Entrepreneurial Leadership – How to Get Your Business Off the Ground

Whenever I want to shift my state and break into laughter, I think of Wile E. Coyote. That’s right, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Talk about relentless determination. Here is a guy who knew no quit. I mean he never gave up on catching that prize! We can talk about determination in another post; but, picture this. The Acme box arrives and Wile E. dives into the contents with excitement and renewed determination. He thinks that this is the one. This is the idea: the invention and the contraption that is going to finally work in aiding him to catch that bird.

After emptying the contents, he straps on a rocket, puts wheels on his feet, and lays down railroad tracks along the road the Road Runner is going to come down. He dons his helmet and waits eagerly. Without hesitation, the Road Runner appears in a flash and stops and gives his customary greeting – “Beep Beep.” And, off he goes. The coyote, ready to pounce, lights his rocket and bends into position and the fuse goes out. It is a dud! As he stands up in complete frustration and takes off his helmet, WHAM! He is hit by a train coming down his tracks. Who is the conductor? Beep Beep! That’s right, his nemesis, the Road Runner.

I always laugh to myself. But, it also reminds me what Will Rogers said, “It’s not enough to be on the right track. You’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Many entrepreneurs feel this reality when they are beginning their businesses. The question is often asked, “How do I get my business off the ground?” The truth is, after finally quitting your job, and launching out after your dream, it is not enough to just get started. If you can’t get that business humming and get the cash flowing, then you are just sitting there; and failure is your destiny.

How do you get it going? I have discovered that succeeding in business is like getting a plane in the air. The secret to getting a plane off the ground is overcoming the law of gravity by replacing it with the law of aerodynamics and lift. Therefore, if you want to improve cash flow in your business, then you have to improve productivity by getting the results that produce lift. Lift is that force that moves your idea from a hobby to a hustle.

There are four things that you must do to break the gravity that is holding your idea to the ground:

1. Lean on the gas.
2. Inspect the gauges.
3. Focus on tracking straight.
4. Transition by changing the trajectory.

Simply put, there must be massive action employed in the business that is immediately evaluated with corrective actions taken according to the critical feedback. You must also focus your attention and not veer to the left or right by the distractions of life. And finally, you must change your trajectory by aiming all this energy towards a goal that is massive enough to stretch you into a new dimension. Those are the key fundamentals to getting your business flying!

All New Entrepreneurs Should Avoid These Mistakes

A new entrepreneur may feel as if he or she is on a roller coaster ride, especially when starting a new business. A majority of small-sized business entrepreneurs who experienced failure will still vouch that the risk was worth taking looking at the potential rewards. However, it is essential for new entrepreneurs to adopt a cautionary approach. Irrespective of what kind of preparation goes into that new business of yours, learning hard lessons in the way becomes an integral part of this journey.

An essential component of beginning a business is to have a well-structured plan in place and then practice a disciplinary approach to take quick and timely action on it. It is not exactly an exciting proposition to be associated with a startup as you may need just to submit yourself to the flow of the process. Ranging from stiff competition to inadequate funding, a new entrepreneur has to be prepared for different types of hurdles and challenges. Taking necessary actions to avoid such mistakes is highly imperative while beginning a new venture.

Following are some of the mistakes all new entrepreneurs should try to avoid:

1. Getting confused between an excellent opportunity and a good idea

It is indeed a wow moment for every entrepreneur when they hit upon a new idea related to a service or product. Plus, such moments help to reignite the passion within an entrepreneur leading to a great deal of perseverance. However, even if the idea appears to be highly unique, if it does not fetch equivalent market acceptability or fit, it is difficult for your business to succeed.

There is hardly any guarantee of your customers demanding it merely because you conceived and then built it. While the birth of new ideas is essential, it is even more crucial to assess its opportunity in the market to get the desired return on investment; In fact, opportunity stands at the crossroads of a problem if a low requirement is felt by your customer and the capability to fulfill that requirement. If conditions are favorable, extracting an opportunity needs to be translated into the creation of value.

