Billionaire Birthday

A Global Leader Turns 66

 

Infographic Courtesy of Frame Your TV

L2L Infographic: 20 Ways to Communicate Better at Work

 

20 Ways to Communicate Better at Work Infographic

Infographic Courtesy of Net Credit

On Leadership and Optimistic Fearlessness

How Your Small Business Can Beat the Goliaths

Small Guy vs. Big Guy
 

If you have an idea for a small business or startup, but feel discouraged because you feel you can’t hope to compete with the big guys, you need not give up on your dreams.

Hamburgers were around before McDonald’s got its start, and the same is true with athletic shoes before the advent of Nike or Reebok. The secret sauce to being competitive in a crowded area or one that has a dominant player is a combination of brand development and customer loyalty.

There have been many stories about smaller companies won out against the larger competitors because they came up with the products, a brand, or even a lifestyle that became iconic.

Offer Something New

You may have a passion for selling anything from women’s clothing to mayonnaise, but the first question to consider is what makes your product different from what’s already on the market. The fact that you have an idea implies that there is something lacking among the available choices, and your product may fill in the gap.

What you offer does not need to be entirely new, since as the saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun, but it can be a fresh spin on a tired concept. Some people have notions of an attitude or feeling their products will convey that sets it apart from the company that makes ordinary widgets.

A good branding strategy is to show that there is an aura or vibe conveyed by your product.

Beat Them at Their Own Game

Don’t be afraid to go directly for the customers of that big box retailer or that winning website. You should also not be shy about directing comments about a competitor.

In addition to just trying to beat them at their own game, you can say outright that you are trying to prevail against the big guys if you offer deep discounts or a truly one-of-a-kind product.

At the same time, you have to create an idea of your own target customer who may be slightly different from the target customer of a huge competitor. Since your operation is smaller, you have the advantage of creating a more specific niche market, since the typical customer of Amazon is just about anybody, and this customer can be harder to pinpoint.

Use Negative Publicity to Your Advantage

Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet and wit once said the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. This is not necessarily true of companies, since an E. coli breakout or a major corporate scandal can send stock prices plunging and customers fleeing.

However, there are ways you can use not only negative publicity to your advantage, but unsavory headlines for publicity.

There are likely to be very few cases where this can be done, but some companies have made their name on what seemed at first blush like negative press. One of a company’s worst nightmares, particularly small a small company, is being hit with a lawsuit from a larger competitor.

Going Against Goliath

Hampton Creek, makers of the Just Mayo product that is free of eggs, was sued by Unilever, the owner of the Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand. Unilever filed a lawsuit because it believed the use of the term “mayo” by Hampton Creek was false advertising, since the product contains no eggs.

Unilever ended up dropping the lawsuit and sales of Just Mayo increased astronomically because of the news the lawsuit, and regular supermarkets stocked the products. People flocked to this brand because the lawsuit the lawsuit made it seem like the more established company was frightened of competition from the new, healthy alternative.

Since many people are interested in healthy eating, they enthusiastically got behind the Just Mayo brand.

Creating the Right Balance

Even if your small business is an area that seems crowded or has a dominant force to contend with, by creating a balance of making it new and beating the competition at his own game, you can achieve success and market share.

Go for the typical customer while zeroing in on your fans.

Also, develop a brand that sets your products apart from other offerings on the shelves or the Internet.

Jump at the opportunity to use publicity about your company or the industry to your advantage. Once you’ve earned attention you can monetize it by marketing directly to potential customers on social media or advertising.

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Images Sources: portfoliopartnership.com

Leading Your New Venture

3 Key Strategies to Sustain Your Small Business

Customer Services
 

You Have Customers, Now What?: 3 Key Strategies to Sustain Your Small Business

Once your small business starts picking up speed, you will want to be sure that you have the capacity to handle your growth. So, how do you continue to grow once you have gotten over the initial hurdle of attracting your first customers?

This depends on your specific business model, but it may mean hiring extra team members, outsourcing, or implementing systems that increase your efficiency. At the end of the day, it is difficult to grow and run your business at the same time.

As the head of the company, you will want to keep one hand in the day-to-day operations of your business, but spend most of your time focusing on big picture strategy in order to keep it growing.

Here are three ways that you can ensure smart, sustainable growth for your small business.

