DAY 1 - Raymond Rahbar
Welcome to 31 Days of Blogging! There is no better time than right now to bear down and dedicate yourself to your goals – both personal and professional. As a coworking space, UberOffices plays a big part in the day-to-day life of its members and encourages each and every company to reach its potential. Businesses operating out of UberOffices have access to mentors, pitch rooms, an endless supply of caffeinated beverages, and industry networking events. The perks of growing a business in a diverse coworking environment are numerous and undeniable. The success of UberOffices’ members proves that these benefits help drive innovation. Companies operating out of UberOffices raised millions of dollars in 2013, and more promising startups and young businesses join weekly. The numbers speak for themselves – UberOffices is the place to be. So, follow along reading one chapter per day from entrepreneurs, UberOffices members, founders, and managers alike. Use the hashtag #BetterBiz2014 on Twitter to share anything that stands out to you. For Day #1, write down two goals for your business that you can achieve by the end of these 31 days.
DAY 2 - Brian Patterson
The OHIO Rule – Only Handle It Once Email stresses me out. I’m an inbox zero kind
I started with the old standards – unsubscribing
of guy, so when I receive a new email, every
from useless mailing lists, setting up filters
ounce of me is compelled to act on it. While
for certain recurring emails, and disabling
this was a-okay when I received a smaller
social media notifications.
amount of daily email, a constant increase
helped, the one that really made a difference
in daily email has pushed me to implement
for email management (and my sanity) was
guidelines for myself so that I don’t lose control
over my precious inbox.
The OHIO Rule is simple – when you open an email, you handle it right then and there with one of the following ‘Ds’:
Do it – Do whatever it is in the email that needs to be done
Delegate it – Forward it on for someone else to do
Delete it – Get rid of it
image via Flickr/OzinOH
This eliminates that brain-drain that occurs
This has also helped me to not bury my face in
when you read an email and just say to
my phone at every waking moment. Because
yourself, “I’ll get to that later”. For me, that
of the rule, it means that I’m only going to look
always meant that it occupied some of my
at an email on my phone if I’m prepared to
mental cycles until I finally dealt with it. It also
act upon it. I’m not big on doing a lot of work
meant I had ‘email bloat’ – stuff I was aware of
on my phone, so I just don’t read email on my
but didn’t want deal with yet. OHIO meant I
phone as much. This is a big win in the ‘be
dealt with it.
more social’ department!
80/20 It I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always
of the time, I promise email will stress you out
OHIO. Sometimes you simply have to leave
a lot less.
an email in your inbox, or you need to check a new email on your phone even though you
Email still stresses me out, but a lot less than
know you won’t be able to act on it. But, if you
it did before.
simply do the 80/20 rule and use OHIO 80%
DAY 3 - Bill Slawski
Small Changes, Big Rewards Let’s start with a story… A few years ago, I was visiting a friend at his
about the different folding machines, and
office, and he tossed me a business supply
said, “Good idea.” He placed his order shortly
catalog and asked me if I had any ideas about
afterwards. I didn’t think about it for a few
what he should order for his business. I didn’t
weeks, and then he told me that he had
have a clue, but I leafed through the pages past
received his folder, and that it paid for itself
printers and desks and networking equipment,
within a couple of hours, and that the time it
and stopped on a page about electric letter
was saving him folding client invoices would
folders. I thought quickly about how useful
help him focus on more important ways to
the electric stapler I had was (I received a lot
grow his business.
of work-related mail at the time, and attaching the envelopes to those letters was a good way to make sure that the return address was easily findable.)
What small changes are you going to make to your business this year that can help you focus more upon actu-
I jokingly suggested one of the electric folders,
ally doing business, or can help your
and laughed as I did so. Except, he took me
clients? Solutions are out there.
seriously. He took the book back, and read 4
Small Changes As timing would have it, the beginning of a new
case for it and repeated my friendâ€™s positive
budget was about to start in my office, and
experience), and when we received our electric
we were asked if there was anything that we
folder, my team looked at it suspiciously. I
wanted on a â€œwishlistâ€? of new purchases for our
had six people who were spending around 45
office, and were given an office supply book to
minutes to an hour a day folding subpoenas
help inspire our choices. I thought about what
and summonses and letters to people on a
might be helpful, and then about how many
daily basis, and stuffing them into envelopes
documents the people I supervised mailed
with windows in them to show addresses. The
out daily, and quickly turned to the section on
electronic letter folder shortened the task to
electric paper folders and made a choice.
around 10 minutes daily for each of them. The time savings were substantial, and the cost
It was approved (after I made a quick business
was slightly more than $100.
Big Rewards A co-worker was tasked with sending out
into the envelopes. A task that used to take
notices to contract attorneys at the end
her around a week was condensed into less
of each year, printing out labels for their
than a day, and the notices were much more
addresses and affixing those to envelopes,
and mailing them. There were around 500 of them, and the addresses were in a plain
Small changes can have big rewards. Not every
text database. The program used to print
problem can be solved with something as
labels was dated and almost obsolete, and
simple as an electronic letter folder, but many
I was asked if I could help. The notice was a
solutions start with understanding the tasks
copied version of a copied version of a copied
that you or your employees or your customers
version, and looked like it had seen a few too
perform, and the pain points involved with
many copy machines. I suggested just using
those, and solutions that help make those
mail merge into a fresh new Word document,
better. What small changes are you going to
and envelopes with windows for addresses. I
make to your business this year that can help
made a new template, ran a mail merge with
you focus more upon actually doing business,
the address database, and printed out 500
or can help your clients? Solutions are out
personalized notices. She used the electronic
letter folder to fold them, and stuffed them 1
Quote of the Day Some good advice to take to heart right now… As we learned in yesterday’s story from Bill, even small changes can lead to substantial rewards. Take a chance. Make a change. It’s time.
DAY 5 - Brian Patterson
3 Google+ Communities to Get Active in Today We’ve been guiding all of our clients towards
The reason for us promoting G+ in this way
building up a strong and active presence on
is simple – Google WILL eventually use the
Google+. It’s not necessarily because we think
social signals they get from Google+ as ranking
it is the new Facebook, nor because we think it
factors in the search engines. Put simply:
is particularly cool. It isn’t (yet).
How your website ranks in Google’s search result will be impacted, positively or negatively, by your activity on Google+. If you are an expert, they have reason to
Google+), and it is my belief that eventually
believe that you should rank better – and
this will affect every search done on Google.
thus, you will rank better. This re-ranking is
So, what can you do to get out ahead of this?
already happening today for some users (who are logged in and connected to others on
Make It a Goal to Be Active on Google+ Every Day I know, easier said than done. But look at it
on LinkedIn. They are likeminded people who
this way… the people who jumped on Twitter
come together to discuss topics, share links,
early had a great advantage in getting tons
and network. All you need to do is search
of followers and developing influence before
communities on Google+ and click ‘join’ on
their competitors had a chance. This is your
those you are interested.
time to beat the gold rush and be a first mover
posts from other people and write smart,
on an up-and-coming social network.
thoughtful comments and simply engage
Once there, find
people. Before you ever post any content, The best way I’ve found to be active on Google+
just get a feel for things by watching and
is to join and participate in communities.
commenting for a week or two.
Communities on Google+ are just like groups 3
Communities to Join To get you jump started, here are 3 great, active communities that you can join today and start posting/commenting on.
Entrepreneurs, Self-Employed, and Small Business – Almost anything goes in this community as long as it is related to topics that are of interest to small businesses. This means marketing, employees, administration, and lots of other fun stuff. At over 41,000 members, you are sure to find something on here for you.
