Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Are You a Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?

Just because you own your own business (or aspire to) does not mean that you are an entrepreneur. This notion may take readers aback, however as we start to peel back the layers, I assure you it makes sense.

Academically, Merriam-Webster defines owner through the lens of possession, while defining entrepreneur through the lens of the activities involved in owning, managing and running a business.

Practically, through my experience of owning or co-owning four businesses and coaching dozens of others, I see “business owner” as a job title and “entrepreneur” as a mindset.

A “business owner” might buy into or start a business because “it was a great opportunity” or “it was the natural progression” or “it’s the only thing I enjoy doing or know how to do.” I often hear, “I didn’t want to work for somebody else,” or, “I was tired of making somebody else rich,” and only occasionally, “I couldn’t let this business die.”

An “entrepreneur,” on the other hand, will often say things like, “I saw a better way of doing things,” or, “I saw a gap or a need in the industry (or community),” or, “I wanted to make an impact or leave a legacy.”

Functionally, I see business owners and entrepreneurs go about their businesses with different approaches as well.

Many business owners focus on putting out fires, and in that sense tend to be more reactive. They envision a world where employees would do their jobs, customers would pay on time, and software or equipment would function as it was designed.

True entrepreneurs question the status quo and envision a world where common industry or customer pain points no longer exist. The founders of Airbnb, for example, realized that a popular tech conference coming to San Francisco warned conference-goers right on the conference website that area hotel rooms were booked so to make alternate arrangements. Though they faced many challenges before making it big, their business was born out of noticing a gap or a need, not just a way to make money.

Finally, many business owners make decisions unintentionally that lead to themselves “buying a full-time job.” For example, naming the business after themselves. “Simpson Electric Services” holds little to no brand equity or value for a potential buyer with Thomas for a last name. They may also build their business through their own skills. Highly skilled personal trainers who try to scale their business by hiring someone else to train their clients often face a rude awakening when their clients refuse to train with someone else, or complain about a discrepancy in the quality of service or care. The glass ceiling firmly atop their heads results in trading time for money as a business model.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, often have an exit strategy built into their business plan before they’ve even made their first sale. They might choose a more neutral or operational name that anyone could call their own, and they might hire more skilled employees for certain aspects of the service delivery so that they can more easily escape the operational aspects of the company and work “on the business” instead of working “in the business”.

These structural decisions often stem from a longer-term view of business, and the results they can engender can end up being quite profound. Business owners often trade “time for money” as mentioned, which we can term as “operational revenue.” The personal trainer in the aforementioned example only gets paid when she is training a client. If she were to create her own series of community races however, she might one day get paid while on vacation while her team executes the race.

True entrepreneurs, through their mindset of iterating solutions to common problems, often build businesses that can one day run without them. That is, the business can be run by a team, through effective systems such as automated recurring billing and timely deliveries or regular upgrades. In effect, entrepreneurs escape the trap of “time for money” and create residual income streams we can term as “entrepreneurial revenue.”

Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with business owners who effectively have a full-time job they will work until they retire and close their business (if that is the case). Compare just a sample, however, of why 20 entrepreneurs started their businesses, and one could make the argument that business owners create a job while entrepreneurs create a solution, impact or even social movement.

So are you a business owner, or an entrepreneur? What does your business need you to be?

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Leaders Who Make Good Decisions Do These 6 Things Constantly

The ongoing workplace difficulties at Uber -- accusations of discrimination against women, rebellion among its employees and drivers against what they feel is a complete lack of appreciation for them -- seem to surprise no one who worked there. Every story I read indicates that these issues (and others) had been issues for a long time at the company. Uber’s workforce had long been frustrated with their leaders and their inability or refusal to have their backs and listen to their concerns. But, when business is good and managing growth is the only objective, who cares if the culture is failing? Things are good now! What’s the point of making bigger, long-term decisions to keep employees motivated and their teams inspired? Those that complain can leave -- and easily be replaced.

This is exactly why Uber is looking for new leaders from the top down: It knows so many of its so-called leaders were not ready for leadership responsibilities and increased levels of accountability required in today’s workplaces. It focused only on managing growth in the marketplace, not making good, thoughtful and smart decisions about the the people who worked there -- as if the two were not connected at all. 

What is clear is even in hard-driving cultures like the one Uber created, people still want leaders that can help them grow professionally and that have the influence to advance their careers over time. These leaders know how to organically manage from within the corporate culture, maximize resources, motivate, inspire and -- most importantly -- make good, sound decisions, not bad ones that create chaos.

Are your leaders making the right and good decisions and thus ready for their leadership roles? Are you? Those that are adhere to the following six behavioral patterns:

1. Knowing experience matters only so much

The only thing certain about business today is uncertainty. Marketplaces shift and competitors emerge globally in much less time than ever before. As a result, what succeeded 25 years ago -- or even five years ago -- matters only so much. A track record of prior success doesn’t mean that it will apply within any organization, even the industry you work in. What matters most is mindset: Leaders who are adept at being inclusive in their leadership in the workplace make good decisions by constantly seeing and seizing new opportunities.

