Effective Morning Habits

- - Adam Kidan

effective morning habits by adam kidanOne of the keys to a great day is to start the day right.  Many successful people follow similar morning routines; if you’re feeling like you aren’t getting enough out of the day, then incorporating some of these habits could be a good idea.  I recently came across an article that shared some of them.  These are mostly meant to enhance creativity, but they’re just as relevant for the entrepreneur in all of us.  Try out a few of them, and notice the difference!

Get up early: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.  That’s just as true now as when Ben Franklin scribbled it down.  Waking up early leaves more time for you to practice physical and mental self-care by removing the stress that comes from having to rush.

Take time for reflection: Meditation and mindfulness, where you simply stay open to whatever runs through your head, has been shown to contribute to higher creativity.  This could include thinking about what you’re grateful for, or maybe making sure that what you’re about to do has value and will be fulfilling.  

Walk: Walking is a great way to get your body going and ease you into the day.  Studies have also proven that it’s an excellent way to stimulate your mind.  Interesting thoughts and ideas often emerge when you’re simply strolling down the street.  

Exercise: Piggybacking off the above point, morning exercise is great for your mind just as much as your body.  By boosting blood and oxygen flow to the brain and releasing endorphins, it’s an excellent way to start the day right.  Make sure you don’t forget to eat after your workout; it’s essential for post-workout recovery by giving your brain the necessary energy to function and innovate.  

Make lists: Make lists in the morning about the work that needs to be done throughout the day.  This is a great way to fight stress.  Tackle the toughest stuff first, when your mind is fresh, that way you’ll have time to relax later on in the day.  

Take in information: Don’t get into something distracting like emails first thing in the morning; instead start the day off with something more stimulating.  Maybe catch up on news or check out the stock market.  This gives you different viewpoints and perspectives.  

Connect with the people you care about: By connecting with the people you care about in the morning, you remind yourself why you’re doing what you do and creates a purposeful start to the day.  

Branding on a Budget

- - Adam Kidan, Business

branding on a budget by adam kidanNot every business is going to have a giant budget, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to create a solid, far-reaching brand.  Branding doesn’t need to be expensive; if you’re willing to put in the hours, you can still brand your business successfully.  I recently read a blog post that shared some tips for creating your brand on a budget.  Here’s what they had to say:

Develop and understand a “buyer persona”: A buyer persona, is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on a combination of market research and data about both your own competition and existing customers.  This lets you identify the needs, goals and behavior of potential customers, which in turn tell you how to convey your product or service.  While it might seem time-consuming and trivial, it sets you up to be able to attract valuable traffic in the future.

Find a confident and consistent voice: Once you’ve created an identity for your brand, then stick to it so your brand can truly take shape.  Establish a voice for your brand, one that’s consistent and always on message.  

Use social media: Most potential customers these days hang out on social media.  Find out which social channels your customers use the most, and then you’ll know where to dedicate the majority of your resources.  But using social media properly requires creativity and dedication; consider how your posts add value to your customers.  

Do customer service well: Few things hurt a brand quite like bad customer service.  It’s something that many business mess up, which can seriously damage the public persona of a brand.  But great customer service is a great way to turn your customers into advocates.  

Blog: Blogs are the most powerful weapons for building a brand.  They help you reach your target audience by creating informative and interesting content playing to their interests and problems.  So don’t just settle for mediocre content; make sure it’s good quality, relevant and being posted regularly.  Blogging is also a great way to populate your social media channels while also attracting visitors to your website.  

Common Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

- - Adam Kidan

common legal mistakes entrepreneurs make by adamk idanAs a seasoned entrepreneur, I’ve seen and experienced just about every business mistake in the book.  As somebody who attended law school, I can also tell you that the legal mistakes are the most dangerous.  I recently read an article where IP lawyer Rachel Rodgers, who has nearly 20 years of experience to her name, shared some of the legal mistakes she’s seen, and how to avoid them.  Legal stuff seems difficult and frankly terrifying, and that’s because it is.  But it’s a lot less scary if you’re at least prepared for it.  Here are what Rodgers says are the most common legal mistakes entrepreneurs make.  Pay attention, and they’ll hopefully save you a lot of headaches in the future:

Not vetting the name of your business/product/service: Conduct a thorough trademark search before you invest large sums in building your brand around a name that you can’t use.  If your name is infringing on another trademark that you can’t use, then you need to change the name, lose your Google ranking and rebuild your website.

