10 Signs Your Are Relying Too Heavily on Technology to Run Your Business

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

At what point are you relying too much on technology to run your business? Why?

1. When Automation Replaces Personal Interaction

Shawn PoratIf all or most of your communication with customers and prospects consists of automated messages, you are missing out on the chance to connect with people in a more direct manner. Smaller companies in particular should take the time to answer social media comments and emails personally whenever possible, especially regarding specific comments, questions and inquiries.

– Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising

2. When No One Has Work if the Internet Goes Down

john ramptonWhen the Internet goes down and you have 100 people in your office doing nothing but twiddling their thumbs, this is a problem. People should know that they can still get some of their job done, have leads to call, etc.

– John RamptonDue

 

3. When You Begin to Lose Business

Nicole MunozOccasionally, a client will contact us with a confusing issue. They switched to online services and lost a lot of business. Simply, online marketing means you’ve moved to a digital format, not that you can take the human element out of your operations. You’ll need to invest in educating customers on the new way to work with you, especially if it’s an older customer base.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

4. When You Don’t Understand Your Business

Adam Roozen“Too much” technology is not inherently a bad thing. It’s possible that your business can be fully automated and you can disappear. The risk comes in when you no longer understand your business because the technology is beyond your understanding. Without understanding, you don’t have control. Without control, you can’t mitigate risk.

– Adam RoozenEchidna, Inc.

5. When it Replaces Higher Level Decision Making

Randy RayessMany times technology and data allow us to make smarter decisions and can be very useful. However, there are still many higher level decisions that we have to make based on intuition and experience that will allow us to innovate and be creative.

– Randy RayessVenturePact

 

6. When You Don’t Talk to People to Sell Your Service

Andy KaruzaToo many entrepreneurs are trying to automate lead generation through CPC advertising. However, the best and most proven way of closing the deal will always be talking to people directly. This will not only create a better connection with your customer, but it will allow you to walk them through the solution and answer any objections.

– Andy KaruzaSpotSurvey

7. When You Can’t Remember Meeting Your Last Client

Nicolas GremionFor those of us that live online, it’s not often you get to meet clients or business associates in person. And while a lot can be said and done via email or even video chat, it’s not always the same. So try to get out to the odd industry event, conference or even try to get together with some clients from time to time. It will can be refreshing, inspiring and beneficial.

– Nicolas GremionFree-eBooks.net

8. When Buying New Tech Becomes the Answer to Every Problem

Manpreet SinghAdopting new tech is costly; it drains productivity as teams retrain. So, if you’re the early adopter with all the latest tech solutions (to problems you discovered during a sales pitch) like a kid watching too much TV, you may lack imagination for problem solving. Low ROI, team management, inefficiencies, CRM: there’s an app for all of that and more, but they aren’t always the answer.

– Manpreet SinghTalkLocal

9. When You’re Messaging a Colleague Right Next to You

Kofi KankamWhen you’re sitting three feet or a cubicle over from one of your colleagues who is not in a meeting and you decide to use a messaging platform to ask a quick question or have a 15-second dialogue, you know technology has taken over your business by eroding face-to-face interaction.

– Kofi KankamAdmit.me

10. When You Start to Misuse It

Thomas MinieriTechnology is about one thing: speed! Modern business moves at the speed of light. So the question is: what are you trying to make faster? If you use technology to connect with and service customers faster, then you can’t have enough of it. If you use technology to replace connecting with and servicing customers, then you’re going to have problems.

– Thomas MinieriPlanet Ballroom International, Inc.

From Broke to Breakthrough: Peter Voogd and 6 Months to 6 Figures

I recently listened to the audiobook of 6 Months to 6 Figures by Peter Voogd, and his perspective really resonated with me. And not just because we have a shared past of door-to-door sales (I sold vacuum cleaners, he sold Cutco knives). Voogd went from broke to a game changer who practically defines the word “hustle.” In his book, and in this interview, he shares keys to success for fellow entrepreneurs.

“You only know how strong you really are until being strong is the only option you have. ”

-Peter Voogd, Author of the Best Seller 6 Months to 6 Figure

Watch the full interview with Peter Voogd:

On the go? Listen to the whole interview here:

Inspiration vs. Habits.

A lot of us entrepreneurs are inspired, which helps us drive action, but Voogd emphasized the importance of productive habits: “Inspiration is short-term and feels good in the moment, but it’s hard to sustain because you don’t have the habits.” One recipe for success he described was the habit of asking himself “What did I do well? What can I do better?” after every single meeting or presentation.

Circle of Influence.

Voogd further explained how taking it upon yourself to figure out these effective habits is unnecessary: “It takes people so much longer to get to an end result than they would’ve got if they actually reached out to people that are already playing the game at a higher level. They will tell you what the best habits are.” Identify the top five people in your industry and reach out to them. Stop making excuses and, as Nike advises, just do it. You’ll probably be surprised by how easy it is to get a hold of even famous people, who can then help you drastically shorten your learning curve. Watch Voogd explain his circle of influence epiphany →

“You have to realize that everyone who has a network now once didn’t. The first step is increasing your level of certainty that you can connect with people like that, whether you have anything to offer or not.”

-Peter Voogd, Author of the Best Seller 6 Months to 6 Figures

“The Unrequired Things.”

6monthsto6figuresAlong with establishing effective habits, Voogd spoke about how going above and beyond is the key. One way to go the extra mile is having utter confidence in selling yourself: “You have to believe wholeheartedly that the product is better for [your customer], and they are better off having it than if they don’t.”

