Maximizing Your Memory to Make Better Connections

I’ve met some amazing people since moving back to New York over six months ago. From razor-sharp colleagues to new connections in passing, the human capital in the city comes in abundance. One of the most remarkable people I have met since settling in though may not be someone you would expect: one of the doormen at my building.  This one doorman has charisma and cares deeply but what impresses me most is another powerful influencing and business building tool. Memory.

Humble and kind, he would not want me to tell the world his name, but he shares his first name with a city in Florida that is home to Disney. This doorman memorizes everyone’s name in the building and the floor in which they live on. Not a big deal, you may think, but this building is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere with more than 70 floors and 800 units (as of now).  He can recall the names of anyone who walks by him, along with the names of their kids and pets.

An outstanding memory is an underrated business trait. It is a gift for people who have a good one and should be weakness that you look to strengthen if you have a bad one.

Memory helps to build connections.

Business heavily relies on relationship building, so start becoming a biographer. Each time you meet someone new, in a working capacity, attempt to learn enough about them casually where you can create a biographical summary. Understand the cast of characters in their life, where they came from, their family dynamic and what they love. This seems basic but doesn’t happen enough. If you can timeline their life or career along with any accomplishments they achieved, it will help you understand how they operate but also build a better connection.

Memory helps to build trust. A good device or question to ask yourself at each meeting or with each relationship you have is, “What is the most important thing in this person’s world right now?”  If you can remember what is consuming someone’s mind the most when you first meet him or her, it will go a long way when we inquire when you reconnect.

Here are a few tips on helping to enhance your memory:

  • Challenge your brain frequently by breaking routines. Try a new route home to work or shop at a different store. This can help brain function which will lead to better memory.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Drink wine and green tea. (And eat more fruits and vegetables and omega 3s…which all help enhance memory.)
  • Laughing more frequently can lead greater brain function along with the possibility of helping against anxiety and depression, which cause memory loss.

Do you want the professional who can recall your last conversation like it just occurred or the professional who struggles to remember your most important objectives at hand?  Who on your team has the best memory?  How can you improve yours?

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7 Winning Habits of Millionaires

Thomas J. Stanley, author of ‘The Millionaire Next Door,’ died last Saturday in a car crash. His legacy is an understanding of how many wealthy business owners think and act differently from what we might expect.

The Millionaire Next Door made an impression on me when I first picked it up in the late 1990s. I was running a business that aimed to help very large companies market to small-business owners. Stanley was also advising big companies (in his case, on how to sell to rich people), so I saw the parallels in our work.

Stanley articulated beautifully a phenomenon I had seen in studying business owners but was unable to communicate even half as eloquently, namely, that some of the most financially successful people around are business owners who keep a low profile; they live modestly and shun outward displays of wealth.

In honor of Stanley’s legacy, here is a list of seven things most millionaires do.

1. Start a blue-collar business.

Stanley found that some of the most financially successful people were business owners operating in blue-collar industries.

By contrast, he found that some of the highest income but lowest net worth people he studied were in white-collar industries such as law. Stanley reasoned that lawyers in particular were prone to spend beyond their means to make up for a lack of respect afforded to their profession (heard any good lawyer jokes lately?).

In fact, the working name of The Millionaire Next Door was “Big Hat, No Cattle,” a reference to the phrase some use to describe people who talk a big game but lack much in the way of substance to back it up.

2. Drive a beater.

Stanley found that most millionaires buy–rarely lease–cars that are just 10 percent more expensive than the average American car, despite having a multiple of the average American’s net worth.

Chances are the next time you see some guy in a Bentley, it’s leased.

3. Live small.

Most of the millionaires in Stanley’s research lived in smallish houses even though they could afford much fancier digs. Most millionaires preferred to remain in a basic house to avoid alienating longtime friends of more modest means.

4. Pick a neighborhood wisely.

Not only did millionaires live in houses much smaller than what they could afford; they also lived in middle-class neighborhoods despite being able to afford a prestigious ZIP code.

Stanley went so far as to state that nothing predicted your ability to accumulate wealth better than where you lived. He cited numerous statistics and examples of how moving to an expensive neighborhood has a knock-on effect as you feel the need to keep up with your neighbors by buying a fancy car and sending your kids to private schools and expensive sports programs.

5. Take money off the table.

Stanley found that, rather than bet on a big payday when it came time to sell, most millionaire business owners took money out of their businesses each year to create a nest egg of investments that were independent of their operating company.

