Running a small business in an ultra-competitive business environment successfully often means that the owner has to take up several roles and juggle multiple tasks. On one side you need to hire a great team that can take your business to the next level and on the other side, you need to ensure a steady stream of cash to keep operations up and running.

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From planning and budgeting to staffing and selling, every department demands a great deal of your time, attention and effort, especially in the first few years. All of these challenges explain why more than 20% of small businesses fall flat by the end of their very first year. Not to mention the need to strike a perfect balance between a strapped budget and business growth.

Staying organized and focused amidst all this chaos and confusion can be quite a challenge for an already overburdened business owner. Thanks to technological advancements today, productivity apps for android smartphones can help ease the burden of managing multiple tasks and make the process simple and efficient.

Let’s take a look at six such productivity apps for smartphones which offer big benefits for small business owners.

Evernote – There are thousands of thoughts running through your mind during the day. It’s impossible to pen down each and every thought and keep track of the details over a period of time. Well, Evernote app is a boon which can simplify storing and managing information. Evernote allows you to:

  • Create notes and share them easily
  • Sync and access all the information from multiple devices
  • Attach audio notes and voice memos
  • Tag or flag ideas to go back to them without having to search
  • Put reminders

With this app in your smartphones, you will never have to worry about jotting down a single word or remembering details from that important call with your client. You can create, organize and share content easily with your team members.

Vivial – You don’t have to worry about wasting time by logging on to various platforms for publishing news, deals, events, promotions etc., regarding your business. You can do all of this with a click of a button and make your business visible on multiple websites, local web directories and social media platforms using the Vivial app.

InDinero – Need help with managing your business finances? InDinero lets you manage the cash flow and all the other business related finances with ease. The app also has a feature which lets you sync your bank account and credit/debit cards. InDinero can even predict future cash flow on the basis of past trends collected from the data stored.

Wave – Turn a cumbersome task of handling the entire billing process into a simple one with this wonder app. Wave lets you manage important tasks such as creating invoices, sending estimates, processing and tracking payments efficiently and easily. It allows you to design and send invoices as well as estimates within few seconds. You can also manage payrolls and track payment status effortlessly with Wave app.

Salesmate – Enhance your sales performance with this smart sales CRM app. It automates most of the processes for you so that you can dedicate your precious time towards more important tasks. It centralizes data and keeps you organized so that you don’t waste time in searching for important information in different places. It streamlines your pipeline to help you effortlessly manage, nurture and close deals quickly. This helps you boost your sales productivity. Salesmate also sends notifications so that you can stay on track and complete your tasks on time.

DO – It is one of the most reliable apps to log and track all your to-dos. It has a stunning interface which is extremely easy to use. The signature feature of this app known as Moment encourages better task management practices. Its basic version is free to use but you can unlock some of its great features with the paid version. For instance, you can share multiple tasks with unlimited options for recurring tasks. Also, you can benefit from the location-based reminders feature with the paid version. You can download the Any.Do app from here.

These apps promise to make managing your business easier. Their efficiency also depends on how you use them. If you use them dedicatedly and integrate them with your business process aptly, you can boost your productivity and in turn the growth of your business.

Which are your favorite productivity apps, do leave the name in the comments section…

Trust may be one of the most valuable commodities in your business. A team that trusts each other and their boss is a team that will work harder and happier to achieve great things. Cut corners where you will, but when it comes to people you need to invest. Not just money, but time and care. A whopping 93% of employees believe that trusting their leaders is essential to work satisfaction. And a satisfied team makes your business more money. So how to go about developing that trust?

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Trust works both ways

Trust is most effective when it’s mutual. When you show trust in your employees, they will feel that you’ve taken their feelings and identities into consideration. To work together requires a sense of collaboration. When you just pass tasks along with little consideration, you risk alienating your crew.

To build trust, try to be as open as possible with your team about every aspect of your business. Involve them in decisions, and show them how you work and why you do things the way you do. This has the important advantage that it removes uncertainty from your employees’ daily tasks.

[U]ncertainty about the company’s direction leads to chronic stress, writes Paul J. Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, “which inhibits the release of oxytocin and undermines teamwork“.

“Openness is the antidote”.

