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62 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

Are you passionate about health, fitness and nutrition? So are millions of Americans. According to The Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry grew by 12.8 percent between 2015 and 2017 and accounts for 5.3 percent of the global economy.

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This could be an ideal time to launch a wellness business.

 

What is wellness? From organic skin-care products to meditation apps, the concept encompasses just about every product or service you can think of that affects the mind, body and spirit. However, the following key sectors identified by GWI are most promising for entrepreneurs:

 

  • Personal care, beauty and anti-aging ($1,083 billion in 2017)
  • Healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss ($702 billion)
  • Wellness tourism ($639 billion)
  • Fitness and mind-body ($595 billion)
  • Spa economy ($119 billion)
  • Workplace wellness ($48 billion)

 

Here’s an overview of some of the fastest-growing wellness trends that have the greatest potential as business startups.

 

Personalized diet and nutrition counseling

 

“Personalized” is the key word in today’s diet, nutrition and weight loss industry, a market that some estimates project will hit $11.5 billion by 2025. Successful entrepreneurs will tailor nutrition advice to clients’ specific goals, genetic makeup and food sensitivities, as well as special diets such as keto, vegan, paleo or Mediterranean. There’s a focus on improving overall health and performance rather than simply losing weight.

 

Meditation

 

Like yoga 20 years ago, meditation is just starting to explode, according to The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report. Already, meditation is tied with yoga as the most popular alternative medicine practice in the country, but there’s still potential for more growth. In the coming year, look for drop-in meditation centers, fitness programs that incorporate meditation, and a wider range of ancient meditation practices to enter the mainstream.

 

Wellness travel

 

In contrast to “overtourism,” (tourists flooding popular vacation spots), wellness travelers seek to boost both mind and body with vacations that enhance their physical, mental and spiritual wellness. That could mean traditional spa activities such as daily yoga and meditation with a vegan diet prepared by a chef or going “off the beaten path” to experience little-known wellness practices of local cultures. 

 

Workplace wellness

 

Anxiety disorder is the top mental health issue in America. Not only does anxiety cause personal problems, it also cuts into business productivity and reduces employee satisfaction. As businesses strive to retain employees in a competitive market, a workplace wellness business that helps promote happier, healthier employee lifestyles will be in demand. You can provide everything from massage and yoga to meditation and fitness training to office workers.

 

One-stop wellness centers

 

“Holistic” is the buzzword for wellness in 2019 and beyond, according to The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report. That’s behind the trend of wellness centers that incorporate medical treatment, fitness classes, nutritional advice, personal trainers, yoga and meditation and other wellness activities in one place. Similar to co-working spaces, one-stop wellness centers provide a place for members to drop in and have all of their wellness needs taken care of in a community of like-minded people. Consider partnering with other wellness entrepreneurs to start a center or locating your business in an existing center.

 

Wellness apps

 

Would you rather write code than do crunches? There’s still opportunity for tech startups to create apps that help people track their fitness progress, monitor their food intake or stick to their meditation practice. Just be sure to check out the competition closely before you start developing your big idea, so you don’t enter a niche that’s already saturated. Female reproductive and sexual health are areas with promise, according to The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report.

 

Pet wellness

 

The same wellness trends that humans embrace quickly trickle down to our furry friends. According to CB Insights, high-grade pet food, pet health products, pet fitness trackers and pet nutritional supplements are all growth areas attracting attention—and venture capital. If the market for a particular wellness concept is already saturated in the human space, pivoting to pets could give you the edge you need.

The global appetite for wellness isn’t going away. Starting a business to serve consumers’ quest for self-improvement offers the opportunity to help others while also making a healthy profit.

 

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About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

You have a business idea you’re passionate about. But before you take another step, you need to find out if there’s a demand for that business in your community.

 

Conducting market research will reveal whether the area has enough potential customers, if they’ll buy what you’re planning to sell, and who your competitors are. Here’s what you need to find out.

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Is the industry thriving?

 

Start by researching the industry you want to enter. Is it growing, mature or declining? How do others in the industry sell their products or services? Where are most of them located? How much money do they make?

 

You can find a lot of information by searching online. Suppose you want to start a boba tea business. The search “is boba tea a growing industry?” reveals that the bubble or boba tea market is expected to reach $3,214 million by 2023. Look for search results from legitimate sources such as government websites, industry analysts, industry publications or industry associations. Tap into trade associations and trade publications for industry trend data, too. Using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to identify how your industry is classified will help you find more information.

 

Are there enough customers in your community?

 

Just because your community has a lot of residents doesn’t mean it has a lot of customers.

 

You need people who fit your target market profile. For instance, the primary customer base for boba tea stores tends to be millennials and Asians, so starting this business in a community full of white retirees won’t work.

 

To see if your business idea is a fit, get demographic information such as age, ethnicity, marital status, education level, household income and size, and homeownership for your community. The following sources can help:

 

 

Will those customers buy what you sell?

 

Even people in your target market won’t buy from you if they don’t have sufficient disposable income. For instance, boba tea is a luxury, not a necessity, so consumers on a budget may not buy it. Use consumer spending data to research your market’s spending habits.

 

    • The Bureau of Economic Analysis shows income levels by location.
    • The Consumer Price Index shows how much people pay for various products.
    • Employment and Unemployment Statistics reveals employment levels in your area and what types of jobs people have. For instance, if you want to start a beauty supply store targeting hair stylists (a business-to-business venture), find out how many people in your area work in salons and how many salons exist that might become customers. The cost of starting a beauty supply store may not be a strong investment if the market of customers isn’t there in your local area.
    • Consumer Spending shows overall spending trends.

 

Conducting surveys is a good way to see if prospective customers will buy from you. SurveyMonkey Audience lets you survey people in your desired region and demographic. If your customer base can be easily found (such as hair salon owners) you can also contact them directly to ask questions.

 

Who’s the competition?

 

All systems seem go—your community is full of hair salons and hairstylists, not to mention style-conscious women who can be potential customers for your hair salon supply store. Not so fast! What competing businesses exist?

 

Use the resources mentioned above to find local competitors. Visit them to get an idea of how they position themselves, what products they sell and the level of service they provide. This will help you identify opportunities to differentiate your business.

 

What if your research shows a sizable Asian, millennial customer base that spends a lot on eating out—but there are already three boba tea shops in your community? There might be room for another, but only if you can distinguish your store by offering something the others don’t. Could you serve more than just boba tea, or stay open late at night and host poetry readings and live music?

 

If there are nocompeting businesses in the area, that’s not necessarily a green light. Maybe there are no hair salon supply stores near you because local salon owners and hairstylists buy all their supplies online. You’ll need to dig deeper by contacting them to ask.

 

If all this research seems overwhelming, the experts at SCORE or your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help you conduct market research on your community at no cost. (Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my company.)

 

Whatever option you choose, don’t neglect this important step. It can make the difference between a successful startup and an empty storefront.