Strategic Social Networking – This is an active community that covers everything related to social media. There are tons of great tips and best practices from this 39,000-member community to ensure that you get the most out of your social campaigns.
Building a Company – Interested in growth hacking or lean startups? Want to know how to build and grow to the next level? That is the topic of conversation in this group, and over 50,000 members are there for you to engage and communicate with.
Bonus – Search for your industry buzzwords and join all of the relevant communities you find. This is a great place to connect with colleagues, influencers, and potential customers.
Google+ is unlike any other social platform in that it is owned by the major source of traffic for most small businesses, Google. All of our clients want better rankings in Google’s search results,
I know, easier said than done. But look at it this way… the people who jumped on Twitter early had a great advantage in getting tons of followers and developing influence before their competitors had a chance.
DAY 6 - Kat Haselkorn
Don’t Scoff at Social Media When it Comes to Marketing Your Business You’ve heard it before, but I’ll tell you again:
in Google rankings, improve customer service
Social media can be one of the best marketing
interactions, and push out engaging ad
strategies around. Especially when it comes
campaigns at low or no cost.
to small business, social allows you to reach your customers and stay in touch consistently.
Here are five tips for doing it right and ways
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest,
to avoid outdated, ineffective social media
and Youtube can help promote the business
Figure out where your audience is. This is the first step for every successful
the online space and only emulate the tactics
content marketing program. Are your clients
that increased their followings or generated
a high amount of customer satisfaction.
Instagram? LinkedIn? Figure out what your
Programs like Social Crawlytics can help you
key demographic is and go after it hard. Be
see what has worked for your competitors
innovative. Do research and figure out what
and then you can adopt those strategies for
brought the competition the most success in
yourself where applicable.
Post regularly. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in a big
pictures of what goes on “behind-the-scenes”
promotional campaign and then totally drop
in your office, or industry-specific inspirational
the ball once it’s over. Effective social media
quotes. These are easy to find, and typically
marketing is regular and reliable. You want to
well-received on social media.
continually post useful, informative, enjoyable content to keep your followers interested. Some of the best and most engaging posts and
Take up space. There is a lot of content out there. To make
most often on social sites. Create a hashtag.
your voice heard, do what you can to take up
Start using it on twitter and include it in cover
space and promote high quality content. Work
photos and promotional materials. The point
with a designer to create several professional
is to gain brand recognition and familiarity
cover photos, background images, and logos
with the business across each social network.
for each social site you plan to use. Post images
Have a presence in your field.
often. These tend to do well and are shared
Promote social IRL. Encourage your real life customers to also follow on social media. Offer deals and discounts to existing customers only and make it clear that you appreciate their continued business and online support. When customers see the people behind the social sites, they’re more likely to follow and check in from time to time.
Don’t outsource (unless you absolutely have to). Social media is great because anyone can do
hire an intern specifically for the role of social
it. If you’re a small business owner and you
media manager. Get expert advice or bring in
hire an expensive firm to be the voice of your
an industry consultant to explain the do’s and
company online, you’re likely not portraying
don’ts of using social to promote services and
your company the best that you can. To truly
you’ll maximize the value of this marketing
better your business, you need to find someone
within the company to lead the conversation in the online space. Current employees know
Don’t let social media marketing get pushed
the most about the business and they can
to the side simply because you haven’t seen
accurately and effectively convey the key
instant success. It’s truly one of the easiest,
messages. That doesn’t mean you should dive
least expensive ways to get eyes on your
into social media before you’re prepared or
offerings and raise overall brand awareness.
Start slow, be consistent, and be natural. Lots of humor and plenty of photos go a long way. Good luck! 6
DAY 7 - Dan Hinckley
3 Ways to Leverage Technology to Improve Business Over the last year we were introduced to new
Keeping up with top technology firms is
ideas and technologies that will change the way
unattainable for most of us. However, we can
we interact with the world. Computers were
take advantage of new products and services
added to eyewear (Google Glass), and Robots
to improve business right now. Three quick
started delivering products (Amazon). The next
things we can do include accurately tracking
five years will be filled with new technologies
progress, making work easier and accessible,
and concepts that will change the way we live
and providing our products and services to
and do business.
individuals on the go.
Accurately Track Progress Businesses of all sizes need to collect data that
Every marketing campaign in 2014 should be
will allow them to measure success and failure.
tracked for its effectiveness. Wasting money
Gone are the days of spending marketing
on campaigns that do not improve your
budgets with no sense of the Return on
business should be a thing of the past.
Investment (ROI). Tools like Google Analytics and CallFire make it easy to track the way marketing is impacting business.
Make Work Accessible Cloud based services are becoming the norm
cloud based services. Microsoft, Google, and
and employees will now expect to be able to
Apple all offer cloud based access and support
access their work information from anywhere,
for their office suites. Data storage is available
at any time, and on any device they may
for corporations through services such as
have access to. Web interfaces, desktop
Dropbox or Google Drive. Even accounting
applications, and mobile apps allow users
solutions are available through companies like
to quickly get to information that they need
when they need it. A business will quickly thrive once it is possible If you have not done so already, make the
to easily access important information on any
investment to move your software packages to
device and any platform.
Be Mobile Ready A recent report estimated that 7.3 billion
If your business can offer a mobile app that
mobile devices will be in use in 2014. That’s
would improve a product or service that you
more than the entire population of the world.
offer then take the opportunity to create that app.
If your website isn’t mobile friendly, then you’re already far behind the times. If you
Through accurately tracking data, making that
haven’t yet, check your web analytics data to
data accessible, and simplifying employee and
see how the number of mobile visitors to your
customer interaction with your business while
website is growing. Updating your website to
on the go, you can improve your business and
be mobile friendly can help you increase sales
and improve the user experience for current customers.
DAY 8 - David Alison
3 Ways to Leverage Technology to Improve Business Regardless of the type of business you have, I think itâ€™s really important to understand in a reproducible way how to sell your product or service. This becomes critical if you have any desire to grow your company by adding sales staff, large numbers of customers, or different channels. I look at the sales process as an old fashioned flow chart: at one end is a raw lead and at the other is either a paying customer or someone that you may get to become a customer in the future. In between are the various decision points and attributes that must be collected in order to move that lead into the next stage. By breaking down the sales process into stages you can begin to understand what it will take to move prospects through those stages. What is preventing them from moving forward? How many prospects can you expect to see go from one stage to the next? This is where the ability to capture the data in a consistent way becomes critical. If you are regularly capturing what happens to your leads at each stage of sales process you can begin to see trends and start really forecasting your sales efforts. You can see which of your sales activities is paying off and which doesnâ€™t have the impact you think it should. This is where having a decent CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) application is a great investment. There are a huge number of tools on the market for this but Iâ€™m particularly fond of HighRise from 37signals. If you own a small business that depends on more than a handful of customers coming in the door every month you owe it to yourself to set up a well documented and managed sales process. There are lots of books and articles on how to do this but my view is very basic and can be distilled down to four pointers:
Keep it simple! You know your business – break down why you are successful selling your product or service today, create some metrics so you can measure it and then experiment. Each of your steps in the sales process should have a measurable outcome that can be recorded.
Document it! You need to put pen to paper (or bits to disk) and keep track of your sales process. It’s a living document that should always be current and becomes the fundamental guide for your sales people as your company grows.
Track your metrics! It’s hard to know what to do next if you don’t have a stable base to draw from. Compile data regularly and consistently on your sales. Over time you will begin to see trends that may have not been obvious. At a minimum the data will present you with confirmation about your gut feel on why you are successful or not selling.
