10 Ways to Make Your ROI More Measurable

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.

Some customer service ROI figures are too broad and unusable. What’s one way to make it small, measurable and impactful?

 

1. Start with a Net Promoter Score.

The Net Promoter Score is a very easy way to measure customer satisfaction. Customers can rate their likeliness to recommend a company on a 1-to-10 score. It’s very easy to implement and there are public benchmarks for every industry. An NPS tracked over time lets a customer service team and the company see how they are performing over time, as well as whether any changes have a positive impact.

– Adelyn ZhouTOPBOTS 

 

2. Look to retention and growth.

Every interaction holds an opportunity to understand the impact of customer success. The most important will always be retention and growth, but every interaction holds the opportunity to understand the impact of customer success or service. CSAT surveys after any significant interaction give you the opportunity to get a pulse on your customer and respond to their feedback. Trends will emerge and you can adjust quickly ahead of the lagging indicators of retention and growth.

– Kristine SteuartAllocadia 

 

3. Segment the ROI data.

All ROI data is broad until you segment your clients by certain parameters. Examples of some could be age, area, referrals, clients who purchased within the year, ones who didn’t and so on. Once you start segmenting the data, those broad numbers become laser focused, which will give you the most impactful data needed.

– Raymond KishkInterstate Air Conditioning & Heating 

 

4. Focus on the biggest failures.

Don’t get overwhelmed by too much data. Instead, focus on the area where you know that you’re having the most problems and use the data to look for specific insights that might help you solve your problems. For example, how long it takes for customers to hear back on an issue they’ve complained about, or how satisfied they are that their problem was solved via a customer service call.

– Adam SteeleThe Magistrate 

 

5. Tie it directly to a KPI.

Customer service is about satisfaction and problem-solving. Train your people to be able to set specific objectives for the ideal result of a customer service interaction. Track those ideal outcomes as KPIs. Then you will be able to convince clients or upper management about the significance of such measures.

– Duran InciOptimum7 

 

6. Let the CEO answer some calls.

Identifying value in customer service requires everyone getting involved. Being in the trenches provides unusual insight into what customers are saying about your company. Identifying the best return on your customer service dollars will become more evident when the CEO gets to answer calls. Armed with real customer experiences, your team will be able to identify the best ROI opportunities.

– Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

7. Choose one area to study.

Pick one area of customer service, such as timely responses, and measure that to see if the tactics implemented have made improvements or more needs to be done. Too many companies generalize customer service and do not segment these based on response time, assistance level or customer return rate, for example.

– John RamptonDue 

 

8. Call a few customers each month.

There are plenty of systems out there that harvest and harness reviews from customers. While these services are vital, to truly find out if your customer service is generating ROI, pick up the phone and call a few customers each month and actually speak with them. Not only will you see what is working, you will build an amazing level of loyalty to your brand.

– Ryan BradleyKoester & Bradley, LLP 

 

9. Ask users specific questions in polls.

Get customer reviews, but make sure they aren’t broad questions. Don’t ask “Are you satisfied with our service?,” but instead ask, “Are you satisfied with the way X product has improved X part of your life?” Be as specific as possible and target a specific audience. Change your questions and ask on a regular schedule. That way, you can track and use the results in advertising, etc.

– Kevin ConnerVast Bridges 

 

10. Measure real results.

As is the case with most metrics, the numbers aren’t always telling the full story. Oftentimes, you’ll find there is a lot of unsubstantiated claims being made about the accuracy of ROI data, and so it’s important to sift through the false data and dig into the real results. If something seems difficult to quantify or prove, it likely is and should be ignored.

– Blair ThomasFirst American Merchant

15 Ways to Keep Customer Conversations Productive

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.

What’s one technique to keep conversations with your customers productive and positive?

 

1. Be an active listener.

It’s not just important to effectively listen to your customers. You should strive to demonstrate to them that you have heard what they are trying to say. By often repeating a section of their comment or question back to them, you clearly demonstrate that you are following their thought process and not simply waiting to interject your own.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now 

 

2. Share good news.

We are highly consultative, so results are not achieved overnight. I’m a firm believer in telling my clients what they need to hear versus what they want to hear. I also understand that they are paying me for a service, so it’s important to share good news with them anytime it’s available, no matter how small it is.

– Duran InciOptimum7 

 

3. Put your customers’ needs first.

Many businesses want to sell the customer a product or service at any cost, whether it’s in their best interest or not. Putting your customers’ needs first means only selling them something that they’ll really benefit from. In the long run, this keeps your customers happy and improves your reputation. You don’t have to make everyone your customer. Focus on those you can really help.

– Kalin KassabovProTexting 

 

4. Remember that the customer is always right.

It can be trying at times to maintain a positive attitude when speaking with difficult customers, but remember that just as you are a pro in your field, they are a pro at what they do as well. At the end of the day, the customer is always right and you’re there to make their lives easier with your product or service.

– Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production 

 

5. Empathize and then move forward.

Customers are people and have bad days just like the rest of us. Listen to their feedback, let them finish, then empathize and move the conversation in a more positive direction, focusing on where you can help fix their problem or how you can use their feedback to improve your products or services.

– Alisha Navarro2 Hounds Design 

 

6. Imagine you’re speaking to a friend.

A strategy we use at our company when we are faced with difficult interactions with customers is to imagine that we are speaking to a friend. We treat friends with respect and value what we will get out of them long-term. This behavior sets you up for positive and productive interactions with your customers. This way you will have a guiding behavior that can be extended through your organization.

– Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

7. Prepare alternatives.

Be extremely detail-oriented, empathetic and understanding. Try to see things from the client’s perspective, but also envision all possible outcomes of every situation ahead of time. If for any reason you have to deliver bad news, be sure to have other comparable options and solutions ready to present at the same time, rather than just saying you can’t deliver on a certain request.

– Justin LefkovitchMirrored Media 

 

8. Don’t make them feel like a number.

A good company actually helps their customers and doesn’t just look at people as financial opportunities. Using words like “product,” “transaction” and “value” will make a person feel like just a line on a profit and loss sheet. Remember that you should be offering a helpful, worthwhile service in exchange for their money and time, and your tone and vocabulary should reflect that.

– Roger LeeCaptain401 

 

9. Talk about mutual benefits and achievements.

Focus the conversations on the mutual benefits and achievements to date. Also emphasize your interest in always seeking improvements, which is a good way to introduce the idea of “what can I do better” into the conversation without turning it into a negative.

– Murray NewlandsSighted 

 

10. Focus on their long-term goals.

To provide the best service to customers, your service needs to fit their long-term needs and not just the immediate ones they hired you for. They won’t always share this information when hiring your business, especially if it’s intended to be a short relationship. Figuring out their goals and talking honestly to them about how you could improve on them can build a basis for a long relationship.

– Matt DoyleExcel Builders 

 

11. Build a personal relationship.

Get to know your customers on a personal level. Building a real relationship is the best deterrent to customer issues and negativity. If customers feel as though they can reach you when needed to have a candid and honest conversation, they’re much less likely to get to the point where they’re truly unhappy.

– Kyle GoguenPawstruck 

 

12. Understand their intentions.

It’s important to know the difference between someone bringing up a legitimate concern and someone who is trying to stir up trouble. If your customer has good intentions, a productive and positive conversation should naturally flow. If someone is simply making comments just for the sake of it, chances of having a productive conversation are slim to none, so steer clear.

– Dave NevogtHubstaff.com 

 

13. Finish the conversation with a list of action items.

Finish the conversation with quick bullet points summarizing everything you discussed and all the action items moving forward. This will keep you focused during the conversation and convey to the customer that you heard everything they had to say and have a clear plan on what to do next.

– Patrick BarnhillSpecialist ID, Inc. 

 

14. Ask about the future.

In the future, all things are possible. That’s not literally true, but I’ve found the best customer conversations focus on the future. Speak in the future tense about what you will do, how you will help, how your products provide value. Ask questions about what they want for the future and their goals. Don’t talk about what you have done or are doing. Talk about what you can do.

– Vik PatelFuture Hosting 

 

15. Choose to be helpful over being right.

Do you care more about being right? Or would you rather concede and keep your customer? There’s little you can gain by pointing out that a customer is wrong. When confronted with an argument, choose to feed your business and not your ego.

– Sam SaxtonParagon Stairs 

13 Side Jobs That Can Help Startup Founders Pay the Bills

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.

What are some ideas for making money on the side (that have worked for you) as you ramp up your startup?

1. Tap into the Gig Economy

With the gig economy on the rise there are multiple avenues on how to make some side cash. Working for companies like Uber or GrubHub, for instance, will bring in extra cash along with the flexibility of working when you want. I’ve picked up some cool gigs like bartending weddings, being an event captain at the BCS College Football Semi-final, and proofreading a start-up business plan.

Eddie LouShiftgig

 

2. Look into Online Freelancing

This works best if you already have technical skills. But there is still lots of freelancing work available, from web design and WordPress work, to social media and writing jobs.

Ismael WrixenFE International

 

3. Teach an Online Course

Teach others some of your unique skill sets or insights. Identify what you’re really good at and put together a course to help others get good at it too. It could be a skill to perform certain tasks better — such as Facebook ads, sewing, etc. — or it could be based on an insight that you’ve gained from your experience that most people are unlikely to know, such as how to get upgraded in first class.

Rahul VarshneyaArkenea

 

4. Do Consulting Work

Typically most entrepreneurs have at least one primary area of expertise, among other skills. Use this area of expertise to get small consulting contracts on Upwork, Craigslist, Freelancer.com, and through your own personal and professional networks. A few small consulting contracts can keep the money coming in without distracting you while you focus primarily on your new startup.

Andy KaruzaFenSens

 

5. Coordinate Valuable Events for People to Connect

When I was growing my first business in the credit card processing space, I started throwing monthly events to help people make friends and business contacts. I did it because I love to connect people and I know relationships are so important. I charged a nominal fee of -20 and then, by accident, started attracting sponsors and hundreds of people to each event. Six figures resulted on the side.

Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40

 

6. Use Google Ads

Google Ads don’t generate a ton of money, but it can be a consistent revenue resource. It can also be partnered with your small business website, so you can track and monitor it as you grow your business, making it easier to achieve modest success.

Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

 

7. Leverage Your Hobbies

I have put my hobbies to work to make money, selling items I make or repair on Craigslist and eBay, or through apps that let me market my hobby items to locals that might be interested in what I make. Anyone can do this with what they like to spend time doing, from photography and artwork to crafts and furniture.

Drew HendricksButtercup

 

8. Get A Door-to-Door Sales Job

We kept our jobs as door-to-door cable salesmen for 10 months after launch. While it was hardly a fun job, it allowed us to set our own schedules, which meant freedom to revolve our day jobs around our new business. It also gave us sufficient income to bootstrap without going into debt. Depending on the opportunity, door-to-door sales can be a great way to support yourself while taking the leap.