6. Give kids roots, not things.

Stanley showed that the more money you give your adult children, the less likely they will be able to create wealth on their own. The relationship was binary–not squishy or subjective or open to interpretation: The more you give your kids, the less they will be able to make on their own.

To this day, Stanley’s finding is the most damning evidence I’ve seen for the dangers of passing down a family business (or the proceeds of one) to your kids.

7. Follow the 7 percent rule.

Stanley found that the average millionaire had an annual income that was 7 percent of his or her net worth. In other words, even though they had created considerable wealth, the millionaires he studied lived on a rather modest annual income relative to their net worth.

Stanley’s death is a loss to the world of personal finance and ironically comes at a time when more and more people are feeling wealthy. The stock market hits new highs almost weekly while the low unemployment rate is putting upward pressure on wages. But Stanley, for one, would have taken favorable economic conditions in stride, reasoning that it is the person who lives well below his or her means who becomes the millionaire next door.

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Everything You Need to Know About Setting Up Your Company Page on LinkedIn

In his book Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business, search engine optimization and online marketing expert consultant Ted Prodromou explains how you can use LinkedIn to quickly engage with ideal customers, partners, and employees, showcase your company and attract new opportunities. In this edited excerpt, the author offers tips to help you create a LinkedIn company page that works hard for your business.

Your LinkedIn company page is a mini-website for your company, but it’s located on LinkedIn so it’s easy for LinkedIn members to find. Your company page will always appear when a member types your company’s name in LinkedIn’s search box on their homepage or on the Companies link on the top toolbar.

Your LinkedIn company page will also appear in Google search results. Because LinkedIn is a very popular and trusted website, its company pages rank well in Google, which means people can view your LinkedIn company page without logging into LinkedIn, giving your company significant exposure. For this reason, you want to make sure your LinkedIn company page is complete and updated frequently with your latest company news and product offerings.

Other ways your company page will appear include when you:

  • View the LinkedIn profile of one of your employees
  • Receive a notification when your products or services are recommended by one of your employees’ connections
  • See an open position from your company via a job search under Jobs You May Be Interested In
  • See your company under Companies You May Be Interested in Following, which appears in the right sidebar on your homepage
  • Follow your company and receive status updates

Company pages let your customers and prospects get to know the people in your company. You can feature the employees behind your brand and show how customers use your products. Your company page is a great way to solidify your reputation and build trust with your clients and prospects.

You can also post company status updates to share company news, product releases, promotions, or relevant industry news. Company status updates are a powerful communication tool, allowing you to send messages and links directly to your followers.

Company posts can be seen on the company’s Overview tab by any LinkedIn member and in a member’s network update stream. All LinkedIn members have the ability to view company status updates, click on embedded links, or view posted videos. They can also comment on, like, or share a company status update, allowing your updates to spread virally to grow your following and engage your members.

Components of a company profile

In a typical company profile, there are many options to customize it for your needs:

1. Overview of your company homepage. The Home tab shows the viewer a snapshot of your company, including your Recent Updates, a brief description of your company, and all employees in the network, including first-, second-, and third-degree connections. You can also display your company’s blog posts on the Home tab. It’s a great way to give people a quick overview of your company and an opportunity for you to make a direct connection with them if they follow your company.

2. Careers. This is where any job openings you’ve posted on LinkedIn will appear. If you purchase a Silver or Gold Career Page, you can also add a brief description of your company culture, and people can get a good idea of how fantastic it is to work there. The Silver and Gold Career Pages also let you feature top employees and create targeted messaging to help fill your open positions quickly with the best talent. If you have a Gold Career Page, your jobs will be targeted to the individual member viewing the page. For example, you can target members based on industry, job function, seniority, and geography, so your message to a programmer in Silicon Valley is different from your message to a sales professional in Sydney.

3. Showcase pages. You can feature your products and services on this sidebar widget. When a prospect or customer visits this page, they’ll see how many of their network connections comment, like, or share posts on the Showcase page. You can create a directory-style listing of your Showcase pages in your sidebar. Each product or service can have its own showcase page including descriptions, features, images, display banners, videos, and special offers.

4. Sponsored posts. LinkedIn Advertising lets you promote posts from your Company page as Sponsored Updates. When you sponsor an update, the post from your Company page is featured in the timeline of a target audience using the same targeting you use in normal LinkedIn ads. This lets you get your message in front of your target audience, and they’ll see your Sponsored Update in their personal timeline.

