Trending February 2024 # Americans Would Rather Own A Business Than Retire # Suggested March 2024 # Top 11 Popular

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The dream of owning a business in retirement

The Inside Small Business Survey showed that of all retirees chasing the entrepreneurial dream, 54% said the idea of succeeding and finding pride in their business is what excites them most. [Read related article: How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide]

Community also mattered to most respondents. According to researchers, 70% of those polled said they would support a small business if one opened in their community. Approximately 83% of small business owners said they would do the same. Convenience (46%) and quality of the goods and services provided (45%) factor into whether respondents would support a mom-and-pop store versus a major retailer.

Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store, said the survey’s findings in this area showed that most small business owners “really want to help new business owners in their communities succeed.”

Editor’s note: Looking for the right employee retirement plan for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Potential obstacles

As with any major life decision, outside forces can get in the way of starting a business. For more than a decade, many Americans have been reluctant to set up shop at their own expense, thanks to the recession in 2008 and subsequent volatility in the marketplace.

According to researchers, the biggest hindrance to starting a small business is fear. In the Inside Small Business Survey, respondents identified concerns about financial security (40%), financial commitment to the business (35%), and fear of failure (35%) as their major roadblocks. Participants also shared the top expenses they were most worried about, pointing to basic operating costs (54%) and supplies and equipment (50%). Nearly 25% of those polled said shipping expenses would worry them. 

It’s also unclear whether or how these fears have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the survey was conducted before the widespread business closures and economic shutdowns prompted by the spread of the coronavirus.

Embracing new technology

While the economy and financial stability remain points of worry for some entrepreneurs – especially following the coronavirus pandemic and recent shutdowns – the adoption of new technology is not one of them.

Nearly 64% of Americans said they believe artificial intelligence tech, like that found in autonomous machines or automated customer support, will be a boon to businesses in the future. Further bucking the conception that workers view automation as a threat, 69% of respondents said they believed automation was a good thing for small businesses.

Among small business owners, the excitement for artificial intelligence and automation only grows. According to researchers, 74% of small business owners polled said they believe AI will be helpful, while 78% said they believe automation would also be a major benefit.

“Surprisingly, Americans are far from fearing automation and artificial intelligence when used in small business settings,” Pittaway said. “They see technology as a helping hand, providing tools and apps that make their day-to-day activities more efficient and seamless.” [Related: What a 401(k) Plan Is and How to Choose One]

Finding financial success in retirement 

Between COVID-19 hitting the U.S. and a new administration coming in, millions of Americans have seen their finances change drastically over the past 12 to 24 months, affecting their retirement plans as a result.

Many Americans have responded to these changes by rethinking their career paths, taking time off or switching to freelance or independent work. Others have decided to exit the workforce entirely and retire early.

Did You Know?

While it’s possible to delay Social Security benefits, retirees can’t delay required minimum distributions from retirement accounts, which start at age 72. However, that money can then be reinvested in nonqualified retirement accounts.

Nevertheless, a multitude of Americans leaving the workforce today still contemplate taking their work into retirement, either by contracting or starting their own business. In many cases, this approach proves beneficial. 

For example, extending your income into retirement delays the need to draw down retirement account balances, or it can help tide you over until you reach age 70 and can maximize your Social Security benefits. 

Some couples choose to file and suspend their Social Security benefits so that one spouse can start receiving benefits while the other continues working, even in a part-time or self-employed capacity. 

After all, by the time most Americans reach retirement age, they’ve mostly settled into an established lifestyle and defined spending habits. Most people have paid off their homes and other debts by the time they reach retirement. As a result, starting a business can let you focus on a passion project or earn a small amount of extra income that goes a long way.

Dock Treece contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.

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Amazon Echo Pop Review: The Latest Echo Flops Rather Than Pops

Let’s just cut to the chase: With its new Echo Pop, Amazon has delivered an Echo speaker that looks worse, sounds worse, and does less than the only slightly larger and more expensive Echo Dot. 

I’m not really sure what the thinking was behind Amazon’s latest Echo speaker, or who it’s supposed to be for. If the half-spherical device was significantly smaller than the Echo Dot, which the Pop replaces as the smaller and least-expensive Echo speaker, I’d be more forgiving.

