Saving, investing and making money with technology

Tag: finance

Better Team Relationships Improve Productivity and Finances for Small Businesses

Major corporations may have the deep pockets to help their brands succeed, but small businesses have something up their sleeves as well – happier employees. Studies have proven that people who work for small companies are a lot happier than those who don’t. As an entrepreneur should know, having a team of talented, engaged, productive, and happy group of people, with a professional business plan working for you is invaluable. Not only does this lead to a progressive workforce, but it reduces turnovers, and increases profitability. Below, is a closer look at how small businesses are winning by cultivating positive team environments.

They Realize the Importance of Staff

Large businesses have the capital to invest in tons of software, technology, and the cost of turnover rates. Modern technology such as software, equipment, and devices easily replace the significance of hiring someone while a big budget makes it simple to replace staff that decides to leave. They also have so many more responsibilities to handle, that focusing their time and energy on the happiness and well-being of their staff isn’t always at the top of the list.

Small businesses, on the other hand, realize that every hire is special and a key component to progressing their brand forward. Relying more on the talent and collaborative skills of their team than expensive software, devices, or equipment, smaller companies have a true appreciation for what their staff does to help. Often having more time and reason to focus on the continued growth, happiness, and well-being of their staff, the invest a lot in creating an environment where everyone can work together amicably and productively.

How to Create More Positive Team Relationships

When companies are able to create a positive team environment and keep their staff happy, they experience a wealth of benefits. This includes fewer turnovers, improved productivity, and increased profits. If you’re looking to capitalize on these benefits, the below-mentioned tips should lend you a helping hand.

Get Personal – Smaller organizations with fewer employees have the time that is required to get more personal with their staff. By learning who they are as individuals and what their needs are in the workplace, you can create a more positive environment for everyone to work in. It shows them that you care which encourages them to put their best foot forward.

Invest Where it Counts – Employees do their best work when they have the proper tools at their disposal and employers know the value of workplace productivity. If you want a more collaborative team environment that allows them to work seamlessly together, you’ll need to invest where it counts. This includes looking into collaborative software that makes working as a team easier. From cloud storage accounts and messaging or chat applications to note and document sharing platforms and other software, there are an array of tools that can be invested in to increase productivity and profits.

Create the Ideal Space – How your staff works together is extremely important and can essentially control the destiny of your brand. If you want to help your staff build a more positive relationship with one another, you need to create the space for it. Things like brainstorming rooms, open office layouts, and comfortable places for eating, communicating, or relaxing during downtime can help with this. When your staff feels encouraged to come together more often, they get to know one another making it easier for them to work together as a unit.

From the receptionists and secretaries all the way up to management, it’s the people that matter most to small businesses. It is understood that without their skill, passion, and creativity the ability to progress a company forward is nearly impossible. This is why small businesses work so diligently to cultivate a positive working environment that makes their staff happy, cultivates better team relationships, improves productivity, and saves money. Something that most larger organizations simply haven’t learned yet.

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Considerations for Launching a Tech Startup

Now the time to launch your tech startup. You have brainstormed and decided to move forward with your plans. Or maybe, you just have the idea and nothing else.

It could be that you appreciate that tech is a hot sector and having an iron in the fire is most important. Whether you have a product in mind or are just looking to get into the sector with the help of some unsecured small business loans, this article will help you consider what you will have to contend with as you begin your journey:

Current Hot Tech Topics

If you are someone with ideas or are unsure where to focus your efforts, the very first thing to do is research those areas of tech that are gaining traction now. What products are being developed and what opportunities may exist? Here are some of the hottest trending areas.

– Wearable Tech

This has been with us for decades but continued advancements and integration with smart home devices and augmented reality will result in even more options being made available to entrepreneurs.

– Augmented Reality

Yes, virtual reality (VR) is still a thing. Manufacturers of VR devices continue to improve on their offerings, but now augmented reality (AR) is ready to be used by government and business, and eventually household consumers. Opportunities exist to create applications that generate the overlays used with a real-world environment.

