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- 08/23/13--07:22: _Top 10 Reasons Why ...
- 08/29/13--10:34: _The US Is By Far Th...
- 08/30/13--06:51: _Young People Need T...
- 09/02/13--11:24: _6 Surprising Leader...
- 09/03/13--13:54: _If You Aren't Getti...
- 09/05/13--07:40: _Billionaire Explain...
- 09/11/13--08:16: _LearnVest's CEO: 5 ...
- 09/13/13--06:00: _Are You A Business ...
- 09/13/13--08:21: _5 Reasons Why Entre...
- 09/15/13--15:44: _3 Things Entreprene...
- 09/19/13--07:35: _3 Things Entreprene...
- 09/21/13--12:32: _The 25 Best Small B...
- 09/23/13--13:46: _Mark Cuban Called T...
- 09/23/13--15:46: _The Best Entreprene...
- 09/26/13--07:07: _How To Show Your Em...
- 10/07/13--08:59: _5 Things Entreprene...
- 10/09/13--10:17: _Why Entrepreneurs H...
- 10/10/13--05:46: _A Young Founder's I...
- 10/11/13--14:20: _CEO Says A Job Cand...
- 10/13/13--10:54: _Even A Flashy Pitch...
- 08/23/13--07:22: Top 10 Reasons Why Leaders Fail
- 08/29/13--10:34: The US Is By Far The Best Place In The World To Be An Entrepreneur
- 08/30/13--06:51: Young People Need To Slow Down
- 09/02/13--11:24: 6 Surprising Leadership Lessons From The VMAs
- 09/05/13--07:40: Billionaire Explains The Best Way To Fire Employees
- 09/11/13--08:16: LearnVest's CEO: 5 Time Management Tips I Can't Live Without
- 09/13/13--06:00: Are You A Business Owner? Please Take Our Short Survey
- 09/13/13--08:21: 5 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Fail
- 09/15/13--15:44: 3 Things Entrepreneurs Get Wrong When Negotiating
- 09/21/13--12:32: The 25 Best Small Businesses In 2013
- 09/23/13--13:46: Mark Cuban Called This The Worst 'Shark Tank' Pitch Ever
- 09/23/13--15:46: The Best Entrepreneurs Know How To Fail Well
- 09/26/13--07:07: How To Show Your Employees You Care About Them
- 10/07/13--08:59: 5 Things Entrepreneurs Need To Know About The Changing Workplace
- 10/09/13--10:17: Why Entrepreneurs Have The Best Job In The World
- 10/10/13--05:46: A Young Founder's Insightful Reason To Start A Company
- 10/11/13--14:20: CEO Says A Job Candidate's Work History Is Not That Important
Not everyone is meant to be a leader, but for those of you who are already leaders or aspiring to be leaders, there are a lot of lessons you can learn. Today, I’ve written ten reasons why leaders fail. It’s a collection of issues that leaders tend to have, especially in their first few years in those roles. It’s easy to get caught up in the act of leadership because you gain power, confidence and control, all of which can be your undoing.
Here are 10 things that will get in the way of your success and hurt your team:
1. Leaders become selfish.
Leaders who have responsibilities seem to forget that they are there to support their team instead of themselves. They become power hungry and seek control instead of giving advice, mentoring and ensuring that the team benefits from their leadership.
2. They stop navigating the team.
When a leader is satisfied with the current state of the company and group, they stop directing people forward. Leaders need to have clear visions and goals to make sure that everyone is constantly delivering high quality results and that the overall company is benefiting. Leaders have to set expectations, keep track of everyone’s progress and hold themselves accountable.
3. Leaders become greedy.
Good leaders are those who can delegate tasks and make sure that everyone on their team is learning, growing and is being challenged. When leaders start to do the work that they should be passing down to their employees, they end up hurting themselves. They become stressed out because they are overloaded with work and their employees get bored and want to leave.
4. They get arrogant.
Even the best leaders think they know everything and it becomes their downfall. Leaders need to be continuous learners if they want to keep up with the challenging demands of today’s economy. Your employees and the people you meet outside of the office can really help you make better decisions and you should listen to them. If you ignore what other people say, it’s going to make your job harder because people may oppose it and you might be left stranded.
5. They focus too much on politics.
Leaders have to play politics all the time at the office. They have to do the right thing, at the right time and make the right allies without angering too many people. This tends to get in the way of productivity and makes them lose focus. Leaders should instead focus on doing excellent work and managing their team.
6. They don’t give enough criticism.
It’s very easy for leaders to try and please everyone and to befriend co-workers but that’s not always effective. You have to take a step back and look at the weaknesses of your team and talk to them about what they can improve. If all you do is compliment everyone, then you are doing them a disservice. At the same time, you should accept criticism from them. Some of your leadership tactics might not be best for the group and you need to know that.
