Want A Successful Business? Focus On These 5 Things

It shocks me to see how many entrepreneurs continue to get in their own way by focusing on the wrong things in business. There’s no reason to make success hard when it’s easy.

Don’t focus on what you don’t know at first you’ll just get frustrated and stuck. Focus instead on what you can do and keep going to gain momentum. This means focusing on the easy parts first, then coming back to the more difficult aspects of building your business. Hopefully, by then you’ll have built up enough momentum that it won’t break your productive focus.

The following are some of the basic business skills (especially soft skills) that drive you to success with ease. These basic skills are what truly set you up for success.

  1. Focus on what works for easy success. Many entrepreneurs believe they’ll succeed, but they lack the basic business skills and common business sense to back up that belief. They waste a lot of time focusing on expensive details.

For instance, when I work with entrepreneurs in building or reinventing their businesses, I help them develop or re-create their branding. Occasionally, I get a client who gets stuck on such details as perfecting the font on the logo when he should be focusing on areas of the business that generate profits. People like this make it hard for themselves, instead of making it easy by trusting the process.

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Introducing how to succeed in business. 6 Secret steps to success. Part 2 – How to achieve your dreams in real life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHwxR…

Obsessing over perfection or the wrong details isn’t cost-effective. You must learn how to prioritize. Know how much time to spend on each aspect of your business, and don’t waste time on less important tasks.

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  1. Avoid “Squirrel Syndrome.” It’s not uncommon for a business owner to spin their wheels and lose focus. When this happens, many people start looking for the next bright, shiny object to grab hold of. This is called Squirrel Syndrome.
  • Squirrels have a severe inability to focus.
  • Squirrels often dart back and forth—doubting their deci­sions—unable to choose a direction.
  • Squirrels have something to teach us: what not to do.

The Squirrel Syndrome may cause abrupt dashes from one idea to another or one project to the next. When this happens, you become unfocused and may even become frantic about not getting things accomplished. The result is, you delay or never complete important projects to reach your goals.

You can avoid Squirrel Syndrome by learning to recognize when a squirrel shows up in your life. Refocus by taking the time to define the project or direction in which you need to go. Then stay on task and turn off all distractions. Remember, every time you stray off course, it takes that much longer to reach your goals.

  1. Focus on activities that create results. Focus is one of those basic-but-critical, habits you need to master if you want to be successful. Improve your focus on the day-to-day basic business activities you do best, and from which you produce extraordinary results. If you don’t, you’ll create higher stress levels and may experience burnout. When you spend most of your time and energy doing the business tasks you’re brilliant at and allow others (like employees or subcontractors) to do the rest, you reap the biggest rewards.

For example, don’t try building a website unless you’re a webmaster, and don’t try learning technical skills if that isn’t the best use of your time. Outsource those things instead, and focus on running your business so it can grow and prosper.

  1. Multitask mindfully. The key to multitasking is to do it strategically and mindfully. Mindful multitasking means that you check in with yourself and determine how you need to focus in each new situation.

Mindful multitasking allows you to stop reacting to distractions, such as the automatic reflex to answer the phone or read an incoming text. It allows you to focus on the actions that provide the best results and disregard everything else. After you set your intentions for the day, create a to-do list that you can tackle using mindful multitasking, allowing yourself to be present in each action you take for the day.

  1. Focus on developing one big project at a time. Don’t try to start multiple projects at once—it fragments focus and time. Entrepreneurs are creative people, often with many good business ideas. And it’s hard turning off the desire to act on multiple ideas at one time. But if you split your attention between more than one big project at a time, you’ll run into trouble completing anything at all. You’re going to need all your energy and focus to get your one new project off the ground.

Here are five ways to remain focused on whatever your task at hand may be:

  1. Write out what you need to accomplish each day so you don’t forget important tasks. When a new idea comes to mind, don’t stop what you’re doing. Simply make a note of it and come back to it at a more convenient time.
  2. Focus on your overall ideas and then implement an effective action plan. Keep your top three goals in mind and commit to achieving them each week. Write down the specific actions you need to take to achieve those goals.
  3. Tackle creative work first. Mindless work will drain your energy, lower your focus, and waste your time. When you start with creative work at the beginning of the day, you can work on the most complex projects when your energy is highest before moving on to simpler tasks, such as answering emails or returning calls.
  4. Understand what’s worthy of distraction. Don’t allow last-minute, nonemergency issues to kill your focus. Stay on task and stick to your commitments. Prioritize other tasks and put together a timeline so you’re not needlessly distracted.
  5. Unplug from email, social media, and phone calls. Take a break from all outside distractions and focus on the task at hand. You’ll get a lot more done when you’re not constantly interrupting yourself.

Debbie Allen

By:Debbie Allen / Speaker, Business Mentor & Author

Source: Want a Successful Business? Focus on These 5 Things

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Should You Use Your Own Name or Create a Brand Name for Your Business?

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A friend and ex-colleague of mine recently left her full-time job and started freelancing as a consultant. Like any freelancer seeking new business opportunities, she planned to create a website showcasing her past work and detailing her capabilities. But first, she had to answer a critical question: Should she create a new to represent her business or simply use her own name? Since I run a brand consulting agency with one full-time employee (me), she asked for my advice.

No matter what kind of freelance work you’re doing – from brand consultant to bookkeeper – this is a question you’ll have to answer. Using your personal name means presenting yourself as an individual contributor and keeping the focus on you. Coming up with a brand name, on the other hand, will require a thorough naming process and will create some “daylight” between you and the business. Either path can work, and deciding which is right for you depends on a range of personal factors. I’ve outlined five reasons below to take the first approach: creating a new brand name for your freelance business.

