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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

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Post About Politics On Facebook

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Post About Politics On Facebook

 

 

Why you should not post politic filled content on you Facebook account. I see a lot of things I disagree with on social media. It’s hard to keep our personal beliefs to ourselves when we see things online that we take issue with. Let’s take the subject of politics on Facebook.

For me personally, I have many friends and clients on Facebook who are on both sides of the fence politically. From time to time I have posted something politically charged, only to go back a little bit later and remove it after I’ve thought about the possible repercussions. I am now fully committed to never doing it again.

So, I’ve come up with some reasons why you shouldn’t post about politics on Facebook. Here you go…

1. You could lose a friend. Friends should be able to discuss political issues calmly and diplomatically…in person! Most people hide behind their computers and post things they would never say face to face.

2. You could lose a client. It’s not business, it’s personal…right? Bull crap! If a client feels strongly about a political issue and I go on Facebook and post something totally derogatory or counter to what they believe, they might take a different view of me personally and professionally. I want my clients to like me. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Period.

3. It’s a waste of time. You’re not going to change someone’s political beliefs on Facebook. You can debate and debate, but you’re just wasting your time. People are different and believe different things. Accept it, agree to disagree and move on. Life’s too short. Let your vote be your voice.

4. It’s the wrong platform. If you’re bound and determined to spend time arguing over political issues online, go to a political blog or a news site and do so. Don’t ruin everyone’s experience on Facebook with your rants. You may have a specific list of friends on FB that you only share political information with, but you never know what someone else might share.

5. There’s enough politics in the media. One of the reasons I use Facebook is to laugh, have fun and converse with my friends and family. I don’t use it to get worked up or stressed out over something I see that I disagree with. There’s enough political coverage in the mainstream media. More than enough. Keep it there and leave the politics to the pundits.

If you’re marketing your business on Facebook, you absolutely NEVER want to go down this road on your Facebook business page.

Now, I know there are a lot of people who are going to disagree with me. And that’s fine. You have every right to disagree. This is America. But, can we agree to disagree and keep it off Facebook?

What do you think?

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc.

 

By: Scott Dickson

7 SEO Tips For 2016

Follow these SEO trends for better rankings in 2016

SEO is a very volatile industry because of the many changes that take place in the Google algorithm within a period. The algorithm set in place this month may not be the same the next. It is an always evolving algorithm that encourages SEO specialists to stay on their toes and keep abreast with updates.

As we pass the years half way point and start to look towards 2017, it has become more important for specialists to look out for trends that can affect search rankings for their keywords in this new year.

Newly updated, this comprehensive resource is a practical guide for marketing managers to increase the contribution of SEO to their business. It covers the activities they and their agencies need to work on to improve their ranking in the organic search results of Google.

Considering the changes that took place in SEO this 2016, below are trends that you as an SEO specialist must look out for to improve your site performance on search results in 2016-17.

Optimize for Rich Answers

Although aiming for the top positions in Google search for your target keywords is still important, it's now time to optimize for other Rich Answers too. These are results that appear towards the top organic search results.

According to Stone Temple Consulting, rich answers appear on 19.45% of Google search results out of the 850,000 keyword queries used to trigger these.

The percentage may not be as high at the moment – most of the rich answers appear on search queries for song lyrics. However, there is good cause to believe that its number will only increase in the future. Since Google has made its intention of providing value to its users clear, rich answers provide the most relevant information based on the search query.

How to rank for rich answers: Northcutt Consulting Group has broken down the most relevant factors for ranking on rich answers.

The first point is important. Optimizing for rich answers requires you to optimizing for your target keyword as well. Getting your page to rank on the first page of search engines will increase your chances of getting into the rich answers box.

The post at Northcutt is not the definitive way to rank for the rich answer box since we are dealing with Google algorithm here, after all. Its algorithm can never be reduced to an exact science consider of how unstable it is. However, the post should give you a good idea of how you can increase your chances of getting your page on topthe top of search results.

Review Google's other featured content

Keep an eye on the Mozcast Google Feature review for other types of content that features within Google results. Rich Answers are referenced here as 'featured snippets'.  A similar feature is 'Related questions', showing how our articles should try to cover these questions.  Images and videos are other better known ways of gaining cut-through in the SERPs for some search terms – check which are important for your industry.

Improve user engagement

Ever since, marketers have always speculated user engagement as a possible ranking factor. This covers the average time on site, bounce rate, pogo sticking, and others.

For conversion, it is a proven factor that determines the effectiveness of page elements that contribute to the chances of visitors committing to your call to action.

However, what makes this factors difficult to measure in search engines is the lack of data supporting it.

User engagement is too indirect an influence on search rankings. Nonetheless, it is something that all website owners need to optimize if they are serious about getting more out of their SEO efforts.

“User engagement is just as important as any other on-site element in this day and age,” says Matt Banner ofOnBlastBlog.com. “If a visitor enjoys your website, they'll stay on your site longer, visit more pages, help contribute to a lower bounce rate for your site overall, and most likely become a returning visitor.

“All of these positive elements factored together combine for a type of website that Google wants to rank highly in the search engines. If the user finds the website beneficial, you can bet Google will as well.”

How to rank with the help of user engagement: To help improve your site performance, in the long run, using user engagement as a factor, you may need to use tools to gain insight on how much interaction your site pages is getting from visitors.

Heatmapping quickly comes to mind when thinking of user engagement. The idea here is that the more clicks a page accumulates from its links, the more interaction it has with users.

Tools like SumoMe Heat Maps and CrazyEgg are great ways to break down the number of clicks made by users on your tracked site pages. From here, you can see which links are clicked the most and least. You can then optimize your site by improving your CTA links and buttons based on the accumulated data.

To analyze visitor engagement with your site pages, the SumoMe Content Analytics is an extremely helpful tool in looking how many of your site visitors scroll down until the very end of the page. From the data, you can also find out which part of your page where 50% of your visitors leave. Determine which elements of your site pages serve as obstacles that prevent visitors from scrolling down your page and optimize your site as you see fit.

Mobile App Optimization

The mobile market is big. So big, in fact, that Google is still figuring out how to provide mobile users with a better search experience.

The so-called 'Mobilegeddon' or more accurately Google's Mobile-friendly update is a step towards this direction, as site owners are encouraged to develop mobile or responsive designs to increase the site’s loading speed on mobile devices. A faster loading site means more chances to retain visitors.

While there is also interest in spending on mobile ads as the figures from eMarketer show, Google will soon take a more crucial role in delivering content to mobile users, starting with app store optimization.

"ASO (App Store Optimization) will be the next gen SEO in 2016,” says Rob Lons of performance SEO services RankPay. “If you look at the rise of mobile use and how much paid ad dollars are being spent each year, you can see the huge demand and rush to reach people on their mobile devices.”

More importantly, the App Indexing is the latest development in search results that can make an impact in how your site pages will rank for your target keywords.

Originally, apps are indexed on App Store and Google Play, not on Google search. This made it much more complicated for Google to streamline its search capabilities – marketers will have to optimize on both app stores instead of just on Google organic.

