Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Robinhood: The New Fremium Model

Robinhood is a zero-commission brokerage app for the iPhone, and is unlike any existing stock-market app.  What sets it apart is - it's mobile first, has no human traders to pay, doesn't charge a commission for standard trades and does does not require a minimum deposit - kissing the middleman good-bye.

Who does Robinhood work best for?  Someone in their twenties who wants to invest a couple hundred bucks here or there to put into the market.
Their “freemium” model allows customers to buy and sell US-listed stocks and ETFs, place market orders and limit orders, track data in real time, and customise watchlists for free. The app will, however, charge customers for premium services like margin lending.
Learn more:  Snoop Dogg and Marc Andreessen Backed This No-Fee Trading App Launching Today [12/12/14]

Is Robinhood global?  If not now, it will be.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Small Business Trends in 2015

Here's what we are seeing for small business trends in 2015:
  • Alternative capital flows will gain traction.
  • 3D printing will enable small batch manufacturing.
  • Big data analytics will see increased adoption.
  • The Internet will continue to be important.
  • The Cloud will be critical.
  • Content will be king.
Source:  6 Small Business Trends To Watch Out For in 2015
  • The shaping of the economy begins to mature.
  • Mobile payments come of age.
  • Startups on the side.
Source:  3 Trends Will Drive Innovation in 2015
  • Mobile SEO
  • Local SEO
Source:  2015 SEO Trends You Need to Know
  • Bitcoin will not go away.
  • More small businesses will go global.
  • Live online events will become more important.
  • Apps will take a new life form.
  • Global mobile commerce is set to explode.
  • Wearable/shareable devices will heat up fast and show huge increases. 
Source:  Laurel Delaney, President,

Person to Watch in 2015: Jennie Smith

Hometown girl Jennie Smith went from growing beautiful heirloom tomatoes on her three-acre farm called Butcher Crick Farms, and selling them at the downtown farmers market and to local restaurants - to taking a job as a sales manager at Kemin Industries in a new division called crop technologies, which the Des Moines-based company plans to launch next year.
Her passion for food and farming, and the drive that has taken her from running a small tomato farm to joining a life science company with a global footprint, makes her a person to watch in 2015.
Read the entire article:  Jennie Smith:  From tomato farm to global science company

Monday, December 29, 2014

Today in Global Small Business: Marketing Trends to Keep Your Eye On

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

In Chicago, You Honor Fallen Heroes and Horses

Horses of Honor Public Art, a celebration of Chicago's heroes:
Since 1853, over 500 Chicago Police officers have sacrificed their lives to protect our city. In honor of those who we have lost, Wintrust has partnered with the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation for a public art installation to benefit our fallen heroes. Designed to resemble Chicago’s Mounted Patrol Unit horses, the Horses of Honor will stand for providing support and assistance to the families of those men and women who have been killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.
Learn more:  Horses of Honor Public Art | Chicago Police Memorial Foundation

Photo credit:  ©Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Trends That Are Shaping the Traditional Holiday Shopping Season

How will the country’s biggest retailers fair this holiday shopping season?  It's too early too tell but there are some identifiable trends that are shaping the traditional holiday shopping season.  For example, one is that retailers are starting their sales a lot earlier now.

Find out what the others are here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays From The Global Small Business Blog!

©Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
Merry Christmas and
Happy 2015.

Go Take On the World!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

As Featured on Illinois Business This Week TV (12/19/14)!

We are thrilled to be featured on Illinois Business This Week! If you are pressed for time, advance the scroll bar to about 10 minutes into the program and there we are! Feel free to follow the reporter, Sandra Guy (@SandraGuy), for more great stories coming soon.  Meanwhile, we thank her ever so much for the coverage.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Potbelly Goes Global One Nation and One Neighborhood at a Time

According to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Potbelly, a Chicago-based sandwich-shop chain, will open ten London locations in five years.
The London stores would be the company's first in Europe and are part of Lewis' [Potbelly CEO's] plan to build “a Potbelly global nation one neighborhood at a time.” The sandwich chain, which had 347 stores as of Sept. 28, expanded into the Middle East in 2012, where it operates a dozen franchise stores in Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
Read the entire article:  Chicago-based Potbelly plans major European expansion

Monday, December 22, 2014

Today in Global Small Business: The Year Ahead According to Mary Meeker

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas: We All Go Through It Together

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together." - Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home

Friday, December 19, 2014

Are Yemeni Startups Exaggerating Their Potential?

