Is Vegan Protein Powder the Next Big Wellness Business?

If you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or anyone who tries to steer clear of meat, you’ve probably heard one question over and over: Where do you get your protein?

And if you’ve been at it for awhile, you probably have a decent answer prepared – something touching upon the fact that protein deficiency is practically unheard of among average Americans, and that protein comes from plenty of plant sources that, when eaten in combination, are likely to give you all the amino acids you need without even thinking about it. In short, if you eat balanced meals, protein is generally not a problem.

As with everything, of course, there are a few exceptions. If you’re an athlete looking to bulk up, for instance, or you have specific medical or dietary needs that require you to supplement your protein intake, you’re not limited to raw eggs and dairy-based powders nowadays.

Related: Plant-based Meat Has Officially Reached ‘Global Phenomenon’ Status

The vegan protein powder market is already $4.64 billion, globally, and is expected to grow to $13.19 billion by 2026, according to a study by Fior Markets. Even among people who aren’t vegan, the plant-based protein powders (generally made from vegetables or legumes) are increasingly popular because of people’s growing awareness to their own allergies and sensitivities to animal products and concerns about health issues like type II diabetes and heart disease.

There are already a lot of brands in this space making up that $4 billion figure. Vega protein powder and other supplement products can be found in a wide variety of grocery stores. Its All-in-One powder, which has an organic variety now, is made primarily of pea protein and also includes several other plant-derived ingredients, offering not just protein but a variety of vitamins and minerals as well. Orgain Organic Protein is another label you’ve probably seen in stores before, and it’s made of a mix of pea, brown rice and chia protein.

Lots of vegan protein powders on the market are certified USDA organic, which should be of note to anyone who’s eating vegan for the sake of their health or the environment. This includes Garden of Life and Aloha, as well as Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard. KOS, as well, has a protein powder that’s certified USDA organic, made from a mix of pea, flax, chia, pumpkin seed and quinoa proteins.

Related: The Best Way to Brand Your Plant-Based Business

Although most of those are blends of ingredients that include some flavorings and sweeteners, those looking to really strip it back have options as well. Myprotein has a full line of Myvegan products, which include pure pea protein isolate and soy protein isolate, as well as flavored and stevia-sweetened varieties. OWYN’s protein powders use pea, pumpkin and chia as their protein source, and use cane sugar and monk fruit as sweeteners for those steering clear of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. And the vegan supplement line Complement has a protein powder made of yellow pea, pumpkin seed, watermelon seed, almond and chia proteins – and nothing else. As for The Amazing Chickpea, a provider of nutritious spreads, it will soon be releasing a protein powder with the nutrient dense legume as one of its main ingredients.

Nowadays, most people with an interest in wellness are concerned with more than just changing their figure or bulking up – it’s more common to have a more holistic view of health. Fittingly, there are some brands which, like Vega, include other healthful ingredients meant to offer consumers more than just protein. Your Super’s Skinny Protein has a mix of hemp and pea proteins, but also super food greens like spirulina and alfalfa. Form Nutrition sells blends that include other beneficial ingredients like digestive enzymes or supergreen mixes; Sakara Life takes it a few steps further, offering not just protein (from pea, hemp, sesame and pumpkin seed sources), but a blend of greens, digestive enzymes, phytoceramides (which are said to improve the appearance of skin by protecting collagen) and B12, for a mind-body, inside-outside supplement.

As consumers begin to see not only different facets of their own health, but also issues pertaining to the environment and animal welfare as interconnected, it makes sense that something like protein powder – once thought of as something used just by athletes looking to gain muscle mass – would change shape and target different markets. Data suggests that adult men are still the primary consumers of protein powder, but they’re not the only ones. It’s no longer a single-use, one-size-fits all category, and as the culture around fitness, wellness and ethical living shift and change, it’s only fitting that the growing protein powder category would, too.

Don’t Buy Workflow Software Without These 5 Features

The world is getting smarter, but are workers benefiting from their advanced tools in the right ways? People don’t need technology to take over their jobs. They need technology to fill in the gaps and take care of busywork so they can get back to doing what they do best. According to research from Monday.com, 38 percent of workers believe they could save five hours a week with tools that automate repetitive tasks, and 28 percent want to increase their time for creativity and focus.

Using the right workflow software with automation elements empowers humans to focus on tasks only they can perform and the ones where they stand to really make an impact. Whether you work for yourself or oversee a team of hundreds, the right automation tools can save you hours of headaches per week and help you achieve your goals in record time.

Related: Advancing Automation Means Humans Need to Embrace Lifelong Learning

Not all workplace solutions are created equal, though. Pick the wrong one, and you could spend just as much time fiddling with your software as you did before you upgraded. The key is to find the product with the right features, not the one with the most. Evaluate your automation options carefully by looking for these important features.
Easy-to-Use Templates

Unless you follow a workflow no one’s ever used, don’t start from scratch with your software. Templates that are tailored to your specific vertical save you time and help you remember all the little parts of your workflow that you take for granted in your everyday groove.

When you do need to start from scratch, project-automation company Rindle recommends drawing diagrams to map out your tasks. Once you see the beginning and end of every workflow, you can fill in the details as you expand your overview. As you develop these details, look for automation opportunities you may have missed in your original assessment of needs.
Customization Options

What do you need that most basic workplace tools don’t provide? Where do you anticipate problems with an out-of-the-box solution? Identify the areas where your workflow might differ from the norm, then evaluate solutions based on their ability to cater to those quirks.

CRM and marketing-automation company Insightly advises users to focus on hands-off moments when building workflows. One person may understand the implications beneath the workflow, but when tasks move to someone else’s desk, that person might not share the same assumptions and implicit knowledge. Find a solution that carries information forward, not just tasks.

