095 by Jeff Charles
Many entrepreneurs are afraid of selling. It’s a pretty common fear.
Chances are there have been times when you have been afraid of persuading prospects to become customers. There are plenty of reasons why entrepreneurs might be afraid of selling.
You might be afraid of coming off too pushy. Maybe you’re concerned that you won’t be able to effectively communicate the value of your offering. You may even be afraid of...
076by Brian Hughes
Still managing projects with a Google Doc, tracking billable hours in an endless Excel chart, or juggling human resource benefits yourself?
In 2016, resolve to put an end to the madness. From straightforward accounting solutions to intuitive social media management tools, these five apps empower small business and entrepreneurs to do more with less.
Ready to save valuable time, money and sanity? Take your business to new heights with these...
Disruptive. If you look at the dictionary definition of the word, there are two -- almost polar opposite -- expressions. They are:
1. Troublesome, unruly, badly behaved and undisciplined, or, alternatively, 2. Innovative and groundbreaking.
I’ve worked with CEOs, leaders and entrepreneurs from both categories. Early in my career, for instance, I met with the president of a small bank who had a reputation for hurling items...
As mom used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you want to use your brand name as a domain name for a website – but someone else already owns that trademark – they can potentially dispute your use of that name online. Courts can and have, depending on the circumstances, ordered businesses to stop using a name and pay damages, when they determine that trademark has been infringed upon.
When Jona Xiao was 12 years old, she was cast as the lead in her school play Rappingstiltskin -- the rapping version of Rumpelstiltskin. “I loved making people laugh,” says Xiao. “At that moment, I fell for acting.”
Shortly afterward, she heard an ad on the radio for a casting agency looking for new talent. The teenage Xiao convinced her parents to let her audition and pay the $5,000 for classes.
“Years later when I...
Your mindset affects what you believe is possible, and that will dictate what actions you take in your life and business. Your thoughts will either help or hurt your business. The way you think is one of your most valuable assets as an entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs understand this better than most.
Cultivating a strong mindset is a lifelong process, but today we have access to books, blogs, podcasts and videos...
Miracles in business don’t just happen. Opportunity never seeks us. Rather, we must seek it.
Needless to say, the only way to make a goal become a reality is to stick to a proposition and see it through to the end. Seeing a task through to completion regardless of how difficult it is to achieve is the definition of grit and will.
However, at some point in our lives, we all fall behind and attainment of our professional goals seems more and more...
When Eran Eyal arrived at Techstars New York office on a balmy Tuesday evening in August, he was emotionally drained. It shouldn't have been like this -- as one of seven founders or founding teams selected to pitch their startups to a roster of experienced judges, he should have been confident and excited.
But these weren't normal circumstances. The weekend before he'd received two separate pieces of devastating personal news....
I collaborate with many solo entrepreneurs and I must say, we are an interesting lot. A hybrid between the small-business owner and freelancer, we’re navigating new waters.
Successful entrepreneurs often talk of the ever-elusive “tipping point,” where passive income is achieved and audience size goes from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands. But for a lot of “solopreneurs,” a plateau happens in the thousands, and...
The end of the year is a good time to reflect upon where you are as a company compared to where you intended to be. In other words, did you meet your yearly objectives? If the answer is yes, then give yourself a pat on the back before asking the next key question: “How do we sustain success?”
Conversely, if the answer is no, then there are number of questions to ask yourself and your team that will reveal why, and fortunately, there...
011 by Smart Hustle Magazine
Only 75 percent of new businesses survive past the one-year mark. That means that 1 out of every 4 businesses will close their doors before the end of year one. And while you would think that making it past year one gets you to the summit, the reality is that each subsequent year becomes harder to survive with only 69% making past year two and only 50 percent of businesses making it to the five-year mark. So what’s the difference...
As an entrepreneur, unforeseen challenges are going to constitute the bulk of your workdays. It might be something big, like a long-committed employee who decided to quit or a new competitor emerging in your area, or something small, like a deadline that’s getting pushed back due to technical issues. Learning to face and overcome these challenges without losing your cool or compromising your long-term goals is one of the most...
