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Tag Archives: business

10 Ways to Make Money Without a Job [Infographic]

Everyone wants to make money. Do you want to stay as a boss without a job and wants to make money? Then here are 10 ways to make money without a job.

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Think Like A Startup: Five Ways To Boost Your SEO Strategy

A new startup is born every day.

In garages, dorm rooms, and basements all around the world, people are bringing their business ideas to life. But this surge of entrepreneurial energy isn’t limited to actual startups. Big brands like Coca-Cola and Red Bull are adopting lean and agile methods to mimic the flexibility and rapid innovation of Silicon Valley’s hottest up-and-comers.

While it may not be practical to adjust every aspect of your company to be more like a startup, adjusting your SEO strategy at the enterprise level to mirror a startup’s methods can help you stay ahead of the game.

Here are a few SEO tips ripped right from the entrepreneur playbook:

1. Remove Bureaucracy

When you have to submit a request and go through multiple layers of approval to make even the smallest change, it squelches productivity. SEO is no different.

Your SEO team should constantly be adding and altering keywords and phrases. If every change has to be approved by the legal team and the board of directors, it destroys efficiency.

Cut the red tape, and place your trust in your SEO team. Make sure they can easily access web files, CSS, and other privileged information.

2. Stop Keyword Stuffing

SEO operates in a pyramid structure, where main terms are targeted on the home page, ancillary terms are placed on secondary pages, and so forth.

For example, if you have 1,500 terms you want to target about smoke detectors, your home page will target “smoke detectors,” and your internal pages will target long-tail keywords.

However, big companies often try to bypass this process by placing all their keywords on the home page. This method can produce quick results, but Google will ultimately penalize them for bad SEO practices. This year, we saw quite a few big brands — including eBay — tumble down search results for trying to game the system.

Cramming in low-quality links with too many anchor texts will yield feeble SEO results. Instead, hire a qualified PR professional to get you on reputable sites like CNN. The organic, healthy links will filter in naturally and boost your SEO without keyword stuffing.

3. Be Relentless About Creating a Great User Experience

Ultimately, startups succeed due to their commitment to producing the best possible user experience. Big brands can harness this mentality simply by striving to build a better site than their competitors. By producing superior content and increasing your website’s load speed, you nurture a positive brand image.

The Internet marketing blog ShoeMoneyonce described this idea as the “screw Google” mentality, which suggests that you manage your website as if Google doesn’t exist. This will keep you focused solely on building a great website that customers will return to again and again.

4. Embrace Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have a larger impact on SEO than you think, and startups know this. The most successful ones know that creating a community around branded content begins a cycle that ultimately elevates a site’s SEO.

When you create attention-grabbing posts and your followers click through, Google notices your site’s traffic spike, and you boost brand awareness.

It may not be a traditional SEO move, but it’s a great one for your site.

5. Don’t Take Shortcuts

Every entrepreneur knows there’s no substitute for hard work and dedication, and that includes a sound SEO strategy.

Back in 2007, SEO “specialists” advised their clients to set SEO bait, which tricked viewers into organically linking to a site. On Myspace, users often took quizzes that produced results in easy-to-copy banner ads. When they embedded them on their Myspace profile, it artificially inflated that site’s visibility. Google eventually caught on, and sites were penalized.

There aren’t any shortcuts to good SEO. It all comes down to great content, an engaged audience, and a solid SEO team that gets your customers the information they’re looking for every time.

While the Internet landscape is constantly evolving, SEO has remained a valuable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. If there’s one method your company can steal from startups, it’s this: Get to work.

 

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Eager to Start Another Business? 6 Things You Need to Keep in Mind

It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of the first time — whether it’s love or entrepreneurship. But for so many founders, that initial startup is just the beginning.

Today, a panel of experts at Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) event will examine the nuts and bolts of starting a successful second venture. The panel is part of the tech company’s annual conference, which began last night in its hometown of Austin and brings together female entrepreneurs from around the world.

