Life Is Short. Make The Most Of It.

What does it take to be successful in life? There’s no simple answer, but history has shown that there are practices that can maximize your chances of a productive, happy life. Below are the top life lessons contributed by various people:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Freeman, who works for Missouri State University’s public safety division and is a former pastor and cop, advises:

1. Realize that people don’t care as much as you think they might.

Most people won’t notice that you bought a new car or got a promotion, and you shouldn’t be basing your happiness on their judgments anyway. On the flip side, if they’re showering you with attention, don’t let it go to your head.

2. The people who truly care about you aren’t interested in your accomplishments and possessions; they’re interested in you.

It’s called love, and you’ll know when someone congratulating you on your new job is jealous or truly happy for you. When you find people who love you, do everything you can to hold onto them, because they’ll be your foundation.

3. Arranging your life around money won’t make you happy.

Focus on your passion, not your paycheck. Freeman says he knew a man who spent his career amassing six figures in savings, but died of cancer before he could even touch it.

4. Debt is not a necessary burden of adulthood.

If you’re making an investment in your career by going to school, then your student debt is something you’ll need to manage. But just because it’s become normative, do not consider debt a rite of passage into adulthood. It can present a dangerous imbalance of your finances.

5. Rhetoric is powerful.

Figure out what elicits certain responses from people, and you’ll be better able to influence others. “When you know how to speak in order to change someone’s mind, to instill confidence in someone, to quiet the fears of a child, then you will know this power firsthand,” writes Freeman.

6. You have a responsibility to everyone, and a responsibility for only yourself.

Freeman thinks that by merely existing we have a responsibility to recognize the humanity in everyone and offer help to those in need. Ultimately, however, you have control over only yourself, and it’s on to you to find success and happiness.

7. Prepare for the unexpected.

Do all that you can to understand the way things work, whether it be how your company functions or how your government is operating. But understand that no amount of knowledge can prepare you for chaos that will inevitably hit you throughout your life. Always have a Plan B.

8. You can’t let others define you.

While humans are built to be part of communities, don’t let other people or ideologies tell you who you are.

9. You must always go beyond what is required.

To become successful, outperform the other guy. And when you’re at the top, compete with yourself.

Christopher Graves, the global CEO of Ogilvy PR, says:

10. Self-awareness is endlessly valuable.

If you can see yourself the way others see you, you will be able to work with and get along with others more easily.

11. Biases affect everything you do.

Your worldview works its way into every decision you make. If you know your biases, you can minimize acting selfishly and do what is right for the situation.

12. Living in the present will keep you focused.

Accept that the past can’t be changed, and make the most of what’s in front of you.

13. People who are very different from you can enrich your life.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can limit your creativity, but if you seek out new perspectives, you grow faster and learn more.

14. Travel. Travel more.

Not only will being exposed to other ways of living give you a new perspective on life, it will take your brain off autopilot and allow you to return to work refreshed.

Mike Leary, a psychotherapist, says:

15. It’s important to keep taking risks until you find your passion.

If you haven’t found a job that makes you happy, don’t settle.

16. You must take care of your health.

You can’t focus on your career if you’re continually set back by indulging your vices or ignoring health problems.

17. Your reputation must be protected.

Guard your reputation with all that you have. Make habits of being honest, reliable, and kind, and others will notice.

18. Emotions should not guide decision-making.

A knee-jerk reaction influenced by anger or panic can destroy a lifetime of work in one moment. Wait until you are calm before making a big decision.

19. Forgive others and yourself.

Strangers and loved ones alike will hurt and disappoint you. React accordingly, but do not hold grudges. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to fuel hatred.

20. Seek a greater purpose.

You live in a world much bigger than yourself. Figure out how you’d like to give back.

An anonymous poster writes:

21. Life is short.

Use a sense of urgency to make the most of your time.

22. There’s a lot you don’t know.

If there’s a task you can delegate to someone better suited for it, then do it. If there’s a discussion about something you’re not sufficiently knowledgeable about, resist the urge to jump in.

