BusinessCollective Entrepreneurship advice and mentorship from the most successful young entrepreneurs. Mon, 04 Jun 2018 15:00:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Credit Can Work for Your Business Mon, 04 Jun 2018 15:00:39 +0000 Managing a business without funds hobbles your competitive advantage significantly, leaving you at the mercy of every crisis. When I started my company, it was a very bad recession and money was hard to come by. The company grew as the economy got better, but I was not able to make the strides I wanted to until I had access to real capital in the form of debt.

While you may miss opportunities that require a financial investment, your rivals race ahead growing their slice of market share. Unfortunately, simply keeping a healthy expense account isn’t enough to retain an edge. Your company’s credit profile is one of your greatest assets: It lets you access better lease terms and loans while ensuring that resources are at arm’s length.

Crises simply cannot be weathered without money, but debt can create its own catastrophe. The goal of credit should thus not be to create static debt, but to manage it responsibly enough to build a squeaky-clean profile. To achieve this, payments need to be made on time or 30 days ahead of their due date.

A comprehensive credit profile will give clients and investors core information when researching your company’s reputation.

Working for a Better Score

Entrepreneurs often use credit cards to get beyond startup status, but they’re only a useful tool if used with discipline. Your business is a separate entity, and it needs to be nurtured as such. Personal credit lines are tempting to use, but building your business’s score requires credit in its name. You can improve your profile by:

  • Asking your suppliers to report your credit history to major credit bureaus.
  • Checking your profile for accuracy regularly. Sometimes stuff goes unseen — for example, small bills or even bills that do not belong to you. By taking time each month to monitor your credit, you can save a lot of time and money by catching something early.
  • Working on improving weak areas of your profile.
  • Taking advantage of growth opportunities. Your business’s growth is reflected in your score.
  • Signing up for alerts so that fraudulent activity is caught immediately.

Missed opportunities can be catastrophic in a cutthroat marketplace. The inability to promote yourself during your most profitable season can cost you thousands — and a significant chunk of your demographic. Similarly, not having the power to leap at a supplier’s offers can cause your revenue to dwindle. Disasters are unpredictable by nature, so emergency funds are critical too. All of these situations can be handled with credit.

Loyalty Programs

Credit card reward points can reduce your expenses dramatically. As with cash, there are smart — and wasteful — ways to spend them. Points are often transferable to alternative loyalty programs, which helps you to allocate them in a way that suits your needs.

Typical credit card interest rates are between 13 and 20 percent. If you’re working on the basis of return on investment rather than expenses, credit cards’ speed of access to funds frequently raises your profits far higher than you would otherwise manage, making those interest rates well worthwhile. If it is short-term debt (under one month), I recommend using credit cards. Just be sure to pay off the card at the end of each month.

Reducing Tax Costs

At the end of the year, you can actually negotiate next year’s marketing budgets. Find out how much you need to spend from your CPA to significantly reduce your tax liability for the current year. See who you can prepay for the year for 20% or more special pricing, and pay by Dec. 31. This helps reduce costs and cuts your marketing costs: If you have to pay 6% on the loan, you still are ahead by 14% and have far fewer taxes to pay – it’s a win-win.

Overall, your credit cards can change a business for better or worse, depending on how it is played. Having access to credit and loans is important to grow at a sustainable speed. Remember, always get loans lined up when you don’t need them, not when you do.

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10 Negotiating Tips Every Woman Needs in Her Arsenal Mon, 04 Jun 2018 15:00:10 +0000 We have all seen the statistics by now. Women are getting paid less than male counterparts while often putting in longer hours. In addition to this, women are typically hired based on past performance while men are hired based on their future potential, as I learned from the CEO of The Female Quotient and founder of The Girls’ Lounge, Shelley Zalis. She addressed this at the fifth annual “Deal With It,” a women’s conference hosted by the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

The event is designed to give women practical advice and counsel in career, estate planning, finance, health and wellness and more. One thing that was covered that really stood out to me was how negation, in any field or context, is something women just don’t learn enough about. If we are going to have equality in the workplace and beyond, negotiation skills are extremely important.

Know Who You Are Dealing With

Whether it is a Fortune 500 executive or the car dealership down the block, knowing who you are dealing with is the first step toward negotiation success. Understanding their background and familiarizing yourself with the logistics of their rank and career can help you maneuver a negotiation. Doing your research on who you are negotiating with can make or break a deal, as I have seen time and again with my own clients and experiences.

