Three ways to buy an established online business

By: Doug Winter August 14, 2017

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/295829

This year will be known as the year enterprises became artificially intelligent. Research by Gartner suggests that interest in new big data investments has peaked. The question has changed from “how do we get data?” to “what do we do with it?” Forrester found that enterprises plan on increasing investment in artificial intelligence (AI) by 300 percent in 2017. One area of major AI investments will be sales. Customer analytics are one of the largest data sources for enterprises, and Salesforce already made a big splash earlier this month by releasing Einstein, their AI assistant designed to help sales teams uncover insights that will help close deals and identify upsell opportunities. But how exactly will sales be upended by AI? I see three main areas:

  1. Process optimization. According to CSO Insights, 43 percent of enterprise sales reps miss quota. The main reason? Lack of efficient, organized sales processes. AI will make huge inroads in regards to optimizing the sales process, beginning with the onboarding of new reps, which currently takes upwards of six to 10 months to reach full productivity. Based on observing the actions of high-performing reps, AI will provide a blueprint to new reps, offering guidance in terms of how often reach out to a prospect and what collateral to send them to be most effective in closing deals. This “autocoach” functionality will mitigate the time in which new reps operate at a loss because they are acting in a statistically similar way as high-performing reps. Content and meeting preparation processes are also primed for AI, particularly through natural language processing (NLP). For example, client-facing collateral in regulated industries, like financial services, is often required to include correct disclosures, a manual process usually delegated to reps. NLP can automate this process through keyword scanning, and as sales compliance remains a hot button issue in financial services, expect to see AI play a major role. NLP will also improve how sales reps prepare for meetings by bringing context front-and-center. By leveraging data accrued from past meetings across the sales organizations, sales reps will know what pieces of content — and even what order of slides — will work best for the particular combination of buyers in the room during a presentation. Which brings me to my next point …
  1. Personalization. Eighty percent of B2B sales organizations find personalized interactions to be most effective with buyers. Unfortunately, Forrester has found that 78 percent of buyers say salespeople come to meetings with irrelevant or incorrect materials. AI opens up a new world of personalization in sales conversations. One important instance will be in lead scoring. Right now, lead scoring essentially involves qualifying leads by fairly large, non-specific buckets based on previous interactions and subjective human input. With AI processing data from the entire marketing, sales and UX technology stacks, lead scoring will become exponentially more granular, where sales reps are handed personalized blueprints on how to approach each lead as an individual. From there, AI will also usher in dramatic changes to the content used by sales reps. Integrating data coming from the Internet of Things opens up particularly intriguing cases. Today this data primarily assists product monitoring, but it’s not hard to see a situation in which, say, Boeing, through the digital monitoring of their own commercial machine parts, reaches out to American Airlines with a personalized product brochure — automatically personalized with the right logos and pertinent case studies for the individual buyer — on new turbines the moment there are indications that it may be time for a new one within their fleet.
  1. The elimination of mundane sales tasks. Popular calendar and scheduling tools are, frankly, a giant pain for everyone involved. Our sales team of 60 schedules about 3,600 meetings per month. If each meeting takes 10 minutes of sending calendar invites back and forth and including new attendees, the result is 600 hours per month wasted scheduling meetings. We’re already seeing a crop of new tools that leverage AI to help with scheduling meetings. X.ai, for example, automates the email back and forth for the sales rep. Another manually intensive area of sales is note taking. Required for proper follow-up, note taking can also distract the rep from giving his or her full attention to the buyer. Clarke.ai is claiming to solve this problem via NLP. By dialing into the service before a call, Clarke.ai will record the context of the meeting and provide it back to the seller automatically.

 

Bringing it all together

While the tactical changes promised by AI will no doubt change the day-to-day of sales reps, its true benefit lies in the feedback loop. Big data investments have allowed data to be collected from all areas of the customer experience, from first touch to the monitoring of products they end up using. AI will be able to pinpoint and predict areas of strength and weaknesses in the experience of each new lead that comes through, improving the entire sales and marketing process intelligently and automatically.