If you refer to past cases, you will find that some of the most prominent tales of success were that of businesses, which began as something else. For instance, when Flickr started its journey, it operated as a tool for photo-sharing for Game Neverending, an online game. Another good example is Instagram that started its mission as a photo and gaming app. Even the journey of Twitter began in the form of a side project with a podcasting organization to transmit SMS messages. Groupon’s operation started as a website for social-fundraising.

2. Improper estimation of the cash required

Expenses to begin a new business may not be the same as it may range from just a few thousand bucks to millions of dollars. The amount of cash required will be determined based on the kind of business an entrepreneur launches. Trying to figure out the type of money you may need to start your business depends partially on facing a projection of the kind of revenue the new company is expected to generate to offset startup expenses. However, it can be a complicated calculation, which depends on plenty of shifting variables. However, you need to keep one crucial point in your mind. A majority of businesses fetch modest returns in the first year. In fact, over 75% of new ventures are known to have their annual revenue at less than 50,000 USD according to a report published by Kauffman Foundation.

Regardless of the kind of business you are in, a great practice is to keep more provisions in your budget than what you think will be required. According to Eric van Merkensteij who was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and then owned a restaurant for five years, there is a strategy to deal this. He shared this with SmartMoney. Eric said that an entrepreneur needs first to calculate their upfront investment expenses. After that, the figure needs to be doubled and then redoubled.

You will come across several online tools that can calculate the upfront cost required to start your business. However, seasoned entrepreneurs will still advice that you are perhaps underestimating in arriving at the cost in the beginning.

3. Giving first preference to your product and last preference to your customers

While ascertaining your business model and designing your products, you need to have the mentality of providing the first preference to your potential and existing customers. Several such new entrepreneurs are engrossed just about earning more money that is entirely understandable. However, they overlook the importance of creating a sustainable business. It is extremely crucial to have loyal and satisfied customers who will be repeat customers and purchase from you even in the long term.

Starting your entrepreneur journey for the first time is a tough job, and there may be mistakes in the process. That does not signify that an entrepreneur has to go on repeating the mistakes of everyone else’s.

4. Overestimating that you can do everything all by yourself

When you start a business, it is normal to feel that you are best at that job and no one else can match your ability. You think you are the best connoisseur of your product and are the one who possesses the desired passion for getting success in your business. However, such a notion can be a perfect recipe for getting burnout entirely and can impede the progress of your business in a big way. It is essential to have an experienced and knowledgeable mentor or consultant to help you in your much-required objective in the market and your business.

5. Thinking that you have the entire world in your hands

While the emergence and popularity of Internet have made it an indispensable part for companies, if you feel that your marketplace constitutes of a borderless globe, you are sadly mistaken. It is precisely applicable to a majority of small businesses.

While tech-based organizations with only some employees but dealing in billions of dollars could be grabbing the news headlines, Internet companies comprised of even less than six percent of the total number of new businesses in 2013. The Kauffman Foundation shared the data. Nevertheless, it may sound a bit strange the reality even today is that a majority of new companies do not mint money from around the world. Instead, they earn their revenues around the corner.

6. Being deprived of strength by the apprehension of many what ifs

The prospect of starting a new company can be scary for any first-time entrepreneurs, and it is not something a fearful person can do. It is entirely logical to feel afraid of rejection, disappointment, and failure. However, making yourself utterly powerless by such thoughts can become a big stumbling block for the progress of any entrepreneur. The first significant step to combat such fear is to recognize your common worry since there is a reassurance for you that there have been others in your position at some point in time.

7. Setting a small profit margin

It is critical to have a significant profit margin for the success of your business. If you set the margin too low now, life can be quite tough for you going forward. After all, your customers are hardly going to be happy if you decide to increase the prices afterward. You should start taking a close look at your operational and production costs. You should then try to ascertain the kind of flexibility there is. Will you be able to lower these expenses in the future in case it is necessary to do? If that is not the case, select a higher margin of profit now for accommodating those costs.

