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Category Archives: Markethive-Social

Want to Be More Influential? Improve Your Social Skills

Want to Be More Influential? Improve Your Social Skills.

 Improving your Social skills is no longer a choice! It is a must if you want to be in marketing. Dale Carnegie got it right when he said that to win more friends and influence more people you need to improve your interpersonal skills.  Twenty years of research on power and influence shows that people with superior social skills are substantially more influential than people with average social skills.  These findings make sense when you realize that influence is not something you have; it’s something other people give you.  In other words, you can’t be influential with people unless they allow you to be influential with them.  So influence is in large part a function of your relationship with other people, and the rule of thumb on influence is that you are likely to be more successful if the people you want to influence know you, like you, respect you, and trust you. 

Being Known

It is significantly easier to influence people you know than people you don’t.  So go out of your way to make yourself known.  If you’re in an organization, this means increasing your visibility throughout the organization.  Introduce yourself to people.  As you get to know them, let them know who you are.  My research shows that people are who highly skilled at being friendly and sociable with strangers and building close relationships are more than twice as influential as people who are less skilled at sociability and relationship building.  People around the world instinctively understand this, which is why socializing is one of the most frequently used influence techniques globally.  If you aren’t naturally good at socializing, then this is a key skill to build.  Extraverts are often naturally good at socializing, but being an introvert is not necessarily a liability.  You may just have to try harder to do something that does not come naturally to you.

Being Liked

Sometimes, you know the person you want to influence but aren’t as influential as you’d like with him or her because of bad chemistry. Many years ago when I was younger and single a friend introduced me to a young woman, and she and I dated for a while.  She was a nice, attractive person, and we tried to be a couple but it just didn’t work.  Somehow, we got on each other’s nerves and whatever either of us said or did was somehow wrong.  There was no chemistry between us, and it wasn’t her fault or mine.  We just weren’t a good match for each other.  So it goes.  In my three decades in business I’ve had similar situations with some colleagues and clients.  Despite everyone’s good intentions, the plain fact is that there’s something about the other person each of you just doesn’t like.

I wrote in The Elements of Power(Amacom Books, 2011) that attraction can be a significant source of power, and it’s based partly on the psychological principle of liking.  We are more inclined to say yes to people we like than to people we don’t, which is why friends are more likely to do favors for each other than they are for people they don’t know.  So to be more influential, do what you can to be more likeable to the people you want to influence.  Of course, we each have whatever physical gifts (or challenges) we were born with, but you should do the best you can with what you have.  Good grooming, posture, dress, and manners go a long way toward making you more attractive to others.  In business, as well as many other walks of life, these things matter.  The same is true with interpersonal behaviors that people like:friendliness, generosity, warmth, caring, and acceptance.  When we act with these qualities, people are more inclined to like us.  Conversely, if we are pushy, arrogant, boastful, self-centered, rude, disrespectful, or otherwise annoying, people will be inclined to dislike us.  Personality is a key component of likeability.

Being Respected and Trusted

Trust and respect are largely about character, credibility, and confidence.  You build character through courage, integrity, reliability, and similar character traits; you build credibility through your knowledge, access to information, role, and reputation (of which work ethic, results, and contributions are a significant factor); and you build confidence by behaving self-confidently, achieving consistently superior results, making good decisions, and exercising sound judgment.  If you are a member of a business or professional organization, people will also trust and respect you more if you are actively involved, engaged, and comitted to the enterprise.  To become highly influential, it helps to be well-liked, well-regarded, and indispensable.

Fortunately, none of us is born with a fixed amount of power and influence.  No matter who you are, you can become more powerful and more influential, and one of the keys is improving your interpersonal and social skills.  For more tips on how to do this, see Elements of Influence:  The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead(Amacom Books, 2011) or my earlier book, What People Want (Davies-Black, 2006).  Also see Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which he first published in 1936 but is still relevant today.

Chris Corey CMO Markethive

 

Parts of this article are excerpted from Terry R. Bacon, Elements of Influence:  The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead (NY:  AMACOM Books, 2011).

Photo credits:  Friends in a bar: Sean Locke/istockphoto.com. Young businesswoman:  Maridav/istockphoto.com.  Business people looking at a chart:  Jacob Wackerhausen/istockphoto.com. 

Markethive

Page Headings

Page Headings

Can we find any definitive proof online that says you need to use Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) or that they improve rankings in Google, and I have seen pages do well in Google without them – but I do use them, especially the H1 tag on the page. For me, it’s another piece of a ‘perfect’ page, in the traditional sense, and I try to build a site for Google and humans.

 


 

I still generally only use one heading tag in my keyword targeted pages – I believe this is the way the W3C intended it to be used in HTML4 – and I ensure they are at the top of a page above relevant page text and written with my main keywords or related keyword phrases incorporated. I have never experienced any problems using CSS to control the appearance of the heading tags making them larger or smaller.

You can use multiple H1s in HTML5, but most sites I find I work on still use HTML4. I use as many H2 – H6 as is necessary depending on the size of the page, but I use H1, H2 & H3. You can see here how to use header tags properly (basically, just be consistent, whatever you do, to give your users the best user experience).

How many words in the H1 Tag? As many as I think is sensible – as short and snappy as possible usually. I also discovered Google will use your Header tags as page titles at some level if your title element is malformed. As always be sure to make your heading tags highly relevant to the content on that page and not too spammy, either.

Alt Tags

Alt Tags are counted by Google (and Bing), but I would be careful over-optimizing them. I’ve seen a lot of websites penalised for over-optimising invisible elements on a page. Don’t do it. ALT tags are very important and I think a very rewarding area to get right. I always put the main keyword in an ALT once when addressing a page. Don’t optimise your ALT tags (or rather, attributes) JUST for Google! Use ALT tags (or rather, ALT Attributes) for descriptive text that helps visitors – and keep them unique where possible, like you do with your titles and meta descriptions.

Don’t obsess. Don’t optimise your ALT tags just for Google – do it for humans, accessibility and usability. If you are interested, I conducted a simple test using ALT attributes to determine how many words I could use in IMAGE ALT text that Google would pick up. And remember – even if, like me most days, you can’t be bothered with all the image ALT tags on your page, at least, use a blank ALT (or NULL value) so people with screen readers can enjoy your page.

About Alt Tags:

alt attribute should be used to describe the image. So if you have an image of a big blue pineapple chair you should use the alt tag that best describes it, which is alt=”big blue pineapple chair.” title attribute should be used when the image is a hyperlink to a specific page. The title attribute should contain information about what will happen when you click on the image. For example, if the image will get larger, it should read something like, title=”View a larger version of the big blue pineapple chair image.”

As the Googlebot does not see the images directly, we generally concentrate on the information provided in the “alt” attribute. Feel free to supplement the “alt” attribute with “title” and other attributes if they provide value to your users! So for example, if you have an image of a puppy (these seem popular at the moment ) playing with a ball, you could use something like “My puppy Betsy playing with a bowling ball” as the alt-attribute for the image. If you also have a link around the image, pointing a large version of the same photo, you could use “View this image in high-resolution” as the title attribute for the link.