3 things business owners need to know about BI (entrepreneur.com)

By: Sheila Eugenio May 29, 2017

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/289500

Business intelligence, or BI, is changing the way small to mid-size companies are making decisions, and it is creating significant advantages for those that do it well. If you are an entrepreneur, you know how important information is when it pertains to decisions that involve the future of your business. Data-driven decision-making helps improve potential outcomes by reducing speculation in favor of analysis. Industry experts are all talking about the ways in which data and BI are becoming essential tools for all business owners. Peter Sondergaard of Gartner Research summarized the importance of BI when he said, “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” Research firms like Gartner are not only predicting the importance of BI for decision-making purposes; they also think it can be monetized. A recent report projects that as many as 10 percent of companies will have profitable departments focused on “productizing and commercializing” the data they collect by 2020.

Forrester, another research firm, found that enterprise data is an untapped resource for most organizations. It reported that a mere 40 percent of enterprise data is ever used to enhance operations. Organizations that can use that information to improve existing processes will likely see significant improvements in their strategies, and those that learn how to market and sell that data will achieve higher revenues. The following are three major trends business owners need to know to better leverage BI for their organizations.

  1. Self-service BI for small business.

Until recently, big data was inaccessible for smaller organizations. But the rise of platforms that provide self-service BI solutions is allowing access to anyone who wants to evaluate the data that drives their business. Many organizations that leverage internal data collect it from multiple processes or departments, which makes it difficult to aggregate in a way that makes sense for everyone. This is especially challenging for large organizations that have much more data to process. The result is often data-centric blind spots that open the company up to significant risks. Uday Hegde, CEO of USEReady, a company that works to help business leaders leverage data and analytics, explains how companies are consolidating these functions. “Businesses are shifting toward using application program interfaces (APO) to transfer their data to user-friendly applications. As a result, they can trade clunky dashboards for more useful apps. Converting to an app-centric approach empowers companies to make their data more interactive across multiple connected devices. Self-reliant solutions help businesses make data more actionable.”

  1. Data for visualization.

The good news is data is becoming more and more useful, as there are more companies working to provide quality data visualization that is geared toward being accessible to even the less technical members of the team. Organizations like Tableau, Domo and IBM are all innovating at a rapid pace, aiming to gain market share by helping their customers improve the usefulness of their data. Tableau released its own predictions about where data analytics are headed in the coming year, highlighting visualization as the second most important development in big data. Why is visualization such a compelling method for presenting data? Hans Rosling, a scientist known for his videos depicting interesting data, explains in a TED Talk, “The idea is to go from numbers to information to understanding.” Data presented in compelling visuals helps guide the viewer toward comprehension.

  1. Security for data.

As self-service applications begin to democratize data for organizations, and visualization helps more members of the organization access and comprehend crucial information, the need for securing that information increases. More people accessing and sharing data means more opportunities for proprietary data to leak, and more potential points for external attacks. Gartner estimates that by 2018 20 percent of organizations will be looking to develop sound data security governance plans to protect themselves from data breaches on the cloud. Those that fail to do so will likely encounter damaging security breaches and subsequent fallout. Firms like USEReady take an integrated approach, helping companies use business intelligence tools while creating plans for securing their data. Hegde explains, “BI systems in large organizations often create security challenges when not managed correctly. It is important for these businesses to evaluate their data infrastructure and create governance strategies to keep it secure.” Businesses that successfully integrate security into all data applications will help prevent the hardships that come from breaches.

7 productivity tips to help you accomplish your biggest goals (entrepreneur.com)

By: Nina Zipkin

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288254

As a young entrepreneur who says her mission is to help others reach their potential, Caroline Ghosn understands the link between happiness and doing work that is of value. Ghosn is the founder and CEO of Levo, an online hub dedicated to helping millennials build and grow their careers by providing tips, tools, mentorship and networking opportunities. We caught up with Ghosn to talk about how to achieve peak productivity and meet your goals head on. Here are her seven tips to reach your goals.

  1. Write everything down.

Don’t hold on to every plan, thought or feeling in your brain. You will get stressed out just trying to remember everything.

“What makes people feel anxious and unproductive is that loop,” she says. “You can have hundreds of those going on at once and it can be completely distracting.” Simply writing down what you want to accomplish will free up space to focus on what is most important, Ghosn says.

