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What Are the Two Best and Worst Things About Owning A Business?

What Are the Two Best and Worst Things About Owning A Business?

I found this discussion on a Facebook post from another business owner: “What are your two best and worst things about owning a business?”

I feel compelled to write about this post, because I think it’s an important question. I found that many of the comments that were posted below the original question lacked meaning, in my opinion. There were comments such as they “no paid time off”, and assumptions about good employees or bad employees. There were also comments talking about not having a boss, setting your own hours, being at kids events, tax season, flexible hours, higher pay than as an employee, or picking your customers that you want to work with…and the list goes on.

I want to ask the question to our Wright Stuff Radio following, what are the best two things about owning your own business?

For me, I have to pause and think about that question before I can answer. Because when I answer that question, my answer has to have emotion – there is a great deal of feeling behind it for me. If I am quick to rattle off my two worst things about owning a business, I have to have a reason for my two best to supercede those two worst.

The two best must overpower the two worst so that I can validate why I do what I do each day. I must have those two be so strong that I’m willing to sacrifice for something greater than what I have right now.

One comment on the original Facebook post really resonated with me. The person said “you can follow your dream”.

Isn’t that why we are in business – that we have some sort of fantasy about how our business looks, how it feels, and where we see ourselves and our company? This is what motivates us to get up each day, this is what we tell our friends what we do. This is the vision we create in our business. The vision is how we get employees to come work for us, this vision is the why customers buy from us, and ultimately our dream is our vision of where we are going. It gives us something to strive for, and hopefully reach one day.

From the many comments on what are the worst things about business, we can all come up with our own things we don’t like. Those are the things we have to do whether we like it or not.

For the best two things, if you can’t answer those that will inspire someone else, then think about it for awhile. What is it that you like so much about your business – what gives you the strongest feeling? Feelings and emotions are what drives us, and must inspire us, our employees, and attract customers.

So – what about you? Think about your top two best things about owning a business, what are they?

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5 Ways to Lead by Example

5 Ways to Lead by Example

Leading by example drives your employees to work efficiently and smoothly. How well you lead greatly affects how well they perform.

Work Hard

One of the most important aspects in leading by example is working hard. You need to show your employees how to do things and how hard work got work got you into the position you are in. If you are working hard your employees will be more motivated and likely to work hard as well, but if you are lazy it will cause your team to believe that laziness is acceptable in your business.

Communication

Effective communication is key to success in a business. Good communication builds trust between the employer and their employees, and amongst the employees themselves. Talk to your employees about their work, and take extra care to listen to them.

Have frequent meetings with your employees to discuss any concerns or questions they may have. Listen carefully to address the questions and concerns they have. Listening to your employees concerns and questions will show them you care and that you want to make the workplace more comfortable and effective.

The more consistent your meetings are, the more effective your employees will work as a team. Showing employees how to communicate efficiently will get them to communicate adequately back to you and to other employees.

Treat Everyone Equally & With Respect

Treat all your employees equally. You do not want to be known for picking favorites as it will affect the dynamic of your team. If you were to let something slide for an employee you liked more than another employee, it would instantly create tension amongst the team. The other team member will be upset with you and the employee who is being favorited. This is especially true when it comes to time to give out promotions, employees will feel cheated and that the person who got the promotion whether or not they deserved it got it because of favoritism.

Treating all your employees with respect will encourage them to treat you and other employees with respect. When working in a business that relies heavily on customer service showing respect to everyone is most important. If you show respect for the chain of command and your employees will do the same.

Constantly Teach

Training new employees into the company with policies and how to do things will give them a better understanding. It can be demoralizing for a new employee to start a position, and be punished for something they simply didn’t know. Take the time to train your employees, and develop a plan for continued learning as they progress in the business.

Constantly Learn

Your employees can be a great asset in your company. Having additional insight from these individuals with a unique perspective can help to drive innovation. In order for this to happen, you need to maintain a student mentality – even as a leader. By keeping an open mind, and encouraging new ideas, you will teach your employees to adopt the same mentality.

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Content Consumption & The Generation Gap

Content Consumption & The Generation Gap

When many businesses start a social media strategy – they hone in on what their competitors are doing, what the current famous experts are telling them to do, or they stick with platforms that make them feel comfortable. While all of these items can contribute to a direction for an overall strategy, there is one major component missing from these sources: What does your audience want?

