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8 Obvious Signs You Were Built for Entrepreneurship

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Entrepreneurs are not born but they cultivate the skills of entrepreneurship within them. To be an entrepreneur, you have to be passionate, resilient, tolerant to ambiguity, have vision, flexibility, believe in yourself and be a rule breaker. These are just the few indications that an entrepreneur is growing inside you.

Here are a few unexpected signs that will surely help you in deciding whether you should go for entrepreneurship or not:

1. You are not easily contented

Normal people think of how to celebrate their victory after achievements but entrepreneurs think “What’s Next?” They are always restless and never satisfied with their achievements. They always crave for something new and are ready to take on new challenges.

2. You are a control freak

Entrepreneurs always love to be in charge of their work but at the same time, they need to maintain the balance between controlling business and letting the talented people around take the reins. If a person likes being in charge and can easily convince people to follow their vision, then they can be a good entrepreneur.

3. You are a born risk-taker

Nothing high can be achieved without the risk. Hence, entrepreneurs are calculated risk takers. If you love risk, entrepreneurship is likely going to be a great fit for you.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

4. You like making your own money

A desire that you pay yourself for the accomplishments is a clear calling card of an entrepreneur.  Entrepreneurs start with working for other people’s ideas for a fair salary, but after getting fed up they start their own business and work on their own ideas.

5. You don’t fit in the crowd

Successful entrepreneurs don’t lead a normal life. They are mostly drop outs, quit lucrative jobs, and do silly things simply because they want to live a life on their own terms. If you are a black sheep and always eager to do something out of the box, then entrepreneurship is your catch.

6. You are an introvert

Entrepreneurs are introverts and hence they recharge themselves in the best way by being alone. Being introverted means that you are more of an “ideas” person and are great at fostering a team environment. There are always certain entrepreneurial advantages that come from being an introvert.

7. You are passionate

Being a successful entrepreneur is not an overnight success. From lack of customers to profits, one has to face everything. Without an undeniable passion for your work, it will be very difficult to cross all the disappointments and hard times ahead. Pick any successful entrepreneur and you will find their passion for their work is the key to their success.

For once, let’s take the example of Atul Gupta, an Indian Born South African businessman who even after many failures in his starting days of business is currently the owner of almost all the sectors, be it mining industry, media industry in South Africa. His passion is the answer to all his failures and his competitors.

“You can’t fake passion.” – Barbara Corcoran

8. Confidence is your success mantra

Entrepreneurs always believe in their abilities and know that they can succeed, but they need to sell their idea and lead a team. In many cases, confidence goes a long way in each of these pursuits.

There are many different personality traits that help entrepreneurs become successful, and these are just a few of the possibilities. If you find any of these listed descriptions being relatable, it’s likely that you’re destined for work as an entrepreneur. Don’t wait any longer. Get out there and change the world!

How do you plan on changing the world? Tell us your dreams in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

John Reiley is an NYC-based senior business analyst. He has been helping small business owners plan their strategies for success since 2005. He is a big gadget freak who loves to share his views on latest technologies and applications.

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Entrepreneurs

Answer These 4 Questions to Have a Successful Social Impact for Your Business

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social media strategy
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Answer the right questions before you start your Social Media Strategy and you will achieve the best results for your brand. Businesses are key players on the social media networks today. Social Media is a direct and real-time way of relationship of consumers with brands. Social media users really connect in a personal level with their favourite brands.

Social media platforms are in fact a new storefront for products or services, a way of reaching new clients and it can also be another sales funnel that actually increase sales and revenue. For all those reasons, most businesses, entrepreneurs and brands do not want to miss the huge opportunity of having a presence on Social Media.

But in many cases, if you do not have the right approach to your marketing strategy and if you don’t answer the right questions, you may end up wasting your efforts and time and not reaching any clear positive results.

So if you want to avoid failure and wasting your efforts, answer the following questions before starting your strategy:

1. What is my final goal?

The first thing you need to think about is what is the final goal of your business. What do you want to achieve as a business owner, entrepreneur or a blogger? And how can you achieve that final goal? In most cases, the answers boil down to one: increasing your revenue. To achieve that goal of increasing your revenue, you simply need to increase your conversions, sell more or get more clients.

