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6 Tips To Create A Great Design For Your Startup

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In the last few years, I have seen a host of sites appear that help you with design for your business or personal brand. Seeing as I know nothing about the subject of design, I thought I would interview the founder of the very popular DesignCrowd business, Alec Lynch, to educate us all. Alec started the business because he saw a problem with businesses buying designs from traditional methods. He viewed the process as slow, expensive and even risky. The risk he saw was that it could take a few months and then after all that you could hate what you ended up receiving from the designer.

Talented designers struggled to break into the design industry. In Australia, for example, there are 20,000 designers employed full time but around 60,0000 have graduated from design courses and don’t have employment. The numbers are similar in other developed economies. DesignCrowd attempts to fix the traditional problems of the industry by allowing customers to get designs faster (first designs by the morning), offering better value for money, allowing more creative designs (with over 400,000 designers), allowing designers to compete on creativity as opposed to cost, and allowing more choice with an average of 60-100 designs for your project.

DesignCrowd was launched in January 2008 out of Alec’s mums garage in a design industry that now is now more than $50 billion dollars. The first 2 years of the company were funded my credit cards and loans from Alec’s friends and family, in 2009 they raised $300k AUD in angel investment and grew the business fourteen-fold over the next two years. In 2011, they raised a Series A venture capital round of $3 million with Starfish Ventures.

Since then they have grown the team from three people to thirty-five people. In 2013, they raised a Series A1 again from Starfish Ventures and then in 2015 they raised a Series B led by Airtree Ventures for a further $6 million AUD. Their current revenue run rate is $20 million per year, and more than 75% of their customers are outside of Australia.

“The main thing that separates a wannapreneur from an entrepreneur is action. Don’t get too lost in books and start your business on the side or buy a domain name, but just take action”

Similar to Blue Dot, who we interviewed earlier, Alec and his team approached dozens of venture capital firms before they found the right one. Some of these approaches were relationship building, and others were actual pitches. In order for them to raise a round of funding it typically took 3-12 months to put a deal together. Alec says, “the more firms you approach, the more chance you will have of being successful in funding your startup. If you end up speaking to a large number of firms and you don’t get much interest, it probably means you need to look at your pitch, the product or the even your team.”

Having multiple, interested investors through this process can also assist in creating that magical, competitive tension that works in your favour.

Time Square and Virgin have used the platform, and there have been quirky projects like a tattoo design that says who’s your momma and a snowboard design – the options are limitless. Expect to see DesignCrowd expanding further in the USA and UK as well as other geographies.

 

The secret sauce of online marketplaces

One of the hardest challenges to overcome in any marketplace business is getting both sides of the market onto your platform. DesignCrowd took the logical approach and started by getting the designers first. They did this by running a crowdsourced contest and offering some money to have their own logo designed. This contest was promoted at design colleges and universities to attract designers to the marketplace.

As they acquired customers and projects were put up on the site, more designers came to the site and started telling each other in a very organic way. The other way they have increased both sides of the marketplace is to make some small acquisitions of websites and design communities, which has helped inorganically, grow the bottom line.

Design Crowd Office Sydney

DesignCrowd Office Sydney

Many marketplaces have a natural “viral loop.” When a customer posts a project and requests a design with an offer of money, this creates content. Essentially this is a job listing that Google can now index, and it can be shared with other designers.

As designers respond by uploading designs, once the project completes each of those designs become public on their own page linking to the overall project and the designer who created them. This also creates content for Google and bloggers which helps attract designers and new customers.

 
Below are the six tips that Alec Lynch gave me for creating a great design for your startup.

 

1. Attract a good designer

To attract a good designer to your project you need to write a good brief, that’s not too long and not too short. Really short briefs signal to designers that you don’t really care or you might not be clear what you want. If your brief is too long, it can imply that your work is too difficult and is going to take a designer too long. In a marketplace context, a designer could be more inclined to gravitate towards a project that is easier. If you have lots of ideas about your design, you need to find the essence and the direction you want to go in a simplified way. Prioritise the parts in the design that are most important to you.

