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Two simple yet tricky steps to influence people

Every business wants people to do something – buy this, try this, tell people about this. There are two steps to getting people to do what you want them to do, but they can be tricky to execute.

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Getting people to do what we want them to do

Whether it’s in social media, marketing or closing a sale, we all need to get people to do stuff. And after years of being confounded, way before I started my current two businesses, I figured out that like most people, I was making things too complicated.

There is one, and only one, way to get people to do things for you. Every other way there is obeys this underlying strategy. I invite you to think about every single time you’ve ever needed to get someone to do something after reading this, and I challenge you to find some other method.

You can use this method for getting people to share your content.

You can use it to get people at your site to subscribe to your newsletter.

When you follow up with them, you can use it to get them to buy.

One way, two steps, many challenges

There’s only one way. It has two steps:

1- Be in a position to ask them to do something.
2- Ask them to do that thing.

Here’s the rub. That looks fairly easy and straightforward. And to be fair, the second part very much is. But that first part? It’s a doozy.

Because it means that before you need something, you need to be in the position to ask. Which often means getting into that position before you really need something. And that’ll mean having a sincere interest in other people, and consistently showing that connection matters to you, whether it’s a light peer dalliance or a strong, deep friendship.

It also means you have to know who the people are before you ever know them personally, where they hang out, what their needs are, and who can address them, even if it’s not you.

How to overcome the challenges

I’ll give you an example: let’s say you’re having a sale, and you want it to be in all the publications read by the people you want to reach. With poor advance planning, your only resort will be to advertise in that publication, if you have the money, and flat out beg people who run those publications to pay attention to your story.

And by beg, I mean ask nicely, make it as little work as possible (more than a press release, folks), and do your research.

You could make your job so much easier, and more successful with a little foresight. The instant you know what kind of start-up you’ll have or business you’ll start, before you ever make your first dime, start to get to know people in the same field.

Pay attention when companies that seem like they should be competitors partner up on things. Start frequenting spots where customers you want to have are spending time online. Be there. Offer to help a little.

You don’t have to give away your services for free to start gaining a minor kinship with the people you want to serve through your business.

A deeper connection, a more meaningful identity

Already have a business but haven’t started this process? Start right now. Get to know your audience as deeply as you can. Because people care about other people, not some company with stuff to sell them.

You want to be “that lady who helped me ________, so I didn’t have to _______.” You don’t want to be “the owner of SomeCrap LLC”.

This may seem like time poorly invested at first. Not everyone you cater to is the person you’ll get something back from – and it will seem like a labor of love, and nothing more.

Until that day you want to fund that Kickstarter project with a $50,000 goal. And people you didn’t even know were paying attention to you will say “that’s that guy who ________. That’s guy’s awesome. I trust him with my money, and bet those T-shirts will be SWEET. Here’s my money.”

Reaching that goal legitimately

And they’ll tell their friends. And you’ll reach your goal. Because you won’t have to come to them with the energy of “I know I just met you but do this because I’m desperate. Take a gamble that I’m good for it.”

You’ll be able to run the vibe of “you know me. You signed up to my list. I don’t bother you too often or send you a bunch of spam. I know what you’re interested in because I share those interests. I think we can help each other.”

I want to give that guy my money and I’m not even gonna wait for him to ask me.

Non-evil manipulation

Because that’s the other great thing about being a position to ask. Some people will give to you before you ask. It’s almost like manipulation without the evil part.

(Yes, manipulation is a form of asking. Asking by twisting emotions or making it seem like the other person has no choice? Still counts You’re just being a jerk about it.)

No matter where you are in this process of getting people to do stuff for you when the time is right, get in the habit now, of doing for other people what they want done for them. It’ll eventually be your turn, and the payoff, for whatever reason, is in proportion to your level of sincerity.

Tinu Abayomi-Paul is the CEO of Leveraged Promotion and a member of Network Solutions Social web Advisory Board. Her website promotion company specializes in reputation management, and engineering demand generation system for businesses, integrating search, expertise marketing and social media.

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Business Entrepreneur

What to consider before you pivot your business model

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Many businesses have had to pivot during the global pandemic but maybe yours isn’t one of them. Consider these questions first!

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Two women working at a laptop, no need to pivot business.

When Ross asked Rachel and Chandler (Friends TV show 1994-2004) to move a couch, many of us will never forget his voice inflection and how many times he yelled “PIVOT”! It’s actually a really funny scene and if you’ve never seen it, it might be worth 3.5 minutes of your time. Ross had the best of intentions by starting with a sketch and enlisting help from friends but even that ends up in hilarity as getting his couch in to his apartment doesn’t work and he ends up being offered $4 when he tries to return it (stay for the end of the clip).

The best plans and intentions for your business are often met with what the market and customers demand, where technology grows, and where your ROI is the best. You often know that your original plans will grow and evolve, even in uncertainty and now… a global pandemic.

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses have had to lean on technology to add virtual services (or expand their offerings) to meet our current norm where people are just not out and about like they used to be. Some have seen this work well and others have had to completely re-design their offerings to maintain safe and socially distanced considerations.