5. Analytics. This tab is visible only to an administrator of your Company page. The Analytics tab shows you who your visitors are, what they do, and which other companies they follow. You gain valuable insight into what content they’re most interested in, their job function, industry, company, and which products they’re researching.

6. Updates. This data tells you exactly how many impressions your Company page updates reach, how many people click on the content, how many interactions (likes, shares, and comments), how many new followers resulted from the post, and the engagement percentage.

7. Followers. This is where you see the demographics of who’s following your company. You’ll see how many people organically followed you compared with the number of people who followed you from promotions. You can sort your followers by seniority, industry, company size, function, and employee/non-employee. This gives you valuable insight into the professionals who follow your company so you can structure Sponsored Updates and promotions targeted to your audience. You’ll also see Follower Trends and How You Compare with companies similar to yours.

8. Visitors. This data is similar to Google Analytics. You’ll see the number of page views and unique visitors to your Company page so you’ll know which content and products they’re most interested in. You can also sort your Visitor data by Seniority, Industry, Company Size, Function, and Employee/Non-employee.

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5 Entrepreneurial Lessons I Learned From My Late Father

March 14, 2010, is a date that I will never forget — it is the day I lost my dad to cancer. There hasn’t been a single day over the past five years that I haven’t thought about him and reflected back on the time we spent together, the laughs we had and the lessons he taught me — both directly and indirectly.

Here are five lessons I learned from my dad over the years that will remain etched in my mind for the rest of my life.

1. There is no substitute for hard work.

I started working at a very young age. I wanted a dirt bike as a kid and my dad saw it as an opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson. While my mom wasn’t too keen on the idea, my dad said I could get one, but I was going to have to work for it.

He was a photographer and that meant on most weekends I was attending weddings with him, lugging equipment and setting up lighting. I was getting up at the crack of dawn, loading up the car and arriving at the venues before anyone else to get set up. While most kids my age were sleeping in and watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was working hard — I wanted something and he made sure I understood that it was going to require hard work.

Those are some of my best memories as a child. I got to travel with my dad and get dressed up. He always made me feel like I was an important part of his business. I also learned my Rob Gronkowski-like dance moves at a very young age — there was always a girl in the bridal party that had a bit too much to drink and felt the need to bring me out on the dance floor.

2. Winning in business is a lot like winning in baseball.

My family’s a huge baseball family. My bothers and I played growing up and my dad coached us in little league. He also preached to us about how baseball was the greatest game on the planet.

I don’t think there has ever been a more intense coach — and not in the “crazy parent” type of way. While other coaches just went through the motions, my dad was all about strategy and having a plan. He always said going into a game without a plan was setting the team up for failure.

The same can be said for business. If you just attempt to wing it without a well thought out plan and strategy you are going to fail.

3. Give back as much as possible.

I don’t necessarily mean monetarily, either.

My dad was very generous when it came to helping other aspiring photographers. This was before the days of digital cameras and Photoshop — back when developing film was an art form.

He would talk about techniques and offer tips and suggestions to experienced photographers and those just starting out. If someone had a genuine love for photography or an interest in learning, he was willing to answer any questions he could.

He also had a soft spot for the homeless, especially veterans. Very rarely would he pass someone without making a detour to get them some food. I don’t think I was much older than 10 years old the first time I witnessed it.

I remember him saying, “I don’t give them money because they can use that to buy alcohol and drugs. By giving them food I know it will actually help them,” like it was yesterday.

His influence definitely rubbed off on me. I find myself willing to talk about online marketing to people that are genuinely interested in it, even if they are not clients, just because they share the same passion that I do. I also often find myself putting a meal in the hands of the less fortunate when I can — and as selfish as it might sound, it makes me feel connected to him every time I do it.

4. Love what you do.

My dad was a photographer because he absolutely loved it. He picked up a camera after serving in the Marines and fell in love with it. He was completely self-taught and was always working on his craft. He did it because he loved being behind the camera and creating art. He wasn’t chasing money — the fact that he could earn a living doing what he loved was a bonus.

I started Market Domination Media because I truly love online marketing. I’m sure I feel the same way about being able to help brands grow online as my dad felt about being able to take pictures for a living.

5. Always make time for family.

No matter what, my dad was never too tired or too busy to play. He was a big kid at heart and was always up for a game of catch in the yard. I don’t think he ever said no. If I was playing basketball with friends in the evening, he was out there too, challenging us to three-point competitions.

