Visuals are an important element of your social media presence and ensuring you stand out and gain traction in our busy social feeds. Here are six tools that you can use to create great, original visual content.
Years of coaching, training, studying and presenting have taught me a really important lesson about speaking in public; it really is a myth that great speakers are born that way. Like any other skill the highly successful speakers have learned their craft. Having spoken and worked with many of them to establish exactly what it takes to truly connect with an audience and speak with impact here’s what I’ve learned.
Most employees will motivate themselves—if you let them. All you need to do is treat them fairly, unclog lines of communication and keep your promises. Try these simple steps: Turn spectators into participants. You’ll know your team is motivated if […]
Bill McDermott, the CEO of software giant SAP, cut his business teeth behind a deli counter.
College Point, Hicksville, Babylon, Brentwood—these are the small Long Island communities where young Bill McDermott grew up, went to school, and worked the usual kid jobs of newspaper carrier and supermarket clerk.
Today he’s the CEO of SAP, the world’s largest software company, where he oversees the efforts of 68,800 employees who serve SAP’s 263,000 customers in 188 countries. Perhaps it’s the now-buffered but still evident “Lawn Guyland, New Yawk” accent in McDermott’s voice or the sheer earnestness with which the youthful 53-year-old infuses his conversation, but when he tells you that his most valuable business principles—Give the customer what he wants. Treat people with respect. Sweat the details.—were acquired in the small transactions of his youth, you believe him. ese insights have always been the truest things he knows.The sincere younger man is discernible in the mature leader; th
McDermott has lived the American Dream, which is perhaps why his new memoir, Winners Dream, is such an engaging read. McDermott’s working-class parents routinely struggled to make ends meet, and before long, young Bill was going to work. He was an underage paperboy; he was an underage supermarket clerk; he was a high school student who owned—owned!—a deli. Work was always hard, but seldom did it seem like drudgery. He liked figuring out what people wanted or needed and then pleasing them.
The extra tips he earned from remembering which customer liked the paper on his porch and which preferred the mailbox meant more than extra spending money; the tips were an appreciation, a validation. Often when he ran his deli, he didn’t even accept tips; the return business was what he wanted.
Working schooled him in the fundamentals. In McDermott’s career, there is a straight line from the carefully placed newspaper to the forgery-eliminating Xerox printer that he sold to the Puerto Rico lottery to the specialized software that SAP develops for its clients.
“It has always been about customer service,’’ McDermott says. “I didn’t have the nomenclature when I was a kid, but that is what it’s all about. Every customer I visit is trying to accomplish something new and interesting. If you understand what they are trying to do and listen with the objective of how you can help them attain it, then you can more easily find that trigger that will help you get the business.”
McDermott left the deli to go to college, but having run a business instilled in him a kind of confidence rare in a young man, one that bears no trace of cockiness but is based on realistic knowledge of what’s possible. He talked himself into positions not with promises that he would earn the most money, but that he would serve with the greatest dedication—of course, one followed the other.
Already a successful salesman in his early 20s (his secret: he worked through lunch, catching elusive decision-makers eating at their desks), Xerox sent McDermott to Puerto Rico to see whether he could improve the company’s lowest-ranking sales district. He came in not laying down the law but stocking soft drinks in the office refrigerator.
“Power doesn’t come from a title,” he explains. “It is given to you by the people. I spent a lot of my time listening to the workers’ ideas about why the place was broken, and they had good answers.” There was a political candidate at the time whose slogan was “The people speak, and I obey,” and McDermott adopted it as his motto and still tries to live up to it.
“I am truly a Doctor Yes. A lot of managers are Doctor No. When their workers come to them with ideas or suggestions, their initial position is suspicion. I try to go in saying yes. That doesn’t mean it’s an automatic buy-in, but going in with an open mind builds trust, and in business, trust is the ultimate currency, the key to everything.” McDermott’s approach paid off. In a year, the Puerto Rico district led the company, and McDermott acquired a guiding precept.