7. Leaders refuse to adapt.
You will always have to change how you lead based on how your work and company are changing. If your company is headed in a new direction, or if you have new team members, you’re going to want to adapt your leadership style to that new environment. If you fail to do that, then it’s going to be hard to align your group to what the company is doing.
8. They don’t understand self-leadership.
You have to know yourself, control yourself and communicate your core values, expectations and beliefs. You need to understand your strengths, weaknesses and goals in order to be able to give your best self to your team and to have fulfillment.
9. They are too reactive.
Leaders need to be proactive, not just reactive. If you find yourself spending all of your time trying to put out fires, then you aren’t using your time effectively. Proactive leaders have an influence on the future and form the right alliances to advance their causes. Of course you should make sure your group is getting all the answers and resources they need, but don’t ignore the future.
10. Leaders don’t communicate well.
If you want to lead a team, you’re going to have to constantly communicate with them and make sure they are all in the know. You can use Skype, instant messaging, email and team meetings in order to get your message to them, but the important part is that it gets there. If you don’t communicate effectively, people won’t know what to do next or where the group is heading.
The U.S. is the home of Silicon Valley, countless startups, and the world's most celebrated culture of entrepreneurship. It's no surprise that it was ranked as having the top environment for entrepreneurs among the world's 20 largest economies in Ernst and Young's annual survey.
The U.S. ranked as having the best access to funding by a significant margin, as well as the best entrepreneurship culture, which means that it tolerates risk and failure, prefers self-employment, has an innovation and research culture, and celebrates self-made wealth to a greater extent than the other countries. It also has the third-best education and training environment.
Half of the final ranking was determined by a survey of entrepreneurs, and the other half was determined by quantitative data on the conditions for entrepreneurs in each country. The exception is the "coordinated support" metric, which is entirely based on survey responses. A higher score is more desirable.
Here are the full rankings:
Even the areas the U.S. ranks poorly in — taxes, regulation, and coordinated support — aren't all that negative. In the quantitative analysis, the U.S. has above average or strong rankings in areas like ease of starting a business, tax rate, and overall time spent doing taxes. However, it's pulled down by the survey results, since U.S.-based entrepreneurs tend to feel very negative about taxes and regulation.
The place the U.S. comes in dead last among the 20 nations is in coordinated support. That's a measure of the growth in the links between the government, industry, and volunteer sectors designed to boost entrepreneurship.
That's the one measure that's based only on survey data, and a high ranking is definitely desirable. But according to Businessweek, the U.S.' low rating shouldn't be particularly disheartening. The emerging nations at the top of the coordinated support ranking, such as Russia and India, don't have anything approaching the funding and entrenched support systems available in the U.S.
That doesn't mean there's no room for improvement in the U.S., but there's a reason so many tech giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook got their start here, and that people who want to create the next one flock here.
Today's advice comes from entrepreneur Lewis Howes via his post on Entrepreneur:
"I was a pain most of my childhood, always mad at the things I didn't have. Things shifted drastically in my 20s when I started putting an emphasis on gratitude. Focus on the good you do have, not the things you lack."
The technological age has made everyone think they have to have it all figured out by the time they turn 30. Howes reminds young people to not worry so much because the issues we think are major will typically pass. Instead, focus on the present and strive to be a better person every day.
"I was in my 20s when I started writing my goals down, assigning each a date that I would achieve them by. I was amazed when I started reaching these goals by the date I had listed on them."
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Smart entrepreneurs know that valuable lessons can be picked up in any setting, even a music video awards show.
I bet some of you are giving me the side-eye for the title of this article. I ain’t mad at you. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m not the only one out there "shame watching" mindless TV on occasion. And since I’m a multitasking entrepreneur, I gleaned a few business lessons last weekend when I caught some of the MTV Music Video Awards.
Here are some of the folks who reinforced some valuable business truisms:
Miley Cyrus: Stay on Brand
Who hasn’t heard about Twerkapalooza by now? Small business owners, it’s okay to push the envelope when it makes sense and is true to your soul. And we all know that innovators are not always well-loved ... until a business idea has already succeeded through the roof, that is! But when you see your consumers actually recoil — whether through a sudden drop in sales, social media backlash or low attendance at events — pause long enough to ensure that you’re on mission. If you’ve accidentally veered, humbly get back into alignment.
Robin Thicke: Consider the Company You Keep
Just by performing with Miley Cyrus, Thicke received more than a few raised eyebrows. "Blurred Lines" indeed! The wrong associations can put you in the hot seat when a business partner’s unsavory behavior casts shade on your hard-earned reputation. It’s tough enough to ignore judgment when it's unwarranted, so why keep company that legitimately prompts people to question your decision-making? Entrepreneurs, watch the company you keep.
Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC: Keep Your Fans Happy
Seems that most people enjoyed JT’s performance but were left wanting more of that*NSYNC reunion. It was sweet to see *NSYNC fans grooving in their seats, which reminded me just how important it is to remember the people who helped you get to where you are! On the flipside, it’s also essential to keep your magnetism and leave your fans wanting more.
Will Smith and Family: Be Authentic
Anyone else catch that hilarious picture of Will Smith’s family seemingly looking appalledat whatever was on stage? Originally, folks thought this was a reaction to Miley Cyrus, but it turns out they were watching Lady Gaga’s performance. Regardless, the public ate the photo up! It underscored that consumers will often shock you by how positively they react to your authentic responses. Ever apologize to an angry customer via social media only to have them become one of your biggest fans? Or shared a horror story in a news article and had an overwhelming number of supportive comments? Being consistently authentic exudes a confidence that can boost your bottom line.
Lil’ Kim: Watch How You Pivot
Ahh, Lil’ Kim. I can’t see her without fondly remembering how much fun we had jamming to her hits during my last years of college. But the "Queen Bee" of today is shockingly different from the rapper I was introduced to all those years ago. Seeing her on the red carpet served as an instant reality check: if you move too far away from your original products, persona or mission, you may be surprised at how deeply fans loved the old version. We all have the right to innovate, grow and change. But when you launch new initiatives, you should also make sure to retain a healthy dose of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Katy Perry: Stay Classy
When the media questioned Katy Perry about her alleged beef with Lady Gaga, she did the classy thing and shared her admiration for Gaga’s work. Even if you actually have tensions with a business contact, rarely does anything good come from sharing that information with others. Beware of anyone who seems overly interested in dishing on issues, and as your mom likely warned you, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!"
The VMAs certainly aren’t the Harvard Business Review, but if you’re going to watch mindless TV, you might as well find a way to actually feed your mind. Did the VMAs unexpectedly give you any business insights?
Today's advice comes from Richard Branson via his post on Entrepreneur:
"As an entrepreneur or business leader, if you didn't come back from your vacation with some ideas about how to shake things up, it's time to consider making some changes."
Branson says you need to refrain from answering emails or logging on when vacationing. Although these quick jobs won't kill you, they might take your attention away from other things that could inspire you.
Instead, you should consider leaving your smart devices at the hotel room. This isn't just about relaxation and recuperation. Branson says it's also about how the people you meet and the places you go can affect you if you allow your head to be free from the daily grind.
"I make sure that I disconnect by leaving my smartphone at home or in the hotel room for as long as possible — days, if I can — and bringing a notepad and pen with me instead. Freed from the daily stresses of my working life, I find that I am more likely to have new insights into old problems and other flashes of inspiration. When this happens, it's important that I jot everything down on a piece of paper."
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One of the hardest, yet most important, things a leader must do is find the right time and way to show an employee the door.
"The best way to fire somebody is to compassionately fire them," says Nick Woodman, founder and CEO of digital camcorder company GoPro, in an interview with Bloomberg. That means you need to do it quickly.
Woodman says that as soon as you know that it's not going to work out with an employee, it's imperative to take action immediately.
One employee can make a huge difference in the morale of a company, the founder says. If that person is the wrong fit, other employees will suffer as well.
"The worst way to fire somebody is to let it drag out," Woodman says. "It's not good for that person because they're not succeeding in their role. And it's not good for the organization because it's just not working."
Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.
"The only thing you can never get more of as an entrepreneur is time."
That's what a mentor told me back when I was launching my start-up, and he was right.
As a wife, daughter, friend, and the founder and CEO of LearnVest, my schedule is anything but simple. But I learned early on how meticulously manage my time.
When I was younger, I used to play mind games in which I'd try to finish tasks in minutes. My favorite was when I would shower, lay out my school clothes, then devour my dinner — in 15 minutes flat.
Now of course, you don't have to play similar games — or scarf down your meals — to get a grip on your schedule. But you can adopt some of the habits I've learned in order to free up more time. Remember, as an entrepreneur time is the only asset you cannot get more of, so use it wisely — and keep some perspective.
Schedule meetings in 15-minute blocks.
Sound crazy? Try it — it works. I think of all my time as exisiting in 15-minute blocks. Most people think in terms of 30-minute chunks, but I've found that when I free up more time, I waste it. Of course, some tasks do require more time, so if a meeting needs to take 30 minutes, it will take 30 minutes. But otherwise, I try not to schedule meetings to last that long.
Upgrade your to-do list.
It's so easy to fall in the rut of letting your calendar or workweek dictate your priorities. So on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings, I ask myself, What's the most efficient thing I can do with my time? Most people lump everything into one schedule or list, but I take it one step further and clump my tasks into groups of three. For example, I'll list out the three most important things I need to accomplish at work, at home, and so on. From there, I can filter by impact so the critical things get done first.
