• 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

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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

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  • Startup Accelerators Aren’t Banking on Exits Any More

    Accelerators are increasingly selling a range of services to generate ongoing revenue, without waiting years for startups to be sold.

    Within only a decade, accelerators have become a mainstay of startup ecosystems in regions around the globe. Throughout this period, the accelerator business model has continued to evolve. Still in the Global Accelerator Report 2015, a majority of accelerators globally still indicated that they intended to follow the traditional “cash-for-equity” model, first established in 2005 by Y Combinator, which involves investing a small amount of seed money in a startup in exhange for equity. Investments typically are around $25,000 on averag in exchange for between 5 percent and 10 percent equity.

    This model has now been abandoned by a majority of accelerators, as highlighted by the recently published Global Accelerator Report 2016. The report highlighted that only 32.7 percent of accelerators predict that they will generate revenue from exits in the future, a significant shift from 2015.

    The reason for the pivot in the accelerator business model is, most likely, the small number of exits — 178 reported in 2016 — which has proven insufficient in funding their operations. Morevoer, exits usually do not occur earlier than three to five years into a startup’s lifecycle, denying accelerators a profit on investment for several years. To make up for the expensive day-to-day upfront costs of operating their programs, accelerators have deployed new models that allow them to generate revenue.

    These changes enabled the industry to keep growing year-on-year. According to new findings in the 2016 Global Accelerator report more than $206M (up 8 percent) was invested into 11,305 (up 28 percent) startups across five major regions, including the United States and Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia and Oceania. USA continues to be the leading country both in terms of startups accelerators and in dollars invested via accelerators.

    Nearly all (90.4 percent) of accelerators globally relied on, and continue to explore, new models of revenue generation. These include charging for mentorship, subletting office space, hosting events and working with corporations. Revenue from corporations has seen the largest increase. More than half (52.1 percent) of accelerators are at least partially funded by a corporation, and 67.2 percent aim to generate future revenue from services sold to corporations.

    On the one hand, this is because corporations are discovering that accelerators are an efficient and effective way to engage with startups. On the other hand, accelerators understand that corporations can help them fund operations in the short-to-medium term (exits are often far out). They improve the prospects of their portfolio companies that can potentially sell to, raise funds from, or be acquired by these corporations.

    Corporate revenue generated by accelerators came from two main sources in 2016: corporate partnerships, generally in the form of a white-labeled or jointly-run acceleration program created by the accelerator on behalf of the corporation, and corporate sponsorship packages sold by accelerators.

    It is clear that accelerators have changed their operating model globally in a significant way over the last few years. The accelerator model whilst still aligned with its predecessor’s original vision of nurturing disruptive companies – is different in a number of ways. These new accelerators possess a diversified revenue model, often focus on a specific vertical and work closely with corporations. In the coming years and beyond, it will be interesting to see what new pivots the global accelerator industry will undergo in an attempt to achieve sustainability and less reliant on government grants and private funding.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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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

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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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  • 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

    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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  • Don’t Bother Creating a New Product If You Won’t Create a Plan for Selling It

    A good idea with mediocre marketing is how businesses go broke.

    As entrepreneurs, we put our heart and soul into what we do and create. We start with a vision of something great that could help people. It can be a book, website, podcast, product or service. We take that vision and start working to make it a reality. We put in long hours and make constant changes to make the “thing” as close to perfect as we can. We get feedback and give that final push to make sure we’re releasing the best version of what was once just a thought in our minds.

    We know that it takes something stellar to do well in the market but there’s something that gets neglected. When it’s time to finally release the thing to the world, too many entrepreneurs realize they didn’t think through the marketing of it. The best product, tool or service in the world will remain unknown without good marketing and exposure. In that moment, entrepreneurs tend to throw together a last-minute sales “plan.”

    This plan has the entrepreneur reaching out to friends for a favor. They are private messaging connections on Facebook begging and/or trying to convince the connection why they should promote the thing to that entrepreneur’s network. They throw together shoddy social media posts that try to convince people they need to buy their thing. Meanwhile, their friends, business connections, and random social media connections can sense the desperation and are repelled away from even looking at what is being offered.

    A better way.

    I get these kinds of messages daily. An author worked very hard to write a good book. They are passionate about the message and created something special. But, the whole time they were working on the book, they did nothing to create an audience interested in buying the book. They didn’t build an email list well before the book launch. They didn’t spend enough time building their social media presence, and they didn’t assemble a team to help them launch the book. They made a great product but have no one anticipating or interested in buying that product.

    When they realize it, they send messages to me and others hoping we’d be interested in promoting the book. The reality is that the people they’re messaging will have zero interest in promoting the book to their audiences. They just aren’t invested.

    I was guilty of this very thing when I published my first book. I learned the lesson and built an audience well in advance of publishing my second book. First book sales were five copies sold in the first six months. The second book sales were 5,768 copies sold in the first month of launch. I sold books because I had built an audience and had a marketing plan.

