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Moving from Conventional to a New-Age Digital Business – A Quick Guide for Newbies

Moving from Conventional to a New-Age Digital Business – A Quick Guide for Newbies

A little intro on the present

The COVID-19 outbreak is a sharp reminder that pandemics will continue to happen in the future. The current pandemic has had critical economic sequences, and still disrupting the business world. The companies have no option, but to review their strategies to overcome the crisis. How are companies using the current situation to enhance their competitive situation? While some businesses are struggling, some businesses are thriving. We will discuss this further.

Transformation of technology

The marketing world we are familiar with today is transforming right in front of us in ways in which we cannot entirely foresee. The internet is now over two decades old. However, the term new-age is used to describe the many digital media options that have come into existence in the last several years. Today, digital channels are mass and mainstream, reaching vast national and global channels. Digital media channels have enormous audiences that include both genders, all age groups, and an increasingly rural population.

Role-play of digitization

It is a fact that business marketing has evolved drastically over the last decades. Let’s have a brief about Traditional marketing, as it is a conventional method of marketing that helps marketers to reach out to a semi-targeted audience with several offline advertising and promotional practices. It consists of four fundamental aspects such as product, price, place, and promotion. The digitization of the marketing industry has brought about a seismic shift in the way we approach our potential customers, placing more control in their hands when it comes to how they consume their advertising. AI and VR are vastly becoming the norm in major marketing campaigns.

Understanding digital practices

Digital marketing promotes your business effectively and efficiently than conventional marketing strategies. If you do everything right it’s financially efficient too. The pathway to the digital world is not that easy, but trust me it’s worth considering. It is not just about making a WordPress website site and Social Media accounts for your business, your work does not end here! Just like anything else, digital marketing has several keys to success which are developing along with rapidly changing technology. Digital marketing helps especially small businesses to reach a huge customer base in the beginning.

Time for Call to Action

In digital marketing, we need to come up with clear instructions to the users to make them become a customer like a Sign-up now! This is what we call a ‘Call-to-Action’, without all these, your site will not look useful or engaging. These calls to action are important in all forms of buyer-oriented digital marketing no matter what it is. It can enhance your brand and make it visible and accessible for new customers.

Whatever marketing material it is, it must be direct, interesting, clutter-free, and always be clear and easy to understand. The primary message should convey a strong intention to users to click through to the landing page. Keep it simple and persuasive, that’s it.

Craft a perfect one

In digital marketing, crafting an ad for social media handles is just a part of the equation. You would also need a relevant landing page that is perfectly crafted. There is a need to spend extra time to build a few significant landing pages for a digital marketing campaign.

Use Social Wisely

Remember, it’s not enough to create social media pages. You have to update them regularly, that’s how you can reach new customers and engage your loyal clients as well. Limiting social page activity to promoting sales and offers won’t help here, you need to be wise to add creativity to your work and upload regularly. Don’t forget to monitor your social media pages and respond to comments. Be a bit more passionate and don’t shy away from having a conversation. Also, how do you respond to negative comments can help your brand, too. You always have to respond positively and send private messages to disgruntled customers to ask how you can make things right. As soon as the public gets to know that you are quite active on your social media handle, it will ultimately lead to more likes and comments on your post. Yes, this will also build trust and value of your brand. Showing your followers that you care only helps a business grow. One more key thing to do is, be very quick to list your business premise on google maps.

Conclusion

Don’t get too much comfortable with old methods and technology practices. Because technology is rapidly improving by the day and you have to keep up with the pace. Always welcome the latest technology practices to widen customer reach like never before.

5 Places To Get Ideas For Starting Your Next Business

5 Places To Get Ideas For Starting Your Next Business

You want to start a business. Awesome. So does 65% of the 20-something crowd. The fact that you’re on this website, reading this article, means that the odds are pretty high that you’re interested in starting a business.

Just one small thing. You need an idea.

Ideas are where businesses germinate. If you can come up with the idea, the business building part will follow.

Where do you get an idea? Here are five ways that you can come up with an idea for starting your next business.

1. Identify your biggest source of satisfaction.

Any career counsellor or job coach will tell you the same thing – ”Find something that you love doing.”

I almost hate to say the same thing, because it’s become so cliche. But here I go. You’ve got to do something that you enjoy doing. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll flourish and so will your business.

What gives you fulfillment and satisfaction in life? Well, you can probably do that – or some variation of it – for a living.

Tim Ferriss calls it a “muse,” which sounds a kind of fairy tale and dreamy. But it works, because it’s built on a solid principle: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” (Confucius)

Here’s how to turn this principle into a business idea:  Figure out how to monetize what you love.

You love rock climbing? How about being a rock climbing instructor?

You find fulfillment in organizing spaces and maximizing workflow? How about becoming a productivity consultant?

