Use of Lynda For Your Small Business

You might be new to Lynda.com. To give a brief explanation, it is a site with videos dedicated to learning professional skills on many subject matters. In the field of business, there are multiple videos on sales, advertising, and business management. As you go through each video in its entity, you have the option of posting it on your Twitter, Linkedln, or Facebook. As you will read in this article, that will prove to be a tremendous advantage to helping your small business. This article will look at two key ways that Lynda.com videos will absolutely help your business improve and prosper.

# 1: You Get To Post On Your Social Media Sites That You've Viewed These Videos

One of the most important keys to success in a business as owner is building your credibility as a business owner. People will pay attention to your social media profiles, especially your LinkedLn profile to determine your credibility. If you manage to complete and post videos relating sales and / or advertising, you demonstrate to those watching that you have some training in that area. This will help build your credibility as you continue to work at selling to customers and building your business . It is worth noting that you will not get to post that you viewed the videos unless you view them in their inheritance.

# 2: Assuming That You Have Actually Taken In The Videos In Their Entirety, You Will Be Developing Your Skills

There is no realistic way for Lynda.com to determine whether you were actually taking notes or not as you were viewing each video. But, assuming that you were looking at each video with an active mindset, you have an opportunity to learn various skills and points of view that you never learned before. For example, if you view sales videos, you will learn that rejection is not always a bad thing and that it presents a great opportunity for your business to flourish . There are also interactive videos which have exercise packs. These allow you to follow along with the video and learn various skills such as web design and web programming. If you take the time to follow these videos and do the exercises, you can learn a lot of essential skills that can improve your credibility. Lynda.com can be a gold mine for your business if you take the time to view the videos and learn something from each video.

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What Mo Farrah’s Training Plan Can Teach Small Businesses

As an ex-fitness business owner, I really do not like being unfit.

But I certainly am at the “mo” (if you'll pardon the pun) …

Anyway, after a couple of months of doing zero cardio, I've decided it's time to get fit again.

Now if you bear with me, you're gonna learn a very important business lesson today. Especially if you run a small to medium sized business.

But first, let me tell you this:

Yesterday afternoon, I went on the “Runners World” forum to see if anyone knew of a good routine that would see me go from unfit to, well, fit. After browsing through various threads, another “newbie” had asked for Mo Farrah's routine. Which, on the face of it, does not seem like a bad request. After all, who better to follow than the very best?

Yet in reality, it was the worst idea everrrr.

Why?

Because if a newbie tried to follow Mo Farrah's routine, he'd give up within the first hour (if he did not die of a heart attack first, of course). Simply put, Mo Farrah's routine (whatever that actually is) is meant exclusively for the top 0.0001% of long distance runners in the world.

Certainly not for a newbie runner.

Anyways, you should know that exactly the same thing happens in the marketing world all the time.

James, a hypothetical small business owner, looks at what the very largest companies are doing and tries to copy them. Unfortunately for James, he does not realize that most of these organizations actually prioritize “brand-building” over making sales (even if they do not realize it themselves).

Sounds crazy, right? But it's true. They chuck an absolute TON of money (I'm talking millions and millions) at getting their “name” out there more, mainly in an attempt to satisfy their directors, shareholders, and the media.

But these big companies can afford to do this. Especially when the person (or people) making the marketing decisions are not actually risking their own personal money, so they have no real accountability for their actions.

Yet for the absolute vast majority of businesses, focusing on “brand-building” is a complete and utter waste of time and money. For example, I see far too many business owners fishing for “page likes” on Facebook and “follows” on Twitter, yet how many people who “like” their page actually buy from them? Probably only a very, very small handful (if any at all).

So understand this:

The sole purpose of a small to medium sized business' marketing strategy should be to do one thing, and one thing only …

To make sales .

Brand-building should ONLY be a by-product of making these sales. Not the other way 'round.

So in short, just like a newbie runner should not follow Mo Farrah's running routine, you should not be following a massive organization's marketing strategies.

Instead, follow a proven strategy that's aimed solely at helping small to medium sized businesses.

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One Of The Biggest Dangers Facing Small Businesses – My Tip And Advice For The Small Business Owner

A quote from an interview with the head of a growing company.

Journalist requests:

– “So how many employees are working in your company?”

– “Almost half of them …”

Okay okay, it's a rubbish joke.

It's clear I will not be doing standup anytime soon.

But anyway, even though this is supposed to be a joke, it is still something that's very relevant to you if you employ people. (Or if you're thinking of employing anyone in the future.)

Look, I do not want the hassle of employing anyone.

But then again, I do not have any burning desire to be a multi-millionaire. I'm very happy making good money whilst having a lot of free time; something which owners of multi-million dollar companies do not get.

If you do want to be a multi-millionaire though, then doing it as a one-man-band is going to be pretty much impossible. At some stage, you're probably going to have to start hiring.

