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Know When You Arrive! Recognizing the Signs of Success… by @StarrHall

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by Starr Hall 

How many times have you actually stopped to appreciate your hard work and small successes? Like most people in the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey, I didn’t even know what success looked like. I was unreasonably hard on myself and felt unaccomplished simply because I wasn’t making millions after two years in business.

It wasn’t until I mapped out my business plan as a journey that I realized it is the basic elements that form the foundation for larger successes, or what I like to call…wins.  I began to piece it together when my phone would ring after I landed a feature, launched a new website, grew my email list week-over-week, etc… Clients would hire me based on something they read or an email that was shared with them.

Entrepreneurs tend to forget that it is the small victories added up that equate to big ones.

I have tracked some milestones and “win signals” to watch for as you grow your business. Here’s how to know when you are succeeding:

 

1. Hooked Stage:

In the beginning stages of setting out after your dream or starting a new business, it is taking the first few steps that is truly the largest of small victories. This is the stage when you’ve designed your brand, launched it, and consumers learn what it is you are offering. More than that, they are hungry to hear more. The win:  they purchase, refer to you, love the product and show it by leaving a review. In short, they are hooked. Celebrate this!  It’s a success.

2. Smalls’ Stage:

“You’re killin it, Smalls!” (Yes, that Smalls from The Sandlot)  This is my motto whenever I achieve or reach a small weekly goal. Yes, weekly! The Smalls stage isn’t just about hitting it; more importantly, it’s about focusing on what you did to land the hit. For ex. when you step out of your comfort zone to call someone you never thought you could reach and they answer the phone to hear more. Or when you socially engage and reach out to 100 people a day online instead of sitting back waiting for them to find you. I commit daily to “killin it” by stepping out of my comfort zone and doing at least 5 things that make me want to upchuck. That feeling…it’s a success. Break open some champagne! You deserve it.

3. Defining BIG Stage:

Once you define what BIG looks like, you have achieved success. I’m talking about vision boards, coloring it on a wall, visually putting your BIG vision out there publicly.  This is a HUGE win. Once you have a clear vision of where you see your product or service fitting into people’s lives, then define further how many people you see using the product or buying the service.  You are then ready to GPS your entire BIG journey. Success…it’s so small and yet so big at the same time.

4. Shameless Stage:

When you build up the self-confidence to talk about your product or service in a way that is compelling and unapologetic, you have arrived. When your passion turns into excitement and unstoppable action-taking which translates into media features and social media influencers wanting to discuss it with you, this is gold. When customers or clients are waiting in line to give you money, this is full-blown, all-out success. Bask in it and breathe it in. Congratulations are in order!

 

There are hundreds of signs every day that represent success, but you must be open to seeing them . . . And even more committed to celebrating them. Revenue growth is great and should be the end goal primarily, but you can’t generate revenue without hooking your market, “killin it” outside of your comfort zone, defining what big means to you, and shamelessly self-promoting every step of the way. At each of these stages when I celebrate, I say out loud—REPEAT. Keep on keeping on . . . but enjoy the small stuff at every stage. It’s a great way to live and build a brand simultaneously.

 

 

Starr Hall is an entrepreneur who has been in PR/branding/marketing since she was 9 years old. She has owned several small businesses and has worked with dozens of Fortune brands, such as Sprint, RIM, UPS, NHL, Activision, Samsung, Lucky Brand, Downtown Las Vegas, Bragg Live Foods, Experian, Downey Savings & Loan/USBank, True Religion, Express Clothing, and Century 21. She is the author of The Social Wave and Get Connected.

She is also a former columnist and/or contributing writer for Entrepreneur, MSNBC, AOL, AmEx Small Business OPEN, Business Insider, PR Newswire and Biz Trends. Starr was also a contributor to “Success Secrets of the Social Media Marketing Superstars” by Mitch Meyerson.

 

 

 

 

The post Know When You Arrive! Recognizing the Signs of Success… by @StarrHall appeared first on She Owns It.



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Driving traffic to your Shopify Store

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by Laura McLoughlin

It is easy to feel daunted by the competition. You are one among hundreds, maybe thousands, of
Shopify and other eCommerce stores. Although you are pleased with your site and your products
convince you, you must find some way of standing out in the crowd.

Encouraging a regular footfall is at the heart of selling. It will help if you were visible if you want to
be successful. Here we guide you through some of the essentials of driving traffic to your Shopify
store. At the heart of these ideas is that the more people who visit, the higher the number of
customers that click “complete purchase”.