 

2. Pay your designer a fair price

You should be offering an amount of money for your design that your startup is comfortable paying and think is good value. Ideally you want to be offering more than the average amount of money in the marketplace, and then you will naturally attract the best designers that are on the site. It’s also worth handpicking designers from the directory that’s available.

On a platform like DesignCrowd, you can offer small participation payments to top designers that come off your budget, to encourage them to work on your project. Designers typically put more effort into these projects and prioritise them over others, which can help you get the best design.

 

3. Consider using the same designer again for future work

Sites like DesignCrowd allow you to work one to one so once you find a designer you like, this can be an easy way to move forward without having to run contests in the future. Around 20% of projects on DesignCrowd are follow-up projects. Even if the designer you used two years ago is not active, there is usually a 95% chance that they are still available on the site, so you can reach out to them again.

This was something that I found very comforting to hear. In the real world, you would normally only have a relationship with one designer that could be risky for your business if they become busy or go full time with another client. With a marketplace, you can go to other designers quite easily and basically have an unlimited design team. All the designs are also submitted to the site with industry-standard source files so that designs can be easily manipulated by other designers if need be.

 

4. Get all the elements of your design right

You want a design that is effective and helps you achieve your business goals. If these goals are related to growing revenue, then your design needs to match those goals. Brand awareness, brand loyalty and brand association are all things that you should aim for. In terms of colors, if you look at the top 100 brands in the world through interbrand, the most popular color is blue and then followed by red. While you don’t have to use these colors, it’s worth knowing what the best use.

If it’s a website your designing, then you want a design that helps convert traffic into sales. Understand the different elements of your website like your calls to action, your design / layout, your colors and your copy and make sure they are all based on converting traffic. All these elements need to be continually tested and improved in order to get the best result.

Collage of designs made on Design Crowd

Collage of designs made on DesignCrowd

David Ogilvy Quote “Never stop testing and your advertising will never stop improving”

 

5. Use all the tools of a marketplace

On DesignCrowd, you have access to a directory of designers where you can go and look at their portfolio. There is a polling tool that allows you to poll your customers, friend’s family and employees about what they think of your design. For those of you who are looking to hide your projects from Google and competitors, there is also a function that allows you to do this. In terms of social media, make sure you use it throughout your design phase to gather opinions on what you’re doing and see if you are on the right track.

 

6. Avoid common design errors

Don’t make your design too complicated or have too much detail. If you’re getting a website design, don’t have too many things on the page and keep it simple for the user. You should try not to make the mistake of having a design that is effective to you or meaningful to you, rather than what will resonate more with your target audience. To uncover what will work, you can try testing your brand or design using Google Adwords to see what get’s the best outcome. You could also look at trying different domain names at the same time.

 

Final Tip

“No matter how good your idea is there is a fairly probable chance that someone else in the world has that idea. It may be the case that no one else has acted on that idea, but there is always a chance that they will if it’s a good idea. That said, you will always have competitors”

Alec Lynch from Design Crowd talks with Tim Denning about great designs

Alec Lynch founder of DesignCrowd

If you are working on a design for your startup check out DesignCrowd for some tools that will help you stand out from the rest.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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Startups

Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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pinterest for business

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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5 Steps to Turn Your Business Into a Well Oiled Machine

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how to automate your business
Image Credit: Unsplash

A lot of online business owners that I interact with run “one man” operations. They spend most of their time delivering to their clients, leaving little room to bring in new ones, and generally grow their business. I’ve been there myself, and it’s incredibly easy to get stuck on solopreneur island, because in order to get off you have to jump into the unknown water and swim.

There are a two main problems with being a solopreneur, and if you are one these it may seem very familiar to you. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s easy to get busy delivering to clients, but that doesn’t actually grow your business, getting NEW clients does. The other big problem is that everything depends on you. You can’t get sick, tired, or go on a holiday, because as soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal, everything stops. Funnily enough, many of us start our own businesses in order to get freedom, yet many just end up creating another job for themselves.