Optimize Your Website for Better Customer Service

Customer service is key to success as your small business begins to grow. Having a website that makes it easy to find out information about your products or services and contact you with inquiries will lead to better engagement with customers and more sales.

There is nothing worse than a website which has little useful product information and no way to contact the business owner.

First, the obvious: include a “Contact” section on your website, which includes a phone number, e-mail address, contact form, or any combination of the three. You may also consider including a “Get a Quote” form. This allows you to go ahead and gather useful information from a customer in order to quickly and efficiently get them a price quote.

Another great option is to add a live chat function to your website that allows customers to talk to your company directly from the web.

Outsource Your Customer Service

Once you have optimized your website to provide outstanding customer service, you will want to make sure that you have the manpower to handle the questions and quote requests that come in. Being able to answer every e-mail or phone call in a timely and friendly way is how small businesses set themselves apart from the competition.

Rather than staying up all night answering e-mails and returning phone calls, it may be more efficient to outsource your customer service. Many companies, such as Register.com, now offer what they refer to as call center plus services.

This service, unlike traditional call centers, helps small companies grow their businesses by providing customer service infrastructure for:

  • Answering e-mail
  • Conducting live chats
  • Handling quote requests
  • Handling phone calls

By letting somebody else handle customer inquiries, you will free up time to focus on further company growth.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

Finally, once your business has taken off, you will need to have someone who can take care of basic administrative tasks for you. This includes data entry, basic accounting, scheduling meetings and calls, and so on.

While you may hire someone to come work in your physical office, another great option is to hire a virtual assistant.

This type of employee comes with little to no overhead as he or she will work from a home office on a personal computer or phone. You may provide a small stipend for office supplies, but this is negligible compared to an employee who you need to set up in an office.

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Image Sources: blog.compete.com

On Leadership and Burning a Few Bridges

Mega Shark
 

Conventional wisdom tells us to never burn a single bridge in our professional lives because you never know when you might need that relationship again. 

I firmly believe that there are going to be circumstances and people that nearly require you to do this:

Burn some bridges so that you will never need to work with those people again.

That’s Right, I Said It…

I have been working for the past 35 years and have learned a thing or two in this time span. For a long time I followed conventional wisdom and did whatever it took to part ways on a positive note.  There are times when the reason I was leaving was more than a promotional opportunity, more money, or a shorter commute.

These are all the generally softer ways of giving notice.

They are often spoken in truth, but many times they are used to cover up the real reasons to avoid burning bridges.

Burning a Few Bridges

As time progressed, I thought it would improve circumstances if I shared the issues that caused me to consider other opportunities, more money, or a shorter commute.

When leaving previous jobs, I did the conventional thing and had candid conversations with Human Resources during exit interviews, explaining the challenges with processes and particular personalities that cause concern and issues in the workplace.

I have spent the past 22 years in learning development, so my core was telling me that people can’t improve until they know that there is a performance gap.

Looking back, I would say that each of those times when I was honest and doing what I thought was helpful, I burned a bridge.  I’m not talking about toasting the wood a little; I’m talking about a five-alarm fire, nothing but ashes when I left.

There was no walking back over that puppy after I was finished burning it.  The people I left never spoke with me again.

And now I am left to wonder if this is really such a bad thing?

Out of the dozen or so people who would sooner slit their throat then say hello to me, I have to be honest that it doesn’t bother me in the least that they do not care about me.

These were folks that the word ethical wasn’t even in their dictionary.  Underhanded, manipulative, rude and down-right mean are better descriptors of their personalities.

I hated working for them at the time, and after leaving I felt a rush of relief at never having to work with them again.

Although it was not my intention to burn a bridge with these people, the fact remains that I did, and the primary benefit was to never hear from them again.

A Bad Referral Backfires!

Burning BridgesWhen they say we are only separated by about six people from each other at most, (six degrees of separation), it does cause a reduction in referrals and future contacts that might cause these people to question if they should begin a working relationship with you.

Recently I suffered the opposite of that type of disconnect when someone contacted an old manager to find out what kind of training professional I am and what it would be like to work with me.

I know that this must have been this guy’s dream come true to work his magic by telling this new contact what a nightmare I would be to work with.

He said this:

“Jim is a purist when it comes to training and needs to do everything the right way.  He plays by the rules and Joan of Arc has nothing on him when it comes to ethics.  It makes it challenging to work around him because he is such a goody two shoes.”

Well thanks to these comments, I have a new client that shares my servant leadership style and ethical code.

