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7 Vital Business Lessons You Can Learn From The Hunger Games

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hunger games business lessons

Katniss Everdeen is in business—the business of staying alive. This is not an easy gig. You thought retaining clients or finding new customers was difficult, but at least it’s just your livelihood on the line instead of your life.

Yet, being a small business owner can feel like a life or death situation at times. When sales are slow and clients are sparse, it can feel like you’ve been thrown in with the wolves with a flimsy marketing book as your only weapon for defense. And who knows better about fighting your way back out of these types of sticky situations than our latest post-apocalyptic hero Katniss?

No matter how you slice it, the Girl on Fire has quite a few lesson’s she can teach us about staying alive in business when the going gets tough.

Here are 7 killer business lessons you can sink your teeth into from the Hunger Games…

 

Hunger Games Lesson #1: Team up with your competitors

In the dog-eat-dog arena that Katniss gets flung into, it would be understandable for her to go it alone. It would make perfect sense for her to have an every-woman-for-herself attitude and kill all her competitors on sight. Who can trust the competition when they’re sole intention is to see you lying dead in the water anyway?

As a business owner, it’s tempting to think that for you to succeed, that your competition has to fail. Yet, that’s not how it works. What did Katniss do to stay alive? She teamed up with her competition. She turned her enemies into allies and worked together with the other “tributes” in an effort to keep herself alive.

The most successful business owners work together to stay alive. A great example of this is when Bill Gates of Microsoft invested $150 million in his competition—Steve Jobs—to rebuild the Apple brand. Gates and Jobs were seen as “frenemies” at best, but instead of watching his competition fade away, Gates teamed up with him. Today, they are both thriving companies. Who can you team up with to skyrocket your success?

 

Hunger Games Lesson #2: Constantly be cultivating useful skills

When Katniss first learned how to hunt with a bow and arrow, she didn’t foresee that this skill would keep her alive in the Hunger Games arena years later. Instead, she was merely cultivating skills that helped her better her life in the moment. Yet, fast-forward in time and these everyday skills ended up being the difference between life and death for her.

As a business owner, if you wait to learn new skills until the time you need them, it’s too late. You need to be constantly cultivating useful skills on a daily basis. Seek out opportunities to learn new things and make an effort to broaden your knowledge and capabilities. Don’t take for granted any of your skills, no matter how insignificant they might seem in the moment. No skill is too minor that it can’t pay off in a major way down the road.

 

Hunger Games Lesson #3: Get a mentor

Chances are slim that Katniss would have made it out of the first movie alive if she didn’t have a mentor. Despite the fact that her mentor was a raging alcoholic (a quality that I wouldn’t recommend for a good mentor), the lessons and teachings that he imparted to her were invaluable. While she was in the middle of fighting for survival, he was able to see the entire situation from an outside perspective, which allowed him to give her the precise advice she needed to survive the Game.

Don’t try to go it alone. As a business owner, you are too close to your business to always see what needs to be done to ensure long-term success. Getting an outside, impartial perspective about your business from a qualified mentor—someone who’s been in business for a while—is extremely beneficial. Mentors can help fast-track your business by saving you from mistakes and providing useful insight based on past experiences.

 

Hunger Games Lesson #4: Know your “why”

As a business owner, you always have to know your “why” in order to make it through tough times. To ultimately succeed, you have to have a distinct purpose relentlessly pulling you forward and keeping you motivated. Without a purpose, chances are you will quit before you reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Katniss’s “why” wasn’t just staying alive, it was keeping her loved-ones safe. That’s her sole motivator from the get-go. She originally volunteered for the Games to save her sister. She put her life on the line to help Peeta and Gale. She complied with the President’s wishes to protect her family. Without a clear purpose, she wouldn’t have made it very far.

Everyone’s “why” is going to be different, but it’s critical that you define yours. Why are you running your business? Why do you want to succeed? The answers to these questions are going to take you the distance when the going gets tough.