The second unrequired thing is writing down the internal reasons that drive you to do what you do. You might come up with 20 to 30 reasons, then boil them down to four or five core ones. Voogd underscored that reasons come first, results come second: “Too many people just go after results, without having strong enough reasons, and if they go through challenges, they don’t have any reasons to pull them through the challenge.”

The Million Dollar Question.

A great story Voogd shared was from when he was a sales manager in his early 20s, striving to hit a $1 million sales goal that was thought to be unattainable. You can probably guess the outcome, but don’t miss how he did it →

“Anything is possible to those who value their goals, their dreams, and their visions over their current excuses or reality.”

-Peter Voogd, Author of the Best Seller 6 Months to 6 Figure

The One-Page Productivity Planner

Voogd shared the details of his one-page productivity planner. The exercise here is to simplify and focus on what really matters. Get the gist below, download his template here, or watch him explain it 

  1. Brief vision-statement. What’s your ideal outcome in six months?
  2. Your BIG 5 Goals for the next 12 months.
  3. Your Top Five Reasons, the most powerful ones that drive you the most.
  4. Your Key Values, to connect to what’s most important to you. For example, a few of Voogd’s are are flexibility, autonomy, and impact.

Download the 1-Page Productivity Sheet >>

Talk about impact! The Game Changers Academy Voogd founded has trained and inspired over 4,500 entrepreneurs, and his podcasts, videos, websites and social media reach over 200,000 people monthly.

Want to learn even more from outstanding young entrepreneurs?

On July 30th, I’ll take the stage with Santiago Jaramillo, one of Inc Magazine’s “30 Under 30″ for a special launch event in the brand new offices of his growing mobile tech company, Bluebridge. Get your tickets now!

Peter Voogd Interview Transcript show

11 Ways to Handle Objections When Selling Your Product

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

How do you handle objections during the sales process?

1. Stay Positive and Focus on Your Strengths

When discussing capabilities and differences with clients about competitors, always highlight the competitive advantages and increased capabilities of what your company offers. If your focus is degrading your competitors, it comes across as petty and focuses the client on the wrong brand, partner and service provider.

– Parker PowersBig Brand Media

2. Explain That You’re the Expert

It happens often; a client doesn’t want to sign on for a marketing service that I know they need. When this happens, I make sure to fully establish that they are the fill-in-the-blank expert, but I’m the marketing expert. I know what I’m doing, I know what works and I am going to be honest about that. I’m not selling frisbees here — I’m selling services that get leads.

– Maren HoganRed Branch Media

3. Pause, Listen and Address

Naturally, hearing “no” can induce anxiety. Personally, I pause to ensure I provide a composed reaction. But before I do that, I also listen carefully to what the prospective customer is genuinely hesitant about. In many cases, they are not upfront with their true reservations. After digging deeper and identifying the real underlying problems, I address each and every one honestly and openly.

– Firas KittanehAmerisleep

4. Discuss Specific Cases

During a sales call or meeting, the potential client might disagree with an idea or method of doing things. I like to bring up facts to support my team’s methods. Talk about how you’ve helped past clients in a way that relates to them. If they still object, take a moment to listen to their reasons. It’s better to keep the relationship solid than to force something upon your potential client.

– Michael QuinnYellow Bridge Interactive

5. Build Crediblity by Telling Prospects Not to Hire You

To build trust with a prospect, simply state that you may not be the right partner for them. Provide suggestions for other types of services they can hire instead. This way you’re still providing value even if you don’t end up working with them. Most prospects will be surprised at this answer and will genuinely come to trust your organization. This will help possibly land the sale either now or in the future.

– Brian HonigmanBrianHonigman.com

6. Identify the Nature of Their Objections and Respond Accordingly

First, I try to determine if the person I’m talking to is really a qualified prospect. If the person objects because they really aren’t a good match for what I’m selling, I acknowledge this and politely end the discussion. On the other hand, if the objection is due to a misunderstanding, I try to supply the missing information that will help them understand what I have to offer.

– Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising

7. Prepare Answers

Most objections you encounter are the same: it’s too expensive, now is not a good time, etc. Prepare for them by coming up with succinct answers (1-3 sentences). When the client brings up that objection, you can respond promptly without having to mentally compute your answer. Embrace objections. They move the sales process forward and help you better understand the prospect.

– Steli EftiClose.io

8. Find the Real Reason for the Objection

A customer will often give you two reasons for an objection: the reason that sounds good and the real reason. Most people dance with the first. The key is to listen and ask guided questions to help understand the real reason they are reluctant to move forward. Perhaps it’s something you can address and help them understand for themselves.

– Andrew ThomasSkyBell Technologies, Inc.

9. Be Proactive

The truth is we likely know what the objections or challenges will be if we have done our homework. Rather than exclusively selling with the positive, I address these possible objections head-on. It shows I’m paying attention and truly want more than their business — I want a relationship. On their end, it builds trust and allows them to be open to other concerns.

– Suzanne SmithSocial Impact Architects

10. (Re)connect With Success Metrics

If someone is unsure at the end of a sales call, I like to ask, “What results would you need to achieve from our engagement to make it a priceless, grand slam investment?” That question directly connects them to what might make the financial commitment worth it, and has a great secondary benefit: it will help us get crystal clear on exactly how to proceed if/when they do enroll.

– Jenny BlakeJenny Blake

11. Sell Your Knowledge, Not Your Product

Personalize your sales pitch using your potential customer’s concerns as a refining tool. Listen to what they are saying and acknowledge that they have a legitimate concern by repeating it back to them. This may feel strange at first, but studies show that hearing someone else say a problem aloud conveys a sense of understanding. Finally, tailor a solution to the specific situation.

– Simon CasutoeLearning Mind

16 Things Recent Grads Who Want to Work at Startups Should Know

Tons of fresh grads want to live the startup life, but what should you know before you jump into your first post-grad startup? 16 entrepreneurs offer their best tips.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give recent grads hoping to work for a startup?

