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6/22/2016, Forbes -- Buying a franchise can be a great move for a would-be entrepreneur who doesn’t want to create a new business from scratch. In theory, franchisees acquire a model that already works on every level, from branding to pricing to marketing. A ready clientele eagerly spends on Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and 7-11. The market has tested the best recipes for glazed crullers, Egg McMuffins and the right combo of energy drinks to stock next to the register. But making a go as a successful franchisee can be a lot more complicated than simply finding an appealing brand and plunking down some cash. For a taste of what can go wrong, see Forbes’ piece about the problems at sandwich franchise Quiznos, which paid $206 million to settle a suit brought by franchisees who claimed the chain had oversold its markets and excessively marked up supplies.

If you’re thinking of becoming a franchisee, how should you prepare yourself? We asked three professionals with extensive knowledge of the franchising world. Ed Teixeira is both a former franchisor and former franchisee, and the author of two books on franchising, including The Franchise Buyer’s ManualJosh Brown is a Carmel, Indiana lawyer who specializes in franchising, and Sean Kelly is a former executive at the successful Amish pretzel franchise Auntie Anne’s. Kelly runs the muck-raking website,Unhappy Franchisee. They recommend you do these 12 things before you buy a franchise.

  1. Give yourself a personality test.
There’s a reason military veterans tend to be successful franchisees, says Brown. They’re used to following the rules and operating within a highly regulated system. If you’re the creative type who likes to cook without recipes, paint walls wild colors and experiment with mood lighting, you’re probably not cut out to be a franchisee, says Kelly. “You have to know that you’re going to be an implementer, not a creator,” he says.
  1. Study the field.

Avail yourself of publicly available information on the ABCs of franchising. An excellent place to start: The Federal Trade Commission’s Guide to Buying a Franchise. Did you know that many franchisees are required to spend a designated amount on advertising and yet have no control over how those ad dollars are spent? Two other helpful sites: The International Franchising Association’s Franchising 101 guide and The American Association of Franchisees and Dealers’ Road Map to Selecting a Franchise.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

8-30-2016, Forbes -- How did your bank account look when you woke up this morning?

Had your balance increased at all since you went to bed?

If you are like 99.99% of the population, the answer is probably a resounding “No!”

But what if you could change that?

What if I could teach you a simple and proven method to make income while you sleep?

That would be pretty cool right?

And it can be your reality if you learn how to leverage youremail list by writing emails that convert.

Sound like something you might be interested in?

I thought so.

So without further ado, here are the steps that you need to take to write emails that convert.

1. Divide your list into categories

One of the first steps to ensuring that your emails convert is to ensure that they are getting sent to the right people.

This is especially pertinent if you have a company or blog that covers several different topics.

For example, if you run a personal growth company for men that covers dating, fitness, business, and spirituality, you needto segment your list into different categories.

You will have people on your list who joined for theentrepreneurship articles but are already married and don’t care about the dating articles.

Likewise, you will have successful entrepreneurs who want to improve their romantic life and couldn’t care less about your business content.

Dividing your list based on interests is key to ensuring that your emails get opened and the right promotions are sent to the right people.

The best way to segment your list is to create several different lead magnets specifically targeted at each category.

So using the example above, this would mean creating a different lead magnet for fitness, for dating, business, and spirituality.

If you can do this, your open rate will be significantly higher, you will retain subscribers for longer, and you will be able to target customers with products they care about.

2. Personalize emails

This step is pretty easy to do and very self explanatory.

It should always be your goal to make sure that your audience feels special.

Personalizing your emails will help accomplish this goal.

What’s even better is that almost 70% of businesses do not personalize their emails.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

12-6-2017, Forbes -- Have you ever listened to a speech that inspired you so much, you were ready to make a change in your life immediately? What was it about that person, that presentation, that drove you to take action? Chances are, the speaker had some pretty solid qualities that inspired you to follow their lead.

Now imagine a typical day at your office. Are your employees energized and ready to drive change, or do they appear quiet and listless, only striving for the bare minimum?