The inspiration came from last year’s DWEN event during a session focused on scaling for the future: “Much of the conversation focused on the need to diversify and create multiple revenue streams in order to innovate and continue to grow,” says Jennifer “J.J.” Davis,  executive director of global communications at Dell.

Today’s panel includes Catherine Graham, president of Toronto-based promotional products agency RIGHTSLEEVE and CEO of cloud-based business management software company commonsku, and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, cofounder and head of strategic alliances for Gilt Groupe, among other high-profile female entrepreneurs.

“When you’re looking to start a second business, you should leverage your network in every possible way you possibly can,” says Graham.

We took her advice, asking a diverse group of women founders what they’d kept in mind when building their second — or sixth — businesses:

1. Wait until you have to pivot.
Starting a business can be hell on earth: You want to be so passionate about your idea that you have no choice but to do it. The idea for DailyWorth.com couldn’t have come at a worse time: Soapbxx.com, my 10-year-old web engineering company, was successful; I had a two-year-old and was pregnant with my second child. But if you’re obsessed with starting and building things, you have to strike when the idea hits you. And on the flip side, if you’re questioning whether it’s the right time, then maybe it isn’t.
— Amanda Steinberg, founder of digital media company DailyWorth.com

2. Ensure your first business is rock-solid. 
One of the most challenging things about spinning out the second business is that the startup phase is all consuming. So make sure the original business is set up for success: Be very, very clear about its vision, its strategy, and about who is running the team to get you to your goals. You can’t over-communicate
— Catherine Graham, CEO of commonsku

3. Don’t expect overnight success. Life is all about embracing change and employing your skills into new areas to keep things fresh. After selling the marketing and communications consultancy that I started when I was 25, I wanted to move from advising businesses to building a brand of my own, deploying all the skills I’d learned so far. But [the transition] wasn’t instant: It really can take a couple of years to exit your first business, find the right idea to develop next, line up the team and get funding in place.
— Debbie Wosskow, Founder and CEO of Love Home Swap.

4. Capitalize on what went wrong the first time.
The easiest part of starting a second business is having the wisdom and experience to know what NOT to do. I had 40 angel investors in my first company, many of whom had no knowledge of our industry, and I spent much of my time managing them. The second time around, I made sure I only had five angel investors, all of whom could add value to my business in some way, before a series A round.
— Ruma Bose, principal at Ohana Capital

5. Take your time building buzz. 
Before we launched Zady.com 10 months ago, one of Warby Parker’s founders told us: “You can only launch your brand once.” We planned for our release 90 days in advance, creating a “coming soon” website with just enough detail—but not enough to write a story about Zady. Eventually we did speak to a top journalist, which resulted in a cover story in August of 2013. From there, we were off to the races.
— Soraya Darabi, co-founder of Zady.com

6. Maintain a first-timer’s enthusiasm 
A second business is easier in some ways and more difficult in others, just as a second child is: You may have fewer stumbles, but you still have to wake up at 2AM and change the diapers. Since the newness won’t be there [the second time around], you have to really, truly be as fired up—if not more so—about your concept.
— Carolyn Rodz, founder of Market Mentor

 
 

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Is Your Website Acting as Customer-Repellent? Avoid These 5 Don’ts

Your business’s website aims to attract, engage and eventually convert new customers, but what if it is actually acting as customer-repellent and pushing them away?

Driving highly-targeted traffic to your website can be a time-consuming and costly process, so the last thing you want to do is cause your visitors to quickly leave your website, especially if it is due to something that could have been easily prevented, such as these things.

1. Slow load time. Have you ever landed on a website and just sat there waiting … and waiting … and waiting some more for the page to load? It is extremely frustrating, and you probably never returned to that website again because of that horrible experience.

According to KISSmetrics, 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

How to fix it: Run a Google PageSpeed Insights report and GTmetrix performance report for your website. These free tools not only give you a score and grade, but they also provide suggestions to help you improve the speed and performance of your website.