Speak Up

As women, many of us are hard on ourselves and are afraid to negotiate firmly. My friend Bryn Freedman, one of the leading speaker coaches at TED, shared with me recently, “Being authentic and standing up for ourselves starts by quieting our inner critic. This critic is in all of us but it’s not your true self no matter how much it feels that way. Your true inner voice is kind, it advocates for you and, without being strident, knows that you deserve to reach your goals. The more you speak to yourself with love, the louder and clearer your authentic voice becomes.”

Be Fair

Before demanding an unrealistic or perhaps undeserved ask in a negotiation, be sure to do your research. Look into what others with your level of expertise are asking for or making. Also, “Never pull the gender card when discussing qualifications, or really in any environment,” stated Beverly Hills Chief of Police Sandra Spagnoli at the conference. Seeking equality is the heart of feminism, and using gender as a reason for a raise doesn’t aid anyone in both a negotiation situation and the greater movement for equality.

Leave Emotion At The Door

As with purchasing a car or home, don’t show even a glimmer of anger, annoyance, excitement or anything other than calm professionalism. Your emotions and microexpressions are likely being analyzed and assessed during every moment of the negotiation.


Hire a coach, talk in the mirror, or get a friend or colleague to run through scenarios and sample questions that could come up in your negotiation — any sort of preparation is beneficial for a successful negotiation. As my friend and successful entrepreneur, Ashley Sumner shared in my interview with her, “Don’t let the first time you ask for what you want, be said to the person you need it from the most. It’s important to think it through and practice saying it, out loud, to a trusted friend.”

Make A List

It’s a mistake going into negotiations without writing down exactly what your goals are ahead of time and knowing exactly what you will accept and not accept.

Don’t wait for a boss to say, “Here are your benefits.” Ask for what you want instead. You are making yourself more powerful by writing down a proposal of your requirements and never being too afraid to bring it to the table.

Get Everything In Writing

In any negotiation, you can be promised the moon but unless you get it in writing you are not guaranteed a thing! This is something I learned the hard way over the years. It’s worth it to push for paperwork to back up everything that is said.

Use Silence

Put your offer on the table and then stay silent. Human nature will tempt you into filling the quiet, but don’t! Spagnoli insisted to “use your silence as a benefit.” 

Act For What You Want

Talk, think and dress for what you want — not what you have. You don’t need to spend an enormous amount on designer clothes. It is possible to look the part – whatever that might be for your profession and come across very polished on a reasonable budget.

Be Willing To Walk Away

Know it is okay to walk away; if they truly want you, they will always come back. Despite what it may feel like at the time, there is always another opportunity, and if the offer was not ideal, it is all right to leave the situation empty-handed. Don’t allow this setback to destroy your confidence, productivity or happiness.

How to Use Technology to Your Company’s Overall Advantage Thu, 31 May 2018 15:00:07 +0000 As technology continues to play a broader and more pervasive role in our lives, the line between tech companies and non-tech companies becomes increasingly permeable. Everyone uses technology, whether they’re writing code or writing copy, designing software or designing jewelry. The challenge for entrepreneurs is how best to position themselves in this new landscape.

Even when technology is central to a company’s value proposition, it isn’t all they do. No company is solely a tech company. Ultimately, every product or service is intended for people’s use: to save us time or money, to make our lives better or easier.

At the same time, businesses whose core value propositions aren’t inherently technical still rely on technology for sales, marketing, operations, finance, and more. At my company, for instance, we’re revolutionizing the property management business by using technology to optimize rates and improve operational efficiency. Thinking like a tech company — regardless of your value proposition — can set you up for success with customers and investors.

Here are three pieces of advice for building a strong business, whether you’re focused on tech or not:

Assess Your Co-Founder(s)

We recommend making sure that at least one of your co-founders has a strong background in software development. This early investment in technical expertise establishes you as a tech company, regardless of your product or service, and ensures that decision-makers are well-versed in technical challenges and solutions. Also, you’re going to start vetting outside vendors sooner than you think, and you’ll need someone at the executive level who can make a realistic assessment of the costs and advantages of those offerings.