Today the goals of maintaining the connection between management and workers, and between company and customers, are at the heart of McDermott’s role. “Leadership starts with articulating a vision, a cause. At SAP, we want to make the world run better and improve people’s lives. Having a clear vision simplifies things. If we’re not doing that, then we’re probably doing the wrong thing and need to change.” Leaders “can be forgiven a lot of things, but they won’t be forgiven for being inauthentic,” McDermott believes.
Much of his focus is devoted to communication. “One cannot compete in a globalized economy without a total team effort,” he says. “The days of the autocratic command-and-control leader are over. To be successful today, a leader must be in constant communication, first with the board, and then with the rest of management, with workers, and with customers.”
McDermott’s communiqués go beyond business developments. “We always report on how we are meeting our vision. You can’t inspire people with money; it’s important, but it is more important to appeal to pride—to be the best, to make a difference, to do something that matters. It’s what motivates me, and I think it motivates most people.”
In Winners Dream, McDermott depicts how at key moments in his career, people responded to aspects of his personality: his confidence, positivity and desire for win-win solutions. What does he find attractive in applicants? “If a person has the dream and the drive, you can teach him or her a lot,” he says. “I’m less susceptible to the person who has the pedigree and the right answers, but who is looking for me to give them the dream and the drive. I can’t do that.”
And what does McDermott say to those who have already achieved success? “Don’t get complacent. It’s a disease anyone can get. Everyone has to keep it real.” Then, as though recalling his Long Island days, he offers one more recommendation. “Make time for the things that matter—to you and to those important to you.”
For example, SAP has an annual holiday party at its corporate headquarters, and everyone in the company attends in formal attire. McDermott had just flown in from Barcelona to attend. “I wouldn’t miss it,” he says. “And if the whole night revolves around taking selfies with people and hearing them tell me about their dreams, then I’ll be exactly where I should be.”
Do you have what it takes to get to the top? Check out the 6 traits of wildy successful people to find out.
I know first hand how difficult it is to work a day job and still manage to be a “sidepreneur”. There is a significant lack of time to run an ecommerce business while working a 9 to 5, and you still need to commit yourself first to your employer.
I’m here to tell you that the good news is that it’s very much possible to grow and create a successful ecommerce business on the side. Many others before you have done it and I’m going to show you how you can, too.
If you’re working a 9 to 5 and want to start an ecommerce business on the side, the first struggle most people encounter is what product to sell. Generally, people working a full-time job and looking to start an ecommerce business want something “easy”. Low commitment, easy to source or manufacture, and something that can be sold with little maintenance and work.
While this is the ideal, don’t let your ideals prevent you from selling something you truly believe in, are passionate about or think would be a huge success. Check out our guide on how to find a product to sell online and go from there.
But the real struggle every sidepreneur encounters is simply finding the time and making the time for their side business. It’s not going to be easy. If you want to see your ecommerce business become successful, you can say goodbye to most of your evenings and weekends.
So, while this all sounds brutal and difficult, the long-term payoff of creating a successful ecommerce business on the side is tremendous. These struggles are just barriers and challenges you must, and will, overcome.
The best part is that this can be done.
Why It’s Possible
The first thing you need to realize is that it will take time. Starting your ecommerce business on the side means that it will grow slower than if you went into it full-time, which means that all the growing will be done in chunks when you make time for it.
You have your weekends and evenings, use them. Your weekends and evenings allow for you to work in these small chunks and grow your business in chunks.
Your income from your 9 to 5 also allows you to invest in your ecommerce business. This gives you a significant advantage over those that are dropping everything to run their ecommerce business and those that are unemployed and trying to start a business.
The advantage you have as a sidepreneur over full-time entrepreneurs is that what you’re doing is a lot less risky. If your business fails, you still have your job to fall back to, and even use your previous failure as a learning experience to quickly get back on your feet with another venture. This is especially important if you have obligations to your family, have a mortgage or any other critical responsibility.
People That Have Done It
Jeff Sheldon started Ugmonk as a side business which he worked on during late nights and weekends. Ugmonk is now a successful lifestyle product business that Jeff works full-time on after two years of working on Ugmonk on the side.
