Review a New Marketing Plan

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As an entrepreneur, change is inevitable. It is an ever-evolving entity that will shape the overall success and direction of your company. While some of us may not like it and may even go as far as to adhere to the, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it,” policy, we need to understand that it is a requirement and necessity for the growth of a business. That being said, one of the biggest hurdles many entrepreneurs face is overcoming trends. When this happens, each individual, no matter what their title, needs to be adaptive and welcoming to the change in all fronts. Things that worked five-months or even five-weeks ago may not be working today. If you are finding that you are having this similar problem, especially on a sales level, maybe it is time for you to review your overall marketing plan.

Below, I have compiled four key areas that you should analyze when creating a new marketing strategy. These areas focus on internalizing your product and understanding the costumer.

1. Review Your Product

How many times have you signed into Facebook and lamented to the world about the layout? How many car commercial do you hear each and every day that is selling x, y, and z model? The main reason this happens is because businesses and companies want to adapt their products and services in the best possible way. What you were doing six-months ago may not be the best practice for the individual buyer. To gain a deeper and more internal understanding of the market, make sure you review you’re product or service. This will allow you to critique and improve the product that is more efficient and effective for the customer.

2. Think about Possible Expansion

When Apple started off, they were just another tech company looking to make a name against Bill Gates. Today, they are one of the biggest tech corporations that have hit the tech, music, and entertainment market in every possible way. Similar to Apple, try and see if your product or services can expand into a new direction. Look for various solutions within your niche and try and leverage any problems or complications to your advantage.

3. Evaluate Your Competitors

No matter what industry you are in, there will always be someone to compete with. Even if you were the only one, give it time. Within a matter of months, you will see various replicas of your business trying to go after your market. To help expand your marketing plan, some of the best possible strategies come from the competitors themselves. The only question to consider is: How are you going to do it better?

4. Listen to Your Customers:

There is no better feedback than the actual customer providing that feedback. Time after time, customers look to see how a device or a service can improve each and every day. If possible, try and compile a survey or a marketing research campaign to hear the thoughts of the fans. This in turn will give you the insight of what you can do to improve your company for the better.

How to be a Successful Leader

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There are myriad interpretations of leadership. For instance, a leader might motivate others through official power and authority. However, just as often exceptional leaders guide through personal connections, persuasion, and inspiration. So what is leadership? It actuality, is the ability to lead and consciously produce a result that otherwise would not have occurred. It’s not only the creation of events that constitutes good leadership. Good leaders deliberately design challenging outcomes by engaging the help of others.

Successful Entrepreneurial Leadership Approaches

Successful entrepreneurship can transform a declining business into a Fortune 500 corporation by changing corporate cultures. Good leadership is an integrated solution for organizational success. The most successful entrepreneurial leadership approaches include:

  • Transformational. Transformational leaders motivate teams and influence coworkers to grow and develop. This is one of the most powerful leadership styles because it shapes work efficiencies, social culture, and mindsets.
  • Charismatic. Charismatic leaders are the driving strength that motivates teams to exceed expectations. These leaders frequently employ personal charm to inspire and lead and tend to be globally admired and respected. Charismatic managers are well known for their talent to assemble a large amount of followers.
  • Participative. Using participative leadership, entrepreneurs request advice and input from all team members involved in the business plan. This leadership approach values each team members’ opinion as significant. Employees become part of the decision-making process quickly, making everyone involved feel highly motivated and appreciated.
  • Situational. Similar to transformational, the situational leadership style is one of the most successful entrepreneurial leadership approaches. This type of leader focuses easily on situational adaptation and adjustment to personal capabilities, circumstances, and abilities of teams.

A successful entrepreneur will focus their career on combining these successful leadership styles. Whatever leadership styles you choose to emulate, it is essential to remember that not all of them work for the every organization or individual. Do what’s best and concentrate on what improves your chances of success.

Are People Born as Entrepreneurs?

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The latest question creating separation in the business industry surrounds whether or not entrepreneurs are a unique class, born with a drive and demand to succeed that the rest of humanity lacks. While many subscribe to this theory, others believe that entrepreneurship can be created through mentoring, experience, and education.

