Thursday, February 28, 2019

5 Online Business Tools to Better Understand in 2019

Operating with the right online business tools can eliminate a ton of stress for you as you manage your workload each day. Whether the tools is paid or free often doesn’t matter.

It’s all about how well you can use the tool and how it helps improve your processes. Often times, the affordable or free online business tools can do the trick and exceed your expectations.

Here are 5 online business tools to better understand in 2019.

1. Google Analytics

If you have a website, you should definitely be using Google Analytics to track your page views and learn more about your audience. Google Analytics can be used to completely analyze this critical data.

Aside from tracking page views, you can determine where visitors are coming from (referral sites and traffic), where they live, how long they stay on the site, etc. If you haven’t yet, do a full run through of all the features Google Analytics offers so you can make the most of this free tool.

2. Asana

Asana is another one of the top online business tools to master in 2019. It’s a project management system that has a free and paid version. I use Asana to assign tasks to myself and my team to help us keep up with deadlines and organize everything in one place.

Still, you can take Asana to the next level by using some of their advanced features like creating specific projects and recurring tasks. Use their tutorial and virtual tour to run through all the features.

3. Calendar

Having trouble organizing your schedule and planning meetings? If you don’t have an online calendar system, it’s time to consider one. Human error can pose many setbacks when you’re trying to be productive in your business.

Calendar is an online tool that utilizes the power of machine learning to offer you smart suggestions on when, where, and how your meetings can take place.

This is a great tool if you often get overwhelmed with the idea of scheduling and attending meetings while balancing work or if you often overbook yourself. Using Calendar will help you easily scheduling meetings and events when it’s most convenient for you.

4. Moz SEO

If you’re looking to improve your SEO in 2019, Moz is a must. It’s an SEO software program with free and paid versions.

With the free version, you can research keywords and research SEO data for your competition. There on limits to how many sites you can pull data on for the free version, but it can still be super helpful. Moz has a 30-day free trial so you can use all the premium features of the tool at no cost.

5. Due

Payment processing software is another online tool you’ll want to better understand. If you’re running a business, that means you’re collecting payments somehow whether it’s billing clients or accepting funds directly for goods.


Having the right online business tools is important, but knowing how to best use them can make or break your business. Whether you’re paying for a tool or using it for free, take the time to make sure you fully understand all the features and how it works.

This way, you can increase efficiency and get more bang for your buck.


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, February 27, 2019

Overcoming Self-Doubt and Building a Successful Business

As a new entrepreneur, when you consider highly-successful business icons like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, you might be tempted to think these guys never have any doubts about the business choices they make.

But guess what… they do! Everyone – even the poster boys and girls of the business world – has fears and doubts every now and then. However, what sets them apart is faith in their ideas and their willingness to take risks.

Making a habit of self-doubt is one of the surest ways to ensure failure as an entrepreneur because if you don’t believe in yourself (and your business idea), you won’t last long in the startup world. So, here are a few tips that’ll help you crush that habit of self-doubt and set you on the path to success.

Focus on Yourself… Not Others
Regardless of the industry in which you’re operating, one thing is certain – there will be people who are more successful than you. But listen – don’t compare yourself to them! While it’s okay to learn from others’ mistakes and try to apply what has worked for them, it’s never a good idea to make other people or businesses your benchmark.

Instead, you need to understand that you’re a unique individual with a unique idea. That means you need to go at your own unique pace, without feeling pressured by the accomplishments of others. Make custom plans that are well-suited for your own business and believe in your ideas. In due time, you’ll be dining with the kings in your industry.

Set Immediate Goals
While ambitious long-term goals are great, they soon become a fountain of frustration and doubt when they’re not immediately achieved. That’s why you need to prioritize short-term goals that can be more easily attained.

You need to make a habit of breaking down your long-term goals into sizable milestones that are simple and measurable. For instance, if you want a 100% increase in sales by next year, then aim at increasing sales by 8-9% on a monthly basis. By celebrating the small wins on a regular basis, you’ll be able to stay motivated for success and self-doubt will lose its grip on you.

Move with the Right People
No man is an island, says the old maxim. Isolating yourself and trying to go it alone makes it easier to drown in the river of doubt and self-pity when things don’t quite turn out as you expected.

So, listen up –if you want to make it as an entrepreneur, you need to surround yourself with the right people. Having positive, optimistic people around you is one of the surest ways to keep your motivation level consistently high. The opposite is true if you flock with pessimists. So, whatever you do, stay away from negative people, even if they’re friends or family members.

