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1 5 Tips to Prepare Yourself for an Entrepreneurial Burnout Threat

There are several areas an entrepreneur needs to shred for getting a better position in the game before the risk itself devours him whole. The entrepreneurial spirit must be kept alive and the fire kindled from time to time so doesn’t die out of hope and exhaustion. If you’re too cocky to say yes almost every time to catch the opportunity train, you have a serious “Burnout” risk.

What Causes Burnout?

Meltdowns are a direct result from lack of composure and firm footing. Having a dull edge at chances and no homework whatsoever is bound to eroding what’s left of the abilities within the broken soul of the entrepreneur. According to research 50% of small businesses fail within the first year. Keeping your edge razor sharp will make you bent on avoiding any burnouts you are so very afraid to fall in.

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Entrepreneurs same as you are cut from the same cloth with similar chances and choices and believing one is gifted and the other doomed in peril is utter wish-wash rubbish. Surveys suggest that 40% of small business are making profits, so it’s nothing to be afraid of, but what about the remaining?

1. Always welcome Opinions

If you’re too much of egotistical thicko’ then there is no cure, but being not, you are entitled to fair use of your brain same as everyone!

People who have actually suffered survived entrepreneurial burnouts are alive. Some of their chronicles are on the internet where as others are just looking for someone to ask for a veteran advice. Seek them out and study them. Shrug off that knightly attitude and make your own pace by implementing expert advice. Learn from their mistakes before you learn it the hard way.

2. Inspiration is Your New Diet

A smart entrepreneur keeps himself surrounded with inspiration same as a fish keep itself surrounded with water, not just to live but to survive.  If you have the liberty to set out your own team make sure you don’t pick the textbook kind. Hire the open minded and contributing folk who keep circulating a flow of genuine and out of the box ideas. This not only helps break the ice between you and the employees, but also gives you regular dose of productive debates.

3. Take 5! And Eat Healthy

In more clearers words, get a life pal. You need not glue your back to your chair and spend countless hours working on some new idea at the cost of your ability to enjoy life. Take your family out for dinner, get your friends together or even draw some doodles on a boogie board. Long story short, cut some slack for the sake of you.

Secondly, eating a healthy and balanced diet is the most underrated remedy for burnout paranoia. Keeping your body from the nutrition it needs is religiously, ethically and professionally condemned throughout the world. Making yourself frail and weak not only undermines your potential to work on a higher spectrum, but also signals your weakness to other competitors hungry for blood.

4. Tracking your Progress

This is another crucial aspect that inhibits the progress of an entrepreneurial expedition. What happens when you remain adrift like a plastic bag? It’s pretty much obvious that you lose track from where you begin. Once you are set afoot to in the business environment your must endure, better yet persevere, but most importantly remember your ideals and motives that pioneered your thoughts into action. Keep a thorough track from where you started and where you are trying to head. Make small but executive decisions so that a trail can be formed.

5. Do not Drown in Expectations

“When you have expectation you are setting yourself up for disappointment”. Well, we can’t entirely agree with Ryan Reynolds here, but you do get the point.

You cannot simply expect to a raise a billion by the end of the year with your entrepreneurial blue prints and sit tight while everything falls as you planned. There is no such ideology that can be mechanized into empirical results. Ask Communism, it will testify! Burnouts can be avoided, but in no circumstances you are impervious. To keep yourself in the green zone, set the optimal expectations you can achieve backed by study and research that can vouch for your progress.

Conclusion

To make yourself the manifestation of the ideal entrepreneur, you must gather the right amount of energy and motivation to free yourself from the shackles of fear and risk taking. Get yourself up in the business, willing to take risk. For example, you may start your online auction business very easily through Magento Auction. A famous saying from the liberator of the Sub-Continent (Old India), Muhammad Ali Jinnah says it all:

I do not believe in taking right decisions,

I take decisions and make them right!

 

bio photoSimon Walker is an experienced PHP Developer having expertise in Magento, PrestaShop & WordPress Development and currently working for FMEExtensions and FMEAddons. He blogs regularly on ecommerce tips and tricks, PHP Development and social media. He led to the development of top Extensions like Magento PopUP and Magento Out of Stock Notification. He lives in Austin, Texas and currently working as a E-commerce consultant.

Growth Could Kill Your Company!

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photo credit: epSos.de

When Alina Martin took over her father’s small company in 2007 it had been ticking along, growing slowly for several years. The company, Danatec, sold paper-based course materials for corporate trainers to use in safety training of employees. Martin could see that online learning had potential. Her father wasn’t convinced, nor were her salespeople. How could you possibly call something training if the trainer wasn’t in the room with the person being trained? Martin persevered. It took a couple of years of experimentation before it really took off, but once it did, things went crazy! Growth tripled in three years and was running at 27% when I spoke to her.