Related: How Inefficient Processes Are Hurting Your Company
Simple Sharing

Your team only knows as much as the least informed person in the chain. Better sharing and collaboration features ensure that everyone knows the story from beginning to end, improving the quality of your output as key details remain consistent throughout your processes.

Google knows the value of sharing as well as any company. The company built its G Suite product line around the concept of constant collaboration. In an era when connectivity has become the expectation, automation tools must facilitate easy sharing of conversations, files and tasks.
Data Visualization

Web-data business Import.io believes strongly in the importance of data visualization. Humans can’t look at black-and-white spreadsheets and pull insights from them like machines. With smart visuals, automation tools can bridge the gap between data and understanding to inform users about important metrics and trends.

A workplace platform, especially a work OS, does a lot of work behind the scenes, but not all of that processing should stay hidden. Smart tools know what you want to know and can deliver (and extrapolate upon) that information to give you digestible, actionable data that makes sense from the first look.
Helpful Integrations

Odds are high that you use a bunch of different workplace tools and types of software. Instead of manually hopping back and forth between programs — which goes against everything streamlining your work stands for — find something that integrates with the software you already use.

Automations and integrations in your workflow platform touch a variety of processes, so don’t stop at integrations with Excel and Sheets. Look for something that integrates with communication tools such as Slack, storage tools such as Dropbox and scheduling software like Google Calendar. Monday.com and Airtable, for example, integrate with all sorts of other tools, including other automation solutions.

Related: 17 Essential Tools for Entrepreneurs

If your current or proposed solution doesn’t offer these five features, slow down and think about whether the software in front of you truly meets your needs. Maybe you’ve gotten away without a feature or two so far, but as your business grows, you’ll need software that has the power and intelligence to grow alongside it. Check out your options and evaluate your growth trajectory before you start to feel the strain.

4 Soft Skills You Need to Improve Your Career

Many professionals focus on developing their hard skills in order to improve and advance their careers. While hard skills are important, organizations today are looking for professionals that possess strong soft skills. After all, even if you’re the best at coding, you won’t be able to advance your career if you don’t know how to work well with others.

In fact, Google did an internal study that found that among the eight most important qualities of their top employees, hard skills such as STEM expertise come in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills like being a good coach, communicating and listening well, being a good critical thinker and being able to make connections across complex ideas, just to name a few.

Related: Soft Skills Are Critical to Career Growth: Here’s Why

If you want to grow professionally, get a promotion, or land a new job this year, here are four soft skills you need to possess.
1. Creativity

Creativity is one of the top soft skills employers are looking for. And creativity isn’t just important for professionals in graphic design and content marketing; creativity is beneficial in all roles within an organization, from human resources to software engineering to customer service. Creative people are able to develop new ideas and apply new solutions to address existing problems, which will allow businesses to discover new opportunities for innovation and growth.

Luckily, creativity isn’t only a skill that people are born with, you can actually learn to be more creative. There are a number of ways to boost your creativity like collaborating with others, asking for feedback, writing down your ideas, solving a puzzle or even going to an escape room.
2. Social intelligence

Being “street smart” is just as important as being “book smart” in the workforce. Social intelligence, commonly referred to as street smarts, is the ability to get along with others, build relationships and navigate social environments. As you can imagine, social intelligence is necessary if you want to build meaningful and successful relationships with people in an organization.

What exactly is social intelligence? According to Psychology Today, the key elements of social intelligence include:

Verbal fluency and conversational skills

Knowledge of social roles, rules, and scripts

Effective listening skills

Understanding what makes other people tick

Role-playing and social self-efficacy

Impression management skills

Related: 8 Questions That Will Help Diagnose Your Current Career Status

Social intelligence can be developed from experiences with people and learning from your successes and failures in social situations. So, a great way to boost these skills is by getting out there and interacting with people. For example, you can attend networking events to practice your conversational and listening skills. Remember, study the behaviors of others and yourself to master social intelligence.
3. Digital literacy

Gone are the days when knowing how to use Microsoft Office Suite was enough to land a job. Today, technology has taken over the workplace and it’s constantly evolving, which makes digital literacy an essential soft skill to have in 2020 and beyond. The American Library Association (ALA) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” In simpler terms, digital literacy involves knowing how to use digital tools effectively in order to solve problems, be productive, work collaboratively, create content, etc.

You can develop your own digital literacy skills by doing a little research online. Read articles or take online courses about the basics like online safety, email etiquette and creating slideshow presentations, for instance. Then, you can begin to learn more about advanced computer and tech skills like email marketing or basic coding. Be sure to take advantage of any learning opportunities provided by your employer as well.
4. Virtual collaboration

Remote work is on the rise. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 173 percent since 2005. That’s 11 percent faster than the rest of the workforce and nearly 47x faster than the self-employed population. So, whether you’re working remotely yourself or you’ll be working with other remote team members within a company, virtual collaboration skills are necessary for today’s workforce.

Related: The 9-Step Quick Guide to Rehabbing Your Career

Virtual collaboration is the method of collaboration between team members regardless of their location that is carried out via digital tools. To boost your virtual collaboration skills, familiarize yourself with popular virtual collaboration tools like video conferencing software, time tracking tools, project management software, instant messaging tools and so on. It’s also important to increase your cross-cultural awareness. Remote companies typically have international teams so you need to be able to effectively interact and work with team members of various cultural backgrounds.
Over to you!

These are just a few of the top soft skills employers are looking for. Start developing and mastering these important soft skills to get a leg up on the competition. With your new and improved soft skills, you can take your career to the next level.