Tag Archive | ceo

This CEO Has A 2,000-Year-Old Trick to Improve Your Cash Flow

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Thousands of years ago, when Rome was at the zenith of its power, small businesses had the opportunity to sell their goods — organic beef, craft beer, hand-stitched clothing — to the affluent and growing middle class populations in faraway places.

Today not much has changed. Well, except for the fact that craft beer has definitely got to be much better. But new generations of small business owners still sell their goods — organic beef, craft beer, hand-stitched clothing — to customers far away and they face similar challenges.

Whether you were doing this stuff in Augustan Rome or Trumpian America the business still involves a good deal of capital invested and risk. Today, as then, some entrepreneurs elect to take that risk on themselves. Others choose to hire outside firms to help shoulder that risk.

Enter the middleman. That’s the firm that says “Look, I’ll take the risk. I’ll buy and collect the receivable that’s owed to you. You’ll get your money now and I’ll take a fee for my services.” Some call this factoring. I call it financing. And in many cases it’s just good business. You do what you do best, and you let the financial people do what they do best. Everyone shares and everyone wins.

Eyal Lifshitz agrees. He’s the CEO of BlueVine, a company he started about six years ago after a stint in a venture capital firm in Israel. BlueVine, according to its website, has delivered more than $1 billion in financing to over 10,000 small businesses.

The role of the factoring firm hasn’t changed much over the past few thousand years. But their value has. The reason: changing attitudes and, most importantly, technology. I asked Lifshitz about this — and other things — in the below interview, which has been edited for length.

Q: Factoring is not the world’s oldest profession. But it’s pretty old. Why the interest?

My father and grandfather were both small business owners. I grew up watching my father, who owned a small physical therapy clinic in New York, struggle with cash flow issues due to long payment cycles. In factoring I saw a significant opportunity for disruption through technological innovation such as the availability of online and new machine learning methods. That gave me the idea to launch BlueVine, and to make the switch from being a venture capital investor to entrepreneur.

Q: Can you explain BlueVine’s value prop and what it’s doing differently from all the other factoring firms today?

We actually offer two products (factoring and a credit line). For invoice factoring, which was our first offering, we provide a truly digital experience which historically was offline, paper-based and known to be slow and clunky. With our platform, you don’t need to fax invoices or send any paper documents. All you need to do is take 5 minutes to apply online and upload your invoices or connect your accounting software. You can get funds in as fast as 24 hours. Additionally, a business owner can decide which invoice to submit for funding with a click of a button, unlike with many traditional factoring companies that require you to fund all of your invoices. We also offer invoice factoring credit lines of up to $5 million, which is ideal for businesses that are growing rapidly.

Q: Factoring has literally been around for thousands of years. How has it changed? What role has technology served?

At BlueVine, we use advanced technology to improve the onboarding and funding experience for small business customers. Instead of waiting weeks to get approved for financing like with traditional factoring companies, business owners who use BlueVine can get approved for funds in a matter of days. We’re using technology to process hundreds of data points in a matter of minutes to allow customers to finance invoices in almost real time, and have invested in AI to streamline our back office processes. Additionally, we have built an intuitive online dashboard which makes it easy for small business owners to pick and choose which invoice to submit for funding. 

Q:  What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your business and how are you addressing it?

More and more small business owners are discovering online business lending. In fact, roughly a third of non-employer firms turned to online lenders for financing, according to a 2018 Federal Reserve report. Most people don’t know online lending has gotten to be so common. Despite this, many small business owners still think that the only option they have for financing is their bank. At BlueVine, we’re on a mission to educate business owners and the market about the benefits of online lending and how this relatively new industry not only addresses important business financing needs that traditional banks have not been able to address but also dramatically improves how customers get financing.

Q: One big issue that I would have using a factoring service like BlueVine is trust. How can I trust you with my customers?

We make sure to treat your customers with the utmost care and respect, and it shows in our numbers. We have also built relationships with the accounts payable departments of hundreds of our clients’ customers including Fortune 1000 companies like Walgreens, Verizon, Best Buy who are now very familiar with BlueVine’s process.

Q: Is it just firms with cash flow challenges that can benefit from BlueVine’s services? My company — a 10 person tech firm — doesn’t have these issues. We have about 50-60 open invoices at a time and collection problems do not happen very often. Is there a role that BlueVine could play?

First off, I need to clarify that factoring is not about collections. It’s about allowing you to access capital through your unpaid invoices. It’s a smart option for businesses that sell products or services to other businesses and that typically wrestle with cash flow gaps due to unpaid invoices and long payment cycles. it can also help businesses get convenient access to funds for short-term or emergency needs, from covering payroll to fixing a broken piece of equipment. Many of our clients use factoring to grow their business. Clients often use BlueVine to fund marketing expenses or hire more staff. 

These are the 40 most cringe-worthy phrases you’re probably using in the office

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Do you tell your employees to “give it 110 percent?”  Please … don’t.

That phrase, according to a survey by OnePoll of 2,000 American workers on behalf of communications technology provider Jive Communications, topped a list of 40 of the most cringe-worthy phrases said in the workplace. So if you’re thinking of using that phrase to motivate, please think twice.

While you’re at it, don’t exhort your employees to “think outside the box,” “hammer it out” or do some “heavy lifting.” That’s going to annoy them, too. If you want to really get under their skin then go ahead and tell them to “push the envelope,” or promise to “circle back” or create a “win-win situation.”

