Judges

SYNC Interview with Judge, #Cloud Guru Adam Stern, CEO of Infinitely Virtual

SYNC Interview with Judge, #Cloud Guru Adam Stern, CEO of Infinitely Virtual

Russ talks with Adam Stern, CEO of Infinitely Virtual about the cloud, the next BIG thing in the cloud and Adam's take on entrepreneurship. Infinitely Virtual offers the widest array of products and services based on revolutionary hosted virtual dedicated server and cloud computing technologies.

Top 16 Innovations for 2015 Celebrated by the Business Intelligence Group

PHILADELPHIA, PA—January 22, 2015. Judges have deliberated and made their picks for the 2015 BIG Innovation Awards. These innovations are making major impacts in today’s world. The winning organizations have led the way to new advancements and dramatic accomplishments in a variety of fields. And the 2015 BIG Innovation Award winners are . . .

AfterShokz AfterShokz’s Bluez 2 wireless bone conduction headphones are known for prioritizing safety and situational awareness through their unconventional OpenFit™ design.

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Anki DRIVE Anki DRIVE is a first-of-its-kind battle-racing game that lets players use a mobile app to race and customize real battle-equipped cars—alone or in competition with friends.

Attunity Attunity offers innovative software solutions to help companies move large volumes and high velocities of big data quickly and easily for use in improving their businesses.

The Barton Group SqueezyStraw, a patented packaging technology, produces the lowest-cost tamper-proof and single-serve pack on the market, with its own integral dispensing feature.

CloudLock CloudLock offers the cloud security fabric enabling enterprises to protect their data in the cloud, reduce risk, achieve compliance, manage threats, and increase productivity

Engeenuity Engeenuity uses the Advanced Physics System Engineering (APSE™) process, a revolutionary technology that affects processes in the complex structure of biological systems.

Feedvisor Feedvisor is the world’s first fully algorithmic repricing and business-intelligence platform, offering e-commerce marketplace sellers a way to keep prices competitive in real time.

Foxit Software Foxit PhantomPDF Business provides one of the most functional, secure, collaborative, and affordable PDF solutions on the market.

Ignite Sales The Ignite Sales Profitability Dashboards for OmniChannel Measurement are a cloud-based analytics solution that does just that – they give banks unparalleled detailed visibility into channel performance.

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Keurig Green Mountain Keurig® 2.0 is the first Keurig® brewer to brew both a single cup and a carafe of coffee.

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MagnaCom Magnacom is a recognized technology-innovation powerhouse that has reinvented the evolution of digital communications with WAM™—a vastly superior, patented new modulation for the 21st century.

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Maxta Maxta’s software-defined storage fully realizes the promise of hyper convergence, providing improved VM-centric automation, simplified data protection, greater availability and resiliency, and improved self-healing capabilities.

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Nu Skin Enterprises Nu Skin Enterprises Pharmanex Biophotonic S3 Scanner empowers users to track improvements in their antioxidant levels as they make changes to their diet and lifestyle.

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Red Ant Red Ant’s RetailOS is a connected experience platform that joins up all of a user’s devices and touch points to deliver a seamless shopping experience.

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Skyonic Corporation Skyonic’s technology captures greenhouse gases before they are released, turning these potentially harmful emissions into usable products that are both beneficial for the environment and profitable for business.

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UnitedHealthcare UnitedHealthcare Baby Blocks® is a mobile, interactive incentive program designed to improve the health and well-being of expectant mothers, new parents, and their babies.

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Worldnow Worldnow’s Studio Gateway is the only CMS agnostic platform that connects legacy studio systems with digital content-management systems to distribute content across linear and digital screens simultaneously.


This year’s winners have once again blown their competition out of the water with some very commendable achievements in their respective market space. Our winners have stood above their competition and differentiated themselves in today’s business market with some pretty incredible products and services. Congratulations to all of the 2015 winners.
— Russ Fordyce, Managing Director, Business Intelligence Group.

2015 BIG Innovation Finalists

  • 360fy
  • Adaptiva
  • Adaptive Insights
  • AgilePoint, Inc.
  • Agilysys Inc.
  • AnyPerk
  • AP Technology
  • AppDirect
  • Atlantis Computing
  • Bateman Group
  • BeyondCore
  • BrightEdge
  • B2W Software
  • ClearSlide
  • Code42
  • Crowdynews
  • Dice.com
  • Enlighted’s Global Energy Optimization 
  • Expect Labs
  • Gagein ICON PLC
  • KPI Cloud Analytics for NetSuite
  • LeadID
  • Limelight Network
  • Living Lakeshore
  • Magnitude Software 
  • Masergy Communications 
  • MD Insider
  • Payfone 
  • Permabit Technology Corp 
  • Prodea Systems 
  • Rave Mobile Safety 
  • Samepage 
  • Smartvue 
  • Snowflake Computing 
  • Social Solutions 
  • SquareTrade 
  • Tabner, Inc 
  • Tallie 
  • Teletrac 
  • Velocify 
  • Verifone 
  • Zoosk

Big Awards SYNC with @151Advisors Partner Steve Brumer on Business Development in the Technology Market

SYNC Interview with 151 Advisors Steve Brumer

Steve Brumer
Steve Brumer

Steve is currently a partner with 151 Advisors and has over 25 years of experience in the wireless/mobile space and has unprecedented knowledge of the industry. During his accomplished career, Steve has been a dynamic entrepreneur with proven expertise in sales, marketing and channel development. His expertise is helping wireless/mobile products and services find the right distribution and channels to ensure commercial success. He is an active presenter/speaker in the wireless industry, having spoken on wireless technology and M2M, products and future trends at CES, CTIA, Wireless IT, CIO Symposium, C3 Expo & AFSM.

Interview Transcript

Russ Fordyce: Good morning everyone. This is Russ Fordyce from the Business Intelligence Group. Today I have Steve Brumer on from 151 Advisors. Steve is an expert in the wireless industry, wireless mobility. Steve, thank you for joining us.

Steve Brumer: Thank you for having me. Good morning.

Russ Fordyce: Good morning. Tell me a little bit about 151 Advisors, and what you guys are specializing in. It's a neat story.

