12 Tips For Achieving Massive Success In Your Life & Business -by Tyler Basu Pros and Cons of Joining a Business Accelerator Program -by Jerry Jao You Can’t Do It All, So Expand Your Leadership Circle -by Peter Economy Does Education Trump Experience When Starting a Business? -By Rieva Lesonsky Lessons for Entrepreneurs From A Navy Seal -by Martin Zwilling The Threat from Within- When mobile imperils Your Business Security -by Philip Whitchelo
Building a Startup Empire -by Kriti Vichare The Secret to Winning the Content Creation War -by Jeff Bullas An FBI Agent Reveals 5 Steps To Gaining Anyone’s Trust -by Shane Parrish Lead Generation: Website Best Practices -by Andy Crestodina
Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business Model -by Nichole Kelly Manage Your Marketing: Remember You’re in Sales -by Margie Clayman Dear Brands, This Is The End of Our Friendship. Sincerely, Your Customer -by Vincent Teo How Do You Have an Effective Social Media Presence and Not Get Sued? -by Mark Schaefer 7 Sure-Fire Success Principles -by Daniel C. Steenerson 5 Free Online Tools Too Valuable to Ignore That Will Help You Growyour Business -by Didi Zheleva Fear - The enTrepreneur’s new Fuel -by Tabitha Jean Naylor
Even Small Businesses Can Have Remote Employees -by Richard Weinberger, PhD, CPA Who Advises the Entrepreneur? -by Kerrie MacPherson
What Small Business Owners Should Know About Brain Health -by Andrew Greissman
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12 Tips For Achieving Massive Success In Your Life & Business By Tyler Basu
ne of the greatest drives of all human beings is the drive to succeed – the drive to improve, to make progress. It is by making progress that we feel a sense accomplishment. After all, if we’re not getting ahead, we’re actually falling behind, and nobody likes to feel left behind. But what if you could get ahead faster? What if you could achieve all that you want and more? What if you could achieve massive success, and do it in a short period of time?
Well the good news is that it can be done, and many people have done it before. There are numerous examples of individuals who have completely transformed their lives, their relationships, their health, their businesses, and their income in surprisingly short periods of time. If you want the same to happen for you, here are 12 tips to help you achieve MASSIVE SUCCESS in your life and business:
Believe that it’s possible for YOU The first step towards achieving massive success is to believe that it’s possible for YOU. It’s easy to believe that achieving massive results in a short period of time is possible for others, because you can simply look at real life examples for the evidence you need to support that belief. But to believe that it’s possible for you before you’ve created the results to prove it can be a challenge. The average person believes something only
when they see it. But the person who succeeds must believe in something before they see it. Your belief in yourself must come first, and it is precisely that belief that will fuel your motivation to take action.
Refuse to tolerate negativity
Have a “No Plan B” mentality
Expect turbulence before take off
Go full throttle
Act like the person you want to become The person that you are today is precisely the person that has created the results you are currently experiencing. Achieving new, massive results will require a personal transformation. You must begin to transform yourself into the person you want to become. You must be willing to give up the person that you are for the person that you can be. Start by visualizing how that person talks, what skills they have, what their habits are, how they handle setbacks, etc. Then start acting like that person. If you continuously act like the person you want to be, soon enough you will become them.
Put your stake in the ground Putting you stake in the ground means deciding precisely what you want to achieve, how you’re going to do, and sticking to that. Don’t jump from one industry to another, or from one opportunity to another. Claim your territory – stand firmly, stand proudly. Choose one course and stay on that course until successful. Say no to all the things that take you away or distract you from your chosen course of action.
Vocalize your vision Many people believe that you can “speak things into existence”. What this means is that what you put out into the world you attract back to you. Vocalizing your goals is therefore one of the most effective ways to achieve them. When you vocalize your goals, you attract people and resources that can help you with their accomplishment. A public declaration of your intentions is so much more powerful than a private commitment. When you make your intentions public, it helps to hold you accountable out of fear of not wanting others to see you fail.
One of the greatest killers of success is the pull of negative people who try to hold you back from getting ahead. Whether they are your colleagues, friends, business partners, or even family members, you must severely limit the amount of time you spend with people who are negative and whose attitudes do not support your success. You must also refuse to tolerate any negativity from yourself. Monitor your thoughts and your attitudes, and when you catch yourself thinking or reacting negatively, stop yourself and re-frame your perception immediately. Refuse to tolerate complaining, blaming, and criticizing in both your personal and professional life.
Will Smith, a highly successful actor/entertainer, once said that “there is no need to have a plan B, because it distracts from plan A”. In order to achieve massive success, you must think and act as if failure is not an option. If failure is an option, or if you do have a “back up plan”, then you are more likely to give up when things get too tough. But when you have no other choice except to succeed, you force yourself to keep going even when its extremely uncomfortable. When a person’s back is against the wall, they can do amazing things.
If you’ve ever been on a plane, you know that the take off is often more uncomfortable than the flight. The same is true of any new endeavor. When you first begin taking new actions to achieve a new goal, it is often uncomfortable in the beginning. Expecting things to be easy or comfortable right away is a recipe for failure. Embrace the discomfort of new experiences and of acquiring new skills and habits. Expect a few setbacks before take off.
To achieve massive success, you must take massive action. A little action here and there won’t cut
it. In order for a plane to take off it must go full throttle. If it doesn’t go full throttle it will never lift off the ground. The same is true in life and in business. In order to “get off the ground” you must go full throttle in the beginning. Going full throttle creates momentum. You can’t afford to ease off the gas until after that momentum is created, not before.
Focus on getting better every day Another major key to achieving massive success is to focus on getting just a little better every single day. Consistent minor improvements over a long period of time have a major compounding effect. If you improve by just 1% every single day for an entire year, by the end of the year you will have improved by 3,778%. Each day, strive to become just a little bit better than you were yesterday. This simple habit will have a profound impact on your results in the long run.
About the Author Tyler Basu is an avid blogger, marketer, and online entrepreneur. As the Founder of http://www. chattingwithchampions.com and host of the Chatting With Champions podcast, he is committed to helping others achieve success in life and business. He is also the author of several books available on Amazon.
Don’t take advice from people who aren’t getting the results you want A crucial principle for achieving massive to success is to reject the advice of anyone who is not achieving the results you want. Common sense tells us that we cannot learn to do something from someone who has never done it. Make sure you get your advice from the right people, and never take advice from someone who is more messed up than you are. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, find someone who has lost at least 10 pounds and ask them how they did. If your goal is to make $1,000,000 this year, find someone who has made $1,000,000 and learn from them.
Use the language of success To become a success you must think and talk like a success. You can easily tell the difference between someone who consistently succeeds and someone who consistently fails by the language they use. The successful person says “I’m committed” while the unsuccessful person says “I’m going to give it a try and see what happens”. The successful person says “I’m going to make this better” while the unsuccessful person says “I really hope things get better”. The successful person says “I’ll figure it out” while the unsuccessful person says “I wish I knew how”. You must speak the language of success before you can expect to become one.
Accept no excuses The final tip for achieving massive success in your life and business is to accept no excuses. Average people have a habit of letting just about any excuse stop them from achieving their goals. You can have excuses or you can have results, but you can’t have both. Successful people know that it only takes one good reason to motivate you to achieve what you want to achieve. It only takes one good reason to overcome a thousand excuses.
Trust Pros and Cons of Joining a Business Accelerator Program By Jerry Jao
Joining a business accelerator program isn’t the right choice for every entrepreneur, and it doesn’t guarantee success. For a selected few, however, it provides a much-needed jumpstart towards a more promising future. My third company, Retention Science, is a graduate of MuckerLab, a mentorshipfocused accelerator based in Santa Monica, California. Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of accelerator programs.
Pros 1. Curriculum and Clear Structure Business accelerator programs typically consist of three to six months of crash courses, speaker series, and professional workshops designed to help you learn a lot in a very short period of time. Certain accelerators conclude their programs with a Demo Day, where
entrepreneurs publicly debut their products to a group of peers, tech reporters, and investors. By establishing a clear schedule of classes and milestones, the program helps entrepreneurs stay focused and reinforces the need to be agile and move fast.
2. Marketing and PR You can count on your accelerator to be one of your biggest advocates to the outside world. The accelerator helps develop your marketing strategy and identify the right positioning for your products. And, when it is time, it helps you identify the proper outlets to publicly launch your company. If you’re part of a well-respected accelerator, chances are tech reporters, potential customers, and even investors will be more interested in your company news. This is why the reputation of your accelerator matters.
3. Funding Accelerators typically provide $20,000-$50,000 in startup capital to each company. Different
accelerators have differing policies and funds. While funding is important, I’ve heard many entrepreneurs share this repeatedly: do not choose one accelerator over the other because it offers you $35,000 versus $25,000. Your decision should be solely based on the quality of the partners, network of mentors, and curriculum – in the grand scheme of things, a few thousand dollars will not save your company, but knowing the right contacts will.
4. The Perks: Discounts, Freebies, Social Events Each accelerator offers different perks, but examples may include free legal advice, financial planning support, access to design agencies, discounted package for web servers, social events, and many more.
cons 1. Company Equity On average, accelerators require between 5–10% of company equity in exchange for all of their great benefits. This is a lot of company equity – do your research so you know for a fact that you will gain a lot of value by joining the accelerator. On a side note, I’ve heard of unique cases where accelerators take less equity than normal. For example, if a company is already far along in development (i.e., significant number of customers or users), certain accelerators might negotiate with you. It’s worth a shot.
2. Unsuitable Network for Your Business Not all accelerators are created equal. Some might
About the Author Jerry is the co-founder and CEO of Retention Science, a leader and innovator in retention marketing. Previously, Jerry was an analyst with Morgan Stanley, an engagement manager with BearingPoint Management Consulting (KPMG Advisory) and, most recently, an advisor to the CFO of Clear Channel, working on digital initiatives such as iHeartRadio. Jerry is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a full-tuition scholarship as an Alumni Scholar; he also attended Yale School of
not have the right network to add value to your business. For example, an accelerator may have considerable experience in building e-commerce businesses, but know little about scaling mobile apps. Quality accelerators should not offer you a spot if they know they cannot make a meaningful impact on growing your business. But, don’t just count on them to make the call. Do your research.