This sounds pretty obvious but oftentimes we lose perspective and focus on doing things that are not leading us to our final goal. So it is important to make sure that you are clear on the final goal of every (lucrative) business.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

2. Who is my target audience?

The second question you need to ask yourself is who is your target audience. You most likely already have this clear through your experience, but it is a great idea to create a “customer avatar” or “customer persona” to be able to identify that particular potential customer.

A “customer persona” or “avatar” in Marketing is a representation of the traits, features and behavior of a business’ target customer. Having a customer persona can help you to identify and address your target audience, and you can create more than just one avatar, if you have more than one type of customers.

One of the things that the avatar is going to help you with is in terms of taking a decision of what type of message your brand is going to send. The message is important indeed, but how you express that message is vital to reach your customer. You need to speak their language!

Once you know who your “persona” is, you need to find out where can you find your “persona”. There are probably lots of places where you can find out your target audience but in most cases, today you can find your avatar on social media. Once you are clear about what you want to achieve and who is that particular customer that can give you that goal, it’s now time to look at the social media channels and ask the next questions:

3. Where is my target audience?

Where on Social Media can I find my target audience? To properly answer this question, think about your persona or personas, and find out what their favourite social media platforms are. Also, ask yourself within the main social platforms where in particular can they be found.

For example if your target audience is young people, they will most likely be on Snapchat. If they are millennials mums, they will mostly be on Instagram. If your business is about selling services to professionals, you will probably find them on LinkedIn. If your persona is a forty-something guy, you probably will find him on Facebook.

Go deeper once you figure that out. That forty-something year old guy on Facebook probably is also a member of Facebook groups related to sports, or tv shows. The millennial mum is probably interested in fashion accounts on Instagram. The professional on LinkedIn probably follows some experts or “gurus” in a certain professional field.

In other words, here is where you have to take your time to research and find out where your potential customers can be found. Once you know this, you can select the right social channels where your business should be present. When you know where your potential customers are, you will know where to concentrate your social efforts to avoid dispersion and waist of time.

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” – Albert Camus

4. How can I connect with my target audience?

In this final question the most accurate answer is: with your message. Your message is WHAT you have to say and most importantly in terms of connection with your target audience, HOW you say it.

“How you say it” equals to your content: your content goes from a range of elements that goes from your images to your texts, and everything in between. The secret of having an engaging message that connects with your target audience, is that it must be aligned with your potential customers’ language, colours, icons, style, images, captions, expressions, etc. All that “look and feel” your brand is projecting, must connect with your target audience, so that your message can penetrate that barrier and they can receive it.

And finally, one of the core values of your message is “What you say”. This means you have to describe or talk about your business, your brand, your services or your products, but the key in social media to make your message powerful is to be CONVERSATIONAL.

Making your message conversational simply means don’t try to sell! Focus on offering solutions to your clients and engage in conversations on the platforms or communities where your target audience is!

Conclusion

Make sense of your social media presence. Answer these questions and let them lead you to the right choices on your social media strategy. This way you will be able to build a targeted community where your business will get lots of opportunities to grow,

Tell me, what do you currently do to make a successful approach to your social media strategy? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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How to Brand Yourself and Your Business at the Same Time

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branding
Image Credit: Unsplash

In the age of automation, people seek to feel personally connected to companies more than ever. The most successful brands have a well-developed narrative and voice, delivering messages to their followers with an air of approachability and ease. Nobody can deny that they prefer feeling like they are being talked with and not talked at.

For many companies, this process involves telling the story of their CEO/Founder just as much as telling the story of the company. A company’s foundation and values is often based on those of its founder’s, and building a successful brand often begins with a certain level of personal publicity and networking. It’s common knowledge that investors invest in ideas, and ideas are direct products of people. So, as the person behind an idea, how can you ensure you are doing yourself and your company justice in terms of branding?

Below are 3 characteristics of your brand you must think about in order to be a success:

1. What’s Your Story?

Make your company’s story your story. People revere Steve Jobs just as much as they do Apple, because they have followed his and Wozniak’s struggles and successes for just as long. With his trademark black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and mega-casual New Balance sneakers, the simplicity of his look directly mirrored the minimalism of Apple’s design. Be it unintentionally, Jobs branded himself just as much as he did Apple.

Whether you’re the owner of a startup or small business, you will want to establish this same connection. On your company’s “About” page, tell about your history and how it has led you to where you are now. Discuss your vision, goals, and aspirations for the future of the company and how events in your personal life inspired you to begin your business.