Steve Brumer: We are a almost 10 year old firm. We are focused and specialized in finding and helping companies grow their revenue. I know that sounds like a cliché for a consultant advisor [inaudible 00:00:40], but I'm not sure what else we could do for people but help them. We have hit our stride in a couple of different areas. We work with international companies trying to find a way to enter the North American market. They still believe that our streets are paved with gold, and this is a great place for them to make a lot of money.

It's great to have some great products but there are small companies from Singapore or Lithuania or Latvia or Estonia or Czech Republic, and they're going, "How do I get here? Who's going to sell my product? What am I going to price it at?" We have a research department that does competitive price and market analysis. We've developed sales and marketing strategies. We work with PR firms. We work with various companies that are doing distributions. So we have relationships with all of the distributors, the carriers, the [NDMOs 00:01:33]. We're trying to figure out what is going to be the best strategy for these companies to bring their companies to bring their product to market.

Domestically, our clients have ranged from Motorola Mobility to Verizon, and also down to small medium-size startup companies that have been referred to us by VCs and private equity firms where we are the grownups in this situation. We're helping them expand their business. Also helping companies figure out something that's near and dear to my heart, and probably a lot of people, is how do you make money doing what you're doing? How do you sell your product? How do you sell your service? Who's going to sell it for you? Where are you going to sell it? Is it priced right? What's your marketing strategy? All of those things that seem to be, sometimes, the last thing that people think of. So that's where we focus our attention.

Russ Fordyce: It's funny. I think the application economy, and even in the dot-coms, it was all about bringing applications and new technologies to market without any thought to how to make money. If you look at Twitter, they're barely making money. And I think there's a renewed focus on really coming out with business models that do have a revenue engine. Are you seeing more of a trend of companies at least with some sort of idea on how they're going to make money, or their sales plan?

Steve Brumer: I can look at it in two different ways, Russ. If they don't have an idea then we have an opportunity [inaudible 00:03:01] as a consulting firm, but some of them are actually learning a little bit more of the lessons. They're coming up with great ideas, and they're starting to strategize. The recurring revenue model for applications is very, very hot and it holds up the valuation of company when investors are looking at it. So we really look for that kind of scenario.

Sometimes we still see companies that sit there and go, "I'm [inaudible 00:03:27] bring my application to the carrier, and they're going to put it online and I'm going to make a lot of money. Or I'm going to put it on the [inaudible 00:03:33] and I'm going to be on the first top of the page, and I'm going to make a lot of money. And we all know that, eventually, that dream busts really quick. So we try and then figure out other ways to do it, whether it's through channel partners, whether it's through direct sales, whether it's through marketing in a unique different way in order to go after the vertical market that they happen to be in. Things that like.

Russ Fordyce: It's interesting. It's sounds like a lot of your applications are B to C, or excuse me, B to B. Is that true? Or have you seen a lot more B to B or B to C?

Steve Brumer: Actually, our focus has been on the B to B, B to E, arrangement. We're very heavily focused in the enterprise side, but the consumer side, obviously, is a blend now. So when you're look at M to M or IOT, well, it was all B to B, right? I'm managing machines that are in business enterprise environment but now it's, "Now I got to have help. I've got all these other products." So a lot of what we are doing is expanding into the consumer side. We do have certain clients that have widgets or products or services that are going into the consumer side.

Russ Fordyce: That was a lot acronyms. This industry is full of them, so B to C, 'business to consumer.' I know 'machine to machine' is M to M, so you're talking about talking machine to machine. What is IOT?

Steve Brumer: Gosh, I wish I knew. Isn't that a million dollar question, because it changes for everybody, right? So the 'internet of things' means ...

Russ Fordyce: Ah!

Steve Brumer: ...specific things for the Cisco's of the world that are advertising that they're the internet of everything, then the 'internet of things.' I saw a great definition yesterday. IBC came out with a report yesterday that they're looking at, over the next couple of years, that the IOT M to M world is going to be worth some crazy number: 7 billion dollars or 7 billion units or it's just a crazy number. But they defined IOT the way I would define it, which is you have a thing, we can expand on the thing, communicates over the internet.

That's where I believe we still need to focus, right? If it is a thing, if it's a watch, if it's a [inaudible 00:06:01], if it's a [inaudible 00:06:04] monitoring machine. If it's something that communicates wirelessly over the internet, and can be managed and controlled, it is an IOT related thing. Machine to machine, in my opinion, is more of the [inaudible 00:06:16]. I'm managing that meter. I'm managing that [asset 00:06:20], I'm managing that Coke machine. I'm managing something like that, from a machine to a machine that [inaudible 00:06:27] differentiation is between where the IOT world is and the M to M world.

Russ Fordyce: We did a great interview last year with a company that was trying more machine to machine for beer kegs. It was pretty interesting, so check that out on the site. You've got all these 'internet of things,' what are some of the interesting applications that you're seeing across your desk, if you can without breaking any confidentially clauses?

Steve Brumer: If I can help sell them, then I'm not breaking any, right? There's a couple of things that are ... Obviously, mHelp is huge. I think that, primarily, is a market that is so untapped and has amazing potential. As our world continues to grow older, and you look at my mom, at 80 years old, alone, living in Florida, where else? and they need to be able to monitor her, whether it is from a remote camera or a remote heart monitoring. She's got diabetes so I want to make sure her sugar level ... Anything that I can do remotely to control it which would ultimately reduce the cost. The mHelp things for you and I, if it's monitoring for running or health related stuff, that's a pretty cool thing, and it's, obviously, getting better, right? But again, what is that size of the market? I don't know. Russ, are you wearing your Fitbit right now?

Russ Fordyce: We had a Fitbit in this house, and it immediately got lost.

Steve Brumer: Exactly.

Russ Fordyce: The things that don't tend to get lost are iPhones, and I know Apple's made big inroads this week into that market and trying to get into that market with their API, so I imagine that's about to explode.

Steve Brumer: Exactly. I think the tracking scenarios: The tracking of your kids, the tracking of your luggage and your golf bags. Those are some traditional M to M related things, but now they're blending. So now they're blending onto your phone. They're blending on to devices. Again, overall expansion of that IOT world. And you look at the things that are being crowd funded that are in that space. It's just huge, and you have to look at that as a pretty good barometer of where the business is headed, because if the average person is willing to invest, whatever, to get a widget in the IOT base, I would [inaudible 00:09:12] to them, as a funding source, pretty interesting. I mean, there are some pretty cool things.