3. Less Support Once You Graduate While accelerators are great for launching your company, you shouldn’t expect the same level of support after you graduate from the program. It’s imperative to maximize all of the resources during the official program, because once you’re no longer working out of the shared office space, fewer opportunities will exist.
4. Commitment & Risks Joining an accelerator is a serious commitment, and it does not guarantee success. For some entrepreneurs, it sometimes means leaving family behind for a couple of months, relocating to a different city, or taking out more loans to support themselves. While the goal is to accelerate your company growth, there are still many companies that drop out of the program or fail to complete building a product that meets market demand. Keep in mind that accelerators can help you a great deal, but they do not mitigate your risks of failing. The right business accelerator program can open many doors for you, but as I was once told, we still have to “walk into those doors.” Whether or not you decide to join an accelerator, keep in mind that, at the end of the day, it’s still up to you to develop your idea, prioritize your long list of must-dos, and execute.
You Canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Do It All, So Expand Your Leadership Circle By Peter Economy
know that you support them. Give your people the freedom to take chances and experiment with new ideas, and to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. Shine a spotlight on your employees by letting them take the credit for their own successes. Be sure that all managers understand the importance of sharing leadership--and reward those who delegate well.
2 It’s far too easy to let your organization get stuck in the leader/follower rut, where you end up doing all the leading, and everyone else just follows along. Remember these five words: You can’t do it all.
Provide All Your Employees With Leadership Training
You hired great employees for a reason, so put all their skills to work by enlarging your leadership circle. When you encourage your employees to expand their roles in your company, you give each one of them a chance to show their creativity in different ways. The result? Better ideas and a happier, more engaged workforce.
Most organizations only offer leadership training to supervisors and managers, but in order for all employees to successfully take on leadership roles, they must first be properly trained. Since not all hires have experience in leadership, it’s important to offer training to all employees. Pair experienced leaders with followers and encourage them to learn from each other and to switch roles when appropriate.
Here are some tried-and-true ways to expand your leadership circle and get the best from your people every day:
1 Create a Supportive Environment If you want your employees to take initiative at work (and believe me, you do), they have to
Encourage Employees to Act Every employee has the ability to make a positive impact on your organization and on your customers and clients. Show your employees that you value them and their contributions while actively encouraging them to take initiative to act and to try
new approaches to old problems. The most successful companies have figured out the importance of making their employees feel important--and they actively take steps to do it.
4 Throw Out the Org Chart Okay, while you might not be ready to toss your organization chart into the trash, why not stick it in a drawer and forget about it for a while? Instead of deciding who the leaders in your organization are or who they should be, let them emerge on their own. Leaders tend to lead, and you will soon know who wants to step up. You’ll also soon know which employees would prefer to let others lead. That’s okay--every organization needs leaders and followers.
5 Reward Leadership Behavior Taking on a leadership role can be very intimidating for many employees--especially those who have never been in a formal
position of leadership before. Encourage your employees to lead by rewarding and reinforcing leadership behavior. Give raises or promotions when your people are willing to take on higher-level roles and responsibilities--or to set the bar even higher--and you will find more employees from all levels of your organization who are willing to lead. By expanding your leadership circle, you will tap into the full potential of your people and your organization. With the economy still on the mend, you need your employees’ contributions now more than ever. Like this post? If so, sign up here and always stay up to date with Peter’s latest thoughts and goings-on.
About the Author While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 65 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Visit him at petereconomy.com and follow him on Twitter: @bizzwriter.
Does Education Trump Experience When Starting a Business? By Rieva Lesonsky
hen you’re starting a business, does education or experience matter more? That’s a question that’s been debated, well, as long as I can remember—and it seems even the business owners themselves can’t agree on an answer. Does education matter more than experience when hiring employees for your small business? Apparently not. In a Manta survey earlier this year that polled nearly 1,000 small business owners, half say they hire staff who don’t have a college degree. What’s more, more than 60 percent say they see no difference
in performance among employees with varying education levels. Desire, drive and the willingness to work hard matter more to the business owners in the study when it comes to choosing who to hire. But it seems small business owners don’t extend themselves the same leeway. Most entrepreneurs in the study (more than 60 percent) predominantly credit their education as an important factor to their own successes as small business owners. Almost 70 percent of those polled have at least a bachelor’s degree.
It’ obvious a degree is valuable (even essential) in some fields, such as consulting or professional services. But if you want to start your own restaurant, open an auto repair shop or start a hair salon, is a college degree more crucial than real-world experience in your chosen field? Perhaps in some industries, street smarts and hands-on learning outweigh anything that can be learned in a college classroom setting. Maybe when small business owners tout the value of education, what they really mean is the ability to think things through and plan a path to growth. Entrepreneurs in the Manta study cited a strong business plan as vital to getting their businesses off to a good start. Over one-third say a business plan is the most important startup success factor—more important than capital, networking or mentorship. The role of business plans has changed in recent years. With our economy changing rapidly and disruptive businesses sprouting up, many feel the traditional business plan that looks out five or 10 years into the future is outdated. But while your business plan may not be as “etched in stone” as it used to be, I agree with the entrepreneurs Manta polled that it’s of great value.
About the Author Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter @Rieva, and visit her website SmallBizDaily.com to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
Lessons for Entrepreneurs From A Navy Seal By Martin Zwilling
You have to be extra tough mentally to be an entrepreneur. While thinking about it, I realized that it’s really not that different from the toughness required and trained into America’s elite military force of Navy SEALs, who are known to be cool under fire, able to sense danger before it’s too late, and never give up on achieving their objective. I just finished a new book “The Way of the SEAL,” coauthored by Mark Divine, who spent many years with the SEALs, and has since started and built six multimilliondollar business ventures. He now teaches the key principles to business leaders through his Unbeatable Mind Academy, focusing on the following lessons and strategies, which I recommend for every entrepreneur: 1. Lead from the front, so that others will want to work for you. To be an entrepreneur or a Navy SEAL, you must first have vision, focus, and the courage to step up to lead. That means visibly walking the talk and willing
to clear a path for others. People want to follow leaders they can learn from, who demonstrate excellence and commitment in all they do. 2. Focus on one thing until victory is achieved. SEALs call this front-sight focus, or the ability to envision your goal to the point that you see it, believe it, and make it happen. Every entrepreneur needs this kind of focus to build a minimum viable product, target the right customer segment, differentiate from competitors, and drive business growth. 3. Think offense, all the time, to eradicate fear and indecisiveness. Indecision leads to doubt, then the two blend and become fear, which signals defense, resulting in being overrun in the business world, as well as the military world. Offense, for entrepreneurs, means
leading with a new business model, new marketing, and new technology. 4. Never be thrown off-guard by chaotic conditions. Smash the box and think outside the box. In the world of the entrepreneur and the SEAL, chaos is the norm, not the exception. Plan for it mentally and physically, and you will see opportunities rather than problems in the chaos. Winning is finding opportunities, rather than fighting problems. 5. Access your intuition so you can make “hard right” decisions. Your intuition is really your knowledge and awareness of your business environment, which must be honed with practice and focus. This knowledge is required for you to turn quickly or pivot based on new input from the market, without loss of competitive position. 6. Achieve twenty times more than you think you can. Set your targets high. Nobody knows what they are truly capable of, with the right discipline, drive, and determination (three Ds). SEALs challenge themselves to find their 20x factor, and entrepreneurs should accept no less of a challenge. Leverage the resources of mentors, investors, and peers. By teaching and practicing the principles behind these six lessons, Mark Divine was able to improve the pass rate of Navy SEAL candidates from less than 30% to over 80%. I see the same potential for improving the success rate of new entrepreneurs from the current 10-year survival rate below 30%, to a new high target of 80% in this new era.
Expanding... He suggests that you start with a self-assessment against the “five mountains” to be climbed on the path to self-mastery and success, with my adaptation for entrepreneurs: • Physical: business as well as technical skills required for the domain you want to enter. • Mental: ability to persevere, make decisions, focus, and visualize success. • Emotional: resilience, open to relationships, keep negative emotions under control. • Intuitional: level of awareness, listen more than speak, strong self-esteem, insightful. • Spiritual: strong values, at peace, willing to make sacrifices, see the big picture. I agree with Divine that if you desire serious change in your life, you can’t get there by focusing on what you don’t want. Becoming an entrepreneur is a great lifestyle, but it is a serious change from other career alternatives. If you decide to be an entrepreneur because you don’t want a boss, on don’t like regular business hours, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Apply the lessons from the Navy SEALs and you too can be an elite warrior who leads and succeeds in the new global business paradigm. Are you up to the challenge?
About the Author I am the Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides services to startup founders around the world. My background includes a 30-year track record as an executive in general management, computer software development, product management, and marketing. I’m now in “give-back mode” as a mentor to startup founders, and an Angel investor. My experience with investors includes roles on the selection committee of two local Angel groups, and working from the other side of the table with several VCs in Silicon Valley. In addition to blogging, I recently released my first book titled “Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur?” You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to Circle me on Google+.
The Threat from Within -When Mobile Imperils Your
Business Security By Philip Whitchelo
In today’s business world, data security is as important to small startups as it is to enormous multinationals. In the highly digitized 21s t century, a single digital document, which in reality is made up of no more than intangible zeros and ones, could represent millions of dollars worth of company assets. Unlike traditional assets, this digital data is infinitely reproducible, and at a time when more business is being conducted on mobile devices than ever before, infinitely portable. The benefits of online technologies and big data are vast and varied, and it’s nearly impossible to grasp the full extent of the online threats we’re exposed to on a daily basis. According to Fortinet in a security survey, the levels of ignorance of complex hazards is dangerously high. Whether caused by inadequate safety measures or human error, the high number of leaks and security breaches reported in the news can make us wonder just how vulnerable our data really is. The evolution of cloud computing and the boom in tablet and smart phone sales leaves little room for doubt: the remote access phenomenon is moving ahead full steam.