Rebecca Zorowitz1. Be Nimble and Ready to Work Hard

At a startup, you will be required to wear many hats and to make order out of chaos. Startups typically don’t have a concrete infrastructure already in place. Working for a startup is not for people who need a distinctive job description. It is for people who are nimble, ready to roll with the punches and ready to work their hearts out. Every day will be different, and that is part of the thrill.
Rebecca Zorowitz, Ooh La La Brands

 

Travis Steffen2. Don’t Scour Job Boards

If I were a recent grad, I’d think about the organization I’d kill to be a part of. I’d then make it my life’s mission to get a meeting with an executive at that company to let them know that I’m the perfect person to work for them — even if a position doesn’t exist — and I’d work for free until a position opened up. This shows a passion that most employers never see. I’d hire you on the spot.
Travis Steffen, Cyber Superpowers

 

jeff epstein3. Be Useful and Overdeliver

You’ll have the opportunity to wear many hats. Make an impact and learn as much as you can — embrace it! Earn a reputation for being a tireless worker and exceed their expectations.
Jeff Epstein, Ambassador

 

 

Ashley Mady4. Seize Opportunities

Be prepared to do anything and everything! The more you do, the more valuable you’ll become. Ease the life of everyone around you, seize every opportunity and always do more than you are asked.
Ashley Mady, Brandberry

 

 

Doug Bend5. Show Your Startup Passion

Startups want to hire someone who loves the product and is a great fit for their team and culture. Do your homework on the startup and the founders before your interview, and discuss why you would be great fit and why you believe in their product. Most importantly, you’ll likely be working longer hours for a smaller salary, so be honest with yourself about whether that belief is genuine.
Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

 

brewster6. Immerse Yourself

It’s quite easy these days to expose yourself to entrepreneurship as a student. With resources like Startup Weekend, Hackathons and online courses, you can fully immerse yourself in startup culture, thinking and product development before working at one. As a hiring manager, I look for recent grads who’ve demonstrated interest and understanding by immersing themselves in entrepreneurship.
Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social

 

John Rood7. Learn Technical Skills

Even if you plan to work in marketing or business development, you’ll be taken more seriously and will have more opportunities if you understand basic coding. There are lots of opportunities to learn, either for free or for a small investment. If you aren’t willing/able to commit to learning hard skills, the startup life might not be for you.
John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation

 

Caitlin McCabe8. Don’t Be Afraid to Jump Around

Startup cultures can range from corporate to frat house, so don’t be afraid to look into another startup if the culture isn’t a fit. Teams at startups tend to spend a lot of time together so it’s important that the organization structure is a fit.
Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding

 

Tracy Foster9. Concentrate on Your Cover Letter

Make sure you have a strong cover letter. Resumes are great, but a strong cover letter does so much more to communicate who you are, what your level of interest is in the startup and why you’d be a great fit for the team. Be sure to have someone you trust proofread for you.
Tracy Foster, ONA

 

Maren Hogan10. Get Social

Startups are all over social; it’s one of their biggest marketing tools. Follow and connect with them on every social platform they have. This gets your name, face and personality in front of them before you apply.
Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

 

 

Santiago Halty11. Embrace Diversification

In a startup, you do not have the luxury of specializing in one specific task. For example, if you are doing sales you may end up doing sales, marketing, outreach and social media. Embrace this diversification as it provides a wealth of opportunities for experience that would not be possible in a well-established company.
Santiago Halty, Senda Athletics

 

Erica Bell12. Follow Your Passion

Working for a startup takes a tremendous amount of drive and endurance — you’ll need passion to survive! Working alongside a team of people dedicated to a shared passion is extremely rewarding, so do your research and apply for jobs at companies that really excite you. Excitement is crucial to your success!
Erica Bell, Hukkster

13. Give First

Oisin HanrahanYou may not find their job postings listed on the typical career sites, so you’ll need to get creative and contribute to the community first. Do your research. Discover the startups that interest you and what you can do to help them.
Oisin Hanrahan, Handybook

 

 

Kim Kaupe14. Be Prepared to be Thrifty

One piece of advice I would give to college grads is be ready to take a pay cut compared to your friends headed off into the corporate grind. Startups are usually tight on cash and offer other incentives like flexible hours, profit-sharing, or remote working abilities. Be ready to get thrifty during your first year out of college. You can still “live the dream,” just on a startup budget!
Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

 

doreen-bloch15. Pretend You’re the CEO

Startups are often lean on people, funds and resources, so if you’re working for a startup, chances are you’ll wear many hats. In order for the startup to thrive, everyone needs to be dedicated. If you’re as strong an advocate for the company as the CEO is, if you’re selling as hard as the CEO and if you know the business just as well as the CEO, you’ll see a reward when the startup takes off.
Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

 

Gerard Murphy16. Live at Home

I understand you don’t want to move into your parents’ basement, but having a free or low cost place to rest, a home-cooked meal and the support of family can be a godsend. Working at a startup is wonderful, but the salaries will be less than your friends will make. You won’t be able to afford to work at a startup if you also live in an expensive apartment. Save the money, live with mom.
Gerard Murphy, Mosaic Storage Systems, Inc.

16 Things Recent Grads Who Want to Work at Startups Should Know

Tons of fresh grads want to live the startup life, but what should you know before you jump into your first post-grad startup? 16 entrepreneurs offer their best tips.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give recent grads hoping to work for a startup?

