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Don’t Fear Failure. It’s How You Get to the Right Answer.

Don’t Fear Failure. It’s How You Get to the Right Answer.

No matter who you are, life changes — whether it be a new city or job, marriage, a child — can be seriously overwhelming. When Michelle Kennedy had her son Finn, she found her world transformed. Kennedy shared her insights about why you need failure to get clarity and how channeling your passion helps you build up an inner resolve to go to bat for your business when it truly counts.

Kennedy saw the online dating industry grow and change over the past few years as general counsel and then deputy CEO of Badoo and then as an advisor and member of Bumble’s board. She understood how to connect people, but throughout her pregnancy and as a new mom, she felt isolated.

Kennedy wanted to build a network of other moms, a support system who she could call for help, advice or just an afternoon out. It occurred to her that she had all the tools she needed at her disposal to do just that, not only for her, but for other women in her position.

“On those long days it felt obvious — why don’t I just use the algorithms that we use in dating to help me find that network?” Kennedy told Entrepreneur. That initial frustration turned into a promising idea and platform: Peanut.

Since it launched in September 2016, Kennedy and her team have grown the business to 170,000 users and counting, who are generating more than 100,000 swipes per day. More than 15 million profiles have been viewed and 700,000 messages have been sent.

Interview edited for brevity and clarity.

What advice do you have for someone who is going to take the leap and start their own business?

You have to have the thickest skin. Like a rhino. And even if you think these things aren’t going to knock you and hurt, they do. So you have to kind of be resilient enough to be prepared for that. That’s what I wish I would have known. I think building a business is all consuming. You are absolutely living and breathing it. You don’t sleep because you’re thinking about it. It consumes you. And that means that if someone does something that is unsupportive, that seems magnified because it’s so important. We sometimes forget that there is an emotional cost, and it’s OK to talk about that. It doesn’t make you less of an entrepreneur. It doesn’t make you softer or less effective or any of those things. It means that it is just another factor that I think perhaps we don’t talk about.

Writing a Daily To-Do List has an Amazing Benefit

Writing a Daily To-Do List has an Amazing Benefit

We’ve all been there, kept awake and tossing and turning because we’re anxious about what challenges the next day will bring. But a recent study found that if you spend just five minutes putting together a to-do list to tackle in the morning, you might go to sleep more quickly.

The team of researchers tried to figure out if the to-do lists would lead to more or less concern about the following day’s tasks. They monitored a group of university students as they slept during weeknights in the lab. The students were split into two randomly selected groups and given two different five-minute writing assignments.

One group wrote down everything they needed to do the next day and the other group was asked to write about what they had accomplished within the past few days.They also had strict bedtimes — 10:30 p.m. — and they were not allowed to use electronics or do any additional work.

“We live in a 24/7 culture in which our to-do lists seem to be constantly growing and causing us to worry about unfinished tasks at bedtime,” said lead author Dr. Michael K. Scullin in a summary of the findings. “Most people just cycle through their to-do lists in their heads, and so we wanted to explore whether the act of writing them down could counteract nighttime difficulties with falling asleep.”

The results of the study found that the participants who wrote the to-do lists fell asleep nine minutes faster than those who reflected on what they had done earlier in the week. Additionally, the more specific the list, the quicker people fell asleep.

While the study had a small sample size of just 57 students, the researchers say that they would be interested in applying the experience in a broader context.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Nina Zipkin

Collaborate for Small Business Growth

Collaborate for Small Business Growth

In a world where social media and product association are rampant, small businesses know there’s great strength in numbers. Business owners benefit considerably when they collaborate with other entrepreneurs to build branding and ultimately thrive together.

The Competitive Advantage of Collaboration

There are costs associated with any venture, but when you team up with a company that provides goods or services that you don’t, you significantly reduce the time and money you put into a new channel. Another word for collaboration is bartering — both businesses provide expertise and mutually beneficial services, strengthening each other in doing so.

The more businesses you partner with, the larger your potential client base grows and the greater the demand for your product becomes. Whether you’re an e-commerce site or a brick and mortar, by bartering you gain an advantage on those who aren’t partnering up.

Finding the Right Partner

To ensure you’re collaborating with a “merger” rather than a “moocher” and to safeguard yourself from the biggest partnership pitfalls, ask yourself the following questions before entering an agreement:

  • Can their industry or sector accommodate the needs of my company?
  • Is this partnership professionally or personally driven?
  • What am I committing to this partnership?
  • What are my goals and objectives for this partnership?
  • Specifically (and with as much detail as possible), how will the two businesses collaborate?
  • What data, intellectual property, patents, and secured information can be shared/obtained while collaborating?
  • What is the ROI of any funds allocated to this partnership?
  • What is my business NOT offering that this potential partner IS offering?

While professional collaboration may be attractive, if the data doesn’t back the decision, it’s safer to go it alone or look for other partnership opportunities.

 Keep It Personal, Keep it Local

Small businesses may aim for global expansion, but attention should focus locally (or at least on a localized market) in the early stages. A business that offers a physical product the local community needs — which is generally why the product is offered in the first place — should buy local and establish a local entrepreneurial group that meets regularly. These groups spark innovation, improve marketing strategy, and increase community interest in small business ventures, which equals higher profits.

Most of all, keep it personal. It’s your business and your livelihood at stake. If you have doubts about collaboration, get a professional opinion. If you can’t get one, walk away. Better to err on the side of caution than risk an ill-informed partnership.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Jana Barrett

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

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