2. Refusing to play politics

Leaders that play politics lose their leadership identities, because they are always trying to serve other people’s agendas and motives that don’t align with their beliefs. That leads to bad and inauthentic decision-making. It is possible to serve your company’s and boss’s goals and objectives and not get addicted to corporate politics. Is this always possible? No. But, at the very least, leaders who are transparent about playing politics when necessary maintain trust from the employees who depend upon them.

3. Having clarity of purpose

What do you stand for? Do you even know what your core values are? Do they align with what your leaders and company expect from you? Then how can you know you are making the right decisions? Clarity of purpose allows you to make decisions that are true and consistent with the mission at hand and align it you’re your own. Lacking this clarity erodes your ability to make decisions authentically.

4. Knowing how to manage resources

Do you know the resources you have at your disposal -- both the human and intellectual capital and the tools and resources that are available and/or need to be acquired to compete? I’m constantly surprised at how few leaders actually know how deep their talent is and what they need to succeed and thus make bad and uniformed decisions leading to a mismanagement of those resources. People are your playbook for success for not just managing growth but reclaiming it.

5. Being able to see and seize opportunities

Seeing and seizing opportunities are the keys to reclaiming growth and require what I call circular vision or wide-angle thinking that makes leaders proficient at anticipating crisis and managing change before circumstances force their hand. It broadens their observation and allows them to see around, beneath and beyond the obvious detail before them.

6. Trusting themselves

Do you trust yourself enough as a leader to adapt to the cultural demographic shift taking place in America’s workplaces and marketplaces? Do you have the courage and wisdom to embrace diversity of thought? The best leaders do and thus have the trust not only of their people but also trust themselves as they lead through uncertainty, even if they can’t know whether their decisions will lead to success.

Many great leaders begin to lose self-trust as they fail or face uncertainty and thus fail to do the other five things that lead to bad decisions. Don’t fall into this trap!

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

The Myth of the 8-Second Attention Span

Microsoft conducted a widely publicized study a few years ago that concluded the average American’s attention span is only 8 seconds -- less than a goldfish.

This idea that no one can focus anymore has made its way into all areas of business and life, from 140 character tweets to the idea that no one will read long-copy sales letters or watch a video on their computer longer than five minutes.

I call BS on all of it. The problem isn’t attention span; the problem is we have an infinite number of options to choose from.

Back when TV first came out, people had just a handful of channels to watch. If you didn’t like what was on, you had two additional choices. Now, you have 200 choices, plus whatever is on DVR, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube or elsewhere.

If I have options and you bore me, it is easy to simply change the channel. Odds are I can find something that will amuse me, which means you have a very short period of time to entertain me or I’m off to the next option.

Because of infinite channels, marketing has changed as well. 15 years ago, if you didn’t get a good response with your first marketing pieces, any additional follow-up was unlikely to yield any additional results. Today, because it is so difficult to grab someone’s attention, you may not get any response unless you follow up. It requires a much larger and more complicated campaign to break through the noise.

For example, I developed a five-step direct mail campaign designed to get new patients for dental offices. Since the campaign started six years ago, steps four and five combined have gotten a greater number of new patients than steps one, two and three combined. All the steps have similar copy, and although I think the last two steps look cooler, there isn’t an increase in the offer or some other huge reason they should get such a drastic increase in response. They just do.

My best guess is the increase in steps four and five happen in part because of procrastination caused by infinite channels on the dial. When the prospect gets the fourth letter, they realize it is the fourth time they’ve meant to call and make an appointment. So they finally actually call.

How to capture a person's attention

Let's start with this: If you start talking about the latest whiz-bang scientific report, you’re done. Boring never works.

A combination of offline and online marketing works the best. If we generate a lead online, we want to bring them offline ASAP. If that lead is generated offline, we want to connect and bring them online immediately. We want the prospect to get our message across platforms.

An associate of mine, Perry Belcher, once said that today we live in the single most difficult time to get someone to make a first-time purchase from you. That’s the bad news. The good news is we live in the single easiest time to get someone to make their second purchase with you. 

Getting someone to buy from you the first time is one of the single most expensive things any business does. But once someone decides to trust you -- once they determine that if they give you their hard-earned money, you will not rip them off -- it is so much easier to get them to simply continue to shop with you over and over again. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do and remind them who you are, what you do and that you’re still in business.

Costco is the perfect example of this. It was not easy to convince me that I should pay them to shop in their stores, but they got me to join with good pricing, exclusive deals, a nearly unlimited return policy and a risk-free guarantee on the membership. Now, I get a magazine from them once per month (in the mail) with articles and items I may want to buy. This magazine serves to entertain, educate, and sell me on new products or services they offer.