 

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About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “A woman is like a tea bag—you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

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This quote popped into my head as I listened to Stephanie Vitori, owner of Miami Beach-based Cheeseburger Baby, accept the Small Business Administration’s National Phoenix Award during Small Business Week in Washington, D.C. The Phoenix is awarded to those who’ve “displayed selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.”

 

Vitori started her career at Cheeseburger Baby as a delivery driver, but she didn’t stop there. After learning the ins and outs of every position at the company, she bought the place. She set out to transform the “dive” by adding food trucks (which turned out to be a lifesaver) so she could “grow beyond South Beach and reach more customers.”

 

No stranger to transformations, Vitori had to rebuild her iconic burger business after it was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Irma. She’s the perfect embodiment of both the Phoenix—rising from devastation—and the tea bag—gaining strength as she went.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: You bought Cheeseburger Baby in 2004. What made you think you could go from delivering burgers to running the place?

 

Stephanie Vitori: I’ve always loved food—I grew up in the kitchen with my family. I was a foodie before being a foodie was a thing. I also saw the connection Cheeseburger Baby had with its customers and employees and I believed in it.  So, I saw an opportunity and went for it. No risk, no reward.

 

Lesonsky: You’ve said you “transformed” Cheeseburger Babyfrom a dive into a South Beach hot spot. How did you do that?

 

Vitori:I transformed it with hard work, offering great food, ambience and customer service. Word got out we were the place to go for the best burger in town. I also make sure I am present and involved as an owner from cooking burgers to doing the dishes. It’s important to lead by example.

 

Lesonsky: So things were going great and then Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. Did you prepare for the coming storm?

 

Vitori: I prepared for the worst but was hoping for the best. About 48 hours before [the storm hit] I decided to put everything in freezers, board up the stores, park the trucks in a safe area, pack up and tarp our house. We got in a U-Haul with our five dogs and went on what seemed like one of the longest road trips ever. It was the hardest decision in my life.

 

Lesonsky: And yet, despite your preparations, Irma devastated Cheeseburger Baby. What were the damages?

 

Vitori: Hurricane Irma was by far the biggest challenge the business and I faced in the last 19 years. Water backed up into the restaurant, damaging food and essential equipment. There was also major damage to the air conditioning unit, freezer, hood ventilation system, and our marquee sign. A tree fell on our food truck damaging the roof and awning. Power was out at the restaurant for two weeks.

 

Lesonsky: You experienced about $150,000 in losses and property damage. Recovery was slow. Were you worried you were going to lose it all?

 

Vitori: Yes, I was worried about losing it all. I learned about the Small Business Development Center and went to them for help. I had only 24 hours to get our bridge loan application together. It was a challenge but prepared me for filling out the SBA Disaster Loan Application (we were approved).

 

We did whatever we could. We relied more on the food trucks as we recovered. My wife and I worked endlessly, picking up more truck events everywhere we saw an opportunity, and we marketed on social media.

 

Lesonsky: During your acceptance speech for the Phoenix Award, you made a pretty staid audience cry and got a resounding standing ovation. How did that make you feel?

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Vitori: It truly is hard to put into words what I felt—I’ve never felt anything like it before. It was the first speech I’ve ever given in my life. I was obviously nervous, but I felt blessed and appreciated. The audience made me feel validated—20 years ago I went down the wrong path, quickly realizing it wasn’t for me. Then I was outed in high school which pushed me to graduate a year ahead of my class.

 

I moved to Miami not knowing my future. I worked extremely hard, buying Cheeseburger Baby and paying it off in two years instead of five. I was honored to [receive] the National Phoenix Award for resiliency, tenacity and strength. I feel the award was for everything I have been through in life, and I think the audience felt the same.

 

Lesonsky: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever gotten?

 

Vitori: Always make time for you.

 

Lesonsky: In your acceptance speech you said, “There are two kinds of people in the world—problem identifiers and problem solvers. Small business owners need to be both.” Was that the lesson this taught you?

 

Vitori: I’ve always been that way, but in business you learn a lot of time gets wasted when you just have identifiers. Identify, find a solution, solve it and move on.

 

Lesonsky: What’s next?

 

Vitori: We want to continue to be the best burger people have ever had in the world.

 

     Related content:

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Put down your Pina Colada and step away from the pool. If you’re a retailer, now is the time to start planning for holiday shopping success.

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Last year 89 million consumers shopped both online and in stores over Black Friday weekend, an increase of nearly 40 percent from 2017, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). With the economy in booming condition, sales are likely to be just as strong this year. But there’s plenty of competition—so take these steps this month to put your retail business out front during the holiday season.

 

Get a head start on inventory

 

    • Review your best sellers from last year and use your inventory management software to plan ahead and forecast your inventory needs. Strike a balance—ordering too much or too little inventory is a profit-killer.
    • To get the right mix of products, research what’s trending in your target market. Visit trade shows to see what products are being promoted; monitor the hot sellers on Amazon, eBay or Alibaba.com.
    • It’s also important to keep your merchandise fresh, so plan to order different products you can highlight every couple of weeks.
    • Focus on a mix of unique inventory that customers can’t get from big-box retailers or websites, as well as some popular items and small impulse buys you can use to get customers into your store.
    • Place orders early and stay in contact with suppliers. Know how soon you need to order, any extra fees for rush delivery and the like.
    • To hedge your bets in case one supplier is shut down by bad weather, order from multiple suppliers so you won’t get caught short.

 

Plan for marketing and advertising

 

    • Revie last year’s marketing and advertising plan. What worked and what didn’t? Create a marketing plan, calendar and budget based off that information.
    • Start by planning end-of-summer promotions to clear out stock and make room for holiday merchandise.
    • Next, plan marketing for key dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day and Super Saturday.
    • Online marketing is key, since shoppers go online to research products, compare prices and find stores. Capture consumers in these early stages with pay-per-click advertising and promoted social posts.
    • If you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer, update your local search directory listings using keywords shoppers are likely to use.
    • Your website needs some holiday spirit. Create gift guides. Plan to add a holiday design.
    • Can your website handle a surge in holiday traffic? Make any major changes to your site well in advance.
    • Email marketing is a key driver of holiday sales. Clean up your email lists; encourage customers to sign up for your emails; and plan your email campaigns adhead so you’re not trying to create them during the holiday rush!
    • Don’t forget real-world marketing. Brainstorm ideas for in-store events or charitable campaigns now so you can start building excitement.

 

Promotions and deals

 

    • More than four in 10 consumers say they can’t resist making a purchase when something is on sale. Use your sales forecasts to calculate what types of discounts you can offer without hurting your bottom line.
    • Incentivize shoppers with deals such as BOGO, flash sales or VIP sales offers.
    • Plan for post-holiday discounts. Last year, 68 percent of holiday shoppers and 80 percent of those aged 18-24 planned to keep shopping December 26-January 1, according to the NRF.

