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Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

how-to-build-habit-forming-products

How to build habit-forming products

Almost every enterprise tries to build long-lasting relationships with its clients.

As it could be four to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, business owners have every reason to make their old clients happy. With that said, some internet companies rely on return visits and an active user base more than others.

An e-commerce site that sells products that people replace once a decade can get by without constant communication with its customers. On the other hand, an SAAS company or a social media start-up will fail without regular users.

We use the services of the most successful internet companies several times a day. When we’d like to know more about a topic, we Google it. When we’re bored, we pick up our phone and scroll down our Facebook wall. When in the morning we wonder what’s going on with the world, we launch Twitter or navigate to our favorite news site.

We use these services more than we should and not because we don’t realize that in many cases it’s a waste of time and we won’t remember anything from the most trending stories of the day five seconds after we’ve read them.

We use these services constantly because up to a certain level, we’re addicted to them. We have to find the answers instantly and we need to be continually connected to what others are doing.

Facebook and Google became what they are now because they were able to convince users to form new habits. In certain situations, some of their features come to our mind and we launch them without thinking.

 

Hooked

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Nir Eyal spent most of his career in the gaming and advertising industries. He applied, and in some cases rejected, techniques that are used to motivate and manipulate users. He believes that designers can create habit-forming products that will help people live healthier, happier, and more connected lives.

After studying the deeper psychology behind habits and how online services change our behavior, he decided to write a book. He wanted to show the designers how to build such products and help consumers break away from the hooks that don’t serve their life.

In his book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, he describes the habit-forming mechanism of online services in four steps:

– The initial step is the trigger. At first, the trigger is external, we see a post on Facebook, or arrive at a landing page and click on a link that will allow us to use the service.

– It is followed by the action. Starting to use habit-forming products is simple, and they are able to motivate us to perform the action that their designer planned.

– The third step is the reward. The user is rewarded for the action. For example, the user feels a bit of relief after opening Facebook’s app and would like to use it some more.

– The final step is the investment. The user has to invest time and energy into the product, as it increases the chances of returning.

If these steps are repeated frequently enough, the user will form a habit around the product. The triggers will become internal and the user will associate the service with a problem or a certain situation.

 

Simplify the way!

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I’m the founder of a SAAS company and reading about the Hooked model was extremely useful for me. My company, SpringTab, helps business owners find out more about the personal and professional interests of those visitors who use social log-ins on their sites. We also help them in personalizing the experience of their users according to the collected information.

Of course, we are trying to hook our subscribers and convince them to use our service regularly. Consciously or not, we apply many of the steps Nir Eyal described.

We try to make onboarding as simple as possible for newcomers. The hook is our social analytics tool. It can help website owners understand what type of people use their sites, what kind of traits their most loyal customers have, or what could motivate people who choose certain products. It is a rewarding experience.

Once they see the value of our software, it is much easier to convince them to use more complex features and create different versions of their website for the various groups of their users.

I completely agree with Nir Eyal in that online services need to be able to form new habits in order to become truly successful. Now at SpringTab, we are working on automatic notifications for our users that will regularly remind them to visit their dashboard.

So, what do you think? Do you find the Hooked model useful as well? Does your product have features or do you plan to develop ones that can form user habits?

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An interview with Tiffany Pham of Mogul: ‘If I could just teach myself how to code, I could make this a reality’

Mogul is an online publishing platform that helps millions of women around the world share ideas, stories and career advice with each other. I sat down with Tiffany Pham, the founder of Mogul, at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna to talk about her entrepreneurial journey and how she became one of the most influential young CEOs in the new media in just a few years.

 

We’re from Hungary and the director of operations at Mogul is also Hungarian. Can you tell her story?

 

Our head of operations, Juli, is an amazing woman who earlier was one of our super users on the mobile platform. She had done such an impressionable job, and the insight she offered to the young women around the word was incredible.

So she was just this amazing super user to us when all of a sudden it made sense to bring her on board as part of the team. She started working as a consultant and she helped in different aspects of the business. And then over time it made sense to promote her to head of operations.

So that’s the way I assured our team has grown organically through such mechanisms, and by onboarding super users around the world in different ways onto our team.

 

I love this story. When she was a consultant was she a full-time employee? Did she move to New York at that time?

 

Initially, she was working remotely, and then she came to our offices and began working full time as a consultant before becoming a full-time employee.

You have a remote team, as well as an internal team. How do you manage them? What are your managerial secrets?

 

With my internal team, I work hand in hand to create a culture of full transparency and real-time feedback. So that every single day there’s no hesitation on providing ideas and suggestions that can help us improve all together. At the same time, each of the internal members of our team manages some respects of the external teams, as well.

For example, our head of operations oversees our ambassador program, and we have thousands of global ambassadors. We reach 18 million women each week, and our head of content community oversees 15 hundred influencers on the platform. We also manage a team of salespeople out in the field.

 

Let’s talk about your journey, Tiffany. I tried to research it and maybe it was my lack of eye for details, but I couldn’t figure out your tipping point, if you will. How did you get started, and what did you need in order to succeed?

 

It’s a really good question. I think it was rooted in my family history because my family had been in the media and the service of providing information for many generations. I was inspired initially by my grandmother because she had written for newspapers in Asia to provide information access to those around her.

When I moved here, I did not know how to speak English. I learned it through the media, and started to understand how powerful it could be for learning. And then eventually, when I was fourteen, my grandmother passed away. The day that she passed away I made a promise to her that I was going to do everything I could to carry forward her legacy: Provide information access to the world like she had. So it became my sole motivation to carry out that goal for the rest of my life and dedicate everything I could towards that goal.

Thereafter I worked in the media industry across different facets, to learn every single new one. So one day I found myself in three jobs at once. I was working at CBS, the television network, and simultaneously I was working with the Beijing government to launch a new venture in the U.S. area bridging cultural gaps between U.S. and China, and then I had a third job. I was producing feature films and documentaries with Gérard Miller all around the different social issues that needed more global awareness.

As I worked in the news story growth, one day I woke up, and by chance, I’ve been listed on Forbes 30 under 30. And all of a sudden, young girls around the word started to write me letters asking me for advice, asking me what articles am I reading, what videos am I watching, is there a chance that I could share the resources I was accessing for these opportunities.

That’s when I started to realize as I answered back every single letter one on one, what if we had a platform whereby millions of us could share our ideas, our carriers, and our lives, and our journeys. And from that exchange of information, we begin accessing more knowledge from each other, and become that much better and that much stronger together.

At that time, I’d written a book on how to better align the IT infrastructure with business strategies, and I realized that maybe if I could just teach myself how to code, I could make this a reality for younger women around the world like myself. So every single day I worked on the three jobs I had, and then at night at 3 a.m. sat down at the kitchen table and taught myself Ruby on Rails. After a couple of weeks, I built the first iteration of Mogul.

So to answer your question, the tipping point was when I finally had developed the first iteration. And then because all those young girls were continuing to contact me organically desiring this, as I launched it, it launched to million users within the first week, becoming one of the fastest growing concept platforms for woman ever. And subsequently, today we reach 18 million per week. So that’s where we’re right now.

 

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Amazing story. How did you feel? Did you ever think about becoming an entrepreneur?

 

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My father was an entrepreneurial man. I grew up in an environment whereby we used to recite the phrase that it’s OK to fall forward. And to fall forward was something that I realized I needed to do.

What I mean by that is to move past the nos and get to the yeses, to be resilient to realize that there’s actually no failing because as long as we’re moving forward, everything is OK. And as you’re learning, in the end, you’re winning.

Then what is a failure?

 

That’s what I’m saying. There’s no such thing as failure. As long as you’re learning and moving ahead, then you’re going to get to the yeses and in the end, you will learn everything you need to do to accomplish the next. So just keep moving ahead.