The access of data anywhere from any device or platform poses a very challenging security environment for organizations,” says Bala Venkat, chief marketing officer at Cenzik, a security solutions provider.
“The access of data anywhere from any device or platform poses a very challenging security environment for organizations,” says Bala Venkat, chief marketing officer at Cenzik, a security solutions provider. “BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] further complicates the matter [by] driving companies to develop air tight security policies. Mobile security has thus become an urgent mandate on every company’s technology roadmap.” This now poses the question: What should businesses take into account? Here are data security concerns to consider as businesses shift away from in-house office computing to “business on the go.”
Mobile Device Loss
One of the biggest concerns for businesses is data stored on devices that could potentially get lost or stolen. Fingerprint scanners, passwords, and swipe patterns may keep small time burglars away, but more experienced hackers can bypass these measures. Doug Herman, managing director of the eDiscovery and Digital Forensics Practice of UHY Advisors FLVS Inc., acknowledges that “settings certainly make a difference in how easy it is for a person with malicious intent to access data. Enabling the requirement for a password or fingerprint scan to access the phone goes a long way; however, for someone that really, really wants access to the phone, virtually no ‘set’ of settings will help.” According to Herman, some companies have implemented measures for that exact situation. He says, “An organization may require that a management application be installed on the phone, which forces the use of a strong password to access data. They may reserve the right to remotely ‘wipe’ the phone of all data (company and personal), should it be reported as lost or stolen”
Applications and Cloud Accounts With dozens of applications with access to information, both personal and work related, gathered on your mobile device, users quickly lose sight of how much data is actually exposed.
“Storing unencrypted sensitive data on mobile devices is a significant cause for concern, but the often unsecured Web services commonly associated with mobile applications can pose an even bigger risk,” says Venkat. A recently published survey on Web application security by Vanderbilt University suggests that 49 percent of applications online are unsafe. As a backup precaution, most remote device users automatically sync files to private cloud accounts like Dropbox or Google Drive. And according to Fortinet, 70 percent of employees worldwide use their personal cloud account for work purposes. Peter Martini, cofounder and COO of network security solutions provider iboss Network Security, explains that issues with private cloud service accounts can easily arise through lack of sufficient knowledge. “A rising threat to businesses is the ‘shadow IT,’” he says. “This is an industry term for when users use an unapproved SaaS account to share files with customers. The employee does so without malice and unintentionally violates company policy. The company data is now stored in this rouge SaaS account, which can lead to a compliance violation or potential data loss.” It is called the public cloud for a reason. When storing files online, users believe access to be restricted, which is not necessarily the case. If you want to share confidential information you need to make sure to encrypt your data, which isn’t a feature open services usually provide.
When on business trips, free WiFi might seem like the perfect cost-saving alternative to paying scandalous roaming fees. It does, however, pose a threat. “Public WiFi hotspots at places like coffee shops and airports are notoriously dangerous for mobile users,” says Sunday Yokubaitis, president of Golden Frog, an online services provider. “Any business that has employees who work remotely at these types of locations should install a personal VPN service on their employees’ mobile devices. A VPN will encrypt the Internet connection so business tasks like email communication, data transfers, and web browsing are kept private and secure.” Peter Martini shares Yokubaitis’ concerns. “If accessing data remotely, businesses should ensure that employees are doing so through an encrypted VPN or through a company portal that is secured through SSL requiring a login where employees can access files,” he says. “Another alternative is utilizing SaaS services where companies can upload documents. This approach requires almost no investment into the business nfrastructure.”
Data Management According to a recent survey by security technology solutions provider Lookout, 90 percent of businesses allow employees to bring their own devices to work (BYOD), “yet only half of these companies require employees to enroll in a security program as a prerequisite for BYOD use,” reveals consumer safety advocate Jenny Roy.
Unless employees rigorously ensure that personal and businesses devices are kept separate, personal and business information will eventually blend. Doug Herman points out that on mobile devices, managing data works differently than on computers. “The functionality doesn’t exist to segment information as easily,” he says. “Take text messaging as an example – the mobile device likely only has one application that allows for the send/receipt of texts. If you’re texting both friends/family as well as coworkers, those messages will be commingled together.” For Peter Martini, the most effective way to separate company from personal data is to use a Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management solution. “These technologies allow businesses to create a ‘lock box’ app where employees can access business documents on a device. Essentially, it presents itself as an APP on the device and, when accessed, company documents are available. The same features are available for company email. The data is actually stored in the cloud and not on the device,” he explains. Sunday Yokubaitis suggests, “Use different applications for work and personal stuff. For example, Dropbox might be just fine for storing personal photos, but you might want to choose a completely different and more secure service for storing work-related files.”
All facts considered, industry experts advise businesses to extend security measures beyond their own database and in-house network and consider the hazards posed byÂ mobile devices. It is also important that businesses invest in training staff. A small investment in time and resources will help safeguard against potential data leaks and crises. Safe browsing and data handling is a skill that can be learned, and it will become increasingly vital that your employees have a hold on these skills.
About the Author Philip Whitchelo is vice president of strategy at Intralinks, dealing in areas such as product development and business planning across Europe, the Middle East, and Pacific Asia. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Building a Startup Empire By Kriti Vichare
“Rome wasn’t built in a day either...” I first saw this unapologetic declaration on a billboard sign on a highway that is perennially under construction. And it always reminds me that startups have to be treated the same way. Entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs approach creating a startup empire differently. Firstly, what’s a wantrepreneur? They are the eager beavers who may look, act, and seem like entrepreneurs - but all without owning an actual business!
Let’s examine the wantrepreneur scenario when building a startup empire:
This is the one…the idea of the century!” Wantrepreneurs rarely focus on the problem to solve.
2. 3. 4.
“Oooooh features! I love features!” Wantrepreneurs don’t create a foundation and work incrementally, but instead fast forward and jump in the deep end before learning to swim. “I’ll just whip together the business in no time!” Wantrepreneurs always underestimate the time it takes to grow a business. “If you build it they will come.” Wantrepreneurs believe the only thing stopping them from customers, is the lack of product.
“Money… I’ll figure it out later.” Wantrepreneurs severely minimize the needed funding for their projects.
To build an empire you need a foundation, vision, support, and patience. Serial entrepreneurs know this; it is second nature to them. As they move with tremendous speed, they know they have to learn to walk before they run. A scalable, repeatable business model is necessary before expanding too big or out of reach.
About the Creator This comic was created by Kriti Vichare and Shivraj Vichare. It was inspired by the ironies they have seen and have experienced in their small business ventures. You can find their comics on www.entrepreneurfail. com. They are the creators of the book Cheating on your Corporate Job: A Comic Look at the Startup Dream.
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The Secret to Winning the Content Creation War By Jeff Bullas
We are in a content creation arms race. Brands have realised that creating content is now your best weapon of choice to rank high in Google, engage with your customers and be a thought leader in your industry. So writers are the new digital age hired guns and given instructions to crank it out. Blog posts are published, ebooks are written and whitepapers are whipped together. The problem is that we end up with written drivel that is so bland that I want to to throw up! It has no character, is written for key search engine phrases that dominate the headline and the text. We see posts with no personality or humanity. Just algorithmic awfulness.
Has Google created a monster?
news story written by “Narrative Science”. This isn’t a person but a computer that writes news stories. Here is the piece.
This content creation strategy threatens to turn our minds to mush, our thoughts to self harm and make us fall asleep at the screen. Part of the reason this is happening is that Google has rolled out changes to its algorithm. It is rewarding unique content above keyword stuffed SEO laden text articles on corporate websites and blogs.
“Friona fell 10-8 to Boys Ranch in five innings on Monday at Friona despite racking up seven hits and eight runs. Friona was led by a flawless day at the dish by Hunter Sundre, who went 2-2 against Boys Ranch pitching. Sundre singled in the third inning and tripled in the fourth inning … Friona piled up the steals, swiping eight bags in all … ”
This is driving corporate marketing tactics that are about SEO and not about contagious writing. SEO should be in the mix but it should not dominate.
It doesn’t read like a computer wrote it. Kristian Hammond the co-founder of Narrative science is predicting that within 15 years that more than 90% of news could be written by a robot!
Will we end up with articles written by robots? Is this the future?
Now the technology behind narrative is cool but it isn’t the future for bloggers and content marketers. The future is the art of creating content that is memorable, creative and contagious…Oh yes, begs to be shared!
In a recent article on Wired they reported a
How do you do that?
Tips for winning at content creation Despite that glimpse into what is happening now and what could happen in 15 years, here are some tips to make your articles zing and zang.
1. Create an opening line that pops This is easy to say but sometimes hard to do. But have a go. You are not going to do this every time but think hard about that opening line.
2. Use facts that surprise I remember stumbling upon the fact that Snapchat was offered $3 billion in cash by Facebook. Then and there I decided it had to be woven into a blog post. Sometimes they even get corralled out of the post and tweeted!!
3. Insert insights that are not obvious Have you ever read an article and everything seem regurgitated. You thought “nothing new here“.. moving on. Insights within and industry or niche come from persistent reading and the blood sweat and tears of creation and expression. One that dawned upon my consciousness, was that your owned online properties should be treated as assets. Just like a car or a bricks and mortar building. Here is another one.
4. Make up a creative subtitle We often play safe so that often means boring. Make your sub-titles interesting. Put on your inspiration pants. If it gets tweeted you know you might be on to something!
5. Use rhythm in your writing Write long sentences and short. Writing has rhythm and it adds to the interest. Sentences can be two words. Try it.
6. Break the rules Your writing teacher may have told you to get to the point. One of my favourite magazine writers is Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson. He breaks this rule in almost every article. I counted the words in his intro before he got to the point. 1,000 words….but it works. They also may have told you other rules that are often constraining. Formal and proper is what the English teacher taught you. Now people expect a more casual style of writing. Writing how you speak or “conversational writing” is needed on a social web.
8. Develop a voice that is original Finding your writing voice is a journey. At first you will copy, then curate and finally you will create and weave your own unique voice. Push your boundaries.
9. Include visuals in your articles The age of text, text and more text is over. We live on a visual web that demands multi-media and images.