Be patient! If you want to improve, you need to see the impact your changes are causing. Don’t jump to conclusions because a change you made isn’t having the immediate impact you think it should be having. Continue to monitor your metrics and adjust things at a reasonable pace. This may feel like it runs counter to popular thinking that decisions should be made based on gut instinct and in the blink of an eye. I have always tried to keep everything as simple as possible and the advice I’m providing is about as simple as it gets. If you’re not using a well defined sales process now, at a minimum following the steps I have outlined above will give you a great start in getting it under control. 10
DAY 9 - Mike Moriarty
5 Sales Strategies for Startups Without Leads I prop my laptop up to a comfortable level using the book: The Ultimate Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide. On the first page it lists three basic principles for surviving life or death scenarios such as angry jungle animals, sword fights, and volcano eruptions. The principles are:
Be Prepared | Don’t Panic | Have a Plan For startups, having absolutely zero leads is a worst-case scenario for hitting your sales goals. Here are my five basic principles to help you survive and even thrive, despite an empty lead list.
1) Family and Friends Many people are hesitant to ask family/
ask if they know anyone who could use your
friends/classmates for referrals. Get over it!
service. If they give you a recommendation,
You provide a valuable service or product that
you’ve now got lead. Treat it like gold and you’ll
will help people and/or businesses. People will
get more from them.
appreciate it if you solve a problem for them. So shoot your friends and contacts a quick note,
As my father always reminds me “It never
letting them know about your company and
hurts to ask”.
2) LinkedIn Investing in a Premium/Business Account
professional…and short. I’ve received positive
is worth it, especially if you are going after
emails back from decision makers who would
difficult-to-reach decision makers for your
have been impossible to track down by phone.
sale. A Premium Account allows you to send a certain number of direct messages
For example, we noticed Qantas Airlines
to individuals even if you’re not currently
didn’t rank in Google when someone searched
connected to them. Keep your message short,
‘flights to Australia’. I sent a direct LinkedIn 11
message to the VP of Marketing titled ‘Your website does not rank for ‘Flights to Australia’. We were in their London corporate office the next week.
3) Conferences and Trade Shows I’m not talking about setting up a booth, I’m
day getting pitched to, so just be upfront with
talking about turning off your computer,
the sales people. They will appreciate it and
shaving your face, and going to a conference
you can become genuine friends. They may
your future customers are attending. Check
even have start-ups on the side! Ask them
out the calendars of a few of your closest
who the decision maker is, write down their
convention centers. Many times the general
name and see if they are at the conference or
trade show exhibit sections are free or greatly
left any business cards behind. You can also
discounted. (If you happen to put on a suit,
ask who they use currently for the service you
throw on a couple of old conference badges,
offer, if they are happy with it, and how best
and walk into an event with confidence, I hear
to get in touch with the decision maker. Now,
many times they are even free….)
when you call the company next week you have a name to ask for, and a background story
75% of the people at these exhibits are going
from the industry conference.
to be sales people. You can’t waste your entire
4) Chamber of Commerce or Networking Group Every county has a Chamber of Commerce, and the reason they are popular is because they work. My advice is to have fun with it. These are local companies, people in your community, neighbors, and friends. Go in trying to help THEM. If you take that approach, time will fly by, you’ll make friends, and after a short time, get leads and business. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI Group.
5) Cold Calling Cold calling does work if you do it correctly. Here’s how: Have a business reason for calling them! Check out their website, blog, Social Media pages, press releases and you’ll learn more then you ever wanted to know. I’d recommend cold calling companies within an industry where you currently have a happy client who is willing to be used in a case study, if possible. Not only will you have the facts from the case study to mention but you’ll also be familiar with the industry vocabulary. Examples: New product, new store opening, new hire, recent funding, recent business win, big new competitor….you get it. Cold call similar companies, make it part of a 20 company ‘campaign’. This makes it easier to track your results. 80% of sales do NOT close, so study how to disqualify prospects quickly and what characteristics make up your best prospects. Hope these tips help you plan out your roadmap. With some determination and a positive outlook, getting leads for your business is easier than it seems. See you at the top!
DAY 10 - Bill Slawski
Find a Voice for Your Business I wrote my first blog post on September 10th,
But we just didn’t know how to respond to
2001. I didn’t write another post until at least
a crisis that impacted so many, and was
4 months later. It was a blog for a friend’s solo
completely outside of our original plans. We
law practice in the State of Delaware, and we
lost our voice before we managed to get more
had discussed many times the kind of things
than a few words out – sometimes things
that we would be writing about. But we hadn’t
happen that you just don’t anticipate. I wanted
anticipated the events of September 11th, and
to write about what had happened when the
I just didn’t have the words.
World Trade Center was attacked, but I didn’t know what to say that could help others.
We had a strong plan for the kind of content that we would be creating, and it was focused
The blog would go on to be cited as one of
upon tracking and reporting upon legal issues
two examples of the use of blogging as a way
within the state, local events that visitors
to build a positive professional reputation, in a
might be interested in learning more about, the
book published a year later that was cited by
history of Delaware, and what was happening
Amazon as one of the 10 best books on digital
at the Courts and within the State legislature.
culture in 2002.
Create Your Own Soapbox Many businesses now create presences on
and ownership over it.
Facebook and Twitter and Google Plus as a way to get involved in conversations about
I’d been a moderator in a small business forum
their businesses, and to communicate with
on Yahoo Groups back in the days before
others who might be interested in similar
Yahoo acquired eGroups in the late 90s, and
topics. I think that’s a really good idea, but
after the merger, they transformed it in ways
there’s nothing quite like using a site that you
that made it slow and hard to use. We left
have more control over to hold conversations
our Yahoo Group behind to create a forum
like that. You have more control over what’s
that we hosted ourselves, and it grew into a
published, and can take more responsibility
highly visited and respected forum on web
promotion, usability and SEO related topics. You have no control over changes that might happen at Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus, and relying too much on any one of those might not be a great idea.
Build a Plan Having your own blog lets you become part of a conversation with people who may use your services or purchase the products you make, and enables you to have a voice. Sometimes you may be at a loss for words when something completely unexpected happens, but itâ€™s possible to come back even stronger when youâ€™ve created your own platform. When we decided that we would start blogging again, we stuck to our original plans for what the site would contain. It helped us create relationships with other legal bloggers, attract positive attention with people who were looking for legal help, and get involved in discussions with people whom we met through the blog.
DAY 11 - Kat Haselkorn
Taking Advantage of Technology in the Workplace can Lead to a Better Business Maybe you work in (or you’ve seen and chuckled at) an office that is completely backwards when it comes to technology. Phone numbers are scribbled on sheets of paper, which are laminated and hung around the office. Paper calendars are posted on the conference room door to schedule meetings. It doesn’t have to be like this. And, in fact, it shouldn’t be like this. If your office (or someone in your office) calls to mind the “Tech Impaired Duck” meme, it’s time to shake things up and bring your business into the 21st century.
Don’t let this be you. Between the BYOD craze and apps meant to improve work productivity, it’s clear that simple technologies are changing things for the better. Daily business needs like scheduling meetings, video conferencing, and even payment processing are easier than ever before. Consider your options and look into user-friendly software and apps to help streamline your business and maximize your time.
