Category Archives: Business

More Informations About 4 Keys to a Successful Sales Pitch

Sales are the lifeblood of any company: No matter how fantastic your product or service is, if customers or clients are not purchasing it, it might as well not exist. That’s why crafting an effective sales pitch is so critical for business growth.

Bob Circosta, the original host of the Home Shopping Network and television’s “Billion Dollar Man,” knows a lot about what it takes to close a sale. It’s not about giving a rundown of the facts and features of your product — it’s about communicating the ways in which it can help the buyer, he said.

“Stop thinking of it just from the perspective of what you have,” Circosta told Business News Daily. “Think about what it will do for others. You need to take your elevator pitch and transcend it … to other people’s perspective [and] solve their problems.”

Circosta advised approaching sales from a helping perspective. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to make the sale, just focus on what the product means to the buyer, he said.

“If [sales reps] focus on how to communicate effectively and help the person, it takes pressure off themselves, and puts the focus and energy where it needs to be,” Circosta said. “A superior salesperson inspires the buyer to feel the benefits of what they have.”

If you want to craft better sales pitches, here are a few key elements you should focus on.

The opening
The first contact with a potential customer or client is crucial to setting the tone for the ongoing relationship. Tom Silk, executive vice president at WorkStride, a provider of employee recognition software, said there is power in the first sentence of the sales pitch. But it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it, he added.

“Use tone, energy — stand up and show enthusiasm,” Silk said. “Energy sets the tone of the conversation.”

Moreover, it’s important to establish a connection with the person you’re selling to, said Brian Stafford, CEO of collaboration software company Diligent Corp.

“Establishing rapport is absolutely critical,” Stafford said. “The best sales rep creates a connection with the prospect as early on as possible.”

Social cues
Whether in person or on the phone, pay attention to the cues that are happening during the pitch, Stafford said. Pay attention to who is speaking, and if it’s an in-person meeting, note the body language. Look for affirmative cues, such as head nods, forward leaning, and open, relaxed postures. If you are getting the opposite, such as crossed arms or other nonresponses, then take a step back.

“I think sometimes, [sales reps] keep plowing ahead even if they aren’t getting the response they hoped for,” Stafford said. “It can be more dynamic to stop and pump the brakes, ask questions, and force them to say what isn’t working for them.”

It is harder to identify these types of social cues over the phone, but they are there if you listen. Silk advised envisioning what is going on in the room and working through the “noise language.” What is being said, by whom and how? Adjust to the silence, and solicit feedback.

“If the plan is not going well, change and adjust on the fly,” Silk said.

The call to action
This is perhaps the most important part of the sales pitch: Ask someone to take action at the end of a sales presentation, Circosta said. Even if the prospective buyer isn’t ready to make a final decision yet, leaving them with a clear call to action will at least keep the idea of doing business with you fresh in their mind.

“If you don’t ask them for the sale, they probably won’t go through with it,” he said.

The follow-up plan
Knowing how and when to follow up on a sales pitch is another factor in its success. It would be nice if every sale were closed at the end of the pitch, but that rarely happens. Decision makers need to take time to evaluate the proposal and ensure what you have to offer is going to fix their problem or improve their capabilities.

WorkStride creates a project plan with its potential clients, defining the milestones for follow-up and the best method to do so.

“The whole purpose of the project plan is to let us know when to follow up,” Silk said. “No ‘checking in’ annoying calls. We can make the follow-up calls with a purpose — after a key meeting of decision makers or at the appropriate time in their budget cycle.”

Diligent Corp. employs a similar strategy: “Follow up, and make yourself be a champion of your key contact in the sales process,” Stafford said. “Problem solve with them. What are the things we need to do to get them over the line?”

Above all else, Stafford said the most important thing you can do throughout the entire sales process is to listen to your prospective client.

“Ask questions and listen,” he said. “Figure out what a potential client wants in a product, and then tailor your response to meet it.”