 

Get your systems ready

 

    • Review last year’s holiday data to see what days, dates, and hours of the day were busiest. This will help you plan and budget for staffing needs.
    • If you’ll need extra help, reach out to seasonal workers you hired last year to available.
    • Bigger companies start holiday hiring as early as August, so if you want the best workers, prepare your job listings and start putting out feelers now. Remember, allow time to train seasonal staff well before the holidays.
    • If you’re implementing new service offerings this season, such as “buy online, pick up in-store,” selling gift cards, or offering layaway, put the proper systems in place and work out any kinks now.

 

Get your groundwork done now, and you’ll boost your odds of “winning” the holiday shopping season.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Just like students get summer homework, here are  summer reading suggestions for you, the small business owner I chose books that were not only filled with great advice for entrepreneurs, but ones you can dip into for easy, but informative, summer reading.

 

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It’s the Manager

Authors: Jim Clifton and Jim Harter

 

How should we prepare for the future of work? The premise ofIt’s the Manager, which is based on Gallup’s 30-year study of the workforce (over 37 million people were surveyed), is that while we continue to worry about the decline in global productivity, we’re ignoring the best solution—managers. In fact, the authors (Clifton is the Chairman and CEO of Gallup; Harter is Gallup’s Chief Scientist, Workplace) maintain the single biggest factor in determining your company’s success is the quality of your managers.

 

Because the book is from Gallup, it uses data to explore the challenges and offer solutions.  The research shows they key to business success today is aligning a company’s purpose and culture with the needs and wants of today’s employees, who want work with a deeper purpose.

 

The book is intentionally written for busy business people. Harter says, “Instead of …setting aside big chunks of time to read the book from start to finish,” you can read the relevant discoveries when an issue arises.

 

Turning the Flywheel

Author: Jim Collins

 

Jim Collins has written six books that have sold more than 10 million copies, including the iconic Good to Great. That book focused on seven principles, including the concept that good-to-great transformations aren’t caused by a “single defining action.” Rather, success stems from “the flywheel effect,” which Collins likens to the act of pushing a “giant, heavy flywheel” forward. First it takes great effort, but as you keep pushing the flywheel builds its own momentum until it’s almost unstoppable. For example, Collins explains, offering lower prices to encourage customer visits was Amazon’s flywheel.

 

The publisher labels Turning the Flywheel as a “monograph to accompany Good to Great.” The book is only 40-some pages long—so it’s ideal for summer reading – yet Collins covers a lot, explaining the steps involved in discovering, maintaining and extending your own flywheel.

 

Wise Guy: Lessons from a Life

Author: Guy Kawasaki

 

Full disclosure: I am a long-time fan of Guy Kawasaki, having read his The Art of the Startmore than a few times. Wise Guyis Kawasaki’s most introspective book, covering topics ranging from business skills to moral values to parenting.

 

The book is not written in a traditional style, making it easy to pick up and put down. There are numerous “Wisdom” sidebars, which alone make the book a worthwhile read. One of my favorite stories involves a Dutch bike company which noticed 25 percent  of its boxes were being damaged in shipping. They solved the problem by putting pictures of widescreen TVs on the bike boxes, because apparently workers are more careful when shipping TV sets.

 

Kawasaki says his goal for writing Wise Guywas to “help you live a more joyous, productive and meaningful life.” To help us do that he uses examples from his life. To underscore the “you’re never too old to learn something new” trope, for instance, Kawasaki talks about his adventures when he took up surfing at age 62.

 

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell

Authors: Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle

 

While not a household name to most of us, Bill Campbell has coached business people we’re all familiar with, including all the authors (Schmidt is the former CEO of Google and executive chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company).

 

Campbell, a former college football coach who died in 2016, was known as Silicon Valley’s preeminent executive coach. The book’s title pays tribute to Campbell’s success—he helped build corporate giants like Google, Intuit and Apple, creating over a “trillion dollars in market value.” The authors talked to more than 80 of Campbell’s clients, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Susan Wojcicki, the president of YouTube and Brad Smith from Intuit about the lessons Campbell taught them.

 

Campbell believed in only coaching the coachable. What makes a person coachable? “Honesty, humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.” If you’re coachable, there’s a lot to learn in this book.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

We know Generation Z will transform workplace culture—but not all of this cohort will enter the workplace. This demographic, whose oldest members are between the ages of 18 and 23, is already displaying a passion for entrepreneurship. What’s driving Gen Z to be their own bosses, and how might they transform the business world?

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Fiscally Responsible

 

Gen Z grew up in the shadow of the Great Recession, seeing their parents struggle financially and their older millennial siblings battle for scarce jobs. They don’t want to live out the same nightmare, so they are wary of taking on debt (21 percent percent already have savings accounts). Although the Center for Generational Kinetics predicts a higher percentage of Gen Z will attend and graduate from college than any prior generation, they are already planning how to avoid college loans.

 

More than half (60 percent) of Gen Z believe money is evidence of success, compared to 44 percent of millennials at the same age, according to a survey by We R Gen Z. Already, the survey reports, 70 percent of Gen Z’ers earn their own spending money—about the same percentage as millennials, except that Gen Z is 10 years younger.

 

Freedom and Self-Reliance

 

To avoid being at the mercy of employers, Gen Z is choosing non-traditional ways to earn a living. Nearly half (46 percent) of Gen Z workers are freelancers, Upwork reports, and 73 percent are freelance by choice, not from necessity.

 

While some Gen Z workers choose the self-reliance of freelancing, others go one step further by pursuing entrepreneurship. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Generation Z want to be financially independent by age 30, Barna Group reports; five years after finishing college, 20 percent want to be entrepreneurs, Robert Halffound.

 

Gen Z is realistic about their prospects—77 percent expect to work harder than previous generations to achieve success. They’re also confident: 80 percent of high school students believe they’re more driven than their peers.

 

The Digital Generation

 

How will Generation Z businesses differ from prior generations? This is the first demographic to grow up in a fully digital world. Weaned on YouTube videos, Gen Z’ers know they can learn anything online—from how to make natural cosmetics to how to use 3D printers or find suppliers. They live their lives online and are natural social media marketers.

 

For some, showing bigger businesses (and older people) how to reach Gen Z is a business in itself. Back in high school, Tiffany Zhong knew she wanted to be her own boss, so she started asking venture capitalists for advice. When VCs started asking herfor Gen Z insights, Zhong realized she had a business on her hands. Today, her marketing firm Zebra Intelligence helps brands connect with Gen Z. Connor Blakley and Jonah Stillman are others who have capitalized on their Gen Z status to consult with businesses on managing and marketing to this generation.