Learn from Mistakes… Don’t Obsess Over Them
Everyone makes mistakes…period. So, there’s absolutely no justification for beating yourself up unnecessarily when you fail to achieve a set goal. Nursing the idea that you failed because you weren’t good enough is a harbinger of self-doubt and the inevitable disaster that follows it.

So, what do you do? Simple… reflect on past failures and take notes. Find out what you did wrong and determine never to make the same mistakes in the future. Within every failure is an opportunity to succeed. So, make your failures a source of motivation rather than discouragement. And remember this… “the past is a reference, not a residence.”

Face Your Fears
Okay, listen – people who are afraid of failure never make progress. Fear keeps you down and makes you miss precious opportunities. That’s why fear must not control you… you must control it!

Before taking any business decision, take time to analyze the risk-reward ratio and visualize the worst case scenario. Then you need to prepare a plan B for ameliorating the worst-case scenario, should it come to pass. This makes you adequately prepared to deal with the consequences of your decision whether or not it works out.

Either way, you would have succeeded in overcoming your fears and self-doubt… a feat that must be achieved by all successful entrepreneurs.

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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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Small Business Social Media Do’s and Don’ts

When you compare your social media statistics to your competition what are you measuring? Do you consider the accounts with the highest number of people following them the most successful? What about the pages with fun images, do those posts receive more Likes than your posts? Should you be measuring Likes? What about Shares?

As a small business owner, social media provides you with a great opportunity to connect in a personal way with your ideal buyer. It’s hard to look at a Facebook page with thousands of Likes and feel like you can compete, but the truth is, numbers are only a small part of an effective social strategy.

There is a lot of research that provides guidance on how frequently to post on different social platforms. A page which rarely posts content is not likely to convert Likes into customers because the page will rarely show up in a follower’s feed. Additionally, social pages that post daily aren’t guaranteed customers. If you have a Facebook page, but your ideal buyer prefers Instagram you are missing opportunities to connect with and convert clients.

By following these tips for small business social media do’s and don’ts you can compete with any social media account in your industry and connect on a personal level with your ideal buyer at every stage of their buyers’ journey.

Social Media Don’ts

Don’t Follow People Just for Follows

When you set up your Business Page on Facebook, you have an option to invite your friends to Like your page. This isn’t an option on Instagram and Twitter, so it’s harder to let people know you are on those social platforms. A growing trend with companies is to follow people and then unfollow them a few days later.

While this might seem like a great strategy to get people to connect with your accounts, from a social perspective you are essentially saying “Hi! Let me tell you all about me! I don’t need to learn about you; you aren’t as important as I am.” Companies who implement this practice are banking on you not realizing they no longer follow you. Their follow is disingenuous from the start and leaves a sour taste in potential consumers mouths.

So, instead of unfollowing people, you can do two things. First, set up business pages for Instagram and Twitter just like Facebook. That way your personal feed will be filled with friends and family, and you can take time to interact with customers when you are on your business profiles. Second, add popular, industry relevant hashtags to your profile and your posts. This way, people who are looking for information about your niche will easily find your posts. When you post great content consistently, they will like your page even without an invite.

Don’t Direct Message People Constantly
While direct messaging is a great way to connect personally with your ideal buyer, this action is stepping further into their personal space and should not be overdone. There are several ways you can use direct messaging (DM’s) to connect with a customer.

Think of DM’s in a similar way to email marketing. If someone reaches out to you via DM, that’s an obvious invitation to interact, otherwise reserve your outreach for important information such as making sure people are aware of a sale or product updates.

One way to increase personal interactions outside of direct messaging is to join groups. LinkedIn and Facebook are easy platforms to find and interact in groups of people in your industry.
Don’t Ignore Comments
Social media is a space for socializing. If someone comments on your post make sure you acknowledge their effort. This is especially important if someone asks a question. Even if you don’t have an immediate answer, a quick comment letting everyone who can see your page know you are working to find the information requested will go a long way in making a positive customer service impression. If you get a lot of comments it might not be realistic to respond to each one. However, simply liking a comment goes a long way and doesn’t take a lot of time.

Don’t Automate Everything
Using an automation tool like Hootsuite or Buffer is an excellent way to make sure you post regularly. Additionally, Facebook provides a tool for you to schedule content for your business page without using automation tools.

