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Heart rate monitoring, stride data, and a week-long battery life are just a few of this Garmin's highlights.
Heart rate monitoring, stride data, and a week-long battery life are just a few of this Garmin’s highlights.

Image: garmin/pexels/mashable photo composite

Hardcore fitness junkies need a fitness tracker that can keep up.

People new to fitness need a fitness tracker that will whip their ass into shape.

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is both, and it’s $70.99 off on Amazon today.

At $429 even on sale, this beast of a device doesn’t come cheap — but it’s cheaper than paying for an actual trainer. *Shrug emoji*

The 935 sits at the top of the Forerunner hierarchy thanks to highly customizable running and triathlon features. The watch apparently knows the difference between your freestyle runs and runs to beat a PR and tracks accordingly, giving data like ground contact time balance, stride length, and heart rate (even under water). If you start training too hard, it’ll let you know to take it easy.

Battery life is said to last for a week at a time, nixing the “Bummer, I can’t run today because my watch isn’t charged” excuse.

The biggest drawback is that there’s no in-house music, so you’ll have to play your pump-up jams via Bluetooth on your phone. Luckily, smartphone notifications (minus Garmin Pay) are still there.

Regularly $499.99, you can save $70.99 and grab the black model for $429.




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Great results follow great focus.


1 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Where focus goes, energy follows. That’s why Entrepreneur Network partner Mike Phillips says you should always have laser-like focus on your intended goal. If you’re just a few degrees off, you may end up drastically distant from your goal — what Phillips calls being “out in the weeds.” 

Click the video to hear more.

Related: How to Mediate a Conflict Between Your Employees

Watch more videos on Lead the Team’s YouTube Channel.

Entrepreneur Network is a premium video network providing entertainment, education and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We provide expertise and opportunities to accelerate brand growth and effectively monetize video and audio content distributed across all digital platforms for the business genre.

EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in the business vertical. Watch video from our network partners on demand on RokuApple TV and the Entrepreneur App available on iOS and Android devices.



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By Madeleine Hillyer, U.S. Media Relations, World Economic Forum

The recent $35 billion sale of Worldpay, a leading digital payments processor, is the sector’s largest ever. The purchase , made by fintech group Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), shows just how rapidly the digital payments landscape continues to change.

This most recent Worldpay agreement is more than double its sale to credit card processing company Vantiv two years ago—a deal that came in at $10.6 billion. The size of this sale shows the increasing boom in the digital payments sector, a trend many expect to continue.

These growing sales are matched by an increasing use of digital payments around the world. Non-cash transactions are expected to accelerate at a rate of 12.7% through 2021, with Emerging Asia markets accounting for the largest growth areas.

Digital payments are increasing around the world.

Getty

As the use of digital payments methods expands, several companies have switched off of cash all together, often citing cost efficiency and the safety of their employees as the reason for the shift. These stores include restaurants, retail stores and even transportation options such as city bike-sharing programs.

Recently, cashless businesses have received backlash prompting certain policymakers, from Philadelphia and China for example, to take action. These governments have signed laws requiring businesses to accept cash as payment. Here critics of digital-only payments remark on the exclusionary effects of denying cash, explaining that those without access to a bank account are often unable to make digital payments.

Given that digital payments can bring convenience and safety, but also increase situations of potential exclusion, a question naturally arises: Does going cashless have more benefits or drawbacks for an economy and a society?

Benefits of Digital Payments

Safety is one of the largest benefits of increased digital payments. This goes for both the individual and business side of transactions. Individuals benefit from a reduced risk of theft by not needing to carry cash around and cashless stores similarly benefit from lower theft risks.

In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) benefit from the safety of digital payments. With limited security and employees, SMEs can be quite vulnerable when regularly holding large amounts of cash. With increased acceptance of digital payments, SMEs are much less likely to be targets of robberies.

Beyond safety, there are other digital payment benefits for SMEs, “If you are a small retailer and you’re in the formal economy, digital payments can help you expand your business,” says Drew Propson, Project Lead, Financial Services at the World Economic Forum, “By tracking your sales and information from different vendors, all of that data capture can help you manage inventory in new ways, and demonstrate creditworthiness, which can really help you grow your business.”