 

Other Gen Z entrepreneurs sell products, not knowledge:

 

  • Taylor Frankel co-founded cosmetics brand Nudestix at 17; today, the company’s products are sold in Ulta and Sephora.
  • Allan Maman and Cooper Weiss, founders of Fidget360, gained viral fame (and made hundreds of thousands of dollars) by capitalizing on the fidget spinner craze in high school. (Weiss has since been involved in other startups while Maman is working on a new venture.)
  • Teni “Tia” Adeola launched Slashed by Tia from her dorm room in 2017, creating clothing based on her passion for Renaissance painting; today her designs are worn by celebrities such as SZA and Gigi Hadid.

 

For all three companies, social media marketing and an instinctual connection with their peers online were key to success.

 

How will Generation Z transform the world of business? It remains to be seen—but I, for one, am looking forward to finding out.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Success is a habit—and like all good habits, you have to work hard to achieve and maintain it. We talked to 11 small business owners about the daily habits they believe contribute most to their success. From exercise to quiet time to diligently tracking sales in QuickBooks, here’s what some successful entrepreneurs do every day.

 

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Todd Brabender, President, Spread The News PR, which specializes in generating media exposure for innovative products, services and experts.

 

  1. Research: I spend the initial part of my day researching the media markets applicable to my client base. I scour multiple media outlets and formats to see what topics are being covered. What angles are popping, what trends are developing? Based on that research, I forge messages incorporating my clients with those solid news pegs and pitch to my media contacts all over North America to consider.
  2. Respond: I pride myself on being as immediate as possible in my email and phone correspondence replies with clients, associates and media contacts. When it comes to communications, my mantra has always been: Review. React. Respond = Results!
  3. Relax: By relax, I mean breathe. Several times a day I stop working, look away from the computer screen for a few minutes and take a string of cleansing circular breaths. It refocuses the mind, eases stress and helps stoke new creativity for ideas.

 

Charles Bragdon, President, Water Saver Solutions, which helps commercial and institutional clients optimize their water flow into cash flow.

 

  1. I spend time at the beginning of each day in prayer and reading a daily devotional. This helps me start with the right frame of mind and reflect on my many blessings. I also use this time to think about my challenges ahead for the day.
  2. Aside from our formal weekly production meeting, I also meet with my department managers daily to discuss project status, challenges or anything else on their plates. This gives me valuable time for mentoring and coaching and helps me forecast any obstacles.
  3. In my office, I update a whiteboard daily of long- and short-term projects. Having a visual status board in my office keeps me focused.

 

Laurel Delaney, founder of GlobeTrade, president of Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global™ and best-selling author of Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably.

 

  1. I write a blog post every evening that is published the following morning (except Sundays) at the Global Small Business Blog. This has helped grow the blog’s readership and bring in new consulting opportunities. If you build an audience, you can build a business. After I write the post, I read The Wall Street Journalto relax and keep up with world affairs.  
  2. Even though I meet with exceptional business owners all the time through my consulting work, I still turn to business books for answers to burning questions, challenges I face or ideas I wrestle with. I scan a book a day, many of which can be esoteric or quite old—from Winners Never Cheat by Jon Huntsman to Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney to On Second Thought by Wray Herbert.
  3. I try to either run or walk outside every day to get fresh air, clear my head, change the scenery and take photographs of simple things with my iPhone. This alters my state of mind and eases business pressures. When I return to my office, I have newfound energy, a better perspective on what needs to be tackled next, and a far greater motivation to get things done.

 

Jill Dominguez, President, ESSERGY,a consulting firm that helps businesses, nonprofits and governments harness energy for social change.

 

  1. First thing every morning I check my email, review my schedule and task list before the open of the business day (which means 5 a.m. PT, since my clients are all over the U.S.). This practice keeps me organized on what can be a complex schedule of activity with several projects happening at once [and dealing with] many team members.
  2. Every evening I update and review my company task list with “To Do’s,” each color coded according to urgency with a drop-dead date.  Every team member who is involved with a task is asked for an update or status regarding the task with the corresponding date.
  3. I write everything down in my notebook. It is with me at all times. I prefer taking handwritten notes, as it does not require me to look away for long periods. I am a firm believer in eye contact, and when [you take notes on] a tablet or phone, it seems as if you are not paying attention to the meeting. The notes are the basis of our digital archiving system for the company. All notebooks are archived chronologically; I have notebooks going back 27 years. I doubt that is necessary, but I have been asked to go back and check on an issue or conversation for a client many years later, and recalling details is much easier when looking at my own notes.

 

Monika Jansen, Head “Kick-Ass Copywriter” and Strategist, Jansen Communications, a boutique marketing agency.

 

  1. Every morning, I go for a two-mile walk, which I consider a walking meditation. I don’t listen to music or podcasts; I just let my mind wander.
  2. I do a quick check-in with myself: Is everything I’m doing that day contributing to my greatest and highest good? If not, I will cancel or reschedule projects and calls.
  3. Finally, I don't schedule calls or meetings before 10 am. This allows me to settle into “work” mode, which is especially helpful on Mondays!

 

Erika Kotite, co-founder of She Shed Living, which helps women create a space of their own by offering custom shed design, build and installation services as well as a proprietary line of exterior chalk-based paints.

 

  1. Daily contact with my partner, Sabrina Contreras. Sabrina and I bring different things to the table—she has a business background and I have a creative/marketing background. We keep each other grounded and motivated to do all the things we need to accomplish that day. I firmly believe in utilizing that “second eye” when making important business decisions. Just like a writer needs a good editor to be successful, we need each other's perspective and critique to improve.
  2. Staying up-to-date on QuickBooksand banking. Since my background leans to the liberal arts, I’ve had to invest considerable time and training into learning how to keep our books. By disciplining myself to check our bank balance daily and input items regularly into QuickBooks, I’ve been able to avoid costly tax accountant charges. In addition, I have a much better idea of how we are doing financially and what we need to adjust in the future. For example, I know exactly how many shed sales per month we need to reach our business goals for 2019.
  3. Add content and stay engaged on Instagram. We have numerous social media outlets including a growing Facebook Group, but Instagram is where people discover us, present us with opportunities and refer clients to us. I carefully monitor not only our growth in followers but also engagement levels for each post. It’s equally important to support others on Instagram by liking, commenting and reposting, which I do every day.

 

Mika Leah, CEO, Goomi, which brings onsite fitness and wellness sessions to offices and other workplaces.

 

  1. Determine the three things I need to get done that day. Then I focus on only those three things.
  2. Plan ahead for the following day, review my calendar, write my three things to-do list, and even lay out my clothes.
  3. Have weekly mandatory status meetings with my team every Monday to connect on a personal note, review successes and failures from the prior week, and discuss the week ahead.

 

Barry Moltz, Author, speaker, host of the Small Business Radio Show, whose Shafran Moltz Group helps small businesses get unstuck.

 

  1. Determine my two priorities to accomplish that day (and do them) before checking email, social media or anything else.
  2. Check filtered emails and social media lists for current customers’ and key prospects’ messages or posts.
  3. Exercise—cycling and karate.