That said, part of social media best practices include sharing other people’s content. The best way to make sure you are a part of the current conversation is to take some time to interact in live time instead of automating. You should also posting interesting and helpful third-party content. This shows your audience that you care about them and that you are not always trying to sell something. Human interaction and posting helpful content are two additional opportunities to build trust with your community.

Social Media Do’s

Do Your Homework

Now that we’ve covered some of the social media don’ts, let’s cover some of the do’s. Social media is something that takes time, so it’s important to make sure you aren’t wasting your time or that of your employees.

Research and figure out what social media platforms your ideal buyers are on, and what time of day they are most active. Over time, your social media analytics and insights will help you narrow down the prime times for interaction. Assuming your clients are only on Facebook may be a mistake, especially with a younger target audience.

Be Social!
This is important. Don’t feel like you need to be on social media all day. A recent survey from Clutch revealed that 83% of customers expect a response in a day or less. So, if you schedule time once or twice a day to interact with social posts, you will be in great shape.

Be Flexible and Try New Things
Social media is constantly changing. It seems there is always a new feature or algorithm to explore. While this may seem frustrating, by staying flexible and taking time to learn how new features work you might find a fun way promote your company you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

The great thing about features like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories is a casual video is normal so that you can post something quicker there than on YouTube. Especially since the stories automatically erase after 24-hours.

Keep Personal and Business Separate
It’s important to remember when you are on your company social media accounts that every post reflects on you and your company. Even memes can be divisive, so it’s a good rule to make sure to pause before you post.

Additionally, if you don’t want your clients to know about your children, then it’s best not to open the door. Keeping personal and business separate is easiest when you set up business accounts for your company.

Do Share Your Blog Content
Social media is the perfect place to post links to interesting and helpful content you have on your website. Posting a preview of the post and an image is a great way to encourage conversation and establish yourself as an industry expert.

Social media is an excellent tool to add to your inbound marketing tool belt, but just like everything else, it requires time and attention. Pay attention to these tips for your small business social media strategy to increase your opportunities to interact with your ideal buyer.

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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Friday, February 22, 2019

Top Ultimate Ways for Smart Business Owners to Overcome From Failures

Business has been found from all over the world whether you are a small business owner or non-profit enterprises, you have probably had multiple places to go hunting down metrics. The business ideas connect numerous applications you use on a regular basis were curating the data you want into one easy-to-read display. The most useful tips can be set up to give real-time insights which easy-to-view place, so you can use it more readily. The business analysis connects hundreds of applications you use on a regular basis, curating the data you want into one easy-to-read display where it also brings data together in one easy-to-view place, so you can use it more readily.

Business measure

Without measuring the performance, you cannot improve or predict the performance throughout the organization. The natural language analysis gives all aspects of your business and also helps most business owners to find with real-time information which helps the most business owners to quickly create beautiful reports and measure of the performance of business very effectively.

Better customer relationship

The customer relationships are one of the most significant strategies that can use to enhance numerous new customers and also to help to retain the existing customers to the business. By following the better customer relationship approach everyone can easily build up strong customer relationships to boost business retention that adds value to the overall customer experience.

Real-Time decision making

Decision making is one of the most important aspects for a business executive to take on the immediate decision when required. Today, business right decision making has been become the most integral part of the business performance and management as well to improve the business to the next higher level.


Time management is one of the most significant aspects where every business would consider it because working with time helps to improve the business and save your precious hours wasted in generating reports using traditional methods. By using the right business advanced methods every people consistently get you real-time results that help to work in a smart & efficient way.

Team collaboration

Everyone has a different aspect of viewing their business where the team collaboration tends to give alluring views and ideas towards the business. The increase of team collaboration take a much deeper dive into the details and to make sure you are collecting receivables promptly without leading to the failure. By getting into better Interactivity you may easily able to connect cause-and-effect or related impacts to spot and resolve business issues on right time.

Set smart goals

The goals give more clarity and have the ability to break down into easy, doable steps. where this would also help to overcome the failure and allows everyone to target and achieve their goal most successfully. Setting up the business goals means you can clarify your business ideas, focus, use your time and resources productively, and where it increase the chances of achieving what you would be needed in life further.

Reduce Expenses

Avoid unnecessary company expenses unless it is really necessary. Ideally, we should ask for clients and has ways to cut expenses that are both easy to implement and effective. It is a great way to track your revenue and expenses, giving you a powerful insight into your business’s profit margin.


