5 Reasons You Should Not Ignore Video For Marketing

 Posted by at 9:20 am  Marketing, Social Media, video  Comments Off on 5 Reasons You Should Not Ignore Video For Marketing
May 292017
 
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5 Reasons You Should Not Ignore Video For Marketing

If last year was the year of the video for marketing, this year is the year of live video.

When you use social media for personal use, you cannot ignore the countless videos streamed to your newsfeed, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. As business owner, CEO or marketing director, you also should not ignore the reality of using video in your marketing, as using traditional marketing techniques will only reach certain demographics, not necessarily the people you need to reach. Video allows you to reach many more people, more quickly and with more impact than with images or written content alone.

However, we have found that there are several barriers to getting started with video marketing. The biggest barrier typically is fear! Fear of the unknown can stop even the most determined person in their tracks.

If you are fearful of:

  • Expense
  • Lack of technical knowledge
  • Video marketing expertise
  • Social Media expertise

connect with an industry expert, so you can get beyond these fears and harness the power of video in your marketing. Talk to your local social media consultant, videographer and/or marketing agency. They can help you get past these barriers, quickly.

Before you decide to use video marketing, let’s talk benefits. Here are 5 reasons your business should not ignore video:

Video provides an opportunity to tell your (brand) story visually

More than pictures alone, more than audio by itself, video allows you to appeal to several senses all at once. Visual storytelling is captivating and if you capture the essence of your brand with video in such a way to move people to action, video allows you to create very loyal brand ambassadors.

Video allows a behind-the-scenes look at your brand

Grab your Smartphone. How mobile is it? Can you think of a time at work your Smartphone isn’t within reach? Most people have access to a video camera through their Smartphone and thus can take on the role of brand newscaster with the simple click of a recording button. This allows you to capture and use more candid video (the kind that captures and generates emotion) to use in your marketing.

Video can show your support of local charities and events in real time

Do pictures of other people having fun at a charity event make you feel like you are missing out? Most of the time, seeing pictures doesn’t quite do that, right? However, if instead of a few pictures there was a fun video with live music, dancing, a race, an auction or something else exciting, you might have that feeling of ‘I need to be part of this community’. That’s what video can do! Use video to relay the excitement and capture the atmosphere.

Video builds trust with your online community

If you use it, people will watch you. If you use it, then love it and share it, someone else will want to try it! Monkey see, monkey do! That’s how you build trust. Real people using real products and services, having a good time doing it, and then raving about it!

Video boosts sales and conversions

A simple explanation goes a long way! If you explain and show the benefits of your products or services in a video, typically you can convert more easily than just by providing a written description of those benefits.

Simply said: if you want to grow sales and build your brand and your online community, start using video to connect, grow and convert!

 

Guest post by:

Dorien Morin

dorien@moreinmedia.com

www.moreinmedia.com

 

 

 

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How To Get Lucky In Business And In Life

 Posted by at 9:11 am  Goals, Initiative, success  Comments Off on How To Get Lucky In Business And In Life
May 272017
 
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How To Get Lucky In Business And In Life

Do you know many people who you’d consider to be lucky in business? In life? Would you consider yourself a lucky person?

What is luck anyway? The first definition of luck in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows:

A force that brings good fortune or adversity. For example, luck was a big factor in the outcome.

If you look back at the best things that have happened to you in your business and your life, how important was luck in the outcome?

When I think back on the best things that have happened to me in my business and my life, it was always one part luck and one part (at least) my initiative.

For example, when I applied to college, I was lucky enough to be awarded several scholarships that led me on a different path in life than I otherwise would have taken. I was lucky in that regard (I say “lucky” because I was a mediocre student in high school), but had I not applied to the particular college I ended up attending, luck would not have had a chance to intervene with the scholarship awards I mentioned.

In business, a particular deal where I received a sizable fee was one that we stumbled upon in a conversation with a prospective client in a completely different market! So, luck was involved, but had we not taken the initiative to meet with this prospective client, and perhaps more importantly, had we not recognized the potential of this other deal and pursued it, we would not have received the large success fee we received.