Peter Keller started FringeSport on the side in 2010 while working a 9 to 5. Peter eventually took his side business from $100,000 to $3,000,000 in three years.
Valerie and Geoffrey Franklin are a wife and husband team that both worked 9 to 5’s as a project manager and architect, respectively. After founding Walnut Studiolo and selling handcrafted leather products in 2009, they were both full-time into the business by 2011 after seeing their ecommerce business takeoff.
Stefan Loble started Bluff Works, selling wrinkle-free pants, and grew it for 3 years on the side while working a 9 to 5, even after a successful Kickstarter fundraising. Recently, Stefan left his 9 to 5 software job to work on his ecommerce business full-time.
How to Build a Successful Side BusinessFocus
The first component of building an ecommerce business on the side is that you need to focus. Since your time, resources and energy are limited, it's a really good idea to focus, especially when it comes to the niche you wish to serve or the product you want to sell.
Too many people, when they start out, have a bunch of ideas for products they would like to sell. Instead of launching that clothing line right away, why not just launch one product from the line initially? Instead of serving the entire parent demographic, why not just stay-at-home mothers? Where in your ecommerce business can you focus or niche down?
The other aspect of focusing is finding what works early and sticking to that. There are so many different strategies, tools and social media platforms out there. There isn't enough time for you to experiment and learn them all. You need to become exceptional at finding what works for you and your business and really honing in on that and mastering that craft.
Are you crushing it on Twitter? Put more of your resources into Twitter.
Is your business finding a lot of success using Google Adwords? Focus on that.
Work Small, Think Big
It's going to be all about taking baby steps at first for your ecommerce business. You need to have patience and understand that in most cases, success doesn't and won't happen overnight.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll be working on the business in chunks, and you usually won't have the opportunity to work on it all day like a full-time entrepreneur. But that's okay. A slow and steady growth that is consistent is all you need to be successful.
This is why you need to look at those really overwhelming tasks to get your business rolling and start breaking them down into smaller, workable chunks. You will likely only have a few hours everyday to attack a task. So instead of trying build your ecommerce website in one evening, break down the design and construction of your website into a few days so that you’re not pressured or rushed with your limited time.
Because your time is limited, you need to start scheduling your side business activities so that you not only know what you're doing every evening and weekend, but also to keep yourself accountable. There are a lot of free tools that can help you do this, such as simply using Google Calendar. If you have a schedule or calendar for your 9 to 5 job, I would personally recommend keeping your 9 to 5 schedule and side business schedule on separate calendars.
Start using your calendar to find the gaps and time in your life where you can schedule time for your business. Whether that has you bringing a laptop to work so that you can work during your lunch or blocking out an entire weekend to finish your website, do it. It's okay to get a little selfish with your time initially, especially when you're trying to get the ball rolling for your ecommerce business. Those that support you (friends, family, spouse) will be understanding.
For me, my time priority chain looks something like this:
Me/health > Family/friends > 9 to 5 > Side business
Sometimes, my side business will take priority over everything when necessary. However, it's important to not neglect things like your health or your family. This is why scheduling your time and making time for your ecommerce business is so important.
Be sure to get creative as well. Get up a few hours earlier every morning to work on your business or simply sleep less (yes, I’m serious). If you’re going to bed at 9pm to get up for 6am, you can sacrifice a few hours of sleep and get up at 4am every once in a while. That’s still a healthy 7 hours of sleep.
Do The Things Now That Create More Time For Tomorrow
Let's say you spend 30 minutes doing something every week such as checking and responding to customer emails.
What if you could cut down from 30 minutes a week to just 15 minutes a week by investing 4 hours today?
For example, if you spent 4 hours today creating a "frequently asked questions" page on your website to reduce the number of incoming inquiries and it saved you 15 minutes every week, you would do it, right?
After 16 weeks, this upfront time investment would begin to net a time gain.
This is just one example of how doing things to save you time later and investing your time now can make it a lot easier for you to run your ecommerce business.
Another example of this is creating a series of "canned" responses (which you can learn how to set them up in Gmail here) to questions you frequently get in your inbox, to make it easier and quicker to respond to common questions you might get about shipping, your product, pricing, etc.
