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Strategy

How to Effectively Network as an Introvert

July 7, 2019


It is important to build the most powerful relationships possible within your business. Those key relationships and connections can have a powerful impact. But what do you do if you’re shy? If you’re introverted, or if you dread networking events and those awkward first conversations where you never know what to say?

Here are tips to help you build effective business communications and to network with people that can build powerful relationships for your business.

Focus on giving versus getting

Sometimes what you can give other people may not even be related to your business, and that’s okay. To build a strong relationship and foundation, you will want to be known as someone who is resourceful, who can connect, and who is a person who can contribute in a way that serves the other person.

Regardless of whether it is to your direct benefit or has to do with your business or not, building a relationship can be good for the long term. It can take a long time. But it’s worth your time and effort because those deep relationships can help you tremendously.

Be present

This does not require you to present yourself in a specific way. It requires you to pay attention to the one person in front of you. That means you need to keep eye contact. Don’t look around the room. Focus on the person communicating with you.

People notice when you’re not paying attention. It’s very rude, and it leaves a bad impression of you. Pay attention to the person communicating and colleagues you meet at the event. When the conversation is over, turn your attention somewhere else. 

Allow your introverted qualities and honor them

Imagine you have gone to a networking event that is two, three, four, five days long, or more. You need …

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3 Ways to Manage Stress When Self-Care Stops Working

July 1, 2019


According to a survey conducted by the American Institute of Stress, 40% of workers reported that their jobs were very or extremely stressful. Stress in the workplace has become an epidemic, and we’re all looking for ways to feel more peaceful and focused at work. Many of these solutions are self-care tactics like meditation and taking a walk around the block during our lunch hour. But what happens when those practices aren’t strong enough? Here are three practices to that can help you eliminate stress when self-care isn’t cutting it. 

1. Delegate tasks

Many of us are leaders both at work and home; the demands never stop, and we can feel pulled in all directions by the never-ending list of chores, deadlines and tasks. The key to finding more balance and less stress is to delegate the tasks you don’t like and aren’t good at, and then use your time only for the things you like and are good at, or love and are great at. I use a practice called Delegate and Elevate, developed by entrepreneur and author Gino Wickman, to categorize my tasks both at work and home. Simply categorize all of your tasks into these four quadrants:

  • Love and are great at
  • Like and are good at
  • Don’t like but happen to be good at
  • Don’t like and are not good at

Once you have a clear visual of where your tasks fall, focus on delegating all of the things you don’t like or aren’t good at. 

It can sometimes be difficult to delegate at first, but you’ll often find that there is someone else who enjoys the tasks that you don’t like. One of my employees loves to research and create spreadsheets. These are some of the last things I would ever want to do, but …

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You Can’t Fix Culture By Cleaning House

June 24, 2019


According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Financial Economics, companies who see improvements in their employee-sourced ratings tend to significantly outperform those whose ratings decline. Employee feelings matters – and as tempting as it might be to clean house and dismiss naysayers during times of change, doing so will harm morale, undercut engagement, and halt your business’ upward trajectory.

I’ve seen the fallout firsthand. Some twenty years ago, I served as the director of manufacturing for a firm that was undergoing a massive organizational overhaul. At the time, the company had just welcomed a new CEO to optimize its structure. The new leader was inarguably brilliant, having previously been fabulously successful as the president of one branch of a well-known conglomerate. He wanted to transplant the systems that had worked so well for him at his old company into the new, cleaning out any cobwebs that remained of the old order in the process.

His strategy? To promptly sweep out or disregard anyone who had been in the organization for over four years. It was a decisive dismissal – and one that came at a significant cost. He might have saved himself a little time and a few arguments by sending potential critics out the door, but they took an incredible amount of invaluable accumulated knowledge and experience with them. By refusing to take the time to engage with longstanding employees, the CEO lost the very assets that would have helped him rebuild the company to be stronger, better, and more successful. Needless to say, the leadership change didn’t go as well as the company hoped.

You can’t change a company’s culture with brute force – no matter how talented you are. Below, I offer a few tips on how employers can use employee goodwill and …

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How Businesses Are Marketing Green Innovation

June 23, 2019


The business world is under pressure today to stay ahead of the ever-increasing number of social issues and trends. While the push toward sustainable technologies and products to save the environment is not new, it has never been more significant than it is today.

Many companies are coming up with innovative solutions to help build a green future. They are taking this route to gain customer support as well as to reduce harm to the environment.

The Global Green Economy Index first launched in 2010. It measures the green economy performance of 130 countries and looks at how the experts make their assessments. The GGEI is now the index most widely used by civil societies, policymakers, international organizations and the private sector to benchmark performance.

With nine of the world’s top 10 greenest countries being in Europe, the innovations include energy-saving and eco-friendly logistics. Below are some examples of these initiatives, from which developing businesses could take a few lessons.

