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Venture-capital

Article Contributed by Paul Jackson, CEO, Worthworm

As someone who spent many years as an investor, I can tell you it’s actually a great time to think about turning your innovative idea into a reality. There have never been so many methods of raising the capital needed to be successful be it an accelerator program, crowd sourcing, boot strapping, or something else. However, many of you will at some point need to seek funding from an angel investor or group of investors which can be extremely tricky to navigate. The truth is, the funding process can be one of the most complex challenges small business owners and startup founders face when growing their company. Consider the three lessons I’ve learned from my time one the investor side of the table as you meet with investors and build a successful and thriving company.

  1. Make accurate and honest financial predictions
    Honestly, ongoing financial success doesn’t typically come easy to most companies. If you don’t have a background in finance, its easy to get swept up by the promise million dollar headlines tend to make. My advice is to stay as accurate and honest as possible about the worth of your company when meeting with investors. Remember, this is what they do for a living and they’re going to be incredibly sensitive to anything that feels overblown. It’s much more important to present accurate financial predictions and then be able to demonstrate how you plan to grow and scale in the marketplace gradually. After all, the investors’ ultimate goal is to have a return on their investment and they understand that might not come for some time. Your goal should be to show them how you will achieve that with the money you’re asking for.
  2. Don’t get greedy, seek what you need
    In addition, to being honest and accurate we might as well talk about not getting greedy. It might seem tempting to ask for more than you actually need during an investor meeting, after all the startup game is volatile and more money might mean more stability. If a smart cooler can raise $10.5 million on Kickstarter, why can’t you ask for a cool million from an investor? However, in my experience securing more money than you need often causes more trouble down the line. This means things like money that gets misused and resourced in the wrong places, you acquire incompatible investors who want a controlling stake in the direction of the company or even pricing your business out of future funding rounds.
  3. Prep the management team
    Financial savvy is something that should resonate throughout your entire management team. Competition for funding dollars is fierce and bringing an empowered team will set you apart from the numerous other pitches the investors have heard that day. Let your team in on your financial plans for the future, discuss previous successes and failures, and understand how your collective financial knowledge can be leveraged for the meeting. By showing you are the ones who are prepared to successfully navigate the financial hurdles that are bound to pop up, an investor is much more likely to feel confident about taking the risk.
  4. Look to the past to solve problems
    One thing I don’t see often enough, is today’s startups doing their homework and looking into the history of successful companies in a similar marketplace. You might be surprised to see that some of the biggest companies around began with very modest funding. Mega popular home-sharing service AirBnB is valued at more than $2.5 billion, but it began with $20 thousand in angel investment. Recently, ZipRecruiter began sharing its growth story, from boot strapped lifestyle company to a first round of funding at $63 million. If you’re having challenges, are not sure how to tackle a particular hurdle or the right answer a question you’ve been receiving form investors, there is much to be learned from the history of your predecessors.

Funding can be achieved successfully if you’ve properly prepared. Too often to entrepreneurs get caught up in the excitement of their ideas that they forget to actually explain how they plan to achieve everything they’ve presented. Keep in mind these lessons learned and make sure you have the financial plan to back your idea during the funding process and you will be successful.



 
  


3 Ways to Give Positive Customer Service

The relationships we have with our customers are the most important assets we possess.

Easy to understand and take care of, right?

I encounter a great deal of customer service and disservice as I travel. I have discovered 3 Ways to Give Positive Customer Service from these experiences.

Listen

As my assistant made reservations for a stay, the Marriott property had obviously listened to previous patrons and anticipated my needs. They asked,

–“May we pick him up at the airport?”

–“Will he want a ride to his meeting?”

–“May we return him to the airport?”

–“What dinner recommendations would be best?”

“We care” was the message.

The airline experience was different. Four out of five flights changed schedule with only two notifications. One was about a delay due to weather, and then was cancelled. Another the flight attendant was late. The reasons for the rest are unknown to me. I heard, “We don’t care. Get over it.”

There are patterns to your customers’ preferences. Listen carefully, and discover them, anticipate them, and ask based on the common ones. What you do with the answers makes the difference in whether or not they return and boost profitability.

