Why Entrepreneurs Should Start Planning Their Next Vacation

Relaxing on the Beach

Entrepreneurs are hardworking individuals. When you start a business, you’re responsible for your own livelihood as well as that of your employees. It can be a heavy burden to bear.

The added weight on the shoulders might be why a large percentage of entrepreneurs find it difficult to break away from work for even a short period of time. For some, vacations seem impossible.

Entrepreneurs need to stop fearing vacations. If you don’t give yourself time to recharge, you could do more harm than good.

Here are a few reasons why you should start planning your next vacation:

  • Travel inspires fresh ideas. Most entrepreneurs think about their business all the time and there’s nothing wrong with that. The best ideas and visions might come to you while you’re in a relaxing setting, away from the office.
  • Travel tests automated systems. Most businesses with an online presence use some form of automation, be it lead generation or lead/sales nurturing. It’s nice to see how they will perform while you’re on vacation. Some things might work very well, while others need tweaking. Sometimes the only way to truly test your systems is to give them a real-world run-through.
  • Travel brings great personal rewards. It’s not selfish to reward yourself. Establish a vacation-based reward system that works for you – set a target goal to hit before you step away from your business. This is a great way to help push yourself and your business toward achieving landmark milestones.
  • Travel recharges your mind and body. Being an entrepreneur is mentally and physically tiring. Constantly running yourself into the ground leads to exhaustion, and your work inevitably suffers. When you get away and allow yourself to truly relax, you can focus on recharging your mind and body.
  • Travel helps you refocus. Though it may be hard to leave paradise, you’ll come back focused and ready to dive headfirst back into your work.

Embrace your time away and take full advantage of the many benefits a vacation offers for your body, spirit and business.

Click here to read the full article written by Jonathan Long, the founder of Market Domination Media®.

4 Fears You Should Have as a Business Owner

Overcome Business Fears

In business, some fears are actually healthy for you…if you know how to harness them.

  • Fear of Failure – Who’s to say this business venture will even work? Having a fear of failure is perfectly normal for business owners. But fearing failure shouldn’t paralyze you from moving forward. Use that fear to propel yourself to work harder than you even thought possible, and that concept of failing will be left in the dust.
  • Fear of Potential – We all have that little voice in our heads that tells us we can’t do something. But what happens when you ignore that voice? Rather than listening to that figment of your imagination, start listening to other people. They can see your potential better than you. You are capable of achieving whatever you want to achieve.
  • Fear of Imperfection – In reality, perfection isn’t possible. But this fear can drive you forward to get as close as you can to perfection. It can help you set high quality standards so that whatever you produce is magnificent and will please your customers.
  • Fear of Inexperience – We all start out knowing less than we will in the future about our businesses. But it can feel intimidating to enter a market where others are knowledgeable experts in the field. This fear can hold you back, because people can read your insecurities. Use this as motivation to learn everything you can about your industry and competition. It will take time, but if you’re dedicated, you too can become a thought leader.

Click here to read the full article written by Susan Payton.

Acing Your Professional Headshot

Professional Headshot

If you’re using a selfie you took in your car as your networking photo, it’s time for an upgrade. Your business headshot is a branding tool. It’s often the first impression many people have of your brand. Consider what your current headshot says to potential clients about you and your brand.

While investing in a professional headshot is your best option, you can still take your own headshot (with the help of a friend).

Here are some strategies to ensure your photo will say that you’re someone people should trust with their business.

  • Be Mindful of Your Background – Aim for something neutral that won’t compete for the viewer’s attention. Keep an eye out for anything that might appear to be sprouting out of your head, like a tree branch or painting.
  • Keep Your Clothing Simple – Business attire is best for a business headshot. Avoid patterns. Bold colors can work, but be careful that the color doesn’t clash or make you look pale. Get some outfit options that you can easily change up, like a jacket or a scarf that you can remove in one shot.
  • Have Fun with (Relevant) Props – A writer might be sitting at her laptop. An accountant could have a calculator in the shot. Small details can not only illustrate what you do, but also make your headshot stand out.
  • Play with the Angle – For most, having the photo taken from higher up is more flattering. This may or may not be the case for you. Have your photographer play with angles.