 

Hunger Games Lesson #5: Learn as you go

Successful business owners don’t have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines. As an entrepreneur, you have to jump in and start playing the game now if you want to end up victorious. And because you can’t keep delaying until you “know enough”, you have to learn as you go every step of the way.

For Katniss, each time she is thrown into the arena, she has no clue what to expect or what to do. The moment the game begins, she has two options: freeze up or figure it out. No amount of time spent strategizing or training in advance is going to help her negotiate all the curve balls thrown at her. She learns everything step-by-step as she goes along, and sometimes being naïve is one of her biggest assets because she’s able to make decisions without second-guessing herself.

One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is getting stuck in various planning phases of their businesses. If you’re trying to learn everything you need to know before you start taking action, you’re wasting valuable time. Take the plunge, be willing to make mistakes and learn as you go.

 

Hunger Games Lesson #6: Win today

Katniss Everdeen’s ability to live in the moment is one of the major keys to her survival. She doesn’t get caught up in worrying about the future—her primary goal in the arena is to stay alive today. In the end, when she focuses on the doing the best she can to survive each and every day, then the future will take care of itself.

In your business, focus on winning today. Don’t spend time worrying what slings and arrows the future might bring. You can’t reach your long-term goals unless you successful execute your series of short-term goals starting now. When you consistently focus on winning today—doing your best to accomplish what needs to be done in the next 24 hours—then the future will take care of itself.

 

Hunger Games Lesson #7: Play your game

The people of Panem love Katniss because she’s the heroic rebel that doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules. Even though she can’t escape her fate to participate in the Hunger Games, she intentionally ignores the Game’s guidelines (e.g. honoring dead tributes and snubbing the “one winner” rule) while all the other tributes stick to the rulebook. In turn, she beats the system, becomes a celebrity of sorts and most importantly, manages to stay alive.

In business, you have to play your own game and make your own rules. If you follow the safe, worn path that everyone else has traveled down, there’s little hope that your business will stand out from the crowd and become a giant success. If there’s something unique about yourself or your business, don’t hide it—highlight it. To play your own game—take a stand, choose a side, pave your own trail and for God sake, don’t settle for mediocrity.

If you want to survive in the business arena, follow Katniss’s lead. Despite being a teenager and a fictional character (we won’t hold those things against her), she really knows something about working hard, not giving up, and following her heart even when the going gets tough.

Laurel Staples runs a popular blog & podcast called Go Fire Yourself that gives you the insider secrets to successfully escape your day job, grow your own business and live life on your terms. Connect with Laurel and download her free ebook: Income Switch: How to Replace Your 9-to-5 Income by Building a Profitable (& Unstoppable) Online Platform by visiting her website: www.gofireyourself.com

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Sebastian

    Jan 5, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Knowing your why is HUGE… This what keeps you going. About the teaming up with your competition… What if they don’t want to team up with you?

    • Laurel Staples

      Jan 9, 2014 at 3:28 am

      Thanks for the comment Sebastian! Of course, not everyone will want to team up with you (some might just want to see your business die), but I think it’s important to find allies in the crowd. Keep in mind that “team up” might just mean you Tweet some of their content and they Tweet yours. It doesn’t have to mean any sort of official business relationship. But if another business doesn’t want to have anything to do with you, move on to find a better one and don’t sweat it. Good luck!

  2. maxwell ivey

    Jan 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Joel; What a truly awesome post. You captured the character perfectly. when i first started i kind of hid the fact that i was a blind business owner. Now, I openly mention it and reference how it effects my progress in some blog posts. I tell people on the phone and let them know that it really doesn’t effect my ability to help them sell their amusement equipment. The only time i even notice is when someone sends me lots of photos or videos because i have to get help sorting them out. You are right about knowing your why. for me it was originally to use the commissions to purchase newer equipment for my family’s carnival. after the carnival went out of business it became supporting my family. now the business has become my passion and I do it for love. I would like to touch on your comment about working with other businesses. i am open to it and have done it but you have to be careful and get everything spelled out in writing. Otherwise you may be setting yourself up for disappointment if not financial difficulty. thanks again for the great post and have a blessed new year, max

    • Laurel Staples

      Jan 9, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Thanks for your comment Max! Knowing your why is vital when you’re a business owner and it sounds like you’ve found yours. Thanks for sharing some of your story. 🙂

  3. Naomi@BusinessBuilding

    Dec 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Laurel,

    Really good post and important to apply if you want to succeed in business.

