Tag Archive | "entrepreneur"

6 Skills of Self-Made Millionaires That You Should Be Using, Too

Heed the advice of those who have reaped success. Here are six skills used by self-made millionaires that you should be using and building upon each day, reports Entrepreneur

1. Be able to identify fruitful opportunities.

Carlos Slim Helu, Mexican business magnate and philanthropist, said, “When there is a crisis, that’s when some are interested in getting out, and that’s when we are interested in getting in.”

Learn to identify open doors when they appear, then consider the risks and weigh them against potential benefits. An opportunity can be a great one regardless of whether no one or everyone is rushing to grab it — if no one is, that’s your cue to move forward; if everyone is, that’s your chance to prove you’re better than the rest.

2. Focus on actions over words.

“Actions speak louder than words,” supposedly, and the late Andrew Carnegie agreed. As his career grew, he said, “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

Understand that a shining business plan or investment presentation means little when you don’t demonstrate the ability to carry out your ideas well. Customers and clients want to see flawless application of your company’s core values and mission statement. Keep this formula in mind when seeking out employees, as well. A perfect resume doesn’t necessarily constitute a perfect employee, if that person can’t properly act on his qualifications and intentions.

3. Maintain a clear vision of success.

“Vision is perhaps our greatest strength… it has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries, it makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.”

Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-Shing, the richest person in all of Asia, believes in vision as a motivational tool for success. What does success look like to you? If your answer is just “a lot of money,” this may not be the article for you.

Many people envision success as finally seeing their product on store shelves, making up for initial overhead costs, gaining a certain following or changing the community in which they live. In order to stay on track toward fulfilling your goals, it’s important to maintain a clear vision of what that goal is — and what things will look like once it’s achieved.

4. Never stop learning.

Entrepreneurs who don’t acknowledge the need to constantly learn new things are denying themselves and their businesses the chance to grow. Even once you achieve some degree of success, understand that those around you (even those who are less successful) know something you don’t.

Listen to what others have to say about their experiences. Learn from their achievements and their mistakes. If you don’t want to base your development on other people, try taking a step back and exploring the areas of entrepreneurship you can still improve upon. Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, says “that’s the single best piece of advice — constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

5. Get the job done.

This one sounds simple, but you’re likely procrastinating without even knowing it. Those who spend an immense amount of time marketing a business before there’s even a business to advertise are putting off actually building a brand. The same goes for those who spend time attempting to perform Web or graphic design themselves, obsessively organize finances and legal paperwork, and so on.

Even as an entrepreneur, you can’t wear every hat, and it’s often smart to assign tasks that aren’t immediately related to building your business to someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a small team of employees or some remote freelancers if it means you’ll be able to turn your company into everything you dreamed.

“Getting the job done has been the basis for the success my company has achieved,” said Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur, investor and former mayor of New York City.

6. Only hire rock stars.

You can’t exemplify greatness if the people who make up your company aren’t great, too. My brother Matthew and I have always made a point of carefully selecting those we hire on to our teams, even if it takes a little extra time. We like people with a heavy determination to GSD (Get Stuff Done).

As we have such grand expectations for our employees, we always make sure to treat them as more than just that. Matthew and I strive to take care of them as we would with family. Matthew and I also allow our employees the flexibility to work from anywhere and provide bonuses from time to time to thank them for their trustworthiness and flexible capability. The extra appreciation certainly goes a long way in enhancing work ethic and promoting remote teamwork.

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A Workaholic’s Guide to Not Getting Burned Out

If you are a workaholic, committed to work too much or just spend your time between work and office while doing nothing else during the week, then, chances are that you may start to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and even depressed, reports Small Business Trends. Below you can find some hints for motivating yourself and avoid feeling burned out.