 

Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is mainstream now across the internet. Most successful sites understand that Google has a set
of criteria that you must employ to be visible on search engines and so on the internet. These
criteria aim to provide the user of Google with the best experience as possible, as only the most
relevant sites with the most significant authority are listed on that first page.

While this can feel threatening and exclusive, it is also an opportunity. If you research your keywords
and phrases, those that your customers would type into a search engine, and litter these through
your site, then you have a chance to be seen. Your SEO keywords should be in your product
descriptions, in your headings and the backend of your website – so don’t forget the alt text for your
images and the meta descriptions.

You might also want to include a well-written paragraph at the bottom of each of your product
pages. While your customer is unlikely to read this paragraph, you will have an opportunity to
include the key phrases some more. Be aware; keyword stuffing draws penalties that drops you
down the list. Make sure everything on your site is high-quality and of apparent worth to your
reader. Just think: would the customer want to read this?

 

Improve your ranking some more

There are other ways to improve your ranking on search engines. Imagine your realistic target is to
get on the first page of a list of results, as you realise nobody clicks on that “see more” at the bottom of the
page. Your ambition is to be in the top three, as these are the sites that get a significant proportion
of the clicks.

However, you are up against a lot of competition for this prime internet real estate.

Option 1: you can pay for your place. If you know your target market and can clearly define the
demographics, you can opt to pay for Google AdWords. This service places you at the top of the
page for the people you define and for the search terms you identify.

Option 2: you can improve your domain authority even more by posting to other sites. Writing guest
posts and including an internal link acts as a testimonial for the reliability and quality of your
website. The most links to your site from other quality content providers, the better your ranking. If
you are someone who sells garden benches and you are guested on Home and Country Garden
website, then that link is going to be unbelievably valuable.

 

Gain traction on social media

Social media is a great way to build a following. Regularly posting the blogs that you write and the
products you sell, as well as other updates, will help gather some traffic. However, getting noticed
on social media is as challenging as drawing traffic to your Shopify store. Therefore, you are going to
have to do more than setting up a page on Facebook and Instagram. And, you certainly can’t follow
your way to a broad audience.

One way to gain some traction on social media and boost your profile is through an influencer. A
social media influencer has worked to achieve a following from the thousands through to the
millions. While you might not be able to afford someone with tens of millions of followers, you could
get someone specialising in your niche with a few thousand friends to start to spread the word.
Studies suggest that these followers will not only encourage visits to your store but also prompt a
more significant proportion of conversions. It could offer genuine value for money.

Once you start to get noticed on social media, you need to be a consistent presence. You need to
stay relevant by posting regularly and at the same time. Again, think about your audience. When will
they be browsing through social media? Is it when they are lining up for coffee in the morning? Is it
in the hour just after the kids have gone to bed? Whatever the perfect time, always post at this time
of day. Social media is a powerful marketing tool, but it doesn’t work by magic. Be sure to maintain
your profiles and be a regular contributor.

 

What does all this mean?

To encourage footfall to your eCommerce store you have to work hard to make it visible on the
internet. Using search engines and social media you can direct customers to the start of sales funnel
and from there your talent for selling will drive purchases.

 

The post Driving traffic to your Shopify Store appeared first on She Owns It.



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How Valence Aims to Provide Better Access and Funding for Black Founders & Executives

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“I gotta say it was a good day.”

I’m so fricking pumped today. Really, truly. Yeah, Valence announced > $5 million in funding led by GGV and Upfront. That IS a big deal, but I’ll get to that. But Kamala Harris was picked to be the Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. That means she’ll be the first female Vice President of the United States, the first female Black Vice President and the first Indian-American Vice President. I don’t take this for granted, be ready for a fight. But let’s be clear. WE WILL WIN. We might have to fight for it after the votes go our way but let’s get ready for the fight.

So let’s get it.

Guy Primus, CEO of Valence

Valence. It is a company with a mission to create better access and more funding for Black entrepreneurs and executives. Valence is led by a talented CEO, Guy Primus and was the brainchild of my partner, Kobie Fuller. If you want to follow two great Black executives who work at the intersection of technology and venture capital make sure to click on those links and follow them on Twitter.

So what exactly is Valence and why does it matter?

18 months ago, my partner Kobie Fuller was inspired to build a solution for a problem he faced regularly: as one of the few Black partners at a VC firm (an estimated 3% of GPs in venture are Black vs 14% of the US population), he was consistently asked for warm intros to Black professionals, to Black VCs, and to talented Black operators and entrepreneurs.

Venture firms wanted to meet talented Black founders but didn’t know where to start to find them. And Black entrepreneurs wanted access to decision makers but didn’t always have the easy connections. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms I personally get when I suggest that founders should “get introductions to VCs” is that this might reinforce existing racial imbalances by providing easier access to White professionals than people of color.