Heck, even if you just want to leverage your time better, hiring employees could be a smart thing to do. I mean, a lot of small businesses hire employees.

But I just want to warn you that a lot of people in the workplace are completely incompetent at their jobs.

Yet while large businesses can get away with having these employees on board (even if it just a case of papering over the cracks), small businesses simply can not.

And this is the reason I do not want to hire anyone myself. Even if it mean I've got even more free time.

But if I've never hired anyone personally, how do I know most employees are incompetent?

Quite simply, small business owners have told me. And having these employees on board has ended up costing them thousands. For a small business owner looking to make a living, this could potentially be life changing money.

Plus, back in the day when I was an employee (just the very word still gives me nightmares), I could not believe just how bad some people were at their jobs.

Either they were super lazy.

Or they were just incompetent.

Either way, they were costing the company big-time.

So my friend, here's a quick tip for you:

Sack any of these kind of employees in your company right away.

Literally, right now.

They're costing you money.

Then, make sure you're extra-careful when hiring any employees in the future.

All in all, small business employees can make or break your company. So make sure you really take your time when deciding who to take on board.

This really is one of the most important bits of small business advice you'll ever get.

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Why Relying On Clients Is Dangerous

What are you selling?

A product or service?

If it's a service, you might want to be careful. Especially if you rely on just a few clients to make your living.

Let me tell you a story …

There's a copywriter I know who charges high fees.

He's got a retainer model going with a few clients. They pay him monthly and he writes them a sales letter whenever they want one.

But a few months ago, he found himself in a bit of trouble. Because he lost two of his three big clients in the same month. It really was a huge drop in income and something he never saw coming.

Anyway, after a bit of panicking, I told him to calm down and there was most definitely a solution to all off this …

So I told him to start selling information products .

Info products are absolutely fantastic to sell. I mean, they cost literally nothing to put together (just a bit of your time), yet you can sell them for whatever price you wish.

Anywhere, if this copywriter did start selling info products itself, there would then be less pressure on him to get new copywriting clients.

But did he listen?

No.

I mean, he said he'd do it. But he did not. And he has not replaced those two clients since.

Silly, silly.

So the lesson for you is this:

If you offer a service, no matter what it is, you have to be aware you could potentially lose a LOT of your income overnight.

So I seriously recommend you start selling info products, as well.

At the least, it will give you a bit of a back up income.

But it could quite easily turn out to be your main breadwinner.

And once you've created your product, it takes up barely any time to run at all. Unlike a service.

Pretty cool right?

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How Small Businesses Can Dominate Their Niche – Best Small Business Tip For Success

I know how you feel.

It's not easy running a small business. There's a ton of competition out there, and it's tough knowing how to stand out.

But …

There really is a killer (and very simple) way to stand out from the crowd like a fart in an elevator …

But before I tell you what it is, you have to promise me one thing.

You will actually implement this advice. Because if you do, your small business should make a lot more money.

Do we have a deal?

You say we do? Good. Let us proceed.

The best way to stand out is this:

Make sure you specialize in just ONE specific field / area.

I guarantee almost none of your competitors are doing this. Instead, they're marketing themselves as being “specialists” in all different sorts of things.

For example, when I started out my business in the fitness niche, every other personal trainer said something like: “I specialize in weight loss, muscle gain, over 50s fitness, general fitness, sport-specific fitness …” You get the picture.

It's quite clear to see, they did not actually “specialize” in anything at all.

Yet I positioned myself as an “over 40s women's weight loss coach”. And what happened? I soon became fully booked with clients paying me a lot of money.

So you need to do this in your own niche.

And before you say, “Oh, this does not apply to my niche …” just stop. Because trust me, it does.

Look, if you can be seen as the expert in your niche, then your small business will make a lot of money. Simple.

And because I'm feeling extra generous (what's going on with me today, I'm usually right grinch ?!) I'll give you another great positioning strategy which should see your small business become very profitable.

Here goes:

Write a book.

Seriously, it's a KILLER positioning strategy.

If you publish a book, then your market will see you as a genuine expert (and even a celebrity in your niche). And with self-publishing being so easy these days, you've got no excuse.

Plus, if you're not the best writer in the world, you can just hire a cheap freelance editor (from any freelance site) to look over your work.

Trust me, it really is such a powerful positioning strategy for any small business. I can not stress it enough.

Anyways, following both these tips and your small business has a much greater chance of being successful.

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Tips for Planning Your Business Startup

Starting a business can be a very daunting adventure if a proper plan is not put in place. Most entrepreneurs start up their businesses without putting adequate plans in place to succeed. No wonder one out of every five businesses crumbles within 5 years! If one thing should be taken very seriously, it should be your business plan. This is your “blueprint for success.”

Every business begins from a thought. A thought or idea can only become reality when expected actions are taken. When an idea is conceived, the logical corollary is that such ideas need to be written out, in black and white and on paper; or else the idea will fade off when the enthusiasm that the thought initially broughts subsides. Here, having a written business plan is pertinent if your business is to stand the test of time.

