10 questions to ask when collecting customer data (Entrepreneurship)

By Lanchance Shandrow

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231513, November 2, 2014

When your customers disclose their personal and financial information to you, they’re taking a leap of faith that you won’t lose, abuse or otherwise mess with it — accidentally or not. Your customers don’t want you to spam them every two minutes, hawk their info to third parties or, worse, expose it to cyber attackers. Get up to speed with these 10 essential questions to consider before you ask your customers anything:

  1. I don’t have time to get anything from my customers but their money. Do I really need to collect data from them, too? 

Without customers, you wouldn’t be in business. Knowing who they are and what they want, particularly from you, can lead to more effective marketing, increased brand loyalty and the holy grail — more sales. “Collecting customer data helps you know each customer more individually and treat them that way,” says Jeff Tanner, professor of marketing at Baylor University and director of the school’s “Business Collaboratory.” And the info you glean from them can empower you to “craft offers that increase purchase rates at higher margins while also delivering better value to the customers because they’re getting things they want,” he says.

  1. What types of personal data should I collect and why?

Start with the basics, such as customer names and mailing and email addresses. These allow you to personalize your communications with them, directly market to them and follow up with them if there’s a problem with their order. Other data points to collect for an overall demographic snapshot are age, profession and gender. As you develop trust with your customers, Tanner suggests going deeper and asking them for certain psychographic data points, like details about their personalities, values and lifestyles.

  1. What types of transactional data should I collect and why? 

Recording and analyzing each customer’s transaction history — what they purchase from you, when and how often — helps you know which products and services to offer them in the future. Companies like Amazon, and Zappos are some of the best at this powerful marketing practice, also known as “basket analysis,” automatically delivering sometimes impressively personalized product recommendations based on past purchases.

  1. What are the best ways to collect customer data?

You can start by accumulating customer data every time they interact with your company — on the phone or in online chat with customer service, in-store with a salesperson or via online survey or contest, Tanner says. It’s important to note, though, that the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 prohibits procuring email addresses from certain online sources, including blogs and internet chat rooms, without the permission of site users and owners.

  1. How should I organize and store it?

Once you obtain the customer data you want, dumping it into a basic Excel spreadsheet won’t do you much good. The best, most time- and cost-effective way to store, track and make sense of customer data, Tanner says, is to use an all-in-one customer relationship management (CRM) solution.  He suggests trying CRM packages for entrepreneurs from Pipeliner ($30 per month with a 30-day free trial), Zoho ($12 to $35 per month with a 15-day free trial) or Teradata (prices available by contacting Teradata sales).

  1. How can I best protect my customers’ personal and financial data?

Encrypting all of your customers’ data is your first step in safeguarding it. This includes their names, email and physical addresses, credit card numbers, spending habits, social media logins and any other sensitive data points you’re privy to. Best practices for data encryption vary from industry to industry. If you hire a third-party to collect and store your customer data for you, be sure that they use the highest encryption standards available.

  1. How can I be sure what I’m doing is legal?  

All that’s legally required of you when collecting customer data is to create a customer information privacy policy and give your customers access to it, Tanner says. In an ideal world, your privacy policy should closely follow the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practice Principles, which are guidelines for securely collecting electronic consumer data, though they aren’t enforceable by law. You also have to allow your customers to opt out of receiving marketing material from you.

  1. Should I sell my customer’s information to third-party marketers?

“If they use data to have an intelligent conversation that includes relevant offers, then they become a preferred partner. You might be able to sell access to your customer list, but no customer will want to stay with you once they figure that out.”  If you decide to sell customer data to third parties, clearly say so in your privacy policy.

  1. What’s the best way to benefit from the customer data I collect? 

Leveraging it to offer added value to your customer is the biggest advantage. Customer data helps you paint a clear picture of who your target customer is and how to best communicate with, advertise and market to them. When you know your ideal customer better and really understand their needs and wants, you can better craft offers to entice them, which should in turn boost sales.

  1. What are some common mistakes to avoid?

Perhaps the worst in the bunch, Tanner says, is asking for too much at one time and overwhelming your customers. Other common faux pas Tanner suggests steering clear of are not using the data at all and making assumptions about customers based on collecting transactional data only.

7 scientifically proven ways to achieve better success in life (Inc.)

By Christina Desmarais

Source: http://www.inc.com January 20, 2015.