Sounds like a dream situation, but many companies that grow quickly eventually crash and burn. The skills and practices that created their success just can’t sustain it.  

So what goes wrong in these growth situations? Let’s consider the 3P Profit Formula™: Promise + People + Processes = Profits. Often as companies grow they struggle with all three Ps.

Promise

The promise is your brand, and, as the recent Volkswagen scandal showed us, it can be destroyed quickly if a company isn’t living up to the standards its customers expect. But with fast growth, that promise can be diluted. Sometimes growth companies lose focus: they want so much to keep growing that they take on clients that they shouldn’t or expand into new lines of business that are not good fit for their customers.

Sometimes they do the opposite, and hyper-focus on the formula that made them successful. But as the world around them changes, they may be unable to adapt to the new reality. Kodak was a classic case of this. They actually developed the first digital camera, but buried the idea, fearing that I would hurt their film business. That decision cost the company its life.

Others become arrogant; the fast growth convinces them that their customers will always be there.  But as they grow, the customer focus that won that business in the first place can slip, priming customers to fall into the open arms of a competitor.  

People

Your business success is influenced by many different types of people: prospects, customers, employees, funders, suppliers, distributors and even the public at large. As you grow, all of these relationships can be strained.

Despite Danatec’s clear success, Martin found that some staff were still resistant to the changes. Most people dislike change, so how do you get their buy in? Sometimes even company owners resist change: if something has been working well enough, why should they risk doing things differently?

It is crucial to involve your employees right from the start of the growth management process, so they will have a sense of buy-in and commitment to the new vision. Being open and honest with your staff will help. Remember when your 4-year old kept asking why, why, why? It’s not just kids who want to know why; we all do. If we understand the reason for something, we are more likely to accept it. Martin says that any employee is allowed to question a decision, but she expects them to have an alternative answer and explanation of why they think it would be better.

Growth also strains employees physically. Typically they’ll be working long hours while the company struggles to hire and train enough staff. It can be frustrating when overworked colleagues are late answering questions or getting their part of a process done on time. This pressure often sucks companies into hiring the wrong people, just to get more bodies on staff. But bad co-workers can be even worse for morale than overwork. There may start to be problems with staff turnover if staff feel that they are no longer the close-knit, supportive team they once were.

Suppliers may have trouble keeping up with a high-growth company’s needs. Customers don’t care that it’s the supplier’s fault that you couldn’t get their product to them on time. They’ll be upset with you, not the supplier. Distributors or franchisees can also hurt your reputation.  It’s tempting to seize your moment of popularity to keep on growing without doing proper screening or training of these partners.   But think about it: when you go to your local McDonalds and get bad service you blame the McDonalds company, not the local franchise owner.

Process

When I called Martin for our scheduled interview, nobody answered the phone. Nor did it go to voice mail. Over a year and a half, calls for tech support jumped from about 10 calls a day to 100. There just weren’t enough people to answer all the calls. The order entry process also needed to be totally rebuilt because it simply wasn’t scalable.

As Martin put it, “things break” when you grow that quickly.  “When you are growing,” she notes, “you are continually reinventing the process.”

As hard as it can be to find the time, when your company is growing quickly you must regularly check to make sure you’re still meeting your promise to your customers, you’ve got the right people in place, and that your processes are keeping up with the sales.

 

authorTema Frank is a customer experience & digital marketing  pioneer. She launched her first website in 1995 and in 2001 founded Web Mystery Shoppers, one of the world’s first companies to do remote usability testing of websites and web-related customer service.  Her podcast, Frank Reactions, focuses on customer experience in the digital era. Listen to it at http://frankreactions.com , on  iTunes or Stitcher. Tema has helped Bank of America, the Government of Alberta, the Royal Bank of Canada, and many small organizations improve their online & offline customer experience & marketing.  She’d love to meet you on Twitter @temafrank or by email.

1 The Future of Leadership in 2016

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Everyone wants to be a leader, but not everyone acknowledges the big difference between managing and leading. And for small business owners looking to grow their business, making the transition from running it to leading it, can be all the difference. The first step is knowing what exactly leadership requires – now and in the future.

So, what does the future of leadership look like and how can small businesses adapt?

01 – Creative

“Creative leadership involves blowing up the status quo, and out of the chaos, building a new world.” – Travis Turner, Writer and Blogger

Fast Company claims that creativity is the most important leadership quality for success. “All companies depend on ideas and ingenuity” affirms leading creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. And you have to look no further than the world’s Most Innovative Companies to know he’s right. Small business leaders can create a culture of creativity by:

  • Using tools and technologies that help facilitate creativity and capturing ideas. My personal favourites include Evernote and TranscribeMe.
  • Encouraging creative brainstorming in their teams. Candor provides a handy way to do this and avoid “groupthink” or bias.
  • Creating a physical workspace that positively impacts productivity, collaboration and inspiration. From specially designed, fully equipped spaces like Facebook’s Analog Research Lab, to the more “low-fi” approach adopted by Stanford D-school, it’s worth learning from global best practice to see what’s achievable in your own business.

