The Essential Steps For A New Tech Business

How many startups succeed? Just 10%.

That’s a stark number, but it’s not there to bring you down, it’s to show how critical it is to get your approach in order so you can pull ahead of the 90% that don’t make it.

Anyone can do it, if they go about things the right way, so here’s what you need to fire up a successful tech business in a crowded market.

Provide solutions, nothing else

Customers don’t go out, or online, searching for features, gimmicks, or lifestyle tweaks. The majority of people, the ones you need to attract, have a problem and are looking for a fix. They will go with whoever can provide an efficient, safe, easy-to-access solution, at an agreeable price point. Your priority is always to provide that solution.

Think about times when you’ve needed something, and what you spent your money on. Consider famous successful businesses. What do they do? You’d be hard pressed to find one that isn’t providing a solution, and doing it well.

Create your name and logo

This part is fun. Some people might leave it until later, but for many it can be inspiring, and so is worth addressing early. Once you have a vibrant brand identity, you can really start to perceive your enterprise taking shape.

You can use a business name generator to help pick a name that has impact and longevity. It shouldn’t be hard to spell or pronounce, and it should represent what you do, while having flexibility should you diversify in the future.

Get yourself a beautiful logo too, and you’re good to go.

Build your MVP

Now we’re getting down to business. Here’s where you put together your Minimum Viable Product, meaning the minimal version of what you plan to provide.

This will attract customers, serve a purpose, and allow you to gather feedback and make improvements.

The MVP concept can apply to all products and services. You’re pushing something out there, garnering attention, and receiving user data to convert into refinements.

The key here, at first, is functionality, followed later by design. When it works, you can style it.

Get an eye-catching website

Tying in with the name and logo, this is where your business comes together as a trustworthy, professional package.

If you have the coding and design skills, you can build from scratch, but while this saves money, it’s time consuming, highly specialized, and not the best option for most people.

A viable, affordable route is to look at freelancer sites and find the best deals by hiring a developer directly. You can get great work at reasonable rates.

If you’re on a larger budget, you can go to a web development agency. While it costs more, you’re guaranteed a quality product, customized to your specifications, with ongoing support.

Alternatively, try a do-it-yourself website builder. These don’t require coding skills, are cheap, and give you a professional-looking site, although you’re limited by their parameters, and will have to expend some of your own time.

Team up and network

Do this internally and externally. WIthin your startup, do you want to do it all by yourself, or can you bring in like-minded, motivated people and make it a team effort? A small, tight-knit group, each with their own speciality, but all on the same page, can make mind-blowing progress.

Externally, network, partner up, and collaborate. Put yourself and your ideas out there. You never know where a conversation will take you, so follow every lead. And at all times, while recognizing the importance of being confident and driven, stay humble. Learn from those who are successful, and when the time comes and you’re that person, pay it forward.

Start already!

It will always feel like there is a better time, a skill to be mastered, something else you need to think over.

But in reality, the best time is now, so get started immediately, and adjust as you go. Things move fast, particularly in tech, so rather than watching the currents pass by, it’s far better to be among the action.

You’ll be amazed at how much you learn by doing, and how much better you’ll retain what you pick up. You’ll find paths you’d never heard of, around obstacles you didn’t know existed.

Fail, learn, become stronger

Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Take the losses, and learn from them. It’s important to understand that setbacks are inevitable, and what matters is how you respond.

In tech, you can never be entirely sure how something will work until you try it, and it’s usual to spend time removing bugs and ironing things out, or even to start whole sections over again.

The key is your mindset. You execute, something fails, you correct and execute again. You repeat this process until it works, with the difference at the end being how much you learned and innovated, and how much stronger your project became.

In this way, over time, losses are gains, and so above all, enjoy the ride.

Travel During Covid: Is It Worth the Risk?

Travel in the wake of the pandemic might be a risky undertaking.

We may not have defeated Covid entirely, but more and more good news is arriving each day. With vaccines showing promising results and the economy recovering, the first step back into our everyday pre-Covid life is nearer than ever.

