Category "Business"

Growing Your Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

growing your business by adam kidanRunning your business requires more than just walking through the day-to-day.  You need to keep a big picture in mind of where you want your business to be going.  Your vision.  The “where you see yourself X years from now”.  This will help inspire both you and your team.  It’s easy to lose track of your vision with the everyday challenges that come with running a business.  Yet there are some ways that you can keep track of your business’ vision, and help chart the course there, taken from a great article by Rich Allen that I read on the blog youngupstarts.com:

Start at the top: Imagine how you want your business to look like in 10 years.  Think of any and all particulars to make your vision as specific as possible.  Include the size of the business, your locations, what you’ll offer, your business structure, your customers, and your own involvement.  

Back up five years: When you’ve charted out your 10-year vision, back up about halfway.  It’s that cliched “where do you see yourself five years from now” question they always ask you during job interviews.  Cover the exact same details that you did when asking yourself where you’d be in 10 years.  Look at where you need to be to achieve your 10-year goals.  Then connect the dots to there.  

Back up another two more years: With a five- and 10-year vision clearly charted, back it up to where you want to be, or more appropriately need to be, three years from now.  Think about if this backs up your five-year plan.   

Back up to next year: Once this is all planned out, time travel once again to one year from now.  This offers you a ten-year perspective on how to get there.  Ask yourself where you need to be a year from now to be on track to reach your three-year vision, using the same criteria.  This allows you to set up your goalposts, so that you can structure your business for each benchmark.  

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.  

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.

If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

Easy Ways to Boost Sales

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Easy Ways to Boost sales by adam KidanWe all want to close more sales, yet sometimes that’s not the best way to make more money.  It’s actually much easier to double your sales by doubling the amount of your average sale than to double the number of sales that you close.  Quality, as the saying goes, is more important than quantity.  I recently read a report that shared three ways to dramatically increase your sales, and here’s what they had to say:

Go after the big ones: Many salespeople spend their whole careers calling on low-level prospects with small budgets.  Only go after the high-paying prospects, who have both the authority and budget to agree to large investments.  Prioritizing highly profitable sales allows you to turn down the smaller deals that wouldn’t offer a large return on your investment.  Big opportunities take just as much time and efforts as smaller ones, but have a much better outcome.  

Establish your expertise: Salespeople have a unique 30,000 foot perspective on the industry of their prospects.  To close the bigger deals, present yourself as the expert; start off sales meetings by commenting on some things you’ve observed about the current industry.  By starting out with an observation, you’ll set yourself up as a true expert, boosting your value and serving as a powerful way to build up to a larger sale.

Uncover the cost of your clients’ challenges: After talking to your prospect about the issues in their industry, ask how they’re related to them.  This helps get prospects to open up about the challenges their organization faces.  Ask probing questions that will help determine what’s really happening.  After identifying the key challenges of your prospect, ask what these challenges cost their organization, which will put a price tag on the value of your solution.  Helping clients see the value of your solution will in turn lead to bigger sales and higher profit margins.  

Balancing Parenthood and Entrepreneurship

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Balancing parenthood and entrepreneurship by Adam KidanBeing an entrepreneur is a major time commitment, and often a huge risk.  It often takes up all of your time and then some.  So many people think that it’s impossible to balance a family and a career as an entrepreneur.  It’s not necessarily easy, but I can tell you from experience that it can still be done.  I recently came across an article that shared some tips for balancing the two, using advice from several successful parents/entrepreneurs.  Here’s what they had to say:

Prioritize your commitments: With family and work both taking up your attention, it can be hard to figure out which one you need to prioritize.  You need to be realistic about what you can accomplish, and not try to take on more work than you can handle.  Even if you’re busy, make sure you stay involved with your child, keep a routine and always have a back-up plan.  

Hack your time: While most work-at-home parents can’t stick to office hours, you can always hack your time.  Various time hacks can help with your work day, such as cooking for two meals at once, shopping online, doing things in batches and having your dry cleaning set to pick-up and delivery.  Removing these distractions from your work allows you to save far more time and get a lot more done with the limited time you have.  

Outsource/delegate work: Family activities often make it difficult to make obligations, so train your staff or hire somebody who can take your place when you can’t be there.  Try online outsourcing, getting a virtual assistant, and even teach your kids about how they can help.  

Grow your parents’ network: As you meet other families through school, playgroups and your neighborhood, you grow your “parent network”, helping you earn your place in the community.  This allows you to meet interesting people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, who could turn into valuable contacts or even partners.

Famous Politicians Who Struggled with Debt

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Famous politicians who struggled with debt by Adam KidanAs the debate about Trump’s taxes and bankruptcies continues, it’s important to remember that financial trouble happens to everybody regardless of age or net worth.  I recently came across an article that discussed some politicians who have struggled with debt.  Some of the names will surprise you:

Thomas Jefferson: The man behind the Declaration of Independence came from the upper-class of colonial Virginia, who had reputations for accruing large amounts of debt due to their expensive tastes (one family held onto a debt for 150 years!).  And Thomas Jefferson was no exception; while his prestigious reputation saved him from creditors while alive, after his death his family was forced to sell much of his property to pay off his enormous debt (estimated to be between $1 and $2 million in modern money).  

