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5 Things the World Cup Teaches Us About Entrepreneurship

5 Things the World Cup Teaches Us About Entrepreneurship

All eyes are on the World Cup, the world’s biggest sporting event. Thanks to social technologies and digital media, the global soccer (or fútbol, depending on your location) community shared millions of pieces of content, including more than 140 million related Google searches, before a single match was played.

World Cup fans are no longer confined to experiencing the games within their direct community. Rather, this audience taps social platforms like Twitter to share real-time reactions, VSCO (full disclosure – VSCO is an Accel-backed company) to share beautiful images of the sport and Facebook to express patronage with other fans (and foes) on a global scale.

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from how the World Cup has brilliantly navigated the evolving media landscape in support of a more technical audience. Soccer’s global governing association FIFA, advertisers, teams and fans are brought closer together as information transcends borders and demographics in real-time. That brings big opportunities for companies small and large.

Globalization has impacted the FIFA fan community and entrepreneurship at large. Soccer talent has long come from all corners of the world. Teams from dozens of countries compete at the World Cup. Similarly, entrepreneurship has broken through geographic boundaries, thanks to social media, venture capital investment and technology. Entrepreneurs with winning startup ideas are surfacing from nations big and small.

Here are five specific lessons that the World Cup can teach us about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

1. Embrace change. This year, FIFA integrated new digital media and technology to promote the event and increase anticipation. When compared to the last two World Cup events (2006 and 2010), mobile adoption has skyrocketed to become the primary means of communications for the “mobile-first” generation.

The World Cup’s adaptation to new technology and consumer trends is an example for entrepreneurs who must continually understand customer behaviors to remain relevant. Startups must be prepared to iterate a product, service or entire business roadmap based on new trends and customer trends.

2. Utilize engaging content. We’ve seen outstanding content from the World Cup and its advertisers. A steady cadence of visual, engaging content that solicits deep emotional ties to the event and individual teams amplifies anticipation. Ideas that spread are emotional. Only companies that touch a person’s heart will touch a customer’s pocketbook.

If you haven’t already, watch the “Game before the Game” video from Beats, which solicits an emotional connection to the World Cup and the Beats brand.

Start by understanding which channels your customers acquire information. Develop content that appeals to their needs. Determine the real pain your widget solves and base your company’s content strategy on that, not what you think will work. Beats found a way to add value to the World Cup conversation through entertaining content, not the other way around.

3. Build a community. Soccer fans are among the most passionate sporting enthusiasts in the world. They eagerly come back with more energy and enthusiasm than ever, even after waiting four years between World Cup events.

Similarly, social media enables young companies to build devout communities through a shared passion around a product or service. Entrepreneurs who focus on individual customer desires will build a long-term social following. This following fuels the growth of passionate online and ‘offline’ customer communities.

4. Leverage the ecosystem. FIFA recognizes the vast community of people who are passionate about the very sport its organization represents. Similarly, major sponsors like Nike and Kia Motors view the World Cup as an opportunity to position their brand in meaningful way to soccer fans worldwide.

Entrepreneurs typically have a much smaller community but keep in mind that other stakeholders – think complementary businesses, media, analysts, customers from your competitor – exist in your startup’s ecosystem. Identify those within your community who share your vision. Develop mutually beneficial and creative partnerships. Expand your influence by supporting your industry’s ecosystem.

5. Expand your network. The World Cup is a global phenomenon linking a global community drawn from every nation and demographic. Entrepreneurs often find themselves surrounded by like-minded people. That often jeopardizes growth opportunities by leveraging a small eco-chamber. The best startups think outside of their direct surrounding, and understand how, where, when and why people value their company. While not always convenient, embrace an unfamiliar community and find a way to get true product feedback.

You may never make it to a World Cup game, let alone play for a professional soccer team, but the lessons that have made the event a global spectacle for nearly 90 years can help guide an entrepreneurs’ growth, influence and success.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Ryan Sweeney

Why Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Is the Best Thing You Can Do as an Entrepreneur

Why Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Is the Best Thing You Can Do as an Entrepreneur

When you decide to become an entrepreneur, you’re choosing to walk the road of the unknown. That’s what you’re getting into. There’s no other way around it.