I could go through many more situations where I’ve been lucky in life, but rather than bore you with those, I will cut to the chase of what I’ve learned about luck based on those experiences and the experiences of people around me. Getting lucky in business and in life usually involves the following key elements:

  • You have to be “in the game” to get lucky. It always amazes me the people who sit on their couches complaining about how this or that person is so lucky. If they took just one second to think, they’d realize that the only reason so and so has a chance to be lucky is that they’re out there playing the game. So, if you want luck to intervene on your behalf, find a way to get into the game.
  • You must be open-minded. As I mentioned above, sometimes a big opportunity may be staring you in the face, but you don’t recognize it because you’ve developed tunnel vision. I’m not saying to not be focused and to chase every shiny object that comes your way! But I am saying that you have to keep your eyes open for opportunity. Develop goals and stay focused on your goals, but also be willing to consider opportunities as they come up. Most of them you will turn down, but sometimes when luck intervenes, you’ll realize that there are opportunities outside your current goals that are worth pursuing further.
  • You must develop the habit of taking initiative. When you do get lucky and an opportunity arises because you’re in the game, you must be willing to take initiative. Many times, opportunities are perishable and you must pursue them before the “freshness date” expires. This can be difficult sometimes, particularly if you’re already in a pretty good situation relative to the opportunity that is staring you in the face, but as the saying goes, it’s not possible to steal second base without taking your foot off of first.
  • Become comfortable with luck. Many “Type A,” driven people I know have a hard time acknowledging that luck plays a role in just about everything. You say “good luck” to them before an important event and they’ll say that they don’t need luck, as they are prepared. While I admire their drive and confidence, based on what I’ve seen in life and business, there’s little to no downside to admitting that luck and “randomness” play at least some role in the outcome (and the beginning) of most scenarios that matter. As humans, particularly when successful, we tend to like to attribute way too much of the outcome to how great we are. Nassim Taleb wrote a whole book about this called Fooled By Randomness – it’s not light reading, but I highly recommend it if you want to dig deeper into the topic.
  • Don’t use the existence of luck as an excuse not to prepare. None of what I’ve said above should be taken as justification to be unprepared! Purge from your mind any thoughts like “well, if luck is going to be the deciding factor in how this works out, then I don’t really need to be prepared”. No, that is not the correct interpretation. Luck is a factor; it is not the factor. You still need to prepare every time as if you’re in complete control of your destiny. You must do your best to make sure you’ve done everything possible to get the outcome you’re seeking. Then, if luck intervenes to help you on your way, it is just a bonus. If luck is against you that particular time, it is not the end of the world; learn what you can and move on.

As you continue to pursue your goals and dreams, if and when luck intervenes one way or another, don’t take it personally. Life is not conspiring for or against you! Most of what you achieve in life will be a function of the path you pursue, the initiative you take, and your willingness and ability to learn along the way. As long as you get yourself in the game, though, you give luck, or “lady luck” as she’s often called, a chance to make you lucky and help you along on the path to your goals and dreams. Just remember, don’t take it personally, and sometimes, as the saying goes, “it’s better to be lucky than good.”

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Confidence Is Vital To Be An Outstanding Entrepreneur

 Posted by at 7:27 pm  Belief, Confidence  Comments Off on Confidence Is Vital To Be An Outstanding Entrepreneur
May 232017
 
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Confidence Is Vital To Be An Outstanding Entrepreneur

In my experience and observation, confidence is an important characteristic of almost every successful entrepreneur.

Think about the entrepreneurs you know. I’m sure you know some who are successful and achieve or exceed the results they seek on a consistent basis. I’m sure you also know some who rarely if ever achieve their desired results. How many of the ‘successful’ entrepreneurs you know exhibit a high level of confidence? I’m willing to bet that it’s most, if not all of them.

I’ve had the good fortune of interacting with a large number of successful entrepreneurs over the years. Almost to a person, the successful entrepreneurs with whom I’ve interacted are very confident people! What do I mean by confident? I don’t mean that they’re arrogant or braggarts, though some certainly are. I don’t mean that they flaunt their wealth or success, though some certainly do. I don’t mean that they live in a la-la-land of irrational positivity. And I definitely don’t mean that they’re overconfident, such that they’re unwilling to learn from their mistakes, blindly believing that they’re always right.

I also don’t mean that they’ve always been very confident. Many of them I’ve known for a large number of years, long before they became successful entrepreneurs. They didn’t always exude this confidence that I now see in them as successful entrepreneurs.

What I do mean is that they have a belief in their ideas and in their ability to execute on their vision for their businesses. They have a strong belief in the importance of their mission as entrepreneurs, a level of belief so strong that many would describe it as a conviction. This conviction gives them confidence that is communicated both verbally and non-verbally in all their actions related to their businesses. They exude confidence and belief that their businesses will be successful and they will reach their goals in life.

Why is this confidence so important?