Jesse LearV.I.P. Waste Services, LLC

 

9. Stay Part-Time at Your Job

As you ramp up your startup company doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to leave your previous work or devote full-time effort. At the end of the day, you still have bills to pay. In my experience, I stayed on as a part-time contractor for the company I was employed, which helped me fund my personal needs and also a bit of the start up company.

Shalyn DeverChatter Buzz

 

10. Sell a Niche Product That’s in High Demand

Selling a commodity with a need that essentially sells itself is easier than you think! As an Internet marketer, I’ve discovered items no one ever thinks of selling, yet use on a daily basis. By finding a niche product and building an attractive website with precision optimization, you can build capital for your start-up easily.

Duran InciOptimum7

 

11. Participate in User Research

There are great opportunities to make money on the side by participating in user research and offering your experience to test a new product. Sites like Respondent.io and UserTesting.com can connect you with surveys and phone interviews that are relevant to your background that can have some serious payouts without too much of a time commitment.

Christopher SwenorEast Coast Product

 

12. Wait Tables

I’ve waited tables for many years while working on my early startup days. Being a waiter gives you the flexibility of working at odd hours, for short lengths of time and making good money. Making some extra cash on the side while you are starting a business will help reduce the level of stress while your business is not producing. Being a server affords you the flexibility to tend to your startup.

Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

 

13. Create Affiliate Marketing

I have been doing affiliate marketing, so I realize that you can make good money with it. If you have a passion for generating content or advertising, it is a no-brainer. Pick a niche that you enjoy writing or making videos about, and make a blog or social media page centered around it. You will be surprised how quickly and easily you can make some good extra money.

Scott KacmarskiReps Direct

How to Bolster Your Brand Influence in 2017

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.

What are some key ways to bolster your online brand’s influence in 2017?

1. Tell Original Stories

Businesses that conduct original research and investigate interesting topics in their niche will have a powerful advantage in 2017. That’s because everyone remembers a good story. So, to bolster your brand’s online influence, you should invest in in-depth storytelling to educate and surprise your audience with new information, backed by data, unique anecdotes and hard facts.

Firas KittanehAmerisleep

 

2. Post About Successes and Failures

 Post about your successes and your failures. People are just as apt to click on something to find out what not to do as they are on a success story. Another crucial key is to start sending the ladder back down. Are you actively trying to promote new voices? Show points of view that may differ from your own? That’s how to make it to the top.

Maren HoganRed Branch Media

 

3. Gather Data

 In a world where most of your influence and marketing are digital, you need to be gathering data to optimize. Figure out which messages resonate with which demographics, which platforms are best at which times of day, and what kinds of visual content have the biggest impact. Make better underlying decisions to have a better overall outcome.

Brennan WhiteCortex

 

4. Optimize for Search Engines

I expect SEO to continue to be an even stronger channel for many of the top brands in 2017. Nailing the basics will bolster brands online presence and, in turn, their influence. By publishing great content — eg; thought leadership, Q&As and data-centered pieces — customers will naturally gravitate towards your brand more and more. And, thankfully, Google will reward you for it.

Corey EulasFactorial Digital

 

5. Create Collaborative Content

 Partner with complimentary brands in a collaborative article to boost each other’s traffic and influence. Create a piece of content, whether it be a contest or an article that spotlights actionable tips for the readers. Each brand shares the content to their subscribers and followers. Everyone benefits by gaining exposure to each others followers, gaining traffic and broader influence.

Aggie BurnettAB Creative

 

6. Cater to Your Core

 First of all, you have to cater to your core customers. If you are developing an app geared toward millennials or teens who are often on Facebook and Instagram, then LinkedIn is probably not your best platform. You have to be knowledgeable about who and where your core audience is, and then you need to increase your ability to capture that audience by using the right social media outlets.

Fabio VivianiFabio Viviani Hospitality LLC,

 

7. Tap into Immersive Experiences

 With innovative technologies like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and Pokemon GO, virtual reality and augmented reality should be on every brand’s radar for 2017. Clients all want in on the action of the next best thing, so positioning your company as an early adopter of AR or VR will help you stay relevant. Not to mention AR and VR are popular on social media, and make for great content marketing.

Robert De Los SantosSky High Party Rentals

 

8. Speak at Conferences

 Speaking at popular conferences is huge in two ways. You establish your brand and expertise with your peers and potential leads in the audience. And, perhaps even more importantly, video of your presentation will be uploaded to YouTube. This video will be publicized via the conference organizer’s social media channels, and, if you’re lucky, by attendees who were impressed by what you said.

Vik PatelFuture Hosting

 

9. Produce Videos

 Producing creative videos — whether it’s informative, for a product, or pure entertainment — will definitely capture the attention of more browsers than text, even those with big, colorful letters! Don’t overthink the video. Just focus on the objective, keep it simple and, most importantly, produce a quality production. Unless it’s breaking news, steer clear of phone video.

Duran InciOptimum7

 

10. Establish Yourself Through Podcasts

 Podcasts can be a great branding tool. Whether you have your own podcast or you appear as a guest on one, it’s a growing trend in building your brand’s digital influence. It’s a great way for entrepreneurs starting out to establish themselves as thought leaders and experts in their field.

Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc.

 

11. Develop an Influencer Network

 When I started reaching out to influencers, I was shocked to discover how accessible and friendly they were. Reaching out to influencers and developing relationships has directly led me to guest blogging opportunities, critical introductions, and even to having my own Inc. column. None of those would have been possible without some old fashioned, strategic networking.