Motivating your employees, while no easy feat, is critical to driving results. When people come to me for help with a career change, they are often looking to leave a job due to a bad boss, lack of opportunity, or pure boredom (aka not enough change). As a career coach, I remind my clients that some of this is due to poor leadership, while some simply boils down to a lack of communication. You don’t want to be the “boring boss” who could have, in fact, potentially saved that employee from walking out the door, do you? Chances are, if this person was looking for growth - for change - you could have inspired them to make it happen.

The catch? To inspire change in your employees, you need to spend just as much time working on yourself as you do working to inspire others. Here’s how.

Be an expert communicator.

Have an open-door policy that employees actually use and believe in. If you allow for more two-way dialogue and open communication, your employees will learn to trust you. Not only is communication important for results, it’s important for the bottom line as well. $26,041 is the cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from - you guessed it - communications barriers. Yikes. So aim for healthy, professional dialogue with your employees. Ask for feedback as much as you give it, and have candid conversations. In other words, it’s time to up your communication game.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Forbes -- “He doesn’t have a lot of experience managing people. Do you think he can do the job?” This is a phrase we hear more frequently as organizations fill the vacancies retiring Baby Boomers leave behind. Recently, a younger friend told me his experience of being hired after receiving his graduate degree. Most of the team he would manage had been working for the organization for more than 10 years and were his seniors by approximately 20 years. Some of them expressed frustration about being managed by someone so young and inexperienced. Were their fears grounded? How effective are newly appointed managers compared to the older and more seasoned folks they replace?

Frankly, being an older boss myself, I assumed veteran managers would prove to be the more effective leaders. But the data surprised me. In a recent article for Harvard Business Review my colleague Jack Zenger and I explored our database of more than 65,000 leaders and looked more deeply at managers who were 30 years of age and younger (455 leaders) and compared them to an older group of leaders over 45 years of age (4,298). Once we separated the two groups, we looked at the distinguishing characteristics of each.

When comparing groups, we strive to make them as similar as possible. But by the very fact they were promoted to managerial positions at a relatively young age, we realized that those in the younger group were primarily high potential achievers. It is not common to be elevated into a managerial job at such a young age. Of the younger group, 44% ranked in the top quartile on overall leadership effectiveness when compared to all leaders in our database. In contrast, the older group contained only 20% who were in the top quartile. In all, the older group was a combination of leaders who were exceptional, more that were good and an expected percentage who needed improvement.

When we looked at the 360 data of the younger and more seasoned managers we found the younger group was rated more positively on every one of the 49 items. This is both surprising and excellent news that indicates there are talented young leaders in our organizations who will be capable of stepping into key roles.

However, like my friend, younger managers struggle with proving their worth. From the comments and data we saw that younger managers were not fully trusted and that others often felt they were not capable of representing the organization. People also complained that young leaders lack strategic perspective and deep knowledge of their industries. It is true that some things are only learned over time. But before pass over promotion of a younger employee due to their “inexperience” you should know what they really have to offer. Here’s what we found:

  1. Welcome change. The younger leaders embraced change. They did a great job of marketing their new ideas. They had the courage to make difficult changes. Possibly their lack of experience caused them to be more optimistic about proposals for change. It was as if they did not know that changes would be hard to make happen. They possessed the courage to take on significant changes and were more willing to be the champions of change projects.
  1. Inspiring behavior. Younger leaders knew how to get others energized and excited about accomplishing objectives. They were able to inspire other to high levels of effort and production to a even greater degree than their more experienced counterparts. Their older colleagues tended to more often lead with “push” while they lead with “pull.”
  1. Receptive to Feedback. Young leaders were extremely open to feedback. They more frequently asked for feedback. They wanted more extensive feedback regarding their performance, and they found ways to both digest and implement the feedback. Older leader then to be less willing to ask for and respond to feedback from colleagues.

Read the rest of the story here:

11-29-2017, Forbes -- Opportunities to truly connect with people can be rare. Sometimes, these opportunities present themselves in a moment of vulnerability or because you shared the right story. However they happen, such moments tend to pop up during the holidays, perhaps because of a higher sense of emotion during these months. Sure, some emotions are centered around worry or stress because your family is going to drive you nuts, but others carry a sense of nostalgia or positivity.

