Category Archives: Current in Entrepreneurship

2023 California Entrepreneurship Educators Conference, San Diego

From San Diego State University April 20-22nd 120 entrepreneurship educators from many countries  came together at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center on the campus of San Diego State University this week.  It was a special event in that Dr. Alex DeNoble, the chair of the department and founder of the CEEC, California Entrepreneurship Educators Conference, will retire this fall after forty years of entrepreneurship education leadership. Alex is a past President of both the USASBE, U. S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the ICSB, International Council for Small Business, major organizations.  Many of his senior colleagues were in attendance as a tribute to Alex and his many contributions, Drs. Michael Morris, Notre Dame University, Ted Zoller, North Carolina University, Ray Combs, Washington State University, Michael Grimshaw, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Wade Halvorson, Deakin University Australia, Jeff Hornsby, University of Missouri, Jill Kickul University of Southern California, Francisco Velez-Torres, CETYS University Mexico, Olusiji Lasekan, Universidad Catolica de Temuco, Chile, Hsing-Er Lin, Sun Yat-Den University,Taiwan, Julie Shields, CEO USASBE, Mike Still, Cal State San Bernardino, and David Taylor, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Following pre-conference visits to the Lavin and ZIP incubators on campus and a trip to Baja California for visits to agricultural entrepreneurs, well designed keynote addresses, social entrepreneurship, teaching cases, use of games and puzzles, motivating learners, use of IMPROV to improve classroom focus and participation, extension of community engagement, tactics in lean startup methodologies, female and youth entrepreneurship, high school and community college entrepreneurship, co-teaching lessons, San Diego urban poverty business initiative, and promotion of mindset for innovations and opportunity sessions provided diverse classes.  Selective content included IMPROV for breaking the ice, on the spot creative solutions, and fostering innovations. Your editor gave a talk on motivation in entrepreneurship education making the case the intrinsic, meaning  doing an activity for inherent satisfaction, leads to greater learning and student fulfillment.  It is human nature to desire autonomy and self-determination so that allowing students to determine their own path improves the quality of startup ventures.

The Lavin Center housed in the Engineering and Interdisciplinary building is two adjoining spaces, one the Lavin incubator with team work tables and classrooms while another side is the ZIP makers space with state-of-the-art printing, laser and creative equipment to produce prototypes from collaborative team designs.

New Trends in Entrepreneurship

 Entrepreneurs Increasingly Rely on No-Code Platforms

No-code (and its close cousin, low-code) refers to web and mobile development using a drag-and-drop interface.  Both approaches use much less technical knowledge than building via web programming languages and raw code.  Low-code enables anyone to build and create blogs, online marketplaces, and even fully fledged Software as a Service (SaaS) apps.  All without the need for a developer or designer.  As a result, entire industries are now accessible to “non-technical” entrepreneurs.  (Which is part of the reason Research and Markets estimates that the low-code industry could be worth $45.5 billion by 2025).  But even seasoned web developers often use no-code solutions (like Webflow) as a fast way to build apps quickly or to prototype business ideas.  As low-code entrepreneurial trend gains momentum, an entire ecosystem is springing up around it.

Email Marketing Makes a Comeback

Entrepreneurs are falling in love with email.  Why?  For starters you have full ownership over your mailing list subscribers.  Which is not true of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…or any other social media platform.  Also, social media organic reach has. declined dramatically in recent years.

Organic Reach on Social Networks Have Decline in Recent Years

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t the holy grail of long-term, sustainable traffic it once was either.  The Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) have become massively crowded by paid results and featured snippets.  Plus, email marketing has a track record of impressive ROIs.  The Data and Marketing Association reports that the ROI from email marketing can be as high as 42x the investment.  Most important emails get read which gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to teach, provide value and build trust.  They can then move into a soft sell when a subscribers ready.

ConvertKit is Email Marketing Software Aimed at Creators

Email marketing software like ConvertKit, designed to help creators keep in touch with their audiences, has exploded in recent years.  Another example of a fast-growing email marketing startup is Email Octopus. Like many growing email service provider startups, Email Octopus focuses more on simplicity vs. enterprise-level features (like marketing automation).

