Small Biz Daily: CES 2017 Trends

By Rieva Lesonsky

Happy New Year!

Yes, we’re halfway through January. But there are so many more things you need to know to be better prepared for a successful 2017—let’s keep the celebration going.


1—Email Marketing Resolutions

Email marketing is still a great way to connect with your current customers and find new ones. Check out the tips and trends in the infographic below from Campaigner to learn how to get better ROI on your email campaigns in 2017


2—CES Trends

If you weren’t lucky enough to go to CES earlier this month, don’t worry. Jordan Edelson is the founder and CEO of Appetizer Mobile LLC, one of the leading mobile application development agencies in New York City. Appetizer Mobile has created over 150 mobile and digital experiences for major brands all over the world including the NBA, Joe Girardi, Kim Kardashian, Interscope Records, Epic Records, Lady Gaga, Montessorium, 50 Cent and more.


Here’s Jordan’s assessment of the CES 2017 trends to keep an eye on:


Big Take Away: Voice Assistants dominated. This year’s show saw many high-quality gadgets that actually live up to the hype. We are officially out of the prototype stage and on to the practical. Virtual assistants can now understand what we say and interpret the many ways we say it. Voice assistants were shown off in cars, refrigerators, nightstand clocks and more.


Alexa [from Amazon] was the big star of the event showcasing dozens of new products and services integrating voice assistant into appliances, TVs, speakers, lamps, cars and more.


Robots: Robots at CES 2017 were transitioning to real consumer products. Pepper, KuriKuriKuri and LG’s Hub Robot are just some examples. Robots showed off new skills and personalities.


Cars: Electric car startup Faraday Future showed off its first production car, the FF91, aimed at taking on Tesla. The other major car manufactures showcased trends moving towards autonomous driving, electric power, and better connections—including integrating with mart home systems.


TVs: Companies gave up on 3D and instead focused on better pictures and thinner TV’s. LG electronics showcased a “wallpaper” thin television, while rivals Sony and Samsung unveiled technology for more realistic displays. There was a push to entice consumers to adopt 4K ultra-rich screens.


Virtual Reality: Virtual reality’s presence at CES 2017 was serious, taking up substantially more space than the previous year. Taiwan-based HTC announced initiatives aimed at getting developers to create more VR experiences and unveiled plans for arcades in public venues so more people could give it a try. HTC took the veil off its new Tracker system, which lets third-party companies build peripherals to use with Vive experiences. Announced peripherals, ranging from toy guns, to gloves, to baseball bats.


3—Meaningful Meetings

Everyone complains about meetings, but have you measured if they’re successful? The Meetings Mean Business coalition has and according to its latest findings 96% of the small business owners in the study agree in-person meetings yield a return on investment.


The tech industry saw even more success with a 100% ROI. Negotiating, networking, scouting new hires, foster partnerships and securing business leads are just a few of the actions that those surveyed say are best done face-to-face.


Meetings are not just about having a traditional mid-day coffee or steak dinner. Instead, executives are being invited to spin or yoga classes, to green juices instead of cocktails, to get massages or their nails done, etc. CEOs are paying attention to health and wellness trends in the workplace and are using them as a way to close deals.


According to the survey, 90% of small business owners plan to invest as much or more on travel for meetings in 2017 as they did last year.


Check out the infographic below for more information.



4—Is America Still #1 for Entrepreneurship?

Yes, the U.S. is still viewed as the top country for entrepreneurism—but China is quickly gaining ground, according to the latest BNP Paribas/Bank of the West Global Entrepreneur Report, which surveyed more than 2,600 elite entrepreneurs in 21 countries. The third annual study reveals the characteristics, actions and ambitions of some of the world’s most successful wealth creators. While the report represents a global scope, some of the United States specific findings were particularly positive.



Conducted by Bank of the West’s parent company BNP Paribas, the study found that, over the past year, 95% of U.S. respondents say their profits had increased or remained steady. And 94% expect profits to increase or stay consistent this year.



The entrepreneurs surveyed, who have created an average of 3.5 companies during their careers, cite the United States, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom as their top five markets for entrepreneurial opportunity (in that order). For these entrepreneurs, creating wealth is a family affair, with 71%saying they have a history of family activity in business ownership. This year’s respondents were split into five subgroups, based on several business and demographic factors, dubbed Elite Entrepreneurs:


Ultrapreneurs: Entrepreneurs with a net investable wealth exceeding $25 million, Ultrapreneurs tend to place more emphasis on social responsibility, with 77% saying they consider Corporate Social Responsibility an important or extremely important element of their businesses. They are also the most optimistic of the five groups, with 71% anticipating their profits will rise over the next 12 months.


