10 Steps to Change Your Business Image

With the global business continuing to evolve rapidly, companies are faced with the reality that they often have to update their image to remain relevant in the minds and hearts of their customers and target audience.

If your audience sees the same old look and feel to what you offer, they may conclude that you aren’t putting any effort into following the trends or even leading the way. Or, it may be that you have had some issues in recent months that have tarnished your business image due to a bad decision or an unfortunate turn of events in the market. Whatever the case, your audience and customer base may seek out a competitor.

How to Change Your Business Image

However, you can work quickly and effectively to stay relevant and rebuild trust by transforming your business image in these 10 ways, including numerous solutions that get you there faster:

1. Strategize on a new direction and approach. One of the most challenging aspects of changing your business image is adjusting your operating model to best suit the customer’s needs. Often, it’s hard to separate from longstanding approaches or preconceived notions of departmental responsibilities and employee job descriptions. That makes it more difficult to figure out how to redesign the structure of your business to enable it to address the current and future needs of your target market. This is when it helps to bring in a company like ON THE MARK, which assists in seeing this bigger picture and offering a new blueprint of what your business model looks like and how it can run effectively.

2. Change how you interact with customers to shape how you transform the company. Listening to what your customers are telling you about what they want and what you can change to assist them with a better experience should be part of your plan to transform yourself. When your customers see that you have listened to them and adapted to suit them, you will go a long way toward making the right changes in your strategic direction and delivery, but you will also strengthen existing relationships. You may already have that information to tell you how to transform in your available data but no way of actually knowing what it all means. A company like Salesforce can provide a CRM platform and project management system that organizes and highlights those areas where you may need to make changes or that can define how you transform your image.

3. Engage your audience with content that illustrates your new business image. Today’s audiences rely primarily on written and visual content to make their decisions about a company whether it is on a website, on a blog, or on a social media profile. This is an opportunity to leverage their interest in content to get your messages across about what defines your new business image and, most importantly, how it specifically helps them with their issues or problems. Your content becomes your new business image because it is the communication channel and conversation platform between you and your customers. They can tell you what they think of the new business image or ask questions about what that image means for them. Since it’s an integral way to get noticed and share your new image, it’s critical to have expertise in content marketing from a company like Contently, which can help you to formulate your messaging and craft the content necessary to get the best reaction to this new business image.

4. Put the new business image into your visual presentation. It helps your audience to have imagerythat represents this new business messaging because these are symbols that help your audience connect and remembers the new brand attributes you want them to know about. When you want to change your business image, it’s an opportune time to update your logo, slogan, and website in terms of symbol, color, and messaging. This is where graphic design becomes your best friend, offering a way to consistently revise all visual representations of your company. You can use tools like SummitSoft to create a logo and Wix for a website without having to claim artistic status to make a great impression.

5. Add expert talent in areas of your business where you lack skills. You can change logos and websites all day long, which will help to a certain degree with a business transformation, but it’s really the people you surround yourself with that can make a transformation stick. While you may not be in the financial position to hire a team of full-time talent, you can tap into outsource workers and freelancers that specialize in areas that can help you transform how your business operates, especially in improving technology, marketing and sales, and customer service. Look to agencies like Toptal for IT talent and iFreelanc for graphic designers, marketers, salespeople, writers and even virtual assistants. All these talented individuals can do a better job than you in these areas because it’s what they do, which then allows you to focus on those aspects of your business that you do well.

6. Put influencers to work selling your new business image to the target audience. Influencer marketing is one of the biggest areas of marketing to have a significant effect on convincing target audience members to purchase a specific product or service. With more interaction becoming virtual, consumers and businesses are relying on others to recommend and review products and services before deciding to buy them. It’s these influencers that almost become more critical to a business reimaging than trying to go directly to the audience. Influencers often have more leverage and can sell the message you want to transmit more effectively. Platforms like the AI-driven Influential connects you with the best influencers for your particular segment and helps get your business image revamp to those audience members that can most often be converted.

7. Improve the financial underpinnings of your business. Having the right financial knowledge and tools can help you transform the operational aspects of your company by increasing cash flow, informing sound money decisions, bolstering the security of your transaction systems, and adding opportunities to fund the transformation and growth of your business. Business transformation isn’t always about the public image but it is often more important to focus on behind the scenes mechanisms like anything related to company finances that can make the biggest difference. Financial partnerships are out there in the form of companies like InDinerothat provide the information and platforms you need to revamp your financial processes and approach.

8. Deploy thought leadership strategies to build credibility with your audience. By establishing credibility with your audience that you know what you are doing and have the most visionary, insightful information on a particular topic, you can drive the message of your revised business image home. Your byline and syndicated articles, as well as blog posts, can be the basis for explaining why you revamped your business image in relation to industry trends and issues that your audience understands. Aligning these can make the transition in your business image as seamless as possible and actually build greater trust because the audience sees that, as a leader, you realized changing your image would be more useful to the audience and in response to market evolution. Most industry publications accept bylined articles while news syndicates also readily accept new and relevant content.

