethoven to Marissa Mayer: The Bizarre Habits of High Achievers
David Letterman, lots
CBS Photo Archive | Getty Images
In a 1994 interview with Esquire, Letterman explained how coffee factored into his hosting abilities: “Way too much coffee. But if it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever. So that’s what we have here.”
Theodore Roosevelt, one gallon per day
TR’s son once said that the 26th president’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub,” and that he coupled his reported “gallon” of coffee a day with five lumps of sugar. We’re not saying this explains the mustachioed maniac’s ability to finish an hour-plus-long speech after getting shot by would-be assassin John Schrank in 1912, but were not not saying it either.
Related: 10 Inspiring Presidential Quotes
Gertrude Stein, at least 2 cups
Hulton Archive | Getty Images
The famous writer and patron of the arts once wrote: “Coffee gives you time to think. It’s a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”
Mark Zuckerberg, zero
While the Facebook founder has never confronted our hard-hitting premise directly, in 2010 he did reply to the owner of a highly caffeinated gum’s offer of a sample with the following diss: “Sorry I don’t like caffeine.” Get it? “Like”? Good one, Zuck.
Related: 18 Weird Things You Didn’t Know About Mark Zuckerberg
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The following excerpt is from Jason Rich’s book Ultimate Guide to YouTube for Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code SOCIAL2021 through 5/27/21.
Everyone who uses YouTube to promote themselves or their company has their own goals. The following is information about six popular ways YouTube can be used as part of your overall online strategy to achieve your company’s goals.
1. Promote yourself as an online personality and entertain your audience
One strategy small businesses use effectively to personalize their brand and build a rapport with the audience is to use YouTube videos to introduce their company’s leaders and position these people as spokespeople who appear in videos. Some company spokespeople have even achieved celebrity status from starring in YouTube videos to promote themselves, their products and/or their companies.
If you’re a small-business owner with a big personality, consider starring in your own YouTube videos to help build your company’s brand, tell its story and promote its message. Featuring the actual leader of your company can help personalize your business and build its credibility. You could also demonstrate products, speak authoritatively and boost your company’s brand recognition and reputation.
Related: 5 Social Media Rules Every Entrepreneur Should Know
2. Share your knowledge, commentary or how-to information
One reason YouTube has become so popular is that in addition to watching countless hours of entertaining videos, people can quickly find informative and easy-to-understand how-to videos about any topic imaginable. As a business owner, chances are you have expertise that other people could easily benefit from.
YouTube offers an informal yet powerful way to communicate directly with your customers, in your own words, in a forum that gives you absolute control over the content. Using a bit of creativity, chances are you’ll come up with a handful of ideas about how your business could benefit from communicating directly with its customers (or potential customers) using YouTube. For example, you could create a product demonstration or product comparison video. Other options might be to showcase customer testimonials in a video or to create how-to videos that explain how to assemble, operate or use your products/services.
One popular trend on YouTube is for companies or individuals to produce “unboxing” videos. Basically, someone takes a new (still packaged) product, then films themselves opening and using the product for the first time, as they share their initial impressions. These videos are watched by people interested in the product, but who haven’t yet purchased it.
In addition, many companies have dramatically cut costs associated with offering telephone technical support by supplementing printed product manuals and product assembly instructions (which people hate to read and find difficult to understand) with informative how-to videos that are highly engaging.
3. Introduce a new product or service and direct people to your online store
Showcasing products on YouTube is a low-cost yet highly effective way to demonstrate products to your customers, showcase features and explain how to best use a product especially if you’re operating an online-based business or there’s an online component to your traditional retail business. In addition to showcasing a product’s features or functions, you can use YouTube videos to answer commonly asked questions.
Keep in mind, people who use YouTube don’t want to watch blatant commercials for your products or services. Consumers are already bombarded with advertising in their everyday lives. While your videos can certainly promote a product or service, and build awareness or demand for it, take a soft-sell approach that’s entertaining as well as informative.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
4. Teach people how to use a product or service
Many businesses have discovered that producing YouTube videos as an instructional tool can help improve customer loyalty, reduce returns and allow a business to enhance its customer service efforts without putting a strain on resources.
How-to videos for a product offer a different approach than a product demo, yet both approaches can benefit businesses looking to promote and sell products. While a how-to video is designed to teach someone how to do something, a product demo simply showcases a product’s features or functions, and gives the viewer a chance to see a product in action. Either type of video can be used as part of a business-to-consumer or business-to-business sales and marketing strategy.
Instructional videos can help to reduce incoming customer service (and tech support) calls. You can produce instructional videos to teach people how to assemble and/or use a product, for example, plus help customers easily discover the true potential of a product, while eliminating their potential frustration. Your videos can also be used to highlight lesser-known features of or uses for a product that your customers might not otherwise consider.
5. Share video footage of business presentations you’ve given
If you’ve presented a lecture, workshop or some type of presentation, consider uploading the edited video footage of it to YouTube for your customers, clients and the public to see. This will help establish you as an expert or authority, allow you to convey valuable information to potential customers and clients, plus help you build awareness of you and your company.
This information can be supplemented with an animated and narrated digital slide (PowerPoint) presentation that you post on your YouTube channel, and/or include a recorded one-on-one interview with you talking about something in which your (potential) customers or clients would be interested.
Related: 12 Social Media Mistakes That Entrepreneurs Make
6. Provide background information about your company and tell its story
Every company has a story to tell, as do the founders or current leaders of that business. By telling your story, chances are, you’ll be able to enhance your customer loyalty and brand awareness, while also educating the public about what your company does and its core philosophies.
Any type of behind-the-scenes videos can also be useful. For example, you can produce and publish a video that focuses on how your product(s) are made, provide a tour of your company and introduce some of the people who work at your company within the video(s). If you’ve invented a product, you can explain where the inspiration for the product came from and why you’re personally passionate about the product.
Did you enjoy your book preview? Click here to grab a copy today—now 60% off when you use code SOCIAL2021 through 5/27/21.