A brand name suggests scale

In the past, many companies took on their founder’s . Think Lipton, Ford, or . But these companies’ modern-day counterparts are more likely to develop unique brand names like , Tesla, or (For the record, Starbuck is a fictional character from Moby Dick, Nikola Tesla died 60 years before the founding of , and it’s unlikely Robin Hood was a real person, much less had any involvement with the financial services app.). Because of this shift, a unique brand name, rather than a founder’s name (i.e., yours) can create an impression of a larger organization, which implies more breadth and depth.

If you’re thinking, “But I don’t want anyone to think I’m more than one person,” don’t underestimate the disadvantage solo freelancers can face in competitive situations. Remember that people who’ll never meet you – whether they’re decision-makers or procurement personnel – may be making judgments based on your name alone. For example, imagine having to select one of the following brand consultancies: Catchword, Lexicon, or Sally Flakowitz. The personal name creates an awkward, apples-to-oranges situation you’re probably better off avoiding.

Related: Why Brand Name is Important for Start-Ups?

A brand name gives you room to grow

Speaking of scale, another benefit of a brand name is its potential to stretch as your business changes. You may not plan on building a 15-person team – but plans often change. Should your business become more than a one-person operation, a brand name provides room to grow.

This logic applies even on a project-to-project basis. When you take on a large assignment, you may need to subcontract work or hire other freelancers as teammates. When showing up at a client’s office with a colleague, introducing yourselves as independent freelancers who happen to be working together at the moment does not inspire confidence. It creates a temporary, noncommital feeling. It’s much easier – and sounds more professional – to say, “Hi, I’m Rob, and this is Sally. We’re from [BrandName].”

A brand name provides an opportunity to express ideas

What ideas and feelings does your name evoke to those who hear it? Hopefully, amongst your family and friends, at least, a host of positive adjectives are associated with your name – perhaps smart, creative, and hardworking. But for those who’ve never met you? Never heard of you? It’s just a name. Unless you go by “Sting” or “The Rock,” your name doesn’t really convey any meaning. It doesn’t tell prospective clients that you’re smart or creative. It’s not even a name you chose.

But creating a brand name allows you to say something. Some brand names are straightforward and descriptive (e.g., Best Buy), while some merely suggest an idea (e.g., Zipcar). Others venture into the abstract – they don’t carry any relevant meaning but can nevertheless convey a sense of personality, like Apple (simple) or Virgin (irreverent). No matter what approach your brand name has, you can use it to tell people something about yourself and the work you do.

Related: The Do’s and Don’t’s of Naming Your Business (Infographic)

A brand name may be easier to spell and pronounce

Some first and last names are easier to pronounce than others, but chances are the brand name you create will be shorter than your personal name (one word rather than two, for example). And since you’re building the name from scratch, you’ll have an opportunity to ensure its . While there are exceptions, most of the best brand names are short and sweet. Names built from one or more real English words are more likely to be understood, pronounceable, and correctly spelled than many people’s names.

If you have any interest in doing business overseas, you may find your personal name has additional drawbacks. Names that are commonplace in one language or culture may appear strange or unpronounceable in other parts of the world. Your name may lead people to assume – accurately or not – that you’re from a particular country or region and, whether or not it’s fair, that assumption may come with prejudices. English, however, has become the lingua franca of global business. A real English word or two is likely to be understood and pronounceable by many business people for whom English is not a native tongue.

A brand name may be more distinctive

The flip side of the point above is that, in some cases, personal names are so common that they fail to stand out. If your name is “Niamh Moloughney,” good luck getting people to spell and pronounce it correctly. But if you’re one of the over 11,000 Ann Millers on LinkedIn, your prospective customers may have trouble remembering you or telling you apart from other freelancers.

Reviewing competitor names is a critical step in any brand naming process. In creating your brand name, you can choose to use a different naming style, pick one that’s significantly shorter or longer than competitors, or find an initial letter that’s unique to the category.

Ultimately, this decision depends heavily on your given name and surname. How common are they? Are they hard to spell or pronounce? Will they associate you with a specific language, country, or region – for better or worse? Some people’s names almost beg to be used as brand names, like Smart & Final (named after founders J.S. Smart and H.D. Final) or Fox Racing (named after founder Geoff Fox). They’re short, simple, easy to remember, and have built-in meaning or imagery. Unless you’re lucky enough to have such a distinctive, evocative name, consider creating a brand name for your freelance business.

Related: 10 Secrets to Master Your Personal Brand

Rob Meyerson

 

By: Rob Meyerson/ Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

 

Source: Should You Use Your Own Name or Create a Brand Name for Your Business?

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3 Key Steps to Make Your Business More Efficient and More Profitable

The Covid-19 pandemic has arguably imposed more challenges to the way companies have done business than any other single event in living memory, if not longer. Whilst the external pressures on a business have increased, many enterprises are still handicapping themselves by not building-in even the most basic system efficiencies. By effectively managing and prioritizing your business’ inputs, most particularly the labor-hours of you and your senior team, you can release greater outputs and ultimately revenue.

Related: Manage Your Company More Efficiently with This 22-Course Project Management Training

Here are three key principles for optimising efficiency, to release your business from self-imposed constraints, in 2021.

1. You are not a manager, you are a leader

Leadership and Management are both the same, right? Wrong, couldn’t be more wrong – stop it! Warren Bennis, Professor of Business Administration and an Organisational Consultant is quoted as an opening: “The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it

Even this simple change of mindset will release you from one of the most pervasive inefficiencies in business. If you see yourself as a manager you are strategically no better than a caretaker, taking what you have and merely preserving it. Entrepreneurship rests on the foundation of leadership: identifying a business’s strengths and weaknesses, implementing positive change whilst taking others on the journey with you. Use the ‘Plan’ ‘Do’ ‘See’ ‘Act’ system. Develop an efficientcy idea, trial it, review and then roll it out for system-wide effectiveness

True leadership has a compounding effect on efficiency. If you identify yourself as a leader you will improve your business through efficiencies. If you teach your team that they are leaders too, then they will identify efficiencies upon efficiencies at every level in your business.