Serialpreneurs: Entrepreneurs who own or have established four or more operating companies. On average, Serialpreneurs have established 7.5 companies.


Millennipreneurs: Entrepreneurs who were born between the years 1980 and 2000. Even at a young age, 31% of Millennipreneurs reported owning multiple businesses.


Women EntrepreneursFemale entrepreneurs reported an average personal net worth of $15.9 million. Additionally, their primary business has an average annual turnover of $8.6 million. In both areas, the average female entrepreneur outperforms the average male entrepreneur.


Boomerpreneurs: Entrepreneurs over the age of 55 who started their ventures later in life—establishing their first companies at an average age of 37.


These Elite Entrepreneurs display unmatched passion and hunger for success, and they are thinking of the future as well. When asked to define success, one in four say they consider making a profit on an initial investment success, followed by the ability to transfer a successful business to the next generation (21%). Top motivating factors for pursuing entrepreneurship include the opportunity to improve quality of life (79%) and the freedom to make independent business decisions (76%).


Find out more about the lifestyles and priorities of Elite Entrepreneurs in the full report.


5—Millennials in the Workplace

According to a study by Microsoft, the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2012 to just 8 seconds. (In case you were wondering, goldfish have an attention span of about 9 seconds). No working generation knows this to be more true than Millennials.



With that in mind, DevelopIntelligence, a leading provider of customized technical learning solutions for software teams, took a look at why it is more important than ever to cultivate Millennial talent and identified the most effective ways companies can train Gen Y employees.



Check out the infographic below and their training outlook for 2017.



6—The Benefits of Daily Meditation 

Guest post by Yunha Kim, founder, Simple HabitA former Wall Street investment banker Yunha founded Simple Habit last year after personally discovering the benefits of mindfulness. Designed by a team of world class meditation experts and a Harvard psychologist, Simple Habit meditations are just 5-minutes and personalized for all kinds of life situations. 


Just one week of brief daily meditation has been found to produce significant improvements in attention, energy, and stress. Simple Habit is aimed at helping people make mindfulness a part of their daily routine by offering a variety of 5-minute meditations personalized for all kinds of life situations. Here are six ways meditation can improve your personal and professional life:


Decrease Stress: Stress has been linked to a wide range of medical problems, including hypertension, heart disease, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal disorders. Luckily, studies have shown that those who practice mindfulness meditation display greater reductions in stress related symptoms, and report increases in their sense of control in their lives. For instance, mindfulness meditation can produce a 30% reduction in symptoms of stress among those with a serious illness.



Sleep Better: Insomnia is one of the most common sleep problems among adults. Studies show mindfulness meditation can help decrease how long it takes you to fall asleep and increase the amount of time you stay asleep. Getting adequate sleep is essential to your health, energy, and ability to tackle daily tasks.



Focus Your AttentionPracticing mindfulness and meditation has repeatedly shown to improve our ability to sustain attention. Meditation affects the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self-control. Even in high stress work environments, research shows that people trained in meditation are able to stay focused on a task longer.



Release Your Creativity: Mindfulness meditation practice does more than simply help you regulate your emotions and attention—it also can impact your thinking. Research has found a link between mindfulness and creativity, and can lead to improvements in problem-solving creative solutions as well as promote divergent thinking. The more a person continues to practice mindfulness meditation regularly, the less rigid their thinking becomes.



Improve Your Mood: Consistent practice of mindfulness meditation can also have a notable beneficial impact on our overall mood, including depression and anxiety. In fact, mindfulness and meditation-based programs have been found to lead to significant reductions in clinical levels of anxiety and depression across a range of conditions.



Strengthen Your Relationships: Learning to be more mindful doesn’t only have a positive impact on you—it can have a positive impact on your relationships too. Research has shown increased mindfulness leads to significant improvements in marital quality, as well as work relationships and friendships, due to improvements in the identification, communication, and expression of emotions. In fact, people who meditate tend to display more empathy and non-judgmental acceptance toward each other.

Yunha-Kim-2-0027—Staying Connected

Tim McCabe, the creative director and cofounder of CardFool, a site that offers hilarious eCards and traditional greeting cards, believes sending personalized greeting cards is a “great way to stay connected and maintain strong relationships.”