  • Sleep Well: A good night sleep is a key element for waking up fresh the following day. On average people need 8 hours of sleep. Therefore, if you sleep less than 8 hours the night before, it is very likely that you will feel less energetic and as a result, it will be more difficult for you to concentrate on your work.
  • Learn to Say No: You cannot keep up with every task and project. You have to set your boundaries and learn to say no to meaningless tasks for your career. Every promise you made adds another work on your plate and divides your energy. When you divide your energy between many tasks, you start to lose your efficiency and hence, you under deliver.
  • Exercise: Regular exercising reduces stress and decreases tension. Also, it boosts your mood and makes you happier. Thus, it prevents depression. Exercising after work or during lunch hour will help you clear your mind, relax and recharge your brain. Therefore, you can become more productive and your performance increases.
  • Have a Hobby: Having a hobby outside of work makes you happier as well as lets you use different skillsets. It also helps you meet new people who share a common interest with you. Therefore, you can at least talk about something other than work and take a break.
  • Ask for Help: When you are stressed or feel burned out, ask for help. You don’t need to get embarrassed for asking help from your coworkers. Probably, you will reach a solution or finish off your task much faster with two or more people compared to you working alone. Don’t forget that nobody can do everything alone and that is why generally people work in teams.
  • Use Your Vacation Days: Some people like to save up their vacation days and rarely use them. However, the goal of a vacation day is to give you some time during the year to relax, have fun and spend more time with your family and friends. Therefore, don’t be one of those people and use your vacation days. Preferably, change your location and go to another city or even another country to do your vacation. I am sure you will feel much happier and energetic when you get back to work.

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How Entrepreneurs Can Get More Bang For Their Buck While Spending

Those who know me well know I am obsessed with travel, and with traveling on the best deal possible. At one of my first jobs, back in 2001, I managed the travel department for Crescent Heights, a large national condo developer, reports Forbes.

I was originally brought on to sell surplus items on Ebay—things left behind by the previous owners of an office building that Crescent Heights had purchased. Going about my business one day, selling everything from computers to servers to art, I heard a co-worker talking about an upcoming trip from our office in Los Angeles to a corporate retreat in Miami, a trip that the company’s outside travel agency had just booked. The cost of the ticket, in coach: $1800. I couldn’t believe my ears. I quickly jumped online and found multiple flight options for much more reasonable prices. I emailed the CEO to tell him that if I took over travel I would save his company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The CEO bit, and I spent the next two years as the go-to guy for travel. If any one of the hundreds of employees needed to fly or stay at a hotel, they went through me. I used my travel booking skills to save the company money, day after day.

Any good entrepreneur knows that one of the most important trait they need is frugality. Being cheap isn’t a quality you may want in a friend or spouse, but it’s crucial for a small business owner. My parents didn’t instill a frugal attitude in me, but for some reason, when it comes to travel, I turn into Mr. Scrooge. I take such pride in my mastery of travel sites like Priceline and in my tricks for traveling cheap that I literally get a high from landing a good—or better yet, free—travel deal. And one of the best ways to land good travel deals is credit card points.

Your mother always told you nothing is free in life, but your mother was wrong: points are free. Points, or credit card rewards, have been around for a long time. Before sites like The Points Guy or Dan’s Deals were popular, I was obsessed with maximizing points for free travel. As entrepreneurs, we don’t get many perks with the stressful job of building a business, but if we purchase correctly, we can build up a lot of points. You can use points to keep your company’s travel budget low, and you can use points when you need a get-away but you don’t have a vacation budget. As someone who has maximized the use of points for both business and pleasure travel, here are my tips for those new to the points game.

Make Sure Everything Goes On A Credit Card.

In my opinion, American Express is the business credit card to sign up for if you want to subsidize company travel with points. The AMEX Gold and Platinum cards have some great bonus offers, and their rewards can be transferred to many different airlines, hotels and rental car companies. Once you’ve signed up for your new card and received your bonus points, you need to start spending. I suggest using your new credit card for all business purchases. Most vendors say they don’t accept credit cards, but there are ways to convince them to make an exception. Back in 2012 I decided I was tired of not earning points with our largest vendor, Sysco. Despite spending millions of dollars a month, my company wasn’t earning rewards points because Sysco didn’t accept credit cards. Deciding this was no longer acceptable, I told Sysco we wouldn’t pay the next invoice unless they accepted our credit card. They made a “one-time” exception, and thankfully that “one-time” exception lasted over a year.