As an ambitious young man looking to leave his mark on the world, Oded Brenner never planned to make chocolate. He probably didn’t plan to be bald, either, but when we spoke on the phone, the 52-year-old founder of Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man suggested that plans are often a detour from the main event. He quoted John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
Growing up in Israel, Brenner wanted to be a writer. But he needed money to finance his writing, and it turned out he had a knack for making pastries. So he went to Paris to study under the chocolatier Michel Chaudun, and in 1996, when he was 25, he returned to Israel to open a chocolate shop in the small town of Ra’anana.
“The things I was doing in my shop were very out of the box, different from classic European chocolate stores,” he says. “I felt there was a big gap between the way people talk and think about chocolate and the way they experience it in the retail world. Traditional chocolate stores treat chocolate almost like jewelry, in these beautiful boxes — don’t touch it! But when I talked to my customers, they were talking about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, sexy gifts, romantic childhood memories, the emotional connotations of chocolate. So this was the beginning of Max Brenner. I said: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Let’s create chocolate pipes that go all around the restaurant. Let’s create a ‘hug mug,’ so you can hug your mug close and feel like you are in a chalet on a ski vacation. You say, ‘I’m addicted to chocolate, I want a chocolate fix.’ So I created a big syringe full of chocolate so you can shoot it into your mouth. And so on. I really turned it into a chocolate amusement park.”
Word of the chocolate amusement spread, and Max Brenner (a hat-tip to Brenner and his original partner, Max Fichtman) quickly became a household name in Israel. In 2001, the company was acquired by Israeli food conglomerate Strauss Group. And while the brand continued to grow, moving its headquarters to New York and opening 50-plus international locations, Brenner began to feel the loss of control more acutely. With Strauss’s blessing, he opened a separate cafe chain, Little Brown Chocolate Bakery & Coffee, in 2011. But when the new concept started to find success, Strauss sued him for violating his non-compete. Brenner fought down to his last penny, but still lost both Little Brown and his place at Max Brenner. And he was banned from creating anything chocolate-related or putting his name or face on any brand for five years (Entrepreneur reached out to Strauss for comment but didn’t receive a response prior to publication).
Brenner says those five years were the darkest of his life; he moved his family, struggled financially, called up friends to ask for help finding work. His whole sense of self changed. But when the exile was over, he returned with a new venture. In 2018, the Blue Stripes: Urban Cacao shop opened just a block and a half from the Max Brenner flagship in Union Square. Brenner had discovered the myriad uses of cacao — a football-shaped fruit with white, somewhat ghostly-looking “pods” inside — on a trip to a Blue Mountain Coffee plantation in Jamaica. He was aghast to learn that chocolatiers only use 30 percent of the whole “superfood,” and trash the rest. “I was shocked that I had dealt with chocolate for 20 years and was so unaware of the potential,” Brenner says. “I was like, wow, this is cacao the way I want to talk about it. The purity and the cultural origins of it.”
Blue Stripes uses all parts (shell, fruit and pods) of the cacao to make impressively healthy products — from cacao water and dried fruit, to cookies, energy bars and protein balls, keto dessert bites, granola, hazelnut butter, and pastry flour.
“I think Max Brenner was a phenomenal brand,” Brenner says. “But what I’m doing today with Blue Stripes is much more beautiful in terms of both creativity and meaningful message. When you see what’s going on around the world — climate change, pollution, the gap between the rich and other countries — it feels like finally here is a small way that I, with my 25 years of experience, can do something to make a change. And all of this came about because of those five years of hell.”
In a candid conversation, Brenner opened up about what he learned while going through his own personal hell. He talked about his initial fateful decision to sell Max Brenner, trying to work in a corporate environment as an entrepreneur, the bitterness that came with losing control of his own creation, being banned from doing what he was best at, and how he came to view those five years in the emotional and financial wilderness as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His perspective is valuable to entrepreneurs considering selling equity in their business, those in the midst of a nasty split with business partners, or anyone simply figuring out how to start again after a staggering loss.
Image credit: Oded Brenner
What were the factors that led up to you deciding to sell Max Brenner?
Max Brenner was a big success from the beginning, but the success had nothing to do with making money. I had a lot of fame, I was participating in many TV shows, and everybody knew about the brand. But maybe three years in, if I was making money, it was for sure not enough to continue. So I had to bring on a partner. Strauss was the largest food corporation in Israel, and they basically took over the company. They gave me a very nice salary, bonuses here and there, consulting fees and a little bit of royalties, but left me with a very small percentage in the brand — 3.5% equity. I became a very minor shareholder.
What was your mindset at that time?
I was exhausted, I didn’t want to let this dream die completely, and I didn’t have the money to continue. So I had no other choice. I wanted to believe that we would grow this thing together, and I would still benefit from it. I was convincing myself that it would eventually be a billion dollar company, and my 3.5% could be $35 million. But to be honest with you, I was also so in love with my own creation that I wasn’t thinking rationally from any business angle. I couldn’t stand to think of the stores closing down. I couldn’t stop getting the love from my customers. I was addicted — in a good way — to the food, to the love, to the applause. I didn’t want it to stop. And I didn’t really think about what it meant that I had just a 3.5% vote on anything. I thought that three, four, five years later I would look back and say, “I saved the brand.”
Did Strauss give you the impression that you would retain creative control?
Yes, they gave me the impression that, “You’re Max, you’re the bald man! You’re this amazing guy, you’re the creator!” Today I’m less naive than I was then, and I think experienced people do a lot of these things intentionally. I don’t say intentionally in such a bad way, but they are looking at it as pure, cruel business. So yes, they gave me the impression that there was no brand without me, even though they didn’t actually share the same vision as me.
What was it like going from running your company to being part of a corporation?
