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innovation

What the pandemic has taught everyone is that pivoting business operations in crisis can be a challenge. In this episode of our Leadership Lessons series, host Jason Nazar, co-founder/CEO of Comparably, speaks with a renowned leader in sales, operations, and technology to discuss the winning strategies for small and medium-sized businesses to drive product innovation and growth during this monumental time.

With more than 25 years of experience, former IBM executive Burton Goldfield has transformed TriNet (NYSE: TNET) into a leading cloud-based HR provider and professional employer organization for SMBs. Founded in 1988 in the San Francisco Bay Area, TriNet’s net revenue has more than quadrupled during Goldfield’s tenure as CEO since 2008. From Main Street to Wall Street, the platform offers full-service HR solutions and access to human capital expertise, benefits, risk mitigation and compliance, payroll and real-time technology. In addition to Goldfield sharing his biggest leadership lessons, other topics include:

  • Importance of employee engagement in a virtual work environment 
  • Critical role of privacy and security in the new work world
  • Why digital transformation must be a key part of your business plan
  • Winning strategies for pivoting business operations in a crisis
  • Innovation: A requirement for business growth and success 

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About the Speakers

Since 2008, Burton M. Goldfield has served as president, CEO and board member of TriNet (NYSE: TNET). With more than 25 years of experience in sales, operational, and technology leadership roles, he is known for driving product innovation and business growth. Burton has transformed the company into a leading cloud-based HR provider and professional employer organization. TriNet’s net revenue has more than quadrupled during his tenure. Prior to TriNet, Burton was CEO at Ketera Technologies, a Santa Clara-based SaaS provider to FORTUNE 2000 companies. Before that, Burton served as SVP, Worldwide Field Operations at Hyperion Solutions Corporation and VP of Worldwide Sales for IBM Corporation’s Rational Software division.

Jason Nazar brings 15 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, and advisor to his role as co-founder/CEO of Comparably, a leading workplace culture and compensation monitoring site. Previously, he was co-founder/CEO of Docstoc (acquired by Intuit in 2013), one of the most visited content sites in the world with the widest selection of professional documents and business resources. Jason was named one of the “Most Admired CEOs in L.A.” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and appointed “Entrepreneur in Residence for the City of Los Angeles” in 2016-2018 by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

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May 10, 2021 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Franchises have been growing in popularity rapidly over the past few decades. The ’s Franchise Economic Outlook for 2020 projected that the number of franchised businesses in the U.S. would increase by 1.5 percent to a total of 785,316 — adding 232,000 jobs a year to reach a total of 8.6 million employees across the industry.

The consistent expansion is unsurprising given that franchises combine the desire many people have to be entrepreneurial with the ability to skip some of the more cumbersome aspects of setting up a business fully from scratch. With a franchise, much of the work regarding the brand and business processes have already been done, and it is more or less a plug-and-play system.

That’s not to say that starting and running a franchise doesn’t take a lot of work, however, because it does. Each store, restaurant or any other business type will have its unique challenges that the owner must overcome to turn a profit, which is why resources like the Entrepreneur Franchise Explorer portal exist to help entrepreneurs evaluate different options, decide which ones will suit them best, set them up and optimize their operations.

Thankfully, there have been several innovations, many enabled by technology, that allow franchise owners to boost efficiency and improve their bottom line.

Related: Meaningful Metrics: The KPIs Every Franchisee Should Monitor

Marketing and customer-relations management

Although franchises receive the brand equity of the franchisor as part of the franchise package, they do not automatically receive any customers. Each franchise business must optimize its marketing and customer-relationship-management processes to grow its customer base, grow the customers’ loyalty to the business and increase their spending over time. Thankfully, businesses can now use automated marketing software to optimize their presences on social media and other channels like email and SMS marketing, helping them acquire more customers. 

Keeping customer relationships alive and well is also crucial, and new CRM software has a myriad of features that help businesses stay in touch with customers and keep their brands top of mind, ensuring that customers remain satisfied and even encouraging them to share their satisfaction with others, thus increasing the business’s customer base. For example, using AI programs, businesses can now segment their customers and design targeted loyalty programs to increase sales.

