Hypnosis: Is It Worth The Hype?

Hypnosis: Is It Worth The Hype?

Hypnosis is extreme physical relaxation coupled with an elevated state of mental awareness. It’s something that has helped people like Serena Williams, Dr Seuss and Tiger Woods achieve peak performance. It helps the elites keep their head in the game so they can succeed at the highest level.

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The Philadelphia Eagles Are Addressing The Landfill Crisis With This Tech. Your Company Could Too.

The Philadelphia Eagles Are Addressing The Landfill Crisis With This Tech. Your Company Could Too.

Philadelphia: Closeup of sign for Lincoln Financial Field stadium, home of eagles with bleachers seats


At the current pace, it is estimated that the US will run out of landfill capacity by the year 2036, and even sooner in several regions. The situation is further impacted by an anticipated world population growth from 7.7 billion to 8.6 billion people by 2030 with its looming strain on resources and the environment. Fighting our trash crisis is a big business, and without a single solution at the forefront, there’s lots of room for innovative companies to get into the game.

What Is Actually Filling up Our Landfills?

Landfills are the oldest form of waste treatment and historically the most common, with discarded household and industrial items and refuse delivered by the ton. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that food waste alone accounts for 22% of municipal solid waste  — more than any other single material.

Contrary to common belief, half-eaten sandwiches, cases of aging lettuce, and packages of expired cheese do not break down quickly. In fact, food sealed in manufacturers’ packaging and tied-up in plastic bags is deprived of oxygen, the essential component of air that aids in decomposition. Therefore, this type of food waste decomposes at a significantly slower rate. In turn, the landfills experience increased levels of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that is 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide in terms of its impact on global warming. In addition, carbon fuel emissions from long-haul trash collection vehicles further exacerbate environmental impacts.

Some more progressive areas, such as Berkeley, CA already have commercial composting options that companies can take advantage of while other areas don’t offer even the most basic recycling services, let alone a solution for food waste. For organizations in these communities that are connected to city sewage treatment plants through city sewer lines, aerobic digesters offer an interesting solution to the food waste conundrum.

Aerobic Digesters 101

I spoke with Michael Schmidt, an Executive Vice President at Gold Medal Environmental, a sustainable waste services provider based in New Jersey to get a sense of where things stand. “Today, leading companies like BioHiTech Global (Nasdaq BHTG), are providing businesses and institutions on-site aerobic digester solutions that have the capacity to process thousands of pounds of food waste per day, using oxygen, microorganisms, and warm water,” Schmidt explained.

Through the use of on-site aerobic digesters, food is broken down into a liquid that is safely discharged into the sanitary sewer system, completely eliminating the need for hauling, storing, and processing. “When paired with a smart data analytics platform, modifications in supply chain management can be easily identified, and waste diversion efforts can be amplified,” he added. “Aerobic digesters are a regulatory compliant solution in cities and states that have organics bans in place, as well as an environmentally-responsible alternative to traditional waste disposal methods.”

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware recently conducted an independent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) comparing aerobic digester technology to composting and traditional disposal methods. The results of the LCA demonstrated that aerobic digestion technology, utilizing sewer lines, produced the most favorable outcomes regarding global warming impact. (Potential Impact was measured in carbon dioxide equivalents per 1,000 kilograms of food waste.) In contrast, trucking unprocessed food waste directly to landfills was the least environmentally friendly alternative, yielding 900% more carbon dioxide equivalents.

A Solution In Action

“On-site aerobic digestion helped the Philadelphia Eagles tackle food waste at Lincoln Financial Field, and played a significant role in their recent LEED Gold Certification,” Schmidt noted. “The Eagles’ Go Green program began when the stadium opened in 2003. Initially launching with just a few recycling bins, the program has grown to include operating on 100% clean energy, phasing out plastics at concession stands, stadium-wide composting, and the utilization of an on-site aerobic digester. These combined initiatives contribute to the diversion of 4,000 tons of waste each year, including over 50 tons of food waste to date.”

Similarly, Temple University recently adopted sustainable disposal services in an effort to divert waste from landfills. “The new fully integrated system provides Temple University with innovative disposal services in combination with on-site digesters and a supply chain data analytics platform to help reduce waste generation. Three digesters were installed as part of the initial phase with a capacity to divert more than 3,000 pounds of waste from landfills each day.  In addition, their use eliminates the impact of collecting and transporting numerous small waste containers on a weekly basis,” Schmidt adds.

There is a linear correlation between increases in population and waste generation, resulting in alarming predictions about our landfills’ ability to accommodate ever-increasing trash. Technology-backed waste disposal and management methods offer a sustainable solution for generations to come. Aerobic digesters are one option that can help lead the way.