You could run out of money. You could get featured on the front page of the New York Times, then have to scramble to handle the influx of new business. You’re going to be in uncomfortable, weird, bad and great situations because your job is dynamic. Every month that you grow and your business changes, it’s going to be different.

You can’t guarantee anything — except that you’re going to be uncomfortable at different points. And, when you know that, you can decide to start practicing getting out of your comfort zone.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to do it.

Do something that’s uncomfortable on a regular basis.

A while back, I sat down and made a list of all the things that make me uncomfortable. Eating new foods was near the top of the list, so I made it a priority to try a new food on a weekly basis.

Nine times out of ten, I don’t like the new thing I’ve tried. But that one time out of ten has been amazing (asparagus and spinach have been big winners for me lately). You can do something similar, but it doesn’t have to be with food. Maybe it’s just taking a different route to the office or trying a new morning routine — anything that will get you comfortable with newness and discomfort.

Start really small.

And don’t think that when I talk about trying new things, I mean making huge, sweeping changes. It’s better to start really, really small.

I’m afraid of spiders. I suck at public speaking. I’m terrified of heights. But I’m not going to overcome these fears by going all Fear Factor in a room full of spiders or thousands of people waiting to hear me speak.

Instead, to get rid of my fear of heights, I might go on a mountain hike. Or fly somewhere on a plane. Maybe I can go to the Grand Canyon and gaze down its steep cliffs for 30 seconds. True, I might not get over the fear itself. But my ability to handle that fear — and any other fear of the unknown, in general — will grow.

Put yourself into different roles.

This quarter, I’m serving in the role of customer success representative (CSR) for my software company, Mailshake. I’m talking to customers, I’m answering emails and doing webinars. I’m not an expert in any of these things, so I’m out of my comfort zone. I do a lot of these things in different capacities — just not in this state, which makes me uncomfortable.

At some point, we’ll hire a customer success person, but going through the process myself helps me understand what it is I’m trying to solve with this role. Without this discomfort-inducing exercise, I wouldn’t really understand what the role is, what the metrics are and what it’ll take for someone to be successful. But if I do the work — even for a few hours a week or a few hours a day — I’ll know more about it.

Now, when I’m ready to hire a CSR, even though I haven’t hired one before, I’ll be one step closer to being comfortable with the process.

Push yourself, with exercise.

I lost my fear of pretty much everything a few years ago, when the engine on my skydiving plane blew at 3,000 feet and we all had to jump unexpectedly. I figured, if I can survive that, there’s not much else I need to be scared of.

You don’t have to be into high-adrenaline sports to get this benefit. Any big exercise, or activity-related, goal will work. Back in 2013, I’d never run a mile before. But I set a goal for myself to run a six-minute mile. I got a couple of apps on my phone, and in eight months, I was able to run that mile in under six minutes.

The process was painful as hell, and the actual experience definitely uncomfortable. But when I got through it, I couldn’t help but think, “If I can do that, why am I so afraid of business decisions?” By pushing myself physically and testing my limits, I was able to apply the same thinking that made what I learned running a sub-six-minute mile applicable to all aspects of my business.

Remember the things that make you comfortable.

I’ve been married since I was 23. I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful house to go home to. That’s my norm. So, even when I’m uncomfortable during the day, I know that, at night, I’m going to go home and be in comfort.

You don’t have to have a fancy house or a loving family to be successful as an entrepreneur. But you should find what’s true for you. Find the things in your life that bring you comfort, and make it a point to remember them. Knowing you have something comfortable to go back to makes discomfort in business much easier to bear.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Sujan Patel

5 Entrepreneurs Who Started With Nothing – and 3 Lessons to Learn

5 Entrepreneurs Who Started With Nothing – and 3 Lessons to Learn

It’s not uncommon to hear about entrepreneurs who used the wealth they made from a previous endeavor to build a thriving new startup, or about seasoned business owners who took over a decades-old franchise and transformed it into something new. These stories are inspiring in their own way; but to me, it’s even more inspiring to hear about people who started with nothing.
These are entrepreneurs who started their journey with no capital, no funding and sometimes no education or experience, yet despite the odds were still able to build massive successes.

