Tag Archive for: hyper-growth companies

With 2023 in the rearview mirror, the collective attention of B2B tech companies turns to 2024. While the Fed is looking to drop rates in 2024, and that may help out startups looking for venture capital, there are still many strategies that companies need to consider to thrive in 2024. As businesses embrace what may well be the first “normal” year of business since the pandemic, companies are reckoning with a rapidly changing regulatory, trade, and infrastructure atmosphere. But hyper-growth CEOs know the key to staying the course during high growth periods is controlling what you can. One of the most valuable assets a B2B tech company can control is reputation. From our perspective, there are several growth strategies for B2B tech that improve reputation.

Emerging Technologies: a Reputational Growth Opportunity

Emerging technologies, harnessed appropriately, can improve customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. The world is embracing a dizzying array of technologies right now, including AI. And while AI promises next-generation productivity, the world is also collectively suspicious; this is often the case for emerging industries, but Ai faces unique PR challenges. Embracing emerging technologies presents many growth and reputation advantages as well. Of course, simply using new technologies like AI isn’t a PR story; what could be a PR story is industry leadership around the use of AI, defining parameters that are brand-consistent as they apply to AI. Taking the lead on trust-based initiatives is a reputational win.

Transparency is another reputation-building asset that companies can use technology to improve. Imagine if all your suppliers used blockchain to authenticate where the products you buy originate from. You could then help your clients ensure their own purpose-driven supply chain was sound and create a solution that has historically been a huge challenge for businesses. Some executives will shy away from this, knowing that their supply chain isn’t completely “clean.” But there, too, is an opportunity to increase transparency and create a conversation. Believe it or not, companies that proactively discuss their imperfections are more credible than those that only showcase their strengths.

Cyber Threats: A Reputational Threat

It seems hardly a day goes by without hearing about some data breach or another. Technologies for securing data are improving every day, but they aren’t perfect yet.

Companies examining their own cyber security internally may wonder what they would do if there was a data breach within their own technologies. Today, most cyber insurance companies will require you to have a business plan in place, but that isn’t enough because saving a business isn’t important. If its reputation is so damaged, no one will do business with it again. The best time to plan for a crisis is when there isn’t one. While cyber insurance programs sometimes include reputation-building services like PR in them, the limits are very low on all but the most expensive policies.

IPO Preparedness

The IPOs of 2024 will be from established and “safe” companies. However, for many businesses, 2024 may be the tip of the spear towards IPO. Preparing for an IPO is a cross-functional process, but one of the most important things a company can do, at least 24 months before an IPO is shore up its reputation and awareness. This crucial pre-IPO PR phase is valuable before and after the IPO. Yes, this is a financial commitment, but brand capital is a considerable contribution to most private company’s value. In a constantly shifting stock market, smart investors want resilient brands and brand equity is resilient. Investors want to know that the brand is trusted, but they also want to know that brand strength can be the foundation for exponential growth. No company grows exponentially without brand confidence.

Growth strategies for B2B tech pre-IPO include media coverage; if the company has never had much media coverage, there is much work to be done. The CEO must be heavily engaged in the PR process, and that is very often a shocking shift for founder CEOs, especially since it can be time-consuming. Not only that but making the news isn’t as easy as starting a business, believe it or not. Less than 1% of businesses ever receive media coverage – but those that do are well positioned to be at the top of their vertical.

Another key aspect of IPO PR preparedness is crisis planning for cyber threats and other considerations – they could be anything from a recall to a regulatory threat. Planning for a crisis means everyone at the C-level understands when there is a crisis and who leads it. Having a solid relationship with a PR firm before your crisis occurs is paramount to a quick, strategic, and effective response.

Sustainable and Responsible Business Practices

Even B2B companies will be called to understand their social impact. For growing B2B tech companies, this could include electrical footprint and processing power, as well as the international supply chain and even employee relations. But how is this part of the Growth strategies for B2B tech? Companies that are in hypergrowth must have a clear line of growth – and doing so includes considering cultural and business changes that are likely to impact growth over the next five years. A company’s reputation will be driven by how much it embraces these future valuation implications. ESG may have been a political hot potato, but the fact is that social impact isn’t going away. Businesses may go quietly about their own sustainable and responsible business practices, but they will still need to do these things because to NOT do them will become a reputational liability during critical moments like IPO or acquisition.

