Category "Business"

Just because you’re in isolation doesn’t mean it can’t be productive.


2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.


Much of the world is fully engaged in social distancing due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19. For many, it’s still business as usual, just with more Zoom calls. But nonetheless, it’s bound to get a little boring from time to time with little to no social calendar. So, why not use any extra time you have productively to learn something new or expand your knowledge? The Social Distancing Lifetime Subscription Bundle will let you do just that and then some.

This bundle includes lifetime subscriptions to three top apps: Rosetta Stone, 12min Microbooks, and VPN Unlimited. Here’s why you want all three of those apps in your arsenal now more than ever:

To start, Rosetta Stone, which needs no introduction, has been used for nearly 30 years at companies like NASA and TripAdvisor to teach employees new languages. CNN has called it the “Gold Standard” for language learning software and most others would agree. With a lifetime subscription, you’ll gain complete access to their patented, proven language education program and you’ll be able to pick and choose which languages you want to learn from all 24 languages they offer. In the past, you’ve typically had to pay for the software per language, so this unlimited offer is truly special.

Next up, 12min is a micro book library that condenses books into text or audio formats that are designed to be consumed in 12 minutes flat. Whether you’re way behind on your reading list or you want to delve into some of today’s top business books, 12min makes it possible. It’s a great way to build up your business acumen in a variety of different areas without having to buy out Amazon or your local bookstore. 

Finally, since you’re spending so much time online, it’s smart to take every precaution you can against hackers, who are reportingly preying on the growing work-from-home contingency. VPN Unlimited encrypts your browsing to give you complete online protection and privacy whether you’re working or learning a new language. It also helps that you’ll be able to bypass geographic restrictions to access content from around the world.

Sold separately, these three subscriptions would run you more than $800. But you can get them together in The Social Distancing Lifetime Subscription Bundle for just $179.10 today with SOCIALDISTANCE10. 

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Have these critical conversations sooner than later to get ahead of the crisis.


4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Offices are closed. Production is halted. Billings for your products or services are frozen. Clients/customers have been lost, and crucial past receivables aren’t coming in.

While things will eventually turn around, no one knows when that will be the case — which makes it impossible to plan or budget strategically in order to stay afloat.

Related: This Is What the Ultimate Sales Conversation Sounds Like

Rather than be paralyzed or petrified, it’s crucial for business owners to proactively stave off disaster by quickly pursuing six categories of conversations. They may not be easy or comfortable to have, but for the sake of your organization, they must happen:

With small business bailout programs

Talk to your local and state elected officials and economic development representatives to learn how to get low-interest loans, grants, and other resources that will help you to pay your bills. Login to every webinar and website to research the nuts and bolts of how these programs work. Apply for all financial support opportunities that are offered. Your goal is to track down and claim cash that the government is providing as soon as possible. Be relentless about finding the dollars – and there are plenty of dollars available — to help operate your business and feed your family.

With your network

Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to other business owners, family members, friends, professional counselors, and the Supreme Being upstairs in your quest to understand, process, and seek inspiration that will help you to navigate your fears and uncertainty. Read books, listen to podcasts, and watch movies about motivation, maintaining a positive attitude, being open to new ideas, finding inspiration in the face of adversity, and keeping faith alive.

Related: 9 Phrases Smart People Never Use In Conversation

With your lenders, suppliers and landlords

If there was ever a time to request understanding and help from those to whom you owe money, it’s right now.  Write a short email (and request a call) asking for loan forgiveness; no repayment period; interest-only terms; a longer loan amortization (time period for repayment); rent abatement or deferral; discounts; and an additional line of credit.  You never know what’s possible if you don’t make the attempt, so be bold.

With your insurance agent

If you have business insurance, read your policy and call your agent to determine if you can file a claim for business interruption.

With your employees

Talk to them. Be honest about your challenges. It’s hard to lay people off, but it’s absolutely critical in order to reduce payroll when there’s no revenue (or an insufficient amount) coming in. Offer to help your employees to research available government resources and also recommend that they apply for unemployment benefits immediately.

With your customers/clients

Talk to your about repositioning and creating new versions of your products or services that will meet their needs.  This kind of pivoting is essential in order to remain commercially relevant and maintain your reputation in the marketplace. Confer with your team members to devise any legal way to generate immediate revenue. Maintain a “what if?” or “why not?” mindset that will allow you to be receptive to possibilities that you might not have ever considered.

Related: Why Mastering the Art of Conversation Will Make You More Money

The faster that you begin the above dialogues, the sooner you’ll be able to put your company on much-needed life support. This will give you an opportunity to ride out the turbulence until the current virus crisis subsides and you can get your business back to business.

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It is meant to act as a consolidator for all efforts being taken by investors, government authorities and other stakeholders to tackle the pandemic.


3 min read


Co-working space provider 91springboard has come up with an online platform (www.startupscovid.com), that will act as a consolidator for all efforts being taken by investors, government authorities and other stakeholders of the start-up ecosystem to tackle the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

From funding opportunities for those trying to solve challenges pertaining to the pandemic to start-ups that are developing solutions for the same, the platform brings together all relevant information under a single umbrella. The aim is to make it easier for everyone involved to get information in one place.