Link Title Attributes, Acronym & ABBR Tags

Does Google Count Text in The Acronym Tag?

From my tests, no. From observing how my test page ranks – Google is ignoring keywords in the acronym tag. My observations from a test page I observe include;

  • Link Title Attribute – no benefit passed via the link either to another page, it seems
  • ABBR (Abbreviation Tags) – No
  • Image File Name – No
  • Wrapping words (or at least numbers) in SCRIPT – Sometimes. Google is better at understanding what it can render in 2016.

It’s clear many invisible elements of a page are completely ignored by Google (that would interest us SEO).
Some invisible items are (still) apparently supported:

  • NOFRAMES – Yes
  • NOSCRIPT – Yes
  • ALT Attribute – Yes

Unless you really have cause to focus on any particular invisible element, I think the **P** tag is the most important tag to optimise in 2016.

Search Engine Friendly URLs (SEF)

Clean URLs (or search engine friendly URLs) are just that – clean, easy to read, simple. You do not need clean URLs in site architecture for Google to spider a site successfully (confirmed by Google in 2008), although I do use clean URLs as a default these days, and have done so for years.

It’s often more usable. Is there a massive difference in Google when you use clean URLs?

No, in my experience it’s very much a second or third order affect, perhaps even less, if used on its own. However – there it is demonstrable benefit to having keywords in URLs. The thinking is that you might get a boost in Google SERPs if your URLs are clean – because you are using keywords in the actual page name instead of a parameter or session ID number (which Google often struggles with).

I think Google might reward the page some sort of relevance because of the actual file / page name. I optimise as if they do. It is virtually impossible to isolate any ranking factor with a degree of certainty. Where any benefit is slightly detectable is when people (say in forums) link to your site with the URL as the link.

Then it is fair to say you do get a boost because keywords are in the actual anchor text link to your site, and I believe this is the case, but again, that depends on the quality of the page linking to your site. That is, if Google trusts it and it passes Pagerank (!) and anchor text benefit. And of course, you’ll need citable content on that site of yours.

Sometimes I will remove the stopwords from a URL and leave the important keywords as the page title because a lot of forums garble a URL to shorten it. Most forums will be nofollowed in 2016, to be fair, but some old habits die-hard. Sometimes I prefer to see the exact phrase I am targeting as the name of the URL I am asking Google to rank.

It should be remembered it is thought although Googlebot can crawl sites with dynamic URLs; it is assumed by many webmasters there is a greater risk that it will give up if the URLs are deemed not important and contain multiple variables and session IDs (theory).

As standard, I use clean URLs where possible on new sites these days, and try to keep the URLs as simple as possible and do not obsess about it. That’s my aim at all times when I optimise a website to work better in Google – simplicity. Google does look at keywords in the URL even in a granular level.

Having a keyword in your URL might be the difference between your site ranking and not – potentially useful to take advantage of long tail search queries – for more see Does Google Count A Keyword In The URI (Filename) When Ranking A Page?

Absolute Or Relative URLs

My advice would be to keep it consistent whatever you decide to use. I prefer absolute URLs. That’s just a preference. Google will crawl either if the local setup is correctly developed.

  • What is an absolute URL? Example – http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/search-engine-optimisation/
  • What is a relative URL? Example – /search-engine-optimisation.htm

Relative just means relative to the document the link is on. Move that page to another site and it won’t work. With an absolute URL, it would work.

Subdirectories or Files For URL Structure

Sometimes I use subfolders and sometimes I use files. I have not been able to decide if there is any real benefit (in terms of ranking boost) to using either. A lot of CMS these days use subfolders in their file path, so I am pretty confident Google can deal with either. I used to prefer files like .html when I was building a new site from scratch, as they were the ’end of the line’ for search engines, as I imagined it, and a subfolder (or directory) was a collection of pages.

I used to think it could take more to get a subfolder trusted than say an individual file and I guess this sways me to use files on most websites I created (back in the day). Once subfolders are trusted, it’s 6 or half a dozen, what the actual difference is in terms of ranking in Google – usually, rankings in Google are more determined by how RELEVANT or REPUTABLE a page is to a query.

In the past, subfolders could be treated differently than files.

Subfolders can be trusted less than other subfolders or pages in your site, or ignored entirely. Subfolders *used to seem to me* to take a little longer to get indexed by Google, than for instance .html pages. People talk about trusted domains but they don’t mention (or don’t think) some parts of the domain can be trusted less. Google treats some subfolders….. differently. Well, they used to – and remembering how Google used to handle things has some benefits – even in 2016.

Some say don’t go beyond four levels of folders in your file path. I haven’t experienced too many issues, but you never know.

UPDATED – I think in 2016 it’s even less of something to worry about. There’s so much more important elements to check.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

SURVIVING PRISON – How to survive prison Part #3 of my 3 Part Series

SURVIVING PRISON – How to survive prison

SURVIVING PRISON – How to survive prison

 

Nothing can be more difficult for a prison inmate than walking into the penitentiary for the first time. I know, I was once an inmate in a Texas state prison. New prison offenders often experience extreme confusion, fear and anxiety. The cold sound of slamming bars and hollering echoes as correctional officers are escorting you to your cell. As a reformed ex-convict and son of a loving and concerned family who stood by me through out my 13 year sentence, I am inspired to share my knowledge of how to survive prison. I know there are thousands of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who are in desperate need of advice because they have a loved-one currently doing time in prison. You may consider printing out this article and mailing it to your incarcerated loved-one so that he or she is able to survive prison as I did.

ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY

Prison is what you make of it. It can serve as a beneficial learning experience or it can be a living hell. That's right; every inmate who walks into prison has a choice. An inmate can survive prison by simply following prison administration rules and respecting both officers and fellow prisoners. What every prison offender needs to understand is that you committed a crime. You offended another human being so in the eyes of society you are an offender and will be referred to as such by prison staff and officers. Nobody likes to be referred to as an "offender" but there's absolutely nothing you can do or say to change that fact, unless of coarse you are released from prison. Inmates who get angry of the way officers treat them need to realize that prison is designed to punish criminals, not pamper them. Ask yourself this question. If the life of your own brother was robbed by the hands of a killer, would you want correctional officers to baby the offender? Inmates who are blind to that reality and who expect royal treatment behind bars are either cold-blooded sociopaths or just too stupid to live. Not only do offenders like these (and there are many) make life harder on themselves by refusing to follow the direct orders of officers, but they make life a living hell for their loved-ones who worry about them. Inmates who whine, cry and complain over their situation are not ready to be released back into society. Society can not afford the risk of releasing back into the streets an adolescence-minded adult-criminal who may very well offend again. Prison officials have a place specifically for all problem offenders. Unruly offenders are housed in special maximum security pods reserved for dangerous high risk inmates. It is there where officers become the least of a stubborn inmates problems and it is there where one must now deal with dangerous adult gang members with rascal mentalities. So yes, you do have a choice!