But the Echo Pop is almost precisely the same size as the Echo Dot, and at $39.99/£44.99, its list price is only $10 less in the US. In the UK, now that the Echo Dot has come down in price, the Pop is actually £10 more. You can read our review of the Echo Dot 5, which we rated pretty highly, to find out why you might want to buy that instead.

The Echo Pop also drops a couple of the Echo Dot’s key smart home sensors, while its flat audio performance makes the Echo Dot’s middling sonics sound much better in comparison.

The Pop is almost all plastic save for the flat, fabric-covered front, while the more handsome Dot has a more expansive fabric covering, giving it a more premium feel

On the plus side, the Pop does come with Alexa and her usual bag of tricks, and besides supporting the new Matter standard and Amazon’s Sidewalk neighbourhood networks, the Pop doubles as an extender for Amazon’s Eero mesh Wi-Fi routers.

But the Echo Dot does all those things too, and while it’s a tad deeper in size than the Echo Pop, it has a much more premium feel; the Pop, on the other hand, feels cheap.

So, at the risk of sounding glib: the Echo Pop flops more than it pops. 

How big is the Amazon Echo Pop?

Measuring 9.9 x 8.4 x 9.1cm (WxDxH), the Amazon Echo Pop is roughly the same size as the Echo Dot. With its half-spherical design, the Echo Pop certainly looks somewhat smaller than the Echo Dot, but practically speaking, the Pop’s slice-in-half design only shaves about a half and inch of depth and a hair off the height. So yes, the Echo Pop is a tad smaller than the Dot, but it’s not that much smaller.

On the other hand, the Echo Pop is considerably lighter than the Dot, with the speakers weighing in at 195g and 303g respectively. Unfortunately, that loss in heft makes the Pop feel cheap compared to the weightier Dot. Making matters worse, the Pop is almost all plastic save for the flat, fabric-covered front, while the more handsome Dot has a more expansive fabric covering, giving it a more premium feel.

Despite its half-sphere design, the Amazone Echo Pop is only slightly smaller than the Echo Dot.

Ben Patterson/Foundry

Where is Alexa’s light ring on the Echo Pop?

The Echo Pop actually doesn’t have an Alexa light ring, per se; rather, it has a thin Alexa indicator light that sits along the top edge of the speaker. 

Behind the Alexa light are a trio of buttons for volume up, volume down, and microphone mute. Eagle-eyed Echo Dot users will notice that the Pop lacks an Action button, which allows you to (among other things) silence alarms and put the speaker in setup mode. For the Echo Pop, the typical function for the Action button – snoozing alarms – can be performed by simply tapping the top of the device.

On the back of the Echo Pop is a port for the roughly five-foot charging cable, which terminates in a (typically, for Echo speakers) chunky wall wart. 

There’s no 3.5mm audio-out jack on the back of the Pop – not a huge surprise, given that the fifth-generation Echo Dot jettisoned the auxiliary audio jack, too. But while you can’t connect a secondary speaker to the Echo Pop using a wire, you can still do so via Bluetooth.

How do you set up the Echo Pop?

Getting the Echo Pop up and running is a snap for those who already own other Echo speakers. You simply plug in the Echo Pop, wait a few minutes until Alexa says the speaker is ready for setup, and fire up the Alexa app; within a few seconds, a prompt to pair the Echo Pop should appear.

If you’re new to the Echo scene or Alexa as a whole, you’ll need to download the Alexa app and (if you haven’t already) register for an Amazon account. You’ll also be prompted to enter the credentials for your home Wi-Fi router, although once that step is done, you won’t need to repeat it for adding future Echo speakers.

Can the Amazon Echo Pop control smart home devices?

With the help of Alexa, the Echo Pop can take charge of your compatible smart home devices via voice commands, and the pool of supported smart devices just got wider thanks to Matter, the new standard that promises to (eventually) unite the big smart home ecosystems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings. 

Like the Echo Dot and most other current Echo speakers, the Echo Pop acts as a Matter controller, allowing it to connect other Matter devices in your home together. The Pop can’t connect Matter devices to the internet, however; for that, you’ll need a Thread border router, such as an Amazon Echo speaker; an Apple HomePod, HomePod mini, or third-gen Apple TV 4K; or a Google Nest Hub Max, second-gen Nest Hub, or a Nest Wifi Pro.