9. Take your business image message to Livestream video. In order to get your message to the right people, you need to use the mediums and platforms where they want to hear from you. Livestream video on Instagram, Periscope and Facebook have become very popular due to the interest in consuming video content at a nearly voracious pace. You will be able to reach a larger audience with your revamp messaging and present it in a format that they are most receptive to, helping to create a visual picture of what your new image represents.

10. Plan a campaign around the business image refresh. Turn the business image makeover into an event by creating a marketing and ad campaign around it with a set of collateral designed to excite your audience as though you are launching the business for the first time or even a new product or service. In many ways, that is what you are doing. Create a set of messages to be broadcast on social media by using Hootsuite to blast it out as well as develop an email blast, blog post, and landing page on your website.

Don’t forget to track every tactic you use to transform your business image to see what type of impact it has on your audience. It may take the time to sink in so you may need to repeat some of these approaches and continue the dialogue with your customers and audience until the new image of your business replaces the previous one.

How to Successfully Track the Results of Your Mail Campaign

Increase your mailing response rate by tracking and taking a serious look at your results.

Imagine you just spent $3,000 on a direct mail campaign, the mail pieces are out the door, and you’re finished with the whole process. Now it’s back to business, fulfilling all those orders that are about to flood in. There’s nothing more to do with the mailing, right? Wrong.

Now comes one of the most critical parts of the whole operation. Assessing the results of your campaign so you know:

  • Was it worth it to spend the $3,000 in the first place?
  • Of the two versions of sales pieces you tested, which one did better?
  • Which list of names did better?

In other words, you need to start tracking your results. Tracking your mail campaigns helps you understand every element of the campaign so that you can refine everything you do for future mailings. That’s the only way to systematically get better results as you grow your business. I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve talked to who tell me they don’t really know the results of their direct mail campaigns. They have a sense that orders picked up after sending out a mailing, but they don’t have any hard data. And maybe they tried several different sales pieces over the years, but they don’t really know which one did better.

That kind of lackluster effort doesn’t allow you to make any progress. Sometimes a mailing works, sometimes it doesn’t, but if you don’t know why you can’t use the information to create more effective campaigns. After mailing more than 200 million sales letters, I am certain of one thing: Direct-mail is no place for guesswork.

Tracking your mailings down to the smallest detail, every sales piece you’ve sent out, and every mail date you’ve used, will all help you refine your mail methods and increase your response rate.

Many businesses find that there is a best and worst season for their direct mail campaigns. They know this because they tracked their results, and now they can use this information to help boost their response rates. Getting helpful information like this requires tracking every single mailing, for every single campaign.

If you can’t easily look at and compare your mailing list history, seasonality, and sales piece trends, you are leaving money on the table. You need to track every single detail.

Understanding Basic USPS Requirements For Direct Mail

There are too many times that a design element can cause you to pay significant additional postage. By learning the basic United States Postal Service requirements, you can save a ton of money. The fees can be 35 cents or more per piece, depending on the issue. And when you’re mailing hundreds of pieces, the cost can add up quickly.

Some of our clients have found that reprinting is actually cheaper than paying the additional postal fees. Knowing the requirements before you print will save you not only money but also time, and in direct mail, time can be the most critical thing.

First, let’s look at the five different mail categories, and the three most common classes of mail, first class, standard and nonprofit. Choosing which category and which class will determine the cost of your postage.

    1. Postcards. These are available in first-class mail only, while the following four are available in all classes of mail. Your paper stock must be a minimum of .007 inches thick and the aspect ratio must be between 1.3 and 2.5 inches. To determine the aspect ratio, look at the mail panel, measure the length and height, then take the length divide it by height. (3.5 inches by 5 inches to 4.25 inches to 6 inches)
    2. Letters. A letter can be a postcard that is larger than 4.25 inches by 6 inches or an enveloped piece. The thickness for all pieces must be between .009 and .25 inches; the aspect ratio is the same as postcards. (3.5 inches by 5 inches to 6.125 inches by 11.5 inches)
  1. Self-Mailers. A self-mailer is a single sheet of paper folded. The minimum paper stock for a piece that is less than an ounce is 70-pound paper. If it’s over 1 ounce, you need to use 80-pound or greater stock. This category has the same aspect ratio requirements as both postcards and letters. (3.5 inches by 5 inches to 6 inches by 10.5 inches)
  2. Booklets. A booklet consists of multiple sheets or pages that are bound by saddle‐stitching, or some type of binding method. The paper stock minimum weight for the cover is 40# to 80# book, depending on the design. This category has the same aspect ratio requirements as postcards, letters and self-mailers. (5 inches by 5 finches to 6 inches by 10.5 inches)
  3. Flats. For flats, the minimum paper stock thickness is .009. There are no aspect ratio requirements for this category. (6.126 inches by 11.51 inches to 12 inches by 15 inches)

Now for the addressing requirements:

  1. Postcards, Letters, Self-Mailers And Booklets. All of these have the same addressing options. First, put the barcode with the address. It must be at least a 1/2 inch from the right edge as well as at least 5/8 from the bottom edge. You need to stay 1/8 inch away from text and images and the maximum distance the address can be from the bottom of the mailer is 3.5 inches. We usually recommend to customers to leave an area of about 4 inches by 2 inches for the address and barcode. This area must be clear of UV coating, varnish, images and other text. The second option is to use the bottom right area for the barcode, which is referred to as the barcode clear zone. If you want to use this area you need to keep all images, color and text out of the bottom 5/8 area. The address would then have the same placement requirements as your first option.
  2. Flats. These are required to have the address block in the upper half of the short edge. For instance, with an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch mailer, you would need to address from the top of the piece down only to 5.5; don’t address below the 5.5. There is no barcode clear zone for flats. You will need to use an address block that includes the barcode, a 4-inch-by-2-inch clear area, no varnish, UV coating, text or images. You must also make sure that you have at least a .125-inch clearance for the address block from the edge of the piece and any text or graphics.

Finally, look at folding and tabbing/fugitive gluing mailers. Obviously, this is not needed for postcards, but you also do not need to use tabs or glue for flats.

  • Self- Mailer Folding. Folding requirements are very strict. You can fold vertically or horizontally based on the mail panel. The final fold should be to the right of the mail panel for the vertical fold, and should be below the mail panel for the horizontal fold. If you are folding an 11-inch-by-17-inch sheet down to 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches, the first fold needs to be to the right of the mail panel and the second fold below it.
  • Booklets. Binding requirements allow for two locations on the binding. You may either bind to the right of the mail panel or to the bottom of the mail panel.
  • Flat Folding. The fold or binding must be to the right of the mail panel. If you are using a poly bag or envelope, this is not necessary.
  • SelfMailer Tabbing. You have the choice to either tab or glue self-mailers. If tabbing a mailer that is up to 1 ounce, you need two 1-inch tabs and a mailer over 1 ounce needs two 1.5-inch tabs. For fugitive gluing you have a couple of options: One is a glue line and the other is glue spots. The most common tab positions are two above the mail panel or two to the left of the mail panel.
  • Booklet Tabbing. Three tabs are required with a minimum 1.5-inch diameter and may not be perforated. If binding is below mail panel, then two tabs are required to the right of the mail panel and one tab to the left. If the binding is to the right of the mail panel, then two tabs are required above the mail panel and one tab to the left.

As you can see, the regulations can get pretty complicated. Have your mail service provider take a look at a PDF of your design before you print to help you spot any potential problems. When you plan ahead, you won’t have to pay the post office a penalty.

Case study: What brands can learn from the integrated Share a Coke campaign of 2013

Summer 2013 saw Coca-Cola replace its iconic branding with 150 of the UK’s most popular names for its multimedia Share a Coke campaign, which produced some impressive results. But just what can other brands learn from it? Market research company YouGov shares the secrets of Coke’s winning campaign.

Last summer saw a flurry of activity down the supermarket drink aisles – adults and children alike scrambled through stacks of Coca-Cola, all eager to grab a bottle bearing their name. It seemed like almost everyone was sucked in by the Share a Coke campaign which exploded across Facebook, Twitter and TV advertising.

This unique and innovative approach to personalisation triggered research firm YouGov to roll out a study to ascertain just how and why Share a Coke was so successful and what other brands can take away from this success.

Background to the campaign Share a Coke, created by Ogilvy & Mather Sydney, launched in Australia in 2012. The integrated campaign was launched in Britain on 29 April 2013 and ran until the end of the summer. The soft drink giant replaced its usual branding with 150 of the UK’s most popular names. It was a multimedia effort, with TV adverts, billboards, and experiential marketing in the form of Coca-Cola ‘tours’ where participants could have their own custom bottle made. Each bottle also carried the hashtag #shareacoke to encourage users to share bottles with their names, as well as those of friends and family, using social media.

Reasons behind the research YouGov decided to study its progression and impact with UK consumers for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was already tracking Coca-Cola and its sub-brands, Diet Coke and Coke Zero, using its consumer perception tool. Second, YouGov was drawn by the dynamic nature of the campaign, and how it cut across multiple mutually-reinforcing mediums, including TV, Twitter and Facebook. Finally, Share a Coke’s innovative approach to personalisation made it a fascinating prospect.

Analysis strategy YouGov used connected data to combine actual (rather than claimed) advertising exposure with daily brand perception data to understand the impact of the advertising campaign, and which elements were most effective.

Actual exposure came from panellists who completed daily media consumption surveys, allowing YouGov to access to their social media feeds and let it track their web behaviour. Brand perception came from its daily BrandIndex survey – monitoring views on over 900 brands across 15 metrics each day.

Combining the two meant YouGov could accurately assess the impact of the campaign and understand the impact of each element. In this case it looked at the impact of TV, Twitter and Facebook by taking those exposed on each platform and assessing how their perceptions of Coca-Cola compared to matched samples who were not exposed.

YouGov focused on four measures that were most relevant to the aims of the Share a Coke campaign.