Now, what is a Business Plan?

One definition, according to entrepreneur.com, is that a business plan is a “written description of the future of your business; a document that indicates what you intend to do and how you intend to do it.” If you notice a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have already started a written plan, or at least the first draft of a plan. The business plan itself consist of a narrative and several financial worksheets.

The very act of planning helps you to think things through in a systematic and thorough way. Study and research your market niche if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It may take some time now, but helps to avert costly and disastrous mistakes in future.

In this article, I want to provide a very brief look at the steps involved in planning a business:

1. Identify Your Passion: Knowing what you love doing, even without making money, is the stepping stone in starting any business. Most people enter into a business they know nothing about, and stop after only a few months. Some get tired of their businesses simply because they are not happy with the activities involved in running the business anymore. According to Sabrina Parsons, (CEO of Palo Alto Software) “Know yourself, and work in a job that caters to your strengths. This knowledge will make you happier.”

The reason why many businesses fail in their first five years is because the entrepreneurs do not find fulfillment in running their business anymore. Here, they tend to move on in search for happiness.

You must look within by evaluating yourself and identify what you are good with. If what you are good at gives you happiness, think of how you can monetize it and make it a business. You do this by sharing your passion with others. However, passion alone is not enough in starting a business. You need to plan, set goals and above all, know yourself.

2. Conduct Intense Market Research: As stated above, passion alone is not enough in determining the type of business endeavor you should get involved in. You need to be sure if there are people who are really interested in paying for what you have to offer. Apart from that, you need to identify the category of people who can afford the prices of your products or services, and in what quantity.

You also need to determine how to attract your prospective customers. How do you intend to reach your targeted customers? How do you intend to distribute your products to your targeted customers? How do you know the actual price that potential customers are willing to pay for your products? These and many other things are what you should know before investing your money in starting any business.

3. Write a Business Plan: A business plan is a written document that describes your business idea. Your business plan will give you a sense of direction towards achieving your business goals and objectives. It describes what you want to do, when to do it, where to do it, and how to do it. A written business plan can also be used as a guide running your successful business.

Writing down your plans helps you to anticipate the future of your business. Anticipating your business helps you to identify and possibly avoid any challenge that may bedevil your business in the future.

4. Register Your Business: After you have written down your business plan, you must register your business so that clients will take you serious. Apart from that, registering your business makes your business have a life of its own. It separates you from your business. Any serious minded entrepreneur must have his business registered.

The most common type of business is that of a Sole Proprietor. You run your business yourself and keep accurate books (for tax purposes). You deduct your expenses and pay taxes on the gains. This is the simplest type of business to open. It is also the most vulnerable to having your assets taken away by an angry customer who would file a law suit against you for whatever reason. This is one of many reasons that business owners opt for one of the other types of business set ups.

A Partnership is a type of business where two or more people enter into a business arrangement. Two friends, etc. decide to open a business. If you decide to enter into a partnership, you need a document that details how the business will be divided if the partnership is broken up. It may sound crude to plan this before opening the doors, but it will save a lot of heartache and expenses in the end. Beside, if you never dissolve the partnership – the document is never needed. This is one of those “it is better to have it if it's needed rather than need it and not have it” moments.

Corporations: There are several types of ways to incorporate. I am not going to get involved with a detailed discussion here. My recommendation is if you are planning on incorporating your business – hire an attorney with expertise in this area. There as several types of corporations and your attorney can evaluate the facts surrounding your business and guide you to the most appropriate type of corporation for you to use.

5. Get The Necessary Capital: This is the most difficult aspect of starting a business. Getting the capital to finance a business is the major factor that discourages most entrepreneurs from moving ahead with their plans.

There is no doubt that most businesses start through self-financing. The reason for this is clear – Nobody believes in your dream until there is a physical manifestation. As a potential business person, you must learn to save aggressively in order to meet the financial requirements of operating your business while taking care of your family at the same time. You can also opt for loans from friends, family or corporate bodies (banks, saving and loans, etc.).

A general rule of business states that, in addition to your start-up costs you should also have at least six to twelve months' worth of your family's budget in the bank. In order to finance your company, you will need to match the company's needs to the appropriate financing option. You should seek the assistance of a good accountant in this area. The accountant will be able to advise you what is best in your situation and also offer assistance in tax planning.

6. Taking Risks: Once the financial aspect of starting a business is settled, what risks should you take should be the next line of action. You should keep on testing different things to be able to ascertain what works well for you and your business plan. By accurately listing the acceptable risks you are willing to take before hand (in your business plan) and in what situations these risks would be taken, will give you valuable guidance when obstacles occur (and they will occur).

By having your plan of action already in place, it will be very easy for you to refer back to your well thought out plan and decide on the course of action to take concern a pre-identified obstacle to your business success.

