• 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

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  • Building a Startup Is Like Running a Marathon at a Sprint Pace — Here Are 4 Ways to Cope

    A founder shares her strategies to handle burnout so it doesn’t consume you, or your dream.

    Running a startup is like running a marathon at a sprint pace. There is no room for slowing down; you have to keep racing toward the next mile marker, and then the next one, and then the next.

    Though a footrace may end after 26.2 miles, the startup marathon never really ends. You have to keep going when you feel like your body, mind and your entire being want to give up. And you have to keep telling yourself you can do it when you feel like the universe is conspiring to tell you that you can’t. Sprinting through the startup marathon ensures that you can learn fast, iterate, make up for mistakes and continue to grow at pace, beat your competitors to the punch or block anyone entering your space. To win the startup race you need to be agile and grow quickly in the shortest amount of time. Doing that at anything less than a sprint will get you — at best — second place.

    It does get easier, though. It has to, because maintaining the sprint pace during a marathon indefinitely is impossible. Even trying to maintain that sprint pace indefinitely is a set up for the entrepreneur’s worst enemy: burnout.

    Burning bright, burning out

    While running a startup, you’ll hear a lot about burnout. People talk about it as a weakness, as something to be avoided. But, what they don’t often mention is that burnout — in one of its many forms or another — is inevitable.

    I’ll be the first to tell you I experienced it in the first year after relocating RangeMe and my young family from Sydney, Australia to San Francisco. I was traveling once a week across the United States trying to win over new retail clients that could potentially change the shape of the business overnight (and when we won over Whole Foods, it did just that). That was coupled with trying to hire a team and raise capital for a startup, which alone is relentless and takes boundless energy and a strong backbone. All the while I was still a wife and a mother, raising two children along with my third child, RangeMe.

    And this company is my third child, bringing with it all the same emotions as being a mother to a human child. And it goes a step beyond, too — my entire livelihood is invested in this startup, as my husband is the co-founder, and we moved literally to the other side of the world to pursue the full potential of this startup. Everything, and I mean everything, is riding on this.

    No pressure or anything.

    Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I mentally and physically got through that first year. More than once I wanted to just say stop and walk away. I wanted to give up the race, quit on my dream. But, I made it through, and I’m here to tell the tale. I’m here to tell you it’s possible. I’m here to tell you that you can sprint through a marathon. I’m here to tell you that you’ll get 99 no’s and one yes, and that yes is all that counts; it is what keeps you running. I’m here to tell you that passion and positivity will prevail, and having a positive attitude is everything.

    And I’m also here to tell you that burnout is real. And it will happen. But, don’t let it consume you, or consume your dream.

    Now that we’re solidly established here in the U.S., and RangeMe continues to grow and expand and take on new opportunities, the sprint pace I’ve been running the past few years is getting just a little easier. But, you have to acknowledge that even as things get easier, executing at such a high level of emotion for a sustained period of time puts entrepreneurson the fast track to burnout. Recognize it’s going to happen, and keep these four things in mind when it does:

    1. Get out while you can.

    Not from the startup race, of course. I mean step out of your office, go for a run, grab a drink with a friend — someone who is decidedly not involved with your business. Having someone to vent to is the best therapy. I was lucky to have a close friend who loved hearing about the ups and downs of startup life, so once a week we would meet and pound the hills in San Francisco while I would vent and chat for a full hour. She was a coach, friend and psychologist all mixed into one. Best of all, I was getting exercise in at the same time, which is also a key stress burner.

    2. You’re not CNN.

    Unlike the 24-hour news cycle, you can turn off your accessibility, and you should. Multiple communication channels are helpful, but can also be a great contributor to burnout when you spend so much of your time having to manage them. They can actually make you less productive. Take control and make specific time to check calls and messages, and then move on.

    3. You’re also not Slack, GChat or IM.

    Stop instantly responding to people and requests. There’s no harm taking longer to respond; in fact, it’s probably better that you do, as it makes for more thoughtful responses and forces you to think: Can I handle this request? Will it help me run the race? Or will it trip me up?