Multiple studies over the last decade have hinted at the existence of an entrepreneur gene, or at a minimum that people with distinct personality traits and genetic tendencies are more inclined to be successful entrepreneurs than others. Some studies suggest that genes influence whether a person will start a business and can even determine an individual’s earning potential. It’s a divisive thought, particularly for Americans raised with the notion that education and drive can enable success in any area they choose.

Exploring a Genetic Predisposition to Entrepreneurship

The dilemma surrounds whether entrepreneurs pursue a path because of a genetic predisposition or educational experiences. Most of us have met many successful entrepreneurs in our careers and would agree that they include diverse personality types and individuals, including a mix of extroverts and introverts, inherent risk-takers, and those with a higher, more circumspect outlook. There isn’t a unique representation of an entrepreneur, just as there isn’t one particular sort of business opportunity. However, the talents of many entrepreneurs converge in the following abilities:

  • Exhibit personal strengths in entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Align their skills and passions with potential opportunities
  • Develop the skills and attributes they need to maximize those opportunities

In short, a career based on entrepreneurial attributes and skills can be learned and is something that should be a component of the educational experience of all young people. That means that entrepreneurs can be created and also may be born with traits that predispose them to exceed. As mentors, we can all perform a role in supporting the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

The Ever-Evolving Concept of Leadership in the Workplace

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Like any other field, leadership goes through various trends and changes. Because of this, it is imperative that we understand these inclinations in order to be successful.

When we think about leadership, we can argue that there are only a few things that are more important than this skillful governance. The reason why is simple. Efficient and effective leadership helps nations through times of peril. It solidifies success within various businesses. And most importantly, it enables organizations to develop and grow each and every day. Any absence of leadership is equally dramatic in its effect. These negative ramifications can force organizations to move slowly, stagnate, or worse case scenario, lose their way.

With our ever-evolving world, we as business leaders need to internalize the beliefs and ideals of our times in order to move forward in a more positive and lucrative manner. To understand leadership, we first need to be able to separate historical thought from current practice. In today’s world, leaders must be able to provide inspiration, motivation, and direction to their team. Ten-fifteen years ago, this idea did not exist. Instead, leadership was defined by experience and age.  While that still holds some weight, today, leadership requires authenticity and transparency within a person’s tactics. To be inspirational and transformative, a leader’s employees need to understand the vision, goals, and beliefs of a person and their organization. Any type of cover-ups or dishonesty can compromise the overall trust your employees have for you. This in turn can even negatively impact their work.

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In addition to honesty, a true and impactful leader needs to have a positive brand. Think of your brand as your reputation. It is used to be that when people talked about your reputation, they focused on your public character and your past. Today, your personal brand is your reputation. Your actions, your work, and most importantly your attitude truly define who you are as an individual. If you are able to show a more positive gung-ho approach with your employees, fantastic! Keep in put! If not, try and figure out various ways in which you can build those foundational blocks with your team. Remember, if you are not social, you are missing the boat. As a leader, you need to be able to communicate at a certain level. Don’t hide behind a closed boardroom door. Instead, approach your team and ask how they are doing. This will boost morale in two ways: 1. Gives you various updates of daily task and 2. Gives support to those who really need it.

One of the most beneficial things you can do as a leader is build leadership from within. By creating a mentorship within your team, you are building a strong foundation for success. When mentoring, two things can happen. First and foremost, you will find your employees rise beyond their expectations when given a chance.  This goes back to trust. By entrusting these individuals to step up and assume a leadership role, you are giving them an opportunity to show them their worth. Most case scenarios, you will see individuals rise to the occasion by taking ownership in completing and perfecting this task. Secondly, you will find that mentoring teaches you as much as it teaches the mentee. That is because when you give away the knowledge and skillsets to perform at a higher caliber, it becomes a living and breathing entity. It takes a physical form that passes from one person to the next. From there you learn the impact of your work as well as the impact other individuals can have on the rest of the group.

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One of the last things is that you need to be honest to yourself.  There is a famous saying that, “if you are not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” This is true in the business world. Comprehend and internalize your own inconsistencies and failures. Only by understanding these weaknesses can you truly develop in becoming a better leader. This can be done by asking yourself various questions. Ask yourself if the previous year or month went exactly as planned. If not, ask what you could have done to change it. By developing that sense of honesty with your own shortcomings, you will be able to grow and develop as a more impactful leader. At the end of the day, true leaders do not just rely on their strengths. Rather they leverage their weaknesses to move towards their goals.