It is important to know from the beginning that you may fail in this business. You may not want to acknowledge this fact. I mean, who wants to “plan” on failing, right? But, by acknowledging this now will help to keep you going when you experience any setback in the future. What matters most in business is your level of discipline, persistence and belief.

Whenever, you experience any failure, go back to your business plan and pinpoint where you missed it so that you can implement the appropriate corrections. If the trouble you are experiencing was not identified in your original business plan, now is the time to add it to your plan.

Take the time to go through all of the steps in identifying and stimulating risks, just as you did when you wrote the original plan. By doing this, you accomplish two things:

1) You are methodically thinking through the problem and determining a solution, and

2) You are now adding this unforeseen problem to your plan! If it ever manifests again, you will be able to quickly determine what you did and if it was effective (saving time and stress later).

The steps above, if followed, will help you in building a top level business that will be your opportunity to change the world! Ensure you do not go into a business without prior planning.

All ways remember the 5Ps – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

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Small Business Storage

Small businesses that have just started or run by the family were highly regarded in the olden times. Everyone and anyone that passed out of college were drilled to learn the craft of business and pass it on to the next generation. In developing countries, small businesses contribute a lot to the economy. When a company now starts, they always have a good amount of inventory stocked up. Therefore in big cities and towns, business companies look to store their goods in warehouses on the outskirts. Easy to transport with minimum time lost.

Renting a business storage space has become a great alternative rather than keeping your inventory in the backroom of your store. Who could benefit from such a service? Well it could be an ideal solution for, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, medical appliances and medicine. If you look up on the Internet there are plenty of storage spaces within the city. These warehouses are light on the pocket and offer you other additional services to the business. A lot of these warehouses offer a lease on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. They are also very flexible if you have a shipment exceeding your space plan. The flexibility in sizing options is limitless.

SIMPLE TIPS WHEN CHOOSING A WAREHOUSE SPACE

Property features and quality of a storage facility varies wildly from location to location. These are some things to consider when choosing a storage company.

• Is it business friendly? By this, it means the will space help you run your business better or not.

• 24/7 accessibility. Make sure the storage facilities are always accessible to you so you can fulfill the customers' needs and bring a smile to their face. It is critical to have 24-hour access.

• Complete security. Safety of your raw materials or goods is vital. Otherwise you are going to have a huge loss in the business. You do not want that to happen.

• Temperature control. If you are lighting certain items like leather, cotton etc, that are sensitive to temperature or humidity you need to see if the space you rent is climate-controlled.

• Frequency of visit. Are you going to be there on a daily / monthly basis? When you open and close the unit you will attract the dust and germs from the outside. Choose a secluded spot.

• Machinery operated. Sometimes you have a larger container being shipped in to the storage spaces. See to it if there is room to get in a forklift for it to be easily mobile.

Whatever your needs, chances are good that a storage providing company will be the ideal business expert for you.

Until then happy boxing!

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What Should You Do When You Are Relocating Your Small Business?

If you are relocating your small business, then this task might seem extremely daunting to you. However, here are a few tips that will help you in making this transition in a smooth and effective manner.

Steps to take care of when relocating your business

• Evaluation of the business – Make sure that you conduct a deep analysis of your business office. This will help to decide what needs to be transported to the new office and what needs to be left behind. Also, this will enable you to plan where to place what in the new office. Thus, you must conduct a thorough search of your office.

• Make a list – Making a list when you are on the move is absolutely essential. This is because the process of moving is a huge responsibility and there might be a few important tasks to do that might slip your mind. So, if you make a to-do list, it will help you to remember the tasks that you might have forgotten otherwise.

• Hire professionals – It is highly recommended that you contact a good business moving company and hire them to do the task. Hiring professionals for moving is a great idea as it makes the process of moving a lot easier. And since they are professionals, they are better equipped to do the task.

• Be more efficient – Although it is the company that will be handing the task of moving your business, you can help speed up the process by being more efficient. For example, you can put your things into plastic boxes and label them accordingly. This will help you keep a track of what is where and also, help you decide what should be moved first.

• Clean before you move – Before the process of packing and moving starts, you must take a few days off and get rid of all the waste and useless things that you do not require anymore. This is important to do because if you do not get rid of all the waste, at the time of moving, you may have to carry all these useless items which would not be of any use at all.

• Inform the sellers – You must inform all your sellers and dealers about your new location so that any bills, letters or other documents get posted to your new office address and not the old one.

• Let your customers know – Let your customers know about your new location. Drop them an email or tell the ones that visit your office. It is necessary to do so, as you do not want your customers to go to your old address and return angrily.

Following these few tips will ensure that your moving experience is free of any hassle and tension.

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Start Your Business In Dubai

Before setting up business in UAE, here are some tips.

Dubai is the first emirate in the UAE to open its property market to foreign ownership. The government has established an entirely different set of rules and regulations to foreign investors. This means procedures are fast-tracked.