  • Buzz: Over the past two weeks, which of the following brands have you heard something positive/negative about (whether in the news, through advertising, or talking to friends and family)?
  • Impression: Which of the following brands do you have a generally positive/negative feeling about?
  • Recommend: Which of the following brands would you recommend/tell a friend to avoid?
  • Consideration: When you are in the market next to make a purchase, which brands would you consider?


TV Consumer perception of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero improved substantially on virtually every measure for those who were exposed to Share a Coke TV adverts. The uplift in perception for Diet Coke and Coke Zero was slightly more modest than for Coca-Cola, but still impressive. The data shows that 18-24 year-olds who were exposed to the campaign view the brand much more positively than those who were not exposed to the adverts.

Social media As with those who had seen the TV adverts, respondents who were exposed to the campaign on social media had a substantially better view of Coca-Cola than the nationally representative sample. Consumers who had seen the TV adverts and those exposed to #shareacoke on Twitter experienced a similar uplift in consumer perception. However, the consumers who were exposed to the campaign on Facebook showed the most dramatic improvement in how they perceive Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero (up 18 per cent).

What can other brands learn? Share a Coke has emerged as one of the most compelling campaigns in recent memory. The overarching theme that gave Share a Coke its edge is the way a brand so ubiquitous that it can replace its logo with individual names reached out to consumers and spoke to people as individuals.

The campaign showed that when personalisation works it can be highly engaging and effective. However, consumers were also cautious with warnings that when personalisation is attempted it can backfire if it doesn’t deliver. Examples cited were the Starbucks ‘name’ on cups campaign that can be a source of irritation when well-meaning staff members make mistakes.

Another element for marketers to consider is that in the world of social media, personalisation only works if it is something that can be shared with the wider community. This campaign provides people with a reason to share, but one that users can choose to do in their own way – there is a choice, it is customised and left up to individuals to be creative in how and when they use it.

Jane Carn, head of qualitative research at YouGov, commented: “Share a Coke was a multimedia campaign, so we needed a holistic approach that allowed us to understand the power of each component. We combined data sets covering media consumption, brand perception surveys, and social media exposure, so we were able to see whether someone was being influenced by the campaign even if they didn’t necessarily remember seeing one of the TV adverts or posts on Twitter and Facebook. We could also tell which elements of the campaign were working hardest, and while Share a Coke was extremely effective across all mediums, where we saw the greatest uplift in perception of the brand was among those who were exposed to it on Facebook.

“People loved that this campaign spoke to them directly by using their names, or those of their friends and family. They were also engaged in the participative element of the campaign, particularly by sharing images of the personalised Coke bottles on Twitter and Facebook. Share a Coke spoke to them as individuals, while making them feel more connected to the brand and to one another – and that is the secret to its success.”

Let’s bring back direct mail, and make it personal

Marketing has seen a shift in tactic; podcasts and direct mail – approaches that had previously fallen out of favour – are making a resurgence. Is it nostalgia or the changing economic and political climate that is turning agencies’ heads backward, or is there something else at play?

With so much noise in the market place in almost every industry, and concerns that budgets will tighten thanks to Brexit, brands want to talk to consumers on an individual basis. Audiences are becoming increasingly discerning about the information they consume, whether that’s choosing to listen to their favourite bloggers in a podcast, curating a playlist in Spotify or picking what they view through on demand services (Amazon Prime, Netflix, BBC iPlayer). With this new level of control, we want to feel that brands are making the effort to vie for our attention.

To be clear, this is not just about using our first name or slapping it on a bottle of Coke or jar of Nutella. This is about creating a connection on an emotional level and really engaging with both prospective and existing customers to build brand loyalty and leverage ROI. This means agencies need to be ever more selective in their approach – whether it’s the comeback kid of collateral, the direct mailer, whispering sweet nothings via a podcast or cutting edge tech in chatbots and personal web content.

Inbox overload is a daily occurrence and for every newsletter you signed up for that you actually read, there are probably five you delete without even opening. Yet, it’s likely that the last time you received a beautifully designed piece of direct mail, it is from event you can recall. We’re not talking about the crumpled pizza delivery flyers you get stuffed through the letter box or the latest begging letter from a charity including a free pen in the envelope, but something eye-catching and interesting. Segmenting your audience can mean the ability to discern who to talk to, making an investment from your budget in physical collateral that feels relevant and shows your recipients some love.

By the same token, we know that, depending on your business model, a direct mail campaign might not be the best use of your budget if you are seeking quantity reactions over quality ones. We’ve seen first-hand how different business models’ customer bases can react to a smart email campaign that sends carefully timed reminders and follow-ups based on client reactions, such as opens and clicks. It’s not about whether the customer feels the nostalgic pang of a piece of post. Instead, it’s about demonstrating that as a business, you not only care about your customers, you understand and empathise with them.