The thing is, businesses that have pivoted are being highlighted. But it is also worth looking at what has worked for some businesses that didn’t have to completely shift their strategies in 2020. It is likely that they had to adapt but maybe not a ridiculous Ross-type “pivot” that resulted in a complete failure of the mission.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) shared an incredible article, “You Don’t Have to Pivot in a Crisis” with great insights about what to consider if you think you need to make changes or if you want reassurance you are still on the right track.

HBR shares a powerful thought:

“The lesson here is that when a crisis hits, it pays to resist knee-jerk reactions on how to handle external shocks and ask what is going to work best for your company, based on the particular realities of its business. Ignoring the playbook of rapid cuts plus strategic pivoting can be the smart move… However, staying the course doesn’t mean inaction.”

Here are three thought starters you may want to consider for your business:

  1. What product line or service is best serving your customers right now? Is that one of your strongest and/or could it use some attention?
  2. What product line or service is not quite meeting your needs or customer demands at the moment that had seemingly always worked (not forever! Just right now)? For example, in person gatherings and promotions like events, conferences, trade shows.
  3. Is there something you’ve always wanted to explore? And could now be a great time since people want things more virtually? Examples: Selling branded swag, workbooks, content subscriptions, educational webinars.

These are three simple things but could help point you in the right direction of where to focus your time and energy – at least for now. You may not need a complete re-design or to take a new road, it might be some tweaks and adjustments to hang on to what you’ve worked so hard to build.

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Business Entrepreneur

How to choose the right software for your business

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) What are the best software products for your up-and-coming company? Use these questions to decide which kind is best for you.

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software products

It’s almost impossible to run a successful modern business without some kind of software to help you stay productive and operate efficiently. There are millions of companies and even more independent developers working hard to produce new software products and services for the businesses of the world, so to say that choosing the right software is intimidating is putting it lightly.

Fortunately, your decisions will become much easier with a handful of decision-making rubrics.

Determining Your Core Needs

First, you need to decide which types of software you really need. For most businesses, these are the most fundamental categories:

  • Proposal software. Customer acquisition starts and ends with effective proposals, which is why you need proposal software that helps you create, send, and track the status of your sales documents.
  • Lead generation and sales. You’ll also want the support of lead generation and sales software, including customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. These help you identify and track prospects throughout the sales process.
  • Marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising platforms help you plan and implement your campaigns, but even more importantly—they help you track your results.
  • Finance and accounting. With finance and accounting software, you’ll track accounts payable and receivable, and countless variables influencing the financial health of your company.
  • Supply chain and logistics. Certain types of businesses require support when it comes to supply chain management and logistics—and software can help.
  • Productivity and tracking. Some software products, including time trackers and project management platforms, focus on improving productivity and tracking employee actions.
  • Comprehensive analytics. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and other “big picture” software products attempt to provide you with comprehensive analytics related to your business’s performance.

Key Factors to Consider

From there, you’ll need to choose a software product in each necessary category—or try to find one that covers all categories simultaneously. When reviewing the thousands (if not millions) of viable options, keep these factors in mind:

    • Core features/functionality. Similar products in a given niche can have radically different sets of features. It’s tempting to go with the most robust product in all cases, but superfluous features and functionality can present their own kind of problem.
    • Integrations. If you use a number of different software products, you’ll need some way to get them to work together. Prioritize products that make it easy to integrate with others—especially ones you’re already using.
    • Intuitiveness/learnability. Software should be intuitive and easy to learn. Not only will this cut down on the amount of training and education you have to provide employees, but it will also reduce the possibilities of platform misuse in the future.
    • Customizability/flexibility. Out-of-the-box software products work well for many customers, but they may not suit your current or future needs precisely. Platforms with greater customizability and flexibility are favorable.
    • Security. If you’re handling sensitive data (and most businesses will be), it’s vital to have a software developed with security in mind. There should be multiple layers of security in place, and ample settings for you to tightly control accessibility.
    • Ongoing developer support. Your chosen software might be impressive today, but how is it going to look in three years? It’s ideal to choose a product that features ongoing developer support, with the potential for more features and better functionality in the near and distant future.
    • Customer support. If you have an issue with the app, will someone be available to help you? Good customer service can elevate the value of otherwise average apps.
    • Price. Finally, you’ll need to consider price. The best apps will often have a price that matches their quality; it’s up to you to decide whether the extra expense is worth it.

Read about each product as you conduct your research, and pay close attention to reviews and testimonials from past customers. Additionally, most software companies are happy to offer free demos and trials, so you can get some firsthand experience before finalizing your decision. Take them up on the offer.

Finding the Balance

It may seem like purchasing or subscribing to new software products will always improve your business fundamentals, but this isn’t always the case. If you become bogged down with too many apps and services, it’s going to make operations more confusing for your staff, decrease consistency, and drain your budget dry at the same time. Instead, try to keep your systems as simplified and straightforward as possible, while still getting all the services you need.

You won’t find or implement the perfect suite of software products for your business overnight. It’s going to take weeks, if not months of research, free trials, and in-house experiments. Remain patient, and don’t be afraid to cut your losses on products that aren’t working the way you originally intended.

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Business Entrepreneur

Simple ways to keep your company’s operations lean

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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keeping operations lean

The past year and a half has been challenging, not just economically but politically, and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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