The more time a person gives you, your media and your products or services, the greater influence you have with them. If you want to sell more tomorrow, remember that consumers have an infinite number of channels to choose from. It is your job to entertain them, educate them and capture their attention long enough to sell to them.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

How to Stay Focused: Train Your Brain

As an entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate. Staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of employees, clients, emails, and phone calls demanding your attention. Amid the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.

Our brains are finely attuned to distraction, so today's digital environment makes it especially hard to focus. "Distractions signal that something has changed," says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). "A distraction is an alert  says, 'Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.'" The brain's reaction is automatic and virtually unstoppable.

While multitasking is an important skill, it also has a downside. "It reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ," Rock says. "We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn't, or spell things wrong." 

To make matters worse, distraction feels great. "Your brain's reward circuit lights up when you multitask,” Rock says, meaning that you get an emotional high when you're doing a lot at once. 

Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. "Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative," Rock says. 

Try these three tips to help you become more focused and productive:

1. Do creative work first.

Typically, we do mindless work first and build up to the toughest tasks. That drains your energy and lowers your focus. "An hour into doing your work, you've got a lot less capacity than (at the beginning)," Rock says. "Every decision we make tires the brain."

In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work, like deleting emails or scheduling meetings, later in the day.

2. Allocate your time deliberately.

By studying thousands of people, Rock found that we are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week. "You want to be really diligent with what you put into those hours," he says.

Most people focus best in the morning or late at night, and Rock's studies show that 90 percent of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments.

3. Train your mind like a muscle.

When multitasking is the norm, your brain quickly adapts. You lose the ability to focus as distraction becomes a habit. "We've trained our brains to be unfocused," Rock says.

Practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing your attention to a single task. Start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. "It’s just like getting fit," Rock says. "You have to build the muscle to be focused."

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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How To Create Content That Hooks Your Prospects and Keeps Them Engaged

Seize is a word that aptly describes what we're all attempting to do with content these days. If you can't seize someone's attention, you're out of luck in this game.

Search something, for example, like "top SEO tools 2017," and you'll get results from over 4 million different business websites. So, what you're doing is a battle. A tough one.

The reality is that only those blogs that take steps to actually seize people's attention win the content wars today. And while hitting on just the right headline will move you forward, it's only the beginning. Headlines, in fact, play a major role in getting high CTRs (click-through rates). But, do they keep viewers glued to any page? No.

The real "seizing of attention" happens after people click through your headlines and become transfixed by what they're reading. Here are a few effective tips to elevate your audience from scanners to avid readers:

1. Scatter weird points throughout your content

Weird stuff almost always captures attention. At least it does for the typical person. You see something that looks unusual and you just naturally have to pause to check it out. Take this post from veteran blogger Jon Morrow headlined, "20 Ways to Be Just Another Mediocre Blogger Nobody Gives a Crap About."

Morrow starts off his post with the subhed "Telling Stories" as his number one way to be a mediocre blogger. And that's weird, too -- because almost every content guru out there is already preaching that stories are a key to engaging readers. But the weird point grabs your attention and leads you on. You want to know why Morrow says telling stories is a way to become a mediocre blogger.

The viewer, therefore, naturally wants to continue reading. However, as the writer, you don't want to scatter weird points throughout your content just because they grab attention. You should have good reasons for using them. Readers want to know why you're advising them using such points.

Another example: After Morrow's seemingly weird point gets your attention, what follows is the reason behind his strange advice:

People love stories, but that doesn't mean you should tell any. Here's why: telling a boring story is worse than not telling any stories at all, and unless you're trained in storytelling, yours are pretty much guaranteed to be boring.

So, yes, weird headings and subheads seize attention. But you need good follow-up to convince your audience members they should stay on for the ride.

2. Think about how to get weird points to use.

Here's one style that works: Use loaded points. These are points that carry more meaning than they appear to at first glance. Readers can't entirely understand them unless they read further down into your content to learn more.

Example: A subhead like "Say hello to everyone" is straightforward enough for anyone to quickly understand and just move on. But try instead "The 'hello' power." This one will get readers wondering -- as they won't be entirely sure what it means. It's a loaded point.

A good live example is this post by Jeff Bullas, titled "Is The Web as We Know It Dying?" See how he uses loaded points to present his subheads in the piece:

But is the utopian web future vanishing?

The landscape

A tipping point

The web future

As the reader, you have to ask, What is The utopian? The web future? The landscape? A tipping point?

Whoever wants to find out the answers will have to read every section of Bullas's post. Reason: They are all loaded points. They obviously carry deeper meanings than they appear to. Readers, therefore, won't understand them unless they read further.

Highlight your readers' fears in headlines and subheads.

Tell someone the dangers of not using a deodorant, and chances are he or she will get all fired up to go buy and regularly apply the sexiest deodorant advertised. Fear has always been a solid tool for persuasion.

