All posts tagged: External News Service

6 Essential Content Marketing Goals for Professional Bloggers

If you are a professional blogger you will understand it’s better than anyone else that content is the most important part of your blog. However it is not content alone that makes a blogger successful.

The content has to be written to address a target audience and promoted well so that it actually reaches the public.

A good writer cannot necessarily become a successful professional blogger. That’s because in this age of technology things are changing faster than ever. With new algorithms and SEO tricks many good blogs and websites fail to appear top on search results with good content while many make the most of it by keeping track of some basic facts.

Becoming a professional blogger is not a piece of cake and content marketing especially demands some planning. Here in this article we will talk about six essential content marketing goals for a professional blogger.

1. Understand your needs.   

The first and the most important goal for any professional blogger should be to understand in a crystal clear manner the goals for content marketing. If the needs are not clear, writing even tons of article won’t help. You need to think clearly about the complete picture and plan each and everything associated with your content marketing strategy.

That can include making sure that your visual visitors get caught up by your email marketing strategy when they come to your site or the advertising you run or the backlinks or affiliate marketing techniques. You cannot make a mix of all marketing strategies in the end. Thus be clear about what you want to market.

2. Write kickass content.  

Your content’s quality should be precise, accurate and spam free. If you are writing on body building, don’t try to make it a comprehensive guide about all health related tips and tricks. If you want to learn how to become a professional blogger, first thing you should remember by heart is that you cannot compromise on content quality.

3. Personalize your web page for users.

Users should get a feeling they are back to a place they have visited. Thus if they get a popup of welcome back or feed based on their interests they will become more excited and happy. Thus personalization should be one aim that should always be included in a content marketing goal.

4. Start using analytics.

A top notch blogger would always advise you to use an analytics tool. There are many such tools available with cheap prices and multiple features. These tools can help you know a lot about the engagement activity of your readers and their information like age, demographic, locations and time they spent on your page.

There are many free analytic tools as well and some such tools like Google analytics have helped many amateur bloggers game up their level and become a pro. Based on the results and observations you can change and improve your content.

5. Offer freebies and benefits.

To build a huge user base you need to make sure your users receive benefits and freebies as they go along. These can be in form of free e-books or unique and helpful items which addresses the pain points of your readers.

6. Ask for feedback.

One goal you must have in mind when you are working on content marketing is asking for feedback from your readers. Asking for a feedback can be done instantly on website or through the emails. You can always try to build an email list and prepare list of follow up emails which will ask readers about how they feel and what else they are looking for from your blog.

Lastly, you need to keep revisiting your basics and improve and evolve as time and technology changes.

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Jeremy Webb6 Essential Content Marketing Goals for Professional Bloggers
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What Is Disruption, Really? 8 Examples and What to Learn From Them

If you’ve read an article about a hot new app, or a tech-based service that’s taken off in the past few years, you’ve likely encountered it being described as “disruptive.” But after seeing this term thrown around for half the companies in Silicon Valley, and hearing it applied to concepts in your own business or organization, you might be skeptical about its value — or at least, its usage.

However, understanding “disruption” can help you get a better understanding about what true innovation is, and possibly, improve your own business to produce more innovative products and services.

The Origins of Disruption

“Disruptive innovation” is a term coined by Clayton Christensen, referring to a process in which an underrated product or service starts to become popular enough to replace, or displace, a conventional product or service. In “true” disruptive innovation, the product takes root in the bottom of a market — and in many cases, develops a bad or low-class reputation because of it. However, due to low costs, higher accessibility, or other advantages, the product eventually becomes more appealing than its contemporaries within the industry.

This is contrasted with “sustaining innovations,” the new inventions and modifications generated by incumbent businesses in an attempt to stay relevant with customers. These innovations can be valuable too, but in most cases, products and services developed along these lines become too sophisticated, too inaccessible, or too expensive to have any real lasting power. Accordingly, customers look to less expensive, sometimes radical alternatives to meet their needs.

The defining traits of disruptive innovators are lower gross margins, smaller target markets, and products and services that are often simpler than their contemporaries.

The problem with applying this term to any new business that challenges an industry is that it undermines what true disruption is. It tends to attract more attention to startups that are already getting attention, while the true disruptors are slowly climbing the ladder elsewhere, unnoticed by the industry giants they’re meant to replace.

“Real” Examples of Disruption

It’s perhaps easiest to understand disruption when we look at real-world examples of it in action:

  1. Netflix, streaming video, and OTT devices.
    Netflix — and other streaming services — are continuing to disrupt the entertainment industry. They’ve all but killed physical video rental stores, and are slowly allowing more and more customers to cut their cable subscriptions. OTT options like Hulu and Pluto TV emerged seemingly out of nowhere, as a low-cost alternative to conventional subscriptions, and when they caught on, customers couldn’t help but think about their media in a new way.
  2. King Price Insurance.
    Relatively new on the market, King Price Insurance emerged as an alternative to conventional car insurance plans. Unlike typical insurance policies, King Price Insurance offers insurers policies with gradually decreasing premiums, in line with the depreciation of your car’s value. The model takes more data into account than traditional insurance policies, and in line with disruptive innovation, targets a smaller market with lower gross profit margins to offer a superior service.
  3. Wikipedia. It’s a little ironic that you can read about disruptive innovation on Wikipedia, which is, in itself a disruptive innovator. Younger people won’t remember, but for centuries, encyclopedias were written and published for profit. You’d have to pay $1,000 or more for a few hundred pounds’ worth of hardcover volumes, and hope that it lasted more than a year or two of relevance before its important details were updated. Wikipedia is updated constantly, and is available for free, though it didn’t carry much trust at first. Still, Encyclopedia Britannica published its final volumes in 2012, after 244 years of circulation.
  4. LEDs.
    It’s hard to think that there was a time that LEDs were once considered impractical, but the first generation of LEDs were weak and unreliable, useful only as indicator lights. Cheap and available only for niche markets, LEDs eventually became more reliable, and soon became ridiculously more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs—in fact, they only use 20 percent of the electricity.
  5. Skype.
    You’ve probably used Skype before, and have been used to its existence for years, but think about how disruptive the service truly is; users all over the world can chat, call, and video chat with each other for free (or for very low fees). Originally targeting a small market of users, Skype has ballooned to have more than 74 million active users—and it’s entirely replaced mainstream forms of communication for some customers.