You love space travel? Then, heck, start building rockets.

Find out what you love. Do it, and turn it into a business.

2. Identify your biggest frustration.

Think for a minute. What’s the biggest frustration in your life right now?

Got it? Okay, good.

Now, what’s the solution to that problem?

There’s your business idea.

I’m not exaggerating, although I am simplifying the principle.

The greatest business ideas are born out of solving problems. Someone confronts a problem, comes up with the solution, and sells it.

What’s the problem? And what’s the solution? Something to trap the mice that are eating the chips in your pantry (mousetrap). A device that keeps diaper odour from ruining your entire home (diaper champ). An electric orb that eliminates unwanted darkness (thank you, Edison ).

The problems that you can solve are your most brilliant and profitable business ideas.

3. Think about the world’s biggest challenge – fifteen years from now.

Elon Musk is a forward-thinking innovator. Where did he get his ideas?

According to Musk, “I thought about what are the problems that are most likely to affect the future of the world — the future of humanity.”

He brainstormed the solutions to future problems. Musk probably knew that short-lived problems would have short-lived solutions. So he tackled bigger problems — the future of humanity problems.

So he founded PayPal, built rocket ships, created an electric car, designed a submarine car, and invented a tube-traveling capsule that will talk you from San Francisco to L.A. in thirty minutes.

So you may not need to design rockets or Hyperloop capsules, but the world will experience other types of problems down the road. What will they be? How can you start solving them now?

People are going to pay for those solutions. Maybe not today, but eventually they will. Now is the time to start thinking about it.

4. Start doing anything.

I’ve found that just doing anything is the best and fastest way to the perfect idea.

You can’t expect the best idea to come to you on the first attempt. You may have to try several times. You might have to try (and fail) two times before you land on the charm of the third.

You’ve got to just start doing something, anything. Try. Fail. Go for any idea, and just run with it until you have to stop.

You might avoid starting a business because you fear failure. But maybe failure is what you need. Maybe you need to fail a few times before you can succeed.

So, go ahead and start now. Do anything.

5. Unplug, and do something different.

An Entrepreneur article by Nadia Goodman, expressed this brilliantly:

New ideas require creativity, which thrives on novelty and diversity. You might find a great idea while you’re on vacation or unexpected inspiration in an experimental art exhibit.

New experiences, new destinations, new sensations — these are the types of things that inspire new ideas. You can’t brainstorm new, unless you experience new.

Find something new to do or somewhere new to go. What’s it going to be? Go to Burning Man, hike Inca ruins, bungee jump in Costa Rica?

Do something new, and you’ll get ideas like never before.

Conclusion

You can come up with an idea — an idea that will change the world, make you millions, or revolutionize an industry.

Great ideas aren’t the exclusive realm of smart and successful people. They are available to everyone. With these tips, I’ll be surprised if you don’t come up with at least one.

Where did you get the idea for starting your business?

Credit: Neil Patel

Why Start-ups Fail?

Why Start-ups Fail?

It’s not always the horse or the jockey.

Most start-ups don’t succeed: More than two-thirds of them never deliver a positive return to investors. But why do so many end disappointingly? That question hit me with full force several years ago when I realized I couldn’t answer it.

That was unnerving. For the past 24 years, I’ve been a professor at Harvard Business School, where I’ve led the team teaching The Entrepreneurial Manager, a required course for all our MBA’s. At HBS I’ve also drawn on my research, my experiences as an angel investor, and my work on start-up boards to help create 14 electives on every aspect of launching a new venture. But could I truly teach students how to build winning start-ups if I wasn’t sure why so many were failing?

I became determined to get to the bottom of the question. I interviewed or surveyed hundreds of founders and investors, read scores of first- and third-person published accounts of entrepreneurial setbacks, and wrote and taught more than 20 case studies about unsuccessful ventures. The result of my research is a book, Why Start-ups Fail, in which I identify recurring patterns that explain why a large number of start-ups come to nothing.

My findings go against the pat assumptions of many venture capital investors. If you ask them why start-ups fall short, you will most likely hear about “horses” (that is, the opportunities start-ups are targeting) and “jockeys” (the founders). Both are important, but if forced to choose, most VCs would favour an able founder over an attractive opportunity. Consequently, when asked to explain why a promising new venture eventually stumbled, most are inclined to cite the inadequacies of its founders in particular, their lack of grit, industry acumen, or leadership ability.

Putting the blame on the founders oversimplifies a complex situation. It’s also an example of what psychologists call the fundamental attribution error the tendency for observers, when explaining outcomes, to emphasize the main actors’ disposition and for the main actors to cite situational factors not under their control for example, in the case of a failed start-up, a rival’s irrational moves.