02 – Fair

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it” – Andrew Carnegie, Business magnate and Industrialist

Fair leadership is good business. A new leadership model is emerging that is characterised by less hierarchy and looser boundaries – enabling faster decision making, more ownership over projects and the freedom for employees to take the initiative. Companies like Google have valued a “wafer thin hierarchy” from the start.  Embracing fairness in an organisation can involve:

  • Creating clarity around decision making; i.e. removing ambiguity, providing clear explanations for decisions and keeping everyone in the team abreast of what is going on.
  • Encouraging feedback and communication; Happiily is designed for staff to have a voice – they can anonymously share feedback around work related issues and this total honesty gives leaders the opportunity to address any sticking points.
  • Establishing designated support teams; For example, empowering HR to have a much bigger role beyond just recruitment – coaching, mentoring, championing the company culture, and aligning staff to the company values.

03 – Authentic (and Values-Driven)

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it ” – Simon Sinek, Author and Motivational Speaker

What you stand for is just as important as what you do – and may even eclipse it. The world needs more leaders who are true to themselves and reflect this in their work.  

  • Create a moral code for work; Creative studio Sagmeister & Walsh always ask three questions before they on a project: “Can we give it our heart? Can we learn something? Can we touch people’s hearts?”
  • Establish a clear set of values; Capturing what you stand for in writing is a great way to get employees on board, share your values with customers and remind yourselves every single day of what’s important. Check out Method’s humanifesto as a great example.
  • Champion transparency; Internally this may be by building robust internal communications e.g. weekly debrief meetings or leveraging a company-wide intranet to keep everyone posted on what’s happening within the organization. Externally this may include a weekly newsletter to customers and subscribers, interim and annual reports detailing financial summaries, or a more personal touch – blog posts from senior leaders or social media updates which allow communication to be real-time and constant.

04 – Collaborative

“The role of a leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas” – Sir Ken Robinson, Creativity Expert and Speaker

The most evolved leaders realise that they can’t do everything alone. Their role is to inspire, encourage and grow others.

  • Open communication is key for this to work; Apps like Yammer or even Skype and Google Hangouts are a good way to keep teams in touch with each other, especially cross-office or remotely.
  • Think visually; Some clients may prefer to use Pinterest boards – it’s a great way to share visual inspiration and your boards can be made “secret” from the public.
  • Build trust through transparency – for example, enabling visibility over projects, processes and what everyone is working on.
  • Use a Project management software while collaborating on projects with clients and staff. Integration with other applications such as file-sharing service Box helps make collaboration easy and keep everything in once place.

05 – Visionary

“We have a 150-year plan and vision”, Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Co.

From a solid business model to a five-year plan, leaders need to have a strong, unshakeable vision and the ambition to make it a reality. This means they need to stay cognizant of the bigger picture. A project management system like WorkflowMax can give leaders real-time visibility and control over all aspects of the business.

06 – Hungry

“Learn early, learn often” – Drew Houston, CEO and founder of Dropbox

Becoming a great leader is a learning process that never ends. Adopting a “get better” mindset is critical to stay ahead of the competition but requires a high level of self-awareness, a willingness to improve and the humility to grow.

  • Read more to know more; Feedly, a news aggregator app does exactly that, helping you keep your customised reading feeds all in one place. It’s used by leaders like Rod Drury, CEO of innovative accounting firm Xero.
  • Broaden the scope of inspiration; After all, ideas can come from anywhere. Websites like 99U, Brain Pickings, TED, CreativeMornings provide a host of carefully curated inspirational and educational content.
  • Save inspiration for later; Instapaper and Pocket are handy is the browser bookmarklets that allows you to save web pages for later offline reading.

So there you have it. The key tenets of leadership in the future, some handy tips on how businesses can implement them to stay ahead of the curve. For more great advice for small business owners sign up for a FREE agency webinar by John Jantsch, hosted by WorkflowMax – the project management system loved by thousands of agencies around the world.

AuthorBio_150Mallika Goel is a Marketing Copywriter at WorkflowMax – the project management system loved by thousands of agencies around the world. She has over four years of experience agency-side, working with some of New Zealand’s leading brands. Learn more about fuelling your own agency’s success with Duct Tape Marketing and WorkflowMax in a new FREE agency webinar.