First, this confidence and belief are contagious. Anyone with whom these entrepreneurs interact can feel their confidence, which tends to help make them believers as well. It makes them believers in the entrepreneur, in the business, and in the products and services it provides. An entrepreneur who doesn’t project such confidence doesn’t enjoy this same highly paved path to engendering belief in others. It’s a sort of belief facilitator.

Second, given the confidence these entrepreneurs have, they do not hesitate to talk to others and tell them all about their business and the great products and services it has to offer. In most, there is quite literally zero hesitation.

Third, with such confidence, these entrepreneurs don’t hesitate to go after opportunities that come across their desks or they observe in the marketplace. There are no thoughts such as “can we do that” or “will others do it better”. Rather, given their confidence, these entrepreneurs know that they can provide a better solution than their competitors (even if this is stretch sometimes…) and they happily will tell their prospects so.

Fourth, possessing such confidence, these entrepreneurs typically approach opportunities, challenges and all interactions with a high level of energy. This energy is also infectious and helps them to persuade others, including members of their teams, that now is the time to take initiative and accomplish whatever goal they have in their sights. Thus, they are able to project their confidence and energy on others, further increasing their odds of success in any particular initiative or challenge.

So, are you ready to increase your level of confidence and start approaching your business and your life with this newfound confidence?

How do you gain more confidence? Well, some people are born with it. Some have it cultivated in them from a young age by parents and others who tell them they believe in them and that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. For most people, though, confidence develops over a period of time, based on a series of small successes that when taken together, cause the person to think, “hey, I may not be so bad at this after all”.

You need to give yourself opportunities to succeed, and rather than always being your own biggest critic, acknowledge, even if just in your own mind at the beginning, that you can and do add a lot of value in your business and elsewhere. You need to become your own biggest fan. Also, equally important, if not more important, you need to surround yourself with people who are there to help you accomplish your goals, rather than with people who constantly look for ways to tear you down.

This way, little by little, you will develop all the confidence you need to be successful as an entrepreneur and in whatever other endeavors you pursue. I guarantee you that once you gain and exude this confidence, you will be amazed by the outstanding results it typically brings you as an entrepreneur. Again, we’re not talking about being over-confident and arrogant – humility is always important – we’re talking about a belief in yourself and what you’re doing that is contagious and infects those with whom you come in contact.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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You And Your Story Are The Best Differentiators For Your Business

 Posted by at 12:26 pm  Marketing  Comments Off on You And Your Story Are The Best Differentiators For Your Business
May 222017
 
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You And Your Story: The Best Differentiators 

We are all looking for differentiators that make our business stand out in the market, right?

There’s good news! You and your story are likely best differentiators you will find for your business! It’s good news, as you are in complete (mostly) control of sharing your story with your prospects and your customers.

I’m mainly speaking about small businesses here, of course, but you don’t have to search far to find big businesses that have become big by sharing the personal story of their founders. How often do you hear Tesla spoken of without Elon Musk being mentioned in the same sentence?

There’s more good news. You don’t have to have a pristine background and story with a straight line to success in order to be successful using your story as a differentiator in your marketing and sales process. In fact, given the way humans root for the underdog and love stories of overcoming adversity, you are better off if your back story includes some difficulties and challenges you’ve had to overcome!

Why is it good that your backstory has some “hair” on it? Think about it for a moment. It shows that you are human! We want to do business with other people we like and trust, not with some formless, faceless large business! There is no better evidence of your humanity than having faced adversity. And there is no better evidence of your commitment to success than having overcome adversity.

Consider for a moment the companies, particularly the local ones, that you choose to do business with. If you have a choice, do you do business with the company whose owner you know and trust, or do you go to a large company with which your only connection is that you give them your credit card or cash and they give you the product or service you are seeking?

I realize that the answer to this question is complex. It’s not as simple as just doing business with people you like. You also need to take into consideration key factors such as cost, convenience, and to some extent, quality: the main reasons for the existence of the Walmarts of the world. All else being roughly equally, though, would you rather buy from someone you know, or a big corporation? For me at least, the answer is almost always “someone I know and trust” and perhaps more importantly, like and want to help.

I’ve paid special attention to this topic in my own family’s purchasing recently, and I’ve noticed that we almost always opt for the local vendor we know, or even the not-so-local vendor with which we’ve established more of a personal connection – an online vendor, for example. Examples include our purchase of pre-made meals, running gear, HVAC services, real estate services, nutritional supplements, and the list goes on.