Related: Here’s Why CRM Is Important for Your Business

Managing the franchise

Managing a franchise network can be challenging without proper tools. Entrepreneurs start with a great franchise idea and create FDD (Franchise Disclosure Document) and start recruiting franchisees. That’s a great way to start, but to build a successful franchise, entrepreneurs need a platform to grow with. Using docs to share, excel sheets for managing leads, videos to train and email to communicate with franchisees is not the best way to build a scalable, long-lasting franchise network.

Entrepreneurs should consider an all-in-one franchise management platform such as BrandWide or FranConnect for recruiting new franchisees, store opening, training and onboarding, and for passing on standard sales, marketing, call-script and agreement templates to the franchisees. In addition, a franchise-management platform will provide ways to create sales, marketing and operation processes and make sure the franchisees are complying with these processes. 

All-in-one franchise-management software has been a blessing for the franchise industry. With real-time 360-degree visibility of your franchise business, it helps reduce the time and cost of managing your entire franchise network while increasing the level of engagement and performance.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Franchising Your Business #FranchiseBible

HR management

From the very first day of starting a franchise business, the quality of the staff will be a crucial determinant of how successful the business will be. Hiring the right staff and making sure they are working in the most efficient manner possible has typically been the preserve of HR teams working with limited data. That has often lead to errors as a result of the HR personnel acting primarily based on “feel.”

Nowadays, it is possible to compile comprehensive information on all aspects of the company’s operations, and on each individual’s performance, and then to apply data analysis to generate detailed appraisals of employees, making it easier to make staffing decisions. Many software solutions will even screen resumes and make recommendations for applicants to be interviewed based on pre-determined criteria. This allows franchise businesses to spend less on HR and free up the staff in that department to focus on helping employees optimize their performance.

Whether it’s a restaurant, coffee shop, home-cleaning, dog-training, home-remodeling or an online-education franchise, the key to business success is to increase profit per customer. Increasing operation efficiency through automation, reducing cancellations, increasing repeat business and reducing marketing costs are a few ways to achieve greater profitability.

Selecting a good technology platform is as important as hiring good employees. Additionally, implementing the technology is as important as training the employees in your business. However, only selecting a technology platform is not enough: Entrepreneurs must find a good tech partner for ongoing support and scaling up as their franchise grows.

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May 7, 2021 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With people spending more time at home over the past year, it’s not surprising that online shopping has increased exponentially. Ecommerce was up an astounding 44% year-over-year in 2020, according to estimates from Digital Commerce 360, while McKinsey reported that 10 years of ecommerce growth occurred in just 90 days in 2020. However, there’s a lot more to this story than simply the surge in online shopping habits.

Though major online marketplaces still dominate, sales for some actually declined in 2020. The beneficiaries of this trend were niche brands and small businesses, which embraced technology and saw online sales surge. This “long-tail” growth is one of the most intriguing aspects of the new COVID-influenced economy and has attracted the attention of major companies in the retail ecosystem.

Walmart, for example, has removed rules requiring sellers on its marketplace to be registered in the U.S., a move to court more small brands from around the globe and compete with other retailers. FedEx also announced an alliance with BigCommerce last April to help “small and medium businesses get up and running online fast and affordably.” Additionally, GS1 US, the administrator of the UPC barcode system, created a new option for small brands to more easily and affordably get their products set up with legitimate product identification — a necessity to distinguish reputable businesses from fraudulent brands in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Of course, small retail businesses have experienced major challenges and setbacks over the last 12 months, but their focus on innovation indicates a strong outlook. To fuel growth, retail entrepreneurs are bringing data and technology together to compete against larger retailers online in three areas.

Embracing digital platforms

The pandemic forced an interruption — a “pause” button that caused many people to reevaluate their careers and start their own business. With long-distance commutes and travel essentially eliminated, founders of small brands quickly saw their homes turn from a home/office, to a home/office/factory/warehouse as demand for a wide range of products soared.

With 75% of small business owners saying they intend to spend more on technology in 2021 than in 2020, according to a GGV Capital and Hello Alice study, it’s clear that entrepreneurs are applying sound business tactics and innovative solutions to their newfound enterprises. From record direct-to-consumer (DTC) stores popping up on Shopify, to the more than 3 billion products being listed on Amazon, tech-savvy small brands are leveraging e-commerce and social platforms to their advantage.  