The better planning leads to favorable outcomes by having a comprehensive and actionable strategy allows you to create more engagement, favorable and most ultimate outcomes within your organization. The better plan to overcome various problems and planning faced by successful enterprises is growing beyond management resources or skills.

Measure your outcomes

Often track all your business records and save money that you can try one by one your business measure without getting into too much hassle and also offer the great potential to save huge sums of cash over time with most advanced security. If you need to build a successful business or create a great working environment by analyze the business and get the most critical trait to succeed in business and measure the outcomes.

Paperless system

The paperless system makes the business to get into succeeding and exclusively used to get around the business and save money, and it was an upright easy method to obtain success in business without leading to failure. The creative and most advanced methods like this is a best enough to manage all the incoming calls and helps to achieve success in business further.

Maintain detailed records

Maintain the most detail record tells you that what level you are a business and can save the money and time rather than increasing costly over-time. We can plan our delivery, mailings or release to have maximum take benefit to achieve the business path further. By using this detailed business records we can also easily set it to choose the right path before you arrive home from work.

Fixing a failure

Fixing the failure rarely take the time to succeed in business instead of fixing at right time helps to develop a personal vision for your work or in your life where you should be consistently improving the business to achieve success further. By fixing the business failure helps to obtain greater level and make it easier to get to work.

Measure & Analyze

Analyzing the business is one of the most important aspects which is to be considered to verify the accuracy of your data to ensure it is of high quality. with the most advanced business data analysis and techniques you can easily measure the business goals to ensure that you analyze and make the risk adjustment data appropriately without depending on the starting point and the goals.

By going with the exactness of information in business we can easily able to track every record without the dependencies of others. This is a straightforward way to reduce your enterprise work stress and trying to achieve or maintain business profitability.

These most challenging aspects help to develop the business and increase the profitable incomes.

Image Credit: Depositphotos

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, February 21, 2019

Don’t Waste Time! 5 Ways to Improve your Business this Year

The new year is always a great time to get organized and work on your business. All the holiday excitement and stress is behind you. The kids are back in school. And you’re energized and motivated to make this your business’ best year ever.

You’ve probably thought about your marketing plan, long-term strategic vision, and maybe tax strategies, but what about the legal foundation for your company? Are there any loose ends to tie up as you move into a new year? Don’t let any minor administrative requirements fall through the cracks and put you at risk for major trouble, such as losing your personal liability protection. Here are five things to think about to get your business off to a great start:

Incorporate or Form an LLC for your Business

If you haven’t incorporated or formed an LLC for your business yet, now is a good time to get started. While it’s perfectly legal to operate a business without being an official LLC or corporation, you are putting your personal assets at risk. When you incorporate or form an LLC, this puts a level of protection between your personal assets (personal savings, personal property, children’s college fund, etc.) and your business. If your business is ever sued or has bad debt, your personal property may be shielded from any judgment.

Whether you choose to form an LLC or corporation, the start of a new year is the perfect time to formalize your business structure. You’ll be laying the legal foundation to grow your business in the coming years, while also protecting your personal assets.

Close an Inactive Business

Did you form a business that you’re no longer operating? If you formed an LLC or Corporation, you need to formally terminate it with the state. It’s not enough to say that you’re not operating the business or haven’t had any revenue or activity for the year. Until you officially file the paperwork to close it, you’re still on the hook for any annual fees, legal filings (like an annual report) and tax returns.

You need to file an “Articles of Dissolution” or “Certificate of Termination” document with the Secretary of State in whatever state your Corporation or LLC was formed. In most cases, you’ll need to settle any owed taxes before you can do this. And while you’re at it, cancel any permits or business licenses that the business holds.

Renew Business Licenses and Permits in the New Year

Most businesses need some sort of local license or permit to legally operate – for example, a sales or reseller license or a health department permit. Many of these licenses require renewal. If you have any licenses or permits, you should contact your local entity to find of what needs to be renewed when. And if you have never looked into permits or licenses, you can contact your local government office or visit to find out what types of licenses you need for your business.

File your Annual Report or Other Paperwork

If you’ve gone through the work to incorporate your business, make sure you keep it in good standing. Most states require some form of an annual report filing for corporations and/or LLCs. The deadlines and specific requirements vary by state. Check with your state’s secretary of state office to find out your specific filing deadline. And then make sure to get this paperwork in. Missing deadlines will result in late fees. In worst case scenarios, companies fall into bad standing with the state for not filing.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with your filing requirements, some document filing companies offer a free service to send you automated alerts when a deadline is coming up.