Many associate greeting cards with the holidays, but Tim says, the practice of sending personalized notes should be done year round and businesses should add this practice to the 2017 calendar. Tim offers some tips below:


Mail Something: In this digital world, get someone’s attention, make them feel special and appreciated by mailing something that will make them smile.


Add Humor: It’s OK to lead with your sense of humor. Not only does it eliminate stress, but it leads to an optimistic culture and helps to attract positive employees/clients. You don’t need to be stand-up comedian, but a well-thought humorous card that is clever and showcases your personality always enhances a business relationship.


Top of mind: A simple hand-selected note not only keeps you top-of-mind, but also your business.


CardFool offers a free reminder calendar notifying you of special date two weeks in advance for all important dates. You can choose from 1,000+ custom designs, personalize it, and mail it first class for just $3.99 via desktop or on a smartphone/tablet by downloading the CardFool app.



8—6 Online Forms HR Professionals Should Have at Their Fingertips

Guest post by Leeyen Rogers, the VP of Marketing at JotForm, a popular online form-building tool. 


Human resource professionals are relied upon to be hyper organized, and the need to be fluent in protocol. Various situations arise in employee management, from funneling applicants through the hiring process to dealing with complaints and office incidents. It’s important for human resources to act quickly, collect information easily, and have important information readily accessible. Online forms are the best way to do just that. Let’s explore the six online forms that effective human resource professionals have at their fingertips.


Job application forms: Hiring top talent is a main priority for businesses large and small. HR helps those efforts by screening candidates for experience, skills, and fit. Typically, the first point of contact between a recruiter and a candidate is a job application form. Help applicants do some of your work for you by building an all-encompassing job application form. This will probably feature fields for collecting contact information, uploading a resume, and probably a cover letter. However, more specific questions and fields for additional links and information can be included, if needed.


Leave request forms: Perhaps your company has, or would benefit from, a process for employees to request leave or time off. Leave request forms are important for sudden, necessary absences in personal circumstances for employees, such as: care for a family member, bereavement, emergencies, and medical treatment. The form can collect information such as the dates the employee will be taking off, a supervisor’s signature, and any additional notes.


Employee award form: Employees want to feel valued and acknowledged for their contributions at work. One way to help foster a culture of recognition is to give out awards. An online form gives employees a place to nominate and vote for their peers, and all of this can be done conveniently and anonymously. Data from surveys can be automatically integrated into a spreadsheet, or visualized in a chart or graph. Recognizing employees for their efforts can improve morale, increase incentives, and give employees of distinction the credit that they deserve. Awards are often given out at company parties or retreats, and can also be shared internally on a recurring basis.


Employee accident report form: We all hope accidents and disasters never happen at work, but it is HR’s responsibility to have procedures in place if it does occur. Better safe than sorry! Employee accident report forms can collect crucial information such as the names of those involved, witnesses, a description of the incident, injury and/or property loss information, and the dates and times of when the event transpired.


HR complaint form: It is in every company’s best interests to keep employees happy and productive at work. This means that any incidents of harassment, abuse, or any harmful experiences that are occurring in the workplace need to be documented and dealt with in a timely manner. It should be easy for employees to speak up about any troubling experiences at the office, and that can be done with a complaint form. The form should guide employees through documenting their complaint, dates, people involved etc. It can also provide helpful information like company policy and when they can expect to receive a response.



Performance review form: Many people shudder at the perceived-to-be-outdated performance review. But maybe it shouldn’t be completely discounted just yet. If done correctly, performance reviews can be a valuable way for an employee and supervisor to provide feedback and inspire learning and professional growth. Progress can be encouraged, and training and support materials can be organized, through online forms.


If you want to make and use online forms but don’t know where to turn, check out JotForm, the easiest way to make online forms and collect their data.


9—Corporate Finance Challenges for CFOs

Guest post By Jesse Wood, CEO of eFileCabinetFounded in 2001, eFileCabinet is a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations capture, manage and protect their data.


Trying to improve the productivity of a finance staff is only possible when the major challenges facing the financial industry are properly diagnosed and dealt with.


Sustaining Productivity Improvements: In the past years, many businesses have made efforts to increase the productivity in their companies. This has been done by upgrading processing technology and streamlining communication protocols. Something that the finance world is concerned about, however, is making sure that these changes in productivity are permanent. It seems that once the new applications are in place and the push for more efficiency slackens a little bit, the productivity levels can tend to slink back down.


