4 Websites Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About

by Keetria on December 1, 2016

trepresourcesAs an entrepreneur, you’re likely constantly looking for resources to help you along your business journey. Those just starting out with a business, or those who haven’t even coherently decided on a business idea at all, need all the help they can get to inspire ideas, get organize and get started on solidifying their plans for success. You’ve likely already got a few webpages bookmarked, but what about these?

The following for blog links are all great for young or new entrepreneurs who need a little boost to help them along. Open up the links and bookmark them in your browser for safe keeping.

Inc. Magazine

It’s very likely that you’ve got a couple Inc. pages bookmarked already, or perhaps you’ve simple read a piece from this site before? If you’re only familiar with this website in name and aren’t using it to the fullest, you may want to reconsider how important this site is to you. Inc. is a large resource for entrepreneurs of all calibers – from new, naïve entrepreneurs that are lost as to what to do; to older, more seasoned entrepreneurs that want to brush up on the newest best practices. If you want business info, Inc. has it somewhere in its depths.

Social Media Examiner

Don’t neglect your social media efforts – in fact, that’s one of the biggest flaws beginner entrepreneurs make. In the past, social media wasn’t that integral to business, whether it just hadn’t been invented yet or the social marketing revolution just hadn’t taken place. In this age of modern technology, however? Social media is as important to your success strategies as waking up and working on your business every morning. If you want to know how to successfully use social media for your new or small business brand, look no further than Social Media Examiner.

A Smart Bear

Let’s look at something not so resource-filled, shall we? Sometimes the best thing for a young, insecure entrepreneur who doubts their potential is to hear from someone else who used to be in their shoes. Millions of entrepreneurs around the world are trying to succeed right now, but only a few truly make it big – one of these chosen few is Jason Cohen, author of the blog “A Smart Bear.”

After selling is last start-up company in 2007, Cohen bowed out of that aspect of the business community. However, he still catalogs his experiences and knowledge in this very successful business blog, filled with insights and helpful hints.

Forbes Woman

Female entrepreneurs have a very unique and specific perspective as compared to their male counterparts. While a female entrepreneur should have every opportunity afforded to her that other entrepreneurs are given, we all know that sometimes this isn’t the case. They must work harder and can potentially face very different hurdles, like sexism and patronizing attitudes in the world of business.

Forbes Woman is designed with the female entrepreneur in mind. While all topics aren’t exclusively geared towards female-driven issues, all of the blogs and pieces ARE written by professional women with experiences they want to share.

The 4 Big Qualities You Need as a Female Leader

by Keetria on November 25, 2016

womentrepsIt’s a man’s world – but women in business are steadily working to change that. Make no mistake that largely influential women exist, and have always existed, but women in a business setting often have to work ten times as hard to receive the same level of respect as their male peers, and female leaders are looked with a magnifying lens. In short, it can be hard to lead a team, a business or a project as a woman – but it’s possible, and you can succeed.

All leaders require key traits, but women need those and then some in order to gain the respect of their peers, employees and others within a business setting. These are the four biggest qualities you need to succeed as a female leader:

Stability

Men often see a woman who is emotional as unhinged, while also reacting to cool, calm and collected women with choice expletives. In many situations, you can’t win for losing – but that’s okay, because the task at hand is really what should be king.

A strong female leader is one that is emotionally stable, and this isn’t just to jab back at the peers who attribute weakness to moodiness. Any leader must be calm and collected, but female leaders have something more to prove in how they are even, resourceful and emotionally clear-headed when making decisions.

In short, they don’t crumble in the face of adversity – they overcome it and are better for it.

Purpose

To be a leader you must be a visionary, and this means creating an innovative plan and executing it with purpose. When a leader makes a purposeful decision, they’re showcasing many other important leadership qualities: intelligence, resourcefulness and power. To be purposeful is also to know how to communicate well – you can execute orders clearly and see your plans come to fruition.

Determination

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Women in business know this idea very well, but female leaders must internalize it. All leaders must be determined, but women should be driven by the determination to prove themselves.

Female leaders don’t have it easy, and in a perfect world they would only have to work as hard as their male counterparts. Instead, determination and the idea that they must use all their skills and resources to make it to the top is why we have the powerful women figures that we have today.

Confidence

Finally, all female leaders should exude confidence. A confident leader is a leader that people can trust, and they know that everything will go according to plan under a leader who is sure of themselves and their ideas. This is the most critical quality because confidence is what gets people to follow you – no one wants to trust in an unsure leader, male or female.

Also, female leaders will likely be questioned more than their male counterparts. While this isn’t a reality that is agreeable, it’s one that must be faced head on. A good leader takes their confidence and wields it like a shield – that’s how a female leader becomes successful.

