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Steve Strauss Headshot.pngBack when I was an anonymous young associate lawyer at a big law firm, I had big dreams. I wanted to be an author. The fact that I had never even had a letter to the editor published should have stopped me, but it didn’t. It took a lot of perseverance, striking out, and planning big, and eventually I was able to make the leap.

 

Many small businesses face similar dilemmas. Stuck in a rut, they oftentimes want to grow, make more money, and make a difference. The question is, how do you take your business from small to big?

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

As a small business owner, you are likely very comfortable with the way you do things. However, if you feel like you’re ready to grow and take your business to the next level, the first thing to understand is that it’s time to get uncomfortable; bigger businesses do things differently. Indeed, to play in the big(ger) leagues, you will need to let go of your old ways, and learn some new tricks.

 

Here are four of the most important small-to-big strategies to prepare you for that next step:

 

1. Have a Growth Strategy: The first thing you should do is compile a list of various ideas for growth that make sense for your business:

 

    • Spend more money on marketing, or
    • Open another location, or
    • Create an additional profit center

 

There is no shortage of ideas and strategies to help grow your business. Indeed, here on the Bank of America Small Business Community, you can find scores of articles on the subject. The important thing is to come up with and commit to a few strategies that make sense for your business.

 

2. Create a Team That Is Bigger Than You: Running the show solo is one of the most common mistakes among small business owners, even if it is very popular these days. 

 

Doing it all yourself is not wise – you need your support system. If growth is your game, then teamwork must be your name. To grow your business, it is essential that you pull together a team – employees, contractors, consultants, a board of advisers, partners, investors, etc. People invested in your dream and strategy.

 

SIX TIPS TO GAIN NEW CUSTOMERS

 

This is how bigger businesses are run – with a division of labor. With more people, you have a system for instant feedback and a diverse array of opinions, which are both crucial for growth. In addition, having more assistance, more contacts, and more expertise, will only help you to accomplish more than you could by yourself.

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3. Be Unique: To grow your business, you should be thinking practically and strategically. However, you should also be brainstorming to find that one thing – the X factor – that makes your business stand out from the crowd. Think about businesses you like and patronize. Isn’t it true they do something unique, different, special and better?

 

It’s because they have an X factor.

 

So that is the question you must answer: What is it that you offer that is different and better? Amazon sells more things, cheaper. Starbucks has better coffee served in a hipper atmosphere. You need to figure out your X factor if you want to go from small to big.

 

4. Plan Big: Planning big is different from thinking big (although thinking big is certainly a part of it). All entrepreneurs think big, but growth companies plan big. McDonald’s was a single Southern California restaurant until Ray Kroc showed up with a plan to franchise it.

 

Each of these four steps is part of the growth process. After you’ve created a great team, decided on your growth strategies, determined your X factor, and planned your world dominance, you will be ready to go from small to big.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Inaugural Report Highlights Optimism in 2017 for Hispanic Small Business Owners

 

Hispanic entrepreneurs are one of the fastest-growing segments of the small business sector, making contributions to the economy and job creation like never before. In order to more acutely understand the unique experiences and perspectives of this group, Bank of America surveyed approximately 300 Hispanic small business owners from across the country about issues ranging from their economic and business outlooks for 2017, to their views on lending and the role that their communities have in the success of their businesses.

 

For additional insights, see the Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight infographic below.  For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s Hispanic small business owners, download the full 2017 Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight (PDF).

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What if Amazon still only sold books? What if Starbucks still only sold coffee? What if McDonald’s only sold hamburgers? Would they be Amazon and Starbucks and McDonald’s? Would you have ever even heard of them?

 

So why are you still only selling the same few products or services?

 

What Amazon, Starbucks, McDonalds and countless other great businesses – big and small – learned is that one key to continued growth is creating new streams of revenue - multiple profit centers.

Steve Strauss Headshot.png

 

Look, I get it, being self-employed can be laborious. Even after things are finally off the ground and have become a reality, there is always more work to be done. In particular, one of those ongoing challenges is figuring out how to create a regular, steady stream of income. Some days this feels effortless, while others, it does not.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

If you’ve been in it for a while, then you have most likely figured out a few solid strategies that work for your business. You have created a recipe for success. Like a chef or a baker, your recipes can be used time and time again to create the same financial result. This is how you make your dough (groan, I know!). Your recipes could be anything - Twitter ads, monthly sales, an e-newsletter promotion, and so on.

 

However, the recipe method can backfire. A lot of small businesses make the mistake of figuring out one good recipe, sticking to it, and never figuring out a “plan B” once they’ve milked Plan A dry. Having only one moneymaking formula is a problem in that the cycle of business is inherently fluctuating; just because you have something that works now doesn’t mean it will work six months from now. Tastes changes, things get stale.

 

That’s why, in order to guarantee a steady income stream, you need to be like Amazon and Starbucks and create several moneymaking strategies – or “multiple profit centers” as Barbara Winter refers to it in her great book Making a Living Without a Job.

