Apr 292014
 

Seven Things All Small Businesses Should Be Doing On Social Media

Seven Things All Small Businesses Should Be Doing On Social Media

Many small business owners are now active on social media. Whether you outsource your marketing, have an in-house staff or you are a solo entrepreneur doing it all yourself, making sure to get the most out of your social media marketing is important!

Talk to a web designer and s/he will tell you web design is of utmost importance. Talk with a graphic artist and branding becomes your #1 priority. Talk with a social media manager and engagement, blogging and audience building should be at the top of your list. Are you confused yet?

There are many things you should do online if you ask the ‘experts’. Whatever you decide to do online and whatever time you have or budget to pay for it, make sure it is done professionally, with consistency and frequency.

Going back to basics though, especially for those just starting out, here is my BEST ADVICE for small business owners.

  1. Own your own online real estate. Get a website! There is nothing, I repeat, nothing – no other platform – better than your own site. Get a .com and get a website. You can do and say whatever you want on that site and you own it. Traffic to your site will be for you to do with as you want and building that online presence cannot be done anywhere else.
  2. Choose your social media platforms wisely. Once you commit to a certain platform, be present and post relevant information. Information should be relevant to your current audience, that specific platform and potential customers alike.
  3. Engage with your audience and stop broadcasting. Ask questions, provide industry information, quote experts, post behind the scenes looks, updates and pictures of office, staff and events.
  4. Have consistent branding and know who you are first! Use your ‘elevator pitch’ to find your key marketing points and make sure those come across quickly in your branding. This includes written content as well as images and graphics.
  5. Fill out those profiles with as much information and keywords as possible. Social media profiles get indexed by search engines. What will they find when they index yours?
  6. Have a blog, create content consistently and frequently and learn where and how to distribute it. One great way to create blog content is to turn every single question asked of you about your business into a blog post where you answer that question.
  7. Know what you are doing online, why you are doing it and where you want to be! Track your efforts, track your leads and analyze what you are doing to improve your stats.

+ 2 BONUS:

  • Doing all of the above without a strategic plan will set you up to fail. Start with a strategic social media plan which includes short and long term goals.
  • Include social media in your marketing budget. This money could be used for advertising (PPC, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, SEO services etc.), graphic design, running contests, social media tools, website management, social media management, consulting services and more!

The value of social media is directly related to the effort you put into it. I can’t say it enough, but I will do so again: being present where you have a presence is super important. It’s how you build your reputation and brand. Would you invite guests to come over to your home, leave the lights on for them, but forget to be there yourself?

Dorien Morin-van Dam
Social Media Consultant & Strategist at More In Media
Connect with me on Social Media
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Apr 062014
 

Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs

What Boomer Businesses Have Going for Them

By Lynne Strang

John Olson was 40 years old when he founded Graystone Industries, a Georgia-based pond and fountain supplies business. Today, Olson’s company is among the leaders in its industry. But what if he had started it ten years earlier?

“It would not have been successful,” he says. “I could not have run a company as a younger man.”

Olson isn’t the only 40-and-older business owner who feels this way. Between 2011 and 2013, I interviewed dozens of late-blooming entrepreneurs to write a book about the success principles they used to start and operate their businesses. Most said they could not have started a business in their 20s or 30s — or if they had, it wouldn’t have turned out as well.

That revelation is noteworthy for those who dream of owning a business but wonder if they’re “too old.” If you count yourself in this group, you can stop wondering. For some people, a later start may increase the odds for entrepreneurial success because it allows time to develop certain characteristics and assets. Among them:

A bigger and better network. In entrepreneurship, the “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” adage matters. The longer you’re around, the more people you know – and the more likely it is that you’ll have the connections needed to open doors, obtain technical advice, market products or services and find the right help.

A stronger financial position. A later start can provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to accumulate personal savings — the most significant source of funding for startups, found a 2009 survey of entrepreneurial company founders funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. And while banks usually don’t lend to a first-time entrepreneur, an older one may have a chance. That’s because he or she has had time to build financial assets, establish a credit history and cultivate relationships with lenders.  