TELL ME WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE AND I'LL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE

New inmates often feel the need to fit in. They seek friendship from just about anyone in prison. Choose your friends wisely. The least, the better. Mature minded convicts who mind their own business and follow administration rules are probably a new inmates best bet. Hang around convicts who keep out of trouble, who have productive hobbies or who go to religious services. Stay independent. You were born with two legs, not four or eight so theres no need to help fight your friends battles. A good friend is solid-minded enough to fight his or her own fight so if you come across an instigator who asks you to assist them in their conflict, avoid them.

IT'S ALL ABOUT RESPECT

Sometimes conflicts are inevitable, after all you are housed in an environment of convicted criminals of every kind. If you come across a situation where an other offender is giving you a hard time, try talking to him or her. Be respectful. There is absolutely nothing you need to prove so don't feed into their hostility. You are not a coward for avoiding a fight. You are in fact brave if you are able to approach the offender alone. Yes, make sure the offender is alone and calmly and respectfully explain to him or her that you have nothing against them and that you would like to apologize for anything that may have offended them. Trouble-making convicts are often egotistical so that may neutralize his or her aggression towards you. It is rare that this respectful tactic will not work. If it does not work and the offender persists, calmly walk away and avoid any eye contact with him or her. Ignore any insults and resist the urge to respond. It takes more will-power to resist a fight than it does to actually throw a punch. Walk away knowing that you are strong. You will one day be a free person after you serve your time.

HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL AND SPEAK NO EVIL
Most, if not all prison fights start over gossip. Prison is boring so many offenders find that gossip is the next best thing to do. Avoid these offenders and their friends. Refraining from gossip may just save your life.

A STRONG BODY EQUALS A STRONG MIND

Exercise will not only keep your mind healthy, but it will make your body strong. Penitentiary bully's like to pick on the weak. You have nothing but time so release your inner frustrations with a lot of exercise. Avoid being a couch potato and avoid junk food. Eat the beans and greens on your food tray. Feed your mind, body and soul.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Read, read and read. Reading informative newspapers, magazines and books will empower your mind. Not only will it take your mind out of prison but it will make your brain stronger. A strong brain knows how to deal with tough situations. A strong mind can see further and the further you see, the easier it is to avoid problems in prison. A well read mind knows that one day YOU will be free just like me, a man who did 13 years in prison. So let the gossiping prison gangsters and offender bully's keep the penetentiary they so desperatly want to control. They can have it! You will be free one day and no longer will you be referred to as an "offender". Life will be good. Trust me.

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc.

 

Ex-Con Anonymous 1994-2007

Markethive

Part #2 of my 3 part Series The best Criminal Defense Team for Hackers

If you try to hack the FBI Database. Knowing the right attorney to mount a proper defense is going to be needed. 

JAMES J. L. AHERN

303-840-1190

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Family Law Attorney in Parker, CO

Susan Fuller & Associates, PC

19751 East Main Street, Suite 270, Parker, CO 80138

Visit: www.sfullerlaw.com

Phone: 303-840-1190

Selected to Rising Stars: 2016

Licensed Since: 2010

Education: University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Practice Areas: 

  • Family Law (50%), 
  • Criminal Defense (40%), 
  • Personal Injury – General: Plaintiff (10%)

Chris Corey 

CMO Markethive Inc

 

 

Markethive

4 Year Old boy arrested for Hacking FBI Computers #1 of my 3 Part Series

You can learn how to hack the FBI database in just a few courses.4-year old kid from the California has been arrested for hacking into the internal network of the FBI three times, his information is still remain Anonymous. I don’t know is this true or no, but as per the research of the website (worldnewsdailyreport) the report seems to be original, or if this is a parody website, so just ignore that and just enjoy the post.

Well, the news is from Los Angeles—A 4-year old kid from the California has been arrested for hacking into the internal network of the FBI three times, his information is still remain Anonymous.

Why a 4-Year old hacked FBI Networks?

Actually, he is accused of hacking into the FBI networks to gather information about his Mother’s new boyfriend, and that boy hacked all the firewalls and security systems in minutes, and the databases of FBI were also accessed.

Along with the FBI, CIA and various police departments databases were accessed to find official records of his new stepfather.

Bill L. Lewis, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, announced that the accused’s young age would certainly have to be taken into account, but that “considering the gravity of the crimes he committed” and the “consequences that his actions could have on the credibility the federal authorities”, the charges had to be serious.

So, the question raises—How that 4-Year old boy learned to use a computer, as till the last Christmas there was not any computer in their house, and his mother too an uneducated hairdresser have very little computer skills.

Recently Mother’s ex-boyfriend gave a Laptop, and FBI is inspecting that Laptop and interrogating with the boy to seek more info about How he was able to hack into the systems.

If a 4-Year old boy able to hack the FBI computers and access sensitive information, so it is not hard to crack the systems by foreign spies too.

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc

By Hackers Writer

Markethive

From Social Networks To Market Networks

From Social Networks To Market Networks

Most people didn’t notice last month when a 35-person company in San Francisco called HoneyBook announced a $22 million Series B*.

What was unusual about the deal is that nearly all the best-known Silicon Valley VCs competed for it. That’s because HoneyBook is a prime example of an important new category of digital company that combines the best elements of networks like Facebook with marketplaces like Airbnb — what we call a market network.

Market networks will produce a new class of unicorn companies and impact how millions of service professionals will work and earn their living.

What Is A Market Network?

“Marketplaces” provide transactions among multiple buyers and multiple sellers — like eBay, Etsy, Uber and LendingClub.

“Networks” provide profiles that project a person’s identity, then lets them communicate in a 360-degree pattern with other people in the network. Think Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

What’s unique about market networks is that they:

  • Combine the main elements of both networks and marketplaces
  • Use SaaS workflow software to focus action around longer-term projects, not just a quick transaction
  • Promote the service provider as a differentiated individual, helping to build long-term relationships

An example will help: Let’s go back to HoneyBook, a market network for the events industry.

An event planner builds a profile on HoneyBook.com. That profile serves as her professional home on the web. She uses the HoneyBook SaaS workflow to send self-branded proposals to clients and sign contracts digitally.

She then connects to that project the other professionals she works with, like florists and photographers. They also get profiles on HoneyBook, and everyone can team up to service a client, send each other proposals, sign contracts and get paid by everyone else.

This many-to-many transaction pattern is key. HoneyBook is an N-sided marketplace — transactions happen in a 360-degree pattern like a network. That makes HoneyBook both a marketplace and network.

A market network often starts by enhancing a network of professionals that exists offline. Many of them have been transacting with each other for years using fax, checks, overnight packages and phone calls.

