Category Archives: Work

forward-thinking tips

5 Tips to Make Your Organization More Forward-Thinking

Forward-thinking organizations do so much more than provide lip service to the idea of innovation–they envision new futures even while they conquer the problems of today. If forward-thinking strategies are part of your stated mission or desired business plan, it’s time to take a good look at how to fully embrace the future.

Forward-Thinking Strategies

Here are five tips for successful forward thinking, for any size organization (especially those looking to grow).

1. Make Friends with Technology

Technology doesn’t just mean “smartphone accessible” anymore. Consider two categories of technology: the technology of analytics and emergent technologies, both of which you will want to utilize to forward progress at your company.

  • Analytics – Advances in analytics govern everything from search engine optimization to micro trendscaping (these sometimes also get lumped in with business intelligence or business analytics). If all of that sounds too much like high school algebra, never fear–inexpensive, expert help is easy to come by. The main thing to understand is that analysis of statistical data, when done correctly, can help you spot opportunities for growth and advancement.
  • Emergent Technologies – Living in a digital age means that technological tools for greater efficiency exist in nearly every field. Hop on the app bandwagon. Larger companies even employ technology scouts, but you can at least subscribe to feeds that let you know what emergent technologies might impact your business–and how to harness that power.

2. Listen to Outside Voices

When you offer a unique service or product, it’s sometimes necessary to tune out outside voices and focus on what you have and are developing internally, but that’s not a long-term sustainable practice or a way to be forward-thinking. What’s more, you’ll start to find yourself reinventing the wheel–the challenges you face in any industry have likely also been tackled by others.

It’s called being willing to learn from others, and it’s a crucial tip for being forward-thinking: stay and continue to get educated, encourage professional development, network and be open to new ideas from both your internal resources (employees at every level) and outside professionals.

3. Fewer Meetings, More Planning

Forward-thinking organizations have long-term strategies, not just cookie-cutter three year and five-year plans. An annual retreat, complete with some long-term dreams (like 20-year growth visions), can make a big difference in the motivational level and forward progress of your organization.

But at the same time, most meetings are a waste of time. Ditch useless meetings, but encourage long-term planning for greatest forward-thinking progress.

4. Trust Your Team

Much has been said about micromanaging, but consider this advice sufficient: don’t do it. Hire great people and then trust them to do their job. It’s difficult, as the visionary of your group, to continue that forward vision if you find yourself overseeing day-to-day activities on a routine basis.

So if you want to know how to be forward-thinking, practice trust and be the visionary.

5. Close the Generation Gap

Too much attention can be put on differences in generations: older people look at a young couple with their cell phones in hand at dinner and judge them as being “unable to communicate,” a younger employee starts explaining social media to an older employee, assuming they “don’t understand technology.”

While it’s true that ideologies shift as generations grow, focusing on those differences misses the point for business–that by utilizing any differences in perspective, you can build a more successful business model.

Business Success and Growth

So start young, and take on an intern still in school, or listen to the wisdom of a retiree willing to mentor you, and hire all ages in between. The most forward-thinking businesses embrace many diverse perspectives, and thereby boost the bottom line. So can you.

small business website

Recovering Addicts: How to Create a Website for Your New Small Business

Creating a small business starts with a dream, a plan or a goal, and you quickly get off and running with your idea or product. A website needs to be at the top of your priority list. In this digital age, without a website, it’s as though your small business is invisible.

Choosing to be a small business owner is a great option for recovering addicts, and you can make it work. Here’s what you need to know about creating a small business website and how to get started.

Step One: Choose a Platform

If you already know something about coding or have a web developer as a friend who will do you a favor and get your web page set up, that’s wonderful. For most people, though, the easiest thing to do is to choose a content management system (CMS, sometimes “content management software” or a platform). In fact, unless your small business is web-development related and you want to show off your customization skills, it’s probably best to go with a CMS, which can save you time and money.

