Wednesday, December 12, 2018

UPEI professor helping young entrepreneurs launch their business ideas -

UPEI professor Matthew Pauley has plans to help young entrepreneurs on the Island bring their business ideas to life.

"My interest here is in micro and small business on the Island," Pauley said.

He is new to the Island and started teaching a course on entrepreneurship at UPEI's Faculty of Business in August.

Growing ideas

He's also heading up the Hostetter Centre for Enterprise on campus in an effort to encourage young people to put forward their local, small business ideas. 

The centre was first established in 2009 but has been largely dormant over the last several years.

Pauley is looking to help new and aspiring entrepreneurs with coaching through the centre in two major ways.

"You come with your business ideas and I work with you one-on-one to develop a business plan around that idea," he said. "The second part is … where you start your business and then we work one-on-one with you on your business."

'A way of thinking'

Pauley has high hopes to see the centre grow and assist Island entrepreneurs thrive.

Many of the business ideas that are brought forward have a tourism and agricultural focus, Pauley said, but he wants to encourage all students on campus with their business ideas, no matter what their area of study.

"Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking," he said.

He's already begun helping 28 students and three faculty members with their business ideas — and they're not just from the business faculty.

"They're engineering students, they're from the arts — I also have one political science student who's looking to start a business," he said. "I force them to really think outside of the box and look at the whole picture."

Pauley also has his sights on developing a venture capital fund, which he hopes will be led by UPEI students.

But the project is still in its initial stages.

More P.E.I. news

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How to start your online business in 6 simple steps - Digital Trends

This post was done in partnership with BigCommerce

So you’ve decided to become an entrepreneur. Whether you’ve recently quit your job or have chosen to turn your side-hustle into a full time business, it’s an exciting time. It can also be very challenging, especially if you’ve never started a business before. Making the right choices now can greatly impact your success down the line, and the last thing you want to do is spend your energy revisiting old decisions instead of growing your company.

To help you take the first steps, we’ve teamed up with BigCommerce, a feature-rich ecommerce solution for small businesses. Their retailers grow at 28 percent year after year on average, which makes them the ideal partner to help us offer advice on how to start, build, and improve your business.

1. Determine your unique selling proposition

Building a business around something you’re passionate about is one thing. It’s important that your product or service has something unique about it, too, to differentiate it from your competitors. Think about price, quality, ease of use, the status associated with it — any of these aspects could be emphasized to help you stand out from the crowd.

Don’t have items of your own to sell? Another strategy is to source products from drop-shipping providers and market your brand as a sophisticated, expert curator. In the same way that consignment stores collect clothing and accessories that fit a certain motif, you can select items from a number of producers and market them through your own channels at a premium.

2. Build an effective online store

This is the fun part: once you’ve decided on your business model, it’s time to turn your vision into reality by creating your retail website. Ensure the design you choose is retail-friendly — photo galleries can be tempting, but a dedicated ecommerce template will make you happier in the long run. Spend time searching for the right design now so that you don’t have to rebuild everything later on.

If you don’t have a designer or a developer on your team just yet, you’ll want to find a website builder that requires as little coding as possible. If you end up wanting more customization than the templates deliver, sites like BigCommerce connect you with experts who can help you build your website on a contract basis. This means you can build a beautiful, custom site while remaining lean.

3. Implement features that drive sales

The second part of building a successful online store is making sure it works with features that keep customers on the page. Look for sites that offer coupons and discounting, PayPal integration, or more advanced features like an abandoned cart saver. Seventy-four percent of online retail orders are abandoned every year. You want to make sure that your store is able to recapture those lost customers and help them return to your site.

Creating a seamless checkout also helps your customers make a purchase more easily, decreasing bounce rates and lost revenue. Consider offering free shipping (some ecommerce platforms include this as a feature) and partner with companies that provide real-time shipping quotes. The more accurate information you can give your customer up front, the more likely they are to purchase — and become loyal patrons.

how to start online store a laptop with red screen

4. Market to the masses

You can have the most eye-catching, robust website around — but it doesn’t matter if no one visits it. Spend some time optimizing your site for SEO. Choose long-tail keywords that you can own (think “order running shoes online” instead of the more common phrase “running shoes”) and sprinkle them in key places on your site, such as header tags and meta-descriptions. Doing so will help your site earn more search traffic and rank higher on Google.

This is relatively passive marketing, however. Engage in more proactive efforts like sending out targeted customer emails using a service like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, or HubSpot. This gives you an opportunity to remind customers of an item or service they were interested in, or re-engage them with limited time discounts.

