Posts Tagged: "Entrepreneurship"

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.   

Using Social Media For Business

- - Adam Kidan

Using Social Media For Business by Adam KidanRegardless of how you feel about social media, it’s an essential aspect of a successful business in the modern digital age.  Figuring out what kind of social media platforms work best for your business can be hard, yet here are five important aspects to consider, based off an article I found online:

Broad audience platforms: There are two basic categories for when you’re deciding which social media platforms to use for your business: broad audience and niche platforms.  It’s a good idea to have an account on at least one broad audience platform, such as Facebook or Twitter.  There are also several advertising options, most of which are user-friendly.

Niche platforms: Once you’ve set up your Facebook and Twitter accounts, consider which other platforms would work well with your business.  For one, you need to make sure you have a firm grasp of your audience, which will let you determine which social media platforms are best for reaching them.  

Hire an expert: Small business owners and entrepreneurs often try to save money by doing everything themselves, which doesn’t always end well.  It’s a good idea to consider hiring somebody to manage your social media, who can frequently post high-quality content and attract new viewers.  

Develop meaningful content: Social media is filled with business profiles, and unique content is the best way to be heard over the white noise.  If all your posts are sales pitches, nobody will listen.  Yet if you post content that’s actually valuable to the reader, you’ll be able to improve your company’s image.  

Be persistent: You need to constantly be creating new content and finding additional ways to engage your audience.  Social media is constantly changing and evolving, so you’ll need to keep up with and adapt to the changes around you.

The Top Cities For Startups

- - Adam Kidan, Business

The Brighton School of Business and Management recently released an infographic that reveals the top 10 places to launch your startup, which was published in the Swiss company Seedstars World.  I recently found an article where a writer in Forbes interviewed the founder of Seedstars to get her take on why each of these cities is such a good place for a startup.  Below are the cities listed in the infographic, and what incentives they have to offer:

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur: The cost of living in Malaysia is a lot cheaper than in neighboring Singapore, so there’s been a trend of startups that are incorporated in Singapore but based in Thailand or Malaysia.  Malaysia is also a good test market with three different nationalities present.  So theoretically, if you can make it in Malaysia then you’ll have a shot at making it in the Chinese, Malay/Indonesian and Indian markets.

Beijing

Beijing: Although Chinese culture doesn’t foster entrepreneurship, this is changing fast and success stories are making it a more and more valued career path.  China has also been focusing on higher-end and more advanced manufacturing.  China has a tax relief program for startups that have been established by previously unemployed workers and recent college graduates.  Earlier this year, China set up a USD 6.5B VC fund for startups, with a particular emphasis on seed stage startups.  The country now runs at least 1,500 incubators.

City of Warsaw

Warsaw: Due to its bigger internal market and strong history of entrepreneurship, Poland is considered a much better entrepreneurial market than its Czech and Slovak neighbors to the south.  They already have a few success stories under their belt, and have been attracting some of the top tech companies around the world, including Google.  Apart from Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Wroclaw are all becoming major startup hubs in Poland.

Red Square Moscow

Moscow: Although failure is feared and condemned, Russia still places a strong value on entrepreneurship.  The legacy of the Soviet Union means that there’s a large number of both quality engineers and hardware companies.  However, political tension and currency devaluation has meant there’s a clear brain drain.

Bangalore India

Bangalore: In cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Chennai, entrepreneurship is strong.  There’s a huge market, and the number of engineers that graduate every year is impressive.  Bangalore’s startup scene is traditionally focused on engineering and tech development, which means it can be difficult for founders to find good business development or design counterparts.  Although there aren’t any incentives for startups and it can take several months to set up a business, the cost isn’t too high.  In the city itself, there are at least 10 startup events happening every week, which fosters a strong startup culture.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney: Being an entrepreneur in Sydney is well-respected, although most people still tend to seek the comfort of corporate employment.  Most startups are still focusing on their local market, although there has been a shift in mindset where they start to think more globally.  Unfortunately, the government doesn’t tend to allow for any special tax incentives for entrepreneurs.