If you’re in the US, you’ll want to know that Echo Pop also works with Sidewalk, Amazon’s budding neighbourhood network that allows multiple Ring, Echo, and other compatible devices to work together, creating a low-power, long-range network large enough to cover an entire neighbourhood. 

With help from a Sidewalk network (and many US neighbourhoods are already blanketed by Sidewalk coverage), users can install (for example) compatible motion sensors, smart lights, and other devices outside of their homes without worrying that they will be out of Wi-Fi range. 

The benefits of Sidewalk are still more theoretical than practical, however, and you can turn off the Echo Pop’s Sidewalk functionality if you’d rather.

The Amazon Echo Pop has buttons for volume up, microphone mute, and volume down.

Ben Patterson/Foundry

Can the Echo Pop act as an Amazon Eero extender?

Amazon recently added the ability for most of its current Echo line to double as range extenders for its Eero mesh Wi-Fi routers, and the Echo Pop is no exception.

Each Echo Pop will add up to 1,000 square feet of coverage to your Eero mesh setup, a nice bonus given the Pop’s bargain price.

Does the Echo Pop let you chat with Alexa?

As with other Echo speakers, the Echo Pop lets you speak with Alexa. You can ask Alexa a broad range of questions, anything from “Alexa, what’s the weather?” to “Alexa, do I have any appointments today?”

You can also set Alexa to listen to suspicious sounds, such as breaking glass or smoke alarm sirens (via the free Alexa Guard feature, or you can upgrade to the paid Alexa Guard Plus), set alarms or timers, or even shop on Amazon (you can set a PIN to keep your kids from going on Amazon shopping sprees). 

Can you make phone calls with the Amazon Echo Pop? 

Alexa offers most of the same communication features on the Echo Pop that are available on other Echo speakers. For example, you can ask Alexa to “drop in” on an Echo device in another room, allowing you to hear what’s going on in that room or speak to anyone nearby (Alexa will warn you if someone is dropping in from another Echo speaker). You can also ask Alexa to make an announcement (like “Dinner time!”) on all the other Echo devices in your home.

Besides communication with other Echo devices, Alexa on the Echo Pop can make free phone calls to landlines in the US, UK, Canada, and Mexico (free Alexa calls are limited to 10 contacts at a time, unfortunately).

Can you play music on the Amazon Echo Pop? 

Like other Echo speakers, the Echo Pop can double as a jukebox with help from Alexa. Using the Alexa app, you can sign into your favorite music streaming service, including Amazon Music, Apple Music and Podcasts, Spotify (including Spotify Connect functionality), Deezer, Tidal, Pandora, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, and TuneIn; missing from the list is Qobuz and YouTube Music.

With your music streaming account linked, you can ask Alexa on the Echo Pop to play a track, an album, an artist, or a genre (“Alexa, play Taylor Swift” or “Alexa, play classic rock”). Another option is to add music playback as an action in an Alexa routine; for example, you could make Alexa play “Happy” during your morning wake-up routines.

What’s missing from the Echo Pop? 

“Just like other Echo speakers,” has been something of a refrain in my review of the Echo Pop, but there are a couple of key Echo features that the Pop decidedly doesn’t support.

For example, the Echo Pop lacks the built-in motion sensor found in the latest (and, again, only slightly pricier) Echo Dot, and it’s also missing the Dot’s temperature sensor. Both of those sensors can be used to trigger Alexa routines, such as turning on the lights when someone enters the room or spinning up a fan when the temperature hits a certain level.

Also missing from the Echo Pop is a Zigbee smart home hub that would allow the speaker to directly control Zigbee devices – although, to be fair, the Dot doesn’t have a Zigbee radio either.

How does the Echo Pop sound?

On paper, you might think the Echo Pop and its 1.95-inch driver has the sonic edge over the Echo Dot and its smaller 1.75-inch driver. The reality, however, is that the Echo Pop’s audio pales compared to the Echo Dot’s–and that’s saying something, given the Dot’s only so-so audio performance.

