» START AND GROW The top source for startup resources, business resources and startup business ideas for young entrepreneurs Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:05:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 12 Things Successful Employees Do To Be Indispensable Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:52:41 +0000 There are hundreds of thousands of resources out there on how to better at your job and improve your career.  A lot of employees wonder what the most successful employees out there do to stand out—the ones who get promotions, raises, and opportunities seemingly handed to them. Well, these are a few things the most successful and indispensable employees do differently. Prepare for amazing things at your current job. Here is how to be an indispensable employee.

1. They develop their skills that can improve how they work. Most people try to be awesome at the skills in the job descriptions, but the most successful employees also focus on what they’ll need to know to succeed and be better at what they do. Not sure what skills you should be developing? Start asking questions, attending conferences and courses, and always working to improve your skill set and learn something new online.

2. They speak up in meetings. Intimidated by the higher-ups in that meeting room. If you don’t know much about what’s going on, it’s easy to sit tight and listen. But the people who get ahead don’t wait for permission or an invitation to speak—they make sure everyone in the room knows they have something significant to contribute. You don’t have a suggestion? Speaking up to advocate for a co-worker’s point of view also counts.

3. Don’t panic when they’re caught in the elevator with a CEO. Instead, they make the most of the opportunity. Chances are, you have not had a conversation with your  top chief before. You can start off a conversation by asking how their day is going, comment about a speech he or she made some time ago or admire the bold steps the company is taking to grow the company.

4. They look for leadership opportunities. Whether it’s offering to lead a project team, volunteering to mentor a junior employee, or taking it upon themselves to train the new interns, people who want to (and do!) get promoted don’t wait for leadership opportunities to come from them—they look around, see where a leader is needed, and jump in.

5.  They give people their full attention. Listening is one of the top skills employers seek in potential and current employees, and it’s correlated with perceived ability to lead. Giving people undivided attention, helping them feel motivated and energized, and showing them that you care about their thoughts and opinions is more powerful than you know.

6. Show up on time. Not just because it’s the nice thing to do, but because it ensures they get a better seat at the meeting, not one that’s crammed in the back of the room.

7. They think like managers, not employees. Employees wait to be told what to do—managers think strategically about what needs to be done, and then they do it. Employees do their own job well—managers are committed to the team doing well—so they mentor other employees, pitch in when they’re needed, and go that extra mile if it means the works going to be done better.

8. Focus on results, not just activities. Just like you would on a resume, don’t just talk about the to-dos you’ve knocked off your list—talk about the quantitative results of your work. Think: “In last week’s vendor meeting, I was able to negotiate a 5% discount, which will save us $50,000 next year,” versus, “Last week’s vendor meeting went great!”

9. They solve problems. Anyone can drop a complaint into the suggestion box, but the marker of a truly great employee is coming up with solutions to those problems. Becoming a problem solver shows that you care—not only about your own career, but about the long-term health of the business as well.

10. They know how to pitch ideas (the right way). Smart people are full of ideas—but brilliant employees also have the ability to sell those ideas to everyone else, sharing not only why the idea is a great one, but how it will impact the team and business.

11. They always know what they need to work on. Do you know exactly where you need to grow, your boss’ goals for your future, the timing of your next review, the timing of promotions and raises at your company, and who besides your boss you should be impressing?

12.  They don’t stop reaching higher. While a promotion is something to (seriously) celebrate, successful employees don’t see it as the end goal. They see it as just one step on a path to a long, fulfilling career.

Originally shared on themuse

]]> 0
3 Creative Ways To Validate Your Business Idea (Before You Launch) Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:37:37 +0000 The biggest mistake you can ever make is to start a business without practical knowledge about its potential for success. Don’t build a product for customers who may not even need it. Create something people actually want by first testing it’s usefulness. Idea validation can help you find the weakest link in your logic, answer all questions you may have about the idea, know if customers actually have the problem you think they have and the best way to solve it. Once you are able to identify the value (a single reason someone would be willing to pay for it or use it) of your idea and what prospective customers expect from you, you will be able to deliver just that.

Before you begin setting up an office, building your product or hiring employees, consider these idea validation methods to test the viability of your business.