The emirate carries the most successful economic performance within the GCC region. It offers a stable financial climate, which helps businesses from start-ups to international companies operate successfully.

Company Registration in Dubai

The first step is to find a reliable legal services team. Otherwise, you'll find yourself under bureaucratic hurdles, full of paperwork. Save yourself from the stress of registration by hiring an expert PRO team.

Applying for registration is through the Department of Economic Development (DED), and preliminary approvals should be obtained from the Licensing Section. Registration for membership at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) is also required.

Here are some of the advantages of hiring a PRO team:

– Focus on your core business to enhance profitability and productivity.

– Process and handle all your transactions efficiently and without any hassle.

– Eliminate management inductive costs and overheads to run such operations

– Generate major savings on unnecessary payroll

– Exemption of additional employee liabilities

Setting up a businesses in Dubai can provide you with good incentives but local knowledge is crucial for foreign investors. A highly qualified team works to ensure your products and services are fully legalized.

Business Partner in Dubai

Legal requirements can be strict. If you set up outside the free zone, the law requires that you have a local partner who will hold the major interest of the business. Be it a company or an individual, the partner will own 51% of the company.

For start-up entrepreneurs, having a local sponsor is a legal Dubai Economic Department (DED) requirement. Finding the right sponsorship for your company is one of the core issues to start your business in Dubai.

Sponsorship takes charge of all the legalities and liaise with the relevant government branch, associated with your start-up. It includes planning, filling up application forms, processing requirements, finalizing legal documents, and more.

Business Setup Services in Dubai

Dubai remains the best place to flex your entrepreneurial muscles, set up a company, or open an offshore branch. The number of expatriate residents has reached the two million mark. Hiring a legal team will cost you money, but it's worth every dollar.

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5 Qualities of Your Cupcake Boxes That Make a Huge Difference

Every cupcake producer knows the importance of using the cupcake boxes. These boxes are not just provided to protect the fragile and mouth watering desert from damages, but they offer some benefits, which can help to enhance the value of your cupcake brand. With the large volume of cupcake in the market, people become more interested when given cupcakes that are packaged in unique cupcake boxes. They see the cupcakes more than food item and of course, the packaging boxes add more appeal to the product.

1. Special window

To you as the manufacturer of the product, it is just a design but this design has a huge impact to your brand and business. With the window design on your boxes, cupcake lovers can easily see how enticing your mouth watering cupcake looks and this might entice cupcake lovers to buy them. They do not have to tear off your packaging boxes to see what is inside you or open them either, the window or die-cut design will give them the opportunity to take a full glass of your mouth watering desert. However, the window design can be placed anywhere on your cupcake boxes. You can place them on the side or on top of your boxes so that potential buyers can get a complete view of your cupcake brand.

2. Special Inserts

Inserts may look simple on the cupcake boxes but they are actually a part and parcel of the success you achieve in your cupcake business. These special design called inserts, helps to present your cupcake products from losing their shape. Originally, your freshly baked cupcake may collapse when transported from one place to another, especially if they are not well protected or secured in their position. However, in terms of protection, inserts are the best option for the cupcake products. It will present your product from collapsing, or colliding during transit.

Inserts also makes it easier to transport more than one cupcake than one place to another. You can have up to four, six, or more cupcakes, transported at a go.

3. Quality Stocks

Cupcakes that are packaged in high quality boxes usually retain their freshness for a long period. This is one added advantage that the cupcake boxes give to products, which makes them more enticing. Everyone likes cupcakes that are fresh, and smells great. They will always come for your brand when they find out about the freshness of your cupcake brand.

However, the material used to produce boxes, are available in different range of thickness. They range between 280 GSM to 550 GSM, to give you different options according to your budget size. You can choose the thickness of material you want for your cupcake box to enhance the popularity of your brand.

4. High attractive

Cupcake boxes are highly attractive. There are a lot of customization options available to enhance the value of these boxes. First, they can be printed with state of the art color technique such as the digital and offset printing technique, which are highly noticed after modern printing techniques. In addition, the attractiveness in terms of colors of the boxes, are made possible by the CMYK and PMS, color technique. However, these color techniques are used to provide high-end boxes that look highly presentable.

5. Shape and sizes

The boxes might look smaller but they actually store up a lot of cupcakes that you can not imagine. However, you can choose any unique size or shape of your cupcake packaging boxes according to your desire. The cardboard stocks used in producing boxes are not just sturdy, but they are also very simple to cut into shape. Although you require professional expertise to deliver the best solution for your cupcake boxes, you also need to plan for the design and style you want for your product.

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Is The SBA Truly Looking Out For Small Business? No

The SBA or Small Business Administration just does not seem to understand the challenges for smaller companies or first-time entrepreneurs. Their focus is on educating new market entrants to all the regulations and rules they must comply with, and helping these businesses secure loans, when what the SBA bought to really be working on ways to reduce the over-regulation on American Businesses, especially the smallest firms. Okay so let's talk shall we? And, no this is not a hit piece on the SBA, there has been enough negative press for that wasteful agency and their dismal performance over the years.

