In business, professional success may come down to one critical skill that trumps all others, regardless of generation or industry, and it’s this: self-management. The new leadership. Here’s why.

Self Management IS the New Leadership

If you spend any amount of time reading the HR and staffing articles that fill social media news feeds and business magazines about attracting and managing Millennials you might come to believe that the balance of power has shifted from employee to employer. Today’s employers are admonished to offer flexible work schedules, create teams, eliminate hierarchy, do away with titles, offer cafeteria and non-traditional benefits packages and more if they expect to attract “the best and brightest” among Millennials and the younger generations that will follow them into the workplace.

What seems to be missing are articles telling Millennials and emerging generations how they can adapt, grow and develop in order to succeed, including advice that might shatter their misconceptions about what the work place will be like. Zappos, Amazon and the like have embraced hierarchy and work environments that work well for their business models; however, to think that one type of work style translates to all industries and business types isn’t logical. Companies that rely on constant invention and innovation need to be structured in a way that facilitates those activities, but the vast majority of businesses in the U.S. are not Amazon-like in work environment or organizational needs.

One size does not fit all when it comes to employers, nor does one size fit all when it comes to employees, regardless of age or assigned generation. Some people thrive in the holacracy; others, not so much. To think that one style of workplace would be best suited for everyone in a certain age group is as illogical as assuming that one type of teaching style suits all students. It’s just not true.

Here’s something that is true regardless of age, regardless of industry, regardless of work environment: Self-management is the new leadership.

Whether you work in a role with lots of goals and measures or few, whether you work in an environment with lots of oversight or little, and whether you work in a business that has lots of policies and procedures or hardly any, success in any type of business comes down to your ability to effectively manage the time and resources at your disposal, even if that only resource is you.

Self-management covers a lot of turf. It’s about managing work time in a way that is purpose-driven, focused, disciplined and productive – but that’s not all. It’s also about having self-control, and that includes time spent doing work but it also includes time spent in meetings, on teams, and time spent interacting with bosses and co-workers.

At its core, the new leadership – self-management – comes down to four main components: observation, discernment, wisdom and a bias for action.

Here are definitions for each along with synonyms that help to clarify them even more.

Observation

The action or process of observing something or someone carefully in order to gain information. In other words, you keep an eye on things. Synonyms: surveillance, scrutiny, watching, study

Discernment

The ability to judge well. In other words, you have the ability to accurately interpret what has been observed (with at least some degree of objectivity) and begin to form conclusions or strategies as to appropriate response or next steps. Synonyms: judgment, acumen, shrewdness, sensitivity, intuition

Wisdom

The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. In other words, you have the knowledge and/or experience needed to determine which would be the best options from among possible actions or strategies that should occur next. Synonyms: understanding, intelligence, astuteness, insight

Bias for Action

The fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. In other words, you’ve seen the problem, developed solutions, chosen the right one and you are willing and able to take action for resolution, response or progress. Synonyms: exploit, achievement, accomplishment, feat

Whether you’re a sole proprietor, part of a traditionally-structured business or a team-member in a holacracy environment, these abilities make you more valuable, more effective and more successful. If you’re an HR, staffing or recruiting professional, these abilities are going to set your best candidates apart, regardless of their age or assigned generation. If you’re a business owner who is wondering which of your staff should be developed for leadership or promotion, choose those that display these characteristics.

If you’re a Millennial – or someone even younger – who is about to enter the workforce, these are the attributes that will help you grow, adapt and succeed over the course of your professional career, perhaps more so than any other skills you have. Self-management is the new leadership (and it was the old leadership, too!)

Business location is one of the most important decisions that someone launching or expanding a brick-and-mortar business will make. Here are five tips for choosing the right business location that can help you zero in on the best one for your business.

5 Ways to Determine Whether a Potential Business Location is Right for You

Location, location, location! For brick and mortar businesses, few decisions will have more of an impact on the ultimate success and sustainability of their business than the location where they choose to open their doors. Here are five things to consider if you are going to open a new business or expand your business to a new location any time soon.

Few decisions will impact a new business’s ability to be profitable and sustainable more than that of where to locate the business. We came up with this five-point checklist to help those who are looking for help in deciding whether a potential location would be good for their business in the short term as well as over the long haul.

5-Point Checklist for Choosing the Right Business Location for a Brick and Mortar Store

1. The Proximity of Ideal Client Types (Target Audiences) to the Business Location

Put me in an interesting location with good people – and I’m there.” – Jane Curtin

The proximity of a proposed new business location to individuals that would be a close match to the organization’s “Ideal buyer types” as well as general target audiences is the first consideration that must be satisfied. If a brick-and-mortar business location is not convenient to an adequate number of target audience members relative to where they live, work or play, it’s not likely to be successful or sustainable.

One obvious way to determine whether a location would be suitable for starting a new business or expanding an existing business into a new location is to spend some time at the site, watching to see what type of clientele is patronizing the other existing businesses in the area. Census data and trends can also provide important insight. And free tools like Claritas 360 Zip Code Look Up (formerly Nielsen’s Prizm) can provide you with an overview of the demographics and lifestyle characteristics of zip codes immediately surrounding a proposed site.

