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5 Lessons Millennial Startups Can Learn from Jeff Bezos

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what you can learn from jeff bezos

Of all the entrepreneurs dominating tech today, Jeff Bezos has emerged as one of the few that are still breathing after the .com bubble burst in 2000.

Bezos joined the world of the internet in 1995 and despite the huge crash, Amazon continued to breathe because of his resilience, vision and refusal to give up despite facing humongous odds. Many call him America’s foremost CEO, after Steve Jobs.

Here are 5 takeaways from Bezos’ philosophy:

1. The empty chair philosophy

During Amazon’s early days, Bezos insisted on placing an empty chair in each executive meeting. To all attendees, this was Amazon’s customer and the empty chair was to act as a reminder that no decision they made should displease the most important attendee of their meeting.

From the get-go, Bezos has been pretty clear about his desire to make Amazon a customer-obsessed firm. This customer-centric philosophy is what has made Amazon the world’s foremost e-commerce firm. Millennials will do well to remember that no matter how old, the “customer is king” belief still holds true.

“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos

2. Apologizing shouldn’t hurt your ego

Back in 2009, Amazon angered users by deleting legally bought copies of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and “1984”, because they were being sold illegally by an unnamed seller. For any firm, this would probably be deemed as a mid-level crisis.

For Bezos, however, anything that hurt his customers, hurt him. Therefore, he personally penned an informal apology letter to all users. He said, “Our ‘solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles…we will make better decisions going forward[.]

As a startup, you may feel that admitting a mistake may lose customers but refusing to do so will push them further away. In the example stated above, most firms would have simply released a press statement to apologize for the error. The worst ones would adamantly deny they were at fault. When the mistake first occurred, customers were furious. Bezos’ heartfelt plea for forgiveness won them over.

 

3. The two-pizza philosophy

Jeff Bezos is a firm believer in small, sovereign units. In his own words, if a team cannot be fed by two pizzas, it’s too large. In statistical terms, a team must comprise of 5 – 7 people. The Amazon Gold Box, for example, was an idea that originated during one of these two-pizza team discussions.

This attitude correlates with Bezos’ other active belief – the constant removal of waste. According to him, large teams become inefficient and usually find it hard to come to a decisive result, wasting resources along the way.

Unsurprisingly, this idea has been catching on as small businesses continue to sprout online. Firms, like AMZInsight, prefer assigning tasks to a small group of people. It gets the job done quickly and allows ideas to flow freely.

 

4. It’s the long-term that matters

When Amazon makes a gigantic investment, they’re almost always criticized. Ten years down the line, when the investment pays off, the same critics sing Bezos’ praises.

If a strategy or plan seems revolutionary to him, Bezos shrugs off the disapproval. He can wait half a decade to get a return on his investment but if something feels right to him, he’s got to do it now. For example, when eBooks were first introduced, Amazon was the only store to offer them at prices lower than their print editions, generating short-term losses.

Today, all eBook editions are cheaper but because of an early start, Amazon has already captured most of the market. Therefore, if you believe something will work, go for it and don’t worry about short-term returns.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos

5. Failure is a prerequisite to innovation

As mentioned above, Amazon began when the internet was still a baby and online commerce was growing on uncertain soil. Bezos went in fully aware of the failures waiting for him. He told his first investors that: “…there’s a 70 percent chance you’re going to lose all your money, so don’t invest unless you can afford to lose it.”

However, instead of feeling limited by imminent failure, Bezos felt powerful. He knew he was going to fail but he also knew that nothing would stop him from pushing Amazon off the ground. He felt liberated since he knew what the future held for him. Ironically, it was this mentality that set shop for his success. Expect failure but don’t let it hinder your plans. Instead, prepare to face it head on.

What have you personally learned from Jeff Bezos? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Matt Mikaelson is a Marketing Executive at AMZ Insight who trusts in the power of research. He specializes in data services, tech trends, marketing analysis and industry insight. It is his belief that data always tells a story, so he enjoys collecting marketing numbers, studying their impact on businesses and how they can be manipulated to market leadership visions. Matt is an expert in, and an enthusiastic student of, digital marketing, consumer behavior, content marketing, ecommerce, online marketplaces and market research.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Evan

    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Hey Matt,

    Great article about Bezos – very timely too because I just released something highlighting his business, mindset, and E-commerce fundamentals too!