Success is a subjective notion, if there ever was one. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume the higher you are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the better you’re doing. In case you don’t remember the levels from Psych 101, essentially, people can’t be their best possible selves (self-actualization) until lower-level needs are met first. In other words, you can’t be an ideal version of yourself if you don’t have enough food and money to pay the bills, or enough love and esteem to feel good about your value as a human being. So, what can you do to move yourself up the pyramid?

Check out the findings from several studies, which shine a light on what it takes to achieve more in life.

Increase your confidence by taking action.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code, wrote a stellar article for The Atlantic on this subject. Highlighting scads of studies that have found that a wide confidence gap exists between the sexes, they point out that success is just as dependent on confidence as it is on competence. Their conclusion? Low confidence results in inaction. “Taking action bolsters one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed,” they write. “So confidence accumulates–through hard work, through success, and even through failure.”

Broaden your definition of authenticity.

Authenticity is a much sought-after leadership trait, with the prevailing idea being that the best leaders are those who self-disclose, are true to themselves, and who make decisions based on their values. Yet in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “The Authenticity Paradox,” Instead professor Herminia Ibarra discusses interesting research on the subject and tells the cautionary tale of a newly promoted general manager who admitted to subordinates that she felt scared in her expanded role, asking them to help her succeed. “Her candor backfired,” Ibarra writes. “She lost credibility with people who wanted and needed a confident leader to take charge.” So know this: Play-acting to emulate the qualities of successful leaders doesn’t make you a fake. It merely means you’re a work in progress.

Improve your social skills.

According to research conducted by University of California Santa Barbara economist Catherine Weinberger, the most successful business people excel in both cognitive ability and social skills, something that hasn’t always been true. She crunched data linking adolescent skills in 1972 and 1992 with adult outcomes, and found that in 1980, having both skills didn’t correlate with better success, whereas today the combination does. “The people who are both smart and socially adept earn more in today’s work force than similarly endowed workers in 1980,” she says.

Train yourself to delay gratification.

The classic Marshmallow Experiment of 1972 involved placing a marshmallow in front of a young child, with the promise of a second marshmallow if he or she could refrain from eating the squishy blob while a researcher stepped out of the room for 15 minutes. Follow-up studies over the next 40 years found that the children who were able to resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow grew up to be people with better social skills, higher test scores, and lower incidence of substance abuse. They also turned out to be less obese and better able to deal with stress. But how to improve your ability to delay things like eating junk food when healthy alternatives aren’t available, or to remain on the treadmill when you’d rather just stop?

Writer James Clear suggests starting small, choosing one thing to improve incrementally every day, and committing to not pushing off things that take less than two minutes to do, such as washing the dishes after a meal or eating a piece of fruit to work toward the goal of eating healthier. Committing to doing something every single day works too. “Top performers in every field–athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists–they are all more consistent than their peers,” he writes. “They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.“

Demonstrate passion and perseverance for long-term goals.

Psychologist Angela Duckworth has spent years studying kids and adults, and found that one characteristic is a significant predictor of success: grit. “Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality,” she said in a TED talk on the subject. “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Embrace a “growth mindset.”

According to research conducted by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, how people view their personality affects their capacity for happiness and success. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe things like character, intelligence, and creativity are unchangeable, and avoiding failure is a way of proving skill and smarts. People with a “growth mindset,” however, see failure as a way to grow and therefore embrace challenges, persevere against setbacks, learn from criticism, and reach higher levels of achievement. “Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training,” she writes.

Invest in your relationships.

After following the lives of 268 Harvard undergraduate males from the classes of 1938 to 1940 for decades, psychiatrist George Vaillant concluded something you probably already know: Love is the key to happiness. Even if a man succeeded in work, amassed piles of money, and experienced good health, without loving relationships he wouldn’t be happy, Vaillant found. The longitudinal study showed happiness depends on two things: “One is love,” he wrote. “The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

7 hot freelancing businesses for Mompreneurs (Project Eve)

By Liesha Petrovich

Source: http://www.projecteve.com February 2, 2015

Who doesn’t want the best of both worlds? When you had your first child, you wanted to be the best mom on the planet. But that didn’t mean you gave up your dreams or ambitions for an amazing career. Being a freelancer gives you the opportunity to do both well.  It gives you the flexibility to work from home and set your own hours, and freelancing lets you spend more time with your family.