 

Reputational improvement and maintenance will be as important as any other growth strategies for B2B tech in 2024. Reputations will be simultaneously more expensive to acquire and more valuable. Investing in reputation today will drive the growth of tomorrow.

Have you ever wondered who are the leaders in AI that are shaping the future of the emerging technology of artificial intelligence? Today’s world is rapidly revolutionizing how we live and work due to the integration of AI into our daily lives. But who are those visionary leaders that are driving this technology forward?

The AI landscape is populated with great brains with expertise in various fields, whether deep learning, neural networks, or computer vision. So let us see the top 10 leaders in AI who stand at the forefront of innovation and pave the way towards an advanced future, and there will be much written about AI leaders in the press.

1.      Geoffrey Hinton

Geoffrey Hinton is a very well-known computer scientist from the UK. He is a trailblazer in the field of Artificial Intelligence and performed groundbreaking research that has significantly impacted technology, particularly in neural networks, which brought significant advancements in AI.

Hinton is a co-founder of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence. He is also a professor at the University of Toronto. Hinton also holds the title of Distinguished Emeritus Professor. He was also Google’s vice president and engineering fellow until May 2023.

Machine learning, memory perception, and symbol processing utilize Hinton’s work for neural networks. His work gave glimpses of brain-like structures that are truly precise and intelligent. They can now learn themselves without the need for human teaching or intervention.

Hinton has received numerous awards throughout his career for his contribution to AI technology. Hinton’s work on deep learning and neural networks has paved the way for top AI solutions and revolutionary AI applications. Being one of the top AI leaders, Hinton continues to put effort into developing AI technologies.

2.      Andrew Ng

Andrew Ng is the co-founder and Head of Google Brain, where he contributed to deep learning algorithms and various applications. He is one of the prominent leaders in AI. He is the CEO of Landing AI, which mainly works at helping people with limited datasets move AI projects.

Andrew is also the co-founder of Coursera, an online learning platform with a wide scale of courses on almost every topic. “Machine Learning” is his popular online course that has contributed significantly to society by making AI and machine learning fundamentals easier for beginners.

His contribution to the world of AI is of significant importance, which is why he is a leading voice and influencer in the field of AI. Ng is also a former chief scientist at Baidu. He has also led the development of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platform at Stanford University and is an Adjunct Professor at Stanford.

Dr. Ng’s top interests were deep learning, computer vision, machine learning, and machine perception. He has frequently won awards for the best paper at academic conferences. These papers also contributed to his popularity, making him an influential data scientist.

3.      Demis Hassabis

Demis Hassabis is a British-born neuroscientist, entrepreneur, and AI researcher. He co-founded DeepMind, one of the fast-growing AI companies majorly inspired by neuroscience. He is also the founder of Elixir Studios and Isomorphic Labs.

We are talking about DeepMind, an AI research company that mainly revolves around developing artificial general intelligence (AGI). It is an emerging technology that can perform tasks in a human capacity. The company remained in the spotlight for quite a while for the development of AlphaGo, which is an AI program that defeated the Go Player in 2016. It shows the AI potential in strategic games.

Demis was exceptional at chess, which led him to the gaming industry by completing the Theme Park (a simulation game) in his late teens. After he graduated from Cambridge University, he founded Elixir Studios, which produced a lot of award-winning games.

Later, Demis got enrolled in Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience and conducted his research on amnesia and memory. He also has a successful career in the gaming industry and has developed many popular video games.

4.      Dario Gil

He is a well-known Italian-American entrepreneur and computer scientist who has contributed a lot to the field of quantum computing. Dario Gil is also the Senior Vice President and Director and IBM Research, the leading organization in the world, majorly dedicated to innovation and advanced technology.

Gil has brought top AI solutions through IBM, which focuses on exploring technologies, including quantum computing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and similar technologies. IBM Research has contributed a lot to the technology under the leadership of Gil.

IBM is also the first company in the world to develop programmable quantum computers and make them available universally through the cloud.

Dario Gil’s quantum computing and artificial intelligence expertise make him a prominent AI marketplace leader. He is still serving at IBM with the mission to solve the world’s complex challenges through innovation and technology.