10. Use statistics that are mind blowing Whenever you come across some statistics that grab your attention, think how you could use that in blog posts or articles. If it grabs your attention then it will most likely have a similar impact on your readers. Put it in the opening paragraph.
11. Write a title that is not ordinary I remember driving along one day and had an inane idea about a blog post topic. It was “10 Reasons Why Ducks Just Don’t Get Social Media”. I stopped the car and wrote it down with a few relevant points. It took me a few weeks to be brave enough to publish. Guess what? It worked.
Don’t be afraid to push your comfort zone.
12. Ask an unlikely question Pose a question that is unexpected. Here is one that resonated for me ”Are brands out publishing traditional media companies?” If the title gets repurposed you know you hit a home run.
13. Use stories Don’t forget to include stories. That is what makes us human. Robot writers struggle with that.
14. Practice, practice, practice Creating memorable, insightful and contagious content comes from the mundane. The art and graft of just sitting down to do the work. So practice and practice some more. The inspiration will show up!
So what is the secret? Be human. We are innately creative. Humanity mixed with technology equals magic! What other tips can you add to winning in the content creation arms race? Look forward to your insights and stories in the comments below.
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I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 185,000.
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An FBI Agent Reveals 5 Steps To Gaining Anyone’s Trust By Shane Parrish I had an opportunity to ask Robin Dreeke a few questions. Robin is in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program and the author of It’s Not All About Me. Robin combines science and years of work in the field to offer practical tips to build rapport and establish trust. In this brief interview he discusses building relationships, how to approach someone you don’t know and ask for a favor, and the keys to establishing trust.
A lot of people are interested in strengthening and furthering relationships. How can people do this? This is the most important aspect of everything we do in life. I’m going to give some light science behind each of my answers but to me it just explains the subjective simple explanations behind naturally great trusting relationships. Both anecdotal (evidence) as well as science supports the fact that the
trust. For me and what I teach I start with what I said in question one. Trust first starts with a relationship where the other person’s brain is rewarding them for the engagement with you by doing what I outlined above.
greatest happiness is found in positive social interactions and relationships. The simplest answer to this is to “make it all about them.” Our brain rewards us chemically when we are able to talk and share our own views, priorities, and goals with others… long term, short term, etc. Our brain also rewards us when we are unconditionally accepted for who we are as a human being without judgement. Both of these concepts are genetically coded in each of us (to varying degrees) because of our ancient survival instincts (ego-centrism) as well as our need to belong to groups or a tribe (tribal mentality for survival and resources). When you put these simple concepts together the answer is simple to understand, but oftentimes difficult to execute…. Speak in terms of the other person’s interests and priorities and then validate them, their choices, and who they are non-judgmentally. Some people do this naturally, for the rest of us you can build this skill and it eventually becomes second nature. Trust is a foundation to most situations in life. How can we develop trust? What are the keys? I can only answer from my own background and experience because trust is a very difficult thing to measure and define and each individual’s definition can vary and our brain takes in much more than verbal information when determining
Part two of my trust process is to understand the other person’s goals and keeping their goals and priorities on the top of my list of goals and priorities. By making the other person’s goals and priorities yours, trust will develop. Over time (some people faster than others) a need to reciprocate the kindness and relationship will build. In other words, trust is built faster and stronger when there is no personal agenda. What’s the best way to approach someone you don’t know and ask them for a favor? Using sympathy and seeking help is always the best. If you can wrap the help / favor you are looking for around a priority and interest of the individual you are engaging, the odds of success increase. Add social proof (i.e., others around you helping already or signed a petition etc.) and you increase it even more. Again, focus on how you can ask a favor while getting their brain to reward them for doing so. What are some strategies to build rapport while giving a talk, presentation, or interview? Ego Suspension / self-deprecating humor… Make it all about them! How is the information you are chatting about going to benefit them? Talk about the great strengths and skills they each have already and that all you hope to do is to have them understand their strengths even better and be able to pass them on to others more effectively if they want to. Validate every question and opinion non-judgmentally. If you don’t happen to agree, simply ask “that’s a fascinating / insightful/ thoughtful
opinion… would you mind helping me understand how you came up with it?” Again, their brain will reward them on multiple levels for this. I suspect you spend a lot of time trying to figure out if people are manipulating you or the situation? Can you talk about this? How can you tell when people are attempting to manipulate you? I’ll start by saying I don’t like the word manipulate. The word tends to objectify people and removes the human being from the equation. When people feel they are objects, trust will not be built. I tend to not think of anyone trying to manipulate me but at times a very self-serving agenda becomes evident. This is what manipulation generally is…. a self-serving agenda where the other person feels used with no reciprocity. When I notice that there may be an overabundance of a self-serving agenda (manipulation) I don’t judge the person negatively. I try to explore two areas in order to understand them better. (go back to my first answers here… this process begins to build a relationship and trust :)) I try to understand what their objective is and why that is their objective. What are they trying to achieve, etc. I will also attempt to understand why they felt a certain way of
communicating with me would be effective for them in the situation. I tend to ask questions to help them think about how they might be more successful in their objectives using other methods… such as I outlined above. In other words, help them achieve whatever objective with me they had…. because wasn’t that their goal after all? :) See… keep it always coming back to them. If you had to give a crash course in building a relationship with someone, what are the top 5 things people need to do? What carries the bulk of the freight so-to-speak? 1) Learn… about their priorities, goals, and objectives. 2) Place… theirs ahead of yours 3) Allow them to talk…. suspend your own need to talk. 4) Seek their thoughts and opinions. 5) Ego suspension!!! Validate them unconditionally and non-judgmentally for who they are as a human being. If you haven’t already, check out Robin’s Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport With Anyone.
About the Author Farnam Street is written by Shane Parrish. You can find me on twitter and linkedin. I don’t really have an editorial style but content tends to focus on the causes of human misjudgement, culture, philosophy, and various other subjects to feed a curious mind. When I’m not reading, I help organizations innovate and make better decisions. I can’t work with everyone, but I’m always looking for clients with difficult problems. If that’s you, we should talk.
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Lead Generation: Website Best Practices Andy Crestodina
It happens every day. It’s common, but it’s not simple. There are dozens of little factors involved in lead generation. Some do it well, but most don’t. The difference is in the site. A lead generation website has a specific set of pages, each with specific elements.
A visitor takes action, a contact form is submitted, a lead is born! It happens every day. It’s common, but it’s not simple. There are dozens of little factors involved in lead generation. Some do it well, but most don’t. The difference is in the site. A lead generation website has a specific set of pages, each with specific elements. Let’s break it down. The typical flow looks something like this.
The website is gently leading the person through a series of steps: awareness, interest, trust, then action. That’s a classic “conversion funnel.” Notice how the pages align with steps in the funnel:
D. Contact Page: simple way to get in touch (action)
A. Blog Post: attracts visitors with useful information (awareness)
This only works if each page in the process is built for the purpose. Each page needs a set of elements that keeps the process moving. Here is a breakdown of the pages on lead generation websites.
B. Web Page: explains what you do (interest) C. About Page: explains why you do what you do (trust)
E. Thank You Page: they’ve completed the funnel and are now a lead (conversion)
A. Blog Post: How Can I Help You? It all starts before the visitor arrives at the website. They may come from email marketing or social media, but often, it starts with a search. Your audience is constantly looking for information relevant to your field, so the key is to write many helpful blog posts and align the articles with keyphrases. The articles should be so useful that the readers will be glad to have found you. While theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re there, they will find easy ways to get more of your helpful advice through email marketing (a prominent sign-up form), social media (icons let them follow you), or more content (internal links to related content). A great blog post is the first step in the lead generation process. It should include all of the following elements.
Don’t send people to a dead network. You don’t really want people to leave your site, but if they do, send them to go to a network where you are truly engaged with your audience.
1. Keyword-focused header
Use the target keyphrase once in the <h1> header. Along with the <title>, this is one of the most important places to use the phrase.
2. Prominent email signup box with descriptive
call to action A great email sign-up form tells people what they’re going to get and gives some evidence that it’s good.
3. Social media networks, but only those where you are truly active Don’t send people to a dead network. You don’t really want people to leave your site, but if they do, send them to go to a network where you are truly engaged with your audience.
Tip: Don’t limit yourself to a certain length. Use as many words as necessary to share the advice and no more.
6. Links to services pages and your about page
It’s nice of you to give away your best advice, but it’s hard work, and it doesn’t necessarily generate leads. The pathway from posts to pages should be clear in the navigation.
7. Internal links to other blog posts and service pages Beyond the navigation, use internal links within your posts to guide visitors deeper into the site, both to other blog posts and to service pages.
8. Call-to-action for comments, more
4. Compelling image or chart
information Many visitors may get what they wanted from your super friendly post and then leave. To improve the chances that they’ll stick around, end each post with an invitation to get in touch for more information (link to your contact form) or with a question that invites a comment (see example below!).
5. Helpful, detailed article
What’s not here: Clutter.
Every great post has a great image. This makes the post more attractive, both on your site and in the social streams when it gets shared. This is your chance to explain concepts visually with informative charts or diagrams. It’s also your chance to use cat pictures. It’s the deep, how-to content that positions you as the expert. These posts are also more likely to rank in search engines and get shared by readers. So go big. The more useful, the better.
Don’t show links to old archives, big buttons for various downloads, or special offers. Don’t put banner ads for your own business on your website. They’re ugly and distracting.
B. Service Page: Simply What You Do Here’s where you begin selling. Like the blog post, information here is helpful, but now it describes how you do the work for the prospect. The goal is to state the value you provide in simple terms, and provide evidence that you are legitimate. These pages must build confidence by giving proof. That may be through examples and data. Testimonials are an excellent way to provide social proof by using the voice of current customers. Service pages need this kind of evidence.
9. Contact link or phone number
The top right corner is the standard place for contact information. Visitors will look for it here. Use either a button to your contact page, your phone number, or both.
10. Clear, simple description of services
It’s best to call your services what your visitors would call them. Keep the language simple in your headers and in the body. Make sure to answer the questions that potential customers commonly ask. If you don’t, they may look for answers on other websites.