Entrepreneurship: Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting your Own Business

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Why am I starting my own business?

Before formally becoming an entrepreneur and starting any sort of independent enterprise, it’s important to truly understand why you are choosing to go this route. Do you like the flexibility and independence running your own business entails? Maybe you hope to generate a consistent and lucrative flow of cash? Do you want to address some sort of need in a niche market you are interested in? There are an endless array of answers you could use in response to this question. The important thing to keep in mind is whether those answers outweigh the negative possibilities that can arise when running your own business.

What are my goals for the business?

This question is very much in line with the previous question, except that it delves a bit deeper into the general business plan you hope to implement. Every business needs a business plan and a strategy for it to succeed. “Making money” is simply not good enough of an answer to this question. It’s important for any entrepreneur to have structured goals to reach during his/her business’s infancy years.

What capital do I have access to?

It takes money to make money. You must carefully assess the amount of money you are willing to invest into the business, as well as develop a realistic expectation on how much money you CAN collect through loans and other investors. The type and amount of capital you have will determine what kind of business opportunities are really available to you. Through crowdfunding platforms and other modern day investing mechanisms available today, coming upon some initial capital should not be impossible.

What do I know how to do ? What are my strengths?

Are you a great promoter? Do you write really well? Are you inventive and innovative? Are you organized and meticulous in your spending? Maybe you can sell the shirt off another man’s back. Regardless of what your strengths are, it’s important to incorporate some of your own natural abilities into the business you are hoping to develop. Running a business incorporates a wide range of skills. If you are lacking in a particular skill-set, partner up with someone who may be a bit stronger where you lack.

Who is my competition? What separates me from similar businesses?

Unless your idea is one of a kind, or completely new and innovative in today’s consumer market, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Eventually even the newest idea will have copycats and competitors, so it’s important to always stay ahead of the curb and develop new strategies to set yourself apart from your competitors. Use your strengths as discussed earlier to distinguish yourself from like-businesses.

Who is my customer/client base?

Who is your target audience? Who are the products and services intended for? Know the people you are servicing and appeal to their interests. If it’s a niche product or service you are trying to sell, try not to stray away from their interests entirely. Even established businesses can have trouble expanding their general audience and market, I would suggest to stay within your known perimeters until you are comfortable with your company’s current position.

Am I prepared to dedicate a great deal of time and money to this business?

For many, starting a business can be a life project years in the making. Building a business takes hours of time and dedication, not to mention thousands of dollars – if not more. It’s important to be ready for the commitment that starting and running your own business entails. If you are not ready to commit hours of your life to this venture, then you need to reconsider your venture.

If this fails, would you regret it?

Being an entrepreneur involves creating your own journey. The first step was deciding that you would not be content with living a life that was already prescribed unto you by someone else. The second step was breaking away from the formal path, and deciding to become an entrepreneur. If you failed, you should not regret the journey you have embarked on. It is a unique path that few are brave enough to undertake.

Life of an Entrepreneur: the Five Dark Truths

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Since the early 90s, many people have taken the plunge to become an entrepreneur expecting the journey to be like what they read in the papers or on television. However, like many of the veterans will say, starting a business is like diving head first into the deep end without known how to swim. Many people are often mistaken because of the fantasies of being your own boss and creating your own hours is exciting. While at times it can be exhilarating, overnight success is incredibly rare within the field. For those business leaders thinking about getting things started, start off by understanding the overall risk you will be taking the minute you become your own boss. Once you do that, you can begin preparing your next steps of the business.

While all of the dark truths portray a negative perspective of the life of an entrepreneur, this should not deter you from trying. This article is meant to educate and prepare you for the unknown and uncertainties to come.

So what are the dark truths? Below, you will see five of the biggest misconceptions people will face when entering the field of entrepreneurship. Use this knowledge to educate and prepare you rather than scare you from the field. Think about it, for those successful business leaders like Elon Musk or Mark Cuban, success didn’t come immediately. Rather it was a growing process where everyday was a battle.

1. Money that Comes in will Immediately Come out

When starting a business, you need to be aware that you will not make money right away. Starting off, raising capital for your business can be a difficult obstacle. However, the process serves as a financial eye-opener of what needs to be financially achieved in order for your business to grown and thrive each and every day. In addition, for most businesses, the first few years will be spent on foundational and operational cost. While the revenue may be growing, the personal financial gain cannot be the same.