DAY 12 - Kat Haselkorn
A Breakdown of Ingredients in Popular Espresso-Based Drinks Caffeine is a big part of most entrepreneurs’ lives. There’s so much to do and barely enough time to do it. That occasional morning coffee turns into a three cup a day (or more!) habit. But if you’re going to caffeinate yourself, you might as well do it right. This infographic, created by the folks at popchart lab, shows us how to make delicious java-based beverages to stay alert and produce our best work. Every UberOffices is, of course, equipped with a Keurig machine to keep members happily caffeinated.
by popchartlab. Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.
DAY 13 - Sarah Haselkorn
How To Be a Young Entrepreneur When you’re young and ambitious, most people around you will try to convince you that you’re too inexperienced to run your own company or to manage other people. It’s easy to believe them because they’re right about the first part: you are young. However, in today’s world, age is just a number. It takes all types of leaders to make the business world go ’round, and your fresh perspective has every chance at success as a more seasoned businessperson. Youth may be more susceptible to other disadvantages – lack of access to capital, weak credit history, lack of credibility – but despite these, young entrepreneurs should persevere and take risks at this unique time in their lives. Starting a business is never easy, no matter how much experience you have or how old you are. Despite being young, entrepreneurs should seize the opportunity to start a business. Ask yourself this: would you rather be pulling all-nighters working on your startup when you have a newborn baby or when you’re free of major responsibilities? Would you rather take a financial risk when the only mouth to feed is your own or when you have a family to support? Right now you’re energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, and lively. I’m not saying these qualities disappear with age, but 18
they certainly take more effort to maintain over time. If being an entrepreneur is your dream, do it, and do it now. You only live once (#YOLO!). When you become a young entrepreneur, be proud, not embarrassed, of your age. For every negative onlooker who doesn’t believe a 19-year-old could possibly be the founder or owner of a company, there are a dozen others who are impressed by what you have been able to accomplish at such a young age. Be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished. Recognize that you have created an opportunity for yourself – an experience in which you can learn firsthand how to succeed in business. Write down your experiences, network with friends of all ages, and enjoy every minute of being a young entrepreneur.
DAY 14 - Gerry Grealish
They Looked Up and Saw the Answer in the Clouds helping
• They have been getting by using stop-gap
companies make the move to the cloud
measures like spreadsheets, macros, generic
(adopting applications like Salesforce, Box,
office applications that are inefficient and,
SuccessFactors, Jive, etc.). We find that when
again, a hassle to use.
organizations make this move, they are invariably leaving one of these two scenarios
But the business case to move to the cloud
is strong no matter what size the company is. For example, even a small company, if it does
• They are decommissioning some in-house
a truly honest total cost of ownership (TCO)
legacy software that they have outgrown and
analysis for an application like Salesforce, will
has become a huge hassle to maintain and use;
find it to be a great investment compared to
the costs of a “Spreadsheet Sales Tracking” alternative.
The same is true for Cloud Storage options,
have specific information about the security
with their built-in collaborative capabilities, vs.
on-premise. Why? You get a ton of features/
invested in (available on their website). If
functionality with no real start-up costs
you want additional capabilities, there are
(other than an all-nighter or two learning the
specialized companies that can provide
application). All you have is a Privileged User
Password Management (PUPM) subscription
and tokenization, to help address specific
fee. And you end up with access to the same
requirements you may have (this includes
or better functionality as some of the biggest
bolting on security and encryption to a cloud
organizations in the world!
application, such as our Salesforce encryption
and tokenization products). Just a few things to remember as you look at Moving to the cloud, in most cases, can help
your business save time and money, all while • If your business operates in a regulated
improving efficiency. If your company is
considering it, there is no better time than the
Services, etc., spend time investigating the policies and certifications that the cloud service provider has in place to ensure your regulatory compliance (e.g. HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.) is maintained. • Remember that many of the large cloud services, such as Salesforce.com, have a vibrant ecosystem of applications that can be added to them to meet specific functional requirements. For example, if you want to automate bringing a prospective customer’s social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) activities into their profile, applications are available to “bolt-on” to Salesforce.com to do that. • For those concerned about data privacy and security in the cloud, most cloud providers 20
New Year to make a push into the cloud.
DAY 15 - Cat Miller
A Day in the Life of a Coworking Space Manager In the office there’s a stillness, but I know that it won’t last for long. I take 5 minutes to settle in, check my calendar, and respond to emails before the first mountain of packages arrives on my doorstep. “Good mornin’ Ms. Miller!” he says. The delivery man knows me by name. He also knows exactly what office to go to without asking – it’s the one lined with stacked boxes and an assembly line of product materials ready to ship out this week.
The Morning Routine I head to the kitchen and perform my morning kitchen duty ritual. Members wander in around me, hovering over the Keurig machine, waiting for their steaming cup of energy. We make small talk about big things – new hire decisions, potential clients, funding opportunities. But also the real stuff – how their holiday was, their kids’ sports teams, what they’re doing this weekend. Every day I learn something new and genuine and interesting about the people who work around me. I don’t work for them, but I do. The people in our space are our livelihood. Their skills, creativity, and diversity bring a rich array of flavor to our vanilla glass and concrete walls. Back out front, a new member arrives for her first day of work in the bullpen, our shared desk space. I give her the basics; a fob to have 24/7 access to the building, instructions on how to print, how to use the portal to book conference rooms, how to use the coffee machine. She settles down at a desk and my phone rings. Two more members are downstairs at the loading dock, ready to move in. I grab a cart and make my way down with the help of our elevator attendant (yep, our building’s the only one in the city that still has them – classy, right?) to greet our new members. We pile on Tupperware containers, file cabinets, and other random belongings then head back to their office. As the lights go on they look around in admiration, and I can’t help but notice the twinkle of excitement in their eyes as they take in the full experience and realization that this is their space.
Midday As I leave them to unpack, I’m greeted by one of our members who excitedly announces she’ll be hosting a lunchtime tasting for our members in the lounge that day. A few times a month her company arranges catering for DC-area businesses, but before they decide to promote a caterer they have our members test out the products and give them feedback and approval. Free food? Yes, please! What more could we ask for? Building management comes down to look over building plans for our second floor. “March will be here so soon!” I think, with visions of game rooms and spiral staircases and extra conference space dancing in my head. Excited by the conversation, I take a little aside to research artwork, signage and
You walk in and it just feels productive.
other space enhancements while I wait for a prospective member to show up for their tour. A few other people stop by my office while I wait. They ask for help with printer problems, how to book a conference room, how to connect to the Internet. Then my showing arrives. As we walk around, I point out our Banksy art and purposely stripped, exposed, unfinished concrete floors and open, exposed ceilings. I tell them about how we hand deliver mail, offer unlimited coffee, and host monthly community events for our members to get to know each other. They’re pumped about our lounge, and I have them try out the couches while they look through what super Nintendo games we have in stock. After the tour, a group who’s trying to host a meetup in our space comes through. They take pictures and look around, and we talk through their event details and publicity. When we’re done, a couple members ask what the tour was for, and we chat about ideas for how to make the event better.
Afternoon I glance at the clock and suddenly it’s late afternoon. I follow up with previous tours and new inquiries from people that want to see the space. Everyone that comes through has their own idea of what this office means to them. It’s my job to make sure that from the minute they set foot in here, I make this feel like their home away from home, a place they’re excited about coming to. Really, the space does that on its own. No other place in the city houses cyber security gurus, design experts, fashion accessory designers, international trade specialists, social innovation champions, foodie connoisseurs, and edu-revolutionaries all under one roof. You walk in and it just feels productive. That’s why I love it. Every day is exciting, and new, and different. And yeah, like any job, it has its trying days. Don’t even get me started about an internet outage, or when a mountain of dish piles up in the sink. But those inconveniences are such a small part of what we’re making happen here that it doesn’t matter. We’re growing a community, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.