By moving these connections and transactions into software, a market network makes it significantly easier for professionals to operate their businesses and clients to get better service.

We’ve Seen This Before

AngelList is also a market network*. I don’t know if it was the first, but Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi deserve a lot of credit for pioneering the model in 2010.

On AngelList, the pattern is similar. The startup CEO can complete her fundraising paperwork through the AngelList SaaS workflow, and everyone in the network can share deals, hire employees and find customers in a 360-degree pattern.

Joist is another good example. Based in Toronto, it provides a market network for the home remodel and construction industry. Houzz is also in that space, with broader reach and a different approach*. DotLoop in Cincinnati shows the same pattern for the residential real estate brokerage industry.

 

Looking at AngelList, Joist, Houzz, DotLoop and HoneyBook, the market network pattern is visible.

Six Attributes Of A Successful Market Network

Market networks target more complex services. In the last six years, the tech industry has obsessed over on-demand labor marketplaces for quick transactions of simple services. Companies like Uber, Mechanical Turk, Thumbtack, Luxe and many others make it efficient to buy simple services whose quality is judged objectively. Their success is based on commodifying the people on both sides of the marketplace.

However, the highest value services — like event planning and home remodeling — are neither simple nor objectively judged. They are more involved and longer term. Market networks are designed for these types of services.

People matter. With complex services, each client is unique, and the professional they get matters. Would you hand over your wedding to just anyone? Or your home remodel? The people on both sides of those equations are not interchangeable like they are with Lyft or Uber. Each person brings unique opinions, expertise and relationships to the transaction. A market network is designed to acknowledge that as a core tenet — and provide a solution.

Collaboration happens around a project. For most complex services, multiple professionals collaborate among themselves — and with a client — over a period of time. The SaaS at the center of market networks focuses the action on a project that can take days or years to complete.

Market networks help build long-term relationships. Market networks bring a career’s worth of professional connections online and make them more useful. For years, social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook have helped build long-term relationships. However, until market networks, they hadn’t been used for commerce and transactions.

Referrals flow freely. In these industries, referrals are gold, for both the client and the service professional. The market network software is designed to make referrals simple and more frequent.

Market networks increase transaction velocity and satisfaction. By putting the network of professionals and clients into software, the market network increases transaction velocity for everyone. It increases the close rate on proposals and expedites payment. The software also increases customer satisfaction scores, reduces miscommunication and makes the work pleasing and beautiful. Never underestimate pleasing and beautiful.

Social Networks Were The Last 10 Years. Market Networks Will Be The Next 10.

First we had communication networks, like telephones and email. Then we had social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Now we have market networks, like HoneyBook, AngelList, Houzz, DotLoop and Joist.

You can imagine a market network for every industry where professionals are not interchangeable: law, travel, real estate, media production, architecture, investment banking, personal finance, construction, management consulting and more. Each market network will have different attributes that make it work in each vertical, but the principles will remain the same.

Over time, nearly all independent professionals and their clients will conduct business through the market network of their industry. We’re just seeing the beginning of it now.

Market networks will have a massive positive impact on how millions of people work and live, and how hundreds of millions of people buy better services.

I hope more entrepreneurs will set their sights on building these businesses. It’s time. They are hard products to get right, but the payoff is potentially massive.

by (@JamesCurrier)

Is Markethive one of the new pioneers called a Market Network?
Please comment below what do you think?

Markethive

The Next Big Business Buzzword

The Next Big Business Buzzword


Ecosystem

There’s a new word on the block.  And that new word – ecosystem – actually has a richer meaning than a typical business buzzword.  However, just as the word has started to get traction, it is already at risk of being dumbed down.  The thought of this meaningful word being stillborn is sad.  So I need your help.  Let’s save the word ecosystem before it’s too late!

The evidence for the growing usage of the word ecosystem is measurable.  However, to truly appreciate its rapid ascent, you have to combine the word with another word.In recent years, the use of ecosystem appears to spike seemingly out of nowhere. So it’s clear that the word ecosystem is getting used more and more.  But what does the word really mean?  And why does it matter?

Biologists say ecosystem to describe a community of organisms interacting in their environment.  We can analogize that definition to business as well.  Thus, in a business ecosystem, the relationships between things matter.  In fact, they matter a lot.  Everything touches everything else.  And so the way that humans interact has a big effect on the system.  For instance, two people sitting in a coffee shop today might be starting the world’s next most important company, or they might not.  It depends largely on how they interact.  Do they like each other?  Do inspire each other?  Do they trust each other enough to take a chance together?  The world might turn on those answers.

However, over the last couple of years, I’ve seen ecosystem used interchangeably with terms like “cluster” or “network” or “organization.”  It feels a bit like Buzzword Bingo as if folks are just swapping words out because the old ones feel tired, like clothing that’s been worn too many times.  But this is terrible because they are missing the key difference.  The terms “cluster” or “network” or “organization” are rather static.  They describe the mere presence of assets in a system, like blocks on a wall chart.

An ecosystem, on the other hand, is about the dynamic interactions between things.  It’s about how people meet, talk, trust, share, collaborate, team, experiment, and grow together.  When an ecosystem thrives, it means that the people have developed patterns of behavior – or culture – that streamline the flow of ideas, talent, and capital throughout a system.

The word ecosystem is important because its growing usage points to a profound shift in how society thinks of economic value.  It says that individuals matter.  That their actions can transform industries, even the entire world.  That little thing can make a big difference.  This is not just fuzzy talk.  It’s actually true because every great company or product started with two people sitting in a coffee shop scratching on a napkin.  Or some variation of that.

Thus, an ecosystem is more than just a word.  It’s actually a way of viewing the world.  So please join me.  Together, we can save the word ecosystem from the awful clutches of Buzzword Bingo!

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Business ecosystems come of age

Business ecosystems come of age

Part of the Business Trends

Businesses are moving beyond traditional industry silos and coalescing into richly networked ecosystems, creating new opportunities for innovation alongside new challenges for many incumbent enterprises.

In September 2014, the Chinese online commerce company Alibaba Group conducted its initial public offering (IPO)—the largest ever in history. This event attracted considerable media attention, some of it naturally commenting on the changing balance of the global economy and the growing impact of digitization. Largely overlooked in the commentary, however, was another important signpost to the future. In the prospectus it compiled to describe its vision, philosophy, and growth strategy, Alibaba used one word no fewer than 160 times: “ecosystem".

We’re all familiar with ecosystems in the natural world. The word was coined in the 1930s by British botanist Arthur Tansley to refer to a localized community of living organisms interacting with each other and their particular environment of air, water, mineral soil, and other elements. These organisms influence each other, and their terrain; they compete and collaborate, share and create resources, and co-evolve; and they are inevitably subject to external disruptions, to which they adapt together.3

Some view the rise of ecosystems as an opportunity for creating powerful new competitive advantage.