Today, we’re dealing with three generations with major purchasing power: Baby Boomers, GenXers, and Millennials. Before you begin creating a strategy for your content, it’s important to identify which generation fits your audience demographic. Then, create a plan that reaches them where they are.

Content Consumption: Baby Boomers

Surprisingly, Baby Boomers spend more time consuming content online than any other generation. However, they are particular about where they get the content, how they share it, and which brands they choose to trust.

Baby Boomers tend to review their content from a laptop or desktop rather than mobile devices.

Baby Boomers primarily use digital media to stay current on news and political updates. In fact, Baby Boomers seek content about world news 94.7% more than Millennials.

Content Consumption: GenXers

GenXers and Millennials are pretty much neck in neck regarding the time they spend consuming content online. Unlike Baby Boomers, GenXers are becoming more mobile-friendly. However, many GenXers still use laptop and desktop devices more often than mobile devices.

What are GenXers reading these days? The top ranking content for this demographic was healthy living and wellness information.

Content Consumption: Millennials

Millennials are the most mobile-friendly demographic. In fact, 52% of users who use mobile devices as their primary way to view content are Millennials.

What is the top-ranking content for Millennials? Tech-related content is extremely popular with this demographic, followed by content fueled by nostalgia (think Throwback Thursday).

Key Stats

Across all three demographics, Facebook still reigns supreme in content sharing – by far. Users across all three generations are 5-40x more likely to share content on Facebook than other popular platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you are targeting GenXers, Twitter may be a solid option for your strategy. Members of Generation X are 70.4% more likely to use Twitter as a primary content sharing platform than Baby Boomers. At the same time, Baby Boomers are 92% more likely to use Google+ than Millennials.

Another important statistic is that 76% of all three generations find content posted by other consumers to be more honest than brand content. So – when creating your strategy, you need to engage that audience to leave comments and reviews on your platforms to back up your brand messaging.

Contributor: Erika Heeren is the founder of Heeren Content & Strategy and serves as Project Manager for Wright Stuff Radio. A 14-year marketing and public relations veteran, she has a professional focus on integrated media spanning 16 different industries. She works with small businesses and non-profit organizations to provide affordable, professional-quality content development, marketing, and public relations services.

Heeren has been featured in NextGen Military Spouse, Veteran on the Move, Wright Stuff Radio, and Social Media Week.

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Am I Ready to Hire An Employee?

Am I Ready to Hire An Employee?

For new business owners, one of the most challenging milestones is knowing when it’s time to hire your first employee. Hire too early, and you risk cash flow issues and earning a poor reputation as an employer. Hire too late, and your clients may feel the effects of you stretching yourself too thin.

The decision to hire that first employee means different things for different businesses. However, there are a few things you can consider to see if you’re ready to take that next step in your business.

Are You Turning Down Work?

This is a big indicator, especially in the service-based industry. Before you hire a new employee, you want to make sure that there is enough work for them to do.

If you find yourself turning down business (and money) because you simply cannot take on any more clients – it may be time to hire part- or full-time help.

A word of caution here: There is a huge difference between hiring because you are too busy, and hiring because there is more opportunity. The work you have for your employee should contribute to your revenue, not to simply take things off your plate.

Is the Investment Worth the Return?

In order to scale your business, you’re going to need to hire new employees. However, timing is critical. Cash flow issues are one of the biggest contributors to small business failure. Part of that comes from entrepreneurs who don’t understand the true cost of hiring a new team member.

Do your research. What will you pay the employee? Can you pay a fair wage? Will you be able to afford health benefits, tax payments, insurance payments, and other requirements? You need to understand exactly how much you will need to invest into that employee, and set expectations for the return on that investment.

If the numbers don’t work out, you may not be ready.

Do I Know Enough About My Business to Train an Employee?

This one can be tough for many entrepreneurs. You may think you know your business and your industry, but do you know it enough to teach someone with potentially limited experience? Do you know it well enough to educate an experienced professional on your brand?

Success with a new employee is highly dependent on your ability to effectively train them.

Are you ready to be a leader?

For more information about hiring your first (or one hundredth) employee, be sure to tune in to Wright Stuff Radio!

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4 Tips for Finding the Right Stock Images for Social Media

4 Tips for Finding the Right Stock Images for Social Media

There are a lot of social media messages out there. In fact, as of 2015, there were 50 million active small business accounts on Facebook alone. Even if a fraction of those accounts are pushing content on a regular basis, it’s still a lot of competition. What can you do to stand out? Part of the answer can be found in your stock image selection.