8. Overlooking the importance of marketing

It is a misperception among some entrepreneurs, especially the new ones that they would launch revolutionary products or services. They feel their products will speak for themselves, and a positive word of mouth and free public relations will work wonders for earning impressive revenue.

Still, the bitter reality is that most of the startup businesses may have to make a substantial investment in marketing activities. These channels may include content marketing, Search Engine Optimization, paid advertising and public relations. Make sure you do a study on where your business rivals are spending money on marketing activities. Do a self-retrospection on how you can differentiate or compete yourself.

9. Setting up unrealistic goals

A new entrepreneur could get too carried away by their so-called big or innovative idea. As such, they may fail to work with a stable and well-structured plan. In reality, you should set up attainable, realistic and measurable goals for getting success in your business.

Make it a regular habit of setting up long-term as well as short-term goals. You also need to ensure that all these goals are specific. Start your goal setting prices by defining a reasonable goal. Then, ascertain the kind of steps you should take for attaining it.

10. Using cost as the only criteria for making hiring decisions

It is a regular phenomenon seen even in some established businesses. When a company has problems related to funds, often it tries to reduce the cost of hiring new employees. However, the strategy is a faulty one since you may end up making more payments in the long term.

If you plan to hire low-cost consultants and employees, you should remember that they are charging less probably due to a particular reason. It is likely that such workforce is unreliable, unskilled or semi-skilled or inexperienced or a combination of all three.

11. Assuming that there is no direct competition

At times, the excitement about launching a new service or a product can make a new entrepreneur think that there is no direct competition in the market for them. They may also assume that their products are far more superior as compared to their rivals and they are in a class of its own.

The fact is there is hardly any business that does not have any direct business rivals. Unless in the rarest of rare cases when you invented a brand new product, it is very likely that there are existing players in the market who share the same niche.

Interested In Starting Your Own Business? This Is For You!

If you are thinking about starting a business, you have come to the right place. This article aims to provide you with information concerning this.

If you wish to set up a company that is a limited one or if you want to trade like a sole trader, you should consider the benefits of having a limited company. Continue reading on to find out more.

What Is A Sole Trader Or Partnership?

• A sole trader/partnership claims to be an individual(s) present in business who are themselves responsible for any debts along with liabilities of that particular business.

What Is A Limited Company?

• A limited company has a separate legal entity precisely from its individual shareholders.
• It should be known that the shareholders tend to only be personally responsible for any debts as well as liabilities of the particular company to the level of their own unpaid issued share capital.
• Therefore, you can see that in a sole trader/partnership type of initiative you will be fully responsible.

Benefits of a Limited Company

• The shareholders’ liability tends to be limited. This is how much share capital is subscribed as well as issued to the shareholders.
• When the time comes to pay off the company debts, the personal assets of the directors and shareholders will not get seized.
• A company tends to possess a separate legal existence when it comes to law. This case is not present for a sole trader or even partnership. The benefit of this separate legal existence is that when tough financial times arise assets of the company may be employed to set off the debts it has.
• The name of one’s limited liability company gets protected against duplication. This is not true for a sole trader, i.e. their registered Business Name is not protected from duplication.
• Limited companies do actually qualify for a helpful low corporation tax rate. This may aid the business is growing.
• Limited companies keep on trading without considering director or management alterations, till the company gets wound up and dissolved.

The above are some benefits of forming a limited company, but like everything else, there are also some disadvantages. Be sure to look at both sides of the coin before taking a certain path of action. One disadvantage includes the point that limited companies have limited liabilities.

It is tough figuring out how to start off a business in a new country. Their rules and regulations need to be known and you also need to know what types of businesses generally prosper in that country. There are many points that one needs to consider before starting a business. The above article is in favor of limited companies instead of a business that is characterized by a sole trader/partnership.

7 Competent Tips To Optimize The Warehousing Services

Often a warehousing management company is lost in setting up a path in e-commerce and consolidating the profits but forgets about the efficiency of warehousing services. A mismanaged warehouse will lead to troubled shipments. A warehouse with effective ideology and plans will lead to fuller inventory, fewer damages, dispatches on time, and high returns.