2. Forced registration. Your website also acts as a lead-generation tool, but that doesn’t mean you should inconvenience or outright annoy your visitors by asking for their information before you deliver anything of value to them.

The use of pop-ups that display immediately after the page loads or locking blog content and requiring an email registration to view them will push your visitors away. If you provide useful content and information your visitors will want to sign up for your updates or mailing list to stay connected with your brand because they see value in what you offer.

How to fix it: Focus on providing value to your visitors and your leads will grow naturally. If you want to attempt to convert visitors before they leave your website, use a pop-up that features exit-intent technology, displaying the offer once the visitor has decided to leave your website. According to Bounce Exchange, 70 to 96 percent of the visitors abandoning your site will never return.

3. Animation and audio. Years ago many web developers felt that music and an abundance of animation was the key to success. Nobody wants to hear cheesy elevator music or be forced to watch animation before they are able to access the meat of your website.

Web design is constantly evolving, and music and animation aren’t what your visitors are expecting to encounter when they visit your website. These things can also slow down your load time.

How to fix it: Focus on a very simple website design that loads fast and allows the visitor to immediately identify the product or service you are selling. If it takes your visitors a long time to figure out your website, they will most likely leave quickly.

4. Poor navigation. Your visitors must be able to land on your site and immediately identify how to navigate it, and they need to be able to do this regardless of what kind of device they are using.

If they can’t locate your menu or there isn’t a clearly-defined purpose they will become frustrated and leave. You could have the best content, products or services, but if the visitor can’t easily locate them your website isn’t doing its job.

How to fix it: Have one single navigation menu that is easy to access and clearly defined. Make sure that your menu is responsive and provides desktop, mobile and tablet users alike with an effortless navigation experience.

To get complete insight as to what your visitors are doing once they land on your website, use a tool such as Crazy Egg, a heat map tool that helps you identify the most popular areas of your site. It also shows you how far down visitors are scrolling, what parts of the website are working and which are not, and also what your users are doing on your pages.

5. Lack of fresh content. You could have a fast-loading website featuring a pleasant design and easy navigation, but if it isn’t updated on a regular basis with fresh content you could still be pushing people away. If a potential customer revisits your website, you want them to be welcomed with fresh content.

How to fix it: A blog that is updated on a regular basis is a great way to ensure there is always something new for returning visitors to find value in. The frequency in which you update it will vary greatly depending on how often your visitors are returning and your ability and budget. Once you do establish a publishing schedule, it is important that you stick to it, whether it is daily blog posts or weekly updates.

Are there any particular website features or lack of that cause you to quickly leave? Let us know is the comments section below.

 

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Don’t Make These 10 Startup Mistakes

Starting a business is difficult. Launching a startup is even more challenging. Aside from facing the challenge of attempting to build a company from the ground up, many entrepreneurs have little prior experience in the business world. Even when they have an incredibly awesome idea, complex problems arise, such as managing the young enterprise, handling finances and hiring employees on a budget.

Due to a lack of experience, many startups endure the misfortune of failure — if they launch at all. Be sure to not add to their tales of disaster. Here are 10 startup mistakes to avoid at all cost:

1. Going it alone. How many startups that have met with success have only one founder? Larry Ellison’s Oracle is an exception.

Indeed establishing a company is hard work and it often takes more than a single individual to launch a business. There are highs and lows, not to mention some tasks that few can undertake alone. Crushing blows and setbacks sometimes make it hard to continue on without another person’s encouragement. Then there’s a need to market the plan and build the product or service. Money has to be raised to launch the startup.

In most situations, it’s an incredibly daunting to tackle all this alone. A little help from friends and professional colleagues can help in launching the startup.

2. Skimping on the business plan. Having a solid business plan plays a vital role in determining future success. A business plan, after all, serves to guide the startup in the right direction by answering the following questions:

What is the purpose of the company? Who are the potential customers? What are the mission and values?What’s the direction desired for the company? Who are the company’s competitors and what are they doing? How can the company measure success?

In other words, a sound business plan determines every aspect of the startup. And whenever the company is stuck or a new venture is to be launched, refer to the business plan.