1. Get connected with the right people. The basic premise is that to achieve success in anything (not only in business), it is necessary to constantly validate your ideas with others, ask for feedbacks, comments and sometimes criticisms. With respect to business ideas, some people are lucky enough to be part of a network where they can find the help, feedback, validation they need as soon as possible.

Those who are less well connected, can achieve the same result through Team Up Start Up, a platform where aspiring entrepreneurs collaborate with others, find co-founders and develop their ideas. After creating your profile on Team Up Start Up, you can write up your idea (that remains completely private), browse existing profiles, and invite other users who could potentially be helpful to look at your idea. These people can now read your idea, leave comments and feedback, and set your idea off to a great start.

2. Setup a simple but convincing landing page. One of the best ways to test a new idea is to ask people who could potentially use the product when it’s ready. Landing pages have proven to be one of the most useful methods to convey your idea but most importantly gather contact information of people interested in your product.

One critical aspect of this single page is that the content on the website must be stated as if the product or service already exists. Your landing page should have a call-to-action that allows users to  leave their email addresses so you can provide them with access you launch. This is crucial because most of those who sign up will become your beta testers.

The validation process begins with the sign-up process but it doesn’t end there. Use the email addresses to reach out to these potential customers. Email them and begin a discussion by asking them what they expect to see in the product. Some potential users may be surprised to hear that you are asking for their opinion, but you can use this as an opportunity to fine tune your idea.

Also, this is a great opportunity to interview your potential customer to find out how they will use the product, how much they would pay for such a product/service, and if they would encourage their friends to use it.

3.  Choose and interview your ideal customers. Make a list of  potential clients you can reach out to and interview for 10 minutes or less in person or over a Skype video. This process could take time but it’s totally worth it. You will probably reach out to a lot more people than you originally planned because most of them may say no. Aim for 10 or 15  “yeses” and be prepared for the  “I’m sorry, I can’t’” and a couple no replies.

Don’t try to make it easier for yourself by asking friends or family members. Get real potential customers you possibly don’t know who can give you an honest opinion. Make sure you can secure at least minutes of their time in person or over Skype. A natural back and forth conversation is essential to know exactly how they feel.

Take time to explain your business and the nature of the product or service you intend to launch. Clearly state the reason behind the interview and why it matters. Look out for the hesitation, excitement or a “wow” expression. You want to know if they are really into your idea or they are just saying what you expect them to say. Take down concise notes of each interview to help with analysis later.

]]> 0
8 Experts Reveal What Works Today In Content Marketing Sat, 19 Jul 2014 20:35:37 +0000 There are now countless resources on the importance of content marketing for your business. Content marketing has proven to be very useful for companies like Buffer, Hubspot and KISSmetrics. Each of these companies are educating and informing their prospective audience and customers on topics they will find useful. Content marketing always pays off if you do it right. While the most common advice does apply to most people, I thought it would be interesting to gather expert advice on how your business can approach content marketing.

1. Content is meant to create  loyalty, branding and familiarity.

“A piece of content is worth a lot. A year ago or so, we actually came up with a formula: A guest post would give us around 100 signups in the lifetime of the article. We have a 2% conversion from free to paid for Buffer. So that means 2 people will pay. Our lifetime value for a paying user is around $250. So a piece of content was around $500.

We don’t use that anymore, but just as an example along which lines we are thinking. Rand Fishkin taught me that content isn’t for direct signups – it’s to create loyalty, branding and familiarity. That’s very much an idea I’ve come around to. So I would rather pay you consistently up front, and have you as a writer create awesome content every week, then always charge per result!”

Leo Widrich, co-founder @Buffer

2. Create content that achieve goals!

“In general, there’s way too much emphasis on content creation these days. As a result, we’re up to our eyeballs in content that is over promoted and underwhelming. Content may indeed be king, but unless marketers connect content to SEO goals, conversion goals, retention goals, branding goals, etc., the whole castle will collapse. So I would start by figuring out what exactly you want to accomplish and the value of accomplishing it. Then, work backwards to figure out what types of content you need and how much of it you can afford.”