Going back and forth between the two speakers, the Echo Pop sounded flat and tinny, with just a hint of bass response. The Echo Dot, in contrast, sounded deeper and fuller, with better high-end detail.

Granted, the Echo Dot still sounds pretty meh to my ears, but at least its audio reproduction flirts with actual high fidelity. The Echo Pop, on the other hand, sounds like a cheap Bluetooth speaker, good for hearing your tunes rather than truly enjoying them.

Is the Amazon Echo Pop worth the cash?

If the Amazon Echo Pop arrived with a much lower price tag, then sure, it might be worth it.

But considering that its price doesn’t compare well to the sturdier, better sounding, more capable, and only slightly larger Echo Dot, we’d suggest you hang on for a price cut. Right now, the Echo Pop gets a hard “no” from us.

Huawei Nexus: Would Google Build One? Would You Buy It?

Making sense of the Situation

Last week, GizmoChina published a story that suggested a Chinese OEM would be tasked with the next Nexus based on a post it had seen on Sina Weibo, the world’s largest country’s sprawling SNS. In the Weibo post, it was alleged that Google plans to partner with a Chinese phone maker for the release of a new Nexus, which could arrive sometime in the second half of this year. Earlier this week, the rumor was followed up by an unofficial confirmation that HUAWEI was the chosen company.

The confirmation came from neither HUAWEI or Google, instead Kevin Wang, the Director of China Research at market research firm iSuppli, asserted that HUAWEI had been picked as Google’s next partner. It is impossible to say where Wang is getting his information from, or if it is simply a bold prediction and nothing more. For that matter, we can’t say for sure that Google is even considering partnering with a Chinese company for a Nexus device. That said, we can understand some of the reasons why Google might consider working with a Chinese giant like HUAWEI for production of a new Nexus phone, or even tablet.

Why, China. Why? This is why.

Look no further than devices like the HUAWEI Mate 7 and you’ll see that HUAWEI is clearly capable of producing a premium looking device that doesn’t break the bank.

Aside from the assumption of a cheaper price tag, there’s also the possibility that a HUAWEI Nexus would use its own in-house processor, as opposed to something more mainstream like a Qualcomm Snapdragon. This would certainly help further cut costs, though it’s unclear whether or not Google would risk using a relatively unknown chipset in its flagship Nexus devices.

For those that aren’t aware, HUAWEI’s chipset found in the Mate 7 is called the HiSilicon Kirin 925, which brings a 1.8GHz quad-core Cortex A15 together with another quad-core Cortex A7 clocked in at 1.3GHz, both working in conjunction, allowing for a very optimized performance that is very close in performance to a higher-end Snapdragon. One area of weakness, however, is in terms of graphics. The Mali-T628 has consistently done worse in graphics tests than other comparable GPUs. Granted, it still performs well, it’s just not the best available. Of course, HUAWEI could be ready to wow us in gaming/graphics performance with their next Kirin processor. You never know.

The Global Benefit for China

The idea of a Chinese Nexus would do a lot to dispel this air of mistrust and inferiority that exists in the western world, at least if the launch was handled right.

Like it or not, companies like HUAWEI, Xiaomi, and even Lenovo, are growing bigger and bigger with seemingly each month that passes. How can they not really, when they sell to the two largest markets in the world (India and, of course, China) and offer devices with excellent specs at cutthroat pricing. It’s no wonder that Samsung can’t get a break in either territory anymore.

The idea of a Chinese Nexus would do a lot to dispel this air of mistrust and inferiority that exists in the western world, at least if the launch was handled right.

The Global Problem for China

Wrap-Up

Regardless of what one feels about this story, the potential here is big. Google, eager to gain a foothold into the expanding Chinese mobile app market, would be in a very good position were the HUAWEI Nexus to materialize. Likewise, HUAWEI would have an extra layer of “Western credibility” associated with its brand name, should Google trust it with making a device. Even if this all does pan out and the device never makes it outside of Asia, it will still stand as a very bold move indeed.

Any thoughts? Would you be willing to buy a Nexus made by HUAWEI?

Is A Gaming Pc Really More Expensive Than A Console?

If you want to play video games in this day and age there have never been more options. You can grab a smartphone or hop on a game streaming service and be playing in no time. However, for most people who play video games as a primary form of entertainment, there are two choices: PC vs console.