Plus, the platforms out there are beautiful and customizable! A content management system does not require technical expertise. You choose the look and functions of your website. You even have the option to take payments on it (more on that later).

Some of the most popular website platforms include Squarespace, WordPress, Weebly, and Tumblr. Do some quick research on the pros and cons of each and choose one that you like the look of.

Step Two: Create the Site

Once you’ve settled on the host and chosen and registered your domain name, it’s time to start creating your website. For many of the more popular content management platforms, like WordPress, you have numerous plugins available to customize your site. (Word of caution: sometimes fake plugins exist, basically created by hackers for nefarious purposes, so do a little search of the exact name of a plugin and see what people are saying about it before downloading it. Don’t be the first one to use a plugin, use ones others have successfully implemented).

You can make your website accept payment, work on a smartphone, and work with SEO (search engine optimization). Make your website content visually appealing, and get input from friends or associates you trust. A solid and appealing design will help you get and keep traffic on your site. Your goals for the setup should be 1) useful to customers 2) visually appealing and 3) easy to find and navigate.

Step Three: Keep it Going

Launch your site as soon as you can, but don’t leave it out there doing nothing. A website should be a resource for you and your clients or customers, providing the data they desire and the interaction you need.

If you get feedback from customers that any function is not working or not easy to find/navigate, fix it asap. Many potential clients or customers will not tell you there is a problem, they will just bounce off of your site and look elsewhere. So, if you get that valuable input you will need to act on it.

Active websites also get to be the top pages when people do searches, which is another point about SEO and worth educating yourself about. As you create new content, blog, or otherwise implement a content marketing strategy, you’ll also start to increase the visibility of your website.

Maximizing your website can also make you additional income, but be wary of too much ad space or annoying pop-ups that will drive business away.

Have ideas for other small business owners? Comment below.

humility in business

Why Humility is an Asset in the Business World

It may surprise you that humility is one of the 10 traits of successful people. After all, humility is often paired with the opposite of confidence, one of the key attributes of a successful person. So how can you be confident and humble? Is that like being short and tall?

In fact, humility is taking center stage, these days, in the business world and even academia, at a time when narcissism seems more prevalent than ever. Humility is, indeed, a good thing. It requires looking at humility a little differently.

What Humility Is

It may be helpful to look at what humility is not, to fully understand what it is. Humility is not self-deprecation, where you might criticize yourself (though some do that in jest). Humility is not “always being nice.” Humility is not deferring to others for wisdom as if you somehow lack self-trust. In fact, humility is not thinking less of ourselves, it’s thinking more of others.

Humility is:

  • Being teachable and willing (even eager) to learn new things
  • Being collaborative and thinking enough of others that you welcome their input and feedback
  • Being transparent and willing to admit mistakes, then learn from them

When you see humility in this light, you see that it is not so much a personality trait as it is a business soft-skill, like excellent communication, which is needed to succeed in the business world. You can absolutely be confident and humble at the same time (just not cocky, arrogant and narcissistic, the true opposites of humility).

Developing Traits for Success

Some major errors occur in popular thinking when it comes to success. Here are three common ideas that have been proven completely false.

  1. That personality can’t change — It’s an error to assume that character traits for success are somehow inherent and unchangeable. Some go so far as to say, “You’ve either got the personality for success or you don’t.” The opposite is true because personality traits can change, many times and in innumerable ways, over a lifetime. How they change, and how much, is even possible to control.
  2. That there’s one “right” personality — The idea that certain personality traits somehow make one more successful is popular western mythology, and part of what led people away from the recognition of humility as a strength. Quiet leaders are just as effective as bubbly extroverts (in some cases, even more so). Disorganized people can be just as successful as the incredibly orderly. One can change the personality traits one wishes to while retaining core character and values.
  3. That products matter more than soft-skills — From the ideology of the cult of personality (a term with roots in Stalin’s power hunger), came the idea that if you are generally boorish, even bulldoze others to get your way, it doesn’t matter, so long as you are good at what you do. In recent years, the opposite has been proven. In fact, those who treat their employees badly more often end up with a PR-crisis on their hands. Those who grow businesses and rise to the top are more often kind, warm-hearted, and humble.