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You have a business and you have a brand – how do you measure the success of either? When speaking about analytics, the numbers that prove we’re doing excellent or failing miserably in business matter a lot. They’re how we fix problems, adjust successes and plan our future.

But sometimes numbers aren’t enough. When it comes to branding, both absolute values and figurative ideas matter. This means asking questions that you can’t answer without hard thought. Much like your SATs, brand success strategies will have an essay portion.

The best way to figuratively assess your brand’s success is with this set of questions first brought up by Ignition Consulting Group founder Tim Williams:

1. What do we do?

Perhaps the most basic measure of branding success is asking the simple question of what you and/or your business do. This should be answered in a simple sentence; for instance “I’m Tamara Collins, event coordinator and speaker.” “Amteck Industries creates steel solutions.”

This simple answer should always be incorporated in your branding. Should your entire branding strategy be so simple? Not necessarily. But consider that the basis of any good brand strategy is to start with the basics and explain in some way your true business purpose.

2. Who do we do it for?

Next, consider your audience – who are they? Are they a general audience or more specific? Do you cater to men over women? Entrepreneurs over working class people? Who you’re marketing to will dictate the focus of your branding, and this also brings into question your success.

How accurately do you represent this audience within your brand? Based on your analytics, who most identifies with your brand? Does this answer match up with who you want to identify with your brand?

3. How do we do it?

Now assess your values, what makes you and/or your business unique and your methodologies. Sometimes how you perform a service is what identifies you as a brand.

Consider Subway – this is a sandwich chain where your food is made in front of you and served immediately when you pay, unlike artisan sandwich restaurants that don’t operate on such a fast-food style of serving. How the food is prepared separates Subway from other restaurants, and you have to find what it factor you have as a brand and utilize it.

When determining success, look at your current branding methods. How much do you focus on what sets you apart?

4. Why do we do it?

Finally, branding should always convey a mission statement – put simply, a sense of purpose. Do you aim to bring a better value to the table, or higher quality products? Did you simply bring your business to life to fill a hole in the market, or is it something you’re passionate about for personal reasons.

Why you do something is extremely important to a savvy consumer. A successful brand building strategy will always tackle this personal, edgy angle because it’s how you can easily connect with customers around the globe.

fitnessdontsWe all have dreams of getting fit, or we may even already be on an amazing fitness journey. No matter what step of the path you’re on, we all have ideas about what it takes to be fit. Some fitness myths are more well-known than others, like dieting alone isn’t how you become healthy. Others, however, are much more specific and not as discussed.

Whether you’re currently on your fitness journey or considering your options, keep these fitness don’ts in mind – in fact, you may have already feel victim to a few of them!

Never Skip Breakfast

Ironically, the most important meal of the day is the one we most often take for granted. We get up late, grab a granola bar and then don’t think about food again until a late lunch break. Those trying to lose weight may skip breakfast to fend off a few extra pounds, and it’s easy because it’s a meal you can almost sleep through.

This is a big no-no. Breakfast is a meal where we get most of our daily energy, and it’s actually the perfect opportunity to load up on carbs and nutrients you need for energy.

Don’t Aim too High

If you’re new to fitness, setting a realistic goal like walking 30 minutes every Saturday and doing 10 crunches before bed during the work week is actually a good thing. We sometimes feel like in order to get fit or lose weight we have to go to extremes and exercise until we pass out. Instead, building strength and falling into a routine are two of the biggest components of fitness.

Also, setting your expectations too high is a good way to fast track yourself to failure. You’re more likely to become disappointed and give up when you don’t meet your goals, but the truth is you never could have met them in the first place.

Don’t Focus On Pounds

Most reality shows about weight loss put a big emphasis on losing a certain amount of weight in a set span of time. This is actually very unhealthy – don’t do it. If your doctor tells you to lose 30 pounds, that’s fine; but your workout routine shouldn’t be a question of a math equation. Work on promoting better habits and changing your lifestyle instead of picking out a target weight number. Otherwise you might make it to that number and quit because your only motivation is out the window.

Don’t Compare Yourself

Everyone’s fitness journey is different, just like everyone has a different body type and weight threshold. You may not ever fit into a size 4 because your hips or big, or maybe your weight gain is a bad medication side effect – simply put, we all have different setbacks and experiences.

It’s important that we don’t look at others and measure ourselves based on their successes and appearance because we aren’t them – and we never will be. Fitness is something that’s very personal, and your failures and successes should be measured by your own merits, no one else’s.

reachingoutWhen it comes to our motivation in life we often look inward or focus on tools we use separately by ourselves. Even when you buy the motivational audiobook or research everyday positivity tips, you’re still going it alone on this journey – but why?

