Using LinkedIn To Get More Sales

LinkedIn is a professional social network that people use to try to connect with others within their area of interests. It is actually a very popular way for people to find out about potential job openings or simply about what other people in their work field are doing.
There are ways to use this social network to boost your own sales. You can treat it as your own personal place to make more sales and build up your customer base. You may just be surprised by how many people out there are clamoring for the products you want to pitch to them.

Leave The Cold Calling Behind
One of the nicest aspects of using LinkedIn for your own business purposes is that you do not have to make those dreadful cold calls anymore. For one thing, most people do not answer calls from numbers they do not recognize anymore. They just send it to voicemail or ignore it completely. Besides that, even the people you do get to answer are often not interested in what you are pitching to them.
This is yet another reason to love LinkedIn. They help you connect just to those who will likely have a legitimate interest in what you are serving up to them. They want to hear about your products because you have looked to see who you can best target for your message.

Figure Out What Other Companies Are Doing
Yet another way to boost your sales is to look at what the competition is doing to figure out what you could do better as well. Customers are out there, and everyone is competing against you. If you allow the competition to continue to simply do whatever they want to do with customers, you will just continue to fall behind. Learn what your competitors are doing so that you are a step ahead of them.

Make Professional Connections
The final benefit of LinkedIn is to connect with others as professional contacts within your industry. Just like individuals use LinkedIn to make new connections, so too can you use it to make business connections that will help expand your business empire.

How to Hire Your First Employee

When running a business, one of the most important aspects of having success is the ability to hire qualified workers. There are many business owners who wrongly assume that hiring workers is an easy process. However, in the current economic climate, hiring quality workers is difficult. There are many companies that are having trouble filling open positions.
When hiring your first employee, you need to think about the future of your business. Hiring your first employee can be a difficult process for many reasons. When hiring someone, you need to think about the future culture of your company. This is one of the most critical elements of success when growing a company.

Work Experience
One of the most important variables to consider in a job candidate is applicable work experience in the field. However, work experience should not be required to fill an open position. Many qualified and motivated workers have work experience in other industries.
Some business owners wrongly assume that the most experienced worker is also the best worker. This is the wrong approach to take. You need to look at how well the person would fit into the company’s future. If you want to grow the company rapidly, you are going to hire additional employees in the future. It is more important to get someone who is a fit with your culture than to get someone who has experience.

Attitude
There are several personal attributes that you simply cannot teach to others. One of these attributes is a positive attitude. There are many people who have a bad attitude and it impacts their work performance. This is something that you should be able to find at the initial interview stage. You should ask the prospective employee about their goals for the future. During this time, you should be able to assess how positive they are about life. No one wants to work with an employee who is constantly negative.
Hiring an employee is a critical step for any company. If you want to run a successful business, you need to spend an appropriate amount of time in the process.

How to Manage Stress Through Relaxation Strategies

Stress Relax Computer Keys

Managing your own small business can be as stressful as it is rewarding, but stress itself can be managed through use of “relaxation strategies” that will help you to face the daily grind with calmness and poise. If stress is left unchecked and allowed to fester and grow, it can have serious detrimental effects on your health besides making you irritable with your staff and less than efficient at your managerial duties. Below, we offer 5 suggestions as to how you can relax both body and mind to reduce stress and increase productivity:

  1. Breathe Deeply: Take a few minutes several times day to stop and “take a breather.” That is, literally sit down in a comfortable chair or, if possible, lie down on a bed, and engage in deep-breathing exercises. Slowly fill up your lungs, breathing in through the nose, and then release the air through your mouth in a steady, continuous motion. Count to 10 in the process: from 1 to 5 breathing in and from 6 to 10 breathing out.
  2. Wear Loose-fitting Clothing: If your clothes are too tight, “loosen up,” or it will hinder the blood circulation in your body and make it harder for you to relax. In fact, various health conditions can also arise, in part, from too-tight clothing: varicose veins, poor upper body breathing, back aches, and indigestion.
  3. Do Muscle-relaxing Exercises: If your muscles feel somewhat cramped and tense, “stretch out” using various simple exercises that target specific areas of your body. Lower your chin to your chest and back up again, slowly, to exercise your neck. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and then move them in small circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise, to relax shoulder muscles. Do wall stretches to loosen up leg muscles, lift small dumbbells to exercise your arms, and relax wrists by curling your hands up toward your body for a few moments at a time.
  4. Avoid Last-minute Decisions: Disorganization leads to chaos, and chaos leads to stress. For every major aspect of your day, you should “plan ahead” to foster organization and orderliness. Schedules, budgets, work-flow charts, chains-of-command, and some basic protocols are not your enemies- they establish routines that allow you to avoid stressful last-minute decisions because you have already decided many things well in advance.
  5. Maintain a Focused Mind: Do what you can to separate your personal and business activities into distinct time slots and to work through your list of tasks in a one-thing-at-a-time manner. Avoid distractions until its time for a short, 5-minute break. The rest of the time, “stay focused” on the task at hand until it is completed: this will give you a sense of accomplishment that will encourage you as you move on to the next order of business.