Through App Index, apps are now indexed on Google search. The search ranking of apps falls under the App Pack or Deep Link category.

Below is a comparison of app rankings on mobile search. The image is taken from this extensive article about App Indexing at Search Engine Land.

 

App Indexing brings in millions of additional search results for search queries on Google mobile search. This means that webpages ranking for their target keyword will have to fight of million of app pages that are optimized for their keyword as well. As if the competition is not stiff enough!

How to rank for mobile search results after App Indexing: Instead of fending off app results for your target keyword, why not consider developing an app for your business?

If you do not have an app for your site yet, consider building one to take advantage of the benefits App Indexing brings, in particular, its deep links.

Choosing the best mobile app development services is just half the battle. The other half involves developing a solid foundation for your mobile app and the goal you wish to achieve in developing it. Identifying both should provide you a more strategic approach with your mobile app in line with meeting your online goals.

Once you have a mobile app in place, you can begin implementing the steps on how to get your deep app screen indexed on search results by referring to this straightforward documentation from Google. The process can be arduous for non-developers, so you may want to ask for help from an expert regarding this.

Google’s new search quality guidelines

Google released their latest 160-page search quality guidelines. The last previous published was the abridged version two years ago that was a reaction to the leaked versions from 2008, 2011, and 2012 (notwithstanding the 2014 version) for the purpose of transparency.

As expected, the published document is far from the finished product.

"This is not the final version of our rater guidelines,” says Google Senior Program Manager and Search Growth & Analysis Mimi Underwood in this post. “ The guidelines will continue to evolve as search, and how people use it, changes. We won’t be updating the public document with every change, but we will try to publish big changes to the guidelines periodically."

You can download your copy of the search quality guidelines from the link above.

Below are some key takeaways from the guidelines:

  • High-quality standards are set on Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages – These pages include shopping transaction pages, financial information pages, medical information pages, legal information pages, and similar sites. The reason for the placing high-quality standards on these pages is how these can affect "the future happiness, health, or wealth of users." Low-quality YMYL pages can negatively impact one's happiness and health, so it is important to build useful pages under this umbrella term.
  • The value placed on Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T) –high-quality content must come from E-A-T sources. E-A-T is built by acquiring accreditation if necessary. For instance, medical information found online must come from accredited medical persons or organizations. Corollary, first-hand experience counts as a form of expertise. For example, a user sharing how he survived cancer is a form of expertise.
  • Needs Met guidelines cater to mobile usability – Web pages are gauged by how they are optimized for mobile viewing and the satisfaction they provide to users about the search query. The guidelines are loosely divided into five ratings (from Fully Meets to Fails to Meet) – a website can fall between the assigned ratings if needed be.

What to make out of these quality guidelines: All signs point to improving the mobile usability of your site (as already mentioned above), as well as establishing yourself as an influence within your niche. By building your expertise and knowledge in your industry, you can establish your authority as a subject matter expert, thus earning the trust of your audience.

You can start by launching an influencer marketing campaign to establish your online visibility. From there, you can slowly build yourself as an authority based on different factors such as your site's Domain Authority, social proof (testimonials from customers and social media shares), and blog comments, among other factors.

Update: Notified by Google after this post was written – they have new guidelines which require no more pop-ups on mobile pages (e.g. responsive pages). Essential to act on before 2017 when this change comes into affect.

Chris Corey CMO Markethive Inc.

Written by: Christopher Jan Benitez 

Virtual World Part 10: Harnessing collective knowledge

Harnessing collective knowledge

Markethive's social collaboration can bring collective knowledge to bear on a problem the company is trying to solve, or to satisfy customer needs. A multinational petrochemical company needed to be able to accurately answer very technical questions about how to set up production lines for a wide range of complex intermediary products that are crucial in the production of a particular end-user product.

The ability to answer those questions, therefore, is critical to the sale of thousands of tons of the product for one of Ferrazzi Greenlight’s clients. Multiply that need over literally thousands of products, and your enterprise faces a serious complexity challenge.

Our client chose one of the best ways to handle such complexity: By establishing internal wikis (purpose-built websites containing content that can be collaboratively edited and updated) that could be constantly updated by a small army of expert volunteers within the company who document everything required to support internal and customer questions about production.

While it takes time to establish a comprehensive set of wikis – and a culture of contributing to them – companies that succeed in doing so often see internal subject matter experts vying with each other to provide the best/most complete expert information.

This is competition focused on excellence in results – a win/ win if ever there was one.

Other companies use social collaboration very effectively to tap outside experts to deliver high-quality, just-in-time services. A great example is Specialists On Call (SOC), an agency with facilities in Virginia and California that contracts with 270 hospitals nationwide.

For example, when one of the participating hospitals has a patient arrive in emergency and the doctors determine he needs to see a cardiologist, the hospital contacts Specialists On Call, and an experienced cardiologist not only speaks with the patient through video-conferencing almost immediately, she’s able to do a “virtual examination” by directing the attending clinical staff or physician to perform a number of diagnostic procedures while the cardiologist observes.

SOC claims it can cost 40 percent less than the cost of locally based on-call specialists, increase caseload capacity, empower local specialists by relieving on-call burdens, and even result in lower malpractice premiums due to its round the-clock availability and adherence to best practice protocols.

Too often, social-media collaboration is implemented in its own silo without strong business process connections.

Here’s how to maximize the impact of social-media tools on business results:

•Identify the processes that will most benefit, and pilot social media integration with those teams. Lead with these process improvement examples when you release your social media tool more broadly; that’s the main driver for the investment.

• Resist implementing social media as a stand-alone tool. Integrating it with your tools for communication, collaboration, and/or process flow ensures discussions are relevant to and can positively impact process and/or project participants.

• Explore tools that make exchanges in social media, email and other collaboration tools searchable, and filter automatically based on context. Separating social chit-chat from exchanges relevant to the project at each meeting or milestone creates a cohesive collaboration record and brings participants up to speed quickly.

 

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc

Rise of Markethive The Market Network

Markethive is a Market Network with a Free full suite “Inbound Marketing” platform integrated with a full scale “social network” targeting the 800 million “Entrepreneur” global populations. Like Facebook meets Pardot. This new revolution of the next wave of progressions is known as Market Networks, compared to the last wave of Social Networks. Even MarketHive’s name reflects this new revolution. Experts predict the “Market Network” will dwarf the “Social Network” market.

1. Founder (Thomas Prendergast): 40 years’ experience in Ad Agency and Marketing professional. Educated and developed technology awareness from 1982 – 1992 in the Silicon Valley. Visionary, skilled programmer, innovation 1sts, Stanford and UCSD Super Computer Center foundations and over 20 years building marketing innovation on the Internet.
 

2. Pardot, a full scale Inbound Marketing Platform (very similar to Markethive's platform) sold for $95 million to complete the ExactTarget platform in preparation to be sold to Sales Force for 2.5 billion Using these metrics it is easy to assign a value to Markethive of a minimum of $100 million. see story:www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2013/06/atlantas-pardot-helped-drive.html
 

3. The experts (like Nir Eyal) and many bloggers (like Guerric de Ternay) are recognizing the new emerging systems called Market Networks.