Consoles are purpose-built gaming machines that offer plug-and-play gaming with no need to mess about with game settings. They are also pretty affordable, or at least their initial price tag is. 

Table of Contents

PCs, on the other hand, offer complete hardware flexibility and, if you spend enough, the sort of gaming horsepower that no console can match. Except perhaps right as a new generation of consoles launches.

While the PC platform is, in general the home of premium video game performance, gamers often baulk at the perceived price of being a PC gamer. The question is whether that perception is accurate. The answer, as we’ll see, depends on how you look at things.

The Hardware Costs

There’s no two ways about it. The amount of money you have to hand over to take a console home is less than you’d pay for an equivalent or better gaming PC. As a console’s lifespan rolls along, that fact changes. Since the console hardware doesn’t change, new PC hardware becomes more powerful at a lower price. So eventually a similar asking price for the console will net you a PC with better specifications.

Why are consoles so much cheaper? There are a few reasons for this. Console makers get preferential hardware prices because they build millions and millions of consoles. Console makers also don’t need to make a profit on their consoles. Often they either break even or take a loss on each unit. 

This is acceptable because of something known as the “attach rate”. In the case of a console, this refers to the games, services and accessories users must buy to get any real use out of their machine. So even if the console hardware itself doesn’t make any money, there’s instant profit from the sale of the first game, accessory or subscription.

With PCs, every component has a profit margin. The individual manufacturers need to make a return on the hardware or there’d be no point. The end result of this is that, from a performance-per-dollar point of view, PCs are more expensive than consoles. However that’s not the whole story. It would be more accurate to say that PCs cost more upfront. But if we look at the cost over the lifespan of a typical console, that picture changes. 

The Software Costs

Because consoles are a closed platform, game developers need to pay for the privilege of releasing games on that system. This comes in the form of a fee attached to every copy sold. Rather than take a hit to their own profits, that cost is passed on to the console gamer. So you’ll find that, at launch, console games cost more than the same title on PC.

That’s not all! Since several different distributors compete for PC game sales, you’ll hardly ever pay retail price for a PC game. Whether it’s a pre-order discount or price cuts mere months or even weeks after launch, there are always amazing deals to be had on PC games. Console games, in contrast, tend to hold their full price for much longer. They also don’t enjoy price cuts nearly as deep as those on PC when they do go on sale.

This is where the main equalizer in the price of gaming on PC vs console comes into play. However, this clearly depends heavily on how many games you buy. 

For argument’s sake, let’s say that a console game costs $10 more than the PC version on average. If you buy one game a month for five years, that would be $10 x 12 months x 5 years. Equalling $600.

If you had added that $600 to your initial console purchase and bought a $1000 PC instead, your total expenditure would have been the same. These days, a $1000 can buy a pretty decent gaming laptop or desktop. However that’s just one area of hidden cost that console gamers have to contend with.

Online Services Costs

Since the PC offers an open platform, players don’t have to pay for functions such as multiplayer to a third party.  On consoles, online multiplayer is usually reserved for a subscription service, which is in addition to any actual game subscriptions you might have to pay.

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have all sweetened the deal by adding discounts and “free” digital games into the mix. So whether that’s worth the cost will be up to individuals. However, the bottom line is that if you want to play online at all the fee isn’t optional.

So the value added aspects don’t carry that much weight. If you add the difference in monthly online multiplayer subscriptions to the average difference in game prices, it further equalizes the price difference between PC and console hardware over the console life cycle.

Upgrade Costs

Next, we need to factor in the cost of upgrading a PC. First of all, upgrades to PC over the course of it’s console equivalent generation is optional. At least when it comes to cross-platform games. 

A rather recent development with consoles is the mid-generation upgrade. Which gave us the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. Neither of these were essential upgrades, but they did offer a fairly affordable bump to graphical power. 

The CPUs for these mid-generation machines were virtually unchanged. So if you did the same thing to your PC mid-generation and only upgrade the GPU, then you’d spend about as much (or less) as you would on a new, updated console. From that point of view upgrading has a negligible effect when comparing PC vs console.

Do You Need A PC For Other Things?