Brad Shor, Director of B2B Marketing@StraightNorth

3. Great ideas for content marketing usually come from the front lines

“I’m not sure it’s counterintuitive, but there’s this feeling that information should come from executives—that we should look above us for the great ideas. But actually, the great ideas for content marketing usually come from the front lines. They come from the people that are answering people’s questions, and selling to them directly and responding to their complaints. When you ask your front line people for information, your content marketing comes alive because it’s based on live people with real concerns, questions and comments.”

Ahava Leibtag, Content Wizard. Author of The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web.

4. It pays to be transparent

If you are personal in your content marketing, and by that, I don’t mean droning on and on about yourself, you will begin to experience trust from your readers. If you’re transparent about your knowledge, experience, questions, and so forth, just as in real life, you become more approachable. That trust forms the basis for future marketplace transactions.

Josh Pigford, Maker of,,, PugSpot

5. Content strategy always comes before social media strategy

Top of the funnel marketing, inbound marketing, opt-in subscriptions are all very important parts of the content marketing funnel. But to move the buyer along their journey with content, we need to focus on all the stages, especially customer retention and loyalty.

Historically, content marketing has earned its stripes through retention goals (most content publications were custom print magazines). Social media have become critical distribution channels to spread our stories…but content strategy always comes before social media strategy. Many organizations get this backwards.

 Joe Pulizzi, Veteran content marketer, author of Epic Content Marketing

6. Provide the answers for your audience

Your customers are looking for answers. The typical buying process now starts with multiple pages of searches, blog reading, checking social channels for recommendations from friends, and comparing vendors. If you’re not providing helpful resources for those looking for this information, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to gain credibility early in the buying process.

Rachel Foster, freelance copywriter 

7. Choose topics on the minds of your customers

You can introduce your company to people who didn’t know you existed. That’s one of the major purposes of marketing at large, and content marketing does it really well. By choosing topics that are on the minds of your customers and talking about them in helpful ways, you’ll attract those folks through search engines.

Search engines are getting better at understanding what a person means from the words they type, so focus on topics and answering questions, and don’t sweat the “exact match” text quite as much.

Timothy Carter, works @Nimlok

8. Focus on the marketing channels that make the most sense

Content marketing has received a ton of attention this year, in part because there’s so much of it being produced. Our instinct might be to deliver as much branded content as possible, because consumers are eager to be engaged and entertained, but I think it’s in a brand’s best interest to keep these kinds of campaigns in check. Trying to capitalize on every possible opportunity by producing countless videos, GIFs, infographics, and Tumblr pages can actually dilute a brand’s image.

It’s better to focus on the marketing channels that make the most sense, devise a strategy for ongoing content development, and put your energy into making that content as good as it can be. Just as brands can’t be all things to all people, few truly benefit from being everywhere online.

Tessa Wegert, Digital media writer @ClickZ,@Contently, @ChicagoNow. 

]]> 0
Small Business Loans: Your Saving Grace or the Final Coffin Nail? Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:58:00 +0000 If you’re a small business owner or work for one that hasn’t been a slam dunk right out of the gate (as most small businesses are not) then you know how stressful it can become when the financial strain seems to be choking any future potential the company could have with its product or service. In these instances, many people make the naïve mistake of thinking a small business loan will solve their problems.

Not unlike the way many unwed couples think getting married will solve their relationship issues, and not unlike couples who think having a baby will solve their marriage issues, getting a bank loan for a small business could take a garden variety difficult situation and turn it into a far more serious situation—and even the situation that could cause you to have to close the doors of your storefront.

So with all this discussion about how getting a loan could actually be the last thing you need, what is the answer? In many cases, fixing what’s wrong with a small to medium sized business has nothing to do with cash flow—what’s happening inside the business is what could be costing so much money that the profit margins begin to suffer.

To get a small business out of debt or into a place where it is at least profiting and beginning to show signs of getting out of the red, other management steps or changes in how operations are being handled may very likely be the key to getting on track.

It’s easy to understand why so many new business owners or those who are veterans begin to freak out when month after month, sales are down, overhead is up, and friction between partners or the staff is enough to make you want to fire everyone and shudder the doors. But if you feel this way as a business owner, what does this really say about the issues that lay beneath the cash flow problem?