Listen carefully

Part of showing your trust is to listen carefully. And again, your team will learn to trust and respect you if they know you have their interests at heart. Asking open-ended questions can begin an open and creative dialogue.

This listening occurs in daily interactions, but it also refers to how you treat your colleagues in the bigger picture. For example, letting them know that you’ve noticed when they’ve done something particularly smart or effective.

And listen not just to what they say and do, but what they feel. If you see somebody is raring to have a bit more responsibility, and you know they’re capable, reach out to them and delegate some of your own important tasks. Or hold regular sessions to observe and redistribute the workload. Discuss or use feedback forms to give folk a chance to express what work they believe they’re good at, and what they would like to do.

Behave honestly

It may sound obvious, but one of the simplest ways to build trust is by being honest. That starts with being open about your business practices as discussed above. But it should refer through to all areas of your workplace.

Being honest isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always pleasant. But a healthy and considerate conflict is more productive than simmering resentment and distrust.

To be a trustworthy boss doesn’t require you to be a tyrant. However, bottling things up or sweeping them under the carpet will damage your relationships and your business. Equally, make promises you can’t keep will lose you trust.

A boss “whose behavior can be reliably predicted will be seen as more trustworthy,” says Robert F. Hurley, professor of management at Fordham University in New York.  “One whose behavior is erratic will be met with suspicion“.

Here the issue of integrity comes into play – that is, doing what you say you will do. Trustees who say one thing but do another lack integrity.”

To begin building that trust, take a long hard look at this infographic from The Business Backer

There is one wave that is catching up slowly catching up in India is the ‘wave of entrepreneurship’. Open any leading newspaper and you would find a separate section on ‘Business & Startups’. This is the kind of change that has been observed since the last couple of years and many Indians are taking the plunge in order to change the world. However, building or scaling a business is not only about the idea, but it revolves a lot around the implementation of the idea. Once you have built a core team, created a Minimum Viable Product [MVP], acquired initial set of customers; your intent would be to take your startup to the next phase i.e. the growth phase.

As an organization scales up, you need to hire the right set of people who are not only technically sound but who also fit into your company’s culture. As a business owner/entrepreneur, your constant focus should be on growth, whilst keeping the burn-rate to the minimum. ‘Outsourcing’ has been used widely by organizations since it helps them reduce the overhead expenses, focus on their core business areas, and utilize the expertise of the ‘outsourcing provider’ in the ‘focus area’ that is outsourced to them.

One department that can remain under-utilized is the Human Resources department and if the HR team does not have the right expertise, there is a possibility that you might end up hiring the wrong people for your organization. Hence, many businesses [irrespective of their scale of operations] partner with staffing solutions in India for their human resource management requirements.

Along with expertise, these staffing companies bring a huge amount of experience & expertise in different aspects related to staffing and hiring. In case you are leading an organization and have a full-time staffing team that is not driving results; you might want to consider the option of outsourcing your staffing activities. Let’s look into some of the advantages of partnering with an experienced staffing-solution company for staffing requirements

1. Focus on Core Business Activities – As an entrepreneur or a business leader, your main focus would be growing the business. While expanding the business, you need to ensure that you are ‘investing your time and money’ in the activities that matter to the organization. In some cases, you may prefer to use a lean or agile approach in running the business since that keep the complexities in running the business to the minimum. When the business expands, you need to prioritize the areas where you want to invest in the company and possibility is that expansion of non-core areas like HR & Finance might impact the investment in the core businesses. Hence, you need to look at the ROI [Return On Investment] of having a resident HR team. In most scenarios, partnering with a staffing company like ManPower Consultants would yield better results and helps you stay focused on things that matter the most in your business.

2. Lower Costs – When your organization has a full-time HR team, you would need to train them about the fundamentals of the business that is being built and the qualities that are required in prospective hires. Building any kind of team is challenging and the same also applies to the HR/Staffing Team. You might need a team to screen candidates, interview them, background verification, etc. and all these skills are readily available in consultants working in staffing companies. Employees in staffing companies also possess necessary negotiation skills along with expertise in HR, Payroll, etc. Hence, engaging with staffing companies definitely has a huge impact on the savings since it helps in minimizing the operational costs in running the organization.