Peter KozodoyGEM Advertising

 

12. Budget for It

Set aside a budget to use on digital promotion. More and more sites are adhering to the “pay for play” model, so it’s important to not get left behind due to a lack of proper budgeting.

Leila LewisBe Inspired PR

 

 

13. Spotlight Customers

 Something I recently started for my business is taking the spotlight off of us and putting it instead on our customers. We really want to show potential clients what we can do, and we are doing this by illustrating what we have done. We turn the attention on one client each month in our “Customer Spotlight” series, and showcase how our business is benefiting the client for years to come.

Zev HermanSuperior Lighting

 

14. Write a Book

 The most powerful way to build your brand’s influence is to help educate and empower your potential customers. Many companies do this through thought leadership articles and speeches, but today, nothing has more power than a book. Even in the internet age, there is no other medium that displays authority, impacts and influences others, and spreads a message the way that a book does.

Zach ObrontBook in a Box

13 Ways To Calm Down And Nail Your Presentation

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.

What’s one way to calm your nerves before a pitch or presentation?

1. Prepare for the First and Last Minutes of Your Presentation 

Knowing exactly what to say in the beginning and end of your presentation will help build confidence. This also makes it easier to get started and build some momentum throughout the presentation. Take time to practice and perfect the first and last few minute of your presentation for less panic and stronger impact.

– Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

2. Put Everything in Perspective 

Everything is temporary. Before I go into a pitch or a presentation, I like to think about just how big our lives are and yet also how small our lives are in this world. When I start thinking about the bigger things in life, a presentation or a pitch seems relatively minor and small. In the end, it is really just a moment of your life. No matter how it turns out, you’ll be okay.

– Mark DaoustQuiet Light Brokerage, Inc. 

 

3. Think About All the ‘No’s’ You’ve Already Overcome 

If you’re making an important pitch or presentation, you’ve already hit milestones and achieved some level of success. Now think back to all the times you’ve been slowed in your journey and all the roadblocks you’ve overcome. If hearing the word “no” is the worst that could happen, and this hasn’t stopped you before, it can’t hurt you now.

– Jacob ChapmanGelt Venture Capital 

 

4. Engage the Audience 

Pitching or presenting to friends is much easier than to strangers. Before you ever get on stage or in the front of the room, make it a point to befriend at least a few people in the room. Just a few minutes of small talk around shared interests can completely calm the nerves and allow you to focus on giving them a great presentation experience. Everyone else will be along for the ride.

– Douglas HutchingsPicasolar 

 

5. Take a Walk Around the Block 

There’s no better way to calm your nerves and hit the reset button than by getting some fresh air. Prior to a big presentation, I’ve most likely been inside going through my notes for hours on end, so taking a step back and having that change of scenery enables me to clear my mind and refocus. A quick walk around the block is just enough to help me calm down and get my head in the game.

– Jared BrownHubstaff Talent 

 

6. Do 30 Seconds of High Intensity Exercise 

Jumping on a trampoline (see Tony Robbins), doing air squats, push ups, jumping jacks for 30 to 60 seconds before a critical presentation, phone call, or pitch works wonders for me. It ramps up my intensity, focuses my mind, and clears out the cobwebs. It also puts me in that positive “I-can-take-on-the-world” state of mind.

– Jeremy BrandtWeBuyHouses.com 

 

7. Change Breathing Patterns 

We often underestimate the profound and beneficial effects of changing our breathing patterns. When we’re feeling tense or nervous, focusing on our breath for a short time and changing the cadence to longer, slower, more intentional in-and-out breaths can really trigger a calming effect on your mind and body.

– Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 

 

8. Remember 80% of Success is Showing Up 

It’s easy to convince yourself that you need to be pitch-perfect each and every time. The truth? Sometimes good enough is good enough. I worry less about perfection and more about making sure I seize the right opportunities.

– Richard KershawWhoIsHostingThis.com 

 

9. Record Yourself 

I record my practice sessions and watch them to see what I look like and how confident I appear. This practice and visual display help me see what my audience would see so I can make improvements. The better I think I look and present, the calmer I feel.

– Zach BinderRanklab 

 

10. Know Your Pitch Really Well 

Make sure you know your pitch or presentation really well – upside down and inside out. Practice giving your pitch to a few individuals beforehand and get their feedback on how to make it better and stronger. Finally, you should feel passionate about your message. If you’re really passionate about it, that passion will help override your nervousness and anxiety.

– Duran InciOptimum7 

 

11. Meditate 

Meditation is a tool that I have used for years to help me gain clarity and focus. Spending a few minutes before a high-stakes meeting meditating helps me feel more calm and collected, allowing me to better deliver my message.

– Mark KrassnerExpectful 

 

12. Make a Cheat Sheet 

I find it extremely helpful to make a simple and easy-to-read cheat sheet with main talking points before a pitch. This gives me an opportunity to condense the presentation into several key points that I can review leading up to the presentation. By concentrating on these key points, I can ensure that if all else fails, I am still well-versed in my talking points in the face of nerves.

– Justin LefkovitchMirrored Media 

 

13. Anticipate Questions and Over Prepare 

Before a presentation, I make sure I run through the slide deck and know exactly what I am going to say on every single slide. I also write out all of the questions I think people will ask and write down exactly how I will answer them. By over preparing, I am being respectful of my time and theirs, and setting us up for success and closing the deal.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now 

13 Ways To Maximize Your Daily Productivity

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.

As a new founder, what are some strategies for building a structure around my work day that helps me maximize productivity?