23. You need to be honest with yourself.

If you’re going to grow as a person, it’s important to see unpleasant things for what they are.

Jay Bazzinotti, a writer, says:

24. Happiness is a choice.

Your attitude is a decision. Choosing to be happy and optimistic, regardless of the situation, yields more success than negativity.

25. Confidence will take you places.

When you believe in yourself, others tend to believe what you have to say.

26. Everyone is afraid.

Realize that everyone is afraid of failing. The successful ones know how to accept their fears and keep anxiety from restraining them.

27. Everyone hurts.

That’s why it’s important to be kind to everyone. Even a small gesture of kindness can have a big impact.

28. Nothing is perfect.

Unlike in the movies, the good guys don’t always win. Appreciate what you have, and you’ll be stronger and happier because of it.

Gloria Garcia adds:

29. You can learn from the countless successes before you.

It’s good to have heroes. Borrow liberally from their advice, and you will find what works for you.

And Quinn KT thinks:

30. Luck is the most elusive aspect of success.

It can be easy to give up when you’re talented and work hard but aren’t getting a break. Remember that you find good fortune by constantly moving forward.


Contributed by businessinsider.com 

Win New Customers With LinkedIn: 4 Tips

Regardless of the size of your company, LinkedIn can be an excellent way to find new customers, according to Michael Pedone of SalesBuzz.com. Here’s his step-by-step method:

1. Conduct appropriately targeted searches.

First, you probably want to sign up for a LinkedIn Premium account, because you’ll get bigger and better search results that way. However, you can do most of the below with just a vanilla account.

LinkedIn’s “advanced search” feature (it’s to the right of the regular “search” function) allows you to locate potential customers (i.e., connections) using criteria such as vertical industry, geographical location, job title, and so forth.

The easiest way to locate potential customers is search on the basis of where and to whom your product has sold in the past. To do this, look up your former customers! See how they’re listed and use that as the model to find similar customers.

For example, suppose you’ve been selling your product to dental offices. You check on your clients and discover that the people who had decision-making power are listed as “owner,” “partner,” or “office manager.”

Therefore, to build your list of potential connections, you search upon “dental offices” and those three job titles.

2. Send meaningful connection requests.

Set aside five minutes every morning with the goal of sending out 10 to 20 targeted LinkedIn connection requests to the people whose names pop up as the result of your targeted searches.

The trick here is to write a “connection request” that immediately and succinctly provides a personal benefit to that person of why he or she would want to connect with you. What you don’t want to do is to sound like every other salesperson.

Wrong:

“Hi [name], we provide XYZ dental equipment and can save you time and money. I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network.”

Right:

“Hi [name], we recently helped [dental office in same region as prospect] cut its office supplies bill by 12 percent while offering more favorable billing terms. I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network in case you decide we can help your business in the future.”

With some research (on the targeted “suspect”) and the right message, you should be able to add 10 to 50 new prospects a week. That’s pretty darn good when compared with other lead-generation methods.

For more on not sounding salesy, see: 6 Writing Tips For Sales Messages.

3. Create a LinkedIn group for your connections.

Your own targeted LinkedIn group is a place where your contacts can visit, post questions, and seek help. In essence, such a group makes it absurdly easy for your prospects to ask your advice–always a good thing.

The group also gives you the ability to send out periodic emails to your prospect to promote the next step, which is…

4. Provide relevant Webinars to your group.

Assuming that you’ve got solid information that your prospects can use, the best way to get your contacts involved and interested is to give Webinars.

Webinars are superior to follow-up calls and direct emails, because 1. it’s the prospect’s choice to attend and 2. you can keep offering Webinars to contacts without seeming as though you’re pestering them.

A good way to promote such Webinars is to contact owners of other groups that also have the same or a similar targeted audience that you want to attract. Ask them if they would email your free upcoming Webinar link to their audience.

The process above is what’s generally known as “lead nurturing,” and it used to cost thousands of dollars, mostly because you had to use hotel events rather than Webinars to build relationships. Using LinkedIn is both more effective and orders of magnitude less expensive.