Many people told me that an entrepreneur cannot work in a corporate environment. It’s almost like an impossible marriage. I don’t want to generalize, but usually, an entrepreneur is a very impulsive, gut-instinct person. He has crazy passion, like a fire. He wants to do things, he wants to see them happen right now. The corporate process is extremely different. It’s, “Let’s think about it, analytics, who told you this is true? Why this packaging? Why these colors? Why are you changing the brand language?” It’s endless. When you say, “Let’s try to sell in Japan,” it’s, “Why Japan? Who told you it’s a market?” But the Japanese love dark chocolate! “How do you know, show us research. Why do you think this is the way?” The entrepreneur usually doesn’t think, he knows. He’s pushing and he makes mistakes. But he just says, “Okay, so this was a mistake. Doesn’t matter.” This is almost his nature to push forward and make things happen. And the corporate is mostly people who are running an already existing business. It’s not good or bad, but they are thinking and analyzing and slowly, “Let’s bring in a consultant.” An entrepreneur and a consultant, they are like oil and water. I mean, they cannot work together.
How did your relationship with the corporate Max Brenner team start to sour?
For a very long time, bitterness and frustration were building up. At some point, I started to show up less to meetings, and I think they were relieved because they didn’t want to see me there. I was showing up for PR, events, interviews, whatever, here and there, and I was making new recipes sometimes. But in general, I wanted to be involved less and less. And eventually I decided that I wanted to start a new concept, like a Starbucks of chocolate — smaller stores, self-service, quick serve. It was called Little Brown. I pitched it to Max Brenner and they weren’t interested, so I told them, “I think it’s not in competition with Max Brenner, and I want to open a store like this under a different brand name.” They said no problem. So I opened one on the upper East side, and then I had a franchise in Russia and one in Dubai, and I leased another store in Chelsea… they never told me I was doing anything bad. But one day the chairman of Max Brenner came to me and told me, “Listen, I don’t think it’s working between us, we should split.” I told him no problem. But then he said, “You need to stop doing this and this and this in Little Brown.” I said, “I cannot, I already have franchisees, and you know you’re jeopardizing my concept.” Well he didn’t say anything much, and then one day on a Friday afternoon, somebody knocked on the door and said, “You’re being served.”
What was the legal battle like?
I was extremely emotional, like, “I’m going to show you and fight.” You just don’t think that a $3 billion corporate company is going to smash you, but that’s what happened. It was a very short and aggressive fight. Then we went to court, and right when we started the discussion the judge said, “You should settle.” I had not a drop of energy to continue fighting, not a dime left in my pocket. So I gave up on everything. The five year non-compete was always part of the settlement. But I just wanted it to finish, I didn’t care. I’m lucky because at some point they even said 10 years and I was ready to sign.
You had to really change your lifestyle after losing the court battle. What was that like?
I lived a very comfortable life in Manhattan, and I moved my family to a very small house in Jersey. We had one car, we didn’t go out to restaurants. No vacations, no nothing. I had to call friends and ask for help. It’s not pleasant when you were the big shot who gave job interviews, and now you need to do job interviews or ask friends to hire you for consulting work. And consulting is very unstable work. You never know when you’ll get the next job. Sometimes I had a little more money, sometimes I didn’t have any. And I was very surprised how much people don’t want me as a consultant. I thought, “I’m the bald man, Max Brenner, everybody needs my advice!” It was not that easy. Nobody was waiting for the bald man. But eventually I started to fill up a CV, which I’d never had before. For a self-made man who was the boss, becoming an employee is devastating. But I said, this is another stage in the journey I need to go though.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who need to bring on partners for their company to survive?
Don’t give up control. Be extremely tough in the negotiation. If people really want your brand, they will give in eventually. If not, they’re not the right partners. They will negotiate hard because they are more experienced than you. Sometimes they will be mentally stronger because you’re in a very tough spot, and you are tired and exhausted. But don’t give up on equity because equity is the most important thing. And I’m not talking here about a huge, mature brand. Then you can give up on control and it’s a different situation. But when a brand is in the earliest stages of entrepreneurship, you need to have control in the decision-making. Even if you are kind of diluted in your financial equity of the company, because sometimes somebody’s putting a lot of money in and yeah, the company is not in a great situation. I understand this, but if you’re not going to have the control, it’s not going to be your company.
What did you learn from the emotional journey?
At a certain point, you just want to collapse. You’re angry at the world, angry at God, angry at everyone. This is hell. You ask: How could this happen to me? Even though you know that part of it is probably your fault. But hopefully — and this is what I told myself — you’re not going to go through hell many times. So this is a one-time experience. I would say it even stronger: This is a one-time opportunity. Hell has benefits. It has benefits on your ego, and ego is a very destructive element in our personalities. Hell has benefits on the way you talk to other people and how you think about business. Mostly, hell makes you think a lot. It can change your personality. It is not there coincidentally, and this may sound maybe a little bit too spiritual and mystical, but I would say listen to it carefully. Give it all the room and time it needs. Feel sorry for yourself, be angry. But use this period to build you for the next stage in your life, which can be unbelievable. If you are creative, if you are a true entrepreneur, you will be able to come back and do it again, and the next thing will be better.
Related: This Entrepreneur Sells $355 Bars of Chocolate. Is He Crazy or a …
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Between documentaries and fictional films, there is a lot you can learn about the plight of entrepreneurs from the comfort of your couch. Whether you are just starting out on your business venture or have been at it for years, you can glean some powerful insights from these 18 provocative and wildly entertaining films.
Related: 17 Inspirational Quotes from Oscar-Winning Movies
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
There are actually two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre music festival that are both worth watching: Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. Watch and learn how the festival evolved from an exclusive event with celebrity and social media influencer endorsers to a mismanaged disaster that essentially stole people’s money and left them stranded on an island with meager food and shelter accommodations.
Topics covered: social media, the importance of planning and contingencies
Startup.com is a 2001 documentary film that examines the rise and fall of the real-life startup GovWorks that raised $60 million from Hearst Interactive Media, KKR, the New York Investment Fund, and Sapient. It’s good viewing to better understand the boom and bust of the dotcom period and serves as a cautionary tale on how friendships can easily be threatened by business partnerships.