Social Media Imagery By the Numbers

A Kissmetrics study found that content with relevant images commands 94% more views that content with passive imagery. Xerox released a study that showed that consumers are 80% more likely to read a piece of content if it contains colorful visuals. Buffer released data that suggests that social media users are 40 times more likely to share visual content than plain text.

What can we learn from this data? The stock photography you use has a powerful impact on your social media strategy.

So, how do you choose the right imagery for your brand?

#1: Do It Legally

Avoid the temptation to simply download images straight from Google. Invest in a stock photography package from Adobe Stock, iStock, Getty Images, or a similar company. This can save you thousands of dollars in litigation for copyright infringement.

#2: Keep the Text to a Minimum

Facebook will actually prevent you from promoting posts that contain more than 20% text. To avoid this, only select pictures that represent your topic or focus area. Avoid images that state the topic in big, bold letters. Your goal should be to grab the focus of the user, then to hook them with your content.

#3: Incorporate People Into Your Imagery

The images you choose for your social media marketing should include people as often as possible. This helps your user relate to that image. In order to be truly effective, use a diverse segment of models in the images to demonstrate an inclusive brand, and to engage a broader audience.

#4: Capture the Feeling

Whether you’re sharing an image for your website, blog, a quote, or any other post – your goal should be to relate to a human emotion. Your images need to match the emotion associated with the content. That may be “trust” or “confidence” or “security.” You’ll find much more success by hitting that emotion than posting a lovely landscape.

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3 Tips for Balancing Small Business Management & Family

3 Tips for Balancing Small Business Management & Family

Finding a work-life balance can be challenge for any professional. Achieving that balance between your personal life and your small business can feel next to impossible. When you have a 9-5 job, it’s easy to leave the office at the office. When you run a small business, the work tends to follow you wherever you go.

While perfect balance may be unattainable, there are a few things you can do to avoid allowing your personal life to suffer when running a small business.

#1: Set Work Hours

This can be extremely challenging for small business owners, but it is necessary to set boundaries for yourself to protect the time with your family. You may have a few days where you have to work longer hours and can spend less time with the family. Try to offset this by working fewer hours on the weekends and a couple evenings during the week.

#2: Ask for Help

As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. If you’re a parent, that’s more responsibilities. You want to do your best for both sides of this equation, but it’s important to know your limits. Seek out the help of your partner, family, or friends. Regardless of your situation, open communication is key to a sustainable approach to finding that balance.

#3: Get Organized

Investing time upfront to get yourself organized will go a long way toward helping you manage your business and still have time for your family. Start by setting realistic goals for yourself. Take the time to build your calendar every week, and have the discipline to stick to it.

Finding a balance between work and family can be tough for even the most organized entrepreneur. Open communication and establishing clear boundaries are both key to success in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for yourself, and your family.

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3 Team Building Exercises to Boost Employee Performance

3 Team Building Exercises to Boost Employee Performance

In a small business, every employee is a key employee. Because you have a smaller team, the need for mutual respect and understanding is vital to the success of your company. Unfortunately, getting your employees to bond can be a challenge. Every member of the team has their own needs and goals – finding a common ground is no easy task.

Relying on the standard company picnic may not be enough to hash out communication issues and strengthen the bond within your team. Here are three easy team building exercises you can use to increase employee performance overall in your business.

#1: Volunteer Together

This can be a win-win all around. A team activity with a focus on supporting the community can help to bring your diverse team together. It can also help you identify the leaders in your organization.

Make sure that you include everyone in the planning process for maximum impact. Ask your employees to send in ideas for volunteer opportunities. Then, hold a vote. This will help your team to feel like their values matter to you as an employer.

#2: Brainstorming

Whether you’re starting out on a new client project, or if you’re just looking for ways to improve your business practices – brainstorming can be a great way to build your team. Gather all of your pertinent employees together and set some parameters that encourages open-minded and positive thinking:

– Ban negative statements like “That will never work” or “That is impossible”
– Ban “disclaimers” like “I haven’t really thought this through..” or “I’m not sure if this will work, but…”
– Set a time limit: 15 minutes of free brainstorming.
– Give everyone a chance to speak by going around the room, person by person.
– Use encouraging words to reinforce desired behaviors. “I love it” or “Let’s try it” are both good options.
– Write down ALL of the ideas. Assign different team members to explore the ideas that make the “cut.”