Noticing growing parallels, business strategist James Moore imported the concept to the increasingly dynamic and interconnected world of commerce. As he wrote in a 1993 Harvard Business Review article:

Successful businesses are those that evolve rapidly and effectively. Yet innovative businesses can’t evolve in a vacuum. They must attract resources of all sorts, drawing in capital, partners, suppliers, and customers to create cooperative networks. . . . I suggest that a company be viewed not as a member of a single industry but as part of a business ecosystem that crosses a variety of industries. In a business ecosystem, companies co-evolve capabilities around a new innovation: They work cooperatively and competitively to support new products, satisfy customer needs, and eventually incorporate the next round of innovations.

Moore’s insight was prescient—just on the cusp of the Internet era, and 15 years before the emergence of smartphones and the mobile access revolution. Initially his concept of “business ecosystems” was embraced primarily in the community that was itself creating the transformative capabilities of connection and collaboration that enabled them—the US technology sector. It continues to be critically important in that arena. Apple Inc. explicitly conceived its products and services as an ecosystem that would provide customers with a seamless experience; Facebook recognized the emphasis it had to place on deliberately building its “developer ecosystem”; some analysts no longer see technology and media competition as simply between firms, but among ecosystems of firms operating in loose alliance.

But the idea has now also taken root far beyond the US technology sector. Over the last few decades, driven largely by digital technologies and massively increased connectivity, the economy has been moving beyond narrowly defined industries built around large, vertically integrated, and mainly “self-contained” corporations. New means of creating value have been developing everywhere in the form of ever-denser and richer networks of connection, collaboration, and interdependence.

Businesses around the world are responding. Some view the rise of ecosystems as an opportunity for creating powerful new competitive advantage. For example, in July 2014, the CEO of Japan’s Softbank described its strategic intent as follows: “By providing all manner of services and content on (our) platforms, we are aiming to create a comprehensive ecosystem that other companies will never be able to rival.” A few years earlier, the CEO of Nokia similarly described a landscape of ecosystems that each encompass an array of players: “The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems . . .

Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyze, or join an ecosystem. Others take slightly different perspectives. South Africa’s SABMiller has made a priority of “strengthening business ecosystems” in which it participates, to the benefit of local and regional economies where it operates. Some leaders have even welcomed competitors to their ecosystems. Listen to MakerBot’s newly appointed CEO, Jenny Lawton, responding to the news that Autodesk planned a bigger push into 3D printing: “Autodesk’s work and thinking is necessary to the overall industry. . .

So much of the success of the 3D ecosystem and future of 3D printing can be accelerated. And some strong ecosystems emerge without individual powerful players: For example, in China the term “shanzhai” formerly described copycat versions of electronic goods, but is now commonly referred to as the “shanzhai ecosystem”—highly collaborative arrangements across hundreds of enterprises that are accelerating entrepreneurial innovation in areas such as smartphones and the next generation of smart watches.

Especially given the diverse usage of the term, it might be tempting to dismiss “ecosystem” as yet another management buzzword in an increasingly jargon-congested business lexicon. Certainly, the term has so far defied a precise and universally agreed definition (despite valiant efforts by many academics and theorists). But the concept’s rapid spread and uptake points to a practical utility that should not be underestimated.

At a bare minimum it has provided many businesses with a powerful metaphor from the natural world. Metaphors matter: They make it easier to explore and understand abstract concepts, and inform the decision-making heuristics and mental models leaders use to make confident choices and take timely action. Our business metaphors have historically been drawn largely from machinery and engineering, warfare and the military, and competitive sports and games. These remain apt in many ways—but in increasingly dynamic, collaborative, interdependent situations, they might mislead just as much as they inform.

Ecosystems thinking provides a new frame and mindset that captures a profound shift in the economy and the business landscape. The importance of relationships, partnerships, networks, alliances, and collaborations is obviously not novel—but it is growing. As it becomes increasingly possible for firms to deploy and activate assets they neither own nor control, to engage and mobilize larger and larger numbers of participants, and to facilitate much more complex coordination of their expertise and activities, the art of the possible is expanding rapidly.

Five ways to think about ecosystems

Having noted the varied definition and broad application of the term ecosystem, it makes sense to clarify how it is being used in this document: Ecosystems are dynamic and co-evolving communities of diverse actors who create and capture new value through increasingly sophisticated models of both collaboration and competition. This definition allows for the fact that ecosystems come in a broad array of shapes, sizes, and varieties—and also captures three core characteristics that are generally present.

First, ecosystems enable and encourage the participation of a diverse range of (large and small) organizations, and often individuals, who together can create, scale, and serve markets beyond the capabilities of any single organization. This provides the requisite variety for a healthy system.

Second, participating actors interact and co-create in increasingly sophisticated ways that would historically have been hard to formally coordinate in a “top-down” manner, by deploying technologies and tools of connectivity and collaboration that are still proliferating and disseminating. This means that there is dynamism and substantial latent potential for increasingly productive ecosystem development in the years ahead.

Third, participants—often including customers—are bonded by some combination of shared interests, purpose, and values which incents to collectively nurture, sustain, and protect the ecosystem as a shared “commons.” Everyone contributes everyone benefits. This enhances the longevity and durability of ecosystems.

A distinctive characteristic of many ecosystems is that they form to achieve something together that lies beyond the effective scope and capabilities of any individual actor (or even group of broadly similar actors).

Our definition here is broadly consistent with the literature, and the thinking to date among business leaders, advisors, and academics, which continues to evolve as ecosystems become an increasingly critical unit of analysis. But there are further patterns and aspects of ecosystems that are now also coming into sharper focus as we consider the emerging opportunities and challenges for enterprises.

Ecosystems create new ways to address fundamental human needs and desires

An economy—from the most primitive to the most advanced—is essentially a system organized to meet (and often shape) human needs and desires. The major economies that arose through the course of the last two centuries developed around the best available and most ingenious means of doing so—our long-familiar industries. In the United States, these were first codified in the 1937 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system, which captured well the economic and business arrangements that transformed our lives for much of the 20th century. But these structures are, inevitably, changing.

Humanity did not necessarily want physicians, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals—we wanted wellness. We did not particularly crave classrooms and textbooks and teachers—we wanted to learn and achieve success. We did not demand coal mines and oil and gas extraction—we wanted energy beyond the muscles of humans and harnessed animals. In many parts of the economy today, new cross-cutting ecosystems are starting to forge new means to meet our desired ends.

Looking forward, let’s consider, for example, the automobile industry that has richly enhanced so many lives around the world. It is certainly possible to imagine the emergence of a very different ecosystem to satisfy the desire for fast, affordable, safe, and convenient personal mobility, but that might also significantly reduce the appeal of privately owned cars. Confidence could rise for “autonomous vehicles” or self-driving cars (with a technology company, Google, perhaps helping lead the way?). Carsharing might in turn, become more attractive (as cars gain the ability to deliver themselves to your door). Many car- and ride-share businesses are already experimenting, learning, and tapping into the different values of the Millennial generation. For some cities, according to former General Motors R&D chief Lawrence Burns, “about 80 percent fewer shared, coordinated vehicles would be needed than personally owned vehicles to provide the same level of mobility, with less investment.” While such dramatic change is certainly not inevitable, it is plausible that new “mobility ecosystems” might coalesce around the automobile industry, and include city planners, technology and energy players, public transportation providers, regulators, infrastructure and construction players, insurance companies, and peer-to-peer networks—collaborating, adapting, and responding to one another’s moves, and once again transforming and improving our lives.