  1. Market-networks are hybrid animals: part social network, part marketplace, part SaaS.
  2. It’s a social network. Professionals use profile pages to showcase their work and demonstrate their credibility. They also connect with each other and build relationships.
  3. It’s a marketplace. Professionals come online together to find other parties with whom they can do business.
  4. It’s a SaaS (Software as a System) tool. Professionals use the tools on the top of the marketplace to negotiate, do the job, or manage the paperwork.

4. Hooked: Systems that improve with age are the sought after prizes as they retain growth and are considered monopolies, not commodities. Markethive possesses this trait on 4 serious levels.

  1. Leads (called children) from the profile pages advance organically and improve with time
  2. Blog subscribe organically builds subscribers (automatically publishing) to top social networks
  3. Profile page improves with organic advancement in workshops, blogging and groups
  4. Increased reputation builds via blogs and profile page growth

5. Markethive is the indisputable full platform Market Network and has the distinct advantage of ready to launch and be "First to Market".

6. At least three patentable products; Blog Subscribe, Blog Swipe and 1Click Subscribe Widget

7. Projected funds of minimum $1 million with 20% to polish the system in preparation to officially launch and the remaining 80% to drive the marketing and crowd funding to record breaking status.

 

Summary:
see story: https://techcrunch.com/2015/06/27/from-social-to-market-networks/

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.

“Markethive has the ability to be an incubator (hive) to produce more strategic “Market Networks” as well”. 

 

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc. 

P.S.
The "Market Network" Illustrated
(Do you see Markethive?)

P.S.S.

Definition of Hive (Curious aint it?)

hive (hīv)

1. A place swarming with activity.

2. To work with many others in a close network.
3. a network showing signs of great industry

4. a teeming crowd; a network

 

 

The 7 Free Secrets of Internet Marketing

The 7 Secrets of Internet Marketing

Businesses are spending more and more of their marketing dollars on Internet marketing. And while some aspects of Internet marketing are the same as traditional marketing, others are not. Here are seven things you need to know for your Internet marketing to be successful.

Many marketers have been shifting their marketing budgets to the web over the past few years. Marketing online allows you to target specific audiences and easily track return on investment, commonly referred to as ROI. Unlike traditional marketing methods, results of Internet marketing campaigns are almost immediate. This allows you to better evaluate what elements of your campaign are producing results and which are not. When buying online media, you must be willing to shift your marketing dollars to the online methods that produce a positive return.

To be successful at Internet marketing, you must understand the essential secrets of Internet marketing. These secrets can allow you to achieve success by finding the right audience, communicating your message properly, and leading consumers down the path to purchase. These secrets include:

1. Website Directory Listings. Before you begin any marketing campaign, make sure that the website you're promoting has been listed in the common directories such Google My BusinessBing Places and  online Yellow pages. Even if you're using a marketing page off of the root directory of your website, be sure that the primary site is listed. This ensures that prospects can continue to find your marketing pages long after you've launched your campaign.

2. Generating Traffic. In order to realize a return on your investment, you need to generate traffic to your marketing pages. There are a number of ways to do so online. Some of the most popular include Google AdwordsBing Ads, however those can become costly.   

The most effective I recommend is Markethive

not only has it becaome the most powereful for marketing, it is also free. Other methods include affiliate programs and targeted website advertising. Research other websites that have the audience you're looking for and negotiate favorable ad rates for your online marketing campaign.

3. Marketing Pages. Don't lead prospective purchasers to a generic website. If you do, potential buyers won't know what to do next. The easier you make if for prospects to take advantage of your offer, the better. Whenever creating a marketing campaign online, provide a specific page for leading purchasers to your product or service or a billboard that showcases the offer. Take the guess work out of making a purchase and more consumers will buy.

4. Testimonials. Customer testimonials are the most powerful way to sell your product or service. When consumers hear from those who have purchased and used your product or service, they gain a certain level of trust and comfort in what you have to offer. Solicit testimonials after each purchase and use those that are the most convincing to prospective purchasers.

5. Create a Compelling Offer. Be sure to offer something that no one else is currently offering. If your offer is similar to your competitors or is not very interesting, consumers have no reason to learn more. Of course providing something for FREE is often a great way to entice potential customers. Maybe it's a 3-day free trial or a free evaluation of some kind. Be creative, try something new, and measure the response.

6. Developing Trust. Before anyone will buy from you, your website or company needs to be seen as reputable. This means that consumers can purchase from you and not worry about the safety of their credit card information, personal information, or anything else being exchanged. A good method for developing trust is to purchase and display safety and reliability icons such as BBB Online, Trust-e, and VeriSign.

7. Provide a Guarantee. Nothing makes a consumer more comfortable with a purchase than offering a guarantee. Perhaps you can offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee or a money back guarantee. A guarantee is a great way ease the risk of making a purchase. If your competitors are offering a guarantee, you want yours to be equal or better.

Internet marketing is an incredibly powerful medium for segmenting your prospects and delivering targeted advertising. Online, you can easily measure you return on investment and refine your marketing campaign over time to improve results.

If you are a local business you can benefit from Internet marketing as well. Look for local directories to list your business or service. Or, you can supplement your local advertising with product marketing pages on your website. Internet marketing is more than just placing ads online, it's using the web to communicate the value of your products and services.

Chris Corey CMO Markethive

Contributor Michael Fleischner

Lead Nurturing

Our Lead Nurturing System

is the only system that does not violate good email practices

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)

(Or, how to build an effective email auto responder campaign primarily attracting your outside leads via capture pages, to join through you in Markethive’s Social Network. Then we, as a team, continue to turn your leads into raving advocates and your best friends. Remember, Markethive is your partner)

What we are not and never will be

Let me explain what the traditional nurturing systems do and how we do not utilize their spying bad email practices. First, let me illustrate how traditional email nurturing works. A typical corporate inbound marketing email system uses hidden image pixels within their email that reports back to the server, the IP address, email address, geo location and when that email is opened and how many times it is opened and the dates and times it is opened.

Now what Lead Nurturing is really all about according to Markethive

Selling in today’s market isn’t for the timid or inexperienced marketer. Today’s prospects are researching according to their needs and on their terms, and they expect treatment accordingly and with respect. They are drawn towards companies and services that are personalized, friendly and timely. As marketers we must be ready to meet each prospective customer on their terms their way.

How can you make sure you are sharing the right information at the right time, and getting it to the right person? Markethive’s lead systems automate this process for you. As an entrepreneur seeking to attract likeminded entrepreneurs, Markethive’s Alpha Workshop systems, gently coach your leads (your children) through a learning and awareness program. This program rewards your “leads” (your children) to expand their profiles (IE: Phone numbers, Skype address, multiple Social Networks, keeping the email current, etc.)  This process wields you to your leads, prospects (now you know why we call them children) for life.