Russ Fordyce: Will the IOT, 'internet of things' devices, or the machine to machine devices take over the larger applications of RFID, the radio frequency IDs. These 'internet of things' are not yet disposable. They're relatively expensive, but is there high-end applications of RFID you see the 'internet of things' devices taking over from that market?

Steve Brumer: You got to throw RFID in with the same thing as iBeam and the Beacon things that are coming out of Qualcomm, too. So, are we looking at close proximity, and what is those all about? I'm member of the Location Based Marketing Association, and we're very interested in what happens inside the store. What is an RFID tag can do to combine with what you have on your hand-held and look at the marketing and look at the [targeting 00:10:13]. I think that is another ... What I would consider another communication mode, operationally, functionally, what it does for us, and how we use it, is still part of the whole process but [inaudible 00:10:29] communication mode. just like a wi-fi connection or triangulation inside a store would be able to provide you with ads and marketing promotions [inaudible 00:10:41].

RFID, yes, the cost has gone down dramatically. If you look at the amount of companies that are now looking at doing more things with it ... Internationally it's a different model. Here we really haven't ... It's like NFC. NFC on a worldwide basis is really taking on, but we still in the US are ... We don't even know what to do with it.

Russ Fordyce: It's interesting. I touched on NFC tag at a mall. It was ...

Steve Brumer: [inaudible 00:11:14].

Russ Fordyce: I was probably the only one ever.

Steve Brumer: Exactly. You were the only one who knew what it was, probably. And that's really sad because remember ... I don't know how long you've been doing this, but the original NFC trial was here in Atlanta, where I live, at the arena and at the dome, and it worked out great then, and where are we?

Russ Fordyce: Yeah.

Steve Brumer: It's not well accepted. It hasn't really gone through it. Like you said, you don't even know you're touching a NFC something. You don't know when you go to a trade show that you got a NFC chip inside your badge, because the average person doesn't know. But I still think that that's a wonderful technology.

Russ Fordyce: So why do you think that is? There are several examples like that, where the US is, actually, a laggard in many areas. I mean, SMS and texting was definitely ... We were a laggard in that market. NFC, we're definitely a laggard in that market. Mobile payments we were definitely a laggard. Why do you think that is?

Steve Brumer: Mobile payments is a great example. We're going to be lagging behind that for awhile as long as we continue to have the credit cards with the mag stripe instead of the chip set in it, we're going to continue to lag in it.

Russ Fordyce: Now, that's changing next year, right? We're going to pin and chip next year, or 2015?

Steve Brumer: Quote, unquote, Russ. We will see. We'll see. We always have great plans in technologies and it never works out. I think that the biggest issue that we have is education. We are creatures of habit in the US, and Canada, and we always lag behind because the [inaudible 00:12:56] do the 'Show me," right? Show me it works. Show me it's cost effective. Show me I'm not going to screw up, and it's not going to work, that kind of stuff. I think that's what's going to happen. It's going to take some time for us. We're always going to lag behind, because we're skeptical about the technology and how to use it. We're very simple people when it comes to technology.

Russ Fordyce: I don't like hearing that because that means we slower adoption of the stuff I want now.

Steve Brumer: Well, the great thing about being in the business that we are, Russ, is that you and I can use it, and we're okay. We tell ten people, and they tell 10 people that it actually works, and it gets out. But an article in the New York Times, and an article in the Wall Street Journal. Mossberg writes an article about NFC or something like that. That doesn't mean it changes the world, or the selling of the products on a consistent basis here in the US.

There when we look at [inaudible 00:13:56] mobile wallet, it started with the banking institutions saying, "Here, you'll never going to have a mag stripe again. This is what you're going to use," and the adoption rate was huge. Right now, I don't know, but Bank of American and Wells Fargo ain't given me anything but a mag stripe on my ATM card or my credit card. So, until all that changes that's going to continue to be an issue. If you look at Isis, there's this whole big publicity about Isis and the mobile wallet, and where is it today?

Russ Fordyce: It's like the VHS/Betamax wars. We got Google with NFC and Apple with iBeacons and Isis and all these other competing standards, and I think they're all taking a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of the market, and the market's tiny.

Steve Brumer: Right. And that fragmented [inaudible 00:14:46] of the market hurt adoption, right?

Russ Fordyce: Absolutely.

Steve Brumer: I think that's going to continue to be a trend until there's a ... I don't know if it's the FDIC that turns around and says, "No more mag stripes." Then everybody has to adopt. We also have a slow government when it comes to technology changes. Now I'm not sure if Tom Wheeler or the FCC makes a difference. [inaudible 00:15:13] I'm not sure if it's his background in CTIA in understanding what we have, but I think it's going to take visionaries like Tom and the other people to be able to make changes to happen faster than ... Like the rest of the world is doing.

Russ Fordyce: Now all of these 'internet of things' and all of these new devices that are coming into the market, and mobile payments is definitely putting pressure on the networks. Obviously, we got Mr. Wheeler's embroiled and embattled with net neutrality right now. More and more of this is going into the cloud. What are you seeing in terms of cloud adoption and applications coming into the cloud?

Steve Brumer: Obviously, it is the simplest and most effective way for you to go to market. So when you're looking at an investment in a company that have to have the cloud to transmit the data or store the data or access the date, the cloud gives you so much more flexibility at a cost you can afford. Not having to spend that infrastructure cost yourself is amazing. It's very simple to get started. Again, we believe in trust. So we trust that the data is secure, and that we know that it's there, and nobody else can see it, and it's protected.

That's another pet peeve, Russ. We might have to have another interview just on the security and the trust factor that we have in America on technology and the data that goes through, as it relates to the cloud. Think about how the data gets to the cloud from your device, and you think about all the hops it gets to the cloud, is the cloud the most secure piece of that whole process? Did you just shake your head "No," Russ? You did. So if you turn around and look at the cloud, it's like the last warehouse of the data in the whole process that goes on, but that part is growing exponentially. If pricing is good, you think it's safe and it's easy to use, and I think that's where it's going to continue to grow.