George McGovern: In 1984, the former US Senator and presidential hopeful amassed around $113,000 in campaign debt, but was saved by three other contenders for the 1984 Democratic Nomination that set up a fundraising party for him.  Four years later, McGovern opened a hotel that shuttered and fell into bankruptcy in less than two years.  

Linda McMahon: In 1976, long before she ran for the US Senate, Linda and her husband racked up about $1 million in debt, partially due to a bad investment in an Evel Knievel stunt.  They made up for it later in life, with a combined net worth of $370 million when she ran for senate in 2010.  

Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln may be known as one of the greatest Presidents in US history, but he certainly had a lot of setbacks.  Early in life, he owned a general store that amassed $1,000 in debt, a massive amount in the early 19th century that brought him to court.  Lincoln was forced to forfeit a horse, and took several years to pay back what he owed.

Marco Rubio: While Trump’s money has raised questions this election, he wasn’t the only candidate with money problems.  Rubio has long struggled with debt for everything from education to mortgages.  After an $800,000 book deal in 2012, Rubio’s money problems seemed to be over, and he celebrated by buying an $80,000 luxury speedboat.  While Mitt Romney’s campaign was vetting Rubio as a possible running mate, this financially careless decision caused them to think twice.

Myths About Content Marketing

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Myths About Content Marketing by Adam KidanContent marketing is an essential technique for marketers, allowing companies to raise brand awareness, increase leads and elevate their status.  Yet despite such benefits, there are still misconceptions about content marketing.  Here are 11 myths about content marketing, based off an article I found online:

Your audience won’t fall for it: Consumers aren’t interested in reading a sales pitch, they want to form long-lasting relationships by interacting with brands.  Take a look at Millennials; 62 percent of them have reported that they feel a connection with a brand when they see or read about it online.  And if the brand’s content isn’t sales-y and feels authentic, a third of them have reported that they’re willing to buy a product.  

Content marketing won’t work for your business: Not every brand is as exciting as Red Bull or Coca-Cola.  Yet this doesn’t mean that they can’t succeed in content marketing.  Take, for example, GE.  They’ve been using visual content, which has allowed them to let go of the brand and become part of internet culture.  

It’s too expensive: There are costs associated with content marketing, but it’s a lot more affordable than traditional advertising.  You do need to hire writers and pay for ads online, but leading marketers are very good at repurposing content without much cost.  

It’s free: While it’s cheaper than traditional advertising, content marketing won’t achieve the required goal for free.  The idea is of course to let your content grow organically, but you do sometimes need a little push to make that happen.  

People don’t read anymore: People still read.  It isn’t always from a book, but they still read, particularly if the content is valuable, informative, solves a problem and isn’t promotional.

You don’t have the resources: Not being able to create enough content is one of the biggest challenges faced by marketers.  To address this, try repurposing content, using social media scheduling and monitoring tools and hiring freelancers.

You can’t prove the ROI: Content marketing should be based around goals and objectives; you can track increased traffic by seeing how many visitors originated from Facebook or Twitter.  If you set these goals in the first place, you can absolutely prove the ROI of your content marketing.

Results are fast: Content marketing takes a lot of time, trial and error.  Everything from conducting research to actually creating content to analyzing its results takes months, even years.

Your business can’t compete: While you have a lot of content to go up against online, people still want to see content that serves a purpose.  If your content is valuable and can make the lives of your audience better, then there’s plenty of room to compete.

Traffic and shares means success: Just because your video has 20,000 views doesn’t mean it was a success.  A popular video won’t necessarily drive traffic to your website, obtain leads or catch the eye of industry leaders.

Your content can’t be published anywhere else: Scour the Internet long enough and you’ll notice that content gets republished in multiple places.  If you want to tap into a large audience, republish your amazing content, whether that’s on LinkedIn, Huffington Post, Business2Community or any other medium.

How Your Ego Can Hurt Your Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

How Your ego can hurt your business by Adam KidanLet’s say that you’re a novice entrepreneur who gets lucky and makes it big.  Chances are that will go to your head.  I recently came across an article by the entrepreneur John Rampton, whose early success created an ego that damaged his later work.  While an ego can be a great confidence booster, it can also harm you.  He spoke of eight ways that his ego killed his business, which I’ve listed below:

You won’t realize you need to learn: A lot of leaders think they have every answer out there, and admitting they could improve by learning is a sign of weakness.  Don’t be afraid of being judged for asking stupid questions, and jump onto opportunities to learn from others.  

You’ll ignore opportunities: While you might think that ego makes you push towards greatness, but in reality it’s fairly complacent and resists change.  If you have a big ego, you don’t think you need to do anything new because you’re so great.  Yet this will prevent you from seizing innovative opportunities which could have helped your business move forward.  

You over-estimate your abilities: Business owners are expected to wear multiple hats, but nobody can wear every hat.  Self-confidence in your abilities is important, but you’re setting yourself up for disaster if you tell yourself that you’re a master at everything.  Learn enough to get started, but recognize when it’s necessary to hire a specialist.