Putting scapegoating aside, I identified six patterns of failure, which I describe fully in my book. In this article I’ve chosen to focus on two of them in greater detail, for two reasons: First, they’re the most common avoidable reasons why start-ups go wrong. I’m not interested in clearly doomed ventures with no chance of success or even promising start-ups that were felled by unexpected external forces such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather, I’ve focused on ventures that initially showed promise but subsequently crashed to earth because of errors that could have been averted. Second, the two patterns are the most applicable to people launching new ventures within larger companies, government agencies, and non-profits, which makes them especially relevant to HBR readers. I’ll explain each pattern more fully, illustrate it with a case study, explain when it’s most likely to occur, and suggest ways to steer clear of it.

As I’ve noted, VCs look for founders with the right stuff: resilience, passion, experience leading start-up teams, and so forth. But even when such rare talent captains a new venture, there are other parties whose contributions are crucial to it. A broad set of stakeholders, including employees, strategic partners, and investors, all can play a role in a venture’s downfall.

Indeed, a great jockey isn’t even necessary for start-up success. Other members of the senior management team can compensate for a founder’s shortcomings, and seasoned investors and advisers can likewise provide guidance and useful connections. A new venture pursuing an amazing opportunity will typically attract such contributors even if its founder doesn’t walk on water. But if its idea is merely good, a start-up may not become a talent magnet.

Consider the case of Quincy Apparel. In May 2011 two former students of mine, Alexandra Nelson and Christina Wallace, came to me for feedback on their start-up concept. I admired both of them and was impressed with their idea, which identified an unmet customer need: Young professional women had a hard time finding affordable and stylish work apparel that fit them well. Nelson and Wallace, who were close friends, devised a novel solution: a sizing scheme that allowed customers to specify four separate garment measurements (such as waist-to-hip ratio and bra size) akin to the approach used for tailoring men’s suits.

Following the lean start-up method, Nelson and Wallace then validated customer demand using a textbook-perfect minimum viable product, or MVP—that is, the simplest possible offering that yields reliable customer feedback. They held six trunk shows at which women could try on sample outfits and place orders. Of the 200 women who attended, 25% made purchases. Buoyed by these results, the co founders quit their consulting jobs, raised $950,000 in venture capital, recruited a team, and launched Quincy Apparel. They employed a direct-to-consumer business model, selling online rather than through brick-and-mortar stores. At this point I became an early angel investor in the company.

Initial orders were strong, as were reorders: An impressive 39% of customers who bought items from Quincy’s first seasonal collection made repeat purchases. However, robust demand required heavy investment in inventory. Meanwhile, production problems caused garments to fit poorly on some customers, resulting in higher-than-expected returns. Processing returns and correcting production problems put pressure on margins, rapidly depleting Quincy’s cash reserves. After Quincy tried and failed to raise more capital, the team trimmed the product line, aiming to simplify operations and realize efficiencies. However, the business lacked enough funding to prove out the pivot, and Quincy was forced to shut down less than a year after its launch.

So why did Quincy fail?

Quincy’s founders had a good idea. The venture’s value proposition was appealing to target customers, and the business had a sound formula for earning a profit—at least over the long term, after shaking out the bugs in production. The team had credible projections that customers in priority segments, who’d accounted for more than half of Quincy’s sales, would each have a lifetime value of over $1,000 well in excess of the $100 average cost to acquire a new customer. (Quincy’s out-of-pocket marketing costs were kept low by social-network-fuelled word of mouth and enthusiastic media coverage.)

Were Wallace and Nelson simply poor jockeys? Temperamentally, their fit with the founder role was good. They were sharp and resourceful and had complementary strengths. Wallace, who was responsible for marketing and fundraising, had a big vision and the charisma to sell it. Nelson, who led operations, was deliberate and disciplined. However, the founder team wobbled in two important ways. First, unwilling to strain their close friendship, Wallace and Nelson shared decision-making authority equally with respect to strategy, product design, and other key choices. This slowed their responses when action was required. Second, neither founder had experience with clothing design and manufacturing.

A broad set of stakeholders, including employees, strategic partners, and investors, all can play a role in a venture’s downfall.

Apparel production entails many specialized tasks, such as fabric sourcing, pattern making, and quality control. To compensate for their lack of industry know-how, the founders hired a few apparel company veterans, assuming that they’d fill multiple functions as jack-of-all-trades team members do in most early-stage start-ups. However, accustomed to the high levels of specialization in mature apparel companies, Quincy’s employees weren’t flexible about tackling tasks outside their areas of expertise.

Quincy outsourced manufacturing to third-party factories, which was not unusual in the industry. But the factories were slow to meet production commitments for entrepreneurs who had no industry reputation, required unusual garment sizing, and placed small orders. This meant shipping delays for Quincy.