3. Quality Candidates – As an organization, you would not want that a wrong-hire is on boarded since an additional amount of time & money would be spent in getting an ideal replacement. This would increase the overall turn-around time, which could impact the business deliverables. When it comes to hiring, you would always prefer to hit the bullseye at the first instant and for that, you need to hire ‘quality candidates’ for your organization. Placement companies in India have a database of talent pool catering to different domains and this makes spotting the right candidates an easier task.

Staffing companies work very closely with the management team of the partnering organization and hence, they are aware of the qualities that are required in an ideal candidate. This expedites the entire process of hiring, which is critical in today’s changing business scenario.

4. Workforce Flexibility – Business situations are dynamic and hence you do not want any bench-strength as it would add up to the resource-count & also increase your operational costs. The same principle also applies to the Human Resource & Staffing team. Outsourcing your staffing requirements by collaborating with an experienced HR outsourcing company like ManPower Consultants helps you in bringing the necessary flexibility in the hiring/onboarding process i.e. hire contract or temporary workers/employees when there is a business demand and scale down when required. Large organizations also have a significant number of ‘temporary employees’ and an experienced staffing company can be instrumental in hiring these employees.

In case you are looking for a renowned staffing organization to fulfill your company’s hiring needs, do have a look at the work being done by ManpowerGroup Consultants in the fields of contract staffing, management consultancy, etc. How do you hire people, do leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Uber and The International Cricket Council [ICC] announced a world first partnership to support the first ever standalone ICC Women’s World T20 in the West Indies. Uber and the ICC aim to leverage one of the world’s most popular sports to engage the broader cricketing community in a conversation around the important role sport plays in empowering girls and women around the world.

This global partnership will encompass on-the-ground activation in participating WWT20 countries, in addition to the creation of a six-part digital film series featuring the inspiring stories of female cricketers, watch party and match day promotions across Uber and Uber Eats in participating countries. Social media will be engaged to celebrate women in sports and various community outreach programs including sponsorships for aspiring female cricketers to join cricket academies and for fans and families to cheer on their heroes live.

Commenting on the partnership, David Richardson, CEO of the International Cricket Council, said

Uber is a globally recognized brand and one that is committed to the empowerment of women around the world. As a sport we have also made a commitment to grow the women’s game and it will form one of the pillars of our strategy that will be launched early next year. This is a genuine partnership that is focused on our shared values and Uber’s plans are exciting and complement what we’re trying to achieve. The traditional sponsorship model is changing and this collaboration is a reflection of that, it’s about a shared ambition to move women’s cricket forward, tell the story of our sport more broadly and build heroes in our game.

Uber’s Chief International Business Officer, Brooks Entwistle, shared

We are absolutely delighted to be the first ride-sharing and food delivery platform to partner with the ICC for the first ever standalone ICC Women’s World T20. We recognize the best way to change the status quo is to challenge it, and the ICC Women’s World T20 is a powerful showcase of women moving the sport of cricket forward, while uniting and inspiring communities around the world.

Together with the ICC, we are committed to supporting more women in sport, and to inspiring and enabling more girls and women to access opportunities, and become the change agents, world leaders and sports champions of tomorrow.

Uber brand ambassador and Indian Cricket Captain, Virat Kohli, shared

I’m excited to hear that Uber and the ICC are partnering to support the Women’s World T20 in the West Indies. All women representing their countries will become better cricketers, but more importantly, they’ll also serve as role models to encourage other young women and girls to take up cricket, which I believe will empower them to be more focused, competitive and goal oriented.

The ICC Women’s World T20 will be held from 9 to 24 November 2018, during the 2018–19 international cricket season. The 10-team tournament will be played as a standalone event for the first time between Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.

Liferay Inc., which makes software that helps companies create digital experiences on web, mobile and connected devices, has acquired controlling interest in Triblio and committed to an ongoing strategic investment in growing Triblio’s Account-Based Marketing [ABM] business. The investment allows Liferay to explore opportunities for the DXP audience to further enhance and personalize the customer journey with account-specific content and messaging. In turn, Triblio will continue to focus on delivering long-term customer value and product innovation.