    The better way is to build your customer base before you even start creating your thing. You build that customer base by providing free value. People don’t care about what you’re selling — they care what’s in it for them. You give them that value well in advance through blog posts, podcast episodes, video training, webinars, samples, articles, pro tips — anything that helps them get results in their life.

    You do this before and while you’re building what you will sell. When it’s time to sell, they will buy because they’ve already gotten value from you. They also see that you are an expert and that they will get even more value if they spend their hard earned money on your thing.

    A real sales plan.

    The key to selling lots of your thing is to have a real marketing plan. Many entrepreneurs treat their business as a fun hobby. A real business has a marketing plan in place well ahead of launching anything. You should sit down and think about what you will offer in your business over the next year. Put those things on a calendar. Then, plan out what content you’ll create leading up to the launch that adds undeniable value first.

    At the end of that content-value period, you launch the product or service as a way for those that got the value to get help reaching their next growth level. When you launch, you use all the tools, software and marketing channels to spread the word in a larger way. No last-minute social media messages begging for a sale.

    Don’t be that entrepreneur sending desperate messages asking for last-minute marketing help. Be the kind of entrepreneur who creates plans well before they start creating their thing. You work so hard to create something great that helps people — it deserves to be seen far and wide. You deserve to make more money and grow your business as a result of your efforts. You need a good product and a plan to sell it long before you’re finished creating your thing.

     

    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
    United States of America

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  • 5 Powerful Ways to Become Your Best Self

    The biggest obstacles facing every entrepreneur are within.

    You know you are capable of great things. You know that under the right circumstances you could go far. You believe in yourself and what you can accomplish. You may have a picture of yourself in your mind’s eye: a vision of making your dreams a reality, of achieving the success you know could be yours.

    Now all you need to do is become that version of yourself. You need to become your best you. How do you begin transforming into the person you believe you should be?

    It’s time to stretch yourself; to grow and allow yourself to develop. Think of this as a journey of self-discovery. Here are five powerful tips to get you on the road to becoming the person you were meant to be.

    1. Try new things.

    You can’t let yourself become complacent. Fear of change is your enemy. Kick things up a notch by regularly trying something new and unexpected. Is there something you have always wanted to try, but never made time for? It could be something adventurous, like scuba diving or skydiving.

    Or maybe you’ve always wanted to tap into your artistic side and learn to paint with watercolors or take a photography class. Whatever it is, it’s important that you make time to explore a new activity, skill or craft.

    Surprise yourself by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Doing so will give your ingenuity and innovative side a boost. Plus, you will have discovered something new about yourself — perhaps a hidden talent or an ability to learn something you didn’t think you were capable of.

    Along with trying new things, remember to give yourself time to have fun, relax and unplug from daily stress. Downtime gives your brain a chance to recharge and stay open to new experiences. Filling up all your time with work, tasks and obligations is a ticket to mental and physical fatigue. Push yourself away from your desk and remember to embrace life!

    2. Pursue your dreams.

    What is your ultimate dream; the thing you want more than anything? What is your true calling in life? These are some of the important questions to ask yourself in order to unlock who you are meant to be. Pursuing your dreams will give you determination to see your goals through, and will spark your creativity and inspiration. Plus, you will be doing something that makes you happy and holds your interest.

    For many, the hardest part is identifying the goals you want to pursue. You may need to explore different opportunities to see what sticks and what doesn’t. You may want to focus on a problem that you want to solve or an issue you’re enthusiastic about. Remember, your goals and ambitions can change and morph over time — and that’s okay!

    The only rule you should heed is that your dreams must come from within yourself — they shouldn’t be a reflection of what others want for you or what you think you should be doing. If you’re pursuing something solely for the sake of a good income, or to live up to someone else’s expectations, you will fall short.

    3. Sustain your motivation.

    We all have days when we wake up just not feeling it. Those days when our brains won’t get going — we’d rather do anything besides working. But despite being low on energy or inspiration, you have to find a way to keep moving forward. Remember, progress is incremental. You have to find ways to keep that fire in your belly; to keep nurturing that deep desire to achieve.

    Keep your motivation alight by taking time every day to reignite that internal flame. Read blogs and books or listen to TED talks or podcasts on topics that enthrall you. Write down your goals and post them where you will see them every day, so you are constantly reminded of your purpose.

    Keep a notebook and jot down ideas when something inspires you. When you are feeling blasé or need a boost, take some time to revisit your old ideas. They may inspire you once more and help you regain your momentum.

    4. Hone good habits.

    People are naturally creatures of habit. These can be good habits that we have worked hard to instill, or bad habits that suck away our determination and leave us short of our goals. Building solid, reliable habits will keep you taking baby steps in the right direction and sustain you through lackluster periods. Good habits are important to creating your best self because they keep you moving forward when you’d rather be slacking off.

    Developing a habit takes time and repetition, and should be done slowly. Trying to change too many things at once will feel overwhelming and daunting. The goal is to make incremental changes to your lifestyle that eventually become a way of life. Remember that even small habits can have a powerful cumulative effect.

    For instance, if you have a goal of writing a book, develop a habit of sitting down and writing every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Similarly, if you want to get into better shape, start exercising for 20 minutes a day and work your way up.