 

Let’s drill down into the Starbucks example. The Seattle behemoth creates many multiple profit centers, typically by introducing new products and with seasonal marketing. In the summer, Starbucks tends to market the heck out of its cold beverages, whereas in the fall and winter, an array of seasonal hot lattes are introduced.

 

Related article: The 7 Budgeting Tips You Need to Consider

 

It’s like being an investor - you need to diversify your portfolio.

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And what about Amazon? Amazon started out as a home-based business that only sold books, but eventually, Jeff Bezos realized that the company would make a whole lot more money if they offered a diverse array of products. He created multiple profit centers. Now they sell everything.

 

Amazon and Starbucks are two of the most successful businesses around. Both prioritize the need for multiple profit centers and both businesses did this early. Because they did this early, they ensured a solid, consistent flow of cash and made the right impression on customers. The earlier you can diversify your business, the better.

 

There are endless ways to add multiple profit centers to your business, whether you’re a lawyer, artist, contractor or restaurant owner. Look to see what the competition does, get creative with your own ideas, and before long, you too can be sipping a full-cafe revenue latte.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

No matter what type of business you own, whether you sell B2B or B2C, and even if you don’t directly cater to them, Millennial customers matter to you. Why is this generation, born between 1982 and 2000, so important to businesses? Consider these statistics.

 

  • Millennials (also known as “Gen Y”) are the biggest generation ever born in the U.S., topping 83 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Older Millennials—those aged 25 to 35—are entering their prime spending years. Accenture has projected that by 2020, Millennial spending will reach $1.4 trillion per year, and that this age group will account for 30 percent of all retail sales.

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

 

Size and spending power are part of what makes Millennials important—but as with the Baby Boomers before them, what matters most is their influence. Here are nine ways they are re-shaping the world and impacting small businesses.

 

1. They’re less interested in ownership. Millennials care less about “things” and more about “experiences.” With heavy student loan debt limiting their disposable income, they tend to spend what they do have on technology and travel. With ownership less of a priority, “sharing economy” business models such as Uber are thriving.

 

Related article: Selling to Millennials: 5 Tips to Market with Authenticity

 

2. They’re tech natives. Millennials are the first generation to grow up with computers as part of their daily lives – they go online, and mobile, for just about everything. Bank of America has reported that 96 percent of younger Millennials (aged 18-24) say mobile phones are the most important product in their lives. This “mobile-first” attitude is transforming retailing, marketing and banking, with mobile payments rapidly becoming a necessity for all types of businesses.

 

3. They’re taking a different approach to adulthood. Millennials are delaying marriage; 18 to 34-year-olds are more likely to be living with their parents than in any other type of living arrangement, Pew reports. Rather than marrying or buying homes, they’re focusing more on education. One-third of older Millennials have a four-year college degree or higher, making this the best-educated generation in the history of the U.S.

 

4. They’re becoming parents. Millennials want to be good parents and tend to take a more lighthearted approach to parenting than the generations right before them. In 2015, Millennial moms accounted for more than eight in 10 births.

 

5. They want it now. Trained to expect immediate gratification, Millennials expect businesses to make their lives easier and more convenient. They rely on mobile apps for everything from chatting with friends to banking or booking travel arrangements. Because convenience is paramount, they’re less brand-loyal than prior generations.

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6. They’re influencers. Millennials have impact both up and down the demographic ladder. They influence their children’s purchases, and influence their parents’ in turn. For instance, Millennials are likely to be early adopters of new technology; once Millennials become comfortable with technology, the older Gen X’ers and Boomers will adopt it as well.

 

Click here to read more from small business expert Rieva Lesonsky

 

7. They trust peers, not ads. Having lived through the Great Recession, Millennials tend to distrust institutions—including businesses and traditional advertising. Instead, they turn to their friends, family and peers for recommendations. Fifty-five percent of Millennials say they learn about products, promotions and offers on social media. Millennials are making user-generated content, social media and online reviews the primary means of earning trust.

 

8. They’re racially and ethnically diverse. More than four in 10 Millennial adults (43 percent) are non-white, Pew research says—more than in any prior generation. By 2043, the Census Bureau projects, the U.S. population will become majority non-white, and Millennials are leading the way. Stereotypes or marketing messages that aren’t inclusive won’t work with this generation.

 

9. They’re socially responsible and expect businesses to be the same. For Millennials, social responsibility goes beyond caring for the environment. It extends to issues such as how you treat your employees or whether your products are fair trade. Whether you get involved in social causes by donating money or volunteering, make sure your efforts are legitimate—Millennials can smell inauthenticity a mile away.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

From the day that you first decided to start a small business, you have been the lifeblood behind every activity. You've done it all – making every decision and watching over every operation. But, what happens next?

 

Whether you want (and need) a vacation, fall ill, want to retire or maybe just find someone to take the business to the next level, you want to know that the business will be safe and prosper. You need to have confidence in someone else who can take on the mantle.

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Trusting someone else to take over for you is a necessity, even if it's one of the toughest aspects of small business ownership.

Here are six things you can do to make sure that everything gets done to your satisfaction when you can't be there.