1. Seize the First Two Hours of Your Day 

The first two hours of your day are the most critical for productivity according to scientists. It’s the ideal time to set and review your goals for the day, tackle the most challenging thing on your to-do, and take a personal moment to do what matters to you most, like meditating, working out, writing or reading. By seizing and maximizing those first few hours, you can transform your entire day.

– Beth DoaneMain & Rose 

 

2. Schedule Time for Boring Activities 


Take breaks to do boring activities, activities that will allow you to spend some time in thought. To reboot your brain, you have to break old patterns of checking emails, Facebook or ESPN. Instead take time to go for a walk, enjoy a coffee, or other simple activities that give you an opportunity to keep your mind fresh and get clarity on what you are trying to achieve.

– Ryan StonerPhenomenon 

 

3. Use ‘Rapid Planning Method’ 

To maximize productivity, I spend an hour every Sunday working on my schedule for the upcoming week. The process — known as the Rapid Planning Method — is threefold: (1) List all the things I’d like to accomplish, (2) rate each task by level of importance, and (3) schedule the most important tasks. By planning your week ahead of time you will increase your overall productivity and happiness.

– Kristopher JonesLSEO.com 

 

4. Eliminate Distractions 

I sleep with my iPhone in another room so that it can’t disturb me while sleeping. This also keeps me from automatically checking it first thing in the morning. When I’m at work, I set my iPhone to “do not disturb” so that I can focus without interruption in the morning. Mornings are the time when I’m most focused, so I don’t want to be distracted by messages or other alerts.

– Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc. 

 

5. Try the Kanban Method 

There’s no point in pretending that distractions don’t exist, and it’s even less productive to take away the tools that make things easier, e.g., mobile phone. So I have an app on my phone which uses the Kanban method and helps me remember tasks that need completing, as well as see all the other tasks I’ve completed. I also like to read journals and blogs every morning to gauge my peers’ opinions.

– Cody McLainSupportNinja 

 

6. Put Your Health First 

We all know how much of a negative impact getting sick can have on our productivity. Putting your health first, by sleeping eight or more hours, working out daily, and not eating like a jerk is the most effective way to ensure a successful day. Take care of yourself before you take care of others.

– Ross BeyelerGrowth Spark 

 

7. Realize Some Hard Truths, Then Plan and Execute 

You cannot do everything. You don’t have time to do everything. You don’t need to do everything. You need to be able to step away. If you can accept those truths, then you can plan and stick to your plan. Schedule time to respond to emails. Set a time for accounting. Set a time for critical tasks. Set a time for exercise/family/faith. Write it all down, budget your time; then execute and learn.

– Kevin TelfordSurfWatch Labs 

 

8. Use Time Tracking Tools 

I swear by time tracking tools that record my time on everything I do. I can’t deny what they reveal, and it holds me more accountable to how I structure my day and where I need to make improvements. Time tracking has been the game changer in where I put every minute of my workday, helping me to do more in less time.

– Drew HendricksButtercup 

 

9. Schedule in Little Breaks 

Our minds aren’t built to be on hyperdrive 24/7. When you’re a new founder with a million things to do, this is easy to forget, but eventually a lack of breaks will lead to mistakes and brain burnout. That’s why I make sure to schedule in tiny breaks during my day, whether it’s walking my dog or doing a quick digital detox. The few minutes invested in refreshing are well worth the productivity.

– Elle KaplanLexION Capital 

 

10. Guard Your Time 

It’s easy to let the daily problem take up all of your time each day, but it means you won’t get the things done that will help you grow and build your business. Use a calendar to schedule your day and try to stick to it. This might mean building in some spare time to help others address the issues and challenges that arise each day, but don’t let your calendar be hijacked by it.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now 

 

11. Depend on the Power of the List 

It’s all about completing tasks. The task list is the greatest asset for every business. Each week, we determine the tasks that are most crucial for growth. We assign off those tasks to individuals capable of completing them that week. This builds a structure and requires planning workdays. By having a plan and specific tasks to complete, it maximizes productivity and propels the company forward.

– Enrico Palmerinobotkeeper 

 

12. Block Off Time and Identify Where You Add the Greatest Value 

Set time aside for emails, prospecting, and the stuff that needs to get done to grow your business. As a founder, you need to have an open door and be there for the team, but not at the expense of getting the important tasks accomplished. As you scale the company, identify where you add the most value and focus on that, hiring well so you can remain productive as the company grows.

– Dan GoldenBFO (Be Found Online) 

 

13. Always Be Looking Ahead 

Plan your days ahead and even weeks if you can, filling in time for specific events. Don’t work on the fly because you will never get everything done. While things come up, this planning of certain things can help you visually move things around and see new ways to work, but you must have some general idea and structure in place of what’s to come first.

– Murray NewlandsSighted 

11 Ways To Improve Your Business Writing

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.

What’s one way to improve your business writing?

 

1. Eliminate Unnecessary Words 

Mark KrassnerIt takes time to read every word of an email, and even longer to sift through a wordy, unnecessarily long email. After I finish drafting an email, I scan it to get rid of any words that don’t contribute to what I’m actually trying to say. Using this strategy has helped me send shorter, more concise emails and receive faster responses.

– Mark KrassnerExpectful 

 

2. Make It Active 

Shalyn DeverOne way to improve your business writing is to make it active. I encourage my employees to avoid “to be” verbs, the word “is” and the suffix “-ing” in order to avoid sounding passive. I understand that it’s sometimes easier to use these verbs. However, they can often be made active with small changes or simple rewording.

