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9 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Success

9 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Success

When people hear new year’s resolutions, they often think of “exercising more,” “spending more time with the family” or “traveling more.” Besides these personal resolutions, you can also create impactful resolutions for your small business. A resolution, after all, is a decision to do something differently to bring about positive change. It’s a good time to reflect on your business’ progress and plan how you want to grow your business in the new year.

1. I will learn how to delegate and do more of it.

As a small business owner, your to-do list probably doesn’t even fit on one page. There are so many things to do, and it’s easy to delude ourselves that we need to do all of them ourselves. You can only work so many hours in a day. As a result, you’re probably exhausted, stressed and don’t have any free time outside of your business. Delegation is the key to a healthy work-life balance. However, people don’t delegate because it takes a lot of upfront effort and requires a loss of control. So how do you let someone else do certain tasks, while making sure it’s done correctly? The answer is simple: communication and training. Make sure your employees are trained enough, to the point where they can take over some of your tasks. The next step is to clearly communicate the objectives and deadlines, so that you don’t end up micromanaging.

2. I will learn how to manage my cash flow more effectively.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any small business. In fact, a prominent study from the financial services company U.S. Bank found that 82 percent of startups and small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management. According to The Balance, “This is a great resolution for small business owners who have drastic ebbs and flows in their cash flow, have been unable to create enough capital to invest back into the business or those who don’t really understand the day-to-day finances of the business.”

3. I will take steps to improve my digital presence.

If it’s been more than a year since your site has been updated, if you haven’t taken action to make your online presence mobile-friendly, if you still haven’t created an email marketing list or if digital isn’t part of your marketing strategy at all, it’s time to add this to your new year’s resolutions. You could even take a step further than mobile-friendly and use a mobile-first approach to your digital presence.

4. I will charge what I’m worth.

Do you feel that your product or service is undervalued? If so, then it might be time to raise your rates to correspond with the value you bring to the table. You might be thinking that raising your prices will alienate certain people from becoming a customer. That could be the case, but you can’t be all things to all people. “Your target market will pay what the marketplace has proved it will pay”, says Entrepreneur. How can you implement this? Depending on your business, you can shift to a “packaged value” approach. This is where you provide tiered packages that give potential customers choices, so they can focus on the value you offer rather than the amount of time you spent. Your prices can then reflect this value.

5. I will learn something new.

New year, new skill. Choose something new to learn in 2018 — it may be directly related to your business or completely unrelated. Learning a new skill will add a dimension of interest to your life that will help to maintain that work-life balance. It will also help you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, if you decide to take marketing classes or learn a new language.

6. I will make business strategizing a weekly event.

Planning is vital if you want to foster a growing business. But running a small business can be chaotic and it’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day operations. Business strategizing allows you to take a step back and highlight what worked and what didn’t, while adjusting old goals and setting new ones. So why do it just once a quarter or once a year? Set aside time each week to review your strategies. This will help you stay on track and allow you to have a clear hold on your business.

7. I will drop what’s not working and move on.

After all that business strategizing, you will know exactly what’s not working for your small business. Maybe your sales method isn’t performing well, one of your products isn’t selling or a specific partnership isn’t working out… If this is the case, it’s time to drop it. As The Balance states, “If a technique or a product or a business relationship isn’t working for you, stop using it. Don’t invest a lot of energy into trying to make the unworkable workable. Move on. Something better will turn up.”

8. I will promote my business regularly and consistently.

Since small business owners wear a lot of hats, you might not always have “marketing” at the top of your to-do list. While you should definitely focus on delivering that amazing small business experience, you shouldn’t forget to market that amazing experience to to the outside world. To attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Take the time to create a marketing plan or, even your funds allow it, hire a marketing expert to help you set it up. To get started, try some of these ways to get press coverage for your small business.