If you consume yourself with your needs, your business’ backdoor is larger than the front. Go ahead and install a revolving door. They’re not coming back.

Listen. Anticipate. Ask.

Mutual Benefit

I discovered the cancelled flight at the ticket counter. There were no more flights that night.

Me:  “What can you do to help me?”

Him: “Nothing. It’s weather-related.”

Me:  “Do you have a hotel that gives discounts?”

Him: “No.”

Me:  “Is there anything you can do to help me?”

Him: “Nothing. It’s weather-related.”

Me:  “Do you realize I fly a lot, but will not fly this airline ever again?” (Every flight this year has had a problem.)

Him: “It’s weather-related.”

Contrast that with the Marriott, whom I called from the airport. She recognized my name, and asked if I made it to the airport fine. When I told her my situation, she moved into action and said, “I have a room for you. Let me take care of this, okay? I’ll turn the van around to come back and get you.”

She then discounted my room rate below the previous night’s stay without my asking and said she was sorry for my inconvenience.

When you work with your customers, helping them benefit even when you obviously will, you narrow the backdoor and widen the front door. You prompt them to tell their friends about the stellar experience.

Work for mutual benefit with your customers and grow your business.

Golden Rule

Returning to the Marriott, I was greeted by name, received empathy for my situation, and asked if I’d like the same room I had the night before. It wasn’t available, but she asked what I liked about it and found a similar one on another floor. A complimentary glass of wine helped, also.

The airline booked my flight for the next day at their convenience which meant a 5:00 a.m. alarm. My seat was on the last row—the loudest—and next to the lavatory. Had they simply asked about my flight or seating preferences, even if this was the last available seat, the engines would have seemed quieter and the lavatory smelled better.

The Golden Rule works. Work the Golden Rule.

My assistant avoids booking that airline now, even if it means paying more. She chooses Marriott properties whenever available.

Which business model do you follow—the airline’s or Marriott’s?

Use these three ways to give positive customer service and grow your business’ profitability.

About the Author

Dr. Joey Faucette is the #1 Amazon best-selling author of Work Positive in a Negative World (Entrepreneur Press), coach, and speaker who helps business professionals increase sales with greater productivity so they get out of the office earlier. Discover more at www.ListentoLife.org.


25Aug

Danger Ahead

Posted by Lisa Bloom in Work Life

Danger Ahead

It was a beautiful saturday, we were visiting my brother. We decided to go out for a hike near his home.

There were six kids between us, my bro and I. We headed out, climbed over a wall on the edge of the housing area and were out in the wild. It’s amazing how climbing a wall can increase the adventure ten-fold!

The views were stunning, rolling hills in every direction and though the sun was hot, there was a mild breeze and we could enjoy the day. The kids ran on ahead exploring and discovering all kinds of interesting flowers, trees and other items that had been left behind by other visitors on the pathway.

They found a few footballs kicked over the fence from gardens way up the valley; delighted with their unexpected treasure hunt.

My brother and I were catching up, it had been a few weeks since we’d seen each other. We were deep in conversation when I heard my son shout. Then my youngest boy gave a scream and ran towards me. He was crying and shaking. I lifted him up into my arms and felt his heart pounding.

What is it? What happened? He could barely get the words out.

A snake. Huge.

I felt weak.

Now, coming from Ireland, I’m not a girl that’s used to seeing snakes while out on a hike in nature. You see, St. Patrick took care of all the snakes in Ireland, they say he drove them out (a story for another day!).

I wanted to run in the opposite direction.

I realized that the snake was long gone. And I congratulated my boys for their enormous bravery, adding that had I been the one to see it, I would definitely have handled it less well and probably passed out on the spot!

I did assure them that they were safe and we quickly made our way to an area where there was less likelihood of further similar surprises.

Afterwards I thought about my son’s reaction. His fear was palpable, instinctive, the absolute knowing that he was faced with real danger.

It was totally appropriate and the very instinct that translates into survival.

It also made me realize how often we are paralyzed by our perception of danger, our fear of the unknown; the opposite of the real snake lying on the path ahead.

We often make decisions in our business (and lives) based on an assumption of one of three things: danger, exposure and discomfort. The fear of these three is often stronger than the probability that any of them actually exist.