More Entrepreneurs Move Into loT

Fortune Business Insights estimates that the loT space will grow to a staggering $1.86 trillion by 2028.  In the early days of technology, loT projects were only taken on by big companies (like Amazon) that had the time and resources to build systems from the ground up.  Thanks to a new batch of loT startups, loT is now accessible to many small business owners.  For example, Blank is an loT development platform that allows anyone to easily create interfaces for controlling and monitoring your projects, like a smart houseplant watering system.

Blank runs thousand of internet-connected products, from home projects to massive enterprise venture products.  Pre-designed widgets get you up and running quickly with native iOS and Android apps.  These apps can then control electronics, monitor sensor data, get notifications, and so on, so that you can control hardware from anywhere.  From smart lamps to soil moisture monitors, the device possibilities are endless.  There are plenty of YouTube tutorials and Udemy courses out there for hungry makes and thinkers.

Micro-Influencers Grow in Importance

In the last decade Micro-Influencers searches have increased 1,800%.  They are the folks on Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok with a small, loyal following.  The exact metrics that define “micro-influencer” or “Nano influencer” vary.  But, they are usually people that have somewhere in the range of 1k-20k followers on a single platform.  This type of entrepreneurship is one the rise because the practice is now mainstream.  Paying influencers to promote or mention products has become a big part of most marketing department’d budgets including plenty of big brands.  This trend has gotten so expensive over the last year or so some estimates state that companies are now spending upwards of $10 billion per year on the influencer marketing campaigns.

Content Becomes Omnichannel

Statista estimates that people spend over 7 hours per day interacting with media and content.  The number of different ways in which people consume contents is still growing.  Content-focused apps like TikTok have taken off, where creators upload short 3-60 second videos (similar to Vine).  Even formats that have been around forever like podcasts are suddenly surging.  The best online entrepreneurs are adapting quickly to these alternative content formats.

Recording podcast episode videos is now a common practice.  Episodes can then be uploaded to YouTube along with mainstream podcasting platforms like Apple and Spotify.  These same podcasters then transcribe the show into text, to instantly produce a long-form blog article too.  Some even use clips from the podcast as “micro content” on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Tools even automate this process.

Capital Flows Into Climate Tech Startups

According to a report by PwC, VC investment into climate tech startups is growing 5x faster than other investment categories.  Venture capital investments in the space went from $418 million in 2013 to $16.3 billion in 2019.  According to the report, that’s only scratching the surface of a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity.  Several large climate change investment funds have been introduced recently with the backing of major corporations. Amazon’s Climate Pledge is devoted to make Amazon net zero carbon by 2040.  One to the startups they backed, CarbonCure Technologies, has created a concrete-production process that sequesters carbon dioxide.

For its part, in January 2021 Microsoft pledged $1 billion over the next four years via its Climate Innovation Fund.  The company says will be carbon negative (including its supply chain) by 2030. Goggle plans to run 100% on carbon-free energy by 2020, and has launched multiple smaller funds to invest in climate tech startups.  At the same time Unilever has announced a $1 billion pound Climate & Nature Fund and aims to be net zero emissions by 2039.  Interesting climate tech startups include Climeworks, which uses powerful fans with special filtration system to remove carbon dioxide from the air.  The CO2 is then either recycled or sequestered to combat climate change.  Climeworks raised $110 million in 2020.

Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund announcement

Entrepreneurship in 2023 requires intense specialization to maintain competitive edge.  Both entrepreneurs and businesses are doubling down on what they’re best at to give themselves an advantage over the competition.  For example, more founders are starting to get help from virtual assistants to perform administrative and other tasks.  For example, direct-to-consumer e-commerce stores can now outsource product fulfillment entirely enabling e-commerce sites to focus on that what they’re good at -product development and marketing.

Some of these trends, like email making a comeback, may surprise a lot of people.  But, other trends listed her, like no-code and loT, are things that many businesses owners in the tech space are familiar with.  And with the pandemic behind us, we can look forward to more interesting in the business world in the coming years.

