Connect with us


10 Questions to Ask When Shopping for Your Next Smartphone

A smartphone is arguably the single most valuable tool for today’s time-strapped entrepreneur.

Kim Lachance Shandrow



Shopping-for-Smartphones-Innovation-Growing a Business

“Behind every successful entrepreneur today is the right smartphone,” says Jennifer Jolly, consumer technology journalist. “Finding the right one … can save you time, money and sanity.”

But with a seemingly endless onslaught of bigger-better-faster smartphones bombarding the market, narrowing down the one that’s the best fit for your unique requirements can be overwhelming. If you’re over your current handset and itching for an upgrade, here are 10 questions to help you find your ideal smartphone:

1. Should I shop by provider or by phone?

Most people stick with their providers if they’re happy with them. However, it should come down to which carriers offer the best coverage where you live, says Veronica Belmont, co-host of Tekzilla, a popular consumer tech help and how-to video podcast. “Ultimately, most big cities have a lot of options, so I’d go with the phone of your choosing,” Belmont says.

If a new smartphone launches with an exclusive provider, it’s up to you to weigh the benefits and downsides of switching. Belmont advises that you “don’t get locked into a contract for several years, an inferior coverage map or a data plan that doesn’t give you unlimited access.”

2. What about my contract? Am I eligible for an upgrade?

Check with your provider to see if you’re locked into a contract and, if so, for how long. If you’re still roped into a contract, choose from your carrier’s large selection of smartphones. If you’re off of a contract period, you’re free to switch providers.

Most cell phone providers offer two-year contracts that come with smartphones that they subsidise. This often means fewer initial fees, more comprehensive coverage and lower price tags for top-of-the-line phones.

Or you could forgo a contract altogether. All providers offer prepaid no-contract plans.

Related: Are You Ready for Wearable Tech?

3. How big a screen do I need?

Size matters. If you’re like Belmont, who likes to carry her smartphone in the front pocket of her skinny jeans, you might want to go for something slim and light, like the iPhone 5s or Motorola Droid Razr M, not something as hulking as the 5.3-inch display Galaxy Note.

“I used an HTC One this past summer and the biggest issue I found was using it with one hand,” Belmont says. “I loved how the screen looked, but typing became a two-handed affair.”

If you prefer a longer, wider screen, Jolly says Android offers the biggest of the big, including the tablet-like 5.5-inch display Samsung Galaxy Note II, and the 5.9-inch display, 1080p HD resolution HTC One max. Others in the mega screen crowd include: LG Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 Active and Nokia Lumia 1520 or 1320.

4. Should I get an iPhone or an Android?

Ah, the polarising question you’ve probably been waiting for. It boils down to personal preference and brand loyalty, Belmont says. “Many people enjoy the openness and customisation available with Android devices, and the iPhone is considerably more locked-down.” App developers often release their products on iOS first, sometimes exclusively, so that could make iPhone a more attractive choice.

Belmont recommends that you hands-on test a smartphone before forking over any cash. “Either borrow one from a friend or spend some time checking one out in the store to see if the operating system feels good to you.”

5. Which smartphone operating system is the most secure – iPhone or Android?

Apple’s iOS is generally regarded as more secure than Android operating systems. Plus, iOS is used more frequently in the mobile enterprise space, Belmont says. The openness of the Android platform “makes it easier for hackers to find a foothold.” Malware threats to Android phones are up nearly 200% this year, and some 33 million Android devices worldwide are infected, according to a recent threat report by NQ Mobile.

6. Which bells and whistles should I be on the lookout for?

How you plan to use your phone will determine how fully featured it should be. Do you plan to use it as an all-in-one calling, texting, scheduling and entertainment centre? Will you capture lots of voice memos, videos and pictures with it?

If so, then consider a top-shelf smartphone, like an Apple iPhone 5s, a Nokia Lumia 928, Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One or LG Nexus 4. How big the price tag is depends on how big the screen is, how much data the phone can store, plus how high-res its camera is, how fast its processors are and how long its battery lasts.

Related: Business = Being Available 24/7

7. How can I find the latest smartphone deals?

The best way is to sniff out last-minute internet-only discounts and holiday sales, Jolly says. This is especially important when springing for smartphones for everyone on your staff.

8. Which smartphone is best for taking conference calls and working with others?

Mike Gikas, senior electronics editor for Consumer Reports, suggests Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note phones for optimal conference calls.