Accompanying Challenges

Despite the benefits of non-cash transactions, it is important to consider the challenges of a completely cashless economy.

“There’s the cybersecurity risk which is getting a lot of attention right now,” says Drew Propson “but there’s also an important infrastructure risk to consider.” The infrastructure needed for digital payments, like most infrastructures, is vulnerable to natural disasters and other unexpected catastrophes. Drew continued, “If all of your payments are done digitally and something wipes out the infrastructure needed to make these payments then you’ve put yourself in a very bad position.”

Though cybersecurity and infrastructure risks of digital payments are concerning, arguably the most talked about drawback is exclusion.

Exclusion is always a worry when discussing increased use of digital payments. Globally, about 31% of adults have no formal bank account. In the U.S., 6.5% of adults are unbanked and 18.7% are underbanked, meaning they have at least one formal bank account but still have to rely on services outside the formal financial system.

It can be very difficult for these unbanked or underbanked individuals to pay digitally with no formal bank account to link too—digital-only payments are often not an option for them. In some cases pre-paid cards can be purchased and used in digital-only locales, however this is not always an option—and certainly not a convenient one.

Thus, as increasing numbers of goods and services can only be purchased with digital payments, those who are already struggling to gain financial footing become further marginalized.

This disadvantage is difficult to overcome and the effects can be more widespread than one would think. Key goods and services such as foods and transportation are increasingly moving to digital payments, leaving those with no means of digital payment at a grave disadvantage.

Digital Payments and Inclusion

Despite very real exclusion concerns being discussed currently, digital payment offerings have brought millions of previously unbanked and underbanked individuals across the globe into the formal financial system. Nearly all countries have experienced increased inclusion over the past decade due to the development of new technologies that allow for innovative low-cost financial products and services.

Much of this inclusion has been achieved through the rise of mobile money. Mobile money options, or digital payments completed through the use of a mobile phone, are allowing financial access to many around the who were previously only able to use cash.

In Kenya, the use of mobile money started over 10 years ago and M-PESA, the country’s largest mobile money provider, has over 22.7 million subscribers today. “Digital payments have picked up very quickly in East Africa,” says Drew Propson, “Kenya in particular, with its use of mobile money stemming from the introduction of M-Pesa, has seen digital payments become the norm.”

Mobile money is also expanding throughout other countries. Somalia has recently increased its mobile payments greatly and mobile money payments in Somalia have actually surpassed the country’s cash transactions.

A recent World Bank study found that nearly 73% of Somalis over 16 used mobile money payments in the past month. This has been a boost to inclusion in a country where only 15% of people have a bank account but about 90% have a mobile phone. “There’s still quite a bit of cash being used in East Africa,” according to Drew Propson, ”but digital payments have really taken hold and are efficiently reaching people who were previously underserved.”

Overall, integrating digital payments into an economy can bring great convenience, safety, and inclusion benefits to individuals while also meeting the needs of growing businesses. But even with these benefits, going totally cashless has some very serious drawbacks to consider.

“Cash is still a really important second option in an economy. I think if we are going for completely cash-free right now we are asking for trouble,” says Drew Propson. “Looking at current risks to going fully digital, having cash as a back-up is key.”



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Here are three ways to determine if being a franchise owner is right for you.


1 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Wondering if becoming a franchise owner is the right move for you? Here are three things you can do to help you find out.

  1. Check yourself. There’s a saying that becoming a franchise owner puts you in business “for yourself but not by yourself.” If you’re a “my way or the highway” type of person, franchising might not be for you. But if you want to start your own business with a built-in structure and support system, this could be the perfect fit.
  2. Reach out. Investigate industries that interest you and show signs of growth. Contact all of the franchise companies in your area that operate in those industries and ask for information. Any reputable company will be happy to send your information at no charge.
  3. Check their reputation. Check with the Better Business Bureau and also request a Dun & Bradstreet report to get details of the company’s financial standing. If you like what you see, you could be on your way to your next big adventure.

