• 3 Dangerous Entrepreneurial Myths You Need to Ignore

    This terrible advice won’t actually get you anywhere.

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

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

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

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

    1. “You need to be everywhere.”

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

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

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

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

    2. “It takes money to make money.”

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

    3. The Schmo-bags.

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

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

    Did I mention they suck?

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

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

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

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

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

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • ‘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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Has Your Business Stopped Growing? Here’s How to Turn Things Around.

    There are four big reasons businesses stall out. It happened to me.

    Has your business ever stalled out and simply stopped growing?

    It happened to me. Early on in my career as an entrepreneur, I couldn’t figure out why everything stalled. But lucky for me, I didn’t quit there. I kept working, changed my business, and now — having worked with thousands of business owners — I have discovered that the primary reasons a business stops growing tend to land into a handful of categories.

    1. Lack of opportunity

    Some businesses just aren’t made to scale up. When I first started in the dry-cleaning delivery niche, I didn’t understand this simple fact: Business in my little area was never going to be a million-dollar business, let alone a multimillion-dollar business, no matter how hard I worked. Make sure you aren’t trying to win the Super Bowl with a peewee football team.

    On a side note, when I make this argument, sometimes people argue the point. For example, they may tell me I could have expanded into other areas or franchised. Of course, I’m not saying there aren’t ways to scale a business, but some businesses are simply easier and less risky to scale than others. If you are in an industry that is challenging to scale, one where your risk of failure is super high, it may be a good idea to start looking into other opportunities.

    2. Boredom

    It’s amazing how many of us get bored. We get bored with our marketing, with our product, with our niche. Our boredom causes us to cancel marketing, taking our eye off the main business to focus on some new exciting startup we want to work on.

    Want to sell and jump into a new exciting niche where every prospect only says yes and sales come easily? I get it. I’m not immune to those feelings. But, making changes because we are bored is insanity! If you have an ATM machine that spits out hundred-dollar bills, why would you try to rewire it? This is what people do with their marketing or when they take focus off the main cash cow business. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they are stopping what’s working because they want to try something new. It’s just crazy.

    3. People

    If you read the crap that comes from some marketers, you’d think that everyone was making money easily, using only the internet with no problems, no skills and no employees. While I do know people I could describe that way who are making money, this is the exception and not the rule. It would be like me pointing to a group of billionaires and selling thousands of products with the premise being: “Just buy this product and you too can be a billionaire.”

    In almost all businesses it takes employees (or at least outsourced labor) to grow. If you’ve stalled, it may be because you need to invest in another employee or two to kick-start the growth. I get it, when you invest in employees, payroll is bloated, short-term profits go down, and it is risky. But guess what? You’re a business owner — that’s the job. And 99.99 percent of businesses need employees to make money.

    4. Too externally focused

    As I write this, I’m in the middle of planning next year’s marketing strategy. I will have a number of new and exciting items on the list (external stuff), but one of the most interesting numbers I’m working on is a plan for our sales call conversion rate. With no increases in the number of calls next year, a 5 percent increase in conversion would equal an additional $1.152 milion in annual revenue. That is an internal number worth focusing on.

    I’ll also be looking at how to reduce customer churn, improve employee performance and increase referrals. Just focusing on internalopportunities, we have the potential to add millions in new revenue and/or cost reductions due to improved performance, which leads to increased margins. If you’re not thinking about ways to work on these internal opportunities, you’re leaving tons of new revenue and profit on the table.

    Growing a business isn’t easy, but it is pretty simple, assuming you have opportunity in the current business model. You just have to be willing to invest. Invest in yourself (your business education), and invest in your company by hiring the right people, focusing on improving your systems and process.

    We’ve talked about why businesses stop growing, and the first two points looked at those reasons, but the last two points could easily be turned around and used as the start of a growth strategy.

    • Who should you hire right now?
    • What internal challenges could you fix that would have an increase on profits?
    • Can you do a better job converting prospects into customers?
    • How are you doing on upsells?
    • What about referrals?
    • Do your customers know who you are, what you do, and that you’re still in business? If not, how are you going to change that?
    • What is the communication strategy for both prospects and customers?

    I could go on, but you get the point.

    The decision to grow (or not grow) is yours; you’re armed with the information. Now you just need to take action.