Renewable power sources

U.S. solar-powered corporations

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has been keeping track of the top corporations using solar power in the United States for several years. These are its results by company based on megawatts (MW) installed:

  1. Target Corporation: 147.5 MW
  2. Walmart: 145 MW
  3. Prologis: 107.9 MW
  4. Apple: 93.9 MW
  5. Costco Wholesale: 50.7 MW
  6. Kohl’s: 50.2 MW
  7. IKEA: 44.MW
  8. Macy’s: 38.9 MW
  9. General Growth Properties: 30.2 MW
  10. Hartz Mountain Industries: 22.7 MW

Since 2012, according to SEIA, the top U.S. companies have increased their solar usage by 240%, and demand for socially responsible financial planning has also increased.

Solar power for Australians with disabilities

While Europe is taking the lead on reducing fossil fuel dependency, Australia is among the world’s top innovators when it comes to renewable energy enterprises. Natural Solar Initiatives provides affordable solar-powered …

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How to Manage Your Small Business Through a Crisis

June 23, 2019


Even the largest and most well-reputed enterprises and corporations are not immune to such a reality. Toyota, a tycoon of the automobile industry, suffered an exorbitant amount of financial damage between 2009 and 2011 following the release of vehicles with sticky accelerators that claimed the lives of many innocent people. The company was slow to react and reluctantly recalled their faulty vehicles, incurring huge losses and permanent damage to their credibility.

Another notable example is the PEPSICO “Syringe Crisis” in 1993. Claims were being made that cans of Diet Pepsi contained syringes that were contaminating the content inside. Unlike Toyota, Pepsi was quick to remedy the situation, arresting the individual at fault and publicly apologizing for their mistake. As such, there was hardly any lingering effect on the Pepsi brand and normal operations resumed in no time.

The two situations highlight the importance of good leadership and a proactive damage control policy. Small business owners have to be especially wary of this as most are deluded into thinking that their small firm is not susceptible to a crisis because of its small scale. Having no clear cut plan, and leadership that is reluctant to take responsibility can be severely detrimental to a firm.

Although the aforementioned examples occurred in large organizations, there are several valuable lessons which small business owners can learn from: 

If your small business ends up in the middle of a crisis, here are four ways to successfully overcome it:

1. Assess the situation objectively

In times of peril, you should remind yourself to never let your emotions get the best of you regardless of the size of your business. Instead, you should make an active effort to remain calm, collected and composed. This will enable you to objectively analyze the situation, allowing you to ascertain the …

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10 Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

June 21, 2019


It’s frustrating to think that customers get to the shopping cart, but then something happens and you lose out on that sale. The great news is, there are many proven ways to lower these rates without having to redo your e-commerce store. Take a look at these 10 proven tips to reduce cart abandonment.

Offer free shipping

While it’s typically only a savings of a few dollars, comping the cost of shipping is typically enough to win the sale. A study by Forrester shows that 44% of shoppers abandon their carts because of the shipping costs.

The best solution to prevent shopping cart abandonment is simply to offer free shipping. It’s an incentive for consumers to shop with you instead of your competitors and a major selling point, so take advantage of it.

Eliminate surprises

If you don’t want to offer free shipping, that’s okay. However, you can still cut back on the number of people who abandon their shopping cart due to charges and shipping charges. The most common, and easily correctable, reasons that customers don’t complete the checkout process is because of the unexpected extra costs, like taxes, fees and shipping.

 Shoppers don’t like surprises. To eliminate the surprise costs, make sure any additional costs are clear before they add the items to their cart. This can be tough because shipping costs are variable, but this is where a shipping calculator comes into play. You can add a button to your product pages to calculate the estimated cost for your customer before they add the item to the cart.

If you have additional fees (handling fees, product customization charges, sales tax), you want to ensure they are clearly listed on the product pages, so they don’t surprise the customer when they go to the cart. 

Enable guest checkout

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How to Sell Your Company With Grace

June 14, 2019


It’s not exactly easy to build a company that sells for eight figures. That’s why I learned pretty early on to get help when I need it. It took us 10 years to get to the point that companies had any interest in acquiring us, and it was an emotional roller coaster filled with highs and lows alike. 

I ran an artificial intelligence company in the manufacturing space – our software could predict breakdowns and maintenance issues for large machinery. We bootstrapped it for the first eight years, funding ourselves by charging for consulting services. We survived the financial meltdown in 2008. And we even overcame the naysayers who said the market didn’t need our product. 

After all that grinding, a major public company approached us for acquisition in 2016. Six gut-wrenching months of due diligence and negotiation followed before we got our deal across the line.  Suffice it to say, I learned a lot. 

Now I’m on the other side of the table, investing in startups building the next generation of AI products. I see a lot of these founders repeating the mistakes I’ve already learned from. 

Here’s what I wish they knew: 

Ignore what the competition is doing.

