Thursday, August 9, 2018

Apple Hits $1 Trillion

To say last Thursday was a good day for Apple Inc. may be the understatement of the century. On August 2, 2018, Apple became the first U.S. company to surpass $1 trillion in market value. Think about that for a minute. In 1997, Apple had just cut a third of its workforce and was about 90 days from going broke. Twenty-one years later, that same company is worth $1,000,000,000,000. 

Apple’s meteoric rise has been driven, in large part, by the sustained success of its blockbuster product, the iPhone. In the first quarter of 2018, iPhone sales accounted for approximately 70 percent of Apple’s total revenue. In total, Apple has sold more than 1.4 billion iPhones worldwide (three of which were sold to the author of this blog). I think it is safe to say that the iPhone has completely changed the way we live (an analysis on the societal impact of smartphones is beyond the scope of this post). 

The $1 trillion milestone reflects Apple’s explosive growth and its role in the tech industry’s rise to the forefront of the global economy. Unsurprisingly, the five most valuable U.S. companies (Apple, Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc.) are all technology companies. Apple and Google combined now provide the software for 99 percent of all smartphones. Facebook and Google take 59 percent of online advertising revenue in the U.S. Okay, enough statistics. We get it. The tech industry is king and Apple wears the crown (for now). 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Favorite Entrepreneurial Takeaways from the Retail Success Summit 2018

This past month I attended the 10th Annual Retail Success Summit, presented by WhizBang! Training in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This training is geared towards store owners, but employs principles that can be universal in their business application. Last year I came home filled to the brim with ideas and motivation, so I went back this year hoping for the same.

I was not disappointed! I made an entire book of notes, but I thought I’d pare them down and share a few favorites that other entrepreneurs across various industries can also put to use. 

  1.  http://www.mentimeter.com. This one did not come in the form of a session or a tip, but it was used heavily and successfully throughout the conference, and I brought it home to my own July staff meeting for a bit of fun and some great results. This website allows you to create live, interactive presentations where participants can pull out their smartphones, enter a code, and submit their votes. These can be open-ended “word clouds,” multiple choice questions, scales, reactions, and so much more. It’s a great way to keep your audience’s attention, to brainstorm for honest input, and to encourage participation by allowing anonymous responses.  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Jot Your Thoughts

We are all familiar with Field Notes, those rather basic, yet timeless, notebooks in which you can do what the name implies, take notes. Beginning a few years ago, the Field Notes people came out with their own Field Notes Brand Books, the first of which was “A Drive into the Gap” by Kevin Guilfoile. It’s a nice, little, fits-in-your-back-pocket-sized book set against the backdrop of Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th and final hit before his early death, the stories and memories that have created a mystery about which bat Clemente actually used for his historic feat, and the relationship of the author to his father who worked with Clemente while with the Pittsburgh Pirates and eventually had a career with the Baseball Hall of Fame before falling victim to Alzheimer’s. 

This little book caused me to reflect on my own memories and ability to remember. Sometimes it seems that our brains pick and choose at random what they want to retain and discard (or hide from us).

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

CALIFORNIA BRINGS GDPR TO THE USA

American businesses were just getting used to compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when, on June 28, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). 

The CCPA was passed quickly with little debate after a consumer privacy organization agreed to withdraw a much broader privacy initiative that would have appeared on the November ballot. The law does not go into effect until January 1, 2020 and will likely go through several revisions as efforts are made to amend and clarify this hastily drafted piece of legislation.

CCPA is GDPR-like in the notification and access rights it gives consumers and may become the de facto national standard for how businesses use personal information to market their products and services. New systems, processes, and policies may need to be implemented.

Get ready for even more requests from individuals seeking access to or deletion of their data. 

The same data mapping exercises performed for GDPR regarding personal data processed of EU residents will now have to be performed for Californians.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Enough with the book reviews! Who has time to read?

I’ve been at this for several years now. If you’ve been following along, you know the drill: I read a book, usually something not in any way readily relatable to business or entrepreneurship, and—presto chango—I highlight an entrepreneurial lesson drawn from the text, just like pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.

Sometimes the little voice in my head gently suggests that I might better serve entreVIEW’s readers by zeroing in on books directly relating to building a business. You know, the kind of books with themes like “how I did it, and you can too.” This month, before mentally swatting that thought away, I decided to take action, and this post is the result.

There are lots and lots of good books on or relating to entrepreneurship out there, and I’m betting you can name at least one or two, but at the end of the day most successful entrepreneurs I’ve known have had the same complaint—when do they have time to read? Point taken. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Influencer Marketing: Trendy, Effective, and Potentially Deceptive Under Section 5 of the FTC Act

Influencer marketing has become an attractive prospect for companies seeking to advertise to younger generations and social media users.

Today’s consumers have many options to avoid the traditional platforms used by advertisers: streaming music helps consumers avoid radio commercials, streaming television prevents exposure to television commercials, ad blockers help to avoid advertisements online, and upgrade options on media providers such as Hulu, Spotify, and YouTube disable most of the advertising on those platforms. As more consumers are exercising their ability to “turn off” advertisements from their lives, advertisers are perilously trying to adapt.

Here is where the influencer comes in. From the Instagram model to the YouTube star, influencers, or social media users with significant followings on social media, have the unique ability to “influence” their followers. Influencers run the gamut from makeup artists to fitness gurus, from world travelers to gamers. Advertisers have been keen to explore this medium of advertising and are spending millions on influencer marketing each month. Indeed, many influencers can command thousands of dollars per post. 

While influencer marketing may feel like a foreign concept to many, it emerged from the recognizable celebrity endorsement. Social media has made the status of “celebrity” or “public figure” significantly more accessible and those same social media platforms provide a way for influencers to directly engage with their followers. Advertisers, in turn, are happy to provide free products or a sponsorship to influencers in exchange for the influencer featuring the advertiser’s products in their social media posts. For instance, a clothing company may pay an Instagram model to wear their clothing in his social media posts or a video game company may pay a gamer in exchange for reviewing one of their games or DLCs. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Instead of a Post About Musicals, How about a Piece of the Brooklyn Bridge?

I was thinking about my recent semiannual musical theatre fanatic trip to NYC and what might be interesting about it to entreVIEW readers. I usually try to find some entrepreneurial hook into the several musicals I see in the course of a brief sojourn (over this past Memorial Day weekend, six musicals in three days). You can judge for yourself whether I’ve successfully done that in my last few post-NYC theatre posts like this one about Ken Davenportthis one about "Ernest Shackleton Loves Me," or this one about "Hamilton" (which, in case you missed it, is coming to the Twin Cities late this summer as part of the Broadway Season presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust, and, in case you were wondering, no, I can’t help you get tickets). 

Anyway, I was trying to find an interesting entrepreneurial hook about Tina Fey, the author of the "Mean Girls" musical, which was one of my favorites this trip and which is up for 12 Tony Awards. Surprisingly, considering how creative and prolific Fey is, I didn’t find anything I thought was all that interesting. Nor did I find anything compelling about Robert Lopez, who wrote the score for my other top-two musical of this trip, Disney’s "Frozen." (Lopez also wrote the scores for a couple of my all-time favorites, “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon.")