 

Let me rephrase it. Failing is when you stop. And you don’t move forward. That’s failure.

 

In that case, in the end, true failure is not doing. Not trying.

 

Can you talk a little bit about your years at CBS? Did the experience and the connections you made there help you become an entrepreneur?

 

Yes, absolutely. Being at CBS enabled me to see all the amazing ways in which the company had risen to the top and had created wonderful programming and amazing business partnerships to continue to sustain its profitability and growth. It was an amazing opportunity to see a world-class team in place in order to carry all those things out. It was the perfect place to develop insights into what Mogul could become one day.

 

You worked at a large corporation, and now you are managing an important website with millions of users. How can innovative companies work together with large corporations and companies like yours?

 

Ultimately it’s all going to rely on your friendships. Relationships can help you enter each of the companies no matter what size in the right way.

So if you want to talk to an amazing start-up, you still have to figure out who internally is the decision maker and who can connect to that decision maker in a way that it will set you on the right path and the right foot in the door. So find your correct connection and find out that warm path to get there, and then ultimately on the corporation side it’s the same thing.

Find who is the correct decision maker internally. Figure it out whether through various platforms like LinkedIn or through just discussing it in online groups. And then with that person, figure out who you know mutually, who can make a recommendation that will help you to rise up above the noise.

How did you build your friendships in the industry?

 

I’m glad you’re asking this question, because what I’m about to say next is very key. It’s about then developing true friendship and relationships through collaboration. So, in the end, it’s not about networking per se and just creating this very superficial one-time relationship.

It’s about creating a true friendship whether through initial teas or coffees, or by finding ways in which you collaborate together through small projects or tasks.

Maybe you help them on their site, or maybe you find a way to support them in their initiatives in a way that they don’t have to put much investment in at the beginning. But as you prove yourself out in that very first initial moment, then all of a sudden that pilot task that they did with you will become so much more of a bigger deal!

 

 

During our meeting, I also asked Tiffany Pham about the development of the platform and her future plans for website personalization. I posted this part of the interview on Springtab’s blog. If you’d like to know more about the Mogul platform, click here to read it.

Conrad-egusa

Conrad Egusa on PR for Startups: ‘The Biggest Thing is to Amplify the Message’

Conrad Egusa is the CEO of Publicize, an innovative public relations company specialized in start-ups, and a guest contributor to TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and The Next Web. Earlier he co-founded Espacio, an incubator located in the heart of Medellin.

He is also a global mentor at 500 start-ups, The Founder Institute, ANDI (Asociación Nacional de Empresarios de Colombia), and the Spanish accelerator Zarpamos.

I had a chance to talk to him at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna about his unique approach to PR, and the advice he gives to start-ups trying to get featured in tech publications.

What do you advise to start-ups looking for guest blogging opportunities? How can they get the attention of major publications?

A mistake I see people make is that they write to TechCrunch and ask if they could write a guest article. It will not work, because the editors are busy, they don’t have time to respond, and they don’t know whether you’re a good writer or not. They receive hundreds of similar emails every day.

What I recommend is when you first contact them, introduce yourself and have the article written already. So when you send to them, you could say something like, I have an article below, it’s not self-promotional, it hasn’t been published elsewhere, could it be considered?

And if you send three or four good articles to a publication, in many cases they will ask you to write as a guest contributor.

 

I also believe it’s important to never use self-promotion and to give value in your articles, or at conferences…

Yes, you should absolutely avoid promoting yourself that way. If you send an article to editors about what your company does, they wouldn’t accept that.

Let’s say you have a start-up with great software for accounting. What you could say is, here is like three or four pieces of advice about how you as a start-up founder can be better at accounting. Or what we think the accounting and finance industry is going to be heading in the next two to three years.

So by doing that, you’re not directly self-promoting yourself, but at the same time, you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader for accounting. You could do that as well for SpringTab,* and actually any company could do that for their own industry.

And I think increasingly you are going to see more publications like TechCrunch or Forbes say, hey, like if you author an article like that, that adds value like you mentioned, and it’s in your space, we’re happy to publish it. I’ve done this myself I’ve seen friends and companies do this, and it is a very high returning investment

 

How did you get started? How did you do get your foot in the door? 

So, my path came really from start-ups. I raised funding in Northern California for my first company. Then I remember, I was in New York and I met this person named Matt Marshall, who is the founder of VentureBeat, and he said he was looking for writers, and it kind of got me on my path.

I think the biggest thing, the key to writing that I learned is rewriting. So I think a mistake a lot of people make is that they have the first draft, and they expect it to be perfect. But the reality is the first draft usually is just not. So if you like mentally go in your head like, well, you’re going to need five to 10 drafts to perfect an article, it just really helps.

Each publication has its own kind of style of writing as well that people should follow, but I think it can even help as modeling. So even if you just take an exact article and try to do a similar one based on that template on a different subject, it will help.

There’s a lot of strong writers who, like for example, submit an article to TechCrunch, and they are not going to accept it just because it doesn’t fit their style. So it’s important to try to match the style as well.

 

A lot of great start-ups get good local feedback and make some money, but at the same time, they struggle with reaching the next level. If a company like this had an office hour with Publicize, what would you recommend to them? What should they ask themselves? What is the most important thing to focus on?

I think the biggest thing is to amplify the message. For example, one of the companies that I’ve co-founded is a co-working space start-up.

Co-working spaces are really boring businesses. They rent an office in a building and charge slightly higher prices based on the square footage. There are hundreds around the world, so no one cares about them, right?

With this company, we got into TechCrunch, BBC, Financial Times, and all these others. And the reason why was that the mission that we pushed for wasn’t a co-working space. The mission was to turn our city into the Silicon Valley of South America.

An early-stage start-up usually isn’t that interesting because it probably doesn’t have that many features. But where you want to take it in three to five years could be interesting.

So when you are about to go to sleep, or you’re going to the gym and you’re daydreaming, you’re like, in four years SpringTab is going to have 500 employees and it is going to be taking the world, right? And whatever vision you see there, that’s what you should highlight to these big media publications.

Like, say hey, this is where we are today, but what’s really important is the steps you planned. You need to ask yourself, how is your venture going to change the world, how it’s going to look like when it’s a 100-million-dollar company.

Where you are today is less relevant for big publications, but where you want to head is something that they might want to cover.

 

Let’s talk about Hungary. We have three or four larger companies that lead by example, and we have like 40 or 50 other start-ups which are doing OK. It’s somewhat similar to Austria. If you had to write about an ecosystem like this, how would you put it to be interesting?  OK

I think what’s important to keep in mind is that every disadvantage is a potential advantage. It’s literally really like chess. The question is, how do you want to play it?

Hungary’s ecosystem isn’t like the Silicon Valley’s. On one hand that’s a disadvantage, but on the other hand, the fact that it’s small and growing shows that it has a lot more room to grow and a lot more potential. The reality is people don’t really want to write about Silicon Valley because everyone’s already written about it.

But a new ecosystem like Hungary, that’s exciting. That doesn’t exist yet. So by framing it a different way, you can create a story. Also, there are a couple of events that trigger interest. So as an example, the Netherlands, when I wrote about their ecosystem just got appointed someone from the government who is responsible for integration with start-ups.

That recently happened in Austria as well. There is a moment when you can see more news around an ecosystem because something has happened and maybe even more stuff will happen. So I think for Hungary, they can think about that as well. I would just look at all these storylines you can include.

 

* SpringTab is a start-up that I founded. It helps companies understand their audience on a deeper level and personalize their content according to the personal preferences of their visitors.

During our meeting, I also asked Conrad Egusa about website personalization and the importance of social data. I posted this part of the interview on SpringTab’s blog. Click here if you’d like to read it.

