Vivek Ranadive On How He’ll Invest UC’s $250 Million

Entrepreneur and Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive sat down with TechCrunch to discuss how he’ll be allocating the University of California’s $250 million investment. The venture fund will be used to invest in innovative “value-driven” startups, many stemming from the UC ecosystem. The University of California and its ten campuses have been granted more patents than… Read More


The Hidden Economy That Makes Holiday Shopping Possible

As early as October, you start seeing the signs pop up in the windows of retail businesses: Now Hiring Seasonal Staff. With the perfect storm of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year’s all happening within a month of each other, it’s become more vital than ever for retailers to hire extra help to handle the holiday rush. But it’s not just the people working behind the cash registers — freelancers, managed service providers, and freelance management systems ensure that multiple industries are prepared for the holiday shopping boom. When the regular full-time staff steps down to take a break around the holidays, contingent workers are the ones who step up to fill the gap and keep things running smoothly.

With the big shopping season fast approaching, let’s examine the ways that freelance and contingent workers help make it possible for you to still get great service, even when there’s already a lineup of last-minute shoppers.

What Industries Need to Do to Prepare

It’s an understatement to say that the holidays are a massive moneymaker in the United States and around the world. With so much tradition built around the buying and exchanging of presents, it’s no wonder that shopping malls typically fill up with frenzied customers from November to December. And it’s not just physical stores that need the extra help — it’s online stores and their shipping warehouses as well. In a 2013 article from Google that studies the previous year’s holiday shopping trends, the authors point out that e-commerce is only growing in popularity:

“E-Commerce was the clear star, even on big in-store shopping days like Black Friday. Online sales on Black Friday increased 26% last year while in-store Black Friday sales actually declined 2%. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. Nearly half of consumers say they plan to buy holiday gifts online this year, according to a Google Consumer Survey of 1,500 consumers conducted in early July. In fact, with the exception of boomers and seniors (55+), every demographic we asked plans to shop more on the internet than in brick-and-mortar retail stores.”

With every retailer fighting to get the biggest piece of the pie, it can be an incredibly hectic season for both consumers and the people supplying them with their purchases and their service – so it’s no wonder that more people are turning to the Internet to shop rather than brave overcrowded malls.

It’s also a big time of year for industries like ad companies, public relations firms, and marketing agencies. Although it can be a toss-up whether the holiday months are chaotic and busy or calm and quiet, it’s always best for an agency to be prepared for whatever might come their way. Since so many full-time staff are looking to also take time off (to say nothing for the amount of sickness that goes around in the wintertime), and there are also days of religious observance like Hanukkah to consider, it’s imperative that agencies have enough staffing power to cover any vital absences. […]

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How to Make Closing Your Business’ Books for the Year Much Easier

It’s no surprise that accounting can be an odious task, and year-end closing is the worst of all. Fortunately, there are some things you can do as a small business owner to make the task a little easier.

Pay Everything

Having outstanding accounts payable and accounts receivable make accounting all the more difficult. Under accrual accounting, these outstanding accounts will be adjusted at the end. It is must easier if you can clear them outright and not need to do the manipulations at the end of the period.

Write off Bad Debt

When you offer credit or purchase order invoicing, there is a risk that some will not pay. Once you determine there is no reasonable expectation of getting paid, then you should write this off as a bad debt. Bad debt criteria are up to your judgment. For tax purposes, report bad debt as capital loss to the IRS.

Count Inventory

If your business has inventory, you need a reconciliation of everything that is still on the shelf. If you have to manufacture the product, an inventory of all of your supplies helps you have accurate accounts. This inventory should be given a dollar value and used as net capital.

Count Petty Cash

Owner’s accounts and petty cash are often forgotten until they become a pain during the closing process. In a perfect world, there would be a receipt for every cup of coffee, ink cartridge and birthday card bought out of petty cash. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. It is probably easiest to make an adjustment in the books for petty cash. Just make certain that you reconcile this with your bank accounts or else the values will not match up.

Reconcile Accounts

On the topic of bank accounts, they should be reconciled monthly. If you are behind on this process, you need to catch up. This can be the most daunting of tasks if you have fallen into the habit of reconciling once a year. Handle this task like eating an elephant: one bite at a time. It is best to do this during banking business hours and with access to your online accounts. This way, if questionable checks are identified, you can get to the bottom of the problem without wasting a day waiting for customer service to open.