Russ Fordyce: What impact did the Snowden scandal have on your business? You've got all these guys looking at US markets, and all of a sudden, you've got all this [inaudible 00:17:48] wiretapping. What were those companies saying to you?

Steve Brumer: They still think that we're more trustworthy than their own countries, for example, most of the time. They at least feel that there are Snowdens of the world in the US market at this point, [inaudible 00:18:04] what the hell's going on. Versus, in some of their countries where the executive branch, you don't know what they're doing. I don't think it affected them, I think they actually believe that we're more trustworthy than even their own networks that they have. I don't think that affected it at all. I think it's the Target example, and some of the things that happened with the credit card fraud that adversely affected us more than what the NSA is doing to us as big brother.

Russ Fordyce: You mentioned to me earlier before we started that you're there in Atlanta, and a hop, skip and away is a house in Florida for you. How often do you get down there?

Steve Brumer: Not enough. My wife and I and the kids went down. My daughter graduated from high school last weekend, so we went down there. Actually, we love Florida. The beach ... For us in technology, how far away can I possibly go, besides an island with not a cell site in [gear 00:19:14].

Russ Fordyce: It's fun. We say that, and then we get there, and then we're cursing at the carriers.

Steve Brumer: Wi-fi [inaudible 00:19:22] everywhere. Forget it. What are we going to do?

Russ Fordyce: What else do you like to do in your spare time?

Steve Brumer: I'm a still a 58 year old baseball-playing nut in an over 40 league. That's very important for me to continue to be healthy, as I continue to get older in this technology and this world.

Russ Fordyce: That's good. I'm not trying to scare you but somebody's walking around behind you. You might get clubbed in the back of the head or something.

Steve Brumer: I know. It's hard to get rid of some of these people. They come in and out of the office.

Russ Fordyce: I know how you feel. Steve, I appreciate all the time you spent with us today. Great insights on the evolution of the cloud and the 'internet of things' coming in to the business market. I really appreciate your time.

Steve Brumer: Russ, thank so much for having me this morning. It's great.

Russ Fordyce: I encourage everyone, go check out Steve Brumer at 151advisors.com. He's a partner over there. They're doing some interesting things helping international companies go to market in the US. Steve, thanks again for your time.

Steve Brumer: Great. Have a great day.

20 Distinguished CEOs, Founders and Other Executives Named to Stratus Award Judging Panel

Cloud Awards Program Nomination Deadline Nears

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Stratus Award Logo 200
Stratus Award Logo 200

PHILADELPHIA—May 19, 2014—The Business Intelligence Group, hosts of the Stratus Awards, announced today the initial judges for their upcoming program recognizing innovation and leadership in the Cloud.

For the complete list and profiles visit our judges page.

The Business Intelligence Group’s proprietary and unique scoring system selectively measures business performance across multiple domains and then rewards achievements that stand above their peers. Programs are transparent to judges and nominees giving those involved insight into the judging process, the judges and nominee performance.

Judges were invited and vetted by Business Intelligence Group employees and advisers. The judging panel includes:

Companies looking to submit nominations can review program criteria, rules and view nominations forms on the industry award company’s website. The deadline for submitting award nominations is June 16, 2014. The Business Intelligence Group will then categorize nominations and present them to the judging panel for scoring. Winners will be announced on July 14, 2014.

6 Tips and 9 People That Will Help You Win More Often

How To Stack the Deck in Your Favor to Win More Often

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images_of_money_via_flickr_large.jpg

Experts agree that the ROI of winning awards is tangible. There is value in the award itself as a motivator, publicity engine and for goodwill. There is also value in the process of nominating your company product or executive. Lots of people write on this topic so I would simply recommend reading some of those articles and ours on the topic: The ROI of Winning an Award and The ROI of NOT Winning an Award.

Since the Big Award for Business deadline is fast approaching we wanted to instead provide some advice for those applying. This is broad advice meant to help you win any award, from a Peabody to a Razzie, you need to know what to consider to improve your odds of winning and to secure your position in the top of your field.

Pick a Winner!

How you find out about award programs and contests and how to decide to nominate are both important considerations. There is actually a few good locations to find lists of awards, usually by type of award and by date. This makes it incredibly easy to also filter in or filter out competitions. Pick your contests well. Look at all your competitors and see what awards they win. Make sure you have a good chance of winning based on your strengths.

Here are a few places to check:

Don't be shy, ask for help!.

It is human nature to be shy about asking questions, but the act of asking means your listening (most of the time), engaged and interested. So asking for help can improve your odds. Asking for help can actually take two forms.

  1. If you are confused or have questions, ask the company running the program. Clarification will only help you narrow your focus and make your nomination clearer to the judges and more on target. If you competitors don't ask the basic questions, think how their nominations will suffer! There is no shame in asking questions.
  2. If you need help because you are not great writers or have not been successful writing nominations, looks outside. The ROI of winning will still hold true if you work with a PR agency or a company like Boost Marketing to help you put the right words on paper. Boost Marketing for instance is 100% focused on awards. They are specialists, experts! They know better than anyone what it takes to win!

Devil in the Details

Make sure you use real data to inform your judges of actual facts. There is nothing worse than getting a fluffy marketing nomination that lacks an impact statement or any real data backing up the claims. Prove your claims of increased revenue with dollars. Did you increase productivity? OK, by how much? How did you measure. Tell us! It helps not only the judges but also your peers who are looking to you as experts.

Tell a Story

Be interesting! While facts have their place, we are not statisticians who only love data. Our judges are experts in their field, real people with real jobs. They are also volunteers so time spent helping you and us is money out of their pockets. Judges want to understand the impact on humans and the feel good stories of your efforts. What did customers say? What did employees do differently? What are their names? These small details make your story human and more worthy of an award.

Be In It To Win It

One way to improve your odds is to apply often. Like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it. Rarely can you win an award you don't apply for. This goes for applying for lots of different awards, as well as applying for multiple awards within the same program. If your nominations are good, leverage that and win more than one award. There is NO harm in being awarded Product and Company of the Year, ask 2012 winner TubeMogul.