9. I will enhance my technology footprint.

Few things frustrate employees — and customers — more than working with outdated technology. Slow internet speeds, clunky operating systems and inadequate tools can eat up valuable time. Make an inventory list of all your company supplies to see what needs replacing. Maybe it’s time to implement that online food ordering system, or maybe your employees could use new computers. Start the year off right by upgrading your technology footprint.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Kimberly de Silva

50 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You

50 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You

Great quotes can be inspirational and motivational. You can use quotes to help guide your decisions in life, work and love. Here are 50 of the best inspirational quotes to motivate you:

  1. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”! —Audrey Hepburn
  2. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. —Maya Angelou
  3. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. —Henry Ford
  4. Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. —Vince Lombardi
  5. Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. —Charles Swindoll
  6. If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough. —Oprah Winfrey
  7. Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. —Eleanor Roosevelt
  8. I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. —Jimmy Dean
  9. Believe you can and you’re halfway there. —Theodore Roosevelt
  10. To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. —Eleanor Roosevelt
  11. Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. —Les Brown
  12. Do or do not. There is no try. —Yoda
  13. Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. —Napoleon Hill
  14. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover. —Mark Twain
  15. I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. —Michael Jordan
  16. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. —Albert Einstein
  17. I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. —Stephen Covey
  18. When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. —Henry Ford
  19. The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. —Alice Walker
  20. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. —Amelia Earhart
  21. It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. —Aristotle Onassis
  22. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. —Robert Louis Stevenson
  23. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. —Steve Jobs
  24. Change your thoughts and you change your world. —Norman Vincent Peale
  25. The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. —Ayn Rand
  26. If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. —Vincent Van Gogh
  27. Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. —Farrah Gray
  28. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. —Dalai Lama
  29. You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. —Maya Angelou
  30. I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear. —Rosa Parks
  31. I would rather die of passion than of boredom. —Vincent van Gogh
  32. A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. —Unknown
  33. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.——Albert Einstein
  34. What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. —Bob Dylan
  35. I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. —Leonardo da Vinci
  36. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. —Booker T. Washington
  37. Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. —Jamie Paolinetti
  38. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on. —Sheryl Sandberg
  39. Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. —Ancient Indian Proverb
  40. When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us. —Helen Keller
  41. Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see. —Confucius
  42. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. —Anne Frank
  43. When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. —John Lennon
  44. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  45. We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone. —Ronald Reagan
  46. Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. —George Addair
  47. We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. —Plato
  48. Nothing will work unless you do. —Maya Angelou
  49. I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. —Mother Teresa
  50. What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. —Plutarch

 

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Travis Bradberry

How Much Risk Should First-Time Entrepreneurs Take On?

How Much Risk Should First-Time Entrepreneurs Take On?

Risk, especially entrepreneurship risk, has two parts: assessment and action.

After recognizing an opportunity and measuring the risk by talking to experts and doing your homework, the next part of the entrepreneurship mindset is taking that risk.

But how much risk is appropriate?

It would be easy if there were a magic formula that could tell us when risk is calculated and smart versus when it’s not. But there isn’t.

The track record isn’t clear. For every successful entrepreneur such as Richard Branson who preaches taking risk, there is another who urges caution when doing something such as leaving a steady job to launch a new venture.

While you can always choose not to take risk, that means you’re essentially choosing not to be an entrepreneur. That’s fine. Risk and entrepreneurship aren’t for everyone. But there really isn’t a path to entrepreneurship that doesn’t include risk.

To win, you have to bet.

For those who aren’t naturally adventurous or risk-takers at heart, being able to bet — risking your money, energy and ideas — is a skill. Like any skill, it can be learned.  It gets easier when you watch others do it.

Ask any so-called serial entrepreneur — people who’ve taken venture risk over and over again. Dale Turken is one. Counting his latest endeavor, ScrapGo, he’s launched a dozen companies across several industries.

“Taking risk gets much easier with practice,” he says.

That’s why we teach risk taking as an essential part of thinking like an entrepreneur.

Through practice and observation, we know we can teach tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to bet smarter and more often. But unlike practicing entrepreneurs whose wagers have real, lifelong consequences to families and industries, we teach taking risk in the comparative safety of a classroom.

Our students still take risks. They are required, for example, to present ideas in front of their peers, and many go on to business-plan competitions where they present in front of hundreds of people including established business leaders. For high school students, these are usually huge emotional investments that help prepare them to take and manage future risks.

Further, in a classroom, teachers and mentors challenge students to reach higher and risk more. When they fail, it’s fine.

