• 3 Dangerous Entrepreneurial Myths You Need to Ignore

    This terrible advice won’t actually get you anywhere.

    We’ve all heard the numbers about how hard it is to build a long-lasting business. While there are many factors at play to get there, without effective marketing and sales a business cannot survive.

    Unfortunately, there is a multitude of dangerous and destructive marketing advice swirling around the heads of vulnerable entrepreneurs. Like vultures seeking their next meal, “gurus” pontificate nonsense that these hard-working business owners follow, only to discover that what they tried doesn’t work.

    Often, once the damage is done, it is too late for them to do anything else about it.

    If you want to not only survive, but thrive, here is some of the terrible advice you need to start ignoring:

    1. “You need to be everywhere.”

    I’m sorry, but how do these people sleep at night without the use of narcotics? “Experts” spew out dribble to make headlines saying you need to get on Snapchat, get on Periscope, do YouTube Live . . . be everywhere! They’ll say you need to get on this platform or that social media network. Oh, and use LinkedIn Live! And make sure to post on Instagram three times a day and Facebook twice a day. And don’t forget those Facebook Lives. Make sure to do them every day.

    ACK! Just writing that paragraph stressed me out. How the heck are you supposed to be on all of those channels, never mind doing it all effectively, and still run your business? Of course you can’t. And you shouldn’t. (Unless self-torture is your thing, in which case have at it. There are books about that, but I’m not giving any titles because I’d have to Google them and then I’d be retargeted by the ads and that would just be gross.)

    It is impossible to spend even half an hour on each major network and still get any work done. Forget about focusing on measurement, profit and return on investment. They don’t mention that on purpose, because then these crazy-pants suggestions would really make no sense. But, then these “experts” would stop making the headlines, so they keep serving up spoiled advice for the poor folk who chow down and then get sick on it.

    Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to their plots of deception. Demand strategies that value your time and produce results in a significant and measurable way quickly.

    2. “It takes money to make money.”

    I didn’t take the easy way out. I am part of a group of scrappy entrepreneurs who have a lot of hustle and heart and little/no/negative funds. I didn’t come from family money, and the big banks certainly weren’t lending to businesses like mine. The only way I was going to get a big pile of cash was if I won the lottery. And since I’ve only played about four times in the last decade, the chances of that happening were slim. What I had to find was the same thing you most likely want — a solution to predictably bring in customers when there is no marketing budget to play with.

    3. The Schmo-bags.

    The worst are who I call the “Ferrari Marketers.” They rent a sportscar for an hour or two, hang out in front of it and then sell us shiny object strategies that they haven’t even used in their own business.

    They are abhorrent, hideous and dangerous. Not only are they crooks stealing the money of the people who are seeking a solution from them, but they may prevent really talented people who have a gift/service/product/offer to share that can help someone else from ever reaching them.

    Did I mention they suck?

    But, once you discover a game-changing system, you are responsible for implementing it. You can’t be distracted by shiny objects any longer.

    As Jack Welch says, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

    Don’t allow yourself to be enticed or distracted by fads or the “latest and greatest/not greatest” new social media strategy, channel or tactic.

    Once you uncover how to truly get results, be strong-willed and stubborn. Repel any idea, strategy or initiative that requires you to keep spending money to make money. If you keep throwing dollars and time at a goal, hoping and wishing that it will work, yet not tracking or measuring the results and scaling accordingly, then you cannot expect results.

    Start measuring, tracking and demanding results from your time and money, rising above others and landing in the successful minority that thrives instead of survives.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • 3 Things You Can’t Skimp on With Experiential Marketing

    Spending more where it matters can mean the difference between a forgettable event and one leading to real ROI. Just ask the Casper mattress folks.

    It’s getting harder and harder to dismiss the experiential segment as a niche within the world of marketing. According to a 2017 Freeman study, more than one in three CMOs expect to funnel up to 50 percent of their budgets into brand experiences.

    Those leaders have finally discovered what consumers could have told them ages ago: People don’t want to be bombarded by ads. What they want are authentic, one-to-one interactions with the companies seeking their business. In other words, they want brand experiences.

    “That’s where experiential marketing comes in. The term refers to a marketing strategy that invites and encourages consumers to interact with a brand through live experiences.

    But consumers aren’t looking for something snooze-worthy — at least not in the typical sense of the word. Mattress company Casper, for example, gave this year’s SXSW attendees a rest they won’t soon forget. In partnership with One:Night, Casper offered $99 hotel rooms outfitted with a Casper mattress — and milk and cookies.

    “Moms” were even on call to read bedtime stories to restless sleepers. Unsurprisingly, the rooms sold out instantly. The reality is that not all brands can afford to rent out an entire hotel, but that doesn’t mean you should default to a low-cost activation.

    Where should you spend?

    While some marketers have managed to cut costs without curtailing the actual experience, they’ve likely found that spending a little more where it matters can mean the difference between a forgettable event, and one that leads to real ROI.