Unlike the “other” traditional vertical systems, Markethive’s workshops, tools, and social networks, develop your prospects into well educated, integrated members of your own social network within the Markethive overall system.

When your “campaigns” bring in “leads” at the core of your custom Markethive auto responders, should always include an invite into the Markethive environment via your automatically “dripping” relevant messages to your leads over time.

The Markethive system can address various products of interest, pain points, common objections during the sales cycle, and more, depending upon your targets and goals, the number of campaigns you build the crossover of these campaigns and your eventual goal being to turn prospects into subscribers, subscribers into customers and those customers into lifelong friends.

With Markethive’s campaign systems, your system’s customers are placed on a track based on what we know about them. You’re learning more about your customers every day — as they learn more about you — so the nurturing process is a two pronged arena, both from your customized systems and the Markethive Social Network. Eventually all your leads become associated with you becoming your “children” or family for life, obviously you becoming the “parent”.

Stop wasting time.

If you engage a “child “lead too early, you have to spend a lot of time explaining what your solution does and pitching the value. Nurturing has the power to significantly speed up your connected cycle by taking care of some of that education before a lead even becomes active within the Markethive Network. It’s effective for both those actively evaluating your brand, and those who aren’t quite there yet — just make sure you use data to deliver the right message.

Markethive sees to it your leads are raised up effectively preparing them to embrace working with you and appreciating the power of the Markethive system and the incredible ease of the learning venture.

No longer deal with Dormant Leads

Today we are strapped for time and resources. If you’re balancing multiple priorities and doing everything manually, it’s easy to go too long without checking up on your leads. Markethive fills the gap with our constant offering and rewards for our automated and live marketing workshops. These workshops address all the power of the Markethive platform, turning your "lead“" (children” into virtual marketing warriors.

When you add your own flavor to this process, your “children” become loyal lifetime clients, friends and associates for life.

So it makes sense to add the invite to join your Markethive family to all your autoresponder campaigns with Markethive capture pages and widgets.

Building your own Campaigns to nurture your array of leads

Markethive’s core focus is building your portfolio of Markethive “children” leads into powerful allies joining you to improve your overall marketing effectiveness and reach.

Depending on the type of capture lead you develop; here are a few examples to build your capture page leads into members of your business, team, agenda, etc.

Welcome Campaign

Welcome emails in response to a particular offer are highly anticipated, frequently opened, and simple to automate. By turning your welcome emails into a nurturing campaign, you can begin to establish a lasting relationship. In the initial email, remember to remind them why they converted, confirm their opt-in, and let them know what to expect from your program. Then, start providing them with light, educational content to build awareness and keep them interested. Be sure to keep it targeted based on the offer they converted on and especially invite them to join Markethive as your special member offering them the many incentives Markethive offers. Invite them to your Markethive blogs and Groups to join and experience the power and family of the Markethive experience.

Top-of-Mind Campaign

The top-of-mind drip is designed to engage with your leads at regular intervals, preventing leads from forgetting about your company and getting swooped up by your competitors. This drip takes place over a longer period of time, providing sales with consistent touch points, and uses content primarily focused on value to the prospect. For early-stage leads, make sure to choose the right content. Start engaging them with interesting Markethive blog posts, helpful third-party content, and other content around related topics, and watch for key activities that indicate they are interested in learning more about your actual offering. Engaging in your blogs or joining your groups signals your leads are ready to upgrade to the culture of the Entrepreneur and join you in Markethive as a premium lead (we call them childen).

Re-engagement Campaign

Have an old list on Aweber or another email service? Here is an idea. Not all of your prospects will make it through this process. But by consistently inviting your lead databases on the other email systems, to engage in your Markethive blogs, join your Markethive groups or come subscribe and experience the difference with the first Market Network called Markethive. Markethive’s workshops make your leads become family. And that makes for a loyalty program that lasts a lifetime.

Product-focused Campaign

As prospects progress through the sales process and begin to seek out more product-focused content, you’ll want to make sure they’re getting the right product information from your series of auto responders, instead of a competitor or biased third party. Focus on your prospects’ pain points, how your product can address them, and the key features and benefits that will help along the way. For this type of drip, you’ll want to invite them to Markethive Groups regarding the case studies, customer testimonials, data sheets, and more in-depth white papers found there. Be sure you have visibility into all touchpoints with your customers so that you can tailor your conversations based on activity history. Remember; produce auto responders that engage your leads to continue the reading via your Markethive blogs (In other words, do not tell the whole story in your email). This is where you will be able to convert many of your leads into raving maniacs!

Competitive Drips

This type of campaign focuses on differentiating your product or service from your competitors by highlighting the advantages of using your product, as well as the disadvantages of not using it (note: you’ll want to refrain from harping on the disadvantages of your competitors’ products, since this can come off as distasteful). Focus your content on the priorities of your prospects and the competitors that come up in deals with your company. A general differentiator campaign can be effective, but if you know that a customer is currently using or evaluating a particular competitor, you can really position your product to win. Invite them to a special Group that is being set up to evaluate the different products and reporting within that Markethive Group. Access to the Groups does require Markethive (free) subscription and this is exactly what you want with all your contacts. To work within the Market Network of Markehive.

Industry Expertise Drips

As prospects move closer to the middle of the funnel (register for a Markethive account), it becomes important to reinforce that your company is the right choice. Pass on any helpful press releases, industry reports, or high-traffic content as part of this drip to establish your company’s authority. For example, if your company was recently covered by an analyst report, be sure to share it with your prospects and put your own spin on the review. Make sure all relevant information is available in Markethive Blogs and Groups.

Promotional Drips

As your prospects near the purchase stage of the sales funnel, a well-timed promotion or special discount can be just the catalyst they need. (Markethive has numerous services to offer for this) Consider offering special pricing or additional features based on their individual needs, especially if you’re working with bigger accounts where closing the deal is critical to growing your business. This also works well for companies that use a free trial model. The right offer near the end of the trial can help encourage customers to commit. (Like I keep saying, with Markethive’s Hive Portals and other powerful services for free, building a huge organization of customers, clients, friends and advocates, is real easy)

Onboarding Campaign

Onboarding a new client will always be a high-touch and manual process, and rightly so. However, nurturing campaigns allow you to automate some of the more repetitive tasks involved in onboarding, like providing introductory training resources, a list of next steps after close, timelines for product kickoffs, and frequently asked questions. These helpful resources can help your new clients get started on their own, without having to wait on a customer service rep for assistance.

Upsell Drip

The upsell (or cross-sell) campaign is designed to capitalize on your existing clients. By providing your clients with information and incentives to expand the list of products they are using, you can drive more revenue with little effort. Just be sure to focus your message around the benefits of the new offering, and remember to use a tone that feels friendly and approachable to your customers.

Renewal Campaign

Renewal nurtures can be a convenient way to remind your existing customers that it is time to renew their contracts. This drip can be triggered a month (or more) before the renewal date, send multiple reminder emails over a specified period of time, and notify the assigned account manager if no action takes place. This makes it far less likely that your clients will miss the renewals on their contracts, and takes the tedium out of the process for your service reps.