    4. Let it go.

    Remember above where I said I spent the first 12 months in the U.S. flying cross country, raising my kids and hiring a team all at the same time? I hired that team for a reason — because they’re the best. I wouldn’t have hired them if they weren’t. I hired them to do the things that I can’t do, and I hired them so I can do the things I can do.

    Running a startup is the most draining yet most rewarding experience of my life. It brings out raw, heady emotions across every twist and turn. For those who are thinking about it or are in the trenches at the moment, be real with yourself. Recognize that you’ve chosen a challenging path — with every one step backwards you may take three or four steps forward. Failure is okay, as long as you learn, iterate and move forward.

    You will burn out, and that’s okay too.

    It’s what you do after the burnout that matters.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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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!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
    11601 Wilshire Blvd. 5th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA, 90025
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    Phone: +1.310.800.2197
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  • The 4 Top Business Investments Right Now

    Green energy and high-tech industries are best bets for savvy entrepreneurs looking to diversify.

    Our world has become the global village. Ideas are being produced rapidly around the world, and most of them have the potential to change life as we know it for future generations. Already, we’ve witnessed amazing ideas and technologies that have sahped the way we think, interact and build businesses.

    You can focus solely on growing your own empire, or you can plan to invest in some of the best business options in 2017. Investments aren’t just about becoming a part of something revolutionary. They can give way to opportunities for success for your business idea as well. If a single idea can promote such a positive change, then a combination of them can do multiple wonders — not only for the business industry but for people around the world.

    Here are some of the top business-investment moves you can make in the next 12 to 18 months.

    1. Virtual reality.

    Entrepreneurship has strong roots in the virtual-reality industry. Despite being around for a few years now, virtual reality gained better momentum in 2016. Experts believe the industry most likely will continue this positive trajectory in the near future — with projected revenue of roughly $4.6 billion in 2017. Virtual reality still is greatly under research, and this provides ample opportunities for new ideas.

    2. Translation and interpretation.

    The United States always has been home to multiple cultures and languages. The Census Bureau reports Americans speak more than 350 languages in their homes. On the other hand, businesses have become global. This highly increases the need for both understanding and awareness of more languages. Giants such as Google and Skype have enhanced and expanded their translation capabilities. This allows them to encompass a target market whose customers want a more personalized service. As companies embrace more languages and cultures, employment in areas supporting this industry are projected to increase by 30 percent by 2024.

    3. Drone technology.

    Drone technology is meeting the diverse needs of multiple industries, including infrastructure, mining and transport. The developing drone market is estimated to be valued at $127 billion. If you decide to invest in this sector, consider choosing a publicly traded company. It’s worth mentioning that big, public drone companies such as Go Pro recently have experienced difficult times on the stock market. Instead of selecting popular manufacturers, weigh the benefits of putting your dollars in drone technology and components. One such example is Ambarella, which specializes in producing the video chip sets used in drone cameras.

    4. Green energy.       

    Civilians and big-business names both are becoming increasingly conscious about their carbon footprints. Businesses have a much larger role to play as they set example for green practices. If trends in environmentally friendly business methods are any indication, this is a good place for investment.

    Wind power, in particular, is gaining momentum. It’s inexpensive, and the amount of electricity generated has increased fourfold since 2000. At present, America is the world’s top wind-energy producer.

    According to Wunder Capital CEO Bryan Birsic, solar also is experiencing strong tailwinds, “with the cost of a solar system down by 50 percent in the last five years and installed solar in the U.S. up a remarkable 95 percent in 2016.” Solar is becoming a significant job engine, too. A Department of Energy report reveals there are twice as many workers building solar as there are employed at coal, oil, and natural gas power plants.

    How to get started in the next 12 to 18 months

    As an entrepreneur, your connections with other idea-generators are among your biggest strengths. Work to reinforce these relationships and learn which kinds of decisions your peers are making in 2017. Choose investments that are geared to not only make a profit in the long run but also increase the value of your personal venture. Investing in certain emerging technologies can give you the opportunity to make your existing platform better. Moreover, it may open up more ideas for the future.