Tunis

Tunis: The recent Arab Spring served as a turning point for the entrepreneurial spirit of this small North African city, and things are still very very new here.  One of the most pioneering startups here is Tunisia Live, an English-language news portal that was originally set up to transmit live images and report breaking news during the Arab Spring.  Startups here tend to use and create tech products to mobilize communities, often engaging them in political discussions and working for the collective good.  To better support the local entrepreneurship market, policy makers have started to implement new strategies and programs to boost incubators, accelerators and education programs.

London

London: In the first quarter of 2015, investors pumped a record-breaking £459m of venture capitalist funds into London’s digital sector.  This is augmented by seed enterprise investment schemes (SEIS), the British Business Bank, R&D tax breaks and government startup loans.  Tech is now regarded as the lifeblood to powering Britain’s economic recovery, with Britain’s fintech players being worth an estimated £20bn in annual revenues collectively.

Cairo pyramids

Cairo: A mass of young and educated graduates in Egypt means that a whole bunch of startups have been popping up.  Entrepreneurs have been fighting setbacks to exploit the birth of various new accelerators and crowdfunding campaigns.  Thanks to the quality of local universities, Cairo is also home to some of the best engineering talent in the area.

Sofia Bulgaria
Sofia: Although it isn’t a well-known fact, Sofia has one of the lowest income taxes (10%) and one of the fastest internet speeds in the world.  There are some very successful companies coming out of the scene here, and Sofia has become a strong regional hub by accessing the EU’s structural funds to create three separate funds: LAUNCHub, Eleven Startup Accelerator and Neveq.

Healthy Habits to Increase Productivity at Work

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Adam KidanA productive work week is always reflected by how you choose to prepare, and starts with the development of healthy habits. Entrepreneurs especially tend to have a jam-packed work week and often forget the power that maintaining a healthy lifestyle has on their bodies and minds. Here are some tips to make sure that you have as productive a day as possible so you can effectively lead and grow as an entrepreneur:

First, make sure you prepare for the coming day the night before. This means knowing what’s on your calendar. If you have important meetings or any calls the next day, be sure you have your notes ready and have done your research for how you want to lead the call or meeting before you tune out for the night. This does not have to be done in depth, because you should have time at work the next day to prepare, but it just gives you more notice of what you expect your schedule to be like the next day.

In addition, you should prepare what you need for the morning so you don’t leave anything important at home. And yes, this includes your lunch. Make a healthy lunch the night before so that you have food to fuel you throughout the day and so that you don’t rely on the office vending machine to cure your 11 am hunger.

Adam KidanSleep plays an important role in determining your productivity for the day. As you probably already know, when you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, your brain tends to be foggy and you most likely won’t be as productive as you would be after a good night’s sleep. In order to ensure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, turn off your electronic devices that can be extremely distracting before bed. We all know that Netflix can be addicting, especially if you’re in the middle of a great show. But turn it off, it’s not worth the fatigue the next day.

Another great way to start your day off right is by getting up and moving – this could mean working out, walking your dog, or even stretching in your living room. According to an article published on Entrepreneur.com, “Getting out of bed and making your body move gets the blood flowing and the brain synapses connecting again. If you aren’t in the habit of moving first thing when you get up, this may feel a little strange at first but trust me, it works,” (7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day). You will notice a near automatic surge in energy and a clearer head if you start moving first thing after you wake up.

Last, learn to tame your brain. As an entrepreneur, you will probably experience increased levels of stress and feel that you are overwhelmed at certain points throughout your week. To stay healthy and happy, learn to meditate. Meditating is scientifically proven to help people deal with stress and improve mind fluidity, allowing your brain to become more adaptable.

Overall, staying healthy is the most beneficial thing you can do in order to increase your productivity rate throughout the workday. Make sure you are eating right, sleeping well, and getting enough exercise each day so that you can feel well-nourished and balanced for your brain to function properly.