By watching, doing and preparing, future entrepreneurs get more comfortable with risk. They quickly become less nervous and more confident in their ideas and goals. As they learn that they can also influence the outcome, a few blossom into risk tigers — throwing more energy and passion behind their investments.

Not everyone is Richard Branson — the living caricature of a thrill-seeking maverick. For the rest of us, that safe space to experience risk is essential. It’s doubly essential for young people who may be experimenting with financial and business risk for the first time.

When you’re ready to take your risk and make your bets, here are some things from our classroom experiences that may help make the experience — and outcome — better.

1. Start small. We send students with $20 in cash to a wholesale mart or district to buy products for resale. That’s likely too small a venture for most people — but the point is the same. If you’re new to entrepreneurship risk, it’s unwise to risk everything on your first venture.

2, Expect to fail. Failure isn’t a bad word or a bad thing. Figuring out what people want by learning what they don’t want is part of the process. But that means first-time risk takers should prepare for the possibility that their investment won’t pay off. At least not at first.

3. The next matters. While you may not control the results outright, you can influence the outcome of your risk. Hard work, flexibility and marketing can all influence whether your venture succeeds and by how much. Investing in entrepreneurship isn’t a lottery ticket. If it feels as though your entrepreneurship risk is a lottery ticket, you may need to back up a step and re-assess.

4. Watch, don’t read. Instead of looking back on past successes of others, go to a micro-investor meet up or entrepreneurship club and watch others as they make investments of time, money and energy in real time. Watching them calculate, risk, succeed and fail in a real-world setting will help you spot dangers and opportunities when it’s your turn. The people you meet can also be great mentors.

5. Share your passion. When you’re passionate and confident, friends and family will support you. Sometimes, an encouraging word is the nudge you need to take the plunge.

 

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Amy Rosen

4 Reasons Why The Best Entrepreneurs Are Grateful

On this Thanksgiving, I woke up grateful for the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.  Here are a few lessons that I have learned a long the way — hopefully, they can help others in some small way.

     1.  Grateful entrepreneurs are happy entrepreneurs.  To be an entrepreneur, you have to enjoy the ride.  While you’ll experience the highest of high’s and the lowest of low’s, you can’t allow your emotions to get too high or too low.  The key is to be happy and enjoy the ride.

     2.  Grateful entrepreneurs recognize the talents in others.  The best entrepreneurs are self-aware and recognize that one of the keys to their success will be to surround herself with team members that are more talented and/or smarter than them.  If you’re grateful, you’ll look to recognize the talents of others; you’ll appreciate the talents of others rather than feel threatened by them.

     3.  Grateful entrepreneurs give credit where credit is due.  The best entrepreneurs and leaders are willing to take the blame when disasters occur, yet willingly heap praise on others when successes occur.  Employees and team members want to feel appreciated and recognized for their efforts — especially if they have gone above and beyond to drive results.  A grateful entrepreneur will defer the spotlight from themselves and shine it brightly on his/her team members.

     4.  Grateful entrepreneurs will work tirelessly to drive results.  If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that much of your success has come because of the help that you’ve received from others.  That help may come in the form of an early investor / friend/ family member that lent you the first $10,000 that you needed to get your idea off the ground.  Or, perhaps it came from an associate that allowed you to have free office space for the first 6 months of existence.  The grateful entrepreneur will recognize those acts of kindness and will work tirelessly to show your appreciation and/or reward those acts of service.  Even if the final outcome isn’t what you wanted, your supporters will recognize your effort and appreciate that you aren’t taking them for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Brock Blake

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Increase Their Luck in Business

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Increase Their Luck in Business

Time catches up with us faster than we think. As an entrepreneur, too much opportunity is squandered while waiting for the metaphorical four-leaf clover of luck to appear. Meanwhile, your prospects dwindle on the vine as you ineffectively struggle to reach your goals by merely hoping for them.

In reality, if you want luck, you have to be in action. After all, how can luck find you if you’re not out there to be found? However, you don’t necessarily need to work harder to achieve success…just smarter. So, it’s time to work smarter and draw luck to yourself. Here’s how.

1. Do More

Inefficiency is the death of productivity and the attainment of that ever-elusive pot of gold. Don’t think you have enough time in the day to get more done? Think again!

