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Written for EO by Benjamin Shepardson, founder of content agency NoStop Blog Content

Project management (PM) software is a must-have for any company that manages multiple clients and relies on various team members and digital assets to complete work. But many of these programs are bloated with unnecessary features—or downright hard to use! If you want staff members to embrace your next PM software, I recommend you consider these five options.

EASY PROJECTS

Easy Projects is a strong contender for most user-friendly project management software on this list. Good customization and integration options provide plenty of scalability if needed, but the standard tools and resources built into the program are likely to be just right for your needs. 

Easy Projects is noteworthy because it offers a free version side-by-side with its paid version. This no-cost version of its software is pared down slightly, but still offers impressive functionality.

CLARIZEN

Just because you’re paring down on bloat doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice flexibility and functionality. Clarizen PM software suite shines as a resource to manage many teams, schedules, roles, and financial details.

Especially adept at handling larger companies on an enterprise-level, Clarizen is known its well-developed financial planning tools and for managing multiple teams in an organized manner. This makes Clarizen a solid option for larger companies, but perhaps too much for a smaller organization.

LIQUIDPLANNER

If you’re looking for simple without sacrifice, LiquidPlanner is likely your best bet. Plus, LiquidPlanner’s simplicity is scalable right off the bat—as it offers a free 14-day trial period and then a three-tier paid subscription choice after that.

LiquidPlanner can be considered the anti-Clarizen. Most core PM software functionalities in LiquidPlanner are intact, but there’s little in the way of bells and whistles. If you like your PM software straightforward but functional, this is an excellent choice.

CASUAL

Striking an excellent balance between function and simplicity, Casual was designed to streamline process and project management with visual tools. Projects are created using an intuitive process that involves dragging and dropping elements.

Its intuitive, easy-to-use interface makes using Casual for project management much less stressful, especially for those who are highly visual learners. For small- and medium-sized team management, Casual is solid. For larger teams, however, the limitations of the platform become more evident.

ASANA

Last but not least, Asana is a PM option to consider thanks to its no-nonsense interface. With both an affordable subscription model and a refreshingly functional free version, Asana allows users to monitor project overviews in an easy and comprehensive manner. Team communication is also streamlined and easy to view at a glance.

Asana isn’t perfect. You’ll want to manage the settings properly to avoid unnecessary features. For example, the system defaults to emailing notifications for everything so unless you want to be spammed, make sure you alter your settings accordingly.

Benjamin Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Blog Content, a content agency in Key West, Florida. With a remote staff of eight, Ben is well-versed in the complexities of managing a diverse team. 

The post Top User-Friendly Picks for Project Management Software appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Consider this: The success of your business rests largely on your leadership skills. So how do you rank as a leader?  

Eric Gordon suggests you can find out by asking yourself these questions.

“What do my colleagues and employees think of me as a leader?”

One way to gain a realistic view of how you’re doing as a leader is by getting the opinions of people who have seen you in action. The same way you’d offer constructive criticism to your colleagues and employees, they can do the same to help you perform better.

The key to getting honest feedback is to keep it confidential. People are more likely to tell you how they really feel that way. Use open-ended questions that encourage people to delve into detail. 

“Do my employees fully understand our company’s mission?”

Every company has a story, and as the owner, you’re the main storyteller. You build the foundation of your company’s origin and future. If you’ve done your job as a leader properly, then every employee should understand what you wish to accomplish.

“Are my employees motivated to do their best and also satisfied with their jobs?”

One of the simplest ways to consider leadership is that leaders inspire others to take action. There are different ways to motivate people. Some leaders use the power they have over their employees as their main motivational tactic. Others inspire because they’ve proven their abilities. Still others inspire through their charisma. The right way of motivating your employees differs depending on the situation—and your strength in any one area.

Check how motivated your employees using an annual or biannual survey of employee’s satisfaction.

“Do I demonstrate integrity in how I lead?”

Trust is a critical component of leadership. If your employees trust you to be upfront and honest with them, then they’ll also feel that you respect them, which motivates and empowers them. If you keep secrets or lie to them, then trust quickly breaks down. Once that happens, it’s extremely difficult to build trust again.

“How effective are my communication skills?”