Bryan Cheung, CEO – Liferay said

Triblio represents the next generation of B2B marketing cloud and we are fully committed to investing in the platform and growing Triblio’s ABM business. Existing Liferay DXP customers will reap the benefits of this investment over time as we continue to help organizations build long-term relationships and deliver value to customers across their life-cycle.

Triblio will continue to operate as an independent entity led by CEO Andre Yee. Andre co-founded Triblio after serving as Senior Vice President of Product Development at marketing automation software provider Eloqua. Triblio is a leading ABM cloud provider with over 100 customers and triple digit annual year over year growth. The platform offers account-based advertising, web personalization, sales orchestration, account scoring and analytics, all powered by its unique AI-based purchase intent engine.

Andre Yee, CEO of Triblio, said

We are excited to receive Liferay’s investment. With their strategic commitment, we intend to extend our market reach and invest significantly in our customer success and product development teams.

Together, Liferay and Triblio are dedicated to bringing improved customer engagement and content targeting capabilities to enterprises. In addition, the two companies share a deep commitment to customer success and in giving back to the wider community.

About Liferay

Liferay makes software that helps companies create digital experiences on web, mobile and connected devices. Our platform is open source, which makes it more reliable, innovative and secure. Hundreds of organizations in financial services, healthcare, government, insurance, retail, manufacturing and multiple other industries use Liferay.

In what will no doubt be one of the most exciting developments to watch, home grown JetSetGo, that currently manages the largest fleet of private jets and helicopters in India announced its plans to bring the dream of flying cars and on demand urban air transport one step closer to reality starting nowhere else but right here in our own country.

Image Source – JetSetGo

Rather than piling dozens or hundreds of people into big jets that fly back and forth between crowded airports or spending countless hours stuck on city roads, the company announced plans to use its existing fleet to provide inter-city and intra-city air shuttle services in smaller jets and through vertical take-off and landing [VTOL] making full use of the third dimension to blast traffic jams into the past. With initial launch routes starting from September 17 between Mumbai and Bangalore along with helicopter shuttles within Mumbai connecting to surrounding industrial clusters like Tarapur and Vapi, the company wants to use learnings from these routes to further expand offerings across the country thereafter.

This comes close on the heels of Uber’s Elevate initiative and the 19+ companies that have drawn active investor interest globally from Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk to Airbus’s Vahana and Boeing’s bets on electric cargo and passenger aircraft to develop the new age flying machines of tomorrow which now increasingly appear closer to reality than people once believed.

Already enabling amongst the highest number of non-scheduled aircraft movements across the country, Kanika Tekriwal, CEO and Co-founder of JetSetGo believes solving the problem of technology that most companies are racing towards only solves one part of the problem. What is equal or arguably more important is having an enabling environment from a regulation standpoint, creating the right level of initial customer demand to bring these flying cars to market, understanding to bridge infrastructure gaps and complex operating dynamics till the world makes a full transition to the Jetsons world of flying cars are all equally important.

Sudheer Perla, her Cofounder added

Even if available, it likely will be some time before people and regulation warm up to ‘flying’  their own cars versus driving as one is used to now. So early adopters to bring flying cars to market are likely to be fit for purpose ride sharing platforms most possibly through a more asset heavy and a more regulated model. The challenges here are far greater than those faced by existing ride sharing platforms where it was all about an aggregation play.

Since we have already solved parts of the problem by aggregating private jets and helicopters the closest proxy at the moment to flying cars and operating and managing them, it now is all about trying to expand our on demand air charters to a much broader market segment in a cost effective, seamless and a sustainable manner. Since the first generation of electric aircraft are likely to carry no more than 4~5 passengers, much like a private jet, a point-to-point air shuttle service as a premium offering at the right price points for superior value is the first step towards building that new age platform and market appetite to usher in electric flying cars into our country over the coming years.

Only time will tell a Jetsons future will come to fruition, but for this proudly desi-made multiple award winning startup that has risen against many odds now making the movers and shakers of India move from any Point A to Point B in the fastest possible manner, they are bringing it one step closer to reality. Consumers interested in zooming through the third dimension can book a ride at SkyShuttle

Indian School of Business’s Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise conducted a research study Family Businesses: Promoters’ Skin in the Game 2001~2017, which reveals the pattern of increasing stake of promoters in NSE and BSE listed family firms. The research study, conducted by Dr. Nupur Pavan Bang, Prof. Kavil Ramachandran and Anierudh Vishwanathan of the Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise at ISB and Prof. Sougata Ray of IIM Calcutta, provides insights into the ownership pattern of family firms in comparison to the non-family firms and also explores the heterogeneity within family firms.