Related: 10 Awesome Tips for Being a Better Leader

2. Get lean

Taiichi Ohno, founder of the Toyota Production System which gave rise to ‘Lean’ working said when asked about Lean thinking: “All we are doing is looking at the timeline, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the timeline by reducing the non-value adding wastes”

The key question here is ‘What are the things you are doing that people won’t pay for, and why are you still doing them?’. (1) Identify what your client wants, (2) identify what workflows are required to bring about the client’s goals and (3) automate the ‘system pull’ so that (1) naturally flows, without bottlenecks, from (2). Waste can arise from a range of sources including over-processing, unnecessary motion of goods and staff, and simple erroneous thinking within system design. Cut it out, because no one is paying you for it, but be careful not to inadvertently devalue your brand by dehumanizing your process

Related: How to Apply Lean Principles to Your Startup’s Productivity and Time Management

3. Invest in real business efficiency review

Kevin Zhang, the eCommerce entrepreneur behind HEMPX clothing brand and the Branded Niche eCommerce (‘BNE’) approach, has a unique way to ensure business efficiency is at the heart of his business. Every month, Kevin spends one-week logging everything that he did that week, hour by hour, and then closely examines any inefficiencies. Kevin looks at his schedule and determines which activities are high value-add and which can be automated through hiring new talent.

The difference between a successful start-up and a scaled-up business is the development of systems to build growth on the foundation of a verified concept. The University of Oxford identifies scalable infrastructure as one of the three key requirements for a business to move to the next level, alongside strong leadership and appropriate marketing. This includes IT systems and production or manufacturing systems, as well as office space and workforce arrangements. If a business owner is spending all of their time in the weeds of their business rather than constantly thinking about growth, then, of course, their business is not going to grow.

Related: 7 Key Steps to a Growth Strategy That Works Immediately

A focus and commitment to removing inefficiency is like removing shackles from a business’s potential. It requires courageous leadership, and ability to identify what your client needs and supply that in the most streamlined fashion, and a willingness to stop and take stock to ensure you are using your time effectively to guide your business in the right direction.

By: Samuel leach / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor Director of Samuel & Co Trading

.

TakingTheBiz

In this revision tutorial for A level Business students we examine how to improve the efficiency of a business by improving its labour productivity. Efficiency and labour productivity are topics on the new A level Business specifications for Edexcel, AQA and OCR. TakingTheBiz is a channel dedicated to A level Business revision. See more of our videos: http://www.youtube.com/c/TakingTheBiz…​ Stay in touch with TakingTheBiz via social media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TakingTheBiz/​ Twitter: https://twitter.com/TakingTheBiz​ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/takingthebiz/

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WRAP Unveils Five Year Plan for Textile Environmental Impact http://www.ul.com – February 12[…] year plan puts in place the changes needed to reduce the impact on the environment and to improve business efficiency for the textile and clothing industry […]N/A

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3 Ways To Dominate Your Market

My area of expertise is in leadership development using the philosophy of Lean Six Sigma, in other words “process improvement strategies”. 

Now join me on the journey I call A Tale of Two Companies: One business allowed its workers to be engaged by making improvements that allowed the customer to be first in mind. The second created an environment of “it’s not my job” eliminating employees from using client-first thinking. Now you might ask, “How can the customer not be first?”

Many believe Lean Six Sigma is solely for engineering and manufacturing companies. That’s the first misconception. This managerial approach is built on the premise of eliminating wasteful elements and focusing solely on the customer. Having taken that quick glimpse of Lean, as an entrepreneur, you can now see that this philosophy applies to all businesses. Every business operates in what Lean practitioners call SIPOC, (Suppliers, Input, Processes, Output and Customers). Understanding that small segment of lean thinking will open the door for you to look at the three ways to dominate your market. 

Related: Define Your Brand Identity in 3 Steps

How can I hinder?

Meet Office XYZ, a Dental Facility that has a small staff of 5-7 individuals each having their unique jobs when dealing with patients. I called this facility to make an appointment for my mother and was told they needed to verify her insurance and would call back once they received the approvals. Two weeks went by before I realized I had not heard from anyone regarding the insurance verification.

I called the office and asked to speak with the individual that was to call back, whom we’ll call Kelly. I was informed that Kelly was out of the office and had been ill for the past two weeks. My next question was: “is she the only person that verifies insurance?” The response was affirmative and I then asked to speak with a manager. I was told Kelly was the manager. Let’s stop here because now we enter that well-known rabbit hole of “it’s not my job.”

Related: Trends That Can Move Your Business Forward in 2021

How can I help?

Meet Office ABC, A Pizza Company with a similar-sized staff. One night I called for a pizza. Upon placing the order I was told my meal would be about 30 minutes. Half an hour on a Friday evening? This company operated far differently than the first. When I placed my order something incredible happened, I received a text with the following message:  “We’re making your order. It’s all coming together now. The kitchen staff is busy with your order making sure everything is just right.”

A few minutes later I received this missive: “It’s on the way. The driver has left the store and will be at your location shortly”, followed with, “Delivered! Time to eat. It’s been our pleasure serving you”.And it was within the time promised by the associate. 