Last year in an interview with the Yemen Times Radio, Jamal Al-Mutareb—a businessman and investor who has backed a number of Yemeni startups in the past said:
Many local initiatives are not taken seriously by investors because their potential is exaggerated. While there is a general interest among Yemeni businessmen to invest in local startups, he said, frustration prevails as information provided by Yemeni entrepreneurs is often unreliable.
Read more about what is needed to generate greater attention to entrepreneurship in Yemen.  Perhaps setting entrepreneurship as a priority by the government might help advance a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem in Yemen.

To build an entrepreneurship ecosystem in Yemen

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What It's Like to Be a Global Entrepreneur

Four entrepreneurs address the following four questions on what it's like to be a global entrepreneur.
  1. What’s your experience and how did you start out in business?
  2. What characterizes entrepreneurship and what’s great about it?
  3. Can you be creative and make money in business?
  4. Can turning what you love into a business help with your success?
Read:  Entrepreneurship:  A global perspective

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Walgreens Goes Global

After Walgreen's acquisition of the European drugstore giant, Alliance Boots, Walgreens formed a new holding company with four divisions that include "Global Brands." The other three divisions are:
  1. Walgreen Co., which includes the U.S. drugstore chain
  2. Boots, which includes the pharmacy and beauty business in the United Kingdom and Ireland
  3. The global wholesale operation
According to the Global Powers of Retailing 2014 list by auditing firm Deloitte Touche, "Walgreen is now the eleventh-largest retailer of any type in the world (not just among drugstore chains), one of eight U.S. companies in the top twenty, the sixth-largest retailer of any type in the U.S., and is among the top-fifty e-retailers in the world (again, of any type, not just drugstores)."

To learn more, visit:  Under Pessina, Look For Walgreen to Boost Global Brands

Related article:  Walgreens:  Your Local Drugstore Going Global

Monday, December 15, 2014

Today in Global Small Business: What Bitcoin Technology May Offer to the Future of Finance

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Engaging the Whole World

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” - Hamilton Wright Mabie

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guess Who Has More Than 400,000 Global Customers?

Gosh that could be any company with almost a half a million customers but in this instance it's software developer Xero (not Xerox) that says it has more than 400,000 customers globally and is "back on track" in its key US market where it wants to take market share of an estimated 29 million small to medium sized business owners.

In 2014, Xero processed more than $250 billion worth of transactions, 95 million invoices and now holds more than a half a petabyte of data collected which covers business performance and gives insight into small business economics and trends, the Wellington-based company said in a statement.

Learn more:  Xero reaches 400,000 global customers

Thursday, December 11, 2014

POLITICO Expands to Europe

POLITICO, an American political journalism organization with a focus on national politics and government, unveiled the first stage of their global expansion: a European edition of POLITICO, launching this spring with a team of 70, as a joint venture with Brussels-based Axel Springer, Europe’s largest news publisher.

Here's the scoop:
POLITICO Europe will be based in Berlin, with reporters in major capitals, and newsrooms and business presences in Berlin and Paris. The goal: to create the largest most influential political and policy publication on the Continent.
WOW.  Great goal for 2015.  All businesses, big and small, should have a goal of going global in 2015.

Read more:  POLITICO Goes Global:  Europe edition launches this spring with team of 70

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

'Startup Land' Book Is Anything But Conventional

Photo courtesy:  Laurel J. Delaney
I was sent a review copy of "Startup Land:  How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea Into a Global Business," because the publicist thought the book was a good fit for The Global Small Business Blog.  She is right.

How could anyone not get something from "Startup Land" or do you not know who Mikkel Svane is and what he accomplished?  Svane cofounded Zendesk -- software for better customer service -- in Copenhagen in 2007 with Morten Primdahl and Alexander Aghassipour.  Today, Svane leads a global publicly traded company with customers in 150 countries and products and services that reach hundreds of millions of people.  Talk about inventing disruptive technology that has inspired a whole new generation of customer-focused companies.