Not only do you need to be a good communicator as a leader, but you also need to be able to communicate in different ways. As you know, negotiations require a different approach than meeting with potential clients or speaking with your employees.

“How knowledgeable am I about my business?”

You obviously know what your business does and generally how it operates, but there’s more to knowing your business. For example, do you know the responsibilities of each team? Do you understand each team member’s role? Can you identify up-and-coming leaders or assist employees in avoiding conflict?

While founders and leaders shouldn’t be expected to handle spats between staff or conduct the day-to-day work of production, they must not appear disconnected or out of the loop.

“Am I good at dealing with stress and anxiety?”

It’s natural to feel nerves in certain high-pressure situations. Your decisions as a business owner affect far more people than just you. As a leader, however, you’re required to remain poised. Even on the hardest days, focus on what you’ve learned and move forward instead of wallowing in misery. Your team looks to you during tough times, and they should see you as a source of steady calm and confidence.

Written for EO by Eric Gordon, an independent business development and marketing specialist. You can find Eric on Twitter, @ericdavidgordon.

The post Assess Your Leadership Skills With Just 7 Questions appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Written for EO by Juned Ghanchi, co-founder and CMO at IndianAppDevelopers.

Have you ever dreamed of developing your own mobile app? But maybe you’re overwhelmed by how to begin? I’ve simplified the process into eight steps. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Validate your mobile app start-up idea

By validating your app idea, I mean confirming that your product will be wanted—that it will be useful for people. Your mobile app idea remains a hypothesis until the first set of customers actually purchases it.

Tools such as Google Keyword Planner may be used to get insights on the number of people seeking your app idea. This information can also help you build a landing page that highlights your app idea and draws user interest through email signup. 

Step 2: Wireframe your product idea

Once you’ve validated your idea, document your product in detail, either on paper or by using wire-framing tools like JustInMind or Proto.io. Include maximum detail while sketching your idea—being sure to show a user navigation workflow and every feature. Laying out more detail upfront will make the next steps easier.

Step 3: Eliminate non-essential features

Closely review the prototype or wireframe, identifying any non-core features. Retain only those features that support the core value of your mobile app start-up idea. In the very first version of your app, include only the “must-have” features and not the “nice-to-have” ones. The must-have features are those that are most useful for the user. The others may be added in later updates. This will help you keep costs in check while reaching the market quickly.

Step 4: Give the highest priority to the design of the app

You may be tempted to go for a basic design, focusing your time and resources on developing the app’s functions. You’d be wrong to do so, however. The design is not simply the look of your app, but also a valuable way to enhance the user experience of the app—which, in term, makes the app more successful.

Step 5: Prepare a brief of your mobile app idea for developers

A brief of your mobile app should include the context or background of your idea, details about your target customers, and what make the app useful to potential customers. Also include wireframes or prototypes, features and budget. Share the brief with potential development partners to acquire an estimate of timelines and pricing from them. Take care to avoid making price your final decision-making factor. As you know from business, the lowest price option is not always the best option.

Step 6: Choose your development partner

Check out the timelines and pricing offered by a number of custom software development partners. After sorting through the ones that suit you, check out their design talent, development team integrity, portfolio, credibility and reviews. Ultimately, you’ll want to partner with an organization based on the quality of their work, taking into consideration other parameters.

Step 7: Integrate analytics into your mobile app

You’ll eventually need a way to track statistics like user engagement, reviews and retention. So make sure to allow for these analytics early on. Tools such as Flurry and Localytics are good places to start.

Step 8: Ask for feedback and iterate

Once your product is live in the app store, customer usage and in-app behavior will provide insights to guide your improvements and enhancements. Ongoing feedback and dialogue allows you to make your app better over time.

Juned Ghanchi is the co-founder and CMO at IndianAppDevelopers and a developer with ten years of experience.

The post Building a Successful Mobile App Step by Step appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Vishal Chordia (pictured above, right, with Kimberley Hickok-Smith) was awarded the 2018 EO Global Citizen of the Year award in Toronto, Canada, in April 2018. We recently talked with him about making time for charity beyond his busy professional and family commitments. 