1. Identify likely candidates

Do you have a second in command who is always there to lend you a hand in a pinch? That person may be the logical person to take the reins, but don't ignore some candidates that are less-obvious choices.

You might be impressed by less-visible employees who consistently make suggestions on efficiency and cost savings. Others may be going to night school on their own dime to learn business management. You might notice that team members turn to one person within their ranks for leadership. So, while one person who is gunning for the job may be the perfect choice, cast a wider net to make sure that you find the right new you.

Also, look outside the business to others who have been in similar industries, have strong management styles and share common values with you and your business.

Related article: 8 Different Types of Small Business Management Styles – What’s Yours?

2. Learn what you know

Don't expect to jump immediately into the training process. You've been doing the job for a long time, so chances are you take the details of your job for granted and may forget to mention them to a CEO-in-training.

Do you have a list of people to notify when you issue a new policy? If you change the color of a product that you purchase from your primary vendor, do you have to make sure that backup vendors can also accommodate the change in a pinch? Do you know of a small glitch in the production process that affects the delivery date you promise to customers?

There's a reason why they say the devil's in the details. Make sure that you know every one of them before you try to teach anyone to step into your shoes.

3. Do some hand-offs – and coach

You're no different than every small business owner who has an overabundance of work. Wouldn't it be nice to go home at 5 pm once in a while? You can accomplish this by handing off some of your responsibilities to the candidates you selected.

Whether you hand over bookkeeping tasks, managing human resource issues or even making more decisions, don't expect speed or perfection at the outset. In fact, don't expect to get home by 5pm right away either. Since you must initially take on the role of trainer, you absolutely need to resist the temptation to say "I can do it more quickly myself."

Be prepared to teach, supervise and answer countless questions. But, your efforts will help you gain more free time eventually — while identifying which candidates have the skills and aptitude as leaders.

Click here to learn more from our small business expert Carol Roth

4. Be a true mentor

Step-by-step training alone does not create head honchos. Your protégé needs confidence that can only be created through a full mentor relationship. You need to establish a friendship that encourages honest two-way communication.

Your candidate must be comfortable to readily express concerns about anything, including taking the top leadership role. You need to start the conversation to get the ball rolling. Telling your mentee stories about your own experiences making difficult decisions or handling tough customers is better than just asking if there are any questions or concerns.

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Also, communicate to other staff about why you have confidence in this person and why you believe that even if their style is different, they will be an ideal person to lead the company’s continued success.

5. Go away

You can't predict someone's abilities until you test them. While you probably shouldn't plan a six-month world tour right away, all of your mentoring efforts have certainly earned you a week on a beach sipping daiquiris. Don't be overly available for questions. If you can't leave your devices at home, at least leave them in your hotel room. Your protégé needs the opportunity to exercise decision-making muscles.

If you are bringing in an outside candidate, consider moving to an executive chairperson role so you still have some say, but the day-to-day rests firmly in the other person’s camp.

6. Don't expect a clone of yourself

The objective of replacing yourself is to ensure that your company will continue to thrive without you at the helm for a week, months or forever. Your replacement's role is to get the job done — not to get the job done your way. Every person has individual ways of reaching specific goals. If you prepare them properly, don't be surprised if you learn a few new tricks from them along the way.

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

My dad owned two businesses. His first was a single store that he and his partner grew to be one of the largest chains in California. The second, later in his life, was a carpet warehouse. While dad liked that second business, it was never nearly as successful as the first one.

 

Why is that? The main reason was because he didn’t have a partner involved in his second business. There was a certain energy that surrounded them and that business. While dad didn’t always love having to account for his partner, he sure did have fun and make a lot of money. As partners, they complemented each other so well that their venture couldn’t help but reflect their synergy (even if sharing the sandbox was not always easy).

Steve Strauss Headshot.png

 

As an entrepreneur, it’s natural to want to do much of everything ourselves; that is in our nature. Your business is your passion and your brainchild, so it makes sense that you may think that you are the one best suited to actualize your vision – and my Dad oftentimes thought that. It certainly feels unnatural for many small business owners to relinquish control.

 

Unfortunately, you probably need to.

 

Not even the best entrepreneur can do it all on their own. Ben has Jerry, Bill Gates had Paul Allen, Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak, my dad had his partner Phil – you get the point. The numbers don’t lie: according to SCORE, the best startups are approximately 59% more likely to have more than one founder than less successful startups.

 

There are many reasons for this:

  • It saves money. A partner can be an investor in your business and someone with whom to share financial responsibilities
  • You will have someone to bounce ideas off of. Two heads are better than one
  • Better delegation = less to do = more free time = more energy
  • Networking opportunities. Bringing in a partner will instantly increase your list of contacts and clients

 

Related article: The 6 Essential Teammates Your Small Business Must Have

 

Pretty convincing, right? Once you have accepted that you just may, in fact, need a business partner, the question then becomes: how do you go about finding the right one? Here are five things to keep in mind:

 

1. Start with your strengths and weaknesses: By knowing yourself, you will know what your business needs in order to thrive. Look for a business partner with a different skillset than your own. It’s sort of like the Yin/Yang symbol – combined they make a whole. That is what you want.