Closing the Digital Divide

The United States is taking bold steps to reinvigorate its economy through game-changing investments in high-tech research and manufacturing. This initiative will impact entrepreneurship in profound ways, creating opportunities for many people.

For more than 50 years, U. S. businesses outsourced manufacturing overseas rather than investing at home.  For example, engineers invented the semiconductor in the United States, but the nation produces about 10% of the world’s supply today.  The supply chain crisis caused by the COVID pandemic awakened our national consciousness to the importance of bringing  manufacturing home when ubiquitous foreign-made goods -such as cars, washing machines, and cell phones- were no longer available.  Simultaneously, the COVID lockdown exposed huge pockets of the U. S. that do not have access to modern tools nor technology to educate our young.  Urban, rural, rustbelt, and tribal communities united in their outcry over the educational plight of our children.

The United States is taking bold steps to reinvigorate the economy and it must build a new-era workforce to fuel it.  Funding national broadband through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2022 promises to close the. digital divide, which will transform the country much like the National Highway Act did in the Mid-’50s.  Simultaneously, the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act will revitalize domestic manufacturing that will put a “Made in America” sticker back on American products.  To achieve this heavy lift, it is imperative to execute the national education strategy set fort in the CHIPS Act, which states digital literacy for all is a primary goal.  Billions of dollars in CHIPS Act funding are available to educate and deploy a diverse, STEM-drive, digitally literate workforce to fill “the highly skilled jobs of the emerging industries built technologies of the future.”

To facilitate this goal, the CHIPS Act designates STEM Learning Ecosystems as Federal Entities because of their well-established state and regional platforms upon which CHIPS (National Science Foundation) grants can provide digital literacy resources and training to underrepresented youth in urban, rural, and tribal communities throughout the United States.  Because the CHIPS Act encourages businesses to lean in by providing STEM spaces and equipment, offering scholarships, promoting employee volunteerism, funding competitions, and creating internships and apprenticeships, Broadcom foundation is doing its part by focusing on grades 5 through 8 because learning code in middle school will help encourage girls, underrepresented and under-resourced student to stay engaged in STEM through high school and reverse the trend of declining interest in pursing mathematics, science, and engineering.

The CHIPS Act gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild and restore greatness as an economic superpower with an unparalleled national workforce, but all hands must be on deck.  (Editor:  It also provides new opportunities to fill needs and solve problems that arise in the implementation of the Act.)

Courtesy Paula Golden, Broadcom Foundation President                              FutureofBusinessEducationandTech.com March 2023

Florida Small Business Credit Initiative

https://youtu.be/R08SW8xVbY0

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s State Small Business Credit Initiative Informational

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce, and community development efforts, expediting economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities and promote economic resiliency. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.FloridaJobs.org.

The American Rescue Plan Act reauthorized and expanded the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to provide $10 billion to support small businesses and empower them to access the capital needed to invest in job-creating opportunities as the country emerges from the pandemic. SSBCI provides funds to states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments to promote American entrepreneurship, support small business ownership, and democratize access to capital across the country, including in underserved communities.

Fact Sheet

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/256/State-Small-Business-Credit-Initiative-SSBCI-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Courtesy FL DEO

What Silicon Valley Bank Collapse Teaches Entrepreneurs

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has sent shockwaves through the technology industry, rattling veteran finance capitalists and entrepreneurs in an episode that could impact the financing of startups for years to come.

Headshot of Michael Goldstein
Michael Goldstein, the Donald P. Babson Professor of Applied Investments in Babson’s Master of Science in Finance program

But, the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history also offers lessons for entrepreneurs seeking to start their own ventures, according to Babson College faculty experts.

“Bank closures are not good for anyone, but particularly for small businesses that rely on their deposits for payroll and to meet basic expenses,” Finance Professor Michael Goldstein said. “Startups are generally cash constrained, and so disruptions to their cash flows like a bank closure hits startups particularly hard. For startups, short-term disruptions from bank closures, even if it is only for a few days, can put them out of business.”