Topics covered: financing, capital raising, growth management, entrepreneurship skills, team building and management skills
Catch Me If You Can
When you hear Catch Me If You Can, you picture the successful con artist Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) deceptively charming just about anyone with his skill mastery. Based on a true story, Catch me if You Can is a classic film that exemplifies the entrepreneurial journey. It touches upon important themes like creative problem solving, turning something good out of a bad situation, and the good ol’ hustle to reach success.
Topics covered: entrepreneurship skills, creativity and innovation, perseverance, business vision, personal sales techniques and entrepreneurial funding sources
Lord of War
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
If you like dark comedy with a good bit of action, Lord of War is a must-watch. This war-crime film chronicles the life of Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), an immigrant from Ukraine who decides his route to success is through illegal gun trade. Morality aside, Yuri’s ambition, tenacity, and ability to tolerate risk demonstrate the very qualities entrepreneurs need to succeed. Plus, if you want to learn more about growth hacking, building customer loyalty, and negotiation techniques, this film delves deeply into these topics. You’ll probably find yourself incorporating some of the lessons in your own business venture.
Topics covered: entrepreneurship skills, emerging markets, creative problem solving, crisis management, negotiation techniques, building customer loyalty, competitive strategies and geopolitics
Related: The 10 Traits That Define Entrepreneurial Success
20th Century Fox
Ever find yourself pushed to your limits in the pursuit of power and success? Wall Street unravels this theme through the eyes of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), an ambitious stockbroker who navigates the economic rollercoaster of Wall Street, adopting the “greed is good” mantra. This movie is a window into corporate finance, portfolio management, investment law principles and capital markets. More telling is the story of a young, susceptible mind, showing how easy it is to get carried away with the glamorous lifestyle that accompanies wealth. Plus, if you thought The Wolf of Wall Street was a bit too much, this movie is a tamer, more socially-critical version.
Topics covered: corporate finance, portfolio management, capital markets, investment law principles, mergers and acquisitions, company valuations and business ethics
Roslan Rahman | Getty Images
This 1999 film is based on a true story of the employee who single-handedly brought down the Barings Bank, the largest bank in England. The movie shows how money drives all sorts of maniacal behavior and serves as a cautionary tale about people who falsely assume that power and money make them indispensable.
Topics covered: derivatives, corporate valuation, financial reporting, capital markets, emerging markets and business ethics
Twelve Angry Men
Possibly my all-time favorite film, Twelve Angry Men is a brilliant courtroom drama that has several layers of insight on leadership, the psychology of group behavior, and conflicting value systems. This is a must watch and will leave you thinking about the way you make important decisions.
Topics covered: negotiations techniques, persuasion methods, conflict resolution and consensus building
20th Century Fox
Umm…yeah…We’re going to go ahead and ask you to watch this American comedy that perfectly satirizes corporate culture of a 1990s software company, touching upon work relationships and office politics. It’s a good laugh and will definitely get you thinking about leadership, team-building techniques, and career development.
Topics covered: corporate culture, mentoring, career development, leadership, work-life balance, personnel retention, team-building techniques and management of information technology
The Godfather Trilogy
The Godfather trilogy is possibly the all-time best cinema for entrepreneurs, highlighting why relationships and building networks matter, why helping people lends itself to good business, and why understanding competition is non-negotiable. The movies are intensely entertaining, packed with thrilling and thought-provoking scenes that will leave you better prepared to handle your next business challenge.
Topics covered: competitive strategies, key personnel retention, corporate take-overs (friendly and hostile), alliances, mergers and acquisitions, corporate succession and long-term corporate diversification
The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects is a must-watch if you enjoy a good psychological thriller with an ambitious, twist ending. It tells the story of a group of professional criminals who find themselves in the same police line up and decide to team up and pull a lucrative heist. The movie explores themes like leadership consolidation, power and influence, and long-term business strategy, which serve as valuable insight for established and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Topics covered: leadership consolidation, power and influence, long-term business strategy, collaboration, risk-and-reward compensation, entrepreneurial skills, innovation and creativity, consolidation of branding, marketing and operations and logistics planning and execution
The Smartest Guys in the Room
This 2005 documentary film is based on the best-selling book of the same name by reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, which touches upon one of the largest business scandals in American history — the collapse of the Enron Corporation. This is a must watch for a history buff or anyone looking for a thought-provoking and shocking example of modern corporate corruption.
Topics covered: accounting reporting (basic, advanced and innovative), consolidation of reports, off-shore diversification, off-balance sheet accounting, agency problems and business ethics
Related: What Working at Enron Taught Me About Corporate Ethics
How to Get Ahead in Advertising
Even if you’re not looking for advertising advice, How to Get Ahead in Advertising will teach you a thing or two about creative problem-solving. The film was a flop when first released, but redeemed itself many years later and is touted as a brilliantly entertaining satire of the advertising industry. It will definitely make you think differently about business in the commercial world.
Topics covered: marketing strategy, advertising know-how, market segmentation and branding
The Devil Wears Prada
20th Century Fox
The Devil Wears Prada will motivate you to take the plunge and pursue your dream job. It’s a movie that shows how to handle uncomfortable situations, how to navigate worlds that seem unfamiliar, and how hard work pays off eventually. It’s also an interesting window into the fashion industry and will teach you a thing or two on how to work your way up the corporate ladder.
Topics covered: branding, sales techniques, importance of media and career development
Thank You For Smoking
20th Century Fox
Thank You For Smoking is the perfect film for a marketing savvy entrepreneur or someone who wants to learn a few tricks on how to sell just about any product. The film tells the story of tobacco industry lobbyist Nick Naylor who creatively spins arguments to defend the cigarette industry in the most challenging of situations. This is a great watch for those wanting to learn a few things about crisis management, corporate communications, PR and negotiation tactics.
Topics covered: public relations, marketing and advertising campaigns, crisis management, corporate communications and effective negotiations skills
Related: 5 Crisis Management Tips Olivia Pope Would Endorse
Glengarry Glen Ross
New Line Cinema
Glengarry Glen Ross is based on the award-winning play about four real estate salesmen whose jobs are on the line when the corporate office announces that in one week all except the top two men will be fired. This movie is an entertaining showcase of competition and manipulation. If you’re starting a new business, be forewarned: sometimes the road to success is far more sketchy than you think.