When you’re a small startup with limited resources, even a competitor’s press release can be intimidating. 

It happened to us more times than I can count. We’d see news of a new competing product and immediately enter panic mode. But we learned over time that there was often little substance to these releases.  The only threat that mattered didn’t come from the competition; instead,  it came from getting sidelined and distracted. 

Your competitors will always make noise. Ignore them and focus on what you can control. It’s critical to make sure their noise doesn’t influence your focus and decision-making. Years …

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Why Joining A Franchise Helps You Be A Better Business Owner

June 13, 2019


Many people may think that franchises are just a new way to make money. They believe you take an existing business model, drop it in a new location, and watch the profits roll in. But franchise owners walk away with more than profits. They gain a greater understanding of how business works through hands-on experiences.

There’s a lot to being a franchisee. You have to follow company processes. You’re accountable for spreading the company name into new areas. You have to hire the right people to make it happen. And you’re not even an employee yourself.

While these responsibilities may seem like a lot to take on, they’re actually fantastic learning opportunities. In fact, learning from first-hand experience is one of the most valuable things about being a franchisee.

Here are some of the ways that stepping into the role of franchisee turns you into a better business owner.

You understand what a successful business model looks like

You aren’t thrown into the ring to fend for yourself as a franchisee. The franchisor is there as your partner and number one supporter. He or she provides you with a plan of action so you know how to execute. This “secret sauce” is the business playbook, the new bible for running all operations. Franchisors distribute this model to all franchisees to ensure a systematic approach to business.

As you follow these tried-and-true processes, you’ll learn more about what makes a great business model tick. You find out what type of support you need and the questions you should ask. You’ll also realize which tools you need for success, like marketing materials or advertising packages.

It also teaches you the importance of established processes. From training to marketing to customer service, a robust business model offers many processes for how to navigate …

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How to Use Partnerships to Improve Your Brand's Image

June 11, 2019


The partnership between Red Lobster and Ocean Conservancy stands to provide some pretty powerful benefits to both organizations: Red Lobster’s image gets a much-needed face-lift, and Ocean Conservancy gets a megaphone to promote its message.

For Red Lobster, a partnership like this is a step toward redefining the brand. Instead of being an unhealthy, mid-market restaurant chain concerned only with profits, Red Lobster can tell a different story of a seafood restaurant that cares about the world and takes measures to protect it. At the same time, the Ocean Conservancy gains access to the platform — and reach — Red Lobster provides. The fact that a business as entrenched in its ways as Red Lobster can modernize provides a strong testimony to the work Ocean Conservancy does.

Small businesses can look to this partnership for inspiration. A marketing partnership — whether it’s with another small business or with a big legacy brand — can unlock audiences or associations that were previously out of reach.

Reaching new audiences

Young and old brands each have something to offer the other in the rapidly changing digital age; that’s why marketing partnerships between the two are so effective. To begin with, brands that are used to old-guard marketing channels like television and print now struggle to make a digital impact. That digital impact gets more important every day: Digital advertising saw a 16.8% increase in 2018, while television advertising increased by only 7.1%. And social media spending surpasses both, rising by 42% in a single year. For brands less comfortable with digital tactics, a partnership with a digitally innovative business will allow them to reach different audiences and build new, authentic relationships and channels.

Conversely, many newer companies have engaged digital audiences but have largely neglected developing expertise in any other channels. Television and …

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4 Industries That Can Benefit from Presentation Management

June 11, 2019


Businesses rely on presentations to promote and sell their wares, but these crucial assets – used to drive business – tend to be a hodge-podge of PowerPoint slides, images and videos scattered across network folders, emails and various hard drives. 

Whether it was an entry-level marketer or the head of sales, all these assets were painstakingly created for an important meeting and include a well-spring of information that can be re-used, if only someone can find them. When presentation assets are scattered across the business network, it leads to employees scrambling to piece together a one-off presentation. Without the proper strategies in place, it becomes too easy to just grab an existing slide with target demographic numbers, even though it has the old company logo on it. Even worse is when they combine that slide with a graphic that includes outdated figures. The business looks sloppy, and it can even result in fines and lawsuits.

What is presentation management?

To rectify the process, businesses across every vertical are turning to presentation management, which puts a strategy behind your company’s presentation content. Presentation management starts by housing all presentation assets in one location and ultimately automates and streamlines the creation, distribution, sharing, tracking and updating of presentations content. As a result, your team spends less time making decks, and more time presenting them. 

Who benefits from presentation management tools?

While presentation management strategies can be applied to any business, the industries that stand to benefit the most include:

Travel

Nothing sells a resort, hotel or cruise better than beautiful images and videos of exotic locations. Having a repository where all videos, images and other files are automatically formatted as slides and ready to present makes it easier for the sales rep to showcase the beautiful beach at sunset, the decadent dinners …

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