Education

Education

There Is No Universal Sweet Spot

Focus
You may think your product or service is the greatest thing since sliced bread and that everyone can benefit from it. That may even be true, but everyone isn't going to want it. We all try to find the sweet spot for our customers the one thing that will grab them and keep them. The problem is that there is no universal sweet spot. One customer will look at your product and decide that it is too expensive where another will be drawn to the high price because it conveys exclusivity. Some people  will be drawn to the simplicity of a product where others decide it doesn't do enough. There are different sweet spots for different audiences and they often contradict each other. Your job is to define who your…
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The Worst Grilled Cheese Recipe Ever

Process
I watched an online video claiming to show the ultimate grilled cheese recipe. As I watched I was amazed at how bad the recipe was. To be fair, there's nothing wrong with the sandwich you get from the recipe. The problem is the recipe itself. At several points in the recipe, it is stated "if you can't find this ingredient use whatever you want." This is terrible for a recipe because you have just given up any idea of what the final product will be like because you have told the cook the ingredients don't matter. I bring this up because a recipe is at its most basic an operations plan. It is the step by step instructions on how to create a specific outcome. Imagine if a manufacturing plant…
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Don’t Pursue a Doomed Idea

Innovation
When it comes to innovation, irrationality can be a blessing. Many a great decision has resulted from people taking risks that didn't make logical sense at the time. But irrationality can also blind innovators to real problems. Here are three ways to seek the right amount of reason: Find a devil's advocate. Look for someone who can poke holes in your thinking and point out when you're being dangerously irrational. Test your hypotheses. Turn your proclamations into experiments. Use them to check your logic. Make resources scarce. An abundance of time, money, or people should accelerate innovation, but it often does the opposite. Set early deadlines, consciously constrain funding, and keep teams lean to pressure-test your idea before you get too far down the road.
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The Importance of Continuing Education

Improvement
Many professions require you to take ongoing classes in order to keep your license current. What about those of us that don't have this requirement? Does it mean we are exempt from having to continue learning new things? Absolutely not! The world is changing rapidly. All of us must continue to learn new concepts to stay at the top of our games. I had a conversation with a SCORE counselor. For those of you not familiar with SCORE, it is a program from the SBA where retired executives who volunteer their time to help people start businesses. The counselor in question was retired for awhile and had not continued learning. As a result, when the topic of marketing came up he was unfamiliar with inbound marketing, social media, content marketing…
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Apples To Apples

Evaluate
When looking at the state of your business, it is natural to compare it to other businesses. If you want to get a realistic picture of your business, who you compare it to matters. Recently, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gave an interview about how well the company was doing. He and the interviewer kept talking about how strong same store sales were and how no other brick and mortar retailer was holding on to customers like Starbucks. The statement was completely true. It was also completely irrelevant. Starbucks does not face the same challenges as retailers. No one is buying a cup of coffee at Amazon and waiting for next day delivery. If he wanted to make his point accurately, he should have compared Starbucks to businesses in its own sector…
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3 Ways to Think Like an Innovator

Innovation
Most people struggle to do what innovators excel at: connecting the unconnected. Here are three ways to get in the habit of making new associations: Just do it. Force associations across different ideas when they don't come naturally. Ask yourself: What else could this idea be connected to? Shake it up. When associations don't emerge, try forcing them to surface. Put seemingly unrelated ideas or words together and see what comes to mind. The creative combinations may spark a new idea. Repeat. Research shows that if you practice associational thinking long enough, the task will energize you rather than exhaust you.
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Imposter Syndrome Means You’re On The Right Track

Attitude and Mindset
You've probably heard people say it. You may have said it yourself. "I'm worried someone will find out I'm a fraud." In general, it refers to the feeling that you're not qualified to do what you're doing. It's an insecurity that is referred to as imposter syndrome. If you start to feel imposter syndrome, embrace it. It means you're on the right track. Imposter syndrome never occurs when you're in your comfort zone. People only feel it when they stretch into unfamiliar territory. If you stay in your comfort zone, your potential is limited. Feeling like you are reaching beyond your grasp means you are trying new things, learning more, and having new experiences. These are necessities if you want to accomplish more. When you feel imposter syndrome take these…
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Finding Positive Things at Work Can Decrease Stress

Attitude and Mindset
Over the course of a typical workday, negative and positive things inevitably happen — and many people focus mainly, or exclusively, on the negative ones. But research has found that even small positive experiences are a valuable resource for reducing stress. When people spend time thinking about what went well that day, their mental and physical stress levels decrease by small but significant amounts, and they have an easier time detaching from work. Thinking positively doesn’t come naturally for most people: We’re attuned to paying attention to negative things, which makes it hard to notice positive ones. So instead of ruminating on negative events, make time to relive, enjoy, and share the positive events of your day. Doing so creates bonds with other people and reduces evening stress, improving your…
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The 2016 Entrepreneur (Part IV): The Freelance Entrepreneur

Attitude and Mindset
Like the sharing economy, freelance work allows you to be an entrepreneur while working for a company. More and more companies are hiring freelancers to handle projects instead of bringing on full-time employees who they may not need at the end of a project. Being a freelancer also gives you the opportunity to work only as or a freelancer or on the side while you hold on to your 9 - 5 job. However, you must realize that being a freelancer is running a business. You are responsible for sales and accounting in addition to the job you are hired to do. As a freelancer you must be able to meet deadlines without someone looking over your shoulder. It is not something you can do half-heartedly. You must commit to…
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The 2016 Entrepreneur (Part III): Protection In The Sharing Economy

Process
by Charlie Schein Star Schein Insurance Everyone is looking to save or make an extra buck!  That’s ok…after all, who couldn’t use a few extra dollars in the holiday/vacation or weekly grocery fund?  People are turning towards web enabled 3rd party apps to turn their vehicles in to taxis and homes in to an instant Bed and Breakfast.  All this can be done quickly, easily and cheaply using the internet!  Or can it? As an insurance agent, I have concerns.  Not that I mind anyone making extra money…my concern is that personal auto and home owners policies are just that…personal.  Each contain exclusions for commercial enterprises.  When you open your home and car to commercial risk, the insurance company has the right to decline to pay any claims arising from…
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