There are tactics to self-branding, content marketing and entrepreneurship that the general public just isn't aware of. It’s true. I learn more and more every day when I network, read, write and test. There are super creative tactics some entrepreneurs use to get their brands and companies ahead.
Check out these stats from ACI, which explain every minute online:
Nearly 2.5 million pieces of content are shared on...
06Robert W. Bly
What should you charge for your product? Are you looking to create a low-priced item you can sell as a loss leader to bring in new customers? Or are you looking to create a high-priced back-end product to sell to your existing customers?
To me, it’s more rewarding to command a higher price, charge premium fees, and get paid very, very well for what you sell. Especially if you're in a service business, competing on price means you...
Anyone who has worked with my dev shop (Agent Beta) from 2012 to early 2013 as a client or employee most likely spoke to or received an email from Dana. Dana started off helping with basic clerical tasks, and eventually learned enough to manage certain aspects of project development. Dana is smart, willing and eager to learn. Dana is also my mom.
She raised four children on her own, used to run marathons without...
"Everyone will buy this product!" This overambitious misjudgment underscores an all too common fallacy in the world of entrepreneurs: the entrepreneur's bias. After all, ideas quickly become "your baby," and no one wants to hear their baby is ugly. But this thought process, could be a costly mistake. Instead, entrepreneurs need to ensure there is a need for their "baby"
Reasonably and thoughtfully estimating an idea's potential market...
If only half of startups survive more than five years and only one-third make it to 10, what’s the one thing you could do to ensure your company is sustainable? The answer is to create a growth strategy for your business, of course.
A growth strategy involves more than simply envisioning long-term success. If you don’t have a tangible plan, you’re actually losing business -- or you’re increasing the chance of losing business...
Despite all the beautiful pictures on Instagram, not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can lead to a life of freedom, and benefit the people a business serves. Or, it can be a nightmare if someone isn’t cut out for entrepreneurship. It’s not a one-size-fits-all choice for everyone.
I took the opportunity to become an entrepreneur at 19 years old. No one in my life at that point was an entrepreneur,...
Most first-time entrepreneurs seem to believe the myth that they need a minimum of a half a million dollars to start a business. At least that is usually the lowest number I see requested from our local angel investment group. In reality, over 80 percent of successful new businesses are self-funded for much less -- often as little as $10,000. I’m convinced this also reduces risk.
Starting a new business on a limited budget...
This year has been saturated in outlandish political statement, heated sports controversies and some of the most innovative marketing campaigns to date. Mixing next-gen technology with tried-and-true marketing methodologies, 2015 ads covered new ground in the advertising realm.
Although there were many eligible contenders, the following five were a cut above the rest:
1. 'Shot with iPhone 6'
Image credit: Apple
016 by Kelley Keller
You opened your business and trademarked your brand name, logo, and so on. Fantastic! You’ve taken the first step to ensure only you can profit from your brand. But registering your trademark is just the first step to protecting your brand.
A trademark gives you the right to exclude others from using similar marks in the marketplace that might confuse consumers. The purpose is to make sure consumers know where the goods and services with...
012by Rieva Lesonsky
Retail returns are a trouble spot for retailers at any time of year, but at the holidays, the problem is especially significant. This year, the NRF expects holiday return fraud will cost U.S. retailers $2.2 billion, according to NRF’s Return Fraud Survey.
Retail return fraud is on the rise due to many factors, including the increasing popularity of gift cards, new payment methods and technological innovations that make it easier to falsify...
013 by Smart Hustle Magazine
Like every profession, entrepreneurs sometimes find themselves caught in ethical dilemmas where they are forced to make decisions about what is right and wrong. A recent Wall Street Journal article suggests that unethical behavior is typical of entrepreneurship, stating that, “Some entrepreneurs stay the ethical course. But there seem at times to be the exceptions.”
This begs the question — are there some circumstances where...
So you came up with an idea, got yourself some funding, developed a product, gained customer traction, found a market niche, and generated some revenue. Maybe even a lot of revenue. That’s great. You’ve gone farther than the vast majority of your peers.
The problem is, you can’t just keep putting one foot in front of the other forever. Sooner or later you’ll reach a point where that no longer works. You have to have an...