How Lead Nurturing Usually Works

The benefits of implementing a lead nurturing program are pretty self-explanatory, but how does nurturing actually work? Let’s take a look at some of the mechanics behind nurturing to see the steps involved in setting up a successful nurturing program.

1. Choose the type of campaign you would like to run. As discussed in the previous chapter, there are several different types of programs you can run based on what you want to accomplish. Are you hoping to revive inactive leads? Remind your current clients that renewals are fast approaching? Your next steps will hinge on this initial decision.

2. Choose the list you would like to nurture. Lists and segmentations are the reason that drip emails can be so highly targeted. If you want to nurture a specific segment of your database, sort these prospects or clients onto the same list. Need some inspiration to get your wheels turning? Try segmenting by specific locations, certain product segments, new users, or leads who have been cold for longer than six months. You can use logic rules to filter your prospects accordingly; this will also ensure any new prospects entering your database are evaluated and added to the campaign automatically.

3. Build up your flow and decide on your content.

Once you’ve decided which list to target with your campaign, you’re ready to develop your drip campaign and choose your content. There are several items to consider here:

• How often will you be sending drip emails to this list? This will depend on the type of campaign you’re running. If you have a long sales cycle and are targeting a list of inactive leads, consider spacing emails further apart. Other emails, like training emails or time-sensitive renewals, might be spaced closer together. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend sending emails between six and 30 days apart (to prevent sending more than one email in one week, or going more than a month between touch points).

• How complex do you want your drip campaigns to be? Your nurturing tracks can be as simple or as complicated as you want — it all depends on the drip logic that you create. Nurturing campaigns can be set up linearly, where prospects will progress through them in straight lines, offering different action points to different capture pages, groups, blogs, profile page to eventually bring them all into the social environment of Markethive where the ultimate nurturing occurs.

• Don’t forget Markethive. With capture widgets that can be embedded into blogs, capture pages, landing pages, etc. any auto responder can easily branch but should always lead to your leads (that are not Markethive Members) to become Markethive Members, where the extreme nurturing takes place.

• What will trigger each prospect to move to the next stage of the drip program? Lead nurturing is a type of trigger-based marketing, a technique that allows marketers to deliver highly relevant messaging based on a prospect’s response or reaction to an offer. Marketers can use many differing incentives to pull from your flat leads list (limited to a name, email), whether in Markethive, Aweber, Get Response, Mail Chimp, etc. to come into the extreme nurture environment of Markethive.

Markethive the ultimate Lead Nurturing environment:

You invite a list of customers to register for an upcoming webinar. Those who register are thanked and sent a related blog post. Those who do not open their email or respond are undetected. Markethive uses only good email practices. Put spying agents into an email to determine if it gets opened goes against our privacy policies and good email practices.

A prospect on an early-stage education nurture accesses your latest e-book offer, views several key pages on your Markethive blog, or registers into your Markethive capture page to view a video. Their value shoots up quickly as they finally enter into the Markethive environment! Email drips should always include invites to join Markethive Membership. You get the upgrade notification, and quickly connect with her, seeing her activity history so you understand exactly what she’s interested in.

Markethive invented Inbound Marketing. We did this back in the 1990s with a company called Veretekk. Our primary drive was we found spam, telemarketer calls and email violation (bad email practices) wrong, distasteful and not effective. Back then the standard procedure was to buy a database, spam them, cold call them and beat them over the head. This did not work, violated my “Do Good” policies in general.

In building the first Inbound Marketing, I focused on attracting traffic and offering them valuable services for free in return for their contact information. Once subscribed to a traffic portal we nurtured them to subscribe to the “whole enchilada” the Veretekk membership, where we trained and empowered them and most upgraded there to become paying subscribers and advocating zealots.

That was 20 years ago. A lot has evolved, but the underlying principles of integrity and good practices still remains foundational to Markethive.

Thus we built the Inbound Marketing platform (Markethive) to always result in the “lead, prospect” to ultimately enter into the Markethive community where true nurturing can occur in the social environment. We offer this alternative so we can avoid utilizing email sniffing techniques that in the opinion of email security companies like SORBs and IronPort are violations of privacy and considered bad email practices.

How does an email sniffer work? When an email is sent it will have a 1 pixel coded image that alerts a script on the mother server when it displays. All image displays draw upon the server and live a log footprint, IP address, date stamp as well as other information transferred that is  found in that image name string.

This is akin to spying and is why email clients like Gmail default your email to NOT display images. The only thing an email sender should tract in an email is its deliverability or if it bounced and why. (ie: Spam, Mail Box Full. No such client “server to server codes”). And we do report that data in our system.

This is an example tracking image link:

Enough said? Markethive offers Good Practices and a better Lead Nurturing environment and solution. There are no shortcuts with Markethive. We always do it right.

Chris Corey 

CMO Markethive

7 Ways To Accelerate Your Success As An Entrepreneur

7 Ways To Accelerate Your Success As An Entrepreneur

 

age Credit | Huffingtonpost

 

There are two types of entrepreneurs. And knowing which one you are is critical to your development. There is the entrepreneur that just works hard. Someone who puts in unthinkable hours, is completely confident in their business, creates detailed plans – but at the end of the day, never seems to have much to show for it.

And then there is the entrepreneur who works smart. They put in as many hours as is required, only plan as much as needed, are confident but not delusional, are open to new ideas, and constantly look to the advice of people more experienced than them.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re reading blogs like this one, I’m sure you want to know how you can make sure you are the latter. The problem most of us have though, is not knowing exactly what to do to accelerate our success. If we’re going to be working hard we want to know we’re also working smart.

So the question is, what can you focus on to make sure you’re working smart, and making leaps and bounds in your business?

Here are 7 ways to accelerate your success as an entrepreneur:

1. Limit your time with people who bring you down

Entrepreneurs quickly learn that striving to do something bigger than those around them can be messy. People often start to project their own fears onto you, undermine your vision, suck energy from you, and ultimately drag you down.

Cutting people out should be a no nonsense process, but that doesn’t mean it should be rushed. Sometimes you just need to distance yourself or you need to redefine boundaries in your relationships. If you’re around people that don’t bring anything to the relationship, belittle your dreams, or talk you out of them, then you need to limit your time with them.

 

2. Set smaller goals

The number one factor that allows entrepreneurs to waste time is not having specific goals. Lack of clarity in your business does two things: You either spend too much time focusing on the wrong areas of the operation or you make yourself feel overwhelmed by the idea of reaching such a huge goal.

In order to see success you have to be specific about what you want to accomplish. If you don’t know what those steps are, that’s completely okay. It just means you need to do more research, read more books, talk to a mentor or even look for advice in forums. Remember, we’re in the digital age where almost any information is available, we just have to find it and act on it.

“Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.” – Brian Tracey

3. Live by the 80/20 rule

The Pareto principle suggests that around 80% of effects will come from only 20% of causes. In practice this may mean that 80% of the market may be owned by 20% of businesses, or 80% of sales result from 20% of clients. For you, it means 80% of your results will come from 20% of your most important activities.