For example, real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran has frequently discussed how a failed relationship and financially-strained upbringing led her to the establishment of her multi-million dollar firm. Candidness and personal publicity are what people admire most in a founder. So sit down, decide what story you want to tell, determine what kind of voice you are going to use to tell it (be it modest, confident, or humorous), and then decide how you want to tell it.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

2. Set Your Brand into Motion

As discussed, branding is all about the story you tell and how you tell it. Social media has become an excellent outlet for that, because it is the one place where a brand can behave as a person. You create your company’s Facebook page and people watch as it interacts with other people. Of course, this is a person acting on behalf of the brand, but that person has a personality, candor, and voice that people begin to associate with the brand itself.

You may be a one-man-band handling your own marketing and day-to-day operations, or you may have hired a marketing rep/team to handle the social media for you. If it’s the latter, establishing a shared belief of what the voice is for your brand is crucial. Nobody will follow a company whose tone is inconsistent. People like reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability.

Whatever voice you choose for your brand should not be too far off from your own. The names of Elon Musk’s business ventures and projects are based directly on his spontaneous wit and spasmodic humor, i.e. the Boring Company, the BFR, and Tesla models S, 3, X, Y (released in that order for an obvious end result).

Much like Musk did, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an important element in voicing your and your brand’s opinions. You will want to gain traction on your personal and your business accounts, and interweave the topics and narrative styles of both accounts on a consistent basis.

3. Be Your Brand

Business cards, interviews, your company website, and networking events – these are all ways to solidify and build your brand. Wherever you go, you are embodying a persona that people will forever associate with your business. By having a say in your company’s identity, that persona will even show in aspects like your logo, website design, and mission statement. Knowledge of branding means that you will always be your own publicist, even when you can one day afford to hire one.

Self-branding is the precursor to success, hence the rise of influencers and public figures in the social media era. Developing your personal brand and having an existing following will garner the much-needed support for your business. Suddenly, the people who have followed you personally become potential investors, crowd funders, and advertisers (never underestimate the power of the “share” button) for your business.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

Creating continuity, popularity, and solidarity between your personal brand and your company’s brand is as simple as ensuring you pour as much of yourself into your company’s work as possible. This involves being directly involved in establishing its image, pitching it to investors, and writing articles on behalf of your company for publishers and influencers. You are your own spokesperson, and social media makes that feat easier than ever.

How do you make sure you’re branding yourself correctly whether as an individual or a with your business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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5 Reasons Why Perfectionists Cannot Be Entrepreneurs

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Perfectionists have high standards for themselves and for others. In an office environment, as employees, they take their responsibilities seriously and never complete any task or project without double-checking even the minutest detail to ensure that it is perfect. They can be irritating to others, too, because they expect the same perfection from their co-workers.

When a perfectionist who has been amazing on the job decides that they want to strike out as an entrepreneur, there are personality traits that can really work against success. Knowing about these in advance may help a perfectionist avoid some of these pitfalls.

Here are five of those pitfalls:

1. I Have to Do It Myself

Perfectionists believe only they can complete a task or project exactly right. Due to this, they operate in two ways:

  • If they have a team with specific tasks, they will micro-manage every step of the way. Having done this myself, I can confirm that this is exhausting.
  • They don’t employ or outsource anything, because they must control every aspect of their businesses and spend whatever time is necessary to complete every task themselves. They must feel in control or things will go wrong.

The problem of course is that, as business tasks and processes expand, the perfectionist finds himself grappling with an ever-expanding list of tasks to perform. At some point, he “hits a wall,” because there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ultimately, this means that there will be tasks not completed exactly right, and this is a “killer” for the perfectionist.

The solution is not an easy one. It will require admission that no one can be “perfect” in every facet of a business. For me, it was the accounting function. If a perfectionist can pick just one facet of the business that must be tasked to someone else, this is a major first step. After that major first step, it will gradually become easier to task out other facets. It’s gradual, and it is a process.

2. Inability to Accept Feedback

Because a perfectionist truly believes only they can “do it right,” when positive or negative feedback comes along their defenses are immediately activated.

Perfectionists have difficulty admitting any weakness. While most entrepreneurs seek advice and counsel from others as they develop their business plans and steps toward a launch, perfectionists tend not to seek advice, believing again that only they can make the process work. They must strive to develop the perfect product or service, no matter how long that may take.