A commitment to customer service. Many 40-and-older entrepreneurs are passionate about great service for customers because they’ve been one for so long. They understand the frustrations of long waits, unanswered phones, unreliable quality and indifferent salespeople. As entrepreneurs, they tend to be patient when resolving service issues and practice the Golden Rule. This wins customers’ loyalty and keeps them returning for more.   

More resilience. Older entrepreneurs have lived through peaks and valleys – an inevitable part of starting and operating a company. For younger business owners who haven’t endured as many life events, lean times and dips in business may cause more angst. When you’ve weathered a lot of storms, you know the sun will emerge again eventually.

A grip on reality. People who start businesses after age 40 tend to be more practical about timelines, resources and expectations, which helps them set attainable goals. Among those who concur with this idea is Ken Yancey of SCORE, a nonprofit that provides free support for aspiring and new business owners. At a recent Senate hearing, Yancey pointed out that “encore entrepreneurs” have sensible financial expectations and are “realistic in their scope and projections.” 

Self-knowledge. Older entrepreneurs know who they are and what matters to them. With this self-awareness, they can build profitable businesses that also reflect their core values and provide personal gratification. Julie Savitt, owner of Chicago-based AMS Earth Movers, is a prime example. “It took the first 40 years of experiences to identify the strengths and weaknesses that define who I am today,” she said.

Not every boomer who wants to start a business is cut out for it, of course. If you haven’t followed through on your entrepreneurial idea, it’s critical to evaluate why. Inaction may indicate habitual procrastination, a lack of commitment or motivation, poor time management skills, inadequate resources or an inability to focus. Each of these could doom a company before it gets off the ground.

On the other hand, an unborn business could be the result of a timing issue. For a variety of reasons, such as young children who needed full-time care or a spouse’s demanding career, the earlier years may not have been conducive for a startup. In addition, student loans, car payments and/or other typical bills for younger families may have required a steady income and made it difficult to set aside seed money. The passage of time can remove or ease these obstacles, clearing the way for a successful business undertaking.

The bottom line? If you possess the drive – as well as a viable business idea and sound financial footing – an ideal time to act is when you have gray hair. The second half of life brings wisdom and other benefits that weren’t available earlier. By applying this life experience to your business, you just might take it to another level

Lynne Strang is a writer and communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She is the author of “Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40.” Her email address is lbstrang@gmail.com.

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Feb 122013
 

define success

 

Define Success – A Million Dollar Check In The Mail?

How do you define success?

The answer to this question is likely to be different for every person.

Is it as simple as earning a large sum of money – receiving a “million dollar check in the mail?”

Perhaps, but I’d argue that “success” is much simpler than that.  It may have nothing at all to do with making a certain amount of money.  Rather, I believe, success is achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Which goals should you set for yourself?  Well, that’s up to you!  It’s a very personal decision!  There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Do you allow others to impose their definition of success on you?  They may say:  you need to make a certain amount of money per year.  You need to live in a certain neighborhood.  You need to have two and a half kids (joking – that’s the average, I’ve heard).  You need to drive a certain car.  Be a certain weight.  Have a certain IQ.  Go to a certain college. Be a “winner”!  Marry the right person.  Be a superhero.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

Do you buy into this garbage?

Do you allow others’ definition of success determine whether you’ve “arrived” and earned the right to be happy?

The moment I realized that I didn’t need to meet or exceed anyone else’s definition of success is the moment that I allowed myself to be happy in my life!  I hate to say that it wasn’t that long ago.

I’ve always tried to do my best and I continue to do so, in everything that I do.  But now, I do it because I want to, not to try to live up to someone else’s standard.

I’ve also come to realize that putting off being happy until I reach certain milestones is a fool’s game!  Life is a journey that must be enjoyed every step of the way.  Rather than putting off happiness for some hypothetical moment when the stars will align and it will all “come together,” why not just be happy right now?

Another important realization I’ve come to is that it is a mistake to think of success in a one-dimensional way.  That is, if you say, when I make a certain amount of money or reach a certain net worth, I will have succeeded.  Or, when I accomplish a certain goal, that will mean that I succeeded.  That would be a one-dimensional approach.