 

If you tend to procrastinate and forget deadlines, you may want a partner that’s good with time management and organization. If you are not really a people person, find someone who is. By balancing your weaknesses with another person’s strengths, the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.

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2. Look for someone who shares your values: Even though you certainly need somebody with a different skillset, you still need to make sure that you both share the same values and have the same vision for the business.

 

3. Take your time: Don’t rush into a partnership hastily as the stakes are very high. You need time to evaluate your potential partner – is he or she trustworthy? Are they good at listening? Do they need constant direction, or are they good at acting independently?

 

One tip is to try working on a few projects with them before jumping into a full partnership to test the waters and see how it goes. You can think of this as dating before getting married.

 

Related article: 5 Steps to Finding a Business Mentor

 

4. Choose carefully: A partnership is like a marriage. You will be spending a lot of time together and sharing decisions. Similarly, each partner can make financial decisions for the union that both are responsible for. So, take your time and remember that half of all marriages end in divorce. Choose wisely.

 

5. Put it in writing: No matter how much you trust this person, putting as much in writing as possible should always be the cardinal rule. Your contract should specify who will be doing what, how much money is involved, and the conditions for backing out if things go wrong.

 

I want to quote the movie Jerry Maguire here. “You complete me.” Almost, but not quite; a little maudlin. Instead let’s say that a good partner should help you grow the business such that you will both be able to say, “show me the money!”

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

When you’re self-employed, investing for retirement is entirely up to you. Here are some ways to put away money for your future.

 

  • Start a savings plan. A popular option for the self-employed is a Simplified Employee Pension, or SEP IRA, says Thomas Carter, vice president of Personal Retirement Strategy & Solutions at Merrill Lynch. "These have a much higher contribution limit than traditional IRAs." Generally, a sole proprietor with no employees can make deductible contributions of up to 20% of her earnings from the business, up to the maximum annual limit ($53,000 for 2016).

    Callout.gifFor traditional and Roth IRAs, the maximum is $5,500 ($6,500 for those aged 50 and older). As with traditional IRAs, you contribute pre-tax dollars to a SEP IRA, which won't be taxed until you withdraw the funds in retirement.


  • Contribute steadily. Freelancers often contribute one lump sum to a retirement plan at year's end, says Carter. "But that means investing a year's worth of savings all at once," he says. Regularly contributing smaller amounts may allow you to capture lower prices as markets fluctuate, depending on the market prices at the time you contribute.

 

  • Seek additional income. If your gig doesn't let you sock away enough money for retirement, look for other ways to generate income. "Perhaps you have a spare room to rent out," Carter says. "Or you might consider driving for a ride-sharing company a couple of evenings per week."

 

3 Questions to Ask Your Advisor

  1. Could a SEP IRA be right for me?
  2. How much can I afford to put towards retirement savings each year?
  3. What are some more ways I can boost my retirement savings?

 


Keep in mind that dollar cost averaging cannot guarantee a profit or prevent a loss in declining markets. Since such investment plan involves continual investment in securities regardless of fluctuating price levels, you should consider your willingness to continue purchasing during periods of high or low price levels.

Last year I wrote a USA TODAY column outlining that my No. 1 small business trend was the rise of “the gig economy.” The gig economy refers to the rising number of employees who make a chunk of their income via various independent contracting and freelance work, or “gigs” (such as driving for Uber, delivering for Postmates, selling on EBay, or writing freelance content.)

 

Because the lines have become so blurry, it is fairly difficult to measure just how big the gig economy is (the Department of Labor is working on an official number). However, Intuit estimated that in 2015 there were about 3.2 million people regularly working in the gig economy, and that by the year 2020, that number will double.

 

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So what explains this labor trend, and what does it mean for your small business? There are two driving factors.

 

The first stems from what I call the Not-So-Great Recession. Once the recession hit, a lot of businesses – large and small alike – came to the conclusion that they could avoid the expensive requirements that come with hiring full-time employees such as, benefits, payroll taxes, worker’s comp – you know the drill. As a result, we are seeing a dramatic spike in the number of part-time employees and freelance workers (in fact, a whopping 79% of gig workers work other part-time jobs).

 

The second factor is that the digital age has made creating a side-gig very easy. There are tons of user-friendly websites and apps that provide ready-made platforms for these gigs, sites like UpWork and Freelancer. And, given the fact that nobody can make a living with part-time wages, it naturally follows that a lot of those part-time workers are doing whatever they can to grow their income. This is not a huge challenge with additional sites and options like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Airbnb, and Craigslist available.

 

Related article: A Guide to the Gig Economy

 

As a small business owner, you might be wondering what the gig economy trend means for your employees and for your business. Maybe you’re concerned that if you have an employee who works one or two or three other side gigs, they’ll show up to work distracted, tired, and stressed. These concerns are not unfounded, but don’t jump the gun and enforce any strict rules on your employees just yet. First, consider these four reasons why an employee may join the gig economy:

 

1. First, many employees feel underpaid or underworked, and that is part of the reason they are driven to create a side gig. If it is absolutely critical to you that your employee is focused solely on your business, you might need to seriously think about either giving them a raise, more hours, or more interesting work. You have to decide what is more important to your business: Saving that extra buck or having an employee who’s all in.