Make Sure You Aren’t Paying A Fee To Use Your Credit Card

Despite success stories like the one above, some other of my experiences were not as positive. After convincing another vendor to accept credit card payments, I noticed that their product prices had increased. Some quick investigation revealed that the vendor had raised our prices in response to our switch to credit card payment. When you do switch to credit cards, make it clear to the vendor that you expect your pricing to stay the same—they need to take the hit from the credit card fees, not you. Of course if you can’t convince them to do this you’ll have to decide if higher pricing is worth the points; usually it is not.

Make Sure You Are Enrolled In Your Rewards Program

I recently took back the day-to-day operations at Fresh Diet. When I came back to the office as CEO for the first time in almost three years, I wanted to see how many points were in our account. What I found was devastating. Although the company had spent over one million dollars on our American Express card over the last year alone, we had no points. No one at the company was thinking about points so they didn’t enroll in the points program when they signed up for the card. For a $90 annual fee, we would have earned over one million points that could have saved the company over $25,000 in travel expenses, or more.

Unfortunately, now I can only dream of how I would have used those million plus points. But if you’re reading this now, perhaps I just made sure that you won’t miss out on accumulating points while building your dream.

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5 Trends Every American Small Business Owner Needs to Watch in 2016

Heading into an election year means many of the big influences on the US small business market will come from macro-economic conditions and technological changes being implemented in the sector, reports Entrepreneur.

Here are a few trends that bear watching over the next 12 months:

The on-demand economy is changing our labor force. 

At a time when the level of self employment is rising, small businesses in America are contributing less to the nation’s GDP. Between 2002 and 2012, small businesses’ contribution to GDP fell from 48.3 percent to 44.6 percent. At the same time, the number of self-employed contractors grew to more than 14 percent of the labor market.

Driving this dynamic is the rise of the freelancing workforce fueled by a plethora of platforms connecting people with work, be it having someone design a logo for you, deliver ice cream, drive you down the street or clean your house. The on-demand economy is thriving.

The labor force has significantly changed. As an example, three years ago independent contracting site Upwork had 1.5 million freelancers registered, now they’re upwards of 10 million. With those demographic changes, there is now more competition for employees and it’s driving a conversation around minimum wages, paid time off and overtime rules which will all be key election issues. We’re going to hear a lot of discussion around these topics.

Over the next 12 months we’ll see technology help to streamline the freelancing marketplace, which should help boost productivity in this sector.

Not a lot is going to happen policy-wise.

Entering an election year means whatever fear you have about what policies may change in the government can likely be set aside. That means anything that’s going on with tax reform or ObamaCare, for example, isn’t likely to change in the near term as election years tend to be dead policy years. Everyone will be trying to steady the ship so their candidate is elected.

The Inauguration is Jan. 20, 2017, which is when you’ll see policy changes, if a Republican comes into office. The elections are up in the air right now. It’s way too early to predict what is going to happen. It’s fascinating to watch.

Funds are tightening. 

There aren’t a lot of major moves made in US financial markets during presidential election years. Access to capital doesn’t look like it’s going to get easier for small businesses, while the high cost of healthcare and employee wages will continue to weigh on the sector.

The big question is will the Fed raise rates more? If they do, access to capital will tighten, borrowing will become more expensive and the economy will probably soften.

If interest rates go up, there are going to be other investments which will be more attractive than the stock market. That’s important for business owners, as many have savings invested in the stock market. It also means now is a good time to borrow, while interest rates are low.

With no significant legislation expected to come out of Washington this year, there’s an expectation that the economy will continue to grow at a moderate pace in 2016 of between 2 percent to 3 percent. The biggest issue out of Washington is the government’s ability to repay its debt which has now been kicked back to March 2017.