What if you are the technical co-founder? Be honest about your ability (and your bandwidth) to handle the other responsibilities of leadership. Can you build relationships, reach out to investors, identify customers, map your buyer’s journey, create a marketing strategy, support sales efforts, and establish operational processes? If not, find someone who can — even if they’ve never written a line of code in their life.

The key is to write a strong story for both sides: the technical and the operational. It’s tempting to emphasize one side over the other when appealing to different audiences, but the truth is that no business is entirely technical or purely operational. Your company will intertwine the two, using technology to support operations and vice versa. Co-founders who reflect this intertwined approach will make a powerful team.

Invest in Technology Early

Just as it’s important to find a co-founder with some technical prowess, it pays to invest in a strong technical team at every level. Whenever you can, hire employees rather than contractors as your engineers, developers and analysts. A substantial and early investment in technology (in human capital as well as tools) will help you scale effectively.

Because we don’t sell software, we buck the traditional definition of a tech company. However, we’ve always employed many talented software developers and invested heavily in both out-of-the-box and purpose-built software solutions to meet our evolving needs. And even though we’re vacation rental property managers, technology is at the core of our value proposition. It only makes sense that we would make such consistent and significant investments in it.

Consider Building Instead of Buying

Our company went from using no external software services to using many external solutions. This evolution happened naturally, as a consequence of our rapid growth. As our business model became more advanced — and as our needs became more complex and more narrowly defined — we realized we needed a more diverse toolset.

Eventually, however, we became a “build” company, using our own purpose-built property management system. We simply couldn’t find an out-of-the-box solution that could keep pace with our unprecedented growth and swiftly evolving business needs. Which brings us back to the importance of investing in technology, from the technical co-founder to the development team: If you have these experts in place, you can properly assess your company’s technical needs at every stage.

Every company is a tech company. The more you think about technology and its essential role in your business, the more successful you’ll be.

The Importance of Creating a Positive Work Environment for Your Employees Wed, 30 May 2018 15:00:54 +0000 Reinvesting in your company is a vital factor in any successful business strategy. It doesn’t matter if your company consists of two people or has a global staff of thousands: You are investing in your people. And it’s up to you, as management, to decide how exactly you want to go about doing that.

Will it be through stock options, catering services, parties, cool office digs, free educational training courses or competitive compensation packages? It’s a predicament that many a CEO has grappled with, because as much as you’d like to offer all these perks (and more), it’s simply not possible or fiscally responsible. So it boils down to a choice that has the potential of defining (or redefining) your company’s culture.

Netflix’s innovative and unconventional comp-based model is a prime example of how investment choices can lead to high employee retention and satisfaction. The on-demand video streaming giant promises its employees top-of-the-market compensation packages, giving them a choice between stock-focused or cash-focused salaries. And, as if that isn’t enticing enough, the company’s vacation policy is that it has no policy or formal tracking system.

The concept, which Netflix laid out in a slideshow presentation that has been viewed more than 14 million times online, was an instant hit with employees, and the market was quick to take notice. “[A] great workplace is stunning colleagues. [A] great workplace is not espresso, lush benefits, sushi lunches, grand parties or nice offices,” Netflix wrote in its presentation. “We do some of these things, but only if they are efficient at attracting and retaining stunning colleagues.”

Luckily, lucrative comp packages aren’t the only way to achieve this goal. I personally have found that money isn’t everything. Of course, salaries must be fair; your employees shouldn’t be underpaid. In essence, salary is the enabler of retention, but it doesn’t stimulate retention. The IT market is competitive. There is always going to be a company, like Netflix, that is going to offer (a lot) more money than you. You need to give your employees reason to work for you. They need to feel like they not only have a purpose, but that they belong. Here’s how you can achieve this:

Focusing on Employee Retention

At my company, we offer a couple of standards, like free food, educational events, gym memberships and easy access to top management. But what we decided to pour our hearts, souls and a big chunk of our profits into is a really cool office space.

People spend the majority of their lives in the office. It would be a shame to spend those hours in a hole. The quality of office space has always been one of our topic investment priorities, and as it turns out is key to our employee retention strategy.

Keep in mind, it’s simply not possible to make everyone happy, especially if you’re running a large, growing company. We have around 150 employees, a significant increase from 2015, when we were a small staff of 50. A decade ago, there were essentially just two of us manning the ship.