2. You Can’t Do Everything by Yourself

While in the beginning stages of your business you may find yourself holding various titles, an entrepreneur and business leader needs to shed the weight of responsibilities and trust their employees to be accountable for their own obligations. Yes, you know the marketing, sales, employees, and management tactics needed to run a business. But in order for you to grow as a boss, you need to trust your employees with the work. Doing so is a strong sign that your business is thriving. Just because you are holding less responsibilities does not mean you are doing less. Rather you can use that time to optimize and improve yourself as an administrator and CEO.

3. The Organized Chaos

While you may have started off with a clean and efficient business plan, the reality after the first few years of your company may shift dramatically. At the end of the day, it is often hard to predict the overall outcome of where your business it heading. There will be various speed bumps and this will seem to go off course. When this happens, accept it. See how these changes can align with your vision so that you can reflect and transform your company to the best possible position. Remember, adapt or die. Those who live in the old world stay in the old world. For your business, accept change and welcome it as a good thing.

4. Your Decisions will Keep You Up at Night

As a business leader and face for your company, you will oftentimes be the primary decision-maker for those hard-to-make stress-inducing decisions. Yes, some will decisions will haunt you, but at the end of the day, you want to be confident. To make the most logical and sound decision, look at what will benefit your company in the long run Compare and contrast how these decisions will change the work culture and your relationships with those around you. By asking yourself these big heavy hitting questions, you will be preparing yourself for greater things. Just know that whatever decision you make, believe that you are right.

5. Failure will always be an Option

Whether they are massive or minor, failure is undoubtedly inevitable. It is the essential part of being an entrepreneurship. While it is uneasy to accept, you need to understand that you will not have control of everything. Rather than look at these failures as a negative, see them as a window of opportunity. Reflect why this came to be and how you can prevent it down the line.

Why We Love Shark Tank

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Entering into its seventh season on ABC, Shark Tank has captured the mind, the heart, and the essence of the every-day entrepreneurs. With its gimmicky and visually tedious conference room setting, it is no wonder why this show has captured the hearts of the American public.

But what is so special about this show? Why is it so popular?

For those of you who have never seen the show, Shark Tank is a reality television series that gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to bring their dreams to fruition. In the tank, individuals are asked to present a quick five-minute pitch about their idea and their company in order to convince a panel of five successful business titans. After a series of questions on the background, finances, and future planning of the company, the sharks give their decision of whether or not they will invest their money into the entrepreneur’s idea. When more than one shark wants to invest in their idea, a bidding war can erupt, driving the price of the overall investment. On the show, the most notable and recurring sharks have been Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, and Lori Greiner.

When people first watch they show, they are expecting to see something similar to a “talent searching” scene such as those found in the Apprentice or American Idol because of its stylistic judge-like setting. However, once they continue watching, they see that the overall show is much more than that. It is both informative as it is educational. The dynamics of corporate business found in each and every pitch is something that is interesting and new to television. Beyond, the pitches and products themselves, the knowledge and attitude each judge or shark brings to every episode makes the show that more worthwhile.  With over six million, this once pronounced bland financial cable show is and will continue to be a reality hit.

So why do we love this show?

There are three simple reasons why we cannot stop watching Shark Tank: the sharks, the pitches, and the negotiations.

The Sharks

While the concept of the show is intriguing overall, the variety of judges that are picked for each episode gives the show an overall edge for the viewers and the public. For these individuals, they are not picked solely on their looks or style. Rather they were assembled based on their resumes and successes. Having individuals like Mark Cuban or Kevin O’Leary giving both the presenter and the audience advice is something you will never see on any other television show. In addition, beyond the drama and banter, the Sharks themselves look to educate and advise the person rather than tear them down.

The Pitches

Beyond the outrageous ideas people have made on the show, the overall pitches shows ingenious well-thought out solutions that everyday people may need throughout their lives. For these pitches, the presenter aims not simply to sell the sharks, but also to sell the mass viewers. Because of this, the overall pitches become an entertaining concept for the viewers. It allows the viewers to agree or disagree with the sharks and channel whether or not the product is viable in its market.

The Negotiations

Probably the most exciting part of the show, the negotiations are the most memorable acts we can see between presenter and shark. Keep in mind, it is not the act of the individual getting the investment, rather how they are able to negotiate and whom they are able to negotiate with. In addition, this is where the business jargon comes to play where quick mental math of ‘valuations’ and ‘equity’ are clearly seen by each and every shark.