    Where should you allocate your money for maximum impact? If you value results, don’t skimp on any of these three:

    1. People and training 

    When consumers interact with a brand, they’re interfacing with a real person. No matter how great your product might look or taste, customers won’t care about it if the brand ambassador was rude. All they’ll care about is that they had a terrible experience.

    Although sales and experiential marketing aren’t one and the same, brand ambassadors and salespeople have similar roles. And in sales, 68 percent of consumers surveyed by Salesforce said that interacting with a salesperson who understands their preferences is absolutely critical or very important, according to Salesforce. So, even if brand ambassadors can’t honor someone’s preference — say that the rason is because they didn’t have any unsweetened tea on hand — they can still create a happy customer by listening to that person’s needs and offering an alternative experience.

    The perfect representatives are created through a combination of equal parts hiring and training. During the hiring process, our company often interviews with a client on hand to ensure that applicants mesh with both our team and the brand they’ll be representing. This way, we can gauge whether an applicant will be the right person to advocate for the brand when he or she interacts with consumers.

    Consumers can tell when someone isn’t a genuine advocate of the product they’re pushing, so having a brand-lover is of the utmost importance.

    Then, once you’ve found the right people, be sure to train them on answers to common questions — no question is too “out there” to be asked. While they won’t know the answer to everything, they should know what to do and where to go when that occurs.

    Remember to train for extended engagement, too. Recently, reps of the Alabama Tourism Department visited New York City to showcase their state’s tourism offerings. Given that most New Yorkers aren’t exactly experts on Alabama, it was crucial that representatives could communicate extensively about their home state.

    2. Production

    Aside from your people, your set build is one of the biggest takeaways from attendees at your activation. “Cheap” can be spotted from a mile away, and run-down, incomplete or simply boring builds communicate to consumers that your brand cuts corners. By building a high-quality display, you can diminish the natural wear and tear that occurs from one event to the next.

    If you need to bring down the activation cost, scale back the footprint rather than compromising on materials or build quality. Great customer experiences, which Forrester data shows are a top priority for 72 percent of businesses surveyed, occur in great environments. And, for the most part, engagement levels don’t shrink with footprint size — but they sure do with build quality.

    If you can’t decrease the footprint size, think about the less essential elements as places where you can find cost efficiencies. If a photo booth isn’t critical to your experience, opt for the $10,000 booth instead of the $40,000 one.

    Be doubly sure to spend adequately on the set build if the set itself is the experience. Last year, we hosted a snow day — something unheard of in Phoenix — for Sara Lee’s Artesano bread. Cutting corners here would have quite literally melted the experience. But nobody batted an eye when the photo booth was a tad slow. Instead, we used the long lines as an opportunity for additional product education.

    3. Measurement

    Brands are becoming smarter with their marketing spend. According to eMarketer, 57 percent of marketers say their top priority for 2017 is cross-channel measurement and attribution. If a program can’t show ROI, it — and the marketers behind it — may get axed from next year’s budget.

    Before the event begins, have at least one metric in mind that you’ll use to measure success. Good benchmarks to measure against include brand-to-consumer engagements, social impressions generated during and after the campaign, the number of new users and the most important one: sales.

    Set up a live data feed, and monitor it during the event. If something isn’t going well, you may have already invested in the physical elements, but you can use data to adjust everything else on the fly. You might need ambassadors to change up their engagement strategy, stock up on everyone’s favorite product or shorten or extend the event.

    Afterward, dig into the numbers. Did the annual festival sponsorship yield surprisingly little social sharing or sales? Stop wasting money on it. Instead, put the funds toward something consumers haven’t seen before.

    CMOs may be spending millions on experiential marketing, but those efforts don’t have to be expensive. They just require the right people, a high-quality set build and measurable metrics. Without any of those things, the experience won’t be worth having — either for consumers or your company.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
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    United States of America

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  • Keys to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

    For entrepreneurs, crowdfunding is more than just raising money.

    Crowdfunding is not only about raising money for entrepreneurs. It is much more than that. Creating a crowdfunding campaign actually allows you to see the interest in your product as well as enables you to get feedback and develop it even more before the actual launch. If your campaign becomes successful, it means that you actually built a customer base too because most probably people who support your campaign would like to purchase your product after the launch. Therefore, it is essential to develop a well-tailored crowdfunding campaign. Keep reading below to find some tips for it.

    1. Choose your platform wisely.

    Do your research and choose the platform that fits your product and your needs at the same time. There are some famous platforms which receive a lot of traffic but at the same time there are hundreds and even thousands of projects in these platforms. Therefore, getting noticed among these platforms may be difficult. For this reason, choosing a smaller but specialized platform can be a better option, especially if your project is in a specialized area.