As countries are slowly re-opening to welcome new visitors, many travelers are aching to hop on the next plane and discover the world. While many nations still impose laws like mandatory masks and social distancing, tourists can somewhat safely enjoy the wonders of the (open) world. While countries across Europe allow travelers to enter with a vaccination certificate, proof of immunity, or negative Covid test, other nations like the United States only allow nationals and essential personnel to cross the border.

Nonetheless, airlines and other players of the tourism industry are already forging plans to reignite the economy. Many offer heavy discounts or cooperate with hotels to create complete vacation packages at bargain prices.

Now that the world of traveling is opening up again, many are looking for destinations to travel to. Covid marked a shift in perception for many of us, including the availability of traveling. With closed borders and grounded airplanes, countries and places we always hoped to visit were suddenly further away than ever.

Remember that vacation to Singapore you always planned but never followed through? Or the trip to Belize you always talked about with your significant other, just to never realize those plans? Many of us have those dream vacations that we always wanted to do but postponed indefinitely. If Covid showed us one thing, it was that those plans could be destroyed any day.

So now is the best time to make up your plans for 2022. With prices lower than ever, many destinations are just waiting to be visited. If you need inspiration, you should consult your favorite travel site. This site has a host of fantastic articles about cities and destinations you might have never considered. So, if you are looking for your next vacation, make sure to look at some of their recommended towns and areas to visit!

Tips for Travel in 2022 and the Future

Picking a travel destination is a question of open borders, as well as one of hygiene and safety measures. Many countries handled the pandemic in vastly different ways, from strict lockdowns and closed borders to the complete negligence of Covid and its effects. As such, traveling in a post-Covid world might be more dangerous than what it seems like.

You should avoid countries that took almost no measures to fight the Coronavirus. This includes many countries in Africa and Asia, but also more prominent countries like Brazil, where president Bolsonaro made weird claims about Covid and the vaccines, despite getting vaccinated himself. So, even while travel to Brazil is legally possible, it should probably be avoided. The same goes for a number of countries.

In the same vein, maybe your focus should shift towards remote travel destinations. The further away from big cities, the lower your risk of getting infected or being subject to strict rules. While towns and countries are still battling with the disease, the countryside might be more welcoming. Besides, many countries have beautiful places outside of their big cities.

So, choosing the first country to visit can become a riddle. For now, it might be best to wait a few more months and see how different governments handle the pandemic. As vaccination campaigns progress, there will undoubtedly be more news about countries opening their borders soon.

One thing to note is the upcoming spike in prices for traveling, though: For brave travelers, booking flights and hotels during the pandemic was a bargain-hunting galore. Tickets were cheaper than ever, and hotels desperate for visitors underbid each other to gain business. However, with the economy slowly recovering, so are the prices of the travel industry. As a result, plane tickets are rising in price, and hotels are returning to their old pre-Covid rates.

Another factor to note is the increase in demand for travel. As traveling becomes safer, more people will book tickets and hotels. Due to that, finding a vacation at a reasonable price could become a challenge of its own. Besides that, more destinations will be swarmed with tourists, making the stay riskier. Therefore, planning a vacation could become a question of risk vs. reward.

If you are up for the gamble, you can book a vacation now and plan it for next year. However, with mutations still being a significant threat, nobody can say what 2022 will look like. Due to all of these factors, it is probably the best idea to sit tight for a couple more weeks and wait before you book your next trip.

The Christmas Spirit Still Lives on, Even Under the Shadow of Lockdown

Christmas has always been seen as a kind of comforting constant in our world. A tradition-filled holiday that will always be there, waiting for us, no matter what trials and tribulations we might have gone through in the preceding rest of the year. Christmas would be the one shining season where we could just get together and celebrate all the good things in the world.

But even a time as sacred as Christmas has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Uncertainty and isolation made for a chilly Christmas season, and I’m not talking about snow here. In fact, by looking at the effect of the pandemic during 2020’s Christmas celebrations, we can get a pretty good idea how the virus will affect this year’s Christmas as well.