 

Sales Challenges After the Holidays

SALES QUESTION:

“I’ve had several prospects tell me to call them back “after the holidays” but now that the holidays are over, they are telling me to call next month or quarter. What gives?”

Answer:

That can be very frustrating for someone who needs to make a living selling by phone. On the one hand, we don’t want to be the BOILER ROOM pushy sales person, (I do love that movie though) and on the other hand, we don’t want to be such a pushover that our job security becomes, well, less secure.
So what to do?
Well the ultimate solution is to avoid that response from happening to begin with. You accomplish that by (on the previous call) establishing that a problem exists. Most sales people focus on explaining their solution, rather than understanding the problem. I get that it’s a little late for that advice now, so let’s try to do some patchwork on your list of “call backs”.
Here’s some good news:
There are only two reasons why a prospect will say “call me next month / quarter / year” Etc.:
• It’s a blow-off; or
• It’s a valid reason
The important part of breaking down the problem into these two options is this:
We can formulate and execute a game plan.
Knowing that it’s either one or the other, we can have a prepared response that will do two things:
1. Identify
2. Handle
So, How Do I Identify? And How Do I Handle It?
There are several ways. Here’s one of them:
Prospect: “yes, I appreciate you following up with me after the holidays. Now is not a good time. Try me back next quarter”
Salesperson: “Mr. Prospect, before I let you go, quick question for you, and I won’t be offended… Are you just being polite and don’t want to tell me that you really don’t see any value in what we have to offer or is it that timing just isn’t right, right now?”

Your prospect can only answer one of two ways:

They don’t see any value. To which you can respond any number of ways such as:
“Fair enough. Before I move you to my NO NEED list and never bother you again, do you mind if I ask you just a couple of quick questions to make sure we aren’t about to make a mistake? (DON’T PAUSE FOR ANSWER) The reason why I ask is because we have helped (competitor 1, 2, and 3) avoid ______ and gain ______ which is why I thought you would be a good fit. Would a few quick questions be OK?” (NOW LET THEM ANSWER)
And now that they’ve lowered their guard and gave you permission to ask a few quick questions, you have a final shot to try and hit their hot buttons and or uncover a problem they are interested in having solved.
And if they originally responded with:
No, we are still interested, timing just isn’t right at the moment.
You can respond with:
“OK thanks for sharing that with me. I’ll update my notes. So I don’t interrupt your day with needless calls, when should we speak again?”
Once they give you a date, take a shot at shortening the sales cycle. Something genuine and to the point like:
“Mr. Prospect, if there was anything I could do to help (mention the pain point) sooner, what would it be?”
They may say, “There’s nothing” or they may say there is something you can do.
Either way, you will now know where you stand and what needs to happen next.
Having a game plan that is designed to IDENTIFY and HANDLE this type of situation sure beats the “just checking in” routine and hoping for the best.
Quick Note:
Another MAJOR reason why sales people get this type of response is because they MIS-CATEGORIZED the prospects role in the decision making process.
Meaning, the sales person labeled them as a decision maker or part of the decision making team when in reality they truly do NOT have a vote in the final decision. This is why it is so important to follow a strategic sales process that ensures you cover all your bases, so that you no longer have to fall into these sales traps.

Contributed by Salesbuzz.com

‘Bar Rescue’ Host Jon Taffer On The Top 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Businessinsider.com- Since 2011, restaurateur Jon Taffer has attempted to turn around 53 failing businesses across America as the host and executive producer of “Bar Rescue” on Spike TV. He’s seen roaches in liquor bottles, unpaid staff, extremely high debt levels, and owners who are figuratively — and literally — drunk on the job.

While each of these owners said on air the business could survive for only another three months, Taffer says only five have since closed, giving the show an impressive success rate of about 90%. To him, that proves his business principles work. “It’s real,” he says. “Don’t just read this. Do it.”

The former business owner, who at one point owned 17 restaurants at once, has consulted on 800 businesses in his career and is the author of new business book “Raise the Bar.” In an interview with Business Insider, Taffer shared the most common mistakes small-business owners make and how to avoid them.