It’s important that brands and individuals take a step back and make sure they’re engaging people in the ways that will help them form a real relationship with customers and anybody else who is important to them. Recently, reached out to me to discuss how companies should be engaging audiences during the holidays. Here are seven rules of engagement to help you form real, lasting connections during the holiday season:

1. Give up short-term gains to build long-term relationships.

REI was closed again this year for Black Friday to encourage people to go outdoors instead of shopping. The company could clearly profit in the short term by staying open, but it chose to make a statement that some things are more important. In reality, this approach creates a more meaningful connection with people in the long term.

2. Account for emotions running high.

The holidays are a time to be with the people you love and who love you — if you’re lucky. Someone you know may have just gone through a divorce; others may have lost somebody they loved this year. So be aware of such losses, and try to give people a break or be there for them when you can.

3. Have fun with your campaigns.

Get creative with your messaging to amuse your audience and keep them engaged. Dollar Shave Club’s marketing is pretty much always entertaining, but a few years ago, the company did a fun campaign featuring people who wouldn’t use their product, like kids, bikers who haven’t shaved for years, and so on. That campaign stood out to me because it made the brand amusing to people who weren’t even their target market. I have a beard that I haven’t shaved in five years, but I ended up buying a subscription for a friend.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

11-9-2016, Forbes -- Everyone experiences disappointment at one point or another in their lives. Sometimes, it is over something as trivial as a missed business opportunity. Other times, it’s over something more meaningful, like an election.

Watching Hillary Clinton’s concession speech today reminded me of of just how challenging managing feelings of disappointment can be. I can only imagine how she feels; to lose an election after a lifetime of service, hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, and a grueling nomination and campaign must be devastating.

Still, despite the flood of emotion that Secretary Clinton must undoubtedly have been experiencing, she handled the situation with characteristic intelligence, class, and grace. Her example of graciousness in defeat should serve as an example to anyone forced to manage disappointment, especially entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster ride unlike any other, especially for founders. When you think about a business, there are two kinds of capital: money and emotional investment.

Founders usually have the highest emotional investment of anyone in the organization. After all, the business is their baby—and for entrepreneurs, life is work and work is life. For better or worse, everything that happens to or in a business is somewhat personal.

When disappointment comes—and it always does—it’s easy to let it get you down on a number of fronts. However, for the sake of the company, the team, and your sanity, you’ll have to learn how to deal with the situation in a positive manner.

I’m not an expert on many things, but one area where I have plenty of experience is dealing with disappointment. I’d like to share what I’ve learned over the years so that my fellow entrepreneurs are better equipped to deal with the challenges they face in their lives.

Stay strong and keep a good poker face

Attitudes are highly contagious, especially inside small organizations. This is true on many fronts, but it’s especially acute when you’re dealing with the leader’s attitude. If a team sees a leader in a depressive mood, it will spread like wildfire. It’s critical for leaders to maintain a good poker face.

Read the rest of the story HERE. 

Forbes -- Increasingly smart cars (and smart homes) are becoming the center of our digital lives. At a minimum you want to play your music where ever you go, and control other aspects of personal comfort such as lighting and temperature. The convenience of the Internet of things means your personal comfort zone can follow you most anywhere, it doesn’t even have to be your own car or house. But most of us do not fully understand the security consequences of having all our logins and passwords stored inside external devices we may possess even if only temporarily.

“When I get a rental car,” said David Miller, Chief Security Officer for Covisint, “the last thing I do is pair my phone. It downloads all my contacts because that’s what it wants to do. In most rental cars you can go in and –if somebody’s paired with it—see their contacts.”

Unlike most people today Miller is thinking ahead to what happens next. “I spend all this time connecting my vehicle to my whole life,” he said, “and then in five years I sell it – how do I disconnect it from my whole life? I don’t want the guy who buys [my car] to be able to see my Facebook friends, so you have to de-provision. Security guys are much more interested in the security vulnerabilities around de-provisioning than provisioning.”