And further, how will a new loan with new monthly payments which is financed at a percentage you may not be able to handle every month help make you more financially grounded? It won’t. The money from the loan will likely be a patch up for the real problems. Not unlike the way painkillers take away the pain but do nothing to heal the body, a small business loan can mask the real issues, and in this way, keep you from truly being able to diagnose your company’s true ailment.

Get your house in order: balance the books, even when it scares you to death. Running away from what the numbers really look like will not solve the financial problems you face, which will worsen when you forget to pay another bill and/or have to pay employees late (they really do hate that.)

Survey the scene: if everyone is fighting all the time and the business is a mess, has disorganized inventory and customers screaming through the phone lines and writing emails in all caps, money isn’t your issue—management, organization, and most likely poorly constructed job descriptions are.

If you really feel a loan will solve the problem: get some outside counsel from other businesses in your community and if available, some pro bono counsel from a local small business lender to see what they think about the problems you’re having and how much of them are related to money.

As someone very wise once said, money only solves money related issues. It can’t fix a marriage, a broken childhood, and in many cases, it cannot be the long-term resolution for your business. There is a very high chance that once you have put that new loan to what you thought was good use, you’ll find yourself in the same predicament six months or a year down the line—but now, you’ll be paying a loan off while still trying to save your business from going under.

]]> 0
Here Is How To Be Remarkable (When You Show Your Work) Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:06:25 +0000 You’re either boring, okay, good, great, remarkable or amazing. You have to want to be amazing. Being good isn’t the goal. Being amazing is! You can be incredible if you put your mind to it. The time to be amazing is now. Better isn’t good enough. Don’t spend your best part of your life on other people’s priorities, when you know you can pull that project off when you put your mind to it.

Start doing what your future self will be proud of. We don’t find it remarkable when our expectations are met – only when they are exceeded. Start that business, begin that project, finish what you have started. Don’t put off what you can do today.

“Remarkability lies in the edges. The biggest, fastest, slowest, richest, easiest, most difficult. It doesn’t always matter which edge, more that you’re at (or beyond) the edge. Not everyone appreciates your efforts to be remarkable. In fact, most people don’t. So what? Most people have their heads in the sand, unable to help you anyway.” says Seth Godin.

Your goal isn’t to please everyone but to please yourself. Your goal is to please those that care about your work, spread the word or buy even buy your work.

In an article for FastCompany, Seth defines remarkable:

The world is full of boring stuff – brown cows – which is why so few people pay attention. Being remarkable is the art of building things worth noticing right into your product or service.

A Purple Cow would really stand out. The essence of the Purple Cow – the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows – is that it would be remarkable. Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.

Ideas that spread, win. What we’ve been living through is the greatest culture of spreading ideas that there’s ever been. At one level, that’s great because it’s easier to spread your ideas than ever before. At another, it’s harder because we keep raising the bar.

If you decide to put your work online, strive to be original. Information is everywhere, everyone is sharing their ideas and stories online… it’s really hard to be original. That being said, you don’t have a choice. Focus on sharing your work to your audience in the best possible way you can show it. Strive to give and show something people have never seen before. Everyone naturally craves what they’ve never seen or heard. Be the odd one in a good way.

Whether it’s content, a product, service or even a method of doing something, make it memorable. If you expect your idea to be talked about, your product to be shared or even passed on without hesitation, it needs to stand out and impress. Make it contagious.

Whatever you decide to do, it should be something you definitely love to do with every fibre of your being. It should come to you without struggle. If you struggle to make it happen, it’s not for you, move on. Passion always shows, people know when you are genuine. Passion is contagious. What’s your passion? Think Warren Buffett, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

Tell amazing stories. People understand things more when they can relate to it and stories are easy to relate to. Don’t write a product description, show it. Don’t list your features, show stories of people who have found your service or product useful. Don’t write, show.  Whatever you do, try to show the proof. If you have to write, deliver epic content.

But the hard truth is that, if you want to create something truly remarkable, it takes longer than you expect. A great novel, an awesome app, a revolutionary company – this kind of thing takes time, thought, craft, and persistence.

Over to you..