“They have phenomenal wireless tools for collaborating with others in the room or on a conference call,” he says. “And their batteries, which can be easily swapped out, are among the longest lasting in our tests.”

9. Which smartphone has the longest battery life?

Choosing a phone that won’t conk out on you during long flights and other lengthy work commutes is critical for most business travellers.

The 4G Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD boasts the best battery life on the market today, Jolly says. It also packs one of the fattest price tags. But a single charge keeps users powered up for 32 hours.

10. What are the best smartphones for business right now?

Here are Jolly’s top three picks for today’s busy entrepreneurs.

  • First, the Apple 5s. It has the smallest screen (4 inches) and weighs the least (less than 4 ounces). Jolly favours it because it “has fewer bugs and hacks than other operating systems.” She also likes it because she can access information from all of her other Mac devices via AirDrop and iCloud.
  • Second is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, mainly due to its vibrant 5-inch screen and slick gesture control. Also, the improved S Voice is “much closer to being a reliable personal assistant in the palm of your hand than ever before.”
  • Third is the Motorola Moto X. Jolly says it’s the only truly hands-free, voice-activated smartphone for making calls, sending texts, checking emails and more – all without touching it. “It allows you to stay connected while driving – totally hands free.”

Kim Lachance Shandrow is a Los Angeles-based tech journalist who specializes in writing about iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phones, as well as social media marketing, startups, streaming TV, apps and green technology. Her work has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show,,, and in The Los Angeles Times and The International Business Times. She also consults for Ameba, a Canadian multiplatform children’s streaming TV startup.



3 Strategies To Implement A Culture Of Innovation In Your Business (Without Blowing Billions)

Learn to think differently, encourage your team to do the same, and innovative disruption could become a part of your company’s DNA.

Douglas Kruger




You’re seeing it everywhere. Disruptive innovation is becoming the new norm, and you’re concerned that your business is merely going through the motions, missing opportunities.

How can you join the Elon Musks of the world, without the corresponding bulging budget?

It turns out that many of the techniques of today’s top innovators don’t require vast outlay. They’re simply about different ways of thinking.

Here are three strategies for enhancing the culture of innovation in your organisation without blowing billions.

1Use ‘Ignorance as strategy’

You’ve encountered the aphorism, ‘To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’ Similarly, to a banker, the only imaginable approach to banking is ‘the way banking has always been done’. When bankers try to think of innovative new ways of banking, they invariably think of greater complexity.

Along came PayPal

In the April 2016 edition of Harvard Business Review, Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of PayPal, said, ‘All the banking people knew the rules. That prevented them from trying anything that looked remotely like PayPal.’

PayPal was not invented by a bank, just as Uber was not invented by a taxi driver.

Related: Demanding Customers Are The Ones Who Motivate Innovation

To make use of ‘ignorance as strategy,’ try this. Gather a group of strategic thinkers and set the rule: ‘The old way of doing it has been outlawed. How else might we serve the same need?’

Or: ‘We are now our competitors. We have half the budget, but our hearts and souls are invested in one purpose: To topple the original company. We can’t do it the way they do it. So how could we go about it?’

Or: ‘The company has burnt to the ground. We’ve lost everything. We need to keep serving our customers but we need a new, cheap, fast way to do it right now that doesn’t rely on any equipment or systems we used before. What have you got?’

2Use commander’s intent


Imagine: You’re a military commander. You need to move a convoy of trucks through a dangerous canyon. Your intelligence tells you that there is a sniper on one of the escarpments.

There are two ways you could issue an instruction to a soldier:

The first way: ‘Go take out that sniper.’

That’s very clear, and very good. But there’s something surprisingly important missing from it. The ‘why’ is not overtly stated, and for that reason, the mission could actually fail.

Let’s try it again the second way: ‘Go take out that sniper because we need to ensure safe passage through the canyon for our convoy.’

That may sound like a ridiculously obvious addition. Here is why it’s not: In a real, dynamic scenario, things change constantly.

Let’s say your soldier breaks off from the convoy and heads up into the mountains. Very quickly, three things go wrong:

  1. He can’t find the sniper
  2. Enemy forces start firing at him, making it difficult to look for the sniper
  3. His own weapon fails to fire so that he can’t shoot back.