Ecosystems drive new collaborations to address rising social and environmental challenges

A distinctive characteristic of many ecosystems is that they form to achieve something together that lies beyond the effective scope and capabilities of any individual actor (or even group of broadly similar actors). In some instances, these relate to large societal problems that no individual organization is ableagement, child poverty, inner-city violence and gun crime, and food safety. All are obviously critical and—in some areas at least—are sources of growing pressure or threat.

Take as an example the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a non-profit organization whose members include many of the world’s largest food producers, distributors, and retailers. It helps coordinate a global, co-creative, and collaborative approach to addressing the growing challenge in a global food system of ensuring safety for consumers and protecting the reputation of the industry. Some of its members compete ferociously in their markets, but also collaborate aggressively to ensure the certification, shared standards, superior monitoring, and shared learning and leading practices that together create a safer food industry and boost consumer confidence. Here is new ecosystem-oriented behavior in which every participant benefits from their collective investment in the shared “commons”—and has acknowledged that, in the words of GFSI: “Food safety is not a competitive advantage.”

Ecosystems create and serve communities, and harness their creativity and intelligence

Multiple, and on the surface highly diverse, disciplines that examine the human condition—from anthropological and archeological studies of ancient “wisdom” cultures, through theology and philosophy, to today’s behavioral economics and even neuroscience—converge around a few key fundamentals. People want to belong, to understand and be understood, to achieve acknowledged competence in their chosen arena, and to make a positive difference in their world. Historically, few people could fully realize these desires beyond their own immediate and tightly constrained physical domains. Today, technology has transformed the ways and levels in which such self-actualization can occur—and many ecosystems are now benefiting from this vital shift.

The most obvious illustrations are the many business ecosystems that have been designed specifically to enable us to find and connect with our own “tribes”—those that surround businesses like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. Recognizing the importance of its top users (the site’s most prolific reviewer has written more than 8,000 reviews), Yelp founded its Elite program to recognize and reward its community of regular reviewers with exclusive parties and freebies.

But also consider three other exemplary arenas. Online gaming is today a $20 billion growing business, and many of the most successful games not only connect people around the globe but actively engage them in the continuous development of the games themselves. The open source movement, which originally attracted extraordinary and often unpaid—contributions from hundreds of thousands of highly skilled individuals in the software environment, has been spreading across the economy. Other examples can now be found across diverse industries and sectors. In media, Blender’s free and open source 3D computer graphics program has been used to generate outputs as diverse as 3D models of NASA space crafts and storyboards for Spider-Man 2. In education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare provides digital access to “virtually all MIT course content.”

And, for solving more specific (and sometimes also time-bound) problems, there has been a substantial rise recently in “crowd-sourcing.” Organizations like Kaggle host competitions that invite participants to use data science and algorithms to solve business problems. Others, like XPRIZE, organize grand challenges that encourage players to collaborate to tackle complex social and environmental issues. The results already speak for themselves—examples include a device that skims oil off water three times faster than previously existing technology, and software that is able to show trends in symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in individual patients over time.

Today, almost every business can find ways to benefit from this growing and global opportunity to forge, serve, and grow alongside—and with the help of—new communities, which will often include customers who were traditionally regarded as passive recipients rather than active participants. The LEGO Group, for instance, has found new ways to connect with customers young and old with its LEGO® Ideas portal, on which fans have enthusiastically submitted and supported ideas including the Minecraft and Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary toy sets. Companies that are able to tap into the resourcefulness of their ecosystems will not only discover new points of resonance with their customers, but are also opening themselves to a universe of opportunity, just as The LEGO Group did when it found inspiration for its blockbuster The LEGO Movie™ from a collection of stop-motion films produced utilizing LEGO bricks on YouTube.

Ecosystems often exist on top of powerful new business platforms

A “platform” is a powerful type of ecosystem, typically created and owned by a single business or entity, but deliberately designed to attract the active participation of large numbers of other actors. According to scholar Yochai Benkler, it is “a technical and organizational context in which a community can interact to achieve a specific purpose.” Some are designed primarily to create new markets by enabling connections between previously separated potential buyers and sellers; others are more focused on the distributed development of new products, services, and solutions. An early illustrative example combined both. In 1968, Dee Hock worked in a local bank in Washington State and spotted a problem and an opportunity in the early days of consumer credit cards. Many banks were attempting to issue their own proprietary product, each of them encountering the laborious burden of signing up merchants to accept them, persuading customers of their utility and security, reassuring regulators, and designing protocols and features for the new product. By proposing a shared platform to deal with all these arduous tasks—which became VISA in 1976—he enabled them to pool resources and to both collaborate and compete within a much simpler-to-develop, and hence much faster-growing, financial market for credit.

VISA may have been an early example, but it has since been joined by many other platforms, spurred by digitization and connective technologies. eBay created a global auction-based marketplace that now connects millions of buyers and sellers. More recently, a variety of new “sharing economy” platform businesses have established entirely new ecosystems that enable vast numbers of participants to share access to their previously idle or under-utilized assets, creating significant social and economic value in the process. Some, such as Airbnb and Uber, have disrupted incumbent industries—and more will likely do so in future, in additional domains of the economy.

Meanwhile, other platforms have emerged to accelerate and distribute the development of new products and services. An early example was the success of open source models that transformed the software sector by inviting vast numbers of programmers to develop products such as Linux. This established the pathway to the explosive, widely distributed development of new applications on enabling platforms created by Apple, Facebook, Google, Samsung, Salesforce, and others. In recent years literally millions of apps have been created, producing new solutions and possibilities for consumers and enterprises alike.

The results have been spectacular for some platform creators. One estimate suggests that four of the top five most valuable global brands are largely based on platform business models. With many of the world’s fastest-growing, highest-profile new companies joining them, there is no sign of the phenomenon slowing.

Ecosystems accelerate learning and innovation

Philosopher Eric Hoffer observed that “In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” The imperatives for businesses to learn and to translate learning into innovation have never been greater. And, as many corporate leaders have recognized, the smartest people can’t all work for just one organization; this means, importantly, that they don’t all work for yours.