When you highlight readers' fears in headings and subheads, you get their attention. They want to see what you're saying about something they find challenging. You've seized their rapt attention. Next, suggest that you have solutions to their wildest fears, and you'll make these readers into fans.

Example: Derek Halpern's "How to Make People Like You in 5 Seconds or Less" post on the blog SocialTriggers.com. After reading this headline, you have to wonder, "How do I make people like me?"

This is a major fear for certain readers: introverts, people who've suffered rejection, even folks who previously were overconfident but recently had their ego cut down to size. Most people are overtly or secretly uncomfortable when trying to make new friends, or impress people.

The takeaway here is to notice how Halpern indicates that he has a solution to this fear by including How to overcome (the fear). Chances are high that as a reader, you'll want to click-through this headline in any feed. And, as a writer, beyond the clicks you receive on your headlines, you'll want readers to stick with your content.

To make that happen, keep leveraging their fears by highlighting them in your subheads throughout the post, indicating over and over, of course, that you have a solution to them -- that is, How to overcome (the fear).

I liked how Halpern did this in his post. His first two subheads read:

How I Introduce Myself To Almost Anyone

How I conquered Social Awkwardness

These two subheads highlight the fears that insecure people face. Introverts don't enjoy introducing themselves to new people or being in social gatherings -- that's awkward for them. So, subheads like these will naturally draw them in and pull them along.

How to find your readers' fears to use in headings and subheadings.

The first question to ask is: "Who are my primary or target readers?" Once you're able to answer this, you will know who your chief readers are and it will be easy come up with a list of their fears. Enter Google. Simply search your target customers + fears, and up will pop a plethora of handy resources pointing you to scary headings and subheadings to use in your next piece of content.

Example: Say that your target readers are salespeople. You can search salespeople fears. The top result I'm seeing for that search term reveals 4 Things Salespeople Fear More Than Anything Else:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of asking for the order
  • Fear of losing territory customers
  • Fear of failing salaries and commissions.

These are fears you can build your headings and subheadings around. And it's the same process for every type of audience you want to attract. Simply search target readers + fears and you'll get the insights you need to relate to the fears your particular readers face.

What happens after you seize people's attention?

I met with a client a few weeks ago who needed content for her new blog. And as I do with all my clients, I asked her: "What's the one action you want visitors to take away after they read your posts?" She had no idea.

She knew she wanted people to read her blog. But there was no clear view what action she wanted them to take during or after reading it. I had to ask a couple of more questions to extract the the goal she was trying to accomplish with content.

Your goals should guide the type of content you create, the topics you cover, the channels you use, the CTAs on your content and more.

That said, what happens after your forms get submitted is key. Where do you lead visitors after they sign up for something on your site? Many businesses today still underuse their thank-you pages. But smart marketers? They know this is a page that can increase their ROI.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

12 Reasons Why Your Emails Aren't Driving Business

Email marketing is one of the most effective methods of content marketing . . . if you know how to do it right.

While we can all admit that we need to engage more in a strategy to maximize our email responses, it can be tough to know where to start. After all, we send and receive emails every day yet never really study the science of what makes a campaign successful. Not to worry, though, as I've compiled a few helpful tips for you:

You're not sending confirmation emails.

Confirmations are one of the surefire ways to up your subscriptions, yet only 26 percent of well-known companies send them. Furthermore, confirmation emails add a layer of trust for new customers, assuring them that their submissions have been recognized. Take the time to set this up; you'll see more results right off the bat.

You don't have a call to action.

According to Wordstream, emails with a call to action increase clicks by 371 percent, and sales 1,617 percent, which means this strategy could boost your business tremendously. Start giving actionable responses in your copy or headlines (e.g., Shop now) to engage more subscribers.

Your content isn't relevant.

While it's important to have content that drives sales, that content has to be relevant to your audience. Remember, you're partly a source of education/entertainment for your subscribers, so keep that in mind when creating a post.

You're sending emails at the wrong times.

Believe it or not, there's a science as to what time to send an email. According to Hubspot, the most optimal time for click-through is 11 a.m., which, depending on your industry, might be a good piece of advice to test out.

You're not optimizing your subject lines.

This is similar to your call to action, only it entails gauging what words to use in subject lines, to gain the highest response. As noted in another study by Hubspot, nearly half (47 percent) of marketers surveyed said that they test the optimization of their subject lines. This might work well for you too, if your open rate is low.

Your emails aren't personalized.

Personalized emails are a small gesture, but one that's been proven to help increase your open rate. In the study by Hubspot, it was found that personalized emails had an open rate of 17.6 percent, versus 11.4 percent for non-personalized messages. Plus, there are plenty of services that can automate this process for you, such as MailChimp.

You're not using email as a primary channel.

Even given how much we love to consider social media as the reigning king, email is still the bread and butter of content marketing. In a study by Mailigen, 89 percent of marketers stated that email is their primary channel for lead generation. So, yes, email still has a lot of value for your outreach, which could help bolster your business.