If your business wants to help keep food waste out of landfills, look into commercial composting and on-site food digester options in your area. Both are great ways to make a real difference. For all of us, while 2036 may seem like a long way off, it will be upon us faster than we think. The time to deal with our trash problem is now.


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Ventriloquist Terry Fator On Why ‘Overnight Success’ Is A Myth

Ventriloquist Terry Fator On Why 'Overnight Success' Is A Myth

Fator and his castmates.

Credit: Terry Fator

He’s likely the only ventriloquist whose name you know. Perhaps you saw him win season two of America’s Got Talent, or at a show during his ten years (and still going) as headliner at The Mirage in Las Vegas.

What I find inspiring is the story behind someone’s success: the 30 years of diligent work it took Fator to become the household name we’ll now pay to see.

More importantly, what can we learn from his journey? How do we uncover our own inner talents, as he did, especially if we don’t see them modeled for us or they aren’t considered worthwhile to pursue?

Fator and I sat down to discuss this and more. He shares about the pinnacle moment when he discovered this path, what it took to ‘succeed’, how he used a challenge like ADHD to his advantage, and what we can learn about using comedy to break the ice and build rapport in everyday situations.

Darrah Brustein: When you were a child and got into ventriloquism (which I’d venture to bet wasn’t the ‘coolest’ choice), how did you discover it and what motivated you to keep at it?

Terry Fator: I was ten years old and had a book report due, so I went into the school library and there was a book by the legendary Paul Winchell called Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit. I read it and was hooked. I bought a very inexpensive puppet and began to practice every day for hours. Soon I was performing in front of church groups and at talent shows, and I haven’t stopped since. Plus, as we all know, ventriloquists are considered as hip and cool as rappers, and women flock to men with puppets.

Credit: Tom Donoghue

Credit: Tom Donoghue

Brustein: So many people mistake someone’s success as being achieved overnight. You honed your craft for nearly 30 years before you got your shot on America’s Got Talent, and with that preparation, you’re now celebrating your 10+ year residency in Vegas. What advice do you have for others who are in a similar situation and might be growing weary?

Fator: Never stop working. Always work. When you stop working the dream dies. And if you love what you’re doing, if you love to perform, it doesn’t matter if you’re in front of an elementary school group of 20 kids, or 20 million people on America’s Got Talent.

Brustein: You’ve been called the “only person who does ventriloquism, impressions, and sings, all at the same time”. In a world where we’re often advised to “stick to one thing”, what has your journey been like to carve out your own niche in this way?

Fator: I think the fact I have ADHD helps, but the truth is it wasn’t until I was forty that it all came together. I was on the road, doing 300 dates a year, and was basically broke. From desperation comes inspiration.  I saved up some money and saw Danny Gans. I saw that show and had an epiphany. I knew I could sing…and I did ventriloquism…and I could do impressions. Since none of these things was working great on its own, why not combine them? So I had my Walter T. Airdale puppet do a Garth Brooks singing impression without moving my lips. And it worked!

Brustein: Some might be surprised to know that you’re dubbed the “most successful person to come out of America’s Got Talent”. Why did you decide to audition, and what reflections do you have on it now?

Fator: I decided to audition because I thought if I could get noticed by enough people, I could raise my price at small town and county fairs from $250 a day to $350 a day.  But I never imagined that it would lead me to realizing my lifelong dream of becoming a Las Vegas headliner.

Brustein: Comedy can be a great tool to connect. What tips do you have for us non-professionally funny people on how to break the ice?

Fator: Listen and react in real time. Don’t go on a date or into a meeting with a prepared joke (unless it’s a speech). Be with whomever you are with, listen to them and comment on where you are or on a common thing in real time as a followup to their last remark. Or, as I sometimes say, the minute there is something stupid in the room you can agree on, comment on it.

Brustein: What do you do to build a sense of rapport with an audience, no matter the size?

Fator: There are three things. The first is always to make them know how important they are to you, that you are onstage for them, not for yourself. The second is to interact with someone in the audience so that all of you are united in having fun, not in a mean way ever. The third way is to let them know how much fun you’re having being with them; if you’re having fun, they’re having fun.

Brustein: You do over 200 celebrity impressions. Have any of them ever reached out, and what’s happened when they have?

Fator: A number of people have reached out, always favorably, but my favorite was after Winston the Impersonating Turtle and I (yes we are a team) did “Crying” on the finale of America’s Got Talent. Roy Orbison’s widow emailed me to say how grateful she was and thrilled to be able, through me, to hear her husband’s voice come alive again.

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Why Young Italians Are Leaving Cities To Start A New Life As Farmers In The Countryside

Why Young Italians Are Leaving Cities To Start A New Life As Farmers In The Countryside

Migration is usually going from rural to urban areas, pushing people out of the countryside towards cities where they can find an economic universe which is more dynamic and that can offer better job opportunities. This tendency has shown itself worldwide throughout history. People fled the countryside because of the association of the area with the absence of prospects of receiving an education, unemployment, harsher financial conditions and generally lower quality of life. Cities offered a social and economic environment where it was possible to build a wealthier lifestyle.