What Isn’t Disruption

We can also make the case for disruptive innovation cleaner when we highlight some examples of companies that aren’t disruptive:

  1. Uber.
    Uber is often cited as an example of disruption, but that descriptor doesn’t hold upon close examination. Now climbing north of a $72 billion valuation, Uber is undoubtedly a pinnacle of modern tech success. And on the surface, it has a few hallmarks of disruptive businesses; it did, after all, replace the taxi industry for many travelers throughout the U.S. and internationally, after a start as a small, scrappy company. But here’s where Uber isn’t disruptive; it didn’t open up a new market or capitalize on low gross margins. It just took the typical taxi service model, and upgraded it with tech to make it more convenient and a little less expensive. Accordingly, while both innovative and successful, Uber is not a disruptor.
  2. Google.
    Google has explored many areas of tech, and could be considered a disruptor in some of them, but for this article, let’s focus on Google’s emergence as the dominant search engine. Google was the first online company to prove the value of online search, and the first to make ridiculous amounts of money from online advertising—it did, therefore, help to spawn a new industry (if not several). But Google isn’t a disruptor because it wasn’t the first search engine—not by a long shot. All it did was take an existing model and make it better. This is an impressive feat, but again, doesn’t qualify as disruption.
  3. Tesla. Tesla is another company frequently described as a disruptor, in part because of the sexy vehicles in its lineup that are, admittedly, unlike anything else on the market. And while Tesla is known for ground-level innovations in everything from the design of its vehicles to its organizational structure, it can’t be considered a disruptor. Its vehicles are exactly that—vehicles—and while they rely on a unique power source, they don’t enable transportation in any truly market-changing way. Plus, even the cheapest models here started at $35,000, making it too overpriced to appeal to the low-level market.

Key Takeaways

Let’s see if we can reduce this information to a handful of key takeaways for entrepreneurs who want to know more about innovation—especially in its most disruptive forms.

  • Innovation doesn’t have to be disruptive.
    Recall that disruptive innovation is only one type of innovation—and you don’t have to be a “true” disruptor to make a difference in your industry. Google is a perfect example; Alphabet (Google’s parent company) is now one of the biggest and most important tech companies in the world, and it all started because Google’s founders could offer something a little better than what was currently on the market.
  • True disruption is a bit of a gamble.
    Even with a good idea in place, there’s no guarantee that a new technology or potentially disruptive idea will take hold. Some inventions require multiple phases of evolution before they reach their final form—and that means lots of inventions get lost in the shuffle before they get there, losing out to unsustainable practices, market shifts, or stagnation.
  • Disruption is oftentimes stealthy.
    Understanding disruption isn’t just about creating better ideas; it’s also about being defensive, and looking out for new competition that might disrupt your industry in the future. If a startup is labeled “disruptive,” you might want to give it notice—but the biggest threats to your business are the ones you won’t see coming. Dig deep and take all threats seriously, even if they’re starting out with lower profit margins and a smaller target market than you’d expect from a legitimate competitor.
  • Disruption takes time. When Wikipedia launched in 2001, nobody would have predicted it would have the power to overthrow Encyclopedia Britannica; this was a feat that took more than 11 years to accomplish. Disruptors don’t change the market after a month of being publicly available; it takes years, and sometimes decades, to take hold.

    With a better understanding of disruption, you’ll not only find it easier to wade through the buzzword-laden articles hyping up the latest startups to emerge from Silicon Valley, you’ll also be poised to find faster, more sustainable forms of innovation in your own business.

    You may not be in the market to create the next LED, or change the world with an invention on par with the transistor radio.

    ​However, you can, at a minimum, guard yourself against future industry disruptors and possibly come up with more competitive solutions to keep your business thriving.

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Jeremy WebbWhat Is Disruption, Really? 8 Examples and What to Learn From Them
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Outsourcing Core Functions: What Businesses Should Do?

Businesses are giant machines that run because of small cogs — and those cogs are processes.

Simply put, businesses are only as effective as the combined effectiveness of their individual processes.

Most business leaders believe that BPOs and IT are the only two ways to understand the outsourcing ecosystem. This belief is seen in the generic statistic that 64.3 percent of all global outsourcing comes under the umbrella of IT; whereas 24.6 percent comes under business processes.

Outsourcing is bigger than just BPOs and IT functions. In order to make outsourcing a more effective process, those undertaken by a business should be bifurcated into core functions and non-functions.

Many generic categorizations would have marketing, finance, accounting, and manufacturing together as the core functions of a business that cannot be outsourced. The rationale for this is that these functions carry sensitive information that cannot be disclosed to anyone except the business’ top management.

