Al Gore and the Global Economy

Since narrowly losing the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore has gone on to have a substantial impact on other world affairs. Gore has actually impacted the world economy in a number of important ways. Anyone interested in climate change may want to understand more about how these changes have taken shape over time as well. In many ways, Gore has continued to impact both business and political affairs after leaving the public world. As early as 2004, Gore launched the Generation Investment Management organization. He actually serves as chair for this organization, leading it through a number of important initiatives along the way.

In perhaps his most important move to date, Gore started the Alliance for Climate Protection. This group has had a substantial impact on the environmental movement, which has produced some important changes. Notably, this group has been active in a wide array of different awareness campaigns. Gore himself has spent a long time lecturing on a few different types of issues related to climate change over the years. This has allowed him to cultivate an image as a leader within the field. It has also provided the political impetus for a substantial amount of changes from a legislative perspective.

Gore has undoubtedly had an impact within the scientific community, which has reverberated throughout the economic world. He has made a number of high profile talks at universities and major conferences located throughout the world. For much of his work on the climate change issue, Gore was actually provided with the Nobel Peace Prize during the course of 2007. He was also notable in helping to develop the film “An Inconvenient Truth”. This was an expose on the way that various industries have contributed to global climate change over the past few decades. This has actually had a substantial impact on the way that many people tend to approach these issues over time.

Much of Gore’s public life has influenced the consumption patterns of many people throughout the world. This has got people interested in how they can change their life in similar ways. For instance, Gore opted to go vegan during the course of 2013. This was a popular move for those in PETA, who are active within the animal rights field. Given the impact Gore has had in politics, much of this has translated to the business world. The former vice president will remain committed to different types of causes, which will continue to impact the business world.

Pros and Cons of Investing in Small Business

Investors have many choices when considering where to invest their money. Most investors seek safety and security of their funds while avoiding unnecessary risk. Accordingly, investors may prefer to invest in small businesses rather than large corporations. There are many pros and cons to investing in small businesses. Small businesses have operating characteristics that may make them a good choice among some investors.

The Upside of Investing in Small Businesses
Small businesses often have lower overhead and lower annual operating costs than their larger counterparts. Smaller businesses, for example, have lower payroll commitments to meet on an annual basis. Smaller businesses also tend to have lower rent and equipment costs.

Smaller businesses are also able to adapt more quickly when market conditions change suddenly. Volatility in consumer demand is easier for a small company to respond to because it is easier to re-train a smaller staff. Similarly, smaller businesses can be more creative than larger businesses. When fewer key personnel are making business decisions they can more quickly comprehend, discuss, and adapt to new concepts. Small businesses are also more adaptive to unexpected supply problems because they can be more creative in finding alternative sources.

The Downside of Investing in Small Businesses
Investing in small business can also carry risk that is unique to small business. One such risk is that the president or director of the company may leave the company and take the idea or concept on which the business is based. Even if the idea of the company is protected through a non-compete agreement, a small company may be dependent on the key skills and talent of one or two individuals. Because a small company is dependent on fewer key personnel the loss of one employee may have a significant impact on the business.

Another risk in investing in small business is that smaller businesses tend to have less working capital than their larger competitors. Increased costs for materials or supplies may be more easily absorbed by a larger company with greater assets than a smaller company. Because small companies often operate on a tighter margin the smaller company is less able to absorb unexpected costs. Similarly, small businesses may be overly dependent on their consumer base, especially if it is limited to one or two customers. If they lose one or two key customers they could lose a substantial portion of their expected revenue compared to a larger company with a more diverse client base.

Business in Politics: The Hand in the Glove

Business and government officials have been intertwined, working together to shape the laws of the business world since the dawn of government itself. Anyone who ventures into the world of business must be armed with at least a basic awareness of how local and national politics will impact the product or service to be sold, and the profit that is made from it. The rules that govern a business must coincide with and abide by the local, state, and federal laws applicable to that company.

As a business professional, being knowledgeable in areas such as the tax code, laws for environmental protection, and relevant quality control laws is crucial in making the good decisions necessary to further the company along. All of these laws and codes are created and amended by politicians elected to represent the people in their districts.

