Top Challenges (and Solutions) of 11 Business Owners Who Have Been Through the Grinder and Come Out On Top

Top Challenges (and Solutions) of 11 Business Owners Who Have Been Through the Grinder and Come Out On Top

The theme on Charles Street was hard to ignore, though most did. Hundreds of locals passed dozens of storefronts by the hour, largely oblivious to the marketing efforts of each business, silently trapped in their own heads. Their feet carried them mindlessly to their destination. Few stopped to shop.

I, on the other hand, couldn't help myself. Every window display captured my attention. Every smell from every bakery turned my head. The very bricks of the sidewalk, now cracked and gnarled and settled from over 200 years of foot traffic, guided me from one store to the next. While others were lost in their thoughts, I was captivated by the intersection of history and modern-day small business... and I wondered of the story for every small business on the street. 

Knowing from experience how difficult it is to start, run, and build and grow a business, I wanted to hear how they did it. How did they get started? What gave them the most success? How did they deal with the daily challenges of keeping their (literal) doors open? 

If only they could tell me, and I could share their experiences, the challenges they've faced and the problems they've solved could help thousands of business owners like themselves. 

The following article is that help. Not from the handful of brick-and-mortar stores in Beacon Hill, Boston, but from business owners running every kind of business throughout the world.

The Most Important Element of a Social Media Post

The Most Important Element of a Social Media Post

Be honest.

How many times have you posted a selfie on social media? What about pictures of your business, your employees, or even your products?

If you said none, you can leave now. We all know you’re lying :-).

That's what you're supposed to do, right?

Constantly post pics and text revealing new features for your latest product release. Letting the world know you have new office space. Sharing a press release your company just wrote.

Wrong.

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but it’s time for a little tough love. Tough love is because I want your business to succeed.

I want you to stop wasting time on social media. I want every post you write, every image you post, and every advertisement you pay for to generate massive returns. Whether it’s likes, shares or honest-to-goodness top-line revenue, I want your social media marketing strategy to succeed. Wildly.

And the fact of the matter is, if you are posting pics of yourself, your business, your employees, your news, and otherwise just talking about yourself on social media, your posts are falling on deaf ears.

5 Ways to Improve Your Company's Workflow

5 Ways to Improve Your Company's Workflow

In order to be successful, a business has to find its workflow.

A business must work successfully and smoothly to maintain structure during tumultuous times. Whether your team is working on a really important project or has an upcoming deadline, if you have a strong workflow, there is nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the right procedures in place, that can be something that might negatively impact your company.

An effective workflow is only possible by shifting focus onto efficiency and work towards avoiding inefficiency. Inefficiency can cost your company time, money and even employees, so it’s important to know where a company’s problem areas are. Below are some tips for improving your company’s workflow.

4 Ways to Optimize Your Small Business Finance Processes in 2018

4 Ways to Optimize Your Small Business Finance Processes in 2018

For the majority of small businesses, managing finances is one of the most difficult tasks to perform. However, no matter how tedious this task may be, it is critical for your business’ growth. It not only helps you predict where your business is headed but also allows you to make more informed and data-backed business decisions. Not to mention that maintaining your financial records will make your tax reporting and payments much simpler.

Here are a few tips that will help you boost your finances in 2018.

The Cure for Uncertainty, Lost Focus, and Lack of Motivation in Your Business

The Cure for Uncertainty, Lost Focus, and Lack of Motivation in Your Business

It's debilitating, isn't it?

Not knowing if you are on the right path. The uncertainty of whether what you are working on will bring you success.

You work and work. You push from every angle to make an inch of progress Only to look up one day and find yourself lost; unsure if what you are doing is getting you anywhere, worried that you are missing something.

It's a hard feeling to shake.

When this uncertainty hits, it saps your motivation. Your focus and clarity transform into a gloomy cloud of doubt hanging overhead, raining worry and dissatisfaction upon you.

Every business owner knows this feeling.

Avoiding the Embarrassment of a Bad Compensation Plan

Avoiding the Embarrassment of a Bad Compensation Plan

There's a lesson in this judgment I'm about pass.

It's a lesson I learned early in my management career. It's also a lesson I learned the hard way… by not thinking... by screwing up. 

Yesterday, news broke that United CEO Scott Kirby backtracked on an unpopular plan to incentivize employees with big bonuses chosen by lottery. In the boardroom, the plan may have sounded excellent. Instead of giving everyone a paltry $300 per quarter, why not pool the money and give one lucky individual $100k in travel, cars, or other luxury items? But in the words of Frank Shirley:

How to Build a Business Strategy Worthy of Olympic Gold

How to Build a Business Strategy Worthy of Olympic Gold

Last weekend, the US Olympic men’s curling team took gold in a knock out battle with Sweden. People were yelling. Stones were flying. And grown men were crying. 

It was an incredible game won by flawless execution and a superior strategy. 

That’s why I harp on having a strategy for your business. 

Not some complex strategy worthy of a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company. No, just a plan to get from point A to point B with consideration for each of those steps along the way. 