Sometimes it’s because we believe we need to be strong by ourselves and for ourselves, and this isn’t necessarily false. We all like to believe we’re the one person army we’re supposed to be, and even when we need help making it through we should still help ourselves over extending a hand and asking for it, essentially showing weakness to someone else.

The problem is that sometimes we can’t get motivated or stay positive on our own, and there’s no fault in that. Weakness isn’t admitting you need help, but it is being too scared to ask for it. Reaching out can actually be a great way to get – and stay – motivated, but you do need to learn how.

Friends and Family

First, consider your loved ones. These are the people who would do anything for you and would gladly help you when you’re down and out. This should be the first place you look for motivation when it comes to asking others.

Why? First and foremost, your loved ones are who you’re most comfortable with. If you share your fears and flaws with anyone, these will be the people who will accept you above all else. They’re also the people whom you have easiest access to.

Similarly, friends and family are also great tools to use on your motivational journey because you want them to see you succeed. You want to accomplish your goals and make them proud. There’s nothing worse than letting down a loved one, so you definitely have something to prove when it comes to being motivated.

Peers

Sometimes the best motivation can come from someone we aren’t as close to and that’s because they’re a peer. When you go to work every day and see someone doing better than you, this can either make you self-conscious or it can drive you to be better.

Reaching out to a peer is a good way to push yourself to succeed like they have. Ask them their strategies for success and how they motivate themselves. You’ll often find they’re perceptive to your questions because they appreciate being looked up to and seen as a success themselves.

How to Reach Out

It’s often seen as awkward to reach out, but that’s because we think of the scenario as if we’re reading from a script. Don’t open with “I’d like you to help me get motivated” – instead, be more specific. As mentioned above, ask for advice. When it comes to friends and family, ask if they’d like to do something related to the task at hand with you, like help you sort through receipts or jog every day.

Reaching out doesn’t have to be hard – it’s only hard because we imagine it that way. Take a chance and reach out. You’ll certainly be better for it.

brandmakeoverYou’ve likely seen a makeover montage on TV or in the movies before. An ugly duckling (usually a woman, sadly) is taken through a variety of wardrobe changes, hairstyles and other beauty training, usually emerging as a beautiful swan after the process is complete. On the big and small screens this process is hackneyed, but it’s something that can be extremely useful in the world of branding.

Giving your online brand a makeover is no small feat, especially if your brand is well established. Just remember – if the big dogs of business can reinvent their brand image, so can you.

Attracting Different Customers

Sometimes a brand matures or finds a new purpose in the business world. This isn’t bad marketing – sometimes it’s entirely necessary. No matter the reason, it can be hard to take on a new consumer demographic, especially if you want to include a broader audience without completely alienating the original consumers.

The solution here is to isolate the pain point most experienced by your newly desired buyer. Once you discover how to sell to this demographic, you’ll more easily discover how to brand yourself accordingly.

Reestablishing Brand Voice and Personality

Think about one of your favorite companies that has been around for at least 30 years. Do you think their brand voice was the same in the 90s as it is now? Even going back five years can show you a drastically different brand voice a business once held. Times change, and so must a brand’s personality and voice.

A big catalyst for this change is usually culture itself. Think about the year 2016 and how it is extremely shaped by pop culture and global headlines. The way a business speaks reflects that change, and your business must too.

A brand voice and personality doesn’t have to lose professionalism, however. Just because you’re aware of trends and current times doesn’t mean your company has to tweet and post like the average millennial on Twitter. Establish a voice that’s personable and a personality that is friendly and you’ll do just fine.

Upgrading Visuals

Many businesses need to be forced into 2016. What gives away their anachronistic ways? Namely their website and visuals. You can always spot a business that’s anti-modernism based on what their website looks like, and that’s a crowd an innovative business doesn’t want to be lumped in with.

One of the easiest ways to give your brand a makeover is to upgrade your website. Current site designs are minimal and svelte; they retain function while cutting out the fat. How does your current website stand up to the trends of today?

Competition Analysis

If your competition is undergoing a brand makeover, you may want to consider doing the same. Businesses that rebrand themselves introduce themselves to a new spotlight, and you could be left in the dust if your competition beats you to the punch.

Do your research. Does your competition have flaws? If so, what are they? When you compare your own company to your competition, who wins and in what areas? How can you fix this problem? Once you answer these questions, adjust your brand accordingly.