2. Business Location Price (Compared to Projections)

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

The cost of a business location is not just a dollar amount. This Excel spreadsheet Entrepreneur.com profit and loss template can help you lay out a three year projection that puts a location’s rent (or lease or mortgage amount) plus property taxes, insurance and other costs into perspective.

profit and loss statement template

Besides the actual dollar amount you would pay to lease, rent or buy in order to get into a prospective new business location, you should also take a look at whether the landlord is willing to make concessions or allowances for any of the following:

  • When does the agreement kick in? You do not want to be paying rent during the weeks or months it takes to make the upgrades, repairs, renovations or remodeling that need to be completed before your doors even open.
  • Who is responsible for the cost of renovations and upgrades needed to open your business?
  • How long are you going to be locked in, how much notice do you need to give in order to vacate, and are there any ‘kick out’ clauses that give you the right to leave if your business can’t make it there?
  • Are rent increases automatic or tied to a percentage of business growth? How often has the landlord typically raised rent for tenants, and how large have the increases been?
  • Who is responsible for facility repairs and maintenance for your square footage? How about for common areas?
  • Will you have the ability to sublease the space or re-assign the lease to another business should your business need to move somewhere else (or close?)
  • Can you add co-tenancy agreements, so that if a tenant leaves that typically helps bring traffic to your store, you can relocate as well?
  • Can you negotiate for an exclusivity clause that prohibits the landlord from renting other nearby properties to competing businesses?
  • Do you have to make personal guarantees or provide any personal collateral that would be at risk if your business could not fulfill the terms of the lease?

Before signing onto a long term lease or rental agreement, it would be well worth your time to speak to other tenants or the owners of nearby businesses for insights on the quality of property management that the landlord generally provides. It could also be beneficial to work with a broker in order to negotiate through the terms of the agreement in order to protect your business, your own personal assets or achieve concessions which effectively reduce the real cost of the property.

3. The Business Location’s Amenities

Location is all about the efficiency of work for me.” – Michelle Grabner

Some of the location’s amenities may be reflected in the lease or rental agreement as noted above in terms of costs; however, that’s not all. For instance, a location’s proximity to key vendors and suppliers could also make it a more attractive alternative than others.

A location that provides an easy commute and also offers great options for employees to eat, shop, workout, and so on, that could also make it more attractive to quality hires, as would enhanced security and safety, low crime and an overall good reputation.

When considering amenities, think about the non-direct benefits that a location has to offer. If these characteristics make it more attractive for your customers or your employees, they should be considered.

4. The Location’s Alignment with Your Brand

Location is the key to most businesses, and entrepreneurs typically build their reputation at a particular spot.” – Phyllis Schlafly

The location you choose for your business should align well with your brand. If the appearance, décor, ambiance and other characteristics that impact customer’s perception of your brand do not align with your brand’s reputation (or the brand reputation you want to build), then the location may not be right.

You may be able to upgrade or renovate to turn a location’s square footage into one worthy of your brand reputation; however, if other businesses in the area or common areas contradict that image, then – again – it might not be the best place for your organization.

5. Projected Location Changes

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

Here today, gone tomorrow? When choosing a location for your startup business or choosing a place to add a new franchise or branch of your business, you can’t just consider what the location has to offer today, especially if you will be committing to a long term lease or you will be investing significantly in order to bring the space up to par.

Project into the future three years, five years, ten years or even twenty years down the road. How will your business change? Will the site still be adequate to your needs? Is there room to expand? Will the location continue to be convenient to where members of your target markets are expected to live or work?

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In addition to the lists of the 10 Worst and 10 Best States for Startups, we’re suggesting five ways startups can thrive, no matter where they’re planted.

Top 10 Best States for Startups and the 10 Worst; But 5 “Buts” to Help You Thrive Anywhere

As a leading credit card processing company with headquarters in western Washington, we are thrilled but not all that surprised to find that Washington State was No. 1 on the list of Top 10 States for Entrepreneurs as reported on businessnewsdaily.com. That said, it is impressive that six of the top ten and all of the top five states ranked as most conducive to startups are in the western portion of the U.S.

Top 10 Best States for Startups

  1. Washington
  2. Wyoming
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Oregon
  6. Texas
  7. Delaware
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Montana
  10. Missouri

The list’s rankings are based on a number of factors, including number and quality of startup opportunities, the state’s business climate, business taxes, productivity, cost of living, whether there is adequate available workforce, median education, and access to capital.  Among those states rated as least favorable to startups, many made the list because of a high rate of failed businesses in those states.

Top 10 Worst States for Startups

  1. West Virginia
  2. Hawaii
  3. South Carolina
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Virginia
  6. Maryland
  7. Vermont
  8. Arkansas
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Alabama

Moving to one of the states where startups are most likely to succeed might not be an option for you; however, there are things that you can do to make sure your business can thrive anywhere. We came up with five principles entrepreneurs and business owners should take to heart.

5 Buts for Startups That Want to Thrive

Scrimp – But Never On Quality

There is nothing wrong with thinking lean; in fact, it’s often a business necessity for startups. Scrimping and cutting costs wherever possible can help reduce operating costs and give startups enough time to begin to generate growth momentum.