  1. Writing & Editing

Copywriting, blogging, content/article writing, and editing are all hot jobs right now. You don’t need a degree in English or journalism. But you do need to be a decent writer. Plus, you can start building your writing portfolio by writing free articles or blog posts for other business owners.

There is an endless supply of writing topics – kids, pets, cooking, sports, current events, business, local events, health, fitness, etc…basically every topic on the planet.  If you’ve got a passion for something, try writing about it. It may be the best freelance option for you.

  1. IT & Web Design

If you’re technically savvy, you could consider freelancing as a web designer or IT consultant. You don’t need a college degree to get started, but you do need to know your stuff. Check out local adult education classes or take an online class. Depending on your skills, this type of freelancer can charge a premium for their services.

  1. Feel-Good Services

If you love helping people feel better, learning a “feel-good” trade may be right up your alley. Massages, facials, nails, hair and other beauty services can all be freelanced out of your home. Plus, spiritual and energy services, like Reiki, angel readings, and meditation. You don’t need a college education for most of these services, but look up the requirements for your state as you’ll probably need certification to get started. Although it takes time to build a clientele, helping people feel good about themselves is a great way to spend your days.

  1. Business Support Services

There are millions of small businesses out there, and many don’t have the time to manage their business. Think of all the plumbers, electricians, and contractors out there. They’re great at their job, but they may not have the time for paperwork – and they’ll pay you to do it for them. Business support freelancers may take phone calls, set appointments, run errands, etc. Think freelance business administration services. If you’re great at organization, it’s a good option.

  1. Marketing

Ready to channel your inner Don Draper? You do need some experience and a strong background in marketing to pull this one off. But it can be a very profitable freelancing gig. If you have a degree in marketing and some credible experience, it’s an easy jump into freelance marketing. The term marketing covers everything from advertising and market research, to social media management and sales copy writing. If you left the corporate marketing world, simple enter the freelance marketing world.

  1. Coaching

From lifestyle coach to fitness, coaching is a great freelancing job. It’s basically the same thing as being a consultant, but more hands on. Think about your areas of expertise – cooking, organizing, couponing, etc…they can all be turned into coaching jobs. Like the “feel good” services, you may need some certifications to get started. But coaching people how to improve their lives and solve their problems can be an extremely rewarding job.

  1. Art: Graphic Design & Photography

This is probably the best example of turning a hobby into a “real” job. You don’t need to go to art school, you just have to be great at it. You could design logos, graphics, and advertisements for businesses. You could also set up a photography studio in your home. Or you could take pictures for a business, like realtors or newspapers. The options here are endless. The most important thing is to build a credible portfolio to showcase your skills, and let potential clients know how talented you are.

Full-Time or Part-Time – It’s Up to You!

Whatever your situation, freelancing lets you control how much you work. You can choose to jump into a freelancing business full speed ahead – and work your b**t off to turn it into a full-time job. Or you can start small and part-time. Maybe only a few hours a week. But the choice is up to you. I wrote Unemployed? Pull Up Your Big Girl Panties and Work for Yourself to show women that they have choices. It’s the same exact thing in freelancing. If you want an amazing career, while being the best mom you can be, consider starting a freelance business. Maybe you can’t have it all – but freelancing lets you be the captain of your own ship.

And you can’t ask for anything better than that.

How to cite a hashtag in #APAStyle

by Timothy McAdoo

Note: To learn how to cite individual tweets or posts that include hashtags, see our post on citing social media. This post is about how to talk about the hashtags themselves.

The hashtag as an organizational tool wasn’t born on Twitter, but that’s where I, and many others, first saw it used that way. And, as Chris Messina, who introduced the idea to Twitter, has said, “it’s left nerd-dom and now it’s out there in the world.” Indeed, the hashtag is a common sight on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, Kickstarter, and other platforms. And its ubiquity makes the hashtag an incredibly useful search tool.

#APAStyle on Facebook
#APAStyle on Twitter
#APAStyle on Pinterest
#APAStyle on Google+

So how do you cite a hashtag? This may surprise you: You don’t!

That’s because, just like a search of a research database, finding and searching with the right hashtag is part of your research methodology. And just as with other aspects of your methodology, you can simply describe it the text of your paper.