Investors also played a role in Quincy’s demise. The founders had aimed to raise $1.5 million but managed to secure only $950,000. That was enough to fund operations for two seasonal collections. Before launching, the founders had correctly assumed that at least three seasons would be needed to fine-tune operations. Quincy had some traction after two seasons but not enough to lure new backers, and the venture capital firms that had provided most of its money were too small to commit more funds. Furthermore, the founders were disappointed with the guidance they got from those VCs, who pressured them to grow at full tilt—like the technology start-ups the investors were more familiar with. Doing so forced Quincy to build inventory, burning through cash before it had resolved its production problems.

In summary, Quincy had a good idea but bad bedfellows: Besides the founders, a range of resource providers were culpable in the venture’s collapse, including team members, manufacturing partners, and investors.

Could this outcome have been avoided? Perhaps. The founders’ lack of fashion industry experience was at the root of many problems. It took time for Wallace and Nelson to master the complexities of apparel design and production. Without industry connections, they couldn’t leverage their professional networks to recruit team members or count on past relationships with factory managers to ensure prompt delivery. And without an industry track record, they had difficulty finding investors willing to bet on first-time founders.

An ideal solution would have been to bring in another co founder with apparel industry experience. Nelson and Wallace tried to do this, without success. They did have some advisers who could offer guidance but adding more would have helped. In a post-mortem analysis, Quincy’s founders also concluded that they could have sidestepped operational problems by outsourcing their entire design and production process to a single factory partner. Likewise, rather than raising funds from venture capital firms, they could have sought financial backing from a clothing factory. A factory with an equity stake in Quincy would have expedited its orders and worked harder to correct production problems. Also, the factory owners would have known how to pace the growth of a new apparel line, in contrast to Quincy’s VCs, who pressured the team for hyper growth.

Many entrepreneurs who claim to embrace the lean start-up canon actually adopt only part of it, neglecting to research customer needs.

Quincy’s troubles shed some light on the attributes that may make start-ups vulnerable to this particular failure pattern. Entrepreneurs’ lack of industry experience will be especially problematic when large, lumpy resource commitments are required, as they are in apparel manufacturing: Quincy’s founders had to design a multistep product process from scratch, and revising such a process is disruptive once it’s in place. Another factor was ever-shifting fashion trends; the founders had to commit to garment designs and then build inventory for an entire collection many months before it went on sale.

With such challenges, learning by doing can result in expensive mistakes. Compounding the pressure, investors prefer to mete out capital one chunk at a time, waiting to see if the business can stay on the rails. If the start-up stumbles or stalls, follow-on financing may not be forthcoming from existing investors, and potential new investors will be scared off. Pivoting to a better solution isn’t feasible when it requires large amounts of capital along with weeks or months to see if new approaches are working. In that situation entrepreneurs have no room for big errors, but a lack of industry experience makes missteps all the more likely.

False Starts

I have long been an apostle of the lean start-up approach. But as I dug deeper into case studies of failure, I concluded that its practices were falling short of their promise. Many entrepreneurs who claim to embrace the lean start-up canon actually adopt only part of it. Specifically, they launch MVPs and iterate on them after getting feedback. By putting an MVP out there and testing how customers respond, founders are supposed to avoid squandering time and money building and marketing a product that no one wants.

Yet by neglecting to research customer needs before commencing their engineering efforts, entrepreneurs end up wasting valuable time and capital on MVPs that are likely to miss their mark. These are false starts. The entrepreneurs are like sprinters who jump the gun: They’re too eager to get a product out there. The rhetoric of the lean start-up movement for example, “launch early and often” and “fail fast” actually encourages this “ready, fire, aim” behaviour.

The online dating start-up Triangulate experienced this syndrome in 2010. Its founder, Sunil Nagaraj, had originally intended to build a matching engine software that Triangulate would license to existing dating sites such as eHarmony and Match. The engine would automatically extract consumers’ profile data with their permission from social networks and media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and Netflix. The engine would then use algorithms to pair up users whose tastes and habits suggested that they might be romantically compatible. But VCs wouldn’t back the plan. They told Nagaraj, “Come back after you’ve signed a licensing deal.”

To prove to potential licensees that the matching engine worked, Nagaraj decided to use it to power Triangulates own dating site, a Facebook app that would also leverage the rich user data available to Facebook’s platform partners. VCs now showed interest: Nagaraj raised $750,000 and launched a dating site called Wings. The site was free to use and earned revenue from small payments made by users who sent digital gifts or messages. Wings soon became Triangulates main event; the licensing plan went on the back burner.

Wings automatically populated a user’s profile by connecting to Facebook and other online services. It also encouraged users to invite their friends to the site as “wingmen” who could vouch for them and provide a viral boost to the site’s growth. Less than a year after launching Wings, however, Nagaraj’s team abandoned both the matching engine and the wingman concept. Users found more value in recommended matches that were based on potential partners’ physical attractiveness, proximity, and responsiveness to messages criteria routinely employed by existing dating sites. The wingman role, meanwhile, was not delivering hoped-for virality and made the site cumbersome to navigate. Furthermore, many users were uncomfortable making their dating life an open book to their friends.