You see, recently I read an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal titled; “SBA Chief Focuses on Access – Maria Contreras-Sweet aims to modernize the agency and help out underserved groups,” by Ruth Simon. The article stated how they were building the online dating version for SBA loans where small business owners would answer questions and then be matched with the most applicable lenders. Recently, access to capital has been cited by the SBA as the number one reason why smaller companies fail, or do not hire employees and grow our economy.

The reality is that any savvy start-up entrepreneur sees the risk of lawsuits, over-regulation, taxes, employee costs, and uncertainty. Also, the way the laws and regulations favor larger competitors and hurt smaller firms. Stupid or naïve future business owners do not understand that and then, are more apt to go into hawk for the outrageous startup costs, and take out a huge loan. The reality is that it is quite a hostile environment for smaller companies and the chances of success are severely diminished. In other words, it's not worth the risk.

So, why is the SBA ignoring the obvious, or are people in Washington DC running the SBA just so ignorant of the reality out there in the real world, or maybe they just do not care. Putting more people into economic enslavement and debt purely because they want a piece at the American Dream is completely disheartening to say the least. It seems we are putting kids into economic enslavement with student loans, small entrepreneurs into debt with SBA loans, and just allowing corporate lending as usual to run away with all the gains while government agencies run block as they drive for the touch-down.

If we want to tap into the small business growth engine, we need to me more fair with this segment of our economy, which employs over 70% of the work. To do that we need to look at all the laws, fees, regulations, financial reporting requirements, employment rules, and taxes we bury them with. Please consider all this and think on it.

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Why You Want to Create a Unique Culture in Your Team

I was having coffee and cake with a colleague recently and took this photo of the courtyard at the café we visited. It had a very relaxed feel to it and we even spied the owner taking a delivery of some potting mix to do some work on his vertical garden. We know because he came over and chatted to us about it. Whilst there are lots of other cafés nearby that my college could have chosen, I'm glad he picked this one as it had a unique feel to it. I will definitely be going back when I am next in the area.

So how does my experience at the café relate to you as a team leader or small business owner?

I think too many leaders are missing out on an opportunity to create a unique culture in their team. Instead, they are too busy focusing on how to compete with others. You see it in cafes all the time. Most of them fit a certain style, almost as though they were designed by the same person. This can make them feel rather impersonal and uninviting plus they do not stand out from the crowd. You can often find yourself trying to choose between them thinking they are much the same and this one “will do”. Their lack of individuality makes them into a commodity so we end up choosing one for reasons that do not needarily keep us coming back.

If you lead a team or run a small business you do not want your team members or your customers choosing you because you “will do”. You want them to feel you offer something different, something that can not be replicated by your competitors. That way they will choose to come back to you for the right reasons and not just out of habit. It also means that when things go wrong they are more likely to be forgiving as they have formed an emotional attachment to you.

Part of your role as a leader is to create a cultural environment where people feel they can be themselves. This is what makes your team unique, everyone being able to bring a bit of themselves to work. So what are you doing to create a unique culture that attracts people and makes them want to come back for more? Or do you expect everyone to conform to some “industry standard” that turns you into a commodity that blends into the crowd with your competitors?

If you need some help to understand your culture and how you can capitalize on it then contact me to discuss how I can help. Often an outsider can pick up on the unique aspects of your team more easily and help you identify ways to use them to your advantage.

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Era Of Cockroach Startup

As much as we abhor cockroaches, they have become the flavor of today's startup ecosystem because of their sheer resilience to wither storms. But what has that got to do with investor sentiments ?! A lot, it sees and that is how the startup world has tied the term Cockroach startup.

While until 2015, investors wrap money at Unicorn companies valued at $ 1 billion or more, this year it seems to be the turn of Cockroach startups that are built on strong business fundamentals, those that are scalable faster and have strong business models. In other words, startups that can wither adverse business climate, sustain on frugal feeds (read low, calibrated funding), plow earnings back into revenue growth, and require relatively less funding to run their businesses.

In the Indian healthcare sector, Practo, NetMeds, Goqii, Lybrate and 1mg have been some of the most talked about investments in recent times. Funds like Ratan Tata-backed Tiger Capital, Sequoia, Angel investors, Norwest Venture Partners etc. have invested collectively invested up to USD 300 M in startups in just one year and have helped entrepreneurs stand among the league of established businesses. Some of these investments even acquired a near-Unicorn status (valued at over a billion dollars) in 2015.

Analyzes in the start-up ecosystem believe that evergreen sectors like healthcare provide immense potential for entrepreneurs to unlock their business ideas into a sustainable business entities. In India, we have already seen start-up noises in healthcare micro-markets like appointment aggregation, cloud-based HIS (SaaS), online medication dispensing, ambulatory care, cutting-edge hardware, cryopreservation and even genomics.