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Entrepreneurship Journey: Pursuit of Success

Today more and more graduates are seeking opportunities at companies where there are possibilities to contribute, grow, and being responsible for actions every day. Recent grads struggle with finding work that suits their needs in the labor market, therefore young people – even juveniles – show a tendency to begin with building ventures. Lots of people think that only entrepreneurship is solely the key to professional freedom and self-realization, which obviously has many benefits compared to being an employee. But are young people ready to take a job that comes with being a business professional, especially if you only have few work experiences? Is entrepreneurship the only way to be financially successful?

What to do after graduation?

There is lot of crap out there on the internet about entrepreneurship… Many people talk, make videos, do podcasts or webcasts, write blogs on the topic that triggers youngsters to choose the same path, to build the next big hit, and be on the cover of every business magazine. The question is, are people really capable of doing such a thing especially straight outta college?

Gary Vaynerchuk described pretty well the miscommunication of today’s success among younger generations. The idealization of entrepreneurship (building the next Uber and Airbnb) made everybody believe that being a company owner is the only way. The thing is, not everybody is born an entrepreneur. Period. Not everybody can be Steve Jobs. Period. There is just a fraction of people in this world capable of building Facebook, Google and Pied Piper. Most of us would make an exceptional second, third or fourth member of a developing organization, but we don’t want that because it is not sexy enough.

Think about the $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn that happened a few months back. Even latecomers, those who had 0.1 percent stake at the company are multimillionaires and have nothing to worry about financially for the rest of their lives. Do we know their names? Hell no. Are they rich? Huh… Instead of self-hopings and self-projections, we need to practice self-auditing to identify what is the right path for us.

Entrepreneurship Journey-1

 

Is entrepreneurship the right path for success-driven people?

Many people try the other way and join a company with high potential. Once I had a pretty engaging conversation about entrepreneurship with a fellow here in Hungary. He is the director of sales and business Development at a software company that does pretty well in Europe. Before coming to Budapest, he was building start-ups and small ventures in Romania, and had two successful exits by age 22. So I was wondering why he did not proceed with building his next thing and being his own boss.

The response was quite revealing to me. As he said, there is always going to be a boss, the form is just different whether it is your investor, customer, or partner. He embarks on a journey with a promising organization and helps the company achieve success than struggling with building something out of thin air. As he said, he is an intrapreneur. Intra what? A person who helps building things WITHIN a company, and exchanging his special skillset usually for a lot of money. He was making $5,000 per month, when the average salary in the country is $700. Most entrepreneur wannabes earn half or less of that.

Intrapreneurship might be one choice for self-starters

One of the biggest differences between entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship is the company culture you are working in. As a business owner, you have the privilege to shape your own company culture, design it the way you want, hire the people you would love to work with. Also, you have the chance to decide where you prefer to work from, which is a big advantage compared to the life of employees. As an intrapreneur you join a pre-existing work culture in which personally you do not have that much of an influence; there is only possibility to adapt to that specific environment.

For reshaping existing organizational cultures, you have to spend a long time at a certain place to gain trust before you can carry out changes. No matter which path you pursue, you need to feel comfortable with the environment you work in. It can be a restaurant, a retail store, a loft office, or a corporate office, think about what place suits you best. If it is hard to find something you want, you might have to think about creating a culture on your own, and shape it the way you want it to. Here is a hint how to do that.

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But which path is right for me?

 

Perks and benefits of both:

  • Responsibilities

Being a business owner can be super frustrating because it puts a hell of a lot of burden on your shoulders. Hiring people, hustling your way up, and talking to other serious business owners might sound appealing, but on the other hand you need to buy the toner for the printer, and the last pen for your office to make it operate. At least in the very beginning, and only if you want it to function properly. Though as an intrapreneur, because you are a specialist, you only focus on your special task and make that work at best. It does not mean specialists do not have other responsibilities than their field, but relatively much less than entrepreneurs. You need to analyze how much responsibility you are willing/can take within an organization and if you are experienced enough to multitask with myriads of different responsibilities. Can you fulfill your duties, manage your employees, delegate tasks properly to your team members at the same time? Or do you just want to stick to the sexy things? If the latter, you better be an intrapreneur.

  • Risks and Benefits

Both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs face special kinds of risks, but what comes with the risks essentially differ. Business owners need to accept the financial hazard and uncertainty, however the potential growth and revenue projections can help fade that. While an entrepreneur earns more money (in case of a profitable business) and struggles with all difficulties of running a company, an intrapreneur has a pretty stable life with a healthy paycheck and other benefits. Intrapreneurs, however, need to deliver results by the time agreed upon, otherwise they are very likely having an unstable professional life as well.

  • Incentives

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are equally motivated by leaving a mark in the history of the company. If you are looking to create something big, achieving a lifelong dream and earning millions of dollars, entrepreneurship might be a fit for you. Whereas if you prefer stable paychecks, work-life balance and trying out yourself at different places intrapreneurship is worth considering.

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Entrepreneurship Journey: The right path

On one hand, making up your mind to become a business owner can be super rewarding with lots of perks and publicity, where you can have a firm control over most things and form your own organizational culture. Though, as an intrapreneur you can challenge yourself at different places for stable paychecks and utilize company resources for innovation. Many world-changing products were born as a result of intrapreneurial efforts such as the Mac, iPod, Gmail, Google Maps, PlayStation, etc.

Despite these intrapreneurial people, the mentioned products would have never been invented if it had not been for entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs or Sergey Brin and Larry Page. All talented people were required for that success. Whatever choice you make when you begin pursuing your professional career, keep the things mentioned above in mind, and think what you as a person are capable of.

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Team Culture and Marriage – “For Better or Worse”

Have you ever thought about handling your organization as a marriage? If we just consider that ideally, a marriage is an agreement between two people, sharing common values and helping each other for common goals. When they fail, they both fail and when they succeed, it’s a shared success they achieved together.

But let’s get back to the early stage of a relationship and see some correlations between a team and private relationships.

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Matchmaking and so on

When you hire someone, it’s like looking for someone on an internet dating website. You are searching for someone with certain expectations in mind, and it is the same in the other way around. The potential employee has some kind of idea about you and working at your organization. If you have the same positive intuition toward each other, you match.

When you make a match, it’s like going on an interview. It is the point when the picture starts to shape up. However, everything comes to the surface when you start “dating”, meaning the beginning of your collaboration. You form a team and slowly start getting to know more about each other.

In time, your relationship evolves into a “marriage”. In a team, you will have individual marriages, but then you have the whole team in your marriage. It will not be only a strong collaboration of two persons, it will be of your whole team. And then you start thinking, Wait a second, even one marriage is enough, why on earth would I think of multiple marriages at my workplace?

The answer is easy: It’s all about engagement for common values. You and your team’s fates are linked. If you fail, they fail too. And this must be understood; you are all in the same boat rowing in the same direction. Sometimes we tend to forget this, even in a marriage.

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Factors of contentment

Based on the best practices I collected, here are the most important building blocks of a good marriage. See if you agree with applying them to your own team at work.

BE COMMITTED. Commitment to is the core of your relationship in the team, just as it is in a traditional marriage: “for better or worse; for richer or poorer; in sickness and in health; to love, to honor, and to cherish until death do us part”. So when it comes to team members, what you have to see is solid engagement to you and your collaboration.

TRUST. Trust defines the relationship from the beginning. A marriage could not work without it in a healthy way; trust is a baseline of the relationship. There is no perspective of the collaboration without trust either. The lack of trust only brings negative feelings toward the business.

TALK. Communication isn’t important only for progressing at work, but also for team members to tell their fears, frustrations, or share an experience. Communicating these things brings people closer, strengthens the team, and gives more perspective for the business in the long term. Otherwise, just as it would happen in a marriage, if you go silent in communication, you slowly become estranged from each other. You can even end up in divorce. This obviously shouldn’t happen in your organization.