That is, just as you might say “I searched the Public Affairs Information Service International database for Hong Kong, electoral system, and Umbrella Revolution,” you might also say “I searched Twitter, Vine, and Instragram for the hashtags #UmbrellaRevolution, #OccupyHK, and #HongKong that appeared between September 22, 2014 through October 22, 2014.” Interested readers and fellow researchers can then attempt to replicate the search if they are so inclined. If the reasoning behind the wording of the hashtag is not obvious, you might want to elaborate. In this example, you might want or need to explain the origin of the terms Umbrella Revolution and the Occupy movement, which led to the #UmbrellaRevolution and #OccupyHK hashtags.

Of course, in your paper you might also refer to individual tweets, Facebook posts, pictures, or other online items that include hashtags. For instance, you might want to quote the most popular Tweet that used the hashtag or just show some representative cases. You can (and should) create references and cite tweets or other online posts that you’ve quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise relied on in a paper.

Source: How to Cite a Hashtag in #APAStyle.

How to cite software in APA Style

by Timothy McAdoo

The Publication Manual specifies that a reference is not necessary for “standard software.” What is “standard”? Examples are Microsoft Word, Java, and Adobe Photoshop. Even less ubiquitous software, like SPSS or SAS, does not need to be referenced.

Note: We don’t keep a comprehensive list of what programs are “standard.” You make the call.

In your text, if you mention a program, do include the version number of the software. For example, “We asked participants to type their responses in a Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, Version 14.0.7128.5000) file.” However, you should provide a reference for specialized software. For example, let’s say you used an open source software package to display items to the participants in your study. You should cite it. The reference format follows our usual who-when-what-where format.

  • Use an individual’s name in the reference if he or she has proprietary rights to the program. In all other cases, create a reference as you would for unauthored works.
  • After the title, in brackets, provide a descriptor for the item. This helps the reader immensely.
  • If the software is available online, provide the URL rather than the publisher name and location.

Example References

Esolang, A. N. (2014). Obscure Reference Generator [Computer software]. Washington, DC: E & K Press.
Customized Synergy [Computer software]. (2014). Retrieved from http://customizedsynergy.com

Example Text Citations

“We used the Obscure Reference Generator (Version 2.1; Esolang, 2014) and Version 1.0 of Customized Synergy (2014) to complete our work.”

Q: Is the name of the program italicized?

A: No: not in the text and not in the reference.

Q: Is the name of the program capitalized?

A: Yes, the name of the software is a proper noun and should be capitalized, both in the text and in the reference list.

Q: What about programming languages?

A: You don’t need to include references for programming languages. But, feel free to discuss them in the text of your paper, if relevant.

Q: What about mobile apps?

A: Yes, you can cite those, too. If you need to cite an app, this blog post has everything you need to know.

Q: What about video games?

A: Yes, video games are software. Follow the templates above for the reference and in-text citation.

Q: What if I used an online application to have my participants complete a survey?

A: Like Survey Monkey? If you mention the use of a site, simply provide the URL in your text (e.g., “Participants were given a link to an online survey, which the authors created using Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com).” However, if you’re citing a particular page from the cite (e.g., a help document or the “About” page), you should reference that page just as you would any other. See this eggcellent post for more details about citing websites.

Q: What if I wrote the software myself?

A: If the reader can retrieve it, you can include a reference, following the template above. If you’ve created and published/posted software, that certainly falls into the “specialized” area noted above. But, if you’ve written software that is not retrievable, a reference is not possible.  If, for example, you’ve included the full code as an appendix, you will want to mention that appendix in the text, but a reference is not needed. You might also find these post about how to write about yourself and whether and how to cite one’s own experiences helpful.

Source: APA Style Blog: How to Cite Software in APA Style.

10 signs you’re in the wrong job

by Jo Davidson

Source: http://gettingbalance.com, November 2, 2014

So you don’t like your job, but hey, who does? And, it pays the bills, so you can’t complain, right? But what if your job is making you miserable, negatively impacting your health, wellbeing, relationships and more? Maybe it’s time for a rethink. Here’s ten signs that indicate you should consider a change…

