How giving back can make you a better entrepreneur

How giving back can make you a better entrepreneur

As a business owner, you should always be evolving and growing. One way to do that is to give back through volunteering. Here are three benefits to philanthropy: 1. Learn to give selflessly. Something special happens when we give of our time, talent and treasure without expecting anything in return. Don’t worry too much on how much you can give. Know that even the most modest of contribution can make an impact. You also never know what kinds of rewards you’ll experience that could positively impact your business. 2. Build your professional network. It never hurts to widen your circle. Your next client or vendor might be volunteering alongside you. Many entrepreneurs are often more willing to connect with someone who shares similar values. 3. Become a better problem solver. Each and every business, including non-profits, has its own set of challenges and obstacles. By coming at them from a third-party viewpoint, you have the advantage of being objective. Plus, there is less on the line when it’s not your business. What better way to learn than by removing self-interest from the situation? While philanthropy can open up new worlds, it’s important to set out with the right intentions. If your primary motive is self-interest, then you’ll be likely to turn people off. It also helps to find a cause you that impassions...
Make the most of your work lunch

Make the most of your work lunch

Many news outlets have reported that the traditional lunch hour is dying a slow death. No longer are people taking a midday break to hit the reset button. Despite the research that underlines the need and importance of a lunch break, business people are opting for working straight through the work day. While this is done in the name of productivity, it’s actually not a good long-term approach. The harsh reality is that burnout is more likely to occur and reoccur. So the solution? Carve out some time for a break. Whether it’s enjoying a meal or engaging in an activity, there are plenty of ways to come back invigorated. Here are a few productive ways to enjoy time away from the office: Leave the office: Whenever possible, get out of the office to clear your mind and move a little. Take a walk outside or exercise at the gym, and you’ll do your mind and body a favor. Take a nap: If you work from home, this is a tip you can easily embrace. Sometimes a few minutes of shuteye, i.e. a power nap, can be just what you need to get through that mountain of work. Attend a course: Nowadays a wealth of information on virtually every topic is at our fingertips. Sometimes diversions in the form of continuing education can help you approach problems differently. Volunteer: Helping others can be cathartic. Whatever your passion or interest, you may be able to find a way to make a difference in an hour or two a week. Places like food banks, animal shelters, and need both hands on...
Re-thinking Failure

Re-thinking Failure

In our culture today, we hear a lot about success, but rarely the other side of the coin. Yes, we can’t really talk about success without putting failure in context. How do you increase the chance of success and limit failure? Consider this insight when approaching your next big project or endeavor: 1) Carve out space for self-reflection. Where do you thrive? What work makes you feel the most alive? In contrast, what types of work or projects give you trouble or produce anxiety? When you get to the point where you can decline work and focus on what you do best, i.e. specialties, is when you are poised to produce consistently good work and keep clients coming back for more. 2) Beware of burnout. Physical and mental fatigue can really do a number on quality and productivity. The secret is to find time for rest and relaxation every day. Whether it’s reading, yoga or unplugging for 30 minutes, you have to make time for yourself or else deal with the negative consequences. 3) Be picky. We all can’t excel at everything. Likewise, you can’t be all things to all people. By turning down projects that don’t fit your long-term goals, you are actually turning a “no” into a “yes.” While you might be leery of passing up paid work, know that you and your business will benefit in the end. 4) Reframe the conversation about risk. Next time you are presented with a potentially life-changing, opportunity, take a step back. Ask yourself: “what do I really have to lose”? Know that even if it’s an epic fail, it...
A case study for why honesty matters

A case study for why honesty matters

Trust is a variable that is under-valued in today’s marketplace. Think for a moment about your go-to brands. What factors make you return time and again? Chances are, reputation enters into the equation. A case study for what can happen when companies compromise their values is that of the Honest Co. The socially conscious startup introduced a line of products marketed as alternatives to traditional cleaning products on the market, like laundry detergent. According to their website, “(w)hen we were trying to think of a name for our company, we thought we should choose something that reflected our core values and highest aspirations. The Honest Company was the clear choice.” Yet the Honest Co. didn’t live up to its name. The company was outed in a Wall Street Journal article last fall. It’s laundry detergent wasn’t as clean as it was reported to be. The company entered a downward spiral with a product recall and later legal trouble. They were forced to reformulate the product in question, but no doubt the damage was done in the form of weakened reputation and eroded trust. To make matters worse, imagine the reaction when founder Jessica Alba announced in March that it would replace its CEO with a former Clorox executive. The brand promise that Alba as a founder worked to develop and deliver was nearly destroyed overnight. So what’s the takeaway here? Follow through on your promises. The Honest Co. is a cautionary tale in what can happen when you abandon values for the sake of profit. Failing to deliver on your promise hurts your pocketbook just as much as the...
The truth about vacations

The truth about vacations

Everyone needs some down time every now and then. As Americans, we are often afraid to take time off for fear that it will negatively impact our careers. But that truth is, the opposite may be true. When we allow ourselves time for rest and renewal, we are happier and more productive. There’s more to it than the physical. Here’s why: 1. It’s good for your mind. We are used to always being “on” and that demands a lot of brain power to get through the work day. Turning our minds off helps to reset and fosters clarity. In fact many people find that they are more creative upon returning from some time away. 2. It keeps emotions in check. When we are burnt out, emotions are heightened. It’s easy to lash out to a co-worker or spouse and lose self-control. At worst, people might feel like they need to walk on eggshells around you. 3. Your focus can sharpen. When we are too close to things, we lose perspective and are sometimes close-minded to new ideas. On contrast, time away can give you the distance you need to return with a renewed drive and openness to that can serve your business. 4. You may experience overall increased satisfaction. Vacations are good for the soul. When you happy, that spills over into your personal relationships. And improved relations might mean increased sales. Work-life balance is critical to performance. When was the last time you took time off? If you’re long overdue, why not plan some recharge time? You owe it to you and your business. Whether it’s overseas or...
Rethink your customer loyalty marketing

Rethink your customer loyalty marketing

There’s a lot to be said for a loyal customer. The best loyalty strategies are smart, intentional, customized and effective. Follow these tips to make success in reach for your next campaign: Clearly define your objectives. It’s easy to say, “I want more loyal customers,” but what does that mean in the end? What call to action do you want to put out there? Buy more of your product or upgrade to a more expensive widget? Get customers to recommend your product to others? It’s critical that you set out with a goal or else you won’t have anything to measure results against. Get in their heads(in a good way). It’s important to find out what customers expect and what’s important to them. A good place to start is a customer’s past purchases as indicators of future ones. Using this data, you can send personalized email campaigns that appeal to their interests and needs. No one wants to feel like they are just targeted as part of one broad marketing campaign. Fully commit to it. Effective programs shouldn’t just exist in a vacuum. Instead, think of how they integrate into your broader strategy. You need to stay committed to engaging your customers over the long term if you want to see a return. Remember, if a new customer is silver, then a loyal customer is gold. Are you treating like as...