Getting into the business for the wrong reasons.
“Restaurants to me are not like children; they are businesses,” says Taffer. In the bar business, he sees too many people open a venue because they love hanging out in bars or, worse, love drinking, and not because they have the vision and experience to build a successful business. “If the motivation is to drink and hang out, you’re going to fail,” he says. “You’d save a lot of money if you just built a bar in in your basement and invited your friends over.”

Not taking responsibility for failures.
Taffer says the common denominator in every failing business on “Bar Rescue” is an excuse. Business owners will blame the recession, the government, a new competitor, and even construction on their street before they will own up to their mistakes, he says. “Every morning you’ve got someone else to blame, but all of those excuses are bull. We only fail because of ourselves. The minute you take responsibility, everything changes,” he says.

Not understanding the three essentials of marketing.
Business owners think too generically about marketing, Taffer says, when they should be implementing three specific marketing initiatives: new customer, frequency, and spending programs. A new customer program is one that creates first-time business and typically includes neighborhood and local business outreach. Frequency programs are special promotions designed to persuade existing customers to return more often. They are advertised in-store, through email blasts, and on social media. And spending programs aim to increase the amount of money spent each time the customer does business with you by teaching employees to upsell, special deals, and the like. “If you don’t have those three things, you’re not marketing anything,” he says.

Not staying on top of the numbers.
“There’s nothing more important than staying on top of the numbers,” says Taffer. “What infuriates me when people don’t is the fact that there are POS systems that will do all of this for you.” In the restaurant business, he says managing expenses is a science and must be done minute-by-minute. Labor typically eats up between 25% and 32% of all revenue, food costs should never exceed 30% of food sales, and beverage costs should be at or below 21% of beverage sales, he says. Add occupancy costs like rent and insurance, and making a mistake with any of those numbers will seriously hurt your chances of profitability.

Not having the necessary experience or help.
Restaurants have an extremely high failure rate for first-time owners. Only one out of 12 rookies succeed, says Taffer, compared to a success rate of one-in-three for second timers. That’s why he tells entrepreneurs in every industry: “You’ve got to have experience. Either work for someone else first or have a partner with experience.” He also recommends that business owners reach out to the nonprofit group SCORE, which has 13,000 members dedicated to helping small businesses succeed through education and mentorship. Free of charge, these mentors will help you secure loans, write a business plan, structure the company, and understand a balance sheet.

Networking Tips To Help You Increase Sales

Like most business leaders, marketing personnel and salespeople, you understand the value of networking.

Individual connections can and will generate trust and credibility – and even a business referral or two. In a business environment that includes so many channels (like social media, networking events to social situations), how should you spend your valuable time networking?

Focus On The “Quality” Of The Connections.

As you continue to network and grow your contacts, you will find that many people will want your attention. Although this is a nice way to bring in new business, it is simply impossible to provide everyone you meet the attention they seek. Instead, focus on the quality of the connection – on those that can help you further your goals.

7 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Networking.

Tip #1: Give Time Before You Receive It - Business relationships are investments. You need to offer something in order to get a return. However, you can give some personal attention without over-investing your time. Consider sending recently acquired contacts a useful free whitepaper. This will help you stand out among the sea of forgotten connections acquired at networking events.

Tip #2: Improve Your Networking Skills - Networking does not come naturally to everyone. Walking up to another professional and introducing yourself can feel awkward at times, but the only way to improve is to try. Before you attend an event, think about how you will pitch or describe yourself to others. Focus on:

  • What you do
  • What you would like to do
  • What you can offer new connections

Tip #3: Use A Networking Strategy - When you have a new business goal or wish to enter into a new area or market, think strategically about your networking. Which events are the best use of your time? Who are the key contacts you’d like to meet? Consider these questions when selecting your networking events.