  1. You have a burning desire to do something else                                                                                                                       You might know exactly what you’d what you want to do, but just don’t know how to turn it into a reality. It could be that you feel you don’t have the qualifications or the experience to go after it. Or maybe you’ve decided that you’re not ready, or the risks are too great. Alternatively, you may have some ideas about what you want, perhaps to work in a particular field, or to run your own business, for instance, but haven’t figured out the specifics of what you’d do.
  1. You’re not challenged enough                                                                                                                        You don’t feel like your skills are properly utilised or that you’re given enough autonomy. Or perhaps, the things that you’re doing are just plain boring, and don’t inspire any of your passions. You spend 8 hours a day doing things that mean nothing to you, just so you can pick up a paycheck.
  1. You feel uncomfortable with the tasks you’re asked to complete                                                                                                              Your boss demands you handle things in ways that you disagree with, or you’re asked to operate in ways that don’t meet your standards of integrity. You feel like you’re being used as a pawn, or perhaps you question the ethical practices within the organisation or even the products or services you provide.
  1. You take things really personally                                                                                                                If your boss makes a suggestion you get defensive. You feel she’s attacking your capabilities or your judgments. Every email you read seems to have an offensive tone, and you might even type rapid fire responses which end in tit for tat email tennis. It almost seems as if everybody is out to make your life difficult.
  1. You feel like you’re stuck on a treadmill                                                                                                                              Life just feels like a never ending hamster wheel of putting one foot in front of the other. You feel like you never have any time for you, as you fit in the needs of your family and friends, around the demands of your work. You’ve already spent 8 or more hours of your day stuck in a job you hate, and now you begrudge the time you have to spend sorting things out for everyone else, when all you want to do is rest. Every day feels like groundhog day.
  1. Sunday night blues are like a black cloud of overwhelm                                                                                                            You’ve managed to relax a bit during Friday evening and Saturday, but the dread of Monday is already looming when you open your eyes on Sunday morning. You push it aside and get through the day trying to be chirpy for your loved ones, but you’re becoming irritable and withdrawn. By teatime, you’re checking emails and worrying over the week ahead, and all the chores that need doing before Monday morning become a huge headache. You might even turn into Mumzilla!
  1. You long for illness or accident                                                                                                                         In the mornings, you find your mind is transfixed on circumstances that might give you the opportunity to not go to work. You hope the nausea you feel will turn into a full on bout of salmonella, or wonder if you might pass out. Perhaps your child will be sent home from school poorly, or maybe your car will breakdown, or you’ll be in an accident. At least, if nothing else, you hope the building will be a smoking pile of ashes when you get there.
  1. You don’t look after your health                                                                                                                        You rely on vending machine coffees, crisps and sweets to get you through the day. You struggle to motivate yourself to cook dinner or to go to the gym or even out for a walk. Perhaps you’ll have a glass or two of wine, and it might be becoming a 7 night a week habit. You stay up far too late, trying to make your evenings last as long as possible, even though you know you’ll be shattered in the morning. The things you spend those last precious minutes on are meaningless, as you surf social media or flick channels on TV in an attempt to shut off your mind.
  1. You don’t sleep well                                                                                          When you finally do hit the sack, you’re over-tired. Your brain doesn’t want to pipe-down and you lie awake dreading tomorrow. Things you forgot to do suddenly show up to point out where you’ve failed today. Any situations that didn’t play out as you’d have liked, are re-enacted in your mind as you slowly torture yourself for not handling things better. When you finally do get off, you find yourself plagued by dreams about work, or sleep fitfully, waking up every couple of hours. The only time you seem to hit deep sleep is the last 10 minutes before your alarm sounds, at which point you are completely exhausted.
  1. You’re always tired                                                                                                                      From the minute you get up you’re knackered. You regularly hear yourself saying, or thinking, I’m tired. The workday feels like one long, hard slog, as your tired body and mind aches to curl up and sleep. You go home and exhaustedly make food, spend time with your family, get chores done, and so on. In fact, the only point at which you can go and lie down and get your rest, is the only time you don’t want to.

5 things my dogs taught me about leadership

by Craig Cincotta

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com, January 21, 2015

My wife and I have three amazing dogs, Fenway, Lady and Stella. Along with the sheer joy our dogs have given us over the years, they also possess several qualities that every leader could learn from.

In my role as a leader at Porch.com, a home-improvement network, I am always looking for new ways to inspire and motivate our teams to be exceptional at what they do.

Here are five leadership lessons I have learned from observing my dogs on a daily basis:

  1. Our dog is always looking for the best in people.

If you ever meet Lady you will notice that she has a smile from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. No matter who you are, she thinks you are the greatest person in the world at what you do.

Why is this a great leadership trait? People perform their best when they are setup to succeed. When they know their strengths will be maximized and their weaknesses protected, they run up the stairs each day. Great leaders look for the best in people, help them identify their best and watch them thrive.