– Internet of Things

Smart home devices, traffic cameras, GPS sensors in automobiles, are examples of things that are connected to the Internet but not manipulated by humans. As all aspects of our lives are monitored and controlled by various machines and programs, this segment of technology will continue to grow – as will concerns over the security of IoT and similar tech. When used with other tech, such as AR, numerous possibilities emerge.

Planning for Your Tech Startup

As with any business, you need to clearly define what it is you want to accomplish and put all of this data into a professional business plan. Your business plan is your roadmap to success or failure. It affords you an opportunity to be honest with yourself and with potential investors.

– Research

What are you going to produce? Maybe you have a great idea for an improved smartwatch or maybe you want to create an AR application that can present images of someone else’s smartwatch market yourself as a virtual reseller. Examine your ideas and honestly decide if they may be profitable.

– Capital

How much will this tech venture cost to get off-the-ground and remain afloat? Most high tech ventures are funded by those who specialize in building up tech companies. Seek out those people and make sure you know every word and calculation in your business plan.

Start-up Funding Crowdfunding Investment Venture Capital Entrepreneurship Internet Business Technology Concept.

Understand the Realities of Running a Tech Startup

Whether you receive venture capital for your tech startup or acquire funding from other sources, you have to face the reality of managing your startup. Even if it is just you, and no employees, you need to be able to manage time and resources. If you have staff, there are other considerations to take into account that place demands on your time and take you away from focusing on your desired goals.

Launching a tech startup is a trying, but potentially rewarding undertaking. It’s always worth following a dream and if yours is launching a tech startup, you should go for it. Just appreciate that it involves a considerable amount of work to accomplish, and keep running.

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5 Ways Having Bad Credit Impacts Your Life

Do you have bad credit, but don’t see much reason to try and fix it right now? It’s not uncommon for those with a ton of debt or financial problems to give up or never start the process of improving their credit. The thought of spending the next few months or years living on a tight budget to pay off what seems like an impossible amount of debt is overwhelming, to say the least. Sure, improving your credit history is going to take some hard work and time, however, it can be accomplished. When you consider the consequences of doing nothing, you suddenly find yourself inspired to do the right thing.

Bad Credit Limits Your Borrowing Options

Let’s start with the most obvious consequence to having bad credit – your inability to get a loan. Loans can be very convenient for affording things you want and getting you out of a bind. There are plenty of loans you could consider, however, if you have a poor financial record, you can forget about getting approved by most lenders.

Side note: If you’re really in a jam and your credit isn’t getting you very far, there is the option to apply for alternative payday loans for bad credit. Although not as much cash as you could get with a traditional loan or the attractive low-interest rates you see advertised, it does provide relief. If approved you could receive as much as $1250 in your checking account the next business day.

Bad Credit Could Make it Difficult to Find Housing

Thought that your bad credit would only impact you if you were interested in buying a home? Although it would be challenging to get a mortgage with a negative financial history, that’s not the only form of housing that could become unattainable to you. As more landlords look for reliable tenants, credit checks are fairly common. A tenant who has a history of not handling their finances is a red flag and could get your rental application rejected.

You Can’t Get a Car with Bad Credit

If you have bad credit in a town where public transportation isn’t readily available, you’re going to be in a world of trouble. Getting approved for a car loan is an uphill battle with poor credit. Which means you’ll need to find a car you can pay for upfront with the cash you have available in the bank. Since most people don’t have thousands of dollars stashed away for a new ride, chances are you’ll be catching an Uber or Lyft around town until you’ve saved enough to buy your own.

Forget That Job if Your Credit Sucks

Why in the world would an employer need to know your credit score in order to determine if you’re a good fit for the job? While in some industries, like finance, if you’re unable to handle your personal finances, you probably shouldn’t be responsible for handling anyone else’s. Other employers review credit reports to get a good idea of the type of person you are. Are you responsible and trustworthy? A bad credit history may tell a different story.

Expect Life to Get Pretty Expensive

If not being able to get a loan, housing, buy a car, or land that dream job wasn’t enough of a blow to your life, then this next one’s a doozy. Those with bad credit will pay a lot more on average on things you need. When you have a negative financial history, you’re required to pay deposits for utility or television services. If you are approved for a loan, you’re going to pay a lot more in interest. Products like car insurance will automatically skyrocket. The list goes on.