    2. Have a prototype, not only an idea.

    An idea by itself is not enough because everybody has many great ideas. The important part is to turn that idea into reality. Show everyone that you took the time and energy to invest in your idea. Design, develop and test your product. Finally, have a prototype to show others so they can also invest in your innovation and you can develop it more. It would be beneficial for you, if you also have a launch plan and share these plans in your crowdfunding campaign.

    3. How you present makes the difference.

    Not just upload a PPT presentation or a boring video, include both! Tell your story and keep your message personal. Make a connection with other people and explain others why you are doing this so they can feel themselves part of something bigger and exciting. Try to touch other people’s lives with your story. As a result, they can find a reason to support you.

    4. Update your supporters.

    Interact with your supporters and answer any questions they may have. Also, if they make a positive comment about your project, don’t forget to thank them. After your campaign is over, don’t leave them on dark. Try to engage with them through social media, thank you emails or newsletters to keep them in the loop. Send them updates about how your project is going and plans about your launch. You can create a countdown clock to increase excitement about your launch date.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
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  • The Big Reason Why You Should Hire Highly Educated Employees

    They are more likely to detect patterns and speak up if something seems amiss.

    When you’re looking to hire, you’re thinking about cultural fit and whether a candidate has not only the qualifications to fulfill your company’s needs now, but also the potential to take on more responsibility in the future.

    Despite the debate around whether leaders need college degrees, a recent study out of the University of Georgia found that the educational background of non-executive hires can make a big difference in the long term success of your business — and keep you out of trouble with the law.

    Researchers found that when it comes to handling sensitive financial data, employees who have the most extensive educational backgrounds are best at forecasting trends and dealing with legal matters.

    “We find that when companies are located in a place where the workforce is highly educated, they produce better accounting information,” said study co-author John Campbell, an associate professor of accounting in UGA’s Terry College of Business, in a summary of the findings. “The employees don’t have to be experts in accounting, but if they see something that doesn’t look right, they’re more likely to say something about it and tell their superiors about it.”

    As your business expands, you need to be on top of your books, and non-executive employees often are the first line of defense for finding errors in your accounting. Building off that observation, the researchers also identified a correlation between educated populations and fewer instances of misconduct in both business and politics.

    “There’s a study in political science showing that states that have more educated voter bases have less corruption in their political systems, and we wanted to see if that analogy held in business,” Campbell said. “One of the reasons for that might be whistleblowers. In both instances, the better-educated the population is, the more likely there will be a whistleblower if something bad is going on.”

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
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    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
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  • ‘Are You More Interesting than Average?’ in 5 Questions

    What makes people interesting? And can it be learned?

    Being an interesting person who commands attention is not easy in this 4G world of advancing technologies and diminishing attention span. And being interesting is good. Interesting people can draw others in, captivate and inspire. They can lead, revolutionize and build something great from the ground up.

    What makes for an interesting person is somewhat subjective. However, we’ve teased out five determinable qualities that universally captivate and engage interest — and also can be learned by anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort.

    Let’s get you started on this quiz to gauge where you fall on the “interesting” scale.

    1. Are you a powerful storyteller?

     

    Knowing how to tell stories in a way that elicits empathy, humor and what it is to be human is a powerful skill that interesting people possess. It’s also a skill that entrepreneurs need to have. “Entrepreneurship and storytelling go hand in hand,” said Carmine Gallo, author of The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t.

    Being interested in rags-to-riches stories is part of our DNA, explained Gallo. And there is science that supports this. He touched on the research in his book where scientists find that hearing stories about struggle followed by success actually causes the brain to release the bonding chemicals of dopamine and oxytocin. “We like hearing the story about hardship, risk taking and failure after failure,” said Gallo. “Of course, there has to be some success at the end.”

    When it comes to a famous business leader with a mastery of storytelling, Howard Schultz, the executive chairman of Starbucks, immediately comes to mind. The former CEO of Starbucks has repeatedly shared his narrative of growing up in the Brooklyn projects to self-made multibillionaire. What’s more, whenever speaking about company initiatives, like full-time benefits for part-time workers or paying for employees’ college education, he ties them back to stories about his early struggles.

    “This makes him so much more interesting beyond him presenting a PowerPoint about why they have to raise the price for a cup of coffee,” said Gallo.

    2. Are you an active listener?

    Find a good listener, and you’ll find someone who possesses the quality of making you (the listened-to) feel like the most fascinating person on the planet. Good listeners are a very rare species to come by — which is why they’re regarded as so interesting.

    Research shows that we spend up to 80% of our waking hours communicating — and 55%of that time is spent listening. Yet, for the most part, adults aren’t great at actively listening. People remember, at most, 25% of what they hear.

    Active listening involves being totally present (put away your smart phone), demonstrating strong listening cues (sounds and head nods) and related follow-up questions for clarity and inquiry into further points of interest.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a strong reputation for being an exceptional listener. “He doesn’t need to talk a lot. He just sits there and listens,” said Silicon Valley venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya. “Once he’s done listening, Zuckerberg quickly assesses the information and comes up with all the various outcomes. It’s just a truly special skill.”