The “go and see” mentality

These two very different experiences gave me moment to pause. Did Company XYZ know about the importance of “lean thinking” and did Company ABC know they were using the lean six sigma philosophy in their operations? Did the leader of Company XYZ actually walk the process to see if there were any wasteful elements that allowed their service to lack the three main components of customer first thinking: quality, speed and delivery? And what about Company ABC, did that leader utilize the concept of Gemba, meaning “go and see” to improve their value stream and get to the point where they asked what their customers appreciate?

When exploring Lean Six Sigma’s methodology the first step is to find the root cause for the identified waste. Then you move into seeking what the customer defines as quality, you determine the speed of getting your customer the item or rendering the service and you seek an appropriate method of delivery.

Focusing on the three lean strategies

One can’t assume to know what the clientele defines as quality unless they have actually been asked. In Company XYZ it is evident that no one took the initiative to seek input through surveys, focus groups or used any feedback techniques. There is a concept in the Lean lexicon called (VOC) Voice of the Customer. It simply means find out what your customers want and are willing to pay for. This is where you will find that notion of quality.

In the tale of Company ABC, you can attest to the fact that quality for their customers, myself included, is hot pizza, and being notified as to what’s going on with their order. How did they come to know and implement this into their operations? After receiving such great service I had to call and speak with one of their leaders. I was informed this is how they compete as a reckoning force within the market. 

The need for speed

Being the fastest in your field has a huge impact on your market.  As you can tell from the visit with Company XYZ speed played no major role in what they deemed as important to customers. Two weeks to verify insurance is beyond an acceptable practice. And, by the way, I failed to mention that I did speak with another person, upon request, who did call back within 24 hours to inform me that they did not accept the insurance.  Yet I waited 2 weeks for something that could have saved me both frustration and aggravation. Speed and convenience are major players in our buying experience.

Company ABC, epitomizes the importance of speed. On each text message I received that time stamp of delivery was also listed. Today there are ample services to ensure your customers get items and services in a speedy manner. This company has a system in place that allows employees to know time schedules for various sizes, as well as any increase in time based on selected toppings. Have you looked at your level of quickness, while keeping the high standard of quality appreciated by your customers?

Why is the method of delivery so important to your customers? Is it easy to obtain your product or service? Delivery in its simplest form equates to how a customer receives your product or service. Simple right? Company XYZ’s delivery was neither exceptional nor satisfactory. The level of professionalism of their staff created an angst for the customer and therefore any method of delivery they deemed appropriate was subpar. There was no option as to whether they could email, text me or call me. Based on their performance I don’t think any of those options would have changed the outcome.

Related: Entrepreneurial Takeaways From 2020 to Guide Your Next Big Move

Company ABC created a delivery method that allowed me to select how I wanted to receive the product. They of course deliver in their vehicles, but I had an option to have it delivered to my door and left in an appropriate place, to have them ring the doorbell and I receive it face-to-face or contactless, it’s in the trunk and I come out and retrieve it. This allows the customer to select an option.

We have just visited two companies:  One eliminated waste and the other added to it. Which business are you? 

By: Sheryl Mays Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

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★★★ Jay wants to mentor YOU with his exclusive Mastermind Mentoring Program! Start your journey with Jay here: https://bit.ly/2FbtM2X ★★★ For the first time ever in public, marketing icon Jay Abraham shares his business strategy that he has previously only shared with his high paying clients. He’s going go teach you the concept of Preemptive Marketing so you can instantly stand out in the eyes of your customers and dominate your market. Enjoy the session

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How Entrepreneurs Can Use Data Aggregation to Grow Their Business

One of the rising tech sectors today is data aggregation with many millennials coming to the forefront of the industry to bundle information and convey it in a summary form.

Aggregating is all around us

To fully understand what data aggregation is, let’s look at this example: Data-collecting companies, like Facebook, gather intelligence such as likes or page-visits users consume. This information is carefully organized to promote ads or document what users see in their feeds. In business using behavior metrics such as the number of transactions, or average age of the consumer, helps the company focus on bestsellers. 

Related: Opportunity For Startups in Manufacturing, Logistics and Supply Chain

What does this mean to the average entrepreneur? Using these kinds of systems can pinpoint and increase productivity to boost sales and growth

Related: [Funding Alert] Healthtech Start-Up Innovate Raises $70 Million

Dollars for data

Vasiliy Fomin is an excellent example of someone currently cashing in by way of running a data aggregator, bundling information from various sources into a single API, and allowing all types of businesses to power their offerings to consumers. He’s been able to build a thriving business earning millions in revenue by selling aggregated vehicle data, arrest record data, and more to a network of qualified resellers. 

For entrepreneurs, research and development are essential in understanding the market behavior so as to provide the best services to their customers. Data aggregators embrace innovations, new ideas and critical questioning by syncing with the industry’s changing trends in various aspects like leading, hiring, retaining and technology.

Related: 4 Ways Businesses and Consumers Can Take Back Their Data

By: Luis Jorge Rios Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

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More Resources:

How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing in 5 Easy Steps

How to Generate Data-Driven Copy for Ecommerce Category Pages with GPT-2

You Need This 2021 Marketing Calendar [Free Templates]

How to Maximize Link Building Impact in 4 Steps Link Building·SEO Link Building: How to Understand Your Niche With These 10 Questions

Facebook Launches a Free Online Course For SMEs Throughout Latin America

Do you need to take your business to the next level? Facebook presents Connection: Reinventing Business , a digital training event for entrepreneurs and owners of Small and Medium Enterprises ( SMEs ).

This event in collaboration with the Association of Entrepreneurs of Mexico (ASEM) and Victoria 147 will be held on October 28 and 29 . You can find workshops and content to reinvent the way they do business and find and satisfy their customers in the digital space.