DAY 16 - Stuart Karaffa
Millennials are Behind the District’s WorkLife Culture Shift A few days ago I realized I had hit my fouryear anniversary mark as a DC resident. Though it feels like only yesterday that I left the Midwest and moved into my first dirty apartment on Capitol Hill, the changes the city has undergone during my time here have been swift and tremendous.
The Millennial Growth Spurt According to data from the U.S. Census, my observations are not just another Russia House-induced hallucination. From 2000 to 2010, the millennial population in DC grew 23%, and from 2010 to 2012, the DC region saw an average annual net gain of 12,583 of
people age 25 to 34–the largest among cities in the United States. In the past 10 years,
The entertainment and housing markets aren’t
the region added 26,000 new apartments
the only areas that have responded to this
and condos. From 2001 to 2011, 709 new
influx of young go-getters. More workplaces
restaurants (a 50% increase) opened up in the
are embracing dynamic structures to meet
area. The numbers don’t lie. Young people are
millennial demands of flexibility on the job.
flocking to DC, and they’re leaving profound
For instance, the rise of co-working spaces in
change in their wake.
DC–like UberOffices–have made it possible for small businesses to rent workspace that provides a physical location without the constraints of a stuffy office culture. With small businesses such as PerformYard,
Nice Laundry, and Veenome, UberOffices is making face-to-face collaboration possible, while maintaining the level of flexibility that all the new millennials in DC crave.
2014, Year of the What? The DMV makeover isnâ€™t by any means over. Real-estate authority Urban Turf has already dubbed 2014 the Year of the Renter at New Buildings. New restaurants, bars, and tech startups continue to pop up almost every day. However, with innovative companies like UberOffices laying down a foundation for flexibility and collaboration, change in the Washington area is continuing down the right track. Companies of all sizes looking to improve their business in 2014 should consider these demographic shifts and adapt accordingly. Look out for more millennial-run tech companies, startups, and small businesses. Itâ€™s the next frontier for DC.
DAY 17 - Bill Slawski
Of Mentors, and of Listening The van pulled up in front of our house, and a delivery guy started wheeling a handtruck towards our house, loaded with the biggest box I had ever seen. It was bigger than I was, by a lot. It was a week before Christmas, and I couldn’t help but imagine that it was filled with toys. It was.
I was probably given a bigger gift earlier that
inducted into the Hall of Fame for his industry’s
summer from my father and the people
who had shipped that box, in a lesson about listening. We had moved from New Jersey
We sat inside the car, in the client’s parking lot
to Cincinnati, Ohio, a couple of years earlier,
while my father went inside. He was in there
but most of our extended family still lived in
for a while, and we were getting antsy about
Jersey. So we started taking summer vacations
finishing the drive to New Jersey. He came
where we would drive to Jersey, and visit
out smiling after a while, and as we resumed
family. This particular year, my father stopped
our trip, he told us about how he suggested
at a potential client’s factory at a halfway point
that they make their bicycle completely out
of plastic, and that they had listened. They bought machines from him to do that with.
They were interested in buying a machine my father’s company made, so that they could make bicycles with plastic tires. My dad sold industrial plastics machinery back then, and would go on to design some machines, run a few plants of his own, and eventually be
Lessons Learned A few months later, their plastic bicycle hit the market, and was an overnight success. You might have heard of the Big Wheel. The Marx Brothers sold a lot of them. The box they sent that Christmas was filled with what I’m guessing was every toy they made at their factory. They hadn’t set out to create and sell the Big Wheel, but they recognized a good idea when they heard one. It was a massive hit, and my father ended up getting one for my younger brother – I had grown just a little too big for one of my own. But, I never forgot about the value of listening to others who might have something important to offer. Around 10 years ago, I was invited to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony I mentioned above. The person who presented the award to my father was one of his biggest competitors in the industry. He told us that my father was a fierce competitor who helped the industry thrive and grow, and made a positive impact for everyone within the field. My father has been a mentor for years, leading by example. He doesn’t explicitly offer advice very often, but when he does, I listen.
DAY 18 - Kat Haselkorn
A Lesson in Agility Many
recommend startups stay lean and agile. If you grow too fast or hire under pressure, you can essentially sink the business before it has a moment to shine. A little reminder of what it means to be agile in todayâ€™s worldâ€Ś
DAY 19 - Kat Haselkorn
Need an Entrepreneurial Idea for Your Startup? Daniel O’Connell has got you covered. A rece nt story in Slate covers the new “wearable tech” trend and offers a solution for those who want to get in on the action. At this point, investors have heard it all. In fact, pitching wearables has become so absurd (contacts that measure your glucose levels! Sports bras that track your heart rate!) one guy built a Random Wearable Gadget Generator to help industrious entrepreneurs land on the idea of their dreams. The first thing I landed on?
So, yes. Not the most lucrative suggestion right off the bat, but a fun tool nonetheless. Small business owners looking for The Next Big Thing might want to check out the site. The full Slate coverage is here.
DAY 20 - Kat Haselkorn
Blog Post Ideas For the Small Business Owner When you’re a business owner, it’s hard to find time to blog regularly. And even if you do find the time, it’s difficult to come up with fresh topics to write about. Luckily – a recent post by Benjamin of Local Visibility System offers a hundred – yes that’s ONE HUNDRED – blog post ideas for small business owners. Here are the Top 10 to give you an idea of what to expect.
10 Blog Post Ideas:
Answer a recent question “mail bag” style.
Answer fan mail. (Don’t just be
Confess a weakness. Showcase a new “toy” for your business.
self-congratulatory.) Answer hate mail.
Profile an employee (new or old). Profile your typical customer - or a handful of common types. Discuss a relevant current event.
Click here, for the full list. Sure, not every post will make sense for your site, but it’s impossible to check out these topics and not get at least one idea for a great post. Enjoy!
DAY 21 - Cat Miller
4 Ways Small Companies Can Get the Most out of Their Coworking Space Coworking spaces are awesome. As the manager of UberOffices newly opened Dupont Circle office, I’m a bit biased, but it’s true! There are huge perks to working in a place where you have access to so many other motivated people and new ideas. But sometimes working in such close quarters can start to feel a little like being stuck in the car on a long family car trip. While great for productivity and collaboration, it can get a little overwhelming at times. After talking to our UberOffices members, here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your coworking experience.
Go paperless. Lugging around briefcases and file folders are the way of the past. Keep all of your documents on Google Drive, Dropbox, or another file sharing site to keep clutter in your space to a minimum. This is especially helpful if you work in an open desk area with no overnight storage.
Switch up your scene. Drab surroundings can bring you down. If you like to just stay put at your desk for 8 hours straight, kudos to you. But if you find stimulation by working in new environments, coworking spaces like UberOffices are right up your alley. In addition to your office, you can work from 7 conference rooms, 8 call rooms (soundproof with fully reclining chairs), a huge shared kitchen with bar and table seating, or a lounge with plush leather couches and cable TV’s for background noise. Who needs a corner office view when you have all that?
Meet the neighbors. You’re here to work, but don’t rule out the opportunities for networking and capacity building that being in a shared space offers. Take the opportunity to chat with that girl in the kitchen, or introduce 31
yourself to that company whose office door is always open. Most coworking spaces also have a community manager â€“ use that person to figure out who else in the space you should get to know.