To live by the principle, constantly track and evaluate your time and results in order to determine what your 20% most effective activities are. You can then delegate, automate, or eliminate the rest.

 

4. Surround yourself by like minded people

It’s very easy for entrepreneurs to slip into the habit of trying to do everything by themselves. Unfortunately, this just slows down your growth. Finding a mastermind and being around likeminded entrepreneurs can help you in countless ways. Finding a mastermind group has many benefits including, networking with potential mentors, collaborating with other business owners, cross-promoting, or learning successful habits.

 

5. Invest in a coach

All world class athletes have a coach. Without them, they never expect to compete at the highest level. So why would you expect to reach your entrepreneurial potential without a coach?

What you may not know is that most world class business leaders have personal coaches. Everyone from Google Executives to U.S Presidents like Bill Clinton have had coaches. You may need help with strategy, habits, and self-defeating thought patterns, or you might just need accountability.

If you’re just starting out, coaches can seem like a big investment, but when you find the right one, they’ll pay it off tenfold. A lot of business coaches offer free consultations, so make sure you do your research and find a coach that resonates with you personally.

“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.” – Bob Nardelli

6. Redefine your personal boundaries

If you want to get ahead in business fast, you have to learn to redefine your personal boundaries and put yourself first.

Putting yourself first means your business goals come before everything else; that includes drinking with friends, dealing with negative influences, watching Netflix for hours on end, or telling yourself that you can’t do something.

 

7. Meditate

Meditation is beneficial for everyone, and this goes tenfold for high performers. A huge proportion of successful people swear by meditation. From NBA players like Kobe Bryant, to US Marines to hedge fund managers like Ray Dalio, and Media Moguls like Russell Simmons and Oprah Winfrey—success follows meditation. That’s because it works. Get away from any ideas that it’s a fad, or it’s just not for you.

Meditation has some incredible benefits:

  • Improved immune function
  • Improves ability to focus
  • Decreased anxiety, stress and depression
  • Increase in Positive emotions
  • Improves emotional intelligence
  • Increases compassion
  • Improves introspective acuity
  • Improve willpower

The game of entrepreneurship is a long one. However, when you play it smart, you can see massive growth in a relatively short amount of time.

If tackling all of these at once is too much for you, just start with a few then add one a month and in no time you’ll be absolutely crushing it.

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc.

by Benjamin Fishel – 

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

No one said building a company is easy. But it's time to be honest about how brutal it really is — and the price so many founders secretly pay.

 

CREDIT: Ruth Gwily

 

 

Editor's Note: This article won an award in the Magazine Personal Service category in the 2014 Annual Awards Contest of the Deadline Club, the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

By all counts and measures, Bradley Smith is an unequivocal business success. He's CEO of Rescue One Financial, an Irvine, California-based financial services company that had sales of nearly $32 million last year. Smith's company has grown some 1,400 percent in the last three years, landing it at No. 310 on this year's Inc. 500. So you might never guess that just five years ago, Smith was on the brink of financial ruin–and mental collapse.

Back in 2008, Smith was working long hours counseling nervous clients about getting out of debt. But his calm demeanor masked a secret: He shared their fears. Like them, Smith was sinking deeper and deeper into debt. He had driven himself far into the red starting–of all things–a debt-settlement company. "I was hearing how depressed and strung out my clients were, but in the back of my mind I was thinking to myself, I've got twice as much debt as you do," Smith recalls.

He had cashed in his 401(k) and maxed out a $60,000 line of credit. He had sold the Rolex he bought with his first-ever paycheck during an earlier career as a stockbroker. And he had humbled himself before his father–the man who raised him on maxims such as "money doesn't grow on trees" and "never do business with family"–by asking for $10,000, which he received at 5 percent interest after signing a promissory note.

Related: The Fearsome Nightmare Entrepreneurs Never Talk About 

Smith projected optimism to his co-founders and 10 employees, but his nerves were shot. "My wife and I would share a bottle of $5 wine for dinner and just kind of look at each other," Smith says. "We knew we were close to the edge." Then the pressure got worse: The couple learned they were expecting their first child. "There were sleepless nights, staring at the ceiling," Smith recalls. "I'd wake up at 4 in the morning with my mind racing, thinking about this and that, not being able to shut it off, wondering, When is this thing going to turn?" After eight months of constant anxiety, Smith's company finally began making money.

Successful entrepreneurs achieve hero status in our culture. We idolize the Mark Zuckerbergs and the Elon Musks. And we celebrate the blazingly fast growth of the Inc. 500 companies. But many of those entrepreneurs, like Smith, harbor secret demons: Before they made it big, they struggled through moments of near-debilitating anxiety and despair–times when it seemed everything might crumble.

"It's like a man riding a lion. People think, 'This guy's brave.' And he's thinking, 'How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?"

Until recently, admitting such sentiments was taboo. Rather than showing vulnerability, business leaders have practiced what social psychiatrists call impression management–also known as "fake it till you make it." Toby Thomas, CEO of EnSite Solutions (No. 188 on the Inc. 500), explains the phenomenon with his favorite analogy: a man riding a lion. "People look at him and think, This guy's really got it together! He's brave!" says Thomas. "And the man riding the lion is thinking, How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?"

Not everyone who walks through darkness makes it out. In January, well-known founder Jody Sherman, 47, of the e-commerce site Ecomom took his own life. His death shook the start-up community. It also reignited a discussion about entrepreneurship and mental health that began two years earlier after the suicide of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the 22-year-old co-founder of Diaspora, a social networking site.

Lately, more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their internal struggles in an attempt to combat the stigma on depression and anxiety that makes it hard for sufferers to seek help. In a deeply personal post called "When Death Feels Like a Good Option," Ben Huh, the CEO of the Cheezburger Network humor websites, wrote about his suicidal thoughts following a failed startup in 2001. Sean Percival, a former MySpace vice president and co-founder of the children's clothing startup Wittlebee, penned a piece called "When It's Not All Good, Ask for Help" on his website. "I was to the edge and back a few times this past year with my business and own depression," he wrote. "If you're about to lose it, please contact me." (Percival now urges distressed entrepreneurs to seek professional help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineat 1-800-273-8255.)

Related: My Darkest Hour by Jessica Bruder

Brad Feld, a managing director of the Foundry Group, started blogging in October about his latest episode of depression. The problem wasn't new–the prominent venture capitalist had struggled with mood disorders throughout his adult life–and he didn't expect much of a response. But then came the emails. Hundreds of them. Many were from entrepreneurs who had also wrestled with anxiety and despair. (For more of Feld's thoughts on depression, see his column, "Surviving the Dark Nights of the Soul," in Inc.'s July/August issue.) "If you saw the list of names, it would surprise you a great deal," says Feld. "They are very successful people, very visible, very charismatic–yet they've struggled with this silently. There's a sense that they can't talk about it, that it's a weakness or a shame or something. They feel like they're hiding, which makes the whole thing worse."