Likewise, Facebook partnered with Endeavor in Colombia and with the Association of Entrepreneurs of Argentina (ASEA) in that country, making Conexion a regional effort.

According to figures from the most recent Global Report on the State of Small Businesses , carried out by Facebook in collaboration with the OECD and the World Bank, 51% of the Mexican businesses surveyed said that 25% or more of their sales originated on digital platforms. during the last month, which highlights the importance that businesses, on their way to reopening, recovery and to meet new consumer habits, acquire or reinforce their digital skills.

Digital tools have helped small and medium-sized businesses face the challenges of the unprecedented business disruption facing Mexico and the world. Businesses that manage to build a strong presence and digital services could emerge stronger from the crisis.

In this way, Facebook wants to support SMEs to maintain contact with their customers through online resources at no cost, easy to implement and use, and that can become the tools that local businesses need.

The trainings will provide SMEs with inspiration through other success stories and knowledge to grow their business and adapt their use of the different tools according to what is best for their type of business. The modules will be presented by Priscila Arias , entrepreneur, activist and influencer, who will help participants navigate through the content.

Sessions will be led by program partners to provide training on leadership and gender inclusion (Victoria 147), sales and business model (ASEM), innovation during crises (ASEA) and how to present the business to investors (Endeavor).

Market experts and entrepreneurs will be invited to help participants learn from real life experiences. Each one in a different specialty:

  • Basic Concepts of Finance , by Angélica Castellanos, Konfío Chief Operating Officer
  • Human Resources and Payroll , by Courtney McColgan, Founder of Runa
  • Negotiation skills , Victor Kong, CEO of Cisneros Interactive

To participate for free you just have to register on the site of Connection: Reinventing Business or the Facebook Page for Companies .

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Delivering an online course doesn’t have to require expensive or complicated software and services. You can quickly deliver your online course using the Social Learning type of Facebook Group. It’s easy to organize content into Units, add in a variety of media, livestream, run interactive discussions, and more. This video walks you through the basics and you can read and see screenshots in the following blog post: https://contentsparks.com/80875/ You don’t even need to create your own content for your course from scratch! We have a wide selection of brandable, ready-to-teach courses at Content Sparks. They’re easy to edit, repurpose into different media, rebrand, and deliver as your own. Check out all the topics currently available here: https://links.contentsparks.com/shop

How To Set Productive Goals Using Mind Maps

Whether it’s getting fit, learning a new skill, setting KPIs or developing a business strategy — goal-setting is an integral part of our personal and professional lives. 

But how many times have you set goals and failed to achieve them?

It’s certainly not enough to jot down your goals on a piece of paper. What you need is a more organized approach and a realistic action plan. One of the most effective techniques you can turn to for goal-setting is mind maps.

This powerful visualization tool helps you organize your thoughts, make meaningful associations and continually track progress, enabling you to set (and achieve) productive goals. 

Let’s take a look at how you can use mind maps to set goals in five simple steps. 

Brainstorm goals

The first step is to brainstorm all the possible goals you want to achieve. Jot down everything that comes to your mind. 

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What does success look like to you?
  • What drives you?
  • Where do you see yourself (or your business) in 5 to 10 years?

Asking the right questions will help you discover and brainstorm meaningful goals. At this stage, don’t think about how realistic or achievable they are — just focus on getting all your thoughts out on paper. 

Establish focus areas

By this point, you should have a laundry list of goals. While traditional goal-setting ends here, this is where the mind-mapping technique begins. 

When you go through every goal, you’ll start identifying common focus areas. For instance, if you’re setting business goals for your newly found startup, the key areas of focus are likely to be financial, marketing, and recruitment goals.

So, find common threads and establish key focus areas that will give your goal-setting exercise some direction and simplify task management

Make meaningful associations

Now that you have the key focus areas laid out, categorize the broad-level goals and assign them under their respective specific areas.

For example, if one of the goals you wrote was strengthening your website marketing or content strategy, put that under ‘marketing’. Similarly, setting up a campus hiring plan will sit under ‘recruitment and human resources’. 

This process of divergent thinking and making associations helps you visualize your thoughts better without getting overwhelmed. 

Create action plans 

The best goals are SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. 

“Increase revenue” might be one of your broad goals but you can’t leave it at that. It’s essential to drill it down further and turn it into a SMART goal. 

“Increase revenue by 30% in 6 months” on the other hand is an example of a SMART goal.

So, look into every branch and set specific action plans with timelines for each of the goals. A detailed plan will pave the way for a clearer roadmap to success.

Monitor progress

Once you’ve broken down goals into actionable tasks using mind maps, you’re in a better position to dive right into it without wasting time or overthinking. 

That’s not all, this productivity tool also gives you the flexibility to add or remove tasks as you proceed while monitoring progress along the way. 

It’s a good idea to take a print out of the mind map and paste it where you can see it everyday or save it as an image on your phone so you’re constantly reminded of your goals.

Conclusion

There’s a lot we may want to achieve but the only way to make that happen is by setting productive goals — and mind maps help you get there. 

So, work smart — use mind maps to visualize and attain your goals in an organized manner.

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By: Simki Dutta

Simki Dutta is a content marketer at Venngage, a free infographic maker and design platform. When she’s not working, she can be found refreshing her Twitter feed and binge-watching Netflix shows.  

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7 Actionable Tips Every Business Should Try

When the news is constantly negative and the world seems down, are you going to take your business down with it? Of course not!

It’s time to rise up and get your business in gear during these difficult times. Get those gears churning and make your business a success in even the toughest of times.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, it’s time for you to look into some of these actionable business tips. Just keep reading.

