Business

Regardless of Trump, US businesses are speeding toward a low-carbon world

While Trump’s administration grapples with its position on climate change, it’s worth stepping back to see the wider picture in the US, believes Lance Pierce, North America president of the CDP. In fact – he writes from New York – it is business that is really taking action on climate

It is vital for the US to lead on the Paris Agreement on climate change. This is, of course, the global commitment made in 2015 enabling the world to tackle rising CO2 emissions and prevent a catastrophic further two degrees warming of the planet. Global warming doesn’t just increase temperatures, it threatens food security, clean water, and people’s health. Some 145 countries, including the UK and the US, have sealed the deal. It is this agreement that is currently being scrutinised by the US government. Will President Trump pull out?

We need to accelerate our joint actions as people, organisations and nations to have maximum impact, and the Paris Agreement represents a meaningful shift towards a low carbon economy. That is, it provides a clear path to guide our emissions reductions together with the rest of the world.

Everyone is quickly learning that cutting carbon pays

Our country’s power is not all in the capital in Washington. In fact, it is spread right across our vast nation, spanning boardrooms, city and state borders. Governments are not working alone: companies, investors, citizens, cities, states and regions are thankfully awake to the urgent need for tackling climate change and are the major force behind the move to a low carbon world. This will continue regardless of the US federal government’s position, a crucial point to remember.

Climate change is an urgent concern and our investors at the CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, want to know how companies are dealing with environmental risk and working to build a green and fair economy. We see investors buying into those…

Cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike raises $100 million at more than $1 billion valuation

CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that burst onto the national scene during the U.S. election season last year when it became the first to pin a data breach at the Democratic National Committee on Russia, said on Wednesday that it has closed a $100 million funding round at a valuation exceeding $1 billion.

The new round has propelled the firm into the rarified ranks of the “unicorn” club, the group of startups valued at a billion dollars or more. The company has raised $256 million to date.

The latest fundraising was led by Accel, a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, Calif. that also participated in two of CrowdStrike’s earlier funding rounds. Joining the latest round were new investors March Capital Partners, a year-old VC firm based in Santa Monica, Calif., and Telstra, Australia’s biggest telecom company and an early CrowdStrike customer, as well as existing investors CapitalG (formerly Google Capital) and Warburg Pincus.

Founded six years ago, CrowdStrike has made a name for itself investigating some of the world’s biggest data breaches and calling out nation-state sponsored hacker groups in the process. The startup helped build a case that North Korea digitally pummeled Sony Pictures in 2014, that China orchestrated a ransacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 2015, and that Russian intelligence agencies masterminded the DNC breach last year.

George Kurtz, CrowdStrike’s cofounder and CEO, told Fortune that he’s pushing a “cloud-first” model for security, meaning that customers subscribe to install lightweight software agents on computers that…

3 growth activities that can be life (and tax) changing

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Presented by Avalara

Growth strategies can vary widely among companies and industries. The catalyst to growth, or in some cases the outcome of growth, is an influx of new funding, intellectual or physical property, or technical capability resulting from financing events, mergers, and acquisitions, and even changes or upgrades to technology platforms.

During these dynamic change events, tax compliance often takes a backseat to other priorities. But it shouldn’t.

Company growth can vastly change your sales tax nexus footprint (the obligation to collect sales tax in a state based on sales activities in that state). Having a reliable, scalable plan in place to deal with any new tax obligations that result from these changes is imperative to avoid any lapses in compliance that could come back on you.

Here’s a look at three company-related activities that can have a dramatic impact on its tax liabilities.

1. Financing events

Companies need capital to grow. But backing a venture is a big decision — a risky one — and investors don’t fund deals without first doing their homework. For any financing event, public or private, investors not only look closely at how you plan to grow the business but also how you are managing it now. This includes tax compliance and audit histories.

The impact of sales tax on company valuation is often underestimated. But that can be detrimental. If there is a funding round, company sale, or IPO, being clean and consistent and having an auditable record is of the utmost importance. Poor sales tax management practices or unfavorable audit outcomes can impact valuation, jeopardize funding or even nullify deals.

High-visibility events like funding rounds and IPOs can also bring your business to the attention of state auditors looking to draw in more tax dollars. Companies with a higher profile and higher revenues tend to be chosen for audits more often warns Shane Ratigan, a tax attorney and compliance manager for Avalara.

Several states have nexus discovery units within their revenue departments that scour public information to find companies that are not compliant with their states’ laws. The more you “stand out from the crowd” among other businesses, the more likely they are to pay attention to your situation.