11. Evidence, examples, data and social proof
Anyone can claim to do something, but not everyone can prove it. Add evidence of the benefits and return on investment for your services. This may include examples, statistics and research. Better yet, add social proof in the form of testimonials, using the voice of your happy customers.
12. Videos, demos and diagrams
If you offer a service that requires a high-degree of trust, videos are an excellent way to improve lead generation.
They let the visitor see your face and hear your voice. If you offer a service that is difficult to explain, use diagrams and demos to explain those complex ideas.
Internal links to related services and case studies As with blog posts, add links within the body to other services or case studies. Unless you have an extremely relevant blog post, you probably shouldn’t send them back into the blog.
Calls-to-action Services pages can either be a dead end, or they can have a quick, friendly call to action, such as “Contact us for more information about (service).” What’s not here: Secondary conversions Email signup and social media networks have been removed, or at least they aren’t as prominent, since you don’t want these actions to compete with the more valuable call to action.
C. About Page: Building Trust Visitors want to know who they might be working with. That’s why the “About” page is one of the most popular pages on every lead generation website. Here is where you put a face to the name, tell your story, and explain your mission. In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Connecting the service to the people is critical, even if the organization is large and only the executives are listed here. Visitors who are interested in the service are always interested in the service provider.
15. Personality, values and your story
Here you’ll answer the big questions: why are you in this business? How long have you been doing this. What motivates your team? Why does this service matter? You are the only one with your story, so make this a page that sets you apart. You are the only company with your people, so feature them prominently.
16. Testimonials, quotes and awards
Just like the service pages, this is a good place to add evidence of legitimacy. Anything that applies to the entire business and not just one service will work. That includes awards, certifications, ratings, and association memberships, as well as quotes from customers.
17. Social media networks or email signup form This page builds trust, so it’s also a good place to let people act. Give them a chance to follow and subscribe.
18. Pictures of key team members with links to
detailed profile pages Don’t be a faceless corporation. Be a person. Show the faces of your entire team if you’re small and your key leadership if you’re big. What’s not here: Everyone’s full profile Link to a separate page for each team member. These pages will show more personality. They may also rank for each person’s name.
D. Contact Page: Where the Magic Happens The trick here is to get out of the way. It should be as effortless as possible with no distraction. Just a simple form. The idea is to start a conversation, not interrogate your visitors.
19. Simple contact form
This is one of the best tips for optimizing a website to convert visitors into leads: use a contact form with the minimum number of fields. Of course, you’ll need a lot of information to qualify them, but get it during the sales process. Don’t use a greedy form.
20. Phone number, address, and directions
Not all visitors want to become a web lead. Some want to call. Great. Put all of your contact information
on this page, including a link to a map with directions. And If you have an attractive location, show a photo of it here. It helps build legitimacy. What’s not here: Content, navigation, distractions They’re close to the goal, so to keep them moving, remove everything but the form. This page doesn’t need any more content! Even the navigation should be kept to a minimum.
E. Thank You Page: Mission Accomplished On many lead gen sites, this page is nothing more than two tiny words. That’s a missed opportunity. The thank you page is your first interaction with your new lead. Make it a good one by setting expectations. You’ve also got an opportunity here to create an even stronger connection.
21. A genuine thank you
Be sincere and use a personal tone. You should also explain what happens next. How soon will you be in touch? Who will make contact?
Email sign-up box If they were ready to reach out, they may already really like you and your brand. Give them the option to subscribe for more of the content that impressed them the first time.
23. Social media networks
Even if they don’t follow you, there’s still a chance to show
them your latest thinking, to show them a bit of your personality. Just make sure they’ll find helpful, relevant posts and positive interactions in your social streams.
Links to recommended articles and additional content If you don’t offer other options on this page, you might as well tell people to leave the site. Why not invite them back into your site for a bit more helpful advice? What’s not here: Two lonely little words – thank you.
It’s the little things… Yes, lead generation is a bit more complicated than this. Visitors don’t necessarily follow that flow. It may take many visits and pageviews over a long timeframe. Leads happen. But put these tips in place on your site, and you may feel the difference. Get your website to do this well, and the leads will flow in. How’s your website? Are you using all 24 best practices? Did we miss anything? We’d be grateful for any feedback or comments!
About the Author Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.
Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business Model By Nichole Kelly
Companies are starting to recognize that customer experience is an important element for having a differentiated brand. Social media has forced companies to take customer experience seriously as customers have taken to their social networks to tell their negative stories with passion and a virality that has been unmatched in other channels. However, the reality is that there is a lot of lip service about putting the customer at the center and making customer service improvements. At the end of the day, this transformation requires a change in culture, which leaves companies dealing with massive amounts of politics and inherent human capital challenges. This post was inspired by a truly incredible experience I recently had at Royal Taj, an amazing Indian restaurant in Columbia, Maryland. I went to Royal Taj the week they opened when there were
few patrons and I’ve watched the restaurant grow over the last few years. I’ve been so impressed to watch it turn into a hot spot with lines out the door during peak restaurant times. My recent experience made me stop and question the differences between my experience there and my experiences at other restaurants, and honestly with other businesses. Here are the key ingredients I believe led to their success. Each of these ingredients are relevant to every business that wants to drive their companies’ success with a customer-centric approach.
THEY PROVIDE AN EXCEPTIONAL PRODUCT The best customer experience won’t matter if the product isn’t good. Royal Taj, by far, has the best Indian
food in the area. The best way to describe their food is that well…it’s perfect. The flavors are bold and you can get your food spicy or mild to ensure it meets your palettes desires. As a connoisseur of ethnic cuisine, one of the best tests is whether or not they can attract patrons from the culture. On numerous occasions, I’ve watched as their Indian patrons talk about how amazing and authentic their food is. I’ve watched as friends recommend Royal Taj to other friends telling them they have to go because it is the absolute best Indian food. The first step for companies to begin putting their customers at the center of their business model is to ensure their product is top notch. Your products need to speak for themselves and leave an impression that people want to share with friends.
THEY KNOW THEIR CUSTOMERS BY NAME Royal Raj is owned and managed by Bindha, Soni and Jasvinder Singh. Every time I’ve been to Royal Taj, I’m greeted by Bindha with a big hug welcoming us back. I’ve watched Bindha work the room and he has an innate ability to make every customer feel like they are the most important customer in the room. He asks questions about your family, who you are, what you do and then he remembers it the next time you come. As a person who is awful with names, I’m amazed that he can keep all the customer’s personal stories straight. Bindha goes above and beyond at every turn. When I was there last weekend, it was raining. I watched Bindha walking customers to their cars with an oversized umbrella to make sure they didn’t get wet. As I watched Bindha with
his customers, it’s clear he truly cares about their experience and their lives. He makes you feel like you have a close friend at Royal Taj, so why would you choose anywhere else to enjoy an evening out? Frankly, you wouldn’t. You want to go back to say hello to Bindha. This can be a challenge for large companies with thousands or millions of customers, but it’s not impossible. It just requires really good record keeping inside the CRM. Every customer service or sales representative has the ability to take notes on more than just the issue the customer is trying to solve. They can take notes on the conversation and take the time to get to know more about the customer. This will require that your company doesn’t measure your front line employees on how quickly they can get a customer off the phone. Instead, we should be measuring how much intelligence they can gather about the customer in the short-time they have with them. True customer intelligence goes beyond their experience with your product experience. It should also include who they are buying the product for and what they can learn about their preferences and their lives in the process. The more we know about our customers, the better we can be at predicting their needs and building relationships. When at all possible, customers should be able to talk to the same person they have formed a relationship with for continuity in their experience. Customer service and sales representatives should have enough information to be able to ask, “How did (your child’s name) enjoy the (product) you purchased from us last time?”
THEY SURPRISE AND DELIGHT Another thing I noticed about Bindha is that he always surprises and delights his customers. When he is about to leave a table he offers a free round of wine, a free dessert or something else he thinks you will enjoy. He knows I love Chateau St. Michelle’s Reisling and he makes sure we get a glass on him every time. He’s given us free dessert and free Naan. We never expect to get anything free and we are more than willing to pay for what we consume, but he always surprises us with something meaningful that we remember. This is one of the reasons you feel like Bindha is a friend who treats you like a special customer. When I started watching, I noticed that Bindha does this with every table; it’s a secret sauce he uses to make sure you remember your experience. And I think it’s brilliant! How can your company surprise and delight customers? It could be something simple like a handwritten thank you note, free shipping, free rush delivery, or a special gift they weren’t expecting. The key with surprise and delight is that is must be a surprise. Customers can’t start to expect it; they need to feel like it was something special just for them. We need to figure out how to surprise and delight customers EVERY time. This requires companies to allow their front-line staff to have the power to decide what the right surprise and delight gift is for each customer. And it’s even better if they can personalize a note with the gift so the customer knows the person they dealt with was the reason they got the gift and that they were thinking of them when they included it.
THEY ARE ALWAYS READY TO SERVE The great experience at Royal Taj, doesn’t start and end with Bindha. It’s clear customer experience is something they engrain in their employees. When you dine at Royal Taj you will see the entire staff standing in a line right in the dining room waiting for an opportunity to serve. They scan the dining room constantly and all you have to do is look at them
and they rush to your table to serve you. We’ve all been at restaurants where the staff casually stands chatting each other up, getting distracted and even doing unprofessional things. As a customer you feel like your needs are less important because they don’t convey an interest in being ready to serve you. How can your company always be at the ready looking for an opportunity to serve? Are you monitoring social channels for mentions of your company? Do you have live chat on your website? If so, do you proactively reach out to website visitors and let them know you are there to help? How are you making it ridiculously easy for customers to get your attention? The challenges with putting customer experience at the core of your business comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. But seriously, it comes down to one thing; how committed are you to ensuring
customers have a great experience? If you are truly committed then you won’t let any obstacle get in your way. You will find creative solutions to challenges instead of using them as excuses for under-serving your customers. Isn’t it time for every company to put their customers at the center of their business model? How important is customer experience in your company? Are you making great strides or using a lot of lip service? What are your biggest frustrations that company’s need to address? Leave a comment and join the discussion for helping company’s put customer experience at the core of their business model.