The good news is that you can get off solopreneur island. I’ve done it, and here’s how to do it yourself:

Step #1 – Get clarity & package your offers

A lot of solopreneurs offer a wide range of services. They talk to prospects from all angles, and tailor make their services to fit each unique client’s needs. Sounds like a noble thing to do, but it’s not sustainable. A better approach is to look at the common denominator of the clients you’ve already worked with, and see if you can turn that into a front end offer.

I used to talk to prospects, listen to their needs, and then create a proposal, which usually got rejected. Since we sell video production, I told myself that every video is different, and you can’t turn that into a package. That was simply a limiting belief, and we eventually started offering 30, 60, and 90 second videos with either template or custom graphics.

Look at all the things you’re offering, and see if you can turn your offers into a menu, just like at a restaurant.

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

Step #2 – Start treating your website like the asset it could be

Your website can get you new clients on autopilot. Don’t hold your website back by having 3 portfolio items and a contact form. Turn it into a salesman.

We get anywhere from 5-20 new clients every single month through our website. The way to accomplish this is to first and foremost realize that people cannot make a purchase if they have unanswered questions. Put all the information they need to make a decision right there on your website. If your prices are less than $1,000 for what you offer, I believe you can make the sale right there on the website. If it’s higher than $1,000 I generally recommend to get people on a phone call first.

These are some things you should do to your website: describe the problem your audience has, describe your solution, show lots of previous work, and tons of testimonials. You should also answer all the frequently asked questions, offer a guarantee, show pictures of your team and most importantly, go for the sale/phone call, not a contact form. Don’t hold your website back, let it work for you.

Step #3 – Build a high quality team

People freak out about hiring. They think hiring means you have to be able to pay someone $60,000 a year, but that’s not true. Like anything else, you can and should, start small. I hired my Project Manager for 3 hours per week when we started.

You’ll also note I wrote “high quality” above. This is crucial. When you hire a $3/hour graphics designer from India, I promise you’ll get $3 quality work. The problem with being cheap when you hire is that you get people that aren’t good at what they do, and can’t solve their own problems. When people can’t solve their own problems it’ll be up to you to do that. You’ll end up working just as much as if you didn’t hire them in the first place, therefore you are effectively paying money to give yourself stress. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

It’s better to hire a $25/h person for 3 hours than a $5/h person for a month. Once I decided to try hiring a high quality freelancer instead of a cheap one, I instantly saw the benefits and have never gone back.

Step #4 – Build systems and procedures

You should have a process in place for everything that is done in your business, especially the stuff that is done repeatedly. Use project management software so that your client facing work always follows the same structure. Use Trello for internal processes. Create documents and checklists showing how to do things.

If you’re training a new employee, record a video rather than doing the training live as you should expect to have to train another person on the same exact thing in the future.  This way a ton of the training will already be ready to go if your employee quits on you (this happened to me and I was able to successfully replace a project manager and have the new one up and running within one week!)

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

Step #5 – Automate when possible

Make a list of every task that happens in your business from when a prospect finds you to when your product is delivered to them. Then, look at how many of those things can actually be done by a computer, and get to work using Zapier and all your other tools. I even recorded a video series where I educate the client along the way.

If you find yourself having the same conversations over and over again, just record a video and save yourself the time! Every automation you put in place is going to save you minutes and eventually hours every single week. This frees up your time so that you can focus on growing your business, instead of just delivering to your clients.

Summary

Getting off solopreneur island is not rocket science. You’ll need to get clear on what your packages are, put your client acquisition on autopilot, get a high quality team in place, document and checklist everything, and finally automate what you can.

Once you actually go through with this you’ll find that your business can run without you, but more importantly you’ll be able to spend your time on growing the business, and not being forced to do the day-to-day operations.

What’s your main takeaway from this article? Comment below!

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Why Your Business Should Focus on Effectively Outwitting Competitors

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business competition
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

It shouldn’t be a case of getting out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat, it should rather be the case of not venturing into the kitchen. Any brand which was set up with the outlook that there won’t be competitors was started on the wrong premise and will be plummeted into oblivion.

Any road to success is thorny but paved with advantages, which may be fair or unfair. It borders on putting in personal sacrifices which are prone to constant uncertainty, existential threats, and taking a headlong plunge into making terrifying decisions. It’s definitely not a place for the Lilly-minded and nitwits because you are setting out to engage in a fierce competition with the best minds in the business world.