You may have thought that having bad credit was no big deal. Perhaps, at the moment it isn’t. However, if you plan on doing any of the above-mentioned things in the next 7 to 10 years, you may want to do something about it. That means figure out ways to improve your credit and start adopting more positive financial habits that will set you up for a better future. If you’re seriously having trouble with debt, talking with a debt counselor or financial advisor can guide you down the right path.

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Motive Partners

In the current world, financial trading has become one of the daily sources of life for many people. As a result of this, millions in terms of financing has been directed to new discoveries on the same line. This has made it possible to trade in the same. Thus tech guys also ventured in this line and as a result there was a revolution in the financial technology. Many and different organizations have allocated some part of their resources to this business venture to discover new and better methods so as to furnace thousands from the same. As a result, some huge investors have taken to the business of helping start-up companies that have new ideas in the financial technology line or as it is best known as the FinTECH industry. There are a variety of investors and some are the Motive Partners who we are going to discuss in depth below.

Motive Partners is a group that contains various entrepreneurs and investors all from different fields and all have different expertise in the various environments to ensure that they help start-up businesses that have decided to venture in the financial technology sector. On top of this they also ensure that old businesses that are focused to improve the financial technology are also boosted and given some sort of backup. The company is made up of people who have different expertise including: operators, investors, industry leaders as well as technologists all that help guide the said company to ensure its success. The core mission for the investment firm is to build as well as backing of the various start-up financial technology organizations to ensure that the said firm has a stable and bright future.

The above investment firm will take the company that they plan to invest in hand in hand through all the hardships that they face. Since many people in the world are taking into ensuring that they manage their accounts as well as their property personally ensuring that financial institutions do not handle this, they educate the public about the various financial technologies that they have. This will ensure that the start-up company has a stable and steady customer platform. The start-ups suffer from different hardships and the main ones are that they do not have enough capital to ensure that their ideas transform to something tangible. The investment firm will ensure that in a case where the idea is a good one, your ideas will be helped so that they can manifest to something tangible. They will also help different start-ups to ensure that there is an innovation that is line with the financial sector.

Since time in memorial, there has been domination from the financial institutions in the financial services and as a result there may be some sort or reluctance from this institutions. The group Motive Partners will fight for financial stability as well as the rights of their customers to ensure that there is some competition to the financial institutions so that the services offered also improve. The economic situation is also affected by the ways in which the financial institutions carry out their businesses. This is caused by the fact that most institutions in the line currently do not get the share of the capital that they intended to have. As a result they will have to better their services or face death due to the fact that most people are taking matters to their own hands. The group Motive partners has also had a hand in this due to the fact that they have educated their customers on the business.

The group has changed the FinTECH market through the following ways investing, innovating and also operating. In the investing arena, the group has taken to the different areas to figure out the various methods that may result to the improvement of the financial technology. Through this, they have invested in the different firms and made the ideas from the firms develop to actual algorithms or more tangible material to trade in the financial market. Through innovation, they have seized opportunities that others deemed not possible to ensure that there is sanity in the financial trading sector. They have also made vast changes that are visible to people in the financial services department. Through operation, they have helped the organizations that they partner with in their managerial areas so that they have stable companies and as we all know happy workers give the best results in any working condition.

Photo of a creative business team busy at a meeting

The group in itself also has a chain of command within itself. The group that manages the investment firm is broken into three parts that include: Managing Partners, the founding partners and finally the team that is in the administrative role. The managing partners include Rob Heyvaert, Stephen C Daffron, Mike D Hayford and one man that is known as Andy Stewart that was just promoted from the partner’s level.

The next level of managerial, comes the founding partners that include: Frank Martire III who is the general head of counsel in the firm. Next is Etienne Castiaux who is in charge of the technology and has a title as the chief technology officer in the firm. Luc Philippi is next on the list and he is in charge of the operations that occur within the firm. Jon Bradford was one of those founding father to the company from its early stages and has since held a part in this managerial office. Alastar Lukies is the final member within the founding partners.