One famous perfectionist was Steve Jobs of Apple. He wanted control of every aspect of product development and insisted that every employee come to him for approval of every detail of a new product innovation. He was unrelenting and known for bursts of anger, often firing employees at will, and that led to his removal from the company at one point. However, he did have a transformation of sorts after he was brought back in to revive Apple, and his perfectionism did modify, especially after he became ill.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

3. Perfectionists Delay Launches

When a perfectionist decides to strike out on his own, he develops a product or a service for which he believes there is a customer base. He develops a business plan and establishes timelines, just as most would-be entrepreneurs do.

The difference between perfectionist and non-perfectionist entrepreneurs is this: the non-perfectionist is willing to develop an MVP, launch it, test the waters, and modify and improve that product or service as they receive feedback and data from marketing and sales efforts.

The perfectionist, on the other hand, cannot launch a less-than-perfect product or service. They fear rejection and failure. There will always be something that can be improved in some way. The result is that a launch is indefinitely delayed and so are marketing plans and the development of a customer base.

4. Perfectionists Suffer from Lack of Balance

Because of their obsession with both doing it all themselves and being perfect in everything, perfectionist entrepreneurs will find themselves increasing their work hours and spending every waking hour on business-related activities. Ultimately, they will sacrifice social activities, time with family, vacations, and even small previous pleasures, like a lunch or dinner out or shopping. They avoid phone calls from friends, forego meals and sleep, and often suffer from insomnia and chronic fatigue.

In short, work becomes the perfectionist’s entire life. These long, unrelenting hours, often combined with stress because of the never-ending list of tasks, lead to burnout. And when burnout is reached, it’s impossible to function effectively. The signs of this include inability to focus and forgetfulness – something that a perfectionist cannot tolerate.

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” – Philip Green

5. Perfectionists Will Lose Their Creativity

One of the key ingredients of successful entrepreneurship is creative thought and problem-solving. This is how new products and services are developed or existing ones improved along with how new and unique marketing strategies are developed.

When perfectionists are so focused on those tasks at hand and dealing with the fear that things will not be perfect, they lose their ability to think “outside of the box.”

Even though Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he was able to back off at times and to “dream” of what could be. This drove Apple to new heights under his returned leadership and his change in mental approach.

It’s not that perfectionists cannot be successful entrepreneurs, it’s that they have to work to accept that “done” can actually be as good or better than “perfect.” “Done” means that the company is launched; it means that products are out there and that marketing strategies are beginning to bring in customers. Often, the beginnings of this kind of success will modify a perfectionist’s behavior going forward. And the additional bonus is that the entrepreneur may actually find time for social and family time again.

Has the need to be perfect ever stopped you from accomplishing something you truly wanted? If this is true, let us know in the comments below how you overcame your perfectionism and kept moving ahead.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Leadership and Life on Mars: Elon Musk Offers 3 Important Lessons for Entrepreneurs

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Image Credit: Solar Tribune

Five, four, three, two, one — blast-off. Elon Musk is headed to Mars… eventually. The space-loving billionaire discussed his dreams of going into space and even life on Mars during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” he said.

For many business leaders, believing in a future beyond their own hypothetical stars is what drives them forward each day. And with the majority of rapidly growing companies looking to increase their hiring this year, according to a January report by the team at Spark Hire, 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States, leaders need more inspiration than ever to build up their talent and create a brighter tomorrow for their companies.

These 3 lessons from Elon Musk will help you map out long-term goals, learning and development opportunities, and even succession planning:

1. Creating goals for the future

You want your team to look toward the future of your company and believe it isn’t stagnant — nor are their careers. For employees to dedicate 100 percent of themselves to their roles, they need to see plans for the future. Even more important, they should be involved in the planning process. You wouldn’t create a civilization on Mars without consulting the first travellers, would you? Their opinions, expectations, and needs would be key factors.

Give your team the same opportunity to plan for their careers by developing an entrepreneurial spirit in them. Challenge each person to make a business plan for their current or future role at the company. Ask them to lay out where they see the company in five years and how they’ll help it get there.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great” – Elon Musk

2. Don’t make work about one miserable problem after the next

A difficult leadership lesson many of us learn early on is admitting our company has problems. The more important lesson is knowing how to efficiently and effectively overcome those problems, then move on.

The inability to do this results in employees hopping from one miserable problem to the next. After a while, employees become overwhelmed, and it’s impossible to believe the future will be better than the past.