Invest in your Business for the New Year

While I normally don’t encourage business owners to spend any more than they need to, this is a good time to think about any expenses you may have been putting off. Hopefully you have a good sense of your business’ profits and losses from last year and can determine if there’s any extra profit that should be invested back in the business. Invest in a new computer or equipment to maximize your tax deductions for 2019. Consider hiring a contractor to help refresh your social media strategy or website. Or maybe look for a new trade show or conference to attend this year.

In addition to investing in your business, don’t forget to invest in yourself. From one entrepreneur to another, this is hard work – and often 365 days a year. In order to stay sane, healthy and happy throughout the year, make sure to continue your interests outside of the business too!

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.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How to Beat Procrastination As You Grow Your Business

Procrastination is an odd compulsion. Everyone has experienced it, but the underlying reasons can be tough to pin down.

After all, procrastination delays the very activities that bring people closer to their goals -- whether that’s building a thriving business or stronger triceps. So why don’t humans just sprint toward that brighter, fitter future?
The science.
Scientific studies of procrastination have spiked over the past 20 years. Researchers once considered the issue a basic time-management problem, but they now view it as a complex and highly individual phenomena.

“True procrastination is a complicated failure of self-regulation,” author Eric Jaffe wrote in Observer magazine. "Experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we'll suffer as a result. A poor concept of time may exacerbate the problem, but an inability to manage emotions seems to be its very foundation."

Greek philosophers used the word akrasia to describe the state of acting against one's better judgement. Building on this term, author James Clear believes everyone has a "Present Self" that desires instant gratification and a "Future Self" that prizes long-term rewards. "When the time comes to make a decision," Clear wrote, "you are no longer making a choice for your Future Self. Now you are in the present moment, and your brain is thinking about the Present Self." 

The personal motivation.

Back in 2006, I often struggled with the snooze button. When the buzzing began at 5 a.m. I’d ask myself, “Should I stay in bed or should I spend a few hours on my business?”

I was working as a programmer for a New York-based media company and building my company, JotForm, on the side. I learned a lot about myself while juggling a full-time job and scaling a startup -- including how to battle my own procrastination demons.

I started to consider why I was delaying certain tasks. Once I identified the root cause, I could plan to reclaim my productivity. This approach might sound simple, but most advice doesn’t probe the source of the problem. Instead, society most often teaches people to simply push through any feelings of resistance.

The “just do it” approach works sometimes, but it’s not sustainable. If you're repeatedly avoiding specific tasks, there’s an underlying reason -- and odds are it's highly personal.

Here are four factors that might be behind your bad habit, along with some ideas to help you conquer each scenario.

1. Progress doesn’t feel fast enough.

Think about the last time you started a new project or business endeavor. You probably felt excited and energized by the challenge. A couple months (or years) later, the shine dulled. Maybe you felt discouraged and even a little bored. You were fighting both time and biology.

Dopamine often is described as the brain’s “reward chemical,” activated by the ping of a smartphone or a heaping plate of pasta. But new research shows dopamine is more closely related to reward-seeking behavior than operating as a reward itself.

When your brain encounters novelty, it releases dopamine. The natural chemical motivates you to search for a reward (there's that exploring and pushing forward again). But when the project's novelty wears off, your mind rebels. Your motivation drops as your brain thinks, "My hard work isn't being rewarded. This isn't fun anymore."

The "Present Self" and its demand for instant gratification makes it even tougher to force yourself to open the spreadsheet yet again or to keep chipping away at a frustrating product feature.

BJ Fogg, a behavioral scientist at Stanford University, suggests you can fight the dopamine drop by setting up “small wins” and celebrating each milestone. According to Fogg, every task should be accompanied by a simple trigger. Imagine you want to create an online course. You could commit to writing a paragraph after every glass of water, then continue this triggered behavior throughout the day.

Once the task is done, it’s time for the small celebration. You could listen to a favorite song, take a brief walk, or read a great book. Repeat this process until you’ve achieved your goal. Small wins reward your novelty-seeking brain and nudge you toward the finish line. The feedback loop also establishes a powerful habit that can eliminate the need for motivation entirely.

2. You don’t know where to start.

It's common to feel overwhelmed in today's fast-paced world. Seemingly endless to-do lists can make it feel as if there's no good place to start. Unfortunately, divided attention often leads people to procrastinate in a sneaky way: They engage first in low-value activities such as emptying the inbox or checking social media.

