Taking the first steps toward success
Think back to when you started your business. What was the first real step you took? Was it buying a book that told you how to be a startup? Was it talking to your friend about it? Maybe it was buying a business computer, fax machine or some other product.
We’ve all seen ads on how to make money from home or work for yourself. Did you fall prey to one of those packages? But were those things the real path to your business? I suspect your first step was writing a business plan or registering your business.
Why do we spend so much?
When you bought that computer or business package, I bet you felt good about it. You were doing something. Spending money makes us feel as if we’re taking steps toward a goal. There’s an adrenaline rush, like we’re moving forward. The reality is that until you do the hard work, you aren’t going to reach your goal.
You can buy a pair of running shoes, but until you put them on and get moving, you won’t run that marathon you’ve always dreamed of.
I know the feeling too well. I want to write a novel. I have tons of books about writing. I use some of the top software in the industry. The writing industry is tough. I’ve subscribed to many different writing newsletters and magazines. But the fact of the matter is that nothing is going to happen until after I actually sit down and write the book. I can spend as much money as I want, but I actually have to put myself in a chair and focus on my writing. For the record, I now have 20,000 words towards a novel. My goal is to have a first draft by the end of the year.
Shopping makes us feel good
Marketing is a strange industry. We’re encouraged to buy things that will “change our life.” Need more time in the kitchen? Buy this gadget to make peeling eggs quick and easy. Never mind that the last time you ate hard-boiled eggs was two years ago. Tired of cleaning your bathroom? Use this product and your tub will sparkle. Sure, your tub will shine as long as no one takes a shower or bath.
It’s easy to buy things today. It only takes one or two clicks, and we can have just about anything we need at our front door in just a few days. But is that the real secret to what you want? It’s called the false first step.
When you buy something, you’ve simply spent money without actually attaining meaningful progress.
I want to encourage you to really think about your next purchase. Are you trying to buy your goals? Will a new dieting book actually help you reach your weight goal or do you need to get outside and exercise?
How can you reach your goals?
Do the hard thing you’ve been avoiding. You can make more sales without having a new smartphone. Build your habit of playing golf before investing in a set of brand new clubs. Make an attempt to try something new in your life.
Even if you fail, you’ll have learned something new.
Personal growth doesn’t come from spending. It comes from trying and learning, not succeeding necessarily. You’ve probably heard that you learn more from your mistakes than successes.
It’s true. My first novel was a complete failure, but somehow I managed to graduate. I’ve learned from that experience and this time, my novel is coming together much better.
Maybe you will get to read it someday. Maybe not. But I know I tried to reach my goals.
Before you quit your job, ask yourself these 5 questions
(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Frustrated at work? Here are 5 ideas utilizing design thinking and exploration tactics to assess if you really are ready to quit your job.
We have all been there. We are in a job that just doesn’t feel right for us. Maybe we strongly dislike our manager or even our day to day work responsibilities. We find it easy to blame everyone else for everything we dislike. We question life and ask “Is this what life is all about? Shouldn’t I be spending my time doing something I am more passionate about?” But, we probably like the regular paycheck… Thus, we stay there and possibly become more miserable by the day. Some of us may even start to feel physical symptoms of headaches, stomach aches, and possibly depression. We also may go to the internet like this person seeking answers and hoping someone else can tell us what to do:
“I feel conflicted but I want to quit my job. What should I do?
I was thinking of quitting my job because I dislike what I do, and I feel I am underpaid.
However last week my colleague tendered her resignation too. Needless to say, if I leave too, my whole department will fall into a larger mess and that causes some feelings of conflict within me.
Should my colleague quitting affect when I want to leave too? How do I go about quitting now?”
We can definitely empathize with this – it’s really uncomfortable, sometimes sad, and hard to be in a position where we feel we are underpaid and we aren’t happy.
So, how can you navigate a situation like this? How do you figure out if you should just quit your job? How can you be an adult about this?
Here are some exploratory questions, ideas, and some design thinking activities to help you answer this question for yourself.
- Before you up and quit, assuming you don’t yet have your next opportunity lined up, have you considered asking for a raise – or better yet, figure out how you add value to the organization? Would your supervisor be willing to move you in to a new role or offer additional compensation?
- If you don’t have a job lined up, do you have the recommended AT LEAST six months of living expenses in your savings account? Some would recommend that you have even more during a global pandemic where unemployment is at an all-time high – it may take longer to find a new position.
- Do you have a safety net of family or friends that are willing and able to help you with your bills if you don’t have your regular paycheck? Would you be willing to put that burden on them so you can quit your job?