A simple way to protect this information is by using a Non-Disclosure Agreement and encrypting sensitive data. There is no need to keep something in-house to protect the data, especially if the business cannot handle it efficiently.

Therefore, in order to see whether certain things should be outsourced or not, business leaders should focus on the very definition of core functions.

A core function is a business process that:

1. Can give the business a significant edge over the competition, if it becomes the business’ long term competency.

The focus here is on getting a significant edge over the competition, not an incremental one. Financial analysts call this a ‘moat,’ which cannot be replicated by the competition. A moat refers to a defensive barrier built around a castle to stop enemies from entering.

Thus, for a business function to be called a core function, it should give a huge edge to the business and not be replicable.

2. Has a direct impact on the current and future performance of the business:

The function should have a significant impact on the overall performance of the business, both in the long and short term. If the function is crucial in the long run, it becomes a strategically important function. Such a function should be taken in-house, even if it that incurs higher costs. 

The higher cost is because an important long-term function should be able be properly executed by the business itself. Initially, there may be high costs as a result of running it internally, but over time, the business’ learning curve will cause costs to decrease.

An example of this is the tech giants Facebook and Amazon. Initially, both businesses were dependent on external service providers for web hosting. As time went on, they brought their hosting needs in-house and now their server storage spaces are so huge that both Facebook and Amazon have an alternative source of income from renting those spaces.

3. If not taken care of, can have a domino effect on all the other business processes:

This criterion is based on the importance of a business function as per its interdependency on other business functions. If the success of the function has a direct correlation with the success of other functions, it becomes a core function.

Anything that does not satisfy all three of these criteria is a non-core function and can be readily outsourced. In fact, it should be outsourced.

This might sound radical to many businesses, but the rationale for such bifurcation is to make it leaner and more efficient.

This categorization goes against the popular belief that certain functions have to be handled in-house because that is how it was always done. For instance:

a. Manufacturing is said to be a core function for a business.

The motivation to keep manufacturing in-house is that it handles quality levels. Contrary to this belief, Apple, one of the best electronic brands around, outsources the majority of its manufacturing. Apple clearly gains a huge advantage by doing so — their costs are lowered because the process is executed by someone who specializes in it. At the same time, Apple can focus on its own core functions, like designing and marketing products.

b. Similarly, it is said that marketing should be done in-house because it shapes the brand.

Unilever and P&G, two of the largest consumer brand houses today, outsource most of their marketing communications to creative agencies who are entirely focused on this. By outsourcing marketing, these businesses can get effective results, and can devote themselves to their core functions, like product planning and brand management.

d. Accounting is the language of the business, but it is not necessary for all businesses to pay for a full-fledged accounting team from day one.

Last week, I was talking with Tim Chavas from Zipbooks, and he said, “Publicly-listed companies are legally obliged to have an in-house accounts team handling all the primary paperwork.

Additionally, all the companies are supposed to get their books of accounts authorized by the public accountants as well.” That being said, many companies offer services like handling the majority of the accounting needs of small businesses.

For instance, the big four of accounting – PWC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY – started their services as tax consultants and external accountants. There are many smaller firms that can act as outsourced accountants. Additionally, with an automated billing process, outsourcing becomes a simple data transaction.

c. Start-ups, in their initial stages, do not need CFOs. 

Most of the work relating to finances is so small that it only requires attention occasionally throughout the year. Therefore, many successful start-ups hire CFOs on a contract or project basis. This is one way of outsourcing the finance function so that the start-up can conserve resources that it would’ve otherwise spent while searching for and hiring a full-time, in-house CFO.

At the end of the day, businesses resort to outsourcing for these top four reasons:

a. Cost cutting.

b. To be able to focus on core competencies.

c. To solve capacity issues.

d. To enhance service quality.

When the business keeps its core functions, as defined earlier, in-house; they automatically take care of these four goals in the long run. Businesses should focus on understanding strategy and defining core functions, so they know which functions can be outsourced and which cannot.

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Jeremy WebbOutsourcing Core Functions: What Businesses Should Do?
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10 Factors to Consider When Planning Your Website

Are you among those who are just starting up or thinking that 2018 is the year to take your business online? Either case, there are plenty of things to consider before launching your brand new corporate website. Joe Balestrino, Founder of 4pointdigital, takes you through 10 essentials to mull over as you start to get the wheels in motion.

1. What level of service do you want for your website?

Internet service providers ISPs (i.e. broadband providers) are companies that’ll give you a connection to the internet for a fee. Every internet user in the world accesses the web via an ISP. ISPs such as Virgin Media, Talk, BT, and Sky will all offer different levels of management, security and broadband speeds, so it’s best to do some in-depth research before parting with your money.

2. How much hosting space are you going to need?

A useful analogy to help explain what web hosting providers (WHPs) do is to think of them as the landlord you rent your office space from, but online. Without using hosting services you won’t have a place to house the files that live on your website.

It’s important to remember that other hosting services, like email, require additional storage so double-check that the space offered by your ISP will be enough, or whether you’ll need to arrange more from a WHP.

3. What will you name your website?

Selecting and securing the right domain name for your website is crucial and choosing your business name is definitely the best way to go. Taking this approach gives your website legitimacy, makes customers feel it’s a site they can trust and helps people to find you easily.

Moving quickly is essential too as domain names get snapped up fast. For more useful advice when deciding on your domain name, go through this Godaddy post.