This lack of movement locally drives home the idea that macro-economic forces will have a bigger impact on the US economy this year.

The falling cost of technology is making life easier. 

Previously, businesses had to pay a lot of money for data and analytics. Automation platforms were tools only big enterprise could afford. However, as the cost of tech falls small businesses have gained access to data, analytics and automation platforms once only affordable for big business.

Today, a small business can tell where their interest is coming from and answer queries which could only be executed using millions of dollars worth of infrastructure.

The power of the cloud is finally being realized. 

Technology is getting stronger, faster and cheaper each year. In the US, we’ve talked about cloud for a long time but 2016 will be the final realization of cloud technology. We’ll be heavier into the main adoption curve, which means more companies will be able to take advantage of the agility the technology provides.

As new generations come up through the ranks, more companies are moving to cloud technologies. We’ll also see more integrations between software players. Many applications which are currently separate, for example collaboration tools or accounting platforms, will start to build deeper links. Slowly but surely the march to cloud is inevitable. It’s a big country and a big market but what’s going to drive this trend is the younger generation and their push for innovation.

The opportunities for small business and the convergence of technology makes it easier to open and run a business. The cloud, mobile and ubiquitous internet blurs national and state barriers, opening up global opportunities never before available to small businesses.

It’s estimated that about 70 percent of the 28 million US small businesses that could be using an accounting platform, don’t. But this is starting to change, especially as we see more millennials enter the workforce. The more small businesses use technology to streamline their operations, the more productive they become.

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10 Behaviors of Genuinely Successful People

We live in a strange time. People can call themselves anything they want and get away with it, reports Entrepreneur. If you believe what they write about themselves, pretty much everyone’s a CEO, an entrepreneur, a leader, a startup founder, an award-winning keynote speaker, a best-selling author, or a self-made millionaire.

That’s how it seems, anyway. In reality, the only people these phonies fool are fools. Granted, there must be a lot of fools out there, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Look, the world is full of successful people. As a veteran of the high-tech industry, I live and work in Silicon Valley. You can’t walk down University Avenue in Palo Alto without bumping into at least four or five CEOs and VCs – not the fake kind, but the real deal. Unfortunately, you’d never know it. They’re not that easy to recognize.

The question is, how can you tell the difference between truly accomplished executives and business leaders who have something to offer you and the “fake it ‘til you make it” shysters who spew all sorts of BS all over the blogosphere, social media, and self-help business books? Simple. By their behavior. This is how real successful people behave.

They run real companies.

They have real careers. They run real companies with real products and customers. They have real experience managing businesses and leading organizations that you’ve probably heard of. If all their bio talks about are books, seminars, and speeches, they’re not the real deal.

They love their work.

If you ask Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, or Satya Nadella what they do for a living, all you’ll hear about is Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. They’re passionate about their work and proud of their company’s products and achievements. Success may come with the territory, but it’s not what drives them.

They do things their own way.

The way they lead and the culture they build is never copied and pasted from somewhere else. Sure, they have mentors and sometimes stand on the shoulders of giants, but they still do things their own way, follow their own instincts, and have little patience for the status quo.

They know what they don’t know.

The vast majority of accomplished people possess humility. The ones who don’t usually pay for their hubris, sooner or later. That’s not to say that CEOs don’t have strong egos, but when you’re smart and experienced, you simply know that you don’t have all the answers … and that anyone who acts like he does is full of it.

They have common sense.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. If it sounds utopian, it isn’t real. If it sounds like wishful thinking, it’s nothing but fluff. If it’s a quick fix, a magic bullet, a miracle cure, or some personal habit, it’s just a foolish fad. Successful people are savvy. They think for themselves. They have common sense. And they can smell BS a mile away.

They’re never satisfied with their own accomplishments.

Great CEOs and VCs are usually perfectionists who are never satisfied with their own achievements. They always want to do better – to build the next product customers love or fund the next great startup. They know that business success is about growth; it’s a marathon without a finish line.