Locating Products at Their Specific Location

Pre-define the location of the particular item or product to easily access them when required. This will help to save the time while processing the orders for clients. The tip is to group similar goods together, store heavy items at the back of the storage facility and keep the easily movable item at the front, place the old or not so frequently required inventory at the top of the shelves or racks and put the small items together in order to prevent them from being lost.

Quality Checks (QC) are Pivotal

Quality check or QC is uttermost important to make sure the products being delivered are not broken or contaminated. With this, it is easy to prevent the anomalies at an early stage and rectify it before the shipping process. To maintain the quality of the good, it is important to have quality inspectors or QC stations at the facility before transferring the goods to the packaging station.

Reachable Location of the Warehouse

Select a location for the warehouse where it is easy to reach the marketplace or from where the market can be targeted easily. If that is not possible, in that case, it is important to keep the reasonable amount of stock at the different retail outlets. The key is to hire or associate with people who can deal in timely delivery of the goods to the different outlets.

Select needed packaging

It is important to select only that packaging material which is required because having the other packaging options around the facility is a waste of time and space only. Determine or decide packaging options that are durable and sturdy for the goods in stock. The key is to ascertain the size of each and every stock and determine the exact requirement in advance. Do not buy the packing material for those goods which are not in season or are not ready to dispatch anytime soon.

Reasonable Staffing

Taking a note of peak period and identifying the level of staff required is a necessity. Planning the requirement of staff will help to reduce the surplus costs. Hiring or recruiting the staff in abundance will only lead to expenses and bulky costs.

Introspect Products Daily

Taking a minute out of the day to inspect or review the stock will help to understand which item can be easily dispatched or which one is the slowest. This will help to understand the requirements of the stocks for future.

Tracing Everyday Activity

For warehousing services, it is important to keep an eye on each and every activity taking place. Keeping the track of every activity taking place in the facility should be the concern of the businesses. This will help a warehousing management company to resolve the issues like under-stocking or overstocking in the facility.

Passion and Business

Every business person will experience challenges. This is a default setting in life – Challenges will always come. But, what separates the businesses that rise and rise, from those that experience failure after failure?

(Caveat: This is not to say that there are businesses that never fail. ALL businesses fail at some point. Some, however, rise from ashes and shine through.)

Passion, then, is the key ingredient between throwing in the towel, or getting up to fight the next round. There is a refining moment where every business owner goes through intense heat. This heat can either polish you or finish you completely but it all depends on the level of passion in the business.

To always keep your goals ahead of you is tough when everything is bursting at the seams. This is why asking questions is a survival skill.

“Why am I doing this? What works? What doesn’t? What can I do better?”

These questions tackle the level of passion you are carrying for the business. Sometimes, answering these questions may make you revisit exactly how you ended up in that business. This in turn focuses on your motivators. They are the little coals that keep your passion alive. They make going through the grime seem worthwhile even though the outlook seems bleak. As long as you keep asking these questions, you automatically take your mind to your motivators. That’s why challenges really should never worry you, but dwindling passion should ring alarm bells!

So, when passion starts to dwindle, simply repeat the questions, “Why am I doing this? What works? What doesn’t work? What can I do better?”

Once you have your mind on your motivators, the dying passion will be revived once again.

Why am I doing this? It’s the path towards achieving goal X, Y, Z…

What works? So far, what have I achieved? Am I still on my way there?

What doesn’t work? What has derailed me on this course? Is what I’m doing still viable? If I change course, what will still take me to goal X, Y, Z…?

What can I do better? What hasn’t stalled but isn’t performing well either? How can I affect the rate of growth? Do I really need more money? Can I do it differently? Can I borrow a strategy? Who has done this and it’s working for them?

When stalling, don’t resign. Ask. What you fear will always paralyze you. Once you question its power, you have a fighting chance left. Always ask.