For as long as politicians have been writing and debating policies, business men and women have been integral parts of the law making process. The success or failure of a company can depend on which laws are passed, and which ones are defeated. For this reason, companies spend a lot of time and money to bring their particular interests and needs to the forefront when these laws are being considered. Whether it is through lobbying, donations, or direct contact with their representatives, many business owners are very active in the political process.

Every year, dozens of men and women from the world of business testify in congressional hearings. They illustrate and debate the positive and negative consequences that any given law may have on their type of business. This is not to say that anyone who owns a business must be a political activist, but many of them have increased their chances of being successful by helping to shape the rules that they would be forced to follow.

The fact that so many business owners, at some point, become lawmakers further illuminates the close relationship between business and politics. Many of the same skills required to be a successful business person translate nicely to a career in public office. The long-standing interaction between the business world and the political realm is and always will be a driving factor behind the success of a country and the businesses in it.

Entrepreneurs to Watch: Shivani Siroya

Entrepreneur Shivani Siroya, CEO and Founder of InVenture, began developing her company in 2010 with the hope of creating a more accessible and fair global financial system that provides low-income individuals and small businesses the ability to obtain formal financial loans.

Through her work with global health focusing in Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa and India Shivani noticed that low-income communities had little to no access to loans from formal financial institutions because the lack of financial data and a credit score on these individuals made them too risky.

With an MPH from Columbia, a BA from Wesleyan University and experience in investment banking from her work at Health Net and Citigroup, Shivani used her experience and awareness to developed InVenture and its mission – create a global credit score for anyone with a mobile phone.

With the use of their InSight software, individuals and business owners can text in their daily income and expenses and InVenture sends them back a simple income statement showing their daily profit. Not only does this help these individuals become more aware of their finances and track their spending, it also helps them set long term financial goals.

InVenture also provides large financial institutions insight into a company’s growth and helps deserving individuals secure loans that otherwise would never be attainable in these communities that have little to no access to banks.

InVenture believes their method is more reliable because they use an individual’s current financial situation, rather than the standard history of repayment method, to determine their credit score. With the financial backing from several supporters and partners including USAID and Google Ventures, InVenture is able to offer their service to the US, Africa, South Asia and India.

Shivani and InVenture have received multiple awards including America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2012 from Bloomberg Business Week, 2012 Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project, Best of the Best for the Workers 2012 from Certified B Corporation and the DFID Sankalp Recognition for Women Empowerment 2013.

InVenture’s goal is to provide individuals and business owners with the tools they need to build their savings, create jobs within their communities which will help stimulate economic growth and give people the ability to pursue their dreams in a more globally transparent financial system.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Great Entrepreneurs

Apple, Starbucks, Microsoft. These all represent companies that at the helm preside some of our most influential leaders of the day. Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz and Bill Gates all represent men who had a dream and then followed it. They were driven entrepreneurs. Each one can tell stories of failures before success. This is pivotal if we are to understand the distinguishing characteristics of great entrepreneurs. Here is a list of seven behavioral mindsets that will set these business mavericks apart from the others.

Achievement. Strong entrepreneurs are determined and spirited. They are self-led. They know how to set personal goals and achieve them with self-reinforcement, monitoring and natural rewards.

Individualism. They understand who they are, what makes them tick and are willing to stand alone in the crowd. They are willing to be misunderstood because they believe wholeheartedly in their idea.

Control. Great entrepreneurs understand that they control their destinies. They believe in themselves and will contemplate their lives as being surrounded by the conditions by which they want to produce.

Decision Making. Rational or intuitive decision making. One relies on facts and logical analysis, the other relies on “gut instincts.” While both are necessary for launching companies, those leaders who believe in their inner promptings are usually better able to take risks.

Risk Taking. They are not afraid to take risks even if it means failing. A strong entrepreneur lives by his personal convictions of ideas that have the potential to make a difference. They will take risks over and over again until they finally get it right.