Make a Change

If humility, then, is changeability, examine the ways in which you can (and want to) change. Working on those soft-skills, such as improving your communication skills, is as integral to success. If you devote time to learning new software or procedures, new skills or systems, you can certainly spend equal time on soft-skills.

The boss who can learn from mistakes and demonstrate intellectual humility has better judgment. The co-worker who can recognize new data (and, therefore, not be a know-it-all) collaborates more effectively. You’ll be easier to work with and more likely to succeed.

business growth

5 Ways to Help Your Business Grow

I find that in the day to day business world, the questions that people seem to have the most are questions on how to grow and expand their respective businesses. People seem to always be the most curious not about things like how to rescue a business, how to start a business, how to fix up a failing business, how to transition a business, or how to effectively close down a business, rather people seem to have the most questions about how to grow a business that they already have. It would seem like the starting the business is not the hard part, rather growing it and making it exceptionally successful is.

When people ask me for business growth tips, I usually find that there are just as many answers as there are questions. In these types of scenarios, I try to give the best advice that I can. In my own research and experience, I have found many different things that apply to many different types of business scenarios. I will go over just a few of the things that I have found here.

Finance

Finance is to me the keynote of business, as the single most important thing in business and investing is revenue, revenue, revenue, and more revenue. Right off the bat, my first way to grow a business is to find ways in which that business can produce more revenue. If you can grow the business’s revenue, right off the bat you are in a better position to achieve success. Here are some other tips for growing a business:

  • Know your customer base like the back of your hand. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t know your customer base, how are you going to sell them your great products or services? You can be the best Cadillac salesman on the planet, but if you are trying to sell one to someone who wants to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle, you are probably going to fail. When you know your customer base as much as you possibly can though, you will have a much better time getting your products and services sold.
  • Be so focused on revenue that you are addicted to it. I know I have already discussed this matter of revenue, but it is so important to the growth of your business that I am mentioning it again here.
  • With high revenue, your business will grow. With low revenue, or the same revenue week after week, your business will not grow, and it might even retrogress when other market factors are taken into account. So when growing your business you need to have revenue as your number one priority.
  • Make your second best investment in your employees. You can’t do everything yourself, and you will be handicapped to the degree that you try to make your business a “one man show.” Rather, spend time and money investing in the right levels of talent needed to boom your business venture.
  • Make your single best investment in yourself. That is right, you are your number one investment. When you are getting ready to make any real growth to your business and you are wondering what area you want to grow it in, you better find out how you can grow it by growing yourself first and foremost. You are the number one best investment that you can make because everything that comes from your business will be your creation and your incentive. So, make yourself number one for growth and improvement.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on business growth. There are certainly more!

business leadership

Leadership and Its Value in Business

Business is such an interesting space to be involved in.  And I don’t mean just business as in working at a job, punching a clock, and holding a position in a company.  I mean business as in really being involved in a specific activity, project, or area of an organization.  Business can be very rewarding in this way, or it can be devastating and all but upsetting for those who are involved in it.

Business is a tricky animal, one that can be tough to tame, but when tamed, is a thrill of a ride.  More often than not, business has great rewards and great opportunities, if people go about pursuing it in the right way.  However, business can also create loss, confusion, despair, and resentment.

What is really interesting here is that, if people think just being involved in business is difficult, then they will be truly blown away by just how tough, demanding, and in the same breath rewarding and invigorating leadership is.  Leadership is the crème de la crème so to speak, the top of the top.  Being in business and in a leadership position at the same time is the very best situation of all, and the most rewarding place to be at in a business sector.