As our team began to expand exponentially, my co-founders and I found ourselves moving from a dinky 860 square-foot loft-like office space into a 3,770 square-foot unit in a well-established commercial complex. We expanded it to 9,150 square feet less than a year after moving in.

But last spring, it became clear that we were rapidly outgrowing even that spot. We decided that our next move would be for a long-term commitment, and we wanted space that would not only be big enough to someday accommodate a development team of 500, but one that would also have pizzazz. After nearly a year-long search, we settled on a 59,200 square-foot space in a new office development along a leafy riverbank, and immediately set out designing a headquarters our employees would feel like was their second home.

Creating the perfect work environment is not something to shortchange nor is it something that can be done in a week or even a month. Hand this task off to dedicated professionals. Finding a team of experienced interior designers and architects should be at the top of your to-do list once you settle on a new office location.

We tried to steer clear of trendsetters, and did not want to emulate office digs like that of Google or Facebook. Instead, we opted for something unique — a design and feel that closely relates to our own brand. Our new offices cover three floors, and includes two terraces and a large multipurpose event space, where we hold developer meetups and hackathons. In addition to themed meeting rooms, several kitchens and a bar, gym, pool table and an outdoor jacuzzi, our offices feature sleeping boxes, swings and a birch tree forest.

Having an office that feels like home will not only help increase employee retention, but will also increase overall morale, which should be any company’s key goal. Whether or not a comfortable office space is one of your business’s top priorities, focus on the perks that help employees feel like they matter.

5 Content Marketing Tips Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Employ Wed, 30 May 2018 12:00:14 +0000 What are your content marketing goals? If you want not only success but sustained success, this question should be visited and revisited often.

Every business will have vastly different content marketing strategies, whether they involve blogging about the benefits of certain products or infographics that people can share via social media to strengthen brand awareness. Though these strategies may vary, their goals should all be the same: to garner attention, build trust for your brand’s marketing message, bring people to your place of business whether online or in person, and generate leads that eventually turn into customers.

All content marketing strategies should also have a few common elements, such as the five I reference below. These five have helped shape my success with my own company.

Create a Sales Funnel

Before creating your content strategy, put together a sales funnel for each piece of content, whether that’s a blog, infographic, or landing page mentioned. Create product or service awareness for prospective customers. The rule of thumb is you have 30 seconds to capture their attention: The more respect and trust you can garner immediately (through a past client testimony, awards, or any recognition), the better.

Once that door is open, they’ll want to evaluate your product or service. Tell stories of other clients’ success, and always bring its most positive purpose in the simplest form. For example, we reiterate the fact that we continually offer the least expensive arrangements for those traveling into and out of Africa.

Finally, they’ll need to make the decision to purchase. Everything beforehand prompted them to this position. Now, what can you offer? Make the pitch valuable by offering whatever guarantees you can provide. 

Understand Your Target Audience

You simply can’t start a content marketing strategy without knowing your target audience. The best route to learning who they are is through intense research of your top competitors, along with listening to the customers you already have and trust most.

Visit not only your competitor’s website but also any third-party publications they were featured in. If competitors have case studies, examine them closely. Check out their social media platforms and tap into their audience.

One way we like to listen to our current customers is through a simple email campaign. We send emails to our top customers, asking for a few minutes of their time to fill out a survey and offer suggestions for better service. In return, we offer a discount on their next trip booked through us.

Appeal to Your Audience

Every piece of your content marketing strategy should be appealing. Use visual elements and charts. Videos will always trump other media forms, but they do take some time to execute well. The next best thing is infographics and appealing charts that show statistics about your industry. Use all three of these elements together to consistently appeal to all potential customers. Always make sure the creative elements educate, entertain, and add value.

Include a Call to Action

Some businesses create a thorough content marketing strategy but likely let many potential clients/customers pass by because they forget to include calls to action (CTAs). Include easy ways to communicate with your organization in your material, whether it’s by email, phone or visiting your website through external publications.

We make sure our CTAs are sprinkled generously throughout our content, but not enough to annoy and deter any marketing message. Experiment and track results of each content marketing strategy you create and revise accordingly. Remember, the market changes often, so a content strategy that worked in spring may not work that fall. Constantly revise while keeping the CTAs strong.

Don’t Skimp on Content Creation

Never skimp on content creation. Once you put together the optimal content strategy, get that content created. If you’re seeking a writer to craft content for your blog or social media platforms, don’t hire a hack. Research and find a respected content creator who has experience and proven success.