Some Things to Do Before Starting a Business

Creating a business is a huge undertaking. It’s not a simple path, and often includes details you may never have considered.

To make sure you’ve covered all your bases before opening your doors, Business News Daily asked entrepreneurs for their best advice when starting a business:

Do your research.
“One of the most important things to do before starting a business is to research the competitive landscape. Just because you have a brilliant idea does not mean other people haven’t also had the same idea. If you can’t offer something better and/or cheaper than your competitors, you might want to re-think starting a business in that area.” – Ian Wright, founder, British Business Energy

Get organized.
“The key to starting a new business is to be organized. So many people are driven and have great ideas, but they fail to follow through with them due to their organization. Small business owners wear many hats. Without a plan to stay organized, you’ll find yourself being pulled in so many directions that you won’t get anything accomplished.” – Eric Brantner, founder, Scribblrs.com

Ask yourself why.
“Every entrepreneur should be able to answer the question, ‘Why are you doing this?’ It seems like a simple question, but there will inevitably be times when things go wrong, hope is dwindling and you need to remind yourself of why you’re in it. As an entrepreneur, building and growth is a process that never fully ends. It is great practice to give yourself a mission statement to maintain focus on the project goals as well as personal ones.”– Noah Krinick, founder and partner, Solo Rugs

Get a mentor.
“The No. 1 thing I would tell a new business owner is that they should have a coach or mentor. I’ve had a coach now for a year and a half and it has easily been the best decision I’ve made. Without his help I wouldn’t have been able to grow my company and keep my best employees.” – Ben Walker, founder and CEO, Transcription Outsourcing

Survey your target market.
“Survey a focus group of the target demographic for the service or product. It is crucial to make sure you are delivering what your customer wants, not what you want. This will give you insight into your customer’s buying decision and save you lots of experimenting down the road.” – Sonia F. Lakhany, attorney, Lackhany Law

Get legal advice.
“If there is one thing I would advise for all entrepreneurs before officially opening a new business, it’s to seek legal counsel. We often make the assumption that legal counsel is for when we get ourselves into trouble, but preventative and proactive legal preparation can be the very best way to set your business on the path to long-term success. When you call on legal counsel after you’ve run into a problem, it’s often too late or could critically impact your business in both the short and long term. Investing in their insight at the start of your business can pay a huge return later on by keeping you out of trouble before you even get into it.” – Katy Blevins, co-founder and corporate publicist, The Modern Femme Movement

Boost your credit score.
“Get your personal credit score as high as possible. No life event under your control will ruin your credit score quite as much as starting a business, with the exception of a divorce. You will probably get into a lot of debt starting out. So you’ll have to be able to finance [your personal life] through your own savings. If your credit score isn’t so great, you’ll [only] be able to borrow less money at higher interest rates. If you want to start a business, increase your credit score so you have a [greater] ability to borrow as much as you need.” – Marc Prosser, small business expert and co-founder, Fit Small Business

Bring an accountant on board.
“I had a full-time job as I considered starting my own business in 2009, but I did a lot of groundwork before I started, and bringing on an accountant was an important step. It helped me understand what I needed to do to make this work from a profit standpoint, [as well as] the ins and outs of state, federal and local taxes.” – Sarah Burningham, president and founder, Little Bird

Network.
“The first thing to do when contemplating starting a business is to understand the commitment required. You will need to talk with many entrepreneurs, ideally those who have succeeded and those who have failed. Their experience needs to be recent to be useful, as it will provide valuable context for your endeavor. The most helpful advice to capture is the impact on their lifestyle, such as finances, personal relationships, health, emotional stability, and self-esteem.” – Todd Rhoad, managing director of BT Consulting, and partner with Peachtree Recovery Services Inc.