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2. The gig economy is entrepreneurial. As any entrepreneur knows, taking control of one’s income and free time is very empowering and morale-boosting. You might find that your employee is actually more focused and present while at work because of it.

 

3. What used to make sense might not make sense anymore. That is, accepting this labor transformation is probably the way to go. As a business owner, you know how to adapt and expect change. It will behoove you to be flexible, thoughtful, and open to this shift.

 

4. Understand that the gig economy is happening everywhere. If you think this is just a local fad that will die out soon, you’re wrong. In fact, half of the U.K.’s workforce is expected to join the gig economy in the next five years.  Furthermore, the E.U. experienced a 45% increase in the number of independent workers between the years 2012 and 2013 alone. This is a global trend to boot, and it is only expected to grow.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss.

 

As a leader amidst all this development, it is always wise to assess where your business can accept change and where things need to remain the same. The growth of the gig economy appears to be inevitable, so it might be best to place this one in the former category. If you can accept it, work around it and encourage honesty among your employees, it might not be so bad.

 

It could even be great.

                                                              

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Whether you own an e-commerce website, a brick-and-mortar retail store or both, you’re undoubtedly dealing with more returns than usual this time of year. In fact, UPS dubbed January 5th “National Returns Day,” and estimated in the first full week of January, more than 5.8 million packages were returned using UPS alone. How can you make the return process easier for both your customers and your business? Here are my top tips:

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If you sell online:

Offer free returns. Let’s face it: You're competing with Amazon, Nordstrom, Zappos and other big companies that offer free returns. In today’s world, many online shoppers won’t even consider buying from you if they have to pay for returns. Build the cost of free returns into your product prices, even if that means charging a little more; you’ll make up for it in customer satisfaction, loyalty and future orders.

Provide return shipping labels. “Easy-to-print return labels” and “Return label in the box” are key factors for a seamless ecommerce return experience for your customers, according to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study. Labels should include clear directions on how to return the product, such as what paperwork needs to be included in the box, whether it needs to be shipped by a specific carrier and where to drop it off.

Set customer expectations. Make sure return and exchange information is easy to find via a link at the top of your website. You can also include this information (or links to it) on individual product pages, as well as in follow-up emails sent after a product has been delivered.

Click here to read more General Business articles.

Allow in-store returns. If you have a physical store in addition to your e-commerce site, give customers the option to return online purchases in-store. Sixty percent of those in the UPS study prefer making in-store returns than returning by mail (plus, each visit to your store is an opportunity to make a new sale). Just be sure all store employees are well trained in handling online returns.

If you own a brick-and-mortar store:

Make it fast. Consumers in the UPS study say speed is a top factor in making in-store returns a positive experience. Consider setting up a special area for returns during high-volume times; this will shorten wait times and keep customers happy. Be sure signage clearly indicates which line is for returns. There’s nothing worse than waiting in a long line at checkout to return something, only to be told you have to start over again in the special return line.

Train all salespeople to handle returns. If salespeople always have to call a higher-ranking employee or manager over to finish a return, you’re slowing down the process unnecessarily. Post step-by-step directions for returns at the checkout so your salespeople can refer to them easily.

Related article: The Value of Customer Loyalty

Make returns a positive experience. Lots of us enjoy shopping, but no one likes returning things. It’s a hassle, and customers who are disappointed in a product are in a negative frame of mind to begin with. If your sales clerks sigh loudly, look irritated or roll their eyes, they make the problem worse. Train your employees to treat customers with returns cheerfully and professionally—it’s key to retaining their business.

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Communicate your return policy early and often. Have salespeople briefly explain the return policy during the transaction (“We accept returns any time within 90 days as long as you have your receipt.”). Print key return information, such as time limits, on receipts. Have your return policy clearly posted at checkout.

No matter what type of retailer you are:

Be willing to make exceptions. The way you handle a complicated return situation can make or break your relationship with the customer. Empower your salespeople to use their discretion and make exceptions when warranted.

Use returns as a learning tool. Both online and brick-and-mortar retailers should always ask the reason for return, either in person or on the return form. By tracking information about specific products and reasons, you’ll spot trends and problems. For instance, you might find that one supplier has started providing poor-quality merchandise, or that clothing is more likely to be returned if the description doesn't include fabric content.

Prevent future returns. E-commerce retailers will find that providing as much product information as possible—including multiple photos, videos, detailed size information, dimensions and materials—reduces returns because there are fewer surprises when the product is received. Letting customers write product reviews helps eliminate returns by alerting shoppers to issues, such as clothing that runs small.

Handle returns right, and they can actually increase customer satisfaction, build customer loyalty and give you insights into your product assortment.

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

I am in a fortunate position to receive a lot of requests – both from people I know and those I have never met – to “be their mentor.” While I am always flattered that someone wants to learn from me, the cold ask is not a method I advocate for finding the mentorship you need.