  1. Make a plan.

“It is never wasted time. You’re actually making the rest of your day productive by spending 30 minutes reviewing your to-do’s, prioritizing them and ruthlessly removing things that shouldn’t be there,” Ghosn says. She recommends structuring your to-do list with actionable items — only those things that start with a verb. If it takes only a few minutes to do, just do the task right away. Create lists around a single theme or intention.

  1. Put social media away.

“Actually remove those tabs from your computer and phone,” Ghosn says. Turn off notifications so you don’t feel the urge to check your social media accounts and lose your concentration and momentum. Uninterrupted work time is key. In a survey conducted by Levo and Microsoft, Ghosn noted that respondents identified social media as the number one distraction.

  1. Block off your calendar.
    Ghosn recommends dividing your day into several sections — for example, one dedicated to catching up on correspondence and meetings, another to plan out your to-do list and a third to execute on those tasks. “They all require very different mindsets and they should be separated as such,” she says.
  2. Find out when you are most productive.

“I used to think I was a night owl,” Ghosn says. “I realized I’m not because I have energy at night but I’m not as focused and productive when I try to get things done.” She recommends figuring out where and when you are most engaged and excited to work and use those times to tackle the most important items on your list. In the survey, 38 percent of those polled reported that the mid-morning was their most productive time period, followed by the early morning. Only 1 percent said that their mind was the sharpest during the lunch hour.

  1. Remember that it is OK to fumble.

“When you experience difficulty at work or in your life, instead of looking back on it as something that was really challenging, look at it and ask yourself, ‘what wisdom did I learn from that?'” Ghosn says. “It’s approaching it with gratitude vs. bitterness or negativity, and it allows you to be better.” You can learn from every mistake and use it to motivate you rather than blame yourself or give up something that is important to you.

  1. Check in with yourself.

Ghosn recommends doing a weekly review and checking off what you achieved and giving yourself credit for even the most incremental wins. “Take the time to close the loop with your brain,” she says, “and affirm that you did a great job.”

7 key steps to a growth strategy that works immediately (entrepreneur.com)

By: Rob Biederman January 29, 2015

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240853

If only half of startups survive more than five years and only one-third make it to 10, what’s the one thing you could do to ensure your company is sustainable? The answer is to create a growth strategy for your business, of course. A growth strategy involves more than simply envisioning long-term success. If you don’t have a tangible plan, you’re actually losing business — or you’re increasing the chance of losing business to competitors. The key with any growth strategy is to be deliberate. Figure out the rate-limiting step in your growth, and pour as much fuel on the fire as possible. But for this to be beneficial, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Establish a value proposition.

For your business to sustain long-term growth, you must understand what sets it apart from the competition. Identify why customers come to you for a product or service. What makes you relevant, differentiated and credible? Use your answer to explain to other consumers why they should do business with you. For example, some companies compete on “authority” — Whole Foods Market is the definitive place to buy healthy, organic foods. Others, such as Walmart, compete on price. Figure out what special benefit only you can provide, and forget everything else. If you stray from this proposition, you’ll only run the risk of devaluing your business.

  1. Identify your ideal customer.

You got into business to solve a problem for a certain audience. Who is that audience? Is that audience your ideal customer? If not, who are you serving? Nail down your ideal customer, and revert back to this audience as you adjust business to stimulate growth.

  1. Define your key indicators.

Changes must be measurable. If you’re unable to measure a change, you have no way of knowing whether it’s effective. Identify which key indicators affect the growth of your business, then dedicate time and money to those areas. Also, A/B test properly — making changes over time and comparing historical and current results isn’t valid.

  1. Verify your revenue streams.

What are your current revenue streams? What revenue streams could you add to make your business more profitable? Once you identify the potential for new revenue streams, ask yourself if they’re sustainable in the long run. Some great ideas or cool products don’t necessarily have revenue streams attached. Be careful to isolate and understand the difference.

  1. Look to your competition.

No matter your industry, your competition is likely excelling at something that your company is struggling with. Look toward similar businesses that are growing in new, unique ways to inform your growth strategy. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Ask yourself why your competitors have made alternate choices. Are they wrong? Or are your businesses positioned differently? The assumption that you’re smarter is rarely correct.