Know your tax requirements.
“You need to get organized with your taxes and fees. You have to figure out how much your payroll is going to be in order to make your tax payments timely. The timing can vary depending on your payroll. You also have to figure out other business taxes, such as city, county and state. There isn’t one list of all the fees you may have to pay, so you need to get organized and figure this out ahead of time. Forgetting and filing late can make those late charges add up quickly.” – Travis Sickle, certified financial planner, Sickle Hunter Financial Advisors

Prepare for everything and anything.
“The most important thing a small business owner can do is plan for cyclical downswings in their business activity and revenue. There is a lot to be done when you’re not providing your service or selling your goods. Make a list of marketing activities, touch base with contacts, organize your files and office. A lull in business is an opportunity to improve and plan. Likewise, revenue will come in waves. Cash flow is not a constant trickle, but expenses are. The small business owner should plan on either starting with cash reserves or trying to acquire a line of credit from a local bank.” – Joshua E. Stern Esq., Law Offices of Joshua E. Stern

Think about your exit strategy.
“The most important thing I had other than faith and tenacity, was my exit strategy. I knew if all else failed, that no matter what, I would be able to sell the huge inventory that I ordered, and only lose a tiny bit of money, rather than my entire investment. Knowing that I had a way out that would not hurt too much, made it easy for me to go full throttle and go forward.” – Sandy Stein, president, Alexx Inc.

What Happened with Deutsche Bank

What is different this time is that the outbreak is centred on the biggest bank in Europe’s biggest economy. For decades, Deutsche Bank worked hand in glove with the mighty Bundesbank to prudently finance the German economic miracle.

In the 1990s it became a serious global bank, competing toe to toe around the world with the likes of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. But just a few weeks ago, the IMF said that of all the banks big enough to bring the financial system crashing down, Deutsche Bank was the riskiest.

The bank was forced to deny it had sought government help, its share price has collapsed and this giant of world banking is currently worth half as much as Airbnb.

What happened?

Like all banks – it was laid low by the financial crisis and the ultra low interest rates that followed. Profit margins and lending volumes are thin in a sluggish European economy.

But un

like the big US banks and, belatedly, RBS, it did not take an axe to its loan book. It still has €1.6 trillion ($1.79 trillion; £1.38 trillion) of loans outstanding. Only a small percentage of them need to go bad to wipe out the €60bn it has in capital.

It is also facing a whopping fine from US financial authorities for selling risky mortgages. The $14bn demand is likely to be negotiated down but even if it is half that figure, Deutsche Bank will have to raise money.

However, It has a few options before it would even think about turning to the government.

In order of preference:

1. Cash in the attic. It is already selling a stake in a Chinese bank that should raise $4bn and it has a very valuable asset management business that could be sold off.

2. Sugar daddy. It could raise money from a sovereign wealth fund which might like to take a stake in a big-name bank at a knock down price. It could also ask its own shareholders.

3. Go back to the well. Deutsche could sell more shares to existing shareholders. This is not very popular with owners as it dilutes the value of the shares they already have so you would have to sell them new ones at a fairly hefty discount.

4. Burn your creditors. Deutsche has sold €4.6bn of bonds that can be turned into shares – a bail-IN. Bond holders would lose their income and possibly have to write off the value of their investment completely. That is what these bonds are designed for, but in practice Deutsche would be reluctant to do this as it would make it very hard to sell any more of them ever again.

5. In an emergency, break glass. A government bail OUT would be politically unpopular, probably illegal under current rules and would set a precedent for elsewhere in Europe (particularly Italy) which Germany is keen to avoid.

It is still highly unlikely we get to the bottom of this list. Indeed, the German government is reluctant to acknowledge that option five even exists, but a Deutsche Bank bust is unthinkable for Germany and the rest of the financial world. It’s got a few troubles ahead but it won’t be allowed to go the way of Lehman brothers.

Simple Business Plan Templates for Entrepreneurs

Writing a business plan is an important step in the startup process. It helps you and your partners decide if you will work well together, teaches you about the marketplace, and lets you brainstorm business and product goals. But because of all the effort and detail involved, many entrepreneurs dread the thought of sitting down and creating this critical but time-consuming document.