Optimism. They believe that nothing they do or try is wasted. A failure is seen as an experiment and the entrepreneur will take his findings, come to new conclusions and start again. There is always a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow for this leader.

Focus. The determined entrepreneur stays focused on his idea. He is not swayed by public opinion. If criticized, he will listen and lay it alongside his vision. He will then determine if the critique aligns with his mission and vision statement. He will make changes if necessary however he will never lose his focus on the project at hand.

Do you know someone who carries all of these characteristics? If so, you just might be looking at the next great entrepreneur of the decade.

Business Backgrounds: Good for Political Roles

Every day, politicians spend exorbitant amounts of money. Government entities at every level spend money at rates that would be deemed intolerable if it was done by a private business. The examples of government overspending are plentiful. Remember the old examples from the 1970′s about government agencies spending $500 on a hammer? Well, the problem is that there are not many politicians with business backgrounds.

Politicians with a real world business background such as Governor Mitt Romney bring an enormous amount of talent and practical experience into government service.

Most politicians are career politicians. Getting people to vote for them is what they do best. However, every once in a while we see a politician that has an actual background in business. Governor Romney has had a long and distinguished career as a successful business man. Governor Romney worked and studied hard from the early days of his life to learn the skills necessary to succeed in business.

Governor Romney went to Harvard Law School. However, he was more ambitious than most Harvard students. Governor Romney graduated from Harvard with two degrees. The governor received both a Juris Doctorate and a Masters of Business Administration. After graduating from Harvard, Governor Romney went to work for several major companies and was later hired by Bain & Company. At that time, most of the executives at Bain & Company were not from families with a wealthy background. Bain was a company where people advanced on the basis of their merit. During his time at Bain Capital, Governor Romney excelled.

Governor Romney joined the Boston management consulting firm of Bain & Company in 1977. During his early days at Bain, Governor Romney worked as a consultant for some major companies such as Burlington, Corning and Monsanto. Romney’s business skills and talents led to a rapid increase in his status and credibility in the business community.

Due to his outstanding performance on the job, Governor Romney was offered an opportunity to become involved in a new spin-off company named Bain Capital. This offered him a chance to get in on the ground floor of a major new company. Governor Romney took the chance and earned his fortune with Bain Capital.

The importance of having politicians that understand the reality of the business world can’t be overemphasized. A politician with a business background has the real world skills to manage a government effectively. People should give careful consideration to voting for politicians with successful business backgrounds.

Inspirational Political Leaders of Our Time

President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan came from humble beginnings with political views that led him to Office of Governor of California in 1967.

In 1976, Governor Reagan ran against President Gerald Ford for the United States Presidency which led to concession on his part. That changed in 1980 when Ronald Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter. Leading the campaign with the slogan, “I believe in states’ rights.’ Ronald Regan won the election, carrying 44 states. His Presidency brought about many positive changes, including the end of the Cold War.

President Winston Churchill
Regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the twentieth century is Sir Winston Churchill. British, born to an aristocratic family, Sir Winston Churchill was the only British Prime Minister to win the Nobel Prize in Literature and was the first to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
‘I Have a Dream’ are the words that echoed from civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King on August 28, 1963.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he became ordained in his last semester of college. Dr. King rose to national prominence after the arrest of Rosa Parks. Years later, the Birmingham Campaign found Dr. King imprisoned, in solitary confinement. After release, his massive civil rights plight grew in volume. In 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize leading to the Passage of the Civil Rights Act. The man who changed many lives and believed in a United America was shot dead April 4, 1968.

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher was a hard to understand, controversial figure who was the first and only female Prime Minister of England. The daughter of a grocer, her social ambition and strong will led her to power in a world dominated by men.

In 1991, this iconic figure was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her legacy lives on.

Mohandas Gandhi
Considered the founder of the Indian Independence movement against British rule, Mohandas Gandhi spent much time in South Africa working to fight Indian discrimination.

Over time he learned to live a simple, frugal life and was referred to as a good soul. His doctrine of non-violent protest to achieve political and social progress has been highly influential.