Tip #4: Prepare For A Networking Event - Make sure you have the correct tools before you attend a networking event. You should always carry:

  • Business cards (bring more than you think you will need)
  • Smartphone
  • Pen for yourself (take notes on the back of your contacts’ business cards)
  • Extra pen (allows others to remember you as resourceful)

Additionally, ensure that you are dressed appropriately for the networking events you attend. If you are not sure about the expected attire, call the event organizer or the venue and ask. Some events also offer a list of attendees prior to the meeting – study up!

Tip #5: Manage What You Eat And Drink - Some networking events include appetizers and alcoholic drinks. If you plan to have a glass of wine, avoid arriving on an empty stomach. Consider the practicality of holding food while shaking hands and taking notes to avoid any awkwardness. Often times it is best to have avoid alcohol.

Tip #6: Be A Conversationalist - Always have some non-controversial topics on hand to discuss. Perhaps you could talk about innovations in your industry or bring some helpful information to pass out. Avoid topics such as religion and politics unless your job function is specifically aligned with such an interest.

Tip #7: Remain Conscious Of The Digital World - The best way to secure a connection is to do so instantly – through social media. LinkedIn is a valuable professional networking tool that also offers a free smartphone app. Connect with others instantly after speaking to them and scan available QR codes to navigate to their pages.

 

Executive Summary: Many networking professionals get intimidated by the necessary process of networking. However, by adequately preparing for networking events and diligently following up on the most useful contacts, the amount of time you spend on networking will yield greater results.

SOURCE: Dale Carnegie training

9 Quick e-Mail Etiquette Tips

Most people in business send and receive thousands of e-mails per year.

While e-mail is a valuable business tool, you always have to ensure that you are following the proper etiquette.

 9 Quick e-Mail Etiquette Tips:

Tip #1: Add Someone’s e-Mail AFTER You Write It: Even though the “to” field is usually located at the top of an e-mail, leave it blank until you are finished writing. This will prevent you from sending the message before it is finished or failing to include the necessary attachments.

 

Tip #2: Consider The Tone Of Your e-Mail: When speaking with someone in person, on video chat or on the phone, you can hear the inflections in his or her voice. Hesitation and sarcasm are easy to interpret. However, this does not always come across on e-mail. Write with a neutral tone to avoid confusion.

 

Tip #3: Use Motivational Subject Lines: Make sure you use a subject line that defines the topic of your e-mail and makes the recipient want to open it. Your subject line should be a clear summary of the body of your e-mail. This is particularly relevant when your sales and marketing teams send e-mails.

 

Tip #4: Think Of Your e-Mail As A Business Letter: Unless you are writing to someone you know extremely well, you need to think of your correspondence with them as strictly professional. Although e-mail may feel more informal, its purpose is not.

 

Tip #5: Write Clearly And Concisely: Most businesspeople are extremely busy; therefore, people want to see and digest important information as quickly as possible. To do this, write clearly. Use bullet points and make sure the recipient knows you are available to discuss the details if necessary.

 

Tip #6: Do Not Use e-Mail As A Passive Tool: e-Mail is a passive means of communicating. Although is allows you to avoid a conflict, it is rarely the best course of action when there is an issue to address. If you need to talk about something crucial or pressing, it is always better to meet in person or on the phone.

 

Tip #7: Use Proper Grammar: There are various types of business e-mails – some may go out to your entire team, while others may reach prospects. While inter-office e-mails may be somewhat informal, introductions to business prospects should not come across this way. An e-mail full of typos and colloquial language will distract your audience from the message and undermine your professional authority. Type with an educated tone that exudes professionalism and confidence.

 

Tip #8: Write The e-Mail First In MS Word: Most people will forgive a few minor mistakes in an e-mail, but initial e-mails must run without error. To ensure the proper image, always write an important e-mail in MS Word. Doing so allows you to use its spell check and grammar features before sending it via Outlook or comparable e-mail services.

Tip #9: Use An e-Mail Signature: Always include an e-mail signature. The signature should include your name, title, phone number (with extension), business address and business website address. This looks professional and establishes the legitimacy of your business; furthermore, it allows the recipient to easily locate your contact information.

