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Diplomacy, business and break-dance on Macron’s Algeria trip


ORAN, Algeria (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is meeting would-be Olympic break-dancers Saturday and visited an Algerian record store celebrated by a famous DJ, a feel-good interlude during a trip to Algeria dominated by delicate diplomacy.

Both stops were seen as part of Macron relying on young people to pitch Franco-Algerian relations forward after decades of tensions over colonial-era wrongs and related disputes since Algeria’s hard-won independence in 1962.

The French leader visited Disco Maghreb, an iconic record store in the western Algerian city of Oran and a recording label for artists who perform traditional Rai music. Franco-Algerian artist DJ Snake has helped bring attention to Disco Maghreb and Rai rhythms.

Macron is also watching a performance by Algerian break-dancers who hope to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, where breakdancing is making its debut as an Olympic sport.

Macron is expected to wrap up his three-day trip to Algeria later Saturday by signing a joint declaration with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

On Friday, Macron promised France would become more flexible in issuing visas to citizens of Algeria after a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries over the issue last year. He and Tebboune also agreed to form a joint commission of historians to examine their countries’ past, from the beginning of French colonization in 1830 to Algeria’s independence.

Economic cooperation is a major part of the trip. Algeria is a key supplier of gas and oil to Europe, and Russia’s war in Ukraine has reinforced the North African nation’s role as European countries seek alternatives to Russian energy.

Macron’s office said he would also raise human rights concerns. Algeria has seen a creeping crackdown on dissent since pro-democracy protests in 2019, and activists criticize a system of governance that views dissidents as criminals and does not allow free speech.


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Business owners breathe easier following serial burglar’s arrest


ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Albuquerque police’s arrest of Kellie Shugart has business owners breathing a sigh of relief.

Shugart is connected to at least seventeen burglaries this summer, and detectives are working on more charges.

Jessica Carothers, the owner of Blo Blow Dry Bar and Waxing the City in the Northeast Heights, said Shugart targeted both of her businesses within two weeks in July.

“It’s frightening to walk into a business in the morning that’s had windows removed and has been ransacked and burglarized,” said Carothers. “It definitely gives people a very unsteady feeling.”

Her surveillance cameras caught Shugart and another person cutting out the entire window pane and crawling into the living room. Police noted that technique in several other robberies. Surveillance videos from multiple boutique businesses also showed a Silver Subaru and a woman with dyed red hair.

Shugart is now facing 69 charges, ranging from conspiracy to larceny.

“It seems very clear to me that that’s someone that would remain in custody,” said Carothers. But she knows there’s a chance that won’t happen.

“Just as a common sense individual, I can’t wrap my mind around why we would allow the police to work so hard to grab some of these folks and then they’re out a couple of days later,” said Carothers. “I cannot understand that and I am pleading with people to please help us figure this out because it is extremely discouraging.”

She said the discouragement is bleeding into Albuquerque’s small business community, especially since some believe Shugart hasn’t been working alone.

“I want everyone to have a safe work environment and when people come in and take what’s not theirs and it seems like there’s no repercussions for that, that feels incredibly discouraging,” said Carothers.


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5 Questions to Ask Before Diversifying Your Business


Opinions expressed by entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Companies often invest in growth when they hit their financial milestones. When there is consistent demand over supply, it allows riskier opportunities to arise. One of these risks is diversifying your income streams through moving new products. Although popular and with a potential for greater reward, this does not always work out as planned, and the new product presents unique challenges to overcome. If your company isn’t ready for a serious change, you will experience deep losses. This is why you must be prepared to ask yourself five crucial questions before diversifying your product.

Related: Why Diversifying Business Revenue Streams Is Crucial To Your Success (And How To Do It)

1. Is there a proof of concept?

Ask yourself questions like: Has your new product been in any industry research or trials? Does it already exist, and do you believe your company can improve it with a competitive price? If you’re in a position to diversify, chances are you have generated enough revenue to invest in product testing. It’s a good idea to develop and refer to a proof of concept before going all in on a new product.