How did these people accomplish such unlikely feats, and what can we, as entrepreneurs, learn from them?

1. John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria isn’t as much of a household name as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, but he has accomplished feats of entrepreneurship and business management that rival theirs. Starting out as a newspaper courier, and working as a janitor and tow truck driver to make ends meet, DeJoria eventually started working at a hair care company, where he met Paul Mitchell.

With a loan of just $700, the two of them started a business that turned into the conglomerate now known as John Paul Mitchell Systems. Later, DeJoria co-founded Patron Spirits, and was a founding partner of the House of Blues chain. Today, he’s worth more than $3.1 billion.

2. Kevin Plank

Kevin Plank, the CEO of the fitness apparel company Under Armour, was pretty much broke when he started selling signature clothing under the Under Armour brand. He took all the cash he had saved, about $20,000, and racked up an additional $40,000 of credit card debt to fund the company.

Soon after, he made a landmark sale of $17,000 to Georgia Tech University, and in a wave of momentum, made sales to two dozen NFL teams. From there, he went on, in just a few years, to cultivate millions in sales and hire hundreds of employees. Today, Under Armour does nearly $2 billion in retail sales, and has 5,900 employees.

3. Jan Koum

Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, was born in a small village near Kiev in Ukraine. Coming from poverty, Koum’s family emigrated to California, and Koum started learning about computers in his spare time. By the time he was 18, he had developed impressive skills, and in 1997, he was hired by Yahoo! as an infrastructure engineer.

He spent a decade in that industry before realizing the huge potential of the app industry in 2009 and starting WhatsApp Inc. By 2014, WhatsApp had become enormously popular. Facebook bought the app for a staggering $19 billion.

4. Sam Walton

It’s almost ironic that Walmart is frequently criticized for underpaying its employees and using cutthroat tactics to maximize profits. Sam Walton, Walmart’s founder, had almost nothing to his name himself when he started his first general store back in 1945.

He relied on a $25,000 loan from his father-in-law to fund that initial purchase, and was an instant success in the retail industry. The first official Walmart was opened in 1962, in Rogers, Ark.; and by 1976, Walmart was worth more than $176 million. At one point, Walton was considered the wealthiest man in the United States.

5. George Soros

Though you could describe him as an investor more than an entrepreneur, there are few better rags-to-riches stories than that of George Soros. When Soros was a teenager in Hungary in 1947, he fled Nazi persecution to live in England. Despite having little money to fund his efforts, he attended the London School of Economics, working his way through university to obtain his degree. He then moved to the United States in the 1950s, and became an investment manager for a number of major firms, eventually starting his own hedge fund and building his own company.

His most famous move was shorting the British pound in the early 1990s — which made him $1 billion in a single day.

Key lessons to learn

So what can we learn from these entrepreneurial stories?

Debt is a viable option. Debt is scary to take on, especially when your idea isn’t a sure bet, but almost everyone on this list got a loan at some point to establish early momentum. As long as you have a plan to pay it back, debt can be a valuable tool.

Invest in yourself. You need to invest in yourself before you invest in anything else, by focusing on improving your skills, education and experience. Without self-investment, you won’t be able to build a business, let alone sustain one.

Look to the future. These savvy entrepreneurs didn’t enter a market that already existed; they created new ones, or made bets on how current markets would evolve. Future-focused strategies always win out over present-focused ones.