While business plans can be frustrating if you’re writing one from scratch, there are plenty of online templates available to take some of the pain out of the process. Small business owners can benefit from simple, easy-to-follow business-plan tools so they can spend less time writing and more time launching.

Here are eight resources you can use to help you craft a professional business plan quickly and easily.

$100 Startup
You’ve heard about those entrepreneurs who started off by jotting down their ideas on a napkin at a bar, café or restaurant. $100 Startup’s One-Page Business Plan is a little like that, but more organized. Designed for entrepreneurs who are itching to get started, this simple business-plan template asks a handful of questions that you can easily answer in one or two sentences. It covers everything from what you sell and who will buy it to how you will get paid, “hustle” to find customers, foresee challenges and overcome the obstacles — all in a single page. [Writing a Business Plan? Do These 5 Things First]

Copyblogger
Not all small businesses are concerned with credit lines, partnerships and office space — at least not in the beginning. So why should their initial business plans include these things? Copyblogger’s Remarkably Simple Business Plan doesn’t. Instead, it offers a business-plan template fit for the real would-be entrepreneur’s world. Whereas most business-plan templates assume all businesses are uniform, Copyblogger’s Remarkably Simple Business Plan was created to get to what entrepreneurs really need to know to start a business: the ins and outs of the product or service, how customers will find the business and how the business will make money. Simply copy and paste the template of the Remarkably Simple Business Plan, created by Sonia Simone, co-founder and chief content officer of Copyblogger Media, and you’re good to go.

Enloop
Founded in 2011, Enloop is regarded as an innovative player in the business-plan-creation industry. Like many others, the service uses an online interface to help automate your business plan’s creation. To get started, users enter basic information about their businesses, including product details. Then, Enloop’s software uses metrics to help predict the financial performance of the company in comparison with others in the sector. According to CEO Cynthia McCahon, the goal of the company is to help entrepreneurs make better-informed decisions. Users can get started on Enloop for free; more advanced paid options are also available.

LivePlan
LivePlan is a relatively new entrant to the online business-tools market that helps you every step of the way, from the planning stages through your launch. Like other services, LivePlan allows business owners to craft perfectly formatted plans. From there, users can create the presentation necessary to pitch their business ideas to would-be investors. Once off the ground, businesses can track revenue and expenses against forecasts, and multiple users within a company can work through the LivePlan interface. Pricing starts at less than $12 a month.

The One Page Business Plan Company
Created by The One Page Business Plan Company, this simple business template covers only the key areas entrepreneurs need to address to start a business: their vision for the company, mission for why the business exists, objectives for setting out goals, strategies to make the business successful and action plans indicating what work needs to be done. Unlike complicated business plans, boring blocks of text are not required — bullet points will do.

Platform Planner
Are you the visual type? Look no further than Angela Bowman’s One-Page Visual Business Plan. Based on the principles of the Business Generation Model Strategyzer app, Bowman’s One-Page Visual Business Plan uses sticky notes to help you creatively craft an out-of-the-box business plan. To create a One-Page Visual Business Plan, start by separating a single page into different sections or columns, such as company information and customer segments. Write down your ideas or responses on a sticky note, and then stick it on the corresponding section. You can also color-code the sticky notes for better organization. Then, if your plans change, you can easily remove a note, move it around or add new ones to better fit the direction in which your business is headed.

SBA Build Your Business Plan Tool
The fact that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has an online tool to help users craft business plans will come as no surprise to anyone who has investigated the SBA’s offerings before. The agency has a wealth of free planning, financing and consulting tools and resources, both online and through available consultants. The SBA’s online tool for business-plan creation allows a user to enter information on a Web interface that is tied to that user’s account. The administration says this is intended to be a “live” plan that can be referred to and changed as the company’s plans progress. The SBA encourages entrepreneurs to use their generated plans to discuss their company’s prospects with SBA advisers like those available through SCORE and the Small Business Development Center. The SBA’s tool is available online at no cost.