It might take you a few hours to create all the canned responses and figuring out what your common questions are. However, the idea is that you're putting that time in upfront to save time for yourself later. There are other tools such as text expanders that you can take the time to set up now, to save you time later.
If there's something you can do today to save even just a little bit of time later, do it.
Stop Doing The Things That Don't Matter
You have no excuse when you say "I just don't have time" when you're binge watching Netflix shows on the weekends. It's okay to indulge and enjoy yourself but if you're truly serious about your ecommerce business succeeding, you’ll stop doing the things that don't matter.
As Gary Vaynerchuk says in this video "Everybody has time, stop watching Lost" (NSFW language).
This is also important when it comes to dealing with procrastination when running and creating an ecommerce business. Yes, it’s fun to come up with a name for your business and design a logo. Ultimately, these things are not as important as the amount of time most people pour into these aspects of their business. It’s really disproportionate. I have seen people spend days coming up with a name for their business and only a few hours on the content and copy on their website.
Focus on the things that matter. Your time is limited, don’t spend it on the things that have little to no pay off.
How much is your time worth to you? If it's worth more than the cost to outsource a process, then you should strongly consider doing so. As mentioned earlier, using the money you earn at your 9 to 5 to invest into your business is one of the advantages you have as a sidepreneur.
For example, instead of processing, fulfilling and shipping each order yourself, look into hiring a company to do this for you. Look at your options for packaging and shipping instead of taking the time to fulfill and ship your orders yourself.
Another ecommerce business challenge most sidepreneurs struggle with is bookkeeping and accounting. A lot of people try to take the initiative and do this themselves. Outsourcing and automating your accounting is one of the best things for your business. Not only will it save you a lot of time, but also a lot of headaches. Let a pro handle it. There are also a lot of cool apps and integrations for Shopify that make this easy.
Look at the things you are doing or have to do to get your business up and running. Can you hire someone to get it done faster or even better?
Automate As Many Processes As Possible
Thanks to technology and the amount of tools available on the internet, automating aspects of your life or business has never been easier. There’s potential for you to automate some aspects of your ecommerce business to allow you to put your time in the things that need your attention.
The first thing most people automate is their social media. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to schedule your Tweets and Facebook page posts ahead of time. While it's still very important to have that human touch to your social media, it's also a good idea to sit down on a Sunday night and schedule out a few Tweets and Facebook posts for the week.
The next thing you can automate is your email marketing. Set up an autoresponder sequence of emails that go out automatically after a visitor opts into your email list. For example, instead of manually emailing your list weekly, set up a 12 week newsletter full of great content, ahead of time.
It might also be worth it for you to explore other things you can automate in your life and business. Sites like IFTTT provide a lot of opportunities for you to save time on things you might be doing everyday by automating them.
As a sidepreneur myself, I know the struggle. It’s a battle for your time everyday. However, persevering despite the struggle is one of the most satisfying things in the world. I was always told being an entrepreneur was the most difficult job in the world. If a sidepreneur has less freedom and time than an entrepreneur, then naturally it beats out the entrepreneur for this title.
Work hard, hustle, stay motivated, realize your passion and remind yourself on a daily basis why you are doing what you are doing. If it’s that important to you, you will find the time to work on your side business and hopefully make it become your full-time business if that’s what you eventually want.
I encourage you to leave a comment below and put a stake in the ground. Tell me and tell yourself that “yes, I can and will do this!”. If you’re not quite ready yet to commit yourself as a sidepreneur tell me why. Let me know what is holding you back and I will address it. If you have any questions, be sure to let me know below, as well.
Your small business website is the online face of your business. But what do you put on your site. Members of the small business community, this week, shared some helpful tips on building a better business website.
Customers are the lifeblood of every business and business owners always need to work hard at growing their customer base. In today's competitive environment, it is more important than ever, to use all avenues available to you to gain more customers. This excellent article from John Spence shows exactly how you can achieve this desirable outcome.
Unfortunately, my goals don't always love me back.
I've tried using silence to accomplish a goal, and I've tried to sneak up on big goals, and although those strategies work, they're hardly foolproof.