What you should work tenaciously upon is your competitive advantages. Ensure the things you have going for you are brought to the forefront. You will require the right mix of guts, tactics, timing, and the knack for hitting the rod when it’s red hot because opportunities coming your way should be quickly utilized.

Dilly-dallying will be highly disastrous and very devastating. Your brand may not be a pacesetter and you don’t have a carte blanche to do whatever you fancy, yet it behoves on you to gear up to face competition from the onset.

Amazingly, however, you can effectively outwit your competitors in the global market. You just need leveraging on the following steps:

1. Research other winning brands

A lot of people may consider this to be absurd but that is the joker you have. What you do must be entirely different from other brands in the same industry as your brand. When you concentrate on researching your rivals in the same industry, you may only come up with something akin to what they do.

You, however, need to come up with something completely new and stunning, a whole set of nouveau innovations and the only way to get that is by going out of your industry completely. Your ideas must be mind-blowing and eye-opening not minding that you are possibly a newbie in the industry.

It’s of utmost importance that you build with the future in mind, before launching your product into the market. This singular action of yours will quadruple and ironclad your chances of surviving the onslaught in the market.

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto van Bismark

2. Spin your obvious weakness into your strong point

You definitely will have some weak points and your competitors will seek those out to backstab and whip you silly in the market. You shouldn’t, however, be deterred by this. You can swivel this supposedly bad fortune into a huge arsenal for your brand with the attendant result of leaving your competitors on the turf.

A brand’s weak point could be the price. It’s possible your price is on the high side in comparison with others in the market. This is an opportunity to showcase your ingenuity by adding domestic customer service, home delivery, extended warranty, or any other incentive which you know your competitors will chicken out on.

The initial venture will definitely pummel your finances but by the time your prospective customers come to identify these advantages which were supposedly weak points with you, your ROI will skyrocket sensationally. Your competitors who had set out to tailspin you will be wondering what hit them.

3. Stay glued to your clients

The customer is the king and this must be your brand’s watchword. Your taste may be the best in the world but it’s absolute balderdash if it doesn’t resonate with the customer. You must learn to maximize the values your customers hold high and play down other money-grubbing wastes.

To effect this you must stay glued to your customers. Find out what they have going for your products and how you can enhance them. This effort may be a time suck and you may be required to put in odd hours tracking down your customers but it will pay off handsomely.

John C. Maxwell, aptly described this situation when he said “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Make your customers off-limits to your competitors. You can enhance this by making sure you are constantly in contact with your customers.

“When a customer enters my store, forget me. He is king.” – John Wanamaker

You should be in tune with those things that can make or break your business as well as having the metrics to measure how well you are doing. It’s absolutely necessary that you know your brand’s fundamental metrics like the average customer value (ACV), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on investment (ROI), and break even.

Business is like the art of war and the best form of defence is to attack.

How to you make sure people stay loyal to your brand? Let us know some tips and advice below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Enough With The Word ‘Startup’

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The word ‘startup’ has created a false reality.

When we think of startups we now think of the following:

  • Cool kids wearing their startup t-shirts
  • Co-working spaces
  • Lots of lattes with a picture drawn in the froth
  • San Francisco and how perfect it is (I’ve been there and it’s not perfect:  #HomelessPeopleEverywhere)
  • Unicorns (not the ones you see on kid’s shows)
  • Made up valuations (a GFC fixes this problem nicely)
  • Accelerators (an overload of opinions that are just that)
  • Pitch nights where investors are made to look like Fortune Tellers and experts when the reality is nothing more than this: they’re guessing

 

It’s time to bin the word startup.

The word has no meaning. Day one is the start and then everything after that is just business. By continually using the word startup we’re implying we’re still at the start when we’re not.

“The word startup makes us feel crappy because it puts us in the amateur, early stage, “I’m still learning” category which never expires”

We never know what we’re doing in business completely and that’s a good thing.

Everything is constantly changing and so we’re going to be lifelong learners in the business world whether we like it or acknowledge it.

 

The word ‘Startup” means business so let’s call it that.