If you run a business, that probably all sounds familiar. It's a stressful job that can create emotional turbulence. For starters, there's the high risk of failure. Three out of four venture-backed startups fail, according to research by Shikhar Ghosh, a Harvard Business School lecturer. Ghosh also found that more than 95 percent of startups fall short of their initial projections.

Entrepreneurs often juggle many roles and face countless setbacks–lost customers, disputes with partners, increased competition, staffing problems–all while struggling to make payroll. "There are traumatic events all the way along the line," says psychiatrist and former entrepreneur Michael A. Freeman, who is researching mental health and entrepreneurship.

Complicating matters, new entrepreneurs often make themselves less resilient by neglecting their health. They eat too much or too little. They don't get enough sleep. They fail to exercise. "You can get into a startup mode, where you push yourself and abuse your body," Freeman says. "That can trigger mood vulnerability."

So it should come as little surprise that entrepreneurs experience more anxiety than employees. In the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 34 percent of entrepreneurs–4 percentage points more than other workers–reported they were worried. And 45 percent of entrepreneurs said they were stressed, 3 percentage points more than other workers.

But it may be more than a stressful job that pushes some founders over the edge. According to researchers, many entrepreneurs share innate character traits that make them more vulnerable to mood swings. "People who are on the energetic, motivated, and creative side are both more likely to be entrepreneurial and more likely to have strong emotional states," says Freeman. Those states may include depression, despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of motivation, and suicidal thinking.

Call it the downside of being up. The same passionate dispositions that drive founders heedlessly toward success can sometimes consume them. Business owners are "vulnerable to the dark side of obsession," suggest researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. They conducted interviews with founders for a study about entrepreneurial passion. The researchers found that many subjects displayed signs of clinical obsession, including strong feelings of distress and anxiety, which have "the potential to lead to impaired functioning," they wrote in a paper published in the Entrepreneurship Research Journal in April.

Reinforcing that message is John Gartner, a practicing psychologist who teaches at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. In his book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, Gartner argues that an often-overlooked temperament–hypomania–may be responsible for some entrepreneurs' strengths as well as their flaws.

A milder version of mania, hypomania often occurs in the relatives of manic-depressives and affects an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans. "If you're manic, you think you're Jesus," says Gartner. "If you're hypomanic, you think you're God's gift to technology investing. We're talking about different levels of grandiosity but the same symptoms."

Related: Is Depression a Fact of Entrepreneurial Life?

Gartner theorizes that there are so many hypomanics–and so many entrepreneurs–in the U.S. because our country's national character rose on waves of immigration. "We're a self-selected population," he says. "Immigrants have unusual ambition, energy, drive, and risk tolerance, which lets them take a chance on moving for a better opportunity. These are biologically based temperament traits. If you seed an entire continent with them, you're going to get a nation of entrepreneurs."

Though driven and innovative, hypomanics are at much higher risk for depression than the general population, notes Gartner. Failure can spark these depressive episodes, of course, but so can anything that slows a hypomanic's momentum. "They're like border collies–they have to run," says Gartner. "If you keep them inside, they chew up the furniture. They go crazy; they just pace around. That's what hypomanics do. They need to be busy, active, overworking."

"Entrepreneurs have struggled silently. There's a sense that they can't talk about it, that it's a weakness."

No matter what your psychological makeup, big setbacks in your business can knock you flat. Even experienced entrepreneurs have had the rug pulled out from under them. Mark Woeppel launched Pinnacle Strategies, a management consulting firm, in 1992. In 2009, his phone stopped ringing.

Caught in the global financial crisis, his customers were suddenly more concerned with survival than with boosting their output. Sales plummeted 75 percent. Woeppel laid off his half-dozen employees. Before long, he had exhausted his assets: cars, jewelry, anything that could go. His supply of confidence was dwindling, too. "As CEO, you have this self-image–you're the master of the universe," he says. "Then all of a sudden, you are not."

Woeppel stopped leaving his house. Anxious and low on self-esteem, he started eating too much–and put on 50 pounds. Sometimes he sought temporary relief in an old addiction: playing the guitar. Locked in a room, he practiced solos by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Chet Atkins. "It was something I could do just for the love of doing it," he recalls. "Then there was nothing but me, the guitar, and the peace."

Through it all, he kept working to develop new services. He just hoped his company would hang on long enough to sell them. In 2010, customers started to return. Pinnacle scored its biggest-ever contract, with an aerospace manufacturer, on the basis of a white paper Woeppel had written during the downturn. Last year, Pinnacle's revenue hit $7 million. Sales are up more than 5,000 percent since 2009, earning the company a spot at No. 57 on this year's Inc. 500.

Woeppel says he's more resilient now, tempered by tough times. "I used to be like, 'My work is me,' " he says. "Then you fail. And you find out that your kids still love you. Your wife still loves you. Your dog still loves you."

But for many entrepreneurs, the battle wounds never fully heal. That was the case for John Pope, CEO of WellDog, a Laramie, Wyoming-based energy technology firm. On Dec. 11, 2002, Pope had exactly $8.42 in the bank. He was 90 days late on his car payment. He was 75 days behind on the mortgage. The IRS had filed a lien against him. His home phone, cell phone, and cable TV had all been turned off. In less than a week, the natural-gas company was scheduled to suspend service to the house he shared with his wife and daughters. Then there would be no heat. His company was expecting a wire transfer from the oil company Shell, a strategic investor, after months of negotiations had ended with a signed 380-page contract. So Pope waited.

The wire arrived the next day. Pope–along with his company–was saved. Afterward, he made a list of all the ways in which he had financially overreached. "I'm going to remember this," he recalls thinking. "It's the farthest I'm willing to go."

Since then, WellDog has taken off: In the past three years, sales grew more than 3,700 percent, to $8 million, making the company No. 89 on the Inc. 500. But emotional residue from the years of tumult still lingers. "There's always that feeling of being overextended, of never being able to relax," says Pope. "You end up with a serious confidence problem. You feel like every time you build up security, something happens to take it away."

Pope sometimes catches himself emotionally overreacting to small things. It's a behavior pattern that reminds him of posttraumatic stress disorder. "Something happens, and you freak out about it," he says. "But the scale of the problem is a lot less than the scale of your emotional reaction. That just comes with the scar tissue of going through these things."

"If you're manic, you think you're Jesus. If you're hypomanic, you think you're God's gift to technology investing."John Gartner

Though launching a company will always be a wild ride, full of ups and downs, there are things entrepreneurs can do to help keep their lives from spiraling out of control, say experts. Most important, make time for your loved ones, suggests Freeman. "Don't let your business squeeze out your connections with human beings," he says. When it comes to fighting off depression, relationships with friends and family can be powerful weapons. And don't be afraid to ask for help–see a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of significant anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, or depression.

Freeman also advises that entrepreneurs limit their financial exposure. When it comes to assessing risk, entrepreneurs' blind spots are often big enough to drive a Mack truck through, he says. The consequences can rock not only your bank account but also your stress levels. So set a limit for how much of your own money you're prepared to invest. And don't let friends and family kick in more than they can afford to lose.