Goldstein, also the Donald P. Babson Professor of Applied Investments in Babson’s Master of Science in Finance program, suggests that entrepreneurs keep their money in several banks to ensure they don’t find themselves in the same situation. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures bank accounts up to $250,000, but anything over that amount is at risk if the bank closes.

SVB lenders, however, asked many startups to sign exclusivity clauses, something that left those businesses in a vulnerable position.

Safety in Sweep Accounts

Jerome Taillard, professor of finance at Babson, said there are other beneficial options for entrepreneurs when it comes to banking.

Headshot of Jerome Taillard
Jerome Taillard, professor of finance at Babson College

“There are ‘sweep’ accounts for those lucky enough to have more than $250K in cash,” Taillard said. “These accounts can spread the funds across multiple accounts up to the limit of $250K and invest the excess above the threshold in money market funds that typically invest in ultra-safe, very short-term U.S. government debt instruments. So there are ways to be very well protected, even above the threshold.”

SVB became a tech mainstay during its 40 years of service, offering loans and credit lines to nearly half of all venture-backed tech startups. But, SVB also took on many companies deemed too risky for traditional lenders.

“Tech companies tend to raise a lot of money, roughly 18 to 24 months’ worth of cash, and then deposit it in banks and draw it down over time until they can replenish it again,” Goldstein said. “Unfortunately, the last year or so has been very tough on tech, with stock prices going down and many layoffs. Tech companies all had to draw down deposits instead of accessing the stock market for more cash.”

‘Earn What You Deserve’

Other tips for new startups include employing a solid chief financial officer, and to run operations using revenues from customers as much as possible, instead of spending down venture capital cash.

The U.S. government’s promise to make SVB customers whole has worked to stave off a larger banking panic, said Goldstein.

“This is kind of a temporary blip in terms of the banking sector,” Goldstein said.“The last year or so has been very tough on tech, with stock prices going down and many layoffs. Tech companies all had to draw down deposits instead of accessing the stock market for more cash.” Michael Goldstein, Babson Professor of Finance

Still, entrepreneurs can never be too careful when it comes to choosing a bank.“Look for banks that actually pay closer to current interest rates on the deposits,” Taillard said. “Make sure you earn what you deserve. The added bonus is that the banks that pay higher rates on their deposit are less prone to fleeing customers.”

Courtesy of Babson College Briefs, Babson is a Private Business College located in Babson Park, MA and founded by Roger Babson in 1919 rated number one for entrepreneurship in the U. S. by U.S. News & World Report. 

3 Ways Ambitious Entrepreneurs Are Using A. I.

If you’re not incorporating artificial intelligence into your work in some way, you’re behind the curve. Even the most suspicious and non-technical entrepreneurs could save time and money making use of the tools available, let alone those thinking bigger with AI and creating their own.

I asked entrepreneurs across all industries about how they were using AI tools in their business and their responses fit into three categories  –  Content Assistance, Content Creation and Research and Analytics.

Steve Vickers from Routes North is using AI to help streamline the process of commissioning new articles, using ChatGPT to “create highly detailed content briefs for the team of writers creating our Scandinavia travel guide. The tool has helped me by suggesting dozens of ideas that we haven’t covered before.” Vickers recommends that entrepreneurs, “feed ChatGPT with a few of your existing articles, so it gets a feel for your tone of voice and writing style. Then go ahead and ask it to create a new brief. You can even ask it to format an article outline it in a simple, user-friendly way so that your writers are totally clear about what to submit.” Use existing content to create a brief for future content to save time instructing freelancers.

In a similar fashion, Alex Goldberg from product comparison site Fin vs Fin is using Chat GPT to surface new writing opportunities for SEO, including to “identify new topic clusters, products to review, and generally streamline content creation,” he said. “It has helped me move from keyword idea to published article much faster, including saving time generating new ideas for articles and helping with content brief creation so that my editorial team can expand on each topic.” Goldberg recommends you, “start asking ChatGPT to generate all the boilerplate information, then let humans repackage their words content that’s truly helpful to the reader, being careful to add original thought too!”