Remember to do 5 things- take a breather, loosen up, stretch out, plan ahead, and stay focused, and both you and your business will benefit. Reducing stress levels will boost your productivity and make you feel better at the same time.

What Are the Characteristics of an Entrepreneur?

EntrepreneurBeing an entrepreneur may technically require nothing more than that you have an idea you believe in strongly and that you make an attempt to turn that idea into a profitable venture. Being a successful entrepreneur, however, will require, among other things, a certain set of characteristics that tend toward success. Conducting an honest self assessment as to how

many of these desirable characteristics you possess will put you in a position to make your new business start-up as successful as possible.

Five characteristics that can help you to maximize the success of your entrepreneurial pursuits are as follows:

1. A Willingness to Learn From Others

When low demand, economic stagnation, and unfair practices of competitors begin to push down your bottom line, you may find yourself unsure of how to respond. You may have great business talent and enough accumulated knowledge to come up with some possibilities, but it is always wise to check your ideas against the advice of those more experienced than yourself.

2. The Impulse to Plan Ahead

Gathering the resources to start a new business and then managing it well enough, long enough to meet or exceed your original goals requires a well-thought-out business plan. You should know your product, your market, and the benchmarks by which you will measure success. You will also need to be familiar with the details involved or, at least, hire a trustworthy manager who can attend to them while you focus on the overall direction of your company.

3. Flexibility and Adaptability

Planning is critical, but there is also a need to “counter-balance” your plans with a willingness to be flexible. If customer feedback and the dynamics of the market are ignored in the name of “sticking to the plan,” it will hurt your business and could even end it. Furthermore, you cannot simply “turn static” after an initial adaptation to the needs of the market. Since market conditions are constantly changing, there is a need for constant adaptation.

4. An Ability to Work With Money

In the early days of a new business, keeping cash-flow positive is something of a balancing act that requires the wisest possible use of a limited amount of capital. Thus, an entrepreneur must possess some “financial intuition” and a an ability to budget for both present and future obligations. He must also keep enough of a cash reserve to deal with emergencies, which will inevitably arise.

5. A Skill for “Reasoned Risk-Taking”

Every entrepreneur must take risks in order to have a chance to reap corresponding rewards. Reckless risk-taking done simply “for risk-taking’s sake,” however, is likely to ruin your business. Risks must be weighed against the potential pay-off, the odds of success, and the availability of other options.

Finally, note that even with a good idea, hard work, and wise business moves, failure is not.

100% avoidable. There are times when the best option is to “cut your losses” and re-invest in another entrepreneurial venture that may prove to be more successful.

The Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance, Why You Should Never Step Over The Line

Blackboard I can do thisThere is a great gift in being a confident business owner. It opens doors, creates trust, and builds powerful relationships with fellow business owners and potential clients. But the moment you step over the line and allow your confidence to turn to arrogance, is the same moment you single-handedly destroy your reputation and quite possibly, your business.

If you’ve ever experienced someone that had all the answers, someone that talked over you because they believed they knew better, or someone that treated you as if you were beneath them, run away. They’ve stepped over the line where self-confidence is no longer valued. Their skewed perception of themselves leads them to believe they are someone of great importance, and they will stop at nothing to prove it.

Are you teetering between the land of confidence and the soil of arrogance? Here are some things to keep in mind, should you decide to take the trip to the dark side:

1) You will be treated like the plague.
While you think you know more than everyone else, you actually don’t. You want to, and that’s great, but projecting your insecurities (because that is actually what you’re doing) is never going to serve you. The energy you give off in this state of mind will turn people away. You’ll be treated like you have a wicked disease, and will be left flying solo in the corner of the room.

2) Your colleagues will no longer value you.
The colleagues you hob-nobbed with once upon a time will likely no longer spend time with you. Those that once valued you and your work ethic will change their tune because you did. And once you lose your shine, you lose your following.