Never meet on a Monday.
From 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Mondays, I don't have a single meeting scheduled. I just don't. When it's the start of the week, I'm clear-headed and ready to focus, so it's time to work. When it comes to productivity, people tend to focus on the low-hanging fruit, not the things that are highest priority. But that isn't a good use of your time. The task that takes seven hours might be brutal, but it might also be the most important to my company and the best use of my time. That's why I try to get these things done earlier in the week, say on a Monday or Wednesday. If something important comes up, I'll just move it to the beginning of the list and rejigger priorities.
Don't worship your calendar.
It's easy to say, "I've scheduled something, so I might as follow through with it," but it is OK to move things around when something important comes up. You have to defend your time. Sometimes that means outsourcing — I have my ace junior strategy associate do research or I enlist a TaskRabbit for weekend chores. And if there's something that needs to get done on the weekend but it isn't a great use of my time, I'll outsource that as well. On the flip side, I keep seven (yes, seven!) separate calendars to track all my schedules. There's an Alexa calendar, a LearnVest calendar, a PR calendar, and more. Each is color-coded, as I'm visually oriented, and every entry lists details that help me prepare for the meeting, from the location to the client to what time zone they're in.
When you're at work, it's about being present and getting as much done as humanly possible. When I'm LearnVest HQ, I'm not sending emails to friends, chatting, or checking Instagram. The Internet is designed to distract you, and the best way to avoid being distracted is by abstaining. I don’t shop online, and I don't get personal newsletters during the day. I consume my favorite media when I'm at home, or on Saturday. That's not to say I don't get inspiration from those things, but inspiration shouldn't happen mid-afternoon when I'm trying to execute on something for my company.
You are the helm of your business. When you're not making big decisions, you're managing employees, projecting revenues, and planning expansion.
We're looking to find out what keeps you up at night. Are you thinking about local, national, or global expansion? What apps are best for productivity? Which business credit cards make the most sense?
Whether you're an entrepreneur with a great idea that became a great business, or you're running an up-and-coming startup, we'd like to hear from you.
We know you're busy. 5 minutes of your time is all it takes. Click here to take the survey.
Thanks in advance for your honest and candid responses.
While a lot of the entrepreneurs I've met and mentored in the past decade have been successful, I've probably met as many, if not more, unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Each of them seemed to make a lot of the same mistakes — ones that could be easily remedied, but when left unaddressed, could mean the difference between success and failure.
Here are five signs you're getting in your own way to success and how to move over and let yourself be the best you can be:
1. You're unable to complete a task before starting a new one.
Some entrepreneurs just cannot finish. For whatever reason, it doesn't matter how much time they have or how many resources are available to them -- they can't focus and get something done. Maybe it's the fear that their final product could be better, or they're worried it isn't perfect and they won't be able to make changes later.
But Seth Godin got it right in his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? when he wrote: "The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship." If you miss deadlines and are always late, in the end, you'll have little to show for yourself.
I always say, if it's 80% there, it's good enough. Because: you must ship.
2. You micro-manage everything.
Unsuccessful entrepreneurs want to do everything themselves. They don't believe anyone else can get a job done as well as they can. But even if they were actually right about this -- which is doubtful since no one is good at everything — it's an unsustainable business philosophy.
If you want to grow your business and become a leader, you're going to have to learn to trust others. Everyone needs a support team -- even the most competent people.
3. You're always right.
I've noticed that it's difficult for some entrepreneurs to admit when they've made a mistake. But if you fail to acknowledge a mistake, you miss out on a learning opportunity. Mistakes are stepping stones to success.
Ask for advice and admit when you're wrong, so you can quickly move forward and do better.
4. You ask questions, but don't really pay attention to the answers.
You know the type of person I'm talking about. They ask for your opinion, but they're only really interested in what you have to say if it's exactly what they already believe. That baffles me. These kinds of entrepreneurs surround themselves with people who will only ever agree with them. That's bad for business. You'll make better decisions if you abandon your stubbornness, truly weigh different points of view and try to understand other perspectives.
5. You always find reasons not to move forward.
The timing isn't right. The economy isn't doing well. You don't have enough capital. Whatever the excuse, you always have one. But guess what? There will always be reasons to not move forward! You just have to decide to press on. Create options for yourself, be flexible and have courage. That's really what it is: having the courage to take on risk.
As entrepreneurs, we all make mistakes. That's part of the fun of being willing to take risks. But over the years I've learned that the more humble and receptive you are, the more likely you'll succeed.
"Show me the money!" -- the famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire -- carries the sort of gusto and optimism that is ear candy to entrepreneurs. But as a professional negotiation coach with nearly three decades' in the trenches, I associate that catchy phrase with something else entirely.