 

Executive Summary:While e-mail is a fast and useful tool for communication in the business world, it does not excuse poor communication and it is in no way a final substitute for verbal communication. A recipient’s e-mail inbox is much like a physical mailbox – it is rude to send too many messages. In the contemporary business world, e-mail can influence the amount of success you have in communicating your message. It can also enhance (or tarnish) your reputation as a consummate professional.

Take Action With Your Business Ideas

igpHOW IDEA GAME PLAN STARTED

The Idea Game Plan was created over a 14 month span by two entrepreneurs with the help of two angel investors, a lawyer, 3 sales-minded mentors and countless entrepreneurs. The idea stemmed after the conclusion of a failed start-up. Having no real insights to useful information or guidance, entrepreneurs are facing a difficult uphill battle.

“Business plans are the tool existing companies use for execution. They are the wrong tool to search for a business model.” -Steve Blank (Legendary Entrepreneur)

Having no real useful information available, we decided to begin working on a business plan template or a step-by-step guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. With the poor economy combined with the entrepreneurial spirit of American’s and the decreased barriers-to-entry, starting your own business is becoming more of a desire and necessity for people. We wanted to give something truly valuable to these entrepreneurs to help turn their ideas into a business of their own.

You don’t have to be a Harvard MBA to start a business. All you need is a good idea, the passion to succeed and the proper execution following a specific guidelines of steps and milestones. That is what we’ve created with the Idea Game Plan, a business plan template for aspiring entrepreneurs showing them the proper steps to take to launch their business idea or move onto the next. Prior to founding these principals, we started out on our own building a startup for the men’s fashion industry. Here’s what we did right away:

  • Purchased a $500 domain name (with no prior searching to see if it was a highly searched or desirable name)
  • Designed a $300 logo (with no testing to gauge which design customers were more attracted to)
  • Designed another $150 business card template and purchased $60 worth of business cards
  • Hired a development company for $10,000 to begin programming our killer website (with no testing or validation)
  • Incorported our business on Legal Zoom for $250

Do you get the point? After 6 months we had no website from our programming team, no website, no customers, no sales, and no business.  Does this sound familiar? We hope not.

THE DINOSAUR-MODEL BUSINESS PLAN

We had a business plan, but the problem with business plans is they were designed for Mom & Pop stores 40-years ago who needed to get a loan from the bank.  Businesses don’t operate that way anymore.  Today there are new rules to business, lower barriers-to-entry mean you can start a huge business for less than $1,000.  A business plan is more of a time-wasting chore then it is a benefit to an entrepreneur.

The Angel Investors complain all the time about business plans for the following reasons:

  • Length – They are over 30 pages long of unnecessary information
  • Jargon – After reading this whole document they would still ask “so what does your company do?”
  • False Assumptions – It’s great that your 5-year plan has you making over a million dollars, how exactly are you going to get there?
  • The list goes on and on…

There’s a theme to that style of business plan, it is useless to todays entrepreneur.  By entrepreneur, we mean someone who wants to start their own product or service, do their own marketing and basically control their own destiny.  What these business plans do is put an entrepreneur in a stage of Analysis Paralysis. Spend all their time planning every single detail, when in fact a business plan is all ASSUMPTIONS you made about how you think your business will run.

THE IDEA GAME PLAN BUSINESS PLAN TEMPLATE

The Idea Game Plan Template was designed to be a condense and concise business plan for the new entrepreneur.  This business plan template follows the exact stages to successfully starting turning your idea into a real business.  This shows you the proper steps and key tasks you should accomplish and by analyzing the results, decide to move forward or pivot.

This plan focuses on action rather than pure planning, showing traction and real results.  That is what angel investors and VCs are looking for; that you know how to analyze an idea and create value to the consumers and make a profit from that value. This plan gets you out of the building and talking to real customers, making you real dollars.

Any serious entrepreneur should be using the Idea Game Plan as the standard to their business practices. Get the Idea Game Plan today and turn your idea into a business, please don’t make the same costly mistakes we made in the past.

Interested? Learn more here