Look for the Forgotten

With the books cleaned up of open invoices and messy bank accounts, your books should be shaping up. Using logic and knowledge of your business, go through your accounts with a magnifying glass and try to identify any irregularities. With a powerfulonline accounting software, like Sage One, you can do this anywhere with Internet access. This software also makes it easy to do side-by-side assessments. Compare similar line items from last year and see if they make sense. Doubling in supplies cost would be a red flag unless there was a huge increase in price or there was a doubling of product. Find any anomalies, see if they can be justified and, if not, find the source of the error.

Don’t Forget the Financials

One of the […]

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Pros and Cons of Cubicles

Estimates show that around 40 million employed North Americans spend their days working in a cubicle. However, as Marketplace points out, more and more companies are tearing dow
n those cubicle walls in favor of an open office space and in some cases, even private offices. Is it time for your business to do the same? Start by weighing the pros and cons of cubicles to see if you should rethink your office design or if you should stick with the good old cubicle layout.

Privacy Pros

One of the more obvious benefits of cubicles (when compared to open office spaces) is that cubicles offer a level of privacy that helps reduce distractions from other workers in the area, even if those distractions are as simple as people walking around. The cubicle creates a barrier to distractions in a way that open office spaces can’t.

Privacy Cons

However, when compared to a private office, the cubicle layout does little to drown out noise. Private offices offer a much higher level of privacy but are not as widely available. But cubicles do offer some privacy, and depending on the nature of employees, even that can be too much. For instance, cubicles can allow workers to surf the web and take personal calls unnoticed, to the point where it could affect their quality of work.

Privacy Solution

If private offices are not available, then cubicles are your best bet for an appropriate level of privacy.

Collaboration Pros

Cubicles were designed to break down the walls that keep private offices so private. The idea was that the less privacy you have, the more you’ll be willing to approach coworkers and collaborate with them. This can also work as a motivation tool when you can see what other people are doing and how they are performing.

Collaboration Cons

However, when compared with open office spaces, cubicles don’t fare as well on the collaboration scale. Without those dividers up, people tend to talk and collaborate even more. The problem is that open office spaces then get noisy and distracting, so while you may be promoting productivity on a collaboration level, you may be impeding it on a personal level.

Collaboration Solution

When designing your office, you have to consider how you want people to work together. If projects are based primarily on team collaboration, an open office concept may be your best bet. If each person works individually but you want to develop a team-oriented environment, then cubicles might be a better choice.

Productivity Pros

Natural lighting is an important factor when it comes to productivity, and cubicles fare far better than private offices in this regard. Studies show that natural lighting can boost mood and therefore boost productivity. Unless all of your private offices are around the perimeter of the building, you’ll end up with workers receiving no natural lighting during work. With cubicles, you allow some of that natural light to spill across workspaces, giving your employees the natural productivity boost they need.

Productivity Cons

Productivity is a tough concept to measure, as workers in a variety of settings might […]

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Google X Alum Flux Factory Raises $29M Series B

Unknown One of Google X’s former moonshots is raising cash as it looks to disrupt the architecture design space with its specialized collaborative data exchange service. Flux Factory, Inc. announced $29 million in Series B funding co-led by Temasek and Surbana Jurong Private Limited.  Far East Ventures, DFJ, South Park Ventures, Borealis Ventures, and Obvious Ventures also participated in… Read More


Intelligence Should Recruit Like Google

us-intelligence-google An interesting story made the rounds back in August. While conducting a search for “python lambda function list comprehension,” programmer Max Rosett was suddenly invited to attempt a cryptic coding challenge. After completing it, he was contacted by Google — where he now works. The challenge was part of Google’s novel recruiting strategy, which allowed the company… Read More


Lost In Translation: IoT Adoption In Southeast Asia In 2015

southeast asia map We spent a large part of the year in the cities of Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur speaking to local enterprises about this (too) broad and (too) overused term: the Internet of Things (IoT). We discovered very quickly that, although IoT seems to be very much overly/wrongly used in the English-speaking world, there really isn’t a direct local translation in these four locales. As… Read More