This may mean reallocating some of your financial resources to research and development. Having the product in a discreet and controlled pilot phase will allow you to thoroughly experiment and explore the full spectrum of pros and cons. It’s better to learn whether your product “has legs” in the testing phase than after mass production. If all goes well and you’ve identified an attractive target market, you’ll be better positioned to attract support to move forward and make public announcements. In your worst-case scenario, you may lose a sleeve, but you’ll keep the shirt.

2. Have you developed a consensus?

If your team isn’t motivated to change its work model, it will make no difference whether your new product is revolutionary or not. It would help if you understood within your team that the next step is the right step for the company and employees. Otherwise, you’ll end up with low productivity and lower morale. Remember that your staff knows your business a lot better than you do. You are responsible for being transparent about the path ahead, whether there will be adequate hiring and what type of support will be available. You also have a responsibility to take feedback. If a substantial majority of employees are in doubt, you may want to think twice before moving forward.

Related: 4 Ways an Entrepreneur Should Diversify Their Income

3. Are you equipped to handle the change?

Conduct a complete evaluation of your organization and plan for what infrastructural growth is necessary for you to continue producing your proven product while developing a new one. What departments will need to expand? What technology will you need to source for production? What does marketing look like? You will essentially be doubling the workload, which means having an actionable timeline to account for the change management.

To do this effectively, you’ll want a strong business plan and an acquisition plan for the resources to back it. If you’re not in a position to grow smart, your chances for success are not great. It takes a well-oiled machine to operate in the long term. If you don’t address the whole machine, it will rust and eventually break. It’s always harder to correct your course midstream. You are better off being proactive in your planning and realistic about what, how and when you can enact your change.

4. Does the change adhere to your brand?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to purchase a medical device from a bakery. You chose an industry when you got into the business. While I’m not discouraging anyone from expanding into different sectors, I’m saying it should make sense.

There are very few Yamaha’s in this world, and they only got to be that way after making a series of logical product diversifications. First established as a piano and organ manufacturer, Yamaha branded music as an essential part of life to segue into the general lifestyle market. From there, it expanded into the sports lifestyles market while simultaneously evolving its acoustic pianos into electronic keyboards, and then it designed instrument audio support intended for the electronic keyboard. They followed this by widening their musical instrument product scope while diversifying their electronics capabilities. Shortly afterwards, they moved into the general electronics space and entered the communications solutions field. Today the branding ties all of these things together in a very clever way, with the one thing they all have in common: Yamaha-make waves.

You will confuse your customers if your new product is not on brand. They know you by the success of your original product. Introducing a new product so far removed from your business will likely lead to questions about qualifications and expertise. Consumers will still question your move even if you make all the suitable hires and bring in top authorities.

If you’re a public company, this could tank your stock value. You risk losing more customers than you’ll gain if you’re not on brand. Be sure the narratives you’re crafting around the new product tie into your company and its original product in a credible way. Remember that the new product is a boon for your company’s mission, vision and overarching goals.

5. Can you survive failure?

When businesses diversify their products, failure is par for the course. Ensure your business has a healthy reserve intact if you brace stormy waters during manufacturing, distribution and sales. You should always have some sort of safety net available to offset your losses — and enough of one to ensure the business can continue should you pull the plug on your new product.

Risk management is a big part of growth. Indeed, you cannot account for everything, but you surely can minimize losses and plan for contingencies. If you’re not able to meet forecasted profit targets or if there is a need for a public recall of the product or if competition undercuts your markets, you need to be able to remain standing when the dust settles, embrace the setback and focus on the future.

You can only do this if you’re financially ahead of the game and have planned for victory and defeat. If you can live another day, that alone proves the success and sustainability of your company as a whole, even if you can’t risk another attempt at diversifying income streams for some time. You may need the time to build back any consumer confidence you’ve lost.

Related: How to Diversify Your Business Interests


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