 

Charley Moore, Founder and CEO, Rocket Lawyer, which provideshigh-value legal services at an affordable price.

 

  1. I’ve been doing my best work in the early morning since I was a kid. We had a family business and I learned to open up shop at daybreak. Today, my most productive hour is usually between 6 to 7 a.m., when I can read the news, review KPIs and get a jump on email without meetings and distractions.
  2. I exercise six days per week. Even when I’m traveling, which is often, I stick to this exercise routine, which includes meditation and stretching. Leading any organization creates stress. Being able to be physically active is a blessing that I cherish as essential to a balanced life.

 

Adam Rizza, President, Sunscape Eyewear, wholesaler and e-tailer of sunglasses.

 

  1. Our main challenge is cash flow, so we watch our accounts receivable daily and budget properly. This is an exercise all entrepreneurs should apply, no matter their size. You have to have a good understanding of your cash flow.
  2. Daily meetings with my operations team. You have to make sure you are shipping daily—and accurately. This all ties into cash flow: When you ship on time, you get paid on time.
  3. Every day we work on new product development, retaining current clients and prospecting for new ones.

 

Aliza Sherman, CEO, Ellementa, a global women’s health company focused on cannabis, and author of Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness.

  1. Wake up early.My best work gets done in the wee hours of the morning; I get a good two hours of work in before things get busy. Once the workday actually begins, calls and meetings make up my day and by the afternoon, my brain is spent. Those early mornings are a time for me to really focus and produce. During the week, I’m often in bed before the kids!
  2. Eat a good breakfast.I can’t function without [eating] something substantial in the morning. My go-to breakfast is gluten-free toast with avocado and egg.
  3. Move around.My work tends to be sedentary—me, at a desk, on a computer. After writing the book The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, I learned a lot about the tremendous value of moving your body throughout the day to clear your mind, boost your energy and prevent disease. My co-author, Beth Kanter, inspired me to walk more and to track my steps using a health app, something that suits my need to see progress. I alternate standing and sitting when at my computer and get some steps in walking when I’m talking on the phone. The better I take care of myself, the more successes I see day-to-day in my work.

 

Reading about other business owners’ daily success rituals is inspiring—but as Delaney says, “We cannot replicate business success by copying another business owner’s daily rituals—we need to cultivate our own.” What are your daily business success rituals?

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

While the rain poured outside, the mood inside was sunny as National Small Business Week kicked off in Washington D.C.  on May 5. Small Business Week is the Small Business Administration’s annual tribute to “entrepreneurship and innovation.”

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During a panel discussion on the “Next Wave in Digital Commerce,” featuring Nate Smith (VISA), Courtney Robinson (Square) and Rishav Chopra (Intuit), the group identified how digital technology is changing the buying habits of businesses and consumers—and that small businesses need to act now so they don’t get lost in the digital wave.

 

Consumers today expect their online experiences to be simple and intuitive. Chopra said it’s important to be where consumers are—you can’t have a presence in just one channel—you need to be discoverable by phone, on the web, and in person. And, he added, “You need to eliminate any friction in the process.”

 

This underscores one of the main drivers of buying behavior—customer experience. If you want to attract buyers (whether B2B or B2C), you need to provide an excellent customer experience. To accomplish this Robinson advised the audience to “use data to drill down on who your best customers are, what they want and the best way to target them.”

 

Robinson said a common mistake small business owners make is “thinking your customer is everybody.” It’s not, she added, “You have to drill down to find your ideal customer.”

 

Chopra said the No. 1 pain point small businesses experience today is how to get customers in the door. “It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one,” he said. And once you “get them” Smith added, “it’s about creating loyalty.” You have to be proactive—reach out to your customers and get to know them better.

 

The digital transformation of small business impacts so many parts of your company: marketing, sales, customer loyalty, even raising or borrowing money. Plus, implementing digital solutions in your business gives you more time to better serve your customers.

 

Social Media Part of Marketing Mix

 

Day two started with a panel discussion, “Social Media Tips for Your Small Business”, moderated by Betsy Dougert (SCORE) and featured Dave Charest (Constant Contact), Brandon Olson (AWeber), Julia Cabral (LinkedIn) and me. Our panel emphasized the importance of integrating social media into your overall marketing mix and budgeting for it appropriately. The consensus of thepanel was:

 

    • Pick one or two platforms to get started. Start where your customers and competitors are.
    • Take social media seriously—this is your reputation on the line. Don’t relegate the job to interns.
    • There is no secret sauce to social media. What works for one company will not necessarily work for another. Plan your social campaigns and establish a consistent tone and presence.
    • While social media marketing canbe free, the panel recommended incorporating paid ads in your marketing plans.

 

How much should you spend on social media marketing? Here’s a formula I shared from  WebStrategies to help you budget: 

 

First, determine how much you’re planning to spend on all your digital marketing efforts. Then, decide what percentage of that budget should go to social media. Most companies spend about 5 percent-15 percent of their annual revenues on marketing in general and 35 percent-45 percent of that on digital marketing. Social media marketing should get about 15 percent-25 percent of the digital spend. Once you’ve done these calculations you can allocate the appropriate amount to your social media marketing efforts.

 

Each Small Business week I learn something useful and new! Did you attend any events this year? If so, what did you learn about?

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

The act of starting a business is often arduous and lonely. Long days and nights hunched over a computer, bouncing ideas off yourself since there’s no one else around.

 

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Imagine being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs — and experienced coaches—soaking in a pool, staring at a volcano. Or savoring some alone time, taking the time to be mindful and reflect on your goals — and what you want to be when you grow up.

 

Sound like a dream? It’s not — it’s reality thanks to childhood friends Brian Helfman and Josh Gershon, the cofounders of Startup Island, who are determined to empower young entrepreneurs to be the CEOs of their own lives.

Rieva Lesonsky: What is Startup Island?

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Brian Helfman: Startup Island is a personal development accelerator designed to connect entrepreneurial-minded college students and young professionals through shared travel experiences. We host an alternative spring break program in Costa Rica for college students from all over the world. We also host summer camp weekends for “older” millennials (ages 23 - 39) in upstate New York and run a New Year’s trip, Ignite, for that same demographic, which is in a new location every year.

 

During our trips, participants have a chance to de-stress in an inspiring environment, develop meaningful connections with entrepreneurial-minded peers, and work with a team of experienced coaches. On all our trips, we try to maintain a 4:1 ratio of participants to coaches. Each coach leads a workshop within their realm of expertise and conducts one-on-one “Island Office Hours” with participants looking to dive deeper into their own goals.

 

Lesonsky: What was the impetus for launching Startup Island?

