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8 Ways To Start A Global Business From Nothing

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This article all about Lisa Messenger and how she has completely disrupted the magazine industry and has influenced game changers like Arianna Huffington, George Clooney and Richard Branson to contribute to her vision.

I have wanted to have Lisa Messenger on Addicted2Success for a while. I recently caught up with her for an interview and in my eyes she is one of the most exciting female entrepreneurs in Australia right now. When I first saw her speaking on stage she was dressed in all white, with a glorious, graceful, angelic like appearance and she came across as a visionary leader from another planet that was destined to change the world.

Lisa is most well known for launching her magazine in 2013 called The Collective with no money and no experience in magazines what so ever! The Collective Magazine has gone on to be a global success and is now in thirty-seven countries with a vision of empowering people to live their best life and telling the story behind the story.

It took Lisa over twelve years to start looking at doing business outside of Australia and she puts it down to fear, perceived lack of knowledge, incorrect thinking around the need for government grants, and even thinking she needed someone’s permission.

Below are Lisa’s eight ways to not make the same mistakes she did and start a global business from nothing.

 

1. Be bold like Lisa and keep the plan simple

Think about why you want to take your business global and don’t do it just to be global for the sake of it. It’s only fear and your own misconceptions that are holding you back from going global, and once you start to look into it, it’s not that complex.

What happens with 99.9% of entrepreneurs is that they think they need to write laborious business plans that are a hundred pages long and contain every last detail before they can go global. Lisa sees’s herself as purposely, counter-intuitive to all of that and prefers to do what she calls back of the envelope plans. The most her plan will ever be is two pages and sometimes as little as two sentences.

Many entrepreneurs carry around a limiting belief that involves them thinking they lack the finances to get their idea off the ground and into an international market – Lisa has proven this is simply not true.

 

2. Pre-sell your idea

Once the plan is written out Lisa will then go around to corporate’s and tell them her idea so she can raise the money she needs to take it global. Every single thing that Lisa ever does is presold. There is usually no strategy on how she is going to implement the idea, and it’s made up as she goes along. This process is called being visionary and then executing.

At the execution stage, Lisa is very good at finding teams, putting them together, and then making the idea happen. In the early stages of The Collective, Lisa was very tenacious and would tell corporates that she had no money, no team and no experience in magazines, but that she can deliver on her promise.

With traditional magazines, they would normally sell pages of advertising to make revenue, whereas Lisa approached corporates and did sponsorships to cover the $350k that it costs to put out each issue of the magazine.

Each corporate sponsorship came bundled with advertorials, syndicated content back to them, speaking gigs, copies of the magazine to give to their clients and event partnerships. These sponsorships were combined with traditional advertisements in the magazine allowing her to ask for more money each time and focus on doing chunkier deals and less of them.

All of these factors combined were what allowed Lisa to pre-sell her idea to corporates. No matter how small the investment was from a corporate, it didn’t matter in the early days of The Collective because Lisa saw it as someone believing in her idea other than her, which validated the concept clearly in her mind.

You need to hustle a lot and embrace the challenge to pre-sell your idea, which will give you the success you need to take your startup global. Recognise what your currency is other than dollars. For a company like The Collective it’s content and so they can trade with a non-competing partner to maybe have their magazine distributed to a partner’s database in exchange for an article on their company that interests The Collective’s readers.

At the start of your business, you almost need to throw yourself at prospects, but as you get bigger and bigger things become easier. As an example, Lisa had Ryan Gosling on the front of one of her magazine issues and after that moment, she now get’s lots of publicists contacting her with influential people to feature on the front cover.

 

3. Attend an overseas trade fair

When Lisa found out, there was an event called Distripress she made the bold move to travel to the event with her Marketing Director Claire Bellbeck when they had very little money. They had to do lots of small deals just to be able to have the money to get there. In one day, they got to have a meeting with thirteen global media distributors all in the one place.

After the end of the event, they ended up being able to piece together distribution deals with thirteen different distributors, which Lisa says anyone can do, and it’s not that complex. She feels it’s really just a matter of finding out who distributes your particular product and going to a place where there are going to be more than one distributor.

With the deal in place, Lisa wanted to be in over fifty countries as quick as she could but she didn’t realise that it can be quite costly to ship physical magazines all around the world. She later settled on thirty-seven countries so she could focus on making a good return in strategic markets.

 

4. Pre-convince everyone you do business with

When you start working with a global distributor, they want you to commit to a certain spend in each market. It’s one thing to get product into a store, but it’s another thing to get it out of the store and for people to know it exists in the first place.