Aside from investing in new desks, shipping equipment and shelving units, many of today’s entrepreneurs are thinking outside of the box — or physical location, in this case — to conduct business in unconventional ways using technology. Virtual burger joints, for example, have started giving large chains a run for their money. Existing only as apps or on third-party marketplaces, virtual restaurants like MrBeast Burger operate out of existing restaurant kitchens, allowing restaurateurs to add a new source of revenue without impacting the operation. They have partnered with these small businesses to reach faraway places they never dreamed imaginable pre-COVID. With so many locations and menu items to keep track of, the onus is on the entrepreneur and their partners to ensure accurate and complete data is exchanged to keep the experience consistent from the app to the final customer delivery.

Related: 4 Key Trends for Retail Entrepreneurs in 2021

Staying competitive on shipping

Shipping options are a moment of truth for any online shopper. Now conditioned to expect fast, free shipping, many consumers abandon online shopping carts because of high rates and long wait times. But small businesses often can’t absorb the costs of shipping like big players to deliver products efficiently.

The collaboration between FedEx and BigCommerce mentioned earlier is an example of how the tides are turning. Small businesses are provided with shipping options usually only available to larger retailers, offering competitive rates and expanded pick up options. A platform like BigCommerce, one that powers a major portion of the growing DTC market, recognizes that great ecommerce experiences tend to be linked directly to shipping. Small businesses need to evolve digitally just as much as their competitors to meet the demands of today’s environment.

To make a digital experience truly seamless, standardized product identification is one of the critical elements that connects the consumer’s order with backend fulfilment processes, ensuring the right product is always in the right place at the right time. Small businesses that are trying to compete with larger retailers by offering an “omnichannel” shopping experience will find that using a standardized U.P.C. in their product listings leads to an accurate, persistent product identity, and ultimately, cost efficiency. Standard identifiers are an investment in a business’s future and enable the ability to be accepted by a multitude of retailers and logistics providers.  

Related: The Seller’s Guide to Ecommerce Success on Amazon, Instacart, Walmart and Target

Rethinking returns management

The battle for customer loyalty often takes place around returns. Many retailers have made returns easy, but cost and inventory management remain big challenges. Large retailers are experimenting with discounts or simply giving products away. For example, after the holidays, many consumers found that retailers like Target and Walmart gave refunds but encouraged shoppers to donate or keep an unwanted item.

Smaller players have to find a different path and are using service-providers like Narvar so they can afford to offer branded order tracking and a network of return locations. This type of service provider helps small businesses take better control of what happens to product management after the purchase. This approach allows for boxless returns (online returns for in-store purchases) and provides an extensive network of return locations. For entrepreneurs with limited resources to devote to returns, tech startups like these offer economies of scale to ensure consumer satisfaction.

When evaluating their returns management processes, entrepreneurs should also ask themselves whether there is any way to reduce the problem from the get-go. Yes, returns are an inevitable part of running a retail business, but a powerful way to reduce returns is to make sure online consumers have high quality product information in the first place so they receive what they are expecting. The product listing — complete with clear images from multiple angles, detailed product features such as hypoallergenic or machine-washable, and specific weights and dimensions — can cut down on exorbitant returns costs and help boost a company’s reviews in the process.

The pandemic has left an indelible imprint on the retail industry, ultimately accelerating innovations and trends that had been at play for years. Consumer dependence on ecommerce is now catapulting tech startups and retail entrepreneurs alike into a new era of relevance and popularity. Small businesses that embrace technology, standards and data quality will be the ones most likely to endure and take advantage of the changes at play today and in the future.

Related: Can Robot Shoppers Tell If the Bananas Are Ripe?

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May 6, 2021 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the wake of the global-health crisis, customers expect beneficial, safe and agile business experiences. And businesses are providing those experiences: Pharmaceutical companies are producing life-saving vaccines in record time, startups are popping up overnight to meet people’s needs and organizations are pursuing trends that will change the future. The key to meeting customer expectations in this unusual time is continually pushing the innovation envelope.

Related: COVID-19 Will Fuel the Next Wave of Innovation

Humans are quick to romanticize innovation as divine moments of inspiration and progression. In truth, continuous innovation is a discipline that your must maintain. It’s not a lightbulb moment  it’s the articulation of a coherent strategy aligning your business objectives. Innovation won’t spontaneously materialize in your department and align with your service offering.