    Experts generally agree that you’ll ultimately benefit from being a bit defensive about your investments for the remainder of this year. The current bull market has been the second longest in history. While it doesn’t indicate falling stocks, some market watchers do expect a correction or recession — but the “when” is unpredictable. Incorporating some defensive investments could help cushion the impact (and certainly won’t harm your portfolio). For example, you might consider an index fund that invests in dividend growth stocks, which are supposed to perform better during recessions.

    Keep your options open when it comes to big-business names. Some of these stock buys will be the best investment decisions you can make in the coming months. Consider Amazon, which rapidly is moving from its major online-retailer function toward cloud computing, video content and artificial intelligence. Stock buys of Medspace, a huge name in the biotech industry, are expected to hit more than $35 over the coming months.

    Finally, banks are expected to perform better in the near future. The 2016 election was a game-changer in the business world, and markets still are fluctuating not yet a full year into President Donald Trump’s administration. Such an environment leaves plenty of unforeseen elements. Financial stocks could be a wise play against this backdrop. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase fared well under the Trump rally. Rumors of a coming increase in interest rates and paring down of regulations also should make it easier to do business with banks.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
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  • Everyone Talks About Living Their Best Life. How do You Actually do it?

    Living your dream life requires grappling with a lot of cold reality.

    What does the life of your dreams look like? Are you exploring the world and working from your laptop? Are you hanging out with celebrities at award shows? Are you at home spending time with your kids every day?

    It’s possible to engineer the lifestyle you want. You might not get every aspect of it, but don’t confuse having everything in life with having the lifestyle of your dreams. You don’t have to earn billions of dollars to have it. You don’t need to come from the right pedigree. (I know I didn’t.)

    However, for this life-engineering to work for you — you will need to put effort into the process. Understand this: It will likely take several years to accomplish the planning stage of these goals. What else will it take to engineer the lifestyle of your dreams? Here are some tips to get you started.

    1. Clarity.

    What is it that you actually want? You don’t need to construct a vision board, just be honest with yourself. How much money will it take until you feel accomplished? What experiences do you want to have? Write it down if it helps you put it into focus.

    Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, conducted a study, and found that people who wrote down their goals on a regular basis were 42 percent more likely to achieve them.

    When envisioning what you want, don’t confuse lifestyle with assets. You can drive a Maserati every day without ever owning one-if that’s what you want. In other words, you can experience the lifestyle without the large price tag.

    2. Time and effort.

    There is this odd expectation that people can quit their jobs, launch a business and become overnight millionaires. Achieving anything extraordinary takes time.

    Building a business or becoming an industry expert can easily take seven to ten years. You will likely spend several years experiencing incremental changes and iterating on these changes before you have a quantum leap.

    Most successful people spend countless hours working and training to reach their goals. If you’re not willing to clock in the time, then you shouldn’t expect results.

    3. Network.

    A mantra that has been highly influential to my own lifestyle engineering is: “The quality of our lives is defined by the people we surround ourselves with and the conversations we have with them.”

    In order to create the lifestyle that you dream of, you need to surround yourself with positive people that push and encourage you. Research by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler found that our network-friends, colleagues, and family-influence our life.

    Behaviors and emotions can be passed from person to person, even if it is a friend of a friend that you’ve never met. Your network has the power to influence everything from voting habits, obesity, divorce and even happiness, so choose your connections wisely.

    Connect with key people. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to meet investors, potential clients and press years before you need their help. If your dream is to be a digital nomad and travel blogger, you need to develop connections with those in the industry to find out what separates the successful people from the wannabes.

    When it comes to success and career, it is important to also have a diverse network that is made up of both strong ties (loved ones) and weak ties (acquaintances). According to research by Mark Granovetter, people are 58 percent more likely to get a job through a weak tie.