  1. Focus on your strengths.

Sometimes, focusing on your strengths — rather than trying to improve your weaknesses — can help you establish growth strategies. Reorient the playing field to suit your strengths, and build upon them to grow your business.

  1. 7. Invest in talent.

Your employees have direct contact with your customers, so you need to hire people who are motivated and inspired by your company’s value proposition. Be cheap with office furniture, marketing budgets and holiday parties. Hire few employees, but pay them a ton. The best ones will usually stick around if you need to cut back their compensation during a slow period.

Developing a growth strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, due to changing market conditions, making strategic decisions based on someone else’s successes would be foolish. That’s not to say that you can’t learn from another company, but blindly implementing a cookie-cutter plan won’t create sustainable growth. You need to adapt your plan to smooth out your business’s inefficiencies, refine its strengths and better suit your customers — who could be completely different than those from a vague, one-size-fits-all strategy. Your company’s data should lend itself to all your strategic decisions. Specifically, you can use the data from your key indicators and revenue streams to create a personalized growth plan. That way, you’ll better understand your business and your customers’ nuances, which will naturally lead to growth.

5 keys for building a business without money (Entrepreneur.com)

By: Michael Glauser November 9, 2016

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284808

“I want to start a business but I don’t have any money.” I hear this statement over and over again as I work with aspiring entrepreneurs. Many of them have sound ideas, but feel they need a lengthy business plan and a large amount of cash to get started. The reality is, most successful entrepreneurs end up bootstrapping their business. If you are passionate about what you are doing, there are always ways to get things done with limited resources. Here are five keys successful entrepreneurs use to build thriving companies.

  1. Build a Brain Trust of Free Advisors

Nicole DeBoom was a professional triathlete for 11 years. She knew a lot about women’s sports clothing, but very little about the apparel industry. Her solution was to find a group of advisors who could teach her what she needed to know and introduce her to other contacts. Nicole explains: “When I started out I had coffee meetings ten times a week. I just started picking people’s brains.” The end result: Nicole found the resources she needed, launched her company, and has now sold over $25 million in women’s running skirts. Her advisors have been a huge key to her success.

  1. Find an Enthusiastic Angel Investor

One of the goals of building your brain trust is to find potential partners who want to get involved in your company. Jeff Wester is a great example. Jeff wanted to build an old-fashion Black Smith shop in Sisters, Oregon. He found a wealthy mentor who had built a blacksmith shop earlier in his career. He gave Jeff a piece of ground and funded his new shop. He then created a promissory note so Jeff could pay him back over time, which he was able to do.

  1. Start with Borrowed or Used Equipment

Justin Gold was making the best nut butters on the planet with a food processor in his kitchen and selling his creations at farmers’ markets. When he was ready to scale his company, he talked with several large peanut butter manufacturers. They told him they couldn’t add honey, maple syrup, and other ingredients because it would burn out their large industrial grinders. Justin wondered why he could do it in his kitchen, but they couldn’t do it in their multimillion-dollar plants. So he went out and found some old used industrial food processing equipment for almost nothing. Justin recently sold his business to Hormel for $286 million.

  1. Find Something to Sell to Get into the Game

Allen Lim spent his early career in the cycling industry. He created several all-natural hydration drinks that some of the top cyclists in the country loved. He wanted to turn his hobby into a business but had not money. He found an old used funnel cake cart and converted it into a burrito kitchen. He sold burritos at running and cycling events around the country to pay the costs of marketing his new products. With the revenue from burrito sales, his total cost to launch his new products nationwide was $800. Today, Skratch Labs is a major supplier of healthy products to both professional and amateur athletes.

  1. Sell Your Product Before You Create It

The ultimate validation of a business model is to have customers buy your products. In many cases, you can sell products before you even produce them. I sold a half million dollars of frozen dessert products before I created my new brand. David Cann sold a million dollars of his “Double Robots” before he built them. And the founders of Power Practical raised $1.5 million for their energy generating products on Kickstarter before they built these products. Crowd funding is a fantastic way to test products before you spend a lot of time and money on your business.