Wise Bread
Greg Go, co-founder of online finance community Wise Bread, is a big believer that entrepreneurs who are just starting out don’t need lengthy business plans. What they actually need, he said, is an “internal working plan” to get started. The internal working plan consists of four simple questions that make up the simple business plan: What is your product or service? Who are your customers? When will things get done? When are bills due, and when do you get paid? To guide entrepreneurs in completing their four-question business plan, Go provides a simplified way of answering each question in his blog post on the subject.

What Price The Reputation of Business

wwThe report on the demise of BHS would make a decent script for a mini-series. Titled “The Unacceptable Face of Capitalism” it would have a cast of colourful characters in an epic tale of greed starring Sir Philip Green.

Rarely has a single business figure come in for more vilification than he has in a report that is also highly critical of the wider financial establishment.

Sir Philip is well known as a handy retailer and BHS prospered in the early years of Green’s ownership. Perhaps his real expertise, however, lies in finance and property. As fast as BHS made money in the early years, Sir Philip Green extracted it faster. Hundreds of millions in dividends, rent and management fees were paid to companies owned by his wife who was based in Monaco – safely out of the taxman’s reach.

‘Manifestly unsuitable’

Having been efficiently gutted of profits and property, a weakened BHS lost its mojo on the high street. Sales suffered, losses were incurred and the store limped on, propped up by the success of the rest of the Arcadia group – most notably Topshop.

Meanwhile, the problem that was ultimately to sink BHS and Sir Philip’s reputation was growing. The pension scheme’s deficit began to balloon – hitting £571m by the end of last year. Sir Philip Green was well aware of the problem and had a plan to fix it, but that was aborted when it became clear how expensive it would be.

It became clear to Sir Philip that he needed to get rid of BHS at any cost. In this endeavour he was assisted by some of the biggest names in the financial establishment – most notably Goldman Sachs who gave twice-bankrupt Dominic Chappel their informal blessing and hence access to a very willing seller. For just £1 he sold it to a buyer the MPs report described as “manifestly unsuitable”.

Real victims

So willing was Sir Philip that he financially supported the person buying from him by earmarking profits from a property deal to pay Chappel’s own blue chip advisers Olswang and Grant Thornton.

He was “out of his depth” according to the report but he was a creature, at least in part, of Sir Philip Green’s creation.

There are real victims in this corporate soap opera. Shops started closing down this weekend and 11,000 workers will ultimately be out of a job while 20,000 pensioners are still waiting for Sir Philip Green to make good on a promise to “sort” the pension mess.

When I asked him when he will be returning to the UK, he said, in jest, “hopefully never” but he has unfinished business here with the Pensions Regulator and the Insolvency Service which has an investigation under way and could disqualify him from being a director.

How he goes about resolving the pension question is difficult to see but what seems clear is that unless he does something big, calls for him to be stripped of his knighthood will become louder.

What price a knighthood? According to chairman of the Work and Pensions select Committee, Frank Field – around £600m. What price the reputation of business? That is going pretty cheaply.

First Tips To Writing a Business Plan

Entrepreneurs are often advised to write a business plan before they officially start their business. The act of writing the business plan will help focus on the details, find items that were not previously considered and fine-tune the approach to running a successful business.

Before a formal plan can be written, however, there are a few key elements you’ll need to work out that will ultimately help you craft that document. Entrepreneurs and business experts recommend taking the following steps before you sit down to write your plan.

Determine your purpose
The primary purpose of a business plan is to show investors, lenders and other potential stakeholders how your company plans to make a profit. Profit is important, but it’s far from the only thing that matters when you start a business, experts say.

“Business plans can be helpful tools to clarify … business activities, [but] they … encourage entrepreneurs to focus on what they are going to do,” said Alan Williams, co-author of “The 31 Practices” (LID Publishing Inc., 2014). “This overlooks two more important questions: ‘why’ — why it exists and why employees would want to get out of bed in the morning, and ‘how’ — the values of the business, what it stands for, how people representing the business will behave.”