1. Find what matters and is remarkable to you.
2. Create something awesome that can spread.
3. Get in front of the right people – your people – and listen to them.
4. Infuse it with some “purple”. Make it different. Well, you’ll have to work that out.
5. Be consistent. What you should refrain from changing is your brand language.

Don’t give up just yet! Your time to be awesome is now!

]]> 0
5 Things Successful Marketers Do Differently to Stand Out Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:40:35 +0000 Customers have too many options.You job as a marketer is to create stories and messages that stand out from the many marketing messages out there. In the abundance of options, only the products and services that solves real problems with the best marketing campaign get noticed early and often. What are you doing differently today to attract the right audience? The most important key here is to give your target market something that interests them.

These are a few things successful marketers are currently doing differently to attract and retain customers.

1. Successful marketers start with a clear objective. What exactly do you expect from your campaign? Every marketer has at least, a single most important objective to achieve. What’s your marketing goal? Some marketers are trying to convert visitors to buyers, others want a percentage of the market share in the first half of the year. A few more want to achieve a certain percentage of product awareness among the target audience within a specific time. Once you know what you want, you can confidently plan on what to do to accomplish your goals.

2. They focus on marketing channels that can actually deliver results. Stay away from marketing overload. There are now too many channels, tools and platforms you can use to convey your marketing message. But the successful marketers focus on channels that can convert and get them close to their goals.

Its natural and tempting to start posting, tweeting, pinning, blogging and pitching through as many channels as possible. This can prove fatal, especially if you don’t know where your target audience hang out. Pick one or two marketing channels where your target customer hangs out and market relevant messages in those places.

It’s okay to focus on your core business and outsource your marketing efforts if you don’t have the time to successfully pull it off. Marketing professionals at Kaboom startups can help your startup succeed by getting you in front of customers with a strategy for success. With 50% of startups failing in the first year, you need to be sure you are doing the right thing right from the beginning.

3. Successful marketers craft clear and a consistent message. You don’t want to bore people into taking notice  of inconsistent, boring or unclear messages. You will be doing reputation damage to your brand. Most people will struggle to find the uniqueness of your product if your message doesn’t stand out. Remarkable marketers focus on benefits not features.

The key success factor isn’t the feature, but what customers stand to gain or better still, the problem your product solves. What makes the feature stand out is the story behind the feature; the reason why that feature is so very important. Focus on creating the best marketing story and your product will not struggle to sell.

4. They offer something of value as marketing hook. If you intend to use content marketing to attract prospective, invest some time into crafting marketing hooks (information offered as an incentive in exchange for contact details). Hooks set the stage for further communication.

The most popular marketing hooks are downloadable ebooks, whitepapers or even blog newsletters that promise industry knowledge on weekly basis. Example, “Download our free marketing ebook on the marketing strategies that guarantees conversion”. You will not only get the contact of a prospective user but also have the opportunity to educate and inform them to win their trust for future product pitches.

5. Successful marketers tell authentic and compelling stories. Telling great marketing stories has absolutely nothing to do with finding the best keywords that connect with your audience. It’s all about telling your most compelling story your audience can identify with. When the only thing you think about is selling, selling and selling, what happens? Potential customers get emails that are only promotions.

And guess what, when they start to feel you don’t care about them but just your product, they will immediately ignore you. You can never win customers over with consistent spamming. Before you sell anything, you have to connect first. But how? You can start by sharing how you started your journey as a business. Business is personal, make it personal. Successful marketers share the human side of their business. Start talking about your humble beginnings. Because, quite simply, that’s what people can relate to. Your  story is proof that you truly understand your prospective customers, and that you understand their problems and can help them! What’s your story?

]]> 0
3 Branding Strategies Your Company Should Not Fail To Execute Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:46:57 +0000 Branding as we know has changed for both online and offline businesses. Online businesses should be striving take advantage of offline strategies and offline businesses should not ignore the bigger audience online.  It’s no longer enough to have a responsive and sleek website, social-media accounts or even consistent brand aesthetic online.

The new rules of branding your business have a lot more  to do with how you present your business and how you interact with your prospective customers. Brand building not only increases the voice and consumer awareness of your brand, but it also gives it an identity and worth. Apple can afford to sell phones not simply because they have the smart engineers to make phones; every single one of their competitors can make phones too.