Founders are especially prone to these feelings because there’s rarely a clear path forward. If you're like most entrepreneurs, you also may be wearing a lot of hats or juggling a packed schedule. In talking to fellow entrepreneurs, I’ve learned it’s normal to feel uncertain -- particularly when starting something new. Remind yourself it’s OK not to have the answers. Give yourself permission to start where you can.

Brainstorming solutions with friends, mentors and advisors can help you establish clear priorities. Seek out people who aren't lost in the weeds of your business' day-to-day demands. They often can help you realize where your time is best spent and what you should delegate.

Systems also can help squash procrastination. My family owns a small olive farm, and I join them every year for the annual harvest. The whole operation runs like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows each step of the process, making procrastination almost impossible.
3. You're afraid to fail.

Founders love to repeat the mantra “fail fast, fail often.” Below the bravado, however, many live in fear of making bad decisions.

During a recent visit to Silicon Valley, writer Rob Asghar spoke to one unusually candid founder. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, told Asghar, “Many people here do talk about embracing failure, but that’s usually just hype."

Some fear failure so intensely they cut corners. Others might delay launch dates, miss deadlines or obsess over small details instead of releasing a beta version. I'm not immune. I struggled with perfectionism during the early days of my business. Perhaps we could have grown faster, but I was a bootstrapped founder. I didn’t have a board or investors monitoring my every move. When the fear of failure crept in, I could be gentle with myself and then carry on.

Joseph Ferrari, an associate professor of psychology at Chicago’s De Paul University, calls people who experience fear-based procrastination “avoiders.” Whether they’re avoiding failure or even success, they’re deeply concerned about other people’s opinions. “They would rather have others think they lack effort than ability,” Ferrari wrote.

High standards aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone knows success takes grit, perseverance and strong principles. BeyoncĂ© and Serena Williams are two self-described perfectionists who have harnessed this tendency with amazing results.

“Perfectionism and procrastination are linked,” Boston University psychologist Ellen Hendriksen wrote, “but it’s not necessarily the sky-high standards that slow you down, but the sky-high standards mixed with a belief that your performance is tied to your self-worth. That combination can grind you to a halt.”

You are not your work. And untangling the difference between who we are and what we achieve can help to stop to fear-based procrastination.
4. You don’t like the task.

Some activities aren’t fun. Few people enjoy going to the dentist, doing their taxes or visiting the DMV. Building a business also requires many less-than-thrilling activities. When there are so many moving parts to tackle, who wants to spend precious hours invoicing?

This is perhaps the most mundane type of procrastination. People put off dull, boring, or uninspiring tasks because they don’t feel like tackling them.

“Somewhere along the way, we’ve all bought into the idea, without consciously realizing it, that to be motivated and effective we need to feel like we want to take action,” social psychologist Heidi Grant wrote. “I really don’t know why we believe this, because it is 100% nonsense.”

Grant suggests that instead of waiting for motivational lightning to strike, you apply a technique called “if-then planning.” First, identify the steps required to complete a task. Next -- and most important -- determine where and when you’ll act. Tell yourself, for example, "If it’s 10 am, then I’ll close my email and research design agencies."

This process doesn’t require willpower. And that’s important, because a lack of willpower, in the traditional sense, might lead you to postpone things in the first place. Embrace your limited resolve, Grant recommends, and use if-then planning as a backup tool.
The power of self-knowledge.

Everyone has different motivations, goals and personalities, so it makes sense that everyone also has different reasons for procrastinating. Once you understand what’s blocking you, it’s easier to choose the best solution. Ignore the other hacks and don’t worry if “expert” advice falls down.

After all, it's more important to know yourself, experiment and stick with what works for you. And take comfort in knowing every human who's lived has faced the same challenge, from wise ancient Greeks to Silicon Valley startup founders.

Image Credit: laflor | 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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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How to Successfully Shake Up Your Small Business

Are you making big changes to your small business?

Whether you're entering a new market, eliminating services that your clients love but no longer work for you, or changing the structure of your business entirely, follow these three tips to shake up your small business without losing revenue or hurting your reputation.

1. Be considerate of your customers.

When you take your small business in a new direction, you're likely to lose customers at first. In that moment, how you treat your departing customers has an outsized impact on your company's reputation.

Can you phase out your old services slowly to help clients adjust? Can you offer "final sale" deals to let customers stock up on favorite products before they're gone? Can you recommend a new service provider that will be a better fit?