Of course, work can’t always be sunshine and rainbows, so the key here is giving your team the tools to rise above problems and work smarter. When a problem occurs, jump into a team meeting or call to quickly resolve the issue. This shows employees you’re always available to help, which keeps morale high.

Afterwards, brainstorm ways to ensure the problem doesn’t arise again. Have employees note what they feel went wrong and how it can be resolved. Immediately implement these changes to show you’re focused on improving their work experiences.

3. Let them know you’re working to improve their lives

The negativity in this world is overflowing. Work should be a place where employees feel safe to be their genuine, creative, dreaming selves. Every leadership lesson should point back to employees knowing they’re important to the company’s success and that they belong. This is crucial for retention and attracting top talent.

According to a 2017 Globoforce report, Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work, you can do this by focusing on your team as people who have lives outside of work. In fact, 54 percent of respondents said they would like more opportunities to celebrate life events — such as having a baby, getting married, or buying a house. Additionally, 90 percent of workers who celebrated more than five life events said they feel like they belong in their company.

“And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” – Elon Musk

Let employees know you care about their lives outside of work by celebrating their life events. If possible, give each person a day off for their birthdays and offer benefits to support important life events, like paid parental leave policies.

Which one of these lessons could you use most in your life right now? Let us know in the comments below so we can be of help!

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Answer These 4 Questions to Have a Successful Social Impact for Your Business

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Answer the right questions before you start your Social Media Strategy and you will achieve the best results for your brand. Businesses are key players on the social media networks today. Social Media is a direct and real-time way of relationship of consumers with brands. Social media users really connect in a personal level with their favourite brands. (more…)

Angie Perez B is a certified digital marketing specialist, social media strategist, author and coach for small businesses. She blogs at AngiePerezB.com about digital marketing trends, and at Radianstar.com about how bloggers and businesses can use social media to gain leads and secure clients. Click here to get started.

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Answer These 4 Questions to Have a Successful Social Impact for Your Business

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social media strategy
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Answer the right questions before you start your Social Media Strategy and you will achieve the best results for your brand. Businesses are key players on the social media networks today. Social Media is a direct and real-time way of relationship of consumers with brands. Social media users really connect in a personal level with their favourite brands.

Social media platforms are in fact a new storefront for products or services, a way of reaching new clients and it can also be another sales funnel that actually increase sales and revenue. For all those reasons, most businesses, entrepreneurs and brands do not want to miss the huge opportunity of having a presence on Social Media.

But in many cases, if you do not have the right approach to your marketing strategy and if you don’t answer the right questions, you may end up wasting your efforts and time and not reaching any clear positive results.

So if you want to avoid failure and wasting your efforts, answer the following questions before starting your strategy:

1. What is my final goal?

The first thing you need to think about is what is the final goal of your business. What do you want to achieve as a business owner, entrepreneur or a blogger? And how can you achieve that final goal? In most cases, the answers boil down to one: increasing your revenue. To achieve that goal of increasing your revenue, you simply need to increase your conversions, sell more or get more clients.

This sounds pretty obvious but oftentimes we lose perspective and focus on doing things that are not leading us to our final goal. So it is important to make sure that you are clear on the final goal of every (lucrative) business.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

2. Who is my target audience?

The second question you need to ask yourself is who is your target audience. You most likely already have this clear through your experience, but it is a great idea to create a “customer avatar” or “customer persona” to be able to identify that particular potential customer.

A “customer persona” or “avatar” in Marketing is a representation of the traits, features and behavior of a business’ target customer. Having a customer persona can help you to identify and address your target audience, and you can create more than just one avatar, if you have more than one type of customers.

One of the things that the avatar is going to help you with is in terms of taking a decision of what type of message your brand is going to send. The message is important indeed, but how you express that message is vital to reach your customer. You need to speak their language!

Once you know who your “persona” is, you need to find out where can you find your “persona”. There are probably lots of places where you can find out your target audience but in most cases, today you can find your avatar on social media. Once you are clear about what you want to achieve and who is that particular customer that can give you that goal, it’s now time to look at the social media channels and ask the next questions:

3. Where is my target audience?

Where on Social Media can I find my target audience? To properly answer this question, think about your persona or personas, and find out what their favourite social media platforms are. Also, ask yourself within the main social platforms where in particular can they be found.

For example if your target audience is young people, they will most likely be on Snapchat. If they are millennials mums, they will mostly be on Instagram. If your business is about selling services to professionals, you will probably find them on LinkedIn. If your persona is a forty-something guy, you probably will find him on Facebook.