Additionally, it also provides information about hackathons focused on the outbreak as well as other support available for start-ups including access to organisations & individuals who can help with logistics, permissions among other things.

Related: Indian Corporates Earmark Funds to Fight Coronavirus

“The COVID-19 crisis brings with itself a strong economic impact, especially for the Indian startup ecosystem. As an Atal Innovation Mission incubator, we have always supported Indian startups and given the situation, we want to try our best to safeguard the interest of the startup community at large,” said 91springboard co-founder Pranay Gupta.

So far, 9 funding opportunities are listed on the platform while the start-up list has crossed 25 and is steadily going up, according to Gupta.

Speaking to Entrepreneur India, Gupta said his team was working to collect as much information as possible for various sources, while the folks at Atal Innovation Mission, a flagship initiative set up by NITI Aayog, had also been pitching in. Apart from those listed, he said there have been 4-5 other investors who have made contact but do not want to have their names listed yet. In such cases, they are facilitating conversations between the relevant parties.

As the outbreak has disrupted the entirety of the ecosystem, several stakeholders have come up with initiatives to help. Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, a collective of over 50 start-up founders as well as investors had petitioned with the government on immediate measures that needed to be taken.

Related: Coronavirus: India Under Unprecedented 21-Day Lockdown

Related: Over 50 Start-Up Founders, VCs Urge Govt To Impose Strict Lockdown

Utsav Somani, an angel investor and the head of AngelList India, is among the few to have announced a commitment to start-ups with a credible path to a solution for the virus, through their venture fund The Collective.

This funding opportunity is one among the nine currently available on the 91springboard-run platform.

Gupta, while acknowledging that the response had been encouraging so far, urged anyone doing anything for start-ups during these testing times to provide the relevant information for the repository. “We will try our best to ensure the start-ups get to know that your support is available,” he said.



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Successfully navigate an early-stage start-up through its first couple years in business and your odds of survival are much greater. But how, exactly, can you do this?


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


It’s a well-known fact that nine out of ten start-ups fail within the first five years. This doesn’t even account for the greater number of start-ups and start-up ideas that die before company registration. Successfully running a start-up is no mean feat; it takes grit, determination, smart planning and a healthy dose of luck.

The early stages in a start-up’s life cycle are arguably the most dangerous. Successfully navigate an early-stage start-up through its first couple years in business and your odds of survival are much greater. But how, exactly, can you do this? Let’s take a look at these survival tips to pull your start-up through its earliest, most difficult period

Ideas are great, but implementation is all that really matters

Remember that Eureka moment when you had that idea for disposable dog shoes? Great ideas aren’t as special as they seem to be. At some point of time or other, almost everyone will think up something that’s revolutionary. If all those ideas were accompanied by well-thought-out implementation plans, Bill Gates wouldn’t have bragging rights anymore. The single greatest cause of start-up failure is the lack of a realistic, viable implementation plan in the ideation phase.

 

How do you avoid this pitfall? The key is to slow down. When coming up with a great start-up idea, you need to ask yourself a number of critical questions. The idea itself answers only one of these: “What problem does this solve?” Here are the rest:

 

  • Who does this solve a problem for?
  • Is that problem worth solving?
  • Will the solution cost you a non-zero amount of money to develop?
  • How will you monetize this solution?

 

If your innovation is useful only to people who can’t afford to pay for a solution, or to people who are interested but not enough to pay for your solution, it simply does not matter. You will need to re-evaluate how your solution can address the needs of a sufficiently large paying audience. The other thing to keep in mind is how much the solution will cost you. Service and consultancy start-ups inherently carry a lower risk because of the lower capital requirements. If you have an idea for a mass-manufactured product, you might want to go back to the drawing board unless you’re an industrialist with a few million dollars to spend. Try your best to identify ways in which you can offer your product at zero or notional cost to yourself. This will ensure that cash flow always remains positive.

Be smart about financing

Start-ups invariably cost money. This means that you’ll need to have a clear picture of your financing strategy early on. Otherwise, failure is almost guaranteed, not to mention personal financial loss. The first step in start-up financing is seriously thinking about how to not secure financing. This might appear counterintuitive, but it is critical. A common thought fallacy is that “money in equals money out”. This is rarely the truth. The amount of capital you invest in a start-up is not guaranteed to correlate to the amount of profit (if any) that you’ll reap. What matters most is identifying where money can be invested effectively. Look to maximize your return on investment with every financial decision. Invest only as much as you need to and in the areas that you identify as being critical. Find ways to do more for less. Technology and the Internet make it possible to deliver many solutions remotely, drastically cutting costs. Only invest a significant amount of capital if you have a very clear plan about what you plan to do with it, rationalizing every cost. Look at your personal savings before considering debt financing. If your business idea requires you to take out a loan, sit down and rethink it; identify possibly way to rationalize costs and only move forward once you’ve settled on a minimum viable level of finance.