    3. Are you wildly expressive?

    People who are good at being expressive are able to successfully convey enthusiasm, curiosity and joy — as well as empathy — through their voice, choice of words and body language. Those who can express a warm glow of feelings tend to captivate people and lower their guard.

    Richard Branson comes to mind as a business leader who has a flair for expressive communication, whether it be through his interviews, his Virgin blog, or his books. His latest book is his autobiography cheekily titled Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography. Branson is also an effusive communicator over his various social media accounts. Through Instagram, he swiftly shared his response to big events, like Hurricane Irma, and comes across as the multibillionaire you’d most like to have a beer with.

    Other things we’ve learned about the expressive Virgin Group founder that enhance his warm persona? He won’t back out on a lost bet, he had a serious learning disorder as a child, he loves his 93-year-old mother Eve Branson and he cried buckets when he sold Virgin Records for $1 billion in 1992. He had a similiar reaction when he heard that Alaska Airlines will retire Virgin America (the airline he’d founded) by 2019. He’s emotional, he’s a sharer and we love it.

    4. Do you live an exceptional life that generates intrigue?

    You don’t have to lead the life of James Bond to be interesting. However, it does not hurt. The best way to kick off your exceptional life is to seek out people who already do fascinating things. Let them influence and inspire you. According to a study that followed 1,000 people over the course of eight decades, the people you associate with are the strongest influence on who you grow into.

    Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk definitely qualifies as a person who leads a riveting life. His ability to live large and attract people’s interest likely started with his most formative relationships: His family.

    Musk hails from a deeply fascinating tribe. His maternal grandparents were swashbuckling flying adventurists in their own time, searching for the Lost City of the Kalahari, a mythical civilization reputedly located in the deserts of southern Africa. His mother, Maye Musk, accustomed to accompanying her parents on their piloting adventures, became a nutritionist, entrepreneur and model. Musk’s siblings are adventurers in their own right: His sister is a producer in the film industry, and his brother is an entrepreneur and pioneer in the sustainable food industry.

    The engineer-turned-rocket-man is an epic dreamer who is able to make large-scale visions of the future come to life. He is the real-life inspiration for the Tony Stark character in the film series “Iron Man.” His love life also conjures intrigue: He married the same woman twice and divorced her twice — and then dated Johnny Depp’s ex-wife. Clearly, he doesn’t live a life of moderation.

    5. Do you love sharing knowledge?

    “Interesting people love sharing what they know and have learned with others,” wrote Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. And people strongly respond to that quality. The very success of TED Talks is built on people’s never-ending hunger for knowledge from interesting and diverse sources.

    In the business world, Sheryl Sandberg is known for her uncanny knack for learning powerful life lessons through personal experiences and then sharing the wisdom. The Facebook COO shares her knowledge in speeches, Facebook posts and books.

    One of her best qualities is how she ties her knowledge back to a very personal and vulnerable place, such as her own insecurities as a woman in a leadership position in Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

    She also did this beautifully in her moving commencement speech about her late husband at the University of California, Berkeley in 2016. Her speech was so popular, that she followed it up with more knowledge: A book Option B: Facing Adversity about losing her husband and how resilience got her through the worst of times. Sandberg’s knowledge sharing has not only made her a media darling, but it’s made her a true beacon of wisdom for those who are struggling.

    How did you do on the quiz? If you scored…

    5: Congrats, Super Interesting Person. You command people’s interests quite naturally and are a pro at reeling off anecdotes, drawing people out, listening, connecting and leading. So if you’re not doing so already, it’s time to help others get better at what you do naturally.

    3-4: You’re strong on the majority of interesting qualities — so double down on those and work on where you have room for growth. Whether it’s in active listening, storytelling or expressiveness, buy some books or hire that executive coach and keep on learning.

    1-2: You’ve got room to grow in the interesting department. No big deal. All skills can be improved with consistent practice and application. So choose a skill that interests you, whether it is storytelling or sharing knowledge, and keep practicing for the next year.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
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  • Dustin Mathews’ Top 5 Must-Have Business Books

    See what the co-author of ‘No B.S. Guide to Powerful Presentations’ thinks you should read to succeed in business.

    Entrepreneur Reads is a series designed to bring our readers the best books to motivate you on your entrepreneurial journey. We’ve asked public speaking expert and Entrepreneur Press author Dustin Mathews for his top 5 book recommendations for entrepreneurs like you.

    “My favorite book of all time is experience.” —Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo

    I couldn’t agree more with Kagan.

    Nothing takes the place of doing in the real world, and there are key books that every entrepreneur should have in their library. Let’s take a look at five must-have business books.

    1. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

    How can you go wrong with one of the bestselling self-help books of all time? With over 30 million copies sold, this “oldie but goodie” shows you how to make lasting relationships in business and life.