Rebecca Zorowitz1. Be Nimble and Ready to Work Hard

At a startup, you will be required to wear many hats and to make order out of chaos. Startups typically don’t have a concrete infrastructure already in place. Working for a startup is not for people who need a distinctive job description. It is for people who are nimble, ready to roll with the punches and ready to work their hearts out. Every day will be different, and that is part of the thrill.
Rebecca Zorowitz, Ooh La La Brands

 

Travis Steffen2. Don’t Scour Job Boards

If I were a recent grad, I’d think about the organization I’d kill to be a part of. I’d then make it my life’s mission to get a meeting with an executive at that company to let them know that I’m the perfect person to work for them — even if a position doesn’t exist — and I’d work for free until a position opened up. This shows a passion that most employers never see. I’d hire you on the spot.
Travis Steffen, Cyber Superpowers

 

jeff epstein3. Be Useful and Overdeliver

You’ll have the opportunity to wear many hats. Make an impact and learn as much as you can — embrace it! Earn a reputation for being a tireless worker and exceed their expectations.
Jeff Epstein, Ambassador

 

 

Ashley Mady4. Seize Opportunities

Be prepared to do anything and everything! The more you do, the more valuable you’ll become. Ease the life of everyone around you, seize every opportunity and always do more than you are asked.
Ashley Mady, Brandberry

 

 

Doug Bend5. Show Your Startup Passion

Startups want to hire someone who loves the product and is a great fit for their team and culture. Do your homework on the startup and the founders before your interview, and discuss why you would be great fit and why you believe in their product. Most importantly, you’ll likely be working longer hours for a smaller salary, so be honest with yourself about whether that belief is genuine.
Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

 

brewster6. Immerse Yourself

It’s quite easy these days to expose yourself to entrepreneurship as a student. With resources like Startup Weekend, Hackathons and online courses, you can fully immerse yourself in startup culture, thinking and product development before working at one. As a hiring manager, I look for recent grads who’ve demonstrated interest and understanding by immersing themselves in entrepreneurship.
Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social

 

John Rood7. Learn Technical Skills

Even if you plan to work in marketing or business development, you’ll be taken more seriously and will have more opportunities if you understand basic coding. There are lots of opportunities to learn, either for free or for a small investment. If you aren’t willing/able to commit to learning hard skills, the startup life might not be for you.
John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation

 

Caitlin McCabe8. Don’t Be Afraid to Jump Around

Startup cultures can range from corporate to frat house, so don’t be afraid to look into another startup if the culture isn’t a fit. Teams at startups tend to spend a lot of time together so it’s important that the organization structure is a fit.
Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding

 

Tracy Foster9. Concentrate on Your Cover Letter

Make sure you have a strong cover letter. Resumes are great, but a strong cover letter does so much more to communicate who you are, what your level of interest is in the startup and why you’d be a great fit for the team. Be sure to have someone you trust proofread for you.
Tracy Foster, ONA

 

Maren Hogan10. Get Social

Startups are all over social; it’s one of their biggest marketing tools. Follow and connect with them on every social platform they have. This gets your name, face and personality in front of them before you apply.
Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

 

 

Santiago Halty11. Embrace Diversification

In a startup, you do not have the luxury of specializing in one specific task. For example, if you are doing sales you may end up doing sales, marketing, outreach and social media. Embrace this diversification as it provides a wealth of opportunities for experience that would not be possible in a well-established company.
Santiago Halty, Senda Athletics

 

Erica Bell12. Follow Your Passion

Working for a startup takes a tremendous amount of drive and endurance — you’ll need passion to survive! Working alongside a team of people dedicated to a shared passion is extremely rewarding, so do your research and apply for jobs at companies that really excite you. Excitement is crucial to your success!
Erica Bell, Hukkster

13. Give First

Oisin HanrahanYou may not find their job postings listed on the typical career sites, so you’ll need to get creative and contribute to the community first. Do your research. Discover the startups that interest you and what you can do to help them.
Oisin Hanrahan, Handybook

 

 

Kim Kaupe14. Be Prepared to be Thrifty

One piece of advice I would give to college grads is be ready to take a pay cut compared to your friends headed off into the corporate grind. Startups are usually tight on cash and offer other incentives like flexible hours, profit-sharing, or remote working abilities. Be ready to get thrifty during your first year out of college. You can still “live the dream,” just on a startup budget!
Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

 

doreen-bloch15. Pretend You’re the CEO

Startups are often lean on people, funds and resources, so if you’re working for a startup, chances are you’ll wear many hats. In order for the startup to thrive, everyone needs to be dedicated. If you’re as strong an advocate for the company as the CEO is, if you’re selling as hard as the CEO and if you know the business just as well as the CEO, you’ll see a reward when the startup takes off.
Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

 

Gerard Murphy16. Live at Home

I understand you don’t want to move into your parents’ basement, but having a free or low cost place to rest, a home-cooked meal and the support of family can be a godsend. Working at a startup is wonderful, but the salaries will be less than your friends will make. You won’t be able to afford to work at a startup if you also live in an expensive apartment. Save the money, live with mom.
Gerard Murphy, Mosaic Storage Systems, Inc.

The Top Qualities to Look for in Your Very First Hire

Your company is up and running – or at least crawling – and now you get to hire your first employee. You’ve probably worked with a lot of people, maybe you’ve even hired a few, but this is a whole new ball game. This person is patient zero of your startup. You need to make sure you get it right! So what should your startup look for in a great hire?

What is the no. 1 quality I should look for in my very first hire and why?

Kelly Azevedo1. Amazing Communication Skills

No matter your industry or the position for your very first hire, you absolutely need someone who can communicate well. When instructions are unclear or incomplete, you’ll want an employee who asks for clarification. If there’s an error or you haven’t accounted for something in the business, you need a team member who speaks up with confidence. And if this hire is customer facing in any way, respectful communication is critical.