5.      Fei-Fei Li

Deep learning, machine learning, computer vision, and artificial intelligence are the working areas of Dr. Fei-Fei Li, who is also the inaugural Sequoia Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Stanford. She remained the Vice President at Google from 2017 to 2018 and the Chief Scientist in Artificial Intelligence at Google Cloud.

Dr. Fei-Fei Li co-founded AI4ALL, a non-profit organization that aims to increase diversity in AI by providing mentorship and education, particularly to women and minorities.

She also remained the director of the Stanford AI Lab and the Stanford Vision Lab. Dr. Li played a significant role in advancing computer vision research, especially in image recognition.

She has a role in producing top AI solutions in the form of ImageNet, which plays a role in evaluating deep learning models. It is her contributions that lead to various applications of deep learning.

6.      Andrej Karpathy

Andrej Karpathy, a renowned computer scientist, has his contributions to training deep neural networks on large datasets. He is also the former Senior Director at Tesla, a worldwide famous American-based electric vehicle and clean energy company. He joined Tesla in 2017 and worked on developing AI and neural network technology, its Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving.

Karpathy’s major work for Tesla included advancing AI algorithms enabling vehicles to interpret and respond to their surroundings. This advancement truly helped the company in achieving autonomous driving.

Karpathy has also served as a Research Scientist at Open AI, an independent AI research organization. He contributed to deep learning during his work at Open AI. Other than that, Karpathy also enrolled in Ph.D. in which his research involved neural networks and their applications in computer vision.

7.      David Hanson

David Hanson is a pioneer robotics developer, well-known for his human-like robots and lifelike androids. He founded Hanson Robotics in 2003 and served as its CEO. It is an AI company specializing in producing and developing top realistic humanoid robots. These robots are capable of interacting with humans in a very social manner.

The company is based in Hong Kong and is one of the fast-growing AI companies that gained international popularity for its advanced humanoid robotic creations.

Sophia and Han are popular robots developed with facial recognition systems and top-notch AI algorithms. These robots can engage in face-to-face conversations with people. All this allows them to express human emotions, mimic human expressions, and engage in conversations.

David has always been fond of forming human-like caring machines that are authentic living. Hanson combined cognitive science with figurative arts and robotics engineering to achieve his goals. His vision is to create robots that would contribute significantly to society by assisting in education, healthcare, and other fields.

Though he has made significant contributions to the world of humanoid robotics, all this brought our attention to ethical considerations concerning human-robot interactions.

8.      Sam Altman

Sam Altman is a well-known American Entrepreneur and a prominent figure in the world of technology. He is the former president of Y Combinator, a renowned startup accelerator. This company is recognized globally for helping startups in their early stages and providing them with mentorship. The company also provides startups with resources and funding to help them grow and succeed.

Y Combinatory reached the heights of success under the leadership of Altman. It has greatly influenced the startup ecosystem as it helped launch and support many fast-growing AI companies. Some of these include Reddit, Dropbox, and Airbnb. Due to his contributions to Y Combinator, Altman has become a worldwide respected figure in the world of startups.

Now, he is serving as the CEO of one of the prominent AI tech companies; Open AI. Altman co-founded Open AI alongside Elon Musk, which has gained significant success in recent years. Y Combinator has been a keen supporter of Open AI from its early stages. Open AI is operating with the aim that artificial general intelligence benefits all humankind.

9.      Poppy Gustafsson

Poppy Gustafsson is a British-based entrepreneur and the CEO of Darktrace, a leading cybersecurity company. It was founded in 2013 and covers machine learning and artificial intelligence-based cybersecurity solutions. There is no doubt that Poppy has contributed a lot to the development of this company.

The Enterprise Immune System, the company’s flagship product, utilizes AI algorithms to detect and respond to all cyber threats in real-time. It provides organizations with adaptive and proactive defense against threats and cyber-attacks.

The company took an innovative approach towards cybersecurity, all with the contribution of Gustafsson. The human immune system significantly inspired it.

She also gained experience in the tech industry by working for the software company Autonomy. Her passion for AI and machine learning brought her to address the complex challenges in cybersecurity.

She was also named Vodafone’s Woman of the Year of Technology and Innovation in 2020. She won the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award and Tech Businesswoman of the Year at the UK Tech Awards in 2019.