A better approach, for me at least, is to set goals along many dimensions:  family, financial, fitness, etc.  Set goals in the areas of life that are important to you, not just in one single area!  If you set and attempt to accomplish goals in multiple areas of your life, I guarantee you that, if your experience is anything like mine, you will be happier and feel much more fulfilled.  Just remember to continue to keep new goals on the horizon, so you always have something to look forward to!

Enjoying the journey, setting your own objectives, and defining success on your terms are choices.  You can make those choices anytime.  Why not now?

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Feb 052013
 

do you want it moreSuccess – You Have To Want It More

The best way to increase your odds of achieving success in your endeavors is to want it more than your competitors.

I’ve heard this expression quite a bit and as time has gone on, I have come to believe it’s correct.

Obviously there are extrinsic factors over which we have no control, some or all of which impact our likelihood of being successful in our endeavors.  Holding those extrinsic factors constant though, one of the main differentiators between those who are successful and those who are not is that they want it more!

What does “want it more” mean?  It means that relative to those against whom you are competing, the outcome matters more to you.  It’s more important to you, and for that reason, you are willing to put in the extra effort its going to take to be successful.  If you really want it, you may even go to extremes, such as cheating, which can be a negative byproduct of wanting it more (too much).

Why would one person want it more than the next?  We all have different reasons for doing what we do.  One person may want it more because they feel like they have something to prove, to themselves and others.  Another person may want it more because they believe if they’re successful, they can help their family and others in need.  A third person may want it more because they were raised to be very competitive and taught that winning was the most important thing.

So, one person’s “it” may be a means to an end and another person’s “it” may be an end in itself.  Regardless of the reasons behind the desire though, in my experience, whoever wants “it” more, is more likely to achieve success than the person who is ambivalent or even apathetic.

In order to create and nourish a strong desire to be successful, as I’ve written elsewhere, it’s important that you understand your “why” for undertaking a particular endeavor.  If your “why” is not clear enough, or not strong enough, it’s likely that when the chips are down and the pressure is on, you will not perform as well as someone who has a strong understanding of and commitment to their reason for playing the game.  I mean this metaphorically of course; whether it’s an actually game, a business deal, or most any other type of endeavor where you can measure success, it’s usually very helpful to have a “why”.   Your “why” can help you tap your willpower and increase your odds of a positive outcome.

How badly do you want success (however you’ve defined it – if you haven’t defined it, that’s a separate discussion) in your current endeavors?  Do you have a strong “why” for participating in those endeavors?  Or are you kind of fumbling along, not really sure why you’re doing what you’re doing?

In any endeavors where you have to compete against other “players,” whether the endeavors are focused on business, sports, or other areas of your life, I can assure you that if you don’t want it more, when the time comes to perform, you will be edged out or even blown away by those who have a hunger for success.  If you’re not feeling “hungry” in your endeavors, ask yourself why.  If you don’t like the answers, ask yourself if it’s time to move on to other challenges that stimulate you more.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Jan 302013
 

encouragementIf you are a mentor, coach, teacher, parent, or anyone who provides guidance to other people, it is critical that you understand the importance of encouragement.

Think of the good teachers, bosses and mentors you’ve had in your life.  What impact would their instruction have had on you without their accompanying encouragement?

You may say, well, I can think of good instructors I’ve had who didn’t give me kind words of encouragement along the way.  I’ll give you that – I’ve had such instructors too.  But think about it for a moment, did they not encourage you in their own way.  For example, even though they may have had a rough personality and may not have spent a lot of time lavishing praise on you, did they not encourage you by the mere fact that they were willing to invest time in helping you learn?  Whether you realized it at the time, or not, it’s likely that this dynamic existed.

What does it mean to “encourage” someone?

Encourage:

  1. to inspire (someone) with the courage or confidence (to do something)
  2. to stimulate (something or someone to do something) by approval or help; support

Source: encourage. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/encouragement (accessed: January 30, 2013)

In my experience and observation as a coach, boss, parent, teacher, and mentor, among other roles designed to help other people, I have come to realize that in most cases, the encouragement you provide, however you choose to “inspire” or “stimulate” someone,  has a much greater impact than the nuts-and-bolts instruction you give them.  This is especially true in kids, but it’s also true in adults.