Likewise, visiting a smart website that has learnt your preferences and shows relevant content first offers an improved UX and helps engender brand loyalty. It benefits the business by knowing what stage of the journey your customer is at, offering tangible data about your customer reactions and experience through the sales funnel. Details specific to certain personas such as their needs, wants and possible roadblocks mean your website can offer the most relevant content supported by marketing emails.

With brands embracing technology as much as nostalgia, will we actually care if it’s a chatbot rather than a person behind a social media channel? We expect instant responses, immediate solutions and a certain level of reverence for our status as a valued customer as a consumer – so long as the AI has advanced enough to pull the wool over our eyes in short exchanges, making us feel like we matter, we will continue to retweet our direct messages or responses from companies none the wiser. We will feel cared for and understood by the brands we feel loyal to. It doesn’t matter whether it’s old school or new cool, because, for us as consumers, it’s personal.

5 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Identity

What’s in a name? Everything: A vibrant brand is what keeps a prospective customer interested long enough to view your offerings.

“Know thyself.” It’s an old saying, but one more business owners would do well to heed. There are many brand-related mistakes an entrepreneur can make, like overdoing an ad campaign or not being transparent about your products, but perhaps the biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make is having a poorly defined brand identity.  And yet, it happens all the time.

Why is this such a big deal? Think about when you go to a job interview, you will probably dress a certain way, highlight key experience or maybe even modulate your voice to be different than it would be in casual conversation. Essentially, you’ve created a persona that you hope will be favorable to your employability. In this same way, your brand is the persona of a company, and it will be your customer’s first impression.

With that in mind, here are five airtight tips for developing a strong brand identity.

1. You’re selling your brand, not a product.

Product-centric marketing may have been the wisdom before, but now, in our rapid-fire digital age, you’ve got about 20 seconds to make your impression.  And that’s just not long enough for the excellence of your product to shine through. What will keep your leads with you long enough to convert to sales is the impression, or perception, you cultivate, which basically means your brand. It won’t matter how good your product is if your brand doesn’t excite people: They will simply go elsewhere, and quickly.

2. Your brand should reflect who you really are.

Sure, you should think long and hard about what a customer wants to see and experience. That’s key. But it’s also key to think about who you are as a business, and to let that dictate your branding and marketing.

For example, if you are a web page designer who specializes in simple, modern designs, why is all your copy in an old-school serif font? Wouldn’t it make more sense for your stuff to be in something sleeker like Helvetica? These seem like minor decisions, but each informs the consumer’s sense of who you are and what you deliver. This creates a favorable, authentic relationship between your business and your customers, and buys you invaluable time for that relationship to gel before your client clicks away to a competitor.

3. You are only as good as your art and copy.

It’s important to stress the huge role that your art and copy has in making up your brand identity. Let’s say people go to your landing page and find a design relic from the Geocities era, along with copy that promotes your business as “specializing in the cross-platform application of digital solutions”. Not only will they not know what you do, they won’t care.

Related: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding

Your landing page should have descriptive copy that your potential clients can relate to, with design that reflects modern UX best practices. This applies no matter what your business is and how big you are.

4. It’s OK to rebrand.

You may have read this far and noticed some mistakes you’ve made in your own branding. Don’t worry. It’s perfectly okay to rebrand, particularly if you feel like you need to change your company’s perception in the eyes of potential clients. For instance, the venerable Ford is currently undergoing a major rebranding project to compete with modern car service companies like Uber and Lyft. If you rebrand sensibly, you won’t frighten away anybody: on the contrary, your business will grow. And this also applies to smaller companies: in 2013, a middling, security company called SafeMart evaluated its brand strategy and reemerged as LiveWatch. They’ve since won numerous industry awards and government grants.

5. Don’t resort to gimmicks.

One final tip, which is something of a mild warning: don’t substitute gimmicks for hard work and reflection. If your brand identity is not where it should be, no amount of crummy ebooks, webinars, or SEO strategies can save it.

Want to Start Your Own Business? 15 Signs You Were Born to Be an Entrepreneur

Even if if you haven’t started a company. (At least not yet.)

In many ways, entrepreneurs are just like everyone else: they come from all types of backgrounds, a variety of demographics, they possess different levels of education and experience and skill….

Yet when you look closely you’ll see that in some ways, entrepreneurs are very, very different, even if they aren’t officially entrepreneurs — yet.

Here are some of the qualities that Joel Basgall, the co-founder and CEO of Geneca, the custom software development firm and six-time Inc. 5000 honoree, feels that people who start businesses — and people who may not have started a business, but definitely have an entrepreneurial mindset — possess that set them apart:

1. They believe nothing is sacred.

Entrepreneurs don’t say, “Well, that’s just the way it is.”

Entrepreneurs never feel what is must always be. Perspectives can be shifted. Laws of physics can be broken. Conventional wisdom may not be wisdom at all.

Even when something huge stands in their way, entrepreneurs know there’s a way around it–they just need to figure it out. Changing a paradigm makes new things possible.

2. They love solving problems.

Entrepreneurs constantly look for problems to solve: sometimes little, sometimes big, sometimes technical, sometimes business- or team-related. Drop entrepreneurs into a static situation and they’ll create “problems” they can solve.