Vishal heads up a US$100 million food business in India’s spice sector that exports to more than 22 countries throughout the world. Add to this that he’s a devoted husband and father and an active member of EO Pune, it’s hard to imagine that he has time left to do much more.

Yet, since late 2016, he has also worn the hat of chairman of the Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board (MSKIB), a position that lets him serve as an agent and driver of social and economic change for rural communities throughout his home state in India.

In less than two years, as chairman of the MSKIB, Vishal has reinvigorated the economies of multiple rural areas and helped more than 1,000 residents increase their earnings, start building up their communities and empower their neighbors to do the same. In essence, he has affected a widespread and sustainable change in economy and culture throughout his corner of the world. It’s a tall order for any entrepreneur, but Vishal is proof that it can be done.

What’s his secret to keeping it all moving forward? He shared with us just how he makes the time to make a difference.

Below are five key takeways to help you make your mark in your own community.

Tip #1. Form a strong network of support.

To avoid the burnout that comes from being overcommitted, lean on the people around you to complete your tasks and to stay motivated. Vishal attributes much of his ability to make time and space for social giving to two sets of important people in his life: his family and his team of employees. He draws strength from his family to do what can sometimes feel like the impossible. He empowers staff at his business, which frees him to attend to other matters.

On one hand, Vishal explains, “my wife Shweta and kids, Vishwa (17) and Shiv (11) are so important; they are my unconditional support and source of energy—they encourage me. On the other hand, after 18 years at the helm of affairs at work, I see myself increasingly pushing myself away from directly managing the business to managing people who manage the business.”

Tip # 2. Constantly strive for balance.

When you opt to add more to your proverbial plate, it’s crucial to find a way to do so without neglecting your other duties, responsibilities and interests. Vishal says we must actively try to achieve a sense of balance in life through trusting and empowering others.

He shares, “balance is a craft that works toward bringing equilibrium between countervailing forces. So whenever I have picked up something new to accomplish, it has always led to an imbalance of attention, energy and action towards the other parts of my life. But getting back the balance is the way that I have honed it… I see clearly that ultimately good things will happen—at the business or at MSKIB—if I wake up the entrepreneurs around me. That realization has made me breathe easy about the balancing act. But, yes, the juggling doesn’t quite stop. It just doesn’t feel like the forces are too countervailing!”

Tip #3. Maximize your impact by investing your time wisely.

If you’re as busy as Vishal is—and most entrepreneurs are—your time is limited. It would be nice to tackle many issues facing your community at once, but it’s probably not the most practical, efficient or effective use of your time. Instead, concentrate your efforts to make a deeper impact. Select one or two core issues you’d like to address, and focus on those with the little time you have.

To maximize his impact in rural areas throughout Maharashtra, Vishal focused on helping craftspeople in two industries: handcrafted footwear and honey.

“Since I have a limited tenure at the Board, I know I will not be able to change everything. Hence I carefully selected two verticals of significance to work around,” he shares.

Read more stories about entrepreneurs making a mark in their community and around the world. 

Tip #4. Set clear and realistic goals.

When you decide it’s time for you to “make a difference” in your community, you have to know exactly what you are aiming to accomplish—and be specific. Ask yourself, what change or changes do I want to see in my community at the end of this project or venture or within a specific amount of time? 

Vishal is clear that he wants to enable honey and leather footwear entrepreneurs in rural areas to innovate their business models and scale their businesses immediately. In less than two years, he has reinvigorated the heritage footwear industry in Kolhapur and the agro-ecologically sensitive honey segment as well as redesigned a branded retail structure for both industries.

For a detailed description of how Vishal has cultivated a culture of entrepreneurship in small villages across Kolhapur, turn to our companion piece in Inc.

Tip #5. Put a sustainable plan in motion. 

Social good and community development work is inherently about the communities where it’s done. So when you’re designing the projects you’d like to implement for the benefit of your community, they should be designed to outlive your participation. From the outset, you’ll want to have a clear idea of who, apart from you, will keep the work going if you have to step away from it.

When explaining his thought process and means of planning ahead, Vishal says, “I reckoned that the cascade effect of a turnaround in these two key verticals (that quite fortuitously fell under the ambit of the Board’s work) would be significant enough to build serious momentum for all future projects of the Board. I would also rest in the satisfaction of having participated in work that benefitted millions.”