Entrepreneurs often labor under the false mindset that they must toil from sunup to sundown, even if the tasks at hand don’t require that much time to complete. This approach is a recipe for burnout and self-inflicted busy work.

Don’t stretch your to-do list to fit the number of hours available. Instead of dragging out a project that could be accomplished in half the time, invest the extra time finding ways to better yourself and your business.

It’s not always easy to recognize one’s own tendency to waste time, so test it out by closely monitoring how long it takes you to cross off daily activities. Know thyself. And once you’ve recovered those precious hours, do more.

Sharpen your skillset by finding and attending networking events. Get out there and get after what you want. After all, there are many valuable reasons why millennials should network.

2. Work on Your Odds

You can’t please everyone.

We’ve all heard this in one form or another, but it’s much harder to live by than to understand intellectually. Believe me, rejection stings even more when you have to learn to embrace it. But it’s worth doing anyhow.

Chances are, the majority of people you encounter will not understand your vision. It won’t matter how unique or compelling it is. Despite this, it’s important to keep sight of the fact that there are those who will “get it,” and encounters with these supporters will outweigh any naysayers.

Don’t let fear of rejection prevent you from seeking out support from others. Use rejection as a source of strength. In fact, let it drive you to put yourself out there even more, increasing your odds of a “yes” to collaboration or funding.

Remember this: If you don’t roll the dice, the probability of a partnership is nil.

3. Give More

In business, we like to imagine ourselves to be lone wolves out in the wilderness, fighting to survive amidst treachery and cut-throat circumstances. The life of an entrepreneur can be extremely stressful, and it’s easy to become self-centered in the face of overwhelming pressure.

But this is a negative way to look at the world, and whether or not you believe in karma, most people agree that positivity can create unprecedented returns.

Let’s dispel the illusion that you can only get ahead by leaving others behind. Stay focused on your goals, but remind yourself that your positivity contributes to an environment that will one day reciprocate it. Go out of your way to be compassionate toward fellow entrepreneurs and colleagues.

On top of that, be mindful that stress can be a detriment to your work life and damage your health. In giving back selflessly, you may find that your stress decreases and new opportunities crop up unexpectedly.

Luck is a finicky achievement at its best and a dangerous delusion at its worst. Somewhere in between, though, is the happy coincidence of hard work, good people, and being in the right place at the right time.

 

Originally posted by Susie Plascencia on theunicornintheroom.com

5 Ways to Improve Your Entrepreneurial Creativity

5 Ways to Improve Your Entrepreneurial Creativity

Entrepreneurs have to be a bottomless pit of creativity, don’t they? Not only do we have to dream up big ideas, we also have to innovate new ways of executing them. And the sheer number of hours it takes to build a successful business can also lead to creative burnout, which is, of course, counterintuitive.

“Creativity is a process that you can’t force,” says Molly Reynolds, cofounder and host of The Unicorn in the Room. “You have to know it’s a process and respect that process. But there are certainly some ways to set yourself up for success.”

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Reynolds was a professional musical theatre actor and continues to study dance and fine art in her spare time. Her love of the creative process spurred the creation of The Unicorn in the Room, an online resource for entrepreneurs.

Having interviewed business icons, such as Arianna Huffington and John Paul Dejoria, as well as top executives from GE, PwC, Forbes, Chobani and Heineken, Reynolds has identified these key ways to top business minds stay creative. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Buy an alarm clock.

Rest is a crucial part of the creative process and as Arianna Huffington will tell you, keeping your cell phone next to your bed while you sleep is a bad thing. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 44 percent of cellphone owners keep their favorite handheld next to them as they sleep to make sure they don’t miss an important call. But this is an extremely unhealthy habit to get into.

“So many people tell me they’ve got creative burnout, and almost all of them check their emails before they go to bed, first thing when they wake up, and yes, even in the middle of the night,” says Reynolds. “I used to do it too and the longer term effects are never good.”

Cellphones, TVs, tablets and other gadgets with LED screens all emit blue light that can inhibit our production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. The blue light can also trick our bodies into thinking that it’s daylight and interfere with our sleep cycles. Worse than that? An overheating cellphone in your bed could even set your pillow on fire!