Not separating your business and personal finances: Especially in the early stages of a business, it’s easy for your personal and business finances to bleed into each other.  Yet it’s extremely difficult to make smart business decisions without clear financial data, and commingling funds means you’ll lose the liability protection from your business.  Set up accounts solely for business income and expenses.  

Not keeping records: “Piercing the corporate veil” is when courts discover that a business entity and its owner are one in the same.  It means that business creditors can come after your personal assets.  To avoid this, record everything that happens with your business on a year-by-year basis, and submit your corporate filings with the state.  Have corporate files with all of your insurance, contracts, leases and other legal documents.  

Not making contracts: Business without a contract is a surefire way to get yourself sued or screwed out of money in some way or another.  To avoid this, have proper contracts in place that outline exactly what’s being exchanged, who owns what, as well as any cancellation clauses or payment terms.  

Not using legal notices: In the digital age, an entrepreneur’s website doubles as a storefront.  So if you collect information from people visiting your website, then you need a privacy policy.  Have disclaimers and terms and conditions outlined on your website that govern your relationship with visitors, subscribers and clients, especially if you’re selling products and services directly from your site.  

Not protecting your intellectual property: Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can also hurt your business.  The longer you’re in business, the more intellectual property you produce, and the more valuable it becomes.  This includes logos, slogans, apps, e-books, classes and even blog posts.  Register your intellectual property with the US Patent and Trademark Office and the US Copyright Office.  

Not classifying your team as “employees”: The IRS has a very strong bias towards “employees” rather than “contractors”.  Do a proper analysis to figure out if your workers are employees or independent contractors.  All independent contractors need to sign agreements as well.  

Teamwork and Impractical Jokers

- - Adam Kidan

Teamwork and impractical jokers by adam kidanI recently read an interesting article about the TV show “Impractical Jokers”, and what entrepreneurs can learn about teamwork from it.  If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a reality show about four close lifelong friends, who know each others’ fears and insecurities like the back of their own hands.  The basic setup: one guy goes out wearing an earpiece while his three buddies hang back, watching him on a TV screen and feeding him instructions through a microphone.  From its beginnings as a modest screwball comedy it’s become a mainstream phenomenon currently on its sixth season.  The four friends are members of their own comedy troupe, the “Tenderloins”, who plan on sticking around long after Practical Jokers is off the air.  They already have a successful touring business.

Whether it’s in their show or onstage, the Tenderloins are amazing at working together as a team.  This is hard for a lot of people to do, and it’s a lesson that entrepreneurs would be wise to learn.  These four guys, now in their 40s, have known each other for 26 years, meeting through the improv troupe at their all-boy’s Catholic high school in Staten Island.  In their early 20s, they formed the Tenderloins together, and spent the next 10 years auditioning, not being able to figure out the right format for their comedy.  In 2010, they developed the format for “Impractical Jokers” by taking the concept of hidden-camera prank shows and flipping the format, where the people being pranked were always in on the joke.  Since the Tenderloins knew each other so well, their chemistry and comedy would be organic.  And if anybody feels uncomfortable about saying something, then they don’t have to.  The Tenderloins’ lifelong friendship creates a style reminiscent of our own friendships, and allows the audience to feel like a part of the “group”.  