There’s a wonderful story that Byron Katie tells of walking in the desert and seeing a huge poisonous snake up ahead on the path. She was gripped with terror, imagining the impossibility of ever escaping. She feels the fear in her body but an instant later notices that in fact it is not a snake. It is a piece of rope. Katie says that once she made this realization,there is utter relief and such freedom knowing that everything is changed.

She says, once you know that it is a rope, a thousand years will pass and you’ll never be convinced that it is a snake again. You have seen and understood that it is merely a rope, it is impossible for the fear to return.

I wonder what snakes you are dealing with right now? How many of them are actual snakes? Can you see the piece of rope too? Take a look.

What is the snake in the path of your business? Can you see that it may not be as fierce, dangerous and threatening as you thought? Can you see that it is simply a piece of rope?

Lisa Bloom

About Our GE Network Expert - Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom is a highly professional and accomplished Storyteller, Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Training & Development Expert with more than 20 years experience working in public and private sectors, high-tech and financial services environments. Lisa helps entrepreneurs de-stress the marketing, build their business with confidence by finding their success story at http://story-coach.com.


virtual-office-asst

Article Contributed by Ritesh Sanghani

The mere articulation of the saying “Virtual Office Assistant” is a most recent agitation which has hit the search engine platforms. It can make an entrepreneur ecstatic or apoplectic-all relying upon their experience with this increasingly well-known administrative help. Being a business visionary, you are prone to wear numerous hats to keep up the accomplishment of your business.

There are insufficient hours in a day, and you can’t pick to do everything on your own. The key course of taking your business to new heights – the focus ought to be on your customers, clients and how to get a greater business from them. Effectively dealing with all the core exercises, stress and requiring some investment for yourself is vital to keep away from wear out and the disappointment of your business.

Along all these lines, why are you in any case still clutching the directing wheel so firmly? Let another person handle the preparatory exercises. 

Virtual Personal Assistant (VA) – a Life Saver

The advanced transformation has provided you with a chance to sell to the world; but on the other hand has made the whole world your rival. At present, anyone from anywhere can consume your market share. Outsourcing work to a virtual personal assistant – be it for short-term or long-term, could be one of the best choices a business visionary could make to keep up the accomplishment of your business. Virtual personal assistant are essentially multi-skilled, solid, time conscious and assignment driven experts; their prime destination is to accomplish the task assigned. They are simply everywhere, online on their laptops/tabs, at home or at a café sorting out your inbox, managing your appointment calendars, making formats, updating your website, making your travel arrangements by booking your flights, cab, hotel reservation and most importantly inciting and arranging your daily routine tasks to accomplish things.

When you outsource work to a virtual collaborator it is critical to realize what the best ventures to outsource are. The primary objective of outsourcing is to free up your time, so you can concentrate on the work that gets the best profits. 

Here are the best daily routines that could be outsourced to a Virtual Office Assistant:

Research Task

Just about any sort of exploration might be outsourced to a virtual associate, be it speechwriting or proofreading. You can likewise outsource research that is not identified with your business, for example, writing a speech for a meeting or picking up the best item to purchase in a given specialty. The outcomes are endless. Remember that many virtual office assistant get paid for an hour while doing research, so verify that you have picked up the best one that can rapidly finish the assigned tasks. Additionally, there are considerable measures where you would imagine that no one but you can do the essential examination but in reality – anyone can.

  • Sales Leads:

Virtual sales assistant can discover and research people, entrepreneur, and innovations, through social media, blogs, websites, forums or discussion boards. They can arrange reports and briefs to help you figure out whom to contact next. With the right data in hand you can focus on creating new business proposals/partnerships as opposed to your time investment.

  • Fact Checking:

To be a strong market player, you require real facts on your side. No one can destroy your credibility faster than wrong data. A VA can cross-check data, offer statistics and reinforcement data, and confirm the information to make sure that you have kept a precise foot forward.

  • Products and Services Subscriptions:

Virtual assistant can consider your financial plan and inclination, filter through the alternatives, look at surveys and suggestions, and make short arrangements of the prime contenders for procurement. VA can also stand up in comparison and discover the best arrangements that you lean towards. 