Go deeper once you figure that out. That forty-something year old guy on Facebook probably is also a member of Facebook groups related to sports, or tv shows. The millennial mum is probably interested in fashion accounts on Instagram. The professional on LinkedIn probably follows some experts or “gurus” in a certain professional field.

In other words, here is where you have to take your time to research and find out where your potential customers can be found. Once you know this, you can select the right social channels where your business should be present. When you know where your potential customers are, you will know where to concentrate your social efforts to avoid dispersion and waist of time.

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” – Albert Camus

4. How can I connect with my target audience?

In this final question the most accurate answer is: with your message. Your message is WHAT you have to say and most importantly in terms of connection with your target audience, HOW you say it.

“How you say it” equals to your content: your content goes from a range of elements that goes from your images to your texts, and everything in between. The secret of having an engaging message that connects with your target audience, is that it must be aligned with your potential customers’ language, colours, icons, style, images, captions, expressions, etc. All that “look and feel” your brand is projecting, must connect with your target audience, so that your message can penetrate that barrier and they can receive it.

And finally, one of the core values of your message is “What you say”. This means you have to describe or talk about your business, your brand, your services or your products, but the key in social media to make your message powerful is to be CONVERSATIONAL.

Making your message conversational simply means don’t try to sell! Focus on offering solutions to your clients and engage in conversations on the platforms or communities where your target audience is!

Conclusion

Make sense of your social media presence. Answer these questions and let them lead you to the right choices on your social media strategy. This way you will be able to build a targeted community where your business will get lots of opportunities to grow,

Tell me, what do you currently do to make a successful approach to your social media strategy? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Continue Reading

Entrepreneurs

How to Brand Yourself and Your Business at the Same Time

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branding
Image Credit: Unsplash

In the age of automation, people seek to feel personally connected to companies more than ever. The most successful brands have a well-developed narrative and voice, delivering messages to their followers with an air of approachability and ease. Nobody can deny that they prefer feeling like they are being talked with and not talked at.

For many companies, this process involves telling the story of their CEO/Founder just as much as telling the story of the company. A company’s foundation and values is often based on those of its founder’s, and building a successful brand often begins with a certain level of personal publicity and networking. It’s common knowledge that investors invest in ideas, and ideas are direct products of people. So, as the person behind an idea, how can you ensure you are doing yourself and your company justice in terms of branding?

Below are 3 characteristics of your brand you must think about in order to be a success:

1. What’s Your Story?

Make your company’s story your story. People revere Steve Jobs just as much as they do Apple, because they have followed his and Wozniak’s struggles and successes for just as long. With his trademark black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and mega-casual New Balance sneakers, the simplicity of his look directly mirrored the minimalism of Apple’s design. Be it unintentionally, Jobs branded himself just as much as he did Apple.

Whether you’re the owner of a startup or small business, you will want to establish this same connection. On your company’s “About” page, tell about your history and how it has led you to where you are now. Discuss your vision, goals, and aspirations for the future of the company and how events in your personal life inspired you to begin your business.

For example, real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran has frequently discussed how a failed relationship and financially-strained upbringing led her to the establishment of her multi-million dollar firm. Candidness and personal publicity are what people admire most in a founder. So sit down, decide what story you want to tell, determine what kind of voice you are going to use to tell it (be it modest, confident, or humorous), and then decide how you want to tell it.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

2. Set Your Brand into Motion

As discussed, branding is all about the story you tell and how you tell it. Social media has become an excellent outlet for that, because it is the one place where a brand can behave as a person. You create your company’s Facebook page and people watch as it interacts with other people. Of course, this is a person acting on behalf of the brand, but that person has a personality, candor, and voice that people begin to associate with the brand itself.

You may be a one-man-band handling your own marketing and day-to-day operations, or you may have hired a marketing rep/team to handle the social media for you. If it’s the latter, establishing a shared belief of what the voice is for your brand is crucial. Nobody will follow a company whose tone is inconsistent. People like reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability.

Whatever voice you choose for your brand should not be too far off from your own. The names of Elon Musk’s business ventures and projects are based directly on his spontaneous wit and spasmodic humor, i.e. the Boring Company, the BFR, and Tesla models S, 3, X, Y (released in that order for an obvious end result).

