Nine Business Lessons We’ve Learned from Each Star Wars Movie

In honor of May the 4th, we’re ready to get in the spirit for Star Wars day! With its classic storyline of good vs. evil among the cosmos, Star Wars has inspired generations of fans both young and old… including business owners! Let’s take a journey through the story of Star Wars, with business lessons that we’ve learned from each movie that every entrepreneur needs to know.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

1.) The Phantom Menace – Be Willing to Take A Risk

In Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn goes with his gut and takes a chance on Anakin Skywalker, making the risky gamble of offering up his ship in exchange for the boy’s freedom. Despite the fact that many would have counseled him otherwise, Qui-Gon saw something in Anakin and was willing to risk it all in order to see his vision for Anakin’s future become a reality. For business owners, this is a reality that likely sounds very familiar. In order to see your dreams for your business come to fruition, you often must take a risk first. Whether it’s quitting your day job, securing financing, or making a long-term investment, running a business can require taking leaps of faith. But, as many business owners would agree, the risk is often worth the reward.

 

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

2.) Attack of the Clones – Take Initiative

In Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker’s grown quite a bit since his last appearance inThe Phantom Menace. If there’s one thing he’s learned to do well in the timespan between the two movies (which take place ten years apart), it’s how to take initiative, sometimes to Obi-Wan’s chagrin. While this occasionally can lead to trouble, Anakin’s initiative is the catalyst for quite a few victories in the Star Wars universe, including chasing down and catching a bounty hunter and saving Obi-Wan from captivity on Geonosis. A good business owner knows that sometimes, in order to see things done, one has to take matters into their own hands. Taking initiative to make that sale, purchase that new piece of equipment, or arrange that business partnership you’ve been thinking of will lead to big payoffs down the road for your business.

 

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

3.) Revenge of the Sith – Even at Your Lowest Point, Keep Pushing Forward

By the end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we see the Old Republic and the Jedi Order fallen due to the betrayal of Anakin Skywalker, now Darth Vader. For Yoda, Obi-Wan and the rest of the crippled remnants of the Republic, it could have been very easy to give up all hope and resign themselves to defeat. However, the film ends on a bright, hopeful note, placing its hopes in Vader’s twin children, who would grow to become the protagonists of the original trilogy. The final scenes serve as a reminder that although the heroes had hit an all-time low, it wasn’t over yet. Some business owners may have to deal with the same problem; after all, nothing goes perfectly in the business world. The most successful business owners, however, keep their heads up during their low points, refusing to give up and resolving to press forward to see the victory that’s on the other side.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

4.) Rogue One – Find Your “Why”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a newer addition to the Star Wars series, but it’s easy to get caught up in the story of the ragtag group of characters it introduces. Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and the gang all have very different backstories, but achieve victory in the end because they are all rallied around and committed to the same cause. They all knew, regardless of whether or not they survived their mission, why they were willing to put their lives on the line for their cause. While your business may encounter life-or-death scenarios like the situations the crew from Rogue One faced, you will no doubt face trials on the road to business success. The key to overcoming these trials? Rememberingwhy you love to do what you do in the first place. Keeping your mind set on the ultimate goal will help you to overcome any hurdles that stand in your way.

 

Star Wars: A New Hope

5.) A New Hope – Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Luke Skywalker may not have been entirely content with his life as a farm boy on Tatooine inEpisode IV: A New Hope, but he was comfortable. He’d never had to face challenges before in his life, and when Obi-Wan Kenobi offered him a chance to join up for the adventure of a lifetime, Luke initially turned down the offer because it would have required him to leave behind everything he ever knew. When he did step out of his comfort zone, however, he became the hero that the Rebel Alliance needed him to be. When running a business, there will be times when you need to lean into the discomfort and step out into the great unknown. By stepping out of your comfort zone and expanding your horizons, you allow yourself to take your business to new heights and to do things that have never been done before.

 

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

6.) The Empire Strikes Back – Be All-In

Often argued as the best of the series (a position that the author of this post wholeheartedly agrees with), Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is full of valuable lessons – just watch any scene featuring the famed Master Yoda. For today, however, we are going to focus on perhaps what is one of the most quoted Star Wars lines of all-time: “Do, or do not. There is no try.” The line uttered by Master Yoda as Luke offers up a half-hearted attempt at a difficult step of his training has been featured on posters, t-shirts, and even tattoos for nearly 30 years. The lesson was simple: If Luke was resigned to an “I’ll try” mentality before even taking action, then he was already doomed to failure. When making decisions or moves in your business, be all-in. Go into every situation with a confident mentality that you are going to achieve the things that you set out to accomplish. Don’t simply try, do.