The group that is held responsible for the organization of the firm consists of people who are the principals in the investment sector the people that fill this shoes include Sam Nayden, Neil Cochaine and finally Yuting Zeng. There are also two people who act as the principal chiefs of staff and the two include: Brad Yankiver and Sam Tidswell. Next there is a man that is responsible for the investments and acts as the vice President to the principals and his name is Jeff Yellin. Jessica Roy is next in the ranking order and she is the director in human capital sector. AK Patel is the guy that is head in the IT area. There is an associate that is added to the list and his name is Ashvin Sinnathamby.

Early this year, the firm took an investment in a company that is known as LMRKTS. The amount that they invested in the said company as of now has not yet been revealed to the public. The company is responsible for reducing counterparty risks in most banks. The company is based in New York.

The investing firm is located in the current day New York as well as in London.

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What the Online Business Really Needs

E-commerce businesses need the website and the product or services to sell, right? Well, yes, but it needs much more than that. How are you going to handle technical issues or a hacking? Where on earth will you advertise? E-commerce sites are an excellent business option, but the internet is saturated with them and you are going to need to navigate some things that you may not have thought before. If you have an e-commerce business in the works, take a moment and read this list of things you need to really think about.

Accepting Payments

Unless you decide to run your basis on COD (cash on delivery), and no one ever does that, you are going to have to consider how you are going to accept payments. The options for online payment solution need to be examined in order to make the best selection based on your needs. Do you want payment processing that is strictly online? Some companies like an option to include invoice payments, phone and email payments using a virtual terminal, and even subscription billing. Are you going to be a strictly local e-commerce site or are you opening your products or services on a global platform? What if you want to start small and grow later? The one recommendation we make is that when you look for a payment processing solution, make sure it can accommodate your growth as a business. You do not want to change processors frequently!

Protecting Your Livelihood

Although hacking occurs on a regular basis, doing everything you can to protect yourself is vital. Who wants to spend a lot of time and energy bouncing back after losing money? If you are willing to lock your car, home, and valuables then the same should happen to your business. It all begins with considering your hosting options for the website. There are lots of very inexpensive hosts out there and they come with very cheap security. When you are looking for a web host, do research on their history with hacking. How often have they been hit? How much information was stolen? How quickly did they resolve the issue and what did they do to prevent it? Another thing you can do is backup your data on a regular basis. It makes bouncing back a lot easier and can help you learn how to better protect the information. But rather than learning from mistakes, simply invest in excellent tools that are designed to keep your site safe.

Finding Your Clients

While a medium-sized town can have four McDonald’s locations and each do very well, most e-commerce sites struggle to get the much-needed clientele because of the saturation. You have to find that one thing that makes you stand out and a bit different than other sites, even if you are offering the same product or service. To whom and where you advertise will have a huge impact on gaining customers. Know your target market and start there, it can always expand later! Peruse marketing platforms and find that one that seems the most helpful to what you want to gain. Can they help convert traffic into sales? What is their success rate for providing customer support? How helpful are they in tracking site trends?

Handling Legal Issues

A customer is upset with the product/service and is angry at how it was resolved. They decide to sue you. How on earth are you going to handle that while trying to run a business? Some people opt to hire an e-commerce lawyer because it saves them time and energy. It can be pricey but if you can afford it then we highly recommend it. If you can’t, you need to read up on the laws surrounding e-commerce. Learn as much as you can and you should be okay. It can help you head off some small issues initially and hire that lawyer if things are bigger than your capability.

The biggest mistake some people make is to treat their online store as a hobby. It’s your livelihood and will help you achieve your dreams. Protect it well, work smart, and care about it. You should be just fine!

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Understanding The Various Loan Options

Depending on your lender and the type of loan you choose, your required down payment can range from 2.25% to 20% of the purchase price of the home. Establishing a monthly budget will help you put away enough money for your down payment. Once you’ve assessed what your budget will support, consider having money automatically deposited from your paycheck or bank account to a savings account to make it easier and more convenient to put aside money each month. The Associates Home Loan of Florida offers loan options to you including self employed loans. An account like Discover Bank’s AutoSavers Plan can help you start saving today. If you won’t be able to come up with a large down payment, then you should look into an FHA loan, which helps home buyers who can only make a small down payment.