Watch the next 3 Things to Know video 

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Today, Amazon announced that six health care companies and providers will allow customers to access some of their personalized medical information by talking to Alexa-enabled devices. The announcement marks another huge move for Amazon into the health care business.

The main health privacy law in the US — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) — typically ensures that health information can only be shared between patients and those in the health care system, like doctors or hospitals. In other words, information like medical diagnoses and pharmaceutical prescriptions are not available to third parties. Now, Amazon says it has created a way for companies to transmit this information via Alexa-enabled devices and remain HIPAA-compliant. It invited six health companies to develop voice programs — which Amazon refers to as “skills” — using their systems. This development was earlier reported by CNBC and Stat News.

“These new skills are designed to help customers manage a variety of healthcare needs at home simply using voice — whether it’s booking a medical appointment, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, checking on the status of a prescription delivery, and more,” Head of Alexa Health and Wellness Rachel Jiang wrote in a blog post.

Among the six skills that launched today, customers of Express Scripts can use Alexa to check the status of their prescription delivery. Customers of Livongo can connect Alexa to their glucose monitors and ask about their blood sugar reading. Patients of the ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) program at Boston Children’s Hospital can receive information about appointments through Alexa. Jiang added that while the program is currently invite-only, the company expects to expand the number of health developers using Alexa in the future.

For Amazon, this is one of its biggest moves yet into the $3.5 trillion health care space. Last June, it purchased the online pharmacy PillPack, and in November, it announced plans to sell software that reads medical records.



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Technology is forging ahead, minting tools for check-out financing, accounting and ‘as-a-service’ services.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that at some point bad weather will hit your startup. As with most things in life, preparation is essential, and entrepreneurship is no different.  

Related: 5 Ways to Keep Cash Flow Pumping

Kabbage recently polled 500 successful entrepreneurs across various industries, from restaurant owners to professional services, about one of the biggest obstacles that looms for all businesses — cash flow.

At the heartbeat of any business, the availabiity of back-up funds can mean the difference between your being able to expand your inventory and your staff and invest in initiatives to grow your company — or not.

Your resulting balancing act between incoming and outgoing funds can easily go off the rails due to such factors as delayed payments, improper growth forecasts and sudden large expenditures. These kinds of issues are commonplace in entrepreneurship, and they come with considerable strain.

Yet, entrepreneurs and their businesses persist. With more than 30 million small businesses in the United States today, according to the Small Business Administratioin — a total which is up from roughly 22 million from 2001 — cash-flow challenges apparently aren’t thwarting individuals from turning their passion into their career.

Yet survival doesn’t come without a price. Here are the common challenges cash-flow issues create:

Putting off your own paycheck

Some 51 percent of small business owners surveyed in our study said they forgo paying themselves for multiple months to control cash flow. Twenty-six percent responded that at some point they had gone two to six months without paying themselves, while another 25 percent said they’d gone more than six months without a paycheck.

Some entrepreneurs said they had sidestepped this undesirable solution by running everyday expenses through their business. This could include their phone bill, car payment or, in fringe cases, even their mortgage, if their business operated out of their home. Yet, all of the respondents in the survey had run successful companies for an average of 10.5 years.

Related: 17 Passive Income Ideas for Increasing Your Cash Flow

Investing extra time

Time is everyone’s most precious resource, especially when you’re running a company and are responsible for every facet of its operation. We have an internal motto at our company, which is, “Let the bakers bake.” The proverbial baker didn’t start her company to focus her time on bookkeeping, but rather to turn her passion into a successful company.

The reality is, however, that many entrepreneurs invest large quantities of time in bookkeeping. Case in point: Our data showed that 91 percent of small business owners polled spent as much as 20 hours per week on cash-flow management, from handling payroll to invoicing and purchasing. If all cash-flow tasks were eliminated, respondents said, they would repurpose their time investing in other important business developments. Specifically:

  • 51 percent would invest more time in sales and marketing to drive new business.
  • 35 percent would further develop their products and services; they said they had new ideas but no time to focus on them.