So yes, there are many lessons in this book for you.  Rather than focus on the chapter titles, I'll give you a listing of sub-titles because they are more telling and after each one I want you to ask yourself, "What did he do?"
  1. Believing that what you're doing is great and knowing nothing of what's to come
  2. Keeping it together when things should be falling apart
  3. How to turn down money and keep your company (and your soul)
  4. Battling circumstances beyond your control
  5. Getting investors and getting along with your partners
  6. Chasing the dream - and dealing with the reality
  7. Leveraging location and upending our lives
  8. Going from building a product to building a company - and messing up along the way
  9. From idealist to realist, and the uncomfortable journey in between
  10. Becoming a public company and remembering where we came from
Svane gives a complete run-down of what the three cofounders did under each circumstance.  One of my favorite parts in the book is at the end in A Few More Thoughts because Svane talks about how his story is such a small part of the story of Zendesk.  He says, "The story of any startup is actually the story of its customers.  It's about real-life relationships with people who bought what the company was selling."

Whether you are an aspiring global entrepreneur or seasoned global small business owner, if you feel stuck and can't take another step forward without some help, pick up this book and read it.  If you stumble again, re-read it for its how-to aspect -- how to build a great enduring global enterprise. Solutions can be found at every turn of the page.

I'll make it easy for you.  Go here to purchase.  Oh, and the book is co-authored by Mikkel Svane and Carlye Adler who is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

America's Best Small-Town Destinations

Fodor's Travel offers a list of America's best small-town destinations -- Telluride, Marfa and Beaufort, for example -- with populations under 30,000 that have a storied history and year-round appeal. The list is made up of detour-worthy towns all over the U.S. that have strong cultural offerings or great outdoor adventures, in addition to good eats and lodging options. For your next small-town getaway, head to any of these 10 remarkable spots.  Or, perhaps you already live in one of these areas.  If so, remember, whether a town or a business, you may be small today, but you can grow to be large tomorrow!

Read:  America's Best Small Towns

Monday, December 08, 2014

Today in Global Small Business: Beware, Fraudsters Love the Holidays

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Best Damn Coffeecake on the Planet

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
If you haven't tried O&H Danish Bakery's award-winning Kringle, you are missing out on tasting the best damn coffeecake on the planet.(Secret:  For those who are near a Trader Joe's location - they carry Kringle at special times of the year.  Inquire.  By picking one up, you can save on delivery fees.)

Friday, December 05, 2014

Be Passionate About What You Do and Live Your Legend

Let's face it.  If you are not into what you are doing professionally, how will you ever ride out the rough bumps along the way?  The only way to sustain what you do for a living is to love what you do.  Oh, and don't forget, failure comes with the territory until you get something to work.

Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes proves it.
Holmes’ company [Theranos, a health technology and medical laboratory services company] has been expanding rapidly, having grown from 500 to 700 employees even since Fortune wrote about it just five months ago [2014]. Its phlebotomists now draw blood from patients by fingerstick at dedicated “wellness centers” at more than 40 Walgreens in Arizona and one in Palo Alto, Calif., often emailing back results to both the patient and physician within hours.
Read:  Young Entrepreneurs Need "a Mission"

Have you got a mission?  If not, find one and get going in 2015! Whether young or old, everyone needs a mission in life.  Live your legend.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Are the Survival Instincts of SMEs in UAE Higher Than Elsewhere in the World?

According to Alexander Williams, Director of Strategy and Policy Division at Dubai SME, the most important issue faced by any new SME that’s struggling to survive a year after set up is the non-availability of funding.

Williams's advice is as follows:
“Secure necessary funding and always take on an investor or a partner on board,” he says adding that although the failure rate of SMEs in the country could be on par with global standards, the resilience seen here is much higher compared to anywhere else in the world.
Read the entire article:  UAE SMEs more resilient compared to global counterparts

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Why Businesses Should Come Clean On Disclosing Their Overseas Deals

How transparent are the world's most powerful companies?  How is transparency in big companies linked to poverty and instability in the countries they operate in?  Who are the best and worst companies on openness about their business operations?

By now you must curious as all heck.  To find out, take a look at "Transparency in Corporate Reporting," a study that ranks 124 of the world's biggest publicly traded companies based on how open they are about their business operations.
The report assesses the disclosure practices of companies with respect to their anti-corruption programmes, company holdings and the disclosure of key financial information on a country-by-country basis.
Learn more:  Global companies not transparent enough

Monday, December 01, 2014

Today in Global Small Business: A Short, Hard-Hitting Book on Exporting Essentials

©2014 Laurel J Delaney.  All rights reserved.
What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Meet Chicago Sculptor and Scholar Garland Martin Taylor

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
The day after Thanksgiving was no different in my running schedule - yes I am a runner! - even though the temperatures in Chicago held steady at a brisk 25 degrees F.