1. Save, save, save

One of the biggest problems that businesses have is that they don’t have enough cash in the bank for when bad times come. When there’s a slow down in your business or a slow down in the economy in general, you have to be prepared.

Think about this as a savings account.

It’s highly recommended that everyone keep six months’ worth of living in their savings account. This means that you should have at least $3,000 in your savings account if you spend $1,000 a month. This includes all living expenses like rent, food, utilities, gas, and more.

You should have enough in your business’ savings to cover six months of employee pay, supply pay, and more. If you’re not keeping this amount in your business’ account, you need to reevaluate how your business is operating and allocating its expenses.

2. Take care of your great employees

The best thing you can do to keep your business running on a positive note is to take care of your employees. You need to recognize who your most valuable employees are and take care of them as much as you can.

If you continuously take care of your best employees, they’re more likely to work harder and stay longer. Having faithful employees is great, especially when it makes for a great environment for your customers.

The employees that you’re taking care of will appreciate your friendly and encouraging workplace over others they may have worked at. The point in caring for these employees is to make your workplace stand out. Take advantage of your great employees and show them that you care so that you can stand out for making them stand out. 

3. Say goodbye to bad employees

It is never too early to fire a bad employee. While you should understand that giving second chances is okay, you should know when to fire them.

A bad employee isn’t an isolated issue. These are people who are interacting with your business’ customers and other employees. They could be making a bad experience for everyone else.

If you’re finding that one of your employees is building a poor experience for your customers and employees, it’s time to say goodbye.

Before moving on from this idea, we should explore second chances though. It may be useful to have an unspoken system when it comes to disciplinary actions for poor employees.

You may want to give one or two chances for small, isolated incidents. If an employee has blatantly made a customer have a poor experience, you shouldn’t be shy about hiring someone else for that position.

4. Look at yourself before anyone else

If something in your business is consistently going wrong, your probably the reason why. This is why you should always look at yourself before anyone else when it comes to workplace mistakes.

You have a great influence on your workplace, from your leadership style to your workplace rules to even your mood. It’s important to recognize how you could positively and negatively impact your workplace.

Make sure to evaluate yourself before pointing fingers. Even if an employee made a mistake, you should think about how you could have poorly communicated your expectations.

5. Listen to your customers

The customer is always right, at least the majority of the time. They know what they want, and it’s your job to help them get what those things are.

As your business grows, your customers will tell you what they want. Whether it’s through your social media channels or directly to an employee, it’s important to take down any complaints or suggestions.

Make sure that you tell your employees that they should always make a note of what the customers have been saying.

6. Trust your gut

Your gut is normally right when it comes to split-second decisions. Go with your gut.

In business, you’re going to come across a lot of decisions to make. Sometimes, you’re not going to have the time or the energy to get into a full-scale investigation for every question and problem. That’s the perfect time to depend on your gut.

Focus your time and energy on bigger decisions. Let your gut lead you when it feels strongly about something.

7. Keep your business separate

You need to keep your business life separate from your personal life. Keep them separate when it comes to everything.

Your social life will thank you when you’re keeping your work life at work. You shouldn’t be working on work tasks at home, just like you wouldn’t bring your children to work with you every day.

You should also make sure that your personal and business accounts are different. You never want to tap personal money into your business accounts. It’s going to be a tough call to make if your business is ever on the downturn, but you need to make sure that your business is sufficient outside of your personal savings account.

Getting More Business Tips

Getting business tips like these are great for any business person who’s looking for a little bit of inspiration and encouragement. You should always be looking to take in great information like the seven tips we shared in this post. If you have more specific questions to ask, contact us here. We’d love to hear from you and help you with anything you need.

By: Adam Jacobs / Managing Director Bubblegum Casting & Hunter Talent

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5 Honest Truths About Starting A Business

After graduating from college, I’d wake up at six in the morning with one question in mind: Should I go all-in and focus exclusively on entrepreneurship — consequences be damned? Or look for a full-time job that gave me a sense of stability (and allowed me to make rent).

Let me rewind a bit. Back in 1999, while still studying computer science, I came up with my very first software product idea, a free open source membership program for a student website. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled when this turned out to be an unexpected success. 

After receiving positive feedback from users, I decided to release a paid version that soon became lucrative. Just like that, I was an entrepreneur in the making.

Related: 8 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Business

Friends insisted I follow my dream after graduating and jump in with both feet (a tempting choice for a twenty-something-year-old). 

But after all of the back and forth, I ended up deciding against the most seductive choice and listened to my gut instead.

Overnight success stories are overrated

This is not the story you were probably expecting. In the tech industry, you’ve likely read about fearless dreamers who launched their startups against all odds: Those who opted for building businesses from scratch rather than pursue the security of a nine to five job.

I get the allure of these stories. Overnight success isn’t impossible. But this narrative can be misleading when it makes people believe they should start a business before they’re ready.

I’m a fairly risk-averse person. Meaning, I think moderation is king when it comes to most things. So, what did I end up doing all those years ago? (It’s not as exciting as all those founders who went straight to the top of TechCrunch after graduating). 

I found a full-time job as a programmer for a New York media company. 

Related: How to Conquer Your Fear of Starting a Business

But here’s the thing: I didn’t give up on my dream. Instead, I used my day job to fuel my passion and learned valuable lessons about business and managing teams in the process. Five years later, I felt more prepared and confident to quit my job and to start my own company, JotForm.

Of course, during that time, I had the privilege of finding a job in the first place. 

Because of the current crisis, many of us are re-examining different aspects of our lives. 

You may be questioning whether you should turn your skills into a business, or maybe you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus recession and were forced to make this decision.

While new opportunities are always exciting, whatever your situation — more than anything, I’d like to advocate for following a grounded approach. 