Miller’s company, Covisint, created by GM, Ford, and the former DaimlerChrysler, connects the automakers back end systems to a variety of supply chain vendors through the use of a single login and password. “We provide a cloud service that connects people and things with information that are external and separate from them.” Lately Covisint has taken that idea and applied it to the Internet of Things.

Read the rest of the story here:

9-18-2017, Forbes -- Business owners’ optimism is at its highest since February, with more than a quarter of owners saying now is a good time to expand, according to the latest survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Data from Sageworks, a financial information company, also show that sales and profitability continue to grow for privately held firms.

But as businesses hire more, invest more and grow into new areas, it’s a good idea to maintain a focus on some of the fundamentals that underpin a company’s financial performance.

“When you’re running a business, you get so busy just running the business and the operations that you sometimes lose track of finances,” says Brian Hamilton, chairman of Sageworks. “And most people who start companies are not super interested in finance, so they kind of lose track of money, which is definitely one point of running a company -- to make some money.”

Nevertheless, business owners need to know basic financial information – what the business cash flow is, how much profit is expected, what the revenue will be this quarter -- in order to not only pay bills but also expand in a way that makes financial sense. In addition, there are several common business practices to avoid so that the “good times” of this economic cycle don’t end prematurely for the business.

Here are four habits to guard against:

Extending credit automatically

Failing to manage cash is one of the most common causes of business failures, and the trouble can start when a company offers credit indiscriminately to customers and then cannot collect. Business owners may be convinced they must offer credit to everyone and on the same terms, but if they truly consider their clients individually, they may reconsider.

“When you offer credit, you are now a bank and a service or product provider rather than just a service or product provider,” Hamilton says, estimating that in many cases, businesses truly need to offer credit to only about 25 percent of customers. Grant credit when it will increase revenue and income, and vary credit terms based on the overall relationship and creditworthiness. Is now the time to review the credit policy and implement changes for 2018?
Read the rest of the article HERE.

11-6-2017 -- For most of us, and for a long time, thinking about the phrase “the office” or “office culture” conjured up a similar, and quintessential, image. It probably contained rows of cubicles, and variations on an uncomfortable type of chair.

But these days, office culture is increasingly about the intangibles we can’t see as easily: ideas. Startups have emerged in recent years as thought leaders in a variety of encouraging ways throughout the business world. By the time they’re done, office culture might mean something totally different to the next generation.

Here are three ways they’re doing it.

Letting Employees Address Life’s Small Necessities


One of the greatest gifts startup culture has delivered so far to the corporate world has been the loosening of the clichéd and claustrophobic nine-to-five routine we’re all so familiar with. Sure, even some of the larger corporations have embraced ideas like “flex time” over the years, but it took our great pivot back to garage-based startups and locally owned businesses for the concept to really take off.

A lot of today’s startups choose to trust their employees with managing their own schedules, up to and including deciding for themselves when to show up to the office, and how long it takes them to get their work done. Flex time is a huge benefit to working parents and anybody else who wishes to balance a rewarding career with an equally rewarding and rich home life. The latter rarely comes at us on a fixed schedule — and startups seem to appreciate this.

Northwestern MutualVoice:Divorcing on the Doorstep of Retirement? Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know

Today’s startups just seem to “get it” in a way some of the entrenched corporate presences haven’t caught on to: Time spent relaxing or with family isn’t a waste, and happy employees are more thoughtful and productive.

Read the rest of the story HERE

12-10-2017, Forbes -- For some companies, the holidays drive massive revenue. Look no further than this year’s record-breaking sales weekend, and you can see that plenty of e-commerce brands, B2C sellers, and other businesses that take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday do exceptionally well after Thanksgiving.

Others, like a lot of B2B brands and service-oriented companies, aren’t quite so lucky. Your sales team’s points of contact and their internal decision makers are out of the office, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Time is precious, and everyone’s a little harder to reach right now.

Plus, all your prospects probably have a million other things to check off their to-do lists before the year ends. Put yourself in their shoes: Replying to your email by the time you’d like them to probably isn’t making the top five for them.