The reality is most entrepreneurs begin to think about negotiation -- this includes the word "negotiation," setting up a meeting, and the overall negotiation process -- only when it's time to be shown the cash. In other words, in the minds of just about every small business owner, a negotiation is when the money talks.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and I can't imagine the millions of dollars entrepreneurs have lost, over the lifespan of their businesses, by defining negotiation in such a limited way. Negotiation is the effort to bring about agreement between two or more parties, with all parties having the right to veto. True, the topic of money is invariably involved in this process. But good negotiation includes other critical components that most entrepreneurs either ignore or are unaware of.
Here's what you're probably doing wrong, and how to get it right.
1. You think you've told the other side everything they need to know.
Does the following litany sound familiar? "My product has organic ingredients.""My services have a money-back guarantee.""My customer support is available 24/7."
Sorry, but those are just facts. What you must do is provide your potential buyer with a vision. And I'm not talking "benefits," which are often just repackaged facts. Here's the sequence. After you describe the other person's pain and dissatisfaction, you present a true picture of what his or her life will be like after using your products or services.
In other words, address how what you're selling will dramatically alter the potential customer's problem. Then let the person take in the specifics of the new peace of mind they will enjoy by doing business with you.
2. You fail to connect the vision with your fee.
If you know your potential client's pain -- which could be as simple as, say, their current supplier's inability to meet the delivery target dates -- and you've rendered a vision of that pain back to them and explained how you can take that pain away, then it's time to align your promise with a cost.
Many entrepreneurs regard their good or service as merely another product the prospective buyer will stock, or a service to replace the one currently in use. However, if what you're offering is unique, then you're presenting to the other side not an interchangeable offering but an opportunity tied to the better vision you have just painted for the buyer. Such opportunities often come with higher price tags, which you had better be prepared to defend.
3. You fail to realize that every moment with a potential client is a negotiation.
This goes back to my original observation that most entrepreneurs identify a very narrow window as the time frame in which to discuss money. However, if the only time to seal the deal is when you're "negotiating," then what are you accomplishing when you network or participate in trade shows? If you're saving negotiating for some future date, then are you simply handing out business cards?
Every moment you spend with someone you might do business with -- which means just about anyone you meet anywhere, at any time -- is a chance to create a vision for them. If you're certain that you would display a warm, nurturing and calm demeanor during a formal negotiation, then convey the same traits at a busy industry event and see how you can make the other person realize you can help them achieve their goals.
Every interaction with a potential client is a negotiation. No tables or conference rooms required.
How do you determine how much you should pay yourself when you're running the company?
What's the best move for both the business and you individually?
"While there is no one correct answer as to how to pull this off, there are ways to put money in your pocket and grow your business," writes J.D. Roth, founder and editor of the personal finance blog getrichslowly.org, in his article on Entrepreneur.
Roth says there are three things you should consider when determining your own salary:
1. Pay yourself what you're worth.
You should treat salary research when you're an entrepreneur in the same way as if you're applying for a job, Roth says. This means using online resources, such as Salary.com or Glassdoor.com to see how much professionals in similar positions are earning.
2. Pay yourself whatever's leftover.
Depending on the business you own, you may be able to pay yourself whatever's left when business-related expenses and funds for taxes are taken care of, Roth writes.
3. Pay yourself the absolute minimum.
If your company's in the early stages, consider paying yourself just enough to cover rent and bills. You can use the rest of the earnings to put back into the company for growth purposes.
However, Roth says you need to make sure that you have a salary plan for yourself, meaning your salary will grow as your company grows. Otherwise, "it's not a realistic model," he says.
"You probably didn't launch a business to make less money than you did at your last job," Roth writes. "The whole point is to follow your entrepreneurial dream to a better life, right? I'm here to tell you that it's all right to think about funding that better life sooner rather than later."
Giants like Google and Facebook are known for their killer perks. But there are some small companies that have no problem competing with these larger firms, offering competitive pay and state-of-the-art benefits to attract and retain talent.
Research, consulting, and training firm Great Place to Work today published its second annual ranking of the best small companies to work for, in collaboration with Fortune and based on thousands of employee surveys.
"There is a strong sense of inclusion and togetherness throughout each organization, which is a key component of a trust-based culture," says Leslie Caccamese, director of strategic research at Great Place to Work. "CEOs and senior-level executives make an effort to get to know employees personally, and will often participate in events like onboarding, training, recognition, and celebrations."
Several of the companies that made it on this list are professional staffing or IT firms, and all of them have fewer than 250 employees.
CEO: Eric Mosley
Why it's great: This HR consulting firm loves recognizing its employees for successfully completing short-term projects through $25 "call outs" to $200 "Scream It!" awards.
Source: Great Place To Work
CEO: Dave Gray
Revenue: $21.2 million
Why it's great: Employees at this software maker have access to video games and scooters and a laid-back dress code that allows for shorts and t-shirts.