Image Source – Family Business

It is a first- of- its kind research study that presents and analyses the trends in equity ownership by various classes of shareholders for 4,615 firms listed on the National Stock Exchange [NSE] and the Bombay Stock Exchange [BSE] of India, across different ownership categories, for the period 2001~2017.

The research study attempted to give a bird’s eye view of the shareholding pattern of listed Indian firms. Dr Nupur Bang saied

We found that promoters of family firms have increased their stake in their companies over the last decade, while State owned Enterprises [SOEs], Other Business Group Firms [OBGFs] and Standalone Non-family Firms [NFs] have witnessed a decline in promoter shareholding. This reinforces the preeminent role of family-controlled businesses in India. It seems to imply that the engine of growth of Indian businesses will not be dependent on overseas or other promoter categories. Instead, promoters of family firms will continue to play a major role.

Professor Kavil Ramachandran, Executive Director, Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise said

The ownership pattern of listed businesses in India is fairly concentrated, especially in the case of family firms, SOEs and MNCs. While this has significant positive effects, there is also a need to keep close vigil on their governance practices.

Key findings of the study

Rising Promoters’ stake – The research study finds that while the concentration of promoters’ shareholding is decreasing in non-family firms, it is increasing in the family firms.  By steadily increasing their shareholding in the firm, the promoters of family firms, both family business group firms [FBGFs] and standalone family firms [SFFs], were signaling their growing confidence in the potential of their company, thereby instilling confidence among the investors. Promoters of MNCs have also increased their stake in their Indian subsidiary, probably indicating their belief in the ‘India story’.

The promoter stake in State Owned Enterprises [SOEs] has been steadily falling over the past decade. This is in line with the policies of the successive governments in India to divest their holding in the SOEs. Other business group firms [OBGFs] and standalone non-family firms [NFs] have also witnessed a decrease in promoter shareholding.

Rising Trend of Holding Shares Through Companies – In FBGFs, the preferred mode to hold shares is through holding companies, while in SFFs the family members prefer to hold shares directly as individuals or Hindu Undivided Family [HUF]. In FBGFs, holding companies or trusts that hold shares of all companies on behalf of the family members enable better resource allocation, control, realisation of synergies and tax planning within all group level firms and better management of ownership, inheritance and payouts at the family level.

It also enables the family to professionalize each of the firm while the family maintains a bird’s eye view at the group level. SFFs are younger with less complex structures both at the family and the business front. As they grow the complexities of inheritance, succession and growth would force them too to adopt better structures of ownership.  Entry of the next generation into the business and more interest in the business by the extended family with better performance and increased scale would point towards a need to streamline ownership and be prepared for future structure, governance and professionalization needs of the firm. Therefore, we see a gradual increase in shareholding through companies even in the case of SFFs.

Declining Institutional Shareholding in Family Firms – Non-promoter institutional shareholding is lower in family firms when compared with non-family firms and it has decreased further between 2007 to 2017. As a block holder, institutional shareholders influence the governance and strategy of the firm; if they refrain from investing in family firms, the pursuit of governance will take longer. Institutional investment is inversely proportional to promoter’s shareholding, especially in the case of family firms, higher preference is given to the firm where family ownership is lower.

Non-family firms in general have strong formal internal control mechanisms to keep the personal interests of managers out of the company’s functioning. Consequently, the probability of a strong and independent corporate governance mechanism is greater for a non-family firm. Institutional investors have a strong preference for firms with good governance. Thus, we see higher institutional shareholding in NFs and OBGFs.

Reluctant Non-Institutional Shareholders – Except NFs, our study shows a decline in the shareholding of non-promoter non-institutional shareholders. It suggests that investors’ preferences might have further shifted to alternative asset classes like real estate, gold, and fixed deposits or they might be investing through institutional investors like the mutual funds. Most of the decline is due to small investors with upto than Rs. 1 Lakh worth of shares. These small investors have reduced their holdings across all ownership categories. This may be due to the lack of disposable income in the hands of small investors.