    5. Focus on self-care.

    If you want to operate at peak performance, you must incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Are you eating nutritious meals and getting plenty of sleep? It’s going to be hard to feel your best if you are run ragged and are stuffing your belly with junk food. Are you making time to exercise and stretch?

    When we work up a sweat, it releases the endorphins that build up with stress. In many ways, your body is like a machine. It needs to be tuned and tended to, or something is going to give. If you don’t care for your body, you may start to feel burned out and you may be more apt to get sick or feel overwhelmed.

    Don’t forget that your mental well-being also needs to be nurtured. Take time to meditate and focus on the things you are grateful for. Taking time to replenish your mind and spirit is paramount to sustaining mental health and giving you a sense of well-being. And that is key to becoming and maintaining your best self, now and over the long haul.

     

    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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    Los Angeles, CA, 90025
    United States of America

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  • The Mistake Every Entrepreneur Makes When Creating Their Product or Service

    Innovation starts with a problem, not a solution.

    Entrepreneurs love to gush about how they identified a problem, created a solution and then disrupted a market.

    In my experience, innovation doesn’t necessarily work like that. Often, creating the solution uncovers the problem. In industries with a long, that’s-the-way-it’s-been-done attitude, this realization can make the difference between innovation flops and multimillion dollar successes.

    People usually recognize a problem retroactively, when an invention makes legacy technology seem insufficient. Horses were fine until Henry Ford made the Model T. Few people realized that CDs and the Walkman were clumsy solutions until iPods. Taxis were good enough until Uber.

    The more that people take something for granted, they less they can verbalize its problems. No one told the guys at YETI, “Hey, could you engineer a $350, bear-proof cooler that keeps ice solid for seven days?” Until YETI made their cooler, no one realized how bad other coolers were.

    Asking people to describe their problems with a product or market rarely works. Instead, you must build narratives of what people currently do. By analyzing those narratives, you can discover patterns of behavior, preference and mindset that signal unmet needs, which are the kernels of great problems.

    Let’s walk through the process.

    1. Observe your customers in a natural setting.

    It’s tempting to believe we can discover everything about customers from our computer screen. Data, we’re told, reveals all. Unfortunately, charts and graphs can’t pick up the information you absorb visually. When you watch people use your product — or a competitor’s product — in their normal environment, you notice meaningful patterns. At Trager Grills, we call this “in-habitat observation.”

    Observations reveal the workarounds people develop to make a deficient product perform better. Last year, when my colleagues visited our customers’ homes to watch them grill, they noticed that many Traeger users had built makeshift extenders to their hopper, the container that holds wood pellets (fuel for their grill). They built those to avoid running out of pellets during eight- to ten-hour smoke sessions. Had we only observed people using our grills at Traeger headquarters, we never would have identified that problem.

    Rather than creating an artificial environment for observations, do it in your customer’s natural habitat. Go to people’s homes, offices and neighborhoods, or wherever they use your product.

    2. Humanize your surveys.

    Thanks to the world’s data obsession, we tend to use survey questions that produce quantifiable answers. The results are clean but misleading. We don’t ask these sorts of questions in real life.

    For instance, how often do you ask your closest friends to rate something on a one to 10 scale? How often do you ask anyone to answer on a scale from “Most Likely” to “Least Likely,” “Very Good” to “Very Poor” or “Most Important” to “Least Important?” Those are unnatural ways to think about the world.

    Instead, ask open-ended questions. One of my favorites is, “When people ask you about your [insert product], what do you brag about?” That’s a powerful question, because the aspects that attract appreciation and disappointment tend to be related. If you love the way your car drives, anything that diminishes the driving experience will be that much more noticeable to you.

    3. Ask people to prioritize.

    It’s hard to rate a single feature or idea independent of alternatives. But, if you ask people to rank a list of features — and do this with multiple consumer segments — you see what customers value.

    Let’s use your smartphone to illustrate how this works. It’s hard to assign a value to screen size independent of other factors. But, how would you rank screen size, camera quality, voice control, speaker quality and data storage in order of importance? The question forces you to consider what you use most often, how it affects your experience with the smartphone and what needs improvement.

    Ranking features bears a strong resemblance to how we differentiate between products. For example, when buying a mountain bike (common here in Utah), you might test and compare three to five bikes. The thicker tires on the Santa Cruz bike are nice. The dropper seat post on this Trek would be useful. The Specialized is more expensive, but comes with lighter components.

    What matters most to me? Alternatives sharpen our ability to distinguish priorities. The more we understand our customers’ priorities, the better we can craft solutions.

    So, conduct in-habitat observations, ask open-ended questions and get some quantifiable data by asking survey respondents to rank options. Your future customers still don’t have a problem, and they won’t until you build their feedback into a new product that provides a solution to all the deficiencies they experience now.

    Some companies mistake refinement for innovation. Others look for a grand problem and never find it. But, if you lead customers to the solution, then they’ll realize they have a problem.

     

    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
    United States of America

    Phone: +1.310.800.2197
    info@www.p2pdevelopers.com
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