Ideas of How to Get People to Your Trade Show Exhibition Stand

Your stand is your shop window!
What is your reason for being at the show? For most people it is to sell, launch a new product or a simple brand awareness exercise. You must select signs, posters, colours and marketing materials that reflect this.

You don’t have to have a big stand
When you are exhibiting you do need to have big desires but that doesn’t mean you must have a massive budget. Don’t get carried away with having the biggest stand, location is more important and if you get the look right a smaller stand can work just as well.

Exhibiting at a trade show does not mean you have to spend lots of cash. Try to use things you can use again. You will always find there are things in your office you can take and if you have room, taking things like chairs means you don’t have to hire them.

Test before you go
Get everything together and make sure it will all fit in your vehicle. There is nothing worse than packing up the day before to head off to the exhibition hall and it won’t fit in the car. It may take you some time to work out how to fit it all in so you may need to rethink what you are taking. Once you get everything into your vehicle then take a photo on your phone to help you remember.

A good idea, if you have room, is to set it up at work before you go. That way you can see how much space you have to work with and how it will feel to your customers.

Promotional items and giveaways
Make sure your promo gifts clearly show your message or brand and they don’t end up on the floor of the exhibition. If you are going to spend money on gifts then make sure they are something people will take away with them and they market your business.

Location, location, location
Where your stand is located can be critical. Get a floor plan before you book your space and see if you can find out where your competitors are located. You ideally want to be on main walkways but if all the better spaces have been booked not to worry you can hire experienced exhibition staff to attract people to your stand.

Who are you going to take with you?
Many exhibitors hire experienced promotional and exhibition staff to increase stand footfall. This is a much cheaper option than taking someone from work who you have to pay hotels, lunches and travel for. Remember if you take one of your sales people, who is making those sales back at the office?

Don’t go alone, if your stand is busy how are you going to pop to the loo, go for lunch or be focused on clients when you have other waiting. Having another person with you means they can chat to visitors whilst they wait, they can promote your brand, take down contact details and your stand always has someone on it. You can also get them to go and get the coffee’s or make them if you have the facilities.

Trends That Will Make Your Business Thrive In 2018

A new year is here and along with it comes a new set of goals and purpose for your business. The trends of the year are already heating up, and your company needs to form early adoption to ensure you make the most of these moneymaking opportunities. Consider investing in these trends of 2018 to help your business startup flourish throughout the year.

Local Advertising

Reaching your local customers has never been easier or more important as localized advertising takes this promotional activity to a whole new level. Through advanced search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, you are able to make your business startup visible to the exact base of customers that have interest in your product. Using local landing pages, city keyword search terms, and the use of pages such as Google MyBusiness, you can allow your company to be found by those that are searching for a business near them. This personalized approach to reaching customers is hot for 2018 and is a sound way to market your business throughout the year.

Advanced Technologies

Hardly a day goes by without a mention of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), or Internet of Things (IoT). These technologies are allowing business startups to interface with their customers in a new and exciting way. Adding these advanced technologies into your business not only can improve the customer experience for consumers, but it can also streamline and make your operations more efficient.

Higher Wages

For 2018, you’ll see a surge in the minimum wage being paid to workers. Increasing your wage earnings for your employees can make your business a more attractive place to work and help garner talent that would otherwise not have been possible. Your employees are a direct reflection of your business startup and paying them a little more can go a long way in ensuring that you have a workforce that maintains your company vision and brand.

Remote Workforce

More and more employees are signing up a for positions that offer remote working environments. As your business grows, you can expand your presence globally through a remote workforce. This will allow your business startup to secure top talent from around the world and keep your operations flowing 24/7. You’ll be able to maintain a lower overhead with a remote team and give your employees a position that is highly desirable and sought after in 2018.

Millennials

The focus of the New Year is on Millennials as this large population of customers has come of age and has an immense buying power to wield with business startups. This gaggle of buyers is focused and ready to make buying decisions that can help to increase your business startup’s revenue. Understanding and honing in on this generation of consumers can provide a generous bump in your profits as you target them with technology-enhanced products and services that you market to them on the very channels they submerge themselves in. Emphasizing Millennials for 2018 can add to your business startup’s bottom line and increase your fan base and followers throughout the year.