- Why aren’t you job searching if you are unhappy? Is it because the task seems daunting and the idea of interviewing right now makes you want to puke?
- What would your ideal job be and what would it take for you to go for it?
Many people claim they don’t like their job but they don’t know what to do next or even worse, don’t know what they WANT to do. To offer a little bit of tough love here: Well, then, that’s your job to figure it out. You can go on Reddit all you want, but no one else can tell you what is right for you.
Here are some ways to explore what may be an exciting career move for you or help you identify some areas that you need to learn more about in order to figure out where work will align with your skills, interests, and passions.
- Consider ordering the Design Your Life Workbook that provides writing prompts to help you figure out what it is that you are looking for in a job/career. You may also like the book Designing Your Work Life which is about “How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work”.
- Utilize design thinking to answer some of your questions. Make a diamond shape and in each of the four corners, write out the “Who” you want to be working with, “What” you’d like to be doing, “Where” you’d like to be, and “Why” you want to be there or doing that kind of work.
- Conduct informational interviews with people doing work that you think you might be interested in. Usually these conversations give you lots of interesting insights and either a green light to pursue something or validation that maybe that role isn’t right for you either.
- Get your resume updated. Sometimes just dusting off your resume, updating it, and making it ready gives you a feeling of relief that if you did really want to pursue a new job, you are almost ready. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile as well.
- Explore what you can do differently. A lot of what we can be frustrated about can be related to things out of our control. Consider exploring ways to work better with your team or how to grow to become invaluable. Tune in to Lindsey Pollak’s podcast, The Work Remix, where she gives great ideas on how to navigate working in current times where there are five generations in the workplace. There may be ways you need to adjust your communication style or tune in to emotional intelligence on how to better work with your supervisor or employees. Again, focus on what is within your control.
You may decide that you need to quit your job to be able to focus your energy on finding a better fit for you. But at the same time, be realistic. Most of us have to work to live. Everyone has bills, so you may continue working while you sort out some of the other factors to help you find a more exciting prospect. Either way, wishing you all the best on this journey, and the time and patience to allow you to figure it out.
How to increase website engagement
(EDITORIAL) A website is vital to any business, but customer engagement guarantees success. Check out these powerful tips to boost engagement.
Having a website for your business isn’t enough. If you want to grow your company, you need to maximize this digital asset by increasing user engagement. The question is, where do you begin?
What does healthy website engagement look like?
Launching a website is one of the quintessential first steps in building a business. It’s a new company’s way of saying, “We’ve arrived! See, we’re legit!” But the problem is that very few entrepreneurs and business owners know anything about building websites. So they use a drag-and-drop web builder to throw a few elements together and develop a site in a few hours.
Simply having a website isn’t enough. If it’s only a placeholder for your brand, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach people and move them from awareness to purchase. You don’t need a website – you need an engaging website.
What is user engagement?
“Put most simply, user engagement is when visitors to your site appreciate your content enough to stick around, absorb, and convert,” web design and UX optimizer Rob Wells writes. “Most importantly, when user engagement is high, you’ll find that your audience becomes more loyal. You’ll notice more return visits and higher conversions, because your website simply works.”
Signs of high user engagement include reading and absorbing content, organic comments on blog posts, social media shares, watching videos, above average time on site, high click-through rates, and low bounce rates. We’ll tell you more about how to achieve these “wins’ in the following section.
5 Tips for Boosting Engagement
Every website developer, marketing guru, and entrepreneur has their own formula for boosting engagement, but there are a few tactics that everyone can agree on. If you want to see immediate results, start by doing the following:
- Make it About Your Target Audience: Too many businesses make the mistake of shaping their marketing messages around themselves. They mistakenly assume that customers care about them, when the truth of the matter is that customers only care about themselves.If you want to boost engagement on your website, start by transforming your messaging. Make it about your audience. Make the customer the hero of their own story. You’re just there to guide them along and point to solutions (products and services) that may help them get from where they are now to where they want to be.
- Tell Stories: Cut out the sterile corporate lingo and breathe a little life into your copy. Mission statements are lame. Tell stories!The Ward & Barnes, P.A. website is a perfect example of how storytelling can cause engagement to soar. They actually include client stories, testimonials, and quotes on their homepage. This helps visitors connect with the brand and immediately establish a feeling of trust and goodwill.
- Eliminate Distractions: “According to research by Google, people judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th to 1/20th of a second,” Website Magazine notes. “Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that visually complex websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than simpler sites.”Stop with the complex websites and sophisticated designs. You’re not a web design company – there’s no need for all of these bells and whistles! Eliminate distractions and simplify every page to one specific focal point. Anything more means you’re actually competing against yourself.