5. Decide where to sell

These days, there are more places to sell your products than ever before. Take advantage of them by listing your products on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google Shopping, Instagram, and Square, among others. While it may seem intimidating if you haven’t worked with these platforms before, new ecommerce solutions make it relatively easy. Start by investigating which channels your audience uses the most. If, for example, most of your potential customers are on Facebook, connect your entire product catalog to the Shop section of your Facebook Page. Is your Instagram audience engaging with your content? Tag products in your photos to drive them to convert.

6. Constantly improve your site

It’s not enough to set it and forget it. The most successful businesses use data to their advantage, revisiting which tactics were the most impactful and where they should be improved. Services like Google Analytics will let you view your site’s traffic at a glance, while BigCommerce Analytics lets you dig into conversion rates and Average Order Value (AOV). By seeing where the bottlenecks are in your customer journey, you can adjust your copy and design strategically. No more guesswork necessary.

Ready to start creating your online business? Follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way. And of course, if you want a little more guidance as you get going, the experts are always around to help.

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Nutrisystem sold for $1.3 billion | 2018-12-11 - Food Business News

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Tivity Health, Inc., a provider of fitness and health improvement programs, has entered into an agreement to acquire Nutrisystem, Inc., Fort Washington, Pa., for $1.3 billion. Nutrisystem manages weight management brands under its namesake and the South Beach Diet.

“The acquisition of Nutrisystem is an exciting and transformational event for Tivity Health as we expand our portfolio of healthy lifestyle brands,” said Donato Tramuto, chief executive officer of Tivity Health. “Many of the most common chronic conditions afflicting Americans today are associated with weight management, nutrition and physical fitness, and addressing both calories in and calories out is an important part of alleviating those conditions.

“Today, Tivity Health manages calories out with our SilverSneakers, Prime Fitness and flip50 programs; and Nutrisystem manages calories in with its weight loss solutions. We believe combining our two companies will create entirely new value propositions for our health plans, fitness partners, members and consumers.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Nutrisystem shareholders will receive $38.75 per share in cash and 0.2141 Tivity Health shares for each share of Nutrisystem common stock. The transaction values Nutrisystem at an enterprise value of $1.3 billion and an equity value of $1.4 billion, or South Beach Diet protein barsapproximately $47 per share. The implied stock consideration of $8.25 per Nutrisystem share is based on the volume-weighted average price of Tivity Health’s stock for the 10 days ended Dec. 3, 2018.

“This transaction will provide our shareholders with significant value and the opportunity to participate in the upside potential of the combined company through ownership of Tivity Health stock,” said Dawn Zier, president and c.e.o. of Nutrisystem. “Tivity Health and Nutrisystem share a common strategic vision, mission and culture, and we look forward to working with the Tivity Health team to take the combined organization to the next level.”

Upon the closing of the transaction, Tivity Health said it expects to maintain all existing Nutrisystem brands as well as its offices in Fort Washington. Ms. Zier will also become president and chief operating officer of the company and report to Mr. Tramuto.

Staying the course - Long Island Business News

As the calendar turns a page to 2019, the personal investment picture is a little murky. The stock market has been volatile of late, interest rates are heading in an upward direction and taxpayers still haven’t completely figured out how changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will impact them.

“It’s probably going to be a more challenging year,” said Cliff Walsh, vice president of asset management for American Portfolios Financial Services in Holbrook, who heads investment strategies for the firm’s Nine Points Investment Management program.

After increasing every single month last year, the stock market became more volatile in 2018.

“This year, we’ve seen two periods where it pulled back at least 10 percent, which is more than we normally see,” Walsh said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 800 points as recently as Dec. 4, and some investors are getting skittish. In the coming year, rising interest rates may slow down economic activity and contribute to continued volatility, Walsh added.

The stock market’s volatility over the last couple of months is not too surprising given all that’s going on, said Lawrence Sprung, president of Mitlin Financial in Hauppauge.

“There has been uncertainty over international trade deals, there was a huge focus on the midterm elections, and interest rates are obviously front and center,” he said. “Further, there’s uncertainty surrounding the tax cuts and how they are going to impact businesses and individuals.”

Corporations, he said, “have the resources and ability to research and project the tax implications and maybe have a better handle on how the tax changes are going to impact their business lines. I think individuals for the most part have an idea of how things are going to impact them, but when push comes to shove, they’re not going to know exactly how they’re going to be impacted until they sit down and do their tax returns.”

Sprung recommends that individuals who are concerned about how the tax changes will impact them sit down with their CPA for a tax review and planning meeting before the end of the year to “see what the real impact is, and make necessary adjustments from there.”