In the Philippines, for example, home to the world’s longest Christmas season, pandemic lockdowns have decimated the jubilant parties and mass gatherings that have long been a staple of the holiday in this country. Yet massive city decorations in the capital Manila were still set up, with residents queuing in lines that span multiple city blocks, just to visit and spend time with loved ones in a place that exuded the Christmas spirit.

Meanwhile, Christmas in Japan was a muted affair. No surprise, as at the time the country had been grappling with a surge of cases just a handful of days ago. Planned concerts were cancelled, and businesses of all stripes were forced to reduce their staff after vastly decreased customer visits.

Despite the fact that it had become one of the world’s worst death rates from the pandemic, millions of people in the United States chose to travel domestically for last year’s holiday season, defying government pleas to stay home and keep movement to a minimum. However, Americans were still wary of international travel.

Certainly, Christmas festivities had been turned upside-down by the demands of the new pandemic. However, this isn’t an article about doom and gloom. While many storied Christmas traditions were certainly quashed last year (and almost certainly this year), celebrants kept the spirit of the season alive by adapting the celebrations to meet lockdown guidelines.

Churches around the world, from the Vatican to the United States, had made livestreamed and pre-recorded Mass a common and accepted form of worship in these fraught times. Families replaced traditional family gatherings with gatherings over Zoom, Skype, and other video-conferencing software.

Retail holiday shopping had been significantly dampened by social distancing rules. Even the most frantic of Christmas shoppers weren’t allowed to enter stores with too many people inside them. It’s a good thing then, that online shopping has advanced to the point where most (if not all) things you could find in an in-person store, could also be found in an online store. Rates of online shopping rose during the pandemic, as people that were initially hesitant to try it were encouraged towards it by increasingly harsh rules outdoors. With online shopping, one could buy enough gifts for the entire family from the safety of one’s own home. Sure, there may be delivery delays and product shortages, but those aren’t any more bad than the inconveniences you’ll have to face at a physical store. Remember the stampedes during Black Friday? Shopping on Christmas Eve is nearly just as bad.

Caroling had also been heavily neutered by Covid restrictions. Caroling in person had either been made smaller with social distancing rules in play, or was banned entirely. Instead, digital caroling had taken root, where people gathered on video-chat platforms such as Zoom and sung to their hearts’ content what could not be outdoors. While varying internet connections may have made it a pain, the option some platforms have to record meetings have been very welcome in preserving a Christmas memory for posterity.

Mall Santas were still kicking around last Christmas, but now they had to be behind plastic barriers, which certainly turned down the magic of the experience for any child and adult. However, for any child or younger relative who still wants to talk with Santa, you could have them write and deliver a letter to Santa, then have them receive a letter from santa in return. Even the smallest bits of magic are valuable in this period of clinical caution.

It just goes to show how people can be very adaptable, no matter the weird or varied circumstances thrown their way. All of this also shows just how much people want to celebrate our special occasions, no matter how inconvenient or potentially hazardous they may be. Having a sense of hope and belonging is nearly as important as food or water, and people will always strive to keep that hope and fellowship alive even through these dark times.

This article is one of those strivings, by the way. Just in case you haven’t noticed. So, without further ado, I wish all of you readers a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Improving Access to College Education

College in this country is notoriously expensive: the average four-year cost of attending a nonprofit public college has increased by more than 150% since 2000, according to the College Board. Many students and families have little choice but to take out loans to finance their education. Unfortunately, the total amount of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. now exceeds $1.4 trillion and the average student loan debt per borrower exceeds $34,000—levels that scare many fiscally-minded young people away from college education entirely. But why is this the case, and what can we do as individuals and as a country to improve access to higher education?

How Did We Get Here?