All of this can lead to stagnating or slumping sales during the final weeks of the year. While many business leaders accept lower target numbers in December, confident that the pendulum will swing back the other way in January and February, a renewed focus on content marketing can keep leads warm during the winter.

That’s because the content your team produces isn’t limited just to the marketing team; your company content should be used by various departments to help them reach their individual goals. And sales is one of them.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Forbes -- Both B2B and B2C companies can benefit greatly from devoting resources to initiatives that help develop customer loyalty. Gartner, a technology research firm, estimates that by 2018, B2B businesses that employ effective personalization techniques on their e-commerce websites will outsell competitors who lack this personalization by 30%.

On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their initial purchase. To increase the likelihood that your company sees, and benefits from, this repeat business, consider implementing the three measures discussed here. Each idea has been tremendously beneficial as Varsity Tutors has grown from operating in one city to several dozen.

1. Develop a positive feedback loop

One of the best ways to encourage customer loyalty is to develop a positive end-to-end user experience that makes your consumers return again and again. Your user experience begins when a potential customer first learns of your brand, and it continues through his or her use of your product or service.

Why is user experience so important? One-third of consumers cite a positive experience as a significant factor in their brand loyalty. Conversely, up to 2/3 of customers see a negative experience as a compelling reason to change brands.

Read the rest of the story here:

Forbes, 6-30-2016 -- Entrepreneurs who want to launch a new product or service are facing two problems that are continuing to grow in scale – rapidly increasing competition, and shorter life cycles in marketing.

The channels entrepreneurs and businesses were using a decade ago have changed dramatically, and the long-term effectiveness of many of them is diminishing each day as their lifespans collapse.

When Adwords launched, there were years of $0.05 and $0.10 cost-per-clicks because a lot of marketers didn’t know about the platform. And it wasn’t really that long ago that Facebook launched its ad platform, but savvy marketers jumped on board right away. Because of that, Facebook is becoming out of reach for cash-strapped and bootstrapping startups.

Add that to growing competition, and the wins feel like they’re getting harder to achieve. The SaaS market is a prime example. It’s much different now compared to even a few years ago.

You can’t just launch a basic, one-feature app and expect rapid success. You have to offer something innovative – or have an unfair advantage in order to capture attention.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

9-7-2017, Forbes -- It was barely two weeks ago, while in New York City for my niece's baptism, that Loren Feldman—the editor of this blog--and I caught up over lunch.

After our casual chat centered around baseball and unique life experiences abroad, we ultimately came back to how we know each other. We had first connected through our interests in entrepreneurial ecosystem building, especially in Houston where I’m based and where I met Loren just over a year ago at the Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University.

A glass of wine later (maybe two) Loren stopped me mid-sentence, grabbing my arm, and said, “You have to share these stories – this experience. I can’t think of a single community who is NOT focused on this topic!”.

What Loren was referring to is this journey of Houston’s growing tech innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Whether through our own Station Houston, the tech hub we launched last year, or through the countless other innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives happening in the City, there has been this convergence in our community to drive Houston’s future.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Cofounder of Launch Academy. Dan has been building web apps & tech teams since 2004 and has a passion for mentoring aspiring developers.

May 23, 2016, Forbes -- As an entrepreneur with a growing business, you’re probably clamoring to maintain control as things change — I know I was with my own young company. Unfortunately, in my quest for control, I was actually doing my business and team a disservice. One of our core values at my company Launch Academy is to elevate everyone around you. Yet even as a co-founder I was stuck in the weeds and getting in the way of the talented people we hired to get the job done.

As I struggled with this problem, I was given a few pointers from a golf coach on my backswing (I used to tense up, grip the club too tightly, and slice the ball off course). He instructed me to loosen my grip and not tense up in that critical moment — leading to a better and more consistent shot. It’s counterintuitive, but this advice has given me both a better golf swing and a more effective way of working with my team.

So here are the five rules I’ve set for myself as I set out to really put this into practice in my business.