A year after launch, Wings’ user base was growing, but user engagement was much lower than expected. As a result, revenue per user fell far short of Nagaraj’s original projections. Also, with limited virality, the cost of acquiring a new user was much higher than his forecast. With an unsustainable business model, Nagaraj and his team had to pivot once again this time, with cash balances running low. They launched a new dating site, DateBuzz, that allowed users to vote on elements of other users’ profiles before seeing their photos. This addressed one of the biggest pain points in online dating: the impact of photos on messaging. On a typical dating site, physically attractive individuals get too many messages, and other users get too few. DateBuzz redistributed attention in ways that boosted user satisfaction. Less-attractive individuals were contacted more often, and attractive users still got plenty of queries.

Entrepreneurs should conduct a competitive analysis, including user testing of existing solutions, to understand the strengths and shortcomings of rival products.

Despite this innovation, Date Buzz like Wings had to spend far more than it could afford to acquire each new user. Lacking confidence that a network effect would kick in and reduce customer acquisition costs before cash balances were exhausted, Nagaraj shut down Triangulate and returned $120,000 to investors.

So why did Triangulate fail?

The problem was clearly not with the jockey or his bedfellows. Nagaraj had raised funds from a topflight VC and had recruited a very able team—one that could rapidly process user feedback and in response iterate in a creative and nimble manner. Weak founders rarely attract strong teams and smart money. This was not a case of “right opportunity, wrong resources,” as with Quincy’s failure. Rather, Triangulates demise followed the opposite pattern: “wrong opportunity, right resources.”

A clue about the cause of Triangulates failure lies in its three big pivots in less than two years. On one hand, pivots are foundational for lean start-ups. With each iteration, Nagaraj’s team had heeded the “fail fast” mantra. The team also followed the principle of launching early and often—putting a real product into the hands of real customers as fast as possible.

But there’s more to the lean start-up approach than those practices. Before entrepreneurs begin to build a product, lean start-up guru Steve Blank insists, they must complete a phase called “customer discovery” a round of interviews with prospective customers. (See “Why the Lean Start-up Changes Everything,” HBR, May 2013.) Those interviews probe for strong, unmet customer needs—problems worth pursuing. In Nagaraj’s post-mortem analysis of Triangulates failure, he acknowledged skipping this crucial step. He and his team failed to conduct up-front research to validate the demand for a matching engine or the appeal of the wingman concept. Nor did they conduct MVP tests akin to Quincy’s trunk shows. Instead they rushed to launch Wings as a fully functional product.

By giving short shrift to customer discovery and MVPs, Triangulates team fell victim to a false start and turned the “fail fast” mantra into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the team members had spoken to customers at the outset or tested a true MVP, they could have designed their first product in ways that conformed more closely to market needs. By failing with their first product, they wasted a feedback cycle, and time is an early-stage entrepreneur’s most precious resource. With the clock ticking, one wasted cycle means one less opportunity to pivot before money runs out.

Why do founders like Nagaraj skip up-front customer research? Entrepreneurs have a bias for action; they’re eager to get started. And engineers love to build things. So entrepreneurs who are engineers like Nagaraj and his teammates often jump into creating the first version of their product as fast as they can. Furthermore, at the risk of stereotyping, I’d offer that many engineers are simply too introverted to follow Blank’s advice and get out of the building to learn from prospective customers.

Founders without technical training also fall victim to false starts. They hear repeatedly that having a great product is crucial, so they bring engineers on board as soon as they can. Then, feeling pressure to keep those expensive engineers busy, they rush their product into development.

The good news is that false starts can easily be avoided by following a structured, three-step product design process.

#1. Problem definition.

Before commencing engineering work, entrepreneurs should conduct rigorous interviews with potential customers at which they resist the temptation to pitch their solutions. Feedback on possible solutions will come later; instead the focus should be on defining customers’ problems. Also, it’s important to interview both likely early adopters and “mainstream” prospects who may be inclined to purchase later. Success will hinge on attracting both groups, whose needs may differ. If their needs do vary, entrepreneurs will have to take the differences into account when formulating a product road map.

In addition, entrepreneurs should conduct a competitive analysis, including user testing of existing solutions, to understand the strengths and shortcomings of rival products. Likewise, surveys can help start-up teams measure customer behaviours and attitudes helpful data when segmenting and sizing the potential market.

#2. Solution development.

