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Key Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master in 2017

Key Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master in 2017Entrepreneurship evolves with the times and so does the set of desired skills any entrepreneur needs to have. Decades ago it was all about dogged determination and putting in as many man hours as possible in your business. Technology now helps us work smarter and focus our efforts on innovative thinking.

The internet and the smartphone have created the digital revolution which has changed the way people look at businesses and the expectations they have. At the same time, the change also propagated within organizations – from large corporations to small businesses. The boss type who barks orders was replaced by the leader who manages by collaboration and motivation.

Today’s discussion focuses around the specific set of skills that you should work on if you want to be a successful entrepreneur in this day and age. It does not mean that your current skills are not useful anymore – it just means that you need to consider polishing these ones.

1. Empathy
As we mentioned above, leadership has changed. It is not about the boss who rules with an iron fist anymore. Successful managers are great communicators and collaborators and they have empathy for their team. Your employees are not robots, programmed to perform a task, but people with feelings, with good days and bad days, with health and personal problems.

An emphatic entrepreneur can help each employee become a top performer by listening to them, advising and coaching them, and allowing them to grow in the company, even if this means making a mistake or two.

2. Focusing on Your Strength
Let’s be honest, nobody can master every single skill required in a certain job role – and that of entrepreneur is the most demanding role. For years and years, many entrepreneurs worked hard, missed opportunities and lost their enthusiasm while trying to correct or improve their shortcomings. None of them achieved a satisfactory result in the end.

Right now, there is a shift in the paradigm: instead of working on your weak points, focus on your strong points and be the best at them. The Jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur is not a feasible idea. Instead, hone your core skills and strengths and own them like a true leader.

3. Networking and Relationship Building
We live in a connected world in every sense of the word. No one can succeed on their own, no matter how skilled they are. Entrepreneurial success is the result of teamwork and collaboration these days. No matter what products and services you want to develop and sell, you will always depend on others: suppliers and vendors, peers to vouch for your business idea, partners to add talent and value to your business, and loyal customers to become brand ambassadors.

Knowing how to cultivate and build relationships with others is now a key skill in any line of business and at any level: from the mom-and-pop store, to the multinational corporation.

4. Consumer Focus
The economy we live in now is consumer centric. The consumer, the client, is at the heart of any product development and launch, and any marketing message. People have a wide range of choices for any product or service you can think of. Nobody owns a specific niche, no matter how precisely defined. Competition is everywhere. Therefore the old school slogan that a product sells itself is outdated.

You must always be able to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes whenever you want to write a piece of content, create an ad campaign and, most importantly, develop a product. Only this approach will help you create products and marketing messages which will attract and persuade your customers.

5. Personal Branding
Brands go beyond businesses. Entrepreneurs and top managers need to build and protect their own personal brands. This is reflected in your online activity, your social media accounts, the way you interact with your business partners and peers and, in the end, reflects back on your business and your products.

A strong and positive personal brand is a valuable asset for any business. It is the guarantee that there is an actual person behind the business name, able and willing to vouch for all the promises the business makes to its customers.

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5 Ways to Boost Sales after a Slow Summer

5 Ways to Boost Sales after a Slow SummerSummer is officially over. As you start to look over the sales of the last three months, things are not looking great. Indeed, except for companies selling summer-related products, most businesses deal with a slow sale season. It’s time to rev up the engines and prepare for a prosperous fall.

Getting a cash boost during the first half of fall will certainly compensate for your declining sales during the summer. But it is not an easy job: people spent a lot of money on holidays and now start tightening up their budgets to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. On the other hand, they may have neglected to replenish or replace various items, so this is a good moment to remind them of your products and services.

Here are a few smart ways to get a boost in sales after the summer holiday season:

1. Partner Up with Bloggers
It is important to get a lot of traction on your promotions so you need all the help you can get. Bloggers are some of the best sources you have for spreading news about your products, special offers, etc.

Usually, you should offer bloggers a product to test and write a review about it. Bloggers are very influential among their readership. In many cases, readers will buy a product OK’d by the blogger. Another way to capitalize on bloggers’ popularity is to promote contests, giveaways, etc. through their blog.

2. Revamp Your Blog
As people return from their holidays, they start reconnecting with brands, checking out what is new and worth reading on their websites and blogs. A new look, fresh graphics (eventually adapted to a fall color palette) and sleek new fonts will definitely catch their attention and make them look more in depth on your website.