 

Helfman: Josh and I have been friends since we were 11. During the summer of 2015, I was two years into building another business when Josh approached me with the idea to do a retreat for entrepreneurs. He wanted to call it Startup Island. The more we talked about the idea, the more passionate I became about it. I realized Startup Island could be a perfect combination of the things I enjoyed, and the things I was really good at — creating meaningful experiences, travel, spending time in nature, mentorship, and building businesses. So in October, we decided to launch and began marketing our first trip — an alternative spring break program for college entrepreneurs. During that trip, in March 2016, I decided to shift my focus to Startup Island full time, to grow a business that could make massive positive impact.

 

Lesonsky: What’s the feedback from alums of the program?

 

Helfman: The feedback from our travelers has been really special. Some of the overarching themes include business breakthroughs, positive mindset shifts, and the development of a supportive community. There are traveler testimonials on our community page.

 

Lesonsky: One of your goals is to build a community. Have you accomplished that?

 

Helfman: One of the coolest things to witness as our business continues to grow is how much value our participants realize from the community itself. We always say, our participants arrive as strangers and leave as family — corny, but true. And the trip is just the beginning. Our travelers stay in touch through online forums we’ve built and organize their own in-person meetups around the world. We’ve seen everything from business partnerships to lifelong friendships form, even between people who originally went on different trips.

 

Lesonsky: You believe entrepreneurial thinking is not just for people starting a business.

 

Helfman: We believe having an entrepreneurial mindset is useful whether you’re starting a business or not. An entrepreneurial mindset helps you take ownership over your entire life. That said, we have seen many of our participants start businesses, especially those who were in corporate jobs when they first joined us.

 

They’ll start ramping up a side hustle after they get home from their Startup Island trip, and eventually they make that side hustle their full-time focus. Many of our alums credit us for helping build the confidence, network, knowledge, and resources to execute and build on their big ideas.

 

Lesonsky: What have you learned from creating Startup Island?

 

Helfman: I’m so grateful to be building this business for many reasons — the most significant is being surrounded by so many smart, ambitious, impact-driven people, who are equally as kind, funny, and genuine.

 

I’m also driven to learn more about the world’s problems, so I can do my best to help the members of our community solve those problems. Entrepreneurship is hard. Making an impact is hard. And doing it alone is even harder. Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned is a mutually supportive community of impact-driven people can help maximize the chances of success for each member of that community. I’ve seen it start to happen, and I’m so excited to see how each member continues to grow and change the world for the better.

 

Lesonsky: Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

 

Helfman: Yes, thousands of things. Mostly optimizations that could’ve made our trips even better, or things that could have saved us time. But I’ve learned from all of it, and I’m very happy with where the business is today.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Did you know more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA)? Since 2000, small businesses (now 30 million strong) have created 66% of all net new jobs in the U.S. Clearly, small businesses have an outsized impact on the nation as a whole. But how do small businesses impact their local communities? In honor of National Small Business Week (May 5-11, 2019), let me count the ways.

 

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1. Small businesses employ local workers. Independent businesses create jobs and hire people who live in their communities. Those small business employees then spend their paychecks in the community, resulting in other local businesses needing to hire more workers to keep up with the increased demand. All this stimulates the local economy. For each dollar spent in a local store as much as $3.50 recirculates into the local economy, according to the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). A small business in an economically-challenged community may provide employment for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to find work because they can’t afford cars or transportation to jobs outside the area.

 

2. Local small businesses generate tax revenues. Sales tax, property tax and other taxes paid by small businesses help finance improvements in the community. The more small businesses there are in a city or town, the more money is available for public works projects such as road repairs, new parks, public schools, police and fire departments andmore.

 

3. Small business owners give back to the community. Whether by joining local organizations (like the Rotary club or chamber of commerce), sponsoring Little League teams, chairing civic committees, or hosting fundraisers for schools and charities, small business owners and their employees often are at the forefront of community engagement and involvement. Their efforts help create a better, more tight-knit community for all residents.

 

4. Small businesses hire other small businesses. Because of their small size, independent businesses tend to use local suppliers and services. For example, a local retailer might hire a local sign-maker, electrician and contractor to build out or repair their store. Small retailers are more likely than chain stores to sell locally-produced goods, according to AMIBA.Local businesses also use independent professionals such as accountants, lawyers, insurance agents and advertising agencies, putting more money back into the community.

 

5. Small business success has a snowball effect. When a region has a growing community of small businesses, more entrepreneurs are attracted to the area. As more businesses then open up, the community becomes more desirable and attracts more residents, drawn by both the thriving business activity and the increased job opportunities. Property values rise, and everyone benefits.

 

6. Small businesses sometimes become big corporations. Those small businesses that grow to become big ones have an even bigger effect on their communities. For example, major employers like Microsoft, Nike, FedEx and Amazon all started out as small businesses. By staying put as they grew and expanding in their home cities, they now provide jobs for thousands of people and have turned their communities into major business hubs.

 

How does your small business benefit your local community? What more can you do to make it even better? Let us know in our discussion forum.

 

Join us in celebrating Small Business Month!

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

If your small business is considering expanding into a new market—either geographic or demographic—a pop-up shop can be an excellent way to test the waters before you commit to a bigger investment.

 

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Pop-up shops are short-term locations typically open for a few weeks. While they are usually retail businesses, the pop-up concept can also work for service businesses, such as a yoga studio or beauty salon. Restaurants have even popped up in large urban markets like New York and Chicago.

 

 

What can pop-up shops help you do?

 

1. Create a physical presence: E-commerce businesses often open a pop-up shop before launching a permanent brick-and-mortar location. They may also use pop-up shops on an occasional basis to build buzz about a new product or take advantage of seasonal demand.

 

2. Test a location: If you’re thinking of opening a second location (or first), you could commit to a lengthy commercial lease and cross your fingers that the space you’ve picked is a good one. Or you could try out a pop-up shop for a few weeks to see if the location works before you sign on the dotted line.

 

3. Test-market new products or services: Are you considering adding a new product or service to your offerings? Use a pop-up shop to do real-world market testing, then use what you learn to modify the product or service for greater success before you launch it.

 

4. Build brand awareness: Companies hoping to expand to new demographic markets can use a pop-up shop to build brand awareness and generate word-of-mouth among a new customer base.

 

Secrets of pop-up shop success

 

You’ll have more success with your pop-up if you focus on one of the goals above, rather than try to do everything. Other steps to success:

 

1. Choose the right location: The ideal location will differ based on your goal. If you want to build broad awareness of your brand in a certain city, locate near an area with a lot of foot traffic. If you’re trying to attract students, a spot near a college or university would work. If your target market is upscale shopaholics, a spot in a popular mall might be best; if you want to reach hipsters who shun the “masses,” you could try an out-of-the-way downtown warehouse. To find potential pop-up locations, contact local retail property managers or visit pop-up property websites such as Storefront.com, PopupInsider and Uppercase.