The same goes for other mediums such as video or graphic designer; that adage of “you get what you pay for” speaks bounds of truth here. In the beginning stages of our company, we spent considerable amounts of time in-house creating content strategies, but sometimes outsourced the material to the wrong people. We learned, and hired a digital marketing agency known for its talent, and let them work on the creative side. Our results have been successful ever since.

Before you start any content strategy for your business, consider the above five tactics. As entrepreneurs, we have priorities that range from financial to administrative to marketing. We can’t lose focus on any element, especially a content marketing strategy, which sometimes gets pushed aside. Make sure your content marketing strategy is sound in order to build your customer base.

9 Ways to Garner Brand Attention Outside of Social Media Tue, 29 May 2018 15:00:58 +0000 Question: What are some ways I can bring attention to my brand, without social media?

Guest Blog

"Over the years, I've gained a lot of credibility by guest blogging for other people's sites. This can be anything from submitting an article to a trade publication to blogging regularly for Inc. Magazine. It's one of the best ways I've been able to get my brand's name out there while not being all over social media."

Pitch Journalists

"PR still works. In fact, it's how many of our favorite brands have been built. Bloggers and journalists prefer being pitched by a founder more than an agency representative. If you can come up with a truly compelling story of why your company matters to the writer's audience, that's your best shot of getting covered -- and by extension, getting attention for your brand."

Reach Out to Product Reviewers

"There are many product reviewers and bloggers who would love to share your brand on their website. Start by doing a search for the terms "your industry category" and "blog" on Google and Twitter. Copy their website URL and check their website traffic on to see if it's substantial enough, then reach out to them through the contact section and offer your product for review."

Get Out There

"You have to take every single opportunity that is given to you in order to grow your business. That sometimes means creating opportunities where others may not see them.  Join local committees, host a show on your local broadcasting network, or create swag that you can hand out at events. You have to put yourself out there and use every instance as an opportunity for brand awareness."

Pursue Channel Partnership

"Channel partnerships are one of the fastest ways to grow if you don't want to utilize social media. Find folks who have a similar audience and negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement where you can access their users. This can be done as referral fees, upsells, cross-sells, etc."

Pursue Nontraditional PR Opportunities

"One of our favorite ways to get our brand out there is to use our corporate headquarters as an event space for our local community. We frequently offer it to Philly non-profits to host events and fundraisers, which helps us live one of our core values to be a community serving its community, introduces people to our company, and gives visitors a strong sense of our mission."

Send Monthly or Quarterly Emails

"Whether you're building a personal or company brand, sending out a regular email update to the people close to you will help build your brand. You'll be able to measure how many people received and opened your communication. You'll get immediate feedback on how your content engaged your audience. And, you'll have a direct line of communication to showcase what's important to you."

Do Random Acts of Kindness

"Many entrepreneurs are uncomfortable seeking the spotlight, yet a larger brand presence is important for driving growth. If you focus on delivering exceptional service to your clients (expediting orders, making a product donation to their favorite causes) they'll tell your story for you. The best part? You'll be building your brand by doing activities that make you feel good."

Become a Subject Matter Expert

"Social media is only one aspect of building a successful brand. There are many more opportunities for driving traffic and garnering customers through content-driven sites. Become an expert in your field, develop a unique voice, and start reaching out to content providers to publish your articles and generate some real, quality leads and brand awareness."

4 Collegiate Hacks That Will Set You Up for Business Success Tue, 29 May 2018 15:00:47 +0000 The great debate between college or no college wages on. As an entrepreneur and advocate for higher education, let me assure you that the tactics used for success in college are similar to what you need in the business world. And you get to practice them first in college! Here are four of them:

Put in The Extra Hours 

One of the most valuable things I did during my undergrad and postgraduate education was attend office hours. Professors will post their office hours in the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. Take advantage of it. Why? Because most professors are willing to be more than a lecturer on their soapbox if you take the time (and they see your effort) in meeting with them outside of the classroom lecture hall. Showing effort and enthusiasm for the subject and a willingness to learn goes a long way.

In the business world, show effort and willingness to visit with anyone from your business’s regulatory agency before they have to call you in. For example, when we started Sin City Cupcakes, we made sure to visit the Southern Nevada Health Department in person and get to meet our food/bakery inspector face to face. Many people communicate with them via mail, phone or email. We made it a point to go to the office, meet in person, chat and build a rapport. It’s made our lives easier in the long run.