3. They’re great at self-assessment.

Why? They constantly evaluate what they do, and then work hard to be even better tomorrow than they are today.

Entrepreneurs are honest with themselves.

4. They embrace nontechnical feedback.

Entrepreneurs readily take input from others. And they definitely don’t put up barriers to feedback–feedback, especially critical feedback, is just another problem to solve. Becoming better is more important than their egos.

That’s because entrepreneurs don’t see feedback as threatening–feedback is enlightening. Plus they, like employee-entrepreneurs, know they need a lot more feedback on interpersonal skills and personal growth than on technical skills.

Why? Technical issues are obvious. Because they are constantly self-assessing, entrepreneurs know their technical limitations better than anyone else. But what other issues might be standing in their way?

If you see what they need to improve on and tell them, you become their hero, because now they can solve a problem they weren’t aware of.

5. They hate playing politics.

Entrepreneurs can’t stand playing politics–and to some degree, people who play politics. They don’t care about jockeying for promotions or trying to be “right” in a meeting.

An entrepreneur’s primary focus is on solving difficult problems and accomplishing cool things.

6. They love when others win.

Politically motivated people hate when other people earn praise or recognition; they instinctively feel that diminishes the light from their star.

Entrepreneurs aren’t competitive, at least not in that way. They want to be recognized, but their accomplishments don’t preclude others from doing great things, too.

They want everyone else who does something awesome to get recognized, too.

7. They desperately want to see ideas come to fruition.

Maybe they love to dream up their own ideas. Or maybe they love to help others build out their ideas. Either way, entrepreneurs want to make things happen–new, exciting, crazy, groundbreaking things.

The same is true for employees with an entrepreneurial mindset. Great people are drawn to working at Google because they know their great ideas will be supported. Great people are drawn to Geneca because they want to build new things and see them come to life.

Entrepreneurs don’t want to manage what already exists; they want to create what doesn’t exist–yet.

8. They’re meta-thinkers.

Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time thinking about thinking. They like to think about the best way to think about a goal or challenge or problem. They like to think about how to think differently and develop a different angle or approach or perspective.

Entrepreneurs like to think about thinking, because when they find new ways to think, they find new ways to act.

9. They prefer to make or enhance the rules.

Meta-thinkers instinctively evaluate every rule–and look for ways to improve it.

They prefer to figure things out. They see rules as problems to solve or challenges to overcome.

10. They actively create their future selves.

In general, entrepreneurs realize they are often their own worst enemy. They don’t see themselves as controlled by external forces; they think the barrier between what they are and what they want is almost always them.

So they’re constantly trying to be better tomorrow than they are today–even if the people around them wish they would just give it a rest.

11. They adore taking things off their plates.

Look at pictures of Albert Einstein and you would think, “Dude never changed clothes?”

Nope–but he did have a lot of identical clothing. He didn’t want to waste brain power figuring out what to wear every day.

Entrepreneurs have a similar tendency to systematize, not to be anal but to take small and large decisions off their plate so they don’t have to waste time thinking about them. So they eat similar things, wear similar clothing, and create daily routines. They organize so they don’t have to waste brain share on things that don’t really matter.

But don’t confuse creating routines with being compulsive. Entrepreneurs will change a routine the moment they see a flaw or an opportunity to make an improvement.

There’s method to the apparent madness–you just have to look for it.

12. They’re awesome at leveraging self-reward.

Entrepreneurs almost always do the things they have to do before they tackle the things they want to do. They use what they want to do as a reward.

And that means the more things they have to do, the more they’ll get done.

(But that doesn’t mean they’re great at celebrating success. Because they’re constantly trying to improve, a “big win” isn’t big–it’s simply the outcome of all the things they did to make it come true.)

13. They believe they’re in total control…

Many people feel luck has a lot to do with success or failure: If they succeed, luck played a part; if they fail, the odds just didn’t go their way.

Entrepreneurs feel they have complete control over their success or failure. If they succeed, they caused it. If they fail, they caused it.

14. …So their egos don’t suffer when they fail.

Entrepreneurs don’t see failure as a blow to their ego. Failure can be fixed. A future self will figure it out.

Failure is just another problem to solve.

15. They do everything with intent.

Like Jason Bourne, entrepreneurs don’t do “random.” They always have a reason for what they do, because they’re constantly thinking about why they do what they do.

They’re not afraid. They’re not emotionally attached to ideas or ways of doing things.

They just want to be better and to make the world better.

And best of all, they know they can–and will.

5 Business Strategies That Will Boost Your Sales In 2017

Maybe you have succeeded in turning a great idea into an existing business – that is a step in the right direction – but if people do not get people to purchase your product or service, then you do not really have anything. Sales are what validate a business; it is the reason that every business is established.

So what happens when your business is running low on sales? It could be for any number of reasons: maybe your marketing campaign is focusing on the wrong people, is obsolete or you are employing the wrong strategies, maybe your product/service is not solving a problem the populace needs solved or there is too much competition within your industry.

