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Applications for the 2022 Airbnb Athlete Travel Grant are open until May 20

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Young athlete getting ready
In 2021, more than 9,000 athletes benefited from Airbnb athlete support programs, representing more than $4 million in direct support | Photo: Anastase Maragos

Airbnb has opened applications for the next edition of the Airbnb Athlete Travel Grant, in partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The program, which was launched in 2021, offers up to 500 athletes a year $2,000 USD travel grant to use exclusively on the accommodation platform as they travel, train, and compete and will run through 2028.

Last year 500 athletes representing 125 countries and 63 sports benefitted from the Airbnb Athlete Travel Grant program, including Canoe sprint athlete Saied Fazloula, who represented the Refugee Olympic Team at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020:

’’I used my Airbnb Athlete Travel Grant for multiple trips before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, including for a training camp and other competitions. It’s incredibly valuable to have this support as a refugee – Airbnb has provided not only a grant, but also a clear head so that I can concentrate on my sport.” – acknowledges Fazloula.

Applications will close on May 20, 2022 at 1:59 pm PDT. The Airbnb Athlete Travel Grant can only be used towards Stays in association with training, medical, or competition-related travel, and is not intended for non-sports-related personal use.

To find out more and apply, visit: www.airbnb.com/athletetravelgrant

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How start-ups and small Businesses can grow their client numbers

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Woman using a sewing machine in her small business
There were 5.5 million small businesses at the start of 2021 in the UK - Source: UK Gov | Photo: Gustavo Fring

If your start-up or business is in the UK, you may be confused about how to increase your client base to earn more profit. First you need to understand that it is possible to increase your client numbers. Whatever struggles your start-up or business have, its client base can still grow.

Here are several ways your start-up or business can increase the number of clients it has.

Take Advantage of Digital Marketing

In today’s world, businesses need digital marketing to increase their client base. Most small businesses have a small budget for marketing. The great thing about digital marketing is that whatever your budget is, you can engage with it and yield results! Therefore, you need to utilize your digital marketing budget well.

Take advantage of the internet to reach a wide online base. Get electronic devices for your business or start-up, you can start with a computer and tablet or phone. Engage with several digital marketing services including social media ads, online videos, search engine optimization, content marketing, display ads, and e-commerce marketing, to mention a few.

If you need something simple to start with, open a page for your business on various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. If you’re unsure, you can also hire a social media manager to help.

 

Offer Discounts and Promotions to New Customers

This is one way to increase the client base of your small business. People are always looking for good value. Draw clients in by offering discounts and free gifts for every purchase from new clients. Use social media platforms to advertise these offers. To have a wider reach during sales, run social media ads.

You can also take advantage of seasons and celebrations like Independence or Thanksgiving by running discount sales during this period. New customers will flock in and if they enjoy the quality of your services or products, most will stay.

 

Create Or Update Your Business Website

Every business or start-up needs a website. This is because the most common way consumers find businesses is through online searching. Ensure your business has a website and, if it already does, update the website.

Use up-to-date search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Use quality graphics for the website, make it beautiful, and ensure it is mobile friendly. Use content marketing with keywords, backlinks, and SEO to draw clients in and establish your business as one that knows its trade inside and out.

Doing all these things to your website will help it rank highly, draw traffic to it, and increase your client base.

 

Network And Participate in Community Events

You need your business to be well known and have clients in your community or locality. One way to do this is network and participate in community events.

For instance, there are several community events for businesses in Oxford. Participating in these events will help the local people know about your business, connect you with potential clients, and increase your visibility. Search for information on charity events or programs happening in your locality or community and find a way to be a part of it.

This is important because multiple surveys have shown that many consumers prefer buying from local brands, businesses, and startups. Besides, it is a great way to contribute to the growth of your business’ local community.

 

Establish Yourself as An Expert in Your Field

This is a way to increase your number of clients and increase your business or start-up visibility. Promote your business by volunteering to speak at industry functions or charity events, or conducting a webinar or workshop.

The more you promote your expertise, the more you can grow your business, establish yourself as an authority in your field, and increase your number of clients.

