Category: Business

Amazon at its Prime

amazonTwo years ago, Amazon announced an ambitious plan that quickly went viral: a new delivery service called Prime Air that would make same-day drone deliveries to participating Amazon customers. The service was not expected to come out for a couple years at the very least. As of now, it is still just an idea that might possibly never become a reality. But what is becoming a reality right now is a new Uber-like service for Amazon deliveries.

Not a company to fall behind on great new innovations for long, Amazon is planning to integrate crowd-sourced drivers into its Prime Now delivery service. The plan is that

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Could ‘Dig Once’ Bury Free Internet?

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Internet regulation has become one of the hottest political topics of late, taking it’s place alongside such old chestnuts as foreign policy and social agendas. So far, net neutrality has been the most widely discussed and publicized internet regulation, inciting bloggers and pundits across the web to opine. Early this year,
the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality. Many people supported the decision and were pleased with this outcome. On the surface, it seems to have certain benefits, but it also sets a precedent for related issues in the future.

 

According to a recent Washington Post article, Obama has begun to make broadband issues a key part of his remaining agenda. Part of his proposed plan is to implement

A Hard-Hitting Soft Paywall

Snapchat announced in a blog post Tuesday morning that they will be offering replays to users who are willing to pay out a little cash. The popular smartphone app can be downloaded for free, and it allows users to send temporary photos and videos to each other. Once a snapchatter has viewed an image and it has disappeared, the picture can no longer be accessed. At least that was until a couple of years ago when a feature allowing users one replay each day was added to the app. The new update will allow users to purchase additional replays at a rate of 3 replays for $0.99.

 This move could turn out to be controversial because the temporal nature of the app content is probably one of its most attractive features. Snapchat appeared on the scene as a last vestige of

Unconventional Wisdom From A True Rebel: Rebel Saffold III

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Rebel Saffold III

True to his first name, Denver-based entrepreneur Rebel Saffold III lives each day with purposeful abandon. As President of Lebertech Technology Services – a  firm that provides consulting support to non-profit organizations in the areas of technology, leadership, operations, database management and donor relations – Rebel brings a ‘full tilt’ approach to his game while modeling the essence of free enterprise and abundance. In my exclusive interview with him over wine and pizza at Second Home in Denver’s toney Cherry Creek North District, Rebel uncorked a steady flow of uncommon wisdom about entrepreneurship, technology, money and the vicissitudes of life. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom he shared from our conversation:

On Education

I was an undergraduate major in political science and humanities at the University of Northern Iowa before working at the State Senate for about a year. During that time, I reconnected with some friends that I grew up with in high school and from whom I received my first computer: an old Compaq Presario. Because it only had a 166 MHz processor along with 64 MB of RAM, the high-speed internet connection I used proved too much for the computer to handle. In any event, a friend of mine started a business installing network cards for people in our neighborhood. After the two of us hung out for a few months, we started to get into file-sharing and other tech functions. This early orientation to technology still informs my work today.

On The Unexpected

I’ve had plenty of these but there is one life experience that stands out in my mind. My wife (at the time) and I had moved to St. Louis so that she could attend school in the field of social work. I was temping at a call center, collecting on consumer phone bills, and would often spend time after a busy day with some of my work buddies. One evening, we went to East St. Louis and hung out in the basement of someone’s home. Two of the guys I knew fairly well, but I didn’t know the rest. While sitting there engaged in conversation, a bunch of guys I’d never seen before walked in with these brown bags which they proceeded to open up, pouring the contents out onto the table. Eight handguns. And then another guy opens up his bag and pulls out three bricks of cocaine.

So here I am – this guy from Iowa – screaming on the inside from panic because I had never been around guns or drugs before. But I recognized that I mustn’t show fear around these guys because if I do, they’re going to think something is wrong and that I’m a snitch, which could end up getting me hurt. So I sat there and gave off the impression that everything was normal. As I look back at this incident years later, I recognize that this was one of many experiences that gave me the strength and backbone that I now have.  I was pretty naive back then for sure.

On My Dad

My Dad went to prison for five years when I was a kid. He was caught selling drugs on the street and he got shot four times. The next day at school, every kid was talking about it. I was in the 9th grade.

Land of the Free, Home of the Idiot

testscoresForgive the suggestion, but it seems we may have reached an era in history where finding the village idiot may not be so difficult. Bloomberg reported that this year’s SAT scores were lower than they’ve been in some years. The SAT is a globally recognized collegiate admissions exam that tests a student’s critical reading, mathematics and writing abilities. This year’s students earned an average score of 1,490 out of the possible 2,400 points that the exam has to offer (800 per section). 

The two traditional sections, critical reading and mathematics, averaged 495 and 511 respectively. The writing section was an addition to the test in 2005 in an effort to assess a student’s ability to read and respond to a prompt in an analytical fashion. This section received the lowest average score since its conception: 484. The ACT, which is another (more popular) collegiate admissions exam, had average scores that remained relatively stable when compared to previous years. While the ACT exam tests what a student has learned in high school, or their ability to recall information, the SAT is more of a test of reasoning, logic and verbal skills. 

These statistics reveal much about the current nature of education in the United States. Regardless of beliefs regarding traditional education versus common core, American students are not learning. They are not learning to think critically, logically or rationally, and it doesn’t take any explanation to understand how this is becoming a dangerous phenomenon. A student, in order to learn, must be open to the learning process. It may not be a matter of which educational tactic is best, but rather teaching a student who is attentive and willing to put in the necessary hours to truly learn. As a biology student with aspirations of attending medical school, I know that for every hour spent in class, I require two hours studying outside of class. It’s not always enjoyable and it is certainly detrimental to an exciting social life, but it is what’s necessary for greatness. There seems to be a problem with high school students where academic mediocrity is not only acceptable but even encouraged among one’s peers. 

Feature Story: Sean Manning, CPA, Contributing Author of Six Steps To Small Business Success

Sean Manning, CPA and Managing Partner of Manning and Company, is one of the sharpest blades I know when it comes to building a profitable business. He is also a collaborative author of a re-released book Six Steps To Small Business Success: How To Start, Manage and Sell Your Business. In my humble opinion, it’s a must-read for anyone running a business, whether large or small.

Recently, I had the opportunity to glean some great insights from Sean on how to launch, manage and create a legacy business amid today’s tax and regulatory complexities. So read on, and then share your thoughts and comments on this piece.

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Sean, why did you and your collaborators decide to write this book?

Michael, this book represents a culmination of nearly 100 years of experience among us, and it reflects the questions we get asked the most by our clients. By imparting the knowledge we’ve acquired from having worked with literally thousands of business owners, our goal was to summarize the key components and details that surface during the life cycle of a business. In a sense, it’s a “how-to” reference guide that’s applicable irrespective of where you are in your business.

So what sorts of issues are you hearing about most frequently from business owners these days?

There are three that I can discern for sure. First, there are the regulations and the expanded requirements that government is demanding of small businesses. That’s been a major concern, not only for emerging businesses but also for those that have existed for a number of years. This increased regulation has brought on quite a lot of angst.

Second, staffing and people-management issues are big. Again, much of this can be tied to increased regulation coupled with efforts on the part of business leaders to determine how to best leverage talent.

Finally, business development is a significant concern. This area has probably gone through one of the biggest transformations in the past 5 years because global economic factors,