Your emails aren't designed for mobile.

Mobile accounts for 54 percent of opened emails; therefore, if you're not optimizing your content to gain a response from it, you could be losing out on over half of your customer base. A quick fix for this is to use templates or customized design kits that will be responsive.

Your emails have too many images.

Images are a great tool to use for email, but as noted in the Hubspot study above, the more images you have, the more likely it is that your click-through rate will decrease. Don't let your pictures and graphics be distractions, but rather tools that help increase engagement.

You lack branding.

If your email doesn't look like it's coming from you, then what's the point in even sending it? Customers are going to feel much more secure with emails that follow your branding guidelines. Reason: They'll evoke trust, as well as a sense of care. Take the time to invest in your branding, and it will pay off tremendously in the long run.

You're not hitting the right metrics for your industry.

As noted by Smart Insights, the average click-through rate for an industry can range from 15 percent to 28 percent, so it's important that you compare yourself only to the other folks within your field. Trying to aim outside of this group might be great down the road, but for now it's imperative that you gauge where your competition lies and how you can fall within a reasonable metric.

Your content is too long.

No one likes to read long emails, so don't plague your customers with them. This is one of the quickest ways to lose subscribers, and in turn, recommended/new leads. Focus on the most important points of your message, include a call to action, and be informative and entertaining.

If these goals don't seem like something you can accomplish consistently, it might be a good idea to bring on someone to do your email copy for you. Doing that could pay off tremendously much sooner than you'd expect.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

With So Many Options for Marketing Your Business, What Content Should You Promote Where?

What content do you use in marketing your firm? And what content should go in which place?

Your company typically has seven layers of content marketing. In descending order of importance, they are:

  • Reputation
  • Website
  • Email templates
  • Social media
  • Events
  • Deck
  • Virtual data room

At HOF Capital, we try to manage these layers to be MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive). When I was a strategy consultant, I used the concept of MECE to structure client problems into clean buckets of analysis. The idea of MECE is fundamental to how we run internal processes at our firm. 

Specifically, the content for the seven layers are:

1. Reputation 
Jeff Bezos said, "A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” By definition, it’s unwritten, but critical.

2. Website
To the maximum extent possible, in our marketing materials and LinkedIn profiles, we ban adjectives. I really dislike seeing companies or individuals say that they are “prestigious,” “influential,” etc. Those are not normally quantitatively defensible, and belong in the reputation layer. Your marketing materials should show, not tell. Of course, we do try to demonstrate quantitatively the aspects of our story we think are worth highlighting. And if the press wants to use positive adjectives, that’s great. But, when writing about a firm in its own voice, I like numbers, not adjectives.

3. Email templates 
We have an ever-growing collection of email templates for origination, marketing, fundraising, recruiting, negotiation, etc. Every team member is expected to use those templates as the basis for their correspondence. These often link to specific pages on our website. 

4. Social media
To the extent possible, we try to use our social media presence to point back to our website, our partners and/or our portfolio companies’ websites. Fundamentally, we control our web presence. But Facebook, Twitter, Medium and other social platforms control the extent to which people see the content we publish there. I don’t like creating content proprietary to someone else’s platform when they’re not paying us to do it. So, we don’t create unique content on someone else’s platform, without at a minimum also publishing it on a site in our immediate corporate family.

5. Events 
We currently participate in events as speakers and plan to continue hosting periodic events to build awareness around our fund and portfolio companies. We don’t normally distribute literature at these events, but we do prepare FAQs beforehand (not for distribution) to make sure that we’re all aligned on our talking points.

6. Presentation materials 
Our deck is for material which for legal or other reasons we cannot put online. There is some inevitable duplication here of the website content.

7. Virtual data room 

This is the granular content that only investors doing due diligence on your firm will assess, or perhaps a potential client who is thinking of writing a large check. For MECE purposes, whenever one of our potential clients (a limited partner) give us questions, many of our answers are along the lines of, “Please see the slide __________ in our deck” or “See http://hof.capital/______ .”

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Has Your Business Stopped Growing? Here's How to Turn Things Around.

Has your business ever stalled out and simply stopped growing?

It happened to me. Early on in my career as an entrepreneur, I couldn’t figure out why everything stalled. But lucky for me, I didn’t quit there. I kept working, changed my business, and now -- having worked with thousands of business owners -- I have discovered that the primary reasons a business stops growing tend to land into a handful of categories.

1. Lack of opportunity

Some businesses just aren’t made to scale up. When I first started in the dry-cleaning delivery niche, I didn’t understand this simple fact: Business in my little area was never going to be a million-dollar business, let alone a multimillion-dollar business, no matter how hard I worked. Make sure you aren’t trying to win the Super Bowl with a peewee football team.

On a side note, when I make this argument, sometimes people argue the point. For example, they may tell me I could have expanded into other areas or franchised. Of course, I’m not saying there aren’t ways to scale a business, but some businesses are simply easier and less risky to scale than others. If you are in an industry that is challenging to scale, one where your risk of failure is super high, it may be a good idea to start looking into other opportunities.