An imbalance clearly exists in access and networks that has resulted in a tech industry where an estimated only 1% of venture dollars go to Black founders and only 3% of the workforce is Black and a country where Black individuals hold a disproportionately low amount of the wealth — only 3%. As Kobie says, he didn’t have a “magical database” of great Black talent, so he set out to build a solution not just for himself, but also for the community.

Personally I believe that to fund more people of color you need to put check-writing authority in their hands the same way that if you want to see more women funded you need more women GPs. My greatest criticism of our industry is that women and people of color feel the need to leave larger VCs to create their own firms. We have a responsibility to help propel them to the top ranks of our biggest firms to make our check writers more representative of our society overall.

There is a very clear economic rational and strategic advantage for doing so. There are amazing Black entrepreneurs, Indian entrepreneurs, Chinese entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, gay entrepreneurs and so forth. OBVIOUSLY! If 90% of the check writers are White, straight men then it’s clear if you are different than that you’re going to have an advantage. As I always say, being great as an investor is about having “edge” and edge means knowing somebody or something that very few others know. It’s about swimming in lanes where others aren’t present. Being diverse in the VC industry is a VERY LOW bar and a clear differentiator.

At Upfront we believe in improving access for founders and entrepreneurs to networking, professional development, and economic opportunities, and that’s what Kobie set out to do with Valence, which he incubated in our offices. Huge hats off to Kobie for the idea, energy, direction, evening hours and the foresight and salesmanship required to bring on Guy to take the helm.

Building a mission into a business

By the time Valence launched in late 2019, the team had built the necessary systems and technology to seamlessly engage and onboard the community — not just the users, but also some pilot corporate partners who also believed in the mission and opportunity and who wanted to leverage and support this amazing database of talent. It was also important to Valence to not only connect users, but also to celebrate the successes and spotlight great Black leaders through high-quality content and design.

As soon as Valence launched in November 2019, the business quickly had proven demand from the community, not only from senior business leaders but also from so many young, talented professionals who could benefit from the inter-generational networking that Valence supported so seamlessly. Since launch, the Valence platform has supported more than 5,000 micro-mentoring sessions (AKA Boosts)— allowing the kind of invaluable network support that’s so critical to success and advancement for even the most talented founders and operators.

You can hear more about the importance of mentoring from Kobie Fuller, Valence advisor James Lowry, and John Legend — yes, THE John Legend — in this video from the 2020 Upfront Summit.

https://medium.com/media/ca4b009ff76eb6ee18c50cdedd2ae63d/href

So things were going well for Valence in 2020, amazingly even in a pandemic. And then in May the world was galvanized by the tragic murder of George Floyd (and Breonna Taylor. And Ahmaud Arbery. And Rayshard Brooks. And the many Black women and men before them whose lives were taken at the hands of the police.)

When the mission meets a movement

In these months, not only did we see widespread civic protests but so many industries, including ours, faced a reckoning that despite even the best intentions, lip service wasn’t enough. We all needed to take action to address the imbalance of access, and to literally put our money where our mouths are. Suddenly a spotlight was put on everything that the Valence team had been building, and there was even more energy around the business.

I always say that you can judge a startup’s future based on how fast they’re able to execute when it counts. Well, I can tell you that within weeks of the civil unrest, Valence had:

  • Introduced the Valence Funding Network, where GPs from more than 30 of the top venture funds representing more than $60B in assets under management joined Valence with the goal of linking Black entrepreneurs on the platform directly to venture decision makers.
  • Increased membership by more than 20%
  • Hired a CEO, Guy Primus, who was previously the CEO of The Virtual Reality Company as well as the COO of Overbrook Entertainment. He’s been a leader at the intersection of media and tech for many years and we’re grateful to partner with him.
  • Announced their Series A funding round, which Upfront participated in and which was led by Hans Tung from GGV. Hans has been a great peer and collaborator on other portfolio boards and we’re excited for him to join Valence at this pivotal time. We have worked closely with GGV for years and they were a natural fit for helping to build a network like this given their investment in Chief (for women) and The Mighty (which helps families with people facing health challenges).

Since day one we have anticipated great things for Valence and with this groundswell of support at the civic level as well as the industry level, we hope to see meaningful improvements in access and dollars for Black professionals. Please join me in congratulating Guy, Kobie and the team for what they’ve built so far, and what’s to come.