    4. Continuous improvement.

    Psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied what top achievers and successful people have in common. He found that most are able to enter a state of peak human performance, otherwise known as flow state.  Csikszentmihalyi claims that the key to happiness and success is flow, and to enter this flow state, you need to do something that is just outside of your skillset.

    If it is too difficult, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If it’s too easy, you’ll lose interest. Take on projects and work that you have the skills to handle, but that challenge you in new and exciting ways.

    Most importantly, be patient. You don’t need to fulfill your goals as quickly as possible. Instead, always have something that you are striving towards. Continual improvement is more realistic and rewarding than sudden success or stagnation.

    Designing your dream life takes patience, hard work and drive. You can expect to put in a significant amount of effort that yields little to no results in the beginning. However, don’t give up. Eventually, all your hard work will pay off.

    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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  • 10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free

    Don’t be discouraged. You can afford to leave the 9-to-5 rat race.

    If you’re a young entrepreneur who’s sick of the 9-to-5 rat race, you should start thinking out of the box. You need to find an idea that will allow you to start your own business so that you can choose your hours and even your salary. It’s important to ensure that it doesn’t cost you a small fortune to get started.

    With this in mind, I’ve created a list of 10 business ventures for young entrepreneurs that can either be started for free or cheaply.

    1. Chatbot-creating agency.

    Chatbots are in, and businesses of all sizes are adopting them as part of their marketing, sales, and customer services teams. These bots allow businesses to cut costs while increasing revenue. What many of them don’t know is that creating a chatbot isn’t as difficult as it once was.

    Now, thanks to platforms like Chattypeople, you can create an enterprise-grade chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) in a matter of minutes with absolutely no coding or programming knowledge.

    With the above in mind, creating a chatbot-building agency is easier than ever. You could create a Chattypeople account for free and offer your services to companies of all sizes. Best of all, as your agency grows, you can upgrade your account and, of course, increase your prices.

    2. Online retail consigner.

    If you have a camera, a computer and a real passion for fashion, you can incorporate them and start your own online business. Start by gathering all the old clothes you’ve hoarded over the years and no longer wear, and take professional pictures of them.

    You could either post your items on eBay or create your own personal store through Shopify or WordPress. The earning opportunities with this type business venture are endless, and best of all, you don’t have to limit yourself to just clothes. You could also sell vintage furniture, children’s accessories, garden equipment, and much more.

    3. Instagram consultant.

    Instagram is one of, if not the most popular, social media channels alongside Facebook and Twitter. Many companies are now opting for a visual social media presence, meaning they invest a more time into the likes of Instagram and Pinterest rather than being social on Facebook and Twitter.

    However, creating an Instagram following isn’t as easy as it seems, and if you’re a business, you’ll want to gather a following quickly. This is why these businesses hire Instagram consultants to do everything for them. With that in mind, if you love Instagram, have a smartphone, have a solid following, and do some basic marketing, you could quite easily become an Instagram consultant without making a huge monetary investment.

    4. Copywriting and editing services.

    You don’t need to have a formal education to become a copywriter or editor. In fact, you really don’t need anything apart from a computer. That said, to get higher paying clients, you need motivation, perseverance, and the right support system.

    If you can get your current clients to write testimonials highlighting your skills, you’ll likely see new customers rolling in. Once you’ve developed a client base, you’ll notice they frequently need new content written, and you can also start charging more.

    5. Blogging or vlogging

    If you have a specific skill set or are an expert in a particular industry, why not teach others? Blogging is a great way to share information with people. While you may not see how you can make money from giving people free advice, the opportunities are actually endless. You first need to increase your visitor numbers and gather a loyal following. Once you have, you can sell advertising space to companies as well as enroll in programs like Google AdSense.

    In addition to the above, you can create e-books or printed copies and sell them on your blog and through platforms like Amazon. Plus, if writing isn’t your thing, worry not. You can do all the above through video instead of written format. All you need is a computer, webcam or camera, and a website.