The counterflow: back to the countryside

However, in the past few years, Italy has witnessed an important counterflow that has brought young, educated and metropolitan folks back to the countryside. Many Italians under 35 years old have decided to return to rural areas to take up both a business and a lifestyle in agriculture-related fields. Soon the Mediterranean country has become the one with the highest number of youths employed in this sector in Europe. According to ISMEA, the National Institute for Agricultural and Food Market Services), the number of young people moving to the countryside and starting a career around farming has been growing incessantly through the last decade.

Data collected from the Ministry of Agriculture show that every year the number of agribusinesses is growing, and many of these enterprises are managed by people under 30 years old. At the same time, younger generations are investing their education in the agriculture sector, choosing a university degree that gives access to the field. This element is fundamental to understand the new face and the different approach to agriculture and the farming business. The protagonists of this phenomenon are young, usually over-qualified, graduates who have been experiencing outside the countryside before establishing in the area. Through their education and lifestyle, they have acquired skills and knowledge which was not usual to possess for farmers only decades ago. They have now brought those competencies and attitude in agriculture, and the sector is benefitting from it.

But what are the reasons that have pushed this generation back to the land?

Of course, this circumstance cannot be explained only through the bucolic desire of young metropolitans to be reconnected to Mother Earth. Italy has been undergoing an economic stagnation for over a decade now, which has resulted in the frustration of the younger generations that cannot find good future prospects for their careers and social well-being. Lethargic productivity and high rates of unemployment forced many to migrate to other countries. At the same time, a growing number of young people decided to move to the countryside where at least they could rely on the stability of the land, that other than being a precious real estate, can also grant its owner subsistence and self-sufficiency.

Moreover, it has always been relatively easy to get a hold of lands in Italy. The government has always given off financial incentives and other kinds of state aid to entrepreneurs in the field. Agriculture has long been one of the most subsidized economic sectors, benefiting from fiscal relief and supporting funds. The most talked about reform that the government included in the 2019 Budget Law was the one granting free land to those families who will have a third child in the next three years. The previous administration also allocated funds to assist young people who wanted to create agribusinesses, a measure that seemed to work since now 1 out of 10 entrepreneurs in Italy is occupied in agriculture.

Slow food: an added market value

The government strategy is not the only thing looking in the sector’s favor. The slow food trend and the consumers’ preference for organic, bio, at zero km and artisanal food, is enhancing the small agribusinesses that the younger generations have engaged into. The field has been granting stability and turnover while the ones requiring higher skills could not do the same, and it is now making a profit out of the renewed attention to the idea of growing, trading and eating food locally. Buying directly from the farmer entails an added value to the product, which is why local markets have become crowded commercial areas that prove the benefits of a truly circular economy.

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4 Cash Flow Challenges Facing Small Business Owners Today

4 Cash Flow Challenges Facing Small Business Owners Today

By Deborah Sweeney

You should probably have a good handle on your company’s cash flow, but do you ever wonder how your company compares with other small businesses? Intuit QuickBooks recently released a global study, the State of Small Business Cash Flow, which reveals the cash flow challenges experienced by small business owners and self-employed workers around the world. The study is also an in-depth assessment of the behaviors and attitudes of entrepreneurs experiencing cash flow challenges.

As I read the study, the section on cash flow issues faced by entrepreneurs caught my eye. According to the study, 69% of small business owners are kept up at night with concerns about cash flow. What drives cash flow issues for the self-employed? Let’s take a look at the top four factors.

A recent study provides insights into common cash flow concerns for entrepreneurs.

© photon_photo-

1. Managing receivables

Receivables, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a balance of money due to a company. The business has provided services to a client or customer; however, the client still owes the company payment for those services. Until receivables are repaid in full, they are referred to as outstanding receivables.

One-third of all small business owners in the United States estimate their companies have more $20,000 in outstanding receivables, according to the study, and the average outstanding receivables for U.S. small businesses is $53,399.

2. Managing payments

How do small business owners manage payments? The study reveals 53% will send out invoices which bill customers and/or clients for services on a specific date. On the flip side of the coin, 47% of small business owners use advanced payment. This allows entrepreneurs to charge customers and/or clients for services before they receive them, or right when they do.

How long does it take money to process for small businesses? More time than you might think. Sixty-six percent of small business owners revealed the greatest impact on their company’s cash flow is the amount of time it takes money to process after receiving payments. Nearly one-third (31%) of small business owners say they wait more than 30 days for payments.