3) The phone will stop ringing.
Remember all of those referrals that you used to get? Those will stop. A successful, respectful business owner is a direct reflection of those they associate with. If your disposition is tainted, no one with a stellar reputation wants to taint their own with your ego. Referrals will go elsewhere and your business will dwindle.

The only time arrogance in professionalism will ever serve you is when you recognize how it once crippled you. There is great freedom in this. The most successful business owners are those that are willing to be completely honest with who they are, who they were, and who they strive to be. Someone said once, “There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance…it’s called humility. Confidence smiles, arrogance smirks.”

Keep smiling. It works every time.

Getting More Done… The Key To Using A World WorkForce

Remote business management conceptIn the business world, any opportunity to achieve more in less time is a winning idea. In that vein of thought, many small businesses and CEOs alike have employed the services of virtual professionals, to their success. When confronted with tasks requiring skills that you do not particularly possess or excel in it can be easy to get overwhelmed. The availability of virtual professionals capable to perform nearly any task, at any time to bridge the gaps in your business needs is a boon to all solopreneurs. In addition they tend to cost a literal fraction of the expense required for hiring an equally skilled part-time employee or other standard fee for service negotiations. Freelancing is no longer limited to writers and the occasional odd jobs. It has instead blossomed into something greater thanks to the advances of technology and several platforms that organize and enable you to be truly discerning in your choice of worker whether you are in need of a realtor or a secretary.

Workforce at the Touch of a Button

Engaging the world workforce does not involve trusting your time-sensitive business needs to the random Joe Schmo from craigslist or the like. In most cases you can request credentials from potential applicants, even proof of degrees and certifications if you so choose. In fact, sites like Upwork.com have a very extensive process available to businesses which enable you to be as in-depth in your hiring process as you desire. This makes it easier for you to access and utilize the available fractionalized resources for skills you currently do not have. For example, you can select your potential favorites from a list of applicants and resumes for your required project, personally interview those you choose online, discuss payment terms with each individual and even analyze their past feedback reviews. The platform offers a very wide-range of specialties from professional writers to mobile developers and marketing experts. Whether you need one person or a large, organized team to tackle your project it is all available. Satisfied with the work completed? Easily add favorite workers for quick and direct access for future or continuous projects.

Quality Guarantee

The large majority of freelancing platforms ensure you get the quality you demand before you ever pay a cent. Your business won’t end up stuck with the bill for poor quality results, and oftentimes you are given the ability to request revisions and corrections for as long as it takes. If it doesn’t work out, you don’t pay, simple as that. Hiring freelancers for your

business needs has exploded in popularity and for good reason. The money saved from doing away with a lengthy hiring process, providing benefits and training of a new hire is profit made. Being in business for yourself doesn’t have to mean being bogged down with menial tasks when your time is worth more and better spent. So don’t overlook the readily available world workforce available for your business needs whether large or small.

What Are the Qualities of a Successful Small Business Owner

depositphotos_84011318_m-2015Successful small business owners come from every background and have as diverse of personalities as anyone else, but they also tend to have certain character qualities in common. These qualities directly impact the way they think about their business and the way they manage it. While a full list of pertinent traits would be indeed voluminous, here below we discuss only a handful of the most important ones:

Visionary: Having a clear view of precisely what it is you want your business to ultimately become and why the product or service it provides is important is the very definition of a “business vision.” Without a vision, it will be difficult to stay “driven to succeed” because there will be no higher purpose for your activities than getting through the “daily grind.”

Goal-oriented: Long and short term goals, which translate into a detailed business plan, are essential to keeping motivated to get things done in a timely manner. When everything is, as much as possible, well thought out ahead of time and broken down into small, practical steps, it is simply easier to succeed.

Ever-learning: The most successful small business owners are always reading, asking questions, researching a better way to do things, and networking with others more experienced than themselves. They also often engage in formal, ongoing education such as business seminars and online classes.

People-people: To some degree, a business person must interact with others and build relationships that are mutually beneficial. This includes with clients, employees, partners, mentors, and suppliers. They will need to head up a team and collaborate with others in working toward a common goal in the most efficient way feasible.

Good with money: Without a steady cash flow, available investment capital, and a sufficient cash reserve, your business will likely soon fold. Knowing how to manage money and make the most out of a limited budget is key to success in the business world.

Organized: Budgeting time and money, scheduling workers, dealing with payroll, and even arranging your personal office for maximum productivity all require a good deal of organization. Routines must be established that allow you to accomplish as much as possible during any given workday, but disorganization will constantly thwart your efforts.