Topics covered:sales techniques, customer relationship management, negotiations and deal closings
The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice is based on Shakespeare’s play and is one of Al Pacino’s greatest films. The story is about Bassino, a young member of the aristocratic class, who turns to a Jewish moneylender Shylock (Al Pacino) for financial help. This is a pleasurable period piece with lessons on business partnerships, risk assessment and mercantile law that still hold value today.
Topics covered: contract negotiations, mercantile law, risk assessment and business law principles
This legal drama is based on the true story of Erin Brockovich who, against all odds, helps win the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit. The film embodies female empowerment and underscores the importance of sticking to one’s scruples even in the face of obstacles. It touches upon themes like social responsibility, sustainable business models and gender biases in business.
Topics covered: social responsibility and sustainable business models
The Weinstein Company
In The Founder, we learn the incredible true story of struggling salesman Ray Kroc, whose fateful encounter with the McDonald brothers changed his life — and the way we eat food in America.
Topics covered: starting a business, perseverance, scaling a business
SBA loans might seem confusing, but the application process is relatively simple.
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When you don’t have the personal or investment capital necessary to start a business that requires a good chunk of it, the logical answer is to look into a business loan. And although just about any loan involves receiving a lump sum of cash and paying it back over a period of time, not every loan program is created equal. Out of all the business loan programs out there, many entrepreneurs tend to enjoy the accessibility and simplicity of SBA loans.
But how do you qualify for an SBA loan? The current economy is volatile, and following the financial losses caused by many coronavirus-related closures, more and more businesses are competing for precious capital. Here’s how to get in on what’s available.
Related: I Went to Prison for SBA Loan Fraud: 7 Things to Know When Taking COVID-19 Relief Money
Ensure your business meets the basic requirements
The SBA doesn’t actually give out loans; instead, it works with individual lenders to distribute loans to small businesses by setting guidelines set by its partnering lenders and community development organizations. As such, it’s crucial that your small business meets these “hard guidelines” in order to even be in the running for an SBA loan. The SBA requires that businesses are for-profit, based in the United States, and “small” (per its size standards) to start. Founders need to have invested time and money into the business, exhausted other lending options, and established the ability to repay the loan over a reasonable period of time. The SBA’s lending partners do not consider businesses that don’t meet these criteria, so if your business is technically an enterprise or you’re legally a nonprofit, you may be out of luck. (Other less common characteristics can disqualify a business as well, such as being faith-based, gambling- or marijuana-focused, or discriminatory, like any business that focuses its resources on clients of a certain gender or race.)
Iron out your credit
Like with any other loan, the SBA will examine a founder’s credit score and history to determine their likelihood and ability to pay back the loan amount. As such, SBA loans aren’t available to business owners whose credit scores are under 670, or whose credit histories recently show delinquent payments. Try retrieving a copy of your credit report prior to applying for an SBA loan, and if your credit score is on the lower end, take steps to improve the score over time.
Prepare everything on the loan submission checklist
Applying for a loan is a lot more complicated than just asking for it. The SBA requires that any business looking for a loan completes an extensive loan application, a credit memo, a cash projection document and more. Some of these items are dependent on the amount of the desired loan, the age of the business or the number of borrowers on the loan application. Although less common, 504 loans (which are used for major fixed assets that frequently involve construction or long-term machinery) require different application items, so make sure to look out for the appropriate checklist for your desired loan.
Related: 5 Best and Fast Small-Business Loans (Some of Which You’ve Never Heard of)
The SBA generally requires that business owners offer up some type of collateral to secure a loan. This is required of anyone who owns 20 percent or more of the business. Collateral can include assets such as real estate or office equipment, and can also cover things like accounts receivable, inventory and an owner’s second mortgage on their home. In the SBA’s own words, this is a founder’s way of proving that they have “skin in the game.”
Similar to any financial decision, taking on an SBA loan also comes with its risks. Offering up collateral can result in personal consequences if you can’t make your payments. SBA loans often have relatively high interest rates as well, which means more money paid back over the long-term (even though those interest rates do have a cap). And just like mortgages, SBA loans often come with origination and appraisal fees that tack onto the down payment before you can receive the actual cash you’ve applied for. All of these factors are important to consider before biting the bullet.
If you do ever take out an SBA loan, remember that they can be put to use in a variety of different ways, including recovering from the impact of Covid-19, hiring new staff, investing in new technologies and even purchasing another business. As your business continues to grow, it is worth considering how this type of loan might best benefit your business.
Related: His Criminal Record Disqualified Him From Receiving PPP. So He Pushed Back, and Got the Rules Changed.
These types of headlines have big implications for many of the reopening stocks, which is why we’ve put together a list of 3 great reopening stocks to buy now. Keep reading below to learn more.
5 min read
This story originally appeared on MarketBeat
The pandemic has certainly presented its fair share of investing opportunities for those willing to take calculated risks. That still holds true today, particularly because we are in uncharted territory with the economy gradually reopening and how it will impact certain businesses. As more people get vaccinated and start to resume their normal lives and spending habits, there are going to be big winners to come out of “the great reopening”. You could argue that there’s never been more pent-up demand for industries such as travel, hospitality, and entertainment since people have been socially distancing for the better part of the past year.
While many of these types of stocks have rallied considerably off of last year’s lows, there is likely even more upside for them as we continue to hear positive news about the reopening. For example, last week we received news that the CDC is ok with fully vaccinated people resuming activities without wearing a mask or physical distancing. These types of headlines have big implications for many of the reopening stocks, which is why we’ve put together a list of 3 great reopening stocks to buy now. Keep reading below to learn more.
Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN)
Casino and gaming stocks are the perfect example of an area of the market that could really take off as people continue getting vaccinated. That’s a big reason why Wynn Resorts should be on your shopping list, as it’s probably the best casino stock to own for the long-term given its high-quality portfolio of casinos in Las Vegas, Macau, and Boston. Investors should note that Wynn is poised to see a strong rebound in Macau revenues going forward and that the company recently announced it is reopening its Las Vegas properties at 100% occupancy. This is a great sign that things could be returning to normal for Wynn sooner than initially expected.