Use Social Media Effectively To Grow Your Business

- - Business

Facebook has been a transformational company in terms of human social interaction and has changed the way friends, and even strangers, communicate with each other. A company which once began as a tool for people to connect at college has since grown and evolved into a company that is now an extremely influential tool for business marketing, particularly for small businesses.

In an effort to promote the use of Facebook and other social media tools by small businesses wishing to engage with consumers, Facebook recently hosted a “Boost Your Business” event. Around 250 local companies attended the event, which included Facebook analytics experts and a panel of local business owners who gave tips about advertising and marketing on social media properties.

Here are six important tips from Facebook experts and local business owner panelists discussed at the event:

1) Your Facebook page is your best online presence. Facebook allows businesses to make marketing personal by engaging with customers, posting business hours, sales, giveaways and upcoming events.

2) Create content that adds value to the customer. The Facebook news feed shows the most relevant and interesting content to individuals. This is an important tool for business owners to listen and respond to customers as well as feature your own stories about what is happening with your business.

3) Get to know your audience. Facebook tools such as Page, Audience and Ad Insights help you understand what kind of posts are performing best and at what time of day. Use them to find the best way to reach your audience.

4) Find the right people. Clean out the clutter and target the people who actually care about and want to invest in your business. Facebook has great targeting tools (Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences) to reach people who may have never heard of your business before.

5) Segment your audiences and groups. It is important to tailor your social media efforts to your various audiences and create posts that fit their specific needs, based on their interests, behaviors and demographics.

6) Measure and track your results. Find out what is working and what does not work and then look into why this is the case. Track your progress as you work to grow your business.

If you are a small-business owner looking to grow your customer base, these tips can definitely steer you in the right direction. To read more about what happened at the event, check out this article.

Staying Proactive at Work

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Let’s face it – we all get off-track at work sometimes. From unexpected client phone calls, to catching that unique strand of flu that comes out once a year, trying to meet a deadline can catch up on you. But luckily there are many ways to stay proactive at work so you can be on top of your game and show your boss how hard you truly work. Here are some tips for getting back in the work-groove, meeting deadlines, and being an overall great employee:

Adam KidanFirst, write down a to-do list, don’t just make one in your head. To-do lists are great because they allow you to see everything that should get done either daily, weekly, or monthly. Seeing the work that’s in front of you will give you a better grasp on which tasks you should prioritize, and which you can get away with spending less time on.

Next, once you’ve sorted out which tasks should be weighed more heavily over others, focus on those. There will be time to get the little things done later. In order to focus on your priorities, you must close out of all other screens, stop checking texts, and tune out whatever else it is that distracts you. An article published by Entrepreneur.com states:

“That email inbox on your phone/computer screen is like crack. Once you check on, you just can’t stop… or compulsive deleting kicks in… So minimized distractions by not even going there so you can focus on the things that you have deemed more important,” (Chan, 7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively).

Adam KidanIn addition, you should practice getting in the habit of putting your personal phone on airplane mode in the morning and only checking it at lunch. This will help immensely when it comes to distractions.

Last, stop overthinking things – just get them done. This may sound way more harsh than it actually is. Think about how many times you sat at work thinking about what you had to write or get done, gradually becoming more distracted as each minute went by. Just start writing, don’t think as much about it – there will be time for you to edit. Whether it is a 5 minute email that you’ve stretched to 30 minutes, or an hour-long report that you’ve taken all day to write – getting into the habit of just starting without thinking too much will help avoid future distractions so you can get more done and stay caught up at work.

If you need more advice on how to stay proactive at work and get what needs to be done, done – check out Entrepreneur.com’s article here.

The Importance of Transparency in Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Transparency is a key element to successful businesses that is often overlooked. Everyone who plays a role in a company should know the who, what, when, how, and why of big decisions so that they can continue to feel important, because the truth is – they are. When employees and others involved with certain business endeavors feel like they are not being included when important decisions are made (or not made), they are less productive. Clarity leads to productivity, and nobody likes to feel like they are being left in the dark.