There are two types of innovation: push and pull. Push innovation occurs with the arrival of a new technological solution while pull innovation is market-driven, arising from a customer challenge that needs a solution. As an entrepreneurial leader, you’re likely keeping tabs on external technological developments and are acutely aware of your company’s technological needs. That’s why you must chart the path forward.

You’re uniquely positioned to propel technological innovation. Most companies focused on survival in the wake of Covid-19, but now you need innovative and ideas that can support your agility internally and externally. The pandemic might have limited your available budget, but you can still innovate within those constraints.

Making innovation a company-wide priority

Startups are often heralded as the most potent sources of technological innovation, which isn’t surprising. Those companies are built from the ground up to bring a single cutting-edge technology to life. They’re free from the constraints imposed by a successful business model with thousands of customers, hundreds of employees, detailed supply chains and the operating expenses to match.

Related: 5 Ways Small Companies Can Out-Innovate Big Corporations

Even in this innovation-heavy environment, you must continue allocating money to current operations while investing in the development of new technology. Ask yourself questions to help you find that balance: What is the real return of current annual spending? Is there a portion of the budget set aside for innovation? What market needs has my organization not met? Do those market needs align with our business goals? What cutting-edge technology is newly available?

Research from indicates that IT spending was projected to increase 0.6 percent in 2019 to $3.74 trillion. It’s critical to manage innovation expenditure just like any other line item. If your company puts technological innovation off, you might find that you’re falling behind competitors and making day-to-day work harder than it needs to be.

When Frogslayer sat down with a wholesale-logistics company, it became clear its off-the-shelf legacy systems were impacting its ability to operate. By adopting a startup mindset and imagining how they might rebuild their technology stack from the ground up, the company’s leaders were able to identify the features driving the most value. From there, they were about to estimate the innovation investment and compare it against the predicted value. By taking a similar approach, you can also identify pain points and prioritize innovation investments.

How to be continuously innovative

Expensive technology-development initiatives that “reinvent” and “revolutionize” sound intriguing and flashy, but there are several low-budget things you can do to encourage and prioritize innovation in your company. Before you bring in the wrecking ball and make sweeping changes, start with these small steps to pave the way for future technological innovation.

1. Foster employee learning and dialogue

Give employees opportunities to share their skills and knowledge. That might mean having senior employees go over best practices for a given domain, encouraging new recruits to research areas that interest them or offering talented individuals the chance to demonstrate new skills that could help others. These dialogues can occur on digital forums, in video meetings or even at in-person “lunch and learns.”

You can also give employees external opportunities to learn and grow, which can then be relayed to the rest of the company. For example, the tech company Optoro encourages its employees to attend conferences and programs while providing each individual with a professional development budget. Encouraging continued and effective communication in your company is a good investment that promotes innovation.

2. Host regular hackathons

Specific technological business challenges come up all the time, but they’re often set aside as something to solve when more time or resources are available. Instead of letting those challenges evaporate, make a list that you can keep handy. Every quarter, pinpoint one or two challenges that can serve as the basis for a hackathon.

These cross-functional events bring together company teams and result in myriad benefits, including improved trust, increased cohesion and better . Plus, they can lead to tangible products or solutions. For example, has been hosting internal hackathons since 2007. Every few months, hundreds of company engineers get together with their laptops to solve problems, pitch ideas and create or improve Facebook products.

3. Encourage your employees to observe other roles and departments

You don’t have to place your employees in the sales department for three months, but it’s useful to have personnel see how other business departments operate. Mind Gym schedules a company-wide meeting every week to allow each team to talk about its wins, losses and ongoing work. Although weekly meetings might be too much for your company, you could give employees or teams an opportunity to observe different departments or individuals for one day each quarter.

Arrange for your employees to sit in on a quarterly sales-pipeline report, a recently released demo from the development team or the C-suite’s weekly roundup. After the session, have your employees share and discuss their primary takeaways. What did people learn that could be translated into technological development?

Related: What Sustainable Innovation Might Look Like in 2021

It’s important to encourage technological innovation in your organization, but you can’t ignore the budget to accomplish the task. Rather than spending a fortune, learn how to be innovative when money is tight by preparing your organization to adopt and integrate innovation investments.