Startups that have it in them to withstand turbulence (be agile and flexible to demand), stay afloat (recover investments, if not make profit) permanently constrained resources (limited investments) are likened to cockroaches.

5 Must-Have Attributes Of Cockroach Startup

1. Ability to survive longer even without much capital infusion

There are many qualities to talk about and all of them are effective, but the list that I have enumerated below are the attributes that are directly impact start-up's P & L statements and bottom-lines.

India's startup ecosystem saw a downturn in 2014-15 fiscal year with plenty of high profile layoffs, stalled startups, and rumored acquisitions. The investors were hesitant to loosen their purse strings thanks to the crash of Chinese stock market in June 2015 and general pessimism on world economy

With such a scenario, an ideal start-ups is the one based on sound business model supported by cost-effective value-chain (product ideation, development, marketing, distribution channels, delivery and after sales support) that can sustain efficiencies and ensure steady cash flows that is plowed back in to the business model

VC funds are like as Seed investors. They will make your big business idea to see light of the day; the entrepreneurs have to keep it running eventually.

2. Ability to sustain profitability at lower business scale

Forget Arrive-and-Conquer mindset! Many start-ups have a utopic vision of scaling their business beyond their capabilities and capital.

Ideas alone will not get you there, funds are needed too. If you are assuming some famed VC capital firm or a Russian Billionaire or a Silicon Valley maverick would latch up to your business, you are in for disappointment!

For a start, a successful start-ups should have sound fundamentals like product demand, short product development cycle and controlled capital expenditure.

In a long run, for the investors it is not about the Turnover (income); it is all about the Leftover (profits).

Smaller scale of operations helps in keeping the things tied initially, develops investor confidence in business model and most importantly gives proverbial pat-on-the-back moment for the start-up team.

3. Captive market: Cockroach startups have a focused, long-term business model with a critical mass of a captive market. Fortune reported the “top reason” startups fail is because they make products no one wants. A careful survey of failed startups determined that 42% of them identified the “lack of a market need for their product” as the single largest reason for their failure. Here, gauging market demand for a product and catering to it efficiently is a bedrock of a successful startup.

4. Unwavering value focus: Many startups do not have a reason to exist. Take away their name and logo from their website and you can not make one from the other. And that is why it is very important to have a distinct value-based proposition to see to your target customers. USP is your company's business card to investors that would make them reach their wallets to invest.

Startups must develop a unique selling proposition (USP). Something that positions them differently, so that investors and more importantly the customers are forced to make an apples-to-oranges comparison when comparing them with competitors.

5. Sound business model: Startup should have a clear, distinct and innovative business model to deliver value to targeted customer segment and provides returns to stakeholders (eg investors). An important attribute of a successful cockroach startup is laser-like focus on a narrow target market, sometimes called a niche. One such niche in healthcare is cloud-based hospital information system that is adapted by a startup company called Attune Technologies that provides cloud-based health information systems for clinical chains. The startup recently raised $ 10 million from Qualcomm Ventures.

Above attributes backed by a well-integrated founding team and agility to adapt to a landscape of extreme uncertainty bodes well for a start-up success.

So there you have it. These attributes are not comprehensive but certainly covers important points for a start-up entrepreneur to cover before starting a venture.

Read here about these 10 Indian healthcare start-ups that score well on the above cockroach-liked startup attributes.

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Finish It Up Friday: Why I Don’t Require My Team to Work on Friday

Friday – oh how that word can invoke a series of fleeting emotions ranging from dread to delight.

I have coined the phrase Finish It Up Friday as a way to make a mindset shift from dread to delight. It is the day to sleep in an extra hour. It is the day to enjoy that first cup of morning coffee knowing there are no real deadlines for the day. There is no better way to start a Friday than listening to the birds chirping, reading morning inspiration, and enjoying that first cup of coffee.

I and my team work long arduous hours Monday through Thursday. We do not prescribe to a normal 8 hour day. My day is typically starting by 5 or 6 am and ends around 10 or 11pm. My team works diligently providing fabulous services and meeting deadlines so that I meet my deadlines so my clients meet theirs. Much of what my team does for me is often not seen by others. They are busy researching and gathering statistics for my clients or for whatever program I am currently working on. They are busy writing media releases, preparing marketing materials, proofreading and taking care of the invoicing.

Just as many of us observe Sunday as a day of rest I and my team observe Friday as a day of rest. Adopting a casual Friday allows me and my team to recharge our batteries. When we have a fresh brain we are more creative. Also, since they know that I do not expect them to be available on Friday they know they can schedule personal appointments and plan their time off accordingly without fear that there will be work that needs to be completed.

Not much quality work gets completed when you or your employees are mentally exhausted. Using Friday to follow up with clients, finish up a few tasks or projects, and plan for the following week is a great way to unwind and prepare to enjoy the weekend. I am usually only at my desk a few hours on Friday morning taking care of loose ends. Making time to review my week and self-reflect on what went surprisingly well and what was a bit off brings me growth opportunities. I learn from the lessons of the week.