If our soldier thinks only about the literal instruction — ‘shoot the sniper’ — he is now unable to carry it out. But if he bases his actions on the commander’s intention — ‘secure our convoy’ — other options open up to him.

Related: Reel Gardening Warns That Innovation Is Never Easy

He might draw their fire. He might set a bushfire. Or he might cause a commotion in a different canyon, disguising the movements of his convoy. He might, he might, he might… But only if he is absolutely clear on Commander’s Intent, and not working according to an explicit tasked item only.

Managers love to create detailed rules and procedures. But these can actually stifle innovation. Commander’s Intent is the life hack by which we get the upper hand again, freeing up leeway for creative potential.

3Instead of rules: Imaginative debate

Organisations accumulate rules over time. Problematically, rules can become a form of culture. And there is a better way.

When NASA faced two separate, well-known challenges, their culture at each stage was very different.

In 1970, Apollo 13 was two days into its mission when an explosion knocked out one of their oxygen tanks. The ensuing creative scramble to get the astronauts safely home is the stuff of legend. The creative trial and experimentation that went into rescuing them was formidable. New procedures were made up back on earth, then tested in the simulator, then relayed to the astronauts 200 000 miles away, almost in real-time.

Through this process of creative trial and experimentation, of collaborative inter-disciplinary debate, one by one the issues were resolved and the crew was brought home safely.

At this point in time, NASA’s culture was ruled by imaginative debate. It was an exploratory culture, an experimenting culture, a culture based on learning and evolution.

By contrast, at the time of the Columbia disaster of 2003, the culture of experimentation had given way to one of formalised rules, regimented procedures and rigid hierarchy. NASA had stopped being a learning organisation. It had become a bureaucracy instead.

As Columbia re-entered the earth’s atmosphere, a large piece of foam fell from the shuttle’s external tank and broke the wing of the spacecraft. The shuttle broke into pieces. NASA recovered 84 000 pieces from a debris field of over 2 000 square miles.

The investigation revealed some damning insights about the culture that led to the problem.

Related: Howard Blake Stays Hungry With His Innovation Strategy

During a post-launch review, a group of engineers actually saw this foam dislodge from the rocket. They tried to pass on this information. NASA’s management, which by this stage liked to manage everything ‘by the rules’, had seen dislodged foam before, and, according to their institutionalised perceptions, deemed it to be unimportant.

The engineers tried to argue that it seemed like a lot more foam than usual. It was a qualitative argument, based on human insight and intelligence. But NASA was unable to listen. Dislodging foam was a known quantity, and the voices of dissenters went unheeded.

NASA by this stage was so bound in rules and procedures that, in important ways, it had ceased to be a learning, experimenting culture. And that made it incapable of hearing an idea, to its great detriment.

Situational awareness

Imaginative debate allows situational awareness to pass up and down the chain of command. It promotes the opportunity to see innovation possibilities. It shows up problems that fall outside of the capacity of norms and guidelines.

The Israeli Defence Force uses an examination of these two cultures within NASA as a way of perpetuating a learning culture within its own organisation. In Start-Up Nation, Israeli air-force pilot Tal Keinan is quoted as saying that if NASA had stuck to their experimental culture, the way his own air force and military do, they would have identified and seriously debated the foam strikes at the daily debrief.

Debating everything isn’t tedious. It’s illuminating.

Putting rules in place of debate isn’t clarifying. It’s dulling.

Rigid rules enforced by unlearning authority are a recipe for real danger. The use of strenuous debate helps to overcome these blind spots.

Cultures of learning are far more idea-friendly than bureaucracies. And it costs nothing to become one. Merely a little willingness.

Continue Reading


To Have An Innovative Company, Let Your Employees Take The Reins

‘In order to clean, they need to get messy,’ serial entrepreneur Justin Klosky tells Entrepreneur’s editor-in-chief Jason Feifer.




Related: Demanding Customers Are The Ones Who Motivate Innovation

An innovative company starts with an innovative team. And what’s the best way to innovate? Give your employees the freedom to run with their own ideas, then manage the chaos later. At least that’s what Reid Hoffman believes.

“If you want your company to innovate, your job is to manage the chaos,” says the co-founder of LinkedIn, partner at VC firm Greylock and host of Masters of Scale, a podcast series examining counterintuitive theories to growing a company.