Tech-savvy: In the modern world, businesses must rely heavily on high-tech devices to accomplish basic tasks. Being able to use computers, smartphones, apps, and social media sites effectively and efficiently is almost required these days.

Resilient: There are too many ups and downs in the life of a business for a non-resilient person to keep his/her company afloat. Believing strongly in what you are doing, you will not give up easily.

Above, we listed 8 major character qualities that the most successful small business people frequently possess. No one, however, possesses all desirable qualities to the point of perfection- thus, humility and a willingness to improve must also characterize a good business owner.

10 Everyday Things Successful Entrepreneurs Say ‘No’ To That Skyrocket Success

10 Everyday Things Successful Entrepreneurs Say ‘No’ To That Skyrocket Success

A wonderful opportunity to learn from those that have figured it out. As is often the case, success is in a direction other than we think.  Click here to read

Ten Reasons Winners Keep Winning, Aside from Skill

Whether the game involves competing every four years in the Olympics or every day in a business, winning brings advantages that make it easier to keep winning.

To understand sustainable success, I compared perpetual winners with long-term losers in professional and amateur sports and then matched the findings to business case studies for my book Confidence. The sports were a comprehensive mix including women’s soccer, men’s and women’s college basketball, major league baseball, U.S. football, international cricket, and North American ice hockey.

I found that winners gain ten important advantages as a result of victory — and that smart leaders can cultivate and build on these advantages to make the next success possible.

1. Good mood. Clearly everyone feels good about winning, while emotions sag at failure. Emotions affect performance. Positive moods produce physical energy and the resilience to persist after setbacks. While losers use any excuse to stop, winners sometimes play on even while injured, lifted by a kind of winners’ high. Moreover, psychologists find that moods are contagious. Winners’ exhilaration is infectious. Losers’ gloom can be toxic.

2. Attractive situation. Whether at children’s soccer games or in the office, losers go home early. Winners stick around. My studies show that there is less absenteeism or tardiness in organizations known for their successes. There is also more solidarity, because people spend more time together feeling good about what they can accomplish. More time together brings more chances for information-sharing and mentoring.

3. Learning. Losers get defensive and don’t want to hear about their many failings, so they avoid feedback. Winners are more likely to voluntarily discuss mistakes and accept negative feedback, because they are comfortable that they can win. Because they are confident about the possibility of winning, they see practicing as a route to a positive outcome, not as a punishment. For athletes, practice matters. Winning is often found in mastery of the details. As a former student found in studies of swimmers who did and didn’t qualify for the Olympics, excellence consists of examining and improving many small processes and routines.

4. Freedom to focus. As every golfer and tennis player knows, you must keep your eye on the ball. Losers often punish themselves in their heads. Winners have fewer distractions. Golf pro Tiger Woods won nearly every championship until hit with personal problems of his own making, which was followed by loses on the golf course.

5. Positive culture of mutual respect. For anyone who plays on a team, winning makes it easier to respect and listen to one another, because after all, if you win together, then the presumption is that everyone is a good player. Winners can maintain high aspirations and act generously toward others. Losers are more likely to blame others and disdain them as mediocre, creating a culture of finger-pointing and infighting.

6. Solid support system. Behind every high performance athlete or team is a cadre of coaches, friends, and fans that fuel motivation. Winning enlarges the circle of backers. Losing erodes support. For instance, the cheerleaders for one perpetually losing college football team used to leave the stadium at half-time. When even their cheerleaders feel they won’t win, how can athletes gear up for the next try?

7. Better press. It’s not just the buzz at time of victory that separates winners from losers, it’s also the more favorable story about the past and future. Winning provides a halo that makes everything seem to glow. Losing causes observers and analysts to probe for reasons in a rewritten version of the past that makes continuing losses seem inevitable.

8. Invitations to the best parties. Really. Winners get invited to the White House, Buckingham Palace, key conferences or exhibitions. They gain access to networks and relationships that confer benefits that maintain winners’ momentum, such as early information or better deals. Who invites the losers?

9. Self-determination. Winners have more control over their own destiny. “Why tamper with success?” we often say. Winners are left alone, getting a free pass on reviews (occasionally tragically, as at Penn State, where locker room abuse went uninvestigated). Losers get attention of the negative kind. They are encumbered with “help” — special committees, audits, reviews, frequent visitors. Enough of that, and losers spend their time in meetings instead of practicing and improving performance.