 

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

7.) Return of the Jedi – Stick to Your Guns

In the triumphant finale of the original trilogy, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the Empire is finally defeated when Darth Vader renounces the dark side and turns on Emperor Palpatine. The victory can largely be credited to the grit of Luke Skywalker, who, despite what everyone else told him about Vader, believed that his father could still be persuaded to do the right thing. Luke put his life on the line for what he believed would end the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire. He stuck to what he knew he was capable of and with this confidence he inspired the chain of events that ended the Galactic Civil War. While running your business, you may be prompted to take actions or make decisions in the face of dissenting opinions. While it’s always wise to heed the counsel of others who may be able to see where you may have blind spots, when it comes down to the decisions you knoware right for your business, stick to your guns! You know your business inside and out, and it’s up to you to make the decisions to take it in the direction you already know it can go.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

8.) The Force Awakens – Believe in Yourself

Throughout the first installment of the sequel trilogy, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Rey constantly reminds those around her that she’s just a scavenger that needs to get back home. She doesn’t realize the wealth of potential she holds inside of her, and is reluctant to face the fact that she’s more than she thinks she is throughout the course of the film. It’s only at the end of the movie, where she harnesses the power of the Force and defeats Kylo Ren, that her potential is unlocked, and it all starts when she chooses to believe in herself. As an entrepreneur, you have limitless potential inside of you waiting to be unleashed on the world. However, only you have the power of unlocking that potential. Shrug off all the debilitating doubts keeping you down – you’ve got the power to change the world with your business.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

9.) The Last Jedi – Implement Everything You’ve Learned

In the most recent addition to the Star Wars Universe, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Rey’s journey continues. Capitalizing on the events of the previous film, Rey decides to seek out Luke Skywalker in order to learn how she can utilize her potential to save the galaxy. Luke’s training isn’t easy for Rey, and she struggles to understand his methods as she learns to harness her power. When it comes down to saving her friends at the end of the film, however, Rey is able to implement what she’s learned from Luke and rescue the Resistance from the clutches of the First Order. As you continue to grow your business, you may experience growing pains. There are a lot of lessons that can only be learned by experience, after all. But taking each lesson to heart and implementing them as you go along will lead to greater business success in your future!

Now that you’ve got nine business lessons under your belt, check out our free resource for start-ups and entrepreneurs planning for success!

VIDEO: The Expert’s Opinion On Being Proactive With Your Identity Security

 

Today, we are concluding our Identity Protection Video Series with LifeLock Chief of Identity Education, Paige Hanson, and we have to say, this video ends the series with a bang! In this final installment, Paige reveals her final tips and tricks on proactive protection of your personal information – valuable information that we know will positively impact your ability to keep your identity information safe!

We hope you’ve enjoyed these videos as much as we’ve enjoyed providing you with the educational tools necessary to secure and protect yourself in an increasingly vulnerable world. We’d like to thank Paige Hanson ofLifeLock for her invaluable insight into identity protection and cybersecurity, Brad White of Square Pictures for his help in producing these incredible videos, and most importantly, you, our readers and viewers, for taking ownership for your identity protection and taking the steps necessary to ensure that you are keeping your information safe.

We hope you enjoy this final video in our identity protection series:

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“As a consumer, when you’re asked for information, you can ask,what for?” – Paige Hanson

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If you’ve enjoyed this video series, or you have yet to watch all the videos in the series, check out our helpful Identity Protection Video Series resource, featuring over 25 unique resources for you and your business! You’ll be able to watch all the videos again in one place, download them for on-the-go viewing or employee training at your business’s next meeting, and download the transcripts for each video! It’s the ultimate resource for business owners who value their identity protection.

Could Recent Changes Really Increase My Credit Score by 30 Points?

On April 16, big changes took effect to the way debt is reported for some US consumers. At face value, these changes seem to affect only a small percentage of consumers, but stick around, we’re taking a deeper dive into what these changes could mean for you. In July of 2017, the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) called for the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Transunion to begin removing most civil judgments and the majority of tax liens from their consumer reporting databases.Those who don’t have tax liens or civil judgments may write this piece of news off. Others may take this as the good news for which they’ve been waiting for. And with good reason, expert risk management services like LexisNexis predict that this change could raise FICO scores as much as 30 points for some consumers. For the 9-11% of US consumers with tax liens or civil judgments on their credit reports, the possibility of any score increase, let alone a 10-30 point bump, certainly sounds great, almost too great.

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Will removing tax liens and civil judgments from credit bureaus increase FICO scores by up to 30 points for some?

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Is it too good to be true?