Leadership

If one aspires to be a leader, what are some leadership qualities?  What is a good leadership definition?  The definition of a leader is simply someone who directs or inspires others.  A leader is a person, usually a person of great skill, responsibility, charisma, intelligence, and perseverance who sets a goal and then inspires others to strive towards that common goal.  A leader is someone who gets others very excited about something and then excites them to sally forth to accomplish that goal.

Some of the qualities and personality traits of a leader are things like:

Leaders simply do things faster than their colleagues do.  They do not do a poorer quality job either.  They do a good job, and they simply do it more quickly than others around them.

Leaders are able to condense time, and they are effectively able to take time out of the equation of anything that they are involved with.  A leader is able to really push themselves out there into the marketplace and not just manage time, but actually, control time.

Leaders are known for being problem solvers.  They are absolutely great at this.  Leaders are able to essentially get to the bottom of just about any problem or difficulty that they might face and really tackle it and get out of the crisis once and for all and for good.  Leaders are truly good at tackling the problem at its core and working on it from there on up.

Leaders are generally speaking very well organized and well-adjusted persons.  Their spaces and their environments are usually tidy and they are well put together in appearance, dress, and attitude.  Leaders generally speaking are not all frazzled and dispersed, but rather have everything well organized.

Leaders can confidently handle more than one thing at once.  They are expert at multitasking, and they are able to roll with the punches of multiple different situations and scenarios.  Leaders can take on multiple projects all at the same time and they can effectively get them done, and in a timely fashion too, and all without ignoring any one project or thing.

Climbing to a leadership position in any area of business is something to aspire to.  It’s not for everyone, and while that may be true, it can be very exciting and very worthwhile for those who do seek to engage in it and who seek to get to the absolute top of their given field.

business rebranding

4 Reasons Why a Business Owner Should Consider Rebranding

In today’s modern day marketplace, branding is everything.  But what is branding, and what qualifies as good branding or bad branding?  Here is a great definition of branding:

  • “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

Branding is important because of how much competition there is in the marketplace today, and because of how easy it is to fall prey to not having a strong enough of an image.  Branding is all about your image or lack thereof.  With the competition that is being experienced today, a good image is everything and will be the make or break point of a business when all of the cards are one the table.

You may think your product or service is unique, but if you look closely (and I do mean look more closely than a five minute Google search) you will find that you are by no means at all the only person offering whatever product or service that you specialize in.  Because this is now very much so the case, you need to make a point to really study your client base and your selling demographic and make a decision as to how you are going to best sell to them.  If you can do this, then you can get your products in front of people more easily, and your brand will be more significant to them.

Tips for Better Branding

Here are some reasons why you might want to take another look at how you are branding yourself, your business, your product, or your service:

  1. Your brand doesn’t stand out from the crowd of other brands.  You want your brand to be the bee’s knees.  It needs to pop, and it needs to be especially impressive and interesting.  Your brand must be something that will catch the eye and that potential customers will be drawn towards.  In this way, your brand will be absolutely top notch if it does this.  If not, you might want to consider rebranding.
  2. Your company has changed.  If you’ve experienced a merger or an acquisition, then it’s time for new branding.  You want your brand to totally reflect your company’s image, so if your company is now something different from what you started with, then it’s time for some new branding.
  3. You’re not attracting phenomenal new hires.  This is an interesting one.  One of the best ways to tell how your brand is doing is not from the customers, but instead from the people you have coming to you asking for a job.  This is huge.  Potential new hires know to look for a powerful brand to work for.  After all, they want to have a great career.  So if your business is no longer attracting top talent, then it may be time to rebrand.  There’s nothing wrong with accepting people from career assistance programs, but it’s never a bad time to rebrand!
  4. You are at all embarrassed to hand out your business card.  If you feel this way about a business card, what does that say about your feelings about your brand?  Strengthen up your brand and make new business cards that you can and should be proud of.

Branding is everything, and the process of branding can even be a decision making skill, at least when it comes to getting known and out there in the marketplace.  If your business hasn’t had a facelift in its branding, then now might be the time to rebrand your business and give it a new look.