They’re not super-visible.

Of course there are successful people who are highly visible – Mark Cuban and Donald Trump come to mind – but they’re rare. Most are not the slightest bit interested in being famous. If fame and fortune is what drives you, I’m afraid you’re going to be gravely disappointed with the outcome.

They’re not trying to sell you anything.

Real executives and business leaders may write a book or a blog, and after they retire they may give a speech or two, but in general, they made their living running and growing their companies and selling products, not getting you to break out your wallet to hear their pearls of wisdom.

They don’t self-promote.

They don’t have to. Their careers, their accomplishments, the success of their companies speak for themselves. You’ll never hear them breath a word about how much money they have or make. They tend to be fairly modest. There are some flashy exceptions but they’re few and far between.

They don’t preach.

They’re generally not inspirational or motivational – unless, of course, you’re one of their employees or customers. They don’t think they possess the key to success, happiness, productivity, or any of that nonsense. They may offer lessons learned from real world experience, but they don’t do shtick. If it sounds gimmicky, then it is.

Look at it this way. How well you do in life is based entirely on the work you do, the decisions you make, and the actions you take. When all is said and done, you want to look back and feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. You want to feel good about the life you led and the impact you had on others. And you want to know you lived your own life on your own terms.

None of that will ever come to pass if you’re a fool who follows phonies.

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Build Your Business Profile On LinkedIn

Most people think of LinkedIn as an online resume, but it is also a great tool for small business owners. With up to 85 per cent of business conducted via referral (word of mouth), now is the time to build your business profile on LinkedIn, reports YAHOO News.

There are some time honoured traditions in business – and one of the most well-known is that the best source of business is word-of-mouth (or referral).

So if you have asked a friend or professional adviser for the details of someone in business, I can almost guarantee that the next thing you will do is Google them! If you Google their name, their LinkedIn Profile (if they have one), is likely to come up on the first page of Google Search Results.

If they have also created a LinkedIn Company Profile, there is a good chance that this will also appear on the first page of Google Search Results, provided they have an active LinkedIn Company Profile. Even if they don’t have a LinkedIn Company Profile on LinkedIn, their Personal LinkedIn Profile is still very likely to come up on the first page of Google Search Results.

So it’s extremely worthwhile to spend a bit of time refreshing your business details on LinkedIn. Here are seven tips to do it.

1. Add your Business Website details to your LinkedIn Personal Profile

You can add your business website in your Personal Profile ‘Contact Info’ section, but when you add your website, don’t choose the Option ‘Company Website,’ choose the Option ‘Other.’ This way you can write the name of your website in the box and then add your link in as well (great backlink).

In your current job (the Experience Section), if you have already added your business as a ‘Company’ on LinkedIn, when you start typing the name of your Company Name, it should appear as a choice in the drop down box – so make sure you choose it!

In the Description box, I encourage you to provide a brief description of your business, then describe your tasks and achievements and include your business website link as http://xyzbusiness.com. Although this box is only ‘plain text’ on a computer and the link is not clickable, this text will convert to a link on a mobile device and enable people to visit your business website immediately.

I also recommend that you add your text business link in your ‘Summary’ and ‘Advice for Contacting’ sections. If your main goal is to build the brand of your business, listing it multiple times throughout your LinkedIn Personal Profile will help.

2. Create your LinkedIn Company Profile

You may already have a LinkedIn Company Profile, but LinkedIn often changes the range of information you can include on your Company Profile. I recommend that you:

  • supply very good quality logos in the dimensions requested (which are also consistent with the logos that appear on your business website and other social media)
  • provide an excellent quality Company Description (up to 2,000 characters) that includes your key message, keywords and a call to action and contact details
  • include the various specialties you have
  • fill in all of the other requested information (Founded, Operating Status, Industry etc)

Remember that complete Company Profiles have a much better chance of appearing in search results.