Hoffman’s theory doesn’t seem too far-fetched either. In fact, he’s not the only person who thinks giving employees the freedom to think and create on their own triggers innovation.

“When [people] have that ability to explore and innovate without the pressure of failing, you’re setting yourself up for a ‘win’ situation, because you’re going to get the best out of somebody,” Justin Klosky, founder of professional organizing company O.C.D. Experience, tells Entrepreneur’s editor-in-chief, Jason Feifer, in a video.

Although, when you’re empowering employees with this much freedom, you’ve got to be hiring people you trust. This can be easier said than done. Rather than dissecting a person’s resume, Klosky recommends digging deeper and asking prospective employees questions that will really open them up – anything from who they are, where they’re going and what brought them here.

Related: Beyond Innovation – it’s Innovation Velocity That Really Matters…

After you’ve hired a group of honest, intelligent employees, now what? Don’t tell them how to innovate. Instead, let them figure that out on their own. Allow employees to do what they do best, return to you with their results and from there manage the chaos.

“In order to clean, they need to get messy,” says Klosky.

For more insights and advice about managing an innovative culture, check out the video.

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading


Do You Know How To Stay Relevant?

In this tough economic climate, you need to start focusing on business areas you can control. The ability to stay agile and relevant is in your hands.

Ed Hatton




We have seen huge changes in South Africa recently. Just five years ago, we had a thriving platinum mining sector, good exports of commodities, no e-tolls, a rand dollar rate of better than 8:1 and peaceful universities.

All that has changed, with a significant effect on our SME sector. Imports cost more, finance is expensive and socio-political and labour issues disrupt business frequently.

Customers have changed too; many buyers now complete over 60% of the sale by Internet research. They make comparisons, shortlist potential suppliers and only ask for quotations when they are close to deciding on their supplier.

You could’ve fallen off the shortlist and didn’t even know it

Your company could have been a potential supplier and then fallen off the shortlist without you ever knowing about the lost opportunity. Customers no longer rely on sales staff to provide information about products and applications, and even the least tech-savvy customer checks prices and specifications online.

24/7 availability is now expected, and long delivery times become unacceptable. Customers assume you will be able to slot in unplanned orders efficiently. Loyalty is no longer a given; buyers will move to suppliers who provide better value, even if that supplier is overseas.

Related: 10 Steps For All-Around Optimising Your Business

Lead through quality

Entrepreneurs should recognise that the way we have done business in the past might need modification; there is a risk of being overtaken by more agile competitors. Uber, Airbnb and Netflix are great examples of competitors changing the rules.

What is happening in your markets? What are your competitors doing? Do not just accept feedback from your staff — they are also in their comfort zones. Research competitors and new technologies; ask customers what they would like to see you change.

If you make a decision to update your business, there are several areas you could focus on to build a more agile business that gives better value for money. Technology, quality, customer service, IT, Internet presence, continuous learning and strategy review are among those. A few of the vital ones include:

  • Use available technology. Check prices and terms from alternate suppliers, investigate IT solutions to provide flexible manufacturing systems, optimise inventory and give better response times for customer enquiries.

A good CRM system can track complaints, give basic data to spot new market trends and identify customers starting to move away from you. Develop apps to improve customer convenience or optimise sales calls.

Related: When Innovating Beware The Blindspots

  • Increase quality in all respects, from your products to the accuracy of your invoices. Spend money on quality systems and business processes. You will get it all back in direct and indirect savings by having less comebacks of all types. Better quality in all respects increases your value proposition, and helps to justify your price.

Embrace agility

Overhaul your customer service. Set improvement targets for order fulfilment, right first time repairs, shorter lead times, more convenient customer interfaces and all the other elements of great customer service. Then put plans in place and implement them. Financial returns will follow.

You need an effective and integrated Internet presence, with rich content, which means useful short pieces, not lots of content. Your social media presence must be integrated and support your brand and value proposition. Do not follow trends blindly because everyone thinks they are cool.

Revisit your strategy

Your company must be agile enough to change strategies and tactics to take advantage of market and competitor changes, rather than seeing them as threats. An outside facilitator helps.

All of this sounds like a lot of work and expense, but right now you may be using large chunks of time and money fixing errors, working around old systems, losing customers you should not lose and not getting new customers you should get. Stop all that and you will have time and money to create the new agile and informed company you could be, and stay relevant in your markets.

Continue Reading


FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​