A site redesign once every few years is usually recommended, as well as cleaning up the code to speed it up. It is a smart move to synchronize this redesign with the beginning of the fall, when you want to recapture your customers’ attention.

3. Send Offer Reminders
Most likely, you received lots of replies just before and during the summer that the promotion is great, but the moment is wrong. Most of the prospects and customers had their minds on summer vacations – but right now they may just take advantage of your offer.

This is your last chance to reap some benefits from your promotions before you go straight to the holiday triad: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

4. Do Not Offer Discounts, But More Benefits
At the start of fall, and after a slow summer, it is not the right moment to cut down your profit margins for the sake of sales. Instead, bundle up more benefits, accessories to your main products, and so on. People are in the “stocking up” mood at the beginning of fall – either a back-to-school or winter-is-coming state of mind.

Therefore, think of creative ways to offer more perceived values (such as extended guarantee, or a coupon for the next purchase) but make your sales at the full catalog price.

5. Identify Off-Calendar Holidays and Celebrate Them
If you look at the calendar, you will see plenty of quirky and lesser-known events celebrated all month long. We had International Cat Day, then recently Worldwide Dog Day… The holiday may not be related to your products or your niche, but it is definitely related somehow to your customers, their private lives and hobbies.

And since it is a non-standard holiday, you will probably have little to zero competition for your customers’ attention. You can create social media events and promote the celebration through email newsletters, and the sheer novelty of what you are doing will attract people’s attention.

Last but not least, we hope you had a great summer vacation and wish you good luck in your entrepreneurial activities for the rest of the year!

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How to Create a Productive Work-at-Home Schedule

How to Create a Productive Work-at-Home ScheduleWorking from home seems incredibly convenient for many people who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs or taking a telecommuting position. However, home is also the place with all the possible distractions to derail your working schedule. Many people who start working from home have confessed that it took them a long time to create a productive work schedule and to stick to it.

The problem with working from home is that we all tend to relax too much and find excuses to take a break from our tasks to grab a snack from the fridge, watch the afternoon news report or simply chat with family members. It is “just a 5-minute break” but they tend to extend to 10 minutes, a quarter of an hour or even half an hour. Suddenly, it’s 6 o’clock in the evening and you haven’t done even half of the tasks on your schedule.

So, what is the magic formula that keeps people working from home productive and focused on their tasks? There is no magic formula, but self-discipline and dedication to finishing every project on time and without having to work extra hours. Here are some simple and actionable tips to help you create your own productive schedule:

1. Get Dressed For Work
Even if you simply go to the next room to start working, take the time to put on a shirt and business trousers and look presentable, as if you were going to office. It may not seem as a big deal, but it gets you in the mindset that you will be starting a working day.

By comparison, loitering in pajamas will make you feel more inclined to take breaks and lose time with various distractions. Plus, if a potential customer wants to have a quick video call with you, it will be quite awkward postponing that call for 10 minutes until you dress yourself properly.

2. Find Your Most Productive Times of the Day
Everyone has their own biorhythm – some of us are more productive early in the morning, others late at night. It is important to know when you are most productive so that you schedule the most important tasks of the day, which need all your focus, in that period.

As you work from home, you have the benefit of creating your own flexible schedule – you can start your work day at 6 am and finish it by early afternoon, or start later in the day and finish in the evening.

3. Keep a Daily Schedule Visibly Displayed in Your Home Office
Having a written or printed schedule of the tasks to do makes you more accountable than simply keeping them committed to memory. Once a task is completed, you can tick it off and by the end of the day look at the schedule which is fully dealt with.

Many entrepreneurs state that they did not really become fully productive until they had to confront that printed schedule with unfinished tasks on it at the end of the working day.

4. Get Out of the House
Yes, you work from home, but you do not (and should not) stay at home all day long. Soon, you will become bored and isolated from other people. Instead, take your laptop and go to your favorite café or eatery and work from there. You may meet other people like you, working from home, forge a friendship and help each other with useful tips on productivity and time management.

5. Leave Work behind at the End of the Day
As a popular song in the ‘80s stated “when the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun”. This should be your motto – once you have finished your daily tasks, shut the door to your home office and stop worrying or thinking about business issues. Relax, spend quality time with your family and recharge your batteries for a new busy day.

As you can see, none of these tips are difficult to follow through. You just need to be disciplined enough to do them every day, until they become second nature to you.

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