Just like a penis, big or small, it’s a fucking penis. Let’s call it what it is.

Maybe you’re a small business with one employee.

Maybe you’re a large corporation with 35,000 employees

Maybe you work one day a week on a side hustle.

Maybe you have two freelancers working for you one day a month.

It’s all just business. Sorry cool kids, the word ‘startup’ doesn’t make business any easier, different, simpler, funkier or any other description you can give.

 

Can everyone really be an entrepreneur?

I’ll give it to you straight amigo: no, they can’t.

“Some of you suck at entrepreneurship even though Instagram sells you on the dream that you can sit on the beach with your laptop, sip a cocktail, take a selfie and do one hour of work a day”

This is all a lie designed to mess with your head and force you to suffer FOMO thus resulting in social media engagement for someone with a landing page that leads to a digital product where there’s a payment wall for you to insert your credit card number and add money to a bank account that’s not yours.

Many of you can’t handle:

  • Risk
  • Stupid amount of stress
  • 12-hour days
  • Managing other people
  • Having to be creative
  • Customers whose demands never stop
  • The game of money
  • Soul crushing failure

The list could go on forever. There are so many components to entrepreneurship.

Only about 1% of people are truly cut out for it. Just like not everyone can be a leader - otherwise there would be no followers - not everyone can be an entrepreneur. And that’s okay.

You’re human - you’ll be okay.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try entrepreneurship. Sometimes giving it a shot and doing it is the only way to find out.

Life is not all about startups and entrepreneurship - there’s more to it than that.

 

When does the ‘Startup Phase’ end?

It doesn’t.

Some people say Stripe is a startup even though they do billions in revenue now. Some people call my side-hustle a startup even though it’s just me.

The word ‘startup’ keeps getting used because somehow it puts you in a different league where growth hackers (I call it sales), dev-ops, UX designers and a whole bunch of other words that describe a team that does sales or builds software exists.

 

A startup is not a startup; it’s called a business.

No more buzz words.

No more unicorns.

No more thinking you’re smarter than your competitors.

No more BS valuations.

No more naming and shaming people who don’t want to be a founder of a startup like you.

Not everyone is in love with startups and not all of us want to be founders. Some people want to be stay-at-home dads or stay-at-home moms.

Some people want to raise their kids instead of being on the front of Startup Daily with a bunch of cool kids.

There’s more to life than fucking startups and #StartupLife.

 

Business is business. 

  1. You build a product or service with you or a co-founder.
  2. You attempt to see whether it solves a problem
  3. You continue validating the idea beyond your mom & dad, friends and work colleagues
  4. You make some money - $1, $100, $100k - it doesn’t matter
  5. You continuously improve the product to make your customers happier
  6. You make them happy and the business makes more money
  7. You build out a team so you can grow the business to be bigger
  8. Then you either stop at where you are and be bloody happy, or you raise money in some form - VC, bank, angels, parents, ICO (insert trendy way to borrow more money)
  9. You hi-five everyone, sell the business and sit on a beach or you keep going because it becomes about more than money

THE END.

 

Final Word On Startups. 

If you want to create a business, then do it. If you don’t then that’s fine too.

Find a problem, solve it and be humble as hell about it if you succeed. There’s more to this world than the ridiculous label that is startup.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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5 Viktor Frankl Quotes to Reshape Your Perspective Today

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Image Credit: Intellectual Takeout

Highly regarded as one of Viktor Frankl’s greatest works, “A Man’s Search For Meaning” highlights Dr. Frankl’s perseverance and survival through the Auschwitz concentration camp. His insights, both harrowing and enchanting, can be readily applied as a sort of spiritual compass for the modern-day man or woman. (more…)

Dan Whalen is a franchise operator with College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, personal development writer, and NLP master practitioner. He has a background in business management and team leadership spanning nearly a decade, and has a deeply-rooted passion for helping people experience fulfilling lives. You can find him on Twitter at @DanielJWhalen.