 

The four of them oversee all aspects of the show, although they made a point to not have a set leader.  While this means egos could clash and make sessions nonproductive, all of the members had experience with improv, which taught them how to operate as a single unit.  Of course, building a company with friends or family can often create strain, yet the Tenderloins have retained their friendship against all odds.  Yet complications have plagued the Tenderloins since the beginning, whether that was due to balancing their day jobs before Impractical Jokers took off or navigating the inevitable blowups.  
Company leaders will often insist that their business is broader and more abstract than what it appears to be.  While this is a way to make your company sound more impressive than it actually is, it’s also a vision for the company’s future that represents its fundamental core.  Look at the Tenderloins; they call themselves a “creative force for hire”, betraying the scope of their work.  Each one of them has their own ambitions as well, whether that’s writing thrillers, hosting podcasts or doing their own standup.  Nonetheless, the title “creative force for hire” gives the Tenderloins a purpose beyond their TV show.  The main idea behind building a team is to create an overall vision that can be built upon, something that the Tenderloins have been able to accomplish.   

Building Your Confidence For Public Speaking

- - Adam Kidan

Building your confidence for public speaking by adam kidanWhether it’s presenting to investors, pitching to potential clients or speaking at a conference, public speaking is a large part of being an entrepreneur.  There are some, such as Gary Vaynerchuk, that are natural at public speaking, but others aren’t.  It’s a major fear for a lot of people, and getting in front of an audience in any context is nerve-wracking at best.  In a blog post I recently read, Gary Vaynerchuk, a self-proclaimed lover of public speaking, outlined three pieces of advice to build confidence when speaking publicly.  Here’s what he had to say:

Stick to what you know: When speaking publicly, you want to stick to what you know.  If it’s something you’re not familiar with, that will show, and you’ll get nervous and could potentially falter.  When somebody is speaking publicly about something they don’t necessarily know, then they get stuck, especially when somebody asks a question.  As long as you stick to your personal expertise, then you can have the confidence to go up and offer your insights.  

Be humble: Before you speak, you want to take the temperature of the room, so to speak.  You want to get an idea of what their experience is and the context they have about you or the topic you’re discussing.  You can’t automatically assume what the audience does or doesn’t know.  Whether you feel over your head or overqualified, stick with what you know and do it with humility.

Communicate however you’re most comfortable: When giving presentations, Gary Vaynerchuk avoids cue cards because he isn’t a good reader; he’s better at improvising.  But if you’re better at reading from cue cards, then use that.  You have to know how you best communicate and then use that to your advantage.  If you’re communicating in a way that you know and understand, then you’ll automatically gain more confidence, which will in turn make you a better public speaker.  

Focusing on Content

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Focusing on content by adam kidanIn this day and age, the real key to successful marketing is a successful social media reach; if you aren’t doing that already, then you should start ASAP.  You don’t just want to have a Facebook page with an address and phone number.  If you want your business to be heard, you need to create high-quality content across numerous social media profiles.  And the crazy part is that this isn’t something you can just throw money at and hope it works out.  The key is “organic” content.

A lot of marketing professionals have dismissed the idea of “organic” content, especially in the age of paid advertising.  Paid social media has enormous upside, but great content amplified in subtle ways is much more effective.  That’s not to dismiss the idea of paid social media, but the simple fact is that bad content, no matter how much money you throw at it to promote it, is still bad content.  If you have good content, you can do wonders by simply pairing the proper hashtags with minimal paid amplification.  This is why investing in good content for your brand is such a valuable asset.  If you’re a small business, it pays off to invest your time, money and effort on creating great content.  You want to spend more on creating great content than amplifying your mediocre content.

Quality content is arguably the most important part of marketing to a younger audience.  People under the age of 40 tend to discover a business by either searching it on Google or finding their content on social media.  If they see a heavily-promoted piece of solidly mediocre content online, they might click on it, but chances are they won’t stay on it for a long time and it won’t yield a positive impact.  Somebody who finds your content organically is an infinitely more valuable lead than somebody who comes through an ad buy.  

There are a whole lot of paid tactics to help grow your audience, and this isn’t meant to discredit any of these.  But if you’re going to use them, and see effective results, then they need to be paired with good content.  Organic social traffic is the most natural and current state of the Internet, and it’s an amazing opportunity for brands to make their content grow properly.