Upgrade your Business Performance by Tracking this Metric

photo credit: A Good Feeling via photopin

photo credit: A Good Feeling via photopin

I’m going to ask you three questions that are integral to the health of your business.

And how you answer them will tell a lot about where you need to spend your time.

Let’s get started.

Can you tell me the average total revenue per customer for your business?

What about the cost to acquire a new customer?

According to John’s article The Most Important Marketing Metrics these are all metrics your business should be aware of.  And as a reader of Duct Tape Marketing I’m guessing you’ve got them covered.

Now: Could you show me how many workouts you completed last month?

Not as easy right?

Now I know what you are thinking – workouts are fitness.  But that would be your first mistake to lump them into different categories.

Today’s driven; business-focused executive lifestyle focuses on priming your body for success.  It sucks, but how you look says a lot about who you are and what you might be able to achieve.

Owning the room is part principles, part preparation, and part presence.

You know the level you want to take your business to.  And tracking the right marketing metrics will help you build that business. But as Tony Robbins said, “What good is having powerful goals if you don’t have the energy to carry them out?”

Here’s how adding exercise to your day can help prime your body and mind for success.

Increase productivity with daily exercise.

Exercise helps you build that energy and endurance. It also improves mood and sleep and reduces stress and anxiety.  But you already knew that.  So what else makes it essential for the business owner?

We can all agree that Virgin CEO Richard Branson gets a lot done.  His #1 tip for enhancing productivity: Daily exercise.  He believes he’s twice as productive on days he exercises.

Exercise enhances productivity by boosting your mental performance.  When you exercise you stimulate the release of Insulin Growth Factor (IGF) and increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

I’m going to keep the science to a minimum here but here’s why those two are important: Both IGF and BDNF help protect existing brain neurons and aid in the creation of new neurons.

Not only is Richard slowing the decline of his mental performance as he ages – he’s also increasing his working memory and enhancing his ability to learn new skills.

There’s a reason he’s still on top at age 64.

Build C-level confidence.

Exercise involves learning new skills.  When you learn new skills you develop confidence.  And confidence helps you develop a presence that suggests what you’re capable of.

When you push yourself every day in the gym you’ll reach goals.  You swam faster today. You squatted more weight than last week.  In fact, I’d argue that just showing up is a win.

Reaching these goals helps you experience daily wins – and provides a physiological lift.

It’s the reason Media Strategist Ryan Holiday suggests exercise as something you should do every day.

“So that no matter what happens that day–at work, at home, in the economy–you can have something that went well.”

And exercise helps you develop the kind of confidence that says: “ I’ve been here before and I pushed through. I know I won’t quit.”

Here’s why: exercise teaches you how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. And at times, both life and business are uncomfortable. But you’re ready. You’ve been through worse.

The right kind of exercise for you.

Here’s the good news: the method of exercise you choose isn’t that important.

Research has shown benefits from both aerobic and resistance training.

According to Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor in the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia, “it’s advisable to incorporate both aerobic and resistance training. It seems that each type of exercise selectively targets different aspects of cognition.”

It’s most important that you’re doing something.  Maybe you like yoga, or Crossfit or running or swimming. Great. All of them will get the job done.

Start simple.

Of course, there are ways to optimize your training.  I use a variety of methods with my guys at Ward Fitness Systems:  heavy resistance training, metabolic training, and energy system training.

None of those are important right now. You just need to get started – optimize later.

If you’re new to exercise start simple. Remember, this is an additional activity you’re adding to your existing obligations.  Begin with a goal that seems too easy. Maybe you’ll start with 5 minutes of exercise per day?

Use this as your introduction to the behavior.  Once you start seeing results you’ll find it easy to add more exercise to your week.

Or follow the lead of the executives I work with and outsource your physical performance enhancement to a coach.

But start tracking this metric: Exercise sessions completed per month.  And before you know it this one small change will begin to produce disproportionate results for you and your business.

BJ-WardBJ Ward is the founder of Ward Fitness Systems. He helps today’s top executives and entrepreneurs develop the strength to succeed through his online and in-person coaching programs. Find out more at wardfitnesssystems.com/blog.

1 4 Simple Ways to Grow Your Service Business Online

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photo credit: flickr

Service businesses don’t get much love on the internet. It seems like all the best online marketing advice is reserved for software startups or product based companies.

What about folks who sell good old fashion services? We have needs too.

The good news is there are strategies that are working incredibly well for service providers. These strategies are proven, battle-tested, and ready for you to put to work.

#1 – Email Newsletter

Social media gets all the fame and glory. But according to a study by McKinsey & Company, email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.

Why is email such a powerful medium? Not only is delivery almost guaranteed — there’s a lot less noise in the inbox than on social media. Your email is far more likely to reach its recipient than a tweet or Facebook post.