You should first know that you are not the only one in this boat; there are many other entrepreneurs who cut a frustrated figure throughout 2016 for this same reason. So, here are a few ways you can squeeze out more sales in FY2017-18, ensuring your business’s survival.

1. Word of mouth lead generation

No method of lead generation is as organic as word of mouth referrals by your customers. This is because the people to whom they are talking to about your business are family, friends or colleagues. They already have a trust connection with these people making them more open to listening to what your customer has to tell them and more open to checking out your business.

Ask your customers to refer you; if you do not, you are likely leaving a lot of money on the table. Of course, you have to first ensure that your products or services are worth the trouble of your customers and that you have established a good relationship with them before you ask for referrals from them.

You might get some no’s, but you will find that the results you get from the customers who do refer you to their family and friends will more than compensate for those who did not.

2. Take your business on the road

Even if your word of mouth referrals are bringing in leads, you cannot rest on your laurels because you could be doing better. You do not always have to wait for the business to come to you. Seek out opportunities to show case your business to people and organizations that your customers cannot reach.

Courine’s Cuisine, a company touted for making some of the best naturally prepared sauce recipes, earlier this year travelled all the way to the West Coast for the 2016 Emmy Awards. They went along with a truck full of gift bags of their products to. I am sure you can guess why. An A-list event with attended by celebrities and hundreds of TV and social media stars, is an opportunity for publicity that should never be ignored.

Find out where popular events will take place throughout the year 2017 and start now to apply to showcase your products or give out gift bags of your product offering at these events.

3. Leverage upsells effectively

Always look for ways to offer customers more value for more money. Try to get them to buy other products from you or to buy an upgraded version of the product or service they want to purchase.

How many times have you purchased a drink just because the person at the counter asked you, “Will you like a Coke to go along with that?”You will find that your customers will be willing to spend more than they initially planned if you offer them something complementary to go with their purchase or a discount after their initial purchase. Such customers are viable prospects for repeat business and referrals to generate more leads for your business.

4. Incorporate videos in your social media adverts

If you have been throwing money away on SEO, advertising and other services, it may to be time to consider social media platforms. They are the most cost effective tools for advertising your business and boosting sales.

Come up with engaging and valuable video content for your marketing campaign, post them on social media sites and pages and use them for your social media ads. Video is the highest converting content format due to its unique ability to engage both the visual and audio senses of your audience.

Studies suggest that adding a video to a landing page can increase conversion rate by 80%, while a video in an email increases click-through rate by 200 – 300%. For those who are concerned about the reach of their video marketing content,92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others, 75% of online video viewers have interacted with an online video ad this month and 52% of marketing professionals name video as the type of content with the best return on investment (ROI).

5. Always exceed expectations

Exceeding customer expectation is one trick that never fails. It could be anything from delivering a product to your customer earlier than the stated delivery time, doing small consulting jobs for customers free or connecting them to people who need their business.

These little things will help you to retain your most loyal and high paying customers.Also, your customers may unconsciously begin to develop a feeling of disdain towards your competition – which is a good sign.

Being An Entrepreneur Is The Worst Job Ever, And This Is Why I Wouldn’t Take It Any Other Way

Being an entrepreneur is probably the worst job I’ve ever had: 12+ hours days, six days a week and miserable pay. Unmeasurable doses of stress and responsibility with hardly any recognition. Not exactly the dream job. Except it isn’t. It isn’t a job; it’s a passion. And it’s a dream.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of being an entrepreneur, mostly because it will depend on what time of the day it is and what has just happened. Things move rapidly within a fast-growing company. A single day is often full of moments of pure joy, extreme frustration, a sense of achievement and of disappointment. Being an entrepreneur brings you incredible highs and lows, and for that you have to be driven by passion and a greater sense of mission and dream. It’s the magical feeling of working with amazing people and, together, overcoming barriers, preconceived ideas and problems with solutions that have never been thought of, developed or tested before. It’s problem solving. It’s team work. It’s collaboration. And that’s what makes it so exciting.

Don’t get tied up in the idea that being an entrepreneur is necessarily being a founder. Many at SyndicateRoom enjoy the same benefits Tom and I do as co-founders – long hours, miserable pay, a lot of responsibility and definitely not enough recognition. They also get the excitement of a very steep learning curve, the opportunity to grow in responsibility faster than at any large corporation, and a phenomenal professional and personal development in the most unstructured way – something only an early-stage company could ever offer. Many take part in very high-level strategic discussions or present strategic plans to SyndicateRoom’s board of directors, when in the same time frame at a large corporation they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to so much as exchange two spoken words with their head of department.

People often tell me they’d love to become an entrepreneur because it seems like I’m having so much fun doing it. They fail to recognise that being an entrepreneur is great fun only when you look at the sum of the parts. Surviving the lows, constantly battling against the many barriers along the way, going through walls to build a business that most will tell you is impossible and will never work takes a huge amount of energy. It’s the type of energy that caffeine won’t give you. It takes energy that has to come from your inner self, which is why being an entrepreneur cannot be a job. This inner energy comes from one’s belief that the business will succeed, no matter how many knocks you get along the way – and trust me, I’ve had my fair share. It’s an energy that comes from an immeasurable amount of passion and belief that the world you envision is achievable.