But scrimping on quality is always a mistake! This doesn’t mean that your startup has to have the best, it means you need to provide good quality and value for customers’ day in and day out.

Save – But Spend on Marketing

When business contracts, marketing activities are often first on the chopping block, with some startups and small businesses opening their doors without even having a formal marketing plan at all.

But cutting the marketing budget when business is slow will usually just make things worse. When business slows, put more resources into marketing, not less. Likewise, if you cannot tie results to marketing efforts, it might be smart to change your marketing mix, but don’t eliminate it!

Raise Working Capital – But Preserve It

Low cash flow or lack of working capital set aside for unexpected problems or emerging opportunities can bring startups to their knees. Startups that open their doors with enough working capital and the ability to generate cash flow needed to meet operations and grow have an advantage right from the start.

But depleting working capital reserves or spreading cash flow too thin can put startups on shaky ground. Consider using cash flow management tools like invoice factoring to speed up cash flow or preserve working capital by using merchant cash advance or equipment lease financing instead of buying equipment outright.

Go for Broke – But Live to Fight Another Day

The very nature of startups involves risk taking. There is no such thing as a sure thing! There are times in the life of a startup – and in any business – where it’s absolutely essential to take risks that take entrepreneurs outside of their comfort zones.

But taking risks doesn’t have to mean risking everything. The bigger the risk you are considering, the more vital it is that you identify warning signs or statistics that allow you to minimize losses and enable your startup to live to fight another day.

Grow Big – But Keep Thinking Small

As startups become small businesses then grow into midsize companies and even large corporations, new employees will come on board, infrastructure will get bigger and – inevitably – many things will change.

But the values, innovation and culture that you set out to create in the beginning don’t have to change. While you are still small, think about the characteristics that set your business apart whether you’re located in one of the worst or best states for startups, so the most important values they can be strategically preserved and promoted as your company grows.

The number of U.S. full and part time independent workers soared over 42 million in 2018. Businesses who find ways to serve and sell to independent workers have a lot to gain.

6 Ways to Sell More to Independent Workers

The number of U.S. full and part time independent workers rose astronomically from 2011 to 2018, going from 16 million to just over 42 million people over the 8 year span, according to MBO Partners State of Independence in America survey. During the same time period, the number of high-earning independents (earning over $100,000 annually) went from 12.5 percent of indies to over 20 percent – more than 3 million workers. By 2023, over half of American workers will have worked as an independent worker at some point during their career.

What is an Independent Worker?

Independent workers are people 21 years old and older who are self-employed as freelancers, contractors, consultants, temporary and on-call workers or who are working on fixed-term employment contracts expected to last less than one year. In addition to adding numbers to their ranks, the study found that independent workers:

  • Generate more than $1.3 trillion to the economy
  • Are multi-generational – Full-Time Indies are comprised of 37% Millennials, 28% Gen X and 35% Boomers/Matures
  • 79% are happier working on their own than at a traditional job
  • Love having the ability to control their own schedules, with 76% of women and 58% of men saying that flexibility was the key reason for choosing the independent route, and 71% of women saying they wanted to control their own schedule
  • Love being their own boss, with 67% of men and 58% of women citing this as their top reason for choosing independent work
  • Know no borders – 1 in 5 have customers outside the U.S.

Since the post-recession economic recovery has been described as a jobless recovery, it’s not really surprising that entrepreneurial-minded and professionally ambitious workers turned to independent work as a primary or secondary source of income during recent years. Given the rate at which this segment is expected to continue to grow, businesses who find ways to serve and sell to independent workers have a lot to gain.

6 Ways to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Purchases of US Solopreneurs

Scale Offers and Options

If it were easy, everyone would do it. The truth is, it’s not always easy to scale offers to the size, scope and price a solo-preneur would find affordable and attractive that will also still be profitable for a business to sell; but the long term benefits could be well worth it. As independent workers become small business owners and continue to grow, these early partners – businesses that cared enough to tailor programs to help independent workers – stand to win.

Find Common Ground

Independent workers might not be able to meet you during a 9-5 workday or come to a downtown office location. In fact, meeting at a large corporate site might be intimidating or even be a turn off to independent workers, who might feel like they don’t belong or who don’t want to be part of a big organization.

Meet independents on their own ground, a coffee shop or another neutral site, or connect online (virtual ground) and be prepared to accommodate their schedules.

Invest in Gathering Places

Sponsor events or extend meeting space to local indies who might have difficulty finding locations suitable for customer events. Consider advertising with co-working office spaces. Host solo-preneur networking events and workshops.

All of these entrepreneur-friendly actions position your business to be able to sell to independent workers now, help you establish brand awareness and trust that brings them back to you when they need your services or products at a later time, or help you win with referrals as they tell other small business owners about your presentation or brand.

Give Away Expertise

Providing your expertise as an event speaker, coach or mentor might cost you little more than a few hours each month, but might be invaluable to the independent workers who benefit from your experience and advice. Starting a regular podcast or hosting webinars gives you a low-cost entrepreneur marketing tactic that can generate a wide following and leads among Indies.

Scale this type of give-away by building email contact databases segmented so that you can keep your brand in front of independent workers by providing them advice and content via email on a regular basis.