The next important consideration when calculating comparative cost is whether you need a computer for anything besides gaming. If you do need a computer for more than gaming, then the console’s cost is in addition to that of a non-gaming PC.

In that case, you might as well add the costs together and get the gaming PC. If you don’t need a PC at all, then we can leave it out of the cost comparison.

A Different Perspective On Costs

As we’ve seen, if you look at the total cost of ownership over the lifespan of the typical console, the cost differences of PC vs console aren’t nearly as dramatic as they’ve been made out to be. Of course, PCs can be incredibly expensive at the high end, but this is not a comparison of extremes.

Can A Business Analyst Become A Project Manager?

With inflation, a hybrid working model, supply chain issues, and massive layoffs hitting the market, Project management is one area that has the capability to lead this ship of change, hence the demand for project managers.

With the increasing complexity and scope of projects, especially in the digital age, having a skilled project manager is essential to ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

In short, yes, a business analyst can choose to become a project manager, and this article will help you navigate the path easily.

Similarities Between a Business Analyst and a Project Manager

Although both business analysts and project managers manage projects, a business analyst is usually more concerned about the business strategy while the project manager mostly has an eye on planning and outcomes. This doesn’t mean there is no common ground for both these job roles. You will be surprised by how useful your prior business analyst experience is.

To help you breathe a sigh of relief, we’ll compare the critical skills required for business analysts and project managers. You can check for yourself if there’s any overlap or not.

Critical Skills of Business Analysts

Examine the structure of the business and the tools required for successful project completion

Provide a step-by-step action plan for problem resolution

Plan successful recommendations with resource-effective strategies

Persuade stakeholders on the benefits of the newly built strategy

Understand client requirements and the differences from one field to another.

Essential Skills of Project Managers

Evaluate resources and define the scope

Assess risks and troubleshoot issues

Create a step-by-step working strategy

Communicate with stakeholders and track the progress

Learn the differences between projects and fields

Build effective strategies to guide the project

Research primary goals and key challenges

As you can see, though the two job roles differ in expertise, they overlap in many key areas, especially in strategic planning and communication with stakeholders.

Difference Between a Project Manager and a Business Analyst

According to Payscale, a business analyst’s average annual compensation ranges from Rs.6,00,000 to Rs.7,00,000. Meanwhile, the average salary package of a project manager can go as high as Rs. 15,00,000. Although they carry some similarities, there must be some viable peculiarities that make the project manager role more coveted.

Once you level up your skills based on these differences, your goal of becoming a project manager becomes much easy.

Scope

A Business Analyst is majorly responsible for identifying and analyzing business requirements, while a project manager deals with managing the overall project, right from planning, and execution, to closing.

Skillset

Most business analysts typically have a background in business, finance, or economics and are skilled at analyzing business needs. On the other hand, project managers hold their expertise in project management and are skilled at organizing and leading project teams.

Deliverables

Business analysts are responsible for creating the documentation part of a project too. For instance, they create business requirements documents, process flow diagrams, and user stories that are usually client-facing. Meanwhile, project managers don’t have much say in documentation except for creating project plans, timelines, and budgets.

Stakeholder Management

Business analysts are often responsible for gathering requirements from stakeholders and communicating them to the development team. However, project managers are responsible for managing relationships with stakeholders, including the project sponsor and team members.

Example − A business analyst at a retail company might be responsible for analyzing sales data to identify opportunities for improving the company’s e-commerce platform. A project manager at the same retail company might be responsible for leading the cross-functional team that is implementing the improvements to the e-commerce platform.

Different Roles in DifferentStages

Business Analysts are typically involved in the early stages of a project, such as requirements gathering and analysis, while Project Managers are involved throughout the entire project life cycle, from planning to execution and closing.

Different Reporting Lines

Business Analysts typically report to a manager or director within the business unit they are supporting, while Project Managers typically report to a senior manager or executive within the project management team.

How Can a Business Analyst Develop Project Management Skills?

Despite the differences in the work scope, a business analyst will look up to a career in project management, considering the lucrative career growth and attractive salaries. If you’ve decided to get into a project management role, consider building up these skills.