I believe this to be true because most people do not have a high level of self-confidence.  Thus, if you do not do your part to encourage them, to show that you believe in them, at some point in the learning process, their lack of confidence takes over and they decide to quit and move on to something else.  Once they’ve quit, no matter how good your nuts-and-bolts instruction may be, they can no longer learn, because they’re off doing something else.

This is not to say that your instruction on the basics of your sport, business, or whatever subject matter it is you teach does not have to be excellent – it does.  Rather, it’s to say that if you can combine outstanding fundamentals with a healthy and ongoing dose of encouragement, you will find that the results you achieve will be much more impressive.

I’ve had this demonstrated to me in a number of ways, but it really hit home for me when I left soccer coaching for a few years when I was out of the country.  When I returned, I realized that some of the most promising players that I had coached previously had quit the sport and moved on to “greener pastures”.  I took a bit of time to analyze who had quit and who had stayed the course, and I realized that there was no way to differentiate the two groups based on talent level.  Instead, in the group who hung in there, I saw an excellent support infrastructure (family especially), and in the group who moved on, I saw not such an excellent support system and many times, coaches who didn’t really get the encouragement concept.  They were more about focusing on the negatives and overcoming weaknesses.  It’s a different style.  It’s not necessarily wrong.  But I didn’t see it yielding the same result as a more encouraging approach.  Again, if the student quits, it doesn’t matter how good you are at teaching the fundamentals and improving weaknesses.

Given that I tend to be a perfectionist and quick to point out flaws (in myself and others), since coming to this realization regarding encouragement, I’ve worked on taking as much negativity as possible out of teaching (parenting, coaching, etc.) and made a concerted effort to instead focus on positive reinforcement.  It has taken time, but my observation is that the results are significantly better than what I had achieved previously.  This is not to say that I don’t help the people I teach overcome weaknesses – that’s part of teaching – I just try to do it in a way that focuses on encouragement as much as possible.

As a positive by-product, I’ve also noticed that I’m a lot happier in these roles and those I’m teaching tend to be a lot happier as well.  That contributes to a better learning environment and only serves to further improve the results.  It’s a good deal all around.

Most of my students (and kids, and players, and business associates) would still say that I’m a tough coach, parent, etc., I think, but I think that would be because I have very high expectations for them and for myself.  The difference now is that I go about helping them meet those expectations in much more of an encouraging manner.  I won’t be changing that approach until I’m convinced there’s something more effective out there.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Jan 272013
 

more learning acceleration

14 More Ways To Accelerate Your Learning And Progress

Hopefully, the first seven ways to accelerate your learning and progress were helpful.  Here are fourteen more to help you build and maintain momentum in pursuit of your dreams and objectives.

1.     Conquer performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety can stop you dead in your tracks.  If the anxiety is extreme, you may not be able to perform at all.  There are techniques for overcoming performance anxiety.  Figure out what works for you and use it religiously.  Seriously, relax!  You’re good.  You just need to believe in yourself and not worry what others think!  It’s easier said than done; I know.

2.     Push beyond.

Any weight lifter will tell you that they’ve achieved their most impressive gains when they’ve been willing to push beyond the point they thought they could handle.  That is, the point of pain, effort, belief, willpower, etc.  When you’re doing “easy repetitions,” whether in weightlifting, another sport, or most any endeavor, you are not making progress.  The progress is made at the margin, where you’re willing to push beyond the norm.

3.     Forget the critics.

Don’t worry about what the critics have to say.  If you want, you can take whatever is useful to you from their commentary.  If not, then ignore them altogether.  Their mission is not to make you successful; rather, it’s to tear you down, so you can be miserable like them.  Don’t buy into that game.  If you ever need inspiration in this regard, turn to one of my favorite quotes of all time, from Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Citizenship in a Republic, a speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, France (23 April 1910).

Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt

4.     Choose tougher opponents.

Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and take on tougher opponents.  Regardless of your endeavor, if you want to stay in the shallow end and play the weaker opponents, you may have fun and boost your ego, but you will never get better.  The way to get better is to choose tougher opponents and be willing to lose sometimes (or a lot in the beginning).  Then, learn from your mistakes and keep upping your game.  If you’re never (or rarely) losing, you’re not pushing yourself enough by playing against tough competition.