College tuition in the US is considered to be among the most expensive in the world. Part of this is simply prestige: most US colleges and universities are ranked among the top institutions globally. They are also highly selective, admitting only the top 10% of applicants, at best. The difference in quality between the top 10% and the 90% is what makes the cost so high. But that’s not the only factor: the cost of education has risen much faster in the US than the inflation rate. According to the US Census Bureau, the national inflation rate in the US is 2.2% for the year 2018. But the inflation rate for college tuition and fees is 6.1% for the same year.

Partly, these costs are driven by constraints on supply. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are about 4000 degree-granting colleges and universities in the US. This means that the competition for students is fierce. To attract students, colleges and universities need to invest in new facilities, programs, and faculty. The end result is a hike in the cost of education.

The other factor, of course, is the cost of living in major US cities. Education hubs such as Boston and New York City have some of the highest housing costs in the world. Other large cities in the US, like San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Diego, are also among the most expensive places in the country—and this cost is ultimately borne by students if they wish to live in the area.

This, coupled with the high cost of education, makes it difficult to live on a student’s paycheck. As a result, many students are forced to take out expensive loans to finance their college education.

Across the Sea

In the U.S., it’s fair to say that, like most things, the university education sector is market-driven. In other words, its price is driven by supply and demand. By comparison, many European countries have a large degree of public funding for universities. As a result, the price of education is much lower.

For example, Scotland has a policy of free tuition for Scottish resident full-time degree students. Sweden provides tuition-fee-waivers for the poorest students, and the government also pays part of the tuition fees for the rest. Norway and Finland, meanwhile, have a policy of free education.

In contrast, the US government provides comparatively little direct funding for higher education. In 2019, PEW estimated the figure to be around 34 per cent of total revenues.

Zoom Zoom

The most obvious way to reduce the cost of college education is to cut the cost of tuition. This is something that technology is already allowing us to do. This year, of course, colleges around the world have been forced to invest in technology for distributing classes online. While studies into the efficacy of online learning are a mixed bag, the consensus on the economics are pretty clear: it’s much cheaper to deliver.

What does this mean for students? For starters, it means that there is a much wider range of courses available to them. An online class can be scheduled to run from anywhere. And classes can be delivered to students in the middle of nowhere, with a minimal amount of infrastructure. But analysts are also predicting flow-on effects for the cost of education. In theory, if you can package up a course and deliver it online, the cost of delivering the course should fall and therefore fees should be lower. In practice, it’s not that simple – but signs are there that the trend towards online learning will put downward pressure on tuition fees in the long run.

Practical Solutions

As a student, what does all of this mean for you? Firstly, it’s worth noting that any decision to go to college—whether it’s public or private—will unfortunately be a financial one to some extent. If you’re paying the out-of-state tuition rate rather than the in-state rate, you should expect to have to pay more. And if you’re considering a private college, you should expect to pay a significant premium for the privilege.

As a result, it’s worth considering the following:

Start saving early. It’s never too early to start thinking about how to pay for college. The sooner you start saving, the easier it will be to pay for college without taking out loans.

Keep your eye out for scholarships. These are not just reserved for elites going to Ivy League schools. Think outside the box – there are many sporting scholarships, art scholarships, and increasingly private companies are offering help as well. A small mover scholarship may prove the difference between attending an out-of-state school and not. And applying for a furniture shipping scholarship like this does not preclude you from taking funding from other sources—so you lose nothing by applying.

Consider attending public schools. If you live in a state with a low cost of living and a high quality of public education, you might find that you’re better off attending a state school in-state. This is something you’ll need to research closely, but it’s worth thinking about.

The Bottom Line

Going to college and getting a degree is still one of the best investments you can make in your future. But the cost of college education in the US is becoming prohibitively expensive for many families. As a result, more and more students are taking on high-interest loans to finance their education. It’s a bad situation for students and a bad situation for the US economy as a whole.

The good news is that technology has enabled us to deliver high quality education more efficiently. The future of education is online – and that could be a boon for consumers. But until this transformation fully takes place, it’s up to you to think of innovative ways to fund your education—so start planning early, think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to change your plans to match the current economic climate.