Don’t Try To Fix Everything At Once

As a founder or executive of a growing company, you’re likely overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of problems you see — I certainly was. Personally, I pointed out problems left and right, distracting my team from focusing on what really mattered. I was trying to fix everything at once, instead of fixing one issue at a time.

Focus On The Urgent And Important

When I get overwhelmed, I use the Eisenhower Box to ask myself: What is both urgent and important? I focus on that one thing and rally the team around it. This provides clarity and eliminates the cost of confusing priorities and context switching.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

6/20/2016, Forbes -- Americans will spend more than 8.9 billion hours complying with IRS tax filing requirements in 2016. To put that in context, that works out to 222,500,000 full work weeks (assuming a standard 40 hour work week). You’d have to work 4,278,846 years straight to hit those kinds of numbers.

All in all, tax compliance will cost the U.S. economy $409 billion this year. That’s the word out of The Tax Foundation, which recently put together a report estimates the total cost of tax compliance on the U.S. economy using data from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why is it so bad? For one, our Tax Code. In 1955, the Internal Revenue Code was 409,000 words long. Today, it’s about 2.4 million words long (depending on who you ask): almost six times as long as it was in 1955 and almost twice as long as in 1985. That means it’s growing at about 32,639 words per year or 89 words per day. That’s pretty amazing considering that Congress isn’t exactly moving and shaking these days: the House plans to be in session fewer than 111 days in 2016.

In addition to tax laws, there are roughly 7.7 million words worth of Tax Regulations. Tax regulations are the official interpretation of the Tax Code (found at Title 26). In addition, there are Proposed Regulations which are exactly what they sound like – recommended guidelines – and aren’t made final until there has been the opportunity to hear testimony and comments.

And wait, like an ad for Ginsu knives: there’s more! On top of the Code and Regulations, there are almost 60,000 pages of tax-related case law (you’ve probably read about a case or two, like Loving v. Commissioner or Comptroller v. Wynne here on the blog).

Read the rest of the story HERE.

3-20-2017, Forbes -- On Episode 37 of The Limit Does Not Exist we sit down with Janett Martinez, who has held a singular mantra throughout her zig-zag career: "it's all about scrappy resourcefulness." The CEO of fashion-tech startup Loomia got her start in technical theater while still a teenager at the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City. (Fun fact: that's the public arts high school FAME is based on.)

Martinez studied theatrical scenic, lighting, and sound design and construction and worked at Lincoln Center as a scenic charge before matriculating at Emerson College to study design technology. She liked the intersection of technology and performing arts, and she was doing well in her program. But in her sophomore year both of her parents had health issues that prevented them working. So she took a leave of absence and returned to New York, where she got a job as a concierge at the Bryant Park Hotel to help support her family.

At 19, Martinez was the youngest concierge in New York City, a job that is almost exclusively about leveraging relationships. "It was less 'Can I do it?' and more 'I’d better do it.'" 

She built a binder several hundred pages thick with notes on menus, maître d's, and special events as she hustled to build relationships across the city. It paid off, and after a very successful year in the role was able to go back to school. But her interests had changed since she left Emerson, so Martinez decided to stay in New York and complete a certificate in audio engineering. She had been acting (including an appearance on Law and Order, a veritable rite of passage for professional actors) and singing original songs during her year as a concierge, and wanted to learn the technology and craft behind recording engineering.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Forbes -- Mention “employee perks and benefits” and you’re likely to conjure images of Silicon Valley shuffleboard tournaments and off-site staff retreats in Maui. But the kinds of benefits job seekers are after are far more traditional–and more essential for hiring–than employers may think.

According to job search and salary comparison site Glassdoor, 57 percent of job seekers list benefits and perks among their chief concerns when evaluating a job offer. Further, 80% of employees would choose an added perk instead of a raise.

“Benefits and perks matter because they’re an added piece of the total compensation puzzle,” said Glassdoor career trends analyst Scott Dobroski.

Glassdoor’s review of employee benefits considers employee evaluations of over 50 benefits and perks offered by employers, such as “health insurance, 401(k), adoption assistance, tuition assistance, and more.” Employers are also provided the opportunity to “verify and comment on the benefits and perks.”