About the Author Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole
Manage Your Marketing: Remember You’re in Sales By Margie Clayman A few weeks ago I was in Barnes & Noble and I happened to glance at the business best sellers shelf (as I am wont to do). A book sitting there caught my eye. It was Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human. The title got my attention for a couple of reasons. First, as we have discussed many times, there are silos between marketing and sales departments in most companies. The title made me wonder if Pink would offer an argument that would help to destroy that (needless) division between sales and marketing. The title also got my attention because as a marketer, I have always known in my gut that I also need to understand what’s happening in sales. As Pink notes at the start of his book, very few people like to think of themselves as sales people. Why is that? Pink suggests that most people equate “sales” to being shady, like the old stereotypes of the used car salesman. In fact, in a questionnaire that Pink cites in the book, many people, when asked, answered that sales made them think of primarily negative personality traits. However, Pink argues that “sales” is more than just trying to sell a product. “Sales” can mean trying to get a person to buy into your ideas or, as he says, “moving people.” If this is not marketing, what is?
But I must reiterate – being in sales is gross! I think a lot of people have this gut reaction to the idea that they are in sales, especially people who are using social media as part of their marketing campaigns. The emphasis in the online world has long rested on relationships versus “selly” engagement. There is a sentiment that if you try to “sell” online it will be a real turn-off. For marketers, this creates a conundrum and this conundrum lies behind the entire controversy regarding whether it is possible to calculate social media ROI. If you are hesitant to sell anything online, it will of course, be extremely difficult to realize any return on your investment.
Beyond the online world, it is also important to visualize your marketing content as if it is an army of non-human sales representatives for your company. Instead of knocking on doors, your ads appear before eyes of potential customers. Instead of traveling city-to-city, your email marketing calls for attention in someone’s inbox. Your content is intended to help increase sales. It may not be a direct line like it would be for door-to-door salespeople, but the intent is the same. You are striving to convince someone to buy your company’s product or service. If you are using social media marketing, you are like the old-fashioned store owner who knows everyone’s name, who cares, but who also is still trying to sell something. One does not need to be a snake oil salesman to be in sales.
There’s no reason for silos Marketing and Sales departments are often pitted against each other in companies. When things go wrong these departments point the fingers at each other. “Sales are down because the marketing is bad.” “Sales are down because the sales team isn’t converting leads into sales.” When things go well, the departments compete for credit. The faulty logic is that sales and marketing are diametrically opposed. This is simply not the case. If you are truly enmeshed in marketing for your company, you are in sales. If you are trying to promote ideas that will help your company grow, you are in sales. Indeed, in an ideal situation, marketing will work with the sales team to make sure all messaging emanating from the company is consistent and effective. The next time someone says that marketers don’t really understand the world of sales, or the next time you hear a marketer talking disparagingly about the sales process, remember that marketers are also in sales. Marketers are humans. And, if you agree with Daniel Pink, to sell is human.
Do you agree?
About the Author Margie Clayman is the Director of Marketing, B2B Services at Clayman and Associates, a full service marketing firm headquartered in Marietta, Ohio. You can follow the agency at www.facebook.com/claymanandassociates In addition to blogging for her agency, Margie Blogs for Razoo Giving.
DEAR BRANdS, THIS IS tHE ENd OF OUR FRIENdSHIP. SINCERELY, YOUR CUStOMER By Vincent Teo Social technology is heralding a new wave of consumerism and this has startling implication to brands. Your consumer is not just ditching you, they’re becoming your competitors.
There’s been a slow shift in the balance of power that has been happening for a long time. Once upon a time, brands held all the power in their relationship with consumers. They withheld information and could afford to charge higher prices, additional fees or get away with bad service because there was a lack of transparency and connection between consumers. Customers put up with it
because they didn’t know any better or thought this was the norm. And even if they minded, they had little choice but to comply because there were simply no viable alternatives. Things started to change with Web 1.0 - where the Internet gave consumer the transparency of information online, which disrupted closed group industries (travel, insurance, cars, and electronics
We’re now living in the age of Web 3.0, where social technology is heralding a new wave of consumerism; one that allows consumers to share resources that puts them into a position where they can directly compete with entrenched brands and provide the same services.
etc) and made prices and standards more open. This gave consumers the information they needed to compare between brands, take options, and make informed choices. It also gave rise to direct purchases with e-commerce, cutting out the need for unnecessary intermediaries (e.g. booking a holiday).
consumers to share resources that puts them into a position where they can directly compete with entrenched brands and provide the same services.
Then came along Web 2.0 - this was about the openness of sharing information amongst consumers, i.e. social media. Where people could share content and their experiences with brands (both good and bad) to a larger group of people, forming communities that were passionately for or against brands. We all remember this moment, herald as the great equalizer where brands now had to respond to criticism and complains from consumers or risk the quick outrage of an angry online mob that can quickly grow as information spreads virally through social sharing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The rise of sharing economy has been widely covered. Technology is one of the key facilitators but credit goes to the multitude of tech startups that recognize the gaping hole and opportunities left by slow moving, entrenched brands, creating digital marketplaces that connect consumers with excess resources and those with a demand for it together in a mutually beneficial way.
We’re now living in the age of Web 3.0, where social technology is heralding a new wave of consumerism; one that allows
This has startling implication to brands – your consumer is not just ditching you, they are becoming your competitors.
Think about it. Airbnb fills more rooms than all of the Hilton branded hotels in the world and they don’t own a single bed. It’s simply a marketplace that connects resources to those who need it bypassing the traditional hotel business that has been around for decades. There are many such examples all born from opportunistic startups
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and entrepreneurs who themselves were probably disillusioned with what was provided by brands and thought “what if there was a better way”. Things that were once the expected norm are now a thing of the past. Want to avoid paying expensive charges when you park your car at the airport for a short trip? Flight Car lets you rent your vehicle out to other travelers coming in (and avoid expensive rentals from the likes of Hertz and Avis). Parkers save and make money while renters get a cheaper price.
of post paid data plans. Now, with the already ¼ reduced data in your monthly service bundled, you’re expected to pay double the cost of what it was when you exceeded usage. If Singtel is going to make me pay a penalty for going past my data bundle, why aren’t they paying me if I have excess unused data at the end of each month? This is a simple idea: Instead of paying SingTel’s outrageous costs, I should just be able to use another mobile subscriber’s excess data from their bundles. Turns out, this already exist in the form of Air Mobs – An app that allows you to sell wireless bandwidth to a stranger near you, in exchange for credits allowing you to buy bandwidth from another stranger in the future. Taking this one level up, instead of paying expensive roaming charges for using data abroad, CrowdRoaming allows you to share your excess local mobile data with travelers. In return, when you travel abroad, you can also tap on the mobile data from locals at your destination.
Want to avoid expensive public cloud computing costs? Gridmarkets allows companies to sell their excess CPU capacity to others that need large amounts of computational power. Want to avoid expensive office rentals? DesksNearMe allows anyone who needs a flexible workspace to book from others that have desks and office space that’s not being used. My favorite example is one that’s close to my heart. Recently, my mobile provider SingTel announced to much of my dismay and further disdain that they were going to double the price of excess mobile data. To provide some context: Singtel has recently cut down its data plans from 12GB to 2, 3, and 4GB plans – essentially already increasing the price
Now is the time that brands need to learn to play nice, be transparent, and act in the interest of its customers and not itself or its shareholders. T-mobile in the U.K. is a great example of behaving consumer first. It disrupted the entire telco industry by dropping the mandatory 2 year mobile phone contract. In addition, it will now eliminate all the ridiculous sky high international roaming charges that consumers have accepted as norm and an acceptable cost for traveling. Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s chief marketing officer articulated this form of behavior nicely when he said “Other telcos sit around trying to figure out what customer charges they can get away with. We sit around and think what can we get away with not charging the customer.”
About the Author Vincent is a partner at Cllique (www.cllique.com), a innovation design studio that helps brands evolve in an ever changing world through design thinking, marketing strategy and agile innovation, He also co-founded Lensy (www.lensy.com), a community marketplace that connects everyday photographers with brands and businesses. Vincent has over 12 years experience both on the client and agency side, most recently as digital planning director at BBDO/Proximity and lead digital strategist at Publicis. Prior to that, he startedup and managed a boutique digital agency in Hong Kong and built the online business at Citibank at HSBC. Connect with him on Twitter @intersphere
How Do You Have an Effective Social Media Presence and Not Get Sued? By Mark Schaefer
If you can’t see the video, click here to see my interview with Anne McGraw of Nissan-North America.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Anne McGraw, senior manager – customer experience for Nissan North America and discuss some very relevant and timely marketing issues. Anne works in an extremely high-pressure environment where any social media response could potentially result in a lawsuit or a spot on the national news. Yet, she has been able to navigate this internal and external minefield to create a stateof-the-art social media presence for her company. Today you get to see an interview with Anne where she shares how she developed her strategy in this difficult environment as well as:
The event that led to Nissan’s “ah-ha” moment — when her management team finally “got it”
Her approach to getting the legal team onboard.
How she is using social data as a leading indicator to discover customer issues 4-6 weeks faster than normal.
I think you’ll enjoy this interview and you can connect with Anne on LinkedIn and on Twitter.
About the Author I’m Mark Schaefer. If you want to learn about my awards, books, degrees, patents, professional accomplishments and all that LinkedIn stuff, you can click here: Professional Credentials. There is also a good bio here if you’re looking for the short story!
By Vincent Teo
7 Sure-Fire Success Principles
Success is something everyone wants but only a few achieve. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. No matter where you are in your business – from startup to seasoned veteran – there are principles you can apply to ensure your success. Below are seven sure-fire success principles you can start using right now:
Work with relentless urgency. Getting up and showing up are a great start but if you want success in your business – or in any part of your life – you have to be willing to work, and work hard. The Army’s slogan from the early 1980s was, “We get more done before 9 a.m. than most people get done in a day.” It’s that harddriving work ethic that will set you apart from the pack and create opportunities that will open the doors to success.
