What does it take to be the next Uber?

What does it take to be the next Uber?

One trend that has dominated the modern marketplace in the last five years in the “sharing economy.” It seems new ventures pop up every day, with a goal of eliminating the middle man and empowering the consumer. Uber is just one example. In many American cities, the service is a viable alternative to taxi cabs. Giant Airbnb is a service that connects consumers looking for accommodations with home owners. What do these successes mean to you? Here’s what business owners in any niche can glean from their wins: Speed matters. Uber is always looking for ways to maximize the customer experience. Technology is one answer to that. Although costly at times, an upfront investment can mean residual returns. Customers today want what they want faster and easier. Are you set up to meet their expectations? Lead with trust. Trust is the currency of the sharing economy. This can be a tall order at times, because such companies like Uber simply act as a third party and do not deliver the service. As the business owner, however, you can exercise more control over the deliverable. Your business is only as good as your employees. Do they trust you and believe in your vision? Rewarding and motivating them can go a long way. Put community first. Companies like Uber and Airbnb have mastered the art of grassroots marketing. They maintain a consistent feedback loop between buyers and sellers. You can get plugged in, in your own right. Start by using social media sites at your disposal and monitor what people are saying about your brand—good, bad and indifferent. Truly engage in...
3 ways to foster workplace diversity

3 ways to foster workplace diversity

Diversity should be more than a buzzword at your organization. Not only is it the right thing to do, fostering a culture of diversity can do wonders for your bottom line. Why? When people feel at ease and can express themselves in an authentic way, they are more likely to perform better, which increases engagement and benefits the organization as a whole. If your organization doesn’t have a diversity initiative, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are three actionable steps you can take to achieve this end: 1. Start from the top Executive leadership sets the tone. To that end, senior leaders need to have a desire to build a diverse culture and hire people who are open to working with people of all different nationalities, skin colors, genders, sexual orientations, etc. If diversity is not a company goal, it just won’t happen. People tend to hire those who look like them, resulting in a homogeneous workforce. Without policies and tactics in place, your workforce will look the same and you’ll miss out on other potentially beneficial viewpoints. 2. Provide safe spaces for employees Something as simple as making bathrooms available for transgender and gender non-conforming employees can go along way in the workplace. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Unisex bathrooms are one way to address this. On a broader level, there’s a lot you can do in the way of encouraging employees to interact with each other beyond their normal course of activity. For example, lunch and learns, after hours mixers and company picnics are great ways to get people talking. When...
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...