Take a Test Run

If your professors allow it, ask for a practice test. The key to getting an “A” is answering exam questions the way that your professor likes them written, so figure out his/her style. By asking for and taking practice tests, not only do you get a feel for how that professor will grade on the real thing, but you also get major points by showing initiative in this area.

Similar to the first point, we were able to ask our health department inspector for sample grading criteria and were even shown the sheets of how they score a processing facility. Sure, the guidelines are publicly posted. but it was so helpful to basically conduct a mini mock-inspection verbally in order to learn exactly what they look for — after all, some inspectors are more particular than others with minuscule things. Learning those nuances has helped us in preparing and conducting ourselves with food safety in mind. Our most recent inspection scored us a perfect 100/100.

Participate in Your Community

When I was in graduate school, one of my professors was also a wine expert. Outside of school, unrelated to the program, he and his wife taught a local wine class in the community. It ended up being the perfect way for me to not only gain knowledge I didn’t even know I really wanted, but ended up enjoying immensely. It also gave me an excellent opportunity to cultivate a relationship with that professor that undoubtedly benefited me.

Much of business is relationship-driven. As a result, the activities you participate in outside of business can have a large influence on your success. I volunteer often and do so with several nonprofits regularly. I have met incredible people in the community through volunteer opportunities, and some have directly resulted in new clients, sales and opportunities for my companies.

Make Your Life Easier When Possible

I went to the University of Arizona for undergrad, which is a massive campus. Instead of huffing it back and forth from parking to buildings to other buildings and back to parking, I kept a golf cart on campus. Not only did it allow me to wear heels to class every day, more importantly it was the catalyst to meet so many different people around campus. It was an immediate conversation-starter, I would befriend people on my way to class, they would hop in my golf cart if we were going in the same direction, and off we’d go. I made countless friends and even met a graduate student who ended up becoming a mentor of mine, who I still keep in touch with to this day. It was a great vehicle (pun intended) for networking.

In business, think about an item that may be unconventional, but would make your life easier. For example, we often cater alcohol-infused cupcakes for golf tournaments: It was unconventional, but a no-brainer for us to have our own Sin City Cupcakes golf cart. I found a used utility cart and transformed it into what we need. Why a utility cart? The suspension will hold 2,000 pounds…that’s a lot of cupcakes! We got it wrapped, switched out the rims, tricked it out a bit, loaded it up with cupcakes and promo models, and voila. An immediate conversation starter and it made our lives immensely easier in getting the cupcakes out to certain holes (golf courses are just massive) and keeps our girls looking cute and fresh. Plus, it’s a great up-sell for corporate clients who want to rent it as part of their catering experience.

If you have already attended college, think back on what tactics worked for you and realize that you directly apply those same techniques to your life and job today. If you have yet to attend college, get excited! It’s definitely a place where you’ll learn more than just what’s required of your major.

Building Community With Philip Michael, CEO at NYEG Tue, 29 May 2018 12:00:17 +0000 Philip Michael is a real estate investor, best-selling author, former TV/radio host (NuvoTV, SiriusXM) and entrepreneur. He’s the founder of New York Equity Group, a real estate investment company with over 150 units and $15M in its portfolio. Pre-order Philip’s book Real Estate Wealth Hacking here. Follow him @philip_michael. 

Recently, YEC spoke with Michael about his experiences building a community for customers and stakeholders in his business, and what others interested could learn about the process.

Surround Yourself With Success

The value of building a strong community for entrepreneurs is priceless. It’s literally one of the biggest drivers of success. If you’re trying to play in the NBA, you have to be around other top players. You won’t get there playing on the playgrounds.

Just hanging around others who are doing awesome things forces you to step your own game up. Because three of my peers became bestsellers recently, I decided — after years of procrastinating — to put out my own. And it became a bestseller in two days. Iron sharpens iron. You become your environment. It is what it is.

Look for a Common Goal

To me, customers or subscribers are buyers. They’re your end users. A community consists of like-minded people who aren’t necessarily buying or selling to each other, but who keep each other inspired, educated, informed and sharp.

In order to establish a community, start with a vision anchored around a common goal. In my business, each property — whether it’s media, SaaS product or actual properties — is divided into its own team. Make sure the energies are aligned and anchored whatever that common goal is.