10. Yoshua Bengio

Yoshua Bengio is a Canadian computer scientist majoring in artificial neural networks and deep learning. He is one of the important leaders in AI and a professor at the University of Montreal. His research has proved helpful in finding the top AI solutions, and he is one of the “Godfathers of Deep Learning.”

Bengio’s work revolves around developing algorithms and models that can learn data representation through hierarchical layers. His work enables efficient and more accurate machine learning.

Along with Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun, Yoshua Bengio also received the 2018 ACM A.M. Turing Award for Deep Learning. Bengio co-founded Element AI in 2016, an AI solution provider that helps various organizations leverage AI. The companies also develop AI tools and technologies that address real-world problems.

Bengio has received numerous awards throughout his career and has contributed a lot to AI through his research. His ongoing work will undoubtedly shape the future of machine learning and deep learning.

 

Wrapping Up!

After exploring the lives of the top 10 leaders in AI, it has become evident that the future of AI and technology in general lies in the hands of these brilliant individuals. They have taken AI as a tool and a powerful force that would help us bring positive changes.

As they all go ahead with their research, we watch them push the boundaries of technology and innovation to see how they will shape the world of tomorrow.

Is B2B PR worth it? That absolutely depends on your business objectives and the value you place on those business objectives. If you’re pre-IPO, seeking venture capital, or strategizing an exit, PR can be the difference between an average and life-changing result. B2B PR and marketing should always work hand-in-hand to maximize effectiveness. Here are five times B2B PR is worth it, especially during uncertain times. Modern PR firms know how to combine the opportunities into powerful reputation builders for B2B companies.

 

Combine Podcasts and PR

Podcasts offer many ways to reach audiences, earned, owned, and paid. Searches for “Spotify Podcasts” are up 178% in 5 years.

First, let’s address the earned opportunities. Many B2B podcasts aren’t famous but are voraciously consumed by the niche audience. These are great places to start a consistent thought leadership campaign for any c-level executive or founder. Earned media podcasts have an excellent shelf-life and can provide high-quality links back to your website for authority building. Since podcast hosts are often very connected, they are good connections to make.

From a paid perspective, there are several ways to advertise on podcasts that target the most niche audiences. Incorporating podcast advertising into your overall marketing budget is both cost-effective and provides an additional touch point for podcasts that provide earned media opportunities.

Finally, owning a branded podcast that provides industry insights to your ideal customers is an excellent way to own marketshare and provide your potential customers a way to get to know you before they reach out. I know some branded B2B podcasts are responsible for up to 45% of new business. Owning a podcast is a commitment, but your B2B PR agency can support you with planning and content.

 

LinkedIn: B2B’s Easiest Activation

Arguably, LinkedIn is the most underrated tool for fast-growing companies. It’s the only social media platform that is 100% business, and when your business IS business, the company and executives should be active.

It’s not just about posting, though that’s an essential ingredient. And it’s not just about connecting, despite what the “connectors” would have you believe. At its core, LinkedIn’s most valuable asset is the ability to reinforce connections and consistently be top of mind. And it’s FREE.

LinkedIn also provides great owned content opportunities in the form of newsletters. These newsletters are worthy and a great way for B2B companies to own their messaging in front of their most engaged audience: others in the B2B mindset. LinkedIn also offers ways to contribute to crowdsourced articles, which is an exciting blend of human and AI content.

 

Contributed Content for Hypergrowth Reputation Management

No doubt media is changing, and one of the most exciting areas is the opportunities to contribute to newsrooms. Even tier 1 outlets have reduced journalist headcount, but media still needs to create content. Increasingly media outlets are turning to experts in niche industries, be it cannabis or AI, or consumer goods,  to lead conversations that would take journalists days or even weeks to learn. Most of this contributed content still goes through a rigorous editorial process.

This kind of opportunity for B2B companies in hypergrowth turns on the PR hypergrowth engine for B2B companies. Because editors deeply review these articles, you’re point of view may inspire an editor to do a more in-depth article on your topic, especially since they already have an expert. The key to this content is understanding the editorial requirements and maximizing the relationship with the editor.