The challenge is getting permission to enter the inbox. To entice prospects to join, your newsletter offer needs to evoke the fear of missing out.

Case Study: Bond Beebe Accountants & Advisors has an entire library of accounting newsletters. From taxation to payroll, their newsletters are indispensable to CFOs and Controllers — the kind of people who decide which accounting firm to hire.

#2 – Guest Blogging

If you’re reading this, you’re witnessing the power of guest blogging first hand. I’m a service provider and I know my target audience reads Duct Tape Marketing — that’s why I’m here.

If my strategy works, you’ll be intrigued by this post and you’ll click over to my website to join my newsletter. After that, it’s up to me to make sure you never regret it.

The odd guest post here and there won’t do much for you though. Guest blogging only becomes powerful when you start regularly showing up on your industry’s popular blogs.

Case Study: Rachel Rodgers is an intellectual property lawyer. She recently made waves among Copyblogger’s massive audience of digital media producers when she wrote this post on how to protect your content.

#3 – Podcasting

Podcasting today is where blogging was 10 years ago. It’s getting crowded, but there’s still tons of opportunity to stand out and reach your audience.

You don’t need to be some kind of entertainer or radio personality to produce a successful podcast either. In fact, the easiest way to build a popular podcast is to interview other experts in your industry.

Interview based podcasts are not only less work to produce — they also grow faster because your guests will share the interview with their networks.

Case Study: Trent Dyrsmid is a digital marketer who runs the Bright Ideas podcast. His podcast quickly rose to the top through high profile interviews with people like Jay Baer, Guy Kawasaki, Rand Fishkin, Michael Stelzner, and more.

#4 – Online Courses

Online courses are becoming a popular medium for service providers because they offer an opportunity to build extreme trust before the sale.

If your space is ripe with DIYers who think they can do it on their own — they’ll jump at the opportunity to learn how to do what you do. Then it becomes your job to demonstrate why the task is better left to the pros.

On the other hand, if you offer a service that people know they can’t do on their own, your course will differentiate you from the competition by demonstrating your expertise and authority.

In both cases, if your course delivers the goods, you should be top of mind when it comes to making a hiring decision.

Case Study: Henneke Duistermaat offers a free 16-part snackable writing course on her website. Why would Henneke give away her “trade secrets” for free? Because she knows that many of her students will eventually end up hiring a professional copywriter.

Where should you start?

If you’re just getting started with your online presence, start with a simple email newsletter.

Email is a low-stakes way to get your feet wet and start producing content right away. Done right, the process of publishing an email newsletter will generate plenty of ideas to fuel your guest posts, podcast, and online courses.

Ready to get started planning a newsletter? Download this worksheet today.

 

IMG_1864Ahmad Munawar is the founder of Boutique Growth — a digital marketing agency for professional services firms. He helps professional service providers and consultants generate more leads, win bigger deals, and accelerate growth. Ready to take your service business to the next level? Join his once-a-week email newsletter for expert marketing advice you don’t want to miss.

4 Why Athletes Get Paid More Than You And How to Steal Their Strategies

Paid Like a Pro Athlete

photo credit: MorgueFile

Do you ever wonder why professional athletes get paid so much more than people in most other professions, even when those professions are vital to society’s basic functions?

There’s a common myth that the difference in pay is a result of the skewed priorities of our culture as a whole. But the truth is, the difference in income has nothing to do with society’s priorities and everything to do with the way pro athletes run their business.

In this article, I’ll reveal how athletes do business in a way that’s completely different from doctors, teachers and other high-importance professionals, and how you, too, can get paid like an athlete.

Strategy #1: Serve More Clients at Once

The trouble with being a schoolteacher or a surgeon is you can only serve so many people at once. Athletes, on the other hand, serve millions of people through stadium tickets and TV programs with every game they play, so the cost of their salary is divided among many people instead of just a few.

As long as your income is limited by the number of people you serve, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be paid as much as a pro athlete.

But when you create a course, product, program or event that can serve thousands of people and give them great value, your income is limited only by your ability to market yourself.

Strategy #2: Use Affiliate Marketing

Another reason for pro athletes’ high income levels is their effective use of affiliate marketing.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, affiliate marketing means promoting another person’s product in exchange for money. Athletes do this very well – some of them actually make more money by endorsing products than they do by playing sports.

If you want to gain exposure to a wider audience or to make money by selling other peoples’ products, here are three steps you can take to get started:

  1. Find some people whose products and services complement, but do not compete with, your own. For example, if you specialize in marriage advice, you could approach people who focus on dating but not on marriage.
  1. Start with service. Offer to promote them to your email list, social following, and any other community in which they have influence.
  1. Once you’ve established a relationship, ask if they’d be willing to promote you.