– Kelly AzevedoShe’s Got Systems

Phil Chen

2. Work Ethic
Your first hire sets the tone for future hires, so it’s important to find someone with a great work ethic. Having such a quality ensures you can depend on this person and he or she will not need constant encouragement to complete tasks and duties. Small organizations don’t allow to much time for continual guidance, so having an employee who works hard and pushes through is key.

– Phil ChenSystems Watch

Oisin Hanrahan

3. Smarts (That Exceed Your Own)

We have the motto at Handybook: “Recruit smarter than you.”  We believe in hiring the best and the brightest and we admit what we don’t know all. That’s crucial for both the first hire and every hire after that.

Oisin HanrahanHandybook

Mike McGee

4. A Growth Mindset

The No. 1 quality I look for when hiring is someone with a growth mindset. A person with a growth mindset understands that learning never stops. They can always get better at their craft and improve in other areas. A person with a fixed mindset believes that they’ve learned everything they need to and is not open to change. This can not only hamper the quality of their work, but can cause team dynamic issues in the long term.

– Mike McGeeThe Starter League

5. Coachable Foresight

Joshua Lee
The No. 1 quality I look for is ‘coachable foresight,’ whether I’m hiring an employee or contractor. I want them to be able to see where they’re going. I will share with them where the company’s going. Then, if they have foresight, they’ll see in their mind’s eye how they fit in. They’ll have an idea what steps they need to take and be coachable enough to achieve the outcome they want.

– Joshua LeeStandOut Authority

Kim Kaupe
6. Humility

Your first hire should be humble and willing to learn along side of you. At a startup where dynamics and work is changing day to day, it is important to have someone who is humble enough to say, “I don’t know the answer but I will spend the next two hours figuring it out.” Having a know-it-all or someone who is bullheaded will cause your growing company to miss out on opportunities to engage in faster, stronger and bigger developments.

– Kim KaupeZinePak

Kevin Xu7. Consistency

One of the most important characteristics for me is consistency. It is important to evaluate a person’s working ethic based on how much he respects and is serious about a job opportunity. Choosing between ability and faith, I will first look into faith and how you can retain the person by giving him faith in you.

– Kevin XuMebo international

john rampton8. A Complementary Skill Set

hire someone just like you because you get along perfectly. Hire someone who is different than you. If you’re an introvert, you will need an extrovert. If you’re a marketing guy, hire a programmer. Hire someone with different skills.

– John RamptonAdogy

Manpreet Singh9. Complete the Puzzle

First, picture the qualities most important to  your business. Then, look for each of those qualities in yourself. If you’re being honest, you won’t find all of them. The missing ones are the qualities you should look for in your first hire. In fact, that same principle can be applied to every other hire after that. The hiring process is like completing the puzzle you envision. Fill openings with what’s missing.

– Manpreet SinghSeva Call

Phil Dumontet

10. Hunger

People can learn your business, but a genuine drive to achieve great things comes from within.

– Phil DumontetDASHED

 

Jeff Mcgregor
11. Experience

My co-founder and I burned a lot of valuable time trying to learn the ropes on our own. Once we started hiring more experienced talent, we realized that we were spending less time shooting in the dark, and more time building a stronger healthier business. If there’s one thing that allows me to sleep better at night, it’s knowing I’ve hired the right people to run their respective divisions within the company.

– Jeff McGregorDash

Andrew Thomas12. Passion

For your first hire, consider hiring someone who has similar levels of passion. This is not just limited to the product or industry. This person should share your same passion for working hard, creating something amazing and delivering the very best experience or benefits to customers. They should share a passion for the process, not just the destination.

– Andrew ThomasSkyBell Technologies, Inc.

David Ehrenberg13. Sales Skills

Look for a rainmaker who can sell your company’s vision when you’re looking to build traction and start generating users. Technical skills will always be available, but sales and relationship-building skills are much tougher to find.

– David EhrenbergEarly Growth Financial Services

Andrew Schrage14. Flexibility

Things often change at a moment’s notice in today’s business world. Plus, the very first hire will probably be asked to complete many different responsibilities and tasks, some of which they might not possess much knowledge about. In order to be productive, workers must be able to adapt to change rapidly and think quickly on their feet.

– Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

15 Books That Will Change the Way You Run Your Business

It’s the most common question many successful entrepreneurs receive… What are you reading?  15 entrepreneurs across the nation share the books that changed their businesses forever.

What’s one book every entrepreneur should pick up today? What was your big takeaway from it?

Brittany Hodak1. “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande

In this fascinating book, Atul Gawande talks about how a few simple, well-made checklists can reduce the complexity of tasks. Checklists help automate processes and are a simple, inexpensive failsafe against stupid or “careless” mistakes. My big takeaway was that by creating checklists for tasks that are often replicated, you free up time and mental energy for more complex and challenging tasks.
Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

 

Rob Fulton2. “The Einstein Factor” by Win Wenger

Everyone should read The Einstein Factor by Win Wenger. It’s packed full of ways to become more creative at solving problems, which has helped me miss many land mines in business. The big take away: You’re able to solve your toughest problems if you’re not focusing on the problem, but focusing on creative ways of coming up with better questions to ask that make the problem irrelevant.
Rob Fulton, Matikis

 

Patrick Conley3. “No B.S. Direct Marketing” by Dan Kennedy

Dan is like the godfather of direct marketing. The strategy laid out in his No B.S. Direct Marketing book will help any entrepreneur develop a game plan to generate repeatable and reliable sales through advertising the smart way. Ads are a quick way to blow through a lot of cash, but if you follow Dan’s advice you will quickly learn how to see a positive ROI on your marketing efforts.
Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