2. Boredom

It’s amazing how many of us get bored. We get bored with our marketing, with our product, with our niche. Our boredom causes us to cancel marketing, taking our eye off the main business to focus on some new exciting startup we want to work on.

Want to sell and jump into a new exciting niche where every prospect only says yes and sales come easily? I get it. I’m not immune to those feelings. But, making changes because we are bored is insanity! If you have an ATM machine that spits out hundred-dollar bills, why would you try to rewire it? This is what people do with their marketing or when they take focus off the main cash cow business. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they are stopping what’s working because they want to try something new. It’s just crazy.

3. People

If you read the crap that comes from some marketers, you’d think that everyone was making money easily, using only the internet with no problems, no skills and no employees. While I do know people I could describe that way who are making money, this is the exception and not the rule. It would be like me pointing to a group of billionaires and selling thousands of products with the premise being: “Just buy this product and you too can be a billionaire.”

In almost all businesses it takes employees (or at least outsourced labor) to grow. If you’ve stalled, it may be because you need to invest in another employee or two to kick-start the growth. I get it, when you invest in employees, payroll is bloated, short-term profits go down, and it is risky. But guess what? You’re a business owner -- that’s the job. And 99.99 percent of businesses need employees to make money.

4. Too externally focused

As I write this, I’m in the middle of planning next year’s marketing strategy. I will have a number of new and exciting items on the list (external stuff), but one of the most interesting numbers I’m working on is a plan for our sales call conversion rate. With no increases in the number of calls next year, a 5 percent increase in conversion would equal an additional $1.152 milion in annual revenue. That is an internal number worth focusing on.

I’ll also be looking at how to reduce customer churn, improve employee performance and increase referrals. Just focusing on internal opportunities, we have the potential to add millions in new revenue and/or cost reductions due to improved performance, which leads to increased margins. If you’re not thinking about ways to work on these internal opportunities, you’re leaving tons of new revenue and profit on the table.

Growing a business isn’t easy, but it is pretty simple, assuming you have opportunity in the current business model. You just have to be willing to invest. Invest in yourself (your business education), and invest in your company by hiring the right people, focusing on improving your systems and process.

We’ve talked about why businesses stop growing, and the first two points looked at those reasons, but the last two points could easily be turned around and used as the start of a growth strategy.

Who should you hire right now?
What internal challenges could you fix that would have an increase on profits?
Can you do a better job converting prospects into customers?
How are you doing on upsells?
What about referrals?
Do your customers know who you are, what you do, and that you’re still in business? If not, how are you going to change that?
What is the communication strategy for both prospects and customers?

I could go on, but you get the point.

The decision to grow (or not grow) is yours; you’re armed with the information. Now you just need to take action.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

How To Run A Business Without Spending More Than 20 Minutes In Your Inbox Every Day

If you’re a business owner and you are finding yourself strapped for time, email should be one of the first things to go. For most people, it is not only the biggest time sink, but the least productive way they spend your hours. Email feels busy, but how many messages not worth responding to do you go through a day? How many could have been answered with form emails or directed to an FAQ?

I’ll be honest; I have little discipline when it comes to my inbox. I went as far as adding Gmail to an app that flashes warnings at me whenever I’m doing something labeled "not work." I still found myself cheating. My inbox was a constant distraction.

Since then, I’ve followed some guides and developed my own process. I'm getting everything finished and I spend only 20 minutes a day answering emails. It’s something you have to customize for your own situation, but I believe the following process can allow anyone to do the same.

Track How Much Time You’re Using

You can’t fix a problem you don’t fully understand: You need to see firsthand how much time answering emails is taking away from productive endeavors. This is an easy step for anyone. Use any timer online or on your desk. Similar to when I first started counting calories, when I first started tracking my time spent on email, I realized my initial estimates were way off. I was spending about four hours a day just picking through my inbox. But even when I only checked my inbox at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., I was only part of the way there. I was still spending two hours a day looking at emails and found myself checking my inbox before bed as well.

Once you understand how much time you’re using, you can set a goal. I had a pretty big one: I wanted to go through my whole honeymoon without worrying about emails piling up. I broke up my milestones by months, and I measured with daily time spent on email. Last month, my goal was to get down to 30 minutes per day. I was a little bit ahead of schedule. Next month, I'll aim for 15 minutes, and then five. By August, I plan to spend no time in my inbox.

Eliminate And Automate

You’d be surprised how much lighter your inbox becomes when you make use of standard features like filters. For the first 30 days, try setting up filters daily. In Gmail, you can filter to archive, filter to labels, filter and forward to someone else, and the list goes on.