Andrew Johnson, Managing Partner at Peisner Johnson, LLP notes, “In some cases, an acquiring company requires the seller to provide a ‘tax clearance certificate’ or its equivalent from states where the target company is doing business. Certain states may also require buyers and sellers to give notice of a sale of the company.”

A phase of rapid growth can quickly change your tax profile. To avoid frequent reassessments of tax risk or worse, missing it…

LendingHome Sets Stage to Accelerate Next Phase of Business Growth

Gains Fannie Mae Seller, Servicer Approval to Expand Consumer Home Loans;

Hires Mortgage Industry Veteran Robert Stiles as Chief Financial Officer

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 17, 2017–

LendingHome, the largest, fastest-growing mortgage marketplace lender, today announced two new business developments that will enable the company to take its business to the next level. LendingHome has gained Fannie Mae seller and servicer approval, which will allow LendingHome to expand its consumer home financing business and better serve its customers. Additionally, LendingHome named Robert Stiles, former CFO of Nationstar Mortgage, as its new Chief Financial Officer.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170517005427/en/

Robert Stiles, CFO of LendingHome (Photo: Business Wire)
Robert Stiles, CFO of LendingHome (Photo: Business Wire)

Fannie Mae Seller & Servicer

As one of the largest buyers of conforming home loans, Fannie Mae’s approval of LendingHome as a seller and servicer will enable the expansion of its home financing business and the delivery of better outcomes to its customers. By working directly with Fannie Mae, LendingHome can streamline its operations and offer better loan pricing to its customers. At the same time, LendingHome can retain the servicing of its customers in-house so that they can rely on LendingHome as their one trusted advisor throughout the life of their loan, benefitting from a true end-to-end mortgage experience.

“Passing Fannie Mae’s stringent approval guidelines is no small feat, especially for a young company that started lending only three years ago,” said Matt Humphrey, co-founder and CEO of LendingHome. “This is a testament to LendingHome’s financial strength, leading ground-up technology platform, and the quality of our processes from end-to-end.”

“LendingHome focuses on using technology innovation to create efficiencies and deliver…

What businesses are failing to see about AI

Robots will wipe out 6 percent of existing U.S. jobs by 2021, according to a new report from market research firm Forrester. But that doesn’t mean unemployment lines will soon wrap around the block.

Even the most sophisticated algorithms and machine learning technologies can’t replicate human creativity and ingenuity. As machines take over rote tasks, employees will have more time for work that demands uniquely human talents. In the age of widespread artificial intelligence, the most successful businesses will be the ones that use AI to help employees make smarter, faster, more informed decisions.

Artificial intelligence can make humans vastly more productive. When machines take care of crunching data, conducting micro-analysis, and managing workflow, humans are free to focus on the bigger picture.

Imagine a marketing team huddled around a table, plotting strategy. Right now, if they have a question, they might have to ask an analyst and wait hours or days for a response.

In a few years, that team will be able to ask an AI chatbot and get an answer within seconds. That will allow them to brainstorm more productively. It’s still the humans’ job to come up with a brilliant marketing strategy — the robots just help them do it quicker.

Or consider Kensho, a financial analytics AI system. According to a Harvard Business review, the program can answer 65 million possible question combinations — even off-the-wall ones like “Which cement stocks go up the most when a Category 3 hurricane hits Florida?”

Kensho doesn’t replace human wealth managers, who still must use their reasoning and intuition to invest wisely. But the program ensures they make the most informed decisions possible.

The AI revolution will also enable companies to predict and preemptively respond to customers’ needs.

Consider cable companies. If they could detect when a customer experiences a connection problem or has a bad viewing experience,…

How to Ensure Growth in Small Business

growth in small business
growth in small business

Smaller businesses have a slightly more difficult path to success than others. To achieve success as a small business, you’ll need to do everything you can to ensure its growth. Various steps need to be taken, but there are also some tips and tricks that you can use to give yourself an edge.

In any case, this article will teach you how to ensure the growth of your small business and how you can keep it on top for a long time. After you’ve read the article, you’ll have some extra knowledge up your sleeve that will definitely benefit your small business.

Let’s start!

Developing an effective & efficient small business framework

The usual frameworks that work with big businesses can actually offer some insight for smaller businesses, but there are a couple of problems. Small businesses don’t necessarily need to grow constantly to be able to operate. Also, big businesses don’t need to spend a lot of time managing the start of their existence, while small businesses have to. Developing an effective & efficient small business framework is imperative to its survival.

Specialize in one thing & give your best

You won’t get far if you try to do everything at the same time, especially if you don’t specialize your business in one thing. Most businesses that try to achieve multiple things end up burning to the ground.