 

Instead, follow these five steps:

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1.     Know what you are looking for and when

 

Finding mentors is not supposed to be like collecting baseball cards. You don’t just go after every high-profile business person you meet. Instead, think about what kind of information, connections and assistance will be helpful for you right now. This will likely change during the course of your business – a great mentor for when you are starting out will likely be different than the one when you are thriving. So, be really clear on what you need to help you find the best fit.

 

2.     Shoot low

 

Yes, everyone would love Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson and Warren Buffett as a mentor. But not only are they not likely the best fit for what you need, they are really busy and most likely have no connection to you.

 

Look to people in your network that have the relevant information you are seeking. You might find it is a peer who has walked that path before, or an immediate boss that’s most likely to add value to your professional development. 

 

3.     Keep it informal

 

True long-term mentoring comes out of growing a long-term relationship. So keep your sights on someone you know or have met. Then, instead of asking someone to “be your mentor,” which sounds very formal and possibly like a big obligation, make a more reasonable ask: “Do you have time to answer a few questions or grab coffee?”

 

Most people advocate dating before you get married. The same goes for mentors. As the relationship grows, it may resemble a mentor-mentee relationship, or you might just get a few valuable nuggets and move on.

 

4.     Check in and update

 

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Don’t expect someone who “mentors” you to chase you down. If someone provides you great information, connections or advice, keep them posted on your progress from time to time as you advance. Then, if it seems appropriate, you can seek additional counsel.

 

5.     Seek five-minute mentors

 

I personally have never had a permanent mentor that has guided or shaped my career. Rather, I have learned from a series of individuals of whom I asked questions or made connections along the way.

 

Don’t pressure yourself to just find that mythical one person who will take you under their wing and make you a billionaire. That’s on you. However, there are plenty of daily learning opportunities from people who have been successful (and have failed). Take the initiative to identify those learnings and build upon them.

 

About Carol Roth: Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Change is in the air, is it not? With the weather cooling, plants going dormant, and the presidential campaign over, it’s clear that new seasons are upon us.

 

If we trust the cyclical nature of both weather and democracy, now is the perfect time for us to make some positive changes, especially as we head into the new year. Indeed, polishing our productivity program (if not perfecting it) might be the perfect way to prepare for the new year.

Here then are six effective, simple productivity hacks that can make a big difference next year:

 

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1. Make your bed in the morning: I know that might sound silly, especially to start such a list, but according to both Business Insider and Psychology Today, the simple task of making your bed in the morning can do a lot of good for your productivity.

 

As it turns out, starting your day by immediately checking something off your to-do list gives you a baseline level of momentum that can snowball throughout the rest of your day. Typically, that domino effect does not start until after you arrive at work, and even then, maybe not until you’ve had a cup of coffee or two.

 

Extra bonus – your bed is made!

 

2. Get the easy tasks done first: Along the same lines, productivity experts suggest that tackling small tasks first thing in the day – things like paperwork and email – makes you more effective because they have a much more finite and predictable timespan than working on a big, important presentation or writing up a proposal.

 

Of course it is great to be enthusiastic about your challenging assignments, but doing the busy work first will ultimately free up the rest of your day for you to work on the more important things, and that is also better to do once you are revved up and in a rhythm.

 

3. Avoid the perfection trap: Yes, of course you want to do a great job, and you should, but just remember that sometimes it behooves you to just get stuff done instead of getting stuff done perfectly.  This is especially true when that extra time and effort won’t make a big difference.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss.

 

4. Turn off phone notifications: It’s a good idea for many reasons to power down and put away your mobile devices altogether every now and then. That said, it’s not always possible, and in that case, it can be just as effective to simply go to your settings and turn off notifications for the things that distract the most, such as email, texts, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

 

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Forgetting about your phone for a while is one of the very best things you can do to save time and boost your productivity.

 

5. Take breaks: Your brain is an organ that needs rest, just as much as your heart does after a workout. If we never refill our tanks, we will inevitably run out of gas. So go ahead, break up your day and spend some time refreshing yourself in whatever way works best for you. Self-care is just as important as hard work, especially with winter on the horizon.

 

And yes, the new trend towards mindfulness is hot for a reason – because it works.

 

6. Exercise: As you likely know, the body and the mind have a direct, symbiotic relationship; you will notice an instant difference in your clarity of mind, memory, energy level and productivity if you make fitness a part of your routine. Making a concerted effort to exercise is a defining feature of some of the most successful people, such as Richard Branson, President Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Cuban.

 

So go ahead, make some of these easy changes and I guarantee your 2017 will be more productive. 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss. You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

SBC Team

A Guide to the Gig Economy

Posted by SBC Team Jan 4, 2017

Header Image.jpgNEARLY A CENTURY AFTER JAZZ MUSICIANS of the 1920s coined the term "gig" to describe a temporary engagement at a club or concert hall, it has reentered the workforce lexicon. In today's booming "gig economy," millions of people, empowered by advances in digital technology and often motivated by difficulty finding full-time work, are relying on temporary engagements to earn a living.

 

While estimates vary, a recent study by prominent labor economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger reported that 16% of American workers are involved in gig-type "alternative work arrangements," up by half from just a decade earlier.