Flex your schedule for productivity. If your circadian rhythm dictates that you work best from the hours of 11 PM-3 AM, take advantage of that. Most coworking spaces offer 24/7 access to their offices, so whether youâ€™re a night owl or early bird you can find the time that works best for you. When it comes to running a successful small business, it sometimes takes the perks above to keep employees happy and maximize work output. Keep these factors in mind when looking for office space and you can get the most out of your work environment.
DAY 22 - Joseph Ellington
Payment Options for Small Businesses It might sound obvious that these days, every business should accept credit cards for payment. While this is true in the majority of cases, there are some gigs that are still primarily cash-based ventures. Babysitting for example. Or individual, in-home tutoring. But, for those entrepreneurs who want to scale the business, it becomes imperative to accept plastic.
How do you know when it’s time? If you’re accepting payment, plastic better be an option. In the early stages of a company when you’re a single entrepreneur turning your idea into a reality, a simple PayPal account might be enough. As soon as you start accepting payment regularly on behalf of the business, it’s time to incorporate credit card payment solutions.
What are the options? Luckily, there are a number of low cost options for small businesses looking to modernize their business. Read on for some of the more popular choices for small business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to accept credit card payments for the first time.
PayPal At this point, most people have heard about PayPal and are comfortable using it as a service. This option is particularly convenient for ecommerce merchants. Customers can link their credit cards to a PayPal account and pay for goods and services simply by signing in to the program. It’s quick, easy, and convenient.
Square Apps like Square are often the first choice for startups – especially those in a mobile setting. The square dongle connects easily to smartphones or tablets so storeowners can accept electronic 33
payments easily. The fees are reasonable and extremely transparent, so you always know what to expect.
Merchant Account Providers Finally, there are options for those businesses that have a harder time getting approved by traditional financial institutions. Oftentimes startups or companies operating in an unconventional industry can work with merchant account providers to set up credit card processing for their business. The fees associated with transactions might be higher, but if it allows for a high risk business to accept credit cards from customers, it can mean the difference between a business being successful or failing to turn a profit. As evidenced above, there are a number of options when it comes to payment solutions for business. The above list is by no means exhaustive, but could be worth looking into if youâ€™re a young company exploring options. Today there are just no excuses for not accepting credit or debit cards as a form of payment. â€ƒ
DAY 23 - Dan Hinckley
Build A Better Business By Scaling Your Team You’ll often hear startups talk about the difficulty to scale their hardware and software as they start to gain traction, but one of the most difficult things to do in building a better business is growing your team.
Take advantage of tech With a down economy, open job positions
resumes on your own can be a daunting task.
often receive more than 200 applicants, at
Instead, use software to help you identify the
least that was the case for the New Media
best candidates to bring in for an interview.
Associate position we opened at Go Fish
We utilized HireWorx and it helped us find an
Digital in 2012. Sifting through all of those
All-Star that makes our team better.
Make it a group effort Coordinate with your current team to identify
they aren’t completely sure which position to
the type of job you need to fill and pinpoint
fill first. To combat this issue, it’s crucial to map
what type of person would fit the company
out the current pain points for your business’
make-up best. A major problem for growing
processes to see where a new employee
businesses is that they often know they need
would have the biggest impact on your team’s
help and it’s clear when it’s time to hire, but
Train your staff Since we work with the web, we purchased an
These tips and strategies can help you scale
account at Team Treehouse to help our team
your team, increase everyone’s effectiveness
learn more about the wide variety of courses
and productivity, and help you grow your
the website offers. If you offer a unique
business over time.
situation, investing in a custom elearning company will allow you to develop a platform for training each new hire that you bring onto the team.
DAY 24 - Bill Slawski
SEO Mistakes You May Not Know You’re Making If you’re working on a startup, or even if you’ve
business, but I’ve had the chance to work with
gotten past the “start” phase, you should be
a lot of startups since, and a lot of businesses
spending some time working on promoting
that are learning how to bring their businesses
your business online. It’s been a few years since
more visibility on the Web. These are some
I first worked as a site designer/developer and
things I’ve seen that people might ignore or
in-house web promoter (and then SEO, when
miss, that can hurt how they are trying to use
search engines started showing up) for a single
SEO to market their business.
Don’t Use Paid Search Traffic Numbers to Choose Organic Search Keywords Many people may tell you that it can be helpful
of those is that when search engines display
to use paid search to test and investigate the
advertisements within search results, those
value of some keywords that you might want to
ads might be targeted not only to the exact
include on your pages in an attempt to do SEO.
keywords that a searcher typed as a query, but
This isn’t a bad idea, but it has some caveats
also to what Google refers to as “broad match”
that don’t always accompany that advice. One
results. The ads might be within a category
that matches a searcher’s query, but may not
pages of their site based upon the numbers of
rely solely upon the terms chosen by you as an
visits that they received for those terms using
advertiser. That may mean that you may get a
paid search, without realizing that the amount
lot more people clicking upon your ad in search
of traffic was for broad match advertisements
results based upon those categories than just
based upon categories rather than the exact
the exact keywords that your advertisement is
match numbers. Broad match ads might send
1,000 visitors to their pages, but exact match ads would likely only deliver a fraction of
On August 28th of last year, Google replaced
that amount, and so using those numbers for
the keyword suggestion tool that they offered
SEO is going to be disappointing. The Google
with The Google Keyword Planner. The
Keyword Planner does show search volumes in
Keyword Planner now shows search volumes
exact match numbers now, and is more likely
for keywords on an “exact match” basis, but
a closer reflection of the traffic that you might
the old suggestion tool used to show “broad
see if you optimize a page well for organic
match” search volumes by default, and you
search and rank highly.
had to go through a couple of steps to change it to display “exact match” search volumes. This led to some confusion, and I’ve worked with more than one client who was trying to do keyword research and had gathered search volumes using the broad match numbers. It was a little heartbreaking telling someone that the search volume that they might expect to see for a particular keyword phrase wasn’t 500+ searches a month, but rather around 12 if the keyword suggestion tool was set to exact match instead of the default “broad match.” The exact match numbers are closer to what you might see in terms of search volume on the organic search results you might see at Google in organic results. Since the switch over to the newer Keyword Planner Tool, I’ve had some people tell me that they planned keywords that they optimized 37
Don’t Write Your Website For You and Not Your Audience Many industries use jargon that their audience
The food additive you’ve created might
members may not be aware of. Many site
use a scientific break-through reported in
owners show off the features of what they
subscription-only journals. If the audience
offer without describing the benefits of those
you’ve created your products for haven’t heard
features to their audiences in words that the
of those terms before, they might not find
audience might use to search for them, and
you, even if what you offer is exactly what
expect to see on a page offering those services
or goods. You really need to be able to get into the heads of the people who might be most
You need to spend some time learning about
interested in what you offer, and anticipate
who your audience is, and how they talk about
what words they might use to find your site.
the kind of products or services that you offer.
The app that you offer might use cutting edge
Then you need to use that language on your
technology that no one has heard of before.
