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Successful Entrepreneurs Need to Hone This One Skill

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

“We have interest from new investors,” a new acquaintance, Tom, told me a few years back after a conference. He assured me that this new injection of funds would help his startup reach new heights. Needless to say: He was overly confident, overzealous and wanted to grow as fast as possible.

It’s a tale as old as time: Inexperienced entrepreneurs believe the only way to succeed is by focusing solely on immediate profits.

Unfortunately, Tom failed to take into account different variables such as a solid business plan and building a quality product with high market demand. His business became just another statistic in the 90% of startups that fail.

I’ve been CEO of my company, Jotform, for more than 16 years now, and I’ve seen the above scenario play out more times than I’d like to count. And what I’ve discovered is the same as what Harvard Business Review contributor Helen Lee Bouygues points out when she writes that the root cause of these organizational failures comes down to a lack of critical thinking.

“Too many business leaders are simply not reasoning through pressing issues, taking the time to evaluate a topic from all sides.” However, she does offer some good news: Critical thinking is a skill we can all learn.

Related: Truly Independent Thinkers Have These 5 Traits

Why entrepreneurs need to hone their critical thinking

When I first launched my company in 2006, I did something that sounds unheard of today: I didn’t quit my job. I had people insist I take the “all or nothing” approach. They told me my business wouldn’t succeed unless I took things seriously and dedicated myself completely to my startup.

I’m glad I didn’t listen.

We’ve eventually grown to have more than 15 million users, and we’ve done so with $0 funding.

And I can attribute a large part of this to prioritizing critical thinking.

You see, I went against the norm and didn’t quit my day job cold turkey. I didn’t feel the need to take on a co-founder or bring in investors. My company has always been a bootstrapped business. And I’ve preferred to grow slowly and steadily for the past decade-and-a-half rather than reach the top of TechCrunch.

So, let me tell you what did happen: By the time I left my job, the product I had worked on replaced my salary and gave me a runway to spend my time building Jotform.

For this reason, I’d like to help you develop your critical thinking skills — based on my own experience and expert advice — to ensure your organization’s success.

Related: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Better Thinking

1. Don’t be guided by assumptions

As I mentioned above, many people told me I was making a big mistake by holding onto my job. “You’re taking on too much,” some colleagues warned. “You’re not fully committed,” others would add.

I had to bypass their voices to hear my own.

As important as it is to question other people’s assumptions, it’s equally important to question our own. As Bouygues writes, “a questioning approach is particularly helpful when the stakes are high.”

She notes that if we’re thinking about long-term company goals that will take years of effort and expense, we need to ask the following ourselves the following questions:

  • Can we determine how business will increase?
  • Have we done our research about our expectations for the future market?
  • Have we questioned what possible alternatives there are?

All of this analysis is necessary for thinking critically and taking the best course of action.

Related: The Real Reason Why Most Businesses Fail (And What to Do About It)

2. Improve your reasoning

It’s tempting to want to dive right into a new project without fully weighing all the pros and cons. And this doesn’t just happen to newly minted entrepreneurs — it applies to even the most seasoned among us.

Yes, we can indeed gain more critical thinking skills with time and experience. But rather than learn through costly missteps, we can also improve our reasoning through logic. One way to do this is by examining different arguments and considering if they are supported by evidence.

“Do all the pieces of evidence build on each other to produce a sound conclusion?” Bouygues asks. “Being aware of common fallacies can also allow you to think more logically.”

For example, before taking on a new project at Jotform, we make sure to do our homework by sending out customer surveys, analyzing feedback and taking the market and competition into account. Rather than let our excitement take the lead, we rely on a thorough process of solid reasoning.

Related: Escape Your Head: How Overthinking Can Injure Entrepreneurs in 2023

3. Step outside your bubble

Here’s a trap many of us fall into — surrounding ourselves with only those in our industry.

“This is a problem,” writes Bouygues. “If everyone in our social circles thinks as we do, we become more rigid in our thinking, and less likely to change our beliefs on the basis of new information.”

To hone our critical thinking, it’s imperative then that we leave our bubble. And we can do so by taking small steps.

One way I apply this is by taking up a practice of talking to people outside of tech or by having lunch with individuals who have different backgrounds than my own. Aside from these active measures, I also make it a point to switch up my daily reading — preferring books that are also outside my industry.

Experts agree. “Training yourself this way will help you escape your usual thinking and gain richer insights,” Bouygues advises.

My suggestion? Don’t just read or listen to podcasts about business or tech (if that’s what you’re normally into). Read novels and listen to talks given by thought leaders outside of your normal environment. And remember:

“While luck plays a role — sometimes small, sometimes large — in a company’s successes,” Bouygues adds, “the most important business victories are achieved through thinking smart.”