4 Common Fitness Myths That Have Been Debunked

by Keetria on October 7, 2016

fitnessmythsIf you’re looking to get fit and/or lose weight, it’s likely that you’ve researched quite a few online articles on the subject. The reason why is obvious – we all want to know the quick secrets to getting slim and staying fit. The problem is that unless you’re getting this information from a credible source then it’s likely false.

When it comes to online info about weight, use this rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are four common fitness myths floating around out there – as well as the truth behind them.

“You must work out to lose weight.”

Many men and women often think the secret to slimming down their waistline and getting rid of those love handles is to keep exercising and exercising. Don’t think that exercise isn’t part of getting fit; that isn’t the case at all.

The reality is that losing weight deals primarily with what you eat, not how you work out. Getting lots of exercise can help expedite the weight loss process, but eating the right foods and eating correctly sized portions are the real secret to losing pounds.

“You can choose where you lose problem fat.”

Articles are out there that tout certain exercises that help you get rid of fat in certain areas. Exercise is how you help tone a muscle, but exercise alone doesn’t get rid of fat.

For instance, doing squats and sit-ups can help you tone your glutes and your core, respectively – but these exercises alone won’t actually help to eliminate those extra pounds. Some scientists believe there’s no true way to target fat in a specific area, as much as we wish there was a miracle solution.

“It’s okay to eat whatever you want if you work it off.”

If you eat 2000 calories and burn off 3000 calories, it’s all good right? Even if those 2000 calories consisted of cheeseburgers, French fries and a chocolate shake? Wrong.

It’s common that people rationalize their workout routine as a means to eating the wrong things – as long as they work off the calories that they consume it’s okay to eat whatever. The reason this is false is because calories aren’t the only reason we gain weight. You can work out all you want but that doesn’t always help to expel the toxins and bad fats found in junk foods.

“Breaking a sweat” is a good thing.

Sweating can help your body release toxins and it’s often therapeutic, which is why saunas are so popular in health centers. Sweating isn’t unhealthy by any means, and this may be why you think the more you sweat during your workout the better off you are.

Again, this is fault. Instead of having anything to do with weight loss, sweating is all about regulating body temperature. There is no correlation between the amount of sweat you produce and how much weight you’ll lose, especially since sweating varies from person to person.

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It isn’t exactly a man’s world anymore. Though many sectors are still dominated by male presence, it’s becoming more and more common for women in the workplace to take over positions of power.

However, women who are just getting started on their career paths often find it hard to thrive in an environment that has been filled with roadblocks for so long. Even though the overall business culture is changing, it’s still common that they’ll run into misogyny in the workplace.

In cases like these, it’s important that female entrepreneurs and career women have someone to look up to – an example of female success. Here are a few blogs run by female entrepreneurs and businesswomen worth looking into.

Marie Forleo

Born and raised in New Jersey, Marie Forleo graduated from Seton Hall University in 1997. She held a degree in business finance which helped her secure a job as a trading assistant in the New York Stock Exchange. From there she moved on to work for the magazines “Gourmet” and “Mademoiselle” where she began to branch out into the world of branding and began to create her own image for herself.

You may recognize her as the author of the famous book “Make Every Man Want You: How to Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself!” Forleo is currently running her blog and works as owner of Marie Forleo International, as well as the companies B-School and MarieTV.

Amber Rae

Amber Rae’s entrepreneurial attitude began at a young age. She sold candy to her neighbors, leaving notes on cars as a form of marketing and documented the entire journey in her journal. Now she works with hundreds of different creative and entrepreneurs. At 11, Rae launched an e-zine for teenage girls and she hasn’t stopped creating since.

Clients Rae has worked with include Apple and The Future Project, and her work has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times and Forbes. Her blog covers her journey and life experiences that have led her to the current points in her life.

Kristi Hines

Since 2008, Kristi Hines has been writing about marketing and business. If you need to know anything about a marketing topic, Hines is the person you should go to before anyone else. She’s the owner of marketing curation blog Kikolani and you’ve likely seen her post work to other big marketing blogs – Search Engine Watch and Social Media Examiner to name two. Hines has also worked with big marketing companies like KISSmetrics and Sprout Social. Hines has written over 1.5 million words across 1,000 blog posts.

Maren Kate

If there was ever a business “Jack of all trades,” it would be Maren Kate. After dropping out of University of Nevada at Reno, Kate found herself needing to find a way to make ends meet. She picked up odd jobs, like selling jewelry on eBay and working as a social media guru for “The Pawn Stars,” just to name a few of her entrepreneurial gigs.

Kate’s claim to fame is Zirtual, a company that helps to connect entrepreneurs to virtual assistants. Now Kate has left that company and is back to escaping the 9 to 5, much like her new book suggests.