Entrepreneurs can come from humble beginnings, so long as they’re willing to work hard, commit to their ideas and take the risks necessary to see those ideas become reality. Take inspiration from the massive successes who have come before you, and don’t let a lack of money or experience dissuade you from following your dreams.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Jayson DeMers

 

Skip the Avengers: Why Entrepreneurs Should Watch ‘Black Panther’

Skip the Avengers: Why Entrepreneurs Should Watch ‘Black Panther’

Marvel’s Black Panther and Disney’s Avenger Infinity War are among the most popular superhero films of all time. Before Black Pantherwas released, it was projected to make $160 million and has proceeded to make $1.3 billion in worldwide sales. There is similar excitement with Avenger Infinity War, which garnered opening weekend estimates of $200 million in ticket sales, and analysts believe it will surpass Black Panther in the coming weeks.

While both films have destroyed box office predictions, Black Pantherremains the film with significant takeaways for entrepreneurs.

The plot of director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther revolves around the efforts of Wakanda, a wealthy African nation, to maintain peace, independence, sovereignty and sacred traditions against a potent threat from the outside world. The people of Wakanda are led by King T’Challa, Black Panther, who governs the land during the day and fights crime with a team of powerful women at night. Unlike Infinity WarBlack Panther offers multiple examples of positive leadership practices consistent with entrepreneurship.

In Disney’s Avenger Infinity War, a team of superheroes works together to fight the unstoppable force of Thanos. For two hours and 40 minutes, Spiderman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Black Panther and others fight epic battles with villains to prevent Thanos from securing a powerful set of stones. While the benefits of camaraderie are on full display in Infinity War, it doesn’t compare to the teachings Black Panther offers business leaders.

Black Panther teaches business leaders to follow processes.

In business, it is critical for executives to identify how and when changes among the leadership team will occur. In the Black Pantherfilm, there exist several occasions when a transfer of power is essential. The transition happens without much discussion among the leadership team and follows a pre-determined process.

When changes in authority take place in Avenger Infinity War, chaos ensues. Everyone who stands in opposition is eliminated. A sustainable entrepreneurial venture values process and input from others when termination or promotion actions are inevitable.

Black Panther teaches business leaders humility.

As an entrepreneur, it is important to receive and follow the advice of business coaches and senior executives who have valuable insights to success. Throughout the film, King T’Challa humbly consults with the elders of the community before making decisions. They often disagree on the appropriate responses to threats, but T’Challa followed his counsel’s advice.

Thanos, who assumed leadership by genocide, does not discuss his plans with anyone. He does what he desires and is willing to sacrifice anything, including family, to obtain the ultimate power. Long-term success in business begins with a leader who values collective wisdom and actions aligned with the company’s mission.

Black Panther teaches business leaders to find value in inclusivity.

The growing awareness around the #metoo movement underscores that it is imperative entrepreneurs create and support safe work environments for all employees. In nearly every scene of Black Panther, male and female characters embody strength, intelligence and mutual respect. While Black Widow and Scarlet Witch of The Avengers play essential roles in the film, the male characters dominate the decision-making on behalf of the superhero team. Studies confirm how diverse and inclusive employees influence companies’ long-term profits through the unique perspectives, experiences and skills they can offer a company.

The Black Panther film confirms lessons of my own business experiences. Success begins with humble people in power who respect policies, team members and the people they desire to serve. My first business was teaching martial arts to young people in Chicago. When I started I didn’t see the potential for more impact, service and profit until I worked with others who added their skills and experiences to strengthen the company. With our collective effort, we expanded our services to include academic supplemental instruction and mentorship.

Although Disney’s Avenger’s Infinity War is growing in popularity, entrepreneurs who wish to acquire some of the best practices in leadership should head back to the movies for another viewing of Black Panther.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Vernon Lindsay

Feeling Lazy Today? This Is How You Break the Laziness Loop

Feeling Lazy Today? This Is How You Break the Laziness Loop

Last night, before I went to bed, I mapped out what I was going to do today. After my morning routine, I planned to crank out this article before 11 a.m., answer emails, grab lunch and prepare for my afternoon meetings. I was going to wrap up my day by writing another article.

That’s a productive day.

As 10 a.m. approached, I realized I wasn’t going to get this piece completed. Rather than type away ferociously, I dragged my feet. I tinkered with my fantasy baseball team, stared out the window, watched a TED Talk video, went for a walk and looked over my to-do list — was there something else I should be working on?