    My favorite is #7 Play Your Game. Finding the balance between learning from competitors but still being your own brand that stands out as different, is what most new business owners never master.

    I always keep one on my competition but I’m ALWAYS striving to be different and offer something unique!

    Thanks for great read

    Naomi

    • Laurel Staples

      Jan 9, 2014 at 3:21 am

      Hi Naomi! Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you. You have to stand out in this extremely noisy world by playing your game because no one else can do exactly what you do!

  4. JALAL KHAN

    Dec 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    very good article.

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Startups

4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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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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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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Positivity & Self-Ownership: Your #1 Factor for Success

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Leaving a reliable 9-5 job and risking a steady, biweekly paycheck to live out a dream and pursue a totally different lifestyle can be terrifying. However, there is no reason to fear, aspiring entrepreneur! (more…)

Cory Young is the founder of BCC Interactive, a Philadelphia digital marketing agency with expertise in expanding businesses through search engine marketing. Cory has 10+ years experience crafting successful customized digital marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Sebastian

    Jan 5, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Knowing your why is HUGE… This what keeps you going. About the teaming up with your competition… What if they don’t want to team up with you?

    • Laurel Staples

      Jan 9, 2014 at 3:28 am

      Thanks for the comment Sebastian! Of course, not everyone will want to team up with you (some might just want to see your business die), but I think it’s important to find allies in the crowd. Keep in mind that “team up” might just mean you Tweet some of their content and they Tweet yours. It doesn’t have to mean any sort of official business relationship. But if another business doesn’t want to have anything to do with you, move on to find a better one and don’t sweat it. Good luck!

  2. maxwell ivey

    Jan 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Joel; What a truly awesome post. You captured the character perfectly. when i first started i kind of hid the fact that i was a blind business owner. Now, I openly mention it and reference how it effects my progress in some blog posts. I tell people on the phone and let them know that it really doesn’t effect my ability to help them sell their amusement equipment. The only time i even notice is when someone sends me lots of photos or videos because i have to get help sorting them out. You are right about knowing your why. for me it was originally to use the commissions to purchase newer equipment for my family’s carnival. after the carnival went out of business it became supporting my family. now the business has become my passion and I do it for love. I would like to touch on your comment about working with other businesses. i am open to it and have done it but you have to be careful and get everything spelled out in writing. Otherwise you may be setting yourself up for disappointment if not financial difficulty. thanks again for the great post and have a blessed new year, max

    • Laurel Staples

      Jan 9, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Thanks for your comment Max! Knowing your why is vital when you’re a business owner and it sounds like you’ve found yours. Thanks for sharing some of your story. 🙂

  3. Naomi@BusinessBuilding

    Dec 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Laurel,

    Really good post and important to apply if you want to succeed in business.

    My favorite is #7 Play Your Game. Finding the balance between learning from competitors but still being your own brand that stands out as different, is what most new business owners never master.

    I always keep one on my competition but I’m ALWAYS striving to be different and offer something unique!

    Thanks for great read

    Naomi

    • Laurel Staples

      Jan 9, 2014 at 3:21 am

      Hi Naomi! Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you. You have to stand out in this extremely noisy world by playing your game because no one else can do exactly what you do!

  4. JALAL KHAN

    Dec 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    very good article.

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Startups

4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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on

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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Startups

3 Ways to Make Your Startup Feel Like a Booming Business

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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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Startups

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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