So, if people are more likely to buy from people they know and like and you could say “are rooting for,” how do you establish this status in the marketplace?

First, and most obviously, if you want to take advantage of this differentiator in the marketplace, you must provide a good product and/or service! It goes without saying that if you don’t provide a good experience and satisfy the needs your prospects and customers are seeking to have satisfied, you will not have repeat customers.

Second, once you have the great service and customer experience piece solved, which admittedly is no small task, you can begin to share a bit about your story with your target market, including prospects and existing customers. What made you start your business? Why are you so committed to providing the best experience possible for your customers? What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome and what are some that you continue to face in your effort to do anything possible to make your customers’ experience the best possible in your market? Don’t hesitate to share challenges and failures, especially when you’re able to show that you’ve persisted (or are persisting) to overcome them, which further shows your commitment to the marketplace. This can be especially effective on social media.

Third, find a variety of channels to share this information with your target market! As a small business, you cannot be everywhere. You’re better off focusing your advertising and marketing efforts on lower cost, higher leverage marketing mechanisms such as social media. That’s not to say that you should not advertise through traditional print and broadcast mechanisms, but do so judiciously, and when you do, don’t be afraid to incorporate a piece of yourself and your story and that of your company into the marketing and advertising materials! Don’t make your marketing and advertising just about features and benefits – you will find it very difficult to differentiate on that basis alone.

Fourth, and finally for now, use video where possible! If a picture is worth a thousand words, video, especially if done well, may be worth a million. It allows you to tell a more complete story and to convey whatever message you’re trying to get across to your target market more thoroughly and convincingly. It also gives you an opportunity to reinforce your “voice” (what you and your business represent and want to be remembered for) in the market, further strengthening your chances of leaving an impression of humanness and credibility on your target market. As humans, we want to do business with other humans, particularly those we like, who we know have faced and continue to face and work to overcome many of the same challenges we face on a daily basis! As long as you’re selling to humans, which I imagine you are, at least most of the time, you and your story are the best differentiators for your business.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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The Biggest Reason Your Marketing Is Not Working

 Posted by at 1:19 pm  market research, Marketing  Comments Off on The Biggest Reason Your Marketing Is Not Working
May 202017
 
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Are you trying to figure out why your marketing is not working?

Take a moment to think about your marketing strategy and the marketing materials that you and your team have created. Are the materials professional in their appearance? Do they put you and your business in a positive light and show that you’ve assembled a great team and created a business that anyone in their right mind would want to do business with?

If you could answer “Yes” to the above, congratulations, but unfortunately this is not enough to make your marketing work! If your marketing does not start first by considering the problem your prospect is trying to solve, then, and only then, showing that your company is the one that has the most compelling solution to that problem(s), you’ve likely missed the mark!

All marketing must start with the needs, fears, and propensities of your prospect in mind. If it doesn’t, you may get lucky and end up with marketing that works, but you’ll greatly increase your chances of success if every stage and every element of your marketing is based on solving known issues that the prospect is actively trying to solve!

Let’s look at a couple of simple examples.

Example 1

Pizza Place 1: We have great pizza! It’s based on a recipe that’s been in the family for 100 years! Come give it a try! Our excellent cooks and wait staff are looking forward to serving you.

Pizza Place 2: Our customers have voted our pizza place the best pizza in town four of the last five years! We guarantee it will be out in fifteen minutes or less, piping hot and tasty, or the next time you come in, the pizza is on us. We also deliver, with a thirty minute or less guarantee, in case you’d like to stay home and enjoy our delicious pizza while watching the game! Come on in or give us a call at 858-xxx-xxx.

Which of these two pizza places are you likely to visit first? Some may opt for Pizza Place 1, as they like the idea of the family recipe that’s been around a long time. But many, if not most, will gravitate toward Pizza Place 2, for several reasons. First, they will like the fact that customers (not just the pizza place itself) have validated that the pizza is good. It’s not just the pizza place saying how great its pizza, recipe, cooks and staff are. This addresses one of the main concerns of the prospect – will the food be good – of other people like me consistently say it, then I feel more comfortable with giving it a try? Second, many people who buy and consume pizza are used to getting their food quickly – they will like the idea of a 15-minute guarantee. Again, looking at their needs, if they’re looking at pizza or some other form of fast food, there’s a decent chance they are hungry already, so tasty food delivered quickly is very appealing. Finally, though this may be more subconscious, they will like the idea that Pizza Place 2 also delivers with a guarantee, which shows they likely have it together operationally – another signal of a well-run operation.