Putting these five tips into action has not only earned Vishal a well-deserved nomination for—and the honor of winning—2018 EO Global Citizen of the Year, but has also touched the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs and counting. There’s no telling the difference you can make, if you use these tips to help make time in your busy schedule for social good work.

Making a mark is simply how we roll—in fact, it’s one of EO’s core values. Learn more about EO and how you can join our global community of entrepreneurs. 

The post 5 Tips for Making Time to Make a Difference appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Written for EO by Jackie Roberson.

When you’re managing a business and trying to grow it, being able to lead a team to greatness is key. You know you must hire the right people, learn how to delegate and communicate effectively to be a strong leader. But beyond these basics, what do truly great leaders need? Consider these four key traits.

1. A Growth Mindset

Listen to interviews with some of the most well-regarded leaders around the world, and you’ll hear them talk about how they continually learn new things and try to develop themselves. This is their growth mindset at work. The best entrepreneurs and managers are people who are open to new experiences, ideas, opinions and information.

To join their ranks, look for opportunities for growth. For example, you might choose to enroll in an MBA so you can get a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of business. Other options? Attend workshops, conferences, seminars, trade shows or networking events or regularly read books, magazines, newsletters, reports, blogs and more.

Look for mentoring programs, business associations and clubs you can join too, as speaking with other experienced, qualified people can provide excellent learning opportunities.

2. Focus

Top leaders are also usually known for their ability to focus. After all, when you want to achieve big things, you must be able to set aside all distractions and concentrate purely on your goals and plans. Focused leaders are much more productive than others and know where to best spend their time, energy and money.

Develop the ability to focus, and you will be able to consistently stay on task, be better organized, notice risks and opportunities sooner, understand the impacts of decisions and find ways to cut costs and streamlines processes in your business.

People who are focused lead by example and inspire their employees. Plus, they develop a name as an expert in their field more quickly.

3. Flexibility

No matter how careful and proactive you are, you can’t control everything in business. You will find that employees, investors, suppliers, customers and other organizations do things you simply can’t control. In addition, climate changes and other external factors can cause kinks. As such, it’s vital that you know how to adapt.

Flexible leaders don’t go to pieces when they don’t get their own way or become frozen with indecisions because their plans go awry. This means they don’t make rash decisions when they’re in a negative, emotional state; they work out how to move forward, and they help their team stay calm during a crisis. These are all hallmarks of excellent leaders.

Flexibility is necessary when it comes to taking advantage of potential opportunities and ideas. If you’re someone who is rigid and unmovable, you may miss out on taking advantage of exciting new options which become available, or you could dismiss good ideas that help you take your organization to new heights.

4. Resilience

While there are benefits to being an entrepreneur, there are definitely challenges as well. When you’re running a business, you must be resilient if you want to be able to handle the bad times.

Leaders who are resilient have the ability to persevere. Even if they keep getting told “no,” they’ll look for other ways or different opportunities. Resilient people are also good at learning from their mistakes. Rather than seeing a misstep as the end of the line, those with resiliency understand it’s normal for things to go wrong on occasion. They know when to recognize when a circumstance is out of their control.

Great leadership can, eventually, lead to great business growth. Focus your self-development efforts on these key traits for maximum growth.

Jackie is a content coordinator and contributor who writes on technology, home life, business management and education. 

The post What Every Great Leader Needs appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Written for EO by James Scott. 

As marketers, we’ve only started seriously considering Generation Z—the people born between 1995 and the mid-2000s. Until recently, the focus was on Millennials and how we could market to them. The good news is that most people remain focused on Millennials so if you turn your attention to Gen Z, you’ll probably have an edge over your competition.

To help you get started, let’s lay out the basic facts we know about this latest consumer group.

1. THEY’RE OVER FACEBOOK

Facebook may be the overall dominant social media platform, but it’s not for Gen Z. They prefer to use a variety of platforms for different aspects their lives.

What does this mean f0r marketers? To be effective at targeting Gen Z, you’ll have to broaden your efforts across more networks—namely Instagram and Snapchat. Even better, engage with your target Gen Zers to determine where your efforts are best spent.