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3. Employee management

Small business owners are not the only ones impacted by not receiving pay. A lack of readily available funds makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to pay employees on their payroll. More than two in five (43%) of small business owners with cash flow issues have been at risk of not being able to pay employees by their assigned payday.

Unfortunately, 32% of small business owners surveyed have paid their employees after their paydays. As illustrated by events like the partial government shutdown earlier this year, the impact late pay has on employees can be dire. Many individuals live paycheck to paycheck, and when a small business employer cannot pay on time, employees are likely to start looking for jobs at companies that can provide dependable pay.

4. Getting capital

What happens when it becomes too difficult to have liquid finances available? Some small business owners turn to loans and other forms of capital for financial support.

Getting financial support, though, isn’t always easy, and for some business owners this means admitting defeat before they have had a chance to try. Nearly two in five (39%) of U.S. small business owners don’t apply for loans, with 29% saying they don’t apply because interest rates are too high, 23% do not want to make payments, and 19% do not think they will be approved.

How to resolve cash flow challenges

Sometimes I’m in a position to write an article in which I can offer actionable advice and help for small business owners. Cash flow is a slightly different matter. As noted by the study, it’s become an increasing problem for small businesses not to have funds readily available for real-time expenses.

While I am not a financial professional, I certainly don’t think it’s fair for small business owners to lose sleep worrying about cash flow. I recommend meeting with a accounting professional or a financial adviser to help sort out these concerns. These professionals will be able to get entrepreneurs on track with better billing practices, for example, that can be an asset to small businesses. Once companies and their owners are better equipped to resolve these issues, they will be able to keep relationships strong with employees, vendors, clients, and customers.

I am CEO of, which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter @MyCorporation and connect with me @deborahsweeney. Read all of Deborah Sweeney’s articles. Read all of Deborah Sweeney’s articles.

RELATED: The Best Ways to Finance Cash Flow Emergencies

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What If Someone Find Out Who Really I am?

What If Someone Find Out Who Really I am?

Fight the fear photo credit: Getty


Fear is one of the most powerful obstacles to people’s results and success. Many times, fear is exposed in the shape of our anxiety response to easily locatable perceived treats, such as the simple idea of us speaking in public or taking a long intercontinental flight. While not always easy at least, the efficient and proper expected response to our exposed terrors is clear and unmistaken. However, our path to success is many other times hampered by the subconscious and unveiled fears that attack positive results without us even realizing it or spotting how these fears may eventually look like. Those fears that when uncovered find us muttering astonished ‘I can’t believe this has been impacting on my accomplishments!.’ Do you know what we are talking about?

Well. The fear to be yourself is one of the most common and practical examples of it.

Have you ever been afraid of saying or showing how you really are? What would you like to do? What and why are your priorities in life? What do you care the most about? What are your values and your dreams? Yes. More or less, it is quite easy and comfy to hide our true selves fleeing from the fear of other people non-approval. And yes. This is a sometimes unclear but absolutely devasting obstacle towards achievement. Because if you can’t be honest about the fact that you don’t like animals, you prefer to backpack, you have children that make your life messy but enlightened, or you have a life-long health problem, how could you eventually be honest as to pursue the life that you actually want to live? How are you going to be able to keep all those desired things or situations that you have conquered?

Think about it. We many times try to make it look like we are preserving our private sphere, but very much in the deep, we are just afraid of being judged or pointed out. Right? So how to move forward? Well, only by understanding the reasons for our fears and speaking them out we will start setting the grounds for going successfully through it. When coming to the dismay of men or the fear of what other people will say, there are three main reasons that we need to start digging in with.

1. We are not convinced of our values and beliefs

Values in a narrow sense is that which is good, desirable, or worthwhile. As such, values are universal and transcend contexts because they are based on the common good and the common reason. Values are the motive behind purposeful action and the end to which we act. Beliefs otherwise are assumptions we hold to be true. When we use our beliefs to make decisions, we are assuming the causal relationships of the past, which led to the belief, will also apply in the future. Beliefs are contextual. They arise from learned experiences, resulting from the cultural and environmental situations we have faced. 

It is quite often that we take contextual beliefs and assume them as universal values. This usually happens when we do not give second thoughts to the world the way is presented to us preassuming as truthful what we have been taught without questioning. We often behave based on beliefs that we have not made ours, that we haven’t processed, understood and chosen as those beliefs we want our lives to be informed by. Consequently, we sometimes find ourselves doubting about the way forward, our motivations and aspirations.

Have you ever invested time in defining your beliefs? Do you have values that you have interiorized as yours? Do your priorities fit into what you think is essential or what others or society feel is important? Until we are not proactively convinced about the values and beliefs that inspired our lives, we will clearly feel unsecured easily prone to be just what others expect us to be.