What my old manager was trying to do was clue in his friend to how difficult it will be to work with a person like me, and at the same time selling the attributes the new client was looking for in a new working relationship.

Now I will be the first to admit this situation was a fluke.

Understanding Consequences

Most of the time when you burn a bridge with someone, that person will have a negative influence over anyone asking about you, not to mention that they will never work with you again.

When I began consulting 6 years ago I was heart-broken that a particular person wasn’t giving me the time of day or throw me a bone’s worth of business.

He was angry over my leaving because as he said, “I don’t want you to go.” 

I had a difficult time explaining why I was being called to strike out on my own and go from a reliable income to complete uncertainty as a self-employed consultant.  While financially it was not the best decision I’ve ever made, it has brought me innumerable benefits I would not have collected if I had remained.

Finding a Better Route

One of these benefits has been the realization that burning a bridge forces you to find another route.

Without the easy ability to rely on old relationships to fund my new consulting business, I was forced to find new relationships early on and not wait until after the well went completely dry.

While I might have gone along with conventional wisdom in my early working years and left no bridge unburned, I’m glad to look back at a few I burned on purpose and realize that it was for my benefit that I can no longer connect with those people again.

I’ve learned overtime that you can’t fix every relationship, nor should you try.

What bridges have you burned in the past that you are glad you did? What bridges are still in place that should have been burned down? What do you think is wrong with burning a few bridges? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!

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————–
Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWebsite | Blog | (562) 943-5776

Image Sources: static.guim.co.uk, dnet.myxer.com,  images.piccsy.com

 

L2L Infographic: How to Become a Hero-Leader

15 Ways of How NOT to Kill Your Leadership Authority

 

Leadership (1)

Infographic Courtesy of EPOS Systems

L2L Infographic: Millennials and Business Leadership

What They Really Think

Millennials and Business Leadership
 

Infographic Courtesy of Brighton School of Business and Management

Leadership Rx: Spiritual Leaders Bring Healing to Others

Leadership Rx
 

Nowadays we witness many individuals who find their working life does not bring them hope but oppression.

Workers are losing their rights in many industries; others are cast aside with ease to bring temporary profit to the greedy. Increasing numbers of workers do not find the dignity and fulfillment that work ought to contribute to their lives, families, and communities.

Leadership Rx

A hope-filled spiritual leader sees these new tasks for leaders in dealing with individuals and organizations as a major responsibility.

They know healing is needed when people:

  • Focus exclusively on self-interest
  • Exhibit excessive internal competition
  • Constantly engage in comparisons with others
  • Evidence mutual blame
  • Lose vitality
  • Compromise their integrity
  • Deliberately do things they know are unethical

A leader also recognizes the need for healing when some in the organization are always marginalized; there are voiceless members, and widespread indifference to others’ needs.

Healing is clearly needed when administration restricts communication, misuses power, allows significant disparity in executives’ salaries, and governs autocratically.

Starting at the Top

When managers get in and get out of the organization with increased salaries and golden parachutes, having done nothing significant, then the organization and its board members need healing. When managers simply do not try to slow the erosion of values, then they also need healing.

Every organization has some individuals in pain, feeling loss, experiencing broken relationships at work and at home, suffering from a lack of meaning, and this sense of pain affects the quality of their work.

In fact, some within on organization need healing but do not know it.

Then again some sick individuals make everyone else sick without ever feeling anything themselves. A leader of hope has to heal the wounds caused by former bosses and also by coworkers. Some individuals adapt themselves to sick situations and then become as sick as everyone else.

No organization can function well amid unhealthy situations that sap vitality, creativity, and commitment. So, dealing with organizational dysfunctions is one of the challenges of a spiritual leader who wants to give hope to others.

A Leader of Hope

A leader of hope allows no one to feel inferior but raises them up to their just level of appreciation, showing empathy to all. Healing others is a major task of a leader of hope who thus enables others to become their complete selves.

This includes:

  • Healing relationships within organizations
  • Clarifying and refocusing roles
  • Setting goals together
  • Making sure channels of communication are open
  • Reflecting on each others’ gifts
  • Expressing recognition and appreciation of everyone’s contribution

The leader’s healing influence will vary for each member in need.

Some may feel they are taken for granted and a leader must give them visibility and prominence.