  1. Our pooch loves to get his paws dirty.

If you want to achieve many of the rewards life has to offer, you need to get your hands dirty. For Fenway this means chasing his ball on the beach. No matter where the ball goes — the water, the mud and the woods — he never holds back.

Why is this a great leadership trait? If you are tackling a big, bold, audacious goal you need to surround yourself with people who are willing to jump in and get their hands dirty. It is not about ego. It’s about accomplishing the goals. Leaders need to look for people who are willing to remain accountable to completing the job they have started.

  1. Our pup never forgets to enjoy the simple things.

Fenway loves when he gets his Bark Box in the mail. As much as he loves the toys, he loves to play with the actual cardboard box just as much.

Why is this a great leadership trait? A while back I wrote about the importance of the journey. The journey is the reward, and you should give yourself and your team the opportunity to enjoy the little things. Great leaders know that you need to celebrate the small wins that happen day in and day out as you keep the bigger goals in focus.

  1. Making others happy makes my dog happy.

Our dogs always have their tails wagging. They are very happy pups. But what really makes them happy is when they know we are happy. When Stella plays fetch she can feel how excited we are when she brings the ball back.

Why this is a great leadership trait? In any work environment one principle should ring true above all others. It is all about the people. If your people are happy and engaged they will do great things for you. They will run through walls for you. I firmly believe that the more appreciation you show, the harder people work.

  1. My dogs are fiercely loyal.

Our dogs are always by our side. No matter what happens — the good times and the bad times — the loyalty of a dog never wavers.

Why is this a great leadership trait? Success isn’t easy. There will be rough patches and streaks of success. Those who can learn and thrive when the chips are down are the ones who will accelerate and outperform when times are good. You want to be with people you know you can count on. Trust is priceless.

Top skills managers need to know

by Samantha Stauf

Source: http://www.projecteve.com, October 10, 2014

As a manager, you personify the very values of the company you represent, whether you want to or not.  You are the physical manifestation of all the values that serve as the pillars of your organization.  It sounds like a heavy load when put that way, but in the end, it is the truth.  On a large number of exit surveys across a wide span of professions, many employees will list a grievance with management as the main cause of their departure. In effect, the employees may absolutely love the work they do, but not their management.  So what exactly is the problem?  The answer can vary depending on the situation, so in order for a small business manager to be successful, there are a few key skills that they need to develop.

While it is true that managers will need to possess the necessary skills to handle the administrative parts of their jobs, there are human characteristics that they will need to possess in order to maintain continuity in their organization.

A list of these characteristics is as follows:

Personifying Desired Values

The old adage of “do as I say, not as I do” couldn’t be more wrong.  It cannot be reasonably assessed that employees will display desired behaviors if they do not see those behaviors in their manager.  Effective managers will perform within the bounds of the desired employees, inspiring them to follow suit.  Whether good or bad, how managers react to various situations can have a profound impact on their employees.  An effective manager/leader will act with integrity and take ownership of their actions in all situations, thus setting the bar for their employees.

Keep Emotions in Order

Whereas a successful manager will want to express empathy, they cannot go overboard.  Think of it like this: when a child sees their mother or father crying or in some form of emotional distress, they will tend to start crying themselves.  This phenomenon is known as emotional contagion, and it can impact the workplace as well.  If the manager is on an emotional tangent, it can distress the employees and also create a negative work environment.  By maintaining a level train of thought, a manager can do much good by not introducing negative emotions into their employees.

Providing Effective Feedback

One of the essential functions of a manager is to provide feedback to employees on their performance.  In a working capacity, employees like to know where they stand.  Without feedback, they will not be able to gauge the quality of their work and would, for all intents and purposes, be flying blind.  To deliver constructive criticism effectively, a few steps can be taken so that everyone gets the most from the situation.

Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management , wrote “The ABC’s of Effective Feedback.” Within the piece Sommer presented a simple “ABC” strategy to give effective feedback. The purpose of this approach is to move the employee to a resolution quickly without forcing them into a defensive stance.

  • In the action step, Somner explains, the manager will address the issue in a brief manner.
  • In the because step, the manager will explain to the employee why the issue in Step A needs to be addressed.
  • Finally, in the could we step, the manager will discuss possible resolutions with the employee until an amicable solution is reached.

How You Can Apply These Steps

One of the biggest mistakes that a manager can make is to spend too much time droning on about the action or because steps.  Spending too much time here will most certainly prompt a strong, defensive response from the employee.  Some managers have found success with a delivery such as “here’s what we can change, but I liked this…”.  This method allows the manager to express their concern while at the same time, praising the employee for an earlier action.  The response needs to be sincere or it will come off as canned or automatic.