There’s no need to go creating a business plan in as formal a manner as someone would in business school. But having a business plan is recommended since it will help determine the company’s direction over the long term.

3. Not handling money correctly. When it comes to startups, having money is very much a big deal and it needs proper handling.

One of the biggest mistakes is spending too much, which may occur when a business owner or founder becomes overly eager and hires a ton of people. At first, the entrepreneur may believe all the new employees are needed. But this will just mean burning through the startup’s finances faster. To avoid this, hire those only those truly needed and take staffing up step by step.

A founder may be tempted to blow through a lot of cash pretty quickly, spending on unnecessary expenses. Instead of these funds going to good use, they’re just wasted.

If a venture capital firm just handed the company a big, fat check, it may be expecting a big fat result very soon. No more fooling around. It’s time to get to work.

And what if the business suddenly has to undertake a costly change and insufficient funds have been set aside? What happens if the original plan must be scratched in favor of a backup plan? What if an investor backs out or a client doesn’t pay? What if a vital element for the business costs too much? Is there money to handle such scenarios?

Without proper management and use of its finances, a new business may never set sail. Be sure that someone good with numbers can help out with this.

4. Not being able to pivot. Every entrepreneur will say that nothing ever goes as planned. But being able to pivot is part of the game. At one time Nokia had a paper mill and made rubber boots. Today, it’s a telecommunications company.

Odeo once existed as a podcasting platform. But when Apple launched its podcasting platform, Odeo had to pivot. Today Odeo is that social media outlet known as Twitter.

To become a successful business owner, keep a backup plan for every worse-case scenario but also be flexible and able to pivot if the original proposal isn’t going to work.

5. Thinking too small. If an entrepreneur thinks too much outside the box (meaning targeting a very tiny niche market), success may be elusive. Investor Paul Graham, the founder of startup incubator Y Combinator, explained in “The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups” that many entrepreneurs believe it’s safer to target a smaller crowd so the competition isn’t as fierce. But “if you make anything good, you’re going to have competitors, so you may as well face that,” Graham said. “You can only avoid competition by avoiding good ideas.”

6. Choosing the wrong location. Siting a business has always been important. Setting up shop in the right location is key, considering the cost and the geoposition of potential customers and the industry as a whole.

For example, Rowland H. Macy originally started a store in Massachusetts, but it didn’t pan out. So, he learned from the mistakes and relocated his business to Sixth Avenue in New York City. The enterprise was successful and resulted in the retail giant known as Macy’s.

And consider the fact that many successful tech companies tend to emerge from tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Boston.

But there’s another reason why location matters: venture capitalists. Graham observed how most venture capitalists fund startups that are located about an hour’s drive away. This may be because investors learn of  startups through someone else in their network. So to receive funds, site the startup close to where the money is.

7. Ignoring a hunch. There’s nothing quite like the instincts of an entrepreneur. It’s probably the reason many get far with their startups. So don’t ignore that hunch. Use it to advantage.

But make sure that that entertaining a hunch is balanced with engaging in number crunching, viewing key performance indicators and developing business strategies based on research.

8. Launching at an inopportune time. When launching a startup, timing is everything. While certain circumstances lie outside of control (like the economy or natural disasters), launching at the right time can be arranged. Never mind the exhaustive scientific approach. Just make sure the company doesn’t launch too early or wait too long.

Launching too soon might put the entire enterprise at risk. Consider the following: Is this a product or service that people really want? Is it ready to be marketed? After all, there’s nothing worse than rushing a startup to market out of a desire to beat the competition or start making revenue. Be sure that the startup is ready to go before making it public.

On the flip side, don’t wait too long. Otherwise there’s the chance all the money will be exhausted or that a competitor will be first to market a product. Make sure that everything is ready to roll but don’t procrastinate. Establish deadlines and meet them.

9. Getting the hiring process wrong. Be sure that hiring doesn’t start too quickly. That will drain the entreprise financially. But the part o the hiring process that’s constantly tweaked is the attempt to recruit the right people.