Identify Ways You Can Help

The most important way to manage a growing community is by staying in touch and adding value. I keep saying it but that’s the key, man. Just being helpful. I have a community of readers who I interact with. Whenever I post an article or have an update, it helps. Give without expecting anything in return.

Use Your Current Connections to Your Advantage

I built the community I started organically through existing networks and my content. I hosted an event for a community of young investors and entrepreneurs looking to break into real estate. I leveraged that into success by either helping them invest or including them in my projects wherever I can.

If you are looking to expand or create a community, find an interest or a cause you can rally around and stay consistent. It’s so easy these days; email lists, group chats, Facebook, you name it. Consistency is key.

6 Business Lessons Every New Founder Should Keep in Mind Tue, 29 May 2018 12:00:06 +0000 Four and a half years ago, I stumbled into co-founding a fintech company that focused on something I knew almost nothing about: retail banking. After starting with nothing to building a sizable business that’s had its share of many highs and lows, I’ve learned a lot. Regardless of the industry you operate in, these are a few key things every aspiring business mogul should know:

Create something different that exceeds people’s needs. 

Most clients only ask for what they need because they don’t know what else is possible. Develop a solution for your clients that actually addresses their problem in a meaningful way. For example, while our clients are interested in banking solutions, we provide these plus an entire “lifestyle layer” that enables them to engage their consumers like never before — a value-add they didn’t expect.

But don’t just sell what you have — understand their problem. Clearly, they are looking for a solution, but why? What friction points are there?

The clients we work with generally don’t want to do any development or IT work on their end. They want a plug-and-play solution that they’re also able to customize. This isn’t always the easiest things to provide, but when you spend time creating a solution that solves your client’s problem and addresses their concerns, it not only impresses them but also boosts your credibility.

Market with scalability and manageability. 

This is a chicken-or-egg scenario: Should you build a robust technology infrastructure that requires more time and money, or should you start small and scramble to build? “Scalability” is a common buzzword we’re all familiar with, but many people don’t put enough thought into it.

Scalability goes beyond technology — it applies to staffing, processes, policies, office space and more. Work with your key members and make sure they understand where you think the business is headed. Take time planning how you will account for various situations that could arise, and how you’ll handle them. This way, when it’s time to scale, it’s no surprise to anyone, and you’ll have ideas at the ready to pull from.

Keep your friends close, and your technology team closer. 

When you start building a new company or product, it’s going to vastly evolve from the initial concept. No matter what you do, there will be changes — sometimes pretty major ones.

If there’s anyone who typically isn’t happy about change, it’s your technology team. Think about it: They’ve spent months (or sometimes years) developing the current platform, then out of nowhere, they have to completely re-engineer the solution or force a new solution to work with the existing infrastructure.

Keep your tech team in the loop so that when changes arise, they understand why. In the hectic, day-to-day grind, it’s easy to just give orders about what needs to be done. But to those who aren’t involved with everything, these orders can seem like a knee-jerk or an irrational decision. Keeping your team in the loop helps them understand why any deviations need to occur and what impact they have on the business. Ultimately, the team will feel more connected, and the added workload will be better received.

Seek out strategic partnerships. 

When you build relationships with new partners, there are several things you should consider — one being mutually beneficial channel partnerships.

We were once speaking with two different service providers to provide new functionality for our customers. Our technology team looked at both party’s application program interfaces (APIs) and felt that they provided a similar offering. Even though Provider A would have been easier to integrate with, we chose Provider B for strategic reasons. Both providers delivered the same end-user experience, but in exchange for using their services, Provider B would push our solution to their clients — bringing us both more business. We even looped our technology team into the decision process (speaking to my previous point) and they were on board to tackle the extra work.

Learn how to provide simple explanations to disruptive solutions. 

You’ve created something awesome and unheard of. The problem is, if it’s something truly revolutionary, no one else has heard of it either. You’re at square one, and you have to educate people in a meaningful way. Above all, it’s important to learn how to explain to your client (in terms they’ll understand) why your solution is so innovative and beneficial to them.

We introduced a functionality that no one was accustomed to experiencing in a retail banking application. We knew our platform inside out and could explain it to each other easily, but we ran into a communication barrier when trying to sell it to the banking industry. People had no clue what we were talking about. We ended up using banking industry speak to put it in terms that made sense to them and addressed the problems they faced.