COORDINATE. Coordination in a marriage is necessary and is all about figuring out how you will do your every day. Here I mean division of tasks that use everyone’s talent and abilities, but in a way where your efforts are actually coordinated. For example, a couple decides to redo the floor in the kitchen on their own. They work as a team and go through every stage of getting the new floor; they remove the old tiles and lay down the new ones together. They won’t compete with each other, or let one do the all the work. When working on a project, satisfactory completion is possible if all your team members add full support according to their skills and capacity.

PAY ATTENTION. Attention to the others is also a fundamental factor in a marriage. Without consideration, it is all about selfishness and individuals who will not lead anywhere in the long term; selfish players always set back a team.

DREAM. The clarity of vision is as important in a team as it is in a marriage. If you have dreams and plans, you know which direction you are heading, you will not get lost during your busy working days. Until you have goals to accomplish, you will be on the right track. They are motivational and always remind us what we are striving for.

To compare a marriage to a start-up is not a bad idea since the relationships are founded on the same values in both situations. Ideally, you work for something that is equally important to everyone in the team, because it also benefits all. The willingness to help and actively participate in sorting out a problem together is another factor. It is also crucial that you are respectful toward the others, and accept their strengths and weaknesses.

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You create the culture

Team culture is created by each member of the team itself – by consistently and actively delivering value at work. It might also mean that in the early stage of the start-up, the culture of the business is the leader himself. And later on when it comes to the engagement in “marriages”, the individuals will work together where the key word is “we”. And this “we” feeling will make the organization strong, successful, and your team more in sync.

So I think these ideas might be great starting points of your business. If you always keep these in mind, you will see that work will become enjoyable not only for you but for your whole team. After all, this is what we all strive to.

HILVERSUM, NETHERLANDS - JANUARY 28, 2014: Linkedin is a social networking website for people in professional occupations. As of June 2013 more than 259 million users in more than 200 countries.

LinkedIn Sins

LinkedIn is for everyone, no matter if you are a job seeker, a student, recent graduate, or if you are currently employed. It is one of the most powerful platforms for partnerships, clients, media, and it is a place of business, too. Therefore, having an attractive profile is more than important.

“Details are not details; they make the design”

I’ve always known that having a LinkedIn profile is a crucial element of a business, but in the very beginning I was not aware that the secret is in tiny details. When I first signed up to LinkedIn, I just started to fill out the sections without any deep consideration of the things I wrote.

If I’m not mistaken, LinkedIn has just recently started giving you tips on how to boost your profile. Earlier, you had to figure out everything on your own. Now, it shows if your profile is strong enough or weak lacking some information.

What LinkedIn won’t tell you though, is how to write and what exactly to include. It took me a little time to understand that my LinkedIn profile is as important as, for example, my website; it is part of my business.

LinkedIn as the part of your identity

Your identity is like a puzzle; if only one little piece is missing, the picture is not complete. It is just simply annoying. In the same way, having an unprofessional profile looks discouraging when it comes to business. I realized that a LinkedIn profile is part of a whole identity.

Since then, from time to time I take a little time to look at my profile, how I can improve it. It’s not like I did it once perfectly so I can forget about it. I always make updates, change things that could be different things I notice on my own, or get as a tip from someone else.

LinkedIn sins

We should know about certain unwritten rules to follow. Actually, sometimes it is easier to learn from the mistakes and to know exactly what never to do.

Let’s see then some of the worst LinkedIn sins listed by Emma Brudner, staff writer for HubSpot’s Sales. She gives a great selection of those mistakes you should definitely avoid.

1.Forgetting to upload a profile photo

On LinkedIn you are selling a whole identity of yourself. Now, LinkedIn is like a huge community where you will not be seen, unless you do it. In fact, Nicole Williams LinkedIn spokeswoman says that “profiles with images are seven times more likely to be viewed than those without one.”

2.Having a bad profile photo

Having a bad profile photo is still better than not having one at all, but still you should carefully select one that is more of a professional-looking picture. It means that you can completely forget about selfies, pictures taken in the mirror, family, pets, friends, duck-face, cheesy style. Keep in mind what you would like to convey to your network with your image.  

3.Summary, summary!

It is very unfortunate to miss out the summary section, even if it feels like you have added enough information about you. It is the only part of your profile where you can show your personality, which will make the difference between you and the others. So let yourself come up at least with few interesting sentences; this is what people would like to know about you.  

4.Grammatical errors

Make sure that every single word is grammatically correct. Such mistakes can play you off.  It shows that you don’t care, you are irresponsible and careless. Always double check your writing.

5.Writing from the third person point of view

Writing your LinkedIn content in third person feels unnatural. Hopefully, you don’t use third-person language in your everyday speech when you talk about yourself, so don’t do it in your LinkedIn profile either.

6.Lack of personal contact information

Some people might feel that including their e-mail address in their profile is too personal. Well, it’s not. In fact, it’s important that let’s say your potential buyers can find you and are able to get in touch with you without getting annoyed by the research they do in order to get your email address.

7.Neglecting keywords

SEO keywords should be included not only on your website, but also throughout your LinkedIn profile. It’s proven that they boost views. So don’t forget to put those powerful words and see the result.

8.Instant messages

If you really want to get in touch with someone, don’t discourage them with your spammy e-mails that land instantly in their in-boxes right after the connection request is accepted. They won’t see that you are really willing to put personal effort in that relationship. Start with a comment on one of their posts, or share an article with them, so they see you are really interested in the topic.

9.Generic connection requests

If you want to build quality relationships, you should always use personalized connection requests. The generic LinkedIn request “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” doesn’t sound bad, but customization is important to show that you have real interest in the relationship.

10.Sending friendly but pointless messages

Sending friendly but pointless messages just to build a good relationship is not the best method you can find. People usually don’t have time for easy chats, so use another way of connecting, use the “like” button, make a comment, or share.

11.InMail spams

No one likes spam. LinkedIn shouldn’t be a place for spam, because people will tire of your messages if you send mass messages without any specific intention.

12.Overreacted selection of connections

Some people are overly selective about their LinkedIn network. However, there is nothing wrong with accepting most people who request to connect with you without seemingly have a valid reason for connecting with you. The more people you have in your circle, the more reach you have.

13.Weak comments

We established that comments are better than pointless messages. However, pointless comments don’t make any sense either. If you don’t have anything to add in particular, just simply give a “like.”

14.Activity feed “on” when profile updating

Always turn your activity feed off when you update your profile, e.g., you add a new profile picture, or update a work experience or skill. People get tired of pointless information, let them see your post that they would like to read.

15.Being anonymous while viewing profiles

A conversation can start with a profile view. Someone might be interested in you, or it can happen the other way around, too. So don’t have your search set to anonymous when you’re looking at profiles, LinkedIn is here to expand your connections.

find-your-mantra-and-do-it

Find Your Mantra and Do It!

There is one really tough thing in being an entrepreneur- there are millions of things you simply don’t know and you always feel like you need to test the ground. It can be paralyzing and scary, giving you a perfect reason not to start working right away. I had to learn that not focusing on the things that create real value, faking business or just simply procrastinating is actually a bigger effort then doing something meaningful. So why not do so?

 

How, you ask?

“Shut the fuck up, get over yourself and do it anyway”

– Steli Efti’s Get Over Mantra:

 

Subconscious mind setting

 

Don’t get threatened by this, it’s pure science. Interestingly, it’s evident that nerve connections are changed and strengthened by even imagining practicing musical pieces (this study was carried out among musicians). It means that you can leverage your brain more than you would have ever thought.

set-your-main-focus

 

Set your main focus

 

Find 5-10 minutes before you start your day, when you figure out what you want to get down, what your main focuses are for the day. Don’t think of too many at the same time, otherwise you can easily lose control over your tasks and end up being inefficient by the end of the day.