While Wynn Resorts did recently report a year-over-year decrease in Q1 revenue of 23.9%, CEO Matt Maddox stated “Wynn Las Vegas showed continued strength in the casino segment, with the property remaining the destination of choice for high-quality gaming customers, while forward bookings in the leisure segment improved throughout the quarter.” The company also announced that it is going to merge its online gaming division Wynn Interactive into a SPAC, which will provide Wynn with $640 million of cash proceeds. While there could be some bumps on the road to recovery for Wynn Resorts, it’s still the best casino stock to own if you think there is a lot of pent-up demand for gambling following the pandemic.
Carnival Corp (NYSE:CCL)
It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario for the cruise line industry than the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, these stocks were battered and bruised in 2020 while cruise ships stayed docked. However, what’s intriguing about a company like Carnival Corp right now is that there is likely a ton of pent-up demand for cruise vacations. Just look at the fact that Carnival reported advance bookings in Q1 that were up 90% from the prior quarter. The company also saw FY22 bookings running ahead of the strong pre-pandemic levels seen in FY19, confirming that there are still plenty of people ready to hit the open seas.
The recent mask update from the CDC is also fantastic news for cruise lines, and investors should view Carnival as a stock with significant upside given that it’s still trading well below its pre-pandemic price levels. While this is a company that will report losses this year and still faces a lot of rough waters ahead, there’s a good chance that investors are underestimating just how quickly passenger counts and trips will rise as we continue to receive positive news out of the CDC. Once we have more details about a conditional sailing order and cruises actually start happening again, Carnival stock could be in for big gains.
This is probably the safest reopening stock on our list since it is a blue-chip consumer staples company that offers an attractive dividend yield. It’s the type of company you can buy and hold for the long-term, and the fact that it will benefit from more people getting vaccinated and heading out to public places like sporting events and restaurants is an added bonus. Coca-Cola is the world’s largest soft drink company with a dominant market share position all over the world. With classic brands like Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Vitaminwater, and PowerAde, this company has real staying power in both emerging and developed markets.
In April, the company reported Q1 adjusted earnings per share of $0.55 per share, an increase of 8% year-over-year, and could continue delivering strong earnings as we get deeper into the reopening process. The stock offers investors an attractive 3.07% dividend yield and would be a fine addition to the core holdings of any portfolio.
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In the age of the celebrity founder, investors and commentators alike are consumed with the business giants that have seemingly conquered the world. Our appetites are relentless when it comes to even the most routine action or soundbite from Musk, Bezos and Zuckerberg. And, in today’s meme-ified markets, investment dollars and airtime flow to these leaders and their companies in far greater volume than to anything else.
As any Twitter jockey will eagerly explain, the best investors are contrarian. They jump on trends before anyone else, find gold in others’ trash and are greedy when others are fearful. But the biggest, most obvious contrarian play is one that has existed forever and takes no effort to unearth.
Female founders and women-led companies, despite systemic barriers, have amazing upside potential. For investors trying to back the next Bill Gates, start with women.
Related: Who’s The Top Female Founder in Your State? (Infographic)
Perspective needed, stat
As anyone who has ever walked down a street can observe, the population hovers nearly equal between men and women. But that’s where the parity ends. Venture-capital funding to female founders represented 2.3 percent of the 2020 total, according to Crunchbase. That’s down from 2019’s 2.8 percent, which was an all-time high.
In 2019, Harvard Business Review reported that 7 percent of elite startups’ board members were women.
Advocacy group All Raise determined that women made up 13 percent of “decision makers” at venture-capital funds; 65 percent of the funds had zero female partners.
The social implications here are obvious and widely discussed. From an investment perspective, it’s just really stupid.
Related: The Founder of Bumble Reveals How the ‘Question of Nine’ Can Help You Stay Focused
Even with a tiny fraction of funding and inadequate support from the financial community, women-led startups outperform. In 2018, Boston Consulting Group sponsored a study that compared men- and women-led startups. Out of the 350 startups it observed, BCG found a two-to-one funding advantage for the male founders. It also found that, cumulatively, the women-led startups generated 10 percent more revenue over a five-year period. That equated to $0.78 in revenue per dollar raised for the women and $0.31 for the men.
This isn’t to say that women are inherently better business people than men. But it’s interesting that an industry that prides itself on objective quantitative analysis has such a glaring blindspot.
Numbers aside, there are some easy observations to make:
1. Given that most startups are founded, managed and funded by men, they typically cater to male audiences even if the product or service is not focused on a specific gender. That could be easily changed if the companies made a point to have equal representation in decision-making positions, but most don’t. A Kaufmann Fellows study found that women-led companies hired 2.5 times more women. The resulting diversity in thought is undeniably good for innovation and business strategy.
2. Many startups fail because the teams never quite found product-market fit or grossly overestimated the addressable market. It’s hard to find a pitch deck these days that doesn’t show zero to $100 million in annual recurring revenue between years one and three. There is truth to the adapted social-media meme, “Lord give me the confidence of a male 25-year-old startup founder.”
The lopsided fundraising environment forces female founders to show greater subject-matter expertise along with more conservative, attainable goals. They’re put under greater scrutiny at nearly every step of the startup journey compared to their male counterparts.
Simply put, female founders outperform because they have to.
3. Both investors and consumers are voting with their dollars more and more, especially the younger crowds. The Denver Post’s Bruce Deboskey recently wrote that of the 68-million-strong Gen Z members, 90 percent believe that companies must act to help social and environmental issues. With data like that, any new startup worth its weight in Clubhouse rooms has to be purpose-led. Women, along with minority founders, have a major advantage here as they’re more likely to have witnessed (or been victim of) the societal issues that urgently need fixing.
Again, not a knock on male founders (I am one), but it’s simply harder to sympathize with and champion causes that one hasn’t experienced.