Laura Rowe from Align Lifestyle is using AI to improve her time management so she can better meet the needs of her clients. “I’m using ChatGPT to assist me in developing bespoke growth and personal development plans to support my clients with their mindset and mental wellness, so they can improve their mental and physical health as soon as possible after consultation,” she said. “This has helped me create more balance in my working day, take on more clients and increase revenue.” Rowe recommends that entrepreneurs, “ask ChatGPT to pretend to be an expert in a chosen field, when giving commands,” adding that, “when you ask it to take on a specific role the results are so much more in depth and usable.”

The next entrepreneurs are testing the limits of what they can outsource to our robot counterparts. Once the writing is done, they use a multitude of tools to do more with the same material. This can then be populated in multiple areas using far less time and energy.

Aysegul Sanford from Foolproof Living is using Notion AI and Jasper to generate short blurbs for engaging social media posts for multiple platforms. “These tools help me write several catchy social media posts within minutes, which then I can easily schedule on different platforms in the upcoming months,” she said. “I can now create and schedule content in a fraction of the time, and as a result, I eliminated the need to hire another person.” Sanford recommends that entrepreneurs, “play around with multiple AI tools and be patient as you create your own workflow.”

Speaker and coach Willo Sana is also turning content into social media posts with the help of AI, using ChatGPT to extract key insights from her upcoming book, Double Down on Your Genius. “It’s pulling out the best quotes from each chapter and writing a caption to accompany each one,” she said. “This has helped me create hundreds of ready-to-publish social posts in mere minutes!” Echoing Sanford’s advice, Sana recommends that you start playing, “even just to learn different prompts and see what they can do. I’ve been working on teaching it my writing style, and while it doesn’t always hit the mark, it’s gotten way better than when I started.”

Kalyan Ray-Mazumder from Prepmedians is going beyond the words, using Midjourney to enhance social media marketing posts by “creating beautiful and resonant images” that he displays “as green screen backgrounds using a TikTok filter inside the app’s editing software,” he said, “This process has helped me increase audience watch times, thereby fueling the algorithms to increase impressions of the post, all without having to hire artists or use dreadful stock photography.” Ray-Mazumder invites entrepreneurs to experiment with Midjourney to create images that are cohesive with their brand assets and elevate their social media presence.

Research and analytics

Artificial intelligence tools have far wider application than simply planning and creating content. Used in the right way, they can save time researching and analyzing, creating more space to do something with the data. Long gone are trawling through articles, manual data entry and complicated excel formulae. Instead, these entrepreneurs are having crucial information delivered to them in a few clicks.

Harry Morton from Lower Street, for example, is using AI to stay updated with industry news in under five minutes per day. “I have configured Zapier and Open AI to find the top news sources in our market and summarize articles into simple bullet lists, sent as an automated daily digest,” he said. “Instead of scrolling through newsletters and newsfeeds every morning, I have a single email that I can read in minutes. Then I can dig deeper into the stories that matter to my business.” Morton recommends that entrepreneurs, “Consider all the sources of information you regularly parse and leverage no-code AI tools to make you a more efficient and productive entrepreneur.”

Will Green from Poem Analysis is also becoming a more efficient and productive entrepreneur, using various AI tools for market research. “Between Hotjar and MonkeyLearn I can visualize customer feedback in huge detail,” he said. “The tools work on our site to gather feedback from real users, understand the semantics behind the qualitative data, and produce reports on the results.” Green’s business now better understands, “what our target audience wants and expects from our business, informing the direction of future products and services.” Green recommends that entrepreneurs, “review all parts of their business, especially the bottlenecks, to see if AI tools can improve productivity and efficiency or help to progress them faster.”

General administrative tasks, including research, analysis, basic content creation and scheduling need no longer be done by a human. Learn how to use the tools at your disposal to remove the low-level tasks monopolizing your diary and do the work that only you can do. Connecting, strategizing, and being a visionary founder are what you’re here for; now there’s no excuse for that not to happen for most of each day.