Once entrepreneurs have identified priority customer segments and gained a deep understanding of their unmet needs, the team’s next step should be brainstorming a range of solutions. The team should prototype several concepts and get feedback on them through one-on-one sessions with potential customers. Most teams start with crude prototypes, reject some and iterate, and then refine the ones that seem promising, gradually producing “higher fidelity” versions that more closely resemble the future product in functionality and look and feel. Prototype iteration and testing continue until a dominant design emerges.

#3. Solution validation.

To evaluate demand for the favoured solution, the team then runs a series of MVP tests. Unlike the prototype review sessions during step 2—conducted across the table with a single reviewer an MVP test puts an actual product in the hands of real customers in a real-world setting to see how they respond. To avoid waste, the best MVPs have the lowest fidelity needed to get reliable input that is, they provide no more “looks like” polish and “works like” functionality than are strictly necessary. Early MVP tests may take things further, assessing demand for a planned product through a Kick starter campaign or by soliciting letters of intent to purchase from business-to-business customers.

Success with the product design process may require a shift in the founders’ mindset. At a venture’s outset many entrepreneurs have a preconceived notion of the customer problems they’ll address and the solutions. They may fervently believe they’re on the right path. But during the product design process, they should avoid being too emotionally attached to a specific problem-solution pairing. Entrepreneurs should stay open to the possibility that the process will uncover more-pressing problems or better solutions.

#4. Maintaining Balance.

Of course, there is no way for founders to know which deadly trap they may face as they launch. Familiarizing oneself with these two dominant failure patterns can help. But so too can understanding why they afflict start-ups so frequently.

Part of the answer is that the behaviours that conventional wisdom holds make a great entrepreneur can paradoxically increase the risk of encountering these failure patterns. It’s important for an entrepreneur to maintain balance. Guidance based on conventional wisdom is good most of the time but it shouldn’t be followed blindly. Consider the following advice given to many first-time founders and how it can backfire:

JUST DO IT! Great entrepreneurs make things happen and move fast to capture opportunity. But a bias for action can tempt an entrepreneur to truncate exploration and leap too soon into building and selling a product, as I’ve explained. When that happens, founders may find themselves locked prematurely into a flawed solution.

Be persistent!

BE PERSISTENT! Entrepreneurs encounter setbacks over and over. True entrepreneurs dust themselves off and go back at it; they must be determined and resilient. However, if persistence turns into stubbornness, founders may have difficulty recognizing a false start for what it is. They likewise may be reluctant to pivot when it should be clear that their solution isn’t working. Delaying a pivot eats up scarce capital, shortening a venture’s runway.

BRING PASSION! A burning desire to have a world-changing impact can power entrepreneurs through the most daunting challenges. It can also attract employees, investors, and partners who’ll help make their dreams a reality. But in the extreme, passion can translate into overconfidence and a penchant to skip critical up-front research. Likewise, passion can blind entrepreneurs to the fact that their product isn’t meeting customer needs.

BOOTSTRAP! Because resources are limited, entrepreneurs must conserve them by being frugal and figuring out clever ways to make do with less. True enough, but if a start-up cannot consistently deliver on its value proposition because its team lacks crucial skills, its founders must decide whether to hire employees with those skills. If those candidates demand high compensation, a scrappy, frugal founder might say, “We’ll just have to do without them” and risk being stuck with bad bedfellows.

GROW! Rapid growth attracts investors and talent and gives a team a great morale boost. This may tempt founders to curtail customer research and prematurely launch their product. Also, fast growth can put heavy demands on team members and partners. If a team has bad bedfellows, growth may exacerbate quality problems and depress profit margins.

It’s fashionable in start-up circles to speak glibly about failure as a badge of honour or a rite of passage just another phase of an entrepreneur’s journey. Perhaps doing so is a coping mechanism, or perhaps failure’s ubiquity inures those in the business world to its true human and economic costs. I’ve counselled dozens of entrepreneurs as they shut down their ventures. Raw emotions are always on display: anger, guilt, sadness, shame, and resentment. In some cases the founders were in denial; others just seemed depressed. Who could blame them, after having had their dreams dashed and their self-confidence shattered? In my work I try to help people come to terms with failure, but I can tell you that at ground zero, there’s no way to avoid the fact that it hurts. It also can destroy relationships. When they founded Quincy Apparel, Nelson and Wallace vowed not to let conflict over the business threaten their close friendship. But after clashing over how to wind the company down, they weren’t on speaking Just do it!

Failure also takes a toll on the economy and society. A doomed venture ties up resources that could be put to better use. And it acts as a deterrent to would-be entrepreneurs who are more risk-averse, have financial obligations that make it hard to forgo a pay check, or face barriers when raising capital which is to say, many women and minorities. To be sure, failure will (and should) always be a reality for many entrepreneurs. Doing something new with limited resources is inherently risky. But by recognizing that many failures are avoidable and follow the same trajectory, we can reduce their number and frequency. The payoff will be a more productive, more diverse, and less bruising entrepreneurial economy.