But because it represents an ideal: it represents something bigger than just computers or phones. Apple represents a brand people have come to trust and associate with. The company can afford to sell virtually anything and people will still buy because of the brand. As long as Apple’s products are consistent with its cause, the company has the freedom to do things other companies cannot. Can your customers speak the same of your brand? Can they identify with you with or buy your products because of what you stand for?

The ground rules of branding are constantly evolving. Creating and sustaining customer trust and loyalty is more difficult than ever before. Being relevant, inspiring, purposeful and innovative are the things that will make people pause, listen and pay attention.

There are brand strategies that all marketing executives must not ignore.

1. Invest in building and exposing your brand. Building a unique and powerful personal or business brand takes time and consistency. It doesn’t start and end on a single platform. It’s no more just about what you do online. You have to keep reinforcing your values at every opportune moment both offline and online. Take advantage of promotional channels, blogs, forums, social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook), targeted offline events, display stands, etc. The most important thing here is consistency.

The simple truth is that if you execute your brand building strategies consistently, you can easily establish a remarkable pattern that will forever be associated with your company name. Successful brands like Coca cola, Nike, Adidas, Google etc. are virtually everywhere they find their prospective customers. They consistently invest in reinforcing their brands in the mind of their audience. Brand building is not a one off thing and these successful companies know that. Today’s consumer expects more from your brand – not only the message it communicates – but how and where it is delivered. Make it count.

2. Innovation, perfect timing and flawless execution should be your priority. Innovation is an obvious strategy but still most companies still fall short.Even successful companies can miss out on when to innovate and what time to launch a new product. Ask Blackberry and Nokia. Today’s marketplace demands perfect timing and flawless execution with each new strategy you implement. Don’t send out marketing messages when you are not ready to take on the competition. You will be doing a lot damage to your brand than enhancing it.

Consumers want to know that you are ready when they are. That means your timing must be in perfect sync with your audience demands. Consumers expect a lot more because they have choice. Your competitor is already next door, waiting to take advantage of your weakness. And customers know that. Short-cuts are slow death in a marketplace where consumers expect brands to over-deliver before they actually commit to purchase.

3. Monitor your brand’s reputation, and be prepared to respond.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have become essential components of many companies’ online marketing strategies. Customers will talk about your brand with or without your concern and they are good about ranting and raving about their experiences. A single response or even unanswered question about your product or service can harm that reputation you are building for good.

A question or complaint left unanswered on any platform has the potential to tarnish your company’s brand and scare away prospective customers. There are lots of great social media tools out there you can use. Maintain greater control of your brand online and you will be on course to building a great brand

]]> 1
8 Team Building Exercises for Growing Companies Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:21:17 +0000 When your startup company reaches the point where it’s able to hire more employees, that’s a sign you’re doing well. However, one of the potential downsides of expansion is that it can become harder for your employees to work together as a team. Keep reading to learn eight team building exercises you can implement into the workday, including one that allows your employees to work together off-site.

1. The Great Egg Drop.  This requires participants to work together to create some kind of container that will protect an egg when it is dropped from a height. Besides making people think creatively, this exercise also causes them to make tough choices, particularly when deciding which materials will work best for the task.

2. Pipeline. Demanding a combination of speed, agility and a willingness to work together, Pipeline involves using a length of pipe to push a marble from one end of the room to the other. Pair people up and have two teams face off with each other to see who can get the job done in the fastest time.

3. Survival of the Fittest. This role-playing scenario asks people to choose the most useful items to cope with mock disasters. It encourages people to think on their feet and learn how household items can sometimes be used in strange ways, especially when a situation seems dire.

4. Tug of War. The great thing about this exercise is there’s almost no need to give instructions because people have probably already played the game in some point in their lives. Also, because this activity is physically demanding, it allows people to get rid of excess energy in a safe, non-violent way. Be sure to emphasize how communication is just as important, or even more so, than strength.

5. Two Truths and a Lie. As you might have guessed from the name, this activity asks participants to reveal three things about themselves. The catch is, one of the tidbits is not true. Use it as an icebreaker activity, especially if you want employees to get a quick understanding of things their coworkers are passionate about.