Have some fun and count how many emails you are receiving in a given week. Divide that by seven to get your average daily emails received. You can measure against this number at the end of week five. Unsubscribe from everything. If you must keep it, filter it to your archive. You can always run a search to find it later on. In my experience, you absolutely will not. I am still waiting to “need” a single thing from my archives.


It might sound super fancy to have an assistant, but it really isn’t. If you are running a company, or several, I can almost guarantee this will save you more money than it costs. Pick up a copy of The 4-Hour Workweek, because Tim Ferriss had a lot to say about this topic. It inspired my method. I am still very much in the thick of it and am learning as I go.

This was by far the most time-consuming part of the process, but totally worth it. You need to work with your assistant to have them handle every email they reasonably can. You’ll need to be patient, as this takes a long time to learn. I am currently down spending only an average of 15 minutes (last night 42 minutes), two-to-three times per week going over emails my assistant doesn’t know what to do with (far from four hours, right?). Not one important email has been missed, yet I’ve saved hundreds of hours on emails in the past couple months.


Your next 30 days is all about documentation. Create an FAQ for whoever you choose to delegate your mailbox to. Keep in mind, you don’t have to delegate right away. You may find that by the time you get to this step, your time savings are considerable and you can manage from here. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t document what you are doing. In the event you change your mind and/or your needs grow, you will be prepared to pass it off. I do this with everything.

I built my FAQ based on Tim Ferriss’ template that he shares in his book. Record login information for your various email accounts, the purpose of each account, some basics around setting appointments, a reply policy, when to check for mail, and other rules to follow. Finally, include the FAQ that is intended to provide context for your lifestyle and answer common questions so you don't have to go over the same ones over and over again.

Free yourself from the frustrating time sink that is email. Analyze all of the ways that you're spending your time. By tracking, automating, delegating and documenting, you can get your duties as a business owner narrowed down to the most important strategic decisions.

Source: https://www.forbes.com
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Master This Lost Art to Improve Your Networking Skills

As strange as this might sound, one of my favorite aspects of traveling has been engaging in small talk with complete strangers. These strangers, after all, shared something in common with me--an interest in or reason for traveling and a point of departure or arrival.

In some cases, these happenstance encounters have led to ongoing personal and business relationships.

Over the past few years however, traveling has become an entirely different experience. Why? Our smart devices have caused us to disengage with life outside our digital world--and this does not only apply to traveling.

In general, we have lost the ability to small talk.

Now, some of you may think that a world without small talk is a better place. After all, not every experience with a chatty seat mate or an over-caffeinated stranger in a coffee shop turns out to be meaningful.

From my experience, however, small talk with strangers more often provides a pleasant and unique opportunity to meet someone new and, perhaps, create a long-term, prosperous relationship.

Anyone over the age of 30 who can remember a time without smart devices can surely remember what small talk was like. For digital natives and those who have fallen into the habit of allowing your smart devices to run your life (me included), I propose something:

Let's bring back small talk.

Before you rush out to talk to the next stranger you meet, let's go over some ground rules that will make the experience more meaningful--for both of you.

Prepare yourself.

In order to maximize the benefit of small talk, you need to be open to it. That means putting away your electronics and headphones and actually consider chatting with a real person.

As uncomfortable as it may be without your phone--not knowing where to look or what to do with your hands--this is a healthy first step.

Read the situation.

In the past, headphones were the universal signal for "leave me the hell alone." Things have changed, however, and being plugged into or looking at a phone is now simply a default.

Do not be shy about striking up a conversation with someone on their phone, but if the vibe is unwelcoming, don't push it. Simply initiating sends the message that you are open to starting a conversation.

Get people to talk about themselves.

Believe it or not, the most effective small talk involves a great deal of silence--on your part. The easiest way to strike up a conversation is to get others to talk about themselves. Ask a sincere and probing starter question--then listen.

Master this starter question.

Getting people to talk can be a challenge--especially for introverted people. By and large, the greatest starter question is this: "Where are you from?"

Everyone has a response to this and, for the most part, the answer will instantly bring up warm, happy feelings.

Learn from our elders.

Once you are past the introduction, you need to keep the conversation going. Do you know who is really great at keeping small talk going for ages? Older, experienced men and women. Learn from them.

My dad, for example, is someone who could strike up a conversation with a mannequin. I used to poke fun at the fact that he could talk endlessly about any number of useless things, but in truth, this was a skill. Knowing a lot about many topics provides you the fuel to keep any conversation going.

Now, small talk is not for everyone, and for certain, small talk should lead to more meaningful conversations. Personally, I am introverted, and while I enjoy meeting new people, I can only stomach small talk for a short time. I always look for ways to connect on a deeper level.

In reality, to form new connections with new people, regardless of how or where or when, you just need to start. After that, serendipity will do the rest.

Source:  https://www.inc.com
Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Future Of Email Marketing Automation

The marketing ecosystem is driven towards modern trends that will shape the future of email marketing automation. Apparently, the question that gets asked around frequently is about the fate of email marketing when confronted with fast-evolving trends.