  • 32 percent would spend more time with family, friends and community.

  • 30 percent would focus more time on customer service.

  • 22 percent would hire and mentor their employees.

  • 22 percent would investigate new technologies and business systems to make their company more efficient.

These are telling numbers. If only business owners could lift their heads out of their money matters, and effectively minimize the stress associated with them, they could focus on what makes an impact — on their community, family life and bottom line.

You need to first evaluate your business.

So, how can you reclaim your time? All businesses are different, and that fact will require your evaluating your individual company’s operations. But a first step is to pay close attention to how much time you spend on various cash-flow tasks, from invoicing and payroll to accounting, taxes and more.

Determine which task is taking up the lion’s share of your time, and the research solutions that could help you solve that particular time sink. Can you make it a goal to reclaim one hour every week?

If so, implement that strategy, but be mindful that you’re repurposing the new time available in a way that supports you or the business better than before, be it spending more time with family or with customers.

You need to learn how technology can help.

The speed of business is changing, and today’s technologies and services are giving small businesses the tools they need to level the playing field with their bigger competitors.

Academic research suggests this is the future. Former SBA administrator and senior fellow at Harvard, Karen Mills, wrote in her new book, Fintech, Small Business & the American Dream, about the concept of a “small business utopia.” 

This suggests, she said, that technology is paving the road to a future when siloed systems and disparate data will elegantly flow together to give small business owners insights traditionally reserved for big business.  Here are four ways technology is evolving to help you reclaim your time:

Invoicing: New technologies are providing entrepreneurs easier and faster ways to manage customer invoicing so they can get paid faster without the constant chase to do just that. Bill.com claims that it lets small businesses get paid up to three times faster through automation. Research solutions are also making the payment experience seamless and simple for customers, thereby saving companies time, too.

Checkout financing: Machine learning and predictive analytics are the driving forces revolutionizing funding options to help resolve cash-flow issues for small businesses. This means that eventually all entrepreneurs will be able to access capital in minutes rather than weeks or months, thanks to automated underwriting. Alibaba.com (with whom Kabbage has a relationship) launched its Pay Later checkout-financing service, allowing small businesses to access capital without leaving the site.

Accounting software: The majority of every accounting process can be automated, and accounting software can provide greater detail in the event of an audit. Solutions like Xero and Quickbooks also make it simple to connect into other third-party services companies might use to simplify cash-flow management.

“As-a-service” offerings: Businesses continue to migrate entire operations to cloud technologies and monthly services. These solutions help save time and trim unnecessary overhead costs. Systems like Zenefits for payroll or Expensify for managing expenses take care of the tedious minutiae of a portion of cash-flow activities, especially the non-revenue generating ones.

Related: 5 Tips to Keep Cash Flow Strong

The good news for small businesses, then, is the fact that the cash-flow dilemma is continually being leveled, thanks to technology, and over time these advancements will only ease the challenges small businesses face.  



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Combat allergy season and wacky weather with a Dyson fan and air purifier.
Combat allergy season and wacky weather with a Dyson fan and air purifier.

Image: dyson

April: It’s cold in the morning and randomly 70 degrees when you leave work, but at least pollen is a dependable constant. 

Air purifiers are a must for those allergies, but switching back and forth from heat to AC is guaranteed to mess with your bill.

HEPA filter fans from Dyson could be the relief you need, and both the Dyson Pure Cool and the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool are $100 off today. 

Both fans rock the notorious bladeless design, and that hollow hole does a lot more than just look really cool. It makes something called Air Multiplier tech possible, circulating 99.97 percent pollutant-free air through room up to 400 square feet. (Dyson says the technology delivers 77 gallons of airflow per second. Air is measured in gallons now.)

Imagine looking across the room and not seeing dust and pet hair floating in there.

The Dyson Pure Cool is the taller, skinnier model and only works as a fan and air purifier. This is a great option for people who are always hot; those who are always cold (raises hand) will appreciate the space heater feature of the Pure Hot + Cool — especially in the summer when everyone else in the house says no, you absolutely may not turn the heat on.