    The two-pizza point reminded me of Brad Stone’s book on Amazon and what Jeff started with as the J-team. It was just the 3 founders in the proverbial startup garage, and later he named it the S-team. This team was so small, because he refused to listen to too many people, and always kept his focus on the future and MASSIVE expansion of Amazon.

    Also, when you mentioned the empty chair philosophy it reminded me of how many business owners don’t think about their customer first; they think about what business they want to start. That’s a recipe for failure because if no one wants what you’re selling, you’re in trouble.

    Keep up the good work mate

    – Evan

  2. Tim Denning

    Jul 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Matt I really loves this article. I don’t know that much about Jeff so your article gave me some insight into his quirkiness. I loved the two-pizza philosophy point. I agree that large teams are not productive. Thanks for this post.

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Startups

4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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Image Credit: Unsplash

Successful entrepreneurs have long been known to embody specific traits that can be very useful in many aspects of life. Some of these traits include hard work, devotion and continuous solid effort. The different skills that entrepreneurs naturally gain through years and years of professional experience, have equipped them to effectively manage and continuously expand their business.

Nonetheless, if we backtrack to the beginning of most entrepreneurs journeys, we see that the majority of them almost always faced professional or personal challenges when first starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs usually endure professional trials better than anyone else because they were prepared during the early stages of their careers. Yet, the power of perseverance, devotion and quality performance is truly tested when faced with powerful hardships at a personal level.

To provide some context in regards to these hardships, let me ask this question. Would you effectively run your newly established business if within the first three months, you were faced with the fact that a family member was admitted to the hospital, another got divorced after 20 years of marriage, and you were left by the woman you had decided to spend the rest of your life with?

New entrepreneurs can ensure their way to success when involuntarily having overcome personal challenges life has thrown at them. After all, the true measure of an entrepreneur’s character and ability, is in how they handle themselves in the face of adversity or failure.

Below are 4 tips to overcome life hardships when starting a business:

1. Focus on your business

Hard work is an important technique that can help you forget. Focus on your business and daily tasks and you will find yourself momentarily forgetting about the personal issues that may be troubling you.

In other words, all kinds of activities including office work, home chores or small errands will help your mind break the loop you may find yourself in. Not only you will be doing something productive, but you will also get the opportunity to improve your business during this unexpected situation.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” – Walt Disney

2. Welcome the support of your friends and family

Being dealt with a bad hand doesn’t mean that there are no people willing to help and support you. Your family and friends are still here and willing to provide you with the emotional comfort and empowerment you need to go through this.

Make sure to contact them on a daily basis and let them know of your thoughts and issues, by becoming a part of their lives and engage in activities together. Participating in social events is a great way to keep your mind busy, meet new people and experience new things.

3. Practice acceptance and let it go

We sometimes find ourselves creating the perfect fantasy where all aspects of our lives are perfect, thus, it may be so difficult to let go of or accept a sudden turn of events. Focus on accepting the situation as is by reflecting on it.

Try meditating, take deep breaths and appreciate the people and things you still have in your life. One day you may find your own explanation as to why these events may have happened.

“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

4. Read on a daily basis

Reading can provide an abundance of mental health benefits including stress relief, anxiety reduction, knowledge increase, and improved focus and concentration. Similarly to focusing on your business, reading can help you to briefly forget about personal issues while learning something new.

With reading, you will be able to develop different perspectives which can help you better evaluate life, self-reflect and even perceive everything from a different viewpoint.

Regardless of the techniques you choose to follow when life throws personal hardships at you, it’s important to remember that this is not an overnight achievement. Nevertheless, you can focus all your efforts on getting on with your life and continuously improving yourself.

How have you overcome hardships in your life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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3 Ways to Make Your Startup Feel Like a Booming Business

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startup success
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Being an entrepreneur is a hugely popular day dream. Well over 50% of people want to be their own bosses, according to a survey from Forbes. However, only 4% of those surveyed are actually entrepreneurs! Why is entrepreneurship such a popular dream that many cannot achieve?

The problem is, many people approach running a startup without a solid plan. They hear about the benefits of being able to set your own schedule, develop your dreams, and ignore the realities of setting up a small business.

As Richard Branson says, “To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running.” Success will only come if you are well prepared for the daily challenges of entrepreneurship. You need to be organized, focused, and connected to achieve your goals.

Your startup will feel like a booming business with a these 3 tweaks in your daily routine:

1. Stay Organized

Organization is crucial when it comes to running your own business. As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for meeting all deadlines and getting your product and content out on time. You need to become a hardcore planner.