Follow the Leader(s)

There are lots of experts in the world of business awards, advice and leadership. These are a few of our favorites. Get inspired and connect.

Tweets from @BigAwards/follow-the-leader// <![CDATA[ !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); // ]]</p></div>

Big Awards SYNC with Global Social Media Guru and Judge @LilachBullock

SYNC Interview with Lilach Bullock of Socialable

Lilach-Forbes-300x300
Lilach-Forbes-300x300

Lilach is a business owner, social media consultant, internet mentor and founder of Socialable.co.uk. Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers she is one of the most dynamic personalities in the social media market.

Lilach is frequently consulted by journalists from Forbes, Prima Magazine, The Sunday Times, Social Media Today and BBC Radio 5 Live. She is also a returning Big Awards Judge!

Lilach will share her thoughts on the trends and impact of social media on business and we will gain her perspective on how the role of women has evolved.

Interview Transcript

Russ: I’m excited to have Lilach Bullock from the UK. She runs Sociable, and she is bar none the social media guru to the stars, to businesses, to everybody, so Lilach, thank you for joining us today and I’m glad we finally got to chat.

Lilach: Thank you, it’s a pleasure, I’m got the hook up, but it’s great.

Russ: tell me a little bit about Sociable and what you guys are doing and what you are doing to help companies grow? What is your role in all of this social media madness?

Lilach: Sociable is a leading social media marketing agency. We work with clients all over the world and we help them raise more visibility and ultimately generate revenue for their business using a variety of different online marketing so that’s what we do in a nutshell, as well as we provide training, men touring and I [inaudible 00:01:00] and networker. That’s really in a nutshell what we do. We like to help businesses and charities as well as large corporate and entrepreneurs. A lot of problems or challenges that people have in the online world it’s noisy in there. How can you get heard above the noise and how can you get your brand out there? That’s what we do, we try and think of creative ways to get your message heard above the noise, literally.

Russ: It seems like most companies move into social media first in kind of a reactive mode because somebody said something dirty about them online or nasty, and then work their way into the proactive mode.

Lilach: We tend to get the larger companies tend to have that attitude, so if someone is talking about they not liking what they say, then they react in social media because it’s a very quick way. It’s kind of like they are putting out fires in the end. If someone says something negative about your company and then you’re constantly trying to make them feel happy again It’s a practice that we actually don’t advocate they do, so that engaging is not just about listening and bonding, it’s about generating conversations and obviously getting people talking about your brand the right way. It’s a fantastic way to use customer service and it’s great a company, particularly the larger brands are actually listening to people and engaging with them via social media.

It’s interesting how all companies work as well because a lot of them can be quite skeptical and they think everyone’s using social media, I should be using it. But then they just don’t know how to use it effectively for their business.

Russ: You recommend that more proactive approach of getting in and owning those conversations ahead of meeting and the reactive?

Lilach: Absolutely. For me, social media is all about engaging and building relationships, and it’s very content driven as well. It can be used to generate more revenue but it’s [inaudible 00:03:14] I think about many companies get it wrong they are simply broadcasting and effectively spamming. Sales messages, it’s so much more than that. It’s about providing valuable content where you can showcase your expertise, it’s gaining trust, it’s anything within the niche that you are in.

Russ: How do you think the difference is between business-to-business companies and business to consumer. Is there a difference in the social media approach if you are B2B or B2C?

Lilach: I don’t think there’s a big difference in the approach. I think it’s more about the brand and how much money they spend. I see a lot of larger companies throwing money at it without actually spending time to engage and provide content and value. Smaller businesses, they don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on ads. They actually have to be much more creative to actually reach their audience in a different way. I think [inaudible 00:04:21] is the same and it can give you loads of fantastic case studies of really, really good other brands who you can effectively get really good results and the opposite. I don’t think it serves their purpose, it’s more about the actual company and not my [inaudible 00:04:40]. That’s my personal opinion.

Russ: So if you had to give companies that have a small or nonexistent footprint in the social media atmosphere, what would be your tip to getting started in that media? How do you even figure out where to start? What’s the right way to go about it?

Lilach: There are two parts to it. First of all, social media is very time-consuming and it can be quite overwhelming once you start. I think it’s about appreciating the time is money after all, and where is your audience? Where are they and how can you reach them and what do they react well to and how responsive are they? For example, if your audience is using Facebook or Pinterest, you know you need to focus your time and energy on finding and connecting and engaging with them. Rather than having a I want to be everywhere approach, try to be as targeted as possible and think about where your actual audience is, where are the people listening to you and who you need to connect with.

Once you found them and know where they are and know the type of style that they like and how well they respond I think more than providing content, sharing your value and helping people is the best and the quickest to market and to social media. It’s really not rocket science, it’s how we like to be treated in the off-line world.

I laugh, I don’t know if you do much networking years ago but I was a prolific networker and I attended so many networking events and everything was going to an event probably is getting some business cards and saying hey, look at me, I’m fantastic, I do this. Now, you know you wouldn’t do that, now it’s in the online world. It’s about using a little bit of common sense as well and thinking about how you yourself might be treated and what makes you think oh wow, that’s really helpful, that’s really interesting. You know, social media is very much about sharing and that’s why content is very critical and having an effective social media plan.

When you’re sharing content think about what makes you think wow, that’s terrible. We always talk about going off on a tangent here, but we always talk about getting things by, everyone wants to have the viral effect. Things don’t happen overnight, it’s about planning. People don’t appreciate to get 1 million likes. There is so much planning involved that they can’t just create a video and turn it on and that was it. They built it up, they built their network, they built [inaudible 00:07:30] and then they switched on the viral effect. I think it’s about having a managed and realistic expectation as well.

Russ: You just mentioned two or three or four social networks and finding your audience. How would you recommend that somebody even though try to figure out where their audience is? Most people are familiar with Facebook, Twitter, we now have this great Google plus thing. And then you also mentioned a couple, some may have not heard of like Pinterest. How do you go about evaluating those?

Lilach: I think it’s about understanding your customer is. The more you know about your customer by where they’re located, what they like to do where they like to shop, the more information you know about your customer the easier it is for you to connect with them. Also to provide what they want and what they need. I think it’s something that every business needs to be doing regardless of whether they’re using social media or not because it’s the best way to understand what you’re customer wants. I write not for me, I write for my audience because I constantly have to put them first and think about where are they, what do they like?