Adam Kidan

Being transparent is vital to running a company – no matter how big or small. Your customers will also immensely appreciate honesty. An article written by Chuck Cohn and published by AmericanExpress.com created a great analogy; he states:

“Think about the last time you went online to book a plane ticket. Was it annoying to arrive at the last page and then discover all the extra fees that were added on to your final price? It would be simple to put that information at the beginning of the process so the customer feels less ambushed,” (4 Ways Transparency Can Boost Your Business).

That being said, transparency should not be limited to in-house operations (meaning, what goes on internally), extend your business’ transparency to all those who are involved – customers, investors, etc., and your business will sure to have a positive improvement.

Adam Kidan business

In addition, in order to run a strong business, make transparency one of the company’s biggest priorities. According to Chuck Cohn, “Communicate that the more everyone knows, the better you can work as a team. Line up goals with your vision of the company and let everyone see it,” (4 Ways Transparency Can Boost Your Business). This is especially important from a CEO’s perspective so that all employees – new and old – can be on the same page and know that they are working for a singular vision. Transparency creates unity, and vice-versa, so make sure everyone knows they are on the same team, working for the same goals.

For more information on why transparency is a key aspect for running any successful business, please read Chuck Cohn’s article on AmericanExpress.com here.

Most Creative People in Business: Written Word Edition

- - Business

Here at the blog, I write a lot about entrepreneurship and business. But even if you’ve got all the tips and suggestions in the world, the best lessons still come from people who are out there putting it into action. Creativity is an integral component to success in business and, lucky for us, Fast Company realized this in their list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2015. Check out some of the honorees below, and learn about some great habits of the successful. I’ll be doing several posts of coverage, but first up are some standout from the writing and publishing crowd.

For these individuals, the pen is truly more powerful than the sword. With their creative minds, they have been able to build entire empires and drive businesses that fight injustice, create a more informed public, or fight pain with humor.

Dao Nguyen (Publisher, Buzzfeed)

Under the data-driven leadership of Nguyen, Buzzfeed has boomed. The viral platform demonstrated an amazing ability to actually listen to the data in order to make their user experience as enjoyable as it could be. Nguyen’s primary responsibility is growth, and so far the results have been of home-run caliber: After realizing that email was a valuable referral tool, an overhaul of their system doubled email sharing; she has led the distinct Buzzfeed style into Tumblr, Vine, and Snapchat; and Buzzfeed has now grown to an $850M valuation. Oh, and the rumor mill has been churning talk of an upcoming IPO.

Jermaine Affonso (Editor, Clickbait)

If you’re an active member of the internet community, there’s no chance that you’ve missed Clickhole. The Buzzfeed spinoff, which on the surface is a parody of viral news sites (here’s looking at you, Buzzfeed), has become a staple of internet humor. So, how does he create, curate, and organize so much information? Deadlines. Affonso admits that they are the only way that he can get anything done. It’s a classic example of ideas needing action. Waiting around for the perfect opportunity is never worth it, because something will always come up.

Kelly Sue DeConnick (Comic Book Writer)

In a world where the archetypal comic book geek is a man, Kelly Sue DeConnick is looking to shake things up. Her most well-received project is running a Captain Marvel comic series. Captain Marvel, a female super heroine, has disrupted the male-dominated comic book landscape to such an extent that there is now a film in development. And if we’ve learned anything from the past decade, it’s that superhero films really bring in the revenue! For inspiration, she turns to “things I feel very passionately about and things I have incredibly mixed feelings about.” DeConnick is also a morning person: she rises each morning between 3am and 5am.

Megan Amram (Writer, Parks and Recreation; Science… For Her!)

After spending years writing for the acclaimed NBC show Parks and Recreation, Megan Amram turned her attention to the destruction of stereotypes. Tired of gossipy and gimmicky magazines like Cosmopolitan, she set to work on her own masterpiece– a parodic textbook titled “Science… For Her!” It has been well received, and is a perfect example of using your creative tendencies and business acumen to understand your market, deliver sharp humor and wit, and advance a positive change. She stays well caffeinated, and maintains many lists with small, doable tasks. As a extrovert, she seeks “sensory overload” in a crowded space when she needs to be refreshed.