Influencers and Experts

In 2018, the need to have a subject matter expert or influencer support your business startup’s products or services can boost your brand’s visibility with consumers. These experts have clout with customers and are often the reason that they choose your business startup over your competitors. Consumers are turning to subject matter experts and influencers to give them advice and provide them with the solutions to their everyday problems with your products and services. Th opinions of these experts matter to the masses and can help bolster your business startup in 2018.

Blockchain

If you haven’t heard of blockchain, you soon will as the technology is making strong headway in 2018. This technology allows for real-time, safe documentation and monitoring and can help your business startup become more transparent with your customers. The ability to hold digital transactions in a more friendly and accountable way makes blockchain a technology that can literally change the way that you do business in 2018 and beyond.

E-Commerce

The need for a brick and mortar store has literally become passé as consumers choose to do the majority of their shopping online. E-commerce is taking over, and more business startups are making a foray into online sales in lieu of a physical store location. Consumers are responding with resounding acceptance making it possible for your business startup to thrive in the e-commerce space and gain consumer loyalty with online sales.

Values

The trend in 2018 for businesses alike is a focus on values. Consumers are turning to brands that have the same values that align with their own and foregoing the ones that don’t. Outlining the values that your business startup stands for early on can give you traction with customers that are like minded and believe in the same morals as your company does. Keeping your values front and center with your customer base is a new way to attract clients to your business and keep them coming back for the long haul to buy your products and services.

Customer Experience

In 2018, the customer experience also becomes more important as consumer look to brands that provide them a positive buying experience. Interacting and engaging with your customers can help achieve loyalty with them. When buying from your business startup is an occurrence that a consumer enjoys, they are more likely to return to your business for a second, third, and fourth purchase. They spread the word that your business startup is one to frequent and keeps your company top of mind with many new customers.

Does Your Business Team Lie to You?

I was recently reminded of a story about Alan Mulally. One September in 2006, he walked into the offices of the legendary car manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, to assume the role of president and CEO. Before this point, he had been the chief that turned Boeing around from lackluster performance, and Ford was hoping he would deliver the same kind of magic to Ford.

At the time, Ford was on the brink of bankruptcy and things were grim for the American auto-maker. As he reflected in a subsequent interview, “In September ’06, when I arrived, the first forecast I saw for profitability was a $17 billion loss. And we achieved it.”*

Remarkably, the first meeting he had with his senior team produced a different picture for Mulally. During the meeting, Mulally patiently sat through presentations where senior company executives presented reports that looked great. Everyone, it seemed, was hitting their targets. He couldn’t believe it.

He then reminded them that they had wholly succeeded–at losing billions of dollars.

He then asked them to try again.

(Pause)

Finally, one executive spoke up and began to provide Mulally with the less than rosy picture, which happened to be the real and raw truth. The executive then asked for help.

What do you think happened next?

Do you think Mulally ripped into the executive?

On the contrary, he stood up and applauded the person who dared to tell him the truth.

The Most Valuable Player

As a CEO of multiple brands, I don’t want to hear from my team about how good we’re doing. Nothing is perfect, and I know it. I want to be challenged and want everyone on my team to do better, and the only way that happens is if all of us hear the truth. The most valuable player on my team is not the top salesperson, it’s the person who dares to bring ideas to the table where he or she sees room for improvement.

What Would You Have Done?

If you were faced with a turn-around situation of any kind and you walked into your first meeting as Mulally did years ago, what would you have done? The reality is that good management practice begins with the leader. Would you have done what Mulally did and publicly support the person that spoke up or would you have done something different, like shoot the messenger? Unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen too often. The best teams don’t only focus on what the leadership wants to hear; they trust in their leaders and the environment that allows them to speak about what’s not working so it can be improved.