5.     Set goals correctly.

Not everyone believes in goal setting.  In my experience and observation, goal setting can work well, particularly if goals are set correctlyThis involves ensuring that the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.  If you are going through the work of setting goals, do yourself a favor and don’t make them so general that they’re not meaningful.  Also, make sure you have a big enough “why” (why are you going after these goals?), so that when you run into challenges, you’ll be able to summon the energy and perseverance to press on.

6.     Make sure you’re committed.

If you’re not committed to achieving your goals and dreams, no one else is going to be committed for you!  The responsibility rests on your shoulders.  You must take the bull by the horns and make it happen.  Ask yourself the question:  Am I interested or committed?  If you find that you’re just interested, that’s acceptable for entertainment purposes, but not for serious goals.  In order to take on a big goal or task, you must be committed, or the likelihood you will make it happen decreases significantly.

7.     Be bold.

As the Latin proverb goes, “Fortune favors the bold”.  When you are trying to achieve something, especially something extraordinary or “great,” you do yourself no favors by being timid.  Be bold.  Be willing to stand out from the crowd.  This may be completely out of character for some, especially the introverts among us, but trust me, you’ll be shocked by how much more you can get accomplished by being bold.  When you are bold, it works not just to convince others, but also yourself, of your conviction.

8.     Overcome perfectionism.

The more I live, the more I realize that perfectionism truly is the enemy of most accomplishment!  Perfectionism can cause us to do nothing.  Perfectionism can cause us to sweat unimportant details and not see the forest through the trees.  Perfectionism can cause us to beat ourselves up needlessly and get into a negative state of mind for no good reason.  I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life and it has been more apparent in certain areas of life than others.  It’s only when I’ve been able to give myself “a break” that I’ve been able to perform at my best in a variety of endeavors.  Performing well without the pressure of being “perfect” (virtually impossible in almost all endeavors) is much easier.  Give yourself a break and give it a try!

9.     Stop procrastinating.

Procrastination is caused, at least in part, by perfectionism.  We don’t get started because we don’t want to fail, with “failure” being defined as anything less than perfection.  With such unrealistic expectations, it’s no wonder that so many people procrastinate.  It is a source of frustration for many.  There are ways to overcome procrastination.  I suggest you study up on them and give yourself the knowledge and confidence to overcome your tendency to put things off, seemingly indefinitely sometimes.

10.  Overcome your fears.

Fears can immobilize us!  Fears, whether founded or not, can cause us to perform poorly in a whole host of situations.  It’s important to learn how to overcome your fears, so you can perform at your best as much as possible.  There are proven techniques for overcoming your fears, or at least lessening the impact of the “fear response” in key situations.  We all have fears, whether or not we’re willing to admit them.  If we want to accelerate our learning and our ability to make progress in our endeavors, we must understand how to conquer our fears.

11.  Understand the key requirements.

In order to accelerate your learning and progress, you must make an effort to understand the key requirements for success in your chosen endeavor!  There is almost never a good reason to reinvent the wheel.  In all likelihood, unless you’re doing something extremely cutting edge, there are other successful people in whose path you may follow.  Work with a coach, other subject matter expert, or mentor to first understand what you will need to have and do in order to be successful.  Only then can you take the most efficient route to success in your endeavor.

12.  Believe.

Strong belief can overcome shortcomings in many key areas.  No matter how difficult the road becomes, your job as an achiever is to continue to believe that you can be successful!  Such belief will give you energy where you thought you had none and it will allow you to tap the enormous reserve of willpower that we all have as human beings.  Without belief, little is possible.  With belief, almost anything is possible.

13.  Tap your will to succeed.

Find ways to tap your will to succeed.  We’re all different, so not all things that work for you may work for the next person.  But there are techniques you can find and develop on your own that will allow you to tap your willpower as needed.  In my experience, it’s helpful to have an inventory of inspirational people and stories in your mind, so that when the going gets tough, you’re able to call on those memories in order to get yourself to push on.  They can be memories from your past, or inspirational stories you’ve read or heard about.  I have used this technique to push far beyond where I thought I could go, both mentally and physically, in a number of very challenging situations.