How to Pump Up Your Startup’s Online Brand Image

by Keetria on September 23, 2016

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Crafting a brand image is no easy feat. A lot of work must go into establishing a brand, let alone creating an image that stands out and is successful. Many new startups often falter because their image isn’t one that actually serves them well, and a brand image that fails a company often belongs to a company that fails.

All in all, a company’s brand image speaks to the audience as a first impression. Consumers make a lot of decisions based on a company’s branding, so it’s essentially that your own startup have a pumped up brand image that snags you success the first time around.

 

Narrow Down Your Target Market

A common mistake startups make is trying too hard to have “mass appeal.” Unless you have a tried and true company that has services and products that can truly appeal to all consumers, there’s no need to market to a broad audience.

Target markets aren’t just necessary to consider when it comes to marketing. Your brand image and representation speak to a demographic, but what demographic are they actually speaking to? A pumped up brand image is one that knows who it’s trying to access and succeeds at doing so.

Focus On Your Competition

How often do you check in on what your competition is doing? Don’t worry – you aren’t snooping around in an attempt to copy your rivals, but instead you need to focus on what your competition isn’t doing.

Simultaneously, it is good to see what your rivals are succeeding at. Do they have a bigger audience than you do? Why? It’s okay to mimic their branding successes as long as you put your own spin on them – copy the concepts, not the content. Also look at where they’re faltering and take advantage of these flaws by fixing the problems within your own branding schemas.

Determine Your Selling Point

What makes your brand unique? How do you differ from other startups and businesses out there? Establishing your uniqueness should be the cornerstone of any brand messaging. There are thousands of businesses out there that do the same things, but each one has something special that applies only to them – and if they don’t, they fail.

Your brand image should center on what differentiates you from everyone else. This is your selling point – so why not use it to do what it’s there for?

Get Help with Problem Areas

Most startups are incredibly understaffed. If your company is run out of your living room with help from you and three others, it’s very likely that you won’t have all of your marketing and branding bases covered. For instance, is someone in your startup a graphic designer? Is someone an expert on demographic studies?

When you have a weak point within your company, find a way to fix it. Good branding is visual and focuses on marketing psychology, and if you don’t have team members that perform these functions flawlessly then you’re already lagging behind.

4 Great Online Resources for Brand Management

by Keetria on September 15, 2016

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Brand management isn’t as easy as everyone says it is. It requires tons of effort, a watchful eye, an impressive understanding of marketing and hours’ worth of work every day. This can get tedious, and it’s very easy to get burnt out – at least, if you don’t have any help, that is.

Luckily thanks to the Internet age there are tons of blogs and sites dedicated to helping you stay on top of your brand management game. These are only four incredible resources you can use, so start with these and always be on the hunt for more.

The HubSpot Blog

Want brand management, marketing and sales best practices right at your fingertips? What about helpful hints and pieces of advice to help your business run better? The HubSpot blog contains tons of curated content from industry writers who know what they’re talking about when it comes to business betterment topics.

Every day HubSpot posts numerous pieces of quality content that pertain to any number of subjects – from how to create a better social media brand image, to the top five reasons you need to be on LinkedIn, they’ve covered it. This makes it an incredible resource for brand management best practices.

Google Alerts

Brand management means knowing who’s talking about you, where and why. When you go to Google your name or business, sites like your social media accounts and main site hub should be first, but do you know what else ranks along with your name?

Google Alerts are an excellent way to keep on top of this essential information. Anytime content ranks that mentions you, Google sends you a notification so you can keep tabs on your brand image. This is how brand management professions stay ahead of bad press and also celebrate good reviews and testimonials.

Canva

Brand management isn’t just about staying on top of a brand, but also elevating the brand through content and other forms of marketing. If you want to delve into content marketing for your own brand in order to help boost its image, Canva is a great place to start.

Canva is a free-to-use online platform that allows for innovative image editing, including creating banners, visual resumes and infographics that can be used for marketing purposes. The quality of these images is impeccable, and Canva comes with tons of preloaded templates to help make your life easier.

Wishpond

This easy-to-use marketing platform includes tools that can be added to a website to offer features like intelligent forms, popups, and automation. These also include native integrations that helps sales, marketing, management, and promotion through both email and social channels.

Essentially Wishpond is your one stop shop for brand management through innovation and lead generation. Anyone who wants to market a product, a brand, a business or a service can do incredible things with only a few of Wishpond’s add-ons, let alone their complete arsenal of branding tools. Wishpond has also worked with famed brands, like Vervegirl and Diamond Candles.