Best Strategy to Make People Speak Up

Want to know what’s one of the best things you can do if you’re a manager and want your team to be frank and candid with you? Create the space and environment that fosters collaboration and discussion. That means that as a manager, you have to talk less and listen more. If someone brings you a challenge or an area in need of improvement, listen to what this person has to say. And, then ask questions.

Digging Deeper

I’ve been in sales for almost my entire life, and the best sales professionals and also leaders understand that listening is one of the best skills they can cultivate. However, along with being open to what your team has to say, you also want to dig deeper so you can gain a thorough understanding of an issue and perhaps even help develop strategic solutions. You can accomplish this by asking first, second and third level questions and you don’t have to know sales to get to the heart of the matter.

First, Second and Third Level Questions

When you’re presented with new information, get in the habit of asking questions and listen carefully to the responses. First level questions help you understand the situation and clarify the issue. They are top-line questions, that deal with what, when and how? Second level questions go a little deeper and are follow-up questions and primarily deal with why. These questions are asking for insight into why decisions were made. Finally, third level questions address emotion: fear of missing out or desiring reward. These questions are excellent to ask when you’re trying to understand the emotional barrier that has prevented a solution to a problem, such as a direct report that does not want to go around his manager when he has reported a problem, but the manager has not addressed it. A leader can uncover these emotions (and drivers for action and inaction) by saying things like, “If I were to look at this program for myself, do you think I’d see what you see?” Another one could be, “If you were given everything you needed to make sure the job got done, how would you do it and what would you need to get the job done?”

If you’re a manager, ask yourself if you’re the kind of leader who–had you been in Mulally’s place–shot the messenger when the person spoke up or if you would have listened so you can foster a business environment that supports transparency, accountability, trust, and teamwork. Get yourself in the habit of listening more and asking more in-depth questions, and it will go a long way toward helping you achieve excellent results.

The Top Business Trends You Must Keep in Mind

As you know, we live in an environment where it’s “blink,” and you missed it. Still, there’s always an urgent need to keep on top of what is happening so that you can stay ahead in business. I own several companies and, candidly, I don’t think there’s a single day I’m not thinking about how to make things better and improve our competitive advantage in our industries.

A couple of days ago I read an article about a luxury yacht company that had been in business for generations, and although they had client orders on hand, in the tens of millions of dollars, they fired everyone and shuddered their doors. They were hemorrhaging money and not paying attention to the changing winds.

The reality is that I can sit here today and write what you want to be looking for in business trends and then a year from now, write the same sort of article with different ideas to keep an eye on as business and society evolve. Still, there are some areas that I think will remain constant and you should pay attention to in your company.

Always Pay Extra Attention to Millennials

For decades and decades, the “darling” of generations were the Baby Boomers because of their sheer size and buying power. As the Boomers are now seniors, the same can be said about Millennials. They will be, and already are, a force for years to come and they are the first generation that is pure digital natives. Your products and services should be marketed to them and how they think. By 2020, Millennials will have an estimated $1.4 trillion in spending power.

Get Comfortable With AI, IoT, and ML

What used to be buzzwords such as AI, IoT, and ML, are not anymore. They are not the future; they are the present. Most of you know about AI (Artificial intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), but maybe you have not heard about ML (Machine Learning). Machine learning is when computers do things without being programmed to do it because they are learning it for themselves. Through machine learning, we are given self-driving cars, excellent web search tools, practical speech recognition programs and a host of other platforms. As technology evolves, all of these elements will play a more substantial part in life and business.

Remote Workforce

I have a preference for my team to be onsite, but for some functions and aspects of our work, these elements are outsourced. Currently 40% plus of American workers are doing some work remotely, without having to be present at their place of business all the time. This trend creates demand for adequately training remote employees through video conferencing platforms, especially for social media and programming positions. All that is required is a computer and Internet.