Helping your customers make the transition with you takes time and energy, but it demonstrates both your integrity as a business owner and how much you appreciate their business.

Kurt Rathmann, the CEO and founder of ScaleFactor, lost several customers when his company transitioned from offering accounting services to creating specialized accounting software. "We found we had a few customers who no longer fit our business model."

He and his team went out of their way to make the transition easy on those customers. "We ultimately phased them out over several months and found those customers new homes that were a better fit for their needs," Rathmann said. "We treated them with care and respect, knowing that they played a huge role in our success so far."

2. Use your data.

For many business owners, the initial impulse to make big changes is the result of a gut feeling. You can tell when something is or is not working, and you want to change course as a result. Though that initial feeling may prompt you to re-evaluate the structure of your business, the actual changes you decide to make should be based on more than just a gut reaction.

"No decision you make about whether to seek out more of a specific type of customer or, even harder, to fire some of your existing customers should be made by feel," Rathmann said. Instead, use the data you have available to determine the best direction for your company before you make major changes.

There is a wealth of tools to help you do this. Your accountant, or accounting software, should be able to pinpoint which products and services are most popular, as well as which ones make the highest profit for the lowest cost in time and money. You should also take advantage of social media analytics, customer reviews, website analytics, and employee feedback to get a full picture of both the health of your business and the interests of your customers.

"Difficult as it may be, avoid making assumptions about your customers at all costs, even those that seem like a no-brainer," Rathmann said. "Everything you know about your ideal customer should be collected through data, experience and research."

3. Imagine the future, not just the immediate profit.

Changing the structure and focus of your business is difficult, and the initial result is not always positive. You may lose customers and revenue. You'll probably second-guess your decision at least once. When that happens, the best way to move forward is to have a clear, long-term vision of what you want for your company, customers and career.

"Your gut will tell you to follow the quickest path to money every time," Rathmann said. But that, he said, isn't the path to a sustainable new business model. "Approach [any changes] cautiously and methodically, and consider not only where your biggest revenue streams come from, but also where your company is headed in the future."

Once you know where you want to head, you'll be able to make decisions in line with your mission, rather than simply chasing an easy profit. This goal-oriented focus will keep you on track, even when you deal with temporary setbacks like lower profits or moments of self-doubt.

"At the time, it was nerve-wracking to walk away from that much revenue," Rathmann said. "Looking back now, I can see with 20/20 vision that this was the right call for us."

Image Credit: Rawpixel | 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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Monday, February 18, 2019

What Are the Benefits of Event Marketing

Adopting event marketing to promote your business is an excellent way to expose your small business to a host of new prospective clients. Even on a budget, your business can still take advantage of events to improve your company’s visibility and position in the marketplace.

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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5 Ways to Mindfully Scale Your Business and Make More Money

The art of scaling takes some mastery. Companies don’t grow by themselves.

If demand suddenly exceeds capacity, it could mean gridlock and death by success. Scaling up smartly is a critical balancing act. It takes a lot of skill, a little luck and it never hurts to follow in the footsteps of your predecessors.

Let’s say you’re starting a digital media company hoping to grow your readership to match and surpass the likes of Yahoo Tech and Business Insider’s Tech Insider. Sounds like an impossible? Well, you might look to a company like Digital Trends, because that’s exactly what they did.

Co-founders Ian Bell and Dan Gaul started Digital Trends from a shared love of home entertainment, cars and a belief that tech should be accessible and fun. Digital Trends is now enjoying its seventh year of growth.

After they doubled their traffic in September 2015 and followed up with their biggest year ever, they had to regroup to figure out where to go next and how to fix some “loose bolts” along the way. Based on their real-life experiences, here are some key lessons we can learn from for sustainable, healthy growth:

1. Establish a glossary of terms for your team.

This often overlooked step combats jargon, which creates confusion and inefficiency. Make sure you have a clear definition of all those terms that get thrown around in meetings and on sales calls.

Pete Jacobs, VP of integrated and content marketing at Digital Trends, points out that jargon words can mean different things to different people, and all the more to different departments. Make sure everybody’s on the same page about your terminology.

“Seems simple,” Jacobs notes, “but it can be very costly.”

2. Define success on a company level and within departments.

As your company gets bigger, departments will naturally become more insular.

Make sure communication channels are open and remember a win for an individual or department may not necessarily move the company forward. So take the company-wide success goals and break them down into departmental success goals.

This ensures your productivity translates into goal attainment.

3. Invest in what’s working best for you.

There’s never enough room in the budget to do everything.