Time Management

The role of a business analyst is quite flexible, but a project manager needs to be more specific and have a grasp of time. A project manager needs to get a grip on the actual timeframes of the entire project lifecycle to make real progress from one stage to another.

Developing this time management skill usually comes through experience, but you can widen your knowledge by studying the case studies of your current project.

Effective Communication

Managing a project requires collaboration and commitment. To improve team communication, project managers can collect feedback from individual team members and measure their communication effectiveness. If you notice discrepancies in their work, you can test various communication channels like Teams or Slack, whichever works best for your organization.

Decision Making

As a business analyst, your decision-making skills impact the evaluation of the business. But, as a project manager, your decisions impact resources, priorities, approvals, and planning. So, you need to understand the logic of decision-making.

You can start by seeking guidance from expert project managers and ask them to give you feedback during your initial steps. You must also learn to take ownership of the outcomes that result from your decision-making.

3-step Action Plan to Make an Easy Shift from Business Analyst to Project Manager

Now that you’re aware of the skills needed to master to get into project management, we thought of helping you to make your transition much more accessible. Here’s an easy-to-follow action plan business analysts can implement immediately to become project managers.

Get PMP Certified

According to Talent Economy, by 2027, there will be a need for 87.7 million project managers across the globe. While this number shows ample opportunity in front of you, it also indicates the tough competition you’re about to face to become a project manager.

Let your current manager know your interest

Now that you have ample experience as a BA and hold and valid PMP certification, project yourself as a legit candidate by having a conversation with your employer.

The key to this step is to remember that you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Anticipate the questions you’ll be asked by your manager and, if necessary, speak to other project managers about what they were asked during the interaction.

Look for a BA role that includes more PM functions

This is the easiest way to transition from a BA to PM. If it has become impossible at your organization to switch to a project manager after all the trials, don’t be disappointed. Try looking for BA roles in other companies that include the role of a project manager.

What Would Architecture Look Like On Venus? Here Is A Hint From Bioshock Infinite

Concept art of a Mars Colonization © The Expanse

Throughout humankind’s history, exploration and discovery are in our essence to survive and adapt. We faced countless threats; eventually, we overcame them or found a solution. Right now, our next aim colonizing Mars and become an interplanetary species. Colonizing Mars is not easy; we know that every aspect of Mars contains radiation from its air to the ground.

Venus © NASA/JPL

Mars’ atmosphere is not as strong as Earth’s; therefore, in the early stages, Mars’ architectural style will most likely be small inflatable pods to accommodate or live under the surface near a water crystal. After the early stages, most examples we see are based on using Mars soil as a 3D print resource and making thick domes to cover us from UV light. However, is that the only choice we have? Must we copy Earth’s Architecture style to another planet?

Bespin – Cloud city concept from Star Wars

Through social media, we only heard of colonizing Mars; however, there is another option from NASA, we can colonize Venus. Venus is the second planet from our sun, and it’s a terrifying planet. Its atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide, clouds that rain sulfuric acid, and a surface temperature reaches 460 Celsius. You might ask, “why would we even live in there?” well, we don’t have to stay on the surface; we can fly through the sky. In “Colonization of Venus,” Geoffrey A. Landis, a NASA scientist, and Sci-Fi author say:

“Although the surface of Venus is an extremely hostile environment, at about 50 kilometers above the surface, the atmosphere of Venus is the most Earth-like environment (other than Earth itself) in the solar system. It is proposed here that in the near term, human exploration of Venus could take place from aerostat vehicles in the atmosphere and that in the long term, permanent settlements could be made in the form of cities designed to float at about fifty-kilometer altitude in the atmosphere of Venus.”

Mars colony © Moonshot (2024)

We can design cities that flow through the skies on Venus. A new playfield for architects to test their limits and design an undesignable. Geoffrey also mentions that A one-kilometer diameter balloon will lift 700,000 tons. If we double that balloon, it will lift around six tons due to the density of gas on the surface of Venus. It gives architects a new opportunity and a new challenge.