Stop procrastinating

 

You can stop procrastinating by programming your subconscious mind. (Also, read NLP chapter). Perhaps the most powerful words you can use to increase your productivity are the words; “Do it now!  Do it now!  Do it now!” Whenever you find yourself procrastinating on an important task, repeat to yourself, with energy and enthusiasm, the words, “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!”

The amazing discovery is that after you have repeated these words 10, 20, or even 100 times, you will find yourself programming your subconscious mind into starting on your most important task and completing that job before you do anything else.

Throughout the day, when you are distracted by people, emails, telephone calls and other factors, and you find yourself drifting away from your most important tasks, take control of yourself by repeating the words, “Back to work! Back to work! Back to work!”

 

Success and Positivism

 

“Positive emotions help speed recovery from negative emotions,” Barbara Fredrickson (author of Positivity and a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

A study shows that entrepreneurs are a group of exceptionally positive people. Apparently, for them, it’s easier to face repeated failures, while others would never get of their bums, or just simply run away from certain situations saying, “this is not for them”.

No matter what, when it comes to action, it can be terribly hard to do it. But bear it in mind: the more you fight, the greater chance you have to fly.

Here are some quotes that motivated me today. They will give you a little push, when you have to keep going.

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” Sam Levenson

” You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else” Albert Einstein

” If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. Milton Berle

So again, just do it! How? First, try with little steps. Trick your mind and start smiling when you are down. If you keep smiling and laughing, it is impossible to stay sad.

Watch and smile:

How did you enjoy this tip? Please share your thoughts here or drop me an email. I would love to know if you guys want me to write more articles like this or not!

temptation-bundling-utilize-your-guilty-pleasures

Temptation Bundling – Utilize Your Guilty Pleasures

“Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on a doorbell.”

 

As you read so far, you know how many times I referred to myself as a lazy ass. I find it pretty struggling to go to the gym or not delay doing XY important task. So I need to motivate myself. Create games and trick my mind.

 

It is about creating a reward system. So, don’t forget to reward yourself and set up small gifts for yourself. Worth mentioning is the breaks here, since they can be rewards as well. The easiest way to do it is to simply divide your learning time into bearable study sessions- a short break in an hour or so will already an incentive to keep focus. Then grab a small snack or call a friend- forget about the material you studied for a moment.  

 

Reading about one trick, changed all of that. I realized that temptations and struggles can work hand-in-hand pretty well. Combining the two can solve many problems.

 

How does temptation bundling work exactly?

The idea is simple: I can only meet up with a good friend or watch my favorite TV show, if I went to the gym or got the most important task done for the day.

 

The whole idea came from Katy Milkman. Her strategy worked. I tested it: just like with me, not only did she go to the gym more often, she actually looked forward to going to the gym because it meant that she got to do one of her favorite things: read a good book or watch her favorite TV shows.

 

Read the full story here: http://jamesclear.com/temptation-bundling

 

Ever since I have been using this, surprising things have happened, like I go to the gym more often, I don’t procrastinate that much, I get more shit down and I could increase my focus. Solely for SEO purposes, let me give you a few examples.

 

Gym. I hate gyms, since they are monotone. I’m more like a ball player or enjoying team sports. That being said, I know that a 30-60 minutes’ exercise in the gym – on the treadmill or doing some super sets – can increase my body mechanisms, my state of mind — like knowing the fact that I made it to the gym and actually did the whole program. The best part is the reward, like enjoying time in the hot tub with my girlfriend or meeting up with friends afterward, or simply just sitting down with a shake and writing a blog post in a better way, mood and phase. Since I like these things, I make myself go to the gym more often, so I get to do all these. You could say that I can still do these, but! My mood and level of productivity wouldn’t be the same! So that’s the point!

how-does-temptation-bundling-work-exactly

 

Procrastination

If it was up for me, I could spend the whole day watching Friends and playing GTA. I LOVE those activities. But that stupid tiny voice in the back of my head will start telling me that is this really how I want to spend my day? The same thing as with the gym, that moment of short term satisfaction will affect me in the mid-long run and ironically my mood – or level of happiness – will decrease. Now, I don’t want that to happen. So I tell myself, that I can only watch Friends, if first I get XY done, preferably the most important task for that day. Then I’m good. Again, that’s the reward system I’m talking about, this is temptation bundling.

 

Getting shit done

Sorry, getting things done. It’s a simple choice: do I want my pass to just pass me by, or I want to create things. Of course I want to create. Good. Then question number two is what/when/how. So I create a roadmap, a to-do list – and even if I don’t, then I will have tasks in my inbox. If I don’t do this, they ain’t gonna stop. They will keep coming; cluttering my inbox. That I hate even more than getting out of the bed in the morning. So this thing – call it fear, fire in the belly, or negative temptation building (hey, I just invented negative temptation building:)) leads me to get up and get shit done. I use the get over it mantra and start telling myself ‘do it, do it, ‘do it, do it, ‘do it, do it!”. And I will!

 

Focus

I’m a multi-tasker. At least I used to be. One of my mentors told me that I rake. It meant that I was losing my focus since I wanted to do way too many things I failed, multiple times. One trick is to cut tasks into parts with ends. Another one is to say no to distractions and be present in whatever you do. Sounds easy, but it is way harder to execute.

focus

 

Important vs. urgent

I have got one extra tip for you. There is a difference between important and urgent tasks. Urgent can be to book a flight or to get an appointment, while an important thing is that I have to write an article.

 

However, I always had the feeling that there is a small difference between these two, sometime they overlap each other and it feels like I should do all of them at the same time. But here is the trap, where it’s easier to lose control. This line helped me to understand how it is in fact:

“Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals.” Brett McKay

 

Then I only had to understand what tasks are important for me, tasks that contribute to my success. If I made this clear in my mind, I try to delegate certain tasks to someone else, while I can keep focusing on the things that are personally important to my progress. These ones I have to do immediately or schedule some of them for later.  For example, going to the gym never feels urgent, but important in order to perform well in the long term.

 

Consistently accomplishing the right tasks helped me to boost my daily productivity and so did my mood.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but believe me, it is totally worth it when you feel that you are actually on the right track, doing it.

 

All these could work out because I used temptation bundling. It made it easier for me to do.  How about you? Do you find it valuable in your life?

here-are-3-useful-tips-on-how-to-focus-and-become-more-productive

3 tips for staying focused

To stay focused at work is one of the most difficult things to accomplish. Everyone knows those little evil factors that distract us whenever they can: a phone call, a message, construction work noises from the street, just to mention few of them. Sometimes it feels like they are working against us on purpose.

We all know them well, and how much they can limit our productivity when focusing on something. Today’s digital world particularly demands our attention even more than ever before.

Our brain works automatically and our reaction to anything comes naturally. Even when we want to concentrate only on one thing, our brain can react to some sounds, noises. Sometimes we don’t even realize immediately that we’ve lost our focus.

Multitasking and focus

While we might have thought that if we are good at multitasking it means our brain has a larger capacity to focus, multitasking doesn’t necessarily lead to better performance. In fact, our brain is programmed to react to everything, so when it comes to focusing solely on one thing, it can be very challenging.

Eventually, we have to teach our brain to focus exclusively on one thing for a period of time without any distractions. It can change the whole proceedings.

3-tips-for-staying-focused

 

Here are 3 useful tips on how to focus and become more productive:

  1. Creativity in the first place

Often, we do those tasks first that don’t require too much thinking, just to kind of “warm up” for the tougher works. If we think of this as our body getting tired by the end of the day, our brain works in the same way. Mindless work lowers our energy and later in the day, we will have less capacity to do the other jobs.