14.  Plan, even if just a little.

Some of us have a tendency to “wing it” a bit more than we should.  I know that there was a time that I fell into that category.  It tends to come with the territory when you’re not suffering from a shortage of confidence – you believe that whatever challenge may arise, you’ll overcome it and attain your objectives.  With age and maturity, I have learned that even if you do just a little planning, often times the outcome far exceeds what you likely could have pulled off by “winging it”.  Don’t plan to the point of analysis paralysis, but put in some time to lay out the steps you expect will be necessary to achieve your objectives.  Don’t be surprised if you have to course-correct several times on the fly, but that’s OK!  As one of my mentors liked to say, “you should have a powerful plan that can change”.  Don’t be a slave to your plan, but let it provide you with at least a rough road map to where you’re trying to go.

I hope you will put these ideas to use and they will help you to accelerate your learning and progress in your endeavors!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 252013
 

accelerate your learning

7 Ways To Accelerate Your Learning And Progress

If you are looking to accelerate your learning and progress more rapidly, here are seven ideas to help make it happen in any endeavor.

1.     Create a sense of urgency.

Without a sense of urgency, often times it’s hard to get started and stay focused.  This step may include creating “unrealistic deadlines”.  Such deadlines, while tough to meet, by definition, force you to focus and to employ all available resources, with a strong sense of urgency.

2.     Don’t worry about failing.

As long as you learn from “failure,” it can help you rather than hinder you (the magnitude of the failure is a factor, obviously).  You will need to fail a certain amount to improve to the next level in almost any endeavor.  If you are unwilling to fail, therefore, you cannot make it to the next level.

3.     Focus.

Lack of focus affects almost all of us, at one point or another in our lives.  Study after study has now shown that multi-tasking does not work.  Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can multi-task and be as effective as you are when you focus on one thing at a time.

4.     Have a why.

If you have a compelling (to you) reason for doing something, you are far more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.  Many refer to this as “having a why”.  The most important characteristic of a good “why” is that it matters deeply to you; do not worry about what others think.

5.     Stop whining.

Whining in our society runs rampant.  The key is not to be a whiner; rather, put on your big boy pants and step up to the plate.  If you are truly committed to what you’re trying to accomplish, instead of whining when things go wrong, you’ll stay focused on the prize.

6.     Practice correctly, with feedback.

By now most everyone is familiar with the concept of “deliberate practice”.  It is a form of practice wherein you don’t just show up and practice indiscriminately, without paying attention to potential areas for improvement.  If you are going to practice deliberately, you will pay attention to the results you achieve, then use that feedback to continually adjust your approach.  If you practice in this manner, you will likely achieve better results, faster.  You can provide feedback to yourself, but often times it easier, even essential, to have a knowledgeable coach working with you to accelerate your learning.

7.     Don’t overthink everything.

Even if you are a left-brain, analytical type, learn not to overthink everything.  Be willing to do a certain amount of trial and error.  This way you can avoid analysis paralysis, which can be a real progress inhibitor for the person who tends to want to explore every last potential detail and problem before getting started on an endeavor.  For complex endeavors, which include most that are worth achieving, such an approach usually is not realistic.

While speed is not always a major point of focus when we are trying to accomplish a goal or just getting started in an endeavor, often it is.  Given the pace at which our world is changing, many times if we’re not moving at a reasonable speed in our endeavors, particularly in competitive areas such as business and sports, we’re being left behind.  Hopefully, the ideas above will help you with accelerating your learning and making more rapid progress toward the accomplishment of your goals!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 222013
 

dealing with difficult people

How To Deal With Difficult People – Take Two

Here are five more ideas on how to deal with difficult people.  This is a challenge that will continue until there are no more difficult people; in other words, it’s going nowhere.  Since the problem isn’t going away, I’ve put some more ideas together for you, since my first post on dealing with difficult people – here you go – execute any or all of these with care:

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #11

Document everything.  Don’t allow the difficult person to run you over without a record of what’s happening.  If you don’t document everything and “put a stake in the ground,” should the time come to escalate (or even litigate) the problem, you will have no record that this has been a pattern of behavior, rather than a one-off instance of poor judgment.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #12

Find an ally. If you are finding no success in persuading the difficult person to be reasonable, involve another person in the situation.  That person should be someone the difficult person respects, either because they want to, or just because they have to.  In other words, if you can’t bring someone in whom the person respects as a person, then bring in someone whose authority they must at least respect.  Often times, that will bring the matter (or attitude) to quick resolution.  You must be willing to take this step, so the person knows that you’re not an isolated, disenfranchised victim.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #13

Be willing to walk away.  Make sure the difficult person understands, in no uncertain terms, that you are not willing to be subjected to abusive behavior.  It should be very clear to them that you are willing to walk away, from the situation, the company, the deal, etc. rather than be abused.  If you don’t take a strong position, anyone who is accustomed to running over others will use you for target practice.  Their abuse will be constant and unending, until you’re willing to stand up to them.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #14

Use an example.  Without divulging any confidential information or committing any crimes, give them examples of how you typically deal with such abusive behavior.  Tell them you’ll give them references, if they’d like.  The thing about bullies is that once you come back at them, they usually back down quite quickly.  Rather than take on a worthy adversary, they’d rather spend their time looking for someone else who will just “roll over”.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #15

 Find their weak point.  Most difficult people are difficult because they are bitter.  They feel as though they’ve been wronged on a macro and/or micro level and they want to pass on their misery.  As the saying goes, misery loves company.  If you find one or more of their reasons for bitterness, these become an offensive weapon for you to use, once they start their abuse routine.  Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.

I realize that the previous list of tips for dealing with difficult people was not as direct or aggressive, particularly when compared to the last couple of approaches on the list above.  Take the high road when you can, but in some instances, you need to stand up for yourself and protect your interests in the face of a difficult person who is aggressive and doesn’t play fair.  In those moments, usually you have to take the gloves off and give it back to them directly – that’s the only way to get the message across that you won’t be their punching bag.  The last couple on this second list are more appropriate in those situations.

All that being said, if you’re dealing with someone who is (or may be) mentally imbalanced and capable of physical violence, then scrap this list and contact the authorities.  You will need to use your discretion to make sure you stay safe when you’re taking on difficult people and bullies.  Whatever approach you take, don’t be a willing victim.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 182013
 

embrace the naysayers

Embrace The Naysayers

If you’ve ever tried to achieve anything meaningful, undoubtedly you’ve had to deal with naysayers!

These are the people who, often under the guise of trying to help you, will name every possible thing that can go wrong with the endeavor you are planning.

They’ll say things like, “not to discourage you” and “that sounds like a good idea, except…”.

I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed, but often times their comments, especially when repeated over and over again, begin to sound like “sour grapes”.  That is, you start to wonder whether their concern is really for you and your welfare, or whether, instead, they’re just trying to protect their own fragile egos.

The naysayers often seem negative to the point that they find it difficult to look at the positives of any undertaking.  They see themselves as self-appointed protectors of common sense (their definition of it, anyway) and fearless defenders of the status quo.

As it turns out, once you dig a little below the surface, you realize that your instincts were absolutely right:  most naysayers really don’t care about you or your welfare.  They care that you don’t achieve success in your endeavors, while they just sit around criticizing anyone who is trying to accomplish something meaningful.

My suggestion is that rather than resent naysayers, learn to embrace them.  I suggest this for a few reasons:

1.)   Once in a while, naysayers bring up valid points that you should consider before you undertake your endeavor.

2.)   Naysayers, by virtue of their consistent and maddening negativity, can give you the motivation you need to persevere when times get tough.  If nothing else, you’ll do so just to prove them wrong.

3.)   Negative people need love and crave attention, like all human beings.  By listening to their points and paying attention to what they have to say, you are performing a public service – listening carefully to people everyone else does everything they can to ignore.

4.)   Listening to naysayers and trying to understand where they’re coming from may help you to prevent yourself from becoming bitter and a “downer” like them.