Source: Great Place To Work
23. Alvarado Street Bakery
CEO: Joseph Tuck
Revenue: $28 million
Why it's great: Part-time employees get 95% health-care coverage working 20 hours a week and anyone with concerns can appeal to a neutral, five-member employee body called the Grievance Committee.
Source: Great Place To Work
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
During the season five premiere of ABC’s reality pitch show "Shark Tank" on Friday, Mark Cuban literally got out of his chair to tell Tucson, Ariz.-based doctor brothers Richard and Albert Amini: "Worst pitch ever."
But the worst part is, if you watched the episode, you can't blame Cuban. This is a lesson in how not to pitch your business to investors.
The Amini brothers' pitch is a mobile health app called Rolodoc, which is meant to be a secure social media platform that allows physicians to upload and display their medical records. The platform would also act as a communication tool between doctors, patients, and other medical professionals.
"What we’re trying to do is bring social media and the social network to the medical profession," says Albert, the surgeon brother credited with the idea.
The Aminis were asking for a $50,000 investment in exchange for a 20% stake in their company.
Their mobile technology idea isn't a bad one. But the problem is, that's about as far as they got.
They couldn't explain how they would convince physicians to sign up for the platform. Or how they would market or advertise Rolodoc. Or how they would vet doctors using the platform. Or even how they are planning on making any money.
And it just got worse. The Amini brothers couldn't explain how physicians could use social media on their platform, despite selling the idea as a social media communication platform for doctors and their patients.
"You keep saying social media, social media. This is all one-to-one communication," argued Cuban.
"You didn't show us anything about social media," he said. "You showed us profiles and talked to us about emails. You didn't tell us at all about how you were going to get there."
By the end of the pitch, the brothers were completely annihilated and received no funding for Rolodoc.
Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran called the pitch the "worst sales presentation I've heard," and entrepreneur Kevin O'Leary said: "I don't mind sacrificing a couple of doctors if the next two doctors that come in will make me money."
No matter what profession you're in, there's one lesson any aspiring entrepreneur can learn from the Amini brothers: If you're trying to raise money, make sure you have a solid elevator pitch — and business plan.
Success comes with a lot of failure.
Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran tells Teri Evans in an interview with Entrepreneur that an important trait for entrepreneurs to have is the ability to get back up after facing rejection.
"Show me an entrepreneur who can take a hit, and I'll show you a good entrepreneur," Corcoran says. She goes on to admit that she "fails well" and is able to get right back up after falling down.
Corcoran says that's another deciding factor in becoming a successful entrepreneur: How long it takes you to get back up.
"The great sales people take the hit and then they jump right back up. They've been hurt just as much as the next guy, but they work right through it," she says. "If you have that skill, you should be an entrepreneur."
Retaining talent can be a major cost for businesses. A lot of time and money goes into interviewing, hiring, and training candidates.
So how do you keep staffers happy, so they don't leave you for the first decent job offer they get?
"The key is caring about your employees," Tim Gimbel, founder of LaSalle Network, says in an interview with Inc.com.
Gimbel says this is as simple as having their phone number saved, so you can text them on their birthdays or if something reminds you of them.
The bottom line is taking a personal interest in your employees will give them reason to believe they mean more to you than someone who's simply making you or the business money.
Employees need to feel like you "care about them and their future growth and who they are as a person," says Gimbel. "People love to work for people who care about them."
How do you make sure you're constantly connected to your customers and employees?
By staying on top of trends and the changing workplace. This is especially true if you're a business owner, Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, says in his new book "Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success."
According to Schawbel, there are five changes in the workplace that entrepreneurs may not be aware of:
1. Hire candidates with in-demand skills of the future.
Most employers hire for skills when they need them, but to truly be successful, you need to pay attention to the skills of the future. Hire talent with those skills before you are 100% sure you need them, says Schawbel. This is how you stay ahead of your competitors.
In our rapidly changing workplace, skills that are in demand today might not be in demand tomorrow. Schawbel says the best thing you can do for your company is to stay flexible and pay attention to what's going on around you.
Here are some questions you need to be asking yourself regularly: What skills seem to be more in demand now than before? What skills are you using less frequently than you did in the past?
2. Hire for soft skills.
It's true that you need specific "hard" technical skills to do the job, but top employers have started demanding that colleges pay more attention to developing students' "soft skills," including critical thinking and problem-solving.
Most employers hire for hard skills with the idea that candidates are capable of doing the job because they have the technical skills to back them up. However, it's important to consider the importance of the candidate's ability to communicate, lead others, and integrate into a company's culture. Without a cultural fit, candidates will have a harder time making things work.