Keep a close eye on cash flow

You only accumulate reserves by saving. This means that even the most successful early-stage start-ups will have limited cash reserves to address sudden changes to cash flow. When your cash reserves are low (or non-existent) any disruption to your cash flow or any unforeseen expenditure has the potential to bring your entire business grinding to a halt: How do you buy supplies if a client delayed payment by a week? In order to mitigate risk, you need to organize expenses in such a way that your business is resilient to cash flow disruptions. This could mean being conservative with your orders, minimizing discretionary expenditure, or entering into credit agreements with suppliers. The aim is to monitor cash inflows and outflows to ensure that you never run out of liquid cash when you can’t afford to.

Compliance: always be a step ahead

Innovation has one critical problem inherent to it: newness. If your start-up focuses on cutting-edge technologies or emerging sectors, you need to have a keen awareness of the regulatory environment. Technology is accelerating at an exponential rate and lawmakers are struggling to keep pace. Sometimes, this results in poorly thought-out legislation that restricts opportunities. The government’s overzealous approach to commercial drones is one example: India’s tryst with drone delivery ended after just a few pizza drone deliveries. If your start-up operates in an emerging sector, it’s not enough to ensure that you’re in compliance with existing norms. Through careful research, you need to identify policymaking trends and adapt your solution accordingly so that it remains resilient in the face of changing legislation.

Conclusion

Every start-up currently in existence is a success story: it’s no easy task to build a business from nothing. Still, there are a few things prospective entrepreneurs can do to significantly increase their chances of survival: plan for every contingency. Always invest within your means, and be proactive about compliance. These tips aren’t a guarantee for success, but, with the right amount of grit and perseverance, they can take you far.

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Is your business (or a business you love) struggling? Help it through this tough time with a GoFundMe.


3 min read


Thousands, if not millions, of businesses across America have already been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why GoFundMe created its Coronavirus Small Business Relief Initiative, which the company claims “is intended to support our friends and neighbors at local businesses facing financial loss from the COVID-19 pandemic. Make a difference today by donating or starting a small business fundraiser.”

So, if you own a business, it might be time to set up a GoFundMe that can help. If you love a local company that’s struggling right now, you can check the website to see whether you can donate or whether you might be able to start a GoFundMe for that business. If you’re simply in a giving mood, here are three businesses asking for donations right now.

1. Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund (Seattle)

“As we all come to terms with the health crisis here in Seattle,” write fundraising organizers Jessica Tousignant and Candace Whitney Morris, “our vibrant and essential hospitality industry workers are also staring down the possibility of economic catastrophe. Seattle hospitality workers currently have the ability to apply for full or partial unemployment, and our city is working to pass a ban on evictions during this time.”

This fund is intended for Seattle-based workers whose hours have been cut due to the crisis and are not otherwise being compensated. 

2. Lettuce Employee Emergency Relief Fund (Chicago)

“Instead of supporting us,” write Lettuce co-founders and siblings RJ, Jerrod and Molly Melman, who were previously featured on Entrepreneur. “We would prefer that you help support all of our amazing employees that need the most assistance during the crisis. Our team has set up The Lettuce Entertain You Employee Emergency Relief Fund to contribute to the financial support of our Lettuce team members during this national health emergency. Our family has set aside $1 million to get this fund started.” 

3. Miami Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (Miami)

This fund’s focus is, according to GoFundMe organizers Felix Bendersky and Soraya Kilgore, “raising awareness and funds to provide grants to full-time restaurant workers in Miami-Dade County who are dependent on hourly wages (plus many who rely on tips) to cover basic living expenses and provide for their families.”

Bendersky and Kilgore say they want to provide “$250 grants to as many qualifying grantees as possible with 100% of donations (less GoFundMe standard fees) going directly to those affected.” 

These businesses are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg: there are already more than 100,000 entries in the GoFundMe Coronavirus Small Business Relief Initiative. Take a look here to find the rest.

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Due to surge in demand for essential goods, Amazon has prioritised available resources to serve only essential items while also ensuring safety of their delivery partners


3 min read


As the country braces for a 21-day lockdown to prevent coronavirus from spreading, e-commerce giant Flipkart has announced temporary suspension of its services. In a notice on their website, the e-commerce giant said, “We are temporarily suspending our services. Your needs have always been our priority, and our promise is that we will be back to serve you, as soon as possible.”

Also Read: India Under Unprecedented 21-Day Lockdown to Prevent Coronavirus 

Its rival company, Amazon has announced to deliver only high-priority products, while temporarily suspending orders of all other items, effective 24 March.  The company, in a blogspot, said that while a large number of districts and states are imposing lockdown, it is witnessing an increased demand for priority products and important services. So, it has prioritised available resources to serve only essential items while also ensuring safety of their delivery partners.

“To serve our customers’ most urgent needs while also ensuring safety of our employees, we are temporarily prioritizing our available fulfilment and logistics capacity to serve products that are currently critical for our customers,” the blogspot stated.