For repeat instances of poor attendance on the employee’s part, stating the problem and waiting for a response from the employee (no matter how long you have to wait) can also be very effective.  It forces the employee to acknowledge the problem and perhaps give the manager valuable insight as to why it occurs.  The manager may learn that the employee is having personal issues at home and has been late as a result.  Once the problem has been stated, both parties can come up with a solution that will work for everyone.  I’ve tried this method three times in the past and it has worked wonders!

To Sum Up

Indeed, these three areas are crucial if managers hope to retain quality employees.  By exercising empathy and respect, they will gain the loyalty of their employees, thus reducing organizational turnover and boosting overall morale.

While it’s true that many of these traits are more tailored towards leaders as opposed to managers, any organization can benefit from following the above-stated tips.  Effective managers will be able to switch between management and leadership roles on a whim by simply holding themselves to a higher standard.

‘Shark Tank’ star Robert Herjavec’s top 10 tips for entrepreneurs

by Robert Herjavec

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com, January 6, 2015

I wanted to share my top 10 tips for budding entrepreneurs. This list was first published by CBC News and I often refer back to it when I’m meeting with new ventures or training our sales team at Herjavec Group.

I hope it helps jump start your week — and put you on the right path to your own entrepreneurial success.

  1. Believe in the business — and yourself

There are so many people that will say, ‘No — bad idea, it’s never going to work’. You have to have a senseless belief in your idea and yourself – almost to the point of being delusional. Remember that everyone has advice but no one knows what you have to go through to start, grow and scale a business until they live it! Talk is cheap, but action speaks volumes.

I often tell the story of the ancient general who took his troops to battle and when they got to the foreign shore, he burned all the ships so there would be no option of retreating. That is the kind of belief you need. There’s no going back.

  1. Test before you jump in

Don’t ask your mom, your wife, your friends, your barber what they think — those are opinions (and often biased one’s at that!). Test the idea with the only people who really matter: the ones who are going to cut you a cheque for it. Call on some potential clients and see if they will buy whatever it is you’re selling.

  1. Everyone lies

Some people will lie to you because they mean to. Others will do it to tell you what you want to hear. Either way, test everything you are told. If someone tells you they are going to invest, get a date. And if the date passes, make sure your spider senses are tingling. If a client tells you he is giving you the order, ask him if it is in procurement yet; if not, ask him if he minds if you call the purchaser yourself. Test what people tell you. They don’t always mean to lie to you, but they do lie.

  1. Bring a compass

“It’s awkward when you have to eat your friends.” That’s a cute saying I saw a long time ago, but it’s very true. When you’re starting out, you have to realize that it is going to be hard and then it will get worse…far worse than you think. Be prepared to survive the worst situation you can think of — and then assume that things will still get even worse than that.

Be prepared — it’s much better to have a compass to get out of the woods (just in case) than to have to eat your friends to survive.

  1. If they can’t catch you, they can’t overtake you

Go fast — really fast. The elephant can’t catch a running mouse, but he sure can crush him when the mouse is standing still! When you’re small, you’ve got to be faster than the competition. Be nimble, be agile, be responsive. Learn from your customers. As you grow be prepared for the new entrants that want to take you down and ask yourself how you can maintain the sense of agility that led to your initial success.

  1. Train for a marathon

This is where I completely contradict myself, because diligence is so important. Once you find a good opportunity, go slow and check and double-check everything. Business is a sprint until you find an opportunity, then it requires the patience of a marathon runner. I know this is hard and trust me, I am not a marathoner — but I have run two of them just to reinforce this point to myself.

  1. Hunt for your dinner

No matter how full and fat you get, don’t stop looking for opportunities. You can never be satisfied as an entrepreneur, and the basis of any successful, growing business is new clients. Make sure your company always has the attitude of going out and hunting for its dinner. We don’t pay our salespeople for renewals at Herjavec Group, that’s a customer service job and not a sales job. Sales people should be hunters.

  1. There is no work/life balance

Your business is a living, breathing thing, and it has to be fed and grow to survive. There is no balance in your life when your business is in trouble. If you are under the illusion that you can start a business and run it at your life’s schedule, you are mistaken. The business is like a starving puppy — when it needs to eat, then it needs to eat regardless of what you have going on personally.