Support Indies with Online Content

As with any other vertical, starting the conversation with independent workers and educating them along the buying journey is critical. Publish white papers, reports, statistics and apps that can help independent workers and small business owners find – and trust – your business. Dedicate web landing pages and blog articles to topics that are likely to interest and engage indies. Use social media to engage and dialogue with them.

Demonstrate the Long-Term Value of Partnership

One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to independent workers. Although frugality and caution can be found in buyers of any-size organization, it’s even more imperative for independent workers to maximize the return on investment for each and every dollar they invest in improving their business.

You might also like: What Small Business Owners Wish They Knew at the Start-Up

Put the value of your partnership into language and numbers they can understand, and show them how your business works to ensure they get the best results from the services or products they buy from you. Success shouldn’t be measured only by whether your business achieved its goals, but also by the extent to which your business helped its clients achieve theirs.

It is this type of mindset that can help you win the hearts, minds and purchases of independent workers, and it is this type of mindset that will receive the most gratification when your clients leverage your products or services to grow.

Infographic - 8 Years of Insight on the Growth of the Independent Workforce

Source: https://www.mbopartners.com/state-of-independence/

We often think adding a second location or more square feet is the only way to expand, when, in reality, there are many ideas for expanding a business that add revenue – and boost profits – without adding additional overhead in the process.

Expanding a Business – 5 Ways to Boost Revenue Per Square Foot in Your Business

Price per square foot – it’s one of the biggest costs of doing business. Whether you own or lease, for each square foot you pay for, you must be able to generate a minimum amount of revenue per square foot over and above that number, just to break even. To grow, you must be able to get even more profit out of each square foot of your business.

What does each square foot of your business cost? It’s much more than the price per square foot reflected in your lease agreement. The real cost of doing business, for each square foot, includes each and every expense of your business, including supplies, inventory, insurance, taxes, payroll, etc., divided by the number of square feet in your business.

But you can also calculate revenues or profit for each square foot of your business. In fact, it’s important to be aware of these numbers because for your business to be profitable and generate the money you need to grow, profit per square foot must exist, which means you need to know how much revenue per square foot your business must generate to produce a profit.

If a business can’t produce a profit (money left over after expenses and depreciation), it will have a difficult time growing, because most growth strategies require capital. Capital is where we come in. In particular, when it comes to implementing growth strategies, commercial cash advance financing can provide a business with fast access to the money it needs to grow to the next level.

Essentially, business cash advances provide an organization with a lump sum of working capital which is repaid out of future sales. This is one reason that it’s a great option for businesses that want to use a cash advance to finance inventory, equipment, marketing, or other capital expenses that will lead to increased revenue or open up new streams of revenue.

In fact, one of the best parts about being in the business of cash advance financing is hearing about how our clients use their cash advance to grow. While some do use cash advance financing to add a second business location or incorporate adjacent vacant space because they need additional square footage to grow, others add new lines of revenue without incurring as much additional cost, essentially expanding a business without adding physical space.

Growing a Business – 5 Ways to Expand Without Adding Square Feet

New Equipment

In just about every industry, as technology evolves, not only does newer equipment provide you with the ability to enhance a product or service or produce a completely new one, it often does so on a smaller footprint. When the benefits of increased efficiency, productivity and reduced space requirements add up to new or boosted business revenue, it might be smart to upgrade. This is where expanding a business in it’s current location without adding square feet can help.

Likewise, if you have enough space to add new equipment, you may be able to add whole new lines of revenue to your business in the form of new products or services. If your competitors are providing products or services you aren’t, or you would like to provide customers with items they typically purchase right before (or right after) purchasing yours, this might be an area where adding new equipment could give your business revenues a big boost.

The cost of adding new equipment may be well worth the expense, even if you take on a business financing obligation in the process. You also need to consider what the cost of not adding new equipment could be, especially if your competitors are gaining market share because they can serve clients products or services that your business is not equipped to provide.

New Skills and Training

In service-based industries like salons and spas, dental, medical, etc., education and training can be a vehicle for adding new lines of revenue without adding square footage, and sometimes even without a significant investment in equipment or inventory. As with equipment, assessing advantages of competitors or innovations and trends being pursued by industry leaders can provide insights as to what new services might be most successful with your target markets, which can point you in the right direction when it comes to investing in education and training.

In addition, new service revenues often go hand-in-hand with new product sales, especially when services are enhanced by products customers can use at home or in between appointments.

New Inventory

Periodically changing your inventory is smart business. Phasing out slow-movers can allow you to make ways for new items which can re-engage your customer base or allow you to target an expanded market segment and bring new customers in to your business. Phasing out slow-movers can even spark demand. In fact, limiting customer access to certain products or services to specific periods of time during the year might mean you sell more of those items than you would were they available year-round.

New Blood

Bringing in consultants or hiring new staff can help you expand your business. Hiring new employees strategically for specific skills they bring to the table may give you the ability to launch new products or services (or enhance those you already offer). New hires and consultants also help to bring a fresh perspective. They can point out areas of opportunity and help you see your business through “fresh eyes.” As a result, you may be able to identify new markets for your products or services or eliminate inefficiencies or obsolescing items in order to make room for others.

