Entrepreneur failure stories are just as common as business success stories. It seems that many entrepreneurs prefer to fail their way to the top instead of doing research and learning from the successes and mistakes of others before them. But these mistakes can be avoided, and Forbes
is here to share the 10 practices youíll want to stay clear of, especially if youíre an aspiring entrepreneur:
1. Spending money you donít yet have in the bank
The rush of a start-up may tempt you to start spending the money you expect from a major new customer or a rich relative. Bear in mind that things can go wrong, and youíll be left taking all the blame. Not only is it embarrassing, itís also one of the quickest ways to end your entrepreneurial career.
2. Opening your mouth while in a negative emotional state
A lot of strategic alliances and investor and customer relationships have been destroyed by entrepreneurs and their harsh words after a bad day at home or at the office. If you donít have anything nice to say, itís best to keep quiet and wait another day.
3. Over-promising and under-delivering
Learn to manage expectations, and always under-promise and over-deliver. Bleeding edge start-ups normally encounter product quality problems, missing business processes, and customer support issues. The rule "plan early, quote late, and ship early" will help you be a hero rather than a zero.
4. Creating a market you canít supply or support
For products that are new and disruptive, make sure you have enough supply to meet the demand at roll-out, and secure a patent to prevent others from jumping in quickly. Often, entrepreneurs have their new positions in the marketplace taken away by deep-pocketed competitors and others able to meet the demand.
5. Counting on anyone who offers to work for free
Make expecting to get exactly what you paid for a rule of thumb. People who work for free will look to get paid soon in some way, or they may take it out in trade, which can harm your business. Student interns, however, are an exception, since their main objective should be learning rather than money.
6. Underestimating the importance of due diligence
Never skip the reference and credit checks, no matter how good a supplier or investor story sounds. Always visit in person to check remote office and production facilities before any money is paid up front on a contract.
7. Growing too quickly for your finances and staffing
Growing quickly can be a disaster when you donít have a plan on how to implement that growth. If you know that youíre not prepared to handle a big order, learn how to reject it. Know that it takes a huge investment to build large orders, and that large customers are the slowest to pay. This is called "death by success" in the trade.
8. Confusing working hard for working smart
Quality is a thousand times better than quantity. Never reward yourself or your team on the quantity of time spent instead of results achieved. Prioritize your tasks, make use of technology, and constantly optimize your processes.
9. Being afraid to ask for help, advice, or even money
Donít let pride and ego stand in the way of leveling with trusted friends and advisors, like most entrepreneurs do. Advice you donít get canít save your company. It is recommended for start-ups to have an advisory board of two or three outside experts who have connections to even more resources.
10. Relying on a verbal agreement in business
People only remember the agreements which benefit them, which is why itís important to get every agreement on paper early and always. People come and go in every role, and there is no such thing as institutional memory, so put a copy in a safe place and have the agreements updated as people and environments change.
Owners of start-ups and small businesses know the value of having a sustainable budget. Most of them are not just striving to grow their business; they are fighting to survive the tight and brutal market.
Outsourcing has long been one of the go-to solutions for most businesses owners, but how do they exactly know which strategy to stick with? Should they outsource or keep it in-house? Cost seems to be the driving factor for the decision-makers since it is related to time spent on doing the job, the needed skills, along with other resources.
A post at Entrepreneur.com
identifies three processes that can be outsourced to help boost productivity and growth of a business: Design Processes
The core founders of businesses usually do not have the creative skills needed to interpret the essence of a brand. By asking freelancers who are experts in the field, not only do they get great deals in bringing their visions to life, they will also have someone to brainstorm with.
More often than not, their packages include the raw files and fonts used during the initial design stages. This is great news for you because if you have someone within your organization who is knowledgeable on the basic design elements, and have the basic editing/designing software, then you can work on new designs as you go.Logistics Management
For companies that mass produce merchandise, one key issue that can cause a series of problems is logistics. Soon enough, before initial orders are distributed, they will end up with huge volumes of products and no one to manage them. When this happens, businesses usually resort to several practices. First, they try selling products at a bargain price, which is a major loss for them. Some of them choose to hire people and secure a warehouse which can eat up time and money.
Another option, again, is to outsource. It keeps overhead costs relatively low and minimizes the risk for both the manufacturer and the end-buyer. Outsourcing enables business owners to be flexible where they can scale up or limit operations in an instant.Specific Expertise
There are easy jobs to fill, and there are complex ones that need more attention. Your company may have a copywriter who can also serve as the designer and accounts person. But it is very hard to find a jack-of-all-trades person for more specific, complex processes such as accounting.