Williams noted that entrepreneurs should take time to identify and articulate their business’s core values and purpose, which will serve as your organization’s compass for decision making at all levels. Williams’ co-author, Alison Whybrow, said that this “compass” can be discovered by having an honest, open conversation with your team.

“One thing that a team might want to do is engage in a formal assessment process — looking at habits, beliefs, values and capability — so that they are working from a clear starting point and have a framework for discussion about working styles, strengths, and individual and collective blind spots,” Whybrow said.

How to Test New Business Idea Before Launching

Do you have an idea for the “next big thing”? You may think your idea is perfect the way it is, but it’s wise to test it out before you spend a lot of time and money developing a business or product for which there’s no market. Here are six steps to help you make sure your product is something the world wants, before you launch it.

1. First wait; then build a prototype or test service.

Although you’re excited about your new business idea, you might want to wait a while before testing it, Greg Isenberg, a venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur, said in a 2014 interview.

“After I’ve gone through the process of writing down a bunch of ideas, I don’t like to rush into building a business plan or recruiting the team,” Isenberg said. “I like to wait a few weeks, [to] see which ideas really stick with me.”

Isenberg said he only moves forward if he has a burning feeling that the world really needs his idea.

“Once I’m through that, the best way to test a business idea is to build some prototype and show it to people to get some honest and authentic feedback,” he said. [Looking for a business idea? Visit our Business Idea Page]

2. Build a minimum viable product.

A minimum viable product, or MVP, is “the simplest form of your idea that you can actually sell as product,” said Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and the author of “The Lean Startup” (Crown Business, 2011). Using the principles of Lean Six Sigma, Ries’ book advocates having a version of the product to test and market early in the development process so that any tweaks or changes are in response to real feedback from the target audience.

3. Run it by a group of critics.

When you have your first prototype or test service ready, take it to your potential target customers.

“You should talk [to] and/or survey at least 50 potential customers, to see if they identify with the problem the same way you do,” said Wayde Gilchrist, a startup consultant and host at TechStartRadio.com. “In other words, you need to find out if this is a real problem for a majority of your target market, or just a few,” he said.

However, to really put your new business idea to the test, select your 50 potential clients or customers carefully.

“Identify people in that target you know to be skeptical and critical,” said Chip Bell, founder of the business consultancy firm The Chip Bell Group. “These people could be irate customers from previous encounters, or friends who always take the glass-half-empty perspective.”

Bell advised handpicking your test group and then asking these people to pick your ideas apart.

4. Tweak it to suit your test market.

Isenberg took a similar approach to testing 5by, an Internet video finder app he developed and has since sold. Isenberg and his team went to college campuses and showed mock-ups of what the product was going to look like. They found the feedback from students invaluable in fine-tuning the original idea.

“We were able to quickly gauge that people … were frustrated that they couldn’t open an app and just be able to find the best Internet videos in whatever they were interested in with just a tap of a button,” he said.

Isenberg realized that although his initial business idea and mock-up were a good start, they needed tweaking.

“We quickly knew we were onto something, and then focused on building out the product, raising money, etc.,” he said.

5. Create a test website with social media tie-ins.

Once the word is out about your product or business, the target market needs a place to get more information about it or to show it to their friends. Building a simple website and using social media are ideal tools to provide information and monitor how many people are interested in what you are selling.

“You’ll be able to tell if the idea will get traction from the number of click-throughs on the ads, and the number of people who fill in your form,” Gilchrist said.

6. Create a marketing plan and use it.

All of the preparatory work means nothing if you do not perform enough actions to get a good measure of response. Once you have a viable product, you need to be able to act on the interest in it, said Ryan Clements, a consultant to entrepreneurs on marketing and sales strategy.

“Having worked with many startups — both on my own account as entrepreneur and as an adviser to others — I like to use a rule I call 100 / 1,000,” Clements wrote in a blog post on IvyExec. “Make a list of 100 things you can do to market the product, and then execute that list of 100, and in the process, speak with 1,000 people about the product.”