Obviously, we’re only talking about which place you’d go to first, or on a one-off basis if you were traveling. Once we’re talking about repeat visits, a lot will be predicated on how good the food is, what the service is like, what the overall experience is like, and in general, whether the respective restaurant delivered on what it promised during the initial visit.

Example 2

Gym 1: It’s only $10 per month and we’re open 24 hours, so you can come in at your own convenience. We have modern equipment, including all the free weights you could ever want.

Gym 2: We are a judgment free zone! We have all the most modern equipment and we’re open and staffed 24 hours a day, for your convenience and safety!

Which place would you try first? Your answer will depend on which category of gym prospect you fall into.

If you are a young, likely male gym-goer that’s on a tight budget and works during the day, you will likely gravitate toward Gym 1. If you are a female, less testosterone-driven young male, and/or senior person who likely values safety and not being judged, but also cares about convenience, you will likely gravitate toward Gym 2.

The above leads to the discussion of another important topic, which is market segmentation (aka niches), a concept we’ll deal with another time.

But regardless of the need for segmentation and understanding which segment(s) you’re targeting, Example 2 serves to further illustrate that prospects will make trying and buying decisions based on their perception of how well your product or service offering meets their needs and solves their perceived problems. It is, therefore, very important that you are constantly in touch with those prospects and their (preferably unmet) needs on an ongoing basis!

Could you name and describe in detail the five biggest issues (fears/concerns/problems/frustrations/etc.) that your prospect is dealing with right now? If not, you are not in a great position to market or sell to your prospect yet! In order to be effective, your marketing and sales approaches must be structured and delivered with content and in a way that makes the prospect believe that what you’re offering is the solution to their problem(s), or at least a big step in the right direction. Without this knowledge, you may create marketing and sales materials (or presentations, etc.) that happen to hit on the key issues for the prospect, but if you do, it will have happened by chance, rather than by proactively seeking this critical information about where your prospect’s “head is at,” then structuring your delivery to help him/her solve the critical issues at hand.

Re-create the examples above with your business and market. How does it look? Where would you go, or whom would you go to first?

Take the first step toward making your marketing more effective. Take time and do the research – preferably first-hand, talking directly with prospects – to understand where they’re coming from and what their pressing, unmet needs are. Once you understand this information in as much detail as possible, you will be able to create marketing and sales materials and approaches that will yield the results you seek. Beware though, these needs may change over time, so make sure you are staying in touch with the needs of your prospects and current customers! Talk with them frequently, directly, and through other market research mechanisms, the adjust your marketing accordingly.

Are your current marketing materials more about you and your company than about your prospects and their issues/concerns/needs? If yes, you need to work on changing that as soon as possible! Get started today!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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So You Want To Start A Business

 Posted by at 5:26 pm  Commitment, Exit Strategy, Startup  Comments Off on So You Want To Start A Business
May 042017
 
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So You Want To Start A Business

Ok, so you’ve made the decision that you want to start a business. That’s great! Congratulations! Being an entrepreneur and living the “startup life” can be great! It can also, however, be extremely challenging at times, so you’ll want to make sure that it is the right decision for you.

Since starting a business is a decision that some people learn to regret, I want to encourage you to ask yourself three very important questions before you take the plunge. There are many more questions you should being asking before starting a business, of course, but these are three critical ones:

 

Why do I want to start a business?

There is a variety of reasons to start your own business. Maybe you are tired of working for and lining the pockets of others. Maybe you believe that being your own boss will be less work, or at least if you do have to work hard, you’ll be working for your own account. Maybe you’ve seen others enjoy extraordinary success as entrepreneurs and you’d like in on that action. The list could go on and on, but let’s address the reasons above, for starters.

Being tired of working for others can be a great motivator! Just realize that even if you don’t have a direct boss as an entrepreneur, there will always be people you are “working for,” including, and especially, your customers. Depending on the industry you’re entering, the level of competition and how demanding your customers are, you may find out that sometimes it doesn’t feel like you are your own boss, even if you own the business!

We won’t spend much time here on the idea of being an entrepreneur as being less work than working for others – it’s not! It starts and ends with you, so you are “on” 24/7. As an entrepreneur, you will likely find it very difficult to get mental health time to just relax and rejuvenate.

What if you’ve seen others be very successful, perhaps in a short period of time and you want to get in on that? Some entrepreneurs do reach extraordinary levels of wealth and success, but realize that usually those who appear to have gotten there quickly have most likely been at it, usually with a history of learning through mistakes, for a long period of time! There are very few instant successes in entrepreneurship!