     

    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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  • 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

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  • McDonald’s Puts Mobile Ordering to the Test

    McDonald’s on Wednesday March 15 began testing new mobile ordering and payment functionality at 29 of its restaurants in Monterey and Salinas, California.

    It will expand the pilot to another 51 restaurants in Spokane, Washington, on March 20.

    The company will run multiple pilots to gather customer feedback, work out any issues that arise, and streamline integration with its IT systems before rolling out its updated mobile app to nearly all 14,000 restaurants in the United States — as well as 6,000 others in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia and China — by the end of the year.

    Improving the Customer Experience

    Providing mobile ordering is part of a global growth plan McDonald’s unveiled on March 1, which hinges on improving the customer experience. The updated app will track a customer’s location, allowing customers to place orders anywhere and ensure their food is fresh when they get it.

    “You want to make sure that orders are correct and delivered on time — that stuff that’s supposed to be hot is hot, and stuff that’s supposed to be cold is cold,” Beagle Research Principal Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer.

    The mobile-ordering functionality likely will contribute positively to the customer experience, remarked Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research, because “when you order fast food, you want to order fast, pay fast and eat fast.”

    The Trend Toward Mobility

    Demand for mobile ordering in the restaurant industry is “experiencing explosive growth,” noted Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research. For example, Panera Bread, an early adopter of mobile app ordering, has projected its digital sales to hit US$1 billion this year.

    Constellation has found that about 30 percent of U.S. adults aged 65 or older have a smartphone, and “they are moving towards mobile device ordering for the convenience and selection,” Zhou told CRM Buyer.

    Take Starbucks’ mobile ordering app, for instance. It “worked so well that they had a problem filling orders,” Mueller told CRM Buyer. There were long queues at the pickup counter.

    When Being First Isn’t Best

    Other restaurant chains, notably Domino’s and Starbucks, took an early lead in providing mobile ordering capabilities to their customers.

    McDonald’s may have wanted the early adopters to grapple with the new technology first. CEO Steve Easterbrook reportedly has said that it’s better to be right than to be first to market.

    “Starbucks saw a decline in customer satisfaction and their stock dipped about 4 percent last quarter because of issues around long lines and in-store congestion resulting from mobile ordering,” Zhou noted.

    “McDonald’s is what we call a ‘fast follower’ at Constellation,” she remarked. “Not being the first to market gives them an opportunity to gauge consumer demand for the service and ensures they avoid some of the mistakes others have made.”

    Being first to market can provide a competitive advantage, though, depending on the strategy hammered out by management.

    Execution is key. The Panera Bread 2.0 app, which offers rapid pickup and fast lanes, “has led to excellent customer reviews, with over 6,000 4.5-star user ratings on the iTunes App Store,” Zhou pointed out.

    “Service is important, but so is engagement,” Pombriant observed. “If you can find a way to engage better with your customers, they’ll overlook small failings.”

    Improving the Customer Experience

    Providing mobile ordering is part of a global growth plan McDonald’s unveiled on March 1, which hinges on improving the customer experience. The updated app will track a customer’s location, allowing customers to place orders anywhere and ensure their food is fresh when they get it.

    “You want to make sure that orders are correct and delivered on time — that stuff that’s supposed to be hot is hot, and stuff that’s supposed to be cold is cold,” Beagle Research Principal Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer.

    The mobile-ordering functionality likely will contribute positively to the customer experience, remarked Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research, because “when you order fast food, you want to order fast, pay fast and eat fast.”

    The Trend Toward Mobility

    Demand for mobile ordering in the restaurant industry is “experiencing explosive growth,” noted Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research. For example, Panera Bread, an early adopter of mobile app ordering, has projected its digital sales to hit US$1 billion this year.

    Constellation has found that about 30 percent of U.S. adults aged 65 or older have a smartphone, and “they are moving towards mobile device ordering for the convenience and selection,” Zhou told CRM Buyer.

    Take Starbucks’ mobile ordering app, for instance. It “worked so well that they had a problem filling orders,” Mueller told CRM Buyer. There were long queues at the pickup counter.

    When Being First Isn’t Best

    Other restaurant chains, notably Domino’s and Starbucks, took an early lead in providing mobile ordering capabilities to their customers.

    McDonald’s may have wanted the early adopters to grapple with the new technology first. CEO Steve Easterbrook reportedly has said that it’s better to be right than to be first to market.