    In our ever-expanding, high-tech world of gadgetry and automation, this book serves as a great reminder that success in business comes back to relationships — with people. Whether it’s prospects, partners or team members, you’ll need to win them all over at some point in your travels. Look for the six ways to make people like you and the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking.

    2. Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

    If Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg were all interviewed today about success and we put their answers into a book it would be essentially what Think & Grow Rich was at the time. Napoleon Hill interviewed the titans of business of the day — Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison — to deliver us the entrepreneur’s mental mindset handbook.

    Richard Branson said, “Tough times are inevitable in life and in business. But, how you compose yourself during those times defines your spirit and will define your future.” No doubt, the road of an entrepreneur is long, winding and daunting. It’s Hill that reminds us how to get anything we desire in business with the right mindset. Be sure to look for the “Power of the Mastermind.”

    3. The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan S. Kennedy

    Every communication in business needs to sell. Whether it’s an email to an employee, conversation with a partner or phone call to prospects, customers and clients, influencing is critical for getting it done.

    The challenge is most people don’t think in these terms. In one of Dan Kennedy’s first works, he lays out the formula for writing a message that sells. Essentially, he’d prefer all business owners be world-class copywriters, however he understands they don’t have the time nor the patience. So, inside the book he’s provided simple, yet proven formulas, case studies, examples and resources for hacking your way to a letter that closes the deal, every time.

    Words matter. Are you making yours count?

    4. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

    It bears repeating: You won’t get far in business if you can’t make solid relationships with others. Keith Ferrazzi shows us that we can get anywhere in life and business by connecting and creating powerful relationships.

    My big takeaway from the book is to keep in check the balance of helping others without expecting to ask for something in return. Of course, this can be tricky if you find yourself in the wrong crowd or in front of a “taker,” but the philosophy is one that resonates today. Look for “Connecting with Connectors,” as this can be an extremely beneficial concept in terms of creating speed and finding the right connections to help you on your path.

    5. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

    If you need to make it rain, look no further. Really, The Ultimate Sales Machine is a combination of sales, marketing, time management and mindset or, as Chet Holmes, calls it “pig-headed discipline” all packed into one resource.

    One of the more unique (and daring) ideas from the book I’ve put into action for myself is showing up at a tradeshow with a theme. In the book, Holmes discusses working with a client, having them dress up in Hawaiian outfits, theming the booth with a beach backdrop and making it fun for the team and most certainly for attendees.

    Following suit, we decided on a doctors theme, bought lab coats with stethoscopes and put pill bottles in the conference bag. Doing so, we most certainly were the talk of the convention, garnered a lot of attention and generated a good number of sales.  We even noticed non-attendees in the lobby, double taking, as they were curious as to know what we were doing.

    Be sure to look for the Holmes’s classified ad for attracting the right kind of sales people, “superstars.”

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
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    United States of America

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  • Finding the Right First Partner Can Benefit You Over a Lifetime in Business

    There is no perfect playbook on how you should go about choosing a business partner. But there are some general guidelines that I find useful to consider.

    The best business decision I ever made was choosing my first business partner. Picking the right business partner straight out of the gate creates a relationship that will help you in business in perpetuity. When most people look for their first partner, they are thinking about who the perfect fit for their company would be at that time. But that’s shortsighted. The decision isn’t about a specific business. The decision is about who you are going to place into your life for one of the most important relationships you can have.

    I judge potential business partnerships by asking myself whether I could see this person in my life 20-plus years from now, and contemplate whether I can imagine us both still adding value to the other’s life.

    My first business partner defied normal convention. He was young, unproven and fresh out of college. Yet, I could see he was immensely talented and together we had that “X factor,” that undeniable synergy where we both brought out the best in each other. We ended up working through seven different companies together and he’s been my CFO, COO and CTO in three different types of ventures. Now he runs a private venture fund. Although we don’t work together anymore, we stay in close contact, co-invest in new ventures and turn to each other for advice when we need to tap the other’s areas of expertise.

    That’s why your first business partner is so important. If you are smart about it and have a little luck you’ll find someone that will positively impact your life and career many times over.

    There is no perfect playbook on how you should go about choosing a business partner. But there are some general guidelines that I find useful to consider.

    Make sure you know the person.

    This may seem like common sense, but lots of people enter into partnerships without really spending the time to know who they are getting into business with. The person may look good on paper and have extraordinary qualifications, but a partnership needs so much more than that. Remember, you’re not looking for a rockstar employee — you’re looking for someone that is going to be your other half. Many describe a business partnership as similar to marriage. While 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, that number jumps to nearly 80 percent for business partnerships.

    My partner and I worked together on a nonprofit that oversaw student conferences, which was a massive logistical and operational undertaking. We ended up setting up our own foundation to oversee the conferences and through our work together we were able to forge a bond before becoming partners.