Once you’ve chosen your platforms, be sure to follow etiquette and privacy rules on them. Otherwise, you risk appearing fake, forced or fraudulent—and that spells failure.

2. THEY INTERACT DIFFERENTLY

They prefer quick bursts of short-form communication. We can’t know whether this is because their attention span is incredibly short (estimated at just eight seconds, compared to 12 seconds for Millennials!) or they are simply multi-tasking even more than previous generations. But if you wish to connect with them, your best bet is to message frequently in bite-sized messages.

3. THEY PREFER TO LISTEN TO THEIR OWN

To reach this generation, you’ll need to genuinely speak their language. In fact, turn to Gen Z to communicate effectively with Gen Z. Consider this advantage: These individuals are still young so you’ll be able to hire them as interns or for relatively low pay.

4. TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING DOESN’T WORK 

Like Millennials before them, Gen Z has been exposed to so much advertising that it doesn’t work all that well. Considered “ad-resistant,” they respond better to word-of-mouth recommendations.

For marketers, this means relying on nontraditional marketing—whether that’s influencer marketing, content marketing or guerrilla marketing.

5. THEY ARE SOCIALLY AWARE—AND EXPECT THE SAME FROM BRANDS 

A product is no longer simply a product. It represents a way of living and doing business. Individuals in Gen Z consider how that product is made and what their purchasing power is supporting.

Of course, this was also true of the Millennials. The difference, however, is that Millennials weren’t terribly political, while Gen Z seems to be far more likely to take a stand. You’ll win them over by authentically communicating and living your mission.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Gen Z will continue to grow in size and spending power. To ignore them is to set your course on an ever-shrinking market share. So while meeting them where they are may sound like a great amount of work (and it is), it’s best to take the plunge now and start accommodating this new spending force.

James Scott is a marketer and co-founder of Essay Supply. He specializes in targeting, branding and SEO.

The post 5 Marketing Truths About Generation Z appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Written for EO by Justin M. Deonarine, an industrial-organizational psychologist with Psychometrics Canada,an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)-member company.

Leadership. It’s a complex and challenging topic. While we would all agree leadership efforts can always improve, few companies are putting the time or money into developing effective leaders.

My team and I recently surveyed 297 business people on the topic of leadership. The results revealed four top challenges: Negotiation, delegation, networking and responding to unexpected changes.

Here, I delve into networking and the unexpected. (You can read my tips on the other two—negotiation and delegation—on EO’s blog channel on Inc.)

Networking

“Networking is rubbish; have friends instead.” –Steve Winwood, English musician

Over half—59%—of respondents felt that networking is a challenge that they face as a leader.

The majority of these individuals identified as introverted, though extraverts report networking as a challenge too.

What if you’re an introverted leader? What can you do to further develop your network? Start by strengthening your current network. Connect with a colleague who you haven’t worked with in a while. Look for worthwhile initiatives that would let you engage with this colleague. Even if you can’t kick off a new project, you may be able to share insights with each other on existing initiatives.

Alternatively, or even additionally, slowly expand your network by meeting new people. The simplest way to begin is by meeting friends of friends or by meeting with colleagues who you don’t work with regularly. For example, I often connect with colleagues on other teams to discuss our current projects and trade insights from different perspectives.

Also, try networking on social media. Digital platforms provide an easy environment to communicate with individuals who you may not engage with otherwise. Start by connecting with others in your organization who you would like to build relationships with, then work your way to others who share similar interests or have a similar role outside of your organization.

Responding to Unexpected Changes

“No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.” –Julius Caesar, Roman politician and military general 

Of the respondents, 43% stated that responding to unexpected changes is a challenge. The leaders who felt more prepared to adapt are the ones who feel energized by the new and novel. These leaders seek to work in rapidly changing environments, which suggests that they view unexpected changes positively.

Reacting to change poses problems for employees and leaders alike. While it’s hard to adjust your mindset when the environment around you is changing in ways that you hadn’t anticipated, it becomes easier if you view the change as an opportunity to grow and learn, rather than a disruption.

