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You can pivot your business in the middle of a pandemic – you have to

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Coronavirus has sounded a death knell for lots of small businesses. Learning to pivot and redirect your company’s focus may help keep it afloat in this uncertain economy.

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pivot change

These days, it’s not enough to be a household name. Heck, we’ve already learned that branding means next to nothing in today’s society, especially if said brand has garnered a bad rap for being offensive in nature. And the fact is, with millions of companies struggling to stay afloat, it’s no longer enough to get your proverbial foot through the door just through brand loyalty. You also have to prove your value to your customer base in order to be able to keep it there, too.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for companies to take a hard look at how they run their businesses. The ability to remain flexible during these uncertain times may make all the difference in whether a company remains solvent, or if it collapses under the mounting pressure of a recession-bound coronavirus economy. So what’s a company to do to keep from joining the ranks of other businesses that have gone under in recent months? Is there any hope left for them?

Surprisingly enough, the trick to not succumbing to bankruptcy may lie in a company’s ability to pivot. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to do a shimmy and a shake and a hip pop next (though, to be fair, it may look cool to see a bunch of octogenarian CEOs getting groovy on the dance floor). In this context, pivoting is remarkably simple in nature — but may be a near-impossible feat for companies that aren’t willing to approach their branding strategies with an open mind.

Pivoting is a novel way of approaching how you run your business. Instead of getting trapped in a dogmatic, my-way-or-the highway-mentality, these business owners need to find a fresh approach in how they offer their goods and services to their customers. Take, for instance, Spotify. This music streaming service has largely depended upon advertisers to earn revenue, which meant that unpaid subscriptions were their bread and butter. One might think that with more people staying home and listening to their jams to stay upbeat during quarantine, Spotify would flourish.

The reality was though, that ad revenue dried up as their advertisers cut their budgets. Spotify remained undeterred, and thus their own pivot emerged. Instead of letting this potentially catastrophic loss of income lead to their demise, they took a unique approach to remaining relevant: they allowed users to host their own original content. Suddenly everyone had a voice, and they wanted to make it heard to their doting public. Spotify found themselves signing deals for celebrity podcasts, and even the average user wanted in on the fun. By going this route, Spotify was able to remain relevant.

How does this translate to other businesses? And is pivoting applicable in real life? Well, sure. Take a look at restaurants. They’ve been hit harder than most, and many restaurant owners found themselves permanently shuttering their doors in the aftermath of the coronavirus quarantines. However, by pivoting, many of these restaurants may be able to continue serving up fresh and delicious fare to their community. Perhaps by offering subscription meal services, or maybe a la carte entrees with cute little recipe cards for sides, tucked into the to-go box.

However, it’s not enough to just pivot. What’s the secret then, to not becoming the next company to suffer a premature death at the hands of coronavirus? For starters, a company needs to be able to capitalize on the new norms established by the virus. This can include working from home, or meeting broken supply chain demands. Secondly, the pivot needs to align with what the business already offers. Your local gastropub, for instance, isn’t going to start to offer a free haircut with every meal. And finally, the company needs to crystallize themselves as necessary in the eyes of their consumer base… and, ultimately, this perception needs to help them make money.

Unfortunately, it’s a sad reality that not every company has the privilege to deliver a good that regarded as a necessity. If they shift their model and how they provide their services to their customers, however, they can take the first step in presenting themselves as a product that we not only want, but also need, in this new economy. Compounding on their existing reputation, and maintaining an open mind about how they operate their business, can make all the difference in whether these businesses can stick around for another decade or two. Otherwise, they may find themselves to be next company folding in this coronavirus-stricken economy.

Karyl is a Southern transplant, now living on the Central Coast with her husband. She's proud to belong to two very handsome cats, both of which have made it very clear as to where she ranks on the social hierarchy. When she's not working as an optician, you can either find her chipping away at her next science-fiction novel or training for an upcoming race. She holds an AAT in Psychology, which is just a fancy way of saying that she likes poking around inside people's brains. She's very socially awkward and has no idea how to describe herself, which is why this bio is just as dorky and weird as she is.

Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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