Some real talk about entrepreneurship

In her fascinating article for Harvard Business Review, author Emily Heyward points out that there are a few things to consider before taking that blind leap with your business idea. 

“As a founder who works alongside many other founders, I’ve seen firsthand what leads to success, as well as what can go wrong,” Heyward writes. “It’s also never been more competitive. The barriers to entry for starting a new business keep getting lower, as technology becomes more accessible and user friendly.”

Related: Starting a Business Isn’t What You Think. Here’s What to Expect Instead.business

This is in no way to discourage you from trying. While Heyward describes the excitement of starting a new venture, she also offers a few guiding principles aspiring entrepreneurs should take to heart.

“However you come to your idea, you should feel like you have no choice but to start this particular business at this moment in time,” she says. In other words, a genuine connection to your idea is key to success.

I couldn’t agree more. As CEO of JotForm, I’d love to share the expert-backed tips and lessons I’ve learned over the years while bootstrapping my company to over seven million users.

Surround yourself with trusted mentors and colleagues

Unlike other entrepreneurs, I ended up deciding against having a co-founder to build my business with. However, this doesn’t mean I didn’t rely on incredibly smart people to help me along the way. 

Before you dive headfirst into your idea, make sure you’re surrounding yourself with the right people like mentors and colleagues who are a few steps ahead of where you want to be. 

Writing for Entrepreneur, Sheila Eugenio argues that in hard times, having a mentor can help us keep our head high: “The valuable connections, timely advice, occasional checks — together with the spiritual and moral guidance you will gain from having a mentor — will literally leapfrog you to success.”

Focus on value over competition

JotForm is bootstrapped, and we’ve never taken a dime from outside investments. Which is to say, we’re not necessarily the “cool kids” of the startup world. 

Here’s my point: There are always going to be competitors more popular than you. Hitting the front page of TechCrunch or playing the comparison game will get you nowhere. 

So, what does move the needle forward?

Focus on building value for your customers instead of chasing trends. As Heyward puts it: “It’s not about who’s first, it’s about who does it best, and best these days is the business that delivers the most value to the consumer.”

Keep asking yourself: How can I make the best product possible? How can I keep improving my services?

The bottom line: We reached over seven million users because we chose to listen instead of compare. 

Do it with passion or not at all

While there’s no way to know how long this recession will last, considering your role as a founder from the very beginning will go a long way in ensuring where your business ends up. 

“People care deeply about who’s behind the companies they’re purchasing from,” Heyward notes. “It’s hard to feel a personal connection to a nameless, faceless corporation, and far more rewarding to support brands that are built by individuals with a compelling story.”

Whatever you do, don’t be generic. Be willing to communicate with your consumers, share your purpose with them, and what’s driving your efforts. Developing an authentic voice and relationship with the people buying your products doesn’t just help you gain traction, it gives your work more meaning.

Perhaps Heyward put it best: “Recognize that the very long, exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting, but oh-so-rewarding journey ahead of you only begins when you fully commit to your vision and take control of your outcome.”

By: Aytekin Tank Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP / Entrepreneur / Founder and CEO, JotForm

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5 Ways Family Businesses Can Adapt To Covid-19

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There are “unique challenges with a family business, particularly when it comes to making tough decisions in difficult times,” a friend of mine who runs a leisure and hospitality business with her siblings, wrote me this week.

I had sent her a note asking how things were going since the coronavirus shuttered the doors on a myriad of enterprises and I knew her industry was particularly slammed. She thanked me and said the question was a little “close to the bone.” But, she added, “Having a strong brand identity established by our parents has frankly been a beacon of light and inspiration during a very dark period.”

I decided not to press her about what the company has been faced with, knowing that the situation is very personal for family business owners. The repercussions of making tough professional decisions can have a lasting impact on family relationships. (For more on this and other advice for family business owners, check out Familybusiness.org, from the University of St. Thomas’ EIX, Entrepreneur & Innovation Exchange; full disclosure: EIX and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation are Next Avenue funders.)

“There is always this pressure in a family business to not be the one to screw it up.”

“This crisis is forcing family businesses to make trade-offs among objectives that would have previously been unimaginable — all while dealing with the complex dynamics of a family,” wrote Josh Baron (a partner and co-founder of BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors) and Ben Francois (a principal there) in their Harvard Business Review article, A Crisis Playbook for Family Businesses. “But family businesses differ from other companies in that their form of ownership gives them the ability to take critical actions that could help them through these difficult times.”

A recent BanyanGlobal survey of family businesses found that 82% had seen a negative impact on their business from the Covid-19 pandemic at and about half of those said the impact has been significant.

(Read all of Next Avenue’s Covid-19 coverage geared toward keeping older generations informed, safe and prepared.)

During crisis times for family businesses, “family members tend to come together and do whatever it takes to promote the family’s health and prosperity,” says Kimberly A. Eddleston, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University and a senior editor on the EIX Editorial Board. “Opportunities for a family to come together and work towards a common purpose make the family stronger.”

The Advantage Family Business Owners Have

And that’s a distinct advantage that other entrepreneurs don’t have.

“Being a family business can be a real strength, because they can rely on family members to chip in where needed,” according to Eddleston. To harness the lessons of this crisis, Eddleston is gathering information through a survey of family business owners.

For more about how the pandemic is affecting family business owners and how these entrepreneurs can best adapt to it, I interviewed BanyanGlobal’s Josh Baron. Highlights:

Kerry Hannon: How do things look out there for family business owners?

Josh Baron: Most family businesses are stressed and filled with anxiety.

There is always this pressure in a family business to not be the one to screw it up. If you are the one running the business, you are feeling that pressure in a time when, through no fault of your own, it could go away.