Also Read: MyGate Partners With E-Commerce Firms For Contactless Deliveries Amidst Coronavirus Crisis

Household staples, packaged food and health care, hygiene and personal safety products qualify as critical products, according to the company’s statement. As for pending orders of low-priority products, customers are given a choice to cancel and get a full refund for prepaid items.

The blogspot statement added that the company will remain focused on delivering supplies to the doorsteps to the people in India, especially to those most vulnerable, like the elderly or those without access. Earlier this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had issued a statement reiterating the critical role e-commerce is playing in the ongoing coronavirus crisis by delivering essential goods to people in need. He added that the company is hiring for 1 lakh new roles along with raising wages of hourly workers who are working at this crucial time.

Also Read: Amazon Steps Up Efforts As Demand Surges Amidst Coronavirus Crisis

As per guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs on what will remain operational during the 21 day lockdown in India, delivery of essential goods—food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment—through e-commerce will be allowed.

On Tuesday, multiple media reports and personal accounts of business owners reported that online grocery delivery and e-commerce were being disrupted due to the lockdown. Albinder Dhindsa, co-founder and CEO, grofers, an online grocery platform, had tweeted that their company’s warehouse in Faridabad, Haryana was closed down by local law enforcement forces. “While we understand they are doing their duty, essential items will be denied to 20,000+ households in Faridabad and Delhi every day. We need help in sorting this out,” he said.

Online delivery companies are reportedly seeing a multifold surge in orders as the country has been put under a lockdown with all offices, factories and markets closed down, barring a few essential services, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Also Read: Staying at Home will Reduce Expected Coronavirus Cases by 62%: ICMR

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Five immediate, actionable steps for ensuring your business stays afloat despite chaotic times.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The following article is written by Ben Angel. Author of the book, Unstoppable: A 90-Day Plan to Biohack Your Mind and Body for Success. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound. And be sure to order The Unstoppable Journal, the only journal of its kind based on neuroscience, psychology and biohacking to help you reach your goals.

The economy is like a roller coaster ride right now, and with it, a sense of dread, fear and uncertainty is reigning supreme. When it comes to managing the economic fallout, we have to factor in the data and focus on building emotional resilience, so we don’t make irrational decisions based out of fear that we will regret later. 

We’re all going to be impacted by this; the level of impact will depend on whether you have a plan in place. Those that take immediate action will be able to reinvent themselves quickly to cope with the changing times. It’s also these people that will benefit when the economy rebounds again.

Here are some essential areas to plan around now. 

Related: 4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Generate Leads and Sales Online

1. Injection of Cash/Loans

Speak to a financial advisor about getting a capital loan if your business isn’t in an essential services market. These low-interest loans can aid small businesses to overcome disruptions in affected states and territories. 

If you run an online business, don’t overlook PayPal or Stripe, which offer loans based on your previous sales volume. You can sometimes get a loan via PayPal within seconds, as long as your sales have been strong. However, if you wait too long and your sales continue to drop, they may not offer you one, or they might reduce the amount they can loan you. 

2. Assessment of Marketing Assets

Get a quick snapshot of your numbers:

  • How many are on your email list?

  • How many existing customers do you have? 

  • Do you have customers who are due to repurchase? (If so, send them an offer/alleviate their fears by letting them know which steps you’re taking to protect them.)

  • Watch your social media numbers, and be aware of the platform that’s getting you the most engagement and sales. Double down your focus on these opportunities.

It’s more critical than ever that you remain in contact with your customers and email list. Radio silence only breeds negative assumptions about how you’re handling this situation. Let them know precautionary measures you’ve taken, or if it’s business as usual. Just don’t stay silent. 

3. Pivoting

Great innovation comes through times of hardship, and you may need to do a fast pivot and reinvent your business to adapt to people’s rapidly changing demands. This could include taking out a capital loan and watch the markets as mentioned earlier. Things will go from bad to worse if you’re not prepared. If you are to take out a loan, you may want to do it soon in case banks reduce lending or raise rates. Speak to your financial advisor to assess your options.

4. Building Emotional Resilience 

This is arguably the most important step. Revisit and revise your goals, prepare for a worst-case scenario, focus and plan for the best. You may have to do 10 times the work to get the same results as before, but these efforts will put you in a prime position for when things eventually rebound. 

Focus on daily meditation and visualization that can help you prepare for your day, and revisit those techniques in the evenings and note your successes. Picture your perfect future, like daydreaming the best possible outcomes. This way, you’re building and strengthening neurons that help emit healthy neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. The more you do this, the happier your brain will be. 

Related: Shows to Binge During the Pandemic

5. Removing Triggers That Steal Your Energy and Focus

Energy and focus will become the most valuable resource we have in the coming months. Let’s foster them. Studies show that consuming superfoods can positively impact the symptoms of mental health disorders. This can also be said about the newest research coming out about how consuming a diet high in sugar, processed foods and unhealthy fats is triggering mental health disorders. That’s why it’s crucial to follow a dietary protocol of healthy foods to fuel your mental cognition. Studies have repeatedly proven that those adhering to a Mediterranean dietary pattern (a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and healthy fats) had a decreased incidence of cognitive decline and illnesses. 