As a passion, however, it’s addictive and intoxicating. The lows make entrepreneurs savour the highs even more. Do you need the lows to be a happy entrepreneur? Certainly not, but I’m yet to hear of an entrepreneur that didn’t run into a few potholes on their path to success their path to success. I candidly asked Jonathan Milner (founder of £1.9bn Abcam success story) if he looked back at the tough moments Abcam went through in the early days with fond memories now that he has become so successful. Without any hesitation Jonathan replied that no, not really. He would have been quite happy to have done without the tough moments. They were pretty tough.

Being an entrepreneur is also a hugely selfish exercise of creating your own environment where you and others can thrive. Some call it ‘office working culture’ but in reality it may as well be ‘founder working culture’. It’s pretty selfish to be honest. The working culture at SyndicateRoom doesn’t circle around management theory classes on the perfect team or working environment. I guarantee you this because I have an MBA and I can’t even remember what the theory was. The working culture at SyndicateRoom is a selfishly designed culture centred around, you guessed it, the way I like to work. As it happens, I love working with people that have the greatest respect for their peers and a can-do attitude, that pro-actively pinpoint solutions I don’t have the skills to come up with. This means we attract exceptional individuals that share my passion for SyndicateRoom, how we work and what we stand for. This hugely selfish approach also means I can get rid of things I don’t tolerate, such as office politics and unfairness.

The reality is that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. The pace is as scary for some as it is exciting and inspiring for others. People that can’t keep up will find it tough and eventually their role will become just another job, and when the passion disappears motivation will soon follow. But for those who have passion, who believe in what they are doing even when the going gets tougher, every challenge inspires further effort, ideas, creativity. It’s something you can’t escape even if you want to.

Being passionate about something doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for you. On the contrary, it will keep you up at night, it will creep into your spare time and consume your experience of the world around you every day – but that’s the fundamental difference between an entrepreneur and an employee. Your job is 9–5; your passion is who you are.

Drastically Increase Your Startup’s Chances for Success by Owning a Niche

You can achieve success without chasing major problems and huge markets.

Unicorns are all the buzz these days. Companies such as Snap and Dropbox inspire an entire generation of entrepreneurs around the world to dream big. But by focusing on major problems, huge markets and billion-dollar exits, many entrepreneurs take the wrong approach to growing their business and miss the chance to create and control a profitable company.

One of the most effective ways to start a company with little or no investment is to establish a niche. Here are five tips to help you find yours.

1. Solve a specific problem.

The key to owning a niche is to be focused. Start by addressing a narrow problem that you can solve within the first couple of months, if not weeks. If you pick a problem that isn’t actually a problem, you can fail quickly and try again. If you pick an actual problem but your solution is not good enough, it is usually pretty easy to test the market and figure out what you need to add or change in order to reach product-market fit.

Start with an extreme focus and only a few clients. You’ll be able to hone your offerings and later attract others.

2. Find one client who will pay you.

A great way to find a specific problem is to find one client who will pay you to solve their specific problem. Not only does this give you early cash flow, it also eliminates the risk of building something no one wants. Furthermore, by working closely with the client you get to know all of the problems that they face and gain direct feedback that often can be invaluable. This strategy is especially effective for B2B companies, but it can also be applied to some customer-facing challenges.

I recently spoke with Chris Walker, a Denver-based SEO expert, who explained how he used the principle of one startup client to build his company. “Once you have developed a great solution for one client, simply start looking for other clients like your first one,” he said. “One of the safest ways to start a company is to start out providing services to clients to fund your operations, and to use the feedback and the client cash flow to build something that can scale.”

3. Focus on an underserved market.

In an underserved market, challenges are not being addressed properly. They are either not sexy enough or not big enough to attract the attention of VCs and other investors. Often, by starting out in such a market, you can reach profitability much quicker and use the profits to expand your niche. For example, you could start out by providing your services at a low cost to tap into a market of customers that otherwise would not have the budget for such a service.

4. Find an industry with a tech disconnect.

Industries that are controlled by old and large companies are often ripe for innovation. If the big players in the space seem complacent, or they don’t have access to or knowledge of the technologies that could disrupt the industry, a young company will have a chance to compete. Because young people are building most of tomorrow’s technology, it is best to stay away from problems that a lot of young people — in particular, college students — face.

5. Don’t go chasing VC money.

Venture capital has become the holy grail of the startup scene. Founders are obsessed with getting funding, but not always for the right reasons. Before seeking investor money, especially from a VC, ask yourself if this is actually the only way for your company to succeed. You should be aware that by accepting venture capital, you will have to give up large chunks of your company throughout the process while putting enormous pressure on your company to grow.

Remind yourself: Not every company is meant to be a unicorn. More often than not, building a profitable company and owning most of it is an admirable goal.