If you do this, you will have data on your product, Clements said. You’ll know who is interested in it, what marketing strategies worked and didn’t work, and how you can improve, all of which are invaluable steps in getting your idea and business off the ground, he added.

Walmart Slow its Efforts to Open New US Stores

Walmart said Thursday that it plans to significantly slow its efforts to open new U.S. stores, a strategic shift by the world’s largest retailer as it works to claim more of the shopping dollars that are rapidly moving online.

At a meeting with investors, Walmart executives said the chain will open about 35 supercenters next year, sharply lower than the 60 it expects to open by the end of the current fiscal year. It aims to open just 20 of its smaller, grocery-oriented Neighborhood Markets, a pullback from the 70 it is to open this year.

Instead, Walmart said it would work to increase sales by ramping up growth in its online division and squeezing more business out of its roughly 4,600 U.S. stores. The goals executives laid out for its digital business were ambitious: They say they expect to deliver 20 to 30 percent annualized growth in a segment that lately has not shown nearly that level of momentum. For example, last quarter, Walmart’s global e-commerce sales were up 11.8 percent over the previous year. In the last full fiscal year, the company’s online sales were up 8 percent.

“This company, over time, is going to look like more of an e-commerce company,” Doug McMillon, Walmart’s chief executive, said at an event at corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

The big-box chain recently moved to boost its e-commerce firepower by acquiring upstart shopping site Jet.com and by installing that company’s founder, Marc Lore, as the head of Walmart’s online shopping strategy. Lore and McMillon spoke repeatedly of a focus on “basket economics.” This means that they want to find ways to incentivize customers to bundle their online orders, scooping up several items at a time. This behavior would slash shipping and fulfillment costs for the retailer, thus allowing sales in this channel to be more profitable.

This tack would be different from the one that e-commerce leader Amazon.com has taken: That company has instead focused on getting shoppers to pay $99 a year for Prime memberships. Because shipping is free for members, these shoppers sometimes place several orders a day, one item at a time.

Investors sent Walmart’s stock down about 2.5 percent in afternoon trading, apparently disappointed by the financial forecast the retailer offered for the year ahead. Walmart said it expects earnings per share in the next fiscal year of between $4.29 and $4.49, about flat compared to what it anticipates for the current year. In the year after that, it expects 5 percent growth in earnings per share.

Walmart expects to put $11 billion toward capital investments in the coming year. The company plans to remodel about 500 stores, and will add its grocery pickup capabilities to 500 additional locations. As it aims to boost sales in its existing stable of stores, the retailer will continue efforts to spiff up its fresh food offering and to lower prices on certain merchandise. It is also trying to build a healthier business by moving its inventory more efficiently.

“Our goal is pretty simple,” said Greg Foran, chief executive of Walmart’s U.S. business. “We only want to touch an item once from when it hits the backroom to getting into a customers’ basket.”

Mars Tracks Along with The Rest of The Food Industry

Mars, the privately-held candymaker responsible for classic chocolate brands such as M&M’s, Milky Way and Snickers, is rebranding its candy offerings as Mars Wrigley Confectionery and moving management of its confectionery business to Chicago.

Mars bought Wrigley for $23 billion in 2008, but Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which helped fund the deal, retained a 20 percent stake of the purchased company. Mars announced Thursday that it recently bought Berkshire’s remaining shares and will fully merge with Wrigley next year.

The company says there will be no immediate changes to existing brands though new candy offerings could come in the future. A company spokesperson said the combination will make for simpler, more effective interactions with the vendors who make the company’s chocolates and candies available to consumers through retail and e-commerce channels.

“While they were running as two separate companies there was certainly collaboration, but there was a limit on coming together,” said corporate communications manager Kelly McGrail.

Independent analysts don’t expect the move to affect prices.

“The most important worry has to do with cocoa and chocolate and other ingredient costs,” said Bernard Pacyniak, editor of Candy Industry Magazine. “The fact that [Mars] is acquiring the rest of the stock is probably a good thing. They want to be in control.”