In sum, there are always ways to get things done with limited resources. Find a group of mentors who will advise you for free, get to know potential angel investors, start with used equipment, find something to sell to raise funds, and sell your product before you

5 necessary conditions for entrepreneurial success (Entrepreneurship)

By: Steve Tobak May  14, 2015

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246121

Every week I hear from people desperately trying to become successful entrepreneurs. They inevitably have loads of basic questions that instantly tell me they’ve taken the plunge prematurely and, as a result, have severely limited their chances of making it on their own. I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear, but if I don’t tell you the truth, then who will? The problem is that’s the wrong way to do it. The hands-down best way to become a successful entrepreneur is to not try to become an entrepreneur in the first place. Wait, what? That doesn’t make any sense. It sounds like a contradiction. Au contraire, it does make complete sense. Not only that, it’s the best advice on entrepreneurship you’ll ever get. The thing is, nobody becomes a successful entrepreneur over the long haul by setting out to become one. It happens organically under certain conditions.

The problem is one of competitive markets. Entrepreneurship is about business, and a business that beats the competition and takes off is not so easy to contrive. For a venture to have even a snowball’s chance in hell of making it, several factors have to come together:

Opportunity.

Like it or not, opportunities don’t just pop out of your Mac’s screen and shout, “Here I am!” You have to go out and find them and explore them. Think of opportunities as branches off a tree trunk. You need to get out in the real working world to gain exposure to enough branches. That’s where everything else stems from.

Discovery.

Perhaps the hardest thing about a business is figuring out the right customer problem that needs to be solved. Without that, you’ve got nothing. Usually, that requires significant exposure, expertise, and experience. Otherwise, you’ll never come up with a winning product that beats the competition.

Expertise.

Every successful entrepreneur has some sort of expertise by the time they come up with the product or company that ends up making it. Maybe it was their passion from day one or perhaps they developed it while working for others. Whichever it is, there’s something they can do better than the pack … and BSing isn’t it.

Network.

Whether its equity partners with the right mix of talent, investors, adult supervision, or some combination thereof, successful businesses almost always have several key players involved from the start or relatively early on. That requires a network – not an online one, a real network of real people you meet in the real world.

Savvy.

Not to be cliché, but businesses have lots of moving parts and it’s not easy to get everything working together unless you have some sort of business savvy. There are only three places to learn that: from your family, from business mentors, or by working hands-on in the business world.

Notice that the factors overlap. They’re actually all intertwined. That’s why not setting out to become an entrepreneur but getting out in the world and getting your hands dirty working is the easiest way to someday make it on your own. The real business world is where all those conditions come together. And that’s where most successful entrepreneurs find them.

The only caveat is that I assume you’re looking for some sort of breakout success where that becomes your livelihood and you make a very good living at it. Of course, you can slug it out with a gazillion competitors in a number of small businesses or make a go of it as a solopreneur, but that’s not exactly knocking the ball out of the park, if you know what I mean.

Look, I know this might be disappointing for some of you, but trust me when I tell you, if you really want to make it big someday, you’ll be better served by getting out and getting some experience than banging your head against a wall trying to figure out why things aren’t working out for you.

3 simple but powerful tips for startup success (entrepreneur.com)

By: Michael Noice September 29, 2016

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283061

Everyone has to start somewhere. Whether he or she works for the largest corporation or the hottest start-up, every entrepreneur starts at square one. What separates the haves from the have-nots, however, is the path they take after stepping off square one. Though many paths lead to success, some are more direct and have fewer bumps along the way. No one, of course, finds success without encountering a few obstacles. So, below are three tips I share with my clients to help them navigate the startup process and find success.

Dream big and map it out.

When you are contemplating making the entrepreneurial leap, remember this: It doesn’t take any more effort to dream big than it does to dream small. Perhaps you doubt your ability to make great things happen. Maybe you don’t want to appear greedy or materialistic. Or, you may feel that you don’t deserve all that being an entrepreneur has to offer. Regardless of the reason, you can’t listen to that voice in your head telling you to play it safe and not dream big. My most successful clients have developed the ability to dismiss that voice and replace it with an inner dialogue based on visions of what can be. They have the habit of asking themselves, “How can I?” when everyone else is saying, “You can’t do that.” They see opportunities that no one else sees. While others may be quick to point out why their vision will not work, they have the drive to prove those naysayers wrong. Now, with a big dream motivating you, it is easy to want to go all-in right now. However, before you quit your job, develop a detailed plan for your business. Most entrepreneurs are visionaries with the drive to get things started. But they are easily bored and quick to move on to their next project. By creating a detailed plan for your dream, you learn to hold yourself accountable to yourself and that accountability brings progress. Without a plan, your big dream is just a day dream. With it, it becomes a reality.