Schawbel says: "To be perfectly blunt, people with hard skills are a dime a dozen. A high-school kid can probably learn most of the hard skills that would be required to do just about any job, but it’s doubtful that he or she would have the emotional maturity and people skills to make it in a Fortune 200 company."
Soft skills are even more crucial if you have remote workers. "It's hard to build soft skills and real relationships through technology," Schawbel tells Business Insider. Without soft skills, there's a higher chance that these workers end up slacking off and not efficiently communicating crucial information with you.
3. Young employees want to constantly learn.
"Smart companies have learned that in order to attract and retain young people, they have to provide opportunities for advancement. Otherwise, young workers are going to move on to an employer that values them more," Schawbel writes.
How do you do this? Map out your expectations. Provide younger workers with a short-term career "roadmap," and tell them when they should expect a promotion and what their salary will be once they accomplish specific goals.
You can also offer workshops, webinars, and conferences as ways to develop new skills for your workers, including leadership skills and skills that are relevant to the future economy.
4. Learn to criticize constructively.
"Some people love to jump down people’s throats,"Schawbel writes. "They actually look forward to being able to knock people down a peg or two and aren’t above reducing someone to tears. They’re insensitive jerks. Don’t be one of them."
Instead, find a way to get your message across while encouraging your employees to be better and more efficient workers.
"The best way to do this is to start the conversation on a pleasant note,"he says. "Find something to compliment the person on, something she does especially well. Then move on to the main event and return to something positive before finishing up the discussion."
5. Start a blog.
This is not only good for you, it is good for your company. Consumers want to feel like they know the faces behind a company and what they stand for.
"Blogging doesn’t just bring attention to you; it can also bring eyeballs to your company,"Schawbel says. "According to a 2009 survey by Technoratixx, 71% of bloggers surveyed said their blogs have increased visibility for their company, 63% converted prospects into purchasers through their blog, and 56% said their blogs bring recognition to their company as a thought leader in the industry."
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Being the founder of a business, or in my case two businesses — Ciplex and Open Me — often leads others to consider the journey to success as somewhat of a mystery. Piecing together the entrepreneurial paths of others isn’t always as easy as it seems.
Since “putting myself out there” via mentoring, blogging, and generally sharing my advice with others, I’ve had a number of individuals inquire about how I got to where I am today, why I’ve made certain business decisions, my personal mantras, and even why I decided to become an entrepreneur. Most are surprised to hear my story of going from a lone computer geek to multimillion-dollar business owner.
But there’s more to my journey than who I am, what I’ve accomplished, and where I want to go in the future. What about the “why” part of my story? Like Guy Kawasaki says, “Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone.” So, why do I undertake the risks and rewards of being a business founder and entrepreneur every day? Let’s take a look:
Finding The Work-Life Mesh
I have an uninhibited love for what I do every day, which is something I’ve found most people can’t say for themselves. For many, the idea of work — even if it’s being done in a home office — has an extremely negative connotation. We’re constantly being told to master the art of the “work-life balancing act” to ensure work doesn’t take over our personal lives.
We spend a quarter of our lives at work, so why look at it as “putting in time?” For me, loving my career is monumental in creating what I like to think of as a mesh between my professional and personal lives. It’s crazy to think so many people search desperately for ways to separate these two things, when in fact they should be complementary.
My passion for my job and my flexibility as a business founder has allowed me to establish my life in such a way that the personal and professional aspects mesh together. In fact, I was recently able to take some paternity leave and work from home after the birth of my second daughter.
That’s the beauty of it… entrepreneurs can work whenever they want, wherever they want, and however they want. And my companies are set up to really encompass that concept. I hire people who are truly passionate about what they do and give them the autonomy to work how and when they’d like to accomplish things. This means unlimited vacation and the flexibility of working from home. I believe that everyone should be working how and when they feel is best for them. In the long run, this reinforces productivity and happiness all around.
So much of why I’m an serial entrepreneur comes back to my constant focus on the future. I’m always thinking of ways to make life better for others, especially my children as they grow up.
Today, the innovations created through technology have given us more time for the things that really matter in life. But on the other hand, it’s also taken some of the more personal interactions and thoughtfulness out of our lives. This isn’t a future I like to consider, and it’s actually why I started Open Me, my online greeting card company. Since the greeting card industry has failed to innovate accordingly, we’re left sending thoughtless “happy birthday” statements via social media, rather than personal and thoughtful messages that come from the heart. Being an entrepreneur means driving the types of interpersonal changes I want to see spread far and wide.
The Power Of Influence
It’s no secret that mentorship is a huge part of the “how” and “why” part of journey as an entrepreneur. If my longtime mentor Tom Antion didn’t take me under his wing when I was a teenager, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. This is why influencing and mentoring others is a key component in everything I do.