Using the power of persuasion and thinking differently, Lisa started saying things like, “I can’t afford to have a placement in the newsagency or to spend money on advertising, we need people to back us and believe in our vision.” What she did do though is make the bold move of guaranteeing them a certain amount of profit, which had never really been done in the magazine industry.

Distributors would then ask her how she knew that the magazine was going to sell, and she would tell them that she didn’t and that if it didn’t work out, she would have to find the money somehow to pay them back.

The way Lisa described her technique for doing deals in the early days was to reverse engineer them because she didn’t have the money to do things the traditional way.

Another example of a deal Lisa did early on in her journey was when she managed to get the airport light walls (floor to ceiling walls) covered with advertisements of her magazine. These are typically paid for up front, but Lisa managed to convince them to back her and put them up without upfront payment.

“People love entrepreneurs and they really want to help small business. You have to get people to buy into your dream and your passion. If you’re doing something with integrity that is going to have a positive impact on the world, you will be surprised at how many people get behind you“

 

5. Make the right approach and try traditional media

The first way that Lisa says you can market your business for global success is to approach traditional media like television, print and radio. To be successful at getting your brand onto these channels, it’s all in the way you position your approach. It’s best to start with getting to know the head of the area that you are going to pitch too first, rather than a cold approach.

The biggest mistake Lisa has seen startups make in these types of pitches is presenting a one size fits all solution. Second to this, many startups pitch ideas to traditional media where they say “this is my story, and I am amazing”. This approach won’t work either. You need to pitch the something that fits with their audience and gets you noticed at the same time.

The way you position your pitch needs to be about what’s in it for them not the other way round.

Lisa Messenger - Live Life Stay Humble - Tim Denning Interview
 

6. Think clearly about your social strategy

For your startup to go global, you need to have a clear and concise social media strategy just like The Collective. The key to this strategy is to share openly and authentically content that is relevant to your audience.

“With any business it is important to have multiple touch points, be where people want you, on a platform they want you, at a time they want you. This might sound cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason”

Don’t try and be somebody else on social media, get to the heart of who you are and what your startup is about and convey that message as best as you can. As you find influencers that are in line with your startup, begin commenting and sharing their articles so that you’re on their radar, and they might share your content in return.

If you’re selling chairs, for example, you need to think to yourself who are the most influential bloggers that have the greatest followings in the interior space. Maybe you send ten of your bespoke chairs to these influencers, and they photograph or blog about the product.

“You cannot underestimate the power of having a great product or service because when it’s great, it speaks for itself”

Ask yourself the question, what would you do to be a good person in the world and how would you communicate if the conversation were face to face? The result of this question is what you should take online.

Try to make sure that the articles or content you share don’t date as much as possible. This means that if someone came to your social media page for the first time and they read an article, they wouldn’t feel like they were reading yesterday’s news.

Another strategy you can try is if you have a cool top-secret project coming up or idea, you can half tell or plant things into different communities, to test people’s reactions and create a buzz. If the reaction to something were very negative, you could think twice about proceeding with the idea.

When you have great content, the amplification of your brand across social media can be enormous. The community of The Collective has carried the visionary message that Lisa wants to spread as if it’s their own. Even though Lisa is technically the sole financier of The Collective, she feels that it’s the community that own it now.

 

7. Demand a great culture

As the founder of the business, Lisa feels that it’s her job to set the tone of the culture, the direction and the vision. As your startup grows, your team will start to buy into and emulate the vision. Lisa gave a great example where she said that one of her new team members with good intention posted on social media, “Yay it’s Friday,” and Lisa said kindly, “hey that’s not quite in line with our culture we don’t like to position work as the enemy.”

Lisa strongly believes your life and work can blend if you find your purpose, your passion and your why, then you can be your authentic self at any time of the day, not just when you finish work. In Lisa’s life, she is so passionate about what she does that the lines between work and her personal life are blurred because she is doing what she has always wanted to do.

To be able to scale your vision globally, you must have a team that love working for you and work with you because they love what they do, not because they necessarily get paid to do it.

 

8. Run a lean team and find ways to attract talent

Lisa Messenger

Lisa Messenger

For many years, Lisa felt inadequate as a startup because people seem to have a measurement around how many staff you have and how that correlates to your success. For twelve years of Lisa’s business journey she had only three staff and she looks back now and says it was one of the smartest ways to do business.

In the early days Lisa had a lot more freelancers and consultants that she would bring in depending on the project, which meant that she wasn’t paying staff when she didn’t have projects. The twenty-three people she directly employs now are very much the dealmakers, marketing, management and design that are core, and then the other functions are fulfilled by eighty freelancers. This structure also allows The Collective to pay a set fee for a task and pull in the right teams for the right jobs based on their speciality.