Those who adapt well typically gather information about the new situation, and then identify potential opportunities and challenges. This process may be as simple as making a list of pros of cons. With the right information, you can form an action plan that helps you respond positively. This systematic approach to change is particularly helpful if you prefer to apply past experiences to solve new problems, because you’ll have several potential solutions formed for future use.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” –Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States

Interested in improving your negotiation or delegation skills? Check out EO’s Inc. blog for the companion piece to this article, where we delve into the challenges of negotiation and delegation.

Justin M. Deonarine has led psychological evaluation teams for Canadian reality TV shows and overseen the development of various psychometric assessments, including popular leadership-based, 360-degree measures of emotional intelligence. Justin has also written on topics such as leadership, risk and innovation, emotional intelligence, and entrepreneurship.

The post Two Top Leadership Challenges—and How to Tackle Them appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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You know that employees benefit from constructive feedback. You understand that the opportunity to apply helpful criticism helps an employee perform better and even grow more loyal.

Still, it’s hard to deliver effective feedback. Even the greatest leaders struggle with providing constructive and beneficial performance reviews.

Follow this feedback primer to practice delivering effective criticism.

3 TYPES OF FEEDBACK:
  1. Positive: “You’re doing a great job in this area.”
  2. Neutral: “Here is some information you need.”
  3. Negative: “You need to improve in this area.”
THE BEST TYPE OF FEEDBACK IS:
  • Selective—Concentrate on important areas, rather than listing every detail of behavior.
  • Specific—“You did a good job overseeing the creative team on the Jones project,” rather than “You’ve been doing a good job lately.”
  • Timely—Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
  • Descriptive—Give facts. Talk about what you observed rather than what you concluded from those observations. 
  • Sensitive—Allow a cooling‐off period if either you or the employee is angry, emotionally upset or very busy.
  • Helpful—When feedback is negative, explore alternatives for improvement, so the employee has some idea of how to improve.
WHEN YOU HAVE TO GIVE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK: 
  • Don’t beat around the bush—Simply and clearly describe the situation or behavior that needs correcting.
  • Ask for a reaction—Get the employee to talk about the situation and your evaluation of it. Expect defensiveness, and be prepared to express empathy and understanding. Avoid arguing with the employee or debating points raised.
  • Seek agreement—If possible, try to persuade the employee, at least partially, that the situation needs correcting.
  • Develop a plan—Work with the employee to develop an agreed upon plan for improvement. Be specific. Don’t be overly ambitious because most improvement proceeds in small steps.
  • Summarize the discussion—This ensures that the employee understands the problem and what you have agreed to do about it.
  • Specify consequences if improvements are not made—Document necessary improvements.
  • Follow up—Set a date to get back together and review progress.
FOR FEEDBACK TO EFFECTIVE: 

The employee must…

  • understand what you are saying.
  • accept the information.
  • be able to do something about it.

Giving feedback that is truly beneficial requires care and attention—plus ongoing follow-up. Consider helping your employees develop their talent and skills and work more efficiently and effectively an investment in your business.

Roumen Todorov is the co-founder and COO of 411 Locals, an advertising agency that specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), web design and online marketing solutions.

The post How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Employees appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Written for EO by Jack Anzarouth, president of Digital Ink Marketing.

Many new founders and entrepreneurs feel they have to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes their way. But that small word “yes” comes with a big cost.

The appeal of “yes”

We get into the habit of saying “yes” to every professional opportunity presented to us for a number of reasons:

  • Many of us have a natural desire to please
  • We believe we are the only person who can do something right
  • We tend to say “yes” automatically before fully considering the request
  • We underestimate the time and resources a task will take
  • We’re afraid of appearing lazy and unmotivated

When you agree to tackle everything offered to you, your business can end up with too many products to sell, too many commitments to fulfill, too many clients to handle or simply too much on your plate. More importantly, you may sacrifice quality, effectiveness and your reputation.

The solution is simple. Just say “no”—not just some of the time, but much of the time. I’ve personally had to refuse clients who would have easily doubled my workload to make sure that I had enough time and resources to take care of the clients I already have.

Here’s an exercise to try: Consider “no” your default answer and then convince yourself toward that “yes.” This checklist can help you assess the value of “yes.”

1. Calculate the cost of a “yes.”

When you say “yes” to something, it costs you time, money, resources and likely more. Sure, opening a new location or introducing a new product would bring in more revenue, but what is the cost of setting it up and getting it going? Will you give up time with your family? Will you wear down your emotional and physical health? Can you afford that cost right now?