For others who have been the object of bogus empowerment by former failed leaders a leader of hope must give genuine, significant delegation. There are always members who feel used, often because they are, and a leader will need to heal by letting people feel at home in the organization and making them objects of sincere admiration and respect.

A Healthier Way to Lead

A good leader creates for those within an organization a healthy way of living together, and this implies risk taking. He or she will encourage others to get involved in the journey to wholeness, to share in common values, to become vulnerable as he or she manifests genuine emotions of heart and love.

Part of a healthy way of living together is to heal the loneliness of all around us, to awaken others to hope, to enable people to resolve conflicts constructively, to move them by making it clear that they are loved.

Leaders of hope restore others to healing through listening, empathy, and compassion, and even a sense of humor; healing broken relationships, restoring justice, and building a reconciling community.

A leader of hope will focus on values of colleagues, since a person without values causes problems for those around. Then the insidious destruction of the vision of hope causes everyone to live a reduced notion of what it means to be human.

Many so-called leaders do nothing about the hurt that surrounds them, but a spiritual leader seeks always to bring healing where it is needed.

So how are you doing at putting on your spiritual leader role and serving others with empathy, love and trust so that healing can be a natural part of your organization? If you need some improvement in this area, what steps can you take and what behavior can you emulate to become a healing leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog

Image Sources: edisonhhc.com

L2L Weekender: Tips for Small Business Online Leaders

Tools to Set Up Your Online Store to Grow Your Business

Online Shopping Cart
 

Many small business start-up leaders in the online sales space often do not know the best ways to insure that they have the right tools in their toolbox to insure a successful launch.

Without the right tools and procedures in place, money, opportunity and exposure can be left behind.

Today’s Tip: Your Online Store

Creating an Online Store

Do not waste any time. Create an online store to sell your products. You could be losing out. Start stocking your inventory online. It is a natural process. The setup does not require you to know HTML or technical codes.

Here are 4 aspects to help you set-up your online store:

Add-A-Store

Use a reputable e-commerce web design to assist you in setting up a store. You do not even have to start from scratch. You can turn your already existing blog into an online store. The plug-in works well with WordPress blogs. It is also compatible with Tumblr or Joomla. It allows you to sell up to 100 items.

The plug-in comes with a shopping cart feature that floats around allowing customers to add multiple products directly from your website. The built-in dashboard allows you to customize images, pricing options, and descriptions. Additionally, the checkout feature is secured with PCI.

Your Product Catalog

The online catalog allows you to display your products using multimedia images. You can feature up to 300,000 products varying in colors, shapes, and sizes. The number of photos for each product is unlimited. You will also get customizable templates.

The catalog also allows you to adjust bulk product pricing. You can use monograms to personalize products for each customer. Additionally, you can sell downloadable products such as software. You can control your inventory in real-time. Each time you make changes, it is automatically updated.

Your Storefront Design

You can create the front of your store to make it look appealing. The template has a checklist that shows you step-by-step how to set up the store. You can also make changes from any computer using the administrative tools as long as you have an internet connection. You do not have to download any plug-ins.

You will have access to editing tools such as DreamWeaver or FrontPage. They come with full CSS support. Various preformatted templates are available for use. You can modify the templates by changing colors, fonts, or the page layout. Do this from the admin panel. It also allows you to save multiple design themes.

You can also integrate codes into your HTML for your shopping cart in that you can organize how the information gets displayed to the customer. You can organize your own product display layout. Do so by inserting name, price, image, description, or whatever else needs to get added.

Your Marketing Tools

These tools for social media, comparison shopping, and SEO are built-in. You can run reports to see how well your site is performing with the SEO tool. Set up your post to automatically connect to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Your customers can also post your products on social media with the click of a button.

In conclusion, anyone can create an online store. The steps are relatively easy. All the tools that you need to get the store up and to run are readily available. Some of the tools that you will have include Add-A-Store, Online Product Catalog, Storefront design, and Marketing Tools.

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Image Sources: preneurmarketing.com

Equipping Leaders to Battle Fear with Accountability

Leading with Honor Video Coaching from Lee Ellis

 

Six Leadership Obstacles to Team Success  

As leaders, we want the positive elements of success—achievement, notoriety, money, and excellence for clients and customers.

pilot plane But we’re unwilling to do the right things to get there. The missing cultural piece is courageous accountability.

What are the six obstacles that can get you off-course? Read Lee’s latest article below, and see where you’re vulnerable –

Read Now

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——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.