    Don’t pick yourself.

    You should look for a business partner that complements you, not one that is a copy of you. If your strength is creativity, then you might look for someone who is more process-oriented. If you’re a master salesperson but business finance isn’t your strongpoint, maybe consider a partner who understands business accounting.

    People who are similar to you might feel like the more comfortable choice, but that’s not what you or the business needs to be successful. The wider variety of skills that you and your partner bring separately to the table, the easier it will be to propel the business forward.

    Look for vision and values.

    Since you and your partner will need to constantly set goals and make decisions to drive the business forward, it is extremely important that you are both trying to head in the same direction — that you share the same vision for the future. Every decision should be like two bricklayers laying brick by brick according to the blueprint, not going off and creating separate structures.

    You also want someone who holds the same values as you do because that’s necessary to build the type of trust needed for a successful partnership. You should look for someone you find to value honesty and truth, someone who follows sound business ethics and is just an overall good person in their personal life.

    Find someone fun.

    This may be one of the most important aspects. It’s that X factor I mentioned. You’re going to spend more time with this person than with your friends and family — even your spouse. Your relationship will be pressure-tested day in and out, and there needs to be that element of friendship and camaraderie you share with each other to make it through those challenging times and come out stronger.

    I couldn’t have asked for a better first business partner. Although I’ve provided a few recommendations, remember that for this type of decision it is really important to trust your gut and look for warning signs early on. Don’t settle for partnering with someone who you think will be good enough to do the job — look for someone who will be good enough to go through 10 different ventures over the next few decades with you.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • If You’re Trying to Raise Money, Doing Any of These 9 Things May Scare off Investors

    Avoid these mistakes and funding could be yours.

    Most new and existing businesses can benefit from outside funding. With such funding, they can grow faster, launch new initiatives, gain competitive advantage and make better long-term decisions as they can think beyond short-term issues like making payroll.

    Unfortunately, though, most entrepreneurs and business owners make several mistakes that prevent them from raising capital. These mistakes are detailed below. Avoid them and funding could be yours.

     Making unrealistic market size claims

    Sophisticated investors need to understand how big your relevant market size is and if it’s feasible for you to eventually become a dominant market player.

    The key here is “relevant” and not just “market.” For example, if you create a medical device to cure foot pain, while your “market” is the trillion-dollar healthcare market, that is way too broad a definition.

    Rather, your relevant market can be more narrowly defined as not just the medical devices market but the market for medical devices for foot pain. In narrowing your scope, you can better determine the actual size of your market. For instance, you can determine the number of foot pain sufferers each year seeking medical attention and then multiply that by the price they might pay for your device.

    Failing to respect your competitors

    Oftentimes companies tell investors they have no competitors. This often scares investors as they think if there are no competitors, a market doesn’t really exist.

    Almost every business has either direct or indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer the same product or service to the same customers. Indirect competitors offer a similar product to the same customers, or the same product to different customers.

    For example, if you planned to open an Italian restaurant in a town that previously did not have one, you could correctly say that you don’t have any direct competitors. However, indirect competitors would include every other restaurant in town, supermarkets and other venues to purchase food.

    Likewise, don’t downplay your competitors. Saying that your competitors are universally terrible is rarely true; there’s always something they’re doing right that’s keeping them in business.

    Showing unrealistic financial projections

    Businesses take time to grow. Even companies like Facebook and Google, with amazing amounts of funding at their disposal, took years to grow to their current sizes. It takes time to build a team, improve brand awareness and scale your business. So, don’t expect your company to grow revenues exponentially out of the gate. Likewise, you will incur many expenses while growing your business for which you must account.

    As such, when building your financial projections, be sure to use reasonable revenue and cost assumptions. If not, you will frighten investors, or worse yet, raise funding and then fail since you run out of cash.

    Presenting investors with a novel — or a napkin

    While investors will want to meet you before funding your business, they will also require a business plan that explains your business opportunity and why it will be successful.

    Your business plan should not be a novel; investors don’t have time to wade through 100 pages to learn the keys to your success. Conversely, you can’t adequately answer investors’ key questions on the back of a napkin.

    A 15- to 25-page business plan is the optimum length to convey the required information to investors.

    Not understanding your metrics

    How much does it cost to acquire a customer? What is your expected lifetime customer value?

    While sometimes it’s impossible to understand these metrics when you launch your business, you must determine them as soon as possible.

    Without these metrics, you won’t know how much money to raise. For instance, if you hope to gain 1,000 customers this year, but don’t know the cost to acquire a customer, you won’t know how much money you need for sales and marketing.

    Likewise, understanding your metrics allows you and your team to work more effectively in setting and achieving growth goals.

    Acting like know-it-alls

    While investors want you to be an expert in your market, they don’t expect you to be an expert in everything. More so, most businesses must adapt to changing market conditions over time, and entrepreneurs who feel they know everything generally don’t fare well.