New Identity

While the underlying values that guide your organization may never change, your brand identity will probably change over time. These changes might be small and reflected in tweaks to the logo, brand taglines, marketing campaigns and colors, or they might be big, and be accompanied by a completely new mission statement, vision for growth, and a new logo – possibly even a new name.

Big changes to brand identity might reflect big changes in leadership; however, they might also be necessitated by big changes in the marketplace or business model. Along with a change to consumer perception, this also provides a business owner with an opportunity to remake the business itself, including tweaking or completely changing its menu of goods or services.

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For most businesses, change is an imperative. If you need working capital for expanding a business, we can help. Get access to money you can use to expand your business (whether that means adding square footage or not) using a merchant cash advance.

Start by requesting a totally free, no-risk quote – a merchant cash advance could provide you with the money you need to grow your business within days: 

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When something’s on fire, the smoke might be the most visible but the flames are the ones getting work done. These twelve productive quotes for business leaders are a motivational reminder that results matter, and hard work always pays off.

Smoke vs Fire – 12 Productive Quotes About Getting the Work Done for Today’s Business Leaders

Productivity is defined as:

  • the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services (dictionary.com)
  • A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs (businessdictionary.com)

Other definitions include phrases like “fertility,” “output per unit,” “effectiveness,” and so on. It’s not about being busy, it’s about getting done what matters. In the workplace, the person who looks the busiest is not always the power behind the progress being made by the organization. As managers, it’s your responsibility to identify and cultivate those employees who demonstrate their value by getting work done. 

12 Quotes About Productivity for the Workplace

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” — Thomas Sowell

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” — Thomas Sowell

“Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done.” — Linus Torvalds

“Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done.” — Linus Torvalds

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing - but mentors, that's where the real work gets done.” — Junot Diaz

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.” — Junot Diaz

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell

“In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.” — Harold S. Geneen

“In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.” — Harold S. Geneen

“A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” — Mary Kay Ash

“A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” — Mary Kay Ash

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” — Steve Jobs

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” — Steve Jobs

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned for it to do, doesn’t mean it was useless.” — Thomas A. Edison

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned for it to do, doesn’t mean it was useless.” — Thomas A. Edison

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman - not the attitude of the prospect.” — W. Clement Stone

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect.” — W. Clement Stone

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” — Warren Buffett

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” — Warren Buffett

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." — Mark Twain

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” — Mark Twain

 

It may be a tale as old as time but for a chick whose story is several centuries old, Cinderella sure seems to be a role model for women business owners today. Here’s why.

Women business owners looking for a success story need look no further than memories from their own childhood to find a role model worth considering: Cinderella.

Could Cinderella Be the Ideal Mentor for Women Business Owners Today?

While a case could be made for revisiting any of the versions from the somewhat disturbing origin stories from which the modern day version is derived, (“Cendrillon” from Tales of Mother Goose, 1697 by Charles Perrault or the Grimm Brothers’ Aschenputtel, 1812), many of the lessons will be the same as those which can be discovered in its most recent depiction, Disney’s Cinderella released in 2015, directed by industry icon Kenneth Branagh starring Lily James in the title role and the incomparable Kate Blanchett as the “evil stepmother.”

Cinderella’s 7 Leadership Lessons for Women Business Owners

1. Have Courage and Be Kind

There have been entire leadership books written that failed to say what this little gem of leadership advice says so simply: Have courage and be kind. As a recipe for good leadership, it works. Courage is needed to take risks, face challenges and pursue business vision at nearly every point in the life cycle of a business.

Likewise, kindness is a strategy that is vital to the growth of a business, to a healthy organizational culture, to winning over prospects and retaining clients. To have courage and be kind is to take a long term view of nearly any situation, which is nearly always going to be the best approach to take.

2. Never Mind What They Call Me

Shortly after being demoted from “family” status to that of a servant, a bedraggled Ella is mockingly renamed “Cinderella” by her mean stepsisters. When she meets the handsome prince for the first time in the forest and he asks her name, she replies, “Never mind what they call me.”

Her response calls to mind a quote attributed to W.C. Fields that says, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” Cinderella refuses to accept that she is limited to being what anyone else says she is or what anyone else calls her. Women business owners will face many situations where self-doubt about their abilities can creep in or where people even call their qualifications into question. In those moments, this could be an invaluable leadership lesson to keep in mind.

3. Honor the Past Without Jeopardizing the Future

In the 2015 release of Cinderella, our heroine modifies her mother’s old dress to wear to the ball. Even when her fairy Godmother offers to make her a completely new dress, she requests that the old dress be modified instead. In choosing to honor the past, she honors those who paved the way before her. However, she does not hold onto the past in such a way that it holds her back in the future.

Sometimes the right thing to do is to start over or go in an entirely new direction; however, it’s not always necessary and completely abandoning the past can leave employees, customers and other stakeholders confused. As change within an organization occurs, honoring the past and retaining elements that made a brand or strategy strong might be highly preferable to crafting a completely new solution. Conversely, many organizations become enslaved by the past. When “the way we’ve always done things” means that an organization cannot grow or evolve, it might be time to let it go!