Also it’s about taking it to the next step as well and thinking they may be on Facebook but Facebook is so crowded, so busy that I am just not going to be able to have a big enough impact. I want to think of other ways I can find them and using the smaller niche side like Stumble Upon and Tumbler, Google plus for example, although it doesn’t seem very popular and it’s really rising up through the ranks it’s still not satisfactory or noisier than Facebook, and I’m actually seeing much more engagement on Google plus been on Facebook for that very reason.

Even I’m spending more time on Facebook than Google plus. It’s about having a plan as well and working out how much time you have to spend and constantly testing to see what gives you the best results. Everyone wants different things, you know not everybody wants to, I know it sounds strange but everybody wants to make money from social media. For some people it’s a way to listen and to get market research. It’s a way to get introductions, connections, it’s a way to build trust, credibility, drive traffic, build options on the net.

There are so many things you have to think about, what you want to achieve, what are your goals. It all goes about the whole planning [inaudible 00:10:11].

Russ: I know you are a prolific writer and on your website, sociable.co.uk there’s a lot of material there, including a lot of resources and books. What would you recommend to somebody in that early stage social media planning? They go to your website and download?

Lilach: We have a free resources section where you can download a free e-book on five crazy ways, I’ve got it, the title of my book, Five Crazy Ways to Get Traffic to Your Website Now. We also have a checklist for the main social networks like Pinterest, Google plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. wheregoing under checklist and it can help you get up and question what you need to do and at the end of the checklist there’s a list of lots of different tools and resources to help you get the most out of each of those networks. I recommend you do that. I recommend you spend some time looking at my site and if you are really serious about it we can connect that thought and once again call us and feel free to get in touch and we can discuss further how we can help you.

Russ: One of the biggest factors of people not getting into social media is being afraid of making a mistake. What are some of the big mistakes that you’ve seen that brands make but also some mistakes that executives make. We see the Justin Biebers and the others make mistakes all the time, but what are the common business mistakes that you see being made out there?

Lilach: Oh gosh, there are so many, where to start. Just the spamming side for me is a big turnoff. People who just don’t do a message without even knowing you. All they are trying to do is to sell instead of actually build a relationship and get to know you, so I hate that whole thing, but I’ve always hated that. I think for me, social media is about engaging and sharing content. If you get those two things right then you have a successful campaign.

Russ: Good, so all of you listening out there, don’t spam, it’s a nasty habit and don’t engage with people you don’t know. Get to know them personally.

Lilach: Yes.

Russ: That’s great. So now when you are not on Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebooking and tweeting and whatever else, pinning, what are you doing in your off time?

Lilach: Off time, what’s that? I have a beautiful young daughter and she’s going to be nine soon. I got her school report yesterday and she did well, I’m so proud of her. She’s a little entrepreneur in the making, actually. It’s wonderful. I’ve been home with my family [inaudible 00:13:12]. I have an and easiness about traveling and I’m very fortunate because I was speaker so I get speaking travel all over the world. I recently won a car as a gift [inaudible 00:13:25] so that was pretty cool. I’m a workaholic and because I’m a working mom, I don’t get much [inaudible 00:13:34]. I love what I do and I’m very privileged to be able to do what I do and connect with so many awesome people all over the world. It’s all good.

Russ: They say the Ferraris are redder in Monaco, is that true?

Lilach: Oh my God, they are green, they are green. I think green is the new color, I tell you I saw more green, luminescent green than anything else. Lots of red. I think I may have saw white, maybe black it’s crazy. You don’t see them, you hear them.

Russ: If I remember correctly I think Harley Davidson was the first motorsports company to actually patent a sound. They patented the grumble out of their motorcycles. I’m pretty sure Ferrari is probably right behind them with their growling.

Lilach: I wouldn’t be surprised.

Russ: That’s the true social media, someone following your growl. I appreciate your time. I would encourage everybody to go to sociable.co.uk, follow Lilach on everything you can. She provides great advice for entrepreneurs. I know her advice and her tweets and her content was critical to the big award getting started in Business Intelligence Group. I’ve been following her for years, her advice really is spot on. You will get a lot of insight following her and connecting with her, so I encourage everybody to do that right now, you can find her and engage with her.

Lilach, we really appreciate all your time and energy going into this and helping companies and we look forward to the 2013 judging.

Lilach: I’m really excited, I can’t wait to see what the new business is. It will be very cool.

Russ: All right everybody, go check her out, sociable.co.uk. Thanks for joining us everyone.

Lilach: Thank you.

Big Awards SYNC with Jonathan Gebauer Founder of ExploreB2B

SYNC with Jonathan Gebauer Founder of ExploreB2B

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photo of jonathan_gebauer
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exploreb2b_logo_rgb_72dpi

We recently interviewed Jonathan Gebauer, the CEO and founder of ExploreB2B, the content marketing, social media platform. Their goal is to help companies find other business partners through sharing relevant business content. Jonathan likens it to a dating site for businesses. Having started in Germany, Jonathan shares his thoughts on starting up, growing the platform and working with family. This is a great interview with a real "David" taking on the "Goliath" likes of LinkedIn and others ion the market.

Jonathan has also agreed to join the 2013 judging panel for the Big Awards. We look forward to his leadership.

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Interview Transcript

Russ: Good afternoon, everyone. This is Russ Fordyce from the Business Intelligence Group. Today, we've got Jonathan Gebauer on. Jonathan is the CEO and co-founder of ExploreB2B. Jonathan thanks for joining us.

Jonathan: Thanks for having me.

Russ: You developed this platform that is a content marketing social network platform. Tell us your vision for the platform and how you got started.

Jonathan: The initial vision for the platform was basically to create a dating site for businesses, which sounds weird, but in my opinion, makes absolute sense because what you really need in business is new contacts, get out of your own area and get your business into the minds of other people.

Get corporation's going, just as you and me actually right now. That was the initial vision. What we've developed is basically a social network where you can publish your content, your ideas, your product and connect to others and interact with others about your content and about their content and find, basically, the perfect match for your company.