As the technology quickens it pace, it leaves behind a trail of opportunity that can be tapped for profitable growth.  The automation in B2B marketing is taking a leap owing to the constant changes that take place paving the way for competitive opportunities. Unwilling to update strategies can stall the progress. Here is everything you need to know about the future of automation in email marketing.

Justify the Use of Technology Stack for Economical Implementation of Plan

In the marketing realm, the narrative that one size fits all approach has lost prominence. Today, marketers implement multiproduct stack approach that is proven to be result driven.  The transition is facilitated by using robust platform APIs, an array of middleware, and consolidation tactics.

The key successful implementation of multi-product stack lies within the augmented use cases, distinctively identifiable hierarchy, and actionable data interchange approaches. Eventually, it comes down to the feasibility of the overall strategy from an economic viewpoint.

The email marketing updates in 2017 are set to become innovative from the ground up for strengthening the values of analytics, content, ESP, emails, and the segmentation.  Moving ahead, there will more displacement of existing models with the revolution of intuitive design template, video content, and Artificial Intelligence.

Data-Driven Environment Ensures Economic Sustenance of Workflow 

The slash in the running expense of big data technology has proliferated ecosystems by structuring the flow of the process in areas such as web tracking, marketing intelligence, social media, ERP/CRM, and eventually the email marketing. Augmenting these technology infrastructures is not one shot event. It is rather an ongoing process that is estimated to sustain beyond 2017.

Marketers can make the best use of high-quality data extracted from integrated apps and email marketing platforms. The data obtained from these sources are highly relevant and personalized. On the other hand, Email Service Providers will pursue implementation of top notch machine learning technology that will intuitively capture and process intelligence on prospects.

Artificial Intelligence Based Email Campaigns

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has consistently evolved over the last decade by taking on a greater role in the execution of targeted campaigns. The buzz around this technology will continue growing in the coming days.

Brands are vastly deploying process automation systems on segmentation and mapping prospects with relevant content. This investment would make sense to companies having a library of content.

The AI system uses an intelligent algorithm that analyzes data and identifies suitable patterns by tracking behavior and trends. These automated systems recommend solutions that are otherwise not found though everyday analysis. Through high-level automation, marketers will be able to take on more complex roles. AI systems do not require manual intervention from the users on all aspects and spare them from tending to smaller tasks. The Automated systems help marketers to push the boundaries of creativity from impactful campaign ideas to seamless management of resources that will lead to constant learning and unlearning of functions.

The Rise of Video Marketing

Video marketing is seeing the highest growth where creation and deployment of video are made easier with several online tools. The array of tools offered on the Internet provides vast features that can analyze the video content and allow AI system to orchestrate their usage. Hence, the knowledge gained is the key to understanding real-time development within markets

Email Platform Gravitates Towards Data-Centric Approach

Email marketers are rallying behind data-driven email distribution infrastructure. It clearly outlines the prominence of big data in the marketing. In order to send more tailor made email, marketers need knowledge that clearly defines the behavior of targeted individuals. The preciseness of every profile eliminates the chance of distributing irrelevant content. The personalized email is an ideal apparatus for driving conversion. The concentrated data enables crafting information-rich content that is customer centric.

Reign of Machine Learning in Marketing Automation System for Adaptive Promotions

With the evolution of machine learning and fast paced growth of global markets, Artificial Intelligence will crawl into areas of marketing automation. The AI will bring fluidity in marketing campaigns making them more adaptive. The future of campaigns will wholly focus on customer journeys and provide an experience that will influence them right from the initial interaction.

The Innovation-Oriented Start-Up Boom   

The prominence of AI and predictive technology is already known, and there is an ongoing buzz after the acquisition of Watson by IBM. The range of smart technology is making ripples in the marketing realm. But, for such systems to become acutely aware of key elements within the marketing scope, the data must be unbroken and consolidated. It is one of the ongoing challenges faced by the marketers because quality data isn’t hard to obtain, but they are often scattered.

Artificial Intelligence is still a distant dream for many middle markets. However, many start-ups are deploying machine learning technology, and this sector sees most innovations in the present times.

The Rise of Consolidation Platforms

Consolidation platforms will merge and transform data into an instrument of success. Integration platform sees most action while mapping clients with marketers through products and services.

The customer interaction is limited to getting the conversation started with individual clients. The platform will integrate the data points during the customer journey and provide information on how they can be reached through other channels using the same access point.

Cyclic Advancement of Content Automation System

The slightly more controversial than the rest is the fact that email service providers do not innovate in a way leading to a financial advantage for the marketer. However, they are engrossed in optimizing the automated workflow around existing system. The email service provider spends time and effort on improving the overall situation rather than solving the niche problems faced by email marketers.

It is likely to come across many third party platforms and agencies which continuously innovate and produce cutting edge results to help marketers.

Source: http://tweakyourbiz.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Join WNFP Communities!