– Shalyn DeverChatter Buzz 

 

3. Read Your Work Aloud 

Manpreet SinghTalking is the best form of business communication. Unfortunately, no one has time to pick up the phone, especially if you’re trying to sell. So, do the next best thing: Bring your human voice into your business writing. When drafting an email, proposal or other business content, read your writing out loud to make sure it sounds clear, accessible and natural to your ears.

– Manpreet SinghTalkLocal 

 

4. Study the Business Writers You Love 

Adam SteeleIf you have any favorite writers/bloggers in your field that you really respect, studying them is one of the most effective ways to develop a style that’s already compatible with your instincts. Think carefully when you read their work about how they begin and end, what types of words they use, and what kind of attitude they seem to bring to their work. Testing these out in your own work will help.

– Adam SteeleThe Magistrate 

 

5. Make the Reader Feel Like a Genius 

Douglas HutchingsWe write a lot of technical documents and the thing that sets us apart is that we make the reader feel like a genius. This is accomplished by taking the complex and breaking it down into something that a middle school student could follow. Telling someone that you are intelligent is a turn-off. Making someone feel intelligent is a huge turn-on.

– Douglas HutchingsPicasolar 

 

6. Make Your Writing Accessible and Understandable 

Shawn PoratWhenever possible, use everyday language rather than jargon. If you have to use industry jargon, make sure you define it for people who aren’t familiar with it. Don’t assume your readers have vast knowledge of the field. For example, my company helps businesses improve their credit, but I’ve discovered that many business owners need to be educated on the fundamentals.

– Shawn PoratScorely 

 

7. Get Feedback (Even If It’s Harsh) 

Elle KaplanIt’s almost impossible to notice errors and room for improvement in your own work, especially for something as abstract as writing. That’s why I never shy away from feedback, and I always try to avoid sugarcoating when it comes to reviewing business writing. Although it might sting at first, you’ll quickly improve your writing if you consistently practice and seek out criticism.

– Elle KaplanLexION Capital 

 

8. Use an Editing Tool 

Nicole MunozThere are plenty of editing tools available online that can help you strengthen your writing by showing you where it should be changed. ProWritingAid has an online editing tool that’s free to use, and it analyzes your writing to generate 26 reports to show you where improvements can be made. Another key component is to study really good business writing.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now 

 

9. Write Every Day 

Ross BeyelerThere is not a more proven technique for enhancing one’s writing than to write often. Even if the majority of that writing is done in private journals, it’s important to write every day. Not only will it help to build the habit of writing, but it will also expose what topics/styles work well for your voice and focus future writing projects.

– Ross BeyelerGrowth Spark 

 

10. Read 

john ramptonI pick up a lot about style and grammar just by reading books and articles. It has taught me a lot about how to phrase things and how to use certain words to influence others. Reading has also increased my vocabulary, which has enhanced my business writing.

– John RamptonDue Cash 

 

11. Take A Course 

Drew HendricksThere are numerous online courses at local colleges that teach business writing. There are also online tutorials on YouTube and other sites. You may even work with a tutor in an offline or online relationship. All these are good learning experiences for improving your writing.

– Drew HendricksButtercup 

When It Comes To Your Business, When Should You Rely on Data vs. Instinct?

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.

Everyone talks about “data” these days as key to making good business decisions. Can you share about a time when you relied on instinct alone? How did it work out for you and what’s your advice to others who rely heavily on their business instincts?

 

1. If You Torture the Numbers Enough, They’ll Tell You Whatever You Want 

Diana GoodwinAs my marketing manager likes to say, “If you torture the numbers enough, they’ll tell you whatever you want.” Raw data is powerful, but when I’ve had to make big decisions without historical data, I (A) did as much research as possible, (B) talked to experts who had knowledge I didn’t, (C) considered what I stood to lose if the gamble did not pay out and prepared to own the results no matter what.

– Diana GoodwinAquaMobile 

 

2. Just Because Something Is Working Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Work Better 

Kristopher Jones (1)Just because something is working doesn’t mean it can’t work better. Often, data only allows you to make decisions about how you are doing and fails to tell you what might happen if you change things. Conventional wisdom tells us, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” However, I recently defied data and used my instinct to pivot from a proven business model to a new one because I sensed an even greater upside.

– Kristopher JonesLSEO.com 

 

3. Data Is King, But Time and Resources Are Scarce 

Jayna CookeData is the king — I agree with that. However, you do not always have time or resources to get the data you need and may be forced to rely on your business instincts alone. Data is hard to manage and getting “clean” data might not be worth the time and resources it would take to get everything perfected. Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut, as you might already know the answer.

 

– Jayna CookeEVENTup 

4. Data Is Only as Good as the Person Making Sense of It 

Andy KaruzaAs you probably noticed during the last election cycle, the polls were all over the place. One would say Trump was winning by 10 points, but another would say Hillary was winning by 10 points. The difference comes down to how the data is interpreted or gathered. Audience, sample size, and many other variables can affect the outcome of “data.” This is just one good example on when you should use your gut.

– Andy KaruzaFenSens 

 

5. When It Comes to Interviews… It’s All About Instinct 

Hongwei LiuMost of your intuitions about running a business are wrong; it’s best to be data driven. But with people, you’ve had 20, 40, maybe 60 years experience evaluating who you work well with, and the qualities that make someone trustworthy. You should always trust your instincts about people.