Focus on the tasks that require creativity and do them first thing in the morning. Leave the less important jobs like scheduling a call, or deleting your emails, for later.

  1. Time allocation

We all work in a different way, but it’s very typical that there are “morning type” and “evening type” people. We do our best working or studying either in the morning or late at night. It’s very likely that we don’t fully pay attention to our work eight hours a day. We have to find those few hours when we are the most effective and put everything we can into those hours. As a pro tip, we not only have to find those few hours, but also create downtime. Almost all the successful minds have some sort of “me time”, where they just let their thoughts float and resilience.

Find your time of effectiveness, and if you can, look for a place where you can best concentrate on your task. It might be out of the office, where you can perform better.

  1. Brain training

“We’ve trained our brains to be unfocused” – David Rock

Our multitasking brain can be trained for focusing ultimately on a single task, according to David Rock, the author of Your Brain at Work.

Start “training” with short sections only. First, take 5 minutes a day in a distraction-free place. Try to fully concentrate in that 5 minutes and increase this time period slowly.

Read more about this topic: Your Brain at Work by David Rock, the co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute
How did you enjoy this tip? Please share your thoughts here or drop me an email. I would love to know if you guys want me to write articles like this or not!

calendar-automatization

How to Save Time with Google Calendar Automation?

As we all know, time is money.

If you are an entrepreneur, you are probably familiar with this saying. Managing weekly events, meetings, etc. is one of the most important skills  you had to master. Google Calendar Automation can save a lot of time if used correctly, so it’s more important to know all the tricks. Today, I would like to show you a hack for that I’ve been using to make time management easier. Follow my guide and you will never forget to schedule the events that take place at a different time each week.

Create an event

This is the bread and butter of everything we will talk about. You will need to do the following things, to create a new event:

calendar-automation-1

 

  1. Open Google Calendar.
  2. In the top left corner, click Create, or click any time on the calendar that doesn’t already have an event scheduled.
  3. Add a title to the event, and any event details.
  4. For an all-day event check the box next to All day.
  5. For adding a video call for the event click Add video call in the “Video call” section,
  6. If you have multiple calendars, choose the calendar where you want to add the event from the “Calendar” dropdown menu.
  7. At the top of the page, click Save.

Create a recurring event

When you create an event in Google Calendar, you can make it repeat on certain days. It’s useful if you have group meetings at the same time every week or if you want to add the time of the gym to your calendar as well. What you have to do is:

calendar-automation-2

 

  1. Open Google Calendar.
  2. In the top left corner, click Create.
  3. Add the event title, date, and time.
  4. Under the date and time, check the box next to Repeat.
  5. Choose how often you want the event to repeat, and when you want the repeating event to end.
  6. Click Done.
  7. When you’re done creating your event, click Save at the top of the page.

If you want to make a recurring event out of an existing event, just open it and check the box next to Repeat as well. And check this deeper guide on ssw as well.

Make changes to repeating events

No matter how punctual your plan is, you are going to want to change it at some point in the future. Luckily, there are many editing options for repeating events. Now, I will show you how to manage them.

calendar-automation-3

 

  1. Open Google Calendar.
  2. Click the event you want to update > More details.
  3. Make changes to the event.
  4. At the top of the page, click Save.
  5. Choose which events in the series you want to update:
    1. Only this event: This event will be updated, but the details of all the other recurring events will stay the same.
    2. Following events: This event, and all events moving forward will be updated. Any events from the past won’t be updated.
    3. All events: All events from the past and the future will be updated.

If you are interested in more, check this article about importing from interesting calendars, and my video below about recurring events.

Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin on Product Design and Content Creation: ‘You Want to Get to that Exceptional, Viable Product’

Rand Fishkin is one of the most influential people in the SEO industry. He is the founder of Moz, the leading marketing software company in this field.

The revenue of his firm grew from $800 thousand to $29 million over six years, and the number of annual visitors to their site increased from 1 million to 36 million in this period. At the Business of Software Conference Europe, he talked about the things he wishes he had done differently during his career and the decisions that he wouldn’t change.

I had a chance to ask him about content marketing and the creation of tools like the Open Site Explorer after his speech at the conference in Dublin.

On the stage, you said that you hate all the products and all the tools and that you hate yours a little bit less…

I’m just an incredibly picky person when it comes to products, particularly in the space of web marketing tools. So, I shouldn’t say I hate everything. Occasionally I find tools that have some particular function that I really like.

I was tweeting last week about postreach.co, which I thought to do a great job at twitter URL sharing and analytics. But I think it does pay actually as an entrepreneur to be very picky about products and to have a very high bar for what you think is acceptable.

What do you expect from your tools as a product manager and product designer? Do you agree with Gaudi, who said that whatever he does, it’s never finished?

It’s never finished, it’s never good enough, there is always something else and something more.

One of the things that I do as a product designer is to surround myself with people who do their individual elements of the product design. Experts in experience design, data architects who put together the information that powers the product, front and back end engineers, people who can help with the integration, conversion rate optimization and marketing specialists and so on.

I try to find people who are better at each of those than I am. And then my job is essentially just be a critic. To go and take a look at each one and say that’s good, here’s how it could be better. Or that’s good, but not good enough. Or that’s not even good, which I say a lot of the time.

But before I let something launch I really like it to be not just good enough but impressive.

Rand Fishkin

Photo: Betsy Weber

Steve Jobs always talked about the little big details and he micromanaged a lot of processes. What do you think about that?

I think this is one of the reasons that I like doing product management, and work as an individual contributor rather than a CEO.

I think as CEO you shouldn’t be a micromanager. It doesn’t make sense. Steve Jobs is an exception to this rule, and you have to be a very optimistic person to think that you’re the next Steve Jobs. You’ve got to have a really high opinion of yourself.

I don’t have that high of an opinion of myself. I would say that when I concentrate and focus on one particular product or a project like the URL explorer, I can do a decent job of being that critic. But I don’t think I could micromanage as a CEO.

You said that you’d like to hire fewer people but only the best ones. Many people told me that they rather do, for example, what Real Madrid did. They look for talented 10-year-old kids, train them, and then a few of them will become superstars.

I like Real Madrid’s approach but I only like it at a later stage. Early stage, when you’re starting a new club, you better get those incredibly talented folks. You can’t play professional soccer against Real Madrid or Barcelona or AC Milan with 10-year-olds. You’re never going to win a game this way. No one is going to cheer for you. You won’t get any fans.

You need these phenomenal players to help accelerate your new club, and then you can build a training program. So today, I think it’s great that MOZ hires a lot of junior people, who we think are smart and talented and can become the star players over time. And if some of them don’t live up to their potentials, that’s ok. We’re 215 people.

When there are only five people at your firm, forget about it.

What advice would you give to your younger self? How would you build up a company in today’s crowded market?

I like spaces that are not as overly crowded with venture-backed companies, where investors don’t like to put money for some reason or another. Maybe there’s a huge entrenched player that is totally market dominant and no one thinks that anyone could take them on. Maybe there’s a sector that people just don’t like for one reason or another. They have an aversion to it, they think it’s tacky or spammy or manipulative or doesn’t have long term potential. I like those fields and I would probably choose something like that.

I don’t think there is a specific process that will help you find your field. But you can stumble upon it almost by accident, just by keeping yourself open to the world. If you look for these little markers in things that you know you like, then these things sort of come together.

Rand Fishkin

When you do find your field, how can you convince five players to join you, if you have nothing and you’re just getting started?

I think one the great things that content marketing does for you is that it doesn’t just build up your audience for your future product. It also builds up your potential to reach employees or even co-founders.