2. We are afraid of being different and non- accepted

To really power up your success, you can not lose energy fighting the person you really are. Get to know and accept yourself. Identify which way fits you better and accept yourself accordingly. Love yourself. There is no one way better than others. There is just one successful way for each person. Stop hiding behind your conform zone and fostering what you think others need you to be. If you don’t find comfortable with the person, you are you will find yourself investing all your energy on doing things that you don’t want to do, saying things you don’t want to say and pursuing dreams that are not your dreams.

Can you open your Instagram account and recognize the true you on it? Just by feeling confident and internally empowered about the person we are and what matters to us in life, we will be able to live in a way that makes us happy.

3. We crave for the wrong things

Since we wake up till we close our eyes again, we are bombarded with information. We have the whole world on our feet in just one click. Is through this constant and uncountable information that we can easily experience someone’s breakfast in Bali while drinking our morning coffee. That we can taste people beautiful houses, cars, trips around the worlds, families, and experiences…All!  As consumers, we are also constantly manipulated to purchase, believe, desire and crave. No wonder it can be tough to find what we really want in life, who we really are and what is really making us happy.

One of the main reasons why we do not get the success that matter to us is because we crave for the wrong things. Those goals and ambitions created for us by the outside world, instead of by our values and passions. Success is the result of both a clear destination and a well-working compass. Defined with precision and pursue with unmistaken determination


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What You Need To Know About Chatbots

What You Need To Know About Chatbots

According to BI Intelligence, about 80% of businesses will use chatbots — which are applications that engage in interactive conversation using natural voice or text – by 2020. Juniper Research also forecasts that this technology will save businesses about $8 billion annually by 2022.

“Due to advancements in AI technology, natural language processing and speech recognition, the cost of developing chatbots has come down drastically, which is fueling the explosive growth of this market,” said Jeri John Deva George, who is the Head of Zoho’s SalesIQ and Cliq.

Yet it’s customer service that chatbots will likely see much of the traction, at least in the next few years. “With chatbots able to engage customers seamlessly around the clock, this is poised to completely change the online customer experience game, while saving time and money,” said Patrick Welch, who is the president and CMO of Bigtincan. “The main goal of these chatbots is to assist customers with getting to their end goal as quickly as possible, whether it is finding out more information, or making a sale. In the end, it’s ideally to replicate the success of top performing customer agents.”

So then, what are the ways to implement chatbots in your organization? What are the best practices and, well, the gotchas? Here are some things to keep in mind:

Set Expectations: Chatbots are not silver bullets. In fact, there are many ways they can go wrong!

“For a great customer experience it is crucial to not try and ‘trick’ customers into thinking the AI chatbot is a real person – and make it clear when they have switched from a bot to a person,” said Chris Bauserman, who is the VP of Product and Segment Marketing at NICE inContact. “Start with a focused pilot covering topics that you already successfully provide self-service options for, test and learn quickly, then iterate and expand from there.”

Understand The Customer Process: Look at ways to better personalize the experience. Otherwise, a chatbot may ultimately be worse than using a traditional approach.

“Customers may get annoyed if they have to repeat all their details to a human agent after having painstakingly typed it into a chatbot interface,” said Michael D. Mills, who is the Senior Vice President of Global Sales at the Contact Center division of CGS. “Failure to centralize customer service information can lead to negative experiences.”

Focus On Data: In other words, there should be ongoing data analytics to understand trends. “This will help a brand build profiles on its customers which will then personalize the experience even more,” said Jonathan Taylor, who is the CTO of Zoovu. “Collecting this insight will also help brands understand how the navigation of their site works.”

Think Different With Design: Your experience with designing websites or mobile apps may lead you down the wrong path. Consider that chatbots have their own unique requirements.

“How should your company sound?” said Gillian McCann, who is the Head of Cloud Engineering & Artificial Intelligence at Workgrid Software. “Think carefully about brand and personality and what it says about your company. Also be prepared for users to say the most unexpected things and build in conversation flows that can handle going off topic. There should also be an awareness of local or cultural differences in language.”

The Future of Chatbots

Chatbots certainly have some powerful underlying technology.  According to David Karandish, who is the founder and CEO of  “Natural language processing is used to understand what the user meant. Within NLP, companies use neural networks to make inferences around matching, as well as create the right ensemble of algorithms that use a combination of classical techniques and modern neural networks to ‘vote’ on the best matching response.”

Yes, it’s enough to make your head spin.  But for the most part, chatbots allow for effective interactions at scale.

More importantly, the technology is still in the early phases.  “I must emphasize that chatbots augment humans, not replace them entirely,” said Antonio Cangiano, who is the AI Evangelist at IBM. “As a result, it would be a mistake to expect so-called strong AI a la Sci-Fi movies, at this stage.”