Don’t multitask because you will have to divide your resources and attention to multiple things and that isn’t good. Pick one thing and give your best by constantly…

30 Podcasts You Should Listen to If You’ve Thought of Starting Your Own Business

Podcasts, similar to wide leg pants and Mohawks, are experiencing a huge comeback. Popularized by the iPod in the early 2000s, these short-form audio files experienced huge (albeit short-lived) success. Originally, the files were too large and painful to download and a lot of the topics were a bit abstract and obscure for the average taste, so the podcast slowly died — until now.

The Podcast is back and better than ever! Apple reported that podcast subscriptions via iTunes broke the billion mark1. Technology has changed the face of this audio file. Downloading is no longer necessary, they can be listened to anywhere, and within their niches the topics are mainstream. Best of all, they are free!

Top 30 Podcasts Every Entrepreneur Should Hear

Gone are the days when we had to learn things the hard way. Experience may be the best teacher but having access to critical information can save time, money, and a ton of aspirin. Being an entrepreneur is tough. It can be lonely and a ton of work if you are doing it right. Having access to solid information at the right time could mean the difference between your startup exploding into a huge success or slowly fizzling out and joining the ranks of the 90 percent that fail.2

An easy, efficient, and portable way to get great information concerning all things entrepreneurial is by listening to podcasts. We’ve assembled a list of 30 podcasts that should be on the play list of every entrepreneur:

This podcast is a must for every small business owner. The Dave Ramsey Show is a no-nonsense, savvy, innovative approach to all things financial. Dave gives advice, tips, and resources to help manage your personal and business finances well. His unique approach to business and finance has made his business a huge success and his perspective is well respected in the financial sphere. His podcasts come from his live radio show which is also available in video. During each show he tackles a topic and answers questions live on the air.

This podcast gives advice to young entrepreneurs who are newbies to the startup game. This one tackles topics that are critical to a new business such as naming your business, building your brand, how to value it, and how to bring in partners and investors.

Mixergy is hosted by Andrew Warner and features his interviews with some of the most cutting-edge, relevant business people of today. What is especially unique about his interactions with his guests is that some of the more engaging topics morph into business courses taught by the interviewed business experts. Not only do you get to hear some advice and personal stories, you are also given the opportunity to learn from the masters themselves.

If you are looking for a bit of inspiration and the motivation to keep going, this is the podcast for you. Hosted by former professional arena football player Lewis Howes, this podcast focuses on helping you be the best version of yourself. It wakes you up and challenges you to live intentionally.

This award-winning podcast airs seven days a week and features incredible stories, advice, and a fresh perspective on creative ways to run your business by industry heavy hitters. Host John Lee Dumas ensures that you have an actionable take away from every show.

Just the name alone should have you fired up and ready to listen. The website bills Powderkeg as “The untold stories of entrepreneurship beyond Silicon Valley.” These are stories of successful startups in the tech industry. The host, Matt Hunckler, delves into some of the top minds of this market including investors and innovators. It is tech focused but there are principles discussed that can be applied to any business endeavor.

This is another Dave Ramsey project. This one delves into the dynamics of creating, owning, and operating a business empire, in addition to building your brand and learning how to operate with integrity. He uses his own experience and offers tips from the likes of Mark Cuban, Simon Sinek, Set Godin, and other heavy hitters.

This podcast is a must for creative types. It offers lessons on the mechanics of running a business while leveraging the tactical and strategic components necessary for success in the highly competitive creative marketspace.

HBR IDEACAST is the Harvard Business Review’s podcast. HBR is the premiere resource for business news and research. According to their website, their podcast provides analysis and advice from leading minds in all things business. While HBR does require a membership fee to access some of its articles and information, the podcast is free.

The $100 MBA is a daily podcast that is quick and to the point. This 10-minute podcast is hosted by Omar Zenhom and gives practical, real-world actionable advice by a leading industry expert. This is great for those who don’t have a lot of time or want just the information…

Maker Pro News: The Dangers of Hardware Clones, Countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area, and More

You’re reading our weekly Maker Pro Newsletter, which focuses on the impact of makers in business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends. Subscribe today and never miss a post.

“The impact of ersatz equipment in critical electronic systems…can be catastrophic.” —IEEE Spectrum

Maker Faire Helps Hobbyists Go Pro

The New York Times pointed a spotlight on maker pros this week in an expansive feature about the rise of hardware entrepreneurship that — without actually using the phrase “maker pro” — drew broad connections between the rise of maker-friendly manufacturing spaces like New Lab (@NewLab), growing interest in hardware among venture capitalists, and the maker movement itself:

That you don’t have to be a giant company to have a good hardware idea has been evident for years at Maker Faire events, where inventors showcase their homemade engineering projects. Last year, more than one million people attended Maker Faire events worldwide.