In other words: Go against the herd mentality. Use logic, question your assumptions and above all, don’t allow yourself to remain stagnant.

Related: Critical Thinking Is the Skill Many Leaders Lack

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6 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month beyond February

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Celebrating Black History Month is a great way to honor the significant contributions African Americans have made throughout history. However, to create a truly equitable workplace and ensure that our employees feel seen, heard and valued daily, it’s essential to recognize Black history as an integral part of American history throughout the year.

Research shows that workplace diversity positively impacts employee engagement and productivity. In other words, creating an environment of inclusivity for all employees isn’t just the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. An authentic celebration of Black heritage throughout the year can help companies foster understanding and empathy among coworkers from different backgrounds. Such a celebration also allows employees to learn more about their colleagues’ experiences, promoting a deeper sense of community and understanding.

Related: It’s Black History Month. Here’s How to Show Black Employees You Care.

By recognizing Black history all year long, companies can show their employees they care while demonstrating a commitment to creating an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, valued and respected. Celebrating Black culture is one way to ensure all employees feel included in the workplace, no matter what month it is.

Here are six ways to be a better ally and celebrate Black History Month beyond February:

1. Celebrate authentic Black history and culture

Make sure that all employees have access to accurate and current information about the African-American experience and contributions throughout history. Encourage employees to learn more about the accomplishments of African Americans in a variety of fields — from science and engineering to art, music and literature.

How to implement it: Provide employees with a list of books, movies and articles by African Americans that tell the stories of African Americans throughout history. As opposed to non-African Americans telling the stories about African Americans (which has been the norm for too long).

Related: Be Intentional About Diversity

2. Plan authentic events

Celebrate Black History Month by planning events that make meaningful connections to the African-American experience. Invite guest speakers to share their unique perspectives on Black success stories and create opportunities for employees to engage in dialogue about important topics such as race, identity and inclusion.

How to implement it: Engage in an open dialogue with employees about the types of events they would like to participate in, such as movie screenings, group discussions and panel talks. Use their input to plan engaging activities focusing on Black culture and history.

Related: Here’s the No. 1 Question White Leaders Ask Me About Black History Month

3. Show authentic support

Show employees that their contributions are seen and valued by celebrating their success throughout the year. From recognition awards to career advancement opportunities, ensure you’re actively engaging with all of your employees so they know their work is appreciated.

How to implement it: Highlight employee achievements in company newsletters and recognize them at team meetings. These small gestures can go a long way in making your workplace more inclusive for everyone!

4. Host educational events

Consider hosting educational events such as lectures, workshops and brown bag lunches that focus on learning more about the roots of Black history in America. Provide professional development resources and opportunities for employees to engage in meaningful conversations around race, culture, and inclusion.

How to implement it: Invite experts in the fields of African American studies or Civil Rights to speak to employees about the history and legacy of Black people in America.

5. Incorporate inclusive resources into training

Include inclusive language, images, historical facts, etc., into all existing workplace diversity curriculums and training materials. Such a universal approach will help employees become more aware of the impact that race, gender and ethnicity have on daily workplace interactions.

How to implement it: Incorporate examples from Black history into existing diversity training materials such as videos, readings, and case studies. Ask employees for feedback about which resources would be most useful for learning more about Black history and culture.

6. Develop authentic mentorship programs

Invest in mentorship programs focusing on developing collaborations between African American employees and their colleagues of other ethnic backgrounds. Establish safe spaces where everyone can share their experiences openly and without judgment.

How to implement it: Create an inclusive environment through team-building exercises, cross-cultural conversations and networking events. Facilitate dialogue among employees of different backgrounds and encourage them to share their insights and ideas.

Celebrating Black History Month is an important way to remind everyone of the contributions African Americans have made to our society over the last several hundred years. Yet it’s also important that we recognize these achievements throughout the year in the workplace. By incorporating authentic resources into the workplace, employers can create a more inclusive atmosphere for all employees — no matter what month it is.

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3 Growth Stocks to Buy Now Before They Heat up

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The gradual decline in inflation and decelerating wage growth might prompt the Fed to slow the pace of rate hikes this year, which might help growth stocks to stage a recovery. So, fundamentally strong growth stocks Salesforce (CRM), HF Sinclair (DINO), and Box (BOX), which look poised to soar in the near term, might be ideal buys now. Keep reading.