This is critical to keep in mind.  But the future does look very promising as chatbots are likely to be impactful for your business. “There will be a shift away from chatbots being simply reactive,” said Stefan Ritter, who is the co-founder and Head of Product at Ruum by SAP. “As AI becomes more advanced and chatbots collect more data, bots will start to develop the ability to predict what a user’s next move might be, or what problem they may be experiencing, and act on it in real time.”

Tom serves on the advisory boards of tech startups and can be reached at his site.

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Can You Still Make Money Dropshipping in 2019?

Can You Still Make Money Dropshipping in 2019?

The short answer is no.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ecommerce continues to grow at a breakneck pace, with virtually every business and aspiring entrepreneur trying to make a buck one way or another via digital salesmanship. Nonetheless, certain ecommerce strategies are sounder than others, and some tactics like dropshipping have become less popular over time, thanks to new constraints that make it less profitable.

2019 is a year as disruptive and confusing as ever, though, making it an open question as to whether dropshipping is entirely dead or not. Many continue to assert that dropshipping is a surefire way to earn a profit. Can you still make money dropshipping in 2019?

Related: 6 Routine Mistakes People Make When Setting Up a Dropshipping Online Store

Customers simply must be a priority.

The truth of the matter is that dropshipping is only a profitable endeavor if you strive to ensure that customers are always your top priority. Far too many newcomers to ecommerce believe that dropshipping is an easy, effective way of making a quick buck, when it’s actually a deeply complex process that requires you to stay on your toes. While dropshipping eases your workload by reducing the amount of goods you need to keep in stock, it creates additional challenges, especially when it comes to issuing refunds and ensuring customers receive gratification.

Many of those who once saw dropshipping as an outlet to business success quickly realized that they had deeply misunderstood dropshipping and paid the consequences for it. Having learned from their mistakes, some ecommerce professionals can tell you about the common dropshipping mistakes that almost cost you their business, but countless rookies will doubtlessly keep making those errors. This is because far too many who try to enlist the power of dropshipping for their business misunderstand what’s needed to make it work in the first place.

You’ll have to learn to grapple with high shipping cost, for instance, which is regularly recognized as a plague upon the potential profitability of any dropshipping ecommerce operation. Other shipping problems will abound, too, as you’ll soon discover that such things like quality control are a total nightmare in the world of dropshipping.

Dropshipping can lack accountability.

To put it simply, dropshipping isn’t nearly as secure as many who are considering it would like to believe. Given that you and your customers usually won’t be interacting with your suppliers in a face-to-face manner whatsoever, it’s immensely easy for either or both of you to get scammed. Sometimes, you’ll simply discover that suppliers you rely upon for dropshipping really dish out low-quality products that leave consumers irritated and unsatisfied.

This is why it’s imperative to only enter into valid dropshipping agreements with suppliers you trust after undertaking extensive dropshipping training. Finding a wholesale supplier isn’t always easy, and it’s certainly not always cheap, but finding the right supplier is usually the key difference between a dropshipping operation that’s a thriving success and one that’s a miserable failure. Any budding entrepreneur seriously tugging at the leash to give dropshipping a try should review a breakdown of how to locate dropshippers and other supply-side professionals you’ll need to make it in this niche market.

As always, stress honesty and efficiency above all else. Certain suppliers may try to lure you in by offering you better profit margins, but you need to understand that customers will quickly abandon your operation in droves if they’re receiving shoddy products so that you can earn an extra penny or two. Ensuring that you enjoy repeat business from satisfied customers will earn you more money than luring in new, naïve customers who will make one dropshipping order before ditching your business forever.

Related: 4 Simple Strategies That Will Help You Offer Excellent Customer Service

Prepare yourself for extra homework.

Business owners should also recognize that dropshipping models require that you prepare yourself for some extra homework. Dropshipping can only work for your company if the people running the operation are constantly doing market research to find new suppliers, products and engagement models to profit off. Rather than alleviating your workload, then, it’s important to recognize that dropshipping means additional hurdles will be put in front of you — though you could leverage some of that newfound work for better profits.

You’ll also need to prepare yourself for new aspects of the job. Quality control is entirely out of your hands, for instance, so you’ll need to establish a new method of guaranteeing that your customers aren’t getting ripped off. You’ll also need additional customer support representatives, as any dropshipping model is likely to result in some complexities that will baffle some consumers. The return process, for instance, is famously difficult when dropshipping is concerned; with about 30 percent of all online purchases eventually being returned, too, it’s safe to say this is a problem you’ll encounter sooner rather than later.

Finally, you’ll discover that relying on a dropshipping model for your business doesn’t always guarantee items will be in stock when your customers want them. Fulfilling customer orders in a satisfactory way is the name of the game, and you’ll need a system in place for when stocks dramatically become unavailable with little warning. Seasonal changes in the business cycle, for instance, like Black Friday shopping sprees, can upend dropshipping models just as they can normal brick-and-mortar businesses.