Credit : Tom Eisenmann

9 Ways to Inspire Motivation in the Workplace

9 Ways to Inspire Motivation in the Workplace

Motivation is a powerful energy that drives and excites employees, which results in their maximum contribution. Setting and achieving goals, clear expectations, recognition, feedback, as well as encouraging management all contribute to an increase in workplace motivation. It flourishes in a positive work environment, which is why so many leaders want to learn new ways to motivate their workforce.

#1 LEARN WHAT PEOPLE WANT

For many employees, work is about the money.

Motivation is different for each of your employees. Every employee has a different motivation for why they work. But we all work because we obtain something that we need from work. The something that we need that we obtain from work has an impact on our morale and motivation.

Learning what employees want will help you formulate the next step when building motivation in the workplace.

#2 SET REALISTIC GOAL

How can you help a co-worker or reporting staff member find motivation at work? You can create a work environment that provides the greatest possibility for employees to achieve individual or group goals.

A motivating work environment provides clear direction so that employees know what is expected of them. Hand-in-hand with clear direction, employees should have goals that fit within the company’s strategic framework.

#3 PROMOTE POSITIVE EMPLOYEE SELF ESTEEM

People who have high self-esteem are more likely to continuously improve the work environment. They are willing to take intelligent risks because they have confidence in their ideas and their competence to take on new challenges while performing capably. They shine with motivation in your workplace.

They work willingly on team because they are confident about their ability to contribute. Nathaniel Branden, the author of “The Psychology of Self Esteem and “Self-Esteem at Work,” says, “Self-esteem has two essential components:

  • “Self-efficacy: Confidence in the ability to cope with life’s challenges. Self-efficacy leads to a sense of control over one’s life.
  • “Self-respect: Experience oneself as deserving of happiness, achievement, and love. Self-respect makes possible a sense of community with others.”

Self-esteem is a self-reinforcing characteristic. When you have confidence in your ability to think and act effectively, you can persevere when faced with difficult challenges. Result: You succeed more often than you fail. You form more nourishing relationships. You expect more of life and of yourself.

A motivating work environment enhances staff self-esteem. People feel like they are more, not less—more competent, more capable, more appreciated, more contributing.

#4 PROVIDE EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION

Employee recognition can increase motivation or leave the recipient feeling demoralized. Michael Blann / Getty Images

Employee recognition can increase motivation when it is offered and implemented effectively. It is one of the keys to successful employee motivation. Employee recognition follows trust as a factor in employee satisfaction with their supervisor and their workplace. In this instance, the stick should yield to the carrot.

#5 USE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT FOR MOTIVATION

Want to keep Your staff motivated about learning and work?The quality and the variety of training options that you supply for employees are key for motivation.

You can provide training including new employee onboarding, management development, new concepts for a work group, team building, and how to operate a new computer system. They all add to a working environment that employees would be proud to call home.

#6 PROVIDE AUTONOMY TO HIGH-PERFORMING EMPLOYEES

The challenge in any work environment is to create a culture in which people are motivated by their work. Too often, organizations fail to pay attention to the issues that are most important to employees: relationships, communication, recognition, and involvement.

Workers who perform well should not be rewarded by having a manager who is always looking over their shoulders.

If an employee is performing well, you should have no need to watch every little thing they do—in fact, your micromanagement is likely to destroy their intrinsic motivation in the workplace.

#7 CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS AND CREATE TRADITIONS

Traditions are as important in organizations as they are in families. Nothing is more important for employee motivation than the annual traditions workplaces create for seasonal holidays.

A holiday celebration builds positive morale, which results in increased motivation. High morale and motivation contribute to team building and productivity. Try some holiday and traditional celebrations to build positive morale and motivation in your workplace.

#8 TAP INTO EMPLOYEE DISCRETIONARY ENERGY

Employees choose how much discretionary energy to exert for their employers in the workplace. Discretionary energy is the extra drive that an employee exerts in service to co-workers and customers at work—or not. An employer pays for the fundamental tasks that he hires an employee to perform.

Discretionary energy is a symptom of motivation—only motivated employees contribute their discretionary energy at work. That isn’t necessarily the case.

The work environment that encourages employee discretionary energy contribution and motivation places emphasis on factors such as these.

#9 PROMOTE YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH AND MOTIVATION

No matter how positive your workplace culture and environment are, you have the starring role in promoting your personal growth and motivation. You can promote your own personal growth, motivation, and career development to overcome boredom, inertia, and staleness.

Your employer can contribute to your growth and motivation, too. These are the best workplaces for all employees.

Credits : Susan M. Heathfield

Creative Writing vs. Content Writing – More Different Than You Might Think

Creative Writing vs. Content Writing – More Different Than You Might Think

Most professional writing falls into two categories: creative writing and content writing. Writers have careers in both, but the work can be very different.