Am I actually not the productive person I thought I was? Sure, some days are lazy. Other times, you just need a break to recharge and refocus. Neither is bad — but you don’t want to get trapped in the dreaded laziness loop, where this become a habit.

Procrastination isn’t terrible.

First off, procrastination isn’t always a bad thing. There are actually some benefits to it; it gives you time to evaluate a situation so you can create better circumstances rather than rush and make an impulsive decision. Likewise, slowing down gives you the chance to listen to your intuition.

It also prevents you from caving to peer pressure, and it assists you in managing pointless deadlines. When you’re not actively working, you’re giving your brain the time to develop new ideas. Perhaps best of all, it helps you set priorities. After procrastinating on a task, you may realize it’s not really a priority and shouldn’t be on your to-do list.

This doesn’t mean you should camp out on the couch watching TV. Instead, when you feel like doing “nothing,” take the time to reflect. Go for a walk outside. Write in your journal. Meditate. These are ways you can be productive while procrastinating.

Are you really lazy?

What happens if you’re still not “in the zone” after taking the time to reflect? You have to determine why you’re dragging your feet.

Procrastination “really has nothing to do with time management,” Joseph Ferrari, professor at DePaul University, told Psychological Science. “To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

Instead, Ferrari believes there are two main reasons why even the most productive people procrastinate: (1) We’re delaying taking action because we’re not in the right mood or frame of mind to make a decision, and (2) we assume we’ll be in the right mood later.

Here’s the problem with that: It puts us in the “procrastination doom loop.” Instead of working, you check your emails, tweet, wash dishes or take a nap in the belief that you’ll be in the zone when you’re done. Most of the time, these are excuses to just waste time. As a result, you feel guilty, becoming even less likely to tackle the task.

Again, take a step back and reflect; your procrastination could be telling you something. It could be something as simple as being hungry or needing a break. It could also be something more complex — you aren’t satisfied with your work, have too large a workload or have something else on your mind.

By doing a little self-reflection, you can get to the bottom of why you’re procrastinating and take steps to rectify the problem. If you’re hungry, go eat. If you’re unsatisfied at work because it’s no longer “fun,” you may want to look at delegating responsibilities to other teammates so you have more time to spend on the big picture.

Psychologist Leon F. Seltzer suggested in an article in Psychology Today that we ditch the word “lazy” from our vocabulary. Considering yourself “lazy” won’t resolve the problem when you’re lacking motivation or self-discipline.

“My experience, both as an individual and therapist, has led me to conclude that laziness as an explanation of human behavior is practically useless,” writes Seltzer. “Referring to — or rather, disparaging, or even dismissing — a person as lazy seems to me a glib and overly simplistic way of accounting for a person’s apparent disinterest or inertia. And resorting to this term to categorize a person’s inactivity suggests to me a laziness more on the part of the describer than the person described.”

Breaking the cycle of laziness.

Even after you’ve identified what’s causing you to procrastinate, you still may have some trouble getting back on track. When that happens, here’s how you can break out of the loop.

Follow the “two-minute rule.” Similar to a strategy used by David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, if something takes less than two minutes to complete, just do it. You can also manipulate yourself using time in a different way: Set a 10-minute alarm. Psychologist and procrastination expert Timothy A. Pychl suggests you make a deal with yourself to commit to something for just 10 minutes. Once you’ve started, it’s more difficult to quit.

Make your chore or assignment as pleasant as possible. Experts like Fuschia Sirois of Bishop’s University recommend you find anything that makes the chore or task more enjoyable or meaningful. Try gamifying your task or tying the task to your values or long-term goals.

Make overwhelming takes more manageable. Oscar-winning Pixar director Pete Docter creates a list of the problems he’s putting off so he can batch them into smaller chunks. “Usually, soon into making the list, I find I can group most of the issues into two or three larger all-encompassing problems. So it’s really not all that bad. Having a finite list of problems is much better than having an illogical feeling that everything is wrong,” he told Pixar president Ed Catmull in “Creativity, Inc.