Every entrepreneur is guilty at one point or another of becoming so consumed with work that family is put on the backburner. I was lucky that I got to speak to my dad before he passed. The last 14 words he spoke to me before his body shut down replay in my mind daily.

You take care of your mom, brothers and sister for me. I love you.

Our families should always be number one — our businesses can still be winners, even in the second-priority position.

I want to end this with an entry that was left on his obituary. It is something I look at every day because it sums him up so well.

I miss you dad.

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What You Can Learn From 8 Kids Already Making a Million Dollars

There’s no age limit when it comes to being a millionaire these days, and a handful of kids have struck it rich well before they can legally vote. They’re small business owners, inventors and entrepreneurs. I started as an entrepreneur when I was around 11 years old with my first candy stand, which grew to four candy stands, but that was nothing compared to some of these kids!

There’s is no age limit, either, when it comes to learning from others. These impressive kids learned from their own failures early in life but determined to keep going and to do it better the next time around. If you haven’t made your first million yet, the teen next door might actually be able to teach you something.

Check out these eight kids who made a million, or more, and what you can learn from their success:

1. Evan of EvanTube

With the help of his dad, this 8-year-old launched his own YouTube channel, titled EvanTube, and rakes in about $1.3 million each year. He reviews toys, talks about things that other kids his age are into, and he’s secured an audience that will grow with him. There are quite a few YouTube millionaires, so if you have the charisma to pull it off, it’s a free avenue for creating your own brand. Unfortunately, few entrepreneurs have the cuteness factor of Evan on their side.

2. Christian Owens

His motivator was Steve Jobs, and that’s how Owens made his first million at the age of 16. He got his own PC computer as an adolescent (soon followed by a Mac) and taught himself web design in middle school. By the age of 14, he’d started his own design company. Founder of Mac Bundle Box, he negotiated with developers and manufacturers to offer simple, discounted packages for his customers. The lesson? Follow your passions, claim your mentors and find a way to give people what they want for less.

3. Adam Hildreth

When he was just 14, Hildreth got together with friends to create Dubit—a social networking site. It was wildly popular in the UK and by his sixteenth birthday he had nearly $3.7 million in the bank. He then moved on to developing Crisp, which is a software company that helps protects kids from online predators. There’s nothing wrong with jumping on a trending bandwagon, but if you want continued success then find a way to branch out from it and innovate.

4. Cameron Johnson

Johnson was asked by his parents to develop invitation cards for a neighborhood party when he was 11. The guests adored the cards and started paying him to craft their own personal use cards. He founded “Cheers and Tears” by 14, then Cameron moved on to online advertising and software development. By high school, his monthly income was around $400,000. The lesson? Do everything well and don’t be afraid to try new things (or industries).

5. Geoff, Dave, and Catherine Cook

These dynamic siblings are behind, “MyYearbook,” a (still) popular social media site that’s based on where you went to school. These kids had just moved to a new school and wanted to make new friends, so an online yearbook seemed like the perfect place to start. This was before Facebook was a household name. The lesson? Sometimes nepotism works, and if you find a disparity in the market, you can be the one to fill it.

6. Farrhad Acidwalla

In between attending school in Mumbai, India, this 16-year-old is the founder of Rockstah Media. It’s a comprehensive marketing agency boasting 20 employees around the world. “My team is the backbone of my company,” says Acidwalla. The lesson? Everyone has the same hours in the day, so if even those with limitations (like being a kid) can grow a company like this, so can you.

7. Emil Motycka

What started as a lawn mowing business when he was nine turned intoMotycka Enterprises by the time he was 18. In order to keep up with all the demands of a teenager, he works the graveyard shift and says, “I sleep four hours a night on average” and call it sleep for the week. That amount of sleep might not be the best advice, but perseverance, and being willing to do what it takes to get the work done, can certainly get you to his level.

8. Ryan of “Ryan’s Barkery”

One of the handful of kids featured on “Shark Tank,” as an elementary school kid, Ryan raked in $25,000 for 25 percent of his business. Now Ryan is 12 years old, and is the young entrepreneur and founder of adog treat bakery. He is building his business in an industry (pet pampering) that’s recession-proof. The lesson? Find your own niche, it’s there waiting for you.

Think you’re beyond the age limit to make a million? Think again. Experience and maturity come with their own benefits.

