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.

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
————–

Images Sources: portfoliopartnership.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.

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
———————

Image Sources: preneurmarketing.com

 

Improve Your Team by Developing the HERO Inside You!

Be The Hero

Real heroes don’t really wear capes or have supernatural powers. In the real world, HERO’s are simply ordinary people who choose to respond to a set of circumstances in a way that inspires others. And it IS possible to develop the HERO inside you.

But before you can lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.

That’s how you develop into a HERO.

The Hero Inside

There are battles inside you that go on every day, and those battles are the reason that you haven’t accomplished as much as you promised yourself you would back on New Year’s Eve. Internally, there is a part of you – a HERO – that wants to succeed and has strong values and great ideas and when you wake up it is your best self that is energized and bold and determined.

Friedrich Nietzsche called it the Übermensch. The term, loosely translated, means “superhuman.”

But your best self, your internal hero, has enemies…

  • Every day your HERO has to wage a battle against distractions, and disappointment, and disparagement.
  • Every day he has to struggle with ghosts of regret or monsters of misfortune.
  • Our history, things that happened in the past.
  • And our experiences, things that happen to us and around us, can sometimes seem devastating.

Fighting Your Battles

Imagine being a recently divorced woman, caring for a 3-month old daughter, forced to go on welfare after losing her job. Those would be hard battles to fight! And even though those circumstances and experiences are dangerous adversaries, they are not as powerful or impactful as our internal response to them.

If we respond poorly, we experience more painful outcomes. We become victims of our own negative responses. 

People, and teams, are not victims of circumstances. They only feel this way when they do not develop and use the HERO within them.

Winning the Battles Within

Too often our internal HERO’s greatest threat is our own fear, or contentment, or excuses, or doubts… those deceitful soldiers that protect the walls of our comfort zone.  And it is amazing what sometimes we can allow ourselves to grow comfortable with.

But if you want to develop the HERO within you and accomplish your ambitious goals, you have to:

  • Exile your excuses
  • Dump your doubts
  • Crash through that comfort zone that has caged you

The HERO Formula

So, what separates the average man from Nietzsche’s Übermensch?

The answer is a simple equation.  H + E x R = O

History + Events x Response = Outcomes

We cannot control our history… or the events that occur to and around us. But we CAN control our RESPONSE to them. And no matter what the first parts of the equation are, OUR RESPONSE DETERMINES THE OUTCOME!

To get something different, to feel something different, to become something different, you will have RESPOND differently!

I offer team building for teachers, for athletes, and for corporate groups that inspire unity and boost morale, but the key to any group’s improvement is each individual within the group claiming responsibility for their response to the history and events around them.

The HERO Attitude

Remember that single mother we imagined above? Well that was J K Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series.  She developed her HERO because she decided to choose a positive response to her circumstances.

We cannot control our circumstances.  But we can control our responses. Regardless of the circumstance, we get to choose our attitude and our actions. We can develop a victim attitude and spiral down, or the kind that J K Rowling did and ascend far beyond expectations.

And if you keep a good attitude and take appropriate action consistently, those habits will lead you to accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself.

But your focus must be on changing the equation with a quality response. The world is not going to change  and we remain victims as long as we are waiting on someone or something else to change for us.

Becoming a HERO

So, how does one become a HERO? Commit to responding to your history and your experiences as your best self. Remember, you cannot choose where you were planted – but you CAN choose to bloom there.

Want to improve your organization and inspire team development? Want to improve your family?  Your community? Your workplace? Then develop the HERO inside you. Your example and responses WILL impact others. Whatever your history or experiences, your response to the events you experience will determine your teams success.

So how are you responding to your past and current situations in life, at work, and in your community? Are you mentally stuck in the past and still paying a heavy price? If so, WHY? What steps can you take today to reprogram your responses so that you can get those superhuman results and lets the HERO soar? I would love to hear your thoughts!

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Sean Glaze

Sean Glaze is Speaker, Author, Coach, and Facilitator at Great Results Teambuilding
He delivers Engaging Events that Transform Laughter into Lessons
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Web | YouTube | Book | Blog

Image Sources: media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

 

On Leadership, Threats and Operational Security

Navigating Cyber Insurance for Your Small Business

Hacking Threats

A few years ago, a small business in San Diego was hit my malicious cyber attacks over the internet that were launched from local IP addresses.

As they were protected as much as they felt they could be, they contacted the national carrier to deal with the denial-of-service component of the problem.

Too Small to Service

After going through several levels of management, the answer that they heard was that the carrier gets about 10 million threats per day on their network and it is pretty difficult to assume that they would be given some kind of priority as a small business to have your problem explored.

Understanding that type of threat, which was simply a script being run through several zombie computers, can escalate to actual specialists trying to actively access your Internet information was enough to drive the owners towards looking at specialized business insurance that could keep them safe from liability.

What is Cyber Insurance?

The most common way for small businesses to get protection is to first ensure that they have as industry security compliance on their cloud presence as possible. After they have done so, they can look at cyber insurance. Cyber insurance is a form of insurance that covers almost any type of business attack from hacking to data breaches.

If you lose a client’s data or valuable data of your own, you can recover some of your losses or offset the liability with an insurance claim. Some forms of coverage also cover the loss of work time due to denial of service attacks.

Small companies are fortunate that almost 90 percent of the policies that are available provide coverage to companies inside the United States. Another nice feature is that the bulk of the policies can be priced by getting insurance quotes online.

Preparing to Get a Policy

As mentioned, upgrading or validating that you have industry standard security compliance is an important part of qualifying for cyber insurance. If you have an online e-commerce site, you should have encryption, a good hosting provider, and potentially a third-party service that verifies your site security.

The cost of preparing for cyber insurance can be a consideration for small businesses, so if you are just starting you might consider talking to cyber insurance representatives about the requirements that they have so that you can focus on meeting their criteria.

Another area that comes into play is knowing the type of coverage that you think you will need. If you store client credit cards online in a database, you will likely focus on a different type of coverage than if you are a company that uses a third-party payment processor’s site to process transactions for published material that carries copyrights.

Are They Really Out There?

A lot of smaller companies have not formerly had too many problems that they know of when it comes to the information that they keep online. Two trends are changing that picture. The first trend is one that has more businesses relying exclusively on computing in the cloud.

The second is that security researchers are finding pieces of data from every size company imaginable online in what is known as the Internet ‘dark’, or an area that people use to store information that may be for sale. Gone are the days when hackers were exclusively interested in finding ways to beat security or promoting a cause. With billions of people online, the focus has shifted to money and information.

New Operational Threats

As far as attacks are concerned, in addition to outright hacking and employee theft, there are a couple other types of attack that are growing in popularity.

  • One is stealing the anonymity from people and putting together a trail of behavior that can be used as business intelligence.
  • The other is creating boiler rooms that are information clearinghouses of stolen data that goes on the market to whichever organization or person that will pay for it.

The net result for small businesses is a competitive disadvantage for their online offerings unless they have adequate security- and potentially some insurance protection in place. For the small business owner who hasn’t recently checked their security arrangements, 2016 is a great time to start looking at turning a disadvantage into a sales advantage by validating the notion that your client and internal data is secure.

**********
Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

Image Sources: twinsystems.com