When I reached my one mile mark near Berger Park in Rogers Park, Illinois, I discovered sculptor and scholar Garland Martin Taylor (as shown).  The photos you see are of his amazing work.  Imagine doing what he does, passionately but in freezing cold weather.  That's a true and dedicated artist entrepreneur!

Here's a snapshot of his bio:
Garland is a sculptor and independent researcher from Chicago where he earned a Masters in Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute. A self-described formalist, in the studio he welds and shapes metal manufacturing industry discards into both, life-sized functional works, and monumental abstract sculptures-heirlooms.
What you see above is a little of Garland's genius in full throttle.  Check out Garland's website and watch a short video of his process here.

Keep up your amazing work Garland and so nice to meet you!

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Path to Doing Business Successfully in Latin America

Albert Costilo | Photo courtesy Lauren Lee Photography.  All rights reserved.
I conducted an interview with Albert Costilo (pictured), CEO and founder of GlobalBusinessFluency (, which specializes in expanding sales for US SMEs in Latin America. What follows is a primer to conducting business successfully in Latin America.  Use it to kick your business up a notch internationally.

An Exporter's Primer to Doing Business in Latin America

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The State of Washington: A Place of Global Importance

Is Washington failing to realize its potential on the global stage?  That’s the premise of a report, "Improving the Washington Region's Global Competitiveness," released by George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, which criticizes the region’s economic reliance on the federal government and suggests ways it can become a bigger player in the global marketplace.

Interesting comment referenced in the article:
“If you’re not looking globally and you’re not realizing your potential in the global marketplace, you’re not in this century,” said Bob Buchanan, the group’s president [referring to the 2030 Group] and head of the development firm Buchanan Partners.
Read the entire 90-page report:  "Improving the Washington Region's Global Competitiveness"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to Spark Global Entrepreneurship

The United States has committed to a big, audacious goal to expand economic opportunity for all, especially women and youth.  The U.S. will spark $1 billion in new private investments over the next three years for entrepreneurs worldwide, including social entrepreneurs. Half of these investments will be generated by women and young entrepreneurs.

What this says is that the Administration has delivered on its commitment to greatly expand and support global entrepreneurship and economic opportunity around the world.

Learn  more about some of the U.S.'s signature entrepreneurial achievements in the past five years:
FACT SHEET:  Global Entrepreneurship Summit | The White House

Monday, November 24, 2014

Today in Global Small Business: Amazon Launches in China

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Mirror to the Sky: Cloud Gate

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
Cloud Gate is a public 110-ton elliptical sculpture designed by British artist Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois.

The sculpture reflects Chicago's famous skyline and the clouds above. In the case of the lower photo, if you look closely to the left, that is me - Laurel Delaney - taking a closeup of the Cloud Gate.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Global Entrepreneurial Mindset is Always Optimistic

Amy Schultz, instructor of entrepreneurship and project-based learning at Feather River College in Quincy, California says, "I would describe the entrepreneur mindset as – first and foremost – optimism. Because that will drive everything else."  She goes on to say, "“It gives you hope that whatever your challenge is, you will be able to overcome it. Optimism is what attracts other people. People are naturally attracted to optimists and people with great attitudes.”

Read:  Learning entrepreneurship on a global economy scale

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Take It Global in 2015

I wrote the article below originally for's Import and Export site and then decided to feature it on LinkedIn where I am a key influencer.  That's when it went viral.  On my Twitter account @LaurelDelaney, it was the first time I was "trending in Australia!" Even Pulse picked up the article as a special feature.  Have a look:

7 Unexpected Reasons to Take Your Business Global in 2015

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Global Ecommerce Sales Are Expected to Reach $1.4 Trillion by 2016

According to a report from Deloitte Digital, global ecommerce sales are expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2016.  Retailers are finally recognizing the huge opportunity of going global with their business.

Discover what the four key trends (drivers) are in global ecommerce growth.

Here's one:
Increase in global shipping: International shipping is seeing its growth driven primarily through flexible shipping options and fulfillment services that provide retailers low-cost/low-risk options for gaining exposure in new areas. With the ability to outsource fulfillment, retailers can reach customers beyond their domestic market without having to invest in building a global infrastructure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Juice Up Exports

The Obama administration promised to double exports in five years - from 2009-2014.  But we are far short of that goal.  Still, some products including fossil fuels have surged despite policy barriers at the border.

Read:  Obama Looks to Jump-Start Export Push
Note:  If every small business owner had the opportunity to read Exporting:  The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably, we would have a better chance at doubling exports in the NEXT five years.