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Why the ‘Women in Tech’ Problem May Actually Be a Silicon Valley Problem

A new study shows that women in tech who work in some cities far from Silicon Valley have it far better than their California colleagues

There’s been much written lately about the dearth of women in technology, and about the droves of women who are leaving tech companies. Much of the conversation has centered around Silicon Valley startups, given their reputation as the source of hot new technology.

But some new research from SmartAsset, which draws on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that if you’re a woman working in tech, Silicon Valley really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For women, the hotbed of tech innovation is more likely to be New York, where the sheer of women working in tech is three times that of Silicon Valley. And while women face a substantial pay gap compared to men in Silicon Valley, there are two other major metro areas where women working in tech actually get paid more, on average, then their male colleagues.

To figure out which cities are the best for women working in tech, SmartAssets ranked cities based on the percentage of the tech industry that is made up of women, the gender pay gap in tech in each city, the average wage for women in tech minus the cost of housing (to account for cost of living), and the three-year employment growth for women in tech.

In no city do women make up more than 37 percent of the tech workforce. But women in tech have it a whole lot better in cities such as Washington D.C.–the top rated city–than they do in any West Coast city. In two cities, women in tech, on average, actually get paid more than their male colleagues.

SmartAsset has not done a study on best cities for men in tech, but they did do a study of best cities for tech workers overall. Omaha, Nebraska topped that list, followed by Colorado Springs.

Go East, Young Woman, Go East

The best city for women in tech, according to the research, is Washington D.C. In the nation’s capital, about 37 percent of tech jobs are filled by women–compared to a national average of about 25 percent–and women in tech, on average, earn 93.3 percent of what men do. Perhaps that’s not hugely surprising, given that an analysis of the Inc 5000 showed Washington, D.C. to be the best city for women entrepreneurs.

In the second-ranked city, Kansas City, Missouri, women make up about 33 percent of the tech workforce and on average make 106.6 percent of what the guys do. Women in tech outearn the men in Arlington, Texas, too, and by a hefty margin: 107.4 percent. Arlington is ranked 15th.

So what is going on in Silicon Valley, the supposed tech epicenter of the U.S.? In San Jose, which ranks 11th, women make up only 23 percent of the tech workforce and make 86.4 percent of what men do. In San Francisco, 21 percent of the tech workforce is female and women earn about 88 percent of what the guys do.

That means the highest-ranked city in California, with an impressive third-place finish, is Fremont, where women in tech get paid 86.7 percent of what men do. Like Washington, D.C., Fremont owes its high ranking partly to the fact that three year job growth for women in tech has been heady: 44 percent in Fremont and 49 percent in D.C.

Other cities in the top ten: Houston, New York; Tucson, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Plano, Texas.

Another interesting finding: While Silicon Valley may be the seat of all things tech, in raw numbers, there are more women working in tech in New York than in the Valley. There are about 22,000 women in tech in New York city, while no other city has more than 10,000 women working in tech. That may be one reason New York women make 95.6 percent of what New York men do–better networking opportunities.

I am sure there are a million explanations for these disparities, and for the fact that Silicon Valley and San Francisco both ranked relatively poorly in the study. Some of these explanations may even be totally reasonable and legitimate. But seriously Move to Kansas City

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10 Essential Startup Expenses, and 10 You Should Avoid

It’s no secret that startups often fall into the trap of spending money on things that aren’t that important — it’s just one of the many mistakes that entrepreneurs can make.

However, the fact that some expenses are unnecessary doesn’t mean that you need to be a cheapskate whenever you encounter a potential cost. In fact, some expenses are absolutely necessary, and as an entrepreneur, it’s essential that you know the difference.

Here’s a list of 10 things that you absolutely must spend money on, followed by 10 things you definitely shouldn’t:

10 essential expenses

1. A business plan. There’s a lot of controversy regarding business plans, but in my opinion, knowing where you’re going and how you’re going to get there isn’t optional in business.

2. Market research. Never spend money on production before you know that you have customers ready to buy. Knowing what your market needs and how you can meet that need is essential for success.

3. A CFO or accountant. A good CFO or accountant can save you more money than you’ll spend on him or her by holding you accountable for spending and helping you plan your investments and understand your return on investment.

4. Buying lunch for those more important than you. An awesome life lesson from the richest man in Asia, this tip is all about networking. The cost of a single lunch is worth far more.