A colony on Venus © Sergio Botero

Nonetheless, the upper atmosphere of Venus’s pressure is around 1,000 hectopascals(hPa), and Earth’s pressure is 1013 hPa at sea level. Also, it’s atmosphere strong enough to provide a shield from radiation. When we come to air and water resources, Venus does not have any water as far as we know. However, it has tons of deadly clouds made of sulfuric acid, and through electrolysis, those molecules can be separated and recombined to form water. What about oxygen? In Venus’s atmosphere, abundant carbon dioxide and nitrogen can be used to grow plants to produce breathable air plus food; you’re lucky if you’re a vegan.

NASA already has a mission for Venus, HAVOC (High-Altitude Venus Operational Concept), which started around 2024. However, what would be Venus’s Architecture? It can be a difficult question, but there is an example from Irrational Games.

HAVOC (High-Altitude Venus Operational Concept) © NASA

Bioshock Infinite, Flying City

Bioshock Infinite, a First-person shooter game made by Irrational Games, is the final game of the Bioshock series. In the first two games, the city of Rapture was an underwater city. However, at the end of the series, it takes place in an airborne city called “Colombia.” The game was made by Ken Levine, who also produced “System Shock 2” and “Thief: The Dark Project” and made quite an impact in its time.

© Bioshock Infinite Flying City

Bioshock Infinite took place in the airborne city of Colombia in 1912. In summary, we are playing Booker DeWitt and trying to find a mysterious woman and discover the secrets of this city. The game explores the chaos caused by strong ideals taken to an extreme and philosophical concept of “American Exceptionalism” perverted into ultranationalism, religious fanaticism, and social Darwinism. For its environment design, it uses Steampunk Style mixed with Beaux-Arts.

© Bioshock Infinite Flying City

City Planning of Bioshock Infinite

When we look at the game world has been designed by building multiple islands and identifying each island for a function. There is no just one solid surface on which the city has been constructed. It has five types of islands, Industry Zone (Battleship Bay), Public Space (Main Street), Carnival (Ferris Wheel), Municipality (First Lady’s Aerodrome), and Monument (Hall of Heroes). Simple zoning system, however, this world is still a utopia; therefore, the municipality takes place in the highest point, and the Industry zone is in the lowest point. Therefore, we have a social status hierarchy. 

A map of Columbia © steamcommunity

In order to travel through each of these islands, you must take Zeppelin or flying Gondola. Also, a railroad system connects to every island used for logistics, or it can be used as a pedestrian by using a tool called “skyhook.” Therefore, we can say it’s a walkable and hookable city.

Sketches from Scott Duquette

The Inspiration

We can see a lot of architectural inspiration in this game, like Beaux-Arts and some Neoclassicism mixed with Steampunk style. In an interview with Ken Lewin, he mentions that while building this world and determining it’s style, they struggled for around 6 months. At that time, the artists on the game were reading the book “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson, which is about the building of the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. When it was shared with the whole team and Ken, there was a huge impact.

Notes from the Franklin Littell Project: Sci Fi Writings © Temple University

“They turned me on to that, and we became really drawn to that period. I felt that book did a really great job of giving a feel for what was happening in the USA at the time, and we drew a lot of inspiration from that. In addition, the floating city was a common fantasy around the turn of the century, for example, Peter Caledon Cameron’s Nodnol City.”

Looking West From Peristyle, Court of Honor and Grand Basin of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, Illinois)

What can we learn from Bioshock Infinite?

Considering Venus or any other planet might not have designed Bioshock Infinite. However, we can’t deny the detailed work put in the game’s world in city design and architectural design. We don’t have to consider Beaux-Arts, Neoclassicism, or Steampunk style when we start to define Venus architecture. Still, we cannot ignore that there is some solution that we can use. Such as logistics or zoning.

© Bioshock Infinite Flying City

Remember that the project HAVOC by Nasa started in 2024, and Bioshock Infinite came out in 2013. We were not considering colonizing Venus or even thinking about how to solve logistic problems or find a solution in zoning. That’s the benefit of games; simulating a world seems like fantasy but can be turn reality in the future. Nevertheless, the planets there are designed by doing very well and deep research, so the game itself can be used as data.

“The challenge was finding something that looked both fantastical yet believable. Although Columbia is in the air, the art team drew on a huge amount of research of the art, fashion, architecture and propaganda of the early 1900s. If our city doesn’t feel like a place people could actually inhabit, we haven’t done our job.”

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