Fortunately James Clear, an entrepreneur and guy who thinks a lot about goals, habits, and success, has a much better approach to achieving almost any goal--and it's an approach anyone can use.
We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives--building a successful business, getting into better shape, raising a wonderful family. For most of us, the path to achieving those things starts with setting a specific and actionable goal. Until recently, that's how I approached my life. I would set goals for clients I wanted to land, for classes I took, and for weights that I wanted to lift in the gym.
What I'm starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things.
It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.
Let me explain.
The Difference Between Goals and Systems
What's the difference between goals and systems?
If you're an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a successful business. Your system is your processes for sales, marketing, fulfillment, operations, etc.If you're a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.If you're a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule you follow each week.If you're a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
Now for the really interesting question:
If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your systems, would you still get results?
For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?
I think you would.
For example, I just added up the total word count for the articles I've written this year. In the past 12 months, I've written more than 115,000 words. The typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so this year I've written enough to fill two books.
That's a huge a surprise, since I never set a goal for my writing. I didn't measure my progress in relation to a benchmark. I never set a word-count goal for any particular article. I never said, "I want to write two books this year."
What I did focus on was writing one article every Monday and Thursday. After sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work, and in the end enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results.
Let's talk about three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.
1. Goals reduce your current happiness.
When you're working toward a goal, you're essentially saying, "I'm not good enough yet... but I will be when I reach my goal."
The problem with this mindset is that you're teaching yourself to always put off happiness and success until the next milestone is achieved. "Once I reach my goal, I'll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, I'll be successful."
Solution: Commit to a process, not a goal.
Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.
But we do this to ourselves all the time. We put unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule instead of worrying about big, life-changing goals.
When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.
You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long term, but that's not always true.
Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon, and now that they have achieved it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them.
When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?
That can create a type of yo-yo effect where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one, a cycle that makes it difficult to build on your progress for the long term.
Solution: Give up the need for immediate results.
I was training at the gym last week and was doing my second-to-last set of clean and jerks when I felt a small twinge in my leg. It wasn't painful and wasn't an injury; it was just a sign of fatigue at the end of my workout.
For a minute or two, I thought about doing my final set. Then I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to call it a day.
In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout so you reach your goal. (After all, if you set a goal and don't reach it, you feel like a failure.)
But with a systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number--it's about sticking to the process and not missing workouts. I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will lift bigger weights in the long run.
And that's why systems are more valuable than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process.
In the end, process always wins.
3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.
You can't predict the future. (I know, shocking.) But every time we set a goal, we try to do it.
We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.
Solution: Build smart feedback loops.
Each Friday, I spend 15 minutes filling out a small spreadsheet with the most critical metrics for my business. For example, in one column, I calculate the conversion rate for the percentage of website visitors who join my free email newsletter. I rarely think about this number, but checking that column every week provides a feedback loop that tells me if I'm doing the right things. When that number drops, I know that I need to focus more on sending high-quality traffic to my site.
Feedback loops are important for building good systems, because they allow you to track many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what will happen with all of them.
Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.
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Fall in Love With Systems
None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I've found that goals are good for planning your progress, while systems are good for actually making progress.
Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win.
Having a system is what matters, because committing to the process is what makes the difference.
You have a growing business, a solid business plan, and a history of profitable transactions. You walk into your local bank certain you'll qualify for a loan and then it happens: your application gets denied.
We want to see as many businesses as possible get the funding they need to grow and succeed.
Here are six criteria banks look at when deciding to lend to you:
1. Cashflow - Your business must show positive cashflow over time.
2. Industry Experience - Lenders want to see you have stood the test of time in your current industry.
3. Credit Accounts With History - Lenders want to see your track record as a borrower and not only brand new credit accounts.
4. Range of Credit Accounts - Lenders need to see good management of personal and business accounts.
5. History of Same Type of Loan - You need to prove you have been able to repay loans of the same type as the one you are applying for.
6. Existing Business Credit - Show you are currently able to pay a loan, but not so much debt to make lender believe you wouldn't be able to make payments on an additional loan.
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.