 

Newsletters with Value to Activate B2B PR

Newsletters have real value for B2B companies, especially those with longer sales cycles. Newsletters activate your PR and your owned content, whether that’s from your website or podcasts.

B2B Newsletters don’t have to be a weekly program, but they should be utilized a few times per month. Delivering actual value to your audience allows you to generate a positive reputation and build mindshare. So many of your competitors will overlook newsletters dismissing them as an annoying consumer PR tactic, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your newsletters support your sales and marketing with another exposure and touchpoint. After utilizing your newsletter effectively, you could see ROI such as decreased sales cycle, and more incoming leads since your readers can easily share your newsletter with others.

Newsletters are also a great place for industry announcements and to link back to your corporate wins, like media coverage.

Contribute to the Story to Own the B2B Story

When asked, journalists overwhelmingly want data. Developing a meaningful industry survey provides your company with exclusive insights and gives journalists fresh, new information to report on.  Increasingly, newsrooms lack the resources for in-depth research on tangential topics, but a well-produced sponsored survey can fill in some of the gaps journalists need. As importantly, surveys can provide PR opportunities throughout the year, when well developed, to create content opportunities with relevant calendar events.

-Iot
-Thought Leadership
-Third Party Validation
-Contribute to the Story (surveys) / newsrooms
-Don’t ignore your niche

​​A company on the rise is always at its best: they’re profitable, growing rapidly, and attract a lot of attention. Sound familiar? If so, you might think of companies like Facebook, Uber, Pinterest, or Snapchat.

In fact, these are simply the best-known companies. There are 31.7 million 33.2 million small businesses in the U.S. and 10.75 million employers. How do you stand out in a crowded field like that? 

Companies who are able to accomplish fast growth aren’t simply in the right place at the right time—although timing may play a role—they have specific traits in common that make them grow rapidly from one year to the next.

“These companies go from zero to hero,” said Chris Myers, author and CEO of B:Side Capital. “They can do it in a short period of time.”

There’s no magic formula for becoming a hyper-growth company but these three habits are common among companies that are able to achieve rapid growth.

  1. Companies on the Rise Constantly Iterate

“The companies that are constantly iterating are growing faster than companies that aren’t willing to move beyond the current model,” said Myers, whose company helps small businesses automate their backend operations.

He says companies like Uber and Netflix continuously improve products based on customer feedback

Any company with ambitious plans can implement an aggressive customer feedback program. 

“These companies have an almost maniacal focus on improving at a much faster pace than anyone else out there,” he added, “and it really sets them up for long-term success.”

  1. Hyper-Growth Companies Still Spend Smartly

 

According to Myers, companies should focus on what he calls the “three C’s”: companies, customers, and culture.

“If you prioritize those three things, companies will grow,” said Myers. “The companies that prioritize all three of those things grow incredibly fast and companies that don’t—and try to cut costs in one of those areas like culture—don’t grow at all.”

Successful companies know how to execute well, and as such, they need to spend capital strategically. That often means hiring coaches, agencies, and experts to expand internal expertise and move the needle more quickly than hiring internally would have. 

Large ticket items should be considered investments and supported accordingly. Don’t hire an agency and then ignore their progress, be sure your team is engaged and collaborating constantly with your agencies. 

Fast-growing companies can lose track of their financials quickly, so be sure to identify which of the three C’s every expenditure contributes to, right from the start. 

  1. Don’t Ignore Problems Early On

Companies that achieve hyper-growth are constantly looking for the small problems that could become big ones down the line.

“It’s easy to solve problems when they are small,” said Myers, who suggests companies conduct post mortems on failed projects or initiatives in order to avoid repeating them in the future.

Additionally, companies on the rise should implement a process of continuous improvement at every level of their organization. Ask employees what could be improved about the work environment. “Within six months you’ll have hundreds of suggested changes,” said Myers.  

One of the biggest mistakes that consumer packaged goods companies make is assuming that consumers are only interested in shallow, colorful, brightly designed packages. Consumers care about who makes their products and where they come from. Setting yourself apart in the crowded CPG market is about more than making a good visual impression. Loyalty and brand recognition come from carefully curating your image and making a connection with your target audience in a meaningful and positive way.