The best way to stay on top of everything is to create a to-do list and a routine to stay productive. Traditional work environments have routine built into the system, but it’s something you’re going to have to purposefully cultivate in your team. The best way to do this is to make sure your intentions are clear.

A solid to-do list is a good place to start. By ensuring a plan from when you wake up to when you end up in bed, you can make sure no moment is wasted. Use technology to achieve this goal as there are options on calendar and to-do-list applications on the market that can help you better plan and organize your day.

Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and Microsoft Outlook are all solid options since they can act as your personal assistant, making your day run seamlessly. Utilizing them helps you track events, plan and organize your schedule in a few simple clicks.

The core functions of the calendar apps are to show upcoming schedules and alert on important deadlines. To better understand the power of these apps, you have to actually get down to it and test them out. The one you choose depends on whether you are an Android, Windows or iOS person.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo DaVinci

2. Stay Focused

When running a small business, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you’re focusing on small tasks, your energy will be depleted when it comes to the bigger picture of your business. In a study at the University of California, Irvine, found that interruptions that cause you to lose focus will result in stress and pressure. According to the report it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after a distraction.

Tasks like scheduling and answering calls eat up time that could be better spent developing your team and product. This is where outsourcing comes in. By seeking out professionals, you can ensure your clients are cared for 24/7, while you get to the real work. By figuring out what tasks need to be performed by you and which do not, you’ll free up your time. Get a big business result with small business costs!

3. Stay Connected

Another way to help cultivate success in your startup is to make sure you are connecting with customers. It’s important that this feels authentic because people know when businesses aren’t being genuine and they will respond accordingly.

This authenticity is a benefit that startups have over big businesses. People will naturally assume that small businesses are more genuine than corporations. Prove it to them by being consistent and trust worthy.

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent communication and interaction with clients is necessary for your startup. You’ll want to build up a solid base of loyal customers, and the fastest way to do this is to provide exemplary customer experiences in every interaction. To help you better handle this part of small business and help monitor how you connect with your customers, consider investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Through a CRM you can find and woo customers, because you are able to track how customers interact with your company. For example, a CRM program will let you know if you are getting leads from your social media campaigns, and how many people remember your marketing materials.

Big businesses use CRMs to get clients, by tracking where they connect, how frequently they buy from them, and where the connection stops. If you use a CRM in your small business, you’ll be able to compete, while still remaining genuine.

Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but there are certain traits you can develop within yourself to make it happen. By staying organized, focused, and connected, your startup will be able to compete with bigger businesses.

Do you have a business venture? If so, what is it and how do you plan on succeeding in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Rules I Learned From Watching My First Business Go Up in Flames

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95% of all businesses fail within their first 5 years. Take that in for a moment. If you have recently started a business, you are almost guaranteed to fail! Why in the world would so many people start businesses, me amongst them, if they are basically writing themselves a death sentence?

Before I started my media company, I had spent 3.5 years working for another business. In December 2014, I came to the realization that I would not be working at that job forever. I approached my boss to discuss building a side project of my own within his business. My idea was a monthly greeting card business. The bonus was that I already had the images and the best verses to use, and an audience to target because of my job. In my mind, there was no way I could fail! As I began sending out contracts with the photographers, I was basically counting how much money I would be making in the first month.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! I had created the first three products and gotten a dozen or so photographers on board. However, when I announced the product to what I thought would be an eager audience, it totally flopped. Out of the over 150,000 people I had, only two signed up. When I went to production with the cards, the printing company totally failed on me. Everything that could have gone wrong did. The entire budget for the year had already been spent and we had essentially zero interest. I had to come back to my boss and tell him that the launch was a failure.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

A few months later, when I came to him with the idea for what is Ratz Pack Media today, he laughed me out of the room. After the failed attempt, why in the world would he let me shift my focus from work AGAIN, just to fail?! Fast forward three years, and I am now running Ratz Pack Media full time, generating six figures. I have helped several clients reach their first $1 million. The things I learned from the very short lived greeting card company have helped me build my business, and now I hope they will help you as well.

Rule #1: Get used to failing

While it is true that almost all businesses fail within the first five years, that does not mean that the entrepreneurs who run them will never succeed. Just because your first idea fails, and it probably will, does not mean you should quit trying. When starting a business, you need to be prepared to fail. Everything that can go wrong will, and you‘d better expect them to. If you don’t, your business will join the graveyard. Even if the business fails, pull yourself back up and try again.