 

Doug Bend4. “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

The best way to develop strong business relationships is proactively think of ways to help others. Instead of asking for this or that, try asking how you can help them. You’ll be amazed by how much you help yourself by constantly thinking of ways to help others.
Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

 

Darrah Brustein5. “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber

This was one of the first business” books I read many years ago and it’s always stuck with me. It’s so sensible yet so meaningful. Unless your business can continue to function as well without you there, you’ve only created a job for yourself and the company cannot live on. Strive to make yourself replaceable in the company.
Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

 

 

Mark Krassner5. “When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead” by Jerry Weintraub

So many of us focus on books that teach us how to do something. I’m all for that, but sometimes it’s better to supplement that reading with solid life experience from someone that’s done it before. When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead is a biography written by Jerry Weintraub, one of hollywood’s most successful agents and producers. It reminded me of the importance of relationships.
Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central

 

Mark Cenicola7. “The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig

Many entrepreneurs think that by studying other successful companies or following a particular set of rules, they can achieve success. In The Halo Effect, Phil Rosenzweig unmasks the delusions that are commonly found in business so you can avoid emulating a particular strategy that worked for one company, but may have no relevance to the success of your own company.
Mark Cenicola, BannerView.com

 

Jason Grill8. “Prescription for Success” by Anne Morgan

This book focuses on the life and values of Ewing Marion Kauffman, one of the most genuine and most successful entrepreneurs in the history of the United States. My big takeaway was Mr. K’s philosophies. 1. Treat others as you want to be treated. 2. Share life’s rewards with those who make them possible. 3. Give back to society. It’s the right way to act, but also the smartest way to be successful.
Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

Aaron Schwartz9. “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

Patrick Vlaskovitz recommended The War of Art  by Steven Pressfield. It’s amazing — a must read for anyone who is creating anything (a startup, a play, etc.). Pressfield writes about “resistance,” the thing that makes it tough to even work sometimes. My big takeaway, frankly, was that I’m not alone in my struggles. I can’t be A+ all of the time, and that’s okay.
Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

 

Fabian Kaempfer10. “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin

Whether you’re into fantasy fiction or not, this is a great book that will give your mind a break from thinking about business while providing you with one essential takeaway that you can apply to your startup: strategy. The story of Game of Thrones is like ten games of chess happening on the same board. Learn to see the big picture while understanding the role every action plays in that outcome.
Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

 

Chris Kane11. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

You wont be able to put this book down or stop talking about it once you start reading it! This is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s a story about talking risks and following one’s “personal legend.” The major theme in the book is that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and when you listen to your heart and follow your dreams things will work out.
Chris Kane, Bounceboards LLC

 

Joseph P. DeWoody12. “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

I first read this book during my MBA studies, and there are many lessons readers can take away from it. It is a valuable book that teaches readers how to make decisions to succeed in management and business. The book’s main focus, the Theory of Constraints, has impacted my business and me the most, though.
Joseph P. DeWoody, Clear Fork Royalty

 

Windsor Hanger13. “Predictable Revenue” by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler

Another entrepreneur recently recommended I read Predictable Revenue and I am so glad that I took his advice! The book is one of the most helpful I have ever read. If your business involves sales (and honestly, what business doesn’t), you should get the person in charge of building your sales team to read this book.
Windsor Hanger, Her Campus Media

 

Alexander Mendeluk14. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

The distance between where we stand now and achieving whatever we desire is only as great as we perceive it to be. While this might be understood on a cognitive level, believing it on a visceral level is life work. Being able to visualize what you want, believing that you can get it and following a plan in order to do so is the formula for success in any great life endeavor.
Alexander Mendeluk, SpiritHoods

 

 

Matthew Moisan15. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino

I would suggest, The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. In the book he says, “I will live this day as if it is my last…I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw good after bad?”
Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal P.C.

15 Books That Will Change the Way You Run Your Business

It’s the most common question many successful entrepreneurs receive… What are you reading?  15 entrepreneurs across the nation share the books that changed their businesses forever.

What’s one book every entrepreneur should pick up today? What was your big takeaway from it?

Brittany Hodak1. “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande

In this fascinating book, Atul Gawande talks about how a few simple, well-made checklists can reduce the complexity of tasks. Checklists help automate processes and are a simple, inexpensive failsafe against stupid or “careless” mistakes. My big takeaway was that by creating checklists for tasks that are often replicated, you free up time and mental energy for more complex and challenging tasks.
Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

 

Rob Fulton2. “The Einstein Factor” by Win Wenger

Everyone should read The Einstein Factor by Win Wenger. It’s packed full of ways to become more creative at solving problems, which has helped me miss many land mines in business. The big take away: You’re able to solve your toughest problems if you’re not focusing on the problem, but focusing on creative ways of coming up with better questions to ask that make the problem irrelevant.
Rob Fulton, Matikis

 

Patrick Conley3. “No B.S. Direct Marketing” by Dan Kennedy

Dan is like the godfather of direct marketing. The strategy laid out in his No B.S. Direct Marketing book will help any entrepreneur develop a game plan to generate repeatable and reliable sales through advertising the smart way. Ads are a quick way to blow through a lot of cash, but if you follow Dan’s advice you will quickly learn how to see a positive ROI on your marketing efforts.
Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

 

Doug Bend4. “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

The best way to develop strong business relationships is proactively think of ways to help others. Instead of asking for this or that, try asking how you can help them. You’ll be amazed by how much you help yourself by constantly thinking of ways to help others.
Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

 

Darrah Brustein5. “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber

This was one of the first business” books I read many years ago and it’s always stuck with me. It’s so sensible yet so meaningful. Unless your business can continue to function as well without you there, you’ve only created a job for yourself and the company cannot live on. Strive to make yourself replaceable in the company.
Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