4. Trust Your Own Judgment

Cinderella’s decision to go to the ball flew in the face of her stepmother’s command that she not attend. Sometimes women business owners will be called upon to defy conventional judgment and trust their own, instead. A successful leader’s defining moment often occurs as a results of their willingness to make decisions, take risks, defend their rationale and stand by the results of their actions.

5. Don’t Confuse a Low Position with Low Potential

Cinderella doesn’t allow her name, position or responsibilities to define her. She is faithful in doing the little things that need to be done for the good of everyone in the household, even when they go unnoticed and unappreciated. Her demotion from family member to servant notwithstanding, she does not hesitate when the time comes to take on the responsibilities of helping to run the whole kingdom.

Modeling servant-leadership and taking care of the little things doesn’t stop when you open a business or get promoted to an executive role; in fact, if anything, your responsibility for ensuring that the little things get done – even when no one notices or appreciates it – is that much greater. Women business owners who lead by example are the ones whose organizational culture is infused with these values.

6. Forgive but Don’t Forget to Move Forward

We live in a society where forgiveness is often equated with excusing the behavior of someone else. Cinderella sets a wise example in that she forgives her mother and stepsisters for the abusive way they treated her, but she does not excuse their behavior, nor does she give them the opportunity to continue causing damage in the future.

In some businesses there are employees who are allowed to cause damage in their role as employees, and sometimes even as managers. It’s important to understand that firing this type of employee could be in the best interest not only of other employees and the organization as a whole, but sometimes even for the fired employee themselves. No matter how talented or well-connected, an employee who is damaging your organization from the inside out is going to limit its potential and cause others to leave.

7. Wear the Right Shoes

Marilyn Monroe once said, “With the right shoes, a woman can conquer the world.” Certainly few characters in literature or history are as well-known as Cinderella is for the shoes they wore.

The shoes women business owners have to wear have to get them all the way to the ball and home again. They have to help them land the role of their dreams. These shoes might be crafted in the education she received, advice given to her from mentors, the experience she has gained along the way – or all of the above; and with the right shoes, she just might conquer the world!

Franchise owners who want to capitalize on franchise-friendly consumer spending should take time to analyze their overall business strategy now, in order to get maximum benefit from increased consumer activity. Here are four key areas to consider.

Strong employment and economic numbers mean continued consumer spending beneficial to franchise owners, in particular. Employment strength in key segments including automotive and restaurants could mean continued good news for the economy overall.

4 Questions Can Help Franchise Owners Capitalize on Franchise-Friendly Consumer Spending

Is the Franchise Living Up to the Brand Standard?

Brand awareness could be playing a key role in the shopper’s decision to favor franchise businesses over competitors. This is an ideal time for franchise owners to evaluate their location and ensure that it is fully compliant with brand standards, not only in policies and appearance, but in the intangibles a brand may have come to represent, such as its values and attitude.

Is the Franchise Providing a Better-than-Expected Customer Experience?

Franchise location standards and policies set the stage, but it is still up to franchise leaders to evaluate the customer experience and find ways to make it better – better than the customer expected and better than the customer will experience at competitor’s locations. This could be an ideal time for franchise owners to:

  • invest in employee development and training relative to customer service
  • have their stores shopped for independent feedback
  • shop competitor’s stores to compare the customer experience
  • empower staff to solve customer problems as quickly as possible
  • upgrade credit card processing equipment and loyalty marketing software to better-serve local customers

Is the Franchise Contributing to Local Marketing?

Although franchise owners often benefit from brand name recognition, national and regional advertising and other marketing provided by parent organizations, that does not mean there is not more that can be done to help promote their own locations. In fact, supplementing the marketing done by the parent company with the same local marketing tactics that small and independent business owners employ could help a franchisee grow their own locations more quickly.

Is the Franchise Ready to Grow?

A franchise-friendly rise in consumer spending could represent the ideal conditions for a franchise to add additional square footage to its location, increase the number of employees, or expand by opening new stores. If a location is already fairly busy, increased consumer activity might even be difficult for the store to handle, so having a plan for hiring, growth and expansion is critical.

With U.S. shoppers sending signals indicating consumer spending will be adequate not only to sustain but to grow businesses in the months to come, franchise owners have a real opportunity to gain market share. By analyzing the customer experience and planning for future growth, they can quickly position their stores to grow and become more profitable.

Growth in Key Employment Segments Indicate Franchise-Friendly Consumer Spending

According to 2010 data published by the U.S. Census Bureau, just over one in 10 U.S. businesses are franchises. In 2016, franchise employment grew at an average of 0.4%, twice that of small businesses comprised of 1-49 employees which has enjoyed a 0.2% monthly average employment growth. 20,000 of the 205,000 jobs added in January 2016 were in the franchise sector. Among the sixteen sectors reflected in the report, nine showed net gains including:

  • 5% – Gas Stations and Auto Repair
  • 5% – Personal Services
  • 5% – Building Material and Garden Equipment
  • 5% – Manufacturing
  • 4% – Restaurants
  • 3% – Auto Parts and Dealers
  • 2% – Food Retailers
  • 1% – Professional Services
  • 1% – Real Estate

While rental franchise employment growth remained unchanged, five franchise employer segments experienced net job losses; including:

  • -0.6% – Business Services
  • -0.4% – Education
  • -0.3% – Accommodations
  • -0.2% – Leisure
  • -0.1% – Other

With growth rates of employment rates for U.S. franchises double those of the private sector, franchise owners should be paying attention to the reasons that might be bringing consumers in to their businesses vs. their non-franchise competitors. Given that one of the advantages franchise owners enjoy is brand name recognition, it may be presumed that shoppers are choosing to spend their money in establishments where they are confident of the customer experience and quality products and services they expect to receive.