5. Legal advice. While unnecessary services cost you money you can’t afford, nearly all startup entrepreneurs require some level of legal advice. Whether it’s basic incorporation paperwork or understanding liability issues, pay for good advice from the start so that you aren’t stuck with the big bills of legal settlements later on.

6. Tax professionals. Doing your own taxes wastes countless hours that could be better spent on your business. Hire a tax professional, get the advice you need, and rest easy in April.

7. Customer service. It’s been said that sales without service is like putting money into a pocket with a hole in it. Customer service is an extremely profitable portion of your company, and it pays to invest in it.

8. Marketing and branding. Again, this business need can be done well and it can be done poorly. Don’t waste money unnecessarily, but do spend wisely on targeted, measurable campaigns.

9. Outsourced PR. This one is controversial as well, but keep in mind that I’m advocating tailored spending on measurable results. Your time as a founder is too valuable to spend on activities that others can handle for you in a profitable way.

10. Technical support. As a rule, the hours you’d spend doing your own website and server maintenance would be far better spent serving your customers. Hire technical support and put your time to better use elsewhere.

10 expenses to avoid

1. Expensive subscription-based services. Many times, project management software and other subscriptions have cheaper or free alternatives. Use them until you’re sure you need the features only a paid solution can provide.

2. Expensive clothes. Don’t let your ego put you out of business. It’s important to look professional, but you can do so fairly cheaply if you’re smart about how you shop.

3. A fancy office. Everyone wants a plush office, but the expenses involved in creating this business oasis can add up quickly. Focus on your business’s success first — the office can wait.

4. Expensive equipment. Like anybody, you may want to buy the latest and greatest technology, but that doesn’t mean it’s a useful business expense. Purchase only what you truly need, and do so as economically as possible.

5. Staffing before you’re ready. It’s fun to be an employer and to watch your startup grow, but if your business isn’t ready, you’re just wasting money. Outsource first, and only bring on employees if it makes financial sense to do so.

6. Extravagant business parties or trips. Again, these expenses may be fun, but they’re not wise. This kind of spending in a young company isn’t a sign of success — it’s a sign of wastefulness.

7. Non-measurable outreach efforts. Whether it’s PR, marketing or branding, if you can’t measure the results of your efforts, you shouldn’t spend the money. When money is tight, start by focusing your spending on things you know can build your business.

8. Buying followers, email marketing lists or other “customers.” Not only is this usually a scam, it’s not a great way to get customers. It may look good to say you have thousands of followers, but if they’re fake, you’re never going to see a return on that cost.

9. Expensive shipping or printing costs. While having a logo and some inexpensive business cards makes sense, there’s no reason for young companies to spend money on major printing or shipping expenses. Focus on meeting your customer needs first, and fancy stationery later.

10. Spending money before you’re sure you’ll make money. Unless you have some extremely generous investors in your back pocket, be especially cautious about spending significant amounts of money before you’re making enough to cover it. Just as individuals should live within their means, so should your business.

Every business is unique and will have different needs at different times, which is why having someone who will hold you accountable can be very helpful when it comes to making smart decisions. When you spend money on the things that are truly important, you position your business well for long-term success.

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50 Reasons to Start Your Own Business

Some people are destined to be entrepreneurs. From the time they get through school, or maybe even before that, they’re hungry to start a business and lead it to success, and they’ll stop at nothing to make that dream a reality.

For others, starting a business is a scary, intimidating notion. There are too many unknowns to take the plunge. But if you’re considering becoming an entrepreneur, don’t forget all the benefits that go along with it:

1. Flexibility. Work your own hours.

2. More spare time (eventually). Spend more time with your family and friends. But note: This is only applicable once your business is established and you have employees handling the majority of necessary responsibilities. Don’t expect to have more spare time until you reach this point. In fact, expect to have much less.

3. Call the shots. Nobody else is going to set the rules. You are.

4. Set your own deadlines. No more last-minute rushing unless you want to do it.

5. Sell how you want to sell. Online? In person? Inbound? Outbound? It’s your call.

6. Create your own environment. You can set the formality and culture of your organization.

7. Pursue your passion. You can do what makes you happy.

8. Create something from scratch. Watch your organization grow from start to finish.

9. Meet new people. Network with other entrepreneurs and professionals.

10. Build a team. You decide who to hire and bring into your company.

11. Create jobs. Improve the economy with new job opportunities.

12. Help people. Use products and services to improve people’s lives.

13. Become an expert. Learn the ropes of your industry through first-hand experience.

14. Invest in yourself. You take the risk, and you’ll gain the rewards.

15. Make more money. If you want a pay raise, you can give yourself one.

16. Financial independence. No one else is signing your paychecks.

17. Tax benefits. Write off your biggest expenses Note: while you do get to write off lots of expenses as an entrepreneur, beware the “self employment tax.”