 

 

Mark Krassner5. “When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead” by Jerry Weintraub

So many of us focus on books that teach us how to do something. I’m all for that, but sometimes it’s better to supplement that reading with solid life experience from someone that’s done it before. When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead is a biography written by Jerry Weintraub, one of hollywood’s most successful agents and producers. It reminded me of the importance of relationships.
Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central

 

Mark Cenicola7. “The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig

Many entrepreneurs think that by studying other successful companies or following a particular set of rules, they can achieve success. In The Halo Effect, Phil Rosenzweig unmasks the delusions that are commonly found in business so you can avoid emulating a particular strategy that worked for one company, but may have no relevance to the success of your own company.
Mark Cenicola, BannerView.com

 

Jason Grill8. “Prescription for Success” by Anne Morgan

This book focuses on the life and values of Ewing Marion Kauffman, one of the most genuine and most successful entrepreneurs in the history of the United States. My big takeaway was Mr. K’s philosophies. 1. Treat others as you want to be treated. 2. Share life’s rewards with those who make them possible. 3. Give back to society. It’s the right way to act, but also the smartest way to be successful.
Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

Aaron Schwartz9. “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

Patrick Vlaskovitz recommended The War of Art  by Steven Pressfield. It’s amazing — a must read for anyone who is creating anything (a startup, a play, etc.). Pressfield writes about “resistance,” the thing that makes it tough to even work sometimes. My big takeaway, frankly, was that I’m not alone in my struggles. I can’t be A+ all of the time, and that’s okay.
Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

 

Fabian Kaempfer10. “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin

Whether you’re into fantasy fiction or not, this is a great book that will give your mind a break from thinking about business while providing you with one essential takeaway that you can apply to your startup: strategy. The story of Game of Thrones is like ten games of chess happening on the same board. Learn to see the big picture while understanding the role every action plays in that outcome.
Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

 

Chris Kane11. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

You wont be able to put this book down or stop talking about it once you start reading it! This is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s a story about talking risks and following one’s “personal legend.” The major theme in the book is that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and when you listen to your heart and follow your dreams things will work out.
Chris Kane, Bounceboards LLC

 

Joseph P. DeWoody12. “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

I first read this book during my MBA studies, and there are many lessons readers can take away from it. It is a valuable book that teaches readers how to make decisions to succeed in management and business. The book’s main focus, the Theory of Constraints, has impacted my business and me the most, though.
Joseph P. DeWoody, Clear Fork Royalty

 

Windsor Hanger13. “Predictable Revenue” by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler

Another entrepreneur recently recommended I read Predictable Revenue and I am so glad that I took his advice! The book is one of the most helpful I have ever read. If your business involves sales (and honestly, what business doesn’t), you should get the person in charge of building your sales team to read this book.
Windsor Hanger, Her Campus Media

 

Alexander Mendeluk14. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

The distance between where we stand now and achieving whatever we desire is only as great as we perceive it to be. While this might be understood on a cognitive level, believing it on a visceral level is life work. Being able to visualize what you want, believing that you can get it and following a plan in order to do so is the formula for success in any great life endeavor.
Alexander Mendeluk, SpiritHoods

 

 

Matthew Moisan15. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino

I would suggest, The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. In the book he says, “I will live this day as if it is my last…I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw good after bad?”
Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal P.C.

When to Quit: Why It’s Good to Live Life Like a Lean Startup

Six months ago, I quietly left my role leading product and marketing at a startup.

Social Reactor received most of my energy, focus, and time in 2013. And it’s taken the past half of a year to find the perspective on what made it an exceptional learning experience and why parting ways was the right decision. high-school-bball

Back in high school, my basketball coach used to shout like a maniac during the end of the fourth quarter, “Leave it all on the floor!”

It’s easy to find the energy right after tip-off, but when do you dig deep and give it everything you’ve got? The isolation of entrepreneurship, late nights, and ramen meals can leave us feeling empty if there isn’t a big “win” at the end of the game.

Despite building some beta software with the team and building strong partnerships with incredible clients, I wasn’t able to get Social Reactor to where I wanted to see the business by the fourth quarter. But I never questioned myself: “Did I leave it all on the floor?”

There’s only one way I’ve found to be that confident in a decision. And in some ways, it’s like living your life like a Lean Startup.

Build, measure, learn.

That simple phrase has evolved from my startup mantra to my life mantra.

Define your hypothesis and why you think taking a specific action will ultimately help you reach your life goals. You should know why you’re doing it and how you’re keeping score.

If you’re not checking in regularly with yourself, you’re missing the measurement part. So, define check-in points. I like to do this quarterly because it gives me the freedom to keep my eye on the ball during sprints. But it also ensures that I’m always learning and getting better.

Pivot (when necessary).

When I laced up and got into my last game, I knew what it would take to win. I also knew that, as with any business, there was no guarantee of victory.

But, I defined the rules by which I’d play and what I would do if initial assumptions weren’t validated. During my time with Social Reactor, we had a lot of variables to manage. But we still found ways to work together to run our tests by eliminating uncertainty. We tried new plays and reviewed game tape frequently.

But ultimately, pivoting is about overcoming obstacles, getting around the defender, and finding a lane to the hoop. It takes a whole team and an entire playbook to consistently put points on the board.

Fail faster.