Russ: Yeah, so we've actually published a lot of articles on this site. We've got interaction with other like-minded professionals. How do you go about enabling those relationships between companies? How do you help others find each other?

Jonathan: First, we've got this system of basically everyone can reach the status being an expert on Explore B2B, which gives himself more credibility and makes others want to contact him. Then, the second thing is basically … a main thing probably is to show everyone the content that is actually relevant for him.

Basically, you publish in your industry or in the industry you want to connect to. Then, anyone in that industry is actually given that content, but only those people who actually subscribe to the content. You always get the content you actually want on Explore B2B. We try to limit them as much as possible …

Russ: Okay.

Jonathan: Again, what we want to achieve is them to get a lot of content and them to get a lot of readers, but actually get those readers that are interested in your content and will then connect to you.

Russ: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. It's like a more refined and more focused LinkedIn type of discussion and type of content platform.

Jonathan: Exactly, it's a content platform, while LinkedIn is not really a content platform. You can use it distribute content via groups and via sending out status updates, but it's not an actual platform for the initial content. What we do is we put all those concepts together in one and so it's a content and distribution platform.

Russ: You initially started the site in Germany. I think you're based in Germany. Now, you've expanded to the US and other markets. Tell us what it was like starting up in Germany and how you guys got started.

Jonathan: Actually, starting in Germany was … looking back on all the big mistakes, plus starting in Germany. Actually, with all things in the new economy and all things, social media in Germany is actually far behind in the other markets and kind of a black box because [inaudible 00:04:17]

Every new social media startup from the US gets copied just for the German market, so we’ve got all those small social networks that are really closed down. Our vision was actually to connect globally. It's going to make more sense when it works globally. From the German market, it's really hard to get out.

The language barrier was a problem, so we had to basically start again with the [NTE news 00:04:50] platform. [Inaudible 00:04:52] also running and it's actually running quite well right now. The news platform started again with an empty platform because we never wanted to buy content.

You can do that. We never did that because we wanted to achieve is that every piece of content has its own person behind it so you can contact the person who wrote it and get in touch and … yes.

Russ: How do you go about managing those profiles? How do you really try to quash the spam bots and the other guys that are just looking for links? How do you try to manage that?

Jonathan: Actually, it turned out that it actually manages itself quite well. We've got a writing system on the side so that people can write good articles that are interesting. Whenever a spam, obviously of course, happens, but it happens very few times, [Inaudible 00:05:54]. Actually, receive emails, I have a look at that that [inaudible 00:06:00]

Right now, we are really, really surprised, actually, at the quality of content we get. We actually expected to get much more content in the beginning, but we have to teach people, “Please, only post interesting stuff,” but that actually didn't happen.

Actually, the really surprising thing is that even people who know use other platforms like LinkedIn for spam actually find really good content on Explore B2B.

Russ: Well, that's great. The site's been going tremendously. Every day, I look at it and it's growing by leaps and bounds. How do you manage through that growth? You guys obviously have a technology platform that's got to scale. How are you guys managing through those growing pains?

Jonathan: Actually, we have some really partners in the technology department. CDL has been extremely great at managing the scale of the platform. In the end, it basically comes down to its how often [inaudible 00:07:14] work and much too little people so we don't get much sleep.

Russ: You’re just pouring man hours in, it sounds like.

Jonathan: Right now, we are, because … ask any [inaudible 00:07:29] actually we are tremendously understaffed. In the end, we manage and we manage really well right now. Then again, I think we’ve dropped, I don't know, a couple of hour’s downtime in the last year or so. Yes. I'm actually surprised how well we actually manage to keep the platform going. Sometimes we are [inaudible 00:07:59] but it works and we are happy.

Russ: Good. Now, you've also developed the platform to have a premium model that allows for experts and users to … I guess the initial subscription model there is for, I guess, analytics and to see who's viewing your articles and to get some analytics about it. How's that going? I see you have other tiers in stage. Are you guys working towards development on those? How is the overall subscription model going?

Jonathan: The subscription model is actually developing well. It's developing slowly, but it's developing well. What we have right now on site is, as you said, statistics. Also, what our premium users get is … in case their reader is coming directly from [inaudible 00:09:02], we get them the exact person who's interested in their content.

That is basically something that no other social platform can really give you. Who is the actual reader of your content? LinkedIn can show you whose been visiting your profile, but once it comes to the content itself, the stuff you post in LinkedIn groups, they can tell you who read your article. That is something we can do and that is of high interest for people who actually marketing things on Explore B2B.

That is the [inaudible 00:09:42]. We are actually working towards relieving a lot of new [inaudible 00:09:49] I can’t really tell you when it’s coming, but it’s coming soon. That would go in the direction of … We are basically having more interaction points and more options to actually get in touch with the readers and be proactive there.

Russ: We’re going to have to keep an eye on the site and keep an eye on the news for that. You, actually, started the platform in an hour working, I think, with your sister in developing the platform. How is that family relationship working out for you?

Jonathan: Family relationship, yeah, everyone wants to know about that. Founding a company with your own family can be really stressful, but founding a company is always stressful. Actually, known stories of friends founding companies together and in the end they turned out suing each other. Actually, when you found a company with your sister, you’re much less likely to sue each other, basically. There’s always that family bond that is much stronger than just friendship. That really is a plus on that side.

Russ: Both of you have studied mathematics extensively. I think your sister holds a PhD in mathematics. How has that helped you in that startup world? Has it given you stronger algorithms? Is it giving you more analytical skills? You would think that a content marketing social media site would be more marketing people, less mathematics. Tell me how those mathematics degrees and studies have helped you.

Jonathan: It helps a lot in understanding technology and Explore B2B still a technology company. I have to say my sister holds a PhD mathematics, but after that she spent five years in strategic consulting and that’s where the actual business idea and the actual problem we want to solve originated. My role, actually the more technology oriented one because I not only studied mathematics, but computer science as well.

While I’m not a developer on Explore anymore and I’ve actually never developed Explore B2B itself, I happen to develop it before and it helps a lot in talking to technology people and [inaudible 00:12:42]. I’m basically the product manager of the company. It really helps when developing a tech company but it’s not that important for the business side of things. Apart from giving more analytical approach on solving problems, I guess.