Bear in mind that you may have to double down on your health and wellness regime. Be prepared by feeding and fueling your brain in the best possible way by removing inflammatory foods (highly processed, gluten, sugars and sometimes dairy) that will steal your focus and energy. Mindfully choosing what you eat will determine how successful your day will be. 

No matter where you put your focus, be sure it’s derived from the best plan possible. Taking stock in your business every quarter is healthy even in the best of markets, and your foresight will pay off in the end. If you don’t maintain the best possible biological stamina to carry you through these times, you will fall flat. 

Are you strong enough to ride out these tough times? Take this 60-second quiz now to see how you will fare, and be sure to grab a copy of Angel’s new daily planner, The Unstoppable Journal, today. It’s more relevant than ever.

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We are in the midst of a “black swan” event that will have drastic, global economic consequences. No company is immune.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


As the world scrambles to make sense of and respond to the coronavirus threat, leadership will be tested in unimaginable ways. Each day brings jarring new information that requires system-wide response. Sequoia Capital is calling this period the “black swan of 2020.” Black swans are rare unexpected events like 9/11 that impact global activity. After living through downturns for 50 years, Sequoia notes the companies that survive are able to act decisively and quickly. But how do you act quickly in the midst of so much uncertainty and human risk? At the macro level, successful companies will “mirror biology as Darwin surmised; those who survive are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change”. 

Managing change is a special leadership skill. When you’re navigating uncharted waters, slashing budgets and making changes, good leaders will stay attuned to people’s emotions and continue to invest in their teams.

Here are 5 things that leaders can do to navigate this crisis and emerge stronger than ever.

Related: Coronavirus: Australian experts predict $2.4 trillion global GDP loss …

Confront the brutal facts while maintaining faith that you will prevail

Adopt the mental framework of the Stockdale Paradox. Admiral Stockdale survived 8 years as a prisoner in the Vietnam war with this concept. He was able to stay positive without falling trap to the blind optimism of fellow prisoners who failed to confront the reality of their situation. There is no time for denial in this crisis: Stay vigilant to the harshest realities and fast-moving changes. Communicate the brutal facts directly to your team while maintaining confidence that you will get through it together. This will happen faster for teams with high trust. When they believe that you have their backs, they value the truth and will work together to find the best paths forward.

Don’t assume you know what people are afraid of 

It may seem obvious to surmise that people are most worried about getting sick or job security. But there are many other things that might matter to different people. Working from home might cause some to lose visibility and information they get informally from important people. People need different things to feel safe, and it’s important to find out what matters to them. Double down on your listening to ask what people are afraid of losing as this crisis continues. Don’t just focus on tactical communication around hygiene or travel protocol; make sure you allow people to express any emotional concerns they may have. Doing this allows you to help them sort real losses from perceived ones. And when there is real loss coming, deliver that information directly and quickly.

Related: Coronavirus Home Testing Kits Are Coming to Seattle

Get ready for chaos

With so much out of our control, leaders will need to adopt a crisis management approach. Expect anxiety to rise and motivation to suffer. Pick a few priorities to focus on while regaining balance. Set smaller goals with frequent checkpoints so that people can feel some sense of positive movement. Redesign operating rules, even temporarily, to address the needs of this time. Pay close attention to managing stress — including your own.

Do virtual team-building

As companies are encouraging more and more employees to work from home, virtual team-building becomes an imperative. With the loss of informal, personal contact you will need to find new ways to stay connected. Understanding the working styles, motivators and stress behavior of the other people on your team will yield the greatest productivity and help everyone to stay aligned when working remotely. Build in time during one-on-ones for personal check-ins. Think creatively about how to keep people motivated and small ways to get groups to continue building relationships over video conference and instant messaging channels.

Envision the new beginning

Incorporate learning as you go through this time. Ask how this will affect the future of your enterprise and make adjustments. As with any downturn, there are opportunities for creativity and change. Recessions create new problems that can turn into business opportunities. Some incumbents will fall and open doors for new startups. Smart investors will continue to look for good ideas and people. Stay vigilant in seeking out options that might pay off when things return to normal. 

The future state will bring a new normal that no one can predict today. All we can do is prepare ourselves to walk straight into the chaos, bringing our personal best to rally the troops through these challenges into the new day.

Related: Coronavirus and a Looming Recession: How to Raise Capital in …

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The current crisis stresses our need for value-based physician care.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Americans are worried, and the financial markets are terrified. The number of detected individuals with coronavirus (COVID-19) is ticking upward, schools are closing, lawmakers are considering price-gouging legislation and waiving fees to encourage the poor and uninsured to get tested, and more and more people have converted from, “This coronavirus thing is overblown” to, “This is a grave concern.”

Coronavirus is, indeed, a very significant concern. The speed with which it spreads is alarming, especially when you consider how an underlying, often overlooked element of society is accelerating it. The element I’m alluding to is the status quo, employer-provided health benefits that insure nearly 160 million Americans. These “benefits,” usually unbeknownst to business leaders, are pointing a large proportion of American people to unsatisfactory care centers built on a fee-for-service system that fails them and their physicians.