How to take out a home loan

You know home loans hit a 14-year low as rates had risen on April 25, 2014. The mortgage industry’s output of new loans is at the lowest point in 14 years, according to estimates from a trade publication. Inside Mortgage Finance said Thursday that even in the depths of the financial crisis, mortgage lenders were busier than during the first quarter of 2014. One factor is the end of a refinance boom as interest rates have risen well off their record lows. But though the rates are still great by historical measures, mortgages written for home purchases have been weak as well, as sales of new and previously owned homes have slowed.

Use a mortgage broker

The traditional mortgage process involves approaching three home loan lenders, listening to them spruik their products and then choosing the most attractive offer.This is time-consuming and – unless you’re a finance expert – can be very confusing as well.
That’s why more than half of Australians now use mortgage brokers, middle-men whose job is to help a borrower organise a suitable home loan with a lender.Brokers are home loan experts, so theyunderstand the mortgage market’s complicated rules and baffling jargon.

Mortgage brokers generally work with anywhere from 10 to 40 lenders – far more than the three you might visit on your own. That means you’re exposed to a far wider variety of home loan options.
Another advantage of brokers is that they generally won’t charge you for their services. Instead, they’ll charge the lender (in the form of a commission) if they end up organizing a home loan for you.

However, there are also several downsides associated with mortgage brokers.First, there are about 150 mortgage lenders in Australia, which means you’ll get exposed to only a minority of options if you organize a home loan through a broker.Second, some unscrupulous brokers might steer you to a particular home loan not because it’s in your best interest but because it pays them the highest commission.

Go direct to lender

Some people prefer to take full control over the home loan application process rather than outsource it to a mortgage broker whose motives or competence they might not trust.But a word of warning: while going direct-to-lender might give you greater control and you can apply for a hard money loan. Some bank employees can’t be relied on to give independent advice. That’s because their job is to promote their own products, not to tell you about better options from a rival provider.If you do decide to go direct-to-lender, make sure you do your research before deciding on your home loan provider of choice.You might be tempted to automatically pick your current bank. However, there are about 150 banks, credit unions, building societies and non-bank lenders in the mortgage market – so the odds of your bank having the most suitable home loan for you are actually remote.

And also the mortgage industry’s output of new loans is at the lowest point in 14 years, according to estimates from a trade publication. Inside Mortgage Finance said Thursday that even in the depths of the financial crisis, mortgage lenders were busier than during the first quarter of 2014. One factor is the end of a refinance boom as interest rates have risen well off their record lows. But though the rates are still great by historical measures, mortgages written for home purchases have been weak as well, as sales of new and previously owned homes have slowed.

Get your financial documents in order

When you apply for a mortgage, you will need to provide your lender with a number of financial documents. Having these documents already assembled will help accelerate the processing of your loan application. At a minimum, you should be prepared to provide your last two pay stubs, your most recent W-2, your last two years of tax returns, and current bank and brokerage statements.

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Calculating the Price Tag of Driverless Cars

Excitement is building within the driverless car industry as the entrance into consumer market moves closer everyday. Arrival dates differ from expert to expert. According to some, driverless cars will be fully functional and on the road within a decade, while others are predicting it will just be a few years from now. There are also those who are sticking to the conservative ten year mark.

Beyond the release date, a few things need to be worked out before the driverless cars hit the road. The technology, for one, continues to need refinement.

Right now, laser-based systems, known as LIDAR (short for “light detection and ranging”) appear to be the most promising technology under development. However, if the cars themselves are expected to be able to prevent all collisions and avoid causing car accident injuries, work still needs to be done. Major companies like Google, Amazon, and Velodyne – along with over 50 startups – are entering the competition to release the most effective model.

The size of the technology and number of components necessary also make for less than attractive car styling. A LIDAR sensor on the roof with the possibility of adding secondary ones elsewhere, alternate radar systems, and cameras all need to be mounted onto the vehicles. The result looks ungainly and inelegant. Before the research can focus on reducing the size of the units, the industry needs to unanimously support a standard.