People will use the excuse that they need their phone as an alarm clock. Newsflash: you can buy an alarm clock that is not a smartphone. Avoid bouts of insomnia and house fires by keeping your cell phone out of your bedroom.

2. Get a variety of perspectives.

Do you know why The Challenger mission failed? Lack of diverse thinking. While many reports have placed the blame on technical fault and cold weather, others suggest that the disaster could have been avoided. The engineering team was used to receiving orders from the top down. Despite being aware of the potential dangers, they went ahead and cleared the spacecraft for launch. The management team at NASA simply would not allow room for different perspectives or opinions.

GE is a company that is more than 100 years old, and the executives there are still learning so that they can continue innovating. In fact, they hold leadership summits, where they invite in a wide variety of companies and share their best practices. With a culture of constant learning, GE wanted to see what they could learn from Silicon Valley culture. So, they partnered with author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries, to see how they could build innovation and fast work into their company core. Being open to change and new ideas is essential for companies to remain competitive and creative in shifting environments.

3. Travel.

There’s nothing like taking a timeout to get your creative juices flowing. Travel broadens the mind and exposes you to new and unfamiliar situations. You get to sample local cuisine,find out about different cultures and maybe even learn a language. All these experiences translate into enhanced problem solving skills and the ability to think creatively on your feet.

You might think that taking a sabbatical year to study Spanish in Barcelona or backpack around Southeast Asia is just an excuse for a time off. But there can be surprising benefits from taking yourself outside of your situation. It might even become the catalyst for new success. Winston Chen decided to invent an app, just to have some fun while he was traveling. It turned out to be the start of his new career and company, voice-based mobile app, Voice Dream.

4. Step away from the desk.

“Getting a Fitbit actually made me a better problem solver,” Reynolds says. “Before, I’d sit at my desk for hours trying to figure something out, but the thing buzzes me and makes me take a break to walk. Inevitably, as I’m walking, I figure out the problem more quickly.”

Do you know one of the least inspirational places for people to come up with creative solutions? The meeting room! That’s because we often need to get up and mobilize our bodies to get unblock our creativity. Steve Jobs was well known for his walking meetings, and Mark Zuckerberg reportedly likes to meet standing up as well.

There’s actually some science to back this up. Researchers at Stanford revealed that bursts of walking, whether indoors or outdoors, can help to boost our creative inspiration. So, when you come up against a case of writer’s block, or you simply feel like you’re staring into an abyss instead of your computer screen, get up and get moving!

5. Draw your strategy.

That’s right, draw your strategy. Don’t write it. This will cause your mind to think differently, which is a great way to shake up creativity. Expert on visual thinking, Dan Roam, worked as a consultant for some of the world’s largest companies, including Google, Sun Microsystems and eBay. He believes that one of the best ways to help people solve problems and contribute new ideas is by drawing them out. In an interview with Business Insider, he said “taking advantage of our innate ability to see — both with our eyes and with our mind’s eye — in order to discover ideas that are otherwise invisible, develop those ideas quickly and intuitively, and then share those ideas with other people in a way they simply ‘get.’”

Get vulnerable.

Lastly, says Reynolds, if you’re really committed to improving your creative mind in every one of these five steps, you need to allow yourself to get vulnerable. “Take a class that you would never think of taking, charcoal drawing, samurai sword fighting, tap dancing, whatever! You might feel ridiculous at first, and that’s a good thing. Having that vulnerability will remind you that you don’t have all of the answers and need to be open.”

According to David Brendel, of the Harvard Business Review, vulnerability can actually make you stronger. Things like apologizing for errors, admitting when you’re wrong, or seeking help from others can all make you a better leader. When you allow yourself to be in a position where you’re learning something new, you leave yourself vulnerable to criticism and failure. Yet this learning process is all part of improving your creative mind and ongoing education.

So, watch your sleeping habits, and make sure you take breaks from your desk to leave room for inspiration to come through. Be open to travel, culture and new ideas, as well as using visual thinking. Do all that with a dose of vulnerability and an inquiring mind, and you’ll give yourself the innovation makeover you desperately seek.

 

Originally posted by Ben Simken on entrepreneur.com

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