What surprised you about your survey’s findings about family business owners and Covid-19?

You see examples of businesses with revenues dropping fifty percent or ninety percent. No one builds a plan with revenue going away to such an extent overnight.

How has the pandemic impacted family relations at family businesses?

Our survey shows a split between those reactions: twenty-nine percent have seen some negative impact on family relationships, while twenty-six percent have seen a positive impact (the rest have seen no change).

It’s understandable for those having negative reactions, because this is a stressful moment. If the decisions you are having to make are about laying people off and cutting salaries and cutting dividends, stopping projects — these have a real emotional impact.

But we also saw that this is a moment when members of family businesses come together, a rally around the flag effect, where it’s a sense of let’s put aside our differences and focus on saving the business.

How does having a mission or purpose help?

This does offer that kind of opportunity as a silver lining. We are seeing a lot of families coming together around the need to save the business, to save the employees, rescue as many careers as they can, to continue this legacy as something they really value and to come out the other side as strong as possible.

If you have a sense of purpose and here’s this mountain that we are trying to climb, here’s what we are trying to accomplish together, it helps you deal with all of the daily challenges, issues and stresses that come with working together as a family.

If you have something you value in the business beyond the financial results — maybe it is the impact on your community — you can create something that motivates and brings people together.

The Opportunity Offered by the Pandemic

Why is this an opportune time for family business owners to have conversations with other family members in the company that may have been pushed aside in the good times?

A real advantage of a family business is you are naturally thinking ahead.

‘I really want this business to last beyond me for the next generations, for my children and my grandchildren.’ That can be a very motivating effect.

Why are family businesses well-positioned to survive this business shock?

As a general rule, family business owners are making decisions not on ways that rely on results this quarter or maybe next year, but in being able to make investments that might not pay off for a year or two or even longer.

That generational approach and mindset can be really valuable in a time like this.

Unlike public companies, which typically focus on maximizing shareholder value, family owners value objectives that usually go well beyond financial returns — such as family legacy and reputation.

This period is an example of that ability to think over the long-term and realize that this year is going to be tough. We have to tighten our belts, cut our costs, cut our dividends, cut our salaries, but it will pay off in the long term.

We have also found that family businesses are able to make big decisions very quickly. That nimbleness is proving to be a real asset now.

How has Covid-19 helped get family members more involved in the businesses?

It is creating a fertile ground for bringing people into discussions that might otherwise not have been asked to participate.

For those who have been around twenty years and have been through other crisis points, they look at this as an opportunity to bring the next generation into the conversation and explain to them: ‘We made it through previous ones, here’s what you can learn.’

What are the obstacles in navigating Covid-19 that a family business might face?

When things go bad for a family business, it is not just in a professional sense, but in a personal sense. It intermingles and spreads over and there are no boundaries.

It can be very stressful. The business is on the line, careers are on the line. It can spiral out of control.

You need to press the pause button. Go back to the question: Why are we doing this? Hopefully, turn the moment into a positive way of improving relationships.

But the pandemic has the potential of making things a lot worse. It puts things on the table you never would have had to worry about, like that brother or cousin who is making a lot of money and not really doing anything. You might have looked at that as a cost of doing business. Now you aren’t able to afford that. Now, you have to deal with them in an environment when people are feeling really tense.

5 Tips for Family Business Owners During Covid-19

What are your five key pieces of advice for family business owners now?

Number one: focus on innovation. Don’t waste this opportunity to have a hard look at the way things are working. One retail firm we have worked with has always talked about having a more direct to consumer approach, but never gotten their eyes to focus on it. By necessity, a lot of the retail stores they have sold through have been closed, so they have had to focus on it.

Number two: start thinking about what your company will look like after this. How do we keep things going right now but put more energy on when we come out of this?

Number three: preserve cash. Cash is never more important than when you are in a crisis. Make sure you are taking steps you can to strengthen the balance sheet, so you can navigate through what is to come.

Around sixty percent of our survey respondents say they have reduced or shifted operating expenses to preserve cash.

Number four: live your values. Who you are as a company, and as people, comes out in the decisions you make in a crisis. As a family business, you want to make sure that you anchor yourself in that conversation of who you are as a family and what are the values we bring to this business?

Make sure the decisions you are making, if possible, are really reflective of those values.

I see in the families we are working with that they are making choices to keep employees or being generous in severance or helping employees find other jobs or repurposing them to other positions within the company rather than lay them off. It’s a more human approach.

Investing in people and communities is so much a part of who they are.

And number five: Communication is the most important part of making a family business work. Trusted relationships are one of the most valuable assets of a family business. In the absence of communication, people will draw their own conclusions — which are often negative.

A dialogue gives people a chance to share concerns and ask questions. It’s amazing how many family businesses that didn’t have any sort of platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams became very adept at using it, due to necessity. Across the board, the comfort level has gone up and opened up communication better than before.

This will be a beneficial leftover of this crisis. Some of the comments we received from those participating in our survey include: ‘Covid-19 has brought us closer together for the time being, and we have put aside differences.’ And ‘We have seen greater family unity, with more concern for each other.’

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Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Our daily content delivers vital ideas, context and perspectives on issues that matter most as we age.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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On this episode of The Family Business Voice, Alfredo De Massis and Farida F El Agamy speak with Ramia about the global pandemic and its unprecedented impact on family enterprises around the world. Alfredo De Massis, Professor of Entrepreneurship & Family Business, Free University of Bolzano in Italy, and Lancaster University Management School UK, is an organisation and management scientist who specialises in family enterprise. Based in Italy, Alfredo is at the epicentre of the outbreak currently.
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