Some organizations help manage operations for small and start-up companies. They are usually located in areas were labor and operational costs are more economical - plus they already have the necessary tools and infrastructure to grow your business. If you need additional specialists, they will be the one to work on that for you. They incubate your operation according to your needs and specifications, and launch it once itís ready.
The end of the year is nigh, and now is the best time to start planning effective and interesting Facebook page posts. If youíre looking to save time and get more from your investment during the holiday season, here are seven posting tips from successful businesses to get you started:
1. Boost important posts.
Boosting posts that promote your products or services is the best way to reach audiences that matter to you. It helps you increase purchases by leading people to your site on link posts, and grow your customers by targeting new audiences. Plan your content calendar around key holiday dates and simply click Boost at the bottom of an existing or new post.
2. Share exclusive discounts and promos.
People who like your Page are excited to hear about special holiday discounts or promotional events. Inspire more purchases by including special codes visitors can use at checkout in your link posts and using time prompt messages like "free delivery, this weekend only" or "12-hour flash sale". End-of-year contests and giveaways also drive customer loyalty and boost sales. Remember to only promote products or services your audience is most interested in.
3. Connect with words and pictures.
Hold your audienceís attention and get them interested with the right combination of holiday-themed images and enticing copy that reflect your business objectives. Use high-quality photos that showcase your business or products and keep your messages short and instructive, with calls to action on your Boosted Posts like "shop now" or "buy today".
4. Keep your creative refreshed.
Donít let your Boosted Posts go stale. People find recent holiday posts more interesting. Keep posting relevant content - if an important holiday has just passed, start posting about the next holiday or event. Test which posts work best and review their performance, switching photos and copy for different posts with the same objective. Respond to comments on your posts in a timely manner to let your fans know youíre listening to feedback.
5. Be consistent in your posts.
Besides boosting posts, itís important to be consistent in the quality and types of ongoing posts you create. It helps your audience know what kinds of messages to expect from you. Because the holiday season is a busy time for your business, use a content calendar to help you plan. Make sure you schedule posts for when majority of your audience is online.
6. Target your posts.
The good thing about Facebook is that it allows you to control who sees a particular post. Depending on your objectives, you may want to post content that will interest people in specific age groups, locations, interests, etc.
7. Review post performance.
Your Page Insights can give you a better understanding of who your most engaged audience is and the types of posts that appeal to your fans. This will help you refine your Boosted Posts to appeal to them and adjust your targeting accordingly.
When Facebook started, it was no more than a small network limited to Ivy League students. Now, more than a decade old, Facebook has become an identity management resource for more than one billion people around the world.
Facebook is a platform that enables consumers to discover new content, stay in touch with loved ones, and express themselves. Brands caught up quickly and saw the opportunity for business, venturing into this ecosystem and jumping into conversations at opportune moments.
That the social media giant generates billions of dollars in ad revenue only means that consumers are indeed listening to what brands are saying. Yet, some leaders still remain skeptical about whether social media is measurable. There are even marketers who have tried to quantify the value of a social media status update or tweet.
While well-intentioned, these views will often put marketing teams in a social media trap. Itís easy to overlook social mediaís core asset - ROI driven by genuine, human relationships - in seeking sales and revenues. Here are three strategic ideas to guide you through creating an effective social media plan for your organization:
1. Use social media to improve cross-department collaboration.
Because people are swamped with heavy workloads, itís difficult to take breaks to get to know colleagues, especially those on different teams, not to mention those with remote work settings. Use social media to help your team stay connected by creating Facebook groups, following similar Twitter feeds, or integrating your LinkedIn profiles with an internal communication platform. The key is for your organization to have a forum for sharing ideas, expressing your values, and uniting around a shared goal.
2. Monitor customer conversations across different social networks.
Social media gives brands direct access to their customersí conversations. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it easy for you to see what people are saying about your brand - both directly and indirectly. Aside from broadcasting your messages, you can also actively listen for brand mentions across different social networks to ensure that your brand can deliver upon its unique value.
Get everyone involved, depending on your customerís needs - from sales to product development and marketing. Itís also critical to let all organizational functions have a pulse on your audienceís core needs and values for multiple perspectives. The more you listen, the more connected you are to your customers, the better product, marketing, sales strategy youíll be able to build.