 

The prototype could be the ride-share driver, a contract employee who's primed to pick up passengers at the buzz of a smartphone. There's also the recent graduate getting a foot in the door by doing project work at a company. Or a woman easing back into the workforce after raising her family. They're all joining mid-career professionals looking for a more flexible lifestyle, aspiring entrepreneurs, moonlighters and retirees whose talents remain in demand.

 

Pullquote0 PM.jpg"Many retirees aren't quite ready to stop working, so they've created gigs to stay busy and enhance their finances," says Karin Kimbrough, head of Macro and Economic Policy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

 

How to Succeed in the Gig Economy
Thriving in the gig economy takes a combination of skills, hustle, good luck and sound advice. Here are three people who are making it work for them.

 

Just starting out. Matthew Daray, 25, of Palatine, Illinois, studied journalism and creative writing in college and is currently on a six-month contract as a medical writer for a large pharmaceutical firm. "It's not a bad gig—for now," he says. "But full time is definitely the goal."

 

Daray is making his present situation work by living with his parents and staying on their health-care plan for as long as he's eligible. Meanwhile, he's talking with his family's Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor, Randi Merel, about ways to boost his savings so he'll be prepared for emergencies—not to mention long-term goals such as buying his own home. To bring greater discipline to Daray's savings strategy, "we've set up a regular transfer from his check-ing account to a savings account. We can then withdraw those dollars to invest," Merel says. "That way, he doesn't really miss the money."

 

Not ready to retire. Another of Merel's clients, 59-year-old Ric Noreen, joined the gig economy at a different stage of his career. Five years ago, he took an early-retirement offer from his job as a senior marketing and strategy executive. "It was an opportune time to start what I call a virtual consulting business," he says.

 

Thanks to technology, his new Chicago-area business, Waypoint Strategic Solutions, is able to serve a wide variety of clients across the country. And Noreen is loving the challenge. "One of the surprises to me is how transferable my skills are across industries," he says.

 

Noreen and his wife and business partner, Sarah, are empty nesters; their health insurance is covered by a provision in his early-retirement agreement. Still, with concerns about the uncertainty of their future income, the Noreens have worked with Merel to remove some of the risk from their portfolio. Says Noreen, "When the steady paycheck goes away, asset preservation becomes a bigger part of the strategy."

 

Jumping back into the job pool. After 15 years devoted to raising four children, Jane MacKeen of Sudbury, Massachusetts, was ready to return to the workforce, but not to her previous career in media sales. Instead, she earned a masters degree in dietetics. Starting in 2014, the former college swimmer began her current gig teaching corporate employees and private clients about wellness.

 

"Jane and her husband, Mike, did all the right things when she was younger—opening an IRA, putting money in a 401(k), starting to save for her kids' college," says Mary Mullin, MacKeen's Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor. Combining experience in sales with her love of wellness, gig work "has afforded me the opportunity to explore a new field, while still having time with my family as I transition back into the workforce," MacKeen says. And using her gig work as a bridge, she recently landed a full-time position at a company that uses wellness programs to help employers improve the well-being of their employees while reducing health-care costs.

 

Working Without a Net
Whether you're making the move by necessity or choice, supporting yourself without such traditional benefits as paid vacations and employer-sponsored health-care and retirement plans requires careful planning and a clear sense of what's ahead. Here are some basics to consider if you're contemplating diving into the gig economy.

 

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The health-care puzzle. Rising health-care costs are especially challenging for self-employed people if there's no employer chipping in. For some, the answer may be joining the plan from a spouse's job. Others may find coverage through HealthCare.gov, or through professional organizations that offer plans for freelancers. "You can also try to negotiate health care with some of your gig employers, perhaps in exchange for a lower salary," Mullin suggests.

 

An emergency fund. Keep in mind that in the gig economy your main client can cut payments, extend payout periods or even go out of business with little notice. "You'll need an emergency fund to be able to withstand those unexpected gaps between gigs and checks," says Thomas Carter, vice president of Personal Retirement Strategy & Solutions at Merrill Lynch. Finally, don't underestimate your regular expenses. Most of them, from your computer to your business car to tech support, will now fall on your shoulders.

 

Attention to taxes. "When you're working gigs, there's no automatic withholding," notes Carter. Instead, you'll likely be paying quarterly estimated taxes. This requires a greater degree of control over your spending, so that you have enough to cover taxes when they're due. Work with a tax professional who can help you set a strategy for paying taxes, taking advantage of any appropriate deductions.

 

Equally important advice, once you've gotten all your financial ducks in a row, is to enjoy being your own boss. As Ric Noreen puts it, "I am working harder, making more, and am more satisfied than I ever was. And my pedal is still to the metal—maybe even with a little bit more resolve."

On occasion, I feel it’s necessary to stoke the ‘ol entrepreneurial fires. How best to do that? For me, sometimes there is nothing better than a good quote – knowing that others have faced the same dilemma, and seeing their insights, can be just the boost one needs.