As a business founder, I’ve learned numerous lessons, and I’d be doing the world an injustice not to share them with others. That could mean giving advice on improving your productivity at work so you have more time to spend with your loved one, helping you to turn around your less-than-thriving startup, or even showing you how to be more thoughtful in your professional and personal life. In short, I do what I do — like writing for LinkedIn Today — to inspire action in others to not only fix things for themselves, but the world as a whole.
My passion for my career, making the world a better place, and influencing others to follow suit are just a few aspects of why I’m an entrepreneur.
Last night an entrepreneur, Rob Cromer of Adcade, was explaining why he left his old, high-paying job at Barclays and started an adtech company.
He had no technical experience, just an idea on a napkin and two best friends who were willing to quit their jobs to help him. They lived in the same apartment, in bunk beds, while they bootstrapped. Now investors like David Tisch and ff Venture Capital back their startup.
I asked the founder if he missed corporate America, and why he wanted to be an entrepreneur. His answer was something to the effect of:
"I didn't like the feeling that the world could go on without me. If I didn't show up to work, or I got fired, someone else would easily take over my job and my company would be just fine. At a startup, you can see the impact you're making in everything you do. Everything I do matters."
Essentially, he felt life was too short to be replaceable. And while some people are harder to replace than others, everyone who works for someone else is replaceable.
(Founders, by the way, can be replaceable/fired too. It happened multiple times at Twitter.)
That doesn't mean your job isn't awesome, you aren't talented, or the work you do isn't worth-while. It just means companies can always go out and find another you. Learning that lesson is a great motivator. It makes you work harder to earn your keep, for both your company and yourself.
One early Facebooker, Noah Kagan, learned he was replaceable the hard way. When he got fired for slacking off, it cost him about $100 million in stock options.
"EVERYONE is replaceable," Kagan reflected a few years ago. "You are NOT special and there is guaranteed someone better than you on this planet. To make yourself irreplaceable, all you can do is keep showing your worth to your employer. Grow with your company, bring new ideas to the table, and never take your job for granted."
Or, you can do what Cromer did and start a company. When a company is that young, it actually does need you to survive.
When hiring, how important is it to find a candidate who's already had the work experience to join your company?
According to Jeff Fluhr, CEO of social video platform Spreecast, it's not really that important and, actually, having the right professional experience is overrated.
"I still sometimes find myself falling into the trap of thinking, when I’m trying to fill a role, 'Has the person done the work that the role requires?' That’s the wrong question," Fluhr tells Adam Bryant at The New York Times. "It should be, 'Let’s find a person who has the right chemistry, the right intellect, the right curiosity, the right creativity.' If we plug that person into any role, they’re going to be successful."
Fluhr says that most hiring managers will think, "OK, we need a VP of marketing and we want somebody who’s been a VP marketing at another consumer Internet company, and hopefully, they’ve done these certain things because that’s what we need." However, you don't actually need someone with this exact background for things to work out.
"...The reality is that if you get somebody who’s smart, hungry and has a can-do attitude, they can figure out how to do A, B, and C, because there’s really no trick to most of these things," he says.
In fact, it's the softer skills that are far more important, including the cultural fit, the chemistry fit, personality traits, and level of optimism.
"I always ask people why they’re thinking about leaving their current job, and why it isn’t fulfilling what they’re looking for," says Fluhr. "Part of that conversation is about what they’re looking for, and their goals for the next step of their career. Understanding that helps create a picture of whether they’re going to be a good fit."
Radio DJ R Dub looked sharp, knew his numbers, and even had help from R&B star Brian McKnight when asking for an investment in his radio show on ABC's reality pitch show "Shark Tank."
But none of that could save what was seen as a bad investment in a very bad industry.
R Dub was looking for a $75,000 investment in exchange for a 10% equity stake. His pitch? To expand "Sunday Night Slow Jams" by hiring a sales manager for the program.
"We feature the ultimate mix of love songs from today and the classics from back in the day, but most importantly, special coast-to-coast listener dedications that we call 'oral expressions,'" R Dub explained, to chuckles from the Sharks. Those chuckles turned into oohs when, seconds later, McKnight walked onto the floor and began serenading his audience.
But it wasn't enough.
"So, syndicated radio is a horrible business," investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban began.
"Do 19- and 20-year-olds really listen to slow jams?" fashion entrepreneur Daymond John asked.
"I love romantic music, but when I sit here and think about you really expanding, I'm not sure it's just this sales manager that you need," inventor and entrepreneur Lori Greiner added.
Then venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary put the nail in the coffin.
"The radio market as an investment sucks," O'Leary said. "I can tell you that as an institutional investor. This is radioactive waste out there. It's terrible."
R Dub walked away with no money, and it's hard to imagine anyone doing any better.
It's a lesson any aspiring entrepreneur can take to heart. Knowing your product is only half the battle. You've also got to pick a profitable industry.