You micromanage: Being the head honcho in charge is a lot of pressure, and you often feel like you have to control everything.  You want to care about the details regarding your business, but expectations won’t always be met.  Being overbearing and critical tells your team that you don’t trust them, which will hurt performance.

You won’t want to ask for help: Every great entrepreneur had assistance to get to where they are today.  You want to have a mentor that can teach you from their own experience.  Whether it’s bringing in a partner, seeking out a mentor or coach or polling your team, asking for help is essential for success.  

Every decision revolves around you: Your business should never be about you.  It’s about your customers and how you can enhance their lives.  If you aren’t thinking about your customers and what they want/need, they won’t continue to support your business.

You can’t back down: Your ego will always want you to be right, and if you get into a discussion, you won’t back down until you’ve gotten it your way.  True leaders understand when they’re wrong.  

You set impossible goals: Your ego will often lead to your setting impossible goals for yourself, and when you don’t reach those goals, you’ll just beat yourself up.  As a business owner, you need to set attainable and realistic goals.  You’ll accomplish less if your mind is crowded with unrealistic expectations.  

Sharapova’s Harvard Break

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Sharapova's harvard break by adam kidanAfter testing positive for the banned substance Meldonium at the Australian Open, tennis star Maria Sharapova received a ban set to last until Jan 26 2018.  Although Sharapova is in the midst of an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to shorten this ban, this isn’t the only thing she’s doing with her spare time.  Yesterday, she posted a photograph on social media of herself in front of a sign for Harvard Business School with a caption that read “can’t wait to start the program”.  According to Associated Press, this “program”, which takes place in the summer, is two weeks long and involves two courses.

This might not seem like much, but even a little bit of time at Harvard Business School can offer plenty of business insight.  Apart from her work as a tennis superstar and one of the highest-paid female athletes of 2016, Sharapova is the founder of the candy brand Sugarpova, so she may very well earn some valuable business skills to boost her company.  As of yet, it isn’t clear if Sharapova will earn any certification from the courses she takes, but adding the Harvard brand to her resume could help her re-enter the good graces of fans and companies; her doping scandal has already cost her promotional deals with both Nike and Porsche.  

Sharapova is hardly the first celebrity athlete to attend Harvard; in 2005 the school has developed a certificate program that’s geared towards professional football players to help them evaluate and learn potential business opportunities.  Some notable alumni include NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth and model Tyra Banks.  

Stricter Regulations?

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Stricter Regulations? By Adam KidanYesterday morning, regulators released long-awaited rules that are focused on restricting how financial institutions can pay their top executives.  The new limits on banker bonuses would make the highest-paid employees at the biggest banks wait for at least four years to receive parts of their annual pay.  If these proposals are completed in the upcoming months, then banks would also have to reclaim bonuses from bankers who take risks that in turn lead to major financial losses.

This is in response to an uproar of criticism over Wall Street’s pay practices after the biggest American banks had to take government bailout money back in 2008.  This public anger has been rekindled during the 2016 presidential campaign, pressuring regulators to put tighter restrictions on Wall Street.  New rules on executive pay grew out of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, although it has since taken years to put this in practice.  Although Obama has pushed regulators to complete them, in the waning hours of his administration time has been running out fast.

The structure of executive pay packages before the financial crisis was blamed for encouraging bankers to take unnecessary risks.  Pay in some cases was set up in ways to motivate bankers to seek short-term gains even if their actions led to long-term losses.  The new rules, however, will force many banks to withhold pay for longer than in the past in an effort to ensure that top employees can be held accountable for the longer-term consequences of their risk-taking.  The proposals leave many financial firms, including large asset managers and hedge funds, shielded from the new restrictions because of how regulators defined who are subject to them.  Young Wall Street workers have already been decamping for less regulated corners of finance and corporate America.

For those people and institutions subject to rules, these new restrictions are broadly in line with changes that many banks have already been making since the 2008 recession.  For example, it’s already an industry standard to wait for three years to release stock-based bonuses, although new rules aim to push that to four years.

The regulators were supposed to propose the new rules within 90 days of Dodd-Frank’s passage.  Rather, the regulatory agencies delivered a first draft of the rules in 2011, although that was widely criticized for being too weak.  According to the previous draft, the largest banks had to hold back at least half of all incentive-based pay for three years; under the new proposals, the same banks will have to withhold 60 percent of that pay for four years.  It also applies the limits to a broader set of “material risk-takers” at big banks as opposed to just top executives.

Across the pond in Britain, banks are now forced to hold back some pay for at least seven years.  European countries have generally imposed stronger restrictions on executive compensation since the financial crisis, including some card caps on salary and bonuses.  These new American rules would only apply to incentive-based compensation that varies according to the performance of the bank and the individual executive.  Even without these rules, banks have faced pressure from regulators since the financial crisis to change how they pay their employees and make it more focused on long-term than short-term success.

Banks and other financial institutions have generally been cutting pay in recent years because of their lagging performance, and other parts of the Dodd-Frank legislation have limited their ability to take big risks and earn big profits that were common before the financial crisis.  If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!