LexisNexis is all about facts and figures. They’re the keeper of more data than all three credit bureaus combined.They provide risk management and computer-assisted legal research to businesses across the globe. They’ve been around for nearly 50 years and as of 2006 boasted the world’s largest electronic database for legal and public-records. Will removing tax liens and civil judgments from credit bureaus increase FICO scores by up to 30 points for some? Possibly, but there are several other variables to consider. Many with weak credit and negatively impacted scores due to their tax liens or civil judgments will likely see an increase in their FICO if the remainder of their credit is clean and without delinquencies.

If you have weak credit, there are ways to continue to improve your FICO score. The removal of tax liens and civil judgments will likely increase your credit score. However, consumers with strong credit will likely see little or no increase to their scores. To learn more about how to increase your credit score and maintain a report that lenders will love, check out our blog on 5 Factors that Will Make or Break Your Personal Credit Score.

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If you have weak credit, there are ways to continue to improve your FICO score.

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What do the lenders have to say?

When it comes to credit, it doesn’t really matter what LexisNexis or NCAP has to say about it. What matters is what mortgage and commercial lenders have to say. This is where the hit comes for the rest of us. If you’ve been wondering, “I don’t have tax liens or judgments, why should I care?” Read on. Lenders use credit reports and FICO scores to determine creditworthiness. Most credit reports are divided into multiple areas including real estate, installment debt (auto, student loans, and credit lines) and unsecured debt (revolving credit cards).

Before July 2017, the next part which no lender wanted to see when scrolling through a report to check creditworthiness contained public records (tax liens, civil judgments, and bankruptcies). For a lender, it’s the red flag area. LexisNexis finds mortgage borrowers that have a judgment or tax lien are 5.5 times more likely to go into pre-foreclosure or foreclosure. It once gave further confirmation of the borrower’s inability to pay back debt. Here’s the kicker, the removal of this information decreases the lenders’ ability to fully assess a borrower’s creditworthiness.

In the future, to protect themselves from what they see as inevitable loss, lenders may wind up increasing interest rates, if only marginally, across the board for all borrowers. This means that even if you’ve never had a tax lien or civil judgment and even if your credit score remains flawless, you will likely see a slight increase in consumer and commercial rates due to the overall increased risk to lenders.

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Ensuring you have the correct business structure and legal documents prior to applying for a business loan can save you on rate, time, and stress when you need it most.

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The Good News

Credit experts saw this coming. Brian Riley, director of the Mercator Advisory Group, a credit advisory service, predicts that mortgage and commercial lenders will turn to additional due diligence in the future, like checking with LexisNexis, in addition to the three credit bureaus. Last May, LexisNexis announced that they were already prepping a new report to address this point of concern for any lender who makes the request. Amerifund and other commercial finance institutions have been using additional due diligence information sources for years. This is why it’s important to cover all of your bases when starting a business and planning for business credit. Ensuring you have the correct business structure and legal documents prior to applying for a business loan can save you on rate, time, and stress when you need it most.

The Top 5 Technologies to Implement in Your Small Business

Between the newest smartphones, tablets, computers, cameras, and virtual reality, Americans are practically swimming in a pool of new technological advancements that seemingly only grows bigger every day. So, what does this mean for business owners? Among these advancements, a slew of applications and products have arisen to help small businesses thrive. From automating key work processes to hosting data, here are our five top technologies to utilize in a small business setting:

1.) CRM Software
If you work with a lot of clients and have built up a long list of business contacts, a Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, software client will be a game changer for your business. Your CRM acts as your personal database, tracking critical information for your contacts and giving you the ability to assess and organize your relationship with each of your leads. A CRM client streamlines your contacts’ information and offers organizational perks that help your sales, marketing and administration departments operate smoothly. Companies like SalesforceZoho or Hubspot offer their CRM software online, so that you and your employees can access your leads – anytime, anywhere.

2.) Team Communications Apps

Gone are the days of yelling office-to-office, crowding the water cooler to catch one another up on projects, and sending unnecessary emails. Team communications apps are taking the business world by storm, and for good reason. With apps like SlackMicrosoft TeamsStride and more, not only can you streamline discussions with your employees and coworkers, but you can organize each conversation by team, project, or subject. Need to send a quick update out to your whole staff, ask a question of your marketing department, or speak with a teammate regarding a specific task? You can assign corresponding channels for each. Additionally, these apps allow you to easily find information shared between you and your teammates, and they remove the clutter of inter-office conversation from your email inbox. The best of these communications apps allow for integration with your favorite productivity apps, and the attachment of files and documents for quick project updates and handoffs. And with many of these apps offering mobile downloads alongside desktop applications, you can handle work conversations as they arise, even while on the go.