It’s easy to imagine all the wild success you’d be enjoying if only you could spend a little more money. “With limited resources,” says Jacobs, “don’t fall for the software and headcount fantasy about what you would be doing if only you could afford it. Invest in the group making do with less and quietly getting it done.”

By putting your money into what’s already working, you’re empowering the company’s most competent and productive team members to go even further. That’s going to get more mileage from your budget.

4. Be smart, but get lucky.

“We dodged a couple bullets in the last two years,” Jacobs says of Digital Trends.

“While all of our industry was pivoting to video, we stalled on growing our video offerings. We felt like we were falling behind.” Now, he says, many of their peers who chased video as their business’ core offering have seen their valuations drop, forcing them to lay off staff members.

Though it was difficult and sometimes contentious, Digital Trends stuck to their process and held steady while other companies failed to fortify their web traffic sources or to properly monetize video.

Of course, as is usually the case with success, it wasn’t just a stroke of luck. Adhering to core strengths is a sound business strategy. “Don’t get swayed by what others are doing if you can’t make it work internally,” says Jacobs.

5. Make certain to approach acquisition soberly.

The goal of growing your company should not be to find a buyer. Remember that acquisition is a byproduct of success, not the definition of it. Growing a healthy, flourishing company is both the journey and the destination.

There isn’t necessarily an endpoint. But if you’re doing it right, you may find yourself catching your break in the wake of a five-year growth spurt, regrouping to plan how to deal with the next five years of success.

Image Credit: Simonkr | 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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3 Questions to Help You Fall Back in Love With Your Business

What happens when we fall out of love with our business?

It's a common question that is understandably hard to answer as a president, partner, or owner. And both Clay and I have helped leaders wrestle with this thorny issue in our Course for Presidents at Aileron for years. When we go into battle for our big dreams, there are usually casualties of war. It’s common to sacrifice time, hobbies, and even our work culture in the pursuit of something bigger. And along the way, we can even fall out love with our business.

So how do we get reorientated? How do we rekindle a love for our work and purpose? We go back to the basics and ask ourselves these three questions.

1. What do I need from my business?

When we're building a business we're busy growing a customer base. We're constantly asking what our customers, employees and partners need. We're adjusting, iterating and creating. This is expected and normal. It's a sign of a strong leader to consider others.

But many of us need to remember that it's good, healthy and necessary to consider our own needs, too. These could be everything from financial to emotional. We may need a certain amount of profits for our family and our future. We may need a feeling of success or achievement. We may need more time away from our business or accountability from those around us.

Whatever you need, make a list and make it visible. When we merge our needs with the needs of those around us, we create a win-win for our entire organization.

2. What do I need from my team?

It can be hard to express what we need from those around us. Even the question itself can feel selfish -- but it’s actually quite the opposite. Everyone on your leadership team has needs. But whether or not it’s OK to communicate them openly is often up to you.

Starting this conversation can be tricky and may feel awkward at first. It’s easy for us as leaders to make assumptions about how people may respond if we open up and share our needs. But part of falling back in love with your work is being honest with your team. They play a critical role in helping you not only accomplish what you need to do but feeling satisfied with how you're doing it. Everyone inside your organization will wrestle with a sense of contentment, satisfaction, and clarity.

When you open up to your team you’re inviting them to do the same; courageous leaders instill courage in others. And people love feeling like they’re a part of a dream team.

3. What are old rules or beliefs I need to let go of this year?

Many of us hang onto old rules and beliefs without even knowing it.
   -  I have to keep people happy.
   -  I must be in the office by eight.
   -  I must check email on vacation.
   -  I can’t ask others to take on more work.
   -  I’m the only one who can handle this task.
   -  I’m not successful unless we’re making “x” amount of revenue.

Whatever these rules are, many of them go unspoken and many of them are outdated. This misalignment naturally produces a sense of guilt—feeling like we should be abiding by old rules but are living by different (often subconscious) ones instead.

If you want to take a step forward in feeling confident, satisfied, and content, consider the rules in your business and life. How many of them need to be thrown out? How many are obsolete? What new rules could you craft that feel aligned with your values?

Regaining or rekindling your passion is a journey.

But It’s also a wonderful opportunity and should be filled with curiosity. Don’t let your feelings of doubt or confusion darken another quarter. Be honest with those around you, communicate your needs, and invite others to do the same.

Your business needs you and you need your business.

Image Credit: Deagreez | 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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