 

Focus On Retaining Old Customers

This is one way to increase your number of clients. It costs five times less to keep a client than to obtain a new client. That’s why efficient customer service and quality products are very important.

For the retention of customers, you can launch an email campaign, engage customers on social media, and use a customer relations management system. Simple gestures like saying thank you, sending customized notes with products, and avoiding disappointing customers by ensuring you deliver at the agreed date can help retain customers.

It is also important to note that old customers bring in a lot of new clients. When old customers love your products or services and the way you engage with clients, they go all out to refer friends and family to your business. This, in turn, will increase the number of clients you have.

No matter where in the world your business is located, carefully applying the approaches listed above will help your business increase its client base. Ensure you apply the ones that work for your field and for your business. You can also be creative and implement ideas you know will suit your business needs. Here’s to wishing your startup or business all the success it deserves!

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How small businesses are using TikTok to pump up their sales

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Entrepreneur Robin Brackbill at her business
Brackbill from Fabby-Do Creativity Café: viral posts on TikTok helped to open doors

It is 7 AM in the UK and, as I open my TikTok and the 150,000th video featuring Lizzo’s About Damn time song pops onto my overcrowded timeline, I wonder if the short-form video hosting service has made a deal with the American rapper and songwriter to push it as much as possible. Possibly the same commercial deal that is making British singer Kate Bush’s voice repeatedly echo in all sorts of videos recently posted on the platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

By 7:18, I have stumbled across over a dozen pieces of content featuring Lizzo and Kate’s songs and some of that content, I easily notice, has been posted by small businesses from all over the world.

Although 37 years separate both songs – Lizzo dropped her single last April, Bush released her Running up the hill in 1985 – the reason those businesses are posting content on TikTok wrapped in pop hits is clear: promote their products and services, while growing their following on the social media network. But are small businesses on TikTok getting any results with their efforts?

A recent study by Hello Alice, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses, featuring approximately 7,000 responses collected between three surveys, shared insights into how SMBs are leveraging TikTok to find new audiences and build a community.

The  Small Business Digital Marketing Trends report revealed that a digital renaissance is underway: ‘Small business owners understand that digital platforms are no longer a nice-to-have, they are a critical tool for reaching customers and growing their business. Moreover, there’s a shift among those already leveraging digital platforms, with SMBs increasingly turning to emerging players, like TikTok, to follow their customers and accelerate their growth. In fact, 67% of SMBs surveyed indicated that they are most optimistic about their growth potential on the platform’ – says an official communication from TikTok.

“I recently posted a video on TikTok and gained over 300 email subscribers with just this video. In addition, almost 2,000 people saved the same content. That is significant considering the video was only seen by 27k individuals. I’ve found creating valuable, educational content that reflects the heart of my business leads to the highest conversions from viewer to follower to subscriber to customer. As an average of 3-5% of email subscribers convert to customers of my digital products and events, every TikTok video does matter and make a difference.” – says Orlando-based business coach Liana Danielle.

 

TikTok says that they have launched a number of education programs and a Small Business Resource Center, and announced that, in the coming weeks, the platform will also reveal a new initiative that will help small businesses leverage TikTok to grow.

However, over the past few months, as small businesses try to return to pre-pandemic trading levels, entrepreneurs are finding their own way through social media to expand their horizons and revenues.

“I began to focus on building a presence on TikTok and Instagram that was a reflection of my personality and the essence of our business. The fun, positive, and encouraging tone of my posts helped me craft my message and my niche. Most importantly, it grew my reach to a broader age and geographic range through a number of viral posts and helped to open many doors I didn’t think possible.” – celebrates Robin Brackbill from Fabby-Do Creativity Café, a small business based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, specializing in creative experiences, classes, and events for children.

 

For Lexie Becker, a Brand Partnership Specialist at South Florida’s marketing agency Fifth & Cor, it is not only content carefully crafted by company owners that can land results on TikTok, as other strategies can have an impact on a brand’s awareness, reach and sales.