Also, such investors are typically the last-in in a bull market and end up buying at a very high price and selling cheap when the market starts to stumble. Repeated such experiences make them wary of the market. FBGFs and SFFs have fairly large non-institutional shareholdings, even though it’s been on a decline. On deep diving, we find that the average shareholding may be skewed due to outliers. In the case of family firms, more so in SFFs, we find a large number of firms that report a very large percentage of shares being held by non-promoter non-institutional shareholders. On checking the websites of some of these companies, it is clear that these are family owned and controlled firms.

Moreover, for many of them, the number of such investors remains constant quarter after quarter. That is a very unlikely scenario in the case of small investors and leaves a lot to speculation. In a few cases, we find that the names of shareholders disclosed by the company under the category of non-institutional shareholders with shares in excess of Rs. 1 lakh, have the same surname as the promoters or surnames from the same community. This calls for the regulator to closely scrutinize the shareholders in this category to ensure that the law is obeyed in spirit and not just in letter.

About The Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise

The Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise was launched on February 7, 2015 with an aim to advance real-world and academic knowledge of family business. Since its inception, the Centre has been bringing together faculty and practitioners from India and abroad with the broad aim of combining theory and practice to enhance research and innovation in the field. Family businesses make a major contribution towards wealth creation, job generation, and increasing competitiveness in countries around the world. As such, the unique challenges and opportunities faced by them are rapidly becoming an important subject of management research.

Cognizant of these developments, a Chair was set up in 2006 at ISB, which later developed into a full-fledged Centre. It has been generously funded with support from Thomas Schmidheiny, Founder and Chairman of Spectrum Value Management, Ltd, Switzerland. The Centre has forged several collaborations with academic institutions and professional organizations at both the national as well as international level. These engagements have helped the Centre to contribute significantly to the growing body of research on various aspects of family business.

Lenovo and Intel have announced a partnership with Paytm Mall, owned by Paytm Ecommerce Pvt Ltd. With a collective aim to reach out to 10 million Small and Medium Businesses [SMBs] by 2020, under this partnership, Paytm Mall will host a unique Lenovo brand store on its platform to drive discovery and instant purchases of the SMB range of laptops.

Image Source – PayTm Mall

The brand store will enable the customers to make instant purchases and avail exciting cashback offers. The consumers will have the advantage of a large assortment of readily available products under one umbrella, fast delivery and protection against in-transit damages. This collaboration will provide a seamless shopping experience with added online benefits for the consumer. The SMB customers can obtain a GST invoice which will help them claim input tax as well. Apart from this, there will option to purchase laptops on interest free EMIs. The platform is also offering low-cost extended warranty and lucrative purchase offers to SMBs.

Ashish Sikka, Head of SMB, Lenovo India said

SMBs are at the forefront of driving economic growth of the nation.  While SMBs are driving tremendous innovation, they still face challenges when it comes to adoption of the right IT infrastructure to gain operational efficiencies. With this association, we look forward to empower our customers with the right range of products and services which enhance their buying experience and improve productivity. This partnership also enables our partners and provides them with Paytm’s wide digital network leading to a superior quality shopping experience for our consumers.

Amit Sinha, COO – Paytm Mall said

We have announced the availability of SMB-focused notebooks on our platform in partnership with Lenovo and Intel. This partnership will enable the SME community to get the widest range of products, doorstep delivery and exciting offers all in one place.

Rahul Malhotra, Director – Retail, Intel India said

This initiative is in line with Intel India’s effort to engage with growing business to establish the relevance of technology in general, and PCs in specific. Lenovo’s Intel technology powered devices, combined with Paytm’s significant reach, will enable the 11 million plus SMBs in India to not only become more efficient, but also to explore newer business opportunities.

SMBs can choose from a broad portfolio of products that include Intel’s 8th gen powered E series, V330, ThinkPad T series, X series and the convertible range of the Yoga series. The price of products will range between Rs. 39,900 ~ Rs. 89, 692, depending on the configuration.