Rule #2: People will think you are crazy, and you probably are

Remember how 95% of all businesses fail? Yeah, you do have to be a bit crazy to want to try this thing. Yeah, it is easier to just keep your 9 to 5 job and your pension plan. Yeah, it is easier to let someone else build the future. But, where’s the fun in that? Starting a business is not for the faint of heart, and most people will assume you’ve gone off your rocker. They will likely say it until the moment you are successful. One of my favorite memes is,Work so hard that your haters ask if you’re hiring.” The reason I love it so much is because it is so true!

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Rule #3: There are a ton of great ideas, but almost no great execution

When you take the leap to start a business you are likely starting out with an idea that you are sure will take you to the top of the mountain. When I started my business, I thought it would be a one-stop shop for online marketing. Now, we only focus on Facebook and Instagram management for clients. If I had kept going with the original idea, I would likely have failed already. At the beginning of a business, it is crucial to have a mission and a plan to execute, but you had better be willing to tweak and optimize it over time.

Rule #4: Test before you invest

When I started my greeting cards company, I put a lot of time into the creation of the products and the deals with the photographers. Before we had sold any products, we had already invested in the business. If I were to do it all over again, I would start by testing the waters, such as seeing what people thought about the cards, how much they would be willing to pay, how much interest there was in the idea, before putting so much into it. I apply this rule these days, especially in my clients’ ad campaigns. Whenever we start a new product launch, we begin by targeting their most engaged audience. We wait to see what these people think of the new product, and only then do we begin running ads to colder audiences.

When building a business, things may not always be in your favor. It is most important to remember that even if things go south, it is not too late. You will always have another chance, you will always get to try again, and you will always have another great idea.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I would love to hear about the biggest lesson you learned from your previous failures down in the comments!

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Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Life

How You Can Effectively Achieve Your Goals by Using the Puzzle Analogy

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

I was building a 500 piece puzzle the other day with many tiny little pieces. When I opened the box, I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many pieces and many of them were very similar in color. I took a breath and thought “just do one piece at a time”. I knew that I had to come up with a plan and organize the pieces into groups before I got started. This helped me to focus and take away some of the overwhelming feelings that were coming up. I came up with a plan and executed that plan. (more…)

Meghan Olsgard is the creator and writer of www.infinitesoulblueprint.com where she writes articles about self-empowerment and creating a fulfilling life. She shares her personal experiences and the obstacles she has overcame to help and inspire others to do the same. You can get more information at her website or follow her on Facebook.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Evan

    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Hey Matt,

    Great article about Bezos – very timely too because I just released something highlighting his business, mindset, and E-commerce fundamentals too!

    The two-pizza point reminded me of Brad Stone’s book on Amazon and what Jeff started with as the J-team. It was just the 3 founders in the proverbial startup garage, and later he named it the S-team. This team was so small, because he refused to listen to too many people, and always kept his focus on the future and MASSIVE expansion of Amazon.

    Also, when you mentioned the empty chair philosophy it reminded me of how many business owners don’t think about their customer first; they think about what business they want to start. That’s a recipe for failure because if no one wants what you’re selling, you’re in trouble.

    Keep up the good work mate

    – Evan

  2. Tim Denning

    Jul 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Matt I really loves this article. I don’t know that much about Jeff so your article gave me some insight into his quirkiness. I loved the two-pizza philosophy point. I agree that large teams are not productive. Thanks for this post.

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Startups

4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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starting a business
Image Credit: Unsplash

Successful entrepreneurs have long been known to embody specific traits that can be very useful in many aspects of life. Some of these traits include hard work, devotion and continuous solid effort. The different skills that entrepreneurs naturally gain through years and years of professional experience, have equipped them to effectively manage and continuously expand their business.

Nonetheless, if we backtrack to the beginning of most entrepreneurs journeys, we see that the majority of them almost always faced professional or personal challenges when first starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs usually endure professional trials better than anyone else because they were prepared during the early stages of their careers. Yet, the power of perseverance, devotion and quality performance is truly tested when faced with powerful hardships at a personal level.

To provide some context in regards to these hardships, let me ask this question. Would you effectively run your newly established business if within the first three months, you were faced with the fact that a family member was admitted to the hospital, another got divorced after 20 years of marriage, and you were left by the woman you had decided to spend the rest of your life with?

New entrepreneurs can ensure their way to success when involuntarily having overcome personal challenges life has thrown at them. After all, the true measure of an entrepreneur’s character and ability, is in how they handle themselves in the face of adversity or failure.