5.)   Once in a while, you may actually convert a naysayer to a fan of whatever you’re doing.  In the process, you’ll pick up a fan and help a naysayer become more open-minded.  This won’t happen often, but when it does, again, you’ll be performing a public service.

In summary, learn to embrace naysayers.  I’m not saying to go out of your way to hang out with them.  In fact, I make a practice of doing everything I can to avoid spending too much time with negative people.  What I am saying though, is that sometimes it’s simply not possible to avoid naysayers.  When you are confronted with such a situation, rather than becoming overly negative yourself, have some fun with it!  Do what you can to convert the naysayer.  At a minimum, listen to their ideas and see if there’s anything valid in their criticisms.  If there is, work to mitigate it.  Most importantly though, use their negativity to motivate you when times get tough.  There’s nothing more satisfying than proving the naysayers wrong.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 122013
 

sense of purpose

A Sense Of Purpose Is So Important, Especially During Tough Times

How important is it to have a sense of purpose in all that you do?  I would argue that it’s extremely important, especially during tough times.

What is a sense of purpose?  If you take a look at the definition of “purpose,” (see http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/purpose) you realize that it is a loaded word, with many potential meanings.  For the purposes of our discussion here, I’ll focus on the fifth definition:

         5.  The reason for which something is done, or the reason it is done in a particular way.

Other definitions and synonyms include such concepts as goals, intentions, and targets.  Here, I’d like to go for a higher sense of purpose.  While goals may be part of the picture, as we’re looking at it here, a sense of purpose takes it to a higher level.

Let’s look at an example of the difference between goals and a sense of purpose.

Example.  My wife and I decided we wanted to run a Tough Mudder (www.toughmudder.com) race together.  The race is usually a run somewhere between 11 and 12 miles, interrupted by roughly 25 military-style obstacles.

Our goals included:

1.)   Training sufficiently, so we would reduce the likelihood that we’d get injured during the race.

2.)   Finishing the race.  Finishing the race together.  Finishing the race in a certain amount of time.

3.)   Doing all the obstacles – not skipping any.

4.)   Helping others during the race.

5.)   Doing as well as the younger people in the race (other than the military folks and the top athletes).

Our corresponding sense of purpose included:

1.)   Staying in shape, in order to maintain a high overall level of health and fitness, in an effort to increase our longevity and our quality of life.

2.)   Enhancing our relationship and sharing an experience that we could always have in common.

3.)   Overcoming any fears we may have had, which would make us more confident in overcoming challenges in all areas of our lives.

4.)   Taking part in the camaraderie of the race, reinforcing our own contribution and our positive sense of the nature of human beings.

5.)   Showing our kids and ourselves that, to a large extent, age is a state of mind, and it is possible to be active and competitive throughout your life.

My wife and I have done several Tough Mudder and other challenging mud and endurance races together.  It’s been a great series of experiences, from which we’ve benefited in numerous ways.  I can assure you that if we did not have a sense of purpose, we would have been lucky to complete one such race.  In fact, we likely would have had a hard time even making it through the several months of intensive training that preceded each race.

I could say the same thing about many challenging experiences we’ve had in our lives.  I’ll bet that you can think of examples in your own life, where if you hadn’t had a sense of purpose, it’s likely that you would have quit somewhere along the way.

A clear sense of purpose gives us the ability to access our willpower on a level that simply is not available to most people who have no such sense of purpose.

I think there is a close connection between the idea of a sense of purpose and the common question, “what it your why”?  It gets closer to the core reason you do what you do, than do simple goals or ideas.  The real power comes when you are able to find your “why,” and back it up with goals that are specific and measurable.  Without a “why” or sense of purpose, it’s likely that, regardless of how precise and well-thought-out your goals may be, you will find it hard to persevere toward achieving them, especially when the inevitable tough times come along.

Set goals and monitor your progress toward achieving them.  But before you do so, make sure you have a sense of purpose for what you’re doing.  It’s not necessary that you fully understand that purpose(s), but at least have a sense of your “why”.  In my experience and observation, such an approach will greatly increase the likelihood that you will achieve your goals, and perhaps more importantly, that you will enjoy both the journey and destination.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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