However, the biggest obstacle confronting the permeation of driverless cars into the mass market is their price tag.

Cost Will Dictate Adoption by Consumers

Individual teams of researchers and developers are already promoting their own cost-effective solutions to the problem of the high prices of driverless car technology. Meanwhile, they’re pointing out the high expense of their peers. A small start-up named Ouster claims their system will only run consumers $12K, while the Velodyne’s tech costs $75K.

Of course, no one knows the final figures, but even at $12K on top of the cost of the car itself, the price will remain out of reach for most consumers. Waymo, a Google spin-off company, says it has reduced costs of its $75K system by 90%, or to about $7.5K.

The average American car purchaser spends about $34K on a new vehicle. Convincing them that a 33% mark-up for a driverless car is worth it–or even needed–is going to be a hard sell.

Cost predictions, however, need to be examined for clarity. The $7.5K low-end estimate from Google is certainly cheaper than others, but that’s only how much the main LIDAR device will cost. Smaller assist versions will likely be needed around the car as well. This currently runs up a tab of about $8K each, unless Waymo can figure out how to reduce that by 90%, too.

Factor in an additional radar system at $10K and necessary cameras ringing in at around $5K, and the equipment costs quickly jump back into the five-figure range. Which is, again, in addition to the cost of the computer system that runs and coordinates all of the tech in addition to the original cost of the car.

The Prices Will Drop

Taken together, best case scenarios call for around $25K worth of driverless car tech to be added. This is almost the current price consumers are willing to pay for a car alone.

To put some comparative context around that, it’s the difference between buying a new Chevrolet Corvette for around $60K and a new Impala for around $30K. Both are nice cars, but most consumers are opting for the Impala price-range.

It’s the nature of technology that prices will come down. Miniaturization, for instance, brings manufacturing costs down, as does scalability. In 2007, the iPhone cost almost $600 in today’s currency, versus the now-routine $200 versions of each new iteration. Flat screen TVs cost around $5K for a 42” screen ten years ago and can be had for less than a tenth of that today.

Time will dictate the real costs, which will undoubtedly be cheaper than they are presently. Until then, we can all anticipate the safety and convenience, and try to wait as patiently as we can.

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How to Earn Money on your Smartphone

Technology has taken force over modern society in every respect; from manufacturing to office businesses, how we get there and even how we spend our free time, it’s hard to image what life would be like in this day and age without the global connectivity offered to us by the internet, and all the gadgets and hardware we use to access it.

Over the course of the past decade, probably the most notable advance in technology has come through the rise of the smartphone. Initially an impressive, high end resource reserved for those at the top of the commercial ladder, smartphones have now become the norm, with previous mobile phone models becoming all but extinct. The first smartphone is believed to have come into existence in 1992, but it was 10 years later that the more popular Blackberry smartphones hit the market in 2002, and then a further 5 years later that this technology really hit the headlines with the release of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007.

Smartphones are no longer reserved for the elite, most adults in the developed world now own a smartphone, along with the vast majority of teenagers and even some children. Apple has continuously strived to improve its product since the original iPhone was released, and to date has created 18 different versions of the smartphone. Whilst these products remain industry leaders, Apple now faces stiff competition from Android, another technology giant owned by Google, and offering innumerable models of smartphone, as well as tablet computers and a range of other products.

The rise of smartphones has worked twofold: on the one hand, their ability to carry out multiple tasks on one pocket sized device has attracted users and made the smartphone a highly desirable product. At the same time, the current generation’s desire to be able to handle numerous tasks using just one device has led developers to improve their product offering to meet this gap in the market. We now expect to be able to access everything and anything from our mobile devices, from a standard internet browser to applications that range from mobile banking to gaming.

Since we rely so heavily on our smartphones for everything from business to leisure time, paid surveys platform Crowdology has come up with a way for users to earn a little extra cash from the convenience of their smartphones. We often like to stare at our screen to pass some free time, so you can now earn money for doing so by reviewing products and services for a variety of brands.