10. Continuity. Lose too often, and heads roll. New coaches, new strategies — like HP’s lurching between hardware and software or Yahoo’s parade of exiting CEOs. High turnover consumes time and attention. More time spent getting people on board leaves little time to fully execute any particular game plan. It’s hard to start winning again until the situation stabilizes. Winners have the luxury implementing long-term strategies and planning for orderly succession.

Winning streaks eventually end because winners can get over-confident, slipping into arrogance or complacency, or because the competition gets better. But leaders can build on the advantages of winners to encourage a positive spirit, disciplined focus, mutual respect, lots of practice on the details, and lasting support systems that can make successes and comebacks more likely.

Editors note: Tony Schwartz thinks our culture has an unhealthy obsession with winning. Do you agree? Read his post and let us know what you think.

This is the piece your business is missing!!!

The Fourth Stage Dilemna: Dancing Away from the Cliff by Art Radtke and Lorette Pruden

Take a moment.  Can you remember what it felt like when your business was still just a wisp of a thought…a dream that was getting ready to come true? Do you recall the energy,the inspiration, and the excitement as you began to imagine the possibilities?  All of these feelings are characteristic of the first of The Nine Stages of Small Business™.

It makes sense that the often-mystifying lifecycle of a small business can be measured in nine stages. There is something almost magical about the number nine.  Cats have nine lives.  Babies are born in nine months.  Golfers lament over the front versus the back nine. You can be “dressed to the nines.”  There is even mathematical magic to “Casting out Nines” as a shortcut method for checking multiplication and division.

Defining the stages of the business lifecycle is not new.  However, many descriptions have traditionally been presented from the large corporate point of view.  As any small businessperson will tell you, that view does not reflect their reality. It was in this void that Mort Murphy and John Heenan developed The Nine Stages of Small Business.™ Building on the foundation of traditional business models, we identified additional stages that directly “reflect the impact that the life of the business has on the life of the owners.”

In the first two stages, “concept” and “start-up,” the enthusiasm of creating vision lives.  First the very idea is energizing to you, the creator.  While supporting yourself in other ways, you pore over ideas and nurture thoughts of what the business could be in your free time.

When the  “idea” starts to become reality, you’re in start-up stage.  Here there may be a need for outside funds. A fear begins to whisper:  “We need to make an income.”  That fear will either energize or cripple the budding entrepreneur.

As you push through the 3rd or “survival” stage, quiet desperation begins to set in. Outside funds have dried up and the business needs to generate cash.  The euphoria of the earlier stages has all but evaporated.  You are faced with trying to pay next month’s bills while you hope your friends and family remember who you are.

It is at the next stage – the 4th or “stability” stage– where fear settles in and makes itself at home. As Heenan and friends put it, “It’s like sitting on a comfortable cliff edge – lucky to be there, hoping it won’t crumble, but afraid to get back up and start climbing again.”

Life is okay– not great, but okay enough to stifle further risk-taking.  “Let’s not rock the boat” competes with “Let’s get a move on.”  You’ve been doing too much yourself, and you don’t want to stagnate, or worse yet, lose what you’ve gained.  The business needs a burst of energy to keep pushing forward, yet it is just at this stage that you, the business owner are running out of energy.

The stability stage is extremely treacherous for a business owner who does not recognize the danger. You can be literally trapped in a chaotic fluctuation between survival and stability.  You are not sitting safely on your cliff–you are dancing on the edge.

So how do you resolve your dilemna and move on to stage five?  Get help.   Then work with that help, don’t just work them!

Though important throughout all stages, having the ability to encourage, inspire and incorporate other people into your vision is crucial to getting off the edge of that cliff. The problem is too many of us think we can do it on our own.

We box ourselves in and stifle the vitality of our business by believing the following set of rules, which keeps us perilously close to the edge:

Meathead Rule #1“No one can do the job as well as I can.” Which really means nobody will do it the same way.  We do not just want the work done–we want it done identically to the way we do it.  Guess what.  Not happening.  You just set up everyone to lose.

Meathead Rule #2“Employees are just more of a headache.” See rule #1.  Whether they are employees, independent contractors, strategic partners, or referral sources, you cannot do a business without other people.  Why do you think it is called a “company?”  People have the audacity to want to do things their own way.  Standards are necessary, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat, or stack a dishwasher!

Learning to work with other people will set you free. If you can get people working in your business, you have just bought yourself the freedom to work on it.  Imagine yourself letting go.  Engage other people (employees, vendors, strategic relationships) in the vision and operation of your company.

Your independence, your time freedom, and your financial freedom-your ability to move beyond stage four-depend absolutely on your ability to surround yourself with people willing to help, and then to let them. Invite them to the dance!