6. The Classification Game. Give employees five to ten minutes to get to know one another, and then announce to the group that you’re splitting everyone into groups of five. The task is that each team must come up with a group name that adequately captures the spirit of each individual who’s a part of a respective team. Before getting started, make it clear derogatory or discriminatory classifications will not be tolerated.

7.  Create Your Own Team Building Exercise. In order to do this one, you’ll have to be a bit misleading, but probably not in a way that will make anyone too upset. Make everyone think you’ve set aside an hour to do a pre-planned activity such as one of the options above. However, once you’ve gathered everyone together, turn the tables and admit you never had something specific in mind, because you want participants to come up with their own ways to focus on teamwork.

Insist that everyone try his or her best to settle on something that hasn’t been done before. You may be surprised just how inventive some people are, especially under pressure.

8. Volunteer to Help Others. It may seem like your employees already work pretty well together. However, the true test of whether that’s accurate often comes when individuals are in an unfamiliar environment. Suggest that the majority of your workforce devote at least one day a month to help the community or Charity organisation of their choice.

Hopefully, these ideas will help you feel more prepared if you’ve realised the employees at your company aren’t as good as they could be when it comes to working together towards a common goal.

These activities can really bring your workforce together, even as you expand your company. Whether your employees do exceptionally well when it comes to teamwork or not, there’s also no harm in trying one of these activities every month or so, just to keep collaborative skills sharp.

Kayla Matthews is a business solutions blogger with a passion for growth hacking and workplace productivity. You can learn more about her at, or by following her on Google+ and Twitter.

]]> 0
Promote, Promote, Promote! (How Restaurant Businesses Can Stand Out) Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:03:45 +0000 Today’s diners and drinkers are getting every so savvy. No longer is it enough to draw them in with the promise of good food or great drinks at competitive prices. You also have to sell the experience that they’ll have at your establishment.

It’s important to remember that people come to your restaurant or bar because they’re trying to escape the house. In fact, nearly 75% of customers say that the chance to socialize with family and friends rather than worry about cooking and cleaning up after a meal is the main reason they go out to eat.

Restaurants and bars have always been looked at as social gathering spots as much as they are viewed as eateries, so the aforementioned statistics should come as no surprise. Yet many restaurant and bar owners still view themselves just as restaurateurs.

The truth is that to survive in today’s market, the most effective restaurant and bar ideas will have you be part cook, part manager, part bartender, and part promoter. Wearing this many hats may seem overwhelming, but the payoff you’ll see makes all of the extra effort well worth it.

1. Develop Your Brand

When people hear the name of your restaurant or bar, what comes to their minds? If the answer is nothing, then you’ve failed at selling your brand to your community. The big-name national restaurant chains rely primarily on brand-name recognition to attract new customers. Yet that’s often all that they have to offer.

You, on the other hand, have the advantage in that your brand brings with it uniqueness. Sell the idea that yours is the only establishment in the world where customers can enjoy a certain dish or drink or where they’ll be treated to a particular service aspect. Pretty soon, you’ll notice that your restaurant or bar becomes known as “the place to go for…..” That kind of name recognition is priceless.

2. Embrace Online Marketing

To ignore the impact that the Internet can have on your restaurant or bar is to ignore an entire demographic of virtual customers. Nearly 43% or consumers say that they’ve ordered food online in the past.

Even if you’re not in the position to offer delivery service, allowing customers a glimpse at your menu online will at the very least familiarize them with what you have to offer. You might also see an increase in the number of takeout orders from those customers wanting to dine but not wanting to wait for service.

Yet your internet marketing efforts shouldn’t be limited to just your website. Social media platforms offer you a level of online interaction with your customers that could potentially be more powerful than any conversations had inside of your establishment. If you haven’t already, you definitely need to look into establishing the following social media resources:

A Facebook page

A Twitter handle

A LinkedIn profile

A Yelp page

Yet setting these tools up isn’t enough; they need to be constantly used to offer promotions or advertise specials. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to a social media campaign, consider hiring a dedicated employee for this task.