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May 4, 2021 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

During the second half of the last decade, enterprises began to sit up and take notice of . The promise of streamlining the turgid financial sector, revolutionizing supply chains and enabling peer-to-peer trustless transactions proved to be alluring. 

However, certain challenges immediately became apparent. The -generation blockchains left enterprises with several tradeoffs, most notably around scalability and . Public blockchains were often slow and clunky, and the prospect of having all transactions visible to the public was understandably offputting to many businesses. Not to be deterred, they turned to private and permissioned platforms, such as Hyperledger, or developed their own in-house solutions. 

However, developments in blockchain technology now mean that public blockchains are once again an option for businesses. Privacy-preserving technologies, along with high-performance networks, both offer all the benefits of public blockchains without the tradeoffs. In the area of privacy, zero-knowledge proofs offer an assurance of confidential transactions, but with a provable audit trail behind them. For high-volume enterprises, directed acyclic graphs are a form of distributed ledger that can handle ultra-fast processing at an impressive scale. 

Related: History Can Teach Us What’s Next for DeFi

What are zero-knowledge proofs? 

A zero-knowledge proof, or ZKP, enables someone to demonstrate that a particular fact is true without giving away how they know it is true. Imagine two kids, Alice and Bobby, are playing “Where’s Waldo?” Alice wants to prove that she has found Waldo, but she doesn’t want Bobby to know where Waldo is on the page. So she takes a big piece of paper and cuts out a small hole. She then covers the page and shows Bobby the illustration of Waldo without revealing his whereabouts. 

In blockchain terms, rather than Waldo’s location, it could be an identity document or a financial transaction that someone wants to keep secure without any risk of it being exposed. Applying ZKPs means that users can transact on the blockchain with an assurance of privacy, but still be able to prove that the private data is present and correct. 

The importance of this technology in the context of blockchain can’t be overstated. In a public blockchain like Bitcoin or Ethereum, every transaction is visible and can be viewed by anyone using block explorers. Although blockchain addresses aren’t assigned to names, if someone knows the person behind an address, they can trace all of their transactions. 

For this reason, public blockchains are often referred to as “pseudonymous” rather than anonymous, and they offer little in the way of genuine user privacy. While the DeFi craze has prompted speculation about potential institutional involvement in the future, this lack of confidentiality could ultimately prove to be a major sticking point. A study conducted by found that around half of firms cited privacy as one of their foremost concerns around adopting blockchain solutions. 

But a critical feature of blockchain is its ability to demonstrate transparency between parties. ZKPs offer an essential means of helping to preserve user privacy while protecting this transparency for audit purposes. 

ZKP implementations

One of the earliest implementations of ZKPs was in privacy coins, which evolved from the challenge of transacting on public blockchains. Zcash, for instance, allowed transactions to be verified without identifying the sender, receiver or transaction amount. Unfortunately, from a business perspective, this doesn’t really work due to audit-compliance obligations, so completely cloaking a transaction means that they can’t demonstrate later on that the transaction took place. 

The next generation of ZKP implementation, fit for adoption by enterprises and financial institutions, addresses privacy from the infrastructure level. Findora, developed by entrepreneurs and academics from Stanford, is an example of a public decentralized blockchain platform tailored specifically for financial applications. 

The idea is to achieve an optimal balance between users’ need to transact with confidentiality while being fully traceable for compliance purposes. 

 

What are directed acyclic graphs, and who’s using them? 

Without getting too technical, a directed acyclic graph (DAG) is a non-linear form of distributed ledger technology. If you consider a blockchain as a literal chain of blocks containing transactions, then you can think of a directed acyclic graph DAG as a series of transaction sequences that are interconnected and cannot be reversed, but don’t necessarily have a linear sequence. 

DAGs are used to handle high volumes of potentially very low-value transactions that would simply be unmanageable on a traditional linear blockchain like Bitcoin or Ethereum. One of the best-known projects using a DAG structure is IOTA, which is geared towards Internet of Things transactions.

Another project also using the innovative DAG chain topology is Taraxa. Rather than applying DAGs to the existing technologies and apps, the -based start-p is targeting offline and off-chain transactions. This kind of immutable audit trail comes very handy for a whole slew of use cases, from explicitly recording the parties’ consent in complex transactions (construction change orders, insurance claims and many more) to more trivial remote works communication and approvals.