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In our increasingly technological world, small businesses are able to compete with the “big dogs” thanks to the implementation of technology in the workplace.

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3.) Mobile Point-Of-Sale Systems

Mobile solutions to traditional Point-of Sale (POS) models such as MobileBytesSquareVend and Shopkeephave become increasingly popular for restaurant and retail businesses over the past few years. Whether they’re used to get customers through your check-out line quickly and efficiently, or if they’re utilized to sell on-the-go at events and pop-up booths, mobile POS systems have made the final step of the sales process much easier for business owners across the nation. The technology also allows for seamless transitions for obtaining signatures or calculating tips. Most mobile POS systems allow options for paperless receipts, with which customers can opt to receive their receipts via text or email – not only does this help the environment, but it integrates with your CRM to update your database with valuable information for strategic marketing.

4.) Project Management Software

When you’re running a small business, you’ve got a lot on your plate. With projects spanning the full breadth of your company’s capabilities, from marketing, to administration, to sales, it can be a bit of a handful trying to keep track of everything you and your employees must do on a day-to-day basis. Enter, project management software. Apps like WrikeAsanaBasecampTrello, Microsoft Projects and more help business owners and employees schedule, track, and collaborate on projects. Project management software gives managers the ability to visually break down each project their team is working on, and delegate specific tasks and subtasks with specific details and deadlines to their team. With many project managers providing mobile software alongside desktop software, you and your employees can seamlessly transition between work in the office and work on the go. Project management software also gives managers the option to visualize their data, with progress and achievements displayed via customizable line graphs and Gantt charts.

5.) Cloud Based Storage

With technology improving exponentially over the past few years and showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, more and more businesses are opting to store their data in the cloud rather than on hardware servers in the office. Cloud based storage offers a number of perks, namely the ability to access your files at any time. Services such as OneDriveGoogle DriveBox and Dropbox offer both desktop and mobile access, meaning you and your coworkers have the ability to collaborate on files and projects even when your team isn’t physically together.Cloud storage services are scalable, meaning you pay only as much as you need to in order to store what you need, without the worry of paying for more space than you need, or even worse, not enough. When storing your data in the cloud, you also cut down on hardware maintenance costs and increase security – because your files are no longer stored on a server housed in your office, you have the added benefits of enterprise-level security and unlimited data backup.

In our increasingly technological world, small businesses are able to compete with the “big dogs” thanks to the implementation of technology in the workplace. From software applications to give you ease of organization or new technological equipment to keep you on the cutting edge of your industry’s advancements, there’s plenty of room for business owners and entrepreneurs to learn and grow. If you are in need of some technological improvements for your business, but maybe don’t have the cash flow to support the new equipment or software, Amerifund can help you with equipment financing or working capital.

 

What technologies are you planning on implementing into your business, or if you already have, what are some technologies that have made a crucial difference in your day-to-day work flow? Let us know in the comments below to keep the discussion going!

VIDEO: The Expert’s Opinion on Recovery for Identity Theft Victims

The words “identity theft” have the power to stop someone dead in their tracks and cause a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach, and for good reason. A stolen identity can wreak all kinds of havoc on an individual’s life, so much so that a 2017 FICO survey cited identity theft as a top security concern for US consumers at 44% of the survey sample – ranking higher for more consumers than fear of death or fear of a terrorist attack combined.

There’s a lot to consider when protecting yourself from identity theft, and we’re excited to release a follow-up video to this one in which LifeLock Identity Education expert Paige Hanson tackles staying vigilant in an increasingly vulnerable world of information. But what happens if you or someone you know has already experienced identity theft? Is there any hope to bounce back?

We say, “Absolutely.”

Paige Hanson details how one can recover from identity theft in this most recent installment of our identity protection series!

We’ve still got one more video to go in our identity protection series. Subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out! And don’t forget to check out the rest of the series, starting with fraud alerts and credit freezes, then your identity and cybersecurity and protecting yourself from cyber attacks.

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“We, as consumers, need to stay on top of the latest bills and things on the ballots that might protect our privacy…It’s important for us to be more involved because that is how changes are going to be made.” – Paige Hanson

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If you’ve enjoyed this video series, or you have yet to watch all the videos in the series, check out our helpful Identity Protection Video Series resource, featuring over 25 unique resources for you and your business! You’ll be able to watch all the videos again in one place, download them for on-the-go viewing or employee training at your business’s next meeting, and download the transcripts for each video! It’s the ultimate resource for business owners who value their identity protection.

Amerifund Identity Protection Series Resource Package