One way to streamline this undertaking is to come up with several simple explanations and try them out with different clients. Attending trade shows and exhibits is a great way to test your marketing message with key people in the industry. This exercise will also point to any weaknesses in your messaging so you can figure out what needs to be improved.

Plan for another plan. 

No matter what you do, nothing will happen the way you expect it. While the highs will be high (and the lows, low), trust in yourself that you can persevere through the tough situations and find a way to make it work against all odds.

6 Google Statistics That Will Show You the Value of SEO Fri, 25 May 2018 17:50:39 +0000 You already know that having a prominent online presence supported by an effective SEO strategy is indispensable. People are searching for your business, and you need to make sure they find you online. The internet, however, is a virtually endless resource with millions of search inquiries leading consumers to different places.

More than often, an online experience begins with a web search. Yet, how do you make sure people searching for companies and services like yours land on your website, and not someone else’s? One thing you can be certain of is that you’ll need to make a case to prove the value of SEO to be able to direct any of your company’s resources – or client’s resources – to site audits, content marketing, technical optimization, local and backlink strategies.

With updates being done to Google’s search engine algorithm continuously, deciding to craft (an execute on) an SEO strategy sounds like a lot of work. How do you convince your boss or client that it’s worth it? Is keeping up with Google really that important? Yes. Being on Google’s good side, and making it to the front page, will impact your business tremendously. And what about other search engines? What is the value of being searchable? Do you show up online?

To help you make a better case for SEO to justify the value of organic search, I’ve compiled a list of eye-opening SEO statistics about organic search, Google facts, and the internet at large. Be free to use them, tweet them, embed them or insert them into your own presentation.

Check them out, and show them to your boss:

When Google went down for five minutes, global Internet traffic dropped by a whopping 40 percent.

It seems like the Internet really does revolve around Google. In 2013, Google’s services were unavailable for only five minutes due to an outage and web traffic dropped by 40 percent. Google is the heart and soul of the internet. How important is your Google presence and global web traffic? Very.

There are more than 2.3 million Google searches conducted each minute.

What have you Googled today? When I “Googled” the appropriate temperature to bake Alaskan salmon, Google connected me with 338,000 results in under 0.81 seconds. The first result was more than satisfactory. With over 3.5 billion searches conducted a day, odds are that you’ve Googled something. It might have been that very search that led you here. Back when Google launched in 1995, users were conducting just 500,000 searches per day. Today, this statistic has more than quadrupled. The growth of organic search traffic has been growing consistently.


how many google searches stat alphametic

Sixteen to twenty percent of all Google searches are first-time queries.

How does Google answer questions that have never been asked before? Through extensive indexing, site crawling and millions of search precedents. Never before asked queries are more common than you’d think. Marketers should think about how to fashion their content strategy so that they find the right balance between targeting ultra-competitive, established keywords as well as the less popular queries that are ‘on the rise.’ Use Google Trends to find these niche golden nuggets.

The top five search results on Google get 70 percent of the clicks.

Does anyone ever go to the second page? Turns out, that your position within search results is of utmost importance. Studies show that the first five search results receive the most clicks (70 percent).

One in six people on the planet use Google.

A big chunk of the world is “Googling” away. With 2 trillion searches conducted on the planet every year, there’s no denying that Google is the world’s most powerful search engine giant.

how many people use google stat alphametic

Eighty-eight percent of smartphone users are using their device to conduct Google searches. 

In company with the previous statistic is the fact that the majority of cellphone users use their phones to conduct searches. According to the report Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, 88 percent of smartphone perform searches, making the need for a mobile-friendly website crucial. People are searching on the go, and are looking for local results. Google is looking to provide the most practical, precise and relevant local search results through their regularly updated mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. Optimize your local listings with a smart local search marketing plan in place.

Eighteen percent of local mobile searches lead to sales on the same day.

And what’s even more important, 18 percent of local searches will lead to a sale on that very day. In contrast, only 7 percent of non-local searches will. Capturing the local search market through SEO is a smart strategy. Potential customers and clients are searching, you just have to lure them to you. If you have a locally-focused business, you need to show up highly on Google Maps, and other local directories.


This article includes the summary of the key Google trends and statistics originally published on the Alphametic blog here.