Don’t Mix Audience Messages and Confuse Visitors A friend showed me a page on a site about
they both shared in common was that they
financial services recently. The company
were both offered through the same division
behind the site is a household name, but the
of the company, and so the home page for
division of the company offering the services
the site was focused upon both audiences,
decided that it would be a good idea to create
showing pictures of younger couples moving
a site where they showed off what they offered
into new homes, and pictures of older people
together, even though the services were aimed
setting up offices. It gave me a headache.
at two different audiences. The text on the page included messages One offering was personal loans, aimed at
about financing, but didn’t target either
people who may have just left their parents
audience very well. I couldn’t help but think of
homes, and were setting out on their own. The
how much stronger both messages would be
other offering was for business loans for people
if they were presented on two different sites,
who were setting up a business, and that was
instead of reflecting the organization of the
targeted at a somewhat older audience. What
Avoid Omnibus Services or Features Pages It’s not unusual to run across a page on a site
meaningful content and images. But when a
where site owners show off and describe all
page bundles all of those services or features
of the services that they offer together, rather
together, titles and descriptions and page
than having separate pages for each service.
content tends to be more generalized and it’s
Or that provide a list of features that their
much harder to optimize a page for specific
goods or service address. Separate, each of
services or features that people might be
these service offerings or features would be
easy to optimize a web page for, with unique titles and meta descriptions, and relevant and
DAY 25 - Kat Haselkorn
An “Innovative” Look at Innovation “Innovation” is a common buzzword at startups and incubators. Young companies feel like they have to be creative, groundbreaking, and “disruptive” every step of the way. Though there is some merit to this approach, and great companies have been born from such a process, sometimes sticking to more traditional procedures is what a business needs to succeed. This humorous cartoon by artist Mark Anderson touches on “innovation” as a social nuance. The illustration essentially says: If every company relies on successful businesses for innovative ideas, it’s no longer innovative; It’s just plain copying. He sums it up nicely here: Truly forging your own path and thinking outside the box sometimes means blocking out the outside noise and following your own quirky ideas. Thanks to Mark Anderson of AnderToons.com for this humorous comic. Source: Mark Anderson via www.andertoons.com
DAY 26 - Kat Haselkorn
A Small Business Success Story Any small business owner knows that running a company is hard work. Some days – backbreaking work. When things feel impossible, it’s easy to cave, but often there’s a happily ever after waiting just around the corner. A popular Reddit thread is based around exactly this situation. Reddit user JJC_Osaka asked the small business community:
And the replies were heartwarming. One response illustrates the power of hard work and perseverance. It absolutely belongs in a series promoting better business strategies! Here is xMoey’s story:
DAY 27 - Kelcey Moriarty
Stop and Think For Faster Writing OUTLINING, SIMPLIFYING, and using ACTIVE VOICE are three quick tips to remember each time you hit the keyboard, whether drafting a blog post or a business proposal.
OUTLINE Even the shortest pieces deserve a brief
investment with immediate return. Jotting
outline. On a deadline? Taking the time to
down a quick skeleton of your ideas helps
outline actually speeds up the writing process.
remind you to make your most important
Doing so focuses your thoughts into a concise,
point first and last. The final step of your
organized list. With a good outline, your piece
outline is to title your piece.
will begin to write itself. Think of it as an
SIMPLIFY Use short sentences. Stop and think before
gives perspective. He can zoom out and
you vomit a lengthy paragraph onto the
show—not just tell—the big picture.
page. Thesaurus.com is your best friend. So is “Delete.” Don’t stray from your bottom
For example, instead of writing: Dan is a mean
line. No one wants to read a run on sentence
that rambles and confuses because it’s really annoying and hard to digest so the poor reader
Try: Dan stole Bill’s Halloween candy and ate it
will probably stop and give up on your ability
all, even the Snickers.
to use the English language. Give your company human qualities by making brief comparisons and analogies. A good writer
ACTIVE VOICE Using active instead of passive voice is the
What’s the bottom line? An outline will save
quickest and most effective change you can
you time. Use simple, active voice to give
make to your writing. What is active voice? The
credibility to your writing. These are small
subject does the action in an active sentence.
changes that yield a big return.
In a passive sentence, the target of the action is promoted to subject. My favorite, catchy active voice example: Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” To demote Marvin to passive voice: “It Was Heard By Me Through the Grapevine.” Not a hit.
DAY 28 - Cat Miller
10 Reasons Why UberOffices is Great for Office Virgins Ever see that show on HGTV Property Virgins? Well in UberOffices I get to meet a bunch of office virgins – first time office space buyers. Here are a few reasons why UberOffices are ideal for companies looking for their first place.
Competitive office pricing. Shop around – you’ll see that our office spaces are cheaper than
Lots of add-ons and frills, no extra cost. One low monthly fee will get you access to internet,
power, cable TV, a kitchen, free coffee, a video game lounge, 7 conference rooms and four private call rooms.
No long term commitment. Tour today, move in tomorrow. Stay for life, or leave when you’ve outgrown us. With month-to-month commitments, UberOffices can be your long-term home or your short-term launching ground.
Security. Every office comes with a lock and key.
Branded space. When you move in, we’ll put your logo up on the door, add you to our
Furniture included. Every office comes furnished with a sleek wood desk, adjustable rolling
member directory on the UberOffices portal, and add you to the building directory board.
office chair, and bookshelf.
24/7 Access. Tight deadline? All-nighter in your future? Not to worry – with an access fob you can come and go as you please.
Member Community Access. Rub shoulders with movers and shakers from DC’s public, private, and nonprofit scene.
10 Use our space for your big debut. Product launch? Hosting investors for a lunch meeting? We’ll help you with the arrangements for your company’s most important days.
DAY 29 - Brian Patterson
4 Workout Options for the Hard Working Entrepreneur Several years ago, my business partner and I used to make a daily commute from Ashburn, VA to Washington, DC and back. We had many conversations over those 90+ minute commutes, as you can imagine. One that we still joke about to this day is the idea of, “Do we want to be fit? Or, Do we want to be rich?”. We were in the midst of building a business, so who doesn’t dream about riches at that stage? And, with all of the effort that was going into it, we thought it was a ‘this or that‘ decision. Either we spend a lot of time at the gym to ‘get healthy’, or we spend a lot of time on the business and ‘get rich’. These were serious, albeit humorous, discussions. We both decided that we were going to skip the gym and focus on the business. This wasn’t so great for our health, but the business has succeeded. The decision just left us both tired and embarrassingly out of shape.
Reaching a Tipping Point Around this time last year a couple of us
a fitness guru that resonated with me. It was
headed west to visit clients. Every day it was
a power lunch and every night was a heavy dinner. I returned home feeling worse than I
80% of your body composition is determined
had in a long time. Sure, the jet lag didn’t help,
by what you eat.
but it was more than that. I decided things needed to change.
- Mark Sisson
I did a ton of reading and found a quote from
Ah, the good old Paretto Principle rears its
head again. This simple statement helped me
Once I had eating down though, I was ready to
resolve the ‘this or that’ dilemma in my head.
tackle that remaining 20%. What I found is that
Changing my diet wouldn’t take time away
when carving out time for a workout, the 20%
from my business and could have a profound
is easier than it sounds. You just need a couple
impact on my overall performance. I was in.
of hours a week dedicated to it… and you can easily do that by cutting out a few TV shows or
I chose to do Paleo, and won’t bore you with the
improving the efficiency of a recurring process.
details, except to say that I’m a big fan. I think
Whatever your way of making it happen, just
any entrepreneur could benefit from choosing
know that the ROI is well worth it. Your return
a healthy way of eating. Anything from Atkins
will be a healthier you. Here are some of the
to Zone, and everything in between. In fact,
things I, or my colleagues, do to stay active.
UberOffices Tysons is home to Prana Living, where you can be coached on healthy eating and a healthy way of life.