Data Entry Task

Data entry is time and energy consuming tasks that can be effortlessly outsourced. Some tasks like article postings to craigslist are usually outsourced to Virtual Administrative Assistant who is least expensive. Putting data from business cards into your Outlook/address book helps you stay organized and consequently organizes your phone or PDA. To be very honest, who really has the time to do all this? You can easily fax/scan the business contacts you get, or send Excel or Word contact posting to a virtual associate who can organize the data for you.

  • Website Registration

Website enlistment additionally falls into this classification – many organizations oblige you to utilize certain websites, for which you need to enroll. Enlisting can be a hectic and time consuming process – so outsource it! Make a list of websites you wish to enroll with, alongside your contact data, and permit your website virtual assistant to deal with the rest. You can likewise ask the Virtual Executive Assistant to research other significant websites you have not recorded, and to sign you up there, as well.

  • Web Research

Gathering contact data also falls into this classification. You can without much of a stretch discover the contacts of potential advertisement distributors for an instance. This sort of work requires exact concentration on the assignment, so it could be troublesome for you to finish in the event that you have numerous different assignments to concentrate on. That is the reason that this kind of work is outsourced to a virtual personal assistant. The next step is that you can have the virtual assistant jot down all the contact data as viewpoint entrance – this makes it speedy and simple to send offers to all the contacts without any delay. With a little exploration performed by virtual assistant, you can gather all the information you need, including contact numbers, e-mail id, social networking links, and so on. They can then enter the gathered information into spreadsheets, archives, and address books – whichever is most helpful to you.

Planning Task

Things like scheduling to-do list or arranging travel plan falls into this class. This is one of the region where outsourcing the work could be stunningly better than doing it without anyone’s help. In light of the fact that you may miss paramount subtle elements that virtual colleagues will rapidly recognize. Arranging meeting is most generally outsourced and there are aides that represent considerable authority in it and can finish the undertaking down to the tiny details rapidly. Virtual collaborators can rapidly pick up the best venue for the gathering and in addition reserve a place and carry out bit of an examination on your potential customer or partner. For an instance, if you have taken part in a corporate meeting that has clients you have never met previously and are vital for you to know then this data may be immediately explored by your VA. If you are making some travel plans, than your virtual administrative assistant will help you scrutinize the least expensive and most suitable accommodation as well.

Organizing Meeting Task

An overall arranged and executed lunch meeting with one imperative customer could be paramount to your business as a gathering with 20 or more members. Each corporate meeting can possibly represent the moment of truth for your organization and verify they are arranged faultlessly! A virtual personal assistant can inquire about venues, reserve a place, schedule the meeting with members, and even follow up couple of days early to verify your arrangements are all up to date. Let a VA deal with the points of interest so you can focus on accomplishing your objectives at your gatherings.

Business Assistance Task

This is the task that can free up most of your time. In this classification fall things like e-mail reply and management, voicemail administration, sending token of appreciation and cards to clients and potential entrepreneurs and catch up requests. A great deal of entrepreneurs and representatives fall in the trap of checking e-mail and voicemail, on the grounds that is the most paramount piece of the business could be outsourced. In the wake of outsourcing, it is not unprecedented for entrepreneurs to begin checking mail as less as 2 hours for every week or even less. In the event of checking e-mail possesses the greater part of your workdays, this may appear impossible yet it is genuine. Note down the most well-known e-mail questions you get and compose definite response for each. Than you can undoubtedly give this opportunity to a virtual associate, or make up a programmed auto responder. Follow ups are likewise paramount and include calling the client after a request has been finished. It is one of the most ideal approaches to get rehash business and a considerable profit.

  • Voicemail Management:

Do you get a considerable number of voicemails? Do you invest lot of time in corporate meetings and fear having to check your voice messages? A virtual personal assistant can check your voicemail at regular intervals, prioritize your messages, and even e-mail notes to you in the event that you’re not in a position to get calls. A VA can additionally return routine and crisis calls, sparing the essential or delicate calls for you to make when you have the chance to dance.