011 by Scott Shane
In 2013, the number of American businesses without employees per thousand people rose by 0.4 percent to hit a record of 72.72 non-employers for every thousand residents, Census Bureau data reveal. In the same year, average sales at these businesses nudged down by 0.2 percent — about $80 (in 2011 dollars) — to $44,357.
Are rising numbers of non-employers outstripping demand for what they have to sell? Census data from 1997 to 2013 suggest...
Everybody wants to be liked. The need for social acceptance is something we all long for and we feel conflicted when we don't have it. It’s natural to want to conform and avoid uncertainty. However, if we apply this theory to business then being unaccepted actually becomes a strong brand.
For example, when Dollar Shave Club launched it did so through YouTube videos using off-beat, sarcastic humor that many office cultures frown upon....
Garnering support for a new business idea is as much about the art of the pitch as it is the science of the throw. As with any presentation, content may be king, but delivery is queen, and without the two mutually supporting each other, your business kingdom will lack support -- or strikeout completely.
Building a relationship of any kind takes time whether it’s with investors, vendors, new business partners or customers....
017 by Annie Pilon
No matter where you are in your business journey, it’s never too early or late to learn. From those just thinking about starting a business to seasoned veterans, there are always new lessons to be learned.
Members of the small business community have learned plenty of those lessons. Advice and insights for business owners new and old are included in this week’s Small Business Trends Community News and Information Roundup.
Check Out These...
014 by Shawn Hessinger
Think back to when you started your most recent company. What were the biggest mistakes you made at the time?
Or, if you’re in the process of starting a business today, what mistake are you most concerned about making?
Expert Market has come up with this infographic listing 15 startup mistakes small business owners and entrepreneurs need to consider.
They run the gamut from underestimating the financial requirements of your startup...
Good branding is at the heart of any good business, but most of the branding advice you’ll find online or in person is about making sure that your brand remains consistent in your marketing efforts, or gets improved, if it's already established. What happens if your business has never developed a brand, or if you’re just starting out, trying to build a business from scratch?
The latter effort isn’t going to be easy, but it...
06By Nicole Fallon Taylor
Big Data gets a lot of buzz in the business world. It's true that data analytics can give you deep, useful insights into your business and its customers, but only if you use those insights to their full potential.
There are three main components to business analytics: descriptive, predictive and prescriptive. Descriptive analytics — the "simplest class of analytics," said Lithium Technologies' chief scientist Michael Wu — is...
In a perfect world, every time we shared a link—whether it be to a blog post, a newsletter, or a tweet—all of our followers would click through and check out what was on the other side. Right?
But our attention spans are shorter than ever. In fact, a study from Microsoft says the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds since the year 2000. Another study from the Nielsen Norman Group reminds us that...
010 by Melissa Thompson
There are any number of automated tools you can make use of today to really boost the social reach of your small business.
Tools have been developed for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, and all the other outlets, so that no matter which is your favorite, you’ll be able to find some ready-made applications to extend your visibility and make life easier at the same time.
This discussion will focus on some of the best of these...
Some of the most successful and inspirational entrepreneurs never set out with the goal of running a large company or employing scores of people. Many are simply men and women motivated to develop solutions to a problem they’re facing.
Then they discover that they’re not the only ones with that need -- and, lo, a successful business is born.
Sometimes dubbed “accidental entrepreneurs,” these business owners have other...
From the time we hit adolescence (and maybe even earlier), we live our lives caring what other people think of us. We're all guilty of this to a certain degree -- it’s human nature to want to be liked and approved of by the tribe around us. However, there’s a problem when a fear of criticism or judgment drowns out your inner voice. This fear is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t go after what they want.
There’s comfort in knowing your regular barista will start making your go-to beverage as soon as you step foot into your neighborhood coffee shop. You drop by every morning to order the same thing and your loyalty pays off in the form of enhanced service, friendly smiles and the confidence that you’ll be getting a consistently high-quality product. In turn, you keep coming back day after day.
This type of customer interaction is...
“That’s just a feature.” It’s the ultimate dismissal -- an indictment that the idea is too lightweight to stand on its own and will ultimately be subsumed into a broader product. Entrepreneurs scarred by such feedback may start second-guessing themselves, wondering if their innovation is a great product or a measly feature.