Designing a plan for the upcoming week has shown to increase productivity and increase income. Taking time to plan the tasks I will delegate, prepare for client sessions, and set aside time for writing also reduces the stress that would normally be felt if I had not planned to enjoy a successful week. I have learned when planning what I will delegate I must set up my emails to my team so they do not post until Monday morning because they are so dedicated they will work on the tasks over the weekend regardless of the due dates.

Finish It Up Friday is a great way to self-reflect on your week, finish up projects or tasks that did not get completed, and prepare for the new upcoming week. Know your energy level and planning for self-care is key to success. I encourage you adopt a Finish It Up Friday and allow your employees extra time off. They will reward you with continued hard work, an increase in productivity and creativity as well as loyalty.

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6 Ways to Grow Your Business Like Olivia Pope

Here are 6 ways to Grow Your Business like Olivia Pope:

1. Know WHO you serve.

Olivia knows her clients. She can leakage most situations based on the fact that she knows WHO she works for and the players on the field. She does her research. Stop now and examine how clear you are in regards of who is your ideal customer.

Pinpoint as many characteristics as you can for your customers: their interests, place in life, aspirations, tastes in music, literature, values, family constitution, etc. You could also get started using online tools like Facebook Audience Insights or even your website's Google Analytics to help you get accurate information on the people who are interested in buying what you're selling.

Explore your audience by setting the stage for conversation and relationship building.

2. Know your worth.

Shake your mind a little and even while hunting, appreciate the power of your tools.

How much of an impact would it have on your business for you to project onto your customers the energy of these words:

“I am very good at what I do. I am better at it than anyone else. And that is not arrogance, that is a fact.”

While you do not have to save the forward attitude, having confidence in your work inspires confidence in those who want to work with you. Confidence pays and one of the best ways I know how to do that is lead by example.

Acknowledge and celebrate every single accomplishment in your business-it will help you build momentum and translate that into a business relationship that will appreciate what you have to offer

3. Find your Gladiators.

As amazing as Liv is, one thing I really admire her for is that she's not afraid to ask for help (an important trait of any business owner). She brings in gladiators and supports them and accepts their support in return.

“I CAN NOT LEAVE THEM – THEY NEED ME. I'M THEIR GLADIATOR.”

Not only does she ask for help, she stands by them loyally. It's Pope & Associates and they're all gladiators. Gladiators are trained to fight and handle the toughest of situations. They do not give up on each other even when they want to. Do not give up on your people. You are their gladiator.

This means training them, mentoring them during the hard times and guiding them when things just are not quite right.

4. Let them do their job

One thing I really admire about Olivia is her ability to let go; once she vets and trains her gladiators, she lets them work their magic. Once your gladiators are on board, trust their ability. Train them for success and then lead with determination. Do not try to overdrive yourself to manage every single detail, trust your picks and their talents, which is just another way to trust yourself.

5. Never give up … there's ALWAYS a way if you really want it

Be ready for challenges, and more than that, be ready to embrace the demand for energy, clarity and poise that hell or high water might bring into your path. Keep your strategies flexible enough for adaptation, whether it's for a sponsor's need, a customer request, an event day change, or a complete market shift.

Yes, failure can happen. But, make failure a possibility that's along your resolution to find smart and creative ways of making your goals.

Olivia Pope once said, “… if you leap and you try, and it does not work out, it's not on you.” Even in the middle of a technology break down or after a shaking clash with your strong-willed partner or customers, keep considering your options until an opportunity is achieved. Until the result of your effort turns up.

6. Stand by your products or service

One thing that stands out most to me about Liv is her ability to face an adversary with complete confidence. While she is not ever without insecurities, vulnerabilities or obstacles, Olivia stands by her beliefs, mission and business. She does not let anyone else's doubts or questions falter her belief in her mission. [BONUS] Make time for you. Just as I drink my own glass of cabernet sauvignon from Jordan Winery or Nickel & Nickel Winery, you'll see Olivia indulge in her own glass of pinot or dancing to the sound of the music. “I'm choosing Olivia. Olivia is dancing. Now, you can dance with me or you can get off my dance floor. I'm fine dancing alone.” – Olivia Pope. Make room to pause the push. This tip is meant to underline and bold the importance of taking care of yourself, so you can always show up in your final for your relationships with customers, sponsors, team, etc. A tip for this: PLAN ON IT. Do not wait for the free time to show up on it's own or for the struggle to bring you to the ground. Keep yourself in mind as the one who can make things happen and invest in making yourself a first rate version gladiator.

Growing a business is, at it's core, about attending to your strengths in yourself, your team, and your market. It's not a hit and miss, it's a build up process – command it.

Use these tips to channel your own Livvie to embrace a little power in growing your biz.

If the fictional Olivia can do it, you can too.

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