Russ: If you could wave your magic wand, what challenge are you having right now that you’re struggling with that you’d like to go away? What’s your biggest challenge in growing the platform in the community?

Jonathan: If I had a magic wand I would probably just … basically, encourage growth. Basically, it’s still hard, because we are now on a global market, it’s still hard to reach out to all smaller markets that you’re actually trying to transform into one market. I’m not sure I know how to do that with a magic wand or how to make that quicker with a magic wand. This is something we are facing and that is what we’re working on and that is what I would improve with a lot of small things. To be honest, if I had a magic wand I would just speed up development time. Because we have so many ideas that we want to fix on the platform and want to improve on the platform. Basically, development takes time and money and things are always much too slow.

Russ: You mention time a couple times here. You’re putting in 120 hour weeks and you get an hour off. What do you like to do personally? What are you doing with that hour other than sleeping and the other stuff?

Jonathan: We are both a huge fan of dogs. I, actually since my girlfriend’s got another dog, I now have two dogs and one is a family dog, which we share with our whole family. We found that you can actually [inaudible 00:15:16] if we have an hour, we call him our data security watchdog. Apart from that, I take a lot of liking in photography and videography. Sometimes I like to do that in my scarcely available free time. Apart from that, I’m actually kind of forgetting what I used to make my life [inaudible 00:15:47] before I founded this company.

Russ: I appreciate you taking the time with me this morning. This has been Jonathan Gabauer from Explore B2B. Jonathon, I really appreciate you jumping on with a big award [inaudible 00:16:02]

Jonathan: It was fun that you had me and I’m liking your project a lot, actually. I’m happy that we met.

Russ: Yeah. It’s been great working with you. Thanks, Jonathan.

Jonathan: Thank you.

exploreB2B – Dating your Business with Content

I sometimes pitch exploreB2B as a “Dating Site for Businesses”. On other occasions, I say it is a “Content Marketing Platform”. So today I will bring the two together – with the help of Michael Brenner of SAP who put the connection between content and dating in better words than I ever could:

“… Content is the engine that drives the whole machine. Content is the catalyst, or even the glue that brings people together and binds us there. It is in the stories we tell that allow us to begin relationships that have the potential to deliver real value to both parties.

It may sound like I’m talking about dating, but that is another often-used analogy for social business. Too many companies are out shopping for a spouse and jumping right to the big question of ‘will you marry me?’ and our potential customers are saying ‘slow down. I don’t even know you.’ …”

Michael Brenner, Vice President of Marketing and Content Strategy for SAP

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So what is exploreB2B? A content marketing platform or a dating site for businesses? The answer is: both.

Because setting up business connections without substance is next to impossible.

 

exploreB2b

exploreB2B is the place where you can publish your content, build your reputation, show your expertise and find your clients. exploreB2B is the place where you start looking for the business partners you currently need, find the experts you want to work with and connect to the people you need to know to bring your business up to speed with the modern world.

Content marketing is marketing your business with what you know, it is showing your potential customers that you can bring value to their lives – before they sign any contract. On exploreB2B that means writing articles and publishing them. It means showing your expertise, helping your future clients and therefore allowing them to see that you are worth to be their business partner.

Whenever a business works with a consultant to introduce content marketing into their strategy, one of the first measures taken is the introduction of a blog to their marketing efforts. A blog means marketing by articles, but a blog introduces a whole new set of problems for the company. When you first introduce your blog, who will first read your content? How do you integrate your blog into your social media activities (if you are not active on social media, you better start now)? How do you optimize for search traffic? How do you gain followers? How …?

How?

Not so on exploreB2B, because exploreB2B automatically integrates your content into your social media strategy. exploreB2B is social already.

exploreB2B gives you even more:

  • Automatically distributes content to subscribers of the content category and keywords by subscriptions – every piece of content on exploreB2B gets read by the people that are interested.
  • Allows you to subscribe to the content that you want – and leave out the rest.
  • Allows you to reach the status of expert on the platform – in the areas where you possess your expertise.
  • Connects you directly to the experts that you need to work with and the companies that you need to solve your problems.
  • Allows you to find out who is interested in your content and lets you connect to these people specifically.

That is what content marketing allows you to do. That is what a dating site (for businesses) should allow you to do. That is what exploreB2B can do for you and your business.

photo of jonathan_gebauerexploreb2b_logo_rgb_72dpiAuthor Bio: Jonathan Gebauer has founded exploreB2B together with his sister Susanna. He studied mathematics in Berlin, Germany and has worked in newly founded companies as well as science. Since the first all German launch of exploreB2B, the siblings have taken the company to an international market and are currently becoming international social media influencers on the topic B2B marketing. The company’s Twitter account @exploreB2B was selected as one of the top 50 B2B marketing influencers on Twitter by Michael Brenner on B2BMarketingInsider.com.

Photo by Don Hankins via Flickr.

Are Small Businesses Stalling the Economy?

What Should Be Done to Fuel Small Businesses Growth?

Most experts agree that small businesses fuel the economic recovery. Hence all the anxiety from many about ObamaCare and other taxes proposed to those "rich" individuals in upper income brackets.

The reality is that those individuals, the "rich", are the wood that fuel for the economy. Those are the small business owners and executives that employ others, drive innovation and the open their wallets for new spending.

Barbara Weltman, a 2012 Big Awards judge, tweeted:

As business executives, leaders and owners, you should work to get ahead of the curve downward, starting with reading the report.      

The 2010 healthcare law contains a tax on the health insurance policies that most small businesses purchase. Although the tax is formally structured as a fee on health insurers, analysis has determined that virtually all of the tax burden will be passed on to the purchasers of insurance: employers and employees. Estimates predict the tax will raise the cost of employer-sponsored insurance by 2% - 3%, imposing a cumulative cost of nearly $5,000 per family by 2020. The NFIB Research Foundation’s BSIM model suggests that such price increases will reduce private sector employment by 146,000 to 262,000 jobs in 2022, with 59 percent of those losses falling on small business.

Then take some time and review the latest Small Business Report from March from ADP. Are Small Businesses scared to hire, scared to act and waiting for some good news?