It fails patients in numerous ways: long stretches of time between when an appointment is made and when it actually happens; too much time wasted in waiting rooms where the virus can be easily shared; and too little time spent with their physician, to name a few. All these are particularly true in primary care, where it can currently take anywhere from six-to-24 days (in some locales, it’s over a month) before a patient can be seen.

Related: How to Boost Your Immune System During the Coronavirus

This is problematic under normal public-health conditions. It’s potentially catastrophic in the face of an outbreak, where people who feel they may need medical advice delay or forgo it since seeing a primary care doctor is so difficult, and where those who do decide to preventatively visit spend ample time in germ-laden waiting rooms. They may not come in with coronavirus, but they may very well leave with it.

So, what is the solution? And what on earth do health benefits have to do with all this? The answer is reimagining primary care to support value-based physicians and employers redesigning their health-benefits plans to connect beneficiaries to these empowered medical professionals. Value-based physicians and the practices they work for are beholden to a
different standard of care. They are reimbursed according to how well they do their job (i.e. keeping or making people healthy) and are therefore given the freedom to do whatever it takes to make that happen. In a potential public-health crisis, that would more than likely mean utilizing 21st century capabilities to connect with patients while they’re still at home, reserving in-person appointments only for those that absolutely need it.

When you remove the distortion of requiring people to come in for what can be done electronically, we can have a more effective and timely response at a time when it matters most. We can also avoid overwhelming testing facilities. The problem of poorly performing fee-for-service primary care extends well beyond the coronavirus, but it highlights the need at a time when people are focused on one manifestation of the problem.

STAT News has reported on this trend of using next-generation primary care during the coronavirus outbreak. “We think we can really help direct people to the right care at the right time and give them quality information as it relates to this problem,” Dr. Brad Younggren, chief medical officer at 98point6, told the site. He added: “We can keep them from going into an environment to be tested when maybe testing isn’t necessary.”

Some are already doing this. They’re creating informative online guides and fielding phonecalls to answer patient questions and assess symptoms, and all the while, they’re keeping the patient’s unique medical needs and life circumstances in mind. Do they have comorbidities? Do they have access to transportation if it’s needed? Do they have young children or elderly adults at home, and to whom they could pass along the virus?

That latter part is why urgent care centers and telehealth can only go so far. Without being connected to a strong, value-based primary care foundation, they have a tendency to treat point-in-time problems rather than locate those within the patient’s broader health landscape. This can cause potentially life-threatening things to be overlooked or induced. (The opioid crisis is a perfect example of patients receiving addictive prescriptions for something — lower back
pain, most often — that could have been better addressed by taking into account the person’s lifestyle, suggesting modifications and walking them through drug-free treatment options.)

There’s a role for business leaders to play here. Every CEO states that employees are their most valuable asset, but unfortunately, old-line health plans designed to optimize Wall Street quarterly earnings appear to take precedence. Modern health-plan design avoids the many harms that come from unnecessary exposure to pathogens or unnecessary prescriptions to highly addictive drugs such as opioids and benzos. Both are getting over-prescribed at rates
unlike anywhere else in the world in our flawed, volume-centric, fee-for-service primary care clinics.

Related: First 45 U.S. Volunteers Get Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine

To really treat employees like they are their most value asset, employers should not hesitate to talk to their benefits advisor about how they can connect their employees to this type of superior care. They should cut ties with their old-line insurance carrier and not only go self-funded, but break free from old-line approaches. This enables them to regain the power to select the trusted partners to help steward their employees’s lives.

This revolution has already started. What’s happening right now with coronavirus is exactly why we must ramp up those efforts.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are more than 10,000 coronavirus cases and more than 150 deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC. The stock market has taken a hit. Businesses are losing customers, and workers are losing jobs. It has become frightening, frustrating and even maddening. 

In response to the pandemic, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan recently reminded us that we can all help each other in our own ways. He has provided K-12 educators with free access to the videoconferencing platform so students can continue learning.

Inspired, I shared an idea with Jason Feifer, editor in chief at Entrepreneur: a simple, organized list of free product and service offerings from all types of companies. Access to these powerful tools can help organizations, teams and families.

He responded quickly. “I like that. Maybe it starts as a post on Entrepreneur.com?”

Boom. Here we go:

  • Zoom: Free videoconferencing tools for K-through-12 schools.

  • Slack: Free upgrades to paid plans for teams working on coronavirus pandemic research, response or mitigation. Interested teams can email a special address to get this set up, and a consultation on how best to get started with remote collaboration.

  • Humu: Free nudges to anyone who wants science-backed advice for how to best work remotely, partner with colleagues who are all over the place, show appreciation for those who don’t have the flexibility to work remotely (e.g. cashiers, medical personnel).

  • Atlassian: Free access to Cloud products for issue-tracking and project-tracking software including Jira and Confluence. Also, free access to Trello Business Class for organizing plans is offered for one year to educators at K through 12 and higher education.

