The most successful business owners do this thing

The most successful business owners do this thing

In an age of social media, it’s easy to forget about the human factor. Sure, emails, texts, and Facebook messages can be convenient, but we lose a great deal in the process. There is still a great value in the ol’ face-to-face meeting. If you’re not meeting other business owners in person, you can count on the fact you’re selling yourself (and your business) short. Sure, we’ve all got a mountain of work to do. Even so, if we don’t make the effort, our business will pay the price. There’s a maxim that it’s not who you know, but what you know–and that statement no doubt applies to the business world. The days and months go by–and before we know it, we’re in danger of losing that valuable connection we currently have to our fellow business owner. Relationships require ongoing nurturing and maintenance to flourish into something with relational substance. You might know this intuitively, but it can be hard to put into practice. One of the more onerous burdens business owners face is the age-old question of how best to use one’s time. Don’t be driven by temporary gains at the risk of stunting your long-term progress. Think strategically and craft a networking plan that includes consistent face time opportunities. For small businesses, the business owner is often the most critical player, because business owners forge connections with other business owners, not their support staff It all begins with scheduling these opportunities and making it happen. So grab a pencil and mark the...
How your business can stand out from the crowd

How your business can stand out from the crowd

Every month, entrepreneurs launch thousands of businesses in the United States. But without a point or points of difference, they are set up for failure. Whether you have been in business for five months or five years, you have to maintain a value proposition. What does your business offer that others cannot? What pain points can you address? If you don’t have good answers to these questions, now is the time for some introspection. Here are four tips from the best to stand out in the competitive landscape: 1. Study the best. Look no further than your local market for companies that do a good job of differentiating themselves. They don’t have to be your competitors or even in the same industry. What matters is that they are capturing significant market share. Take Starbucks, for example. They are a leader in the industry because they offer a consistent experience and comfortable atmosphere. 2. Think benefits, not features. This is sales 101. Consumers don’t really care about X or Y feature. Instead they want to know how your dog walking service can save people time and allow for more time with their family. 3. Get emotional. People are often motivated by emotional or gut feelings. Though logic enters into the equation, ultimately they are compelled by a visceral drive. For example, if you are a personal trainer, you can tap into peoples’ desire to look and feel better. 4. Explore motivations. Why do people choose you over a competitor? You might conduct customer surveys and polls to glean this insight. Keep your eyes and ears open and tune into social...
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...