 

2. Promote, promote, promote: Pop-up shops are all about excitement, exclusivity and the fear of missing out, making social media the ideal place to promote them. Start plugging your pop-up well in advance by sharing “Save the date” announcements, sneak peeks at what you’re planning and special offers for your followers. (Create a hashtag for your pop-up and use it in all your outreach.) Invite your email subscribers to the event. Reach out to influential members of the media, including relevant bloggers, to alert them about your pop-up and invite them to attend as guests of honor. Once your pop-up is underway, pass out flyers and use street signage, balloons and flags to catch the attention of passersby.

 

3. Make it memorable: A pop-up is more than just a temporary retail store—it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Give visitors a reason to stop in by throwing a party! Live entertainment, interactive activities, makeovers, fashion shows, product demonstrations, competitions, and prize giveaways are all fun activities that will attract people into the store and get them talking about your pop-up.

 

4. Get customers engaged: Your pop-up shoppers are your best source of marketing. Get them to spread the word about your pop-up shop by creating Instagram-worthy spots for selfies and encouraging customers to share them on social media (with your pop-up hashtag, of course!). Ask customers to sign up for your email or text messaging lists and follow you on social media so you can stay in touch with them after the event. Finally, take advantage of the opportunity to get real-time customer feedback on your product or service.

 

A pop-up shop can be the first step to a permanent location or an occasional activity you use to attract new customers and expand your target market. Either way, this concept has plenty of potential for entrepreneurs who know how to make the most of it.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Do you think it’s impossible for a small retailer to compete against e-commerce giants? It can be tempting to imagine the worst when almost half (49 percent) of all online purchases in the U.S. are made on Amazon, according to a recent survey, and 83 percent of consumers have bought something on Amazon in the past six months.

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Fear not! There’s still opportunity for independent brick-and-mortar retailers to fight Goliath. Here’s how you can battle the giants and come out on top.

 

Make shopping simple. Convenience is the primary reason 28 percent of shoppers use Amazon. While you can’t compete with bigger retailers on price, you cancompete on convenience. For example:

 

  • Streamline the payment process. Offer a range of payment options, including mobile wallets, so customers can pay in the way they prefer.
  • Shorten wait times. Almost half of consumers alwaysvisit a physical store when they need a product fast. To make it snappy, use mobile devices to process transactions from anywhere in the store.
  • Simplify returns. Clearly state your return policy and train all your employees on how to accept returns so the process goes quickly.
  • Offer click-and-collect. If you have an e-commerce website as well as a store, give customers the option to pick up online orders in the store so they can get them quickly.

 

Provide a personal touch. E-commerce retailers offer personalization via automated emails and recommended purchases delivered by artificial intelligence algorithms. Your store can offer that and much more. Here’s how:

 

  • Use retail loyalty software to gather detailed data about loyalty program members, and marketing automation to deliver timely messages, special offers and shopping suggestions.
  • Share customer data with your salespeople so they can make personalized suggestions or alert shoppers when a particular product is available. Some 79 percentof shoppers say personalized service affects where they buy.
  • Hire employees who genuinely like people and provide training that empowers them to help your customers.
  • Educate your employees about your products so they can explain options, offer suggestions and help customers make decisions.
  • Equip your team with tools they can use to provide a better customer experience, such as inventory management software to show shoppers what’s available.

 

Claim your place in the community. Your physical presence in the community is a key differentiator. Here are some ways to play it up:

 

  • Emphasize your independent spirit. Tell your story in your marketing materials. Why did you start your store? Why are you so passionate about what you sell? What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
  • Encourage customers to shop local. Almost 90 percent of consumers say independent businesses strengthen local economies. Remind customers that supporting your store also means supporting the community through sales taxes and employment. If your community doesn’t have a Shop Local organization, start one.
  • Get involved in your community. Give back by volunteering for local charities and participating in community organizations. Sponsor a local sports team. When people see you care, they’re more likely to buy from you.
  • Create community at your store. Hold in-store events such as book signings, musical performances, or classes for customers. Use social media to build bonds with your real-life community online. 

 

Enable discovery and delight. Online shopping can’t match the element of discovery that retail stores offer. Try these tips to delight your customers: 

 

  • Curate your merchandise. Instead of the endless options giant ecommerce sites offer, streamline your selection so customers can choose from the very best.
  • Appeal to the senses. Use sight, sound, smell, and touch to make your store a place where customers enjoy spending time.
  • Keep ’em coming back. Change your store inventory and displays regularly so there’s always something new to discover and shoppers will return more often.
  • Be unique. Almost 40 percent of Amazon shoppers say they’d go elsewhere if a retailer carried unique products.

 

Nearly 86 percent of retail sales still take place in brick-and-mortar locations. Follow these tips, and hopefully, your store will be one of them.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Move over, Millennials: A new generation is about to shake up offices near you. Generation Z is getting ready to enter the workforce, with the oldest members between the ages of 18 or 23, depending on your definition (Bloomberg and the Census Bureau say the first Gen Z’ers were born in 2001, while others such as Pew Research dates its beginning to 1996).

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How will Generation Z transform workplace culture? While it’s still early, here are some insights into how this age group thinks, the way they work and what they expect from employers.

 

They’re money conscious: Generation Z grew up seeing their parents struggle during the Great Recession and, like millennials, many are graduating with high levels of college debt. No wonder financial security is top of mind. In a recent survey, more than one-third of Gen Z respondents plan to start saving for retirement in their 20s—and 12 percent have already started! Offering solid benefits packages—including retirement plans and health insurance—will be key to attracting Gen Z employees. Offer college loan repayment assistance and you’ll really win their loyalty.

 

They’re digital natives: This is the first generation that has always known smartphones, social media, and the internet. They’re comfortable with all types of technology and expect your business to be up-to-date with the latest tech tools. Gen Z will have little patience for practices that waste time or natural resources (paper). If you’re not quite there it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of their know-how to up your business’s technology game.

 

They struggle with soft skills: Gen Z can text in their sleep and know the meaning of every emoji, but common business interactions such as writing and responding to emails or making phone calls or having face-to-face discussions may be new territory. Gen Z employees tend to interact online more often than IRL – in real life. They’re less likely to have held jobs in their teens than previous generations because more were in college (or doing extracurriculars to get into college) at that time. You may need to provide some training to get entry-level Gen Z workers up to speed on their soft skills.

 

They work hard.They may not come fully polished on day one, but the Gen Z demographic grew up competing for everything from social media status to college admission. As a result, they’re a driven bunch, willing to try new things and learn new skills. Seven in 10 members of Generation Z say it’s more important to be curious and open-minded than to have specific skill sets. Don’t be afraid to challenge Gen Z employees with “stretch goals.”

 

They need support. They’re eager to take on challenges, but Gen Z isn’t overconfident or cocky. In fact, this generation suffers from high levels of anxiety. One-third of Gen Z say mentorship is the most important benefit a workplace can offer, and 65 percent say they need frequent feedback from employers to stay in their jobs. Use frequent check-ins to boost their confidence and help them grow into their roles.   