  • E-mail Management:

Regardless of the fact that you get many messages every day, chances are several of them are standard – and on the off chance that they’re normal, that implies a VA can react to those messages utilizing direction you give. At that point all you’ll have to do is respond to unheard messages. You can make it a stride further and have your VA forward messages no one but you can deal with to a different record. That way you’ll never see or need to manage the several messages your VA can deal with for you. You might have an inclination that you write the same reaction-to distinctive individuals -more than once, a VA can deal with the undertaking.

  • Gifts and Cards:

Whether they’re our companions or our clients and customers, every one of us need to recollect essential individuals at extraordinary times. Give specifications and other essential data, and your VA can find and parcel the ideal endowments, send online cards, or mail pre-signed welcome cards to everyone on your to-do list.

  • Thank You Notes and Follow-Up Calls:

Numerous organizations send notes or make thank-you calls to buyers. It’s an incredible approach to say “thank you” furthermore to answer any inquiries and proactively resolve potential issues. A VA can send notes to say thanks or make post-buy calls to new clients or customers, making a vital approach that can help drive more business and fabricate long term business partnership.

About the Author:

Ritesh Sanghani is a Director at Hi-Tech BPO for the past 15 years. Ritesh has worked with several international clients and has executed BPO projects of varying scales and complexities.


Building Content Marketing Funnels with Specific Goals

If you’ve been online for any length of time, you’ve got a marketing funnel in place. “Build a funnel so you can move traffic from introduction to sales and beyond.”

That’s fine advice, as far as it goes. But it’s missing something, and that means your funnels may be a bit…well… leaky.

Where the Funnel Metaphor Gets It Wrong

Here’s the problem: Your visitors are all at a different point in the buying process. The standard funnel image assumes every person is starting from the same place (looking for general information, most likely for free). What about the reader who has already done his homework, though, and has narrowed the choices to two or three options?

This funnel fails him, because it didn’t capture his attention at the beginning of the research process.

How can you make your funnel more attractive to this reader and thousands of others who don’t quite fit in at the top? Easy. With content marketing. Figure out exactly where prospects are in the buying cycle, and lead them step-by-step through the process by creating content that resonates with them.

For example, most marketing people will tell you that the top of your funnel is your blog. The content is free, it’s easy to find, and it tends to be more generic in nature. All that means is it’s perfect for browsers. You probably even have a call to action at the end of each one asking people to join your mailing list, right?

So far, so good. But now what? Even if a prospect is on your mailing list, he’s a long way from making a purchase.

One Small Step in the Right Direction

Now try writing a blog post that addresses a specific problem your reader has. For example, if your visitor is a small business owner, and your new Accountimagic 3000 lets him easily manage his books without a master’s in finance, tell him. Write about the frustration he faces in figuring out the difference between accrual and cash basis accounting, why depreciation versus expense is a losing game, and how reconciliation can bring a grown man to tears.

Then tell him how easy it is with Accountimagic 3000, and offer to demonstrate with a free download. The call to action is to click a link, which takes him to the download page. One step, that’s all you’re asking.

Once he’s downloaded your amazing new software, you have the opportunity to lead him further into your funnel with automated (and highly relevant) messages. Send him links to videos and other tutorials to help him better use your software. Encourage him to contact your customer support department with questions. Offer a coupon just as his trial is about to expire.

The result? A far better conversion rate, because your funnel is now targeted just for him. Rather than expecting him to conform to some generic “customer” specification, you’ve kept his unique needs in mind and helped him find the solution that works for him. And when you can do that, he’s much more likely to buy from you.

Ready to put together a solid content marketing funnel for your site? Think first about the end result you want, and then work backward through each step it takes to get there. Before he makes a purchase, your buyer will need to be sure your software works for him. Before he can know that, he needs to try it. Before he can try it, he must download it. To download, he has to find your landing page. And the path to the landing page is your blog post.

Thinking in reverse makes it easy to see how you can successfully build a content marketing funnel that works.

Karon Thackston

About Our GE Network Expert - Karon Thackston

Karon Thackston is President of Marketing Words (http://marketingwords.com), a full-service copywriting agency specializing in web and search engine copywriting. She has over 25 years combined experience in marketing, advertising, copywriting and SEO copywriting. Karon has a strong understanding of the processes involved with creating successful advertising strategies.



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