18. New challenges every day. Find new ways to stimulate your mind.

19. Get exposed to new cultures. Discover new perspectives and approaches.

20. Discover new fields. Delve deeper into your industry.

21. Create an asset. Give yourself something sellable to hedge your bets.

22. Connect with your clients. Forge real, personal connections.

23. Delegate boring tasks. Don’t do anything you don’t want to.

24. You can stop working. Work you enjoy doing can’t be described as “work.”

25. The power to give. Have the power and flexibility to donate time or money to worthy causes.

26. Get involved in the community. Participate actively in your neighborhood and region.

27. Improve your industry. Push your industry forward with new innovations and ideas.

28. Get a mentor. Meet valuable, insightful mentors and learn from them.

29. Become a mentor. Take your own knowledge and experience, and mentor someone else.

30. Learn new skills. Branch out in new departments.

31. Attend new classes and seminars. Constantly refine your skillset and stay updated.

32. Have a big office. If you want the biggest office in your workplace, it’s yours.

33. Work from anywhere. Work from home, an office or a beach if you so choose.

34. Have the option for multiple ventures. Start another business when you’re done with this one.

35. Gain entrepreneurial experience. Being an entrepreneur makes you a better professional in almost any position.

36. Get recognized. Start earning name recognition and build a reputation.

37. Get things done faster. Set your own efficiency rates.

38. Build a personal brand. Take the time to develop your personal brand, and tie it into your business’s.

39. Get more creative. Create your own opportunities and your own solutions.

40. Inspire others. Serve as an example for other people to follow their dreams.

41. Reduce your commute. Find an office space closer to your home.

42. Have more job stability. Never worry about being laid off or fired.

43. Find pride and fulfillment. Finally start taking pride in the work you’re doing.

44. Reach your dreams. If you’ve ever dreamed of being wildly successful, this is your chance.

45. Learn to embrace failure. Even if you fail, you’ll walk away with new skills and more experience you never had before.

46. Have a great story to tell. It will be a fun story for your grandchildren one day, win or lose.

47. Leave something behind. Pass the business down to your children and grandchildren.

48. Change the world. It may seem like a lofty goal for you right now, but your business really could change the world.

49. Resources are plentiful. With the dominance of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to find resources you need, including startup capital, loans, grants and even mentors.

50. There’s nothing stopping you. What’s really keeping you from being an entrepreneur? Of course there are risks, but there’s nothing forcing you not to take them.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, there’s nothing really holding you back. Take the leap, and lead the company you’ve always wanted.

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How Do I Build a Business Plan? (Infographic)

How Do I Build a Business Plan? (Infographic)

You have a powerful idea for the next big thing, but before you sell it to anyone, you have to get it all down on paper.  It’s time to make a business plan.

How do you know if you’re headed in the right direction? Washington State University created an infographic that provides 10 guidelines to help prospective entrepreneurs organize their thoughts and wow potential investors.

Related: When Planning for the Future, Keep Your Past in Perspective 

The infographic details some major questions that aspiring CEOS need to ask themselves like, what problem is my business going to solve, what’s my company’s mission, and what do we do better than anyone else in the market?

But you aren’t quite done yet. A thorough business plan includes who your target demographic is, the conditions of the market you’re entering into and accounts for worst-case scenarios. And of course, there’s the money: how much you need to get going, and where it’s going to come from once your business is up and running.

Related: A Business Plan for the Startup Economy

For more information, like how much funding you’ll need before applying for a small business loan (that’s 30 percent), check out the infographic below.

Click to Enlarge+

How Do I Build a Business Plan? (Infographic)

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Attention Is the New Currency for Brand Advertising

Brand marketers are shifting their focus away from traditional digital metrics like the click and toward new metrics such as attention.

How did we get here? Virtually every year there has been some sort of innovation: new ad sizes, formats, functionality, targeting and re-targeting techniques and programmatic buying methodologies. We have seen quite a transformation from the day the first 468×60 banner ad was put on a website and the user was encouraged to click.