You shouldn’t always wait until the end of a quarter to changeup your strategy. There are a lot of reasons you might need to call a timeout, for instance when you start seeing most or all of these happen:

  • when you don’t feel confident enough to recruit the best people and partners you’ve worked with
  • when you’re wasting time fighting the wrong wars internally
  • when the team is no longer behind the vision and you don’t have the energy to get people running in the same direction again
  • when you start spending time worrying about investors losing their money or your team wasting their time
  • when it feels hard all the time

That last one is important because it should feel easy when you’re winning. If you never feel like you’re winning, you’re probably doing something wrong. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to continue down a lane. So, call a time out when you need it. Photo Credit: Indianapolis Monthly

Silicon Valley glorifies failure. But I assure you, it is not glamorous.

When the buzzer went off for me, I was burnt out.

I was lucky to have the chance to learn directly from the inventor of voicemail and play the game of business with an all-star team. I’m so lucky that my friends, family, and business relationships supported my leap back into the venture-backed business arena. Because it really takes a whole program (fans and all) to win championships.

Last year, I left it all on the floor, giving my all for a startup that I believed in. Not only did I learn a ton about social media and content, but I got valuable perspective in product leadership and building a business with a vision.

I stayed under the radar to give myself time to reflect and to define the next game I want to play. I’m excited about the momentum we’re building with Verge and the successes we’ve already seen this year in our community.

And for tomorrow’s post, I’ll share with you what game we’re winning and why it’s taking me half way around the world.

13 Skills You Should Learn Before Starting Your Business

We all have business skills we wish we learned sooner. For some it’s sales, for others it’s office politics. For me it’s how to fix a damn paper jam. Regardless of your situation, one thing is clear: We all could stand to learn things sooner rather than later. Today, 13 Entrepreneurs answer the question:

What’s one skill you wish you learned earlier that would’ve helped you launch your business?

John Rood1. Basic Bookkeeping

Starting as a solopreneur, it was easy to keep books in a simple spreadsheet. However, I kept at that for a year longer than I should have. It’s worth investing a couple thousand upfront to get someone to set up your books and accounts the right way.
John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation

 

Corey Blake2. Grace

I have always been agenda driven. As I get older, I find that I’m learning the skill of grace, which is about being present with people where they are, with no agenda. So rather than approaching sales from the standpoint of closing, grace allows me to approach sales from the standpoint of alignment. That saves massive headaches down the road, breeds confidence and adds value, which adds revenue.
Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

 

Mark Krassner3. Leadership

When I first started out, I thought that leadership was about being nice and making people’s lives as easy as possible. While I do still think it’s paramount to be kind and compassionate, I’ve learned that leading means challenging people, and encouraging them to do something that’s outside of their comfort zone. This perspective shift has helped accelerate my business at high-octane speeds.
Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central

 

Martina Welke4. Adaptability

In retrospect, I think one of the things that slowed us down in the early days of our business was our attachment to our original vision and expectations of how it would evolve. Instead of learning from moments of resistance along the way, we tried to force our assumptions into reality. Now, I try to remain open to surprises and change course accordingly.
Martina Welke, Zealyst

 

Ryan Flanker5. Focus

Avoid spreading yourself too thin and focus on one thing instead. At VerbalizeIt, we try to avoid the word “and,” as in, “we focus on this and this and this.” We made mistakes early on by trying to create a solution for every customer use case. Eventually we learned that doing so was not sustainable. It’s okay to say no and to focus on one’s core vision.
Ryan Frankel, VerbalizeIt

 

dave-nevogt6. Reverse Thinking

Earlier in my career and when I first launched my business, I thought very much in terms of the “next step” without giving as much attention to the impact those decisions would have on my business down the road. Now, my decision making process involves reverse thinking. It works by taking the desired end result and building the required steps leading up to it.
Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

 

Brittany Hodak7. Graphic Design

I own a content creation company but have no design experience. When it’s difficult to express an idea or concept, I have to try to hack my thoughts together on paper or in PowerPoint. I wish I’d taken the time to learn InDesign in college.
Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

 

Andrew Thomas8. Risk Assessment

The ability to accurately assess risk is a skill I have learned over time yet wish I had learned earlier. I can certainly point to opportunities that I did not pursue because I overestimated the risk. You can take a few more chances when you are young and I wish I had approached those opportunities from the “why not” perspective that I do now.
Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Technologies, Inc.

 

Brennan White9. Sustained Networking

Early on in my career, I thought of networking as a discreet task that could be started and finished. I’ve come to learn that networking never ends and is simply an extension of relationship (and friendship) building, which is something I’ve always been great at. Once I took the label away and realized I already possessed the needed skills, my businesses have taken off in new, exciting ways.
Brennan White, Watchtower

 

Liam Martin10. Employee Management

The skill I’m really trying to learn is how to become a good manager. I’ve discovered that employee management is a lot more difficult than I thought, and that to continue to scale I have to spend more time managing people than actually doing tasks. For entrepreneurs this can be difficult, and if I had worked under a good manager previously it probably would have helped me considerably now.
Liam Martin, Staff.com

 

Janis Krums11. Coding

Finding quality developers inexpensively is really difficult. Had I known how to code, I could have not only built a prototype of our business model much faster, but also increased the rate at which we developed the actual platform. What at times has taken months to complete would have taken days — which would have allowed the company to quickly understand what worked and what didn’t.
Janis Krums, OPPRTUNITY

 

Juha Liikala12. Delegation

Money is always tight in the startup phase. Don’t let that lure you into trying to do everything yourself. Focus on your strengths, utilize them and delegate other mission critical roles. You might have to hire a professional, but when compared to the fact that you might not launch at all because of your DIY approach? It’s just not worth it. Value your time and delegate.
Juha Liikala, Stripped Bare Media

 

Ioannis Verdelis13. Marketing Savvy

I should have learned more about marketing and PR. It is now a strong part of our business, but we learned how to do this by making dozens of mistakes first.
Ioannis Verdelis, Fleksy