It’s one of the things that Moz did kind of nicely for me. Back in the day, seomoz.org kind of built up its reputation, so a lot of folks knew who we were and some of them were potentially interested when we put out a job.

So actually, I like content marketing even from an employer standpoint.

Shifting to content marketing – we do content marketing and we spend a lot of time on research and outreach. Do you have any special advice in connection with them?

There are two things that I really like to do whenever I create content. I try to ask myself two questions. One is “how am I creating unique value”, meaning value that’s different than any of the other content on this topic.

Am I providing a unique data set that no one else has access to because I got my own research or I’ve crawled data on the web or I’ve found an API? Have I created a visual that explains everything in one very easy to digest graphic that has that high virality potential? Have I found people, a company or a founder or something else that nobody else has gotten access to?

If I don’t have that unique value I can write a really long and really great blog post but it won’t go anywhere.

The second thing that I ask is “who is going to help me amplify this piece and why”. Do I have a list of 10 people who are super passionate about my topic? If I don’t have that list of people who I’m confident will help me amplify it, I don’t make it.

You talk about creating content that creates unique value as passionately as you talk about your products.

It’s similar right? You want to get to that exceptional, viable product.

Rand Fishkin

How do you find people who can help to amplify your content?

I don’t necessarily look for the biggest influencers in the field, that doesn’t bother me too much. I look for someone who I know is passionate about the topic, or someone who has specifically asked about it.

So, for example, if I see someone who has asked a question like “Oh, I wish there were a tool, or a post…” Great! Now I can make that post and then I can ping them and say,”Hey, you know that thing you wanted, I made that, here it is”.

I like that better than sort of reaching out and saying, “hey, I mentioned you here”. I get a lot of those all the time and I ignore them.

Do you know of any great tools that can help you find people who are asking stuff?

Twitter search is pretty solid for that and Google is not actually bad for it. On Medium, you can do searches on that and it works pretty well, too.

I think that another thing that a lot of smart folks do is to identify ten or twelve websites where there’s a conversation going on. That could be like old school forums, or it could be a Google+ community. Google+ is a very, very niche social network nowadays.

It could also be folks who are having those conversations on podcasts or webinars or whatever. They identify where those conversations are taking place and pay attention to those until they see something coming out of it.

Rather than proactively creating content they reactively create content, based on what they see is going on in an industry or in a forum.

Reactively creating content – it feels like instead of push marketing you pull people in.

Yes. Like I know three people who talked about this topic recently and I know that they are all interested in it and then I make that; I just do the thing that they want.

the-10-ds-of-entrepreneurship

The 10 Ds of entrepreneurship

Successful businessmen have common personality traits. Studying these attributes will help you decide if you could be one of them.

 

Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Will I succeed if a start a business of my own? Am I strong, or determined enough to risk my hard earned savings?

 

Most entrepreneurs probably asked themselves questions like these, before they founded their first company. Of course, no amount of self-examination can tell you whether you will succeed on a career path, or not, estimating your chances properly could help to avoid failures.

The problem is, finding the right questions to ask yourself could be as hard as answering them objectively.

Most people dream of becoming their own boss, but the majority of them will never fulfil this dream. And the ones who finally set up their own a company does it for significantly different reasons. A decision like this could be inspired by a great idea as well as a termination letter.

The personality traits that make somebody successful in entrepreneurship may also differ from industry to industry. After all, it’s hard to imagine that a person who runs a successful accounting firm is also a perfect manager for an art gallery.

With that said, successful entrepreneurs have common characteristics, and if you happen to possess similar personality traits to them, there is a higher chance of success, when you decide to choose the riskier path.

 

entrepreneurship

 

What are the 10 Ds of entrepreneurship?

 

There are plenty of articles about the attributes of successful businessmen. One of the most influential studies on this field is written by William D. Bygrave.

In his book The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship Bygrave describes the events that made him and other economy professors define the most important personal attributes with simple terms.

In the 80s, many magazines published articles based on behavioral studies, with self-evaluation exercises to help readers decide, whether they should enterprise.

Later, more researchers looked into the problem and found that these tests were useless since there is no set of behavioural attributes that could separate entrepreneurs from nonentrepreneurs. They also came up with two personality traits you need to have if you want to start a successful business.

One of them is the desire to achieve great things, which is not very surprising, given that a bit of ambition could help you in almost any professions. The other one is more characteristic of the entrepreneurs. It is a will to control your own fate.

 

Bygrave described these and other important personality traits from the findings using ten words beginning with D. These definitions provide a great starting point if you’d like to create your own “competency test”.

Of course not every successful entrepreneur possess all the Ds, and the rate how characteristic these words are will defer from person to person. But if the following descriptions are familiar to you, or you could imagine yourself operating the portrayed way, there’s a good chance, that entrepreneurship will be suitable for you.

The definitions of Bygrave may also inspire you to find focus and develop new, and more productive habits if you are already running a business. For further inspiration we have collected a few blog posts and videos in connection with the expressions. You can find these, and Bygrave’s 10 Ds of entrepreneurship bellow:

 

entrepreneur-and-dog

Dream

 

Entrepreneurs have a vision of what the future could be like for them and their businesses. And, more important, they have the ability to implement their dreams.

Recomended posts, and videos:

– When a Disney executive turned to Steve Jobs for advice on revitalizing the company’s stores he answered with two words: “Dream bigger“. In this article on Forbes.com the author shares his thoughts on how to do that exactly.

– Easy-to-believe myths may ensure that your dream projects will never come to fruition. You can learn more about those, from the TED talk of a Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce.

 

Decisiveness

 

They don’t procrastinate. They make decisions swiftly. Their swiftness is a key factor in their success.

Recomended post:

We published a longer post earlier on how to avoid procrastination, become decisive, and manage your time better with productivity hacks. You can read if here.

 

Doers

 

Once they decide on a course of action, they implement it as quickly as possible.

Recomended post:

Being a dreamer and a doer at the same time is not an easy thing to achieve. These tips on Entreprenour.com could help you balance your attributes.

 

Determination

 

They implement their ventures with total commitment. They seldom give up, even when confronted by obstacles that seem insurmountable.

Recomended post:

Gallup has published a series of article on the talents of successful entrepreneurs. The one we recommend is also about determination.

 

Dedication

 

They are totally dedicated to their businesses, sometimes at considerable cost to their relationships with friends and families. They work tirelessly. Twelve-hour days, and seven-day work weeks are not uncommon when an entrepreneur is striving to get a business off the ground.

Elizabeth Gilbert the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ was working as a waitress for six years, while trying to find a publisher. Her TED Talk teaches important lessons about dedication.  

 

Devotion

Entrepreneurs love what they do. It is that love that sustains them when the going gets tough. And it is love of their product or service that makes them so effective at selling it.

 

Details

 

It is said that the devil resides in the details. That is never more true than in starting and growing a business. The entrepreneur must be on top of the critical details.

 

Destiny

 

They want to be in charge of their own destiny rather than dependent on an employer.

 

Dollars

 

Getting rich is not the prime motivator of entrepreneurs. Money is more a measure of success. They assume that if they are successful they will be rewarded.

 

Distribute

 

Entrepreneurs distribute the ownership of their businesses with key employees who are critical to the success of the business.

productivity-habits-of-successful-people-part-2-the-pomodoro-technique

Productivity Habits of Successful People Part 2: The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique advocates breaking big projects or tasks into smaller, more achievable tasks distributed throughout the course of your day and — notably — separated by frequent breaks. Each task should take no longer than 25 minutes and breaks should be approximately 5 – 30 minutes (depending on how long you need to recharge before the next task). The technique’s name comes from a tomato kitchen timer, used to time 25 minute increments. If you want a more modern solution, there are many timers available online.