“We’ve all been guilty of using these phrases, whether out of habit or not,” John Pope, the senior vice president of Jive Communications, said in a Fox News article. “These phrases definitely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.”

Pope, who confirmed the survey’s data, said he believes that the overuse of these phrases has diluted their meaning. “Our goal should be to use such jargon sparingly, and when the moment calls for it,” he said.

Although we’ve all been there, the fact is that using these phrases with employees can harm a company’s productivity. According to the survey, 27 percent of American workers acknowledged tuning out people who use this kind of jargon, even though almost 72 percent admitted to habitually using these phrases.

So, are you at fault? Tsk, tsk. Just to be sure, here’s the entire list, in order of cringe-worthiness:

  1. Give 110 percent
  2. Think outside the box
  3. Hammer it out
  4. Heavy lifting
  5. Throw them under the bus
  6. Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched
  7. Pushing the envelope
  8. Let the cat out of the bag
  9. Let’s circle back
  10. Win-win situation
  11. Blue-sky thinking
  12. Boil the ocean
  13. Synergy
  14. Low-hanging fruit
  15. Take it to the next level
  16. Barking up the wrong tree
  17. Going forward
  18. Let’s ballpark this
  19. Run this up the flagpole
  20. Back to square one
  21. There’s no I in team
  22. Back to the drawing board
  23. Paradigm shift
  24. Elephant in the room
  25. Raise the bar
  26. Drill down
  27. Best thing since sliced bread
  28. Deep dive
  29. Skin in the game
  30. Reach out
  31. Touch base
  32. Play hardball
  33. Don’t reinvent the wheel
  34. Kept in the loop
  35. The bottom line
  36. Down the road
  37. I’ll loop you in
  38. Hit the nail on the head
  39. ASAP
  40. Team player

Here’s what Mark Zuckerberg learned about small businesses during his year-long tour

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

There are about 30 million small business in the United States and upwards of 500 million around the world. However, most of them don’t know much about how to leverage digital advertising or even the basics of social media. That’s a problem for them–and a big opportunity for Facebook.

The social media giant says that more than 70 million businesses around the world have pages on its site. But only six million of them advertise and most of are small and medium-sized firms. These companies account for about one-quarter of the company’s total advertising revenue, according to some estimates. So what to do about that? Go out and meet them. Read More…

The Leadership Lesson I Learned Waiting for My Flight to Crash Land

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

What could the guy next to me possibly be thinking? We were both on the same American Airlines flight. And it was doomed.

The flight, which took off on a grey afternoon from Buffalo, New York, was headed to Philadelphia. It was just a short flight and for the most part conditions were fine. I was in Buffalo for a business trip and looking forward to getting home. The plane was one of those smaller regional jets typical for routes like this.

The guy next to me was an American Airlines pilot – but relax, we weren’t sitting in the cockpit. It was one of those times when pilots take empty seats to “jump” from one city to another in order to make their next assigned flight. He sat next to me a few minutes before the door closed and, after a quick greeting, he tipped his cap over his eyes and settled in for an off-duty snooze. Read More…

Jack Ma Made A Fool Of Himself Last Week

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Jack Ma is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, the giant ecommerce company. He’s reportedly the richest man in China. His company employs more than 50,000 people and is currently worth more than $420 billion – a valuation that rivals (and some predict will soon exceed) Amazon’s.

Ma wields an enormous amount of influence in his home country and he’s positioning Alibaba to be a powerhouse in the U.S. In 2017, Ma was ranked second on Forbes Magazine’s list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and third in a KPMG survey as one of the world’s most visionary tech leaders.

This is a man who is literally respected and admired by millions of people and whose actions are studied and analyzed. So naturally, last week, he dressed up as Michael Jackson and danced in front of 40,000 of his employees. Don’t believe me? Just watch the video. He literally sat on a motorcycle wearing a Michael Jackson outfit and then rocked it to Billie Jean and Dangerous. Oh, and this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this. Back in 2009, he wore a long blonde wig and sang Lion King songs at another corporate event.

What the heck was he thinking? Can you imagine a respected CEO doing this? A political leader? Your dad? OK, well probably your dad. But these things aren’t done by today’s executives. What would the world say? Read More…

Ryan Seacrest’s Busy Schedule Will Make You Think He’s a Superhero

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

There’s busy. There’s super-busy. And then there’s Ryan Seacrest.

It was recently announced that Seacrest will join ABC’s “Live” morning TV show as an executive producer and co-host along with Kelly Ripa and that he is in talks to host the newAmerican Idol on ABC. These are smart moves. Seacrest is a pro — beloved, personable, funny, genuine — a true crowd pleaser. But many are wondering just how he can add these duties to his already packed schedule. And believe me, it’s really packed.

Read More…

How the $#%@ Does Ryan Seacrest Do It?

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

There’s busy. There’s super-busy. And then there’s Ryan Seacrest.

This week, it was announced that Seacrest will join ABC’s “Live” morning TV show as an executive producer and co-host along with Kelly Ripa. It was a smart move. Seacrest is a pro – beloved, personable, funny, genuine – a true crowd pleaser. But many are wondering just how he can add these duties to his already packed schedule. And believe me, it’s really packed. Read More…