Below are 4 tips to overcome life hardships when starting a business:

1. Focus on your business

Hard work is an important technique that can help you forget. Focus on your business and daily tasks and you will find yourself momentarily forgetting about the personal issues that may be troubling you.

In other words, all kinds of activities including office work, home chores or small errands will help your mind break the loop you may find yourself in. Not only you will be doing something productive, but you will also get the opportunity to improve your business during this unexpected situation.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” – Walt Disney

2. Welcome the support of your friends and family

Being dealt with a bad hand doesn’t mean that there are no people willing to help and support you. Your family and friends are still here and willing to provide you with the emotional comfort and empowerment you need to go through this.

Make sure to contact them on a daily basis and let them know of your thoughts and issues, by becoming a part of their lives and engage in activities together. Participating in social events is a great way to keep your mind busy, meet new people and experience new things.

3. Practice acceptance and let it go

We sometimes find ourselves creating the perfect fantasy where all aspects of our lives are perfect, thus, it may be so difficult to let go of or accept a sudden turn of events. Focus on accepting the situation as is by reflecting on it.

Try meditating, take deep breaths and appreciate the people and things you still have in your life. One day you may find your own explanation as to why these events may have happened.

“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

4. Read on a daily basis

Reading can provide an abundance of mental health benefits including stress relief, anxiety reduction, knowledge increase, and improved focus and concentration. Similarly to focusing on your business, reading can help you to briefly forget about personal issues while learning something new.

With reading, you will be able to develop different perspectives which can help you better evaluate life, self-reflect and even perceive everything from a different viewpoint.

Regardless of the techniques you choose to follow when life throws personal hardships at you, it’s important to remember that this is not an overnight achievement. Nevertheless, you can focus all your efforts on getting on with your life and continuously improving yourself.

How have you overcome hardships in your life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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3 Ways to Make Your Startup Feel Like a Booming Business

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startup success
Image Credit: Unsplash

Being an entrepreneur is a hugely popular day dream. Well over 50% of people want to be their own bosses, according to a survey from Forbes. However, only 4% of those surveyed are actually entrepreneurs! Why is entrepreneurship such a popular dream that many cannot achieve?

The problem is, many people approach running a startup without a solid plan. They hear about the benefits of being able to set your own schedule, develop your dreams, and ignore the realities of setting up a small business.

As Richard Branson says, “To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running.” Success will only come if you are well prepared for the daily challenges of entrepreneurship. You need to be organized, focused, and connected to achieve your goals.

Your startup will feel like a booming business with a these 3 tweaks in your daily routine:

1. Stay Organized

Organization is crucial when it comes to running your own business. As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for meeting all deadlines and getting your product and content out on time. You need to become a hardcore planner.

The best way to stay on top of everything is to create a to-do list and a routine to stay productive. Traditional work environments have routine built into the system, but it’s something you’re going to have to purposefully cultivate in your team. The best way to do this is to make sure your intentions are clear.

A solid to-do list is a good place to start. By ensuring a plan from when you wake up to when you end up in bed, you can make sure no moment is wasted. Use technology to achieve this goal as there are options on calendar and to-do-list applications on the market that can help you better plan and organize your day.

Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and Microsoft Outlook are all solid options since they can act as your personal assistant, making your day run seamlessly. Utilizing them helps you track events, plan and organize your schedule in a few simple clicks.

The core functions of the calendar apps are to show upcoming schedules and alert on important deadlines. To better understand the power of these apps, you have to actually get down to it and test them out. The one you choose depends on whether you are an Android, Windows or iOS person.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo DaVinci

2. Stay Focused

When running a small business, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you’re focusing on small tasks, your energy will be depleted when it comes to the bigger picture of your business. In a study at the University of California, Irvine, found that interruptions that cause you to lose focus will result in stress and pressure. According to the report it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after a distraction.

Tasks like scheduling and answering calls eat up time that could be better spent developing your team and product. This is where outsourcing comes in. By seeking out professionals, you can ensure your clients are cared for 24/7, while you get to the real work. By figuring out what tasks need to be performed by you and which do not, you’ll free up your time. Get a big business result with small business costs!

3. Stay Connected

Another way to help cultivate success in your startup is to make sure you are connecting with customers. It’s important that this feels authentic because people know when businesses aren’t being genuine and they will respond accordingly.

This authenticity is a benefit that startups have over big businesses. People will naturally assume that small businesses are more genuine than corporations. Prove it to them by being consistent and trust worthy.