While the stock market’s performance in the last couple of months has “rattled a few people,” he said, “the fundamentals are there for 2019 to be a good year.”

He added, “It’s important for investors to have a plan in place, and that they don’t abandon the ship the minute things start becoming volatile.”  

Jon Ten Haagen, founder and principal of Huntington-based Ten Haagen Financial Group, agrees that the economy will continue to grow in 2019.

“We’re going to see more volatility, and slower growth than this year, but there will be growth,” he said. “We’re not going into a recession through the end of 2019, but after ’19, there’s a possibility of it.”

With the recent volatility, Ten Haagen said some investors are getting nervous and asking what they should do.

“But if they are working with a financial planner and have a well-diversified portfolio with stocks, bonds and alternatives, and an emergency fund on the side for when the boiler blows up or the cars dies and they have to get money now, they are going to be fine,” he said.

The Federal Reserve has indicated it will raise interest rates one more time in 2018 and three times next year, but Ten Haagen said there will be fewer rate hikes if the economy slows down too much.

“We had historically low interest rates for so long, and people were saying, ‘It’s not a matter of if rates will go up but a matter of when,’” Sprung said. “But now that they are going up, it’s almost like we’re shocked that we’re finally here. The interest rate situation has to be handled very carefully. It’s not a matter of just raising or keeping the rates the same; it has to be looked at in conjunction with what’s going on with the economy, employment and where we foresee things are going. The Fed is in a tough spot. If they act too early and too quickly, they risk putting us into a recession. If they don’t act quickly enough, they risk inflation creeping in. It’s a fine line.”

Business News: Ironshore Bermuda, Claimify, ICORP Investigations - Claims Journal

Ironshore Bermuda Rebrands and Integrates With Liberty Specialty Markets

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, plans to integrate its Ironshore Bermuda businesses and brands into a single business branded as: Liberty Specialty Markets Bermuda.

The new business will be led by Steve Horton, currently chief executive of Iron-Starr Excess Agency. He becomes president of Liberty Specialty Markets Bermuda (subject to approval by the Bermuda Department of Immigration) and will report to Mark Wheeler, president, international markets. The business will utilize the managing general agency structure, previously Iron-Starr Excess Agency Ltd, across its product lines, enabling each business to provide Liberty capacity as well as access to third party capacity.

Ironshore in Bermuda historically comprised two businesses: Ironshore Bermuda, which opened in 2007, writing, property, energy and specialty re/insurance, and Iron-Starr Excess Agency, which began in 2009 and writing excess casualty, financial lines and healthcare within Iron-Starr Excess Agency.

Steve Horton joined the Ironshore group in 2008 through Ironshore’s Lloyd’s platform, Pembroke Managing Agency Limited. Horton worked as a primary financial institutions underwriter before transferring to Iron-Starr in 2010. At Iron-Starr, he was initially charged with growing international business before being promoted to financial lines manager and subsequently chief executive officer.

Lucens Group Announces Corporate Name Change to Claimify

Lucens Group,, a disability insurance technology and services company, announced that it is changing its corporate name to Claimify, LLC. The name change reflects the company’s broader commitment and its expertise in driving the digital innovation needed to shape the future of the insurance industry.

Since the company’s inception, its focus has centered on settlement facilitation and benefit validation enablement solutions. These capabilities have supported carriers and claimants by reducing the cumbersome and resource intensive procedures in order to streamline these often complicated and time-consuming processes. This has resulted in simple service-based offerings for all parties to balance technology with human interaction in order to expedite accurate processing while providing an expanded range of options. In 2019, Claimify will take the industry to the next level with technology firsts in automated claim lifecycle management.

Claimify is focusing its efforts on revolutionary new technologies that combine decades of expertise in the space with next generation managed services designed to reliably deliver fast, error-free user experiences. Carriers leveraging these new solutions will gain immediate competitive and financial advantages as Claimify harnesses the power of data to improve service levels and revenues.

Visit Claimify at The new name is effective immediately, and will be implemented across the company’s products and solutions throughout calendar year 2019 and beyond.

ICORP Investigations, Inc. Launches i-Justify Conversation Management

N.Y.-based ICORP Investigations, Inc. announced the launch of i-Justify Conversation Management, Innovative Risk Identification and Cost Containment Solution.

i-Justify is an advanced approach which verifies the authenticity of a claim immediately and operates on several sophisticated levels. ICORP’s approach achieves the full detail of any claim and also acts as a solid validation process even when there are no immediate concerns, finding the claims to pay quickly. i-Justify is expected to enable the insurer to see a shorter claim cycle time and identify risk more quickly.

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