 

They’re collaborative loners. Anxiety, social or otherwise, means Generation Z employees do some of their best work solo. However, they also express a desire for human interaction as part of teams. An office space that incorporates both private workspaces and communal areas will support Gen Z’s need for both solitude and collaboration.

 

They value authenticity. Even more than millennials, Gen Z expects the workplace to embrace their authentic selves and support causes they care about. As the most ethnically diverse generation in American history, it’s no wonder “equality” is the number-one cause they care about. Your workplace needs to welcome all types of people in order for Gen Z to be their best.

 

I’m not a big fan of lumping people into categories. (When Generation X entered the workforce, they were derided as “slackers;” millennials were mocked as entitled. Both of those demographics have turned out pretty well.) The best way to make the most of Gen Z employees: Treat them like unique human beings.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

March 8, International Women’s Day, is a daycelebrating women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements around the world. But it’s also a day to take action to build a more gender-balanced world.

 

This year, IWD’s theme is #BalanceforBetter. Creating a better balance at work pays off for more than just the women involved. A global study by Accenture found that when women advance at work, men are more likely to advance, too. (Check out Pixar’s short film Purl for a humorous look at how diversity makes a business a better place to work.)

How can your small business help strike a better balance at work by putting more women in positions of power?

 

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  • Make gender diversity a priorityin your business. A balanced business doesn’t happen by accident. Create a plan for achieving gender balance with specific, measurable goals. Do you want to increase the percentage of women in management roles? Achieve pay equity (according to the Department of Labor, women still earn on average 78 cents for every dollar earned by men)? Attract more women to IT jobs in your business? Share your plan with your employees to hold yourself accountable. Then share your commitment on social media to celebrate International Women’s Day. Download IWD selfie cards, posters, event packs and other tools at the IWD website.

 

  • Be sure your hiring practices are balanced. Your hiring policies may be inadvertently turning women off from applying for jobs at your business. According to a study from researchers at Cornell University, women and minorities generally won’t apply for a job unless they meet every single requirement for experience, skills and qualifications. Instead of saying “5 years minimum experience as accounting manager required,” say “Successful candidates will demonstrate significant experience in a senior role in accounting.” You’re likely to get a wider range of candidates applying. Cornell’s research also found that using male-oriented words like “ninja” or “rock star” in your ads tends to discourage women from applying.

 

  • Implement policies that support women. Child care and elder care responsibilities still fall disproportionately on women. Many women don’t climb the workplace ladder because the long hours or frequent travel required by leadership roles don’t fit their family needs. Offer flexible hours and remote work options that make it easier for women to advance while handling family responsibilities.

 

  • Consider off-hours activities, too. A friend of mine worked at a company that routinely invited male executives to golf outings, paintball battles, sky diving and other “manly” pursuits on weekends. Female execs at the same level didn’t get invitations and were excluded from the chance to build relationships with co-workers and clients. While this is a blatant example of bias, you could be unintentionally biased if activities that help people advance at work are held outside work hours, when many women can’t attend due to family issues.

 

  • Prepare women employees for advancement. Identify women with leadership potential and provide mentorship, training and encouragement to help them develop their skills. For instance, you can enroll them in professional organizations or send them to leadership development and training programs.

 

  • Educate your employees. Bias against women is sometimes so ingrained we don’t recognize it. Lean In has partnered with IWD to offer free ready-to-use presentations, like the workshop “50 Ways to Fight Bias,” which offers specific examples to help participants identify gender bias. The presentation is sure to spark conversation, and also provides research-backed recommendations for how to remedy gender bias. You can also browse Lean In’s library of expert talks, discussion guides and resources.

 

The 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign doesn’t end on International Women’s Day—it runs all year long. Keep your commitment to a better-balanced business going, and you, your business and your employees all stand to benefit.

 

 

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About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Is your small business (or your dream of starting one) on the right track? Whether your business is still in the planning stages or is a well-established venture, having a long-term vision for your business is essential to moving it forward.

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How can you achieve your loftiest plans? Follow these six steps.

 

Step 1: Clarify your business vision

 

The term visionmay conjure up images of a distant, hazy landscape. But if you want to achieve your business vision, you must  be crystal clear on what it is. Start with a “brain dump” of what you want for your business within the next one, three and five years (or even further out). Your vision might be revamping your brand, expanding to an entirely new market or region, becoming a household name, or reaching a certain sales target.

 

  • Tip: Creating a vision board showing what you want can help you identify goals and think about what achieving that vision would look and feel like. 

 

Step 2: Make a plan

 

If your business is still in the pre-startup stages, now’s the time to write a business plan. (BPlans and SCORE* have tons of useful business plan resources.) Even if your business is up and running it’s not too late. Plan for achieving your vision as carefully as you did your startup. For example, if you want to expand your retail business nationally, where do you need to start?

 

  • Tip: Think through what’s involved and write out each step.

 

Step 3: Break it down

 

Your vision plan will be overwhelming if you try to tackle it all at once. Dig into your plan and break every step into smaller steps. For example, for the vision of expanding nationally, one step might be identifying possible locations. You can break this into smaller steps such as:

 

    • Identifying potential markets
    • Researching demographics in those markets
    • Investigating vendors and suppliers in those markets
    • Visiting commercial real estate websites
    • Contacting commercial real estate agents

 

  • Tip: If you’re having trouble getting started on a particular step, break it down even smaller. For instance, “Contacting commercial real estate agents” can start with “Find contact information for 3 agents.” Even taking small steps will give you a sense of progress and help keep you on track.

 

Step 4: Find your cheerleaders

 

Making your business vision a reality will take time and commitment. To improve your odds of success, find supporters to motivate you when times are tough. These can include experts and advisors such as a business mentor, colleagues who have your back, or friends and family members who always know the right thing to say.

 

  • Tip: You’re not looking for “yes men,” but rather for good listeners to bounce ideas off of and vent frustrations in an appropriate environment.

 

Step 5: Track your progress

 

On the journey to achieve your vision, it’s easy to stray off course—especially when you’re also handling the day-to-day challenges of running a small business. That’s why it’s so important to track your progress. Set up periodic check-ins with yourself and your team. Schedule them weekly, monthly, quarterly or at whatever frequency works best for you. The key is to hold yourself and your employees accountable for continually working toward the goals that you’ve set.

 

  • Tip: At each check-in, review your progress, assess whether you need to modify your plans, and recommit to moving forward.

 

Step 6: Celebrate your successes

 

Making your vision a reality can be a long process. Along the way, take time to celebrate victories, no matter how small. When team members achieve goals, give them rewards and public praise. When the team reaches a milestone, throw a party or take them to lunch. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, reward yourself whenever you surmount a hurdle. Treat yourself to something special or take time out for an activity you enjoy.

 

By following these six steps, you’ll achieve your vision for your business before you know it. What’s on your horizon?  Tell us in the Comments section below.

 

*Disclaimer: SCORE is a client of my company.

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