- Empower Your CTAs: Every page on your website should have a call-to-action (CTA). And when creating these CTAs, always ask yourself one simple question: “Why would anyone click this?”If you’re asking for an email address or sale without providing clear and direct value in return, you’re missing the point. You have to compel people to follow through.One of the best ways to empower your CTAs is to offer something in return – like a free eBook, a discount code, or a product sample. When there’s an enticing reward, people will be much more likely to follow through.
- Go Visual: The brain processes visuals much faster than text. Use this to your advantage by integrating visual content into your website. This means video, graphics, and original images. Skip the stock photos! However, don’t overdo it. Remember to keep it simple and avoid unnecessary distractions. Quality over quantity works every time.
Turn your website into a lead generating asset
Transform your website from a branded placeholder into a powerful, lead generating asset that procures leads, and converts them from curious visitors into profitable lifelong customers. This process can take time, but you have to begin somewhere. Start by leveraging the tips in this article and analyzing the data. Based on the numbers, you can optimize, iterate, and improve over time.
Improve UX design by tracking your users’ eye movements
(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Research shows that the fastest way to determine user behavior and predict their response is by watching their eyesight. Use this data to improve your UX design.
By design, an ice cream truck is meant to entice. It is colorful, stupidly loud with two whole songs from the 30s (usually off key because no one is left alive who can service those bells), and lots of colorful stickers that depict delicious frozen treats that look nothing like reality. If you need an off model Disney character that already looks a little melted even when frozen, look no further.
This is design in action – the use of clever techniques to drive engagement. Brightly colored decor and the Pavlovian association of hearing The Sting in chirpy little ding dings is all working together to encourage sales and interaction.
These principles work in all industries, and the tech sector has devoted entire teams, agencies, companies, groups, and departments to the study of User Experience (UX) explicitly to help create slick, usable applications and websites that are immediately understandable by users. Tools to improve utility exist by measuring user behavior, with style guides and accepted theories preached and sang and TED-talked all over.
The best way to check behavior is to observe it directly, and options to check where someone clicks has proven invaluable in determining how to improve layouts and designs. These applications are able to draw a heat map that shows intensified red color in areas where clicks congregate the most. An evolution of this concept is to watch eyesight itself, allowing developers a quicker avenue to determining where a user will most likely go. Arguably the shortest path between predicting response, this is one of the holy grails of behavioral measurement. If your eyes can be tracked, your cursor is likely to follow.
UX design can benefit greatly from this research as this article shows. Here’s some highlights:
Techwyse completed a case study that shows conversion on landing pages is improved with clear call-to-action elements. Users will focus on objects that stand out based on position, size, bright colors, or exaggerated fonts. If these design choices are placed on a static, non-interactive component, a business will lose a customer’s interest quickly, as their click is meant with no response. This quickly leads to confusion or abandonment. Finding where a person is immediately drawn to means you should capitalize on that particular piece with executable code. Want it boiled down? Grocery stores put Cheetos front and center, because everyone want them thangs.
Going along with this, Moz found that search results with attractive elements – pictures and video – are given much more attention than simple text. We are visually inclined creatures, and should never undervalue that part of our primal minds. Adding some visual flair will bring attention, which in turn can be leveraged usefully to guide users.
Here’s an interesting study – being that we are social animals, follow the gaze of others. If you’ve ever seen kittens watching a game of ping pong, they are in sync and drawn to the action. Similarly, if we notice someone look to the left, we instinctively want to look left as well. While this sounds very specific, the idea is simple – visual cues can be optimized to direct users where to focus.
The Nielsen Group says we look at things in an F pattern. I just think that’s funny, or at least a funny way to describe it. We follow from left-to-right (just like we read, and as websites are laid out using techniques first developed for newspapers, it naturally makes sense that we’d do the same). Of course, cultural or national differences arise here – right-to-left readers need the opposite. Always be sure to keep your target audience in mind.
Of course, there are several other findings and studies that can further promote idealistic layout and design, and it should always be the goal of designers to look to the future and evaluate trends. (Interestingly, eye tracking is the first option on this list!)
Business News2 days ago
How well-meaning diversity and inclusion hiring practices could backfire
Opinion Editorials1 week ago
Easy ways to help an unhappy customer
Business Marketing5 days ago
How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation
Business Entrepreneur2 weeks ago
How to choose the right software for your business
Business News1 week ago
You should apply to be on a board – why and how
Opinion Editorials2 days ago
How to increase website engagement
Business Finance2 weeks ago
Stripe Treasury is modernizing banking, and Shopify is already onboard
Tech News1 day ago
How to personalize your site for every visitor without learning code