Much like Musk did, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an important element in voicing your and your brand’s opinions. You will want to gain traction on your personal and your business accounts, and interweave the topics and narrative styles of both accounts on a consistent basis.

3. Be Your Brand

Business cards, interviews, your company website, and networking events – these are all ways to solidify and build your brand. Wherever you go, you are embodying a persona that people will forever associate with your business. By having a say in your company’s identity, that persona will even show in aspects like your logo, website design, and mission statement. Knowledge of branding means that you will always be your own publicist, even when you can one day afford to hire one.

Self-branding is the precursor to success, hence the rise of influencers and public figures in the social media era. Developing your personal brand and having an existing following will garner the much-needed support for your business. Suddenly, the people who have followed you personally become potential investors, crowd funders, and advertisers (never underestimate the power of the “share” button) for your business.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

Creating continuity, popularity, and solidarity between your personal brand and your company’s brand is as simple as ensuring you pour as much of yourself into your company’s work as possible. This involves being directly involved in establishing its image, pitching it to investors, and writing articles on behalf of your company for publishers and influencers. You are your own spokesperson, and social media makes that feat easier than ever.

How do you make sure you’re branding yourself correctly whether as an individual or a with your business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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Entrepreneurs

5 Reasons Why Perfectionists Cannot Be Entrepreneurs

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Perfectionists have high standards for themselves and for others. In an office environment, as employees, they take their responsibilities seriously and never complete any task or project without double-checking even the minutest detail to ensure that it is perfect. They can be irritating to others, too, because they expect the same perfection from their co-workers.

When a perfectionist who has been amazing on the job decides that they want to strike out as an entrepreneur, there are personality traits that can really work against success. Knowing about these in advance may help a perfectionist avoid some of these pitfalls.

Here are five of those pitfalls:

1. I Have to Do It Myself

Perfectionists believe only they can complete a task or project exactly right. Due to this, they operate in two ways:

  • If they have a team with specific tasks, they will micro-manage every step of the way. Having done this myself, I can confirm that this is exhausting.
  • They don’t employ or outsource anything, because they must control every aspect of their businesses and spend whatever time is necessary to complete every task themselves. They must feel in control or things will go wrong.

The problem of course is that, as business tasks and processes expand, the perfectionist finds himself grappling with an ever-expanding list of tasks to perform. At some point, he “hits a wall,” because there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ultimately, this means that there will be tasks not completed exactly right, and this is a “killer” for the perfectionist.

The solution is not an easy one. It will require admission that no one can be “perfect” in every facet of a business. For me, it was the accounting function. If a perfectionist can pick just one facet of the business that must be tasked to someone else, this is a major first step. After that major first step, it will gradually become easier to task out other facets. It’s gradual, and it is a process.

2. Inability to Accept Feedback

Because a perfectionist truly believes only they can “do it right,” when positive or negative feedback comes along their defenses are immediately activated.

Perfectionists have difficulty admitting any weakness. While most entrepreneurs seek advice and counsel from others as they develop their business plans and steps toward a launch, perfectionists tend not to seek advice, believing again that only they can make the process work. They must strive to develop the perfect product or service, no matter how long that may take.

One famous perfectionist was Steve Jobs of Apple. He wanted control of every aspect of product development and insisted that every employee come to him for approval of every detail of a new product innovation. He was unrelenting and known for bursts of anger, often firing employees at will, and that led to his removal from the company at one point. However, he did have a transformation of sorts after he was brought back in to revive Apple, and his perfectionism did modify, especially after he became ill.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

3. Perfectionists Delay Launches

When a perfectionist decides to strike out on his own, he develops a product or a service for which he believes there is a customer base. He develops a business plan and establishes timelines, just as most would-be entrepreneurs do.

The difference between perfectionist and non-perfectionist entrepreneurs is this: the non-perfectionist is willing to develop an MVP, launch it, test the waters, and modify and improve that product or service as they receive feedback and data from marketing and sales efforts.

The perfectionist, on the other hand, cannot launch a less-than-perfect product or service. They fear rejection and failure. There will always be something that can be improved in some way. The result is that a launch is indefinitely delayed and so are marketing plans and the development of a customer base.

4. Perfectionists Suffer from Lack of Balance

Because of their obsession with both doing it all themselves and being perfect in everything, perfectionist entrepreneurs will find themselves increasing their work hours and spending every waking hour on business-related activities. Ultimately, they will sacrifice social activities, time with family, vacations, and even small previous pleasures, like a lunch or dinner out or shopping. They avoid phone calls from friends, forego meals and sleep, and often suffer from insomnia and chronic fatigue.