– Hongwei Liumappedin 

 

6. It’s a Balance Between Art and Science 

Tim ChavesDesign is all about instinct. Imagine trying to gather feedback about every step along the way when designing an application. I like to design the first time with just instinct and redesign with the door open to feedback. That process works for me. I would recommend that everyone seek to find a balance between what you feel and what can be proven with data.

– Tim ChavesZipBooks 

 

7. You Need Both, For Different Reasons 

Shawn PoratThe decision to start my latest company, Scorely, was largely an instinctive one. Data is valuable, but it only tells you so much because it’s all based on the past. After all, even the best economists and financial experts are often wrong. That said, even if you make your decisions from instinct, you definitely need data to research your market and do your financial projections.

– Shawn PoratScorely 

 

8. Data Can Only Tell You So Much 

Peter BonacWhen I started my company Mobiado, there was only one luxury mobile phone manufacturer. It had been around for two years, with losses every quarter. Data showed that this was not a successful business model. However, my gut feeling was to go a different route; by focusing more on the design and less on precious materials, the concept could be successful. Thirteen years running and we remain profitable every quarter.

– Peter BonacBonac Innovation Corp. 

 

9. When It Comes to Partnering, Using Only Data Might Be a Mistake 

Diego OrjuelaSo many things in business are more of an art than a science. This is never as true as with finding the right company to partner with. Basing your decision on data alone might get you tied up with a partner who is dishonest, incompetent, or plainly no fun to work with. Use instinct when making important decisions that will affect your business, because in the end, you work with humans, not numbers.

– Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors, LLC 

 

10. An Instinctive Leap of Faith Is the Only Way Ideas Have Ever Become Reality 

Manpreet SinghData helps narrow the margin of error to get business models and maneuvers on solid ground, but data in the abstract can only get you so far. In any decision-making process, there comes a point where you have to take a blind leap of faith to test your hypothesis despite a great deal of uncertainty. For me, every step — from launching to pivoting — involved leaps, both big and small.

– Manpreet SinghTalkLocal 

12 Entrepreneurs Share Tips For Hiring Your First Employee

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.

It’s time to hire my first employee. With no prior hiring experience, what’s your best advice for me?

1. Don’t Hire a “Mini Me” 

Brittany HodakWhen hiring a first employee, it can be tempting to look for a “mini me.” Don’t. Every employe  is critical in a small business. It’s much better to hire someone with complementary strengths and interests than someone who is like yourself but a few years more junior. Look for a candidate who enjoys the things you hate and excel at areas that intimidate you. Then, empower them to succeed. – Brittany HodakZinePak 

 

2. Imagine How You Would Feel If You Had to Report to the New Hire 

Shawn PoratI like to imagine what it would feel like if I had to report to my first hire. When I interviewed my  first employee and started thinking about reporting to them, I immediately realized they were not a good fit. The communication and leadership skills were lacking. I’ve used this test for every interview going forward, and it has protected me from many bad hires. – Shawn PoratScorely 

 

3. Outsource or Ask Your Friends in That Industry 

Michael HsuIf you are not hiring core production employees, you may not know what you are looking for. In this case, consider outsourcing because while it “feels” like it’s more expensive, it is almost always cheaper due to existing expertise. Otherwise, ask your friends who are in the industry for help. When I was hiring a developer, I called up all my buddies in the industry for advice on what to look for. – Michael HsuDeepSky 

 

4. Put Candidates on a Probationary Period 

 Firas KittanehSet a 30-, 45- or 60-day probationary period for new hires so that you can vet them on the job. It’s increasingly difficult to filter candidates out based purely on their resume and a couple of interviews because many have become well-trained at selling themselves. However, few will succeed on the job, so using a “trial” period will allow you to hire them on a contract basis and limit your risk. – Firas KittanehAmerisleep 

 

5. Hire Slow 

Bill LyonsYou’re not going to eliminate bad hires all together, but the best way to avoid them is to not attract them in the first place. Spend time on the basics: background checks and real reference checks, but also implement real behavioral assessments that are tailored to the performance-driven culture you want to create. The best thing that works for us is multiple interviews, job shadowing and auditions. – Bill LyonsRevestor 

 

6. Consider Contract and Part-Time Work 

John RoodDon’t forget that there are plenty of good people who are looking for part-time work, either because they are freelance or to supplement their income. By hiring someone part time, you take less of a hit on your cash flow. As a bonus, you get great experience managing a team without all the pressure of full-time employment. – John RoodNext Step Test Preparation 

 

7. Don’t Settle for the First Person Who Lands in Your Lap 

Peggy ShellHave a plan, be consistent, and stick with it. With people falling onto your lap or low-hanging fruit from referrals, you’ll be tempted to hire people who are “good enough.” You don’t have to settle. Follow a process that is well thought out and aligns with the job description you have worked hard on. Hiring takes time, but don’t let that inconvenience you from learning throughout this process. – Peggy ShellCreative Alignments 

 

8. Prepare and Be Honest 

Maren HoganIt is absolutely key to know what you need. Many first time hiring managers hire people just like them. Don’t interview desperate (which means you should make your first hire slightly before you need them), and listen when someone tells you who they are the first time. For example, I send an email to all potential candidates explaining exactly what to expect. It weeds out any shaky candidates. – Maren HoganRed Branch Media 

 

9. Hire Attitude and Train Talent 

Douglas HutchingsThe first employee is going to help set the culture for the many more to come. Everyone will need training to get up to speed, so hire for attitude. By definition, you are probably doing something that has never been done before, so you need someone who is passionate to be a part of your vision. The wrong attitude will be contagious to everyone who comes next and that is extremely hard to fix. – Douglas HutchingsPicasolar 

 

10. Understand That Job Descriptions Are Perfect, Humans Are Not 

Eric MathewsIt is important to realize that when you write a job description, you are creating in your mind a perfect, idealized version of a candidate. That candidate doesn’t exist in real life. During the selection process, know that you aren’t compromising on the idealized version of the candidate; more so, you are determining if there is a net benefit to your organization from adding the candidate. – Eric MathewsStart Co. 