3. Connect your LinkedIn Company Profile to your other online content

Every business needs to have a digital footprint that they eventually build into a digital asset that constantly generates business opportunities. If you have gone through the process of creating a LinkedIn Company Page, make an effort to link to it on your other online content including:

  •  your business website (either on your About Us or Contact Us page)
  • your Google+ Local Business Page (so that you can tell Google where to find your business online)
  • your Google+ Personal Profile (so that you can tell Google to present your LinkedIn Company Profile in Google Search Results for your name as content on LinkedIn often performs better than your own website)
  • encouraging your business clients, suppliers, stakeholders etc to Follow your LinkedIn Company Profile (so that your Company Updates appear in their newsfeed) as well as connect to you personally (particularly if you are the business owner)

4. Decide on your Posting Schedule for your Company Profile

Many business owners are disappointed that their LinkedIn Company Profile doesn’t always generate as much interest (via an Update) as their Personal Profile does.

For example, most small business owners have a lot more Connections associated with their Personal Profile and a lot less Followers of their Company Profile so when they send out a personal Update, it goes to a lot more people via a Personal Update than it would if it was sent out as a Company Update.

However, it is extremely important to still post Updates via your Company Profile. Anyone who is conducting thorough due diligence of your business will check you out personally and they will also visit your company profile on LinkedIn.

If you have three followers but 30 Updates on your LinkedIn Company Profile, it is a lot better than three followers and no updates.

Although you may be in business on your own right now, if or when you sell your business, you can include the number of Followers you have on the Company Profile as part of the Asset of your business – and transfer this following to the new owner – so ultimately, the more Followers your Company Profile has on LinkedIn, the better. So remember to record the number of Followers you have on a regular basis (this number is only available as a real time statistic).

LinkedIn encourages you to post an Update via your Company Profile every day. I do not recommend this level of frequency in Australia. In my view, it is better to post good quality content less often than poor quality content regularly.

Always provide content that is of information or benefit to your target audience – this may include either new original content (70 per cent), shared content from somewhere reputable (20 per cent) and if you absolutely must, sales content (10 per cent). A minimum schedule for Updates would be once a month.

5. Consider creating Showcase Pages

Once you are on your LinkedIn Company Page, there is a blue box on the top right hand side of your screen that has a drop down menu and it allows you to create a Showcase Page.

This will create a live page on LinkedIn that is highly optimised – whatever you call the page becomes your URL e.g. http://www.linkedin.com/company/description-appears-here – so if you are trying to optimise individual products or services online, this feature could be useful.

That said, it does mean that you then have to go through the process of sharing Updates here and maintaining this profile as well, so it is not always my first recommendation due to the extra time required.

6. Choose your overall LinkedIn Strategy

Web developers, marketers and advisers often suggest that as a business owner, you need to constantly create content online to build your brand, reputation and eventually leads. However, there is a lot to be said for considering some of the other business profile building options on LinkedIn like:

  • liking, commenting or sharing other people’s great content (that you have fully proof read)
  • tagging your Connections or saving Followers to your Contacts and giving them a Tag and setting a reminder to follow up with them at some later point
  • making sure you include images and/or videos in your Updates to increase your views and conversions
  • saying thank you on a regular basis (one of the most under-utilised free business tools you can use at any time)

7. Review and reflect on your performance

I am a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel, so check out what your competitors or inspirers are doing.

Monitor the analytics from your Company Updates and see what performs well. You may like to consider paying for Sponsored Updates (but I wouldn’t do this until you had posted at least 50 or more Updates and had some analytics to decide what would be worth sponsoring).

Remember that LinkedIn is an amazing research tool and you can also test and try a few things to see what works in your industry and for your clients.

However, I will warn you against non-personalised script style emails or bulk messaging – these are probably the least effective ways to build your business on LinkedIn – and you may be penalised by LinkedIn or reported as a spammer. Remember that givers gain!

Completing your profiles adequately, participating respectfully and constantly providing value to your target audience will help you build your business profile on LinkedIn.

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