Ecosystems provide businesses access to sharp minds and smart resources, whether they are located with suppliers, customers, research organizations, or independently. For example, users of InnoCentive connect with an ecosystem of thousands of innovators and problem-solvers around the world. A Telstra executive once said he seeks out partners who will push new thinking: “When we look to partner, we look for . . . innovation . . . what you’re looking for is someone who’s going to challenge you. I don’t want you to tell me I’m good. I want you to tell me what I have to do differently, how I can be different.” Learning is a largely social activity; innovation is very often the result of integration and connection across different fields of expertise and domains of knowledge; and both are therefore accelerated in the fluid, exchange-oriented, and co-creative communities that are forged by ecosystems. Some observers, notably John Hagel, have suggested that such ecosystems will prove the most enduring and influential, and provide the most sustained and important benefits to those businesses that create, lead, and participate in them.

For example, the Mahindra Group, one of India’s largest corporations with more than 200,000 employees globally and an enormous supplier network, was recently celebrated for linking suppliers and internal businesses alike in jointly owned initiatives to “accept no limits, drive positive change, and promote alternative thinking.” The resulting ecosystems of collaboration have benefited Mahindra itself by energizing and aligning learning and creativity across the diversified group. Just as importantly, however, Mahindra credits efforts like this as promoting widespread transformation across entire geographies where Mahindra’s operations are centered, like Maharashtra, India’s second most populous state and its largest contributor to GDP by far. The dynamism and productivity of such local hubs have given rise around the world to a growing focus on local and regional “start-up ecosystems” and “innovation ecosystems”—a trend actively encouraged in November 2014 by a number of senior European business leaders in an open letter to the European Union.

The world is entering an era in which ideas and insights come from everywhere, and crowds, clouds, collaborators, competitions, and co-creators can fundamentally help define our shared future. The business environment is being permanently altered as a result.

Managing in a world of business ecosystems

The rise of business ecosystems is fundamentally altering the key success factors for leading organizations, forcing them to think and act very differently regarding their strategies, business models, leadership, core capabilities, value creation and capture systems, and organizational models. More will be learned over time, as ecosystems continue to reveal their secrets. This ongoing process is not surprising. After all, it was only in the late 1930s that we created standardized classifications for the distinct sectors of the industrial economy and then started to track their collective output with a measure called GDP. It took almost another 30 years to hammer out the detailed, if still evolving, standards for many business professions, and almost 20 years more for the basic tools of “strategy” to be revealed.

In this trends report, however, we will take a deeper dive into what is already clearly discernible as business ecosystems come of age—and can therefore be applied to business strategy and operations today. Specifically, we will explore the following trends and the associated ways in which future-shaping leaders are:

  • Transcending historical constraints as multiple boundaries blur and dissolve simultaneously, to create new value and redefine the “art of the possible.”
  • Participating in evolving ecosystems that forge alliances to address major pressing societal challenges through new solutions, generating both profits and social value at the same time.
  • Engaging with the domains of regulation and policy to maintain an effective balance between protecting the public’s interest and enabling the new markets and solutions which fast-evolving ecosystems make possible.
  • Reimagining existing supply chains as “value webs” that enjoy greater autonomy and trust, learn and innovate together, and forge the sustainable models for success that benefit all those involved.
  • Reconfiguring assets for a more relationship- and collaboration-based economy in which ownership and control matter less, and activating the assets of others matter more, altering M&A strategies in the process.
  • Creating new enterprise platforms that enable the entrepreneurship, and help liberate and harness the talents, of countless other participants.
  • Learning to transform businesses and organizations without destroying them, by taking a lesson from the entrepreneurs’ use of minimum viable products.
  • Embracing new core competencies—especially the skills embedded in the world of design—and reinventing their management thinking and practices.
  •  

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

The Worst 10 Mistakes When Starting a Business

 What are fatal mistakes that first time business owners make and can easily avoid? If you want to start a business, read through the following list of business mistakes and take them to heart. Any one of them could sabotage your new business venture and turn it into a failure rather than a success.

These are the big mistakes to avoid when you're starting out:

1) Not doing a business plan.

If I had even just fifty cents for every time someone asked me “Is this a good business idea?” over the years, I’d be a wealthy woman.

 

The problem is, unless I write a business plan, I have no idea – and you won’t, either. That’s the main purpose of a business plan. There are other good reasons, too; see 5 Reasons for Writing a Business Plan to learn more.

Yes, it’s time-consuming and demands a lot of research, but investing time now will save you so much time and money later.

2) Doing what you love.

In my opinion, the person who first said “Do what you love” should be shot. Or at least forced to eat seven bad restaurant meals in a row.

It sounds fine in theory, but the reality is there are a whole lot of people out there who love things they’re not good at. My official advice? Don’t do what you love; do what you’re good at and what people will pay you (well) for. It’s not as catchy, but it’s a whole lot more profitable – and isn't making a profit the reason you're opening a business?

3) Not doing any market research.

I see increasing numbers of people starting businesses without bothering to do any of this – and then being heartbroken when their new business, which they’ve invested so much time and money in, collapses.

Test your products and service first before you start a business. If you don’t, you have no idea if people are even going to want to buy them. You may think you make the tastiest pierogi in all the world. But will anyone else? Learn who to Do Your Own Market Research.

4) Ignoring the competition.

Ignoring the competition is another potentially fatal business mistake.

 

Simple question #1: If you’re selling your thingamabobs for $10 apiece and Vera down the street is selling her thingamabobs for $6 apiece, how many thingamabobs are you going to sell?

And what if Vera’s thingamabobs look/smell/feel/taste better than yours? 6 Ways to Find Out What the Competition is Up To will show you how to keep tabs on the competition that matters.

Another aspect of competition you need to understand is market saturation. The pie is only so big, so to speak, for every product or service. So, for instance, if you want to open a dog grooming business, there may not be any “room” left in your local area to do so because of the number of dog grooming businesses that already exist.

5) Not taking into account your own strengths and weaknesses.

We all have them. Unfortunately, sometimes our strengths or weaknesses don’t fit well with the business model we want to use, leading to disastrous results. For example, if you’re not a friendly, outgoing type of person with good people skills, retail is not for you.

 

It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve dreamed of opening that ice cream parlour or book store, it’s not for you.

That doesn’t mean you can’t buy such a business or start one yourself, but for it to succeed, you need to be aware that working behind the counter is not something you should be doing; you’ll need to hire staff right away. (Here’s what you need to know about Hiring Employees in Canada.)

6) Not understanding what you’re actually selling.

Helena Rubinstein, the first self-made female millionaire, didn’t become rich selling face cream; she became rich selling beauty. ("There are no ugly women,” she used to say, “only lazy ones”.) If your new business is going to be successful, you need to know what you’re actually selling and craft your Unique Selling Propositionaccordingly.

7) Not making sure you have enough money.

Ninety-five percent of businesses will not make money when they first open and a large proportion of new businesses will not make significant money for years. (The exception, the five percent that make money when they first open, is for businesses that are actually just “carry-overs”, employees who become contractors, a fairly common practice in industries such as IT.)

Which means you (and your family) have to have enough money to live on while your new business is getting established, as well as enough money for the business to survive and grow. Not getting the money to do this lined up before you start your small business is a serious mistake.