 

11. Test Real Skills, Not Just Credentials 

Anthony PezzottiIt’s easy to default to a resume when deciding if a candidate would be a good fit; however, successful business owners will test real skills during the interview process to ensure they are solid on the team. This process can range from an on-the-spot test to a quick homework assignment. These tasks will help set the tone for the position and weed out any unfit applicants. – Anthony PezzottiKnowzo.com 

 

12. Prioritize People Who Have Done Their Own Things 

Adam SteeleAlmost everyone I’ve hired has had a side project or something of significance that they were doing before I hired them. The barrier of entry to doing something interesting and putting it in front of thousands of people is low enough that most people should be able to talk about personal projects that have received attention. These are people who have the will to work and experience with feedback. – Adam SteeleThe Magistrate 

12 Unique Biz Publications Every Entrepreneur Should Read

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.

What’s one “off the beaten track” biz publication more entrepreneurs should read and why?

1. OkDork.com 

 Firas KittanehSerial entrepreneur Noah Kagan gives us all an inside look into how he grows his businesses and optimizes his life in okdork.com. He publishes infrequently so you’ll always have time to read his next blog post. I find one of the best ways to grow is through peer leadership and advice from a fellow entrepreneur always feels more relatable and actionable.

– Firas KittanehAmerisleep 

 

2. Search Engine Watch 

Tim ChavesI’d recommend giving Search Engine Watch a look. Inbound marketing has a lot of potential for anyentrepreneur, so I don’t think you can be completely ignorant about issues around search engine optimization.

– Tim ChavesZipBooks 

 

3. CB Insights

Doreen BlochCB Insights is a company that focuses on venture capital research, and their daily newsletters provide some of the best business content that I regularly read. The writing is irreverent, mostly focused on startups and entrepreneurs, and very timely to themes in technology and fundraising. CB Insights is one of the best and most entertaining ways to stay on top of business news.

– Doreen BlochPoshly Inc. 

 

4. Stratechery.com 

sean ogleI enjoy reading Ben Thompson’s Stratechery.com. He has a really interesting look at strategy and business, especially as it pertains to technology. He covers a lot of wide-ranging topics, but most of them highlight what is happening in social media and with brands like Google, Facebook and Amazon. He always has a good take and is able to break down complex ideas and explain them simply.

– Sean OgleLocation Rebel 

 

5. Bulldog Reporter 

Sharam Fouladgar-MercerThough much of Bulldog Reporter’s content is geared toward public relations and communications professionals, there are a ton of articles that are universally useful to entrepreneurs of all types. For example, Bulldog recently published a piece on how to get the most out of your exhibitor booth at an event or industry-specific conference.

– Sharam Fouladgar-MercerAirPR 

 

6. The Mogul Mom 

Cynthia JohnsonI love The Mogul Mom because it’s for all mom entrepreneurs and covers everything from both worlds. Her articles cover all types of topics, like social media, productivity, product development as well as work-life balance and issues that impact female entrepreneurs.

– Cynthia JohnsonIpseity Media 

 

7. OnStartups 

Andrew O'ConnorOnStartups was started by serial entrepreneur Dharmesh Shah, the founder of Hubspot and Pyramid Digital Solutions. There is extensive content from Shah and guest writers as well as an online Q&A community where software entrepreneurs can engage with others about startups, business management, technical issues and more.

– Andrew O’ConnorAmerican Addiction Centers 

 

8. Wait But Why

Mark KrassnerTim Urban publishes an incredible blog called, Wait But Why, which takes deep dives on topics that range from relationships to space travel. Once in a while, Tim talks about business and entrepreneurship, but I think the real benefit to his blog is seeing how he thinks. Tim takes incredibly complex topics and makes them easy to understand, a skill more people in business would benefit from cultivating.

– Mark KrassnerExpectful 

 

9. The Kiplinger Letters 

Eric MathewsWe need unbiased, accurate business and economic forecasts. For over 90 years both executives and entrepreneurs have quietly used The Kiplinger Letters (not magazine) for such a weekly digest. The Kiplinger Letter consistently provides accurate forecasts of industries, businesses, companies and technologies poised for rapid growth — before the crowd “wakes up.”

– Eric MathewsStart Co. 

 

10. Success 

Brittany HodakAlthough it’s not exactly “off the beaten path,” Success isn’t traditionally considered a business publication. However, it’s the most inspiring magazine I read each month. I read it cover to cover and listen to the executive interviews that accompany each issue. I recommend it to every entrepreneur looking to further his or her company.

– Brittany HodakZinePak 

 

11. Mars Dorian 

Drew HendricksMars Dorian is a blog that mainly focuses on marketing tips that tell you why your business card needs an overhaul, how to get a following on your blog quickly, and how to improve your branding efforts. It’s practical, usable advice.

– Drew HendricksButtercup 

 

12. Duct Tape Marketing 

Peter DaisymeI like Duct Tape Marketing because it is a blog that focuses on developing an online presence beyond just social media. It also includes numerous tips on how to create online videos as well as leverage various tools to generate results-oriented content.

– Peter DaisymeDue Invoicing