    6. Business and life coach.

    If you’re more of an introvert, you’re probably quieter, with a calmer demeanor, and possess a tendency to think before you speak or act. If this is the case, you should consider a career in consulting. Your ability to internalize events and listen means that you have all the skills needed to become a business or life coach.

    While you aren’t required by law to complete life coach training, you can do so if you want to have a certification to show clients. If you choose to not do the course, the overheads from being a life coach are little to none, and you can perfom consultations on the phone or online.

    7. Graphic designer.

    If you’re creative, have a computer, and know how to use design software, freelance graphic design can be an awesome way to make a living. Digital businesses are on the rise, and with that comes a higher demand for logos, website design, and other marketing materials.

    If you have the creative flair, but don’t have the experience with design software, you can either enroll in a short online course which is normally quite cheap or you can teach yourself. Many graphic designers are self-taught; you just need patience and time to get started.

    8. College application advisor.

     

    Similar to with being a life or business coach, college application advisors are good at offering one-on-one advice that’s personal to every client. If you believe you can offer thoughtful advice, have strong organizational skills, and want to help young adults take the next steps in their careers, you could offer your services as a college application advisor. All you need is a computer, a love for research, and an understanding of the educational system.

    9. Tutoring

    Tutoring is a job you could do completely online. You just need a computer, a website to market yourself, and a specific set of skills that you can offer to people. For example, if you’re a math guru, know another language, or have a college degree, you could teach students via Skype or over the phone. Aside from being virtually free to get started, you’ll be able to charge up to $100 an hour depending on the student’s needs.

    10. Photographer

    Photography is something that many people regard as their hobby, but in actual fact, it can become quite a lucrative career choice. If you already have a camera and your friends often ask you to take pictures at their events, it’s likely you have what it takes to turn your hobby into your career.

    To get started, create a website and upload a portfolio of your best photography along with your contact information. If you want to take it one step further, get some help with your marketing…you’ll find customers queueing at your door to pay for your services.

    Finally…

    Starting your own business can be challenging, but with some motivation, perseverance, and a bit of business sense, you’ll be able to not only choose a career path that you love, but also do it without spending a fortune. Choose one of the options mentioned above to get started, and remember to network as much as possible to stay current with your industry’s latest trends.

    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

    Phone: +1.310.800.2197
    info@www.p2pdevelopers.com
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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

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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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  • ‘Hate Is a Cancer,’ Apple CEO Writes in Email to Employees

    ‘This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal,’ Tim Cook wrote in response to the protests and violence in Charlottesville.

    On the evening of Aug. 16, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to all Apple employees addressing the protests and violence in Charlottesville, Va., as well as President Donald Trump’s response to the events.

    In the letter, he denounced the behavior and beliefs of the white supremacist groups who organized in Charlottesville, as well as President Trump’s characterization of their actions and ideals in remarks the president has given throughout the week.

    “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights,” Cook wrote. “Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

    Prior to sending this internal memo, Cook expressed similar sentiments via Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the events.

    In addition to these public stances, Cook in February spoke out against the initial travel ban executive order President Trump signed to halt U.S. immigration from Muslim-majority nations. Apple joined 96 other firms in signing an amicus brief opposing the ban. The brief stated that the order “discriminate[d] on the basis of national origin and religion” and was “inflicting substantial harm on U.S. companies.”

    Cook’s letter to employees this week called on Apple employees to stand together as equals in the face of hate, and it announced that the corporation is committmed to donating more than $2 million to civil rights organizations.

    Read the full email below.

    Team,

    Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and I’ve heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused.

    What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world.

    We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality. I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.

    Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point — that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect.

    I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that. We have always welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world and showed them that Apple is inclusive of everyone. We empower people to share their views and express themselves through our products.

    In the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate. Apple will be making contributions of $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. We will also match two-for-one our employees’ donations to these and several other human rights groups, between now and September 30.

    In the coming days, iTunes will offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC.

    Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” So, we will continue to speak up. These have been dark days, but I remain as optimistic as ever that the future is bright. Apple can and will play an important role in bringing about positive change.

    Best,
    Tim

    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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