But the top benefits and perks don’t involve beanbag chairs or free snacks, instead hewing more traditional, i.e., healthcare, paid time off, performance-related bonuses, paid sick time, and retirement or pension savings plans.

9-3-2017, Forbes -- A company is like a great sports team: The coach leads the way and coordinates the team with his leadership skills, and the players score the points needed to win the game. But what makes a good player better than constant training?

A wise manager knows that an efficient employee needs to be adequately trained. Even the best athlete will eventually grow weak if he’s not consistently challenged in training. But training doesn’t just occur during an employee’s first few weeks; effective training is an ongoing process.

However, sometimes even organizations that decide to embrace a culture of learning can fall into common misconceptions about education: The learning process is either experiential or theoretical instead of a blend of the best of both.

That lack of interaction lets learners become passive and demotivated, which makes the whole training process boring — and a waste of time for your company and your employees.

Brad Lea, owner and founder of LightSpeed VT, is an entrepreneur who set the benchmark for employee training. After he’d failed at becoming an actor — getting cut from a movie three days before production — Brad decided to start a business as a path to becoming a Hollywood star. Today, his online training platform is the largest in the world, and he is the father of “virtual training,” having coined the term himself. He shared with me some expert insights into how some companies miss the mark and what leaders can do about it to effectively train their teams.

Read more HERE.

4/13/2016, Forbes -- Advice and support can be just as important as funding in the early stages of starting up in business, which is why a good mentor is worth his or her weight in gold. They are sounding boards, voices of reason, and fonts of knowledge; all rolled into one, and can be a lifeline for those new to running their own business.

Some have played a decisive role in the startup stories of some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Virgin founder Richard Branson. His mentor was legendary airline entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker, a man he had always admired, but who became a source of practical help and inspiration during the early days of Virgin Atlantic.

“Drawing on his experiences with his own airline, Laker Airways, his advice on how to set up the company was invaluable,” recalls Branson. “We wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in the airline industry without Freddie’s down-to-earth wisdom. He helped shape our vision for high quality service at competitive prices, and was the first to bring my attention to how fiercely we would have to battle with other airlines to make a success of our airline.”

Virgin’s fledgling airline also lacked the big budgets of its larger competitors, and it was Laker who encouraged Branson to become the face of the company, and drive his own publicity for free.

“’Use yourself. Make a fool of yourself. Otherwise you won’t survive’. That piece of advice influenced my entire approach to business,” he says. “I took his advice on board and have been thinking up fun ways to stand out from the crowd ever since. I’ve found by standing out in fun and different ways, your chances of ending up on the front page of the newspaper, rather than the back, are much higher.”

Read the rest of the story here:

Forbes, 6-26-2016 -- Everybody has a favourite book, a tome that has been a source of inspiration or influence, and entrepreneurs are no different, except that their top reads tend to be business books that have often helped guide them through their start-up journey.

Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’, Jim Collins’ ‘Good to Great’, and The E-Myth Revisited Michael E. Gerber, are among the most popular, if not the most predictable titles adorning a founder’s bookshelf, but many others have proved equally insightful and impactful in shaping the business lives of some successful entrepreneurs.

Nikki Hollier gave up a successful career in IT to go it alone with her garden design business Styling Homes and Gardens, and the book that helped her through the transition is ‘The Breakthrough Experience’ by John Demartini.


She says: “It helped define my business by clarifying my thoughts, ambitions and values, but mainly it helped me to deal with the emotional side of being my own boss after being in the corporate world of IT for 20 years, and to handle the highs and lows and understand the balance between the two.”

Hollier, who became an award-winning garden designer within a year of starting up, had faced a dilemma familiar to many entrepreneurs; should she remain in IT and use her skills, or follow her heart and passion for creativity?

“There is a section in the book that helps define your values, which helped me clarify the direction I needed to take,” she says. “The book also talks about balance; there are a lot of highs and lows and it helped me take everything in my stride, for example, when something amazing happens not to get over excited and equally when something dreadful happens not to become doom and gloom. I’m on a more even keel.”
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