Isn’t it time you caught up with what today’s customers really want? If you’re not looking to sell yourself and your dining experience as much as you sell the quality of your food, you risk losing touch with your customer base.

By simply refocusing your efforts towards a more comprehensive marketing strategy, you’ll start to see not just new customers coming through your doors, but current customers more willing to stay thanks to the kinship they feel from your promotional efforts.

]]> 0
6 CEOs Reveal What It Really Feels Like to be The CEO of a Startup Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:44:08 +0000 How does one become a chief executive officer (CEO) of a startup and do a good at it? Technically, most startup founders end up filing the chief executive slot, but typically people who have distinguished themselves in some manner and have strong leadership characteristics end up getting the job.

Being the CEO of a startup is one of the most challenging roles out there. Your job is to build a product customers love; recruit a team; find funding from customers, partners, or investors; and lead your team to build a great company that can stand the test of time. These are the experiences of some CEO’s.

1. Jason M. Lemkin, Co-founder/CEO EchoSign

People will actually care what you think in a way you’ve never experienced before.  Even if you are just a CEO of a 10 person company, your customers will care, even if they are 10,000x bigger than you are.  Your team will care.  The CEO matters to whomever the product impacts.

You will think about stepping down at some point, no matter if you never admit it.  There’s a reason Elon Musk didn’t start off as CEO of Tesla, nor did Marc Benioff start off as CEO of Salesforce, even though they wrote the first checks.  Dude, it’s hard.  Don’t tell anyone when you have these thoughts.  Except maybe your one closest advisor.

2. Paul DeJoe, Founder & CEO at Ecquire

Very tough to sleep most nights of the week. Weekends don’t mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a relief. It means more people are depending on you to turn their investment into twenty times what they gave you.

It’s very difficult to “turn it off.” But at the same time, television, movies, and vacations become so boring to you when your company’s future might be sitting in your inbox or in the results of a new A/B test you decide to run.

You feel guilty when you’re doing something you like doing outside of the company. Only through years of wrestling with this internal fight do you recognize how the word “balance” is an art that is just as important as any other skill set you could ever hope to have.

3. Josh Abramson, Previously Co-founder/CEO Connected Ventures (,,, Currently CEO

I think the most interesting thing about running a start-up you’re passionate about is that it doesn’t feel like work.  My co-founders and I lived and worked together in the same apartment for nearly 6 years, so we were basically working 24/7 as we’d constantly be talking biz even if we were out at a party.

I didn’t take a proper vacation for a few years, and when I finally did I made a point not to bring my laptop so I could unwind a bit… then I quickly realized that this was actually much more stressful for me than spending a normal day in the office.

4. Lee Johnson, Founder. CEO of FlightOffice

I miss the process of coding, of solving engineering problems and the lack of responsibility. but, in exchange I get to control my destiny and drive my vision. I get to create something grand and see it through all stages of the process, ultimately being in control of what road we are going to travel on. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

I never imagined how much being a CEO of a startup would utterly transform me as a person. I’m the founder of my company (and held the title of CEO), but for the first 2 to 3 years that’s all I was. In the past year I grew into a CEO and that was one of the most difficult yet most rewarding transitions I have experienced in my life.

The life of a CEO should be about communicating and connecting with people as part of the process of successfully executing on a vision.

5. Deena Varshavskaya, Founder and CEO of

It’s incredibly fun. You’re passionate about a problem and an opportunity and you don’t need any reasons to pursue it other than intrinsic enjoyment of building something you love. You’re usually up to some great challenge, but, guess what? – you’ve chosen to have these challenges because if you didn’t have them, you’d be bored to death on a daily basis.

Your startup is your territory for endless personal growth. You get to push your comfort zone literally every day and that is an incredible opportunity. The challenges you overcome, the things you learn about yourself, the value you create, the people you get to know give you a sense of freedom, play and empowerment.

6. Darren Wang, Founder, CEO of,

Since day 1, you will start feel pressure since you bet all your money in the company’s account.  The best way to describe my status is my sleep, before I started the company, I always have 85-95% satisfactory sleeping.  After the company registered and start burning money, the satisfactory index drops to 40%-50%.  You always think about anything related to jobs even in the dream.

This topic originally appeared on Quora.

]]> 0