3 Reasons Why It Sucks To Be the CEO Of Uber

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Sometimes I wonder why Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gets out of bed in the morning. OK, it’s probably the fact that his company was recently valued at more than $18 billion which, depending on his ownership, makes him at the very least a billionaire. For most business people, that’s motivation enough. But there’s got to be an easier way to make that first billion, isn’t there? I could never do what he does. I think it sucks to be the CEO of Uber. Why?

You must enjoy fights. Kalanick’s battles with regulatory authorities, competitors and haters around the world are epic. Don’t believe me? Just go ahead and search for news about “Uber.” I just did. And here’s what I found today: the company just won a short reprieve in Berlin from a city ban that had previously ruled that Uber did not comply with passenger safety standards and is now engaged in a war with taxi drivers in India. In Pittsburgh they’ve been required by the courts to provide information about its ridership. The Maryland Public Service Commission recently ruled that Uber is a “common carrier” and should be subject to greater regulation. They are fighting a growing number of ominous reports about people who keep getting into strangers’ cars because they think it’s an Uber vehicle and cab companies in San Diego who are furious with the ride sharing service for not only taking away business, but their drivers too. The company’s rating system has recently came under scrutiny and some guy alleging to be a “Boston Uber driver” has attracted attention after making serious allegations about the company’s safety practices. By the way…that’s just today. Which I guess is just another day at the office for Kalanick. If this were me I’d be jumping out the window. Read More…

The Other ‘Sharing’ Economy That’s About To Change The World

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

A great article in the New York Times this weekend reported on the enormous rise of the “sharing economy” and the impact that its applications are having on workers around the country.  By now you’ve heard of some of these applications:  There’s Uber and Lyft and Sidecar where people can share their cars to provide rides.  There’s Airbnb (sharing rooms), TaskRabbit (sharing tasks), Fiverr (sharing services), Postmates and Favor (sharing couriers) as well as Instacart (sharing grocery deliveries). The sharing economy is real and growing.

But there’s another sharing economy that’s not yet getting the same kind of attention. But it will. Because this sharing economy is going to change the world. It’s not cars or tasks or rooms or groceries. It’s data. Today’s cloud based software companies are building enormous troves of data. And the smarter ones are doing this because they see the future. And their future is sharing.

Your location is being tracked. Your purchase history is being stored. Your user profile has been collected. You are prompted to save your passwords. You are asked to confirm your personal details. You must submit an email address. You are required to provide your mother’s maiden name. Every hour more bits of data about you are being gathered, stored, categorized, and archived. Read More…

4 Reasons Why New Jobs Are Paying Less

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

Jobs are recovering, but unfortunately wages aren’t.

As the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis summarizes:

A new study from the US Conference of Mayors and IHS Global Insight gives the discouraging news. In 2008 and 2009 the US economy lost 8.7 million jobs. By examining the sectors from which the jobs were lost, most notably manufacturing and construction, we find that the average annual wage in sectors (current wages weighted by number of jobs) where jobs were lost in the downturn was $61,637. A similar accounting of the jobs gains through 2014 q2 shows average wages of $47,171 per year. This wage gap, at 23%, is significantly larger than that of the earlier recession and recovery, and implies $93 billion in lower wage income. Extensive job losses in high-wage manufacturing ($63K) and construction ($58K) sectors were replaced by jobs in the lower wage sectors of hospitality ($21K), health care ($47K), and administrative support ($37K).

There are at least four economic trends that are keeping wages for new jobs low. I know this. I see this in my own business. I see it amongst my client base. Read More…

Four Reasons Why New Jobs Are Paying So Much Less

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Jobs are recovering, but unfortunately wages aren’t.

As the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis summarizes:

“A new study from the US Conference of Mayors and IHS Global Insight gives the discouraging news. In 2008 and 2009 the US economy lost 8.7 million jobs. By examining the sectors from which the jobs were lost, most notably manufacturing and construction, we find that the average annual wage in sectors (current wages weighted by number of jobs) where jobs were lost in the downturn was $61,637. A similar accounting of the jobs gains through 2014 q2 shows average wages of $47,171 per year. This wage gap, at 23%, is significantly larger than that of the earlier recession and recovery, and implies $93 billion in lower wage income. Extensive job losses in high-wage manufacturing ($63K) and construction ($58K) sectors were replaced by jobs in the lower wage sectors of hospitality ($21K), health care ($47K), and administrative support ($37K).”

There are at least four economic trends that are keeping wages for new jobs low. I know this. I see this in my own business. I see it amongst my client base. Read More…

Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Did: Choose the Right Domain Name for Your Website

(This post originally appeared on about.us)

So let’s state the obvious: the domain name of my company, which is www.marksgroup.net, is pretty boring. Obviously, I’ve ignored some of the rules.

Clearly, I didn’t pay enough attention to the online experts at the time. My company’s domain name sometimes gets confused with the same name of a totally different company using a .com extension (and no, I’m not going to buy up their extension – who’s got that kind of money?). I have no key words in the name (other than my last name). It’s not regionally or product focused. I’m not setting myself apart. It’s not very cool or catchy. And it says nothing about my company, except for maybe that there are a group of people working here who may or may not have the last name of Marks. Not helpful.

Read More…

25 Great CRM Applications You Probably Never Heard Of

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

OK, maybe you’ve heard of a few here.

There are hundreds of great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications today and my ten person company sells and/or implements only four of them, which you’ve probably heard of: Microsoft Dynamics CRM,Salesforce.com, ZohoCRM and GoldMine. I chose to become expert in these four applications mainly because 1) they’re all excellent and 2) they all serve different needs of our primarily SMB clientele. Does that mean that these are the best? Not really. It’s just that we don’t have the bandwidth to be expert in any more at this time, so I can’t offer them all.

When I help a client looking for a CRM system, however, I really try to give them options – both of the ones we sell and ones we don’t. That way they can make an informed decision. Of course, I hope they’ll go with one of ours. But I’ve learned over the years that it’s best for everyone not to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Today’s CRM applications are pretty mature. And the ones listed here generally offer a similar level of features and functionality: contact management, opportunites and forecasts, workflows, service management, ease of use (they all say they’re the easiest), mobile access, reports and dashboards, integration with Outlook, QuickBooks and other third party apps, marketing campaigns, etc. These products are mostly geared towards SMBs. But each one here tries to carve out a specific niche for themselves. I’m probably forgetting some so I apologize in advance. I personally haven’t spent a great deal of time testing these applications so it’s up to you to really figure out which one best fits your needs.

But for the most part, as long as they’re implemented the right way (ahem…use a partner if you can) you’re probably not going to go wrong choosing from one of these players, which I’ve listed alphabetically. Read More…

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