Thanks to their ability to demonstrate auditability without compromising on elements like fast throughput and privacy, these kinds of platforms offer vast potential to scale up enterprise adoption.

Related: Crypto Has Come a Long Way Since the Last Bull Run in 2017. Here’s Why.

Ultimately, the new generation of public platforms look like they’re set to see blockchain fulfill its original revolutionary promise. It’s a very interesting time to be in blockchain and watch how these innovative technologies make way for the next wave of entrepreneurs to contribute to the growing ecosystems.  

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Innovate or Die

by Alena Eager

The pandemic has forced us all to change, adapt and engage our customers at a faster rate than any economist could have predicted.

April 26, 2021 3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many industries have seen major job losses while sectors like ecommerce, and online delivery, continue to flourish due to the pandemic.

We now live in a contact-less world where consumers are interacting virtually with being a necessity rather than a luxury.  

This is a good thing.

Innovation is the cornerstone of long-term business growth 

Enterprises across the globe have been forced to adopt new ideas that inadvertently helped them grow beyond their imagination. Customers are now, more than ever, embracing the digital approach. 

Remember the word “blockbuster”?

We all used to watch films at theaters, but now ‘s  market value is $32.9 billion. We have the liberty to watch cinema, series and documentaries at our own convenience.

Innovation means companies can revamp the existing concept through technological solutions. 

Related: This Franchise Launched in Response to the Pandemic. What Happens When The Pandemic Ends?

Adjusting to a reliance on digital tools

While many struggled to adjust to the “new contact-less world,” some are seizing opportunities to transform their

There is an obvious example of Zomato, and other food delivery apps, that now allow customers to enjoy dishes at their location. It has changed the industry. 

Restaurateurs are now revamping their existing and experienced partners like Elluminati Inc., helping them to achieve excellence through innovative solutions. 

Related: Why Aren’t Struggling Small Businesses Taking More PPP?

The advantages of being innovative

Steve Johnson writes within his 2019 bestseller Skip a Step: Imparting Wisdom for Young Entrepreneur Minds: “Radial innovation is accessible to those who know how to use it.”

Organizations that embrace innovative tools have greater resilience amid crisis and allows them to recover faster to chase growth.  

The two advantages are as follows…

Efficiency Advantage: Harness top software and applications to streamline business operations. The benefits include less inaccurate results and more focus on core objectives. 

Productivity Advantage: Employees are already working remotely, there are many types of software that help them to maximize workforce productivity and cultivate company culture.  

Innovation can bring the values to your business plus widen your customer base. It is an amelioration to the long-term growth of your organization. 

Related: The Booming Industries Hiring in a COVID-19 World

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The pharmaceutical company Pfizer, creator of one of the most effective vaccines against Covid-19, reached the list prepared by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), dominated by Big Tech.

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April 26, 2021 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Pfizer became the first pharmaceutical company to appear at the top of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) ranking of the most innovative companies . The creators of one of the Most effective vaccines against Covid-19 reached the exclusive top 10 on the list, led by Apple , Google and Amazon .

Since 2005, BCG has published the 50 Most Innovative Companies ranking, led by Big Tech for the seventh consecutive year. First up is Apple , founded by Steve Jobs ; in the second position is Alphabet , Google’s parent company, and in the third place is Amazon of Jeff Bezos .

They are followed in order by Microsoft , Tesla , Samsung , IBM , Huawei and Sony . In tenth place is the American Pfizer, the first in its field to appear within the top 10 positions of the table.

“More and more companies are driving innovation as one of their priorities, changing the way they set their goals and processes. The novelty is the irruption of the pharmaceutical companies ” , pointed Andrés Anavi , Managing Director and Partner of BCG for Argentina and Chile, quoted by El Financiero .

While Pfizer is the first drugmaker to make the top 10 in the ranking, it also includes Johnson & Johnson (number 20), Moderna (number 42) and AstraZeneca (number 49).

Image via The 50 Most Innovative Companies Over Time by BGG .

The Massachusetts-based consultancy noted that only 20% of companies implemented high-performance innovation systems to achieve their goals.

In this sense, companies that already have new platforms and practices incorporated are up to four times more likely to obtain income from new products, services and business models, compared to those that have not.