December’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.1% for the month, in line with the Dow Jones estimate, marking the largest month-over-month decrease since April 2020. Moreover, the Labor Department reported that employers added 223,000 jobs in December 2022, reflecting a slowdown from the pace of job creation seen earlier in the year.

Also, average hourly pay, which had been increasing at an annual rate of 5% in September, fell to 4.6% in the month.

The sky-high inflation and the Fed’s aggressive interest rate hikes to tame it have affected growth stocks significantly last year. However, the easing inflationary pressures and declining wage growth signals that the Fed’s rate hikes are having their intended effect, which might prompt the Fed to slow its rate hike pace.

The Fed is widely anticipated to deliver a 0.25 bps rate hike in its next meeting, a step back from a 0.50 bps hike last month.

Furthermore, as per Fundstrat Global Advisors co-founder Tom Lee, US stocks will surge back toward record highs in 2023 once the Federal Reserve signals that it’ll ease up on its monetary-tightening campaign. Lee also said that he expects the S&P 500 to steadily climb to hit 4,800 points this year.

Given this backdrop, fundamentally strong growth stocks Salesforce, Inc. (CRM), HF Sinclair Corporation (DINO), and Box, Inc. (BOX) might be ideal buys for solid returns this year.

Salesforce, Inc. (CRM)

CRM provides customer relationship management technology that brings companies and customers together worldwide. The company’s service offerings include Sales, Service, Marketing, and Commerce. The company provides its services through direct sales, consulting firms, systems integrators, and other partners.

The company’s forward Price/Book multiple of 2.79 is 32.8% lower than the industry average of 4.15.

During the third quarter that ended October 31, 2022, CRM’s total revenues increased 14.2% year-over-year to $7.84 billion. The company’s gross profit increased 14.5% year-over-year to $5.75 billion, and non-GAAP income from operations increased 30.9% year-over-year to $1.78 billion.

The consensus EPS estimate of $1.36 for the fiscal fourth quarter ending January 2023 indicates a 62.3% improvement year-over-year. The consensus revenue of $8 billion for the same quarter represents a 9.2% year-over-year growth. CRM has an impressive earnings surprise history as it has surpassed the consensus EPS and revenue estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.

Also, the company’s revenue and levered free cash flow have grown at a CAGR of 24.1% and 21.8%, respectively, over the past three years.

The stock has gained 26.7% over the past month to close the last trading session at $167.97.

CRM’s POWR Ratings reflect its promising outlook. The stock has an overall rating of B, which translates to Buy in our proprietary rating system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors, with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.

It has an A grade for Growth and a B for Sentiment. Within the 138-stock Software – Application industry, it is ranked #27.

Beyond the POWR Ratings just highlighted, you can access additional CRM grades for Value, Momentum, Stability, and Quality here.

HF Sinclair Corporation (DINO)

DINO is an independent petroleum refiner that produces and markets high-value light products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, renewable diesel, and other specialty products.

Its forward non-GAAP P/E of 3.80x is 53.8% lower than the industry average of 8.23x. Its 0.27 forward non-GAAP PEG multiple is 59.6% lower than the industry average of 0.68.

The company pays $1.20 annually as dividends, which translates to a yield of 2.81% at the current price. Its four-year average dividend yield is 2.99%.

DINO’s sales and other revenues grew 126.2% year-over-year to $10.60 billion for the third quarter that ended September 30, 2022. Its adjusted EBITDA increased 267.9% year-over-year to $1.50 billion. The company’s adjusted net income increased 368.2% year-over-year to $982.90 million, while its adjusted EPS rose 257.8% year-over-year to $4.58.

Street expects DINO’s revenue to increase 106.6% year-over-year to $37.99 billion for the fiscal year 2022. Its EPS is expected to rise 789% year-over-year to $14.96 for the same year. The company has surpassed the consensus revenue estimates in all of the trailing four quarters.

Moreover, the company’s net income and EPS have grown at a CAGR of 39.1% and 33%, respectively, over the past three years.

The stock has gained 9.7% over the past month and 61.8% over the past year to close the last trading session at $56.90.

It is no surprise that DINO has an overall rating of B, equating to a Buy in our POWR Ratings system.

It has a grade of A for Growth and Momentum and a B for Quality. It is ranked #10 among 93 stocks in the B-rated Energy – Oil & Gas industry.

In addition to the grades stated above, we’ve also rated DINO for Value, Sentiment, and Stability. Get all DINO ratings here.

Box, Inc. (BOX)

BOX provides a cloud content management platform that enables organizations of various sizes to manage and share their content from anywhere on any device.