The key to a good headshot session is taking lots of photos. Aim for variation in expression, background, wardrobe, angles and lighting to give you more options.

Full article written by Susan Payton. Click here to read.

 

Finding Meaning in Your Work

Successful Entrepreneur

We all seek affirmation and want to know that the work that we do makes a difference. Money alone is not what motivates us, but rather purpose is what we value most. Here are a couple strategies that all of us can do to increase our sense of purpose and satisfaction in our work:

Envision the importance of what you do every day.
If you’re motivated only by a paycheck then things can get stale quickly. But if you’re driven by a desire to make a difference, the smallest contributions feel larger and more important.

Find your sense of purpose at work.
For decades, Americans have ranked purpose as their top workplace priority – above promotions, income, job security and hours.

Connect with your organization’s services and end-users.
By connecting directly with our end users, we can better appreciate our impact. Try to find ways to connect with your end users. Attend organization events. Call people. Ask them how the service that your organization offers is making a difference in their lives. Collect testimonials and refer to them from time to time as a way of reminding yourself about the good that you do every day.

Click here to read the full article written by Naphtali Hoff.

Advertising FAQs for Small Businesses

Small Business Marketing and Advertising

Running a small business means that you have to wear many hats and marketing and advertising is one of the most important. Making sure your potential customers know that you exist and know what you do is essential for any business to survive. Advertising can sometimes feel like a minefield. If you’re considering spending lots of money on marketing, don’t forget to budget for legal help. Having your marketing reviewed for legal compliance can save you time and money in the long run.

Click here to read an informative article written by George Khoury. He answers five frequently asked questions from small business owners regarding advertising and gives tips on how to make sure your ads don’t cross any legal lines.

Providing Feedback to Resistant Employees

Employee receiving feedback

Good, timely feedback is an important business tool, but what happens when your employee brushes off your feedback? Here are some actionable ideas on providing feedback.

  • Make the case. Your employee may not be aware that part of his or her job is to receive your feedback seriously and professionally. Explain the impact their resistance has on you, the organization, and their own professional reputation.
  • Get curious. Don’t assume that the receiver sees his or her behavior in the same way that you do. Acknowledge that you’re expressing an opinion and want to hear theirs too.
  • Use neutral language. Try to avoid words that carry negative connotations and place blame.
  • Ask for feedback yourself. You may not be giving your employee what he or she needs in order to hear, absorb and accept feedback. Be brave enough to ask for feedback and then model how to receive it.
  • Share a personal story. Normalize the experience of receiving feedback by sharing a personal story. Share the impact of that experience, what you learned from it, and how you’ve changed as a result.
  • Secure a commitment. Make a specific request for a behavior change, be open to counter-offers, and come to an agreement on the goal.
  • Acknowledge positive change. Start looking for evidence that your employee has taken your advice to heart and speak up when you notice them acting differently.

Click here to read the full article written by Deborah Grayson Riegel.

Posted in HR

Become a Master Networker

Networking

You know networking is an important business tool, but sometimes it can feel awkward. Here are ten tips to help you feel more comfortable.