Strategy #3: Get Support and Focus on What You’re Good At

Professional athletes don’t make the stadium snacks. They don’t hold the cameras, tend the grass, or manufacture the equipment. If they did, they wouldn’t have enough time and energy to practice and stay on top of their game.

So instead, they play their position on the team and focus on doing the things that only they can do.

In your business, focus on the things you’re good at and enjoy, and that only you can do. Too many entrepreneurs wait too long to hire help, thinking it will save them money, only to find that it actually costs them money by preventing them from spending enough time on the activities that create revenue.

If you’ve been spending a lot of time on unpaid tasks or things you aren’t good at, rather than marketing and serving clients, it’s time to take a look at your schedule and see what needs to go.

Are there unskilled or low-skilled tasks you can delegate to your family or outsource on sites like Fiverr?

Are there highly-skilled tasks, such as copywriting, that could make you a lot of money if you hired a professional to do them better than you could?

See what’s taking up the most time and make it a priority to remove it from your schedule.

Getting paid like a pro athlete doesn’t happen overnight. But these three actions will put you on the road to success.

Are you running your business like a pro athlete? If not, what steps do you plan to take in order to change that?

I look forward to reading your comments.

 

Pic of me for DuctTapeStephanie O’Brien is a copywriter, marketing coach, entrepreneur, novelist, and self-growth addict. She specializes in helping people to connect with their clients in an authentic way that builds trust and inspires clients to take action. To learn more about her, and to discover how to attract more clients with ease and confidence, visit www.captivatingcopywriter.com.

 

Stay On Top Of Modern Marketing

“Youth Is the Engine of the World” – Matisyahu

Since I started writing my new book, YouthNation, last summer, the changes I have been studying have evolved in some instances more quickly than I could type. The groundswells from urban corners to suburban shopping malls are dictating the future of the American business economy.

Where would our nation be without Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tesla, or Twitter? Apple, a technology company, has the largest market cap on Wall Street and looks to be running away with that title. No longer do bellwether blue-chip titans hold the keys to our future. Instead, it’s a group of upstart millennial-minded organizations that are changing the face of communications, media, commerce, and transportation.

The problem is that there are still so many companies whose leadership is on the outside looking in. When I spoke at a conference of more than 200 digital marketers last month, I asked how many had heard of WeWork — a $5 billion company that’s changing the face of commercial real estate. Just two raised their hands. And this was an audience of professional digital marketers! Most of the rest of the country is even further on the fringe of this revolution.

In the 1960s and 70s, youth culture was counterculture, fighting big business and big government in an effort to be heard. They had to protest in big groups and stage be-ins and other happenings to effect change. The seminal event of that counterculture, Woodstock, attracted what was, in 1969, a mind-blowing 400,000 people. The Electronic Daisy Carnival draws more than that to Las Vegas Every Year. The power of youth in sheer numbers, share of voice, and macroeconomic impact is greater today than ever before.

So what can you do, as a modern marketer, to stay on the right side of disruption? Here are a few modest suggestions:

  • Change the way you consume news: Curate your news from those who you respect, using tools like Nuzzle, which aggregate the headlines that are shared by the people you follow.
  • Learn about emerging startups. Attend conferences and read blogs to keep abreast of companies like the aforementioned WeWork, Kickstarter, Postmates, and so many others, which are disrupting fabled industries that have remained static for nearly a century.
  • Search platforms like Skillshare where (very inexpensive) classes can keep your skills fresh in shifting areas such as search engine optimization and mobile design.
  • Choose your sources wisely. Increasingly, traditional media sources are becoming also-rans, as the most important news is broken by platforms like Mashable, and by influencers who are close to the industries being affected.
  • Learn the new social platforms, even if they seem silly at first. If the first wave was Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the second wave is Instagram, SnapChat and Pinterest. Doing a deep dive and using them actively will enable you to fully understand these tools, and will spark ideas on the ways your business can use them.

Yes, the world continues to change, and for many, the changes are scary. But the new forces are easily accessible, so you are now more empowered than ever before to harness these changes and catapult your business to new heights. If you’d like to go deeper, YouthNation may serve as a roadmap.

 

Matt_Britton_72_DPIMatt Britton is the founder and CEO of innovative ad agency MRY, and the chair and co-founder of @CrowdTap, the people-powered marketing platform. On Twitter, he’s @MattyB.

20 The Secret to Working Less Without Making Less

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Jenna Dalton– Enjoy!

Work Less

photo credit: kroszk@

You want a life. You want a successful business. But is it possible to have both?

Yes it is. You just need to know the secret to working less without making less. The key is to be constantly asking this one critical question…

“Am I being productive, or am I just keeping busy?”