Another characteristic of the top 50 companies is that they promote greater ethnic and gender diversity in their leadership . Such is the case with Microsoft, Alibaba , Cisco Systems , Philips and Novartis , Anavi noted.

“We have been analyzing, for several years, the relationship between diversity and innovation,” explained the BCG executive.

“In the report, we asked the question of what comes first: diversity or innovation. To do this, we turn to data from past research and detect clear evidence that diversity drives innovation, and not the other way around, that innovation attracts diversity ” , he explained.

Anavi noted that the performance of the most innovative companies is also reflected in the profits they generated for shareholders .

“This profitability is maintained even if the tech giants are removed from the calculation: the main innovators outperformed the index by 13 percentage points ,” concludes Anavi with reference to the MSCI World Index , a US stock index of private equity funds, debt, stock markets and other tools that measure the financial evolution of markets worldwide.

Given that much momentum is still lacking in this field, the report indicates that more than 60% of companies plan to increase investment in innovation this year.

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What the pandemic has taught everyone is that pivoting business operations in crisis can be a challenge.

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April 22, 2021 3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What the pandemic has taught everyone is that pivoting in crisis can be a challenge. In the next episode of our Leadership Lessons series, host , co-founder/CEO of Comparably, speaks with a renowned leader in sales, operations, and to discuss the winning strategies for small and medium-sized businesses to drive product innovation and growth during this monumental time. With more than 25 years of experience, former executive Burton Goldfield has transformed TriNet (: TNET) into a leading cloud-based HR provider and professional employer organization for . Founded in 1988 in the San Francisco Bay Area, TriNet’s net has more than quadrupled during Goldfield’s tenure as CEO since 2008. From Main Street to Wall Street, the platform offers full-service HR solutions and access to human capital expertise, benefits, risk mitigation and compliance, payroll and real-time technology. In addition to Goldfield sharing his biggest leadership lessons, other topics include:

– Importance of employee engagement in a virtual work environment 
– Critical role of privacy and security in the new work world
– Why digital transformation must be a key part of your business plan
– Winning strategies for pivoting business operations in a crisis
– Innovation: A requirement for business growth and success 

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About the Speakers

Since 2008, Burton M. Goldfield has served as president, CEO and board member of TriNet (NYSE: TNET). With more than 25 years of experience in sales, operational, and technology leadership roles, he is known for driving product innovation and business growth. Burton has transformed the company into a leading cloud-based HR provider and professional employer organization. TriNet’s net revenue has more than quadrupled during his tenure. Prior to TriNet, Burton was CEO at Ketera Technologies, a Santa Clara-based SaaS provider to FORTUNE 2000 companies. Before that, Burton served as SVP, Worldwide Field Operations at Hyperion Solutions Corporation and VP of Worldwide Sales for IBM Corporation’s Rational Software division.

Jason Nazar brings 15 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, and advisor to his role as co-founder/CEO of Comparably, a leading workplace culture and compensation monitoring site. Previously, he was co-founder/CEO of Docstoc (acquired by Intuit in 2013), one of the most visited content sites in the world with the widest selection of professional documents and business resources. Jason was named one of the “Most Admired CEOs in L.A.” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and appointed “Entrepreneur in Residence for the City of Los Angeles” in 2016-2018 by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

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April 20, 2021 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Not all is created or distributed equally. Only 1% of VC-backed founders are Black, and fewer than 2% are Latinx, even though research repeatedly shows that companies with diverse leadership significantly outperform their all-white, all-male counterparts. 

In the world of venture capital, where data and profit drive decisions, it’s surprising that more VC firms aren’t allocating funds to minority founders when the data proves advantageous. Perhaps that’s because more investors ought to root their intentions in economic empowerment and inclusion. That’s a conversation that Ajay Relan and Austin Clements had been having for more than a decade before deciding to launch the inclusion-driven VC fund Slauson & Co. earlier this year.  

The firm, named after a prominent thoroughfare in South Los Angeles, has already received backing from , will.i.am, and PayPal, and will primarily invest in and guide founders from underrepresented backgrounds. Their ultimate aim is to build a new generation of technology and tech-enabled companies whose values are aligned with the customers they serve.