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If you’ve been asked to plan a company event and don’t know where to start; keep calm and master these six basics of business event planning  written especially for first-timers.

Six Basics First-Timers Should Know About Business Event Planning

Virtual events and digital marketing channels haven’t replaced in-person events in the business marketer’s playbook, only enhanced them. According to 35 Statistics Every Event Marketing Should Know (EventFarm.com):

  • Tradeshows and events are the second most effective tactic in a marketer’s mix, after their company website (Forrester)
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the event industry will grow by 44% from 2010 to 2020
  • 79% of U.S. marketers say they generate sales using event marketing (Statista)
  • 87% of consumers say they purchased a brands products or services after (and as a result of) becoming aware of it at an event (eventmarketing.com)
  • 76% of marketers say their event and experiential marketing initiatives are integrated with their other marketing campaigns. (EventTrack)

With statistics like these, small wonder that the vast majority of marketers say they plan to increase their event budget this year. It’s estimated that brands spend 20-25% of the marketing budget on events and related expenses.

If you’re adding events to the marketing mix for the first time, one thing you will quickly learn is that there are many variables and details that need to be worked out if your event is going to be a success. Here are six musts for business event planning that can help you keep calm and plan events that will deliver a marketing ROI (return on investment).

6 Basics of Business Event Planning for First Timers

1. What do you want to accomplish?

Understanding the objective for the event will play a part in determining nearly every other facet of your event; including:

  • Where to hold the event – the location (hotel conference or meeting room, convention center, co-working space, restaurant, etc.) that will be conducive to creating the feel or environment you want attendees to have (team structured learning, formal dinners, access to beaches, close to city for dinning or attractions, outdoor team events, etc.).
  • How many people to invite or how many you want (or need) to attend for an event to be successful
  • When to hold the event – your event’s timing should validate your agenda and coincide with the environment you are trying to convey and you should keep in mind that it may also affect event costs. Events held during tourist season may be considerably more expensive; however, the benefit of increased attendance could offset the additional costs.

2. How much do you want to spend?

Setting a budget is important for many reasons. Absence of a budget may result in costs getting out of hand or exceeding benefits. Without a budget you may also run the risk of finding you can’t pay for the event you need to help you grow your business.

Smartsheet.com is a great resource where you can find various templates, including event registration forms, planners and budget templates that can help you with event planning. Whether you use a template or not, as you work toward your event and analyze it afterward, your final budget report should have two columns for each line item that reflect estimated costs and actual costs.

Tracking your budget at every step can help you stay on track in terms of resources consumed and will also help you with forecasting for future events. As you’re creating the budget add a line for very detail that is associated with a dollar amount. You can always go back and delete a line item later if it’s not needed. As well with all events, nothing goes according to plan; therefore it’s important to add a line item “emergency fund” which is 10% of the total budget. This will allow you to make a last minute purchase and not be stressed about where the funds are coming from.

3. How will you pay for the event?

Our business cash advances could be an ideal solution for financing marketing events that will help you grow your business more quickly. Ask us for a free, no-obligation event or marketing financing proposal by applying online .

If you planned ahead, you may have money in the budget already designated for your event. In some cases, registration fees will cover or even produce a profit when offset against event expenses, although it is likely that you will have to be prepared to pay most vendors and venues before all registration fees have been collected.

4. What will be on the agenda?

As it relates to business event planning, an agenda is the timeline that says what should be happening at any given time throughout the event. Having two versions of your timeline, a detailed version and an overview will be helpful; some of the people involved in planning and executing the event will need a detailed schedule while the overview schedule will be sufficient for others who are less involved (or who are merely attendees).

The detailed timeline will include: location, dates, and will account for every minute broken down per segment, name of participants within each segment, audio visual needs, audience participation pieces, food, staging, and so on. An overview timeline will still account for all of the event time but will be more general in nature, perhaps including items such as location, dates, segment titles and presenter names, meals, breaks, etc.

Inevitably, during the planning phases of your event, you will go through multiple drafts of both version, right up until the event begins. That’s okay; just make sure all parties involved have access to the most recent or final agendas.

5. Who will have a role to play?

It’s common to have multiple vendors and speakers involved in an event. Having a way to keep track of each group, their emergency contact information, copies of order details and contracts all in one place will make it easier to locate when reviewing information. Given today’s digital capabilities, everyone on your team who needs this level of detail could have access via smartphone or tablet throughout the event. setting up electronic folders per vendor plus a hard copy in a binder with dividers will allow for greater organization and help to eliminate any confusion. It’s crucial to highlight all due dates and payment on all documents within your folders, as well within your budget program or spreadsheet as you are viewing this particular document on a regular basis.