  1. What does creative writing mean?
  2. What does content writing mean?
  3. The key differences between creative and content
  4. Similarities between creative and content
  5. Which fits you best?

If you’re a writer, or you’ve considered writing, then you’ve likely already had the conversation with at least one loved one or colleague about your work. These conversations, in general, tend to go along the lines of considering someone who writes to be good at every aspect of writing. From copywriters being asked to write poetry to novelists being tapped up for press releases – to the broader world writing is, well, just writing.

While from an external perspective the concept of ‘writing’ as a whole can often be considered a general area of work or study, there’s far more nuance to what writing can mean than simply a blanket answer. We take a closer look at the difference between two very distinctive types of writing – creative writing vs content writing – to look at the significant differences between each kind of writing, and why you might be suited to one more than the other.

Read on to find out more about creative writing vs content writing, and what exactly it all means:

What does creative writing mean?

In many contexts, creative writing is the type of writing we’re typically brought up with from school age. Shakespeare, poetry, and even creating our own stories are all forms of creative writing that we either study or create ourselves.

As the name suggests, creative writing is more on the creative side. It is often considered more artistic thanks to it falling outside the typical rules for professional writing, or even academic and business writing. Creative writing can have many distinctive flairs, but typically it is descriptive or tells a story, and includes the development of scenes, plots, characters and narratives.

Creative writing is typically read for enjoyment, whether it’s in the form of non-fiction, poetry, novels or even in the form of movies and video games. Generally, when we’re talking about writing that can be considered creative, it also follows typical literary tropes in terms of its storytelling, its use of themes, and the level of emotion used in writing created.

As such, you can’t expect to find creative writing in your next office meeting, or the majority of marketing copy

What does content writing mean?

In comparison to creative writing, content writing – also known as copywriting – falls into a clear-cut set of rules and requirements. In the majority of cases, the creation of content writing is for a particular purpose and goal.

Rather than personal enjoyment, the content of this type is designed for easy consumption by a target audience and has the purpose of being persuasive and attractive to the reader. Typically, content writing is included as marketing materials and brand campaigns, and many companies have a specific style or tone of content that writers are required to comply with.

Content writing covers a vast range of different forms of writing, including writing for Search Engine Optimisation, to encourage conversions and sales, and generally to make a brand or business look more attractive and appealing to a broader audience. Social media, blogs, e-books, infographics, and more all utilize content writing to add to their professionalism as well as to give a brand-specific flair to created materials.

Generally, content writing is used in a business or workplace setting and is intended for a general virtual audience, defined by the marketing plan of that business.

The key differences between creative and content

Now we’ve got a better understanding of the difference between creative and content writing; we can examine what makes them so different from each other.

As you might expect, a range of factors is at play that make these styles and forms of writing so different. Once you’ve seen them, you’ll never be able to look at writing as ‘just writing’ again. These key differences include:

  • The purpose of writing – While creative writing is intended to express feelings, stimulate thoughts, and provide entertainment, content writing is designed to attract an audience and achieve a measurable outcome.
  • The style of writing – Creative writing can be very floral and verbose, painting a picture of a setting or person leisurely. In contrast, content writing should be to the point, clear, and offer a persuasive reason for the reader to learn more about that brand.
  • Where the writing is used – Creative writing is often confined to online sites, novels, and e-books, whereas content writing is more freely available online, from website copy to press releases and social media marketing.
  • The tone of voice – Creative writers have a great deal more freedom when it comes to the tone of voice they set out for their writing, whereas content writers are required to stick within the particular parameters and tone decided by the broader branding of a company.
  • Time constraints – While you might have been used to spending hours on a creative piece and days editing, the reality is that time is of the essence when it comes to content writing. You may find you are asked to come up with an article or web page at the drop of a hat, so having faith in your abilities to produce content quickly that is spot on is imperative.

Similarities between creative and content

While there are some similarities between creative and content writers, namely their skill in putting words onto paper or screen, much of that similarity ends there.

While those skilled at writing may find themselves pulled towards more profitable content creation as opposed to more emotion-led creative writing, if they are more inclined to greater freedom in their writing, they may find the transition a challenge. This isn’t to say it’s not achievable – but content writing often isn’t quite as easy as people think it should be.

Which fits you best?

So, which is the best fit for you? Perhaps your heart lies with creative writing, or you find yourself more drawn to the analytical and methodical style content writing provides. In some cases, part-time creative writers also supplement their income with content writing on the side, which does mean it’s possible to have the best of both worlds – if you’re good at flipping the switch from one style to the other.

For those looking into writing for the first time, your best bet is to play on your strengths. If your writing is flexible, to-the-point, and persuasive, then content writing might be your ideal fit.