On January 10, BOX announced that BETC, a global communications, marketing, and advertising agency, have chosen BOX’s secure content management capabilities to power collaboration and accelerate processes around content management.

Sebastien Marotte, President of EMEA at BOX, said, “We’re delighted to support BETC in powering the next generation of creative content for their prestigious clients. We look forward to our continued partnership as BETC continues to expand its use of Box and develop its Content Cloud journey.”

In terms of forward non-GAAP PEG, BOX is currently trading at 1.36x, which is 14.8% lower than the industry average of 1.60x. Its forward Price/Cash flow multiple of 16.32 is 11.2% lower than the industry average of 18.37.

BOX’s revenue increased 11.6% year-over-year to $249.95 million in the third quarter that ended September 30, 2022. Its gross profit rose 15.2% year-over-year to $185.46 million. Also, its EPS came in at $0.03, compared to a loss per share of $0.12 in the year-ago period.

Analysts expect BOX’s revenue to rise 9.9% year-over-year to $256.48 million in the fiscal fourth quarter ended January 2023. Its EPS is estimated to grow 42.6% year-over-year to $0.34 in the same quarter.

Its revenue and levered free cash flow have grown at a CAGR of 15.1% and 29.1% over the past five years.

The stock has gained 22.4% over the past year to close the last trading session at $31.99. It has gained 10.1% over the past month.

BOX’s strong fundamentals are reflected in its POWR Ratings. It has an overall B rating, which equates to a Buy in our proprietary rating system.

It also has an A grade for Growth and Quality and a B for Value. BOX is ranked #6 among the 78 stocks in the Technology – Services industry.

Click here for the additional POWR Ratings for Stability, Momentum, and Sentiment for BOX.

Consider This Before Placing Your Next Trade…

We are still in the midst of a bear market.

Yes, some special stocks may go up. But most will tumble as the bear market claws ever lower.

That is why you need to discover the brand new “Stock Trading Plan for 2023” created by 40-year investment veteran Steve Reitmeister. There he explains:

  • Why it’s still a bear market
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You owe it to yourself to watch this timely presentation before placing your next trade.

Stock Trading Plan for 2023 >


CRM shares were trading at $168.63 per share on Wednesday morning, up $0.66 (+0.39%). Year-to-date, CRM has gained 27.18%, versus a 5.98% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.


About the Author: Kritika Sarmah

Her interest in risky instruments and passion for writing made Kritika an analyst and financial journalist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in commerce and is currently pursuing the CFA program. With her fundamental approach, she aims to help investors identify untapped investment opportunities.

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The post 3 Growth Stocks to Buy Now Before They Heat up appeared first on StockNews.com

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OpenAI Rolls Out New Tool to Combat ChatGPT Plagiarism

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Since its launch in November, ChatGPT has disrupted various industries — from real estate to law. However, in the context of academia, teachers have growing concerns about whether using the tool is considered cheating.

ChatGPT, created by artificial intelligence company OpenAI, has the power to create essays, poetry, draft legal documents and more when given a prompt. While the results may need some editing, the tool’s efficiency has garnered worldwide attention for its accuracy.

Related: Professionals In This Industry Already Can’t Imagine Life Without ChatGPT: ‘I Can’t Remember the Last Time Something Has Wowed Me This Much.’

Public schools in Seattle and New York City have already banned the use of the tool over cheating concerns and its power to disrupt genuine learning. Now, OpenAI has announced a new feature that may help teachers spot the presence of ChatGPT in essays and other assignments, CNN reported.

The feature, called “AI text classifier,” is similar to the plagiarism software Turnitin in that when submitting a body of text, the tool will rate the input on a scale ranging from “likely generated by AI” to “very unlikely.”

While educators have been longing for such a tool to combat the increasing use of ChatGPT, OpenAI has admitted that the new feature is “imperfect” and should be “taken with a grain of salt,” CNN reported.

“We really don’t recommend taking this tool in isolation because we know that it can be wrong and will be wrong at times – much like using AI for any kind of assessment purposes,” Lama Ahmad, policy research director at OpenAI, told the outlet. “We are emphasizing how important it is to keep a human in the loop … and that it’s just one data point among many others.”

Related: Princeton Student Builds ChatGPT Detection App to Fight AI Plagiarism

Despite the imperfection of the new feature, OpenAI told CNN that the decision to release the “AI text classifier” has to do with hopefully deterring individuals from claiming AI text was composed by a human, as well as addressing the question of whether humans have a right to know if they are interacting with artificial intelligence.

“This question is much bigger than what we are doing here; society as a whole has to grapple with that question,” Jan Leike, a lead on the OpenAI alignment team, told CNN.

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