    “Starbucks saw a decline in customer satisfaction and their stock dipped about 4 percent last quarter because of issues around long lines and in-store congestion resulting from mobile ordering,” Zhou noted.

    “McDonald’s is what we call a ‘fast follower’ at Constellation,” she remarked. “Not being the first to market gives them an opportunity to gauge consumer demand for the service and ensures they avoid some of the mistakes others have made.”

    Being first to market can provide a competitive advantage, though, depending on the strategy hammered out by management.

    Execution is key. The Panera Bread 2.0 app, which offers rapid pickup and fast lanes, “has led to excellent customer reviews, with over 6,000 4.5-star user ratings on the iTunes App Store,” Zhou pointed out.

    “Service is important, but so is engagement,” Pombriant observed. “If you can find a way to engage better with your customers, they’ll overlook small failings.”

    Source: technewsworld.com

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  • Earning money in the mobile app era:how apps can help you to save more

    Tech in the digital age is ubiquitous. Everywhere you look, you will find someone holding a smartphone, watching a movie on their tablets, or listening to music via their mobile devices.

    The mobile industry is huge and it can entice people to spend a lot more money than they usually would have. However, that does not have to be the case. In fact, people can now earn money on their spare time with simple tasks, and save money when buying anything.

    Earning money on your free time

    Most people seem to think that every service that promises to make its users money from home is a scam. While it is true that there are many apps that are entirely fake and attempt to simply trick people with fake promises, there are many legitimate ones too.

    In fact, there are countless lists of mobile apps that help you earn money online. These apps all share common features, such as allowing their users to complete as many or as few tasks as they want and earn equivalent cash in the process.

    While such apps rarely pay enough for a full-time income, their purpose is not to completely replace your actual job. Instead, they can be used whenever you have some free time and would like to earn some extra cash.

    For instance, plenty of people have a long commute every day to work. Many will spend that time listening to music, reading the newspaper, or catching up with the latest updates in social media.

    Instead of doing that, they could potentially take some time to work through mobile apps like Swagbucks which will allow them to make some extra money, perhaps enough to pay for the commute or an extra cup of coffee.

    Apps that earn you money are entirely flexible

    The best thing about these apps is that they never force their users to complete more tasks than they would like. In fact, users can simply close the app whenever they get bored and continue later in the day or even later in the week.

    The way most of these services work is that they allow users to accumulate points whenever certain tasks are completed. Completing tasks gives users points which can then be exchanged for actual money.

    That kind of flexibility is hard to come by and is one of the most appealing aspects of doing some extra work from a smartphone or tablet. As long as you are content with spending a limited amount of your time for limited rewards then such apps are the right choice for you.

    The mobile industry can also help you save money

    Earning money via mobile apps is an absolutely fine way to spend a couple of hours every day but it is not for everyone. Some people have a satisfying day job with a high salary and they do not wish to continue working when they get home or during their long commutes.

    Instead, they may wish to scout the web for deals, discounts, and interesting products that they can add to their collection. This is precisely the reason why so many apps concerned with online shopping keep popping up in each app store.

    Wish and Shpock are just two of the many examples of apps dedicated to saving people money, albeit through different avenues. The first allows people to connect with overseas shops which can ship items are highly reduced costs whereas the second one lets users sell their items to anyone in their vicinity, a modern version of the classified ads.

    Apps and the sharing economy

    The sharing economy has come under a lot of fire recently. For example, Airbnb is believed to worsen the renting problems that many major cities face because it allows people to rent their rooms in the short-term only, leading to increase shortages in housing.

    However, the sharing economy is a concept which has been readily embraced by everyday users. Today, many people would prefer to bring up Uber on their phones and order a ride than calling a taxi company and booking a ride from them.

    The sharing economy concept seems to have found a solid home in the mobile industry as more and more apps embrace it in ways that disrupt the market. In China alone, the shared economy industry is estimated at $502 billion, a number that doubled in a single year.

    Soon, major cities in the West will also catch up and ride the sharing wave even further. In the next few years, it will not be uncommon to use apps in order to rent a bike, visit a shop and pay with a mobile coupon, and request a ride via an app on the way back.