The truth is, there are very few things that you need to do to grow your business. But a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking that we’re making smart moves when we’re actually just doing busy work.

Spending 3 hours changing our Facebook page cover photo is not a good use of our time.

Spending 3 hours crafting a great guest blog post that’ll drive more traffic to our website is a good use of our time.

The secret is to know what you should focus your attention on, and what you should either hire someone else to do, or just forget about.

If you want to work less without making less you need to learn how to properly prioritize. And it all comes back to your goals.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that your goals probably look something like this… Get more clients or customers. Make more money. Right?

And you’re going to be able to do that by focusing on three key things:

  1. Doing lots of smart networking
  2. Generating more referrals
  3. Getting more email subscribers

This means that – when you’re trying to decide what you should work on each day – if it doesn’t fit any of those categories, you should question whether it’s worth your time.

I’m not saying it will never be worth your time to do something outside those categories. But, if you want to not work so much and still grow your business, these three things should be a priority for you. These 3 things are what will help you grow your business as quickly and easily as possible.

Networking

Maintaining relationships you already have, and actively pursuing relationships you want to have is smart marketing.

Try reaching out to at least 1 person per day. Send them a relevant, useful article. Mail them a birthday card. Or let them know that you enjoyed their latest blog post.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s simply about keeping in touch and being generous on a regular basis.

Referrals

According to research by Nielsen, 92% of people say they trust word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations by friends and family more than any other form of marketing.

That means that the best source of new business is to make your current clients happy, and then ask them to send other people your way.

So make sure you have a strong referral system in place.

Subscribers

The only reason someone would become a client or buy something you’ve created is because they know, like and trust you.

And one of the best ways to get people to know, like and trust you is through your email list.

Spending time attracting more subscribers, and then giving your subscribers a good reason to stay on your email list – by sharing helpful tips, tools and resources – should definitely be a priority.

Where are your priorities?

If you want to grow your business without working yourself to the bone, it’s time to start paying attention to how you’re actually spending your time.

Prioritize. Delegate. Focus.

Recognize that there are some things that are necessary to grow your business, and other things you can let go (or hire someone else to do).

Focus on what will help you grow your business – networking, referrals, and subscribers – instead of just doing work, for work’s sake.

Having a balanced life – where work isn’t trickling into social time, and social time isn’t trickling into work time – can be tough.

But you can make it easier for yourself by noticing whether you’re productive, or just doing something for the sake of doing it.

So, where are your priorities? How can you shift them so you can work less and still grow your business?

DTMHeadshotJenna Dalton is an Elite Level Book Yourself Solid® Certified Coach. She helps coaches use smart blogging strategies to get more clients. Grab her free toolkit How to Write The Perfect Blog Post. And make sure to come say hi to her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

5 9 Ways to Connect With Your Community

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Roger Connors and Tom Smith – Enjoy!

biz-community

photo credit: 123rf

Feeling out of touch with your business community? No connection, wrangling tough relationships, regularly brokering messy disagreements? Just how does a business owner or manager get back in touch and move the needle on even the most stubborn issues?

With consistent, well-practiced feedback.

Feedback is a principle that, if practiced, is the key to overcoming blind spots and achieving improved results in all aspects of your life—both personal and professional. Individually, with teams, and even entire communities and organizations.

The key: You just have to ask for it.

 

But before you gather your team or blindly ask what others think of you (highly risky without a bit of practice, by the way), consider these 9 proven tips that will help you get your head right—so you can solicit, respond to, and use feedback to succeed in business.

  1. Go after it. Feedback doesn’t just magically happen with the wave of a wand. You have to be proactive and make it happen. Stay connected with customers or prospects by seeking feedback even when you believe things are going great—sometimes what you think isn’t what is actually happening.
  2. Have courage. Seeking constructive feedback can be scary. Remember, whoever you’re asking feedback from is already thinking about your performance; you’re just hearing what they already believe.
  3. Welcome awkwardness. Remember that almost everyone fears offering feedback about as much as they fear asking for it. People worry it will backfire, and they value their job or relationship over saying anything—which is why momentum stalls in the first place. Revel in the discomfort and seek feedback anyway.
  4. Be convincing. Assure your audience, customers, even your employees that you really do want to know what they think. They need to know there won’t be any blowback from you if they honestly tell you how they see it.
  5. Get positive. Though it might be hard to believe, it’s easier for people to offer positive rather than negative feedback. You have to ask for constructive feedback. Try “What can we do better?” instead of “What are we doing wrong?”
  6. Listen. After asking for feedback, you need to do the hard part—listen. Listening can be difficult, but it is one of the most meaningful steps of exchanging feedback, and it is important that you listen to everything. Then act on what you hear that makes sense.
  7. Be grateful. Don’t let constructive feedback, no matter how unpleasant, skew your view of the person who’s giving valuable input as to how you can improve your processes. Remember: their insight could help improve performance or efficiency. Express sincere gratitude for their willingness to share in the first place (see tip #2, courage).
  8. Make it a habit. Make getting feedback a habit, not a one-time thing. Ask if it’s okay to follow up, even suggesting you meet again for a reality check just to keep yourself in line.
  9. Be nice. Finally, be nice to yourself and others. You can’t make any important changes overnight.