While the innovations in general have been tremendous, we have actually seen a surprising lack of innovation around ad measurement. Direct response advertisers use “the click” as a proxy for success, but brand advertisers have never really had a true success metric to call their own, and finding the right metric for brands has actually proven a fairly hard problem to solve.

How should we go about finding the right success metric for brands? As a starting point, branding by definition is about creating an ongoing connection with a consumer, so that if and when they are in the market for your category of products, they consistently put you at the top of their consideration list.

Related: How ‘Micro Marketing’ Can Create Macro Results for Your Brand

Does brand advertising work by showing an ad once and getting an instant response? Of course not. Branding is about storytelling. It’s about an idea and trust. The connection that brand advertising creates takes time.

We don’t feel trust with a brand the moment we see a single ad or hear about a brand. The relationship has to be built over time and with consistent and repetitive positive experiences.

That special connection, that trust, creates what Warren Buffett calls an “enduring moat” for the brand. For the best brands, that moat is almost unbreachable. That’s a long way of saying there’s no shortcut to brand building.

Most branded products are still bought offline

A major challenge for brand marketers is that most brand-influenced products still generate the majority of their sales offline. When was the last time you bought a Coca-Cola or a Pepsi beverage online? How about a box of cereal? Or a car? How about a million-dollar consulting contract for your business?

There are exceptions, of course, but when you look at the numbers, the staggering conclusion is that most purchase behavior is still happening offline. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, of the $1.17 trillion spent in the U.S. in retail in the second quarter of 2014, only 6.4 percent was ecommerce.

On the other hand, as most of us know and experience, we now spend more time online than we do in any other individual medium, including TV. Our lives are becoming digital.

So how should a marketer effectively and efficiently leverage digital for brand building?

Viewability is a good start

The currency of digital advertising for the last 20 years has been premised on the idea that an “impression” means an ad was served in front of a person who had a chance to see and be impacted by that ad. It turns out though, that premise may not be exactly true.

More than half of all display, mobile and video advertising bought on the Internet today is not physically viewable. In other words, the person who was intended to see the ad not only didn’t see it, they never even had it on their screen. How can we expect to measure and drive success if the ads are not even there? We can’t.

Related: Did 2014’s Marketing Predictions Come True? (Infographic)

Viewability is a critical first step to success, because, said simply, if your ad wasn’t there, not much else matters. This is part of the reason why buying viewable impressions has become such a hot topic lately. There is not a single brand marketer who wants to buy an impression that was impossible to see. The transition that we are currently undertaking in the industry, from transacting on a served impression to a viewable one, will be painful for some and beneficial for others. It is absolutely necessary though.

Attention, the new currency

Will viewability solve all of our problems? Does buying a viewable impression mean that the ad will be effective? Relative to buying a non-viewable impression it certainly is better, but ultimately it simply means the ad was there and the person had a chance to see it, not that they actually saw it or were impacted by it.

We need to know not just whether the ad showed up, but whether the person was paying attention. That attention is the most important and most scarce resource that exists. It is what we all have a very limited amount of and what marketers value most.

Also, the way we pay attention has changed in recent times. How often do you sit and spend focused time on one site, never flipping between tabs? For most of us, it’s pretty rare. Whenever we are doing one thing, we are also doing another. That means our attention is fragmented and often unfocused.

So how do we go about measuring and ultimately getting attention? First, we have to define it. Second, we have to ask new questions and seek to discover metrics that may help us uncover attention.

Attention metrics

Attention literally means “notice taken of someone or something.” In the metrics world, starting with “was the ad there” makes for a logical first step (viewability).

After I know the ad is there though, I might ask how long it was there (in-view time) and how long the person was on the page (active page dwell time). Maybe I want to know whether the person interacted with the ad (universal interaction). How long did that interaction last (universal interaction time)? Did they hover over the ad (hover)? Did they touch it on a mobile device (universal touch)? Did they do anything else that tells me they are paying attention (perhaps metrics like scroll rate, scroll depth and scroll velocity can be informative)?

All of these “attention metrics” serve the purpose of giving the marketer a better understanding of the environment in which the ad was displayed. Armed with that information the marketer can make smarter decisions. They can buy inventory with more attention. They can optimize campaigns toward attention signals. They can even transact on attention.

The big innovation for 2015 will be attention. Many of the world’s biggest marketers are already doing it and more will follow, and for those that don’t, they are losing out on the new attention economy for digital advertising.

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