So many startups have folded because the people hired were just not right for the company, perhaps a friend who lacked skilled for the work role. Or someone didn’t fit in with the team because of a personality mismatch. Be sure to have qualified people working at the startup.

And ensure that everything is documented. No one wants an ex-employee to sue because a huge chunk of the company was promised in exchange for services, an agreement that was only sealed with a handshake.

10. Too much outside influence. Whether it’s advice or criticism, feedback from an outside source sometimes is a great assist. Would Facebook have taken off if Sean Parker had not suggested to Mark Zuckerberg that he move to California and change his project’s name from Thefacebook to just Facebook?

Of course too much feedback can be detrimental. Along a company’s journey, many will say what’s best for it. If everyone’s advice is followed, the business would no longer bear a resemblance to the original idea. Being pulled in too many different directions just isn’t good for a business.

Even though Zuckerberg took Parker’s advice, he still kept a vision of what he wanted Facebook to be. He didn’t take every piece of advice offered. He just used the suggestions that he knew would work for his company.

 
 

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Ancient Yoga Has Lessons for Modern Entrepreneurs

Startups and yoga are two cultural phenomena that have become mainstream over the past decade. There’s a 20 percent chance you’ve tried a startup, a 40 percent chance you’ve tried yoga and a 100 percent chance you know someone who’s tried one or the other. To pursue either one well, you must focus on your center and build your flexibility. That creates a paradox in the startup world. Two startup imperatives, focus on the core business while remaining flexible, seem to be in conflict.

The Paradox. Radically focused on your startup’s core mission? You might pursue the wrong target market or feature set for too long. You might hurt yourself by not pivoting quickly enough. Maintaining your startup’s flexibility? You may explore too many potential growth avenues and not push hard enough on the single product-market fit that will enable your startup to succeed.

Startup literature is filled with firms that either never gained traction, or did so and then flamed out, because they were either too core-focused or too flexible. Unpacking the nature of yoga can help us resolve this startup paradox.

The term “yoga” derives from the Sanskrit word for “yoke.” Just as two oxen yoked together can pull a heavy load, yoga joins together mind and body to achieve a goal. In yoga, disciplined mental effort increases your body’s capabilities, leading to greater health, longevity and sense of fulfillment.

Yoga teaches that physical and mental centeredness, i.e. core focus, is the starting point. By paying close attention to breathing, the central activity of your body, you begin unlocking greater capabilities in your muscles and connective tissues. Yoga starts at your center and, from there, builds strength and flexibility.

The Discipline of Flexibility. The same principle applies both to successful yoga practitioners and to successful startups: Focus on the core enables flexibility. To Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of successful late-stage startup Coupa, your core means not just your line of business, but also “the set of core values that keeps your culture intact. If a startup were to define “agility” as a core value, it could evolve its line of business without losing focus on customer success.”

Agility-as-core-value aligns with the principles of the Lean Startup movement, which teaches that startups succeed by learning as much as they can from customers over the shortest iterative cycles at the lowest possible cost. Just as one can perfect a balanced yoga pose over a series of trials and errors (gravity often wins), so too a startup can take a disciplined approach to experimenting and learning, building flexibility in the process.

The Startup in Your Mind’s Eye.  Yoga and startups both harness the power of vision. In yoga, a meditative state is often used to induce a vision. The student is encouraged to picture something in his or her ‘mind’s eye’. Startups are frequently tied to a vision, typically that of the founder. John Foley, founder and CEO of innovative indoor cycling startup Peloton, believes a founder’s higher consciousness comes from accepting that a startup’s reality, at least initially, may fall short of his or her vision.

“Compared to where a founder sees his or her business ultimately going, it’s almost always a disappointment to launch the version 1.0 product,” Foley said. Yoga teaches the student to pursue an intention without becoming discouraged at the gulf between vision and present reality. That is a critical skill for entrepreneurs facing significant resource and capital constraints.