Five Offerings from Google to Improve your Brand

- - Adam Kidan

Are you a small business owner looking to take your online brand to the next level, and increase your company’s online visibility? According to Sarah Landrum at Entrepeneur.com, look no further the tech behemoth, Google. Google offers a diverse set of tools that any small business owner can easily employ in their efforts to raise brand awareness.

Google Adwords:

Becoming a true expert in Google Adwords is not particularly easy. In fact, there is an entire industry devoted to teaching men and women how to effectively use this service. That said, it is not terribly difficult to use and master its less complicated features. Simply set up a google adwords account, and start playing around. Be audacious and learn how Adwords can be utilized for your brand. The service allows you to set a budget for advertising you business, as well as target certain demographics and locations.

Google Trends:

Google Trends is a simple tool that allows you to see the search trends of a keyword related to your business. Business is often cyclical, and this tool will allow you to track the troughs and peaks on a macro-level.

Google Analytics: 

Google Analytics is an absolute must-have for small business owners. It is free of charge, relatively intuitive, and one can learn how to utilize its basic features with just a few hours of experimentation. The service gives its user an in-depth picture into the metrics of visitors to your sites. Google Analytics provides data on which pages, are getting the most traffic, how they are getting to these pages, and how long the average visitor is spending on each page. As a small business owner, you should take this data, analyze it, and then tweak your website in order to drive more conversions. There is an option for a premium version, but it costs around $150,000 and is not necessary for most small businesses.

Google Maps

Google-Maps, Adam KidanEveryone probably is familiar with Google Maps in some capacity. It’s the most downloaded map service, and helps business with potential consumers. You can connect your company to Google Maps, so it displays your locations, hours, and general information with customers. Furthermore, you can actually embed a map of your location on your own website, which serves as an interactive tool for a site visitor.

Google My Business

If you have a physical location for your business, it is absolutely imperative that set up a page on Google Places. It is incredibly easy and takes just a few minutes. But the dividends from this can be huge. After setting it up, your business will be prominently displayed on Google Maps and searches for a relevant keyword. This will increase your brand visibility, and help bring customers who did not even know about your business.

The tech giant controls nearly two-thirds of the world’s search traffic so it is important that you optimize your brand for Google. Not to mention it is a free service, so there is no excuse not to incorporate this service into your online branding efforts.

Dressing For Success

- - Adam Kidan

Adam Kidan ZZ TopIn the words of ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, “every girl’s crazy bout a sharp dressed man”.  Indeed, being dressed for success is an essential part of being a successful entrepreneur; if you look like you just got out of bed, nobody’s going to take you seriously.  I recently came across an article where Shark Tank investors Kevin O’Leary and Daymond John discussed some general guidelines for dressing successfully.  According to them, you need to dress strictly according to your profession and position, and never fail to dress to kill.  According to these Sharks, this is an important step not only in getting dressed every day, but also for ensuring that people take you and your business seriously, and will want to do business with you.

The way you look reflects not only who you are, but what your business stands for.  According to John, it’s important to dress what is accurate to who you are, what you are and what you do.  If you’re a construction worker, dress the part.  If you work in finance, this is doubly important.  If you wear a non-fitted suit and plenty of flashy jewelry, people will assume that you’re loose with money, and not want to invest in you.  O’Leary echoed what his colleague said, emphasizing the need to dress as your clients expect to see you.  The “dress-down days” of finance have long since gone, with people more inclined to respect a crisp, clean and disciplined look.  Even if you’re a struggling entrepreneur with a small budget, it’s still possible to dress well.  It’s not about having enough money for a $500 suit, but rather about using your money well to make your $150 suit look good.  Get your shoes shined, manicure your nails.  While such details might seem pedantic, people notice them, and they go a long way.