Get Past the Clutter

The way you brand your business is essential. People are drowning in data and information, and you have to be able to cut to the chase immediately. Branding, which encompasses the name, logo, etc., creates instant identification. With excellent branding, you are perceived as an authority, successful and trustworthy because you pay attention to the details. Also it makes prospecting easier. Customers find you. You can hire better talent. Candidates seek you out rather than looking to apply for a position with an unknown company. Because of branding, it is easier to create more businesses under the same name.

Opportunity Exists in Buying Businesses

There are more businesses for sale due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer and Millennials will be buying them and then reinventing the companies they buy. Keep an eye out for your competition because there’s always an opportunity in looking to buy an existing competitor. For instance, you can buy their entire client base, or perhaps they’ve excelled in e-commerce, and you’re able to bring that into your portfolio. I’ve successfully purchased some of my competitors, and it’s only helped my businesses grow.

7 Vital Ways to Master the Art of Delegating

Somewhere along the way in my career, I picked up a good nugget of advice, and it was to focus as a leader on those tasks which were unique to me and delegate the rest. One of the toughest things about being a leader and manager is mastering that ability. It’s not easy for a variety of reasons, including the idea that only you can do something better and faster, impatience, or lack of awareness.

Unfortunately, there are many managers out there who have not developed enough to follow the advice of focusing on what is unique to your position. And, if you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a higher chance that you could be someone who might have a hard time delegating. In start-up situations, many entrepreneurs end up wearing many hats, and it becomes difficult to let go, but it is crucial to the ultimate success of your business.

As your company begins to take off and grow, one of the most important skills you can master is to learn how to delegate.

Think about those responsibilities that are unique to your position.As a leader and manager, one of the first activities you should do is to carefully consider all of the tasks that you do on a given day. Then, ask yourself if you should be the person doing it. When you go through this exercise, it will help you prioritize the issues you should be taking care of and will ultimately have more time to focus on doing.
Consider the dollars and cents.Once you’ve decided to delegate, you will open up more time that was spent doing the busy work. Like most people, you probably think in terms of dollars and cents or profit margins. Hiring someone, even part-time, that will take over a lot of the process work that you’re doing is going to free up your time to dedicate it to the areas that will grow your business.
Don’t fall into the micro-management trap. Micro-managers love to say that they are delegating their non-essential responsibilities, only to micro-manage their teams. Proper delegation does not mean that you are absolving yourself of any of the accountability for the work. Delegation just says that you are giving the responsibility to someone else, and you have to give them the opportunity to do the job and rise to the occasion.
Maintain a strong feedback flow with your team. When you’ve delegated responsibilities to your team members, an essential aspect of proper delegation means keeping an adequate communication channel open for any questions, comments or concerns. Again, it doesn’t mean that it’s a chance for you to micro-manage a one-way feed system. It’s a two-way feedback flow and an easy tactic to ensure it’s done correctly is to request regular updates on the work.
Make sure that you provide clear directives or instructions. When you’ve decided to create a productive delegation system, one of the essential aspects of delegation is to deliver clear instructions or direction from the outset. If you’re expecting a certain project to look a certain way, have elements you deem important or are looking for a specific outcome, it’s vital that you express those thoughts from the outset.
Remember that your team members are learning how to do something you’ve delegated, and learning is not a linear process. Be prepared for mistakes or a learning curve. You should also expect to be pleasantly surprised when someone has done something in a way you wouldn’t have thought but is still excellent. Learning is not linear, and as a manager, you have to be prepared for some bumps and pleasant surprises on the road.
Let it go.The final aspect of mastering the art of delegation is to stay out of the way and let go. When you’ve assigned responsibilities and informed your team members what they need to get done, then you have to allow them to do the work. Focus on the duties you should be focusing on as a leader and let your team do what they have to do to meet your goals for success.

Remember that delegation is not something that often comes naturally, especially if you’re a business owner and you’re looking to get a new company off the ground. However, whether you work in an established firm or start-up, understanding how to be a self-aware manager who delegates is going to reap many rewards. It will help empower your team, and it will give you the ability to truly focus and concentrate on the aspects of the job that crucially need your undivided attention.