1. CrossFit for the Alpha Entrepreneur A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday, and unfortunately I’m not sure I can disagree: Crossfit is like the anti-fight club. The first rule of Crossfit is always talk about Crossfit. I’ve been doing CrossFit, and yep, I’m gonna talk about it (briefly). I started about 5 months ago and am in better shape than I ever have been.
combines elements from weight lifting, gymnastics, sprinting, and mobility to create a well-rounded athlete. If you are an alpha entrepreneur who goes all out, I think CrossFit could be great for you. In just 45
3 hours a week, you’ll come out stronger and more fit. Anyone, at literally any level, can start on CrossFit. Everything scales.
2. Boxing for the Angry Entrepreneur Before CrossFit, I was a member at an LA
downside if you want to build muscle).
Boxing off-and-on for two years. I enjoyed my experience there, and I think boxing and other
If your business is high-stress, or if you tend
combat sports are great for releasing pent-
to be anxious, this may be a way to work it
up anger, energy, and frustration. The only
out in a healthy, productive manner. This way
downsides I found were that, after a while,
you get a workout and aren’t simmering with
it can get a little monotenous as there isn’t a
frustration or aggression every night when you
ton of variety available. Additionally, it won’t
help you build much muscle (which is only a
3. Yoga for the Zen-Like Entrepreneur My exposure to yoga has been limited to a
Kat says: Yoga really does help you relax and
few post-workout exercises to stretch out
decompress, all while increasing your mobility
and loosen up after weight training. However,
and flexibility. If an entrepreneur has a laidback
I know a ton of entrepreneurs really think it
personality, this could be a good fit as it isn’t
adds an extra dimension to their approach
“in your face” like CrossFit. On the flip side, if
in business, so I think it is worth considering.
a business owner is under a lot of stress, yoga
Since I know almost nothing about it, I solicited
can be an amazing outlet to quell anxiety and
some input from my colleague, Kat Haselkorn,
release tension. I look at yoga as an important
who is a regular yogi.
piece of an overall program for well-being.
4. Running for the Insane Entrepreneur Ok, so that headline sucked. Truth is, I’ve never
of running for more than 10 minutes at a time
been able to enjoy long distance running. I love
is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for
sprinting and interval training, but the thought
Running is ultimately the route that Dan chose to go with to get healthy, and good for him. It’s not for me, but if it is your personality, go for it. If you try running for distance for a week or so, you’ll quickly decide whether or not it’s a good fit. If it isn’t, you have plenty of other options. So there you go… 4 places to turn to take your mind off of your business for a little bit and focus on yourself. This is the time of year when resolutions are broken. Stay strong and find something that you enjoy, which will make it infinitely easier to stick to!
DAY 30 - Mike Moriarty
Turning a “No” to a “Yes” You can’t be afraid to hear “No” from people. As a startup you will and should occasionally hear the word. It might come from sales prospects, potential employees, vendors, or customers. When someone says yes to you, you have no more information, the deal is done and you’re on to the next problem. A “No” is so much more fun! Now is when you have a chance to learn more about the person, their reasoning, and help change their decision to a “yes”. Here are few steps to help you do that.
1. Ask “Why Not” Be polite, and be respectful as you’ll need to keep them talking. Humor doesn’t hurt from time to time either.
2. Repeat verbatim their reason for saying “No”. This allows you to make sure you understand. “So you don’t want to move forward with the contract because you feel the monthly cost is too high?” 47
It also gives the other person an opportunity to adjust their reasoning for saying “No”. It happens almost every single time that they will expound and you’ll be able to learn more.
3. Ask if there are any other reasons for them saying “No”. I normally will say something like: “If the expense portion of this contract was resolved, would you then want to move forward?” Over the half of the time, people are not honest as to the real reason they do not want to move forward. Many times it’s a combination of reasons
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3. Get all the concerns out in the air until they say “yes”. Make sure they agree that if their listed reasons were resolved they would say “Yes”. It’s psychological, but powerful and puts them imagining working with you.
5. Ask them what they would suggest as a solution for each identified objection. This is the step that is most often overlooked. Most people when they hear an objection immediately jump into their rehearsed reasons for defending their point. It’s natural, but it just pushing you further into your corner and them further into their corner. If a solution comes from the person saying “no” and is reasonable you’ve won! If it’s not acceptable at least you have more information as to what they are leaning towards and you have some momentum to work with to find a solution.
6. If they have no ideas, use a credible third party resource to make your point. Finding a source you can both agree is respectable and impartial to provide information supporting your position. This is the most powerful resource at this point. Remember as with all negotiations, be respectful and be someone who they would want to work with and spend time with in the future.
DAY 31 - Bill Slawski
Blogging with a Purpose When I first started blogging on the site that would end up becoming the home page for my own business, I had a purpose for the site. I had just come back from an industry-based conference, and while I enjoyed the presentations of my peers, the cost was staggering. I was fortunate enough be a speaker, so the cost of the conference itself was covered. But the conference was in New York City, and between paying for hotel, cabs, food, and transportation, the budget I had been saving towards putting my own shingle out was significantly diminished. A friend and I started talking about hosting a conference of our own, but one that was affordable for anyone who might attend. Instead of holding the conference in a large and expensive City, it would be in the resort town we both worked in, Havre de Grace, Maryland. Instead of going through a process where we would have potential speakers pitch ideas for sessions they would present, I wanted to have people attending be ready to give presentations of their own. The idea was similar to today’s barcamps or Wordcamps, where the people who were attending were also the people sharing their thoughts and ideas. I decided that the conference should have a website, and paid for hosting and put up a WordPress site, where I started blogging about the conference. I blogged about local Bed and Breakfasts to stay at, attractions in the area, local history, and some topics that might be covered during the conference. I rented a local historic skipjack – a kind of boat that had been used on the Chesapeake Bay for over 100 years by waterman engaging in hunting for oysters, and wrote a blog post about it being one of the events happening at the conference.
Then I lost my Purpose… The event came and went, and while I had a number of people show up, it didn’t attract the crowd that I had hoped it would. But, I was left with a web site that would end up becoming a platform that I grew my business and personal reputation upon, and used it to attract conversations about the industry I was working within. I had some thoughts in my head that I would write it as if it were
a personal workbook, like Davinci’s work notes, or like Walden’s journal. I started writing about search engine related patents and whitepapers, and industry news, and it led to opportunities to write as a columnist for some of the biggest web sites in my industry, invitations to speak at other conferences, and brought me clients whom I caught the attention of with things that I had written. Image from the Library of Congress, reference number LC-USZ62-76142, originally published in Harper’s Weekly, Mar. 1, 1884
I engaged in conversations on my blog
with people whom had written about one side of a topic, and I replied with my own thoughts about the other side. I wrote posts about the companies that Google and Yahoo and Amazon acquired that were little known at the time, and people picked up on those posts, and worked them into discussions at places like Digg and into Wikipedia entries. I kept at it, and a couple of years ago, wrote about Google acquiring over 1,000 patents from IBM, which ended up being reported upon in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, and in a media roll that ended up going around the globe. A blog helps you to be part of conversations about things going on in the world around you. It can help you start a number of conversations as well. A month or so ago, I received an invitation from someone at LinkedIn, and I added him, and sent him a message thanking him for connecting with me. He responded, and told me that he had been reading my blog since he was 12, and thanked me for helping him get excited about, and getting into the search industry. That was better news than having been mentioned in the Times and the Journal and Bloomberg News, and others. The conference that was my purpose for starting the blog didn’t pan out the way that I hoped it would, but the newer purpose of sharing ideas and information that I adopted had.
31 Days to a Better a Business covers the trials and tribulations of running a small business in today’s economy and offers actionable tips...