 

Here are a few great quotes that should inspire any entrepreneur:

 

On success

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

– Albert Einstein

 

Of course we all want success, and in business, success is often judged by your business’ bottom line. While financial success is certainly one of our big goals as small business owners, we all know that that is just one factor that goes into the success equation. Offering customers quality and satisfaction, creating jobs, having integrity, designing a great place to work are factors that hold a great deal of value.

 

On failure

“Success is waking up from failure to failure with no less of enthusiasm.”

                – Winston Churchill

 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not know how close to success they were when they gave up.”

                – Thomas Edison

 

Quotes about failure may seem cliché at this point, but they have become cliché for a reason; the fear and feeling of failure is one of the biggest and most universal deterrents that can prevent us from succeeding. We all know things won’t always go according to plan, and there’s

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no doubt you will become frustrated and discouraged along the way. However, persistency, optimism and enthusiasm in the wake of challenges allows us entrepreneurs to turn failure into something positive.

 

Just stick it out a little bit longer – you might be closer than you think!

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

On perseverance

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

                – Steve Jobs

 

“80% of success is just showing up.”

                - Woody Allen

 

Being in business for yourself requires all sorts of things, two of which apply here. The first is vision. To start a business, you likely saw something others did not – a business where once there was nothing. And to create that business required the second trait, which is perseverance. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you have already shown both of those traits in spades – otherwise you would not be here now.

 

On being bold and taking risks

“In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

                – Mark Zuckerberg

 

My dad always used to say that an entrepreneur was a person who takes a risk with money to make money. Risk is part of this gig.

I have saved my favorite quote for last. This comes from W.H. Murray in his 1951 book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition:

 

Until one is committed, there is a hesitancy, the chance to draw back; always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man would have dreamed would come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

 

‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.’”

Be bold my friends. For boldness has genius and magic and power in it.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

One of my favorite things to watch on TV, after sports, are food-related competition shows like those on the Food Network. Even though I don’t cook (unless you count the microwave), I love to watch the endless parade of amazing chefs and scrumptious food.

 

Surprisingly, I have found a lot of business takeaways from this engaging programming.  Here are a few important business lessons you can learn and apply in your own small business.

 

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Do One Thing Well: In virtually every Food Network competition, one competitor tries to show-off by preparing a food item “multiple ways.” Whether the main ingredient is steak, fish, chicken, shrimp or even apples, when I hear the contestant say they are going to serve it two or three ways, I cringe.  By spreading your focus amongst multiple dishes, none gets your full attention.  And in every single case, while one of the preparations turns out well, the others are a miss.  Had the contestant just focused efforts on one preparation, they would have helped, not hindered, their chances to win.

 

You can take that lesson and apply it directly to your business. Trying to do too many things means you are doing none well and quality will suffer.  So resist the temptation to add new products and services or to have each employee wear too many hats.  Instead, focus on one blow-away effort.  This proves a winning formula – on TV and in the business world – every time.

 

You Can Lose a Battle and Win a War: It’s an emotional challenge to be an entrepreneur.  You have days when you lose clients or potential clients, find out a potential investor is backing out, have an employee quit or some other struggle that makes your business endeavors seem futile.  But perseverance is critical to entrepreneurship and you see that clearly when watching food competitions.

 

In many shows, a contestant will fall down on a particular challenge yet still end up the overall winner. Stumbling in an early challenge of “Next Food Network Star” may not earn you the advantage you seek in the next round, but doing well enough puts you back in contention to be named the overall winner.

 

Click here to read more articles like this one.

 

Also, chefs that have appeared on these competition shows but didn’t win often come back as revered judges on future programs. The element of having been there and done that gives the chef credibility and notoriety they can leverage, even if they weren’t the winner.

 

Losing a battle doesn’t mean that you can’t win the war.  You need to get back up and try again because staying in the game is one of the main ingredients for success (pun entirely intended).

 

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Being Prepared Allows for Improvisation: A large percentage of the Food Network Shows, from Chopped to Cutthroat Kitchen, involved twists thrown into the mix to make the challenge more difficult for the participants and simultaneously, more exciting for the viewer watch. Those who are able to maintain grace under pressure and innovate in the face of adversity are the competitors that come away as winners.

 

The same thing applies for entrepreneurs. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

 

However, no matter how well prepared you are, there will be surprises along the way.  New products will take longer to develop than you expect. You will miss budgets or have a cash-flow issue. Your marketing promotion won’t produce the intended results or perhaps it will work too well and you struggle meeting demand. Regardless, you need to be calm in the face of chaos and learn to improvise.

 

If you prepare for what you can control, it’s easier to improvise when things inevitably go awry. And when they go haywire, don’t focus on the problems, focus on the potential solutions: fall back on your strengths and don’t fall to pieces.

 

As the food competition programs show, the ones who can’t stand the heat fail in the kitchen.

 

About Carol Roth: Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

The best way to get ahead in 2017 is to review what worked in 2016. But how should you go about it? Taking you step-by-step through the process, our new infographic will help you discover past trends and reveal challenges that you can prepare for now, as well as help you move forward with momentum into the new year.

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Click here to download a PDF of this infographic.

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