How do you do that? How do you build a legitimate roadmap for the purpose-filled growth you desire? Try these steps:

Infographic | The Latest Social Media Marketing Best Practices You Need to Know

Infographic | The Latest Social Media Marketing Best Practices You Need to Know

How many times do other companies reach out to you via social media or a messaging service? 

It’s probably several times a day, right?

How many times a day do you pursue social media interactions with friends, family, and loved ones? 

Dozens? Hundreds? More? 

The combined time you spend sending and receiving social messages from everyone and ever company is growing at a crazy rate. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of time... and that makes it very difficult for other messages to reach through to you and get your attention.

Now, imagine you are leading a marketing effort for your company. How on earth do you reach through to your customers? Customers who are inundated with messages from friends, family, loved ones, and other companies. Customers who are swimming in "noise."

If you've been trying to market your message to your customers recently, you know how difficult it is to cut through that noise. It's becoming a monumental task to attract anyone's attention!

It's time to change what you know about your customers and how to communicate with them.

Here are some best practices explaining how to effectively use social media in a modern way that cuts through the noise, get's your customers attention, and makes an impact:

On Systems for Continuous Business Improvement

On Systems for Continuous Business Improvement

I remember the pain of losing my first sale.

I’d spent nearly $1500 on flights and hotels, taken two days out for travel, and spent another two days preparing for what I thought was going to be a slamdunk meeting.

As it turns out, if you want to slam dunk, you have to clear a path to the basket before you jump.

The funny thing was, my meeting went exceptionally well. I had my talking points, I answered all their questions, I was friendly, funny, and otherwise firing on all cylinders.

But in sales, that’s not always enough...

4 Technologies Small Business Owners Can't Live Without in 2018

4 Technologies Small Business Owners Can't Live Without in 2018

Technology isn’t just improving the lives of consumers, it’s changing the ways in which businesses perform and operate. Technology is emerging that caters to consumers, making everything from technical support to the payment process more seamless and efficient.

The question is, as a small business owner, how can you effectively use this technology to better serve your customers?

Take a look at the following technological breakthroughs. They are a great way to engage audiences, while also increasing your collaborative abilities and security infrastructure.

In short, here are the technologies that small businesses can’t live without in 2018:

5 Warning Signs to Sniff Out Low Employee Engagement

5 Warning Signs to Sniff Out Low Employee Engagement

Can you spot the difference between and engaged vs. disengaged employee?

When employees are engaged with their work, they put in the extra effort and genuinely believe in the values of your organization. Disengaged workers, on the other hand, tend to dislike their jobs, don’t put in any effort beyond what’s necessary, and don’t care about the company’s vision.

Many experts believe it’s difficult to identify employees who aren’t engaged. That’s because, while some are “actively disengaged” making them fairly easy to spot, roughly half the United States workforce remains disengaged in subtle, less obvious ways.

7 Small Business Trends to Prepare For in 2018

7 Small Business Trends to Prepare For in 2018

Let’s keep this simple.

There’s one month left in 2017 and we all know we should be looking ahead to our goals and activities for 2018…

But the end of the year is a busy time for small business owners, and it’s all we can do to survive and thrive. So we wanted to help you think about 2018 by listing some upcoming trends.

These small business trends can hopefully help motivate you to take your operation to the next level in the new year!

The One Thing Business Owners Should Be Doing Every Day

The One Thing Business Owners Should Be Doing Every Day

With my body aching from head to toe and hands covered in fresh blisters, the thing that hurt the most was my pride.

I tried to hide the pain from my two sons. But they could see right through my stiff posture and a fake smile.

Anybody could have. 

When you run out of strength and have to ask for help, it hurts. 

When you hear people laughing at you, it hurts more. 

When you realize that you were rowing a boat with the anchor dropped while dragging 75 pounds of seaweed through the mud, you feel like a complete and total dunce.

3 Hours Earlier…

How to Help 93% of Your Employees Feel More Productive

How to Help 93% of Your Employees Feel More Productive

Just recently, Forbes published an article reporting that only 7% of workers feel productive during the workday. 

7 percent!!!

Just think about that for a minute... 93 out of 100 employees don't feel like they can get their work done.

And if they don’t feel like they’re getting their work done… Guess what? Let’s just say they could be doing a lot more.

What do they blame?

    How to Grow Your Business with Strategic Customer Retention

    How to Grow Your Business with Strategic Customer Retention

    The rising power of consumers is perhaps the biggest game-changer in the world of modern business.

    People are well-informed, less tolerant of shabby service, and more specific in their demands. Digital technologies have empowered them and transformed the way businesses perceive and deal with them. Nowadays, attracting customers is just one part of the success equation.

    The real work starts once you need to keep their attention and win their trust. ..

    What 5.8 Million People Taught Me About Small Business Marketing

    What 5.8 Million People Taught Me About Small Business Marketing

    I know the feeling.

    Another marketing campaign, another disappointment.

    You start out with high hopes, and big dollar signs in your eyes.

    But when the results from your campaign start coming in, it’s more of the same… Lackluster results.

    Of course, you don’t fool yourself into thinking your marketing will take off like wild-fire, but you at least expect to get a few customers out of it.

    Alas, every new campaign confirms your worst fear—you're spending money on crappy marketing that isn't effective.

    Well, here's a secret...