    A good investor has seen many investments fail and others become great successes. Such experiences have made them great advisors. They’ve encountered all types of situations and understand how to navigate them.

    If you’re seeking funding, acknowledge such investors’ experiences. Let them know that while you are an expert in your market, you will seek their ideas and advice in marketing, sales, hiring, product development and/or other areas needed to grow your business.

    Focusing too much on products and product features

    When raising funding, you need to show you’re building a great company and not just a great product or service. While a great product or service is often the cornerstone to a great company, without skills like sales, marketing, human resources, operations and financial management, you cannot thrive.

    Furthermore, if your product has a great feature, be sure to specify how you will create barriers to entry, such as via patent protection, so competitors can’t simply copy it.

    Exaggerating too much

    When you exaggerate to investors who know you’re exaggerating, you lose credibility.

    One key way to exaggerate is with your financial projections as discussed above. There are many other ways to exaggerate. For instance, saying you have the world’s leading authorities on the XYZ market is great, but only if they really are the world’s leading authorities.

    Likewise if you say it would take competitors three years to catch up on your technology, when investors ask others in your industry, they better confirm this time period. If not, your credibility and funding will be lost.

    Lacking focus

    What do investors care about? They care about getting a return on their investment. As such, anything you say that supports that will be welcomed.

    For instance, talk about your great product that has natural barriers to entry. Discuss your management team that is well-qualified to execute on the opportunity. Talk about strategic partners that will help you generate leads and sales faster.

    But, don’t go off on tangents that don’t specifically relate to how you earn investors returns, like the fact that you’re a great tennis player.

    Likewise, conveying too many ideas shows you lack focus. For instance, saying you’re going to launch product one next year, and then quickly launch products two, three and four, will frighten investors. Why? Because they’ll want to see product one be a massive success before you even consider launching something new.

    Investors have two scarce resources: their time and their money. Avoid the above mistakes when you spend time with investors, and hopefully they’ll reward you with their money.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
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  • Success Requires Knowing What You Won’t Compromise

    Flexibility and tolerance are important but know what you won’t bend on is crucial.

    People always ask we: “What are the keys to success in life and business?”

    I could talk for hours on the subject — particularly about what’s worked for me. But, truth is, all successful people answer a bit differently. That’s why, when I meet people like Elizabeth Weil, a dedicated distance runner and one of the most successful women in the venture capital field, I ask them the same question. I want to learn from them.

    Exercise

    As a child, Weil watched her mother take up running and swimming as therapy for a divorce. She’d wake up before dawn to get in a good swim or run — every day, no matter what. Morning exercise was non-negotiable. “She was out the door every morning around 4, because she knew that time of day was not going to be compromised by work or family or anything else,” Weil says today. “She could always get her workout in.”

    Today, Weil treats her run with the same reverence—even with three kids (including infant twins) and an incredibly demanding career. “For me,” she says, “running is a non-negotiable. Every job, every vacation, every business trip, I have my running shoes and I make time for it. Usually I get up very early, like my mother, and I just get it done. I feed one baby, I feed the other baby, and then I get out the door.”

    This doesn’t mean that life doesn’t occasionally happen in unexpected ways. “Things do come up, but I still get my running in.”

    It probably helps that Weil surrounds herself with like-minded people. “My husband is also an ultra-runner,” she says. “We joke that if going out to brunch was a non-negotiable, our relationship probably wouldn’t work.”

    The “how-to” of Weil’s success.

    When I asked Weil to boil her success down to a few takeaways, she answers immediately, which tells me that I’m talking to a person with a clear and well-defined plan for success. With Weil, these four elements underlie everything else:

    1. Create time for non-negotiables. “Along with my daily run,” she says, “another non-negotiable is spending time with my family, which is a lot harder now that I have three kids instead of just one.”
    2. Work with people you like. “Great people empower you and make you a better person,” she says.
    3. Live and work in a great location. “Life is too short to be in a place where you can’t do the things you like to do,” she says.
    4. Have a personal advisory board. “Fill it with people from all aspects of your life—an old college professor, an old colleague, your best friend, just people who know you really well,” she says. “You can check in with them and use them as part of your gut check as you go through life.”

    Work with great people.

    Working with great people, in a great location, and carving out time for non-negotiables are also parts of my long-standing recipe for success. However, Weil’s fourth element—having a personal advisory board—is a new one for me, and I’m going to put that into practice.

    Be a “people” person.

    Weil also talks about the fact that success in business is about more than just working your butt off. Admittedly, you need to work really, really hard in the job you’ve got if you want people to respect you and give you better opportunities. But you also need to be a people person.

    “I learned this the hard way because I didn’t make time for people when I was at Twitter,” she says. “I was so busy with my job there that I didn’t make connections for my next job. I tell people now, ‘When you pop up for your next job, you’ll wish you had gotten to know more people.’