“A hair-care brand recently leveraged user-generated content on the app, and a video
made by one of its loyal customers was attributed to $15,000 in sales of the product used in the video in just 24 hours. The power of TikTok and UGC combined is to credit for this. Moving forward, the brand will use both organic and paid efforts to establish a dedicated community in order to generate more sales.” – explains Becker who also works with clients posting content on other social media platforms.

According to the report, 81% of small businesses say that TikTok is fun and 73% say it’s easy to use.

Certified eyelash artist Taylor Volk, who opened her business in 2018, is another entrepreneur making long term plans based on what she has learned from the performance of content posted on TikTok.

“We started posting tips and tricks for other lash and brow artists and it has helped us reach over 10k followers on TikTok. Our top three posts to date have all done over 500k views, with one reaching 1 million, and they all have received between 10-50k likes each”, says Volk, founder of eyelash and brow company Lashfx, who mastered her own formula for content that performs well for her business. “Our strategy moving forward is to continue posting helpful content while keeping the first 2-3 seconds of the video captivating enough for viewers to finish watching the rest of the video.”

 

For those businesses with extra budget and creativity to spare, exploring collaborations with influencers and content creators can pay dividends.

“We worked with TikTok creator Mary Burchill @soneedley to help her grow her small business through the popular social media platform and increase sales on her website. Mary uses our blank apparel options to embroider clothing and accessories to sell for her small business, titled So Needley. While currently still in law school, she was able to turn her hobby into a side hustle business, and in the process allow us to grow as a brand.” – says Kathryn Hutchison, Senior Director of U.S.-based online e-commerce company Threadsy, a retailer for small-quantity customizable apparel founded in Texas in 2021.

 

Entrepreneur Oliver Zak

Zak, from Mad Rabbit: small businesses investing in TikTok content need bandwidth and patience to experiment

“Small businesses are thriving on TikTok if they’re willing to experiment to find what works in connecting with potential customers. Our company caters to those with tattoos, so we invested in content that we thought would be enjoyed by this niche and have built our following to almost 400K. We found that the videos that surpassed one million views were the ones that we teased a reveal in the opening seconds to grab our viewers’ attention.”, shares Oliver Zak, co-founder of Mad Rabbit, a company offering natural and organic tattoo skincare products formulated in Los Angeles, CA. “These results taught us exactly what tattoo lovers desire in their content, so we were then able to organically work our products into the content without interfering with what our viewers want to see. There is tremendous upside in small businesses investing in TikTok, so long as they have the bandwidth and patience to experiment.”, acknowledges Zak.

Consistency and alignment with other departments of your business may also be crucial for your content, and can make or break it when it comes to TikTok, as marketing expert Fulya Uygun, CEO & Head of Digital Strategy at Bowery Boost, points out:

“If you are planning to get on TikTok, get ready to post 2-3 times minimum each day. And if you plan to add money behind your TikTok strategy, let everyone on your marketing team participate in your content process. Brainstorm with anyone who is doing paid campaigns for your brand to make sure some of the content you build can be pushed as Spark Ads, which run through your brand account or an influencer account. This generates higher engagement and, eventually, conversions.”, explains Uygun, a New York-based professional with 15 years of experience leading digital marketing departments of various brands in the beauty, fashion, and wellness industries.

“We launched on TikTok three months ago and went viral several times, which was recently picked up by media outlets such as The Sun and NY Post. Our most viewed TikTok video has over 7 million views with over 830,000 likes and 2,800+ comments. This one video generated over $30k in sales.”, reveals entrepreneur Alice Kim, founder of PerfectDD, a small business that launched in December of 2020 focusing on providing clothing options for women who wear a DD+ bra size and up.

With other posts also surpassing 1 million views, Kim is happy with the online attention her business’ videos are getting, but her content strategy goes beyond fast revenue.

“We aim to normalize the conversation around (big) boobs but boobs in general. To destigmatize the stereotypes of over-sexualizing and body shaming breasts. We will continue to share the struggles of having a fuller chest and provide solutions for women to feel confident with their DD+s.” vows Alice who spent almost two decades in the fashion industry.