  1. Create Your Relationship Action Plan – You need an action plan that outlines who you want to build connections with and how you plan on doing it.
  2. Be Interesting – A key to networking is being the type of person that other people want to interact with. To do that, you need to project positivity and be able to have engaging conversations.
  3. Make People Feel Special – Focus your attention on the person you’re trying to connect with. People want to feel like they matter, and to do that you need to show them that you genuinely care about what they have to say and express how much you appreciate them.
  4. Help Others – Once you help someone, you instantly become more likable because you relieved some of their stress and added value to their life.
  5. Join New Social Circles – If you can find a way to meet one person in a group you want to be involved in, you can start connecting with everyone in it.
  6. Become a Master Mentor/Mentee – Mentorships are one of the most valuable relationships you can invest in. There’s no better way to get ahead and expand your network than to spend time with people who have already achieved your goals.
  7. Be a Super Connector – You know those people who seem to know everyone? They’re known as super connectors because they’re the superheroes of the networking world. If they’re unable to help someone, they know a list of people who can, which makes them great friends to have.
  8. Have a Social Media Strategy – The key to fostering your network using social media is to always add value. Instead of randomly posting whatever comes to mind, consistently share relevant, funny and informative content that offers a glimpse into your life and the ideas you’re interested in.
  9. Diversify Your Network – Though building close relationships is essential for a happy, successful life, research shows you actually get more career related value from acquaintances you see only occasionally.
  10. Don’t Forget the Follow-Up – If you don’t follow-up, you will fail at networking. People are busy and if you don’t connect with them often, you’ll be forgotten. Follow up once every quarter with acquaintances and at least once per month with people you’re trying to build a closer relationship with.

To read the full article written by Vanessa Van Edwards click here.

Q&A on Roth 401(k)s

401K

Planning for your own retirement sometimes gets pushed to the back burner when you’re busy running a business. Take a few minutes to learn more about a valuable retirement planning option you can set up for yourself and your employees – a Roth 401(k).

What is a Roth 401(k) plan?

A Roth 401(k) plan is simply a traditional 401(k) plan that permits contributions to a designated Roth account within the plan. Roth 401(k) contributions are made on an after-tax basis, just like Roth IRA contributions. This means there’s no up-front tax benefit, but if certain conditions are met both your contributions and any accumulated investment earnings on those contributions are free of federal income tax when distributed from the plan.

Click here to read more.

Article brought to you by Altra Financial Advisors.

Workplace Injuries

Workplace Injuries

When an employee is injured on the job, the resulting medical costs can dig deep into your business’s bottom line. Rieva Lesonsky recently wrote an article on Small Business Trends regarding workplace injuries, including the most common workplace accidents and injuries and how to prevent them from happening.

The top five causes of accidents included: Material handling, slips, trips and falls, being struck by or colliding with an object, and cumulative trauma.

The top five types of injures included: Strains/sprains, cuts or punctures, contusions, inflammation, and fractures.

Accidents can happen with any type of job. Whether you’re using a ladder to stock shelves, moving, lifting, or carrying an item, or using a hammer to hang up a bulletin board there is potential for an accident to occur.

To lessen the risk of workplace accidents:

  • Prevent slips and falls by keeping common areas clear of obstacles and well lit. Use rubber mats or slip resistant flooring when appropriate and wipe up spills promptly.
  • Exercise caution when using ladders.
  • Provide safety equipment.
  • Educate employees about ergonomics.
  • Keep up-to-date on new hazards and educate employees about how to avoid them.
  • Create a culture of safety.

Workplace accidents and injuries will happen. For this reason, it is important to keep a well-stocked first aid kit on site, keep an accident report log, and have adequate insurance.

To read the full article click here.

Posted in HR

Small Business Connect – Session 3

SBC Highlights

Altra hosted the final session of a three-part Small Business Connect Event series on Business Finance Basics for business owners. Edward Jaekel from JRM CPAs joined us again to speak on the topic of business cash flow. Cash flow is one of the most critical components of success for your business. A business can be profitable on paper, but struggle because the timing of cash coming in doesn’t match the need for cash going out. This session gave attendees the tools needed to create cash flow projections, allowing business owners to make solid decisions about growth as well as taking care of existing bills. Click on the video link above to see highlights from Session 3. If you were unable to attend but are interested in watching the full presentation click here. For more information contact Altra Business Lending at 855-490-4518.