  • Airtable: Free use of Airtable Pro plan as a modern database for any non-political, humanitarian effort tackling COVID relief. There is no time limit. It is also planning to make the service free for students too.

  • PandaDoc: Free e-sign plan gives companies unlimited users, unlimited document uploads, unlimited eSignatures, and payment processing.

  • Wrike: Free licenses of the versatile collaborative work management platform (Professional edition) to new customers for 6 months. Current customers are able to add unlimited collaborators. Webinars and advice on remote work are both on the website.

  • Calendly: Free Zoom and GoToMeeting integrations for their online appointment scheduling software to help remote workers stay connected. These were previously Premium tier features and will be available through June 30. Also Free premium plan access to teams working directly on COVID-19. 

  • Smartsheet: Free templates that can be used by other organizations to build their own coronavirus preparedness dashboard, rich with CDC documentation and other resources, and related sheets and forms.

  • Support.com: Free tech support to anyone working or studying remotely right now.

  • Bill.com: Free 90-day subscription for new customers impacted by COVID-19. The cloud-based service helps small and mid-sized businesses to automate the processing of bills, generate invoices, send/receive payments and manage their cash flows.

  • Workable: Free use of the new video interviewing software for all customers, and access to a library of COVID-19 response content for use by HR professionals and business leaders.

  • Zoho: Free suite of Remotely apps until July 1. There are 11 apps in all, including ones for online meetings, training sessions, storage, project management and everyday work (in the form of word processing, spreadsheets and presentations).

  • Google: Free, premium version of its workplace video chat tool until July, to help businesses and schools working remotely due to coronavirus. Those features include having up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.

  • Cisco: Free license for new customers of Duo Security’s two-factor authentication tool, and current customers can go above their user limit as their employees increasingly work from home. Same deal for its web security tool Umbrella and its VPN product AnyConnect, which is available until July 1. Cisco is extending services for existing customers of Webex, its video conference platform. The offer includes unlimited usage without time restriction, support for fewer than 100 participants, and toll-free dial-in.

  • Comcast: Free Xfinity WiFi for everyone, with hotspots available to all, including non-Xfinity subscribers. To access the service, look for the “xfinitywifi” network name in a list of hotspots.

  • LogMeIn: Free site-wide licensing for 3 months of its videoconferencing solution, GoToMeeting, for eligible organizations (health care providers, educational institutions, municipalities and non-profits).

  • Loom: Free video recording and sharing service for teachers and students at K-through-12 schools, universities and educational institutions. They have also removed the recording limit on free plans and have cut the price for Loom Pro in half.

  • Microsoft: Free six-month Office 365 E1 Trial, including Microsoft Teams.

  • Slashtop: Free 60-day licenses to its Business Access remote access software.

  • Discord: Free, enhanced Go Live streaming service so that it can now support 50 simultaneous users rather than 10.

  • EZTexting: Free emergency text alert services to schools. Receive 100,000 free outgoing text messages for six months, access to a set of coronavirus message templates, and one-on-one consulting.

  • Yext: Free, new site search product, Yext Answers, for a 90-day period. Eligible businesses will be able to transform their website into a search engine capable of answering consumers’ COVID-19 specific queries in real time.

  • Linkedin: Free 16 learning courses that provide tips on how to stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.

  • Hootsuite: Free access for Hootsuite Professional to small businesses and nonprofits until July 1. Helping to manage social media, and stay connected with your customers and communities.

  • Amazon: Free online access to sponsored computer science courses in the United States. That’s intended for learners in grades 6 through 12, and teachers who are remotely teaching this age group. Parents can also access this curriculum.

  • Brit.co: Free DIY classes for the next one to two weeks. Use discount code “selfcare” at checkout.

  • Zencastr: Free Hobbyist plans will have no recording time limits or limits on the number of people in your recording. Effective through July 1.

  • Threads: Free access to their collaboration tools and Pro/Team plans for all users through July 1.

  • Expensify: Reimbursement of up to $50 for essential goods and groceries purchased on your SNAP card.

  • Wave: Free financial software solutions (accounting, bookkeeping, invoicing) for small businesses to help with cash flow — which becomes increasingly important during economic turmoil. In response to COVID-19, Wave has reduced paid services where possible to active customers, in an effort to provide financial relief during a time of need.

  • Jamm: Free audio-visual communication tool used by remote and distributed teams. You can quickly record videos or do a live call with your team. Available for 3 months.

  • Carto: Free visualization software for organizations fighting COVID-19.

  • Crowdmark: Free access to its online grading and analytics platform until May 31.

  • Epic: Free remote access of its reading platform to elementary educators and librarians until June 30, with no credit card required. Students may access the company’s digital library, which has 35,000-plus books, read-to-me and audiobooks, videos and quizzes. Teachers and librarians can stay connected to their students by assigning books or collections and monitoring their progress.

  • ClassTag: Free communication platform available to help districts and schools communicate with their families. The software sends messages through SMS, email, apps and the web and automatically translates them into one of 55 languages. The platform can also be used to post videos, assignments and other resources for students to access at home and allow users to run virtual lessons with a videoconferencing tool.