Courtesy Forbes & Getty written by Jodie Cook, founder of Coach.ai

Gig Economy Self-Employment Report

From Gallup and Quickbooks here is the 2019 Gig Economy and Self-Employment Report revealing some interesting data derived from THE IRS and the Census Bureau.  Florida, Georgia and Vermont have the highest percentage of self-employed, and entrepreneurs in general fall  into five primary trades -professional services, repair and personal services, construction, administrative services, and retail trade.  Of those self-employed 54% also do work as traditional employees.

                                                       

Workers are responding to increased opportunities and incentives to become self-employed. Traditional survey data has greatly understated both the level and increase in the self-employed population by focusing only on primary work, when in fact there has been a significant increase driven by people supplementing their incomes through gig work. This upsurge presents a social challenge, in that it exposes workers to higher job insecurity and limited access to health insurance and other benefits.


                                        

At the same time, many workers seem to like the autonomy and independence of these arrangements. They benefit from the income it affords them and are engaged in the work. In fact, self-employed workers with only one job — as opposed to those juggling multiple jobs — rate their work situation higher than workers in one traditional full-time job as an employee.  In describing and thinking about these challenges, public policy leaders, journalists and scholars will have to adapt to the more complex work relationships that are unfolding, as additional workers participate in the self-employment economy.

The PDF Report:

https://quickbooks.intuit.com/content/dam/intuit/quickbooks/Gig-Economy-Self-Employment-Report-2019.pdf

The Ginni Rometty Story: From Childhood Challenges to IBM CEO.

 

Ginni Rometty is the first woman to ever head IBM as its Chairman, President, and CEO. During her time at IBM, she led the company through a significant reinvention and established leadership in quantum computing.

Not only is Ginni an accomplished business leader, but she is also dedicated to promoting positive change in our lives, work, and world. She is the Co-Chair of OneTen, an organization working to upskill, hire, and promote one million Black Americans into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.

Ginni was recognized as Fortune’s #1 Most Powerful Woman three years in a row and named one of the 50 Most Influential People in the World by Bloomberg.  She has a new book called Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World, which chronicles her journey from a challenging childhood to becoming the CEO of IBM.

Take advantage of this opportunity to hear from one of the most remarkable people in the business world as interviewed by Guy Kawasaki on his podcast Remarkable People. Guy is a well known speaker in entrepreneurship who is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was responsible at Apple for marketing the Macintosh computer.

https://remarkable-people.simplecast.com/episodes/ginni-rometty-reflections-on-a-career-by-the-first-female-ceo-of-ibm

Fearless Leader for Women’s History Month

Getting rejected by more than 100 investors can be disheartening, to say the least. But Melanie Perkins didn’t let it stop her from landing seed capital for her design startup. Instead of giving up, she kept learning, refining her strategy, and updating her pitch deck until she got a yes, as she discussed in an interview with Forbes.

https://www.startupdaily.net/advice/how-melanie-perkins-turned-canva-into-one-of-the-worlds-most-successful-tech-companies/?mc_cid=9c881c7e05&mc_eid=acf5d671ab

That persistence paid off when Perkins finally connected with the investor who would help her realize her dream of launching Canva, an online design and publishing tool that aims to make design simple for everyone. By October 2022, Canva was worth $26 billion, becoming the world’s most valuable startup founded and led by a woman. It was just named the #1 Most Innovative Enterprise company by Fast Company and ranked #4 on the CNBC Disruptor 50in 2022.

Perkins has come a long way since starting Canva in her mother’s living room. Now 35 years old and worth $3.6 billion, she and her husband have pledged to donate almost all their wealth. Her drive and determination to take big, bold bets have shaped her business.