Cardiovascular exercise, a healthful diet, and adequate sleep all help, too. So does cultivating an identity apart from your company. "Build a life centered on the belief that self-worth is not the same as net worth," says Freeman. "Other dimensions of your life should be part of your identity." Whether you're raising a family, sitting on the board of a local charity, building model rockets in the backyard, or going swing dancing on weekends, it's important to feel successful in areas unrelated to work.

The ability to reframe failure and loss can also help leaders maintain good mental health. "Instead of telling yourself, 'I failed, the business failed, I'm a loser,' " says Freeman, "look at the data from a different perspective: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Life is a constant process of trial and error. Don't exaggerate the experience."

Last, be open about your feelings–don't mask your emotions, even at the office, suggests Brad Feld. When you are willing to be emotionally honest, he says, you can connect more deeply with the people around you. "When you deny yourself and you deny what you're about, people can see through that," says Feld. "Willingness to be vulnerable is very powerful for a leader."

Chris Corey

CMO MarketHive 

BY JESSICA BRUDER

 

3 Powerful Strategies for Discovering Your Life’s Work

3 Powerful Strategies for Discovering Your Life's Work

There is a cultural myth popular among millennials that says you have to “find yourself” in order to do the work you were meant to do.

It’s partly why you see so many of this generation (of which I consider myself one) take a "gap" year early in their careers — usually to backpack through Europe, hike the Appalachian Trail, meditate for a month in India or embark on some other equally epic adventure. The point (presumably) is to find personal meaning in these experiences that will help you discover your life’s work and purpose.

You see, these aren’t vacations. These are spiritual quests. But before you “go all Kerouac” on everyone, consider this:

While there is certainly tremendous value in travel and adventure, this formula is a bit backwards. Because it’s often the work itself that provides the most transformative value.

Related: 6 Concepts Your Millennial Employees Wish You Understood

Or put another way, it’s not about finding yourself and then doing the work, it’s about finding yourself in the work.

recently sat down with author and brand marketing expert Ryan Holiday who made this exact point.

 

 

If you’re not familiar, Ryan is the former marketing director of American Apparel and the author of several books, including the bestselling The Obstacle is the Way and his newest, Ego is the Enemy.

In our conversation, Ryan talked about a passage from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness that illustrates the idea perfectly. Marlow, the book’s narrator, says:

“I don't like work – no man does – but I like what is in the work – the chance to find yourself. Your own reality – for yourself not for others – what no other man can ever know.” (Conrad, Heart of Darkness)

Ryan explains: “[People assume] that spiritual- and meaning-quests are different than their work quests. I’m not entirely sure that’s the case.”

Related: Want to Understand Millennials? It's Simpler Than You Think.

But what exactly does this mean? And where do you start? Here are the three simple yet effective strategies to help you find yourself in your work.

1. Just get started.

Many entrepreneurs suffer from paralysis when it comes to starting their enterprises. They wait for the perfect idea, or the perfect team, or for just the right moment to launch. Of course, when you wait for things to be perfect, you end up waiting forever.

The important thing isn’t to wait for the ideal conditions; it’s to start so that you can benefit from the lessons the work will give you.

What’s worse, some millennial entrepreneurs get distracted from all the things that go along with entrepreneurship (or things they think go along with it but are separate and detract from the work). They buy into the popular entrepreneurial myths, and get distracted by hype, prestige or some end goal that they associate with success.

Ultimately they forget that entrepreneurship at its heart is a risk that requires steadfast commitment and massive action. Entrepreneurshipis the work, and nothing more. The path to success is never well marked but the work will show you the way.

2. Understand that life is continuous training.

One of the biggest misconceptions ingrained in us from early childhood is that work is a means to an end, a pathway to an outcome. In school, it’s for a letter grade. In our careers, it’s for a payday. We confuse that outcome with having a purpose.

Often, we tie our happiness to that outcome. 

If only my company had funding, we think. Then we could relax.

If only we get acquired. Then we’ll have made it.

If only I had a bigger house. Then I’ll be happy.

The problem with this is twofold. First, it puts happiness on the horizon, contingent on an outcome we can’t control (more on that later). Second, because this outcome is in the future, our happiness is perpetually beyond our reach. We’re always chasing it. Every time we achieve something, we discover that the happiness it provides is fleeting, so we set our sights on the next achievement.

But perhaps more importantly, by subordinating work as a means to end, we deny the inherent, didactic value of work.

“Challenging yourself in everything that you do is how you find meaning,” adds Holiday, “and that’s [also] how you find what’s in the work.”

In Ego is the Enemy, Holiday contends that life should be thought of as “continuous training.” He likens it to sweeping the floor – just because you do a phenomenal job sweeping the floor today, doesn’t mean that there’s never going to dust on that floor again. You have to keep showing up.

At SnackNation, we call this “checking the box.”  Every single morning, regardless of what you did the day or week prior, you need to get-up and proactively “check the box” to dedicating that day to the best work you can do.

And while this might seem daunting, it’s also empowering to know that we are constantly provided with new opportunities to outdo our previous accomplishments, to surprise ourselves, and to learn from our work.

When you view life as continuous practice, you’ll open yourself to the lessons that work can teach us about ourselves.

Related: Millennials Are Not the Only Ones Who Want Feedback

3. Shift focus from external things you can’t control to the internal things you do control.

Back to the point about outcomes.

Sustainable happiness requires us to rethink how we define success. The popular idea of success is one of outcomes – we often equate success with material wealth, privilege, or social status.

But as we’ve already explored, success defined in this way is ephemeral. The joy that it brings quickly wears off. Once we achieve the external goal we set our sights on, it’s on to the next. Happiness becomes the proverbial carrot on a stick, always out of our grasp.

The alternative is to redefine success in terms of internals, the things that are within our control. 

This idea comes from Stoicism, a Hellenistic philosophy championed by thinkers like Seneca the Younger and Marcus Aurelius, and that informs much of Holiday’s work.

“Stoic philosophy, at its core,” he explains, “is the distinction between what is in our control and what is outside our control – what are called internals and externals. If you are putting your happiness on an external, something you don’t control, you will be disappointed.”

The ideal, according to this line of thought, is to detach your emotion from outcomes completely, and derive happiness from the things that are within your control – things like the effort you put forth, your mindset, how you treat people.

In other words, you derive happiness from the work itself.

So, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to take a six month trek through the Andes in order to find yourself. In fact, that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do.  You don’t find your purpose by thinking about your purpose!  That’s a circular thought process that will usually yield lackluster and depressing results.  Rather, the best thing you can do is to get started on something right now, in this very moment, that will challenge you, and in so doing, help you discover what you were meant to do.  Because it’s through an intense commitment to the work that lies before you today that your purpose will ultimately be discovered and your calling will become clear.

Chris Corey

CMO MarketHive Inc.

 

CONTRIBUTOR

SnackNation.com CEO & Professional High-Fiver

Author Ryan Holiday