The continuing consolidation at Mars tracks along with the rest of the food industry, where a stream of megadeals has given a handful of dominant players control of the market.

Among the largest combinations came last year when Kraft and Heinz combined in a multibillion-dollar deal that was also funded by Berkshire. Hershey rejected a $23 billion takeover deal from Mondelez earlier this summer that would have given the two companies a dominant position in the candy market.

Mars, which is headquartered in McLean, Va., is a rare privately-held company competing with multinational, publicly-traded behemoths like Mondelez, Nestle and Hershey.

Pacyniak said Wrigley was a smart acquisition for Mars, which bought the then-public company for its domination of the gum segment. The combination brings major gum brands including Doublemint and Orbit under the Mars umbrella.

Where is Location of Strike Big Oil

The discovery, which it claims amounts to 6 billion barrels of light oil, was based on two wells drilled this year and 126 square miles of three-dimensional seismic data. The company estimates it to have 1.8 to 2.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

He added that Caelus, which is backed by the private-equity fund Apollo Global Management, was drawn to Alaska by tax credits the state offers to companies that search for oil. These tax credits have offered incentives for producers to search for oil, but have also been a point of heated debate recently among state lawmakers scrambling to save funds amid the more than two year long drop in oil prices of around 60%.

 Its evaluation of the discovery is not complete — Caelus said it had not flow-tested the wells and it plans to drill another appraisal well in 2018. If the find proves to be as substantial as Caelus believes, and with the regulatory process expected to take between three to five years, Caelus projects that oil could flow to the trans-Alaska pipeline in 2022.

Caelus added that the field could produce around 200,000 bpd of light, high mobile crude, which would, if correct, make the field more prolific than ConocoPhillips’ Alpine unit that began production in 2000 and reached a production peak of 139,000 bpd in 2007.

However, Caelus’ field would still pale in comparison with several of the world’s largest oil fields. Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar oil field, discovered in 1948, is the largest conventional oil reserve in the world with an estimated 70 billion barrels of oil remaining.

It produces around 5 million bpd of crude. However, the actual amount of oil reserves at Ghawar is a closely held state secret. Some analysts claim that as much as 60% of all Saudi production is derived from Ghawar. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) states that Ghawar has more oil reserves than all but seven other countries.

Kuwait’s Burgan field, discovered in 1938, holds an estimated 66 to 72 billion barrels of reserves, which accounts for more than half of Kuwait’s total, producing between 1.1 and 1.3 million bpd. It didn’t start production, however, until around 1948.

The Safaniya field, also in Saudi Arabia, is estimated to hold around 50 billion barrels of oil, but it is also very mature and has been in production for around 60 years.

Iraq also has holds some of the largest oil fields in the world. Its Rumaila field holds an estimated 17.8 billion barrels of oil, while its West Qurna-2 field is the country’s second largest, holding nearly 13 billion barrels of oil reserves.

The Bakken field in the U.S., discovered in 1951, has 24 billion barrels of reserves remaining, and produces around 1.4 million bpd.

Alaska is also suffering from other maturing fields, while new discoveries have been unable to offset this decline – which makes the Caelus discovery so promising for the state.

Not only has the state suffered oil production losses, but the current roil in global oil prices has also caused budget deficits for Anchorage, creating political turmoil as Alaska Gov. Bill Walker tries to find ways to offset lost revenue.

Another blow to the state came when three of the four Alaska LNG project partners, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips, pulled out last month after a study prepared by energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the project was “one of the least competitive” LNG projects in the world.

Walker, for his part, is still optimistic that the project can go forward, but given the glut of LNG that is projected to last past 2020 and the drop in LNG prices from more than $20 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in February 2014 to just over $5/MMBtu in Asia currently, the Alaska project’s intended market, Walker faces strong headwinds as well as political infighting in Anchorage to keep the project proposal alive.

Caelus’ discovery comes less than a month after Apache announced a multi-billion barrel oil discovery in Texas.