  • McGraw-Hill: Free resources for out-of-school learning to help K-12 teachers make the transition to remote instruction.

  • Scholastic: Free 5 days’ worth of content and 15 additional days is on the way.

  • Age of Learning: Free at-home access for families at affected schools to ABCmouse, a learning resource for ages 2 to 8.

  • Listenwise: Free access to the Listenwise platform that supports distance learning by allowing you to roster your students, make online customized written assignments, and assign multiple-choice autos-cored listening quizzes. This will give you and your students the ability to learn through May 31, or until your school reopens. 

  • Peloton: Free 90-day trial of its subscription workout app as more gyms shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The fitness freebie doesn’t require a Peloton-branded bike or treadmill. Users can choose from classes such as yoga, meditation, strength training and more.

  • U-Haul: Free self-storage for 30 days to all college students who have been impacted by schedule changes at their universities.

  • TripIt: Free 6-month licenses to their Tripit Pro flight tracking service.

  • UrbanSitter: Free parent subscription for two months during the COVID-19 outbreak. Parents can find trusted childcare help to support them as they work from home during this period. Every sitter is background checked and UrbanSitter provides parents with as much information as possible to make informed decisions.

  • Dialpad: Free two months of its cloud-based phone system, Dialpad Talk Pro. This also includes videoconferences and UberConference Business.

  • 1Password: Free business accounts for the first 6 months. Manage your workforce from anywhere, and safely share logins and other important resources with remote workers.

  • Vidyard: Free secure video messaging to enhance internal communications for all businesses.

  • Cloudfare: Free Teams products to small businesses and remote workers to operate securely and easily. This policy will continue for at least the next 6 months.

  • Panopto: Free three-month access to capture and distribute video content for businesses, universities, colleges and schools will enable employees and students to continue learning and working remotely.

  • OneLogin: Free access to the Trusted Experience Platform™️ for educators who are moving to a virtual learning environment in light of health concerns. The free platform, consisting of single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA) and certificate-based authentication, will deliver secure virtual experiences for all educators K through 12, colleges and universities.

  • SentinelLabs: Free cybersecurity platform SentinelOne Core between Monday, March 16 through Friday, May 16. SentinelOne’s cloud-based platform seamlessly scales, making it well suited to protect both businesses and employees rapidly transitioning to a work-from-home environment.

  • Waterfall Security: Free Remote Screen View product licenses available to customers whose vendor personnel or key employees are no longer able to travel to industrial and critical infrastructure sites. Remote Screen View sends real-time images of industrial workstations to a web server that remote vendors can access.

  • OneClick: Free remote access Basic Starter Package for the next three months to assist those working remotely.

  • 8×8: Free video meetings to all users. Offers 80+ local dial-in numbers (11 toll-free) from 55+ countries and meetings of up to 50 participants without any time restrictions.

  • Bloomz: Free premium version of its communication service to all schools through June 30. The software allows users to communicate updates in real-time to parents and students; and share lessons, student work and feedback.

  • HR Acuity: Free version of its SaaS solution to help businesses manage employee issues related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The limited edition provides employee documentation and tracking functionality that will equip businesses to monitor the people impact of the crisis. The limited edition will be available through at least July 1 to businesses with more than 100 employees.

  • Avid: Free, temporary licenses of creative tools to qualified media enterprise and educational customers. Starting March 16 through April 17, users who must work remotely because their facility has been closed may obtain 90-day licenses free of charge for Media Composer | Ultimate, Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Ultimate and Sibelius | Ultimate. In addition, any student of an institution who uses our products and can no longer attend school and/or access school facilities can receive a 90-day license of the same products.

  • TechSmith: Free licenses to TechSmith Snagit screen capture software and the TechSmith Video Review software through June 30.

  • BlueJeans: Free access to videoconference service to first responders and NGOs for 90-days.

  • Adobe: Free home access to Creative Cloud apps is available by request of students and educators until May 31. Adobe also offers free 90-day access to Adobe Connect for web conferencing until July 1.

  • DropBox: Free DropBox Business and HelloSign Enterprise subscriptions for a three-month period to nonprofits and NGOs that are focused on fighting COVID-19. Organizations working to stop the virus or providing relief to those impacted are encouraged to apply.

  • Box: Free secure file sharing and collaboration platform for 3 months. The offer is for the Business plan and includes unlimited storage, mobile access, and advanced user and security reporting.

  • Mailchimp: Free Standard accounts to eligible groups sending critical public health information about COVID-19 through June 30.

  • SurveyMonkey: Free questionnaire templates written by survey research experts to gather data/feedback from employees, customers and broader groups impacted by the coronavirus.

  • Salesforce: Free access to technology for emergency response teams, call centers, and care management teams for health systems affected by coronavirus.

  • Check back soon because we’ll keep this list updated. You can also see all links and submit new free offers here

    While making important decision of your business, Don’t take a chance. Trust only expert.

    Choose from our variety of services, Connect with the right expert.

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