Related: A Female Founder’s Tips for Fundraising
Timing the trade
The best time to have invested in female founders was the same day we started investing in male founders. The second best time is today. None of the studies or data presented above is brand new or surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. There are more advocacy groups, accelerators, incubators and thought leaders focused on this than ever before.
There are headline-busting stories that prove how wrong the institutions have been to ignore half the population. Whitney Wolfe Herd, the 31-year-old Bumble founder, is one of the youngest self-made billionaires in the world. She was a co-founder at Tinder, had a bad experience with one of the other founders and left to start a dating app that approached things from the woman’s perspective. When she rang the opening bell at Nasdaq earlier this year, she did so with her 18-month-old son on her hip.
We’re going to hear many, many more stories like that in the coming years. Of the endless investment criteria and pontificating that investors do to find the next smash hit, female founders may show the most asymmetrical returns of them all.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
How can one person be consistently profitable at CFD trading while another person can’t? We are all human, so it comes down to overcoming these very human mistakes.
I really believe it’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes as much as possible. — Warren Buffett
You don’t have to be the next Buffett or George Soros to win at trading CFDs. Profitable trading strategies are not rocket science. Like a lot of pursuits, the difference between making money with CFDs or not normally comes down to attitude and process.
This list is not exhaustive but if you can overcome these seven mistakes, it puts you on a better footing than nine out of 10 new CFD traders.
1. Not having a plan
Trading can be really thrilling, especially when you first start. The ease at which your account balance can grow and fall at the click of a button is fascinating. But this should be a phase you go through before taking trading more seriously. Some time and energy must be invested into trading education, which includes everything from technical analysis to order types to trading psychology. This education gives you the basis for forming a trade plan.
The trading plan needn’t be complicated, but it should cover at a minimum the following items:
Which markets you will trade
What time of day to trade
How long you will hold the trades
How much to risk per trade
A list of your best trading setups
Related: Trending Tech Stocks to Buy This Week? 4 To Know.
2. Not following the plan
The old saying goes “plan the trade and trade the plan.” It’s no good having a trading plan if you ignore it. Trading CFDs, Forex, cryptocurrencies or any other market in the same way consistently helps show whether you have a recipe for long-term success. If you do something different on every trade, you will logically get different results each time and have no way to gauge if the process you have will bring long-term success.
The best way to make sure you follow the plan is to have it laid out in front of you when you trade. Print out your plan and have it on your desk or if doing your bit for the rainforest, check an excel sheet with your basic trading plan and rules before every trade.
Overtrading means trading too much. Exactly how many trades is too much comes back to your trading style and your plan. The important takeaway is this: You should only trade when the opportunity exists and when your money management allows you to take the opportunity.
For example: Let’s say you are trading a breakout strategy on stock indices like the S&P 500. Your plan involves buying index CFDs when they break above a 20-day high. But indices are rangebound and there are minimal opportunities, so you see a forex pair jump 50 pips and you jump in on a momentum trade. This is overtrading, especially when it’s done many times over.
Overtrading normally comes out of boredom. To resolve this, you need to make sure you are not seeking your trills in trading.
4. Not using a stop loss
To maximize your upside in trading, you must also minimize your downside. It’s not that you must use a stop order, but you must know when to cut your losses. Not having a plan of where to exit the trade at a loss means you must think that winning the trade is guaranteed.
This mindset must change because winning any one trade is never guaranteed. Anything can happen to blow your position off-course. Having a stop loss is about expecting the unexpected and protecting your account.
Overleveraging is not unique to CFDs or individual traders. Huge hedge funds like Long Term Capital Management, and more recently Archegos Capital, blew up because of margin calls on trades with excessive leverage. However, the misuse of leveraged CFDs is commonplace.
Too many traders think about the leverage ratio offered by the CFD broker, but this misses the point. What matters is making sure that you use the correct position sizing. If you set the size of your trade and your stop loss so that you are risking 2% or less of your account per trade, it won’t matter if your broker offers 30:1 or 200:1 because you will not be overleveraged.
Related: 2021: Make it Your (Mid) Year of Financial Freedom
6. Revenge trading
Revenge trading happens after a losing streak. Again, we are only human, and we all feel the same kinds of human emotion. After a series of losing trades, we try to “take revenge” on the market for giving us the losing trades. This is done by placing a big trade to try and win back what was stolen from us. Of course, the market is not a conscious being and is not doing anything “to us.” Because this kind of trade is basically a gamble and normally poorly thought out, it often fails and exacerbates the losing streak.
The two most effective ways to avoid revenge trading are to take a break from trading after a set amount of losing trades before the temptation sets it — or to automatically lower your stake size in your trades after a set number of losses.
This is the opposite issue to revenge trading because it happens after a winning streak. There is nothing quite like the feeling of “I am a genius” after a series of winning trades. As human beings, our brain looks at the fact we have won all these trades and concludes we cannot lose. It’s at this moment that complacency leads us to place unplanned trades or increase our position size to something we really aren’t ready for. The complacency leads us to break our trading rules.
The same techniques to avoid revenge trading can be applied to overcoming complacency. Take a break after a winning streak in the markets. Play golf, do some triathlon training or whatever it might be. Examine what you may or may not have done differently in the trades that won versus those that didn’t win.
It’s also nice that you can take advantage of their liquidity and buy and sell shares of REITs on a stock exchange instead of buying and selling property directly. If you are interested in these types of investments, check out our list of 3 REITs to buy and hold for the long term below.
4 min read
This story originally appeared on MarketBeat
Buy and hold investing certainly has its advantages, but you need to make sure you are choosing only the best stocks for your portfolio to ride out any volatility. If you select too many high-risk companies for your portfolio, you might find that it is difficult to sit tight over the years during declines. On the other hand, choosing stable securities such as REITs is a nice way to generate competitive total returns over the long term without having to worry as much about big drawdowns in your accounts.