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent communication and interaction with clients is necessary for your startup. You’ll want to build up a solid base of loyal customers, and the fastest way to do this is to provide exemplary customer experiences in every interaction. To help you better handle this part of small business and help monitor how you connect with your customers, consider investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Through a CRM you can find and woo customers, because you are able to track how customers interact with your company. For example, a CRM program will let you know if you are getting leads from your social media campaigns, and how many people remember your marketing materials.

Big businesses use CRMs to get clients, by tracking where they connect, how frequently they buy from them, and where the connection stops. If you use a CRM in your small business, you’ll be able to compete, while still remaining genuine.

Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but there are certain traits you can develop within yourself to make it happen. By staying organized, focused, and connected, your startup will be able to compete with bigger businesses.

Do you have a business venture? If so, what is it and how do you plan on succeeding in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Rules I Learned From Watching My First Business Go Up in Flames

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Image Credit: Unsplash

95% of all businesses fail within their first 5 years. Take that in for a moment. If you have recently started a business, you are almost guaranteed to fail! Why in the world would so many people start businesses, me amongst them, if they are basically writing themselves a death sentence?

Before I started my media company, I had spent 3.5 years working for another business. In December 2014, I came to the realization that I would not be working at that job forever. I approached my boss to discuss building a side project of my own within his business. My idea was a monthly greeting card business. The bonus was that I already had the images and the best verses to use, and an audience to target because of my job. In my mind, there was no way I could fail! As I began sending out contracts with the photographers, I was basically counting how much money I would be making in the first month.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! I had created the first three products and gotten a dozen or so photographers on board. However, when I announced the product to what I thought would be an eager audience, it totally flopped. Out of the over 150,000 people I had, only two signed up. When I went to production with the cards, the printing company totally failed on me. Everything that could have gone wrong did. The entire budget for the year had already been spent and we had essentially zero interest. I had to come back to my boss and tell him that the launch was a failure.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

A few months later, when I came to him with the idea for what is Ratz Pack Media today, he laughed me out of the room. After the failed attempt, why in the world would he let me shift my focus from work AGAIN, just to fail?! Fast forward three years, and I am now running Ratz Pack Media full time, generating six figures. I have helped several clients reach their first $1 million. The things I learned from the very short lived greeting card company have helped me build my business, and now I hope they will help you as well.

Rule #1: Get used to failing

While it is true that almost all businesses fail within the first five years, that does not mean that the entrepreneurs who run them will never succeed. Just because your first idea fails, and it probably will, does not mean you should quit trying. When starting a business, you need to be prepared to fail. Everything that can go wrong will, and you‘d better expect them to. If you don’t, your business will join the graveyard. Even if the business fails, pull yourself back up and try again.

Rule #2: People will think you are crazy, and you probably are

Remember how 95% of all businesses fail? Yeah, you do have to be a bit crazy to want to try this thing. Yeah, it is easier to just keep your 9 to 5 job and your pension plan. Yeah, it is easier to let someone else build the future. But, where’s the fun in that? Starting a business is not for the faint of heart, and most people will assume you’ve gone off your rocker. They will likely say it until the moment you are successful. One of my favorite memes is,Work so hard that your haters ask if you’re hiring.” The reason I love it so much is because it is so true!

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Rule #3: There are a ton of great ideas, but almost no great execution

When you take the leap to start a business you are likely starting out with an idea that you are sure will take you to the top of the mountain. When I started my business, I thought it would be a one-stop shop for online marketing. Now, we only focus on Facebook and Instagram management for clients. If I had kept going with the original idea, I would likely have failed already. At the beginning of a business, it is crucial to have a mission and a plan to execute, but you had better be willing to tweak and optimize it over time.

Rule #4: Test before you invest

When I started my greeting cards company, I put a lot of time into the creation of the products and the deals with the photographers. Before we had sold any products, we had already invested in the business. If I were to do it all over again, I would start by testing the waters, such as seeing what people thought about the cards, how much they would be willing to pay, how much interest there was in the idea, before putting so much into it. I apply this rule these days, especially in my clients’ ad campaigns. Whenever we start a new product launch, we begin by targeting their most engaged audience. We wait to see what these people think of the new product, and only then do we begin running ads to colder audiences.

When building a business, things may not always be in your favor. It is most important to remember that even if things go south, it is not too late. You will always have another chance, you will always get to try again, and you will always have another great idea.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I would love to hear about the biggest lesson you learned from your previous failures down in the comments!

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Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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