  1. Being committed to business is hard

The reason so few companies and people make it: It’s not easy. Be honest with yourself. What price are you willing to pay to make the business work and be successful? Would you sacrifice your time, your family, your friends, your golf game, your entire social life? I am not advocating that you should, but you have to ask yourself if you are prepared to.

  1. It’s all about the approach

Work hard…have fun…be nice…play fair…dream big. We only get one chance at this life. If you’re going to play this game, play it to win.

6 things you should do before entering into a business partership

By SBA

Source: https://www.score.org/blog, November 21, 2014

Here are six things you should do before you enter into a business partnership.

  1. Weigh the pros and cons

Aside from the generalized advantages and disadvantages mentioned above, spend some time weighing up the pros and cons relative to your business, industry, personality and finances. What are you seeking in a partner? Is it network, capital or critical skills that you lack? If you have someone lined up who can contribute to these, then a partnership can make sense. If you not, then consider forming the business yourself and hire someone or find a mentor who can bring these assets to the table.

  1. Get to know your partner first

If you have a partner in mind, how much do you know about them (third-party investigative services can even help out with this by running background checks on individuals to help assess risk)? Have you ever worked with them before? Do you both want the same thing out of business? Do they exemplify your brand? What about your skills – are they complementary? This is very important as you start to determine who does what in the partnership, both at a strategic and day-to-day level.

  1. Understand the different forms of legal partnership 

Each state has specific laws on the formation and dissolution of business partnerships as well as laws regarding the legal responsibilities of each partner. There are three forms of legal partnerships that business owners can consider:

General partnership – The simplest route and similar to a sole proprietorship. Just register your “doing business as” name or trade name and open a bank account in your business name. In this structure, all profits, liability and management duties are split equally (any variation from this needs to be outlined in the partnerships agreement).

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – If you’re looking for more legal protection, an LLP can help. Much like an LLC, this option affords partners protection from personal liability for the debts and liabilities incurred by the business.

Limited Partnership – In this scenario, one partner may invest in the partnership, but not contribute to the day-to-day management.

  1. Taxation and partnerships

The IRS doesn’t consider partnerships to be separate entities from their owners, and all profits and losses are passed through to the individual partners. However, your business will still need to file a business tax return (Form 1065), but it won’t pay income tax on the profits and losses disclosed. Instead, each partner will need to file an annual tax return showing their individual shares of the company’s profits and losses – and the amount of tax owed. This tax is actually paid each quarter in the form of estimated taxes to both the IRS and your state.

  1. Decide how you’ll split profits

How you split the profits is up to you. Bear in mind that if you stick with a clean 50-50 split, neither partner can make any business decisions autonomously; each party must agree. Whereas a 49-51 ratio gives one party the final authority to end deadlock on business decisions. Another option involves each partner taking a salary and then splitting the remaining profits between you. This is a useful approach if it’s already agreed that one partner will play a more active role in the business.

  1. Set it all in stone – the partnership agreement

The best way to protect yourself in any partnership is to form a partnership or operating agreement. Though not a legal requirement, think of the agreement as your prenup! This is where you’ll outline how profits will be split, who assumes responsibilities and so on. Any issues that could arise between partners should be able to be resolved by referring to the agreement that you collaborated on to create. If you find yourself unhappy in your partnership, your operating agreement will be one of your best chances to prove resolution. If you don’t provide a custom agreement, you’ll be defaulted to your state’s generic version, which will most likely not cover the intricacies of your business.

Work with your lawyer and accountant to formalize your agreement. At a minimum include the following:

Division of profits and compensation – Don’t forget to include how you’ll handle losses as well as profits.

Contributions to the partnership – These include any assets, property or cash that either partner rolls into the business.

Decision-making – This includes the scope of an individual partner’s authority to make decisions, how you’ll handle disputes, on-boarding new partners and how the partnership will be dissolved.

Management duties – Although there needs to be room for flexibility here (for example, if one partner is sick the other should be prepared to step in and help out), document the key functions performed by each partner. For instance, if you prefer to handle employee relations or payroll, state that here so that there’s no confusion down the line.

The bottom line

Partnerships are a popular choice for small businesses. According to the latest data from the SBA Office of Advocacy, partnerships and sole proprietors con­stituted 94 percent of non-employers in 2010. However, as with any business undertaking, it’s not without risk. Do your research upfront, weigh up the pros and cons and protect yourself with an ironclad agreement.