3. Create behavioral targeting mechanisms.
Today, companies are collecting large amounts of data to better understand user behavior online. For example, a brand can analyze its most valuable customers by traffic source. Use analytics to conduct broad global listening and supply this information back into your reporting. There are tools that make it possible to monitor millions of data sources through automated notifications that show spikes in sentiment, mentions, and global trends. Social data can be integrated directly into your Google Analytics and Facebook Insights accounts, which makes it possible to track end-to-end conversations. Teams can combine full customer journeys, track conversations both on and offline, and analyze geographic differences.
Businesses need to be social at multiple touch points, internally and externally. What you need to do is to look for areas within your organization where you think social media can bring new opportunities for growth, collaboration, and direct consumer relations. Where your business is already strong will be your biggest ROI drivers.
Every online marketer knows that content drives action, and that it can only work if it reaches the audience for which it was intended. Otherwise, itís like that philosophical thought experiment, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Marketers know they need to push their content out there, because it wonít automatically promote itself.
Hereís what happens when marketers manage to push their content out to the right audience.
1. Content drives engagement.
Once you've held peopleís attention with content you've published, nothing can keep them away from your site. Manís greatest core competency is communication, and nothing excites him like a compelling thought or a bright idea.
2. Engagement fosters trust.
Deliver messages that people find useful to their concerns on a regular basis. Consistency helps build a reputation for your brand as the go-to source for relevant information. Consistency builds trust between yourself and your audience, and every piece of information you share strengthens that trust.
3. Trust induces emotions.
People naturally open themselves up to those they trust. The same goes for marketing - youíll want to get to your prospectís "sweet spot" - that is to say, speak to their hearts and tap into their emotions. Because you have established a relationship built on trust, theyíll be open to your ideas.
4. Emotions drive action.
Majority of our decisions are triggered by emotions. An article in the Psychology Today website states that emotions provide you with a quick assessment of your current situation without the need to think much about it. This is where you get to "press their buttons" and get your audience to take favorable action.
All in all, content drives action. So donít let it get thrown away in a forest with nobody to hear it talk about your business.
recently shared the highlights of the Quarterly Outsourcing Index created by arvato UK, a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, and industry analyst NelsonHal.
The report found that the average deal value for HR outsourcing grew 24 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2014. Strong outsourcing activity was also seen from the central and local government market, even though spending activity decelerated.
The report also found that out of all the outsourcing deals signed this year, HR accounts for 25 percent with a total value of £93 million. Moreover, 25 BPO and ITO deals were finalized in July - September 2014 with a total value of £421 million. The Q3 of 2014 is the third consecutive quarter of growth in percentage of first-time outsourcing deals at 64%.
Twenty-four percent of existing contracts underwent expansions and extensions. Contracts that are set to be delivered onshore grew from 60 percent last year to 76 percent, and the public sector (healthcare, central and local government markets) spent £108 million.
The growth in HR outsourcing contracts propelled the value from just over £8 million in Q3 2013 to £10 million in Q3 2014.
The bullish year-on-year growth for the HR outsourcing industry is a sign that demand for recruitment, benefits administration, and payroll outsourcing services, as well as the ongoing development of refined client-outsourcer partnerships remains strong.
On the other hand, the report revealed that private sector clients behind 92 percent of all the HR outsourcing deals closed since January. The most active buyers in the business services segment are from the professional, property, and people services with 39 percent of deals. Manufacturers lagged behind with 22 percent of all the contracts.
Within the HR segment, benefits administration accounted for 48 percent, followed by recruitment with 36 percent, and development services with eight percent.
To set the record straight, real-time PR isn't impromptu PR. It isn't as simple as telling the social media manager or intern to monitor trends and events on Twitter and offer responses. It doesnít work that way. You always have to have a plan.
Real-time PR is filled with data and processes. For a successful real-time PR campaign, here are four tips you need to consider:
- Combine your efforts with data. The best asset for your real-time PR team is data, as it allows you to change courses quickly when a tactic isn't performing well.
- Prepare real-time campaigns in advance. Always have content ready for an upcoming holiday or event. During one of the annual awards ceremonies, HBO had prepared content for all the predicted winners, and when the actual winner was announced, the cable network released the appropriate content.
- Have a process in place. Real-time only works if you have a team specifically tasked to act and respond. Set up processes so that time-sensitive content doesn't get lost in a muddle of approvals.
- Use technology to your advantage. You donít have to be "on" 24/7, but your tech should be the constant hum in the background of your PR efforts. Establish rules so that you receive alerts when a possible real-time opportunity arises.