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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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Startups

5 Steps to Turn Your Business Into a Well Oiled Machine

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how to automate your business
Image Credit: Unsplash

A lot of online business owners that I interact with run “one man” operations. They spend most of their time delivering to their clients, leaving little room to bring in new ones, and generally grow their business. I’ve been there myself, and it’s incredibly easy to get stuck on solopreneur island, because in order to get off you have to jump into the unknown water and swim.

There are a two main problems with being a solopreneur, and if you are one these it may seem very familiar to you. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s easy to get busy delivering to clients, but that doesn’t actually grow your business, getting NEW clients does. The other big problem is that everything depends on you. You can’t get sick, tired, or go on a holiday, because as soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal, everything stops. Funnily enough, many of us start our own businesses in order to get freedom, yet many just end up creating another job for themselves.

The good news is that you can get off solopreneur island. I’ve done it, and here’s how to do it yourself:

Step #1 – Get clarity & package your offers

A lot of solopreneurs offer a wide range of services. They talk to prospects from all angles, and tailor make their services to fit each unique client’s needs. Sounds like a noble thing to do, but it’s not sustainable. A better approach is to look at the common denominator of the clients you’ve already worked with, and see if you can turn that into a front end offer.

I used to talk to prospects, listen to their needs, and then create a proposal, which usually got rejected. Since we sell video production, I told myself that every video is different, and you can’t turn that into a package. That was simply a limiting belief, and we eventually started offering 30, 60, and 90 second videos with either template or custom graphics.

Look at all the things you’re offering, and see if you can turn your offers into a menu, just like at a restaurant.

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

Step #2 – Start treating your website like the asset it could be

Your website can get you new clients on autopilot. Don’t hold your website back by having 3 portfolio items and a contact form. Turn it into a salesman.

We get anywhere from 5-20 new clients every single month through our website. The way to accomplish this is to first and foremost realize that people cannot make a purchase if they have unanswered questions. Put all the information they need to make a decision right there on your website. If your prices are less than $1,000 for what you offer, I believe you can make the sale right there on the website. If it’s higher than $1,000 I generally recommend to get people on a phone call first.

These are some things you should do to your website: describe the problem your audience has, describe your solution, show lots of previous work, and tons of testimonials. You should also answer all the frequently asked questions, offer a guarantee, show pictures of your team and most importantly, go for the sale/phone call, not a contact form. Don’t hold your website back, let it work for you.

Step #3 – Build a high quality team

People freak out about hiring. They think hiring means you have to be able to pay someone $60,000 a year, but that’s not true. Like anything else, you can and should, start small. I hired my Project Manager for 3 hours per week when we started.

You’ll also note I wrote “high quality” above. This is crucial. When you hire a $3/hour graphics designer from India, I promise you’ll get $3 quality work. The problem with being cheap when you hire is that you get people that aren’t good at what they do, and can’t solve their own problems. When people can’t solve their own problems it’ll be up to you to do that. You’ll end up working just as much as if you didn’t hire them in the first place, therefore you are effectively paying money to give yourself stress. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

It’s better to hire a $25/h person for 3 hours than a $5/h person for a month. Once I decided to try hiring a high quality freelancer instead of a cheap one, I instantly saw the benefits and have never gone back.

Step #4 – Build systems and procedures

You should have a process in place for everything that is done in your business, especially the stuff that is done repeatedly. Use project management software so that your client facing work always follows the same structure. Use Trello for internal processes. Create documents and checklists showing how to do things.

If you’re training a new employee, record a video rather than doing the training live as you should expect to have to train another person on the same exact thing in the future.  This way a ton of the training will already be ready to go if your employee quits on you (this happened to me and I was able to successfully replace a project manager and have the new one up and running within one week!)

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

Step #5 – Automate when possible

Make a list of every task that happens in your business from when a prospect finds you to when your product is delivered to them. Then, look at how many of those things can actually be done by a computer, and get to work using Zapier and all your other tools. I even recorded a video series where I educate the client along the way.

If you find yourself having the same conversations over and over again, just record a video and save yourself the time! Every automation you put in place is going to save you minutes and eventually hours every single week. This frees up your time so that you can focus on growing your business, instead of just delivering to your clients.