Identify your priorities, but be flexible.

As you put your plan together, you’ll find it obvious what tasks contribute the most to your business’s success. These are the tasks that must be pursued relentlessly. One reason entrepreneurs fail is that they fail to properly prioritize their work. By separating the good from the best, you create the focus that would not exist if you pursued everything asking for your time and attention. As you begin building your business, take time to identify the essential pieces of your business that will sustain your venture and provide the necessary cash flow. Also, be aware that if you do not prioritize correctly, you run the risk of taking on too much and doing nothing well. Every venture has critical pieces that create the successful outcome. It is when you focus more on the support tasks than the critical ones that you begin watering down your best work. Designing eye-catching packaging for your product, for example, may help you stand out from the competition, but if you have neglected the necessary legwork to get your product on the shelves in the first place, your efforts will all be for naught.

Fail fast and fail often.

Most entrepreneurs are not risk adverse. If they were, they would still be playing it “safe” in their 9-to-5 jobs. However, in order to be successful, you need to experiment and take chances that may frighten you at first. If you are reading this in the hopes of not making any mistakes, then you’ve already made your first one. Do not look at mistakes as something to be avoided at all costs, but as unique learning opportunities custom-tailored to you, your circumstances and your business. The more lessons you can learn from in the quickest amount of time, the more you can shorten your learning curve and place yourself in a position to grow your business. By adopting the mindset of “fail fast and fail often,” you’ll begin to leverage the power of iteration — the process of repeating and refining a process in order to meet a goal. The ultimate goal for your business is to stay alive and ultimately to thrive. In order to accomplish this goal, you must iterate until you find the “breakthrough” that makes your business a self-sustaining entity.

When you are starting a business, speed is critical for success. The more tightly you can run experiments and the faster you can iterate, the more chances you will provide yourself to find that winning combination. It is that winning combination that helps you become scalable. And scalability is what allows you to realize your big dream. So, do not be afraid of making mistakes. You have to try, make mistakes, learn and try again. If you try, make a mistake and give up, you will never be the success you could have been.

6 truths on why introverts make great leaders (entrepreneur.com)

By: Jeff Boss October  02, 2016

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251177

It’s rare that you see the words “introvert” and “leader” in the same sentence. After all, the common perception is that extroverts make great public speakers and are excellent networkers — two things CEOs and organizational leaders must be — and that introverts are not. In fact, a poll conducted by USA Today cited 65 percent of executives who believed introversion to be a barrier to leadership.  Interestingly, the same article highlights that roughly 40 percent of leaders actually are introverted — they’re just better at adapting themselves to situational demands. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Charles Schwab are just a few “innies.“ If you are considering starting a business but don’t consider yourself a social butterfly, here are six truths about introverts that you should know about:

  1. Introverts are prudent.

Unlike their extroverted counterparts who are more sensitive to rewards, which explains why extroverts are more pre-disposed to risk-taking, introverts take a circumspect approach to chance. This is why you hear extroverts say things such as, “Let’s just do it!” whereas introverts prefer to ask, “are we sure this is the right thing to do?” Why is knowing this an entrepreneurial advantage? Risk-taking is a rite of passage for any founder yet can often feel awkward. You may vacillate between yes and no, go and no-go while you weigh different options. Now you know why. Recognizing how you’re predisposed to decision-making is how you improve, and entrepreneurs make impactful decisions every day. Second, while every start-up necessitates some risk to propel it forward, it also requires prudence in capital and resources.

  1. Introverts learn by listening.

Rather than the flashy chit-chat that defines social gatherings, introverts listen intently to what others say and internalize it before they speak. They’re not thinking about what to say while the other person is still talking, but rather listening so they can learn what to say. Along the same lines, introverts share a common love of learning, according to bestselling author and founder of Quiet Revolution, Susan Cain. They are intrinsically motivated and therefore seek content regardless of achieving an external standard. How’s that for a performance standard?