There’s no doubt that, in order to stay ahead of the game, technology providers are going to have to improve their product offering as users expect to be able to carry out increasingly more functions on their smartphones, and look to them more and more for entertainment during spare or dull moments.

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What Does an “Affordable Phone” Mean in 2018?

A few years ago, an Indian startup promised to launch a smartphone with a pretty decent configuration that would only cost around $4. As you might expect, the interest in such a product was through the roof – Freedom 251 was pre-ordered by more than 30,000 buyers before its website crashed under the pressure. Unfortunately, this dirt cheap smartphone seems to have been nothing but a scam – although the manufacturer claims to have delivered 5,000 units, its managing director Mohit Goel was later arrested for fraud.

A $4 phone does sound unrealistic today but it’s not as far from becoming a reality as it sounds. Smartphone manufacturers have understood that to break into growth markets like Africa and some South American nations (not to mention India, one of the biggest market for Chinese phone manufacturers) they have to adapt their offer to the realities of these markets. And to do so, they will have to produce handsets with a decent hardware and a low price that the potential customers in these areas will be able to afford.

Some manufacturers have already started to release handsets that might not be the highest-performance ones out there but they are at least very cheap. EuroStar’s ONYX-1S, for example, has a configuration more than capable of browsing the web, playing at online casinos, watching videos, and playing music, and it also comes with a decent camera and a 5″ screen, and can be bought for as low as around $60. Other manufacturers – usually Chinese – also offer their customers smartphones with similar prices that might not be good enough for the Westerners but they are perfect for other, emerging markets. And they redefine the concept of an “affordable phone”.

Of course, these phones are not fitted with the latest Qualcomm or Samsung chips – but they have pretty decent MediaTek processors that have an acceptable performance at a low price. They don’t have 4,000mAh batteries – but they make do with 2,500. And their internal storage is also usually limited to 8 or 16 gigabytes, but it can be expanded with the use of memory cards. And they will also be on par with the market leaders, too, when it comes to security thanks to initiatives like Google’s latest Android Oreo Go Edition, built with exactly these affordable but limited-performance handsets in mind.

We are seeing perhaps the biggest price gap between the cheapest and the most expensive smartphones in history. We have handsets on both ends of the spectrum – on one hand, we have the 256GB iPhone X that costs $1,149, on the other, we have the EuroStar ONYX-1S with a $60 price tag.

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Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Collaboration Tool

Thanks to the internet, there is no shortage of tools that one can use for work.

Working from home? There are tools for you. Cab to the office taking too long? No worries, you can log into an online platform where you can start working on whatever you need to accomplish for the day. Members of your teams located in different parts of the world? Yep, there are tools for that, too.

For any of these situations, a collaboration tool is the answer.

A collaboration tool helps people to collaborate. The purpose of a collaboration tool is to support a group of two or more individuals to accomplish a common goal or objective they have set themselves (source).” This definition can refer to good old paper and pen. In this instance, however, we are referring to software or programs that aid in team collaboration.

The last couple of decades saw the rise of these handy programs. Whether a company operates in a traditional manner or is comprised of remote workers, a collaboration tool is a definite must-have. It is useful in any type of office in any type of industry. It is used in retail, food business, government, education, medicine, and in various other fields. In fact, a lone freelancer without a collaboration tool will find getting work done with clients or business partners an extra challenge.

While it’s well and good that there are dozens and dozens of collaboration tools available in the market today, having too many options can be a headache, too.

Imagine just wanting a good tool for working with a team and then being presented with dozens of options.

Here are questions that you need to ask to avoid a potential analysis paralysis situation. Hopefully, these factors will aid you in choosing the most ideal collaboration tool for your company.

1. Is it a standalone tool or a multi-purpose tool?

One question to ask when shopping around for a collaboration tool is whether the platform is standalone or comes with multi-purpose features.

Not all collaboration tools are created equal. This is perhaps due to the fact that collaboration covers a broad spectrum of activities. When you collaborate, you communicate, you share files, you manage a series of tasks that all contribute in the accomplishment of a certain project.

Some tools are ideal for chatting, emailing, or general correspondence. Others focus on file storage or data sharing. There are also some that make project management the focal point.