#3: Problem Solving Games

Everyone needs a little fun now and then, right? Problem solving games are a great way to give your employees a break, while still honing their skills as a team. Here are a few to try:

Back-to-Back Drawing: Give one player a picture of a random shape, and another player a blank piece of paper and a pen. Have the first player describe the shape to help the second player recreate the picture. This helps to identify communication issues, and promote unity.

Picture Puzzle: Take a picture, and cut it into puzzle pieces. Give each member of your team one of the pieces, and tell them to recreate the piece five times the original size. Then, bring everyone back together to put all the pieces together. This teaches team members that the work that they do as individuals has a powerful impact on the team as a whole.

Egg Drop: An old classic! Split your employees into teams and instruct them to design and build a packaging that will keep an egg from cracking when dropped from the roof/balcony/etc. This helps to promote collaboration and open communication.

What team building activities have worked in your business?

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Guest: 6 Steps To An Efficient Marketing Budget

Guest: 6 Steps To An Efficient Marketing Budget

A key to a successful marketing strategy is to have an efficient budget. If you are just starting out in business or have limited experience in marketing, it is easy to get overwhelmed at the prospect of deciding where to allocate your funds.

Why Do I Need a Budget?

A marketing budget should serve two vital purposes:

The first is to ensure that you have enough resources to accomplish the strategy you’ve set for your business. If the
numbers don’t match, you need to prioritize your marketing efforts.

The second purpose is to help you track the return on your investment. You need to know exactly how much you spent on
each marketing avenue to determine how much you made from that approach.

The process of creating a digital marketing budget doesn’t have to be complicated to tell you what you need to know. Let’s break down the process of creating an efficient budget.

Step #1: Setting Goals

Before you do anything, you need to establish what you want to accomplish with your marketing. Your goals will be unique based on your market and your industry. You want to have a combination of long-term and short-term objectives before you start working on your budget. Without that direction, how will you know if you’ve been successful?

Try this exercise: Write down your goals for six months, one year, three years, and five years down the road. Once you have your list, check each of your goals against the following parameters:

1. Is this goal specific? Is it significant? Does it stretch me to my potential?
2. Is this goal measurable? Does it motivate me?
3. Is this goal attainable?
4. Are there actions I can take now to get closer to achieving this goal?
5. Is this goal reasonable?
6. Is there a way to track my progress toward this goal?
7. Can I give this goal a deadline?

Once you have pinpointed your goals, it’s time to get to work!

Step #2: Set Your Total Annual Budget

If you are just starting out, this can be a difficult task. The standard rule is 6-10% of your revenue (or projected revenue), depending on your industry. However, today’s tech businesses are using up to 30% or more of their annual revenue on marketing outreach. It really depends on your comfort level.

Regardless of what you decide, using this percentage model helps you grow your marketing at a sustainable rate. Once you have your first year under your belt, you can continue to invest more into your marketing as your company grows.

Step #3: Do Your Research

There is a level of trial-and-error in marketing. However, you can reduce this and be more efficient with your budget if you do your research ahead of time. Take the time to thoroughly review your industry, current trends, and study the behaviors of your target audience.

In this stage, you should create buyer personas detailing your key audience segments. Buyer personas will help you identify exactly where your ideal customers get their information, what (or who) influences them, and what problems you can solve.

You should also reach out to a variety of marketing and advertising providers to get an idea of the cost to promote your business on the platforms your target audience prefers. The more information you can find upfront, the easier it will be to set a budget that works.

Step #4: Set Your Strategy

Once you know all about your target audience, and the cost of marketing through different avenues – you’re ready to build a strategy.

Consider: Out of the platforms that your audience is using, which are in your price bracket? What are your competitors doing? How can you set yourself apart?

A good rule of thumb is to pick at least three different marketing outlets. That may be a dynamic website, social media, and search engine optimization. It may be a website, social media, and a TV ad campaign. You can always add more outlets, but if you’re just starting out – don’t be afraid to focus your efforts in a few avenues that you know will work.

Step #5: Allocate Funds

Once you have your strategy and a general cost breakdown for each approach, you can earmark portions of your budget for each segment of your marketing. Be sure to factor in one-time fees like design as well as monthly and annual fees. Remember, the running of the promotion is only half the battle! Will you outsource your content development, or will you come up with original social media and blog posts yourself? Do you want a starter website, or are you going to invest in a snazzier presentation?

There is no wrong answer, but keep in mind that each of these items has a substantial impact on the budget you will have left over for the actual promotions.