But dwelling on the question "Is it a product or a feature?" is the wrong mindset. It’s a product-centric...
Everyone loves a good entrepreneurial Cinderella story. We cheer for companies that start from nowhere and wind up revolutionizing entire industries.
Unfortunately, this happens pretty infrequently. Nine out of 10 startups end up folding, and while there is a long list of factors that contribute to this jarring statistic, I believe one of the biggest reasons for failure is that founders seek to be the best at everything instead of the...
Let’s get real here. As a business leader, you want constant growth. But how can you expect to experience growth if you’re doing the same things over and over again? How can you experience growth if you’re unwilling to see new possibilities? Failure to do so is what is known staying in the comfort zone.
Research on the topic of the comfort zone is abundant. You can see in a 1908 study by Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson...
Another year is in the books. Big ideas, big gambles and big changes dominated 2015. Some businesses looked to the cloud; others looked to the stars. Emerging brands broke into the mainstream, established firms reinvented themselves and a 25-year-old pop phenom tangled with almighty Apple -- and won.
Here are the entrepreneurs behind the milestone moments that defined the year that was.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of...
Ever feel like it’s gotten more difficult to find affordable financing to run your business? Don’t worry — it’s not just you.
Traditionally, small businesses were able to rely upon traditional banks for loans and refinance options. Then the Great Recession hit. Since then, banks have dramatically reduced their lending to small businesses.
After getting the cold shoulder from their banks during the credit crunch, many entrepreneurs turned to...
There's never been a better time to strike out on your own.
Have you been dreaming about starting your own business? This coming year is the time to stop dreaming and start doing.
That advice comes from the personal finance site GOBankingRates. The site's editors asked best-selling author and career coach Josh Felber for his best finance tips for the coming year. His top piece of advice was that "2016 is the year to break free from...
08By Jim Blasingame
Here’s a scenario that plays out in the marketplace every day in Small Business, USA:
“My business is really growing these days,” a small business owner confides to his friend, “but we’re still experiencing negative cash during the month.”
And then, with that deer-in-the-headlights look on his face, he completes his concern, “I thought by now, with sales and profits up, cash flow would be the least of my worries. I used to...
Until a few years ago Steve Cronce’s Raphael Industries did $1 million dollars a year of specialized industrial painting for customers within driving distance of their plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One of them happened to be GE Healthcare, which sent Raphael “dead” X-Ray tube parts for re-coating and re-commissioning. Challenged by other entrepreneurs in Scale Up Milwaukee’s Scalerator program to come up with...
There are two kinds of businesses: those with CEOs who are intertwined with their companies and, well, those who aren't. I call the latter faceless brands.
Faceless brands include big companies like American Airlines, Adidas, Chase and Visa. On the flip side, Richard Branson with Virgin, Marc Benioff with Salesforce and Marc Zuckerberg with Facebook represent brands where the founder has made a conscious decision to get...
In their book No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing, business coach and consultant Dan S. Kennedy and marketing strategist Kim Walsh-Phillips show you how to use direct response marketing principles on a variety of social media platforms to drive real results and profit. In this edited excerpt, the authors explain why Disney can teach you something valuable about email marketing.
As a fan of Disney, I think one...
It was all about the timing in the latest installment of Shark Tank. While many episodes feature the sharks mercilessly skewering entrepreneurs over products that lack any clear market potential, Episode 10 featured all good, interesting ideas with real potential.
The big difference between the one business that walked away unfunded and the one that attracted the night’s biggest bidding was how far those entrepreneurs had gone...
015 by Melinda Emerson
You know that internships can be extremely valuable to student-learners but what you may not realize is that internship programs can be valuable to you as a small business owner. Think of internships as long auditions for future full-time employees.
While you may not reap immediate benefits from your student interns, you could find candidates with great potential and who are perfect for your company before they even hit the job market...
014Robert W. Bly
In The Marketing Plan Handbook, author Robert W. Bly explains how you can develop big-picture marketing plans for pennies on the dollar with his 12-step marketing plan. In this edited excerpt, Bly offer an easy formula for crafting a positioning statement that will help you reach your prospects with the right marketing messages.
Once you have a clear, powerful vision of where you intend to take your business and analyzed your...