4. What’s your website going to be for?

Whether you’re wanting to build your brand, sell goods or services, or expand your business, establishing the main purpose of your website is the perfect way to help you to decide how best to design and brand it.

The Singaporean brand, Smile Tutor that deals in home tuition segment, knows exactly how to keep a play with website for audience retention, conversion, and to build trust. They do have animated services explainer video, testimonials, CTA buttons (to help the audience), and informational module, everything in place.

5. How will you decide on the look of your website?

Think about your target audience when deciding this and remember: simple layout and easy navigation work best online. Try to steer clear of over-complicating things in order to avoid confusing your users. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can either pay a designer to create your website or use free tools available on platforms such as WordPress and Blogger to do it yourself. Once you’ve got the finished article, simply transfer it to your domain and chosen host.

6. Will social media play a big part in your online presence?

Channels like Facebook and Twitter are great for driving traffic to your website, but remember you don’t need to be on every platform possible. It’s essential to choose ones that suit your audience, so researching your target market is a good way to inform your decision. Then you can think about launching official pages for your company and how you intend to use them. To pick up more great tips about winning at social media, read this article from The Website Group.

7. Is being mobile-friendly important?

Given the current online climate, the answer to this is likely to be ‘yes’, especially as it’s predicted that the number of mobile users will soon overtake those using desktops. With more and more people using tablets and smartphones to view and buy from websites, it’s worth making sure yours is responsive and ensuring it can be easily navigated on these sorts of smaller devices.

Back in April 2015, Google has officially released its mobile-friendly ranking algorithm that was brought to give a remarkable boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search result. You can test your web page’s mobile-friendliness here – https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

8. Have you thought about legality?

Visiting websites like yours that provide the same service as you or sell similar products is a great way to help you decide on what your own policies should be. For example, how you’ll use and store the data submitted by your customers. It’s also incredibly important to display your policies clearly and in an area of your website that customers can easily access.

9. What level of security do you need?

You wouldn’t leave your shop unlocked or the door to your office building wide open, so it’s vital to apply this same mentality to your website. Ensure you install security software and be sure to download all the latest updates. Having a back-up system in place is also crucial. Leaving your website vulnerable to viruses or hackers could lead to losing your entire website and its data, which could devastate your business.

10. How will you track your online success?

It’s incredibly important to know where you’re winning and losing online so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Luckily there are plenty of online tools, such as Google Analytics, which can help with this by offering straightforward ways to measure key performance stats i.e. page view, bounce rate and a number of visitors, etc.

Conclusion:

Given these initial 10 aspects of planning a branded new website, it’s obvious that there are many other things to come across when actually designing and developing it. You’ve clear goals to increase online traffic (through search, social, email marketing, and other mediums). 

Have you set goals for generating leads for your business? How will your site’s design, navigational structure, and web page copies play an emerging role in engaging customers?  Do you have plans for leading further interaction with your Sales team? I’ll come closer to these related topics in my upcoming posts at Startup Grind. Stay tuned!

Feature Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com/@burst

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6 Ways to Upgrade Your Business Technology

It’s never been easier to access affordable technology while building a business. But at the same time, it feels like any piece of technology you buy becomes obsolete the second you pay for it. If you’re trying to strengthen your business’s revenue, it’s important to invest your dollars wisely, which means not paying for things you don’t need.

When it comes to tech, though, some things pay off more than others.

Here are six things to put in your budget if you hope to upgrade your technology.

Modernize your website.

As the customer-facing side of your business, your website speaks volumes on your behalf. For that reason, your first priority should be keeping it modern-looking. Even if your site is mobile optimized, you still may be scaring customers away if your design is outdated.

Pay close attention to trends in website design from one year to the next. You can also use a DIY tool like SquareSpace or Weebly, which gives you access to templates that feature the current trends in design.

Simplify.

If you’re working with a potpourri of applications for your small business, you aren’t alone. In fact, many businesses end up assembling a suite of solutions to accomplish their day-to-day goals. But at a certain point, businesses will want to find a way to streamline everything. The sooner you can do that, the better. From the start, try to choose applications that manage multiple tasks through one dashboard, then add on apps that integrate with those solutions.

Update your operating system.

Today, it’s slightly easier to keep your operating system updated on each of your devices. Both Microsoft and Apple push O/S updates to end user devices, as long as they have a machine that can handle the software. Make a point to regularly check each of your devices, including smartphones and tablets, to make sure you’re running the latest version of the operating system.

Even missing a few updates can leave your equipment vulnerable to an attack which, inevitably, puts your entire network at risk. By keeping your software as up-to-date as possible, you may be able to stave off a devastating data breach.

Fax to email.

Yes, you likely occasionally need a fax machine. It may be rarer than in previous decades, but when the request comes through to use a fax — you need to be prepared. Fax-to-email solutions let you receive and send faxes without a dedicated machine taking up valuable space in your office. Not only does this free up space in your own office, but it also lets you send and receive faxes wherever you are.

No more making a special trip to the office to send a fax. You can simply upload a file from your computer and send it, whether you’re working from home or waiting at the airport for your flight.

Lease your copiers.

Instead of buying printers, scanners, and copiers, many businesses opt for all-in-one units. Unfortunately, these can be costly and they quickly become outdated. You can lease an all-in-one and opt to get a new unit every couple of years.

This will keep your biggest piece of office equipment current without having to go shopping every couple of years. This will likely work best once you have multiple employees, though, since you can get an all-in-one desktop printer much more affordably than a corporate-quality copier.