Saying “no” now might be better until you’re more prepared to say “yes” to it.

2. Determine if it fits in with your long-term goals.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have short- and long-term personal and business goals. Ask yourself if saying “yes” to something will serve those objectives. If it won’t help you reach your goals, then why say “yes” to it? In fact, it may actually end up distracting you from reaching them.

3. Think of what you may have to give up in the future.

Maybe you do have the time, money and resources to confidently say “yes.” Look at the long-term implications. If you say “yes” to something now, will it mean saying “no” to a better opportunity in the future?

Of course it’s impossible to know what opportunities will roll your way in the coming weeks or months. Even so, it’s a great reason to be 100% certain that you can live with your “yes.”

4. Remember that saying “no” is taking action.

Some of us say “yes” to things simply to feel active and engaged. Remind yourself that saying “no” is also a proactive move. Ignoring a request or opportunity is taking no action. Saying “no” is definitively closing the door on it.

When you learn to say “no” as an entrepreneur, you may find it opens up new and even better doors! Keep your time and resources free for opportunities that truly deserve a “yes.”

Jack Anzarouth is the founder and president of the digital creative agency Digital Ink Marketing.  

The post This Is the Most Powerful Word You’ll Ever Use in Business appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Written for EO by Adam Witty, writer, speaker and founder of Advantage Media Group and ForbesBooks.

Computing pioneer Alan Kay said, “Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories.”

Storytelling is the hot trend in business communications and branding. Smart entrepreneurs are eager to humanize their websites, marketing outreach and presentations with inspirational stories of the creation, challenges and success of their companies.

They’re discovering that telling their story, whether via a tweet, a speech or a book, may be the most effective way for them to connect with potential customers.

As a business book publisher who’s worked with hundreds of CEOs and entrepreneurs, I’ve picked up a few do’s and don’ts along the way:

  1. It’s about them. Researchers have found that to be effective, a story has to be clearly relevant to the customer’s own individual experiences and concerns. If it isn’t, they tune out. So when you share your story on a blog, in a presentation, on your website, ask yourself ‘what’s in it for the audience?’ Are they getting useful information out of this—information that will engender trust—or have I wasted their time?
  2. Grab their attention. Studies how that the average adult’s attention span is 8 seconds—less than that of a goldfish—so share the most dynamic part of your journey at the beginning.
  3. Entertain. The most effective speeches, presentations, websites and business books use the same techniques as any great storyteller.  They have a beginning, a middle and an end or, in business parlance, inspiration, conflict and resolution. Share the drama, the failures, the successes and all the emotion attached to the ride. These are the moments that will create a connection between you and potential clients.
  4. Keep it simple. It’s easy to convince ourselves that the details of our stories are fascinating. They’re not. The simpler a story, the more likely it will stick. Share who you are, how you got there and the lessons your audience can learn from your story.  The end.
  5. Don’t boast or exaggerate. The quickest way to lose an audience and potential customers is with a self-congratulatory tribute. You should be a central figure in your story but don’t be obnoxious about it. Share the glory. And no fake news. Did the seed money really come from tips you made as a waiter, or did it have something to do with that gift your parents gave you? All information is traceable, so tell the truth. If you lose the trust of your customers, you’re out of business.
  6. Be optimistic. Whether your audience is live or online, they want you to leave them feeling hopeful.  How they feel will feed directly into whether they want to continue their relationship with you. As Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
  7. Now mix, bake and share. Put all this together and create a tale that can be shared at a business gathering, a cocktail party or a two-minute online read. Write it down. Check off all the boxes. Remember this mnemonic: STORIES. Simple + Truthful + Optimistic + Relevant + Immediate Impact + Entertaining = Success

Practice it in front of people.  Got it? If so, you’ve got a story that can take you and your business far.

Adam Witty is an EO member based in South Carolina.  He is the author of seven books, including Lead The Field and Book The Business: How to Make Big Money With Your Book Without Even Selling a Single Copy. He consults and speaks on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) helps the world’s top entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts. Discover EO today!

The post 7 Tips for Telling Your Story Effectively appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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