So should you choose a tool that allows for chatting alone and a different program for sharing files? Or should you pick a platform that lets you tick all aspects of collaboration in one go?

Studies show that teams prefer to work using full-featured tools over standalone programs.

Eileen O’Loughlin, Software Advice:

While specialized tools can boost efficiency in one area, they lack the capacity to meet multiple needs at once. For example: a chat tool may restrict attachment file sizes, or a content management application may lack an activity feed.

One downside, of course, is that programs with multi-purpose features may be crazy complicated. They can be quite pricey, too, when you compare them to standalone collaboration services.

What you can do is find the sweet spot between full-service but simple and affordable. At the very least, you will want a tool that has these three features: allows your team to send messages, has storage for file sharing, and lets you coordinate on tasks for accomplishing projects.

Dead Drop software, for instance, is a full-featured collaboration tool that is not only affordable but also quite simple to use. This cloud-based platform allows teams to send messages to one another, share or store files, and run projects using the calendar.

2. What’s your budget?

Expounding on the point we have made above, let’s explore another question to ask when choosing a collaboration tool: what’s your budget?

Siv Rauv, Elcom:

Most online collaboration tools are available at a low monthly subscription cost — but there are also some open source platforms available for startups and organisations that aren’t ready to commit. Professional solutions are often priced out at a per seat rate, so it becomes important to compare different tools based on cost.

The budget issue will likely be affected by the size of your company. This is because most tools charge subscription fees per user. Basically, the bigger the number of users who access the tools, the higher the monthly bill would be.

Conversely, there are also tools that offer all-in or fixed monthly plans. This may be a good option if your team is on the larger side or you have no clear picture of your manpower in the near future.

3. Does it offer free trial or free demo?

One way to learn how a collaboration tool works is by trying it out. This is where free trials or free demos come in handy. If a platform isn’t offered on trial, you might want to steer clear of it.

Depending on the vendor, some free trials consist of only a few basic features. Some, however, will let you explore and try every facet of the program. This way, you will know exactly that you will be paying for, if ever you do sign up for a plan.

Have your team try one or two tools before signing up for a paid subscription. As a result, if you do end up signing up for a particular tool, the teething stage would be shorter for your team.

4. How secure is it?

Security is a major factor to consider when you are shopping around for your team’s collaboration tool.

Just imagine: ideas that flow through your company are worth a lot of money. When these ideas are stored in an online platform, it’s imperative that you make security a top priority when choosing a collaboration tool.

Most vendors would disclose just how secure their platforms are so you simply need to browse their FAQ section before you make the decision to sign up.

5. Does the tool answer your team’s specific problem/s?

Different teams have different needs. Before you choose a collaboration tool, take time to analyze how your team interacts first.

Do they prefer to use real-time chat rooms as a venue to collaborate? Do they like to use emails to coordinate on projects? Do you have remote workers whom your team need to video call often?

By knowing how your team collaborate, you will be able to choose the tool that best fit your business.

Some full-featured collaboration tools available in the market today focus on the real-time interactive side of working together. They showcase chat or commenting functions so that teams can talk about what they are working on as they work on them. If your team loves to chat, these are tools you may want to look into.

Speaking of work to get done, there are also platforms that come with handy checklists or to-do lists. These can prove quite useful for teams that love to tick items off after finishing with certain tasks.

If your team is also using Google Drive, Dropbox, and other online tools, you might want to invest in a collaboration tool that allows for integration.

Another factor that you might need to consider is whether a tool allows for secure business to business collaboration. There are tools that can be used only by one team or company. There are some, like Dead Drop, that are suitable for collaboration with external entities, such as clients, business partners, and other parties who may not be part of the company. These types of tools are quite useful for collaboration beyond only one team.

If you find a collaboration tool that has the right answers for these questions, consider yourself lucky. You and your team will be well on your way to accomplishing many goals. Of course, we reiterate that you take advantage of the free trial offers first. A trial is a good test whether a program is a good fit for your team.

Go forth and dive into the wonderful world of collaboration tools. Trust us, one or two will make your work life much better.

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