Look into a wireless mesh network.

If your business runs on wireless, you may experience dead spots in certain areas of your office. A wireless mesh network is a way to overcome those issues, giving you more reliable Wi-Fi access at faster speeds than you may get with regular providers. Conduct thorough research into whether this is a better alternative for your own business and call around for the best prices.

You may find that the cost and reliability are better than what you’re already getting. This solution works best for companies that plan to run solely on wireless, rather than relying on a hardwired network.

If you’re interested in improving the tech in your business, there are small things you can do to stay up to date. It’s important to regularly audit your environment and find areas where you might be falling behind. By doing that, you’ll be able to remain competitive and keep both your customers and employees happy.

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Jeremy Webb6 Ways to Upgrade Your Business Technology
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How To Find Fulfillment Outside a Paycheck

When you pass away, what will you be remembered for? Will it be because you made a difference or because you made a living?

You have a chance to make a different choice for yourself.

Many people get so caught up in the professional rat race that they end up with a lost sense of purpose and misplaced priorities. 

In carving a career path for yourself, you must bear in mind that your chosen career path will be a means to an end. You want the end of it all to mean something more than just paying the bills and having food on the table.

Of course, the bills should be paid and you shouldn’t starve — but choosing a career path to earn a paycheck for just these purposes is limiting — very limiting.

You should choose a career that gives you a great sense of fulfillment.

How do you go about this?

Any career that doesn’t help you express what you’re passionate about is a no-no for you. Unfortunately, in most cases, no one tells you about this.

So, after going through school, bagging a fancy degree, and getting a good-paying job, you still have a deep feeling of dissatisfaction.

What do you do at this point? First, let’s explore the problem, then find a solution.

The Paycheck Dilemma.

We’ve been pressured by society to chase “lucrative careers” at the expense of genuine passion.

For some of us, we had no say in choosing our career. We only had to grow into a pre-chosen career as a child’s feet grows into an oversized shoe.

Yet, the irony is we only get good jobs done and have a greater chance at demanding higher fees when we feel passionate about the jobs we do.

Your chosen career should not stifle you. You’re a bundle of powerful creative fireworks waiting to detonate. You’ll end up frustrated if you’re not permitted to get into your zone where you comfortably ‘explode’.

Why People Make Wrong Career Choices.

Working and finding fulfillment is many people’s wish but, sadly, not their reality. You may end up in the wrong career and have to settle for less because of the interplay of several factors.

1. The Money Factor: This is usually the strongest factor that navigates people into wrong career paths.

If you’ve been influenced by the prospect of a fat check, it’s really not your fault. In times of economic downturn, you may be compelled to make the available the desirable.

When you have a boatload of bills, the last thing on your mind is searching for a job that gives you ‘fulfilment’ or ‘happiness’. As long as your bills are paid, who cares?

So you stick with a job you hate, stick with an overbearing boss, and stick with unfavorable working conditions because the job pays the bills.

2. Societal Pressure: This is yet another reason you may end up with a job you hate.

You may have folks practicing a profession, who want you to tow their path without giving a moment to consider what you’re truly interested in.

In a society that glorifies professional careers over others, the societal factor kicks harder felt, especially when you’re passionate about an unprofessional career.

When you bow to societal pressure, you ignore your true passion to meet society’s demands. And when things turn awry (as they often do when you’re stuck with a distasteful job), society spits in your face and blames you for listening to her.

3. Environmental Support: You may live in an environment that is hostile to your career and may not have the much-needed support to get the education or job you want. So, you’re forced to settle for the crumbs that fall off the table.

It may be very difficult to leave the little you have to pursue what you want, because of the uncertainty of the future. However, someday you may have to summon enough courage to test the deep waters if you really want fulfillment outside a paycheck.

These challenges to a right career choice are legitimate, but not insurmountable. Examples abound of people who have overcome similar challenges. Of course, their experiences and conditions may differ significantly from yours, but you may still learn one or two things from them.

What Should You Do?

Whatever action you’ll take significantly depends on your current position and future prospects.

For instance, if you’re working at an eight to five job you don’t like, but pays the bills, you may start a side gig on what you’re passionate about while keeping your job.

If you’re able to grow your side gig to a financially stable business, you may safely make the cross from an eight to five employee to an entrepreneur.

One thing to watch out for is the mental trap of not chasing your passion until you make enough money at your current job. Most times, you never get to the point where you’ve made enough money to quit your job.

On the other hand, if you’re working at a job you enjoy but isn’t paying the bills as much as you’ll like, you may try to seek other opportunities in your industry where a greater demand and value will be placed on your skills.

In addition, you may also consider how much value you’re bringing to the table compared with your colleagues who earn more and then step up to the challenge by increasing your knowledge base and sharpening your relevant skills.

Before you sentence yourself to a career you don’t enjoy to pay the bills, create a career plan that’ll excite you, diligently hone your craft over time and steadily increase your value.

As Sir Richard Branson said, “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions — in a way that serves the world and you.”

Don’t chase a fat paycheck alone, my friend. Do the type of work that gives you a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction — and find a fatter paycheck in it.

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Jeremy WebbHow To Find Fulfillment Outside a Paycheck
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Make Yourself Useless in Your Company

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” — Harvey S. Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire & Rubber Company

To have any chance at greatness, leaders must have high-performing, low-maintenance teams.

At a very practical level, it’s your job to help the amazing people you’ve hired become great leaders.