Real estate investment trusts, or REITs, are attractive to buy and hold investors for several reasons. They typically compensate investors with high dividend yields that are secured thanks to stable rents from long-term leases. REITs also provide an easy way to diversify your portfolio since they offer exposure to real estate. It’s also nice that you can take advantage of their liquidity and buy and sell shares of REITs on a stock exchange instead of buying and selling property directly. If you are interested in these types of investments, check out our list of 3 REITs to buy and hold for the long term below.
Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE:FRT)
This is a high-quality REIT that specializes in the ownership, management, development, and redevelopment of shopping centers, street retail properties, and mixed-use developments. With properties that are concentrated in some of the biggest metropolitan markets in the country including Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York, and Silicon Valley, Federal Realty Investment Trust is a great option for the long term because it is focused on only owning properties in highly desirable areas with strong growth. That means the company has tons of properties in affluent areas that retailers want to lease, which is a strong selling point.
While you might be thinking that retail is going to have big problems over the next few years due to the rise of e-commerce, Federal Realty Investment Trust has a lot of tenants like grocery stores, restaurants, fitness centers, and other service-based businesses to attract people to their properties. It’s also worth mentioning that the increasingly competitive retail industry is forcing retailers to only go with the best properties, which is another great reason to consider adding this REIT. Federal Realty Investment Trust currently offers investors a 3.8% dividend yield and is a fine choice for buy and hold investors.
Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR)
If you are a big believer in the burgeoning U.S. cannabis industry for the long-term, Innovative Industrial Properties is a nice choice. It’s the only NYSE-listed REIT that specializes in medical-use cannabis growers. Medical cannabis is already a multi-billion-dollar industry that is expected to grow to roughly $34 billion by the year 2025. When you consider how much space these growers need to harvest their product, owning shares of a company with a portfolio of 66 properties and 5.4 million square feet specifically intended for that makes a lot of sense.
Investors should also consider the fact that more states are expected to legalize cannabis use in the coming years, which would be another positive for Innovative Industrial Properties. New tenants and more properties will allow the company to continue to increase the dividend, which has grown by over 60% in the past 3 years. This REIT currently offers investors a 3.16% dividend yield and is a smart way to play the cannabis industry for the long term.
STAG Industrial, Inc. (NYSE:STAG)
Finally, we have STAG Industrial, a REIT that is a great way to play the trend in e-commerce growth. STAG invest in warehouses across the country and about 40% of its portfolio is leased to e-commerce tenants. We know how important large warehouses are for e-commerce companies as they fulfill millions of orders every day, and STAG Industrial’s properties offer approximately 92.3 million rentable square feet. The company’s biggest tenant is Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), which tells investors a lot about the quality of this company’s portfolio.
It’s also worth mentioning that STAG Industrial is one of the only REITs that offer monthly dividends, which is great for buy and hold investors that want constant payouts. What’s also impressive about this REIT is that it has grown its dividend every year since going public back in 2011, a testament to its financial strength. STAG Industrial currently offers a 4.11% dividend yield and is a great addition to any long-term portfolio.
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With cybersecurity in the news lately, are stocks like Fortinet (NASDAQ: FTNT) well-positioned for gains?
The stock rebounded Thursday, along with the broader market.
In addition to the hacking of the Colonial pipeline, the growing work-from-home movement shed light on cybersecurity risks for enterprise. This week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order designed to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity.
Fortinet has specialized in core firewall protection, but it’s expanding into a new networking technology called SD-WAN.
Analysts have great expectations for the company for the next two years. Unlike many companies whose revenue and net income hit the skids in 2020, Fortinet saw annual earnings growth of 35% and revenue growth of 20%.
This year, Wall Street expects earnings per share of $3.74, up 12%. Next year, that’s expected to be $4.35, a gain of 16%.
At the company’s virtual investor day in March, Fortinet said it expects revenue to reach $4 billion by 2023.
SD-WAN is short for “software-defined, wide-area network” technology. It serves a need very much in demand these days: Connecting a company’s various offices, as well as at-home workers.
Corporations Change Approach To Security
This business line ramped up fast, with events of 2020 boosting Fortinet’s SD-WAN revenue. Billings in the category nearly doubled, to $355 million.
Enterprise customers are changing their approach to cybersecurity and connectivity. That bodes well for Fortinet, whose firewall products have built-in SD-WAN.
In addition, the SD-WAN rollout is a good move for Fortinet, as firewall business is slowing industrywide, as more and more enterprise users switch to cloud storage.
Fortinet’s trade has been choppy since its earnings report after the close on April 29. However, much of that chop was due to a decline in the broader market. Fortinet, as a large cap, is part of the S&P 500 index, so it’s appropriate to gauge its performance to the broader index.
Fortinet is down 2.78% in May, trading Thursday at around $198. As a point of comparison, the S&P 500 is down just 1.54% this month.
That’s not a big enough discrepancy to become concerned about, especially with a company that’s situated in a growing industry, and one that’s in the spotlight these days.
What Does Chip Shortage Mean?
One potential headwind is the global semiconductor shortage. In the April earnings call, chief financial officer Keith Jensen addressed that challenge. He discussed the products themselves within Fortinet’s inventory mix.
“One thing about Fortinet, in addition to having different form factors, is the inventory balances that we carry, a two times inventory turns, you’re looking at basically six months of inventory that we’re carrying on our balance sheet,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that supply chain issues related to chips will be a constant this year and into next year. “But I think in terms of when we sit down and talk about our expectations for the year, I think we have a fairly good understanding of how to work that in,” he added.
Although this stock has a lot going for it, this is not the right time to buy, especially with the broader market in a correction. Downside volume has been lower than upside volume lately, which is a great sign for the stock. However, more selling could be ahead.
There’s a great deal of chatter right now about investors being spooked by inflation, but the reality is: The stock rallied 42.37% over the past year and 32.65% year-to-date. After those rallies, it’s not surprising to see institutional investors take some profits and prepare for the next run-up.
The industry outlook is good, as well. Rivals in the firewall space include Palo Alto Networks (NYSE: PANW) and Checkpoint Software (NASDAQ: CHKP). Smaller cybersecurity stocks include Identiv (NASDAQ: INVE) and Proofpoint, which is being acquired by private equity firm Thomas Bravo.
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