Hiring a purpose-driven PR firm can help hone your message to consumers. This type of firm can also place your message in strategically valuable media outlets to get a foothold in a competitive marketplace. Navigating these strategic PR campaigns can be labor-intensive. An experienced PR firm can provide the professional support you need for brand growth and visibility. Investing in a PR agency with CPG experience may be the right move for you, especially in today’s economic climate and competition.

What are CPGs?

CPG, or consumer packaged goods, are products that are consumed by customers regularly and require routine replacement. These types of goods generally have a short shelf life. CPGs include food items, clothing, makeup, cosmetic products, and household goods. The market may feel dominated by big-name brands with extensive marketing teams at their disposal. However, now is the right time for emerging brands to take advantage of PR to increase their brand awareness and visibility.

CPGs and Consumers

Consumer packaged goods companies are one of the largest manufacturing employers in the U.S. The industry itself contributes nearly $2 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product and generates $1.1 trillion in labor income. What does this mean for the industry itself? It means the industry is not only profitable but also highly competitive. Brands are consistently competing for the attention and the hard-earned dollars of everyday Americans. When store shelves are saturated with products, brand recognition becomes an important factor in relation to consumer buying habits.

Consumers buy brands they recognize and trust. This relationship between the brand and the consumer does not happen overnight. It develops over time through carefully crafted messages aimed at the right audience. Once a consumer develops brand awareness, they are more inclined to continue buying the product they know the most about. Good companies will continue to foster their relationship with consumers by the following approaches:

  • Staying in touch with their needs
  • Managing expectations
  • Generating targeted messages aimed at increasing consumer loyalty

Companies can adapt and market towards their target consumer base by keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer awareness and buying habits.

How PR Can Help CPG Companies

Any economy can experience supply chain issues, rising costs, and product shortages. These issues rarely leave a positive impression on the consumer. The rise of social media has shown us that misinformation or negative sentiments can quickly sour an individual’s image of a brand or company. As misinformation spreads, so do negative consumer responses. Now more than ever, companies need to take a proactive approach to communicate with consumers. PR firms can help CPG companies achieve their communication goals by leveraging their influence with media outlets and crafting stories that positively resonate with their audience.

Public relations agencies specialize in helping their clients generate and distribute information about their business. Public relations is sometimes lumped under the marketing umbrella. While the two share similar goals, they are not the same. Public relations agencies know how to leverage free media, which does not cost a company anything to distribute, unlike paid ads or spots.

PR firms can be crucial in helping CPG companies create purpose-driven, helping to increase brand recognition. Brand recognition helps companies stand out from the crowd and sets them apart from their competition. PR firms can also assist with story placement in local news, newspapers, magazines, and national news organizations, letting customers know that you are out there in the marketplace. With strategic PR campaigns, brand awareness grows and can translate into more sales. With continued PR saturation, what was once brand recognition turns into brand loyalty. One-time customers turn into repeat customers, and sales may continue to rise.

Another benefit of using a PR firm for free media is credibility. Consumers know that when a company pays money for a commercial, billboard, or web banner, they are looking at a carefully crafted image designed to get them to spend their money on the product. PR agencies work strategically to place stories in free media. Free media adds an air of credibility to a company because the company did not directly pay to get its message to the consumer. For example, a story airing on a local news station about a company’s recent good deeds in the community can give the company both brand recognition and credibility.

A skilled public relations firm with experience in the consumer packaged goods industry should be able to help you reach your goals by:

  • Increasing visibility and credibility
  • Increasing brand recognition and brand awareness
  • Strengthening customer relationships and building brand loyalty
  • Generating positive word of mouth
  • Building community relationships
  • Reducing repetitional risk
  • Meeting consumers communication needs

Strategically crafted public relations campaigns can help a CPG company connect with its target audience in more meaningful ways. Building an emotional connection between a consumer and a company is powerful. This connection can eventually translate into more sales and more repeat business for your CPG company.

During difficult times, the first thing that companies often cut from their budgets is marketing or PR. Right now, PR and marketing are the last elements of business that should be on the chopping block. The time is ripe to get your message out to invested consumers desiring authentic and sincere communication. Take this opportunity to connect with your consumer base on a deeper, more intentional level and see how it translates into a better consumer-client relationship.

If you are interested in what a PR agency can do for your CPG business, now is the perfect time to explore your options.