In short, work becomes the perfectionist’s entire life. These long, unrelenting hours, often combined with stress because of the never-ending list of tasks, lead to burnout. And when burnout is reached, it’s impossible to function effectively. The signs of this include inability to focus and forgetfulness – something that a perfectionist cannot tolerate.

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” – Philip Green

5. Perfectionists Will Lose Their Creativity

One of the key ingredients of successful entrepreneurship is creative thought and problem-solving. This is how new products and services are developed or existing ones improved along with how new and unique marketing strategies are developed.

When perfectionists are so focused on those tasks at hand and dealing with the fear that things will not be perfect, they lose their ability to think “outside of the box.”

Even though Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he was able to back off at times and to “dream” of what could be. This drove Apple to new heights under his returned leadership and his change in mental approach.

It’s not that perfectionists cannot be successful entrepreneurs, it’s that they have to work to accept that “done” can actually be as good or better than “perfect.” “Done” means that the company is launched; it means that products are out there and that marketing strategies are beginning to bring in customers. Often, the beginnings of this kind of success will modify a perfectionist’s behavior going forward. And the additional bonus is that the entrepreneur may actually find time for social and family time again.

Has the need to be perfect ever stopped you from accomplishing something you truly wanted? If this is true, let us know in the comments below how you overcame your perfectionism and kept moving ahead.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Leadership and Life on Mars: Elon Musk Offers 3 Important Lessons for Entrepreneurs

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Five, four, three, two, one — blast-off. Elon Musk is headed to Mars… eventually. The space-loving billionaire discussed his dreams of going into space and even life on Mars during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” he said.

For many business leaders, believing in a future beyond their own hypothetical stars is what drives them forward each day. And with the majority of rapidly growing companies looking to increase their hiring this year, according to a January report by the team at Spark Hire, 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States, leaders need more inspiration than ever to build up their talent and create a brighter tomorrow for their companies.

These 3 lessons from Elon Musk will help you map out long-term goals, learning and development opportunities, and even succession planning:

1. Creating goals for the future

You want your team to look toward the future of your company and believe it isn’t stagnant — nor are their careers. For employees to dedicate 100 percent of themselves to their roles, they need to see plans for the future. Even more important, they should be involved in the planning process. You wouldn’t create a civilization on Mars without consulting the first travellers, would you? Their opinions, expectations, and needs would be key factors.

Give your team the same opportunity to plan for their careers by developing an entrepreneurial spirit in them. Challenge each person to make a business plan for their current or future role at the company. Ask them to lay out where they see the company in five years and how they’ll help it get there.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great” – Elon Musk

2. Don’t make work about one miserable problem after the next

A difficult leadership lesson many of us learn early on is admitting our company has problems. The more important lesson is knowing how to efficiently and effectively overcome those problems, then move on.

The inability to do this results in employees hopping from one miserable problem to the next. After a while, employees become overwhelmed, and it’s impossible to believe the future will be better than the past.

Of course, work can’t always be sunshine and rainbows, so the key here is giving your team the tools to rise above problems and work smarter. When a problem occurs, jump into a team meeting or call to quickly resolve the issue. This shows employees you’re always available to help, which keeps morale high.

Afterwards, brainstorm ways to ensure the problem doesn’t arise again. Have employees note what they feel went wrong and how it can be resolved. Immediately implement these changes to show you’re focused on improving their work experiences.

3. Let them know you’re working to improve their lives

The negativity in this world is overflowing. Work should be a place where employees feel safe to be their genuine, creative, dreaming selves. Every leadership lesson should point back to employees knowing they’re important to the company’s success and that they belong. This is crucial for retention and attracting top talent.

According to a 2017 Globoforce report, Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work, you can do this by focusing on your team as people who have lives outside of work. In fact, 54 percent of respondents said they would like more opportunities to celebrate life events — such as having a baby, getting married, or buying a house. Additionally, 90 percent of workers who celebrated more than five life events said they feel like they belong in their company.

“And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” – Elon Musk

Let employees know you care about their lives outside of work by celebrating their life events. If possible, give each person a day off for their birthdays and offer benefits to support important life events, like paid parental leave policies.

Which one of these lessons could you use most in your life right now? Let us know in the comments below so we can be of help!

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