 

What is my commitment level to the startup I’m about to create?

Following on what I said above about there being few instant successes in startups and entrepreneurship, realize that you are most likely in for a marathon, not a sprint! That’s true even if you feel like you’re running so quickly most of the time that it’s hard to catch your breath!

So, I ask again, what’s your commitment level to the business that you’re considering starting? Is it something that you can picture yourself doing, day and night, for many years to come? Could you be happy over a long period of time working in the business you’re looking at starting? If not, I’d strongly encourage you to rethink whether it’s the right business for you!

 

Is there an exit strategy for the company I am creating?

No matter how much you think you’ll love your startup and the business as it grows, at some point you are going to want to or have to get out of it – you will have to make an exit.

Is there a potential exit strategy for the business you are starting, or will you “be the business”? It’s not necessarily a non-starter if you can’t see a clear exit from your business for the get-go, but I can tell you from experience that it will become a lot more relevant as time goes on!

Some of the potential exit strategies would include selling your business to a third party buyer, or to employees, or even to your family members. In very few cases, you may also be able to take the company public or find other ways to refinance it to achieve some level of liquidity. However you think you may be able to exit the business, other than simply shutting it down and selling the assets, if any, for pennies on the dollar, you’ll want to consider that ahead of starting the business and factor that into your decision on whether it’s the right business for you to start.

Consider the questions above and other factors that are relevant to you, before you start your business! Be thoughtful in the startup process and you’ll greatly increase your chances of starting and building a business that will meet your financial needs, and equally important, allow you to be happy over the years to come.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Ideas Without Initiative – The Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake

 Posted by at 8:54 pm  Action, Failure, Initiative, Mistakes  Comments Off on Ideas Without Initiative – The Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake
Dec 292015
 
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Ideas Without Initiative – The Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake

Do you have a lot of ideas “sitting on the shelf”? Big ideas. Small ideas. Million dollar ideas…

Take a moment to imagine yourself many years in the future, reflecting back on the life you’ve lived. You think about the things you’ve done, including the great moments you’ve spent with friends and family, the things you’ve tried, your great successes and your so-called failures. You also think about another category: the things you’ve never tried.  Ideas you’ve never pursued.

What do you think you’ll take the most pride and satisfaction in? What will you regret?

I’m sure the answer varies for each individual, but I also think there’s some commonality across all people. In talking with hospice nurses and in researching what people regret as they reach the end of their life, one thing always comes up: “the things I never had the courage or confidence to try”.

Think about it even at this stage of your life. What do you regret most?

For me, the answer already parallels what the hospice nurses and others have reported about people regretting toward the end of their lives: the roads not followed, the initiative not taken.

The title above is “Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake,” but I think this point applies to everyone, entrepreneurs and others. You do not want to look back at your life and regret the roads you did not take!

If you’re contemplating entrepreneurship and you haven’t been able to pull the trigger, stop worrying and go for it! Note, I am not saying don’t think your venture through as much as possible! I’m saying once you’ve done your research and your calculations, if all looks reasonably good, muster the confidence to take that step!

Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding. It can also be very challenging. There’s risk involved, of course, but if you’ve done your analysis, hopefully you have belief that the potential upside is commensurate with the risk.

So, what is likely to be holding you back?

I would be willing to wager that it’s not a lack of ideas. If it is, look harder – there are plenty of great ideas out there, some of which you may be able to convert into a profitable business.

If it’s not a lack of ideas and opportunities, what is it? In most cases, it comes down to the fear of failure! You’ve likely been successful in some areas of your life and you don’t want to put your self-image or the perception other people have of you at risk. You’re not willing to put it on the line or put yourself out there, as the saying goes.

Alternatively, you haven’t experienced much success to this point in your life, and you’re concerned that any new venture you undertake wouldn’t be any different. How can you change this perception and reality? Do your homework! Prepare. Don’t just wing it. Take a more diligent approach and you’ll increase your confidence and your likelihood of success.

Whatever you do though, make sure it’s not this: Nothing. Just thinking and then not following through with initiative and action will get you only one place: Nowhere.

Resolve to make this the year that you take action. Redefine “failure” as an opportunity to learn. If all doesn’t go exactly as planned, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward! Do your homework, then take that step!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Apr 292014
 
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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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Facebook

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Apr 062014
 
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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
 
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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!

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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