Summary

Getting off solopreneur island is not rocket science. You’ll need to get clear on what your packages are, put your client acquisition on autopilot, get a high quality team in place, document and checklist everything, and finally automate what you can.

Once you actually go through with this you’ll find that your business can run without you, but more importantly you’ll be able to spend your time on growing the business, and not being forced to do the day-to-day operations.

What’s your main takeaway from this article? Comment below!

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Startups

Why Your Business Should Focus on Effectively Outwitting Competitors

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business competition
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

It shouldn’t be a case of getting out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat, it should rather be the case of not venturing into the kitchen. Any brand which was set up with the outlook that there won’t be competitors was started on the wrong premise and will be plummeted into oblivion.

Any road to success is thorny but paved with advantages, which may be fair or unfair. It borders on putting in personal sacrifices which are prone to constant uncertainty, existential threats, and taking a headlong plunge into making terrifying decisions. It’s definitely not a place for the Lilly-minded and nitwits because you are setting out to engage in a fierce competition with the best minds in the business world.

What you should work tenaciously upon is your competitive advantages. Ensure the things you have going for you are brought to the forefront. You will require the right mix of guts, tactics, timing, and the knack for hitting the rod when it’s red hot because opportunities coming your way should be quickly utilized.

Dilly-dallying will be highly disastrous and very devastating. Your brand may not be a pacesetter and you don’t have a carte blanche to do whatever you fancy, yet it behoves on you to gear up to face competition from the onset.

Amazingly, however, you can effectively outwit your competitors in the global market. You just need leveraging on the following steps:

1. Research other winning brands

A lot of people may consider this to be absurd but that is the joker you have. What you do must be entirely different from other brands in the same industry as your brand. When you concentrate on researching your rivals in the same industry, you may only come up with something akin to what they do.

You, however, need to come up with something completely new and stunning, a whole set of nouveau innovations and the only way to get that is by going out of your industry completely. Your ideas must be mind-blowing and eye-opening not minding that you are possibly a newbie in the industry.

It’s of utmost importance that you build with the future in mind, before launching your product into the market. This singular action of yours will quadruple and ironclad your chances of surviving the onslaught in the market.

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto van Bismark

2. Spin your obvious weakness into your strong point

You definitely will have some weak points and your competitors will seek those out to backstab and whip you silly in the market. You shouldn’t, however, be deterred by this. You can swivel this supposedly bad fortune into a huge arsenal for your brand with the attendant result of leaving your competitors on the turf.

A brand’s weak point could be the price. It’s possible your price is on the high side in comparison with others in the market. This is an opportunity to showcase your ingenuity by adding domestic customer service, home delivery, extended warranty, or any other incentive which you know your competitors will chicken out on.

The initial venture will definitely pummel your finances but by the time your prospective customers come to identify these advantages which were supposedly weak points with you, your ROI will skyrocket sensationally. Your competitors who had set out to tailspin you will be wondering what hit them.

3. Stay glued to your clients

The customer is the king and this must be your brand’s watchword. Your taste may be the best in the world but it’s absolute balderdash if it doesn’t resonate with the customer. You must learn to maximize the values your customers hold high and play down other money-grubbing wastes.

To effect this you must stay glued to your customers. Find out what they have going for your products and how you can enhance them. This effort may be a time suck and you may be required to put in odd hours tracking down your customers but it will pay off handsomely.

John C. Maxwell, aptly described this situation when he said “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Make your customers off-limits to your competitors. You can enhance this by making sure you are constantly in contact with your customers.

“When a customer enters my store, forget me. He is king.” – John Wanamaker

You should be in tune with those things that can make or break your business as well as having the metrics to measure how well you are doing. It’s absolutely necessary that you know your brand’s fundamental metrics like the average customer value (ACV), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on investment (ROI), and break even.

Business is like the art of war and the best form of defence is to attack.

How to you make sure people stay loyal to your brand? Let us know some tips and advice below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Startups

Enough With The Word ‘Startup’

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The word ‘startup’ has created a false reality.