Apply a disciplined approach. Discipline
Focus on implementation. Closely related to discipline is implementation. This is simply the principle of carrying out and accomplishing the goals and plans you created, ensuring actual fulfillment by concrete measures. You can dream and plan and set goals for yourself all day but if you do nothing tangible to see those goals through, you are simply spinning your wheels and wasting time. Implementation is the step that transitions plans into results.
Simplify whenever possible. Why take
is defined as a system of rules governing conduct or activity. When you wake up in the morning, do you have a systematic plan of what you are going to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it? If not, you can’t expect to move forward in your career in any meaningful way. Begin using a disciplined approach by first setting goals and then planning activities that will achieve those goals. Finally, measure the success of your activities and then adjust your plans accordingly.
two dozen steps to accomplish something if you can get it done just as effectively in only three or four? Simplification is a critical part of achieving maximum results with the least amount of effort. Working hard is important but using your time in the most effective way possible is even more important. Simplifying processes
whenever possible makes it much easier to accomplish more in less time. It also makes it quicker and easier to share your knowledge and bring team members up to speed when necessary.
you to become an expert in your field. Another great way to increase your skills and understanding is to read – read anything you can get your hands on that can help you become more knowledgeable and effective. Fiftyeight percent of people never read non-fiction books after they graduate from high school, so simply picking up a book and reading it will help establish your expertise and set you apart from your competition.
Nobody likes to be uncomfortable and it’s a natural inclination to avoid discomfort. However, in order to be successful, you must be willing not only to be uncomfortable but also to embrace discomfort. This means the willingness to give something up in order to gain something, such as giving up comfort in order to gain forward momentum. This can mean working late to ensure goals are met or making lifestyle changes in order to be able to invest in a new venture. Either way, sacrificing comfort now can enable you to take the steps you need to achieve future success.
Continually develop your skills and knowledge. This
is another way in which embracing discomfort has a large payoff. Taking courses to gain certifications along with expanding your knowledge base of your industry is a fantastic way to move forward and be more successful in your career. Wake up early to study if you need to but make sure you take advantage of all the classes and instruction available to
Develop the right relationships. It’s not only
the relationships you develop with your company’s clients that are important. Developing good, healthy relationships with colleagues and employees is an important step in business success. These are the people who can influence your business’s growth – for better or worse. Ensure that influence is working in your favor by identifying ways to help employees and colleagues achieve their goals and objectives. Your assistance will help establish you as a go-to person within your industry and position you for small business success.
Success might not be easy but it is achievable. There will always be setbacks but perseverance, dedication and drive eventually yield success. Follow these seven sure-fire success principles and you will find yourself enjoying the success you’ve always wanted.
About the Author Daniel C. Steenerson imparts his success wisdom, principles and philosophies through his proprietary “Science of Visioneering” approach to help companies, entrepreneurs, executives and other professionals realize business greatness. He may be reached online at www.DanSteenerson.com– an online community where business owners, executives and other career achievement-minded professionals go for no-nonsense, “tell-it-like-it-is” success advice.
5 Free Online Tools Too Valuable to Ignore that Will Help You Grow Your Business By Didi Zheleva Setting up a business is a big enough investment but did you know that when it comes to managing your business and marketing it, you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to spend a fortune. Here are 5 free tools that would transform your business at no cost!
1. WordPress Having an online presence for your business is increasingly important. Whether you are planning to use your website as a branding tool, to sell or to generate enquiries about your product, it is imperative that you have one. It is often misunderstood that creating a website is a complicated tasks, that you need a specialist or a graphic designer to do it, it takes a ton of time and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s expensive. Once upon item, that was the case but not anymore. Now there is WordPress. WordPress is a free content management system. It comes with thousands of templates you can chose from and you can easily and effortlessly setup a website for your business. Simply follow the instructions and you will have a website within minutes! Try WordPress.
2. InTouch CRM Customer Relationship Management is a must for any business wishing to stay ahead in the game. The focus of each and every business is to thrive through building long-lasting relationships with customers and a well implemented CRM system will help you do exactly that. Being so popular however, CRM is quite often a luxury. With some providers charging as much as $2000 just to set up your account, InTouch comes as a breath of well-needed fresh air. InTouch gives you much functionality at a comparatively lower price than other providers and it even has a free package! Some of the features include a contact history database, email marketing, web forms, custom fields, leads and sales management and much more. InTouch truly is an integral part of the smart business personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strategy. Try InTouch.
3. Skype Keeping in touch with people, be it customers, suppliers, investors and employees will in time prove to be rather costly. Skype allows you to stay connected, grow your business and work smarter. You will benefit from the opportunity to make conference calls and generally keeping in touch with people and clients. You can even interview people using Skype! Skype allows for instant messaging and calls on pretty much any mobile device, wherever you are. In addition, you will be able to work from anywhere, save on travel and share your screen. Try Skype.
4. HootSuite Social media is a huge part of the business marketing strategy but sometimes juggling between the different platforms could be overwhelming. To make their business and social media life a lot easier, here is HootSuite. It is a free social media management tool that allows you to manage all your social networking accounts (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) at once. HootSuite helps you drive more leads, measure the impact of your campaigns and schedule messages to be post automatically. Try HootSuite.
5. DROPBOX Smart businessmen know that it’s paramount to store important files and data in different places to ensure that they’ll always have a copy, no matter what disaster they encounter. Right now, it is not enough to have files stored on your website and USB. You need other backup storage, and that is where Dropbox comes in. Dropbox offers a secure way to store your. If any other members of your team have a Dropbox account, you can actually share access to the files. With a basic Dropbox account you get up to 2GB of free cloud storage. It offers native support for Linux and Blackberry, as well as Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android. Try Dropbox. Whether you are just starting your business, or you would like to budget, these 5 online tools will help you stay more organized, productive and professional at no cost. So go ahead and give them a try!
About the Author Didi Zheleva is a Content and Digital Marketing Executive at InTouch CRM - a web based sales and marketing software provider. She’s committed to helping small businesses grow and passionate about all things digital. Good marketing doesn’t need to be too costly or too complicated! Facebook: facebook.com/intouchcrm Twitter: twitter.com/intouchcrm LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/intouchcrm Google+: plus.google.com/+Intouchcrmplus/posts
Fear - The Entrepreneur’s New Fuel By Tabitha Jean Naylor Fear...it’s something that young entrepreneurs hear plenty about. They tell you fear isn’t real, that it’s something that people create in their minds. That it shouldn’t effect you because you, yourself, made it up. But how often has this mindset actually helped you start a small business or jumpstart your entrepreneurship development?
Dealing with fear, realizing that it’s going to be a part of the journey, is the only way that you’re going to become a successful entrepreneur. You can scour the web and read every book imaginable on how to deal with your fears but until you realize that fear is going to be a part of the process you are going to struggle.
I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that it hasn’t. You’ve looked up and down the internet, read books, listened to speakers, heard all about other peoples’ entrepreneur success stories. The fear, however, still persists. It’s still there, slowly eating away at your morale.
It’s all about making a decision that your comfort zone is not a place that you want to be. Understanding that fear is going to be there every step of the way and falling in love with the feeling of your stomach tightening every time you make the decision to face those fears. That’s what is going to help you develop into the type of business entrepreneur you want to become.
The bottom line is that fear is real. It’s very real. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t feel it.
People that work for other people are helping THOSE people achieve THEIR dreams. Whether
they are a sales executive making six figures or working in a cubicle for 50k a year, they are spending their time helping other people achieve their dreams. There is an old quote that says that 99% of people in the world can work for a company once it’s been created, but only 1% of the population can actually create those things or places that the 99% work at. Understand that you, already, are a part of that 1%. When you’ve made that decision to make the jump to starting a business, you’ve done something that only 1% of the population has the ability to do. So whatever you’re getting into right now - whether that be developing new business ideas, signing on with a new marketing partner or maybe still thinking about making the jump to opening a small business - realize that fear is going to be a part of the process. Realize that uncertainty, butterflies, and a tightened stomach are going to be with you every step of the way. But also realize that beautiful things will begin to happen when you start to accept that uncertainty and move forward anyhow. Realize that your potential lies right beyond that comfort zone. Entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing. It’s also an incredibly difficult thing. You’ve already made a decision that only 1% of the population has the ability to make. Now make the decision to put yourself at the top of that 1%. A wise person once said, ‘By leaving behind your old self & taking a leap of faith into the unknown, you find out what you are truly capable of becoming.’ Face your fears, step out of that comfort zone, use that fear to fuel you and don’t ever look back again.
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Even Small Businesses Can Have
Remote Employees By Richard Weinberger, PhD, CPA
Key enablers for managing remote employees are:
The biggest challenge that any business faces with remote employees is accountability and commitment.
e are living in an age where state of the art technology and the Internet have made the world increasingly smaller, so it is easier and cost effective to have remote employees. With the high cost of owning or leasing “real estate” to provide employees a place to work, companies of all sizes are realizing the cost benefit of having remote employees in addition to increased productivity that results from positive employee attitudes. Employees, likewise, find numerous benefits – no commute, flexible hours, and the feeling of job independence. The biggest challenge that any business faces with remote employees is accountability and commitment. When systems and processes are in place, however, remote employees can be managed with efficiency, which produces quality results for the company and highly satisfied employees.
Key enablers for managing remote employees are:
Roles of company and employee – Managing remote employees requires detailing what each is expected to contribute, and what the employee is expected to accomplish. Specific objectives must be clearly defined and communicated to achieve satisfaction for both parties. What will the company furnish in the way of support and equipment? What will the remote employee be expected to produce and when? Ambiguous goals result in hitor-miss performance.
Tools and support – A remote employee must have the right tools (equipment) to perform
Schedules – Schedules for project milestones, completions, reports, and available hours (telephone, instant messaging, or email) are required of the remote employee. Though work flexibility is an advantage for a remote employee, specific work and schedule objectives must be adhered to. Depending on the location of the employee, headquarters, and customers, a remote employee may be required to keep a non-traditional work schedule at times. Working across various time zones might be inconvenient for a remote employee but necessary to accomplish desired results.