So, is dropshipping even worth it?

Despite these difficulties, many entrepreneurs still have their hopes pinned on dropshipping because of the immensely low startup costs usually involved in the dropshipping model. Elsewhere, those who find themselves in niche industries can become deeply familiar with the supply chain of their unique market and come to dominate it entirely. Thus, dropshipping can be safely labeled as an immensely challenging business model that nonetheless holds profitable potential for those entrepreneurs keen enough to master the process.

Related: How Strategic Warehouse Multichannel Fulfillment Can Help Budding Entrepreneurs

Cutting down on shipping costs and mastering the supply chain, for instance, has helped many dropshippers turn record profits in an otherwise cutthroat ecommerce industry. Outsourcing your shipping model, for instance, is something that’s helped ensure dropshipping is still a viable strategy well in 2019. One thing is increasingly clear — despite the ever-growing complexity of the digital marketplace, shortcuts like dropshipping will still be relied upon by clever entrepreneurs for years to come.

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Keep Your Browsing Data Private With This VPN

Keep Your Browsing Data Private With This VPN

Surfshark VPN is a lightning-fast security tool for your startup’s electronics.

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Whether you’re crunching numbers on your laptop at a coffee shop or spending a late night putting together a deck on your desktop, you rely on your devices to work together and say in sync. Unfortunately, there are plenty of malicious parties, advertisers and even your own ISP trying to slip into your gadgets and snag your browsing history, or grab your info with malware. A Virtual Private Network like Surfshark VPN can make that unsecured Wi-Fi network at your favorite lunch spot safe again.

VPNs protect your data by sending all of your information through an encrypted tunnel, so unsecured Wi-Fi networks become perfectly safe for all of your business needs. Most VPNs eat up some speed as they protect you, but Surfshark helps you browse securely with unlimited data over 500+ torrent-friendly servers.

You can sidestep geo-restrictions while traveling (so you can still access sites like Facebook in countries like China), mitigate risks with a kill-switch that turns off the internet if your VPN loses its connection. Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature also blocks ads, trackers, and malware while you browse, and the company’s strict no-logging policy will never track the sites you visit.

A one-year subscription to Surfshark VPN usually costs $145, but right now you can protect all of your business devices with a single subscription for only $39 (73 percent off).

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7 Entrepreneurs Share Their Tips For Managing Stress

7 Entrepreneurs Share Their Tips For Managing Stress

Life as an entrepreneur is stressful. Owning your own business means you have more control over your daily routine, but it also means you’re responsible for the failures and missteps that occur along the way. And unfortunately, factors that aren’t even under your control can often make or break your business.

The unpredictability of each day can lead to plenty of sleepless nights. Over time, accumulated stress can also lead to depression, addiction and other serious mental health issues. In fact, compared to the general population, entrepreneurs are almost twice as likely to feel depressed and nearly three times as likely to exhibit addictive behavior.

The toll that entrepreneurship can take on mental health is rarely talked about, but given that April is Stress Awareness Month, now is as good a time as any to change that. I connected with seven entrepreneurs and business leaders to learn about what aspect of their work stresses them out the most and how they manage that stress.

1. Emma Schermer Tamir, Cofounder, Marketing by Emma

Emma Schermer Tamir points to her graying hair as all the evidence she needs that entrepreneurship is stressful. “The weight of keeping things running while also pushing them forward is a source of endless anxiety, pressure and stress.” she says. For her, the key to managing stress lies in claiming her time. “I start every day with a book and a cup of coffee. I guard this personal time at all costs.” You don’t think clearly when stress has left you feeling overwhelmed. That’s why Schermer Tamir makes time to step away and recalibrate—taking time to walk her dog or tuning in to a podcast she enjoys.

Talking to friends and family about how you’re feeling can also help. Given her independent nature, Schermer Tamir says that she’s had to work to get comfortable reaching out to people for help. By doing so, however, she’s become more equipped to manage stress effectively and grown as an entrepreneur. “Connecting with people that understand what you’re going through and being vulnerable about your struggles is very powerful, and I wish I would have learned that sooner,” she says.

2. Todd Ehrlich, Founder and CEO, BAMFi

As a former Navy SEAL, Todd Ehrlich has—to say the least—experienced some stressful situations. Even so, he’s found that being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. “Raising capital and managing investor expectations can definitely be a big stress generator. Going into a fundraising round, you know that more than half of the meetings you have are going to be a polite “No,” but all that rejection—more than 50 percent—can wear on you.”