6. How will you get the word out?

When business event planning, ensuring sufficient time to execute the marketing needed to reach your desired target audience effectively is a must. As you work backwards to plan your event timeline, plan your marketing strategy by working backward from the actual event date using a 12 months, 6 months, 90 day, 30 day, 14-day, 7-day and pre-event week communication plan.

You might be able to use your credit card processing software to add event information to customer receipts and invoices. Likewise, you may be able to generated automated email marketing invitations to your event using your point-of-sale credit card processing solution. Seamless merchant services products like these make it easy to store customer contacts and reach out to them with event invitations, special offers, discounts and other brand communications.

Online programs like Eventbrite make it easy to set up a web-based event registration form in conjunction with business events. In addition to online registration, you will also want to decide whether you need to send email alerts, post cards or formal invitations to boost RSVPs and attendance – and each of these marketing tactics will need to be scheduled strategically as part of your overall event marketing and communication plan.

Once an attendee is registered, your communication plan should account for email confirmations, links to hotel or travel resources and you should plan to send a copy of the tentative agenda to registered guests shortly before the actual event. The more you stay in communication with those who register to attend, the less likely you are to have attendees drop out for no reason. Plus, keeping in communication just before the event can be a great way to get attendees to tweet out updates with your event or brand hashtag, manage expectations, create a sense of anticipation and set the stage for what you want to happen during the event.

Ready for more fascinating marketing and event stats that can help with business event planning? Check out this great slideshare from Hubspot:

Most of us have been in a position where we needed to come up with a good answer to tough questions we didn’t expect, only to find ourselves unprepared. Master these ten communication skills and you’ll be better able to come up with answers when you need them most.

Can you think on your feet when tough questions come your way?

Whether it comes from a critical customer, curious employee, audacious audience member, probing board chair, rude reporter, detail-oriented investor or another influential business stakeholder, not coming up with the most appropriate answer to tough questions can have negative consequences or derail an important initiative. Mastering these communication skills can help ensure that the next time tough questions get tossed your way, you’re ready to react.

Be Prepared to Answer Tough Questions by Mastering these 10 Skills

1. Learn how to listen.

Business leaders tend to do a lot of communicating, but that communication is often one-way. Listening attentively and openly, especially to tough questions that might put you on the defensive requires intent and discipline, and you may even need to practice:

  • Bring in an expert and hold a leadership workshop focused on improving listening skills
  • Increase solicitation of feedback from employees, customers and other stakeholders
  • Encourage healthy debate and constructive sharing of dissenting opinions

2. Get to the heart of the question.

The openforum.com article talked about finding the trigger word in a sentence so that you can respond most appropriately. However, sometimes the question asked isn’t the real question. If you learn to identify the motivation or point of concern that underlies the question itself, you may be able to provide the most appropriate answer and keep an initiative, policy or other important issue on track. It will also help prevent people asking tough questions from steering you in a direction you don’t want to go.

3. Start with the shortest answer.

Often, a simple “yes,” “no,” or even an “I’m not certain yet” response, with no further explanation offered, is the best answer. If it does not suffice, you can also ask to table a question you aren’t ready to answer for another time or request to follow up with a group or individual privately.

4. Think diet-sized portions.

Knowing when to stop, rather than going on and on or belaboring a point can enhance the way colleagues and staff perceive you as a leader – and keep you out of trouble when rambling may lead to divulging information you didn’t mean to share. Imagine that your audience members are on a strict diet, and limit answer-portions to help them stay on track!

5. Turn negatives into positives.

If someone levels an accusation or criticism in the form of a question, rather than repeating it (which may actually sound like you’re stating it as a fact or giving credence to the criticism), reword the question so that it comes out in positive – or at least neutral – language.

6. Plan ahead.

On your own or with a trusted peer, think through the weak points of your position or your argument before you make that tough presentation, announcement or policy delivery. This can help you prepare for tough questions that might be lobbed your way, neutralize critics and increase staff buy in for new initiatives or policy changes.

7. Prepare visuals.

Especially when dealing with complex processes, the possibility of multiple outcomes or a variety of cause-and-effect scenarios, creating visuals which help people understand a process or conceptualize various outcomes can answer many of the questions people may have about your presentation before they are even asked.

8. Decide on a delivery system.

Whether you think in terms of writing a news article (who, what, when, were, why, and how), cost-and-benefit pairings, past-present-future timeline divisions or other systems, structuring your presentation and planning out answers to anticipated or controversial questions can help you strengthen your presentation and avoid diversions.

9. Create and maintain an FAQ database.

Create a data center which can be accessed by your audience members to house the questions that come up frequently and include positive version of potentially critical or negative questions that you’ve anticipated may arise. This can be an especially effective strategy when you will be giving a presentation to multiple audiences or you want to give people time to review information on their own before coming to a decision.

10. Last, but not least, don’t be perfect, be yourself.

Perfection is not a possibility. Be prepared, but be transparent and honest about what you do and don’t know. When you let go of the pursuit of perfection and strive, instead, to be the best, most honest ‘you’ that you can be, you have a better chance of winning over any audience you face.

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