With important parallels between startups and yoga, it seems the insight for entrepreneurs is that there is no paradox after all. You can stay centered without sacrificing flexibility, however doing so requires discipline and placing your vision in proper perspective. If customer learning is a startup’s oxygen, then achieving traction represents a startup’s mastery of poses, each one guided by intention and achieved through disciplined practice, leading to business health, longevity, and the team’s sense of fulfillment.

 
 

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9 ‘Mindsets’ You Need to Switch From Employee to Entrepreneur

Mindset is probably the major determinant of success in pretty much every walk of life. In other words, the thinking patterns you habitually adopt largely govern the results you achieve.

But different circumstances and situations require different mindsets, something that anyone looking to leave paid employment and strike out on their own, must be aware of. Unfortunately, not all would-be entrepreneurs understand the dramatic mindset shifts required, without which business success is unlikely.

So how, as a one-time employee, will you have to think differently to succeed?

1. You’re responsible for all decisions – good and bad. Entrepreneurs have an incredible opportunity to create something from nothing, in a way that’s not possible working for someone else. But this means making big decisions about what must be done, when and how. You can’t wait for things to happen, or for someone to tell you what to do, you must make them happen. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that opportunities may be short-lived, and so develop a sense of urgency that helps them achieve their goals.

2. You need to hold both short and long-term visions simultaneously. Work for others and you are mainly responsible for ensuring that what needs to be done now, is done. As an entrepreneur, you have to project your mind forward, thinking about the potential pitfalls and opportunities that lie around the corner, and making decisions based on uncertainty. This requires you to come to terms with the fact that what you do, or don’t do, today, will have an impact on your business three months, even five years down the line.

3. Feeling uncomfortable is your new ‘comfort zone.’ As an employee, you’re used to thinking ‘inside the box’ rather than outside it. As an entrepreneur, there is no box. You see what others don’t, test new ideas, seize new territory, take risks. This requires courage, a thick skin and the ability to keep going despite rejection and skepticism.

4. Learning is a continuous journey. As an employee, you have a job description, requiring a specific skill-set. Being an entrepreneur involves learning many new skills, unless you have the funds to outsource what you’re not good at or don’t want to do. That could be learning to set up a spreadsheet, getting investors on board, marketing your ideas, crafting your perfect pitch, or using unfamiliar technology. What needs to be done, has to be done – there is no room for excuses.

5. Numbers don’t lie. Where numbers are concerned, it’s enough for most employees to know what’s coming in and what’s going out. As an entrepreneur, you’d better learn to love numbers fast, because your cash flow is what will keep you in – or out of – business. Ultimately, it’s your sales, costs, profit and loss that will either give you sleepless nights or an enviable lifestyle. But without the guiding light of numbers, your business will be continually heading for the rocks.

6. Love your business, but be objective. As an employee, you can go on doing something you dislike just for the salary. As an entrepreneur, you will need to love your business because of the effort and long hours required. But you mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking and acting like an employee in your own company, working ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ the business, a ‘technician’ rather than the person who steers it forward.

7. Enjoy breaking rules. As an employee, breaking the rules could mean dismissal. Entrepreneurs on the other hand, aren’t interested in the status quo – they’re always looking for ways to do things differently. That means acquiring a global perspective, always peering over the horizon, or at least towards it, to where the next big thing is waiting.

8. Time isn’t linear. As an employee, you have a timetable to work to. As an entrepreneur, while you might not be tied to a desk or computer 24/7, you will always be thinking about your business, what it’s doing well and what it could be doing better. There will be no respite – you will live and breathe it.

9. Start now. Most people under-estimate the time it takes to make the transition to entrepreneur, so it’s sensible to start shifting your mindset while you’re still employed, perhaps even setting up a business to run alongside. This could give you the opportunity to develop skills and build experience while still enjoying the safety-net of a salary, something that at some point you will almost certainly need to give up if you want to grow your business.

So, employee or entrepreneur? Is it time to switch? The choice is yours.

 
 

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