    Such concepts seem strange for the uninitiated but users across the world seem ready to adopt them whenever they actually hit the market. With apps available to earn, save, and share money, it is not difficult to believe that the mobile industry will play a vital role in the economy for years to come.

    Source: www.thenextweb.com

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  • 6 Ways to Save Your Business Thousands Each Month

    Cutting costs is always quicker and easier than bringing in more revenue.

     

    For the majority of small business owners, cash is most definitely king. In hopes of increasing their bottom line, business owners often pay themselves much less than they deserve. The truth is, you have to spend money to make money. That being said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be saving wherever possible. While some tips work better than others, here are a few you can implement right away and start saving.

    1. Bootstrap as long as you can.

    In an era of endless technology and knowledge, it’s probably “been done before”. Just because you have competition, doesn’t mean you’re too late. There’s always room to find your niche and provide value where your competitors can’t. This is actually a great way to save yourself time and money.

    Whenever possible, look to work with larger companies and utilize their pre-existing technologies or infrastructure. You can either swap services or create a revenue-sharing agreement in exchange for access to their services. Ideally, they will allow you to white-label their products so you can create an original brand presence. This strategy will surely save you thousands and give your business time to build out your own products and or services.

    2. Optimize your purchasing power.

    Taking advantage of group buying and collective purchasing is a great way to save cash. By joining these groups you’ll have access to discounts and exclusive rates on office supplies, hardware, business travel, and much more.

    There are plenty of group buying services you can utilize based on your particular business needs. If you’re a non-profit, ThriveGPO provides a great group purchasing tool. If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll never buy alone.

    3. Barter your way to growth.

    If you’re looking to avoid cash outlays or unload slow-moving inventory you can always look to swap your products and services for others. Bartering with other companies can be time consuming, so if you’d rather not bargain with other companies directly you can always hire a commissioned barter broker. Otherwise, you can join a commercial barter club or exchange.

    The National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) is a registered clearing house for member exchanges nationwide. NATE essentially allows business owners to swap any product or service with anyone. When a sale is made, participants will often receive trade dollars for their goods and services. Trade dollars are brokered across cities nationwide under NATE.

    4. Get your business credit card rewards.

    If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to apply for a business credit card. Since issuing banks assume business owners will spend more on a business card than a personal card, the rewards tend to be much more enticing. According to NerdWallet, here are the best small business credit cards of 2017:

    • Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for cash back
    • The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express: Best for airport lounge access
    • Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for travel credit
    • Capital One Spark Classic for Business: Best for fair credit

    When you redeem your credit card rewards, you should also look to redeem in the form of a gift card. Companies often times offer gift cards that you can purchase with credit card rewards points. From a dollar per points perspective, you’ll get the most bang for your buck using this strategy. If you know you’re going to need to make some big purchases on office supplies, look to purchase a gift card for Ikea for example. Using these simple but effective strategies are a great way to save much needed cash especially on larger purchases.

    5. Free trials and consultations.

    There’s no better way to save money than to get a service for free. Instead of investing large amounts of money in enterprise software for your business, you can find much less expensive SaaS tools to meet your needs. These services often provide free trials, some as long as a month. After the trial period is over, they’ll typically offer tiered pricing that allows you to pay as you scale your business. Whether it’s a payments solution, CRM software, or simple accounting tools, you should always start with a free trial.

    Free consultations are very effective when seeking legal advice. Some business attorney’s charge as high as $600/hour and bill you to the second. Typically, a lawyer will give you about 30 minutes to even an hour of time as a consultation with the assumption you’ll choose them as your legal council. If you’re just looking to get a few questions answered, use a few attorney’s and get a few consultations. If you use this trick with three or four attorney’s you’ve just saved well over $1000 in legal fees.

    6. Review your expenses quarterly.

    Generally, you should be well aware of your expenses at all times. However, it’s best to do a full analysis quarterly to determine which expenses are necessary and which aren’t. Software that you used last quarter may be obsolete to your business now, so you’ll want to cancel that subscription. It’s easy to forget about all the various software and business tools you’ve signed up for over the years. It’s good to “trim the fat” each quarter so you can make every penny count.

    Regardless the size of your business it’s very important to stay on top of your finances and be frugal. Especially for smaller companies, your growth depends heavily on how your dollar is spent. If you implement these six strategies you can save your business thousands of dollars each month, so get out and build that business!

    Source: www.entrepreneur.com

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