The pair are certainly no rookies in the space. Relan is an accomplished investor from his work at Queensbridge Venture Partners and Community Entrepreneur. Clements is a former Principal at TenOneTen Ventures and is founding Chairman for PledgeLA, a citywide initiative that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in tech.

Related: Project X Knows What It Takes to Produce the Biggest Names in Music

I recently sat down with the duo to learn more about how their lived experiences lead to their plans for democratizing access to , and how it can be a model going forward.

What drives the relative dearth of venture funding to people of color?

Clements: In our industry, it’s called “pattern matching.” The thinking goes, “If the last few successful founders went to certain schools, worked at certain companies and looked like this, then why wouldn’t I invest in more just like him?” But the rapidly evolving demographics of this country suggest that it might be time to start looking elsewhere. 

How is Slauson & Co. challenging these structures?

Celements: Ajay and I both grew up right off Slauson Avenue, where we saw that so much of the talent and ambition didn’t — and still doesn’t — have access to the resources, guidance and capital that would enable them to build the next biggest company

Relan: When you’re a sole small- owner, you’re wearing many different hats and having to juggle all your tasks with very few tools and technology to support your business. We’re coming at it from the perspective that small businesses employ a significant percentage of Americans. We want to help support and mitigate the daily struggle of operating their business.

What will be the average stage and deal size of the fund?

Clements: In order to move the needle, we needed to be in a position to lead rounds at the earliest stages. We are often the first institutional commitment to an emerging company. We invest from $250,000 all the way up to a few million dollars, while simultaneously helping to bring in complimentary investors in our network.

What are red flags you see when founders pitch to VCs?

Clements: The biggest red flag is when founders don’t have a big enough vision for the company. If you’re raising from VCs, a founder should be looking to create the leading company in their category. 

How important do you feel it is for founders to build their ?

Relan: It’s extremely important to demonstrate your thought leadership and personal values in everything you do. Communicating those values to your consumer is vital. The more you invest in your personal brand, the cheaper it is to attract like-minded customers or investors towards you. By sharing yourself authentically and imperfectly, it gives people the chance to get a sense of who you are. Your lived experience is your competitive advantage.

What lesson do you find yourself having to learn over and over?

Relan: You get what you pay for. [Laughs]

Clements: I’m really enjoying Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson. She is a supporter of capitalism, but makes a thoughtful case about how we need to be more intentional about our impact because it will ultimately enhance our prosperity.

Related: NFL Superstar Bobby Wagner on Creating a Vision Off the Field

What are your final thoughts on democratizing access to entrepreneurship?

Clements: We know that if we lower the barrier to entry for small-business owners to compete, it creates wealth disproportionately for people of color. We’re not lowering the industry standard, but simply building a court so those outside of can participate. By starting local, we plan to be impactful globally, stimulate the and open doors that are walked through for generations to come.

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People suffer from exhausting confinement with endless chores at home. Uncertainty and fragility are sensations that persist …

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April 20, 2021 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The first months of the year have not been easy. One year after the health emergency, wear is important. At best, people suffer from a grueling confinement with endless chores at home. Unfortunately, other people add anxiety and depression due to loss of loved ones and materials. Vaccines begin to arrive slowly, while uncertainty and fragility are sensations that persist.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, advertising was an interesting challenge: With more demanding consumers, who expect a real commitment from brands to social causes. New generations more digitized and participatory; and technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, which offer exciting tools for communicating messages.

In this scenario, once again, what can save us is creativity. Which does not consist of pure inspiration, it implies a lot of effort, an authentic self-criticism and a dose of courage, to put into practice new ways of thinking, attitudes and processes, it is a whole bet. To do this, you have to look for new models, you have to take risks to create something different.

Undoubtedly, in the present and future of jobs, creativity will be vital. Even in venues like the World Economic Forum in Davos, it has been claimed that creative professions will better resist the rise of robots and artificial intelligence.

At the same time, advertising and those of us who work on it, in addition to overcoming the challenges, we must be responsible with the messages we build. Use our creativity and support brands to motivate positive actions. Despite the existence of such diverse realities, we are together and we have to think about building tomorrow, with what we have.

To the above, we must add the empathy that the times demand: the consumer remains focused on what is essential, we must contribute to make their life more practical, give flexible options, and help promote moments of happiness, without neglecting their health.

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