Step #6: Update Often

A lot can happen within a small business in a year. Priorities change. Opportunities change. Cash flow will change. It makes sense that your budget will change during a year. Revisit your budget every month, and make sure you are staying on track. The more in tune you are with your budget, the easier it will be to make smart choices when critical decisions or opportunities arise.

Need help creating your annual strategy and budget? Heeren Content & Strategy offers a variety of services to fit the unique needs of small businesses. Schedule a free consultation!

Contributor: Erika Heeren is the founder of Heeren Content & Strategy and serves as Project Manager for Wright Stuff Radio. A 14-year marketing and public relations veteran, she has a professional focus on integrated media spanning 16 different industries. She works with small businesses and non-profit organizations to provide affordable, professional-quality content development, marketing, and public relations services.

Heeren has been featured in NextGen Military SpouseVeteran on the MoveWright Stuff Radio, and Social Media Week.

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One-Day Business Summit Offers Business Development and Growth Tips

One-Day Business Summit Offers Business Development and Growth Tips

Aspiring entrepreneurs, new business owners and those looking to grow their businesses are encouraged to attend a one-day summit on how to successfully create and grow a business. The event is presented by the University of Idaho Boise and will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 at the Riverside Hotel, 2900 West Chinden Boulevard.

The “Business Essentials Summit: Elevate Your Business” includes workshops from local business owners, entrepreneurs and organizations such as Trailhead Boise, Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, University of Idaho Small Business Clinic, Zions Bank Business Resource Center, Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho Revenue Service, Keiretsu Forum, Idaho State Tax Commission, Idaho Industrial Commission, Buy Idaho, Boise Public Library, New Ventures Lab, Debt Reduction Services Inc., Department of Environmental Quality, and Idaho Housing & Finance.

Attendees who register by April 14 can choose between a “Ready to Launch” track or a “Go Higher” track covering marketing, social media, business law, taxes, financing, innovation, hiring talent and more. Entrepreneur Sylvia Hampel, president of Clearview Cleaning and recipient of the Idaho Small Business of the Year and Top Owned Women Company in Idaho awards, is the keynote speaker. Marc Chopin, dean of the University of Idaho College of Business and Economics, will present the closing session.

“Entrepreneurs and leaders of successful enterprises benefit from a network of peers and mentors,” Chopin said. “At one point all businesses are start-ups and all businesses that succeed face a similar set of challenges: landing and retaining customers, product development cycles, raising capital, finding and engaging talented employees, meeting payroll, and the list goes on. Events such as the Business Essentials Summit provide a forum to bring together resources, content experts, peers and mentors thereby enhancing the prospects of successfully growing a business. We are proud to support those working to build their enterprises.”

The all-day summit is $22 and includes lunch. A free networking session with presenters and organizers is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. For more information about the summit or to register, please visit uidaho.edu/BES.

About UI
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is one of only 72 land-grant research universities in the United States. From its residential campus in Moscow, UI serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Coeur d’Alene, Boise, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, and Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 11,000 students statewide, UI is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. UI competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.

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Networking Survival Strategies for Introverts

Networking Survival Strategies for Introverts

Networking is a key component to success in owning a small business. However, if you’re an introvert it can be a daunting prospect. If networking gives you stress or anxiety, there are a few ways you can adjust your practice to make it work for your unique personality.

#1: Start Small

When you’re first starting to network, you may feel like you have to do everything all at once. This is a quick way to overwhelm yourself and sour your perception on the practice of networking. Instead, take small steps. Set a goal to attend one or two meetings a week, and build from there as you become more comfortable.

#2: Talk About What You Love About What You Do

As an introvert, talking about your accomplishments or “tooting your own horn” may seem too far out of your comfort zone. Instead, focus on why you started your business, who you’re helping, and why you love it. Your passion will shine through, and that will help to attract a diverse and engaged network.

#3: Supplement with Technology

While nothing can replace face-to-face interaction, you can take your networking efforts a step further with technology. Social media networking can be a great compliment to an in-person practice. Did you make a connection at a networking meeting? Connect with them on social media as an easy segway to keep the conversation going. Just remember to take it back to the face-to-face interaction (take them to coffee, etc.).

#4: Be a Great Listener

As an introvert, there’s a good chance that you are an excellent listener. Instead of stressing yourself out over carrying on a conversation, focus on learning more about the other person. They will feel like you care, and aren’t just out to get a connection from them. This can actually work to your advantage!

Is there a right way to network? Check out our latest podcast for tips from sales and networking expert Scott Marker!

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