  1. Introverts leverage their quiet nature.

Remember being in school and hearing the same kids contribute, until shy little Johnny — who never said a peep — chimed in? Then what happened? Everyone turned around to look in awe at little Johnny actually talking. This is how introverts leverage their power of presence: they “own” the moment by speaking calmly and deliberately, which translates to a positive perception.

  1. Introverts demonstrate humility.

Not to say that extroverts aren’t humble, but introverts tend to have an accurate sense of their abilities and achievements (not to be confused with underestimated). Humility entails the ability to acknowledge mistakes, imperfections, knowledge gaps and limitations — all key ingredients for getting ahead in business and life. Being humble also indicates an openness to hear new ideas or receive contradictory information.

  1. Introverts manage uncertainty.

Since introverts have a lower sensitivity to external rewards than extroverts, they’re more comfortable working with little information and resisting self-defeating impulses. Introverts are also more likely to persist in finding solutions that aren’t initially apparent. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe Albert Einstein, who said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer.” Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first), but finding certainty where uncertainty typically prevails is a huge plus for any entrepreneur.

  1. Introverts are comfortable working alone. 

Even if you start a company through a partnership or joint venture, you will likely find yourself working alone at some point in your career. Introverts prefer working in isolation because it affords the greatest opportunity to focus. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, put it this way, “Most inventors and engineers I have met are like me — they’re shy and they live in their heads. They work best when they are alone, and can control an invention’s design. I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take: work alone. You’re going to be able to design revolutionary products and features.”

4 tips for stopping unprofitable growth(Entrepreneurship)

By: Doug and Polly White April 19, 2016

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/274238

A small manufacturer contacted us — an owner who had seen his revenue double in the past year but still wasn’t making any money. To the contrary, he was barely breaking even. When we looked at his operation, we saw that, over the same time period, his costs had also doubled. This shouldn’t have been the case, of course. As a business grows, its costs should increase more slowly than its revenue, so that profit compounds. If you find yourself in a similar situation, we suggest four places to look for your lost profit.

  1. Product profitability

If you don’t already, you need to understand the gross margin of each item you produce (gross margin = sales price – the cost of goods sold). The cost of goods sold is everything you spend to make your product. At a minimum, this will include materials and labor. You may well find that some of the items you produce have a negative gross margin. You can’t make that up in volume because you’ll be losing money on each unit you sell. And negative gross margins are sometimes justified, if they allow you to sell other products that make lots of money. Razors are the oft-cited example here: You may be willing to lose money selling razors if the result is profitable blade sales.

However, in general, you should not have negative gross margins. If you do, you should either increase the price or find a way to reduce the cost of goods sold. In many businesses, it makes sense to establish a minimum acceptable gross margin. Then, price your products so that you achieve at least this level. For example, if your overhead as a percentage of revenue is 20 percent, establish a minimum acceptable gross margin of 25 percent (gross margin percentage = gross margin ÷ revenue). This means that, at worst, you will cover your overhead and make a 5 percent profit. In the case of our client, he had some products that were not covering their share of the overhead. We set out to help him find ways to improve these gross margins.

  1. Customer profitability

You also need to understand the profitability of each of your customers. Most often, some customers will pay lower prices than others will, and some customers will cost more to serve than others. These differences drive different levels of profitability. And you may find that some customers are just simply unprofitable. So, take steps to improve the profitability of these relationships: Increase the price you charge these customers, or reduce the costs of serving them. You can do the same analysis of customer profitability that we describe above, for product profitability. You can also set minimum profitability goals in the same way. We’ve done this analysis across a broad range of industries. We have often, but not always, found that large-scale customers are less profitable because they can have the volume to negotiate lower prices. Small-scale customers are frequently less profitable because they are expensive to serve. Midsize customers may be the most profitable to serve.

.3. Overhead

As revenue grows, overhead should remain relatively constant. Take a look at what happened to your overhead as your business grew. Too often, small business owners let their overhead costs rise with revenue. If that is the case in your situation, cut overhead back to pre-growth levels wherever possible. We understand that some overhead costs may grow with revenue.