One of the best ways to sustain productivity improvements is to utilize the right technology. Upgrading your processes should be done with giant leaps rather than tiny steps. These larger steps will make it possible to put in place new regulations without having to make new changes every few months, when the new software or devices are rolled out.


Changing Role of Finance: The role of the CFO has changed drastically over the years, but the last five years especially have seen some big changes in the roles that the CFO is expected to take. If you have been struggling with the new job description that has come with your finance title, then some of the following things can help you with this:


  • Adhere to the new processes put in place: Make sure that your new standards apply to you as well as to everyone else.
  • Utilize the right technology: Cloud technology has especially provided some good platforms for financial planning and strategic decisions.
  • Align the departments: The goals made in the finance department have to be made in a way to improve things in every area of the business. Communication needs to happen between all departments so that the strategic decisions made can boost the company in a comprehensive way.


Streamlining Processes: Time seems to be of the essence in the finance world right now. Being quick is hard to do when there are so many unnecessary steps involved in the process. Something that can help you with this is to take a good look at the protocols you have in place. Are there steps that can be removed? Are there better people to handle certain tasks? Do things have to be done in one specific order every time?


An analysis of this nature will allow you to streamline the process and alter the workflow in a way that will speed things up. The communication and collaboration needed to enable this streamlined process can be done via cloud technology.


Reporting Cycle: To make good changes, you will need good information. Your rolling forecasts can’t change in the right ways if you are not getting the right data. The organizations within the company need to be turning in accurate reports on a regular basis.


Increasing the ease of communication will make it possible for you to integrate the right changes in each sector of the company to make things work in the most effective way possible. You can better steer the ship in the right direction when you are given the right reports in a timely manner.


Real Time Visibility: Things are changing on a minute-by-minute basis at times. This means that you need a way to see how things are moving in a real-time way. The only way to do this well right now is with the new technologies that are available.


What this means for you as a finance professional is that you might need to take the time to educate yourself. You have to make the effort to be conscious of what is available, and how those things can work for you. Not only will this help you to best optimize the utilization of these tech tools, but it will also lessen your reliance on the IT departments.


Global Operations: Business is now done on a global scale. This has made it possible to drastically increase revenue and sales opportunities, but it also presents some very unique challenges for the finance departments including, but not limited to the following:


  • Business hour shifts
  • Language barriers
  • International tax laws
  • Changes in report styles
  • Information on foreign markets


If your company is taking its business to the global market, then you might want to make sure that there are people on the finance staff who are specifically experienced and trained to handle some of these unique challenges.


Financial Consolidation: Transparency and visibility can do so much for bringing different parts of the company together. There needs to be one system that everyone is working from. This makes for one version of the truth so that everyone is working from the same data and can make decisions based on that one set of data.


This will mean better reporting from all departments, but you have to take it a step farther by being very honest and factual about what you are doing with that information. Show the company what resources you are working with and what is being done with those resources. This transparency will create a good conversation about the right changes to make, and can lead to much more productive financial planning meetings.


10—Stop Snoring

Snore Metrics, a biometric assessment company founded by 21-year-old student Jimmy S. Fallon, recently launched Snore Report, an iPhone app aimed at monitoring sleep and snoring. Snore Report will allow FitBit integration, and is available for download in the App Store for free, with Android launching this spring.


“According to John Hopkins Medical, 93% of people who suffer from sleep-related issues have undiagnosed sleeping disorders,” says Fallon. Snore Report’s goal is to help bring awareness to the various sleep disorders, which usually are easy, convenient and affordable to treat.


The app works by recording one’s sleep overnight. In the morning, the app provides a Snore Score assessment with the option to listen to the recording in its entirety, along with computed analysis and analytics. Developed by world class engineers from the United States, China and Ukraine, the app integrates the sleep tracking data with FitBit, to incorporate the heartbeat and provide a more comprehensive assessment of sleep quality.


Features of the app include:


  • Snore detection: accurately distinguishes between snoring and other noises
  • Measure severity: intensity of snoring is quantified into a snore score
  • Audio playback: listen to data of previous nights
  • Compare data: track your progress to help reduce your snoring
  • Alarm: Snore Report has a built-in alarm to wake you up in the morning or after a nap


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