To attract talent to your startup Lisa feels it’s a little bit of “fake it till you make it” and you have to get really good at telling your story even if you haven’t had any success yet. What I love is that when Lisa meets someone who hasn’t heard of The Collective and turns her down for an offer, she gets quite excited because it just shows her that she still has a long way to go which equals more growth for The Collective – this is such a great mindset to have.

In terms of remuneration, Lisa says that you can’t always pay freelancers great money early on but what you can do is think outside of the box and invite them to cool events or send them some product for free. It comes back to the same overarching idea that Lisa lives by which is what currency do you have other than money to exchange value?

**Final Thought***

  • Don’t wait for someone else to back you
  • Don’t wait for government grants
  • Invest in yourself

 

renegade collective magazineLisa is offering YOU, as an Addicted2Success reader a 30% off exclusive for a 12 month subscription to her magazine THE COLLECTIVE. – Click Here for this Special Offer.

 

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship.You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. MUSENGIYAREMYE Expedith

    Aug 26, 2015 at 7:04 am

    This is real and it insipire to get started in entrepreneurship

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:33 am

      MUSENGIYAREMYE I hope it has inspired you and I look forward to seeing you take action!

  2. mr.anjani kumar sah

    Aug 23, 2015 at 11:39 am

    really ,it is good inspirational article
    ,

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:33 am

      Cheers Anjani!

  3. Michael Costa

    Jul 28, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Lisa, you will have my vote for prime minister.

    • Tim Denning

      Jul 29, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      I agree Michael!

  4. Lawrence Berry

    Jul 16, 2015 at 1:30 am

    This is really some great advice and I can see that this woman’s determination and tenacity has gotten her where she wants to be. I am looking to start a global business, but its very tough for me to find the right people to connect to and reach out to. I know that everyone who has really started a business and have gotten investors to look at them, have reached out to the investors. I think pre-selling an idea with passion and letting people know how you plan on making money is one of the biggest things to do. Like the woman above, you can find that if people are willing to invest even a little bit of capital, you can begin to feel confident that your idea will work in the market. Great post!

    • Tim Denning

      Jul 16, 2015 at 10:57 pm

      Lawrence I have already seen that you have a similar tenacity to Lisa so I am sure that if you keep persisting your vision will come to fruition. I read an article yesterday from one of the founders of AirBnb who shared some of the emails that he sent to investors early on. Most of them thought he didn’t have a business and would never make it. Now his company is valued at billions of dollars. It’s easy to shut down an idea and it takes no skill in doing so. The skill is coming up with a good idea and then having the tenacity to follow it through no matter what. That’s what Lisa did and that’s what you have the opportunity to do. The fact that you’re already on this site every single day trying to inspire others shows me that you have what it takes.
      Much Respect.

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Startups

You Are The Problem With Your Business

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A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.

I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.

Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.

Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?

Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.

The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.


Your company is a reflection of you.

It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.

One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.

The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.

In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.

The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.

The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.


Take responsibility and it will change.

When you own the business, everything is your fault.

You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.

The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.

Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.

Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.


Change is a must.

Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.

Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”

You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.

Change you.

Not the business.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Startups

The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up

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Image Credit: Unsplash

You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.

How to Evaluate Success

As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.

But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson

The Numbers

When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?

The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.

So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.

1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems

The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.

This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.

In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.

2. Impact

Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).

In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.

“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins

3. Freedom

For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.

The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.

Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.

4. Time for Friends and Family

As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.

Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.

A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.

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Startups

The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.

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spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.

I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.

People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.

This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.

I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.

I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.

That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.


Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.

I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.

They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.

All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.


Your clients tell you every day that you suck.

I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.

Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.

The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.

That wasn’t it.


You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.

I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.

Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.

The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.

They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.

“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.

I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.

The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.

It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.

The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.


You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.

A good business solves a problem.

That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.

This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.

Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.

Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.

Solving only your problem will make you poor.

The problem still wasn’t their website or product.


Creating more problems.

Everything this business owner sold created more problems.

They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.

They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.

They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.

Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.

If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.


The heart of the problem.

It’s the business owner.

The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.

The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.

You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.

Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.

Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.

Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.

<<<>>>

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Entrepreneurs

18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups

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business books

Reading is both relaxation and training for the mind. Who reads, dives into another world. Learning, entertaining and breaking out of everyday life for a short moment. One could go even so far as to say reading is the second most beautiful thing in the world! Whether it is non-fiction or a novel of all the world’s man has created, the book is the most powerful tool. That is also, why we wanted to find out which business book you should undertake in the new year. (more…)

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