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Investing Your Inheritance

- - Adam Kidan

Investing your inheritance by adam kidanThere’s a very common movie cliché: a relative you never knew you had, or you never knew was super wealthy, wills you a gigantic inheritance.  Inheritances like that are rare, no doubt, but it’s a good idea to be prepared if you find yourself left with a large inheritance.  Investing is probably the wisest option, but you need to be careful about how you do that.  Here are seven great ways to invest your inheritance money, taken from an article on the site wealthygorilla:

The stock market: Perhaps one of the most common ways to invest money, this is a great way for somebody who understands business trends to make a good profit.  The trick is to buy low and sell high.  However, it’s risky, so only do it once you have a good understanding of how the stock market works.  

The Foreign Exchange market: The main idea behind the Foreign Exchange market is to pit one currency against another.  By studying currency exchange rates and then investing in the right direction, you can make a killing.  News, particularly world economic news, plays a large part in this market, so stay up to date!

Binary options: 00101100100 01100001 01101101 00100000!  But in all seriousness, the binary market is kind of like the Foreign Exchange market, except you’re simply picking the direction the market will move.  Yet once you’ve entered this market, you won’t be able to get out for the duration of the trade if it turns against you.  That’s why you need to really study the charts to make a good prediction.

Yourself: If there are some courses or certifications you weren’t able to get before, then this is a pretty good way to go, since it will lead to a better-paying job down the line.  It doesn’t even have to be college courses; you can also buy books to expand your mind or get better clothes to make a good impression.  

Retirement: The key to an effective retirement plan is to be honest with yourself about the kind of lifestyle you plan on having during your retirement, and then determining what that would cost.  While investing your inheritance in your retirement might not seem exciting, it will make your final years that much more enjoyable.  

Collectibles: Collectibles, in particular collectible toys, increase in value over time as they become rarer.  Many hard-to-find toys are worth money decades later, and if you’ve got the patience for that, then it’s a pretty lucrative long-term investment.

Fine art: Fine art could be a great investment.  You might not have the millions to purchase a Rembrandt, but there are plenty of not-so-well-known painters who fetch pretty good returns on their work.  However, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of experts before buying something that could ultimately turn out to be worthless.  

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Kim Kardashian

- - Adam Kidan

What entrepreneurs can learn from kim kardashian by adam kidanIt’s easy to hate on Kim Kardashian.  A spoiled rich kid who was able to create a multi-million-dollar business empire out of a controversial tape and a reality show, she represents the darker side of fame in the Information Age, where people earn seemingly undeserved fame for seemingly no reason.  Earlier this month, Kim boasted that she earned $80 million from her mobile app “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood”.  Some estimates have put the net worth of her family at over $300 million.  This might be frustrating for those brilliant people who struggle to get the recognition they deserve, and it might seem like Kim Kardashian’s fame was by accident, but I recently read an article that argued that she was actually a brilliant entrepreneur.  Even if I’m not the biggest Kim Kardashian fan, the article has a point, and entrepreneurs can learn a lot from her.  

Kim is actually very entrepreneurial.  It can be easy to hate on her, but that’s not constructive; rather, we should try to learn from her.  As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to get caught up with buzzwords such as “passion” and “changing the world”, but often-times the most successful entrepreneurs are most interested in making money.  And that’s been Kim’s modus operandi for years now; she started designing accessories as a teenager and by the age of 16 had her own eBay store.  Through this experience, she was able to start a new business that cleaned out and redesigned closets.  Through all of this, her father, a successful attorney, loaned her money, yet he always made her sign contracts.  

Even if not all of her publicity has been good, Kim has been able to leverage it to make more money.  She was able to convince E! to pick up her reality show, and 11 seasons later it’s the network’s most-watched show.  From her eBay store, Kim now owns a chain of clothing stores, and has a string of endorsement deals for all sorts of products.  For speaking appearances, she charges big fees.  Ultimately, Kim has been able to profit from potential opportunities, one of the keys of being a successful entrepreneur.  It has nothing to do with “breaking the Internet” or a leaked tape, but because she’s been able to exploit her publicity.  She also doesn’t try to do everything on her own; every product endorsement and deal involves a commercial partner.  Like Donald Trump, Kim licenses her name to companies and lets them use it.  