Regularly $399.99 and $499.99, you can save $100 on either model and snag the Pure Cool for $299 and the Pure Hot + Cool for $399.




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Game of Thrones fans, rejoice! You will now be able to watch the final season of the HBO series through Roku. The company announced today that it is adding HBO as a premium subscription through its Roku Channel.

Roku began selling premium add-on subscriptions to users back in January, allowing viewers to buy subscriptions for Showtime, Starz, Epix, and other networks. Users can pay for the channels directly through the Roku Channel. It’s a similar model to what Amazon does for Amazon Prime members and what Apple will do when it launches Apple TV Plus later this fall.

HBO’s subscription is comparable to what you’ll find through other services: users can sign up for a seven-day free trial. After that, they will be charged $14.99 a month. Roku is clearly looking to capitalize on the attention that the final season of Game of Thrones is garnering. The last six episodes will begin airing on April 14th.



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All's not lost.
All’s not lost.

Image: Erik Freeland/Corbis via Getty Images

MySpace, once the favorite social network of musicians around the world, made news in March when it was discovered that 12 years worth of music was lost during a data migration. 

A small part of that has, fortunately, been recovered by The Internet Archive. 

Called the “MySpace Dragon Hoard,” the archive holds 490,000 mp3 files from MySpace.com. The files were collected “using unknown means by an anonymous academic study conducted between 2008 and 2010,” the Internet Archive said in a post.

 

Since MySpace’s data migration (perhaps data destruction is a better way to describe it) botched everything hosted on the site before 2015, nearly none of the files in the Dragon Hoard archive can be found on MySpace. 

The archive is 1.3 terabytes big and is quite problematic, since the files are named by MySpace’s CDN (content delivery network), meaning the names don’t make sense to most humans. It is therefore accessible as a set of 144 .zip archive files, which you can browse through here. If you’re looking for something specific in there, good luck. 

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f90721%252f49fb7f94 2859 4ab3 8ec7 6d3fcad2afa4.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=r4rigq5zhixxc7epyprfqtyimry=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

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If you’re scaling up, don’t go it alone. These 5 tips can help you form strategic partnerships work for your startup.


7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


If it’s going to survive, a startup needs to grow. In my experience, strategic partnerships are the best shortcut to the kind of explosive growth a new business needs, to get going. Case in point: When our startup, CrayPay, aligned with key influencers in vertical markets, we gained 15,000 new users for our app in only four days.

Of course it’s important never to chase a strategic partnership if the end goal is only about money. That kind of thinking gives one partner an upper hand that can limit mutual opportunity in the long run.

Instead, focus on maintaining authenticity and finding the right fit. Steve Case, founding CEO of AOL, pointed to a culture clash as the biggest reason for the historic failure of his company’s partnership with Time Warner. AOL’s aggressive style was in constant conflict with Time Warner’s more conservative, corporate outlook, multiple observers pointed out. 

So, if your potential partner asks for terms that don’t align with the company’s values, brand or products, walk away.

Strategic partnerships, in short, can galvanize a startup’s growth. Starbucks’s recent partnerships with Uber Eats and Alibaba demonstrate how companies with different capabilities can extend the reach of their respective brands by teaming up. In Starbucks’s case, these partnerships are helping the coffee behemoth grow its delivery capabilities and expand its market dominance even further.

Teaming up with Alibaba, meanwhile, was a particularly strategic move — one that may well transform the coffee market in China.

Related: Don’t Go It Alone: How to Use Partnerships as a Growth Strategy

Just as Starbucks did, associating your own company with a partner-brand can increase your reach and enhance your business’s reputation. As it happens, these can also be potential drawbacks to strategic partnerships.

The reason is that partnerships are more concerned with mutual opportunity — access to market share or intellectual property rights — than they are with hard numbers. Even if they don’t make sense on paper, strategic partnerships are forged because each partner sees a potential win in the relatioinship for its individual business.

Partnership wins and warnings

Mutually beneficial partnerships often grow out of supplier and distributor relationships. These types of vertical alliances exchange experience and relationships for involvement in product design or exclusive, discounted distribution arrangements.