Ehrlich has always used exercise as a means to prevent stress, and if he knows he’s going to be in a stressful situation during a given day, he’ll be sure to exercise that morning. Above all, he advises staying in a low-emotion state of mind. By showing too much emotion to your team during stressful situations, you could rattle your team. “They will lose trust in your ability to lead them through the tough times, and instead of solving the problems causing the stress, they’ll have a fight-or-flight response and go inward—and that stresses everyone out more,” he explains. This doesn’t mean you should act like a robot, of course. Just find a balance between what amount of emotion is helpful and what’s too much.

3. Jonathan Keyser, Founder, Keyser

Early in his career, Jonathan Keyser would often get frustrated with managers for making bad decisions that he thought could easily have been avoided. Now, as the CEO of a large real estate brokerage and consulting firm, he understands that being responsible for everything that happens in a business can definitely result in stress, which ultimately impacts your decision-making. “I truly believe that from a place of peace, and lightheartedness and playfulness, much better decisions can be made rather than during stress and anxiety,” he observes. “I used to have the thought process that if I wasn’t stressed that I somehow didn’t care enough. Now, I think that if I am stressed, I’m not bringing my best self to the situation.”

To combat that stress, Keyser works with himself on “I am” statements. His daily mantra has become: “What I need is given to me precisely when I need it, so I am utterly peaceful and trusting in the present moment.” It helps him shift his focus away from negative thinking and instead to peace and acceptance. Keyser has learned to look for the gift in everything and to succeed by helping others succeed. “A selfless service approach to life and business has made all the difference to reduce my stress level,” he says.

4. Phil Stover, Cofounder, Blue Skies Unlimited

If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s something you could or should be doing at any given moment to grow your business. Phil Stover believes that resisting the compulsion to work can be its own source of stress, but it’s critical to your overall mental health. “You have to balance that pressure with other areas of your life,” he explains, “and accept that each is important.”

Stover has three strategies for keeping his stress at bay and protecting his mental health. First, he takes 10-15 minutes to meditate each morning. Secondly, he blocks off time every Monday for a workout, then devotes the rest of the day entirely to focused work, meaning no calls and no meetings. And thirdly, whenever he does spend time with his family, he puts his phone and laptop away, allowing him to make the most of that valuable time.

5. Loriana Sekarski, Founder and President, Bonsai

Helping business leaders, organizations and students work through mental health challenges and overcome obstacles to achieve their goals is Loriana Sekarski’s specialty. But that doesn’t mean she’s immune to stress. “When I’m not working in my strengths or having to use my lowest-talent themes to accomplish a task, I can get stressed,” she admits. “This can also happen when irrational rules or people not focused on a mission slow me down—I need to feel momentum.” Sekarski has found that stress can make her reactive rather than proactive, which results in her spending less time nurturing her business and personal relationships.

To handle stress, she focuses on using her strengths as described in her CliftonStrengths by Gallup results. For instance, she described using social media for content marketing as a big stressor because it was new territory for her. Sekarski focused on using her Activator, Belief, Ideation and Connectedness strengths to put herself in the right frame of mind to tackle this new area. She relies on a combination of music, exercise and prayer to mitigate her stress, and she’s always on the lookout for stress indicators.

6. Tom Murphy, Managing Partner, Sonus Benefits

Tom Murphy recalls a recent conference he attended that featured a prominent business leader and philanthropist. “His opening line was, ‘Stress is good, and your level of success can be measured by your level of stress,’” Murphy says. “My first thought was, ‘I must be super successful because I always seem stressed.’” While Murphy isn’t sure he completely agreed with the speaker, he did understand the point. When you own a business and are responsible for not just your life, but other people’s as well, stress is inevitable.

To be a successful leader, you’re going to need to be able to recognize and handle stress. Without making this effort, stress can be paralyzing. Murphy believes that taking action is always better than dwelling on a problem, but if you feel immobilized, try to make a plan. “Take some time, be in the moment, do an honest assessment, visualize various outcomes and create a course of action,” he says. Avoiding a problem only compounds stress.

7. Dane A. Palarino, Founder, DAP Consulting

Dane Palarino has found that stress is often a result of dwelling on negative or unproductive thoughts. He employs a simple but effective technique whenever he notices a thought that doesn’t serve him. “I take three deep breaths and revisit why I’m doing what I’m doing. Then, I’ll focus on a specific positive thought for 17 seconds,” Palarino says. “It can be a thought that’s my ‘why,’ or it can be about playing with my kids or a vacation with my wife.”

By holding on to that positive thought for 17 seconds, Palarino says he notices his energy completely change. He also enjoys weight training as a means to reduce stress and compares the stress of entrepreneurship to the weights he lifts: “They never get lighter; I just get stronger.”

Everyone is unique when it comes to experiencing and dealing with stress, but it’s a challenge that all entrepreneurs must face. Taking care of your mental health is the most important thing you can do for your business in the long run, so make it a priority. If that means taking a vacation or leaving the office early, so be it. Don’t worry—the work isn’t going anywhere.

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