I’m personally not the biggest fan of Kim Kardashian, but I do recognize that she’s a brilliant entrepreneur.  As somebody who is driven, utilizes opportunities, picks her partners wisely and never backs down, entrepreneurs can learn a lot from her.  

Timeless Entrepreneurial Tips

- - Adam Kidan

Timeless entrepreneurial tips by adam kidanIn the Information Age, things change fast, more often than not faster than we can keep track of.  Such constant change can often make entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed.  Yet there are certain sure-fire, timeless strategies that offer a path towards success.  Here are some of them, based off an article written by entrepreneur Timothy Sykes:

Study your competition: Entrepreneurs should know their competitors as well as possible, understanding who they are as well as the product/service they’re offering.  This will help you better market your product to stand out, utilizing your competition’s weakness to your advantage.  

Always conserve cash: Even if you’re flush with cash, you want to maintain a conservative approach.  This will ensure that you can deal with any potential rough patch, foreseeable and unforeseeable.  

Don’t start out big: In the initial stages of a business, don’t try expanding into huge markets.  Niche marketing, on the other hand, is a great way to make your business stand out.  By offering something new and compelling, speaking the market’s language and figuring out its hot buttons, you can make a huge splash in niche markets, which will allow you to expand further.  

Stay up-to-date: If you rest on your laurels, then you risk becoming irrelevant.  Understand emerging products or services to make sure you stay on top.  Make sure you’re taking full advantage of everything out there.

Respond to change: Change is inevitable in business, and those who can respond are both flexible and versatile.  Entrepreneurs must be prepared to accept change and adapt business operations accordingly.  If you need to shift your product or service, then do it.  Wherever you are now, and no matter how comfortable it is, you probably won’t stay there forever.  Not adapting means loss in customers and profits.  

Listen to your customers: Piggybacking on the previous two points, entrepreneurs need to always be adapting.  But entrepreneurs can only evolve their business when they’re listening to customer feedback.  Some customers are inherently not going to like your product, but if a lot of them are, then listen and be ready to adapt.  

Planning and Productivity

- - Adam Kidan

Planning and Productivity by Adam KidanPlanning week-by-week is a major part of running successful businesses.  Creating a plan helps keep you on track to meet goals and be productive, lets you track results to analyze your business and ultimately keeps stress off your back.  I recently read a blog post that shared seven ways to utilize goals, listed below:

Pick a planning day: It takes a month for a proper habit to form, so you need to stick to a specific time and day for your weekly planning.  You want to be consistent, so do some sort of planning every week.  

Pick a place: Decide on a place to go every week with good environment for weekly planning.  Whether it’s a coffee shop, a park or a porch, go somewhere that’s inspiring and/or relaxing.  

Brainstorm projects/goals: Assign projects and goals for yourself that will progress your yearly business plan.  These could be as simple as setting a sales goal to hit each week.  Take a list of different ways that you reach these goals and break it down to see what you can be doing weekly to improve your business.  

Set measurable goals: Regardless of what goals and projects you’re setting for yourself, make sure that they’re measurable.  Don’t set vague goals, be specific about your projects.  

Set deadlines: Set deadlines for your goals.  These help you manage your time wisely and give you urgency to complete the goals you’ve set for yourself.  

Challenge yourself: If you’re new to planning or just started a business, don’t set unrealistic expectations and overwhelm yourself.  Start slow, scheduling what you know you can do, then a couple things that push you.  Make sure you’re challenging yourself every week and capitalizing on your full potential.

Review your results: When you’re planning your week, make sure that you review your results from the previous day.  Celebrate your successes and take note of any opportunities.  Analyze why certain tasks got done while others didn’t.  Once you’ve reviewed your previous week, you can start planning for the next week.