Enthusiastic amateurs can matter a lot in technology. Hobbyists led the personal computer revolution, before it morphed into a huge industry.

The PC market, of course, was swiftly dominated by a handful of enormous manufacturers. It will be interesting to see if the maker pro community, with its vast array of products and business models, could play out in a more a democratic fashion.

Foodtech Frontiers

Make: contributor Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) is back with more stories about maker pros who are shaking up the world of food entrepreneurship. Needless to say, we are excited about her presentation on the Maker Pro stage at Maker Faire Bay Area, which will take place at 11:30am on Saturday, May 20.

There’s FarmBot (@farmbotio), for one, an open source CNC-style system that waters, seeds, waters, weeds, and collects data on the whole operation with an accessible drag and drop interface. Cecchini also took us inside bean-to-bar chocolate factory Dandelion Chocolate (@DandelionChoco), a venture by two founders who sold their last company to Comcast.

Successful Businesses Use This Tool to Predict the Future and Get Ahead of Their Competitors

There are many factors that can affect the success of your business and determine which direction you will have to take next. According to research conducted by the Small Business Administration (SBA), one of the reasons 22% of start-ups fail within the first five years of launching is due to poor management.1

While there are many management skills for us to acquire, the ability to foresee the future is unquestionably the number one ability everyone longs to possess. Fortunately, it’s not some inherent talent only available to an elite few. With the right tools and resources, you too can make accurate business projections.

What Is PEST Analysis and How It Can Help You Predict the Future

One of the best tools to use is the PEST analysis. A PEST analysis is centered around the political, economic, social and technological factors of a business. These are part of the macro environment. The macro environment is about external influences and factors that can heavily influence a business whether they choose it or not. We will break down the PEST analysis into 4 major factors so you have a better understanding before applying it to your business:

What it means: This is about regulations and laws that are put in place in your place of residence/ town/ country that have a significant on your business. The issues around politics are, tax, political stability, trade regulations, affirmative actions and so forth.

Why it is important: This is important when planning your finances, hiring policies and training of staff. Some companies have quotas around hiring minorities and previously disadvantaged groups. Some industries require you to train staff on first aid and healthy safety.

How to use it: When you are planning the overall growth it’s important to keep in mind what these requirements are when you reach a certain turnover or head count of staff. This puts you ahead of the curve and you have no surprises when you do reach a certain threshold as implementation and planning can be very costly.

What it means: This include factors such as inflation, currency strength, interest rates, trading power…

Revealed: The Secret to Connecting with the Best Mentors in Business

Do you dream of receiving business guidance from some of the best mentors in the world?

If you have your own business, or are planning to start one, then mentorship is a fantastic way to help you develop ideas, strategies and goals.

Most mentors have walked the talk and succeeded in business on a big scale. You’ll undoubtedly recognize some of their names: Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Tim Ferriss, Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg.

Why Is It so Hard to Connect with Top Business Mentors?

Imagine having someone as wise and experienced as a CEO of a Fortune 100 company advising you on your business.

You’d love it, right?

But you’ve probably never seriously considered it, as surely, they would never want to be your mentor?

If you start of with the attitude above, then it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever connect with a great mentor. Not only will you make no effort to contact possible mentors, but even if you did, it’s odds-on that they’ll immediately pick up on your lack of confidence and belief.

The world’s top business mentors are looking to help the next generation of entrepreneurs to succeed. These mentors are already super-rich, so money is no longer their main driver. In many cases, they just want to pass on their wisdom to help young businesses and entrepreneurs avoid common and unexpected pitfalls.

As you’ll see shortly, great business mentors are often open to helping people who have unique ideas, a burning passion and a clear purpose. If you have these traits, then put your doubts aside, as connecting with top business mentors may be easier than you believe.

A good mentor gives you advice that will grow you continuously.

Connecting with great mentors can help you and your business in an abundance of ways.

A major benefit from mentorship is advice. For example, just think of how helpful it would be to call your mentor when you needed a second-opinion on an important business decision. Their advice could mean the difference between a good or bad decision (and a subsequent profit or loss).

Another important benefit from mentorship is perspective. For instance, your mentor could look at a business problem you are having with fresh eyes – and from a whole new angle. Einstein said it well:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Other benefits from mentorship include: encouragement, networking, and skills improvement.

These are the 7 steps for connecting with the best mentors in business.

Once you’ve set your mind on finding a great mentor – you’re ready to act on the…