Do not view them as underlings or boots on the ground. See them for their talent and potential. Let them live up to their ability to deliver amazing results with little (or no) involvement from you.

Build a team that delivers better results than you, without you.

To do this, you need to invest time hiring, teaching, coaching, challenging and providing feedback. When you help people grow, they gain the confidence and skills to manage day-to-day business without you.

For you, this spells freedom. You’ll be able to spend your time on your company’s big picture strategy and long-term growth. 

It’s remarkable how often leaders get trapped hand holding mediocre players.

Sometimes it’s because they hate hiring, so they’d rather live with the devils they know. Others let personal loyalty cloud better judgment.

No matter the reasoning, you’ll be forever limited unless you do what it takes to surround yourself with A-players who are truly exceptional in their fields, and a culture fit with your company.

People think “A-players” are four-leaf clovers, but that’s not my experience.

You just need elbow grease, and a proven hiring methodology to find the best of the best. Then it’s your job to keep challenging them, and investing in their growth.

Believe you can have a full team of A-players. Then accept nothing less.

Pick your useless date.

Choose the exact date you plan to be completely useless to your business. This is the day you will be free to step out of the day-to-day operations, or sell the company entirely. Envision yourself walking out the door.

It’s crucial to pick a specific date so you can clearly see yourself moving on. Without it, you’ll remain enmeshed in the business. You won’t push yourself to build a solid, self-sustaining team.

Whether you actually leave is not the point. The point is to build a company so strong it would function effortlessly without you.

Here’s a simple performance rating system to help you get clear on where you are today:

A-player: fits the culture, and always delivers exceptional results with little or no management. An absolute pleasure to work with, and you wish you could clone them.

Potential A-player: appears to be an A, but has been in the role less than six months. Looks promising but it’s too early to be 100 percent sure.

Toxic A-player: excellent performance, but regularly causes friction and drama as they don’t fit the culture.

B-player: a culture fit with spotty performance. 

C-player: doesn’t fit the culture or deliver results.

My website is filled with extensive tools and exercises for evaluating your team.

Visit www.lawrenceandco.com.

A to stay.

Follow the motto: “You have to be A to stay” in your company. This is neither impossible nor ruthless. It’s just common sense.

A-players are your greatest assets. They produce more results than two or three B-players, so invest what it takes to find and keep them.

Don’t fall into the habit of neglecting them because they are so self-sufficient. It’s vital to have your pulse on how they are doing at all times because:

A-players have two dangerous tendencies: boredom and overwhelm.

They will be bored to tears if you don’t let them handle increasingly difficult challenges. That’s why a favorite question for A-players is, “Are you challenged enough? Too much?”

Having said this, most A-players will not cry uncle when they’ve exceeded their limit. If you push them to the point of overwhelm, they may cut and run.

The key is to strike a delicate balance. Keep them challenged. Make sure it’s sustainable.

Help your “B-players” become “A-players.”

While the majority of your effort should be spent hiring and grooming A-players, your B-players deserve the chance to move up the roster. they are a cultural fit and that’s a significant starting point.

Often B-players just need development, confidence boosting, or a tweak to their role so it’s more in their sweet spot. You may convert them to an A through coaching, mentoring and/or training.
Whatever you do, don’t set them up for mediocrity by forcing them into a sour spot. No one will benefit.

The key to transforming your B’s to A’s is to help them see their gifts, and accept their weaknesses. Just because someone wants to be in a management role doesn’t mean they should be. If their true gifts are as a technician or individual contributor, that’s the only way they will ever be an A-player.

It’s your job to identify how people can thrive, and guide them to be their personal best.

Manage out the “C’s.”

People often get messed up by putting too much energy into C-players, diligently trying to help them improve. That’s what you call throwing good money after bad. Do not be soft with your C’s.
Even if they somehow manage to improve their performance, you’ll never force them to be a cultural fit.

Give them a fair shot, of course. Make sure you’ve clearly communicated the culture of the company, and the expectations of their role. If they still can’t measure up, set them free so they can find a place where they are naturally an A-player.

Be ruthless about hiring.

Most hiring is way too casual, amounting to chit chat and a wild leap of faith. You probably wouldn’t get married after some pleasant banter over cappuccino. Don’t hire people this way either.

Too many hiring decisions are made on great first impressions, but this has little correlation to actual skill and talent.

If your hiring process is deep, methodical and unsentimental, your chances of landing A-players skyrocket. You know how deeply you know someone after you’ve taken a long trip together? Yeah, that’s how well you should know your candidates.

Seem impossible? Not at all. That’s the level of familiarity you get with a super-thorough, ruthless hiring methodology. Don’t let your HR people resist you on this. They may dismiss the idea of using a methodology at first because it’s unfamiliar. But the proof is in the pudding.

My final word of advice: before you draft that offer letter, put your candidates to work.

If someone says they are an expert in conflict resolution, bridge design, blog writing or programming, let them prove it to you. This simple and obvious step in hiring is often missed. Seeing people in action is a sure way to separate the talkers from the doers.

So yes, hiring A-players takes time and scrutiny. But it’s far less painful than hiring mediocre people and cleaning up the mess later.

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5 First-Hand Tips To Build a Startup As A Digital Nomad

When starting a new business, there are many initial decisions to make. One of them is to plan the new company’s location. Or, in some cases, whether to have an actual location or not.

Many entrepreneurs are now opting for location independent options.

According to OpenColleges’s complete guide to digital nomads, “remote working trends are growing worldwide, and taking the faster internet connections and growing millennial workforce, who value travel, into account, it is safe to say that digital nomadism is here to stay.”