Flexibility – Offering remote employees a flexible workplace and schedule are beneficial for recruiting, employee satisfaction, and motivation. Although the concept for employees is the convenience of working from home or another remote location, results must still equal or exceed what would be expected of the same employee working from a company location. As companies understand that final results are more important than the physical presence or hourly work schedules of employees, then the option of having remote employees becomes a possibility. In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (2012 National Study of Employers) the following facts emerged:
the job function and the necessary support to complete assigned projects. The right “tools” might be computers, printers, phones, Internet, technical manuals, company catalogs, office supplies, and other essentials needed to properly perform various assignments. This will also include support from the company in the way of contact personnel, IT assistance, marketing, databases, or travel arrangements, as examples.
• The percentage of companies allowing (at least some) employees to work some of their regular paid hours at home on an occasional basis increased from 34 percent in 2005 to 63 percent in 2012. • For 2012, 10 percent of small organizations (50-99 employees) allowed all or most employees to work some regular paid hours at home occasionally compared to 3 percent of
large organizations (1,000 or more employees) allowing the same.
Objectives and goals – One of the most important elements that must be shared with remote employees are organizational objectives and goals. Every business has different goals, visions, and missions that must be communicated to and understood by all employees regardless of location. Everyone must be “on board.” Since remote employees do not see daily reminders, the company must clearly articulate these through clear, concise, and frequent communications. Delivering results is the end product for any remote employee, but can only be accomplished with a thorough understanding of both company and personal objectives. Depending on the type of business, a small company might have remote employees performing: • • • • • • • • •
Sales Administrative functions Payroll Customer service Technical assistance IT programming Marketing Recruiting Accounting
Having remote employees is certainly not for every business. Nevertheless, there are many businesses that can realize substantial benefits from having some functions performed remotely either some of the time or most of the time. If a small business has never tried using remote employees for some business tasks, it can test the possibility by first determining what functions would be the easiest and least costly to implement. A review can be made of:
• • • • • •
Each employee and majors functions performed Additional costs required for remote equipment and communication Any cost savings attributable to not having an employee on company location Need for remote employee supervision How remote employee results will be calculated Overall benefits for the company, as well as the remote employee
Once a determination is made that it is in the best interests of the company and employee, a test can be conducted for a pre-determined period. Of course, the employee must understand that the test period may or may not become permanent based on a review after the test period is completed. Considering all the different ways of effective communication today, remote employees for at least some functions are a possibility for all businesses – even small ones.
About the Author Richard L. Weinberger, PhD, CPA, has over 30 years experience as a financial and management consultant for small businesses. An esteemed thought leader, speaker, and former college professor, he is the CEO of the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants. His new book, Propel Your Small Business to Success: Accelerated Actions to Maximize Profit, (www.aampapproach.com) gives small business owners a step-by-step method for reviewing and analyzing all aspects of their company in order to ensure survival and success.
Who Advises the Entrepreneur? By Kerrie MacPherson
if you’re thinking of setting up an advisory board, be very clear on what it is, and what it’s not. It’s not a formal board of directors, which has well-defined duties including a fiduciary one.
If you’re leading a startup business with potential for high growth, one of the most valuable things you should do early on is to set up an advisory board. Scaling an enterprise is hard work, and you only stand to benefit from drawing on perspectives, experience, and networks that augment your own. A group of advisors committed to your success not only provides a sounding board to test and strengthen your ideas, it gives you access to important competencies and resources. But many entrepreneurs, especially those in the early stages, find the task of building an advisory board daunting. Whose strengths would complement their own and counter their weaknesses? Who might bring an insight to the table that would otherwise be missed? It can feel like an exercise in knowing what you don’t know. Moreover, most people who have not formalized such a board before haven’t given much thought to what it takes to keep one running effectively.
This is why, in the Entrepreneurial Winning Womenâ&#x201E;˘ program I oversee at EY, we make this an early part of our teaching. The program is our effort to help women entrepreneurs in particular take their small businesses to the next level. We identify promising startups and provide the women behind them with customized executive leadership training and the opportunity to join an elite network.
The advice we offer and the discussions that take place among our entrepreneurs center on five key tips:
Look outside your existing network of contacts. As you sit
down to think about whom to invite onto your advisory board, remember first that this should not be a group of your friends and fans. You’re looking to drive new business opportunities and new ways of thinking with diverse experience, expertise, viewpoints, and skill sets. Work to find people outside your inner circle who have built successful businesses and can pass that knowledge on to you. Think about who would be a constructively critical audience, and who can provide access to other valuable contacts, from potential customers, suppliers, and strategic partners to financiers, publicists, and other professional service vendors.
Recruit a well-known community member or industry influencer as your first board member. There is a reason that film producers begin their projects by lining up the most bankable talent they can. Their involvement helps to attract others who want to work with them, or who simply see a star’s
commitment as reassurance the project will take off. In the same way, entrepreneurs should work first to recruit the people who will attract others, and give an advisory board strong credibility from the start.
Invest the time in developing relationships with your board members. Since most are not
compensated, their reward is the satisfaction of sharing their knowledge and experience and helping you succeed. So make them feel appreciated! (Meanwhile, if a prospective board member does insist on being compensated, determine how uniquely valuable he or she is. If there’s a possibility of a long-term business relationship, you might want to offer that person some kind of remuneration.)
Establish goals and expectations for the board up front, including how often it meets and where.
Usually, in-person meetings once every three to six months will suffice, but you may want to reserve the right to consult with individual members on an ad hoc basis if a particular issue comes up. When the board does meet, make sure there is an agenda with specific goals. Your board members are busy professionals, so don’t waste their time. Perform a yearly assessment of how the board is working. If you can afford it, invite them to an offsite at a comfortable locale at your expense to have them discuss the board’s progress.
Have a framework for transitioning out board members. As a high-growth entrepreneur,
your business will evolve, and you will likely need advisors that bring different skills to the table at different phases of growth. Most will not have the time to serve on your board for more than two or three years, anyway. And
others may not be as helpful as you had hoped. So, make it clear up front that they serve as needed and spell out term limits. Finally, if you’re thinking of setting up an advisory board, be very clear on what it is, and what it’s not. It’s not a formal board of directors, which has welldefined duties including a fiduciary one. An advisory board holds no legal or financial responsibility for the decisions you make. Instead, it is a group of volunteers with knowledge and skills that you, the business owner, lack, and whose purpose is to help you make your company a success. It is there to assist you, challenge you, guide you, and open your eyes to new opportunities.
For a high-growth business, it is difficult to overstate the importance of that kind of support. Advisory boards allow entrepreneurs to leverage others’ specialized knowledge while honing skills and talents of their own. Reaching new markets, accessing new forms of funding, adopting new technology, and garnering information to manage risk are all necessary to scaling a sustainable entrepreneurial venture. A strong advisory board is one of the fundamental building blocks that will allow you to take your business to scale.
About the Author Kerrie MacPherson is a principal at Ernst & Young LLP and executive sponsor of its Entrepreneurial Winning Women program. She has served on EY’s Gender Equity Task Force, is an active leader in its Professional Women’s Network, and is the Diversity and Inclusiveness Champion in the Financial Services Office Advisory Practice. * This article originally appeared here.
Brain exercise is more than a new age concept, there is proven science behind the idea that, just like the muscles in your body, you can train your mind to perform at a higher level by engaging in the right exercises.
What Small Business Owners Should Know About Brain Health By Andrew Greissman You’ve heard the advice about how to create a viral video, and you’ve read all the tips on how to create SEO keywords, but what have you done for your brain lately? That’s right, in order to stay on top of your small business, you need to be thinking sharp and clear and the best way to make sure that all pistons are firing is to exercise your brain. Brain exercise is more than a new age concept, there is proven science behind the idea that, just like the muscles in your body, you can train your mind to perform at a higher level by engaging in the right exercises. According to the AARP brain health center, the five pillars of brain health are as follows:
Physical exercise: Breaking a
physical sweat, besides being good for your body at large, is also good for your brain health and can keep you thinking sharper. The reason? When you engage in physical exercise, you are strengthening the flow of blood through your body. Since the blood is the carrier of oxygen through your body, the more you get your blood flowing, the more you deliver this critical resource to the true powerhouse of your body; your brain. Alz.
org, the Alzheimer’s prevention website, also cites physical activity as a way to encourage the growth of new brain cells.
Training your brain through exercises such as puzzles and games, reading, and even gardening, can have many long term beneficial effects. Just like any other muscle, your mind has connections that, when strengthened, allow more performance. This is particularly important for
Staying social: Having friends and engaging with others keeps your brain young as well. Social involvement challenges you to keep thinking, and interpreting the signals that others are sending you. this
small business owners, as a mind functioning on a higher level means that you are more likely to stay on top of the myriad tasks during your day, from making sure orders go through, to obtaining financing for your expansion projects.
Diet: Diet has been found to make a difference in the health of a person’s brain. In particular, certain foods have developed a reputation as being “brain foods”, packed with essential vitamins and compounds that enhance the creation of brain cell development and
enhance memory. Fish is a widely touted protector of mental faculties, containing Omega-3 fatty acids, while fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants are also good for preventing your cells from aging. Foods that promote heart health are, as a rule, also good for increasing oxygen flow to your brain.
is a way to keep your brain stimulated and active without having to over think the exercise. People are naturally social; keeping this part of your life active and engaging will help you retain the highest function that you can.
Keeping a firm handle on the stress levels you are experiencing will also help protect the clarity of your thought. While it can
be difficult to avoid stress, in particular as a busy small business owner, there are things that you can do to help you manage the inevitable problems that will arise during the day to day. One of the best ways to manage your stress is to take a break from time to time. By allowing yourself even half an hour away from the chaos of your business week, you can retain a fresh perspective on all that needs to be done and keep yourself in top mental form. Running a small business is difficult to be sure. In the end, your greatest ally will always be your own brain, so treat it well. Plan your business’s growth and expansion, and remember, when it comes time to access capital, you have options.
About the Author Andrew Greissman works at Horizon Business Funding, LLC, which specializes in providing a wide range of small businesses with expedited working capital solutions. Unlike banks, we are able to work with damaged credit and high risk industries, filling in the gaps in the lending market with easy to access bad credit business loan alternatives.
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