For example, if you are sending out more invoices, that effort will likely require more labor hours. However, many overhead costs can be held constant as revenue grows.

  1. Cost reduction

Does your new higher volume provide opportunities for cost reductions? Since your volume has doubled, you may be able to negotiate material prices. If you are sending out twice the number of invoices, perhaps the process can be automated. Volume growth provides opportunities for cost reduction. Make sure you capture these opportunities.

Overall, we’ve noted, too many small businesses fail to capture the economies of scale that should accrue to them as their volume increases. Following the tips above will allow you to claw back the profit you’ve missed.

The three most critical moments you will face as a co-founder (Forbes)

By: Colbey Pfund August 23, 2016

Source: http://www.forbes.com

When my co-founders and I came together to form our company only three months after meeting for the first time, we didn’t have a proper business plan. We didn’t go to business school, we didn’t have investors, and we didn’t have the traditional experience one would think is required to turn an idea into a thriving enterprise. But we did have each other, for better or for worse. After signing papers to form our business, we soon learned that starting a business together was much like entering into a marriage.

As we enter our third year of consecutive growth, a new manufacturing and distribution center, global sales, and a refined marketing strategy, it’s important to remember that we still have each other, and still for better or for worse. During the last several years, our partnership dynamic has evolved dramatically, often growing through a series of disagreements, key decision-making moments, wins and mistakes. These moments have produced an unspoken constitution by which we operate and grow our business together.

Focusing on role fulfilment

In the beginning, when our business was small, we were firm believers in the unimportance of job titles. Instead, we preferred to focus on role fulfilment. We decided to determine our roles organically by acknowledging our individual strengths and weaknesses as the business grew, and as we encountered new challenges. Each new challenge presented an opportunity for certain co-founders to step up, while other challenges presented the opportunity for a co-founder to step aside. We quickly learned to never let personalities interfere with guiding principles of the business. After all, my co-founders were all friends before becoming business partners. Knowing where to draw the line between our friendship and our business has always remained paramount.

Throughout my experience with several companies, I have learned that while not all of my friends will make the best business partners, my business partners can become great friends. When approaching any new venture, I recommend an honest assessment of your friendship with new partners to evaluate trust, honesty and dependability. I often find that the strongest personality traits will dictate a co-founder’s role. Using the traits listed above as an example, the most dependable partner might naturally run operations, while the most trusting co-founder may find himself overseeing the company’s finances.

The perils of inaction

When two executives disagree on a particular course of action, the fallout can be ugly. Most healthy business relationships are built on complementary opinions and perspectives, but failing to cultivate a symbiotic approach to growing your business will just have you and your partners constantly arriving at an impasse. In my experience, sometimes making the wrong decision together yields a better outcome than making no decisions at all. Mistakes can almost always be converted into learning experiences, but inaction can stifle even the most opportunistic enterprises. We learned this lesson very early on when we couldn’t agree whether or not to pull the trigger on a unique promotional opportunity at a convention. As a result, we were not logistically prepared for a better opportunity that presented itself shortly after. Even if the first event had been a complete failure, we could have used the experience to ensure our success in the next one. Always arrive at a concrete decision and course of action. Avoid stalling out of fear or “tabling” the conversation until later.

Overcoming stalemates

Opposing viewpoints are a natural and healthy aspect of any partnership. When two of us seem to arrive at a stalemate, we embrace an unorthodox, yet often pragmatic and effective approach for moving forward. We immediately reverse our positions, advocating for the other partner’s choice in the matter. We attempt to explain why the opposing decision is the right one, simultaneously finding flaws in our own perspectives and the strengths in others. For example, if I’m in favor of increasing spend in a paid media channel and my partner disagrees, I will be asked to evaluate the potential drawbacks of the campaign. By the end of the conversation, perhaps I will have discovered that our sales revenue is healthy enough for the advertising spend to be reallocated to a new hire desperately needed in operations. This type of exercise will often root out all too common scenarios where oversight is mistaken for good instincts. Ultimately, our unique personalities helped mold our roles as co-founders. Complementary skill sets can be developed organically as your business grows, but fine-tuning collaborative decision-making abilities often requires enough time and experience working together to inspire the most success in the business and in each other.