Small business financing of some kind is the most obvious way to do this, eitherthrough a traditional lender or through a non-traditional alternative. (See 5 Creative Ways to Fund Your New Business.) Perhaps you can qualify for a start up grant.

How to Get Your New Small Business to Make Money includes some other ways you can bring in bucks while starting up.

8) Not investing in marketing.

Following the common advice “Build it and they will come” is another serious business mistake. Come where? Why? Or even when? No one will know without some effective marketing. (How to Create an Effective Sales and Marketing Strategyexplains the basics.

Far too many small businesses are reluctant to spend any money on marketing, let alone a significant amount. Free marketing can be excellent – but most free marketing strategies take a significant amount of time before they become effective. (Referrals and social media marketing are examples.)

Create a marketing planset up some marketing campaigns, and keep doing it if you want your business to be successful.

My best tip? Market your business before you open it. There’s no rule that says you have to wait until your physical or virtual doors are actually open.

9) Not bothering with any online marketing.

One way or another, your small business has to be online. You may or may notneed a website (many individuals who provide services use other “homes” on the web, such as Facebook or LinkedIn pages) but your business needs to be able to be found by and promoted to the ever increasing number of people who use the web to find the products and services they want.

If you’re not going to do anything else, establish some sort of home base for your business online and be sure that your small business is listed in various online directories. Actively marketing your small business online is even better and will give it a far better chance of reaching your customers.

One possibility is to engage customers through social mediaLearn How to Create a Social Media Plan.

10) Trying to do everything yourself.

You can’t. It’s that simple and that aggravating. Running a small business, even if it’s a one person business, involves so many different tasks that no one person can do them all well. Even if each of us was perfect and had all the skills to do an outstanding job at whatever we set our hands to, each of us is still constrained by time. Most days, I predict, you’ll be lucky if you even get done what you planned to get done when your day started.

So sidestep the mistake of trying to do it all and increase the chance of your new business succeeding by getting the help you need from the get-go. Learn How to Delegatehire and outsource to make the most of your skills and benefit from outside expertise. For example, do you really need to do your own accounting?Accountants have a lot more financial and tax knowledge than you have, more than likely, and can save you a bundle of time (and even money!) at tax-time.

(Speaking of outside expertise, have you thought about Creating an Advisory Board for your small business? It can give you a real management advantage.)

Who Doesn’t Want to Succeed?

I’ve yet to meet a person who wants to start a business that’s quickly going to go under.

If starting a business is in your future, understand that starting a business is a process, not an event. If you take the time to do the thinking and the research and avoid the business mistakes discussed above, you’ll hugely increase the likelihood of your new business succeeding.

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc

By Susan Ward

Updated August 16, 2016

Markethive

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your First Business

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your First Business

Mistakes you can avoid with your first business. When I opened my first business, a fitness center, unfounded confidence flowed through my veins. Visions of fast success and weekends off with the family seemed as close as the next sell.

Related: The 5 Mistakes Standing Between You and Your First Million

A few months later, the bravado gave way to fear and insecurity. That dream about weekends away vanished, and my 5 a.m.-to-9 p.m. schedule began taking its toll. I have been fortunate ever since to avoid similar mistakes in my more recent businesses. But I continue to review those mistakes, lest I repeat them:

 

1. Allowing belief to override the business plan

Owning a business is not for the weak in spirit. You need a strong mind and heart to face the day-in and day-out work. In the early days of the dream, it’s easy to be so excited and enamored with the idea of "your" business that you fail to grind out a proper business model.

When I approached my bank with my business plan in a thick three-ringed binder, I thought the president might just hand me a briefcase of cash. No kidding. Then came reality: Within two minutes the bank president asked me several questions my plan couldn’t answer. Still, that didn’t faze me. I lifted my chin and stated with conviction, “This will work.” I left without the briefcase of cash. Belief overrode the business plan, and I exited penniless.

2. Listening to customers instead of spreadsheets

“Famous Health Club just went out of business,” my soon-to-be business partner Mike said. “They left all the equipment," he told me excitedly. "We can go in and start quickly and not have to buy everything. However, they scammed their people, and no one wants to sign a contract.”

No problem. We won’t do contracts, I thought. And we didn’t. But we should have. Because, six months later, a giant fitness chain came to town and told members they could sign up for two years and pay via automatic draft. And people signed up in droves. Our “we won’t sign a contract” people left for newer pastures.

The lesson is, you’ll be tempted to set up your business in the way your customers say they want. And, sometimes that will be fine if it fits your model. Otherwise, trust your spreadsheets. Make sure the math works before giving in on every demand in hopes of making the sale.

Related: 6 Common Mistakes First-Time Business Owners Should Avoid

3. Risking a family member’s retirement fund

Remember my empty briefcase? I gave up on the bank and instead went to my grandfather and asked for the money. I needed only $20,000. That’s it. It never crossed my mind that Daddy B might consider what I requested to be a big sum, considering that during his career, he'd been a lowly paid high school principal. And, as if that weren't enough, he told me he believed only in safe investments and had put most of his own money into interest-bearing certificates of deposit earning a massive 2 percent interest.

Being young and arrogant, I took my grandfather back to the same bank. Together, we got a secured loan and I was on my way. So, I was able to move forward. But unless your family members have the money to lose, don’t borrow against their retirement or savings. They may love you and want you to succeed, but losing their money will haunt you.

4. Miscalculating the time needed to launch

Since those former fitness club tenants had left their equipment, Mike and I figured that we could open quickly. It was already December and we believed we could open by January 1. Just in time for the New Year’s "resolution" crowd. Timing-wise, we thought we'd won the lottery.

But, three days prior to opening, we knew we were in trouble. I still can’t remember if we slept those last three days. We pushed hard to open the doors. And they opened, but not without our first suffering stress, tears, fears, panic, anxiety and delusions of the greatest business failure ever known to man.

So, set your own grand opening inside a buffer zone. Plan to be ready 10 days ahead of “the” day and you just might open on time, without dread and anxiety.

5. Equating personal experience with business expertise

I began working out at age 12. I was competing in powerlifting and body-building competitions by age 18. In addition to that, I was a personal trainer at a local gym. Certainly all that experience would translate into running a fitness center of my own, right? 

Not even close. I knew how to train people, but not retain people for the purpose of growing a membership-based business. You might be a great cook, mechanic, web designer or artist, but that doesn’t automatically translate into business acumen. So grab some study courses from Entrepreneur.com and arm yourself for this battle called business.

A couple of years later, Mike and I sold that fitness center. Our buyer was a guy who wanted the space for his karate school. We barely paid off our business loans with the sales proceeds. It could have been so much more had we avoided the mistakes we made starting our first business.

So, remember them, and learn

Chris Corey 

CMO Markethive Inc

 

CONTRIBUTOR

Markethive

Ecosystem for all Entrepreneurs