Vertical partnerships are your best bet, because teaming up with a horizontal competitor is asking for conflict. Aligning with key influencers in vertical industries gave my company enormous access to a qualified audience of potential new customers. As a result, we saw the explosive growth that quickly increased sales and made us more attractive to future partners.

Related: How to Leverage Your Ideal Partnerships to Scale Your Business

Establishing a productive partnership that takes on some of the workload can give startups much-needed flexibility to explore additional growth without the opportunity costs that come with being a smaller operation. Below are the lessons I learned about how to make a strategic partnership work before, during and after its initiation:

1. Imagine past the obvious.

To succeed, a partnership must be grounded in strategy and enlivened with imagination. In other words, don’t limit the scope to obvious partners. Some of the most successful partnerships start outside the box.

For example, the partnership between BMW and designer Louis Vuitton isn’t an obvious choice. However, ultimately it was a match because the companies target similar upscale clients. BMW’s contribution to the partnership was its i8 sports car, and Louis Vuitton’s was that it not only created a four-piece luggage set that matched the car’s style, but its luggage design fit in the car’s trunk. Each component added further exclusivity to the other luxury brand.

Related: 10 High-Profile Brand Partnerships That Struck Gold

2. Get beyond “CEO to CEO.”

It’s never a good idea to announce a partnership negotiated between leaders and expect the two teams to seamlessly integrate to execute the vision. Strategic partnerships may begin and end with each company’s senior leaders, but engaging the entire team is vital for success.

To that end, bring members of your team along throughout the negotiations as much as possible. Getting to know the different players and defining their roles not only expedites the launch, but builds trusting relationships that are essential for optimizing the partnership.

3. Stay true to the product and the team.

Never chase a strategic partnership if its value is only about money. That gives one partner an upper hand that can limit mutual opportunity in the long run. Instead, focus on maintaining authenticity and finding the right fit. If a partner asks for terms that don’t align with the company’s values, brand or products, walk away.

To ensure a win-win, spend time defining the value each partner brings to the alliance and structure the agreement accordingly. Establish a governance process to manage, develop and assess the relationship. Too often, strategic partnerships struggle to get off the ground after the initial fanfare. Treat the partnership like a customer relationship, monitoring partner satisfaction and adjusting processes according to the insights.

4. Scout ahead for weaknesses.

The rapid growth that came from my company’s early partnerships was a real-time stress test of both technology and product. In our case, the growth exposed a few holes.

Ultimately, the fixes were simple, but the oversights were an embarrassing hitch to our first major strategic partnership, causing dings to customer satisfaction and reputation. To avoid this, I recommend scrutinizing exactly what a strategic partner will plug into the business.

After that, triple-check every bit of code and the user experience across multiple variances to avoid messy cleanup and relationship repairs after a launch.

Another piece of advice is not to be judgmental in the extreme: Strategic partners tend to judge the relationship as a “100 percent success” or “100 percent failure.” Unfortunately, that leaves no middle ground, which can be a frustrating experience for a startup still working through its product development.

And, speaking of product development, if a strategic new partnership — and the growth it brings — exposes major weaknesses in the partnership’s product, that can be a major setback in a company’s development.

Certainly, a startup can recover from a setback like this. But a partnership has more on the line: It has to carefully evaluate its product or service’s readiness for exposure to a major audience.

5. Avoid the blame game.

As they say, success has many partners, but failure is an orphan. If a strategic partnership doesn’t go as planned, it’s usually not the end of the world. Resist the urge to respond emotionally. Avoid finger-pointing or creating false narratives to save face. Instead, focus on the bigger picture by remembering that every relationship builds on another. The lessons from an undesirable outcome pave the way for better and stronger strategic partnerships down the road.

The ultimate key to successful strategic partnerships is imagination. If you are open to new ideas and creative avenues, a partnership can have tremendous value for both companies. If you think bigger and take each opportunity to figure out the value you bring to a partner, you’ll grow your company and enrich your work.

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