 

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10 business movies every entrepreneur should watch

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Actor Will Smith and his son starring in the film The Pursuit of Happyness
Starring Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness was released in 2006 and won a MTV Movie Award in the following year

There are all kinds of rankings on the web due to the simple fact that today’s audience has tools that were previously undreamed of. Before the internet, one had to wait for print media to release a list to find a ranking on a particular kind of product. Today, however, thanks to online magazines and websites, one can find product rankings in an instant. This particular list will focus on the 10 movies you absolutely must see if you are an entrepreneur. In every list there is a subjective aspect, which depends on the taste of the film critic, and an objective aspect, which is supported by numerous factors. This list is no exception.

 

1 – The Social Network – David Fincher

The Social Network is a prime example of this combination of subjective and objective aspects. If you have never heard of it, The Social Network tells about the birth of Facebook, the legal happenings involved, and how successful entrepreneurship does not come from a single light bulb moment, but from something else. That other factor is the ability to understand reality, people’s needs and to organize them. Before Facebook there were many experiments with social media, but what distinguished this product is the organization of various ideas concentrated in a single project. For any entrepreneur it is an indispensable film.

 

2 – The Big Short – Adam Mckay

Compared to the previous film, The Big Short is a less enjoyable, less popular film because it discusses a complex topic with difficult-to-understand terms and situations. Throughout the film there are many written inserts that literally illustrate the concept the characters are discussing. Those in business will probably not need these explanations, but they will be enraptured and frightened by the changeability of the market and the need not to gamble on something unpredictable.

 

3 – The Wolf Of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese

The Wolf Of Wall Street might seem like a straightforward tale of a businessman’s rise and fall – one of many similar stories. And indeed, it is. From Citizen Kane onward, there have been so many films that follow this narrative. Yet the epic of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, also discusses how success can devour you if you are unable to set limits on yourself. Remember that all successful entrepreneurs need boundaries, even if you are at the top of your field.

 

4 – The Founder – John Lee Hancock

This is the story of the man who invented the global fast food brand McDonald’s. That alone is enough. The whole film revolves around the concept of perseverance, a quality that made an ordinary 52-year-old a billionaire.

 

5 – Steve Jobs – Danny Boyle

The motivation for this film is also the same as the previous one: to take its audience the mind of a visionary, how the charisma of such people works, and how they build a mythological aura around them. The film deals with three phases of Jobs’ life and gives a very positive portrait of him with almost no controversy.

 

6 – The Pursuit Of Happyness – Gabriele Muccino

Similarly to The Founder, this film by Gabriele Muccino is about perseverance, but perseverance of a different kind. Unlike The Founder, The Pursuit Of Happyness is about a father and son without a home, money, without anything except each other. The man (and this is a true story) becomes a millionaire. This hopeful movie serves to remind the entrepreneur not to give up in the face of hardship.

 

7 – Joy – David O. Russell

Joy is a film about generations and associates entrepreneurship with the concept of imagination. For the latter reason it is a must-see film for anyone who wants to start a business, whether small or large. One must have imagination and explore territories unknown to people. This is the only way to find a novel product that people need.

 

8 – Wall Street – Oliver Stone

The financial landscape since 1987 has changed so much, yet this work by Oliver Stone is still a must for anyone who wants to understand the ruthless dynamics of the business world.

 

9 – Pirates Of Silicon Valley – Martyn Burke

This is a film that was released directly on television. It didn’t make a big splash on its release, but it has become a cult film for its account of Silicon Valley. It’s actually more of a film about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, how they met and both of their run to success. For any entrepreneur it is an important film because it discusses how competition can be healthy, if stimulated within certain limits.

 

10 – Erin Brockovich – Steven Soderbergh

It may not seem like a film for anyone who is an entrepreneur, yet it has a very important message about gender issues and how not to give up in the face of discrimination. There is still a very strong prejudice in the world about women in business, entrepreneurs or not, and Erin Brockovich is a film that can make anyone understand just that.

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