    You won’t get a job just by uploading your résumé.

    You almost never get a job by uploading your résumé to a blind website. Jobs come from people you know, word of mouth, so you need to be good at your job and to also foster relationships.”

    The simple truth is that very few women are high-level decision makers at venture capital firms. Weil is one of only a handful. But it doesn’t surprise me at all that she has made it to the top when so many others haven’t, because she learned how to be successful early on from her mom.

    A life, business, and parenting tool.

    Another thing I take away from my conversation with Weil: Our kids watch us and they learn from what we do. We owe them the extra effort. My kids watch me with my non-negotiables, which for me are health and wellness and with the effort I put into my business and family.

    My kids learn what it takes to succeed without me sitting them down and lecturing them. I live the lesson, and that is a pretty awesome parenting tool.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • The Many Ways You’re Marketing Even When You Don’t Even Know You Are

    The less your marketing resembles advertising the closer the connection you’ll make with your customers.

    Businesses work hard to create effective marketing campaigns, coming up with strategies carefully crafted to promote their brands both online and off.

    But whether you realize it or not, you can promote brand awareness even when you’re unaware of it. A company’s image starts with its leadership and spreads to its employees and the work they do.

    Here are some effective ways you build and grow brand awareness in ways you may not have considered.

    Merchandise

    If you’ve ever participated in a trade show or conference, you may have designed swag to distribute. Every T-shirt, tote bag, notepad, or pen you hand out goes toward building brand awareness. An old marketing rule states that a customer needs to see a message seven times before making a purchase decision. You don’t have to hand merchandise out to customers, though. You and your team members can wear and use products with your company logo whether you’re at a networking event, conference, or client meeting. Just some of the things that will help expose people to your brand include:

    Water Bottles: This is a product that is used constantly, and is an effective way to remind fans of your products. Brand a long lasting water bottle and you’ll be sure that it will be a good investment.

    T-shirts: Clothe your brand champions and they will promote you. Make t-shirts that people will love to wear and you’ll have walking billboards everywhere.

    Mugs: There’s nothing like fans looking at your logo every morning with their cup of Joe, and welcoming every day with your company.

    Live experiences.

    In person experiences are a fantastic way to engage with consumers – giving memorable time for new customers to learn about and interact with your brand. Companies like AnyRoad offer a powerful Experience Relationship Management platform that can help your brand leverage these live in-person branded experiences and gather data during the process.

    Tours: Tours and in-person experiences have become essential to winning over the hearts and affection of customers. Show them where your products are made, the birthplace of the company, or even the offices where all the magic happens. You’ll be sure to spawn word-of-mouth marketing and social shares, and fans will go home with a memorable story.

    Classes: Many businesses are always looking to learn as they grow. Teaching or sponsoring a class can also offer a beneficial marketing opportunity for business leaders. Whether you teach a class at your office, at a local university or learning annex, or through another source, you’ll be able to get the word out about the business you own as a part of the experience.

    Tastings and Samplings: For businesses that create and distribute consumables, taste testings and product samplings are the best way to win customers. Increasingly, food brands choose to set up a sample stand at local grocery stores or trade shows. Many customers get excited about free food and you can reach a large audience in one place.

    Companies like C.A. Courtesy specialize in setting up in-store samplings for brands of all sizes, putting their expertise to work in helping brands grow. If your brand has a kitchen, factory, or brand home, consider doing a tasting on-site to provide a much more immersive experience. All whiskey companies in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail offer tastings (with their tours) – letting fans sip their way through learning about bourbon.

    Workshops: Instead of committing to teach a regular class, your business can reap some of the same benefits by simply teaching a one-time workshop. Often these happen through industry-specific membership organizations or local networking opportunities. Even before you step up to the podium to kick off your presentation, you’re getting invaluable exposure for your business, since it will feature prominently in any marketing materials promoting the event.

    Events: Events provide solid networking opportunities, giving you the opportunity to interact directly with the very customers you’re trying to win over. Even if they don’t see personal value in the products or services you offer, chances are they’ll tell a friend or associate about it. In addition to local events and industry trade shows, consider hosting an event of your own. During the holiday season, you could have an open house to show appreciation to all your loyal customers. You could also host a day-long learning opportunity, inviting others in your industry to attend and learn more about the work you do.

    Networking: You may not put networking under the marketing category, but every interaction builds your brand. When you meet someone at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and hand your business card across the table, you add yet one more person to those who know about your business. Over time, those connections lead you to other connections that help you move to the next level. Be aware of the many ways you represent your brand when you’re interacting with others, both personally and professionally, since even the clothing you wear and the things you say send a message about your business.

    As you interact with others and talk about your business, realize the many opportunities you have to get the word out. You’ll eventually discover new opportunities to meet customers and colleagues who can recommend your products or services to others. In the process, you’ll save time and money on marketing efforts, and be at the helm new pow.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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