When we think of startups we now think of the following:

  • Cool kids wearing their startup t-shirts
  • Co-working spaces
  • Lots of lattes with a picture drawn in the froth
  • San Francisco and how perfect it is (I’ve been there and it’s not perfect:  #HomelessPeopleEverywhere)
  • Unicorns (not the ones you see on kid’s shows)
  • Made up valuations (a GFC fixes this problem nicely)
  • Accelerators (an overload of opinions that are just that)
  • Pitch nights where investors are made to look like Fortune Tellers and experts when the reality is nothing more than this: they’re guessing

 

It’s time to bin the word startup.

The word has no meaning. Day one is the start and then everything after that is just business. By continually using the word startup we’re implying we’re still at the start when we’re not.

“The word startup makes us feel crappy because it puts us in the amateur, early stage, “I’m still learning” category which never expires”

We never know what we’re doing in business completely and that’s a good thing.

Everything is constantly changing and so we’re going to be lifelong learners in the business world whether we like it or acknowledge it.

 

The word ‘Startup” means business so let’s call it that.

Just like a penis, big or small, it’s a fucking penis. Let’s call it what it is.

Maybe you’re a small business with one employee.

Maybe you’re a large corporation with 35,000 employees

Maybe you work one day a week on a side hustle.

Maybe you have two freelancers working for you one day a month.

It’s all just business. Sorry cool kids, the word ‘startup’ doesn’t make business any easier, different, simpler, funkier or any other description you can give.

 

Can everyone really be an entrepreneur?

I’ll give it to you straight amigo: no, they can’t.

“Some of you suck at entrepreneurship even though Instagram sells you on the dream that you can sit on the beach with your laptop, sip a cocktail, take a selfie and do one hour of work a day”

This is all a lie designed to mess with your head and force you to suffer FOMO thus resulting in social media engagement for someone with a landing page that leads to a digital product where there’s a payment wall for you to insert your credit card number and add money to a bank account that’s not yours.

Many of you can’t handle:

  • Risk
  • Stupid amount of stress
  • 12-hour days
  • Managing other people
  • Having to be creative
  • Customers whose demands never stop
  • The game of money
  • Soul crushing failure

The list could go on forever. There are so many components to entrepreneurship.

Only about 1% of people are truly cut out for it. Just like not everyone can be a leader - otherwise there would be no followers - not everyone can be an entrepreneur. And that’s okay.

You’re human - you’ll be okay.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try entrepreneurship. Sometimes giving it a shot and doing it is the only way to find out.

Life is not all about startups and entrepreneurship - there’s more to it than that.

 

When does the ‘Startup Phase’ end?

It doesn’t.

Some people say Stripe is a startup even though they do billions in revenue now. Some people call my side-hustle a startup even though it’s just me.

The word ‘startup’ keeps getting used because somehow it puts you in a different league where growth hackers (I call it sales), dev-ops, UX designers and a whole bunch of other words that describe a team that does sales or builds software exists.

 

A startup is not a startup; it’s called a business.

No more buzz words.

No more unicorns.

No more thinking you’re smarter than your competitors.

No more BS valuations.

No more naming and shaming people who don’t want to be a founder of a startup like you.

Not everyone is in love with startups and not all of us want to be founders. Some people want to be stay-at-home dads or stay-at-home moms.

Some people want to raise their kids instead of being on the front of Startup Daily with a bunch of cool kids.

There’s more to life than fucking startups and #StartupLife.

 

Business is business. 

  1. You build a product or service with you or a co-founder.
  2. You attempt to see whether it solves a problem
  3. You continue validating the idea beyond your mom & dad, friends and work colleagues
  4. You make some money - $1, $100, $100k - it doesn’t matter
  5. You continuously improve the product to make your customers happier
  6. You make them happy and the business makes more money
  7. You build out a team so you can grow the business to be bigger
  8. Then you either stop at where you are and be bloody happy, or you raise money in some form - VC, bank, angels, parents, ICO (insert trendy way to borrow more money)
  9. You hi-five everyone, sell the business and sit on a beach or you keep going because it becomes about more than money

THE END.

 

Final Word On Startups. 

If you want to create a business, then do it. If you don’t then that’s fine too.

Find a problem, solve it and be humble as hell about it if you succeed. There’s more to this world than the ridiculous label that is startup.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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