 

Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is about setting short intervals and having a few minute- long breaks. It is repeated throughout the day and helps in simplifying project and being more productive.

Here is an easy 6-step instruction how to use it:

  1. Choose a task to work on
  2. Set your timer (pomodoro) to 25 minutes or whatever works for you
  3. Work on it until the timer rings
  4. Take a 5 minute break
  5. After three pomodoros, take a longer break for like a half an hour
  6. Repeat until necessary

Using it you will become a way better planner who tracks results and efficiency. It goes pretty well with GTD, since you divide projects into small tasks anyways.

Once you formed a habit out of it, you will rarely finish earlier. If that happens – congrats and – it is time to set more difficult tasks or put more into one set. In short breaks you shouldn’t focus on that work. Go a take a short walk, exercise, call a friend, read a nice or funny post.

The whole point is to force yourself into the flow and keep a sharp focus. Never let yourself get interrupted!

 

Pomodoro (tomato) technique is a study method that helps avoiding procrastination using a kitchen timer

Pomodoro (tomato) technique is a study method that helps avoiding procrastination using a kitchen timer

Habit trick:  Create a framework (read Pomodoro and Get Things Done sections)

 

It is a very good technique for learning. Schedule the tasks and set goals. The best way to think about is as about habits in general. The more repetitive method you create, the easier it will get to do something. Combine what you have learned so far and use the Pomodoro technique with GTD. Make it something that you can stick to and form to a habit. It is like what Ernst Hemingway said: write 5 pages every day and you will have a book in 3 months. It is even more important if you are part of a project group or study group. Lastly here, setting up expectations on why you are doing something will keep your passion’s drive.

 

About the 80/20 rule aka Pareto Principle. One thing worth mentioning here is Parkinson’s Law. It’s about putting ourselves in a difficult time frame and magically we are still able to manage a nice job, if not even better than what we would have produce in twice as much time. All we need to do is limit ourselves in terms of tasks per hour let’s say. A good technique to use is Pomodoro. It uses a timer like those ugly kitchen tomatoes to break down work into intervals. You should test what works for you the best but it usually is 25 minutes long, separated by 5 minutes breaks. After 3 pomodoro, you take a half an hour break. If we do it right, the results and lift in efficiency is pretty amazing.

Productivity Habits: Getting Things Done

Productivity Habits of Successful People Part 1: Getting Things Done

Running your own business is not easy at all. There are lots of things to concentrate on, without losing the focus on the main task you are doing. I’m an entrepreneur since I graduated so I had to find the best practices for scheduling and managing my daily routine. But these productivity habits aren’t only useful for entrepreneurs, everybody can save time with some of them. In the first part I want to introduce everybody into my favourite one: The Getting Things Done Method.

Getting Things Done Method

Getting Things Done (aka GTD), is the Grocery List method on steroids. It is simple enough to get started right away, but as you dig deeper, it can help you on so many levels. Tools, which you can install on your phone, may resemble classic Grocery List apps but they allow you to create sub- lists and manage time you spend on each task.

To not waste anyone’s time, let’s see GTD in 2 minutes:

  • Your mind is not meant to remember… tasks. Write down every little task you can think of, so that you can get everything out of your head. This goes to your Inbox.
  • Set aside 30 minutes each week (for me it’s Friday afternoon) when you clear your Inbox and put it to Other
  • Create the following lists name like (you can add other lists later):
    • Inbox: This is where you instantly write down everything. First question is if it is actionable. If there is something that can be done in less then 2 minutes, do it right away. It should be something precise like “Email Peter about XY”.
    • Some day: If it is not actionable, you put it to “Some day”. If it stays there for more than let’s say 30 days, you can either delete it to the trash or leave it there.
    • Next action: If it is actionable with a simple step (and it takes more than 2 minutes), you put it to “Next action” folder. Here you can decide to do it as the list is, or specify a specific date.
    • Waiting for: Works like the “Next action” folder, but this task is out for someone to be competed and you are setting a reminder preferably with a due date.
    • Projects: If it is actionable, but has multiple steps, you create a project out of it and define as many small tasks as possible. This is what we call planning. Remember, you always need to have a “Next action” subtask in every project. This is crucial to get things done!
    • Grocery: Let’s start with groceries. It can be an ongoing project, since you need to do that. In this project, you can list whatever you will need and just move it here from you Inbox.

That’s it. Simple like that.

Pros: GTD helps you get things out of your mind and never forget anything and get it done in the most effective way.

Cons: You must be very persistent and devoted to your work- you can’t skip days because this would cause even bigger mess instead of helping you to put everything in order. Also, those apps that are supposed to help you sorting tasks, are slightly more complex and can be a bit confusing in the beginning.

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How to be a pro in GTD

As time flies, you will create and close many projects and find your own pace. You can add contexts and tags, but that’s not necessary. If you would like to get more into practical application, read this deep guide about GTD, but if you’d like to become a pro, I suggest the holy grail of GTD by the man behind.

After you know everything about the method in theory, let’s see the best apps avaiable for using GTD in practice:

Want to get started now? Take 5 minutes and write everything that is in your head.

It is a very good technique for learning. Schedule the tasks and set goals. The best way to think about is as about habits in general. The more repetitive method you create, the easier it will get to do something. Combine what you have learned so far and use the Pomodoro technique with GTD. Make it something that you can stick to and form to a habit. It is like what Ernst Hemingway said: write 5 pages every day and you will have a book in 3 months. It is even more important if you are part of a project group or study group. Lastly here, setting up expectations on why you are doing something will keep your passion’s drive.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

 

 

 

productivity-hacks-for-sales-executives-automate-your-sales

Productivity Hacks for Sales Executives – Automate Your Sales

The potential in sales automation is enormous: applying a good sales method for any product or service can provide great results. The main goal should be to comprehensively analyse the potential customers’ behaviour and offer the best option for them. And the best part is that the RPU can be increased independently from the complexity of the decision-making process, because with sales automation you can reach customers who aren’t reachable with the existing resources.

But how can you automate your sales?

The first problem is that although big companies own serious permission treatment services, and can afford expensive CRM software like SAP, Pardo, etc., they have staff for every separate process and Salesforce consultants for the optimization. Smaller businesses don’t have the capacity or resources for these, at all. They must find the best free or cheap software to be able to compete. The question is obvious: how can a small company earn sales automation results similar to those of the big guys?

Even “one man army” businesses should have comprehensive contact following systems and the highest sales automation available. Most missed opportunities could be reached with a well-configured follow-up system. You should follow-up every time! That’s why lots of templates are needed, so you can mass-personalize them and send to multiple recipients.

Being able to automate the signing of documents (hellosign.com) and the sending of contracts (freshbooks.com) and link them with a cloud-based invoicing software could help you achieve serious progress. You can find such services in the Salesforce shop, sure, but this is expensive, and almost every automation process is covered with a free/cheap alternative. So if you are sneaky you can afford the highest quality services for a low price.

email-automation-its-more-effective-than-you-imagine

Email automation? It’s more effective than you think!

You can multiply the usual responses to your emails by inserting a reminder system into the mailing process (rebump.cc, followup.cc). With this software, you can send emails automatically, and if any of the recipients don’t answer, they will get additional pings—configured by you—so your important messages won’t get lost in their mailbox.

The main goal every time should be simplicity and the possibility of integration. You should be able to integrate a comprehensive observation system into your well-functioning mailing process. Because if the customer is already on your pricing page, the system can send him a friendly message with the positive attributes of the product. After getting such a targeted message, the customer will be more likely to buy something from you.

Another good example could be this one: if somebody is a regular reader of your blog, but didn’t see the last post for three days, you can send them a little message about the new article. These opportunities are endless! It’s clear that there is a lot of untapped potential in the field of sales automation, and the early birds will get the worm!