6 Lessons Learned After Your First Year as an Entrepreneur

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When we look at the life of an entrepreneur, we always use individuals like Mark Cuban or Mark Zuckerberg as examples for the overall field. In reality, the truth of an entrepreneur is not mentioned nearly enough. The reason for this is that our society craves on instant gratification. Simply put, we want things now and we want them fast. As much as we would like to see this type of change, especially for an up-and-coming business or company, the reality of it is that success (for an entrepreneur) will be a long and arduous journey.

As an entrepreneur, there really are no shortcuts or magic formulas you can do to make this type of turnover overnight. You have to work immensely hard each and every day until things start to develop. Below, you will find the six hard truths that every individual learns during their first year as an entrepreneur. While the lessons themselves are a roller coaster, they are ones you need to learn from so that your company can grow in the future.

1. Failure is Inevitable

Without risk, there is no reward. As an entrepreneur, you will be asked to make a variety of sacrifices. Whether that is your time, your money, or your life, everything will be put on the line if you are expecting to succeed. Now as much as you expect success, there is a high probability that you will experience failure at least once within your business’s life. Why does this happen? This happens simply because entrepreneurs are curious. Entrepreneurs pursue their interest and passion at a means to create an opportunity. As much as curiosity is a means to fuel entrepreneurs, it can lead them to failure. Take for example you are look into promoting a new an innovative product for your company. As great as your intentions were, the path itself leads to failure. When this happens, do not look at this as a chance for you to quit. See the failure as a way to set your new expectations for success. Learn from it and accept it as a way to evolve over the course of your career.

2. Expect Long Hours and Hard Work

While shows and movies such as Shark Tank and Social Network have displayed an imaginative world of ‘golden tickets’ and easy opportunities, the reality of it is that you will be expected to put in a lot of work if you are looking to succeed in your field. Remember, no matter what the name is or what the product, you company and your service is new to the market. In order to establish your ideas and your company, your work will never stop. To accept this, you have to understand that it is not simply the 9 to 5 where your only responsibilities are the task given from the powers above. Rather, you yourself are responsible for every decision and choice set for your company’s future. Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have attested countless times to working around the clock in order for their businesses to succeed. While you may not be running Facebook, the same idea can be applied here.

3. You Have to Constantly Learn

A successful entrepreneur will tell you that they are never done learning. Being an entrepreneur is not an easy task that can be learned overnight. In fact, in reality, we cannot learn success. Rather much of it can be attributed from trial-and-error decisions. When you are working to build your company, you will find that you will have no free time to spare. Much of your time, if any, will be spent learning how to improve your network, market, or finance your company at the most optimum and effective way. This ability to ask questions, understand the answers, and absorb the necessary skills will be the ace up your sleeve.

4. The Trials and Tribulations of Marketing

When we think of marketing, we think immediately of getting our name out of there. Well for those who have tried, you will find out that the idea of selling yourself is not always that easy. The best way to market is to focus solely on the product and service itself. Allow the customers to make the connection of how it can benefit them. This type of customer interaction will allow you to branch your product to the right demographic. Keep in mind that there is a cost to your marketing endeavors. Be financially savvy with your money. Find the most cost effective strategy that can set your company for success.

5. Strategy Does Not Equate to Success

The process of thinking strategically can be a challenge especially when you are starting your company. There are various avenues and options you can take lead you to your objective of establishing your company within its perspective field. As much you want to believe that your strategies will take you to your end goal, you need to realize that you will have to inevitably revise, edit, and change your strategy time-and-time again. This happens because, throughout the course of your business, things will change. Because of these unknown changes, you have to be malleable and adaptive to this type of change. Make sure you are able to keep up the pace by changing your strategy when needed. It is that type of change that can lead to a groundbreaking success for your business as a whole.

6. Focus on What You Can Affect

There will be a time where you feel that everything will come at you at once. As much as you want to slow things down, the life and expectation of an entrepreneur will always demand more from you each and every day. That being said, remember that you are human. The best way to handle these tasks is by attacking them one at a time. Focus your energy on projects or objectives in which you can have the most impact. It is that type of strategy that will allow you to get the most ‘bang for your buck.’