Right out of the gate you might want to select someone you’re comfortable with, then get started by simply asking, “What feedback do you have for me?” You might need to tag it with some context; like “How do you think we could have improved this product?” or “What improvements would you like to see in your campaign?” Once you’ve listened, don’t impulsively respond with a long defensive response. Graciously and professionally say, “Thanks for the feedback. We really appreciate it, and want to do anything we can to make your experience with our company better.” Your gratitude will signal you aren’t defensive (even if you really are) and that you are happy they took the time to share their opinion.

RogerTom_150x150Roger Connors and Tom Smith are co-authors of a new book, The Wisdom of Oz: Using Personal Accountability to Succeed in Everything You Do (September 2014, www.thewisdomofozbook.com). They are multiple New York Times Bestselling authors and innovators of the most extensive body of knowledge on workplace accountability ever written. Their firm, Partners In Leadership (www.partnersinleadership.com), helps management teams facilitate large-scale cultural transition through proven methodologies, and has helped clients produce billions of dollars in improved profitability and shareholder value.

2 5 Operational Tips Every Startup CEO Should Know and Follow

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Morgan Sims – Enjoy!

Op Tips_MSimsStarting a company from nothing is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. From a staff of 5 founders to 500 employees, there are several things startup CEOs should know and practice while growing their companies. Hiring and keeping the right people and developing the right company culture are two of the most important things for the CEO of a startup.

To operate your startup successfully, consider the following.

Hire the Right People

At the beginning stages of your company, you won’t be able to hire very many people. So take time to consider which positions you need to fill first and hire people who can do a lot of things on their own, since your small staff will have to deal with situations big companies have entire departments for. Your employees need to be innovative and self-starters because you won’t have time to walk them through every step of their jobs.

Consider whether you can first hire people on a freelance basis, so you don’t have to think about benefits and salaries right off the bat. Your colleagues and new employees are great resources for finding more people who would fit well with your new company, so use them.

Be A Good Communicator

Communication is key for keeping a startup going and retaining the best employees. Keep them updated on how the company is doing, especially when you’re in the launch stages and the staff is very small. Continuing this practice as the company grows is in your best interests. Continue to demonstrate passion about the company and your vision for the future, even when things seem rough. Remember, too, that communication goes both ways. Leave channels open for people to communicate with you as well, making sure they stay open with surveys and meetings as you take on more employees.

Be Flexible

As a startup CEO, you’re going to have to be flexible about everything. You’ll need the ability to learn quickly on your feet because things are going to wrong, ventures are going to fail, and projects will fall apart. Learn to adapt to these situations and continue to push your company to grow. You may have to change directions based on data or stop a money-sucking project right in the middle.

A startup probably won’t have enough money to employ specialists like lawyers or analysts off the bat, so you’ll have to get creative to solve some of these problems yourself. You also need to be flexible with employees. Offering telecommuting or nontraditional hours will help you attract and keep great people.

Give Your Employees Tools They Need

No matter how great your employees are, they won’t be able to accomplish much if they don’t have the necessary tools to do their jobs. It might be expensive to get good equipment and programs, but the money spent will be worth it in the long run. Imagine your internet failing in the middle of a big project. Learn more here about the importance of stable Internet connections.

Don’t just think connections and hardware, either. Consider apps and social media tools that’ll help you expand without spending a lot of money. The right software will give your employees the edge they need to help the company grow.

Cultivate Your Company’s Culture

The culture of your company needs to continue to appeal to employees as the company grows. Culture changes as you hire more people, expand into departments, and a bigger hierarchy develops. Your company’s values need to be clear to employees and potential employees. Let people know what working for your company is like and what your current employees enjoy about it.

Making money, attracting customers, and growing the business can’t happen without great employees. A solid business plan and great tech will only get you so far. The right people will be able to support the company, find opportunities for growth, and add even more valuable members to the team. From culture to flexibility to communication, following these tips will help you develop your startup’s best asset: its employees.

MSimsMorgan Sims is a writer and recent graduate who loves all things tech and social media. When she’s not trying out new gadgets or reading she spends most of her time with her dog, cooking and staying active. Follow her @MorganSims00.