Although most digital nomads are freelancers, contractors or remote workers, some globetrotters are also creating and running startups while enjoying a dream lifestyle. At first, it may sound tricky, but once you dig deeper into it, location independent setups can have more benefits than being based in a costly startup ecosystem.

There is a clear financial advantage.

To find out more about the financial advantages, we have talked to Sarah Hum, digital nomad and co-founder of Canny. We have asked her to share her advice with other entrepreneurs planning to start a location independent company, and she has kindly given us some helpful tips.

Sarah Hum and Andrew Rasmussen (co-founder of Canny) decided to quit their jobs at Facebook to pursue their double dream: to start a company and travel the world. Sarah and Andrew launched Canny a year ago, and so far, they have lived and worked from 14 cities in 10 different countries.

They are bootstrapping their SaaS startup, which goes from strength-to-strength, achieving profitability within the first year.

Here are 5 first-hand tips from Sarah Hum to help build a startup as a digital nomad:

1. Cut in half San Francisco’s living expenses.

“Back when we had our ‘real jobs,’ we lived in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Soon after we decided to work on Canny full-time, we moved out to become nomads. We cut our personal expenses in half. The lifestyle change was a big factor in us reaching ramen profitability less than a year in.”

2. Meet other digital nomads.

“I think loneliness is really common. We left our friends when we left home. But we realized there are many people also living the nomad lifestyle. Go out and meet them! The most memorable cities are ones where we made lasting friendships.”

3. Adapt to the time difference.

“Most of our customers are in North America. Being in Taiwan means a 12+ hour time difference. In order for us to continue providing stellar support, we’ve had to adjust our schedules. We’re now on a biphasic sleep schedule, we nap in the middle of the day.”

4. Make use of remote hiring platforms.

“During our time on the road, we decided to put out our first job listing. We posted it to an open community and several job boards for remote work picked it up. Within the week, we had hundreds of applicants. Way more than we expected. It turns out, a lot of people are looking for remote positions.”

5. Learn to communicate effectively.

“We have made our first hire. We’re now a distributed team. This brings a whole slew of new challenges: onboarding our first teammate, navigating the time difference, organizing work, and more. The best way for us to tackle all these is to first learn to communicate effectively.”

If you are planning to start your own company, you may want to consider the option of becoming a digital nomad. The community of digital nomads is growing globally and you will find other founders willing to share their valuable advice with you.

Image credit: Steven Zwerink on Flickr.

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VC Corner Q+A with Shruti Gandhi (Array Ventures)

Shruti is a founder and managing partner at Array Ventures which is a deeptech, enterprise, early stage fund. Shruti brings a strong mix of operating and investing experience. Previously, Shruti was an early stage venture capital investor at True Ventures and Samsung Electronics.

Shruti started working with Machine Learning algorithms while working on her master’s thesis in computer science from Columbia University on understanding user behavior on instant messaging platforms. While at IBM she worked on self learning algorithms that detected user location based on IP addresses, which she later incorporated into the Lotus Sametime product. Later, her company Penseev helped users make better connections with their friends based on social data.

When not investing, she is hacking on some app or thinking about ways she can be in many places at one time. Shruti also has an MBA from the University of Chicago, where she polished her finance skills before making the switch from engineer/founder to investor.

Enjoy this week’s VC Corner Q+A with Shruti Gandhi.

Q&A:

What is your fund’s mission?

Our mission at Array is to empower founders tackling big problems.

When did you close your current fund?

First close for Fund 2 was in March this year (2018)

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

Crypto will take over many large industries

What are 3 top qualities of every great leader?

  1. Curiosity

  2. Creativity

  3. Tenacity

What was your very first investment? and when?

Mobilize in 2015

What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

Do I want to live in the world this company wants to create?

What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

Will this investor help me achieve 10x more than I could on my own?

What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

  1. Clear deliverables

  2. True north mission

  3. Consistent values

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Experimentation in the kitchen

Favorite podcast?

We have a podcast at Array that I love listening to. You can find it here.

Who is one leader you admire?

The leader within that drives every woman

What is one piece of advice you’d give every founder?

At the end of the day, CEO is really a sales job

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3 Types of Intelligence Every Startup Founder Needs

Have you ever paused and tried to come up with a definition for the idea of intelligence? Typically, people associate intelligence with the ability to perform complicated equations or figure out complex logic problems. But it goes much deeper than that.

The Role of Intelligence in Entrepreneurship

“Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including as one’s capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, and problem solving,” Wikipedia explains. “It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.”

While everyone agrees that intelligence plays a role in being a successful and productive entrepreneur, there’s still confusion about how intelligence is acquired and what amount of intelligence is needed to find success.

To a degree, intelligence is hereditary. If both of your parents are talented scientists with dozens of awards and recognition from leading institutions, then your chances of being smart are pretty good. However, not every intelligent person has “smart” parents. Just as genes play a role, so do environmental factors. Furthermore, the types of intelligence a person acquires are often a direct result of the world in which they live.

Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, has developed something he calls the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. This theory essentially states that there are eight distinct types of intelligence and there’s no direct correlation between them. In other words, a person could possess strong intelligence in one category and be totally helpless in the other seven areas (or vice versa).

Dr. Gardner also believes that these various forms of intelligence have evolved over time in response to their value in human history. If a particular form of intelligence wasn’t beneficial to society, it wouldn’t have evolved and survived to this point.