Changing your environment can also shake the cobwebs off. Get out of your office and go somewhere else to work, whether it’s a co-working space or coffee shop. Research has found we’re motivated by being surrounded by productive people. You can also take a gym break — achieving something in the gym can give you the motivation to achieve something away from it, too.

Don’t break the chain. This technique, popularized by Jerry Seinfeld, includes adding an ‘X’ on a wall calendar every time you’ve done something, from writing blog posts to issuing invoices. Eventually, there will be a chain you won’t want to break.

Finally, delegate. If there’s something better suited for someone else, delegate that responsibility to him or her. As Renzo Costarella writes, “Taking on a job that’s best fit for another colleague is not efficient.”

This isn’t an extensive list, but it’s a great place to start when you’re procrastinating and on the verge of falling into the laziness loop. While laziness in itself isn’t bad — and may just be your overwhelmed brain taking a break — it can also ride your entrepreneurial efforts off the rails. Keep laziness in check so both you and your business succeed.

 

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by John Rampton

Science Shows These 4 Foods Can Boost Your Business Smarts

Science Shows These 4 Foods Can Boost Your Business Smarts

Fortunately, much research has been devoted to how nutrition impacts brain health, especially in terms of improving certain brain regions linked with intelligence, learning, and working memory — the skills you rely on every day for business success.

So which foods provide the biggest brain boost? Here is a look at four that stand out. What’s great about these is that you can use them in a variety of ways — as part of your everyday meals or as power snacks.

1. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the richest foods in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which may help protect brain tissue. One study found that people who ate high amounts of walnuts scored higher on cognitive tests that measured story recall, response speed, sustained attention and visual spatial memory.

You don’t need much either. One-quarter cup of walnuts contains 113 percent of the daily value of omega-3s. Enjoy a palm-sized serving as an afternoon snack, sprinkle some into a salad, or stir one or two tablespoons of chopped walnuts into your oatmeal or yogurt.

2. Berries

Want to hold onto your memories? Eat more berries. Researchers found that berries like strawberries and blueberries can delay memory decline. A study on older adults showed that those who consumed at least a half-cup of blueberries or one cup of strawberries per week delayed their cognitive aging by as much as 2.5 years.

Berries are one of the top foods with high levels of anthocyanidins, which are antioxidants that have been shown to stimulate brain regions like the hippocampus, involved in learning and memory. This part of the brain is extremely important for busy business leaders who run from meeting to meeting, and rely on their memory skills to recall details later in the day when it’s time to put together product specs or a customer proposal or service program.

3. Green Tea

Drinking more green tea can enhance your working memory. In one study, people drank either a drink containing green tea extract, or a placebo drink, and then tried to solve several working memory tasks while their brain activity was monitored with an MRI. Researchers found that compared with the placebo group, the tea drinkers had more activity in their parietal and frontal lobes — areas involved in language processing and short-term memory.

It’s not clear why green tea might have this effect, but it may be related to its high levels of thiamine (vitamin B-1., which plays a role in brain function maintenance. Try switching your morning coffee for green tea or enjoy a cup as a mid-day refresher. However, keep in mind that bottled green tea beverages contain smaller amounts of tea, so it’s best to brew green tea yourself!

4. Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens, may help preserve what researchers call “crystallized intelligence,” the ability to use the skills and knowledge a person acquires over time. These also have omega 3’s, but a key ingredient may be their rich amounts of lutein.

A study looked at people’s dietary habits and found that those with high levels of lutein tended to do better on tests to measure crystallized intelligence. Besides green leafy vegetables, lutein is abundant in egg yolks and vegetables like broccoli.

While much of this research is ongoing, there is no downside to adding more to your daily diet — as well as stocking your workplace with better snacks — since they have other potential health benefits, too. Think of nutritious food as a no-risk investment in your brain, business, and employees to create a healthier and more productive workplace overall.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Amy Vetter

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