5 Strategies for Surviving the Trade War

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Yes, it is a trade war, and even though some in the media are saying that it’s just beginning, the president believes that this “war” has been going on for a long time.

Make no mistake about it, President Trump is following up on his campaign pledge to level the playing field in international trade. To him, the world needs us more than we need them. There is some credence to this position. The U.S. is by far the world’s largest economy, with a projected $22 trillion in GDP in the next few years. Our economy still significantly surpasses China’s and, according to this great chart from the American Enterprise Institute, some of our states–like California and Texas–have economies larger than some of our larger trading partners, like the U.K. and Canada.

So the trade war is heating up. Tariffs have been levied on steel and aluminum from China, Canada (which has fought back with its own tariffs), and the EU (which is taking its complaints to the World Trade Organization). More tariffs have been announced on billions of Chinese goods–and the Chinese have responded with tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, particularly soybeans and pork, which could cost farmers in states like Iowa and Nebraska hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

So what do you do? How can a business survive this trade war? You could certainly wait things out and see what happens. But, in my opinion, this is not going to be a short-term game. So instead, my smartest clients–those that are looking ahead and making plans months, even years, in advance–are taking these steps:

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Microsoft Unveils A $399 Surface Tablet…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Microsoft unveils lighter $399 Surface Go tablet to take on iPads and Chromebooks.

Microsoft has unveiled its $399 Surface Go, a smaller tablet computer that competes with Apple’s iPad and Google’s Chromebooks. It’s a reasonably priced, 1.15-pound, solid tablet with a 10-inch display, making it a smaller, lighter, and cheaper version of Microsoft’s other tablet computer—the Surface Pro 3—which has been discontinued. (Source: USA Today) (Note: My company, The Marks Group PC, is a Microsoft partner)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…

Every Business Owner Should Listen to These 3 Very Non-Business (But Very British) Podcasts

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

Because I live in a city I do a lot of walking. Because I have a number of clients to visit I do a lot of driving. Because I speak frequently I frequently travel. Back in the day I used to listen to a lot of music. I still do. But nowadays I also listen to podcasts.  I use an app called Castbox where I subscribe to about 15 or so of my favorites and bookmark specific episodes to go back and listen to whenever I have time.

Are they business related? No.

Maybe it’s because I read a lot of business content every day. Or maybe it’s because I’m so absorbed in my business that I need a break. But even though I don’t listen to business podcasts, the ones I do listen to are having a big impact on how I manage my life…and my company. So let me share with you three great podcasts that aren’t business related, but will help you manage your business — and your world — just a little better.

Warning:  they’re all British and they’re all from the BBC. I’m not sure why that is, but who cares? All three are excellent. Read More…

On CRM: It’s High Times For Cannabis CRM Solutions

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

It’s not just cannabis dispensaries that are benefitting from the nationwide trend towards marijuana legalization. Pot growers, real estate developers, equipment makers and many service firms are sharing a piece of the multi-billion-dollar industry. And let’s not forget technology. There are now many point of sale, inventory, processing, warehousing and order entry systems that are tailored specifically for companies in the cannabis business. CRM systems too.

What’s so special about the CRM software made for the cannabis industry? Read More…

Is The Phillies’ Gabe Kapler the Best Manager in The MLB?

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

As business managers, we don’t like to admit it, but sometimes we have no choice but to hire an employee that isn’t necessarily the most experienced or talented. In today’s strong economy, good people are at a premium and it’s usually the bigger companies with the bigger wallets that are able to snap up the very best and the brightest. Which means that many smaller companies – like yours and mine – oftentimes wind up hiring people that couldn’t get jobs at the Googles, Facebooks or other big brands.

So does that mean that a business still can’t succeed? Of course not. Just because you’re not able to attract Stanford grads to your team doesn’t mean you can’t profit. If you want the best example of this, just take a look at what Gabe Kapler’s doing as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Gmail App Developers Have Been Reading Your Emails…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Gmail app developers have been reading your emails.

Google keeps making the news – and sometimes not in a good way. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that third-party app developers can read the emails of millions of Gmail users. Not only that but Gmail’s access settings allow data companies and app developers to view private details, including recipient addresses, time stamps, and entire messages. While the apps need to receive user consent, the consent form isn’t clear that it would allow humans, not just computers, to read users’ emails. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…

How Did PetSmart Eliminate $12M in Fraudulent Transactions?

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

PetSmart, like many online retailers, frequently suffers from fraudulent transactions on its website when stolen credit card numbers are used to purchase products. But the company is getting smarter. Last year it stopped about $12 million fraudulent transactions from being shipped and this year the company is on pace to prevent even more. How?

The answer is an important consideration for anyone doing business online.

According to this report on ZDNet, PetSmart, and many other large retailers like Staples, Dunkin’ Donuts, Domino’s Pizza and Crate & Barrel, are implementing new technologies from software companies that use machine learning and artificial intelligence. In PetSmart’s case, the technology they use is provided by a software company called Kount.  The software is used to compare a single transaction to millions like it and then look for signs that the transaction may not be on the up and up.

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