Use Social Media to Learn More About Your Industry

Use Social Media to Learn More About Your Industry

Featured, Improvement
Social media may seem to be an endless stream of selfies, political rants, and clickbait articles, but there’s a lot you can learn from it. In fact, you can use social media to build professional skills, knowledge, and relationships. Start by thinking about what you want to learn. If you’re keen to know more about your industry, follow smart industry leaders on LinkedIn and Twitter to see what they’re reading and talking about. You can find industry hashtags on Twitter to discover great new resources. If you know the specific subfield or topic you want to learn about next, you can focus your reading in that specific area to develop expertise. Think about skill gaps, too: If you do a lot of presentations and are getting tired of those boring…
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Scarcity Can Be An Asset

Scarcity Can Be An Asset

Evaluate, Featured, Improvement
You have a great product. Your customers love it. Should you offer them more? That seems like a simple question. However, many businesses that jump at the chance to expand find themselves expanding too much and overshooting demand. It isn't just small businesses that have this problem. The NFL recently found themselves in the same situation. After years of increasing demand they expanded their games to Thursday night. Then they started broadcasting on Twitter and Yahoo. Then, much to their surprise, their ratings started dropping across the board. The NFL failed to realize that what made their product successful was that supply was limited.  Additionally, the quality of the games shown decreased. Scarcity was their friend. By decreasing scarcity, they also decreased demand. Don't assume that demand for your product…
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Get Comfortable With Collaboration

Get Comfortable With Collaboration

Featured, Improvement, Process
We praise collaboration for improving problem solving, increasing creativity, and spurring innovation. Done correctly, it does yield all these benefits. But it can also be scary. Here are three facts you have to accept, and embrace, about collaboration before it can work: You won't know the answer. There's no point in collaborating on a complex problem if you know how to solve it. Be comfortable with ambiguity and accept that you aren't necessarily the expert. Roles will be unclear. Responsibilities are often fluid. Be ready for the role you play to change with each phase of the work. You will fight. If you avoid conflict, nothing will happen. Knowing how to debate tradeoffs between options means knowing how to productively argue.
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Business Lessons From Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Business Lessons From Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Featured, Improvement
If you've ever tried to cook a Thanksgiving turkey, you will have learned that there are certain things that need to happen in order to make a successful dinner. Those lessons can be applied to your business as well. Preparation is important: It doesn't matter how good your turkey recipe is if you don't defrost the turkey first. The turkey needs to be prepared before cooking and your business needs to be prepared. You need to prepare by defining what your product is and who your customer is. The more preparation you put into your business, the better it will turn out. Be patient: Your turkey takes a while to cook and your business takes time to succeed. Most businesses don't break even for the first few years. You can't…
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Lessons From A Campaign

Lessons From A Campaign

Customer, Featured, Improvement
No matter how you feel about the 2016 presidential campaign and its outcomes, there are some lessons that businesspeople can take from it. Don't Assume Your Customers Are Loyal: One of the things that contributed to Hillary's loss was that she assumed traditionally Democratic states would continue to vote Democrat. Wisconsin switched to vote Republican in part because Hillary ignored the state and didn't visit once during the general campaign. If you don't pay attention to your customers, they will leave. Your Customer's Goals Matter More Than Yours: Customers will stay with you as long as you are helping them do what they want. Hillary publicly stated that her energy policies would shut down the coal industry. This cost her Ohio and western Pennsylvania which rely on that industry. Once…
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Happier Employees Give Companies Better Returns

Happier Employees Give Companies Better Returns

Featured, Improvement
Corporations listed in Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For in America" had equity returns that were 3.5% per year higher than those of their peers, indicating that employee satisfaction correlates positively with shareholder returns, says Alex Edmans of the Wharton School. The results of his study of companies also indicate that, contrary to prior research, employee satisfaction need not represent managerial slack, Edmans says. Companies Do Well if Workers Feel OK About Speaking Up Companies rated by their employees as being in the top quartile in openness of communication delivered an average total shareholder return of 7.9% over a recent 10-year period, compared with 2.1% at companies in other quartiles, according to the Corporate Executive Board. Among 7 key indicators that the organization tracks in more than 130 companies worldwide, the one most strongly correlated with 10-year…
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Sometimes You Need To Leave Well Enough Alone

Sometimes You Need To Leave Well Enough Alone

Evaluate, Featured, Improvement
I'm on a diet. I mention this partially because someone told me not to and I am a malcontent. More importantly than that, I am using it to illustrate a point. I mentioned that I was on a diet and that it was working in a conversation. The person I was speaking to mentioned she had gained weight and I said I was on a diet as a way to sympathize. I expected that it would end there. Instead the person went on to tell me I shouldn't say I am on a diet and to started to tell me all sorts of things I should be doing instead. She chose to focus on the word diet instead of the fact that what I was doing is working. There are always…
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A Successful Entrepreneur Shares 3 Key Secrets to His Success

A Successful Entrepreneur Shares 3 Key Secrets to His Success

Improvement
On January 31st, 2012, I set out to start my own small business. My new life after working for someone else has been filled with freedom, success, and riches. Sounds sexy, right? Not quite. It has also been filled with periods of stress, failures, and financial woes. This is the life of an entrepreneur. I have learned many lessons since starting Futureforth. I want to share three key lessons to help you with your own small business journey. These are obviously not my only tips. I plan to share a few more when I speak at The UPS Store Small Biz Salute event in Nashville, Tenn. this month. Read the entire article in Inc magazine
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21 Business Books Worth Reading at Least Once a Year

21 Business Books Worth Reading at Least Once a Year

Improvement
As the saying goes: "Leaders must be readers." But, let's face it, you can also waste a lot of time reading the wrong books that don't offer the value you're looking for. Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur, team leader or a seasoned business veteran, moving forward means remaining forever teachable. Thankfully, we're lucky enough to live in an age with open access to the mistakes, triumphs and stories of others. The right expert advice at the right time can often offer you a shortcut to success. Read the entire article at Inc magazine
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When Something Goes Terribly Wrong

When Something Goes Terribly Wrong

Featured, Improvement
We all hope everything runs smoothly. In the real world, things have a tendency to go astray. Sometimes the problem is minor and sometimes it can be catastrophic. How your custom,res react depends on how you handle the situation. Take Samsung. You can't have a more catastrophic problem than your product spontaneously exploding. Will customers flee? Probably not because Samsung handled the situation well. They got out in front, announced a recall, explained what caused the problem and replaced the defective product. Samsung was quick, transparent and didn't try to shift the blame. Likewise when Tylenol had its tampering scare in 1982. They handled the situation so well that it is still taught in crisis management courses. They removed the product from the shelves quickly and changed the packaging to…
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