How Valence Aims to Provide Better Access and Funding for Black Founders & Executives was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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The world can’t afford entrepreneurial extinction

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closed businessContributed by Pam Kosanke, global marketing leader for EOS Worldwide.

We’ve seen more than our share of changes in the last six months, but one of the most disturbing has been the rapid disappearance of small businesses. While large corporations consolidate their power (and the stock market rises in response), entrepreneurs are becoming an endangered species. This has widespread implications for our economic future and the health of our world, and we need all hands on deck to reverse the trend.

Most people have no idea how much value entrepreneurs bring to the US economy. Before the pandemic hit, 44 percent of economic activity in the US came from smaller businesses. Since the pandemic, 42 percent of small business owners have reported shuttered operations. 

That’s a recipe for stagnation. Innovation suffocates when the dominant force is an oppressive, controlling government or a handful of monopolistic companies. It thrives when entrepreneurs have the freedom to explore ideas, create innovation and jobs, and change the world. Entrepreneurs—especially minority entrepreneurs—are the key to getting us out of this tailspin. To use a more timely metaphor, entrepreneurs are the economic vaccine that’s going to prevent future illnesses and get us back to health.

Here are three strategies to protect you from endangerment and keep your innovative ideas, jobs and businesses alive and thriving:

1. Put your mask on first—figuratively speaking.

You’ve probably heard it a million times: When you’re leading in any crisis, you need to take care of your primary needs before you can take care of others’ needs.

In terms of navigating the entrepreneurial world during the pandemic, your top priorities should be keeping yourself healthy, positive and motivated. Only then will you have the strength and energy to be empathetic and compassionate to those around you.

Staying healthy includes checking in mentally, too. Ask yourself if you’re truly committed to navigating this crisis as an entrepreneur. Don’t simply ask yourself, “Do I have what it takes?” Make yourself answer the bigger question: “Do I want to do what it takes?” If the answer is “yes,” then it’s time to get moving.

2. Don’t overlook the importance of virtual meeting strategies.

When the world went virtual in early 2020, companies with existing strong meeting strategies transitioned operations online with relative ease. Those without them floundered.

This aspect of entrepreneurship might seem like a trivial detail, but it’s not. Meetings dominate our professional lives. Unfocused and out-of-control meetings chew up everyone’s valuable time and energy, and they can send your business spiraling.

To avoid this, focus on the structure, organization and frequency of all your meetings. Share your expectations and ground rules with attendees before every event. For instance, you may ask Zoom participants to turn off their cellphones and limit distractions. You may also want to make better use of chats, polls and breakout discussion rooms to promote involvement and avoid monopolizing every session.

3. Tap unrealized potential by getting serious about combating racial and social injustice.

COVID-19 isn’t the only disease we’re fighting right now. It’s nice to say that you’re all about inclusivity, but you have to back up your words with actions. Doing so isn’t just “PC” or politically wise. If you want to remain competitive and nimble, it’s the right thing to do and a vital business strategy.

For example, a Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have innovation revenue that is 19 percentage points higher. As an entrepreneur, you need to tap the full spectrum of talent and potential for your business. When you do that, you also fight injustice. A win-win!

One step toward more inclusivity is to rethink your traditional methods of recruitment and hiring, as well as your onboarding processes and policies. Invest in unconscious bias training for yourself and everyone on your team, and use what you learn to make interviews and job descriptions as nondiscriminatory as possible. Then generate an action plan that sets up diversity as a core belief in your organization.

Don’t just talk about equity; live it. You might be surprised to see how many customers (and talented employees) come your way when you align your corporate values with their personal ones.

The silver lining

We’ve never seen this kind of fear, uncertainty or health and economic stress felt around the world simultaneously. But here’s the silver lining: Many entrepreneurs are realizing that the ways they’ve been forced to collaborate and communicate during COVID-19 are actually an improvement. I’ve heard several say, “We should have been operating this way all along.”

Whether you’re already an entrepreneur or are taking the first steps into business ownership, stay the course. The road may be rocky at the moment, but survival isn’t just for the lucky few. It’s for leaders like you with the foresight to acknowledge the changing landscape and pivot with confidence.

At this point, you might be a little tired of hearing, “we’re all in this together,” but it remains true. It’s been a rough year, but we’re all figuring it out together. Now more than ever, we must keep supporting one another and moving forward. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the world depends on it.

Pam Kosanke is the global marketing leader for EOS Worldwide and a Professional EOS Implementer®. She has experience at both the corporate and small business levels and is eager to help entrepreneurial leadership teams and companies learn to champion brand skills, gain more control, and experience real traction in their business.

The post The world can’t afford entrepreneurial extinction appeared first on THE BLOG.



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