3 Types of Intelligence You Need to Master

Different types of intelligence are valued in different areas of life. When you look at entrepreneurship and study the factors that set the most successful startup founders apart from the pack, you’ll notice that there are three types of intelligence that seem to have evolved into relevancy over the years. The more you hone your skills in these areas, the more potential you’ll have.

1.      Social Intelligence

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” How many times have you heard this saying? Well, you hear it because it’s true. Your connections with people are almost always more important than your book smarts – and that’s why you need to focus on honing social intelligence: The ability to build effective relationships with other people and successfully navigate social environments.

As Dr. Daniel Goleman points out, humans are biologically hardwired to connect with other people. The human brain contains more spindle cells – cells that guide social decisions – than any other animal species. We also have mirror neurons that help us predict the behavior of people around us. Then there’s dopamine, the chemical secreted by the brain when we find other people attractive and engaging. 

As an entrepreneur, social intelligence allows you excel at networking, effectively manage employees, and enhance your sales skills. It’s integral to your overall success. The question is, how do you improve your social intelligence?

Believe it or not, it all starts with body language. Researchers have come to the conclusion that 55 percent of communication is non-verbal. (Approximately 38 percent is the tone of voice, while just 7 percent is the actual words spoken.) The more you can improve your body language – i.e. gestures, eye contact, posture, etc. – the greater influence you’ll have.

From a leadership perspective, it’s also important that you learn how to use your words for maximum influence. This means taking firm stances and having confidence in what you say.

“We admire and respect assertive people,” business coach Eva Gregory writes. “It’s frustrating when others beat around the bush or attempt to be indirect. But there’s a difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.”

For example, assertiveness would be saying something like, “I feel like it’s in the company’s best interest for us to go with the second marketing campaign.” On the other hand, an aggressive statement would say, “I don’t care what you think, we’re doing the second marketing campaign.”

A high level of emotional intelligence enables you to lead a group of people through persuasion and motivation. It’s essential to your success as a startup founder.

2.      Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence is often described as the ability to successfully and efficiently communicate with people across a variety of cultures. It has a variety of components, including behavioral, motivational, and metacognitive aspects.

When Dr. Gardner talks about the idea that different types of intelligence evolve and rise to prominence over time, cultural intelligence would certainly be a good example.

In the past, cultural intelligence has only mattered for a select few people – i.e. those who spent a lot of time traveling the globe for business. But as the internet and technology have grown, borders have dissipated, and cultures now have more interaction than ever before.

Cultural intelligence must be learned and practiced over time. The more you become aware of your deficiencies in this area, the more you can improve.

Inquisitive people tend to possess high levels of cultural intelligence. They ask questions, look for new information, and don’t automatically assume their way of doing something is the best way.

“If you find yourself puzzled or surprised about something members of the culture say or do, that can be an entry point to the culture,” applied cognitive psychologist Dr. Louise Rasmussen writes for Global Cognition. “The fact that you don’t immediately understand what’s going on is a sign that they may have a different shared understanding than you. This can be a good point to ask questions or otherwise get more information.”

Cultural intelligence is also rooted in a willingness to learn through a variety of channels, including websites and blogs, films, books, and travel. The more you diversify your pursuit of knowledge, the greater your cultural intelligence will become.

In a business world where you’re increasingly likely to have interactions with multiple cultures – both inside the workplace and outside of your company – a high degree of cultural intelligence will help you tremendously.

3.      Emotional Intelligence

The third type of intelligence modern entrepreneurs must possess is emotional intelligence, or the ability to detect and understand your emotions and the emotions of others.

“Emotionally intelligent people are empathetic – they’re good at putting themselves in someone else’s shoes and seeing challenges from different perspectives, which can also help them solve problems. These qualities typically make them excellent, respected communicators,” startup consultant Andrew Deen writes. “Although emotional intelligence is highly prized in the traditional workplace, it can be extremely helpful – and even crucial – for entrepreneurs.”

As Deen explains, a high level of emotional intelligence improves self-awareness, leads to more effective communication, enhances control over emotions, allows you to identify customer needs more effectively, unifies employees through enhanced leadership, and is “the number one indicator of success.” But how do you, as an entrepreneur, improve your emotional intelligence to enjoy more success?

The number one key to honing your emotional intelligence is to be strategic with who and what you surround yourself with. For example, the more time you spend with smart and creative people, the more likely that you’ll personally be smart and creative.

Reading is also something that has a positive impact on emotional intelligence. The more you read, the more you begin to understand how people think and process information.

On a more personal note, you need to be cognizant of your own emotions and how they impact your performance, output, and ability to lead. For example, you need people in your life who can let you know when you’re being foolish or biased. Having people in your life who hold you accountable will help you get back on track and avoid making costly mistakes.

“Emotional intelligence takes work and practice just like any other form of intelligence,” entrepreneur John Boitnott points out. “Good news – you’re in total control of working those emotional intelligence muscles. Watch who you interact with, learn new things and give yourself emotional outlets. These will all help grow this highly valuable personal capability.”

The Pursuit of Intelligence

A lot of people assume that intelligence is 100 percent hereditary. In other words, they think it’s something you either have or don’t. And while genes certainly play a significant role, to believe that you have no control over your level of intelligence is to be acutely unaware of your own power and influence.

Social, cultural, and emotional intelligence are all important for entrepreneurial success. They are also forms of intelligence that you can sharpen and improve over time. In this sense, you have more control over your own destiny than you realize.

What will you do with it?

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