“…One of the values that we have explicitly stated at Canva is to set crazy big goals and make them happen. And I happen to be very inspired by crazy big goals,” Perkins said in a 2022 interview. We can’t wait to see the impact she creates by striving toward whatever “crazy big goals” come next.

https://theglobalhues.com/melanie-perkins-the-woman-behind-canva/

Courtesy of Case Foundation, Forbes and Startup Daily

5 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Optimize Content Intake

Our lives are saturated with content. We are constantly bombarded with information from social media platforms, social groups, news sources, the newest trends and influencers. There are far too many things trying to fight for our attention.

Where should busy entrepreneurs look when seeking out new sources of information? What sources should you prioritize—general news, industry-specific news, podcasts, social media influencers, video content creators or bloggers? And what about content that is not business-related? How should you optimize your intake of content related to your hobbies, recreational interest groups and entertainment events? And what about staying connected to your network, to old friends and acquaintances?

Here are my top five tips for balancing and optimizing content intake:

1. Prioritize between need and want.

In today’s fast-paced world, the temptation to spend time reading content that doesn’t directly help us achieve our goals is always there. There are many reasons why this happens. One is that we’re curious about what’s happening in the world and want to stay informed. Second, we enjoy learning new things and expanding our horizons.

Even though it’s natural to want to read about current events and scientific breakthroughs, keep in mind that a successful businessperson also needs to know a lot about their field. News articles, books, journals, blogs and other content related to your industry could help you discover new concepts. Industry-related content can also shed some light on other entrepreneurs’ experiences and enable you to learn from their mistakes.

Thus, I recommend scheduling two separate time slots—one for reading the content you need to know as a business owner and one for reading content pertaining to your other hobbies. When you schedule time for reading daily, treat it like an appointment with yourself, whether it’s five minutes or an hour. Because reading requires your full attention, you’ll also need to keep yourself free from distractions and avoid multitasking.

I recommend reading industry-related news at the same time every day. For instance, reading during or right after breakfast will reinforce the habit. Any industry-related updates could be helpful as you socialize with other people in the field or make business decisions later in the day.

Reading about your interests and hobbies should be done when you’re free from work constraints. The best time would be at the end of the day, as you’re winding down.

2. Identify your preferred style.

We can’t take in everything, so before deciding which news outlets to follow, think about the content style that appeals to you most. People have different preferences for getting their news and information; some like reading online or in print newspapers, while others would rather listen to the radio or podcasts or watch videos online. There is no one right or wrong answer here. Instead, you should learn in a way that works best for you. Once you know your preferred style, you can start picking your news sources.

One strategy is to seek fact-based publications. Look for proven authoritative writers in their fields and those who don’t express any bias. Additionally, you should only consume new content that is credible, relevant to your field and up-to-date.

3. Curate a mix of formats.

While you may prefer to read for an hour, the brain and eyes can get exhausted, minimizing your information absorption. Other avenues, like listening to the radio, a podcast or a YouTube video, can complement the knowledge gained from reading while giving your eyes a break. Try listening to a podcast on your commute or watching a short video during your lunch break or while you work out.

4. Focus on one topic of interest.

To get the most out of your reading time, zero in on something that piques your curiosity, then learn as much as you can about it. Make a concerted effort rather than a series of unrelated ones. In your allotted time, add in reading books, getting expert opinions and listening to a conversation related to that topic.

5. Socialize sans screens.

People are often the source of both new information and new opportunities. However, the only way to reach them is to engage with others. Even though many people dislike those who socialize for their own gains, consider merging activities you like with socializing.

For example, if you enjoy dancing in clubs, you can use dancing to meet new people. If you’re into arts and crafts, meet new people at art shows and fairs. While playing golf or going sailing isn’t likely to introduce you to any cryptocurrency experts per se, you may still meet some fascinating people who can teach you something new.

If you’re feeling apprehensive about meeting new people, try connecting with friends first. Even attending a couple of your friends’ events can help set you up with a potentially fruitful connection or put you in touch with others who could be of assistance.

Managing the information you want to keep tabs on can be a full-time job. As